Cossack was still cursing, muttering things under his breath as Lotor stared at Allura. He knew his expression surely had to be one of stunned dismay, the prince barely remembering to breathe. “Blood…” He whispered, a hand raising towards Allura. She seemed to not want to be touched by him, shrinking back from his finger’s reach. That almost made him lose the stunned look on his face, Lotor curling his fingers into a fist.
“Blood…” He repeated, seeing her nod slowly. “The Blood of an Arusian Royal….your blood…”
“Yes.” She squeaked out in a high pitched whisper, clutching her note pad tighter to her chest.
“Are you sure Allura?” Lotor demanded, and saw her gaze lower, looking at one of the symbols that lay on the floor. He looked as well, though he had no hope of reading it’s meaning, his jaw tightening in anger and disappointment.
“There’s other people we can get the blood from…right?” He heard Cossack ask hopefully. “Other Arusian royals….?”
“There is none…” Lotor said, his answer bringing a morbid silence to the room. “The rest of the royal house of Arus was disposed of months ago. Deemed too troublesome to make slaves of.”
“That means Allura’s the only one left….?” Cossack’s question moved Lotor into action, the prince stepping towards Allura. Before she could slide to the right to avoid his presence, he was reaching out, snatching the note pad from her hands. He began paging through it’s papers, staring at the words she had written down in modern Arusian. All words he couldn’t read, his rage growing as he thought how close they had come to finally getting Voltron.
With a growl deep in his throat, Lotor began tearing at the pages of the note pad, stripping them free of the binding. Allura stared at him wide eyed as he then began tearing up each individual piece, his actions slow at first, than growing faster until Lotor was frantically shredding the note pad into pieces of confetti. Before any one could ask him what he was doing, he was grabbing Allura by the arm, practically shaking her as he bit out an urgent question.
“Those are the only notes you had, right?” She was staring at him, too surprised to respond. “Answer me!” Lotor said, and shook her again.
“There’s another note pad…” She began, voice cutting off in a gasp as he abruptly let go of her.
“Show me!” She wordlessly lifted her hand, finger pointing towards the couch where a note pad lay between cushions. He immediately went towards it, tearing into it’s paper the instant his fingers touched it’s surface.
“Boss….” Cossack’s voice intruded on Lotor’s awareness, the commander gaping at the prince’s actions. “Just what are you doing?”
Lotor dropped the remains of the note pad, turning to glare at Cossack. “Commander, this goes no further then this room. Understand?” Cossack opened his mouth as though to protest, the prince stepping forward to grab him. “Understand?”
“Yeah boss. No problem. My lips are sealed….” Cossack began, clearly hesitating. “But what am I keeping quiet about?”
Lotor’s glare deepened, a sigh of exasperation escaping him. “You are to keep quiet about the fact that Voltron requires a blood sacrifice to form it.” He scowled, making fists of his hands. “If word was to reach my father, there’s no telling what he’d do….”
“You think he’d hurt Allura?” Cossack asked, mouth hanging open in shock at Lotor’s confirming nod. “But she’s carrying your baby…..his grandchild!”
“Do you think that matters to him when it comes to winning this war?” Lotor demanded, and punched a fist into the wall. Allura jumped at his actions, staring at the indent of his fist in the plaster.
“But that’s….barbaric…” Cossack exclaimed, and Lotor nodded.
“You know what he’s like. How hungry he is for new toys and conquests. He stops at nothing when he gets a hold of a new weapon.” Lotor told them, shaking his hand to get some feeling back into his knuckles.
“Won’t he push to find out why we’re not forming Voltron?” Cossack asked, running a hand through his dirty hair. “I mean….you’ve been keeping him up to date on every step of finding the lions. He’ll want to know why Allura hasn’t been able to decipher these latest symbols.”
“We’ll have to make something up…..some kind of excuse….” Lotor muttered, and began pacing the length of the floor. “We’ll have to come up with some kind of false message to lead him off track. It’ll be difficult though with that witch of his snooping around but….”
“But what? We can only delay him so long. He’s bound to get suspicious. After all…” Cossack made a nervous sound, eyes tracking Lotor’s movements. “It’s not like we can keep up this charade for the rest of the king’s life.” Lotor paused at that, and Cossack groaned, holding up his hands before him. “Oh no…I know that look. It’s a look that says you’re considering doing something that is dangerous to my health…”
“The king won’t live forever…” Lotor began, only to be cut off by Cossack’s vicious curse. Lotor waited patiently for his commander to quiet down, watching as Cossack pulled out a grimy handkerchief, mopping at his brow with the dirty fabric. “The king won’t live forever…” continued Lotor, hearing Allura let out a shocked gasp at his words. “It shouldn’t be too hard to hurry him along to death’s door.”
“You’re talking about killing your own father!” Cossack pointed out, hardly reassured at Lotor’s calmness at the situation.
“He wouldn’t hesitate to kill Allura and our child if it suits his purposes.” Lotor retorted, hands on his hips.
“But he’s your father!”
“And because of that parental tie, I’ll be sure to make his death swift and merciful.” Lotor told him, smirking. “It’s more generous than he deserves.” His expression sobered into one of pure menace, Lotor advancing on Cossack. “Do I have your promise that you won’t breathe a word of this to anyone?”
“Yeah…” stammered Cossack, clearly uneasy. “Believe me when I say I won’t be telling anyone about this little plot of yours.” Lotor was before him, the prince staring searchingly into his eyes. Such an intense look focused on the commander, clearly made Cossack nervous, the Drule backing up a step.
“Can I trust you?” Lotor asked at last, holding out his hand to the commander. Cossack risked lowering his eyes from Lotor’s face to stare at the offered hand, licking his lips nervously.
“Yeah. You know that don’t you?” Cossack asked, and slowly went to grab hold of Lotor’s hand. The two clenched grips, shaking on their words. “I’d do anything for you, your highness. You and Allura.”
“Thank you Cossack.” Lotor was satisfied, releasing his hold on Cossack’s hand. “It’ll be a busy time….we’ll have much to plan…”
“How are you going to pull this off?” Cossack asked, falling silent when Lotor corrected him.
“You mean we. How are we going to pull this off. And don’t worry Commander…” Lotor smiled at him. “I have allies in the court….people who would be glad to see my father disposed of. And favors owed to me of those who are indifferent to his rule. They’ll back me when I bring the fight to him. You’ll have a role to play in this too.”
“Don’t look so surprised Cossack.” Lotor laughed, clasping a hand on the commander’s shoulder. He then gestured at Allura, who was silent as she watched the two Drules converse. “I’ll be entrusting my most valued…person to your care. It will be your job to keep Allura safe while I deal with my father.”
“I can do that.” Cossack said, sounding relieved that guarding Allura would be the only thing asked of him.
“I know you can.” Lotor told him, still smiling. “You’re just about the only person I would trust with such an important job.” He stepped away from Cossack to approach Allura, catching her hands before she could dodge him completely. He was surprised to see her resisting him, Lotor pulling her struggling form into his arms. “What’s wrong?” He asked her, locking her into a possessive embrace.
“How can you be so…..so calm while you discuss murdering your father in front of me?” She demanded, Lotor frowning down at her.
“Is that disapproval I see in your eyes Allura?” Lotor asked, tone mild to hide his annoyance at her. “You do understand what is going on, don’t you?” He questioned, seeing Allura narrow her eyes further at him. “You said it yourself, Voltron requires blood. And not just any blood, your blood.” She paled at that reminder, turning her face to the side to avoid looking at him.
“I could have been wrong…” Allura began, voice hesitating. “Maybe I misunderstood the meaning of those symbols…”
“But why risk it?” Lotor asked, bending forward so that his lips whispered in her ear. “My father certainly isn’t the type to wait. He’d spill your blood in an instant to test the theory, and not give a damn if it proved to be the wrong thing to do.”
“Is he really that big a monster?” She wondered, looking at him once more. Lotor nodded, seeing her eyes widened in surprise.
“Does this surprise you?” Lotor tsked, his head shaking no. “Oh Allura…he killed your father, ordered the execution of the rest of the royal family, enslaved your planet…..was willing to turn Arus into a chemical waste land….and yet you are still so naive as to think he wouldn’t think twice about killing you and our unborn baby?”
“But…my….our baby would be a part of his bloodline. He…wouldn’t harm his own family to further his own ambitions.” Allura was troubled, sounding so uncertain as she spoke.
“Oh Allura…” Lotor looked at her with pity in his eyes. “He killed his own father to cement his hold on the Doom throne. My father knows little of family loyalties….” She stared at him as though what he was saying was a completely foreign concept to her. “He was willing to hand us both over to Merla in order to maintain peace….”
“What changed…?” Allura asked, Lotor pausing to choose his words carefully.
“I gave him a reason for my actions that he found acceptable.” Lotor said, thinking back on that moment when he had been desperate to get Zarkon to spare their lives. “It wasn’t enough for him to excuse what I had done, but he did understand why I did it.”
“The baby.” She whispered and he nodded. She began chewing on her bottom lip, a nervous habit he found endearing.
“Speak Allura. You can tell me what’s on your mind.” Urged Lotor, and even then she hesitated.
“If it wasn’t for the baby…if I wasn’t pregnant with your child, would….could you do it?” He frowned at her, hoping he was misunderstanding her words. “Would you kill me to activate Voltron?”
He stiffened at her question, his face turning ugly. She gasped at his expression, and Lotor did not try to hold on to Allura when she backed out of his arm’s hold. “You think so little of me, don’t you?” He asked, voice growling out the question. She merely shook her head, wide eyed, her lips a round o of shock. “Did you think I was joking when I tell you I love you? When I say I will do anything for you and our child?”
“I don’t know…” Her admission pained him, Lotor taking an agitated step away from her. He caught sight of Cossack, who was standing there, watching the scene with eyes almost as big as Allura’s.
“Uh…I’ll just be going…” Cossack wisely decided, backing towards the room’s door. “Good luck.” He added in a hoarse whisper before sliding the door close behind him. The tense atmosphere rose with the commander’s escape, Lotor beginning to pace before Allura. She said nothing to him, merely clasped her hands together, and stared at the floor, ready to flinch back from his anger.
Lotor kept casting dark looks at her, wondering what to say to the girl who inadvertently trampled on his heart. His ego was bruised, Lotor sullen and upset that Allura did not take seriously his confessions of love. “How?” He said at last, stopping before her. “How can you think so little of me?”
She wasn’t looking at him, and that made him even angrier, Lotor reaching to tilt back her face with his hands. Her blue eyes were bright with emotion, Lotor relieved to see no hint of tears in them. “Allura…” Lotor sighed. “What more must I do to prove myself to you? How can I make amends for the past, how can I get you to believe me when I tell you what my heart feels for you?!”
“I don’t know!” Allura cried out, shaking against his grip. “This is not easy for me either you know!”
“I don’t think it’s easy for either one of us!” Lotor snapped back, voice heated. “But at some point you have got to start believing in me!”
“I was scared…” She said in response to his passionate exclamation. He cocked his head in surprise, watching her as she hesitantly spoke. “Do you know what went through my mind when I deciphered those symbols? Can you possibly guess?!” Lotor shook his head no, and Allura let out a frightful wail, trying to jerk free of his grip. “I thought…I thought this was it. I thought you would do what you had to, to form Voltron!”
“You thought I would sacrifice you?” Lotor whispered, feeling her nod her head. Suddenly her reactions made sense, Lotor recalling how frightened she had been to tell him and Cossack what she had learned. “Oh Allura…”
“Don’t oh Allura me!” She snapped, grabbing at his wrists. “You didn’t hesitate to do what you thought was needed when it came to my castle. You were ready to bring it down to find the final lion. How could I know you wouldn’t be just as ruthless towards forming Voltron!?”
“A building is different from a person!” Lotor told her, and she let out a bitter sounding laugh.
“Maybe so….but I get the feeling you wouldn’t have this dilemma if there was someone else who could be sacrificed!” Now it was Lotor’s turn to flinch at her words, the prince letting go of her.
“We’ll never know…” Lotor told her, watching her angrily brush her hand against the curls he had ruffled in grabbing her. “The sad truth of the matter is, you’re the last Arusian born royal….what I may or may not have done, it’s all speculation on your part! You can’t hate me for something I haven’t done!”
“Isn’t it the same way with your father?” Allura asked, dropping to her knees before him. She began grabbing at the tattered remains of her notes, leaving the pieces to pool in her skirt. “You ask me to believe he will kill me…that he will sacrifice me and our baby to gain Voltron. You’re going to kill him on an assumption!”
Lotor stood watching her gather up the pieces, frowning as he considered her words. “You don’t know my father the way I do. You don’t know what he’s capable of.”
“Then tell me!” She nearly dropped the pieces of paper back on the floor, glaring up at him.
“It would give you nightmares…..the things he’s done…” Lotor told her, and she huffed an angry breath, grabbing at more of the ruined paper. “You think Arus was bad? You know nothing.” That last came out a hiss, Lotor watching as she stood and walked over to the trash can. She shook out her skirt, letting the pieces of paper fall inside the container.
“I’ve read about what was done to Arus.” Allura turned back towards him, eyes looking sad. “I know what he’s capable of…”
“Arus is only part of what he’s done.” Lotor insisted. “It’s one planet in a galaxy full of crimes. People not just enslaved but wiped out, genocide committed because they or their planets out lived their usefulness.”
“Would….would you be any better? Any different from him?” It was an insolent tone that she questioned him with, Lotor fighting not to lose the last remnants of his temper.
“If you asked me that mere months ago, I’d have said no.” Lotor said, and she looked surprised at his answer.
“But now you would?” He nodded, and Allura frowned. “What changed?”
“You have to ask? Oh Allura…” he sighed out her name, Lotor walking towards her. “You changed me. I’m becoming a better person for you….because of you. I know I can be a good king…with you here…by my side…”
“It’s too much burden to put on one person’s shoulders…” She protested. “I can’t possibly inspire you to do all that…”
“But you can…..you have!” Lotor stopped in front of her, his hand lifted up to touch the side of her face. “I’d do anything for you….anything to be with you. It upsets me that you can’t see that…” He sighed, the sound exasperated. “Maybe Haggar was right.”
“Yes….she said I wasn’t spending enough time with you. That I was too focused on this war.” His fingers were playing with the curls that kissed her right cheek, Lotor thrilling at any small touch Allura allowed him. “How am I to prove myself to you if I’m never around you?!”
She shrugged her shoulders, Allura having no easy answers for him. “Maybe you can’t.” Her words only succeeded in frustrating him more, Lotor frowning at her. “Maybe it’s best if we just cut our losses and…and part.”
“No, Allura, no!” Lotor protested. “The deal was for nine months…I still have seven more in which to woo you.” Allura looked as though she believed any such attempt would end in heart break, the girl just staring at him with sadness in her eyes. “Please…” He uttered that word in pure desperation, hands dropping to her shoulders. “Please give me this time to convince you otherwise…it’s just a few months more…what have you got to lose…?”
“My heart…” It was so faint a whisper, Lotor thought he imagined Allura saying that. He didn’t quite laugh, pressing against her body, watching as she tilted her head back to stare warily at him. Allura was unresisting when Lotor bent down to kiss her, lips gentle as they molded to her mouth. He continued to hold onto her shoulders, gripping them like they were his lifeline, Lotor trying to put all his emotions into his kiss.
With both their eyes closed, neither Lotor or Allura noticed the tiny wisps of smoke that curled around the inside of the trash container. The pieces of paper crinkled, quickly turning black from soot. But the words were as clear as day, glowing a sickly green color as the print lifted up off the tattered pieces of paper. They hovered for an instant in the air, and then the smoke was snuffing out their message, the remains of the paper crumbling away to powder.