His room was always the perfect temperature, thanks in part to the climate control facilities of the castle, Lotor having long since discovered just what degree suited him best. And yet on this night, he felt too warm, the prince kicking off his bed sheets, and turning over and over in his bed. It was the fifth time he had rolled onto his side, Lotor shifting and unable to get into a position that left him comfortable enough to sleep.
He sighed, realizing it was time to face facts. He couldn’t sleep, and though the warmth of the room left him uncomfortable, it had nothing to do with his unrelaxed state. No, the real reason was currently in the next room over, separated from him by more than just the wall. A barrier was between them, one that had nothing to do with bricks and plaster, and everything to do with the heart.
Allura. She was heavy on his mind, always in his thoughts, now so more than ever. Sometimes he tired of this song and dance routine with her, Lotor fighting not to give in to his impatience to just lay down the law and tell her how things would go between them. In some ways, the months before he freed her had been simpler, at least then he had been getting what he wanted from her.
Well, almost everything, he grudgingly admitted, knowing her heart had been closed off to him. She had given him her body without complaint, but he found it was starting to grow meaningless without her desire to be with him. Perhaps he was greedy, Lotor wanting everything from her, though at night, when he was alone in his bed he found himself wanting to settle for less. Anything to appease the needs of his body, and the loneliness he felt at being separated from Allura.
He rolled onto his back, staring up at the ceiling, a frown on his face. Was it hopeless? Could she ever learn to feel for him even a smidge of what he felt for her? He thought that she liked him just fine, at least when he wasn’t putting his foot in his mouth. Lotor could see fondness in Allura’s eyes, at times when she looked at him. Too often it was replaced by exasperation, chased away with disappointment at something he said or did.
She seemed so unreadable to him, Lotor wondering if he’d ever understand her completely. Take this morning for example. He thought she’d be pleased that he had secured her a new home, that he had prepared for her a future away from him. But when she had looked at him, it was with wet eyes, the blue troubled and her manner distant. She didn’t act grateful but pained, at times seeming in a state of dull shock. He had surprised her, Allura surely not expecting Lotor to go this far. He just hoped she realized he was serious about letting her go, as serious as he could be considering the amount of pain such a thought caused him.
His heart hurt, there was no other way to describe the pain in his chest. He was truly afflicted with the sting of love, and Lotor wondered how much had it weakened him. Not just around Allura, but in his dealings with others. He knew if she left, he’d revert back to form, perhaps become even crueler. He wondered if he’d be able to stay away from Allura, if he’d be able to keep his promise to her.
Would he keep her even if it meant she’d hate him? He feared the answer to that question was yes, Lotor knowing he had to try extra hard to convince her otherwise. It might be the only way either one of them would be happy.
“Allura…” Lotor sighed out her name, at last giving up on trying to go to sleep. He pushed up to a sitting position, placing his head in his hands. It was nights like this that he was most tempted to go to his harem. To pick out some nameless blonde, and bring her back to his room. To shroud them in darkness as he had sex with her, all the while pretending it was with the woman who held his heart in her grasp.
The act would be meaningless save to be a quick fix for his body’s raging desires, but damning him in the process. Lotor wondered if he’d ever be able to be with another woman without thinking about Allura, without wanting and needing her with every fiber of his being. He felt certain Allura would be the one great love of his love, his one chance that if lost would leave him bereft, unable to open his heart to anyone else. Nor would he want too!
Lotor knew he would see Allura leaving him as a betrayal, and he wondered how he’d cope. Especially with the child they would have together. The child, be it a girl or a boy, would haunt him with reminders of it’s mother. Lotor would see Allura in every look, every movement of the infant, and it would pain him to try and stamp out her mannerisms. Would his anger over her abandonment lead him to be hard on the child? Would Lotor become just like his father, or worse, teaching the child nothing about love and kindness?
“NO!” Lotor protested out loud, rising to stand. “I won’t be like Zarkon. Even if she leaves me….even if that comes to pass, I will be different with my child.” He got up, pacing over to the bar set up in the corner of the bedroom. But he didn’t pour himself any of the wines laying there, choosing instead to quench his thirst with water. He continued to think his dark thoughts, openly fretting over the future when a quake shook the castle.
It was followed by an alarm, the klaxons ringing loudly through out the castle, penetrating into the room’s silence. Lotor lifted his eyebrows at that, realizing Merla had scored another hit on the castle, that infernal beam weapon of hers still in play on the field. The past two days it had been in use against the robeasts, with little room to spare to attack the castle directly.
Finishing his drink, Lotor slammed the glass down on the bar’s surface, frowning. Was he father awake to deal with what was going on? He didn’t know, and knew he couldn’t leave it to chance, Lotor heading to his closet. He quickly pulled out a random shirt, pulling it over his bare chest. He didn’t bother to strip out of his pajama bottoms, leaving the loose fitting pants on as he pulled on a pair of dark colored boots. His sword belt was the last thing he fetched, securing it around his waist, the blade already in it’s sheathe.
Thus ready he strode out of the bedroom, and through the outer chamber, the alarms seeming to ring louder and louder with each step he took. He unlocked the door, and stepped out into the hall, Cossack hurrying towards him. He took note of the commander’s neat appearance, hair combed straight under his helmet, and with his full suit of armor on Lotor knew that Cossack had been up long before the alarms went off.
“Your highness…” Cossack breathed out, pausing as Lotor nodded at him. “They’re drawn closer to the castle….they’re almost at our door step!”
That riled Lotor up, the prince scowling as he thought that if he had been in charge of the fighting, Merla’s army wouldn’t have made it to the castle in so quick an amount of time. “This is all due to my father’s incompetence.” Lotor stated, not caring who overheard him. Cossack looked ready to nod in agreement, the Drule forcing himself to go still so as not to be seen doing a treasonous act.
“The King is down below with the remainder of the army. Giving them….suggestions on how to fight.” Cossask explained, and Lotor snorted.
“No doubt his lessons include plenty of beratement and threats against them.” He shook his head, hardly amused. “Come Cossack….we’ll let my father continue in his ways, but I want to be in the command center, to over see the battle.”
He was already moving, passing by the apartment he had given to Allura when he noticed Cossack had remained rooted to the spot. “Commander?”
“You’re not gonna check on Allura?” Cossack was surprised, eyes wide with shock.
“No.” A blunt answer from Lotor added to the commander’s agitation.
“But….but this might be your last chance to see her.” Cossack pointed out. “We’re so close to needing to evacuate…and she has to be up. No one could sleep through the alarms!”
“I don’t want to needlessly worry her…” Lotor told him, and Cossack burst out with an impassioned exclamation.
“I’m sure she’s plenty worried after that quake and the alarms going off!” At Lotor’s silence, Cossack implored him, stepping towards the door that led to Allura’s apartment. “Please your highness…if something were to happen….you’d hate yourself for not seeing her…”
“If something were to happen, I’d be dead.” Lotor growled out, but made no move to stop the commander from opening the door. It was proof of Allura’s worry that she appeared in the doorway almost immediately, clad in a rumpled pink nightgown, her expression frazzled with concern. Even with her hair mussed, and dark circles under her eyes, she was lovely, Lotor feeling a tad calmer just to see her.
Drawn to her like a moth to a flame, he stepped before her, seeing her reach out to touch his arm. “What’s happening? Why are the alarms still ringing?” She wanted to know, and Lotor hesitated, trying to decide what to tell her.
“Merla’s forces are drawing near to the castle grounds.” Lotor finally said, hearing her gasp, her hand flying to cover her mouth. “Things are becoming tight. I need to be down there to over see the battle if we’re to pull through and survive this.”
“I understand.” She nodded her head, eyes still anxious and troubled.
“You’ll have to be ready Allura.” Lotor added, speaking the words he did not want to say. “The call to evacuate could come at any time. Please be dressed and waiting for it.”
“Things are really so bad?” She looked shaken, as though Allura had never expected it to come to this.
“‘Yes.” Lotor said simply, and hesitated. She noticed, Allura cocking her head to the side.
Unable to resist, he reached out to touch her face, drawing her close against him as his fingers slid back into her hair. He was already bending down, to bring his mouth on top of hers, a hard, needy kiss that would steal her breath away. She gasped as he did it, Lotor thrusting his tongue into her mouth, trying to emblazon the memory of his kiss into her with his actions.
Her hands touched his chest, but she did not try to push him away. Indeed he felt the hesitation in her, Allura’s mouth starting to move, lips fluttering softly like the wings of a butterfly. She was returning his kiss, with a desperation that surprised him. It was Cossack’s nervous cough that drew them back to their senses, Lotor reluctantly pulling back from Allura’s lips. But his hand lingered in her hair, and he studied her for a minute, wanting her current, pouty lip expression memorized.
“Be ready.” He reminded her, then conscious of Cossack watching, he switched to Arusian, needing to tell her something important. “I love you. Remember that.” Lotor was already turning away, not bothering to wait for a response. Cossack cast one last look at Allura, and then hurried after Lotor.
“Be safe!” Allura called out, her words in Drule. Lotor didn’t turn to look back at her, but his smile was bitter, knowing she couldn’t force herself to say the words he longed to hear, even in this time of crisis.
They continued to walk, and for a few moments there was silence between them, their footseps drowned out by the alarm klaxons. Finally he heard Cossack speak, the commander letting out a nervous cough. “Now aren’t you glad you got to see her?”
“You mean one last time?” Lotor asked, and Cossack nodded. “Yeah.” It was all he would say about the matter, Lotor stepping quicker through the halls. There was many people up, most dressed in their sleeping clothes, looking disheveled and alarmed. They had a right to be, Merla’s army would be unstoppable if they breached the castle, raping and killing all who they came across in their search for Lotor and the King.
At least Allura would be safe, he reflected, thinking of the shuttle prepared for her and the slave girls from Arus. He’d feel better if someone familiar was going with them, but he had been unable to get in contact with Haggar, the witch working tirelessly on the castle’s shielding. Everyone was doing their part, big or small, in trying to stave off the army from Amazonia.
They reached the command center, and even here it felt too hot, the temperature lower than should be normal. The castle technicians were busy running programs, fingers flying over their key boards as they typed in commands, others shouting out reports as they studied the battle going outside the castle. They barely took notice of Lotor and Cossack’s arrival, the prince drawing near to a man clad in the green colored shirt of one in the overseer’s position.
“How are our shields holding up?” Lotor asked, and the man glanced at him, voice depressed as he spoke.
“The witches are starting to fall. The strain is getting to them. As such we’ve begun diverting power from other programs in the castle.”
“Such as the climate control.” Lotor said, realizing that was why it was so hot in the castle.
“Yes.” Nodded the overseer, checking the data pad in his hands. “We’re cutting power down on the lights as well, along with everyone’s personal communications. The only transmissions allowed are the ones pertaining to the battle itself.”
“Understandable.” Lotor replied, turning his attention to the view screens. They showed the areas outside the castle, several of them empty of people. But to the Northwest, that was where the Doom army stood, in their polished armor, weapons at a ready. Skull tanks were already moving, driving out to meet with Merla’s army. Overhead, craft flew, star cutters and larger ships ready to rain down fire on Merla’s people. They were the advance guard, the soldiers themselves would move at a slower pace, ready to pick off those who survived the star cutter’s attack.
In the distance, so small as to resemble insects, Merla’s army was approaching. Their own ships flying ahead, ready to engage Doom’s. They would meet in the empty field, a clash of lasers as they fought to disable one another, and prevent them from getting to the foot soldiers.
She had land rovers equipped with cannons, but nothing as devastating as the beam weapon aboard her one remaining flag ship. Banners flew high behind the two armies, each one bearing the colors of their home world, their soldiers dressed in armor that matched.
A roar was heard, and Lotor turned shocked to hiss out a question. “Who let out a robeast so close to the castle?!”
“Er…” The overseer was nervous, fidgeting with his data pad. “It was your father. The King ordered it…”
“Is he mad?!” Lotor demanded, but no one answered. No one dared to, knowing it would be their heads if they spoke a negative word against the king. “There shouldn’t be any robeasts at this point in the battle. Not when the fighting is this close to the castle. It’ll trample our own men in the process!”
He watched the screen, seeing the robeast in the midst of the field with the Amazonian soldiers. It was a lizard like creature, with red and brown scales covering it’s back. It’s long tail whipped about, lashing at the people, knocking them over as though they were mere toys. The soldiers closest to the robeast broke formation, scattering to avoid being trampled on. And still the robeast continued it’s attack, dropping to all fours to lunge with it’s mouth open. Immensely powerful jaws closed around a mouthful of men, three in all, screaming as it’s sharp teeth bit into their bodies, severing them in half.
Some of the ships were called back, the fighter craft raining lasers down on the monsters head. They tried to beam lasers right into it’s face, aiming for it’s light sensitive eyes, hoping to sear a path directly into it’s skull. But the robeast was moving around too much, evading the attempted assault on it’s eyes. At it’s jerky movements, more men were trampled, but the soldiers couldn’t stop to check to see if anyone survived. They were all rushing forward, swarming past the robeast to try and get further ahead on the field to meet the Doom army.
Merla had to be frustrated, she couldn’t use her beam again so soon, not when she had just attacked the castle a scant few minutes ago. It left her general’s helpless to do anything but watch as their soldiers were picked off, right on the verge of victory.
The first of the airborne vehicles of Amazonia reached the middle ground, Doom’s air forces hovering before them. There was a second of inactivity, and then they began firing on each other, a colorful clash of laser beam and cannon fire, bombs exploding in the air, their shrapnel falling to the ground. They zigged and they zagged, flying complex patterns around each other, trying to keep alive and keep their enemy from getting past them.
It was an intense fight, lasting a good ten minutes before one of the sleek fighter ship of Amazonia broke past the star cutters. A Doom ship turned, laboring to go after the enemy, but it left it’s rear unguarded. In it’s attempt to pursue the enemy ship, it was blown up by Amazonian’s lasers.
The Amazonian ship reached the Doom army, and began laying fire down on their heads. Shieldsmen held up their heavy shields, covering themselves and their nearby comrades as best they could. But screams could be heard, men dying out on the field without ever getting a chance to land one blow on Doom’s enemy. Other soldiers were aiming their lasers at them, pistols and assault riffles shooting upwards, trying to bring down the Amazonian ship.
A skull tank was driving down the field, it’s mouth open to reveal it’s black cannon, pulse beams shooting out to do damage to the enemy fighter craft. It scored a direct hit on one of the wings, the pulse beam shredding it into pieces. It left the ship unbalanced, spiraling out of control to crash into the side of the castle. It barely made a scorch mark on the castle’s shielding, the Doom soldiers cheering now that they weren’t under fire.
But other fighter craft were approaching, having managed to defeat or slip by the star cutters. Doom’s ships had pressed on as well, eager to attack Merla’s army, being careful with their lasers so as not to hit the rampaging robeaast.
Even with the ships and the robeast, the two armies pressed on, at last meeting each other on the middle ground. Roars were heard, the soldiers of both sides letting out intimidating battle cries, building up their nerve as they hurried to attack. Laser fire came first, both sides exchanging it, trying to pick off the men in the front. The shieldsmen set down their heavy burdens, taking cover behind the metal shields as they aimed their pistols at the opposing side.
Lotor knew that first they would battle with laser guns, fighting until they ran out of charges. And then they would get into the real fighting, depending on their swords and their fists, fighting in hand to hand combat to pick off those who had survived the laser blasts.
The skull tanks were moving around the armies, discharging cannons into the heart of Amazonian’s forces. The same was being done to Doom by the enemies land roving vehicles, and each side looked pretty evenly matched when it came to number of men lost. It was looking to be a long battle, when a beam suddenly shot out from across the field, hitting the Doom army. Bodies went flying, the men already dead, their skin blackened and lit with flames.
Lotor swore, realizing Merla’s beam weapon had charged, the queen using it directly against people! “Damn her!” Lotor snarled, slamming a fist against the nearest computer console. He felt helpless, watching as Amazonians swarmed the stunned Doom soldiers, taking advantage of their distraction to gut them with their swords. The tide was turning in battle, and it was Amazonia that it favored.