He had gone silent at the sergeant’s words, taking in a deep breath as he wondered at the damage that had been done to the castle and it’s shielding, wondering if the attack had been strong enough to breach their magical defense. Allura was looking at him urgently, and Lotor feared his face betrayed his worry, the prince exhaling his breath in a sharp hiss as he prepared himself to be calm.
Sergeant Dumeris was still on the line, his nervous breathing transmitting across the airwaves. He knew both Dumeris and Allura were waiting for the prince to give the commands that would make everything better, their expectations high and placing the burden on Lotor’s shoulders.
“I’ll be down there shortly.” Lotor said, voice cool and indifferent, the prince speaking as though an attack on the castle was an every day occurrence. “In the meantime I want you to gather up all reports on the attack. I want to know everything, down to the slightest chip in the walls that beam of theirs caused.”
“Yes, Prince Lotor!” Dumeris sounded eager to be of service, the sergeant surely needing work to keep his mind off his panic.
“The queen’s ground forces will be disembarking from their ships. I want details on just how large an army she’s brought with her.” Lotor added, knowing proper plans and battle tactics would be based on the size of the army they were facing, and the conditions of the terrain the fighting would take place on. “Prince Lotor over and out.” He cut the transmission amidst the sergeants sounds of agreement, Lotor glancing at the worried Allura. She was standing to the side of him, her hands close together as she twisted her fingers nervously.
“I’m sorry our time together had to be interrupted…” began Lotor, knowing it was true. He had felt like he was on the verge of making progress with Allura, so close to proving he could have a real relationship with her. One that wasn’t dependent on sex alone. She had been relaxed around him, and they had been holding an easy conversation, the talk just pouring out of them without sexual tension coloring the words.
“It couldn’t be helped…” Allura said, fingers still continuing their nervous gestures. She seemed unable to stop, her anxiety bubbling out of in the form of continuous movement. He reached for her arms, sliding his hands down the length of them to catch at her wrists. He forced her hands apart, and it was then that she stilled her finger’s anxious movements.
“I have to go.” He told her, seeing her face crumple into disappointment. “Will….will you be all right here, on your own?”
Allura hesitated, her gaze casting downwards. “I…I think so. But Lotor….I’m scared…”
He really didn’t have time for this, and yet Lotor couldn’t force himself to leave her in this state. The prince reached upwards to grasp hold of her chin, tilting her face back until her gaze met his. The blue of her eyes look disturbed, Allura unable to hide her worry from him. “Don’t be…” He tried a kind smile out on her, his tone gentle and soothing. “Merla won’t win…”
“How can you be sure?” She whispered her questions, and he could feel her trembling. “So far she’s done everything right. She’s made it to the surface, managed an attack on the castle….”
“But it’s still standing!” Lotor interrupted her. “We are still alive. And as long as we breathe, as long as we live, we will fight her. She hasn’t had an easy time of it, Doom has kept her at bay for weeks now. We just have to hold out for two more days.”
“Is it possible?” Allura wanted to know, staring intently at him. “Can we keep her from bringing down the castle, can we last long enough for the lions to arrive?”
“We will. We have to.” Lotor insisted.
“What if the lions aren’t enough?” Allura asked. “What if Voltron is the only way to ensure victory? Then what?”
“Oh Allura…” He hugged her to him, crushing her in his embrace. “It won’t come to that. I won’t sacrifice you to use Voltron. No matter what happens, I’ll ensure your safety. Even if I have to send you away from Doom.”
She nodded her head, her hands clinging to his shirt as Allura listened to him reassure her. His hand touched her hair, giving her a soothing touch when suddenly she spoke, words that startled him. “Lotor? If it comes to that, and I have to leave Doom….can I…can I take the girls of Arus with me?” He pulled back to look at her, Allura hastening her words. “I just….I just don’t want to be alone…and I don’t think I could bear the thought of not knowing at least someone else was safe with me.”
“All right…” He agreed, willing to do anything to keep her calm and happy. “I’ll inform Cossack of the added passengers. A small enough ship should be stealthy enough to sneak past Merla’s forces.”
“It will be.” He quickly assured her. “With all the fighting going on the surface, a small ship will be inconsequential. Her forces will be distracted, and if necessary I’ll spare a witch to accompany you and cloak the ship from our enemies.” A wry twisting of his lips, Lotor partially amused. “I’m sure there will be no shortage of volunteers to get off of Doom if things turn so dire.”
She shivered at that, Allura looking disturbed. He held back his sigh, and pressed against her, placing a soft kiss on her forehead. The gesture left her bemused, Allura blinking up at him. “You should go.” She told him, but made no move to release her hand’s hold on his shirt. “You’ll be needed to lead this war.”
“Yes.” He was still hesitating, not wanting to leave her alone. “Allura, I want you to stay here and wait for me. I’ll have my men bring your friends to this room so you needn’t wait alone.”
“I’d like that.” She admitted, though she didn’t smile. “I don’t think I can bear the waiting by myself…”
“It won’t be long.” Lotor told her, and reached for her hands, gentle peeling them free of his shirt. His hand lingered on her wrists, Lotor staring deeply into her eyes before reluctantly stepping away. “I will return to you. I promise.”
Allura nodded. “I’ll hold you to that.”
He forced himself to move towards the door, forced himself not to pause and cast one last longing look at her. Instead he opened the door, and stepped out into the hallway, seeing it was calm out here though the guards patrolling this corridor looked nervous. “You there.” He gestured to one of the guards, the man approaching him.
“I want you to go to the harem and fetch the slave girls from Arus.” The man look surprised, surely thinking now was not a time for Lotor to be indulging his sexual appetites. “Bring them back to this room.” He fought to keep his voice from softening, Lotor gesturing at the door. “I don’t want Allura to be alone during this crisis.”
“Yes, Prince Lotor.” The man bowed, then turned, hurrying in the direction opposite of the one Lotor had to travel. The prince nodded at the remaining guard, trusting the Drule to stand guard over Allura’s room. He began walking, a brisk pace that had his footsteps echoing loudly throughout the corridors. He wasn’t the only one in a hurry, there was people moving about, servants and guards rushing to and fro on mysterious tasks.
He could see the panic on the servants’ faces, the people looking at him with desperation in their eyes. He didn’t pause, didn’t have the time or the energy to waste on trying to soothe their fears. The guards were holding it together better, trained to remain calm in the times of emergency. They maintained their positions in the halls, walking their assigned routes as they prepared to keep the peace inside the castle.
It didn’t take him long to reach the command center, the room located maybe seven minutes from his own private quarters. It was for that specific reason Lotor had chosen that section of the castle to make his home and harem, the prince knowing it was essential for him to be able to reach the commander center quickly during times of crisis.
The room was packed with Drules, a mixture of guards, soldiers, and technicians. They were all rushing around, papers in their hands, or holding communicators as they talked to various personnel throughout the castle. Their voices wasn’t the only sound in the noisy room, electronics whirred, making bleeps and ringing alarms, fingers typing a mile a minute on keyboards. The view screens were lit up, showing various parts of the castle, and the outside areas that surrounded it.
The largest of view screens was situated against the farthest wall, showing the front of Merla’s armada. Their ramps were down, soldiers marching off the ships and onto the brown surface of the planet. They weren’t the only things emerging from the ships, tanks and an assortment of ground vehicles were driving down the ramps, soldiers scampering out of the way as they moved to the forefront of the crowd.
They were miles from the castle, with a city laying between it and the Amazonian army. There looked to be several hundred soldiers ready for war, maybe even numbering close to a thousand, and beginning their march towards the city. A few of their fighter craft was still in the air, hovering over the heads of the soldiers, ready to provide cover and return fire at the castle.
Lotor was grim faced as he stared at the army of the Queen’s, a sergeant approaching him. “Here is the report you requested sire.” Dumeris said, handing the papers over to the prince. Lotor snatched it from him, and began scanning the writing, feeling relief to read that there was little structural damage to the castle itself. The witches’ shield spells had done their job, keeping the worst at bay. But it left Lotor wondering how much more they could endure, the prince scowling as he scoured the report for any sign of hope.
He found one where he expected none, reading on how the back up forces from Veneg had managed to take out all but one of Merla’s ultimate weapons. That increased Doom’s chance of victory exponentially, Lotor knowing the beam required time to charge. Time they could use to mount a defense, and give their witches time to break from shield maintenance.
“Get the witches on standby!” Lotor said, flinging the papers down on a table. “I want them busy enlarging robeasts on the double. Let’s see how Merla’s people handle the monsters we’re about to unleash.”
“Are you sure, your highness?” A soldier dared asked, Lotor shooting him a sharp look. “It’s just the city is between us and the Amazonian army….”
“The people have started evacuation from that city.” Another spoke up. “It’s an estimated two point five hours before everyone will be shuttled to safety.”
“That’ll be more than enough time.” Lotor retorted. “The people will survive, though their city may not. If our robeasts don’t trample it to the ground, Merla’s forces will ruin it for us.” Indeed some of the fighter craft were flying ahead of the army, lasers lit up as they focused damaging blasts against the ground.
“The city is not important in the long run.” A new voice had entered the room, the people pausing to drop to their knees. Lotor turned, and it was with a displeased hiss that he spoke.
“Hello son.” A curt nod from Zarkon, the King’s attention elsewhere. “I’m so glad you could take time away from that slave of yours to join us in this time of crisis.”
Lotor felt the heat rise to his face, but he forced himself to remain calm. “Allura is pregnant with my heir. I had to make sure she was safe.”
“She’s as safe as anyone else is in the castle.” Zarkon retorted, gesturing for the kneeling crowd to rise. They did so, resuming their duties, though they kept an attentive ear trained towards the pair of royals. “Which isn’t much at this point.” Now he fixed his sickly yellow eyes on Lotor, narrowing them in displeasure. “I’m disappointed son. I thought you said you could handle things.”
“I am handling things!” Lotor snapped, crossing his arms over his broad chest. “I’ve got things under control. There is no need for you to be down here.”
“I had to see the damage for myself.” Zarkon hissed. “I had to see what that bitch and your incompetence has wrought on my castle.”
“My incompetence?” Lotor raised an eyebrow, hardly amused by Zarkon’s choice of words. “It was my strategies that managed to keep the queen from landing any earlier. I’ve done the best I can to turn the tide of this war.”
“And your best has been less than adequate!” Roared the king. “Bad enough you let her trick you at Mindigula, but now you let her land her forces on MY planet. That bitch is running amuck, and you fail to stop her!”
“We’ve come close…” Lotor said defensively.
“Close is not good enough.” Zarkon retorted, raising his hand so his claws stroked his chin. “I am no longer content to let you play at battle. We’re doing things my way now.”
“And that is what?” Lotor demanded, visibly bristling with anger.
“To start with, we’re not going to wait for that city to be evacuated.” Zarkon was calm in the face of the gathered Drules’ horror, the king waving a dismissive hand. “We can always rebuild once I’ve won the war for us.”
“And the people?” Lotor question, chilled by Zarkon’s smile.
“The cities have become overcrowded as of late. A thinning out of the herd would be good for us.”
“But sire…” The castle technician that spoke did not shy away when Zarkon shot him a sharp glare. “I have family in the city….”
“Many of us do…” added a soldier, his voice one of many agreeing murmurs.
“And you will be well compensated for your loss.” Zarkon replied, undisturbed by their revelation.
“Money can’t make everything better…” Lotor protested. “It can’t take the place of family…”
“They’ll merely be the first causalities in this war if Merla wins.” Zarkon cast a level gaze at the Drules in the room, smoldering with conviction at his own words. “Do you honestly think she’ll let anyone in the castle live? No…that bitch will destroy everyone in her quest for revenge. She’ll spare no one. If that and money isn’t incentive enough to fight….” He shrugged then, stepping past Lotor to peer at the largest view screen.
Lotor turned to track his father’s position, hearing the grumbling dissent of the Drules in the room. Zarkon continued to stare at the view screen, but his voice came out, a deep growl of anger. “Any of you who have objections to how we are doing things, are free to leave.” A faint smile crossed his lips, several of the Drules who had spoken up moving to leave the room. “But know this, you won’t be allowed to stay in the castle. You’ll take your chances out on the field with Merla’s men and Doom’s robeasts.”
That gave even the bravest man pause, the Drules hesitating as they looked to their prince for help. “Father please, this is madness.” Lotor told him, taking a step towards Zarkon. “At least give us one hour….one hour to get the city evacuated of more people.”
“You sound desperate Lotor.” Zarkon noted, not turning to look at his son. “Do you really care that much what happens to those people?”
“Yes.” Lotor said, conscious of the respectful way the Drules in the command center were looking at him. He knew he was winning points with them, apt to gain new allies for when the time came to dispose of his father once and for all. “We only have to last two days and the lions will be here. Surely waiting one hour won’t make us lose the battle before the lions arrive.”
“You’ve put a lot of stock into the lions and their powers.” Zarkon said, musingly. “But you’ve yet to discover how to form Voltron. I wonder if they can win this battle without forming the robot.”
“They will!” Lotor insisted.
“You mean they have to.” Zarkon turned, smirking at Lotor. “Very well son. I will delay things for one hour. And not a minute more.” The room seemed to sigh with relief, Zarkon ignoring them as he strode past Lotor and towards the door.
“What will you do in the meantime?” Lotor wanted to know, and Zarkon gave an off handed wave.
“I think it’s time I inspect the troops. Make sure they’re properly fired up for the upcoming battles.”
“I see..” Lotor had a feeling if his speech was anything like the talk Zarkon had exhibited in this room, they’d be lucky they wouldn’t have a mutiny on their hands. “Good luck with that.”
“I don’t count on luck.” The King replied, as he walked out of the room. Lotor paused a beat, just listening to the hushed murmurs of the gathered Drules, and the background noise of the monitors and computers. He sighed, and raised a hand to his temples, rubbing at them as though to hold back the headache he was sure was coming.