Slave 083

The battle had raged on for hours, enough time passing by for morning to break over planet Doom. Not that the change in hours had any visible effect on the planet, it was still as dark and dismal as ever. If Doom had been fighting anyone else, any other race of creature than Drule, the darkness would have been to their advantage. But the Drules of Amazonia were just as adapted to the darkness as the people of Doom, their eyes evolved to see more than just shapes in the absence of the sun’s light.

Neither side ended up disoriented as the battling ships above them occasionally lit up the sky with flash bombs, the bright light a stark contrast to the ever present night of Doom. Lasers also bounced above the field, the flying craft fighting hard to bring each other down. More ships were arriving on the scene, speeding down from space to battle above the surface of the planet.

It was strange to see the large ships of Amazonia hovering over the landscape, their insignias so different from that of planet Doom’s. The behemoths flew at a crawl, pressing closer to the castle, ready to take any ground they could from the Doom ships. Blasts fired not only at the ships of Doom, but at the castle directly, a constant assault of laser fire that had the weakening shield flickering at a steady pace. It wouldn’t be long before it fell completely, and not even the strongest of witches could hold it indefinitely against such an assault.

Many of the witches were being carted off to the castle infirmary, exhaustion being their chief illness. They were drained of their magic, not even able to spark light on their fingertips. It would take weeks of recovery, and for some they might never get back their magic. Lotor worried about Haggar, wondering how she was holding up since being called to maintain the shields.

At this point the shield would fall if Merla’s flag ship fired off one last beam, Lotor shuddering to think of the damage that would happen with the shields knocked down. The castle was a sweltering heat, the overhead lights barely lit up as more and more power was diverted to back up the shielding. Even now the lights flickered, as though threatening to go out completely.

His father was nowhere to be found, a suspicious absence that hinted that he had already fled the castle, abandoning it like a rat who fled a sinking ship. The people in the command center were somber, little comment passing between them, all seeming to wait for the moment when Amazonia would crush them. It would be too late for them to try and broker a deal with the Queen, they would die alongside their prince and Zarkon would most likely spend his days being hunted by her assassins.

Lotor knew the time was getting closer and closer to give the command to evacuate Allura from the castle. And yet he kept putting it off, hoping for a miracle. He knew that once the shielding was down, he’d have no more excuses. He’d have to send her away, hoping she and his child would live a peaceful life on planet Quevra. He already had a plan in motion to fool the Queen where Allura was concerned, Lotor having guards on standby in the harem. Allura’s cousin, the former princess of Pollux would be sacrificed in her stead, her body presented to Merla.

Lotor was pinning all his hopes on the Queen being fooled by Romelle’s resemblance to Allura. It would be a sad, unfitting end to the slave, but he’d do anything to ensure Allura was able to live a life free of pursuit. Allura would never know what had happened to her cousin, left to assume the girl had died when the castle was taken by the Queen’s forces.

He shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts from Romelle, staring at the view screens. One was locked onto the flag ship with the beam weapon, watching as it drew ever closer to the castle. It didn’t have a clear path to fire, it’s own ships were in the way as they battled the remaining members of Doom’s fleet. The air space around the castle was cluttered with ships, a valiant last stand on Doom’s part to keep Amazonia from getting anywhere near the castle’s walls.

Below the battling ships were the ground forces, a mix mash of Doom and Amazonia soldiers, the ground so cluttered they no longer formed sides. Doom soldiers fought alongside Amazonians, they would kill their enemy, then turn ready to kill another. Many of the men were coated in blood and dirt, their blades thick with the red liquid, gore covering their fronts as they plunged their swords into the belly or heart of their enemies.

It was a brutal battle, the Doom people showing just how merciless Drules were when their back was up against the wall. Swords and fist flew, heads rolling as they were decapitated. But their opponents weren’t weaklings, giving almost as good as they got. The foot soldiers seemed too evenly matched, a battle that could go on indefinitely, leaving the real winner to be decided by the ships up in the sky.

The Amazonian star craft started to spread out, flying out of range of the flagship’s beam. Lotor was already bracing his hands against the heavy steel frame of the computer’s desk, hearing Cossack let out a vicious curse as he too realized they were preparing to hit the castle once more with their ultimate weapon. The gold lights of the flag ship grew to blinding levels, and then the beam was speeding through the sky, disintegrating whatever ships was in it’s way.

The castle rocked, and only his grip on the desk kept him from stumbling. Books fell off the shelves, heavy technical manuscripts that described the inner workings of the various programs that kept the castle going. For an instant no one spoke, everyone staring in silence at one another. And then the alarms sounded, high pitched shrieking that let everyone know the castle was now devoid of a shield.

“Shielding down…” One castle technician spoke up, voice dull with shock as he read off the results from his computer’s screen. “Any witch that was maintaining it would have been knocked out by the backlash of power.”

“Shit.” Cossack’s word eloquently described Lotor’s thoughts, the prince hoping Haggar had stopped powering the shield in time. It would be catastrophic to lose his sole magical ally, though right now he didn’t know what good her magic could do him.

“Cossack….it’s time….” Lotor sighed, still clinging to the desk for support. The castle was rumbling as lesser laser fire pounded into the structure, chunks of stone falling off the tops of the towers.

“Time?” Cossack looked at him, and Lotor nodded.

“Go to her Cossack.” He was weary as he talked, feeling numb to think it had come to this. “Take Allura and the other girls to the shuttle.” He swallowed nervously, Lotor hesitating. “And leave the castle with them.”

“But boss!” Cossack gave a protesting shout, shaking his head no. “I’ll take them to the shuttle, but I’m coming right back. My duty is to fight by your side.”

“Your duty is to do what I tell you to!” Lotor bit back, his voice an angry roar. “I’m giving you a direct order.”

“But…”

“Commander….” Lotor couldn’t gentle his voice, but he forced a bitter smile at Cossack. “You are the only one I trust to look out for Allura and our child. Please, do this for me.”

“All right…” Cossack said grudgingly. “I’ll keep her safe….I’ll keep them both safe.” He approached Lotor, hand held out. The prince looked at it, then reached to grasp his hand, the two Drules shaking on it. “I just want you to know…” continued Cossack, voice shaky. “It has been an honor to serve you.”

“I appreciate that Commander.” Cossak gave a low bow, then turned, walking with his head held high out of the room. Lotor turned, and noticed all eyes were on him, not allowing him a moment to be sad and show his grief. “I expect some of you have families out in the cities.” Lotor began, placing his hands on the chair before him. “As such I won’t expect you to remain in the castle. You’re free to leave and make your way back to your loved ones.”

“For those of you who wish to remain, it’s time to arm yourselves.” Continued Lotor, gesturing towards the armaments closet. “You’ll have to defend yourselves…Merla’s forces will be thirsty for our blood.”

Only three men got up and left the room, murmuring their apologies as they cited the need to survive for their families sake. That left close to a dozen men behind, still more than Lotor had expected to remain when given the option to leave. One at a time, the remaining technicians went to the closet, pulling out hand pistols that had full charges for their lasers.

The last man to retrieve a weapon, approached Lotor, handing the prince a pistol. Lotor took it from him, giving the man a grateful nod, and set the laser pistol on the desk before him. “We should move somewhere else….the command center is one of the first places they’ll try to take control of.” Lotor began, seeing the men nodding their heads. “It’s time we destroy the computer programs so they can’t use the castle against us.”

“I’ll start entering viruses into the computer so the programs shut down.” Offered one of the technicians. “The view screens will be the last to go.”

“All right.” Lotor said, wanting to remain to watch the battle. “Do that now.” The technicians took their seats, and began typing away on their computer consoles, entering in commands as the virus was introduced into the computers. He swore he could hear the lights humming, their power weakening until the emergency circuit breakers kicked on, leaving the corridors of the castle lit in a dim red glow.

The klaxons was the next to die down, the silence a blessed relief after listening to the alarms blare on for so many hours. Lotor knew the shutting down of the castle’s climate control program wouldn’t be obvious, the temperature slow to change. It would grow hotter yet, but on the grand scheme of thing it made little difference.

He picked up the laser pistol, staring straight ahead at the view screens. They were still working, showing the battle raging on. For once the cameras weren’t turned inward, leaving the rooms of the castle a mystery. Using his fingers to make sure the laser charger was attached properly, Lotor studied the battle, watching the ships as they fought and exploded in the air.

In the distant sky, something glinted, reflecting the star light. Lotor squinted his eyes, trying to make out what it was, and realized it was a ship of some kind. “Magnify the screens!” Lotor snapped, knowing they had not yet lost control of the view screens.

“Yes, sire!” One of the Drules called back, and the screen began zooming in, shakily at first, until the ship was clearly defined. It was small, but there was no mistaking it. It was a ship, and not just any ship, it’s white and black metal polished to perfection. Lotor felt his jaw dropping in a display of shocked relief, realizing black lion had arrived on Doom.

It’s speed was such that it was ahead of the other four lions by several miles, Lotor wanting to cheer as black lion charged down towards the battle field, shoulder cannons firing off repeatedly. The beams from the cannons rained down on the tops of Merla’s ships, the craft scattering in an attempt to avoid further damage.

“Get that pilot on the screen!” Lotor shouted, eyes excited as four more glints appeared in the sky. The other lions were catching up to their leader, making their descent down to Doom’s surface.

One of the smaller view screens flickered, the pilot of black lion appearing on it. His eyes were distracted, the man concentrating on the battle, and the skills necessary to fight. “Yes, your highness?”

“I want you to concentrate your attacks on the flag ship of the Amazonian armada.” Lotor told him. “Disable that beam weapon of theirs, and the war is as good as won!”

“I’m on it, your highness.” Answered the pilot, and the screen flickered, Lotor fearing it would go out. But though it crackled with static, the picture remained, everyone in the command center watching as Black Lion charged the flag ship, shoulder cannons firing on any ship that got in it’s way. At one point it actually leaped onto the back of one of the fighter craft, resting on it’s laurels as it geared up for a mighty jump forward.

It’s eyes gleamed in that instant, crackling with electricity as it’s tail stood up straight, a focal point for the lightning it called down from the sky. As black lion leapt off the back of the smaller ship the lightning came crashing down, zapping three of Amazonia’s fighter craft in the process. It disabled their onboard computers, ships losing power and veering off course, to crash into the ground below.

Men from both sides of the battle ran to avoid the crashing ships, some getting caught in the backlash of rubble that was strewn through out the sky. Black lion’s pilot could be heard speaking to the other lions, ordering them all to join him in attacking the flag ship. They did a sharp u turn, veering away from the castle to chase after black lion, intent on helping to destroy the flag ship.

Black lion flew faster, and the beam weapon went off, the lion side stepping it at the last moment. It hit it’s own people, the ships disintegrating, the four lions flying through the debris that fell all around them.

“Ten seconds until black lion engages the flag ship!” One of the technicians shouted. Lotor counted down the time in his head, watching as black lion evaded the lesser beams of the flag ship. Some hit the shields of black lion, but the metal feline was unfazed, continuing it’s charge. It landed on top of the flag ship, and it’s tail went up, gathering lightning once more.

The flag ship was too big to be disabled by the lightning beam, but a few of it’s weapons ceased their functions. Black lion stalked forward, tail lashing about, firing off beams of it’s own. At last it reached the beam cannon, the thing almost half the size of the flag ship itself. Black lion climbed on top of it, and began tearing it apart, using it’s steel claws to rip it open, revealing the complex series of wires inside.

“Amazing!” breathed out one of the technicians. “It’s destroying the beam in less than a minute. It took our forces from Veneg an hour to even get that close to the ship to rain fire down on the cannon!”

“The lions aren’t like any other ships known to man.” Lotor said absentmindedly, watching as blue lion landed on the flag ship. It’s mouth opened, the cannon propelling a stream of water at the wires, setting them off sparking. With a mighty slash from black lion’s claws, the wires were ripped out, it’s paws gutting the weapon open. Soon there was nothing left inside the cannon, the beam unable to function, sparks sputtering weakly over the surface of the metal.

To Lotor’s satisfaction, the other three lions began attacking the underbelly of the flag ship, their claws tearing it open. They took turns firing into the holes they made, and soon the ship was losing altitude, rapidly being brought down. All five lions leapt away from the flag ship, and returned to the heart of the battle, using their elemental powers to bring destruction to the ships of Amazonia.

Not yet risking a smile, Lotor spoke to the men in the room, voice urgent. “Get Commander Cossack on a secure line.” He said, wanting to tell the commander there was no need to evacuate anymore.

“Yes, prince Lotor.” Came the answer, a Drule working to establish a line of communication between the command center and Cossack’s personal com unit. They could hear the ringing of it, over and over, no one making a move to pick up the line. That left Lotor frowning, the prince nodding agreement at a technician’s hurried suggestion to locate Cossack on the view screen.

The inside of the castle replaced the battle fields on all but the main screen, images flickering from room to room as they tried to locate Cossack and his charges, He couldn’t have had time to leave the castle just yet, Lotor was sure of it, but the screens showed the rooms empty, Cossack and Allura nowhere to be found.

The battle continued to rage on, and at last some sign of the commander was found, the man slumped face down in a darkened corridor. “Cossack!” Lotor exclaimed, feeling a knot of tension form in him at seeing the Drule knocked out. The slaves from Arus were present, milling about uncertainly, one kneeling to check on the commander. Allura wasn’t with them, and Lotor felt dread build in his stomach, the prince shouting out an order.

“Find Allura!” The technician increased their scouting throughout the castle, none of the rooms and corridors equipped with cameras went unchecked. But as they tried to cover all the areas available to them in the castle, the screens began dying down, one by one until nothing was left on them but static. Not even the main screen remained powered up, the virus having at last run it’s course.


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