For one dull instant, Lotor just stared at the blank screens, listening to the static that signaled their transmissions were offline. No one dared speak in that moment, the castle technicians just staring anxiously at their prince, waiting for his reaction. He told himself to stay calm, reasoning Allura might still be somewhere inside the castle. Maybe she had gone for help, though a traitorous voice whispered that whoever had taken down Cossack had taken Allura with them.
Another voice whispered that the attacker clearly wanted Allura alive, and didn’t care that they were witnesses, leaving the slaves from Arus untouched by the violence. But just the thought of Allura alone and frightened, made his rage boil, Lotor’s fingers clenching on the handle of his pistol. He forced himself to exhale, breath coming out in a slow hiss.
“What corridor was that?” Lotor was pleased with how calm he sounded, voice not betraying any of his inner turmoil. A hurried conversation followed his question, the men disagreeing on what section of the castle Cossack and the slaves had been seen in. Lotor’s panic mounted, the prince knowing he had no time to wander up and down the corridors of the castle until he stumbled upon Cossack’s downed body.
“Let’s think about this reasonably…” said a technician, even as one snorted in amusement at his words. “The commander had to go to the prince’s quarters to fetch the women….therefor they are surely in one of the corridors that lead to and from that part of the castle. They may even be on route to the hanger area, since they needed to access a shuttle.”
That was good, it narrowed down Lotor’s choices, but he still needed more. “Did anyone recognize any landscapes? Any identifying marks?” He was desperate, trying to rack his mind for anything he had noticed on the monitor. But he had been too shocked, upset at Cossack’s condition, and Allura being gone from the scene to pay much attention to their surroundings. He cursed himself now, Lotor wondering if his inability to pay attention would cost him Allura in the long run.
“I thought I saw the bust of King Zarkon off to the corner of the monitor.” One technician offered, Lotor seizing upon his words. “It looked like the one where the crown is chipped….the one the King hasn’t had time to replace yet…”
“The one near the library.” Lotor said, and was already moving, hooking the laser pistol onto his belt.
“Your highness, we can’t be sure that’s where they are…” A Drule protested, but Lotor didn’t pause, calling back over his shoulder.
“The library lies between my quarters and the hanger bay. It’s as good a place to start as any.”
“At least take some of us with you!” Another called out, and Lotor nodded.
“All right. But volunteers only. Meanwhile, the rest of you need to start work on getting the computers back online.”
“That will take time.” The green clad overseer said, his hands clutching his data pad to his chest.
“I don’t care how long it takes. You introduced the virus, you must have a cure for it. It’s standard operating procedure.” Lotor pointed out, watching as two of the technicians picked up their laser pistols and made ready to follow their prince out into the hall. “As soon as you get the view screens working, contact me on my personal com unit.”
“Yes, sire.” The overseer nodded, and after a moment’s hesitation added the following. “I hope you find her, sire.”
“I hope so too…” Lotor murmured, his voice almost too soft to hear. Gesturing to the two technicians, he raised his voice, urging them to follow him. Lotor resisted his every urge to break into a run, knowing they could be hurrying into a trap of some sort. Instead he set a brisk pace, a walk that was just short of a run, his thoughts painting vivid pictures of the crisis and who could be responsible for Allura’s disappearance.
He came to the only conclusion possible, his lips set in a grim line of disapproval. Merla must have gotten another agent into the castle, the man or woman taking Allura, perhaps intending to deliver her to the Queen. He wouldn’t put it past that bitch to want to have the satisfaction of killing Allura personally, or maybe Merla would test Lotor, and demand he turn himself over in exchange for Allura. He’d go too, but it wouldn’t be to die, but to kill Merla with his own sword, making the Queen regret the day she had ever set her eyes towards Doom.
As much as he looked forward to killing the Queen, he began praying, hoping that at least one of the dark Gods the Drules worshipped would listen to him. He all but begged in his prayers, asking the dark Gods to allow Allura to be safe, and still be in the castle. He hoped she had been taken after the virus began shutting down controls of the castle’s functions, knowing the castle’s hanger doors would not open without proper computer authorization.
The thief that attempted to steal Allura away could still be in the castle, and that made Lotor all the more desperate to find her. He knew if that was the case, the agent of Merla’s would turn equally desperate, liable to do anything to bargain his or her way to freedom. Allura would make a valuable hostage, one that couldn’t afford to be harmed, and that would keep her safe for just a little while longer.
All attempts to not run into a trap were lost when Lotor heard the sound of women weeping, their shaky, crying voices speaking softly in Arusian. They were wondering what to do, a female lamenting that their princess had been taken from them. Lotor sprinted around the corner, startling the women as his voice boomed out a question.
“Who took Allura?!”
The women shrieked, two clutching at each other protectively as they backed up a step from the prince. He repeated his question, thanking the Gods that Allura had been keeping up with his lessons in her language. His attempts at Arusian were shaky, accent making the words sound strange, but he was understandable, although just barely.
The blonde who kneeled next to Cossack’s body, looked up at Lotor, her face stained with tears. “It was a woman.” Lotor didn’t know if it was better or worse than a female had her hands on Allura. His mind actually entertained the wild thought that it was Merla herself come to exact revenge on him for Morwin.
“What did she look like?” Lotor demanded, waiting to hear confirmation of pink hair and powder blue skin.
“I couldn’t see her face too well.” The blonde admitted, looking disgusted with herself for her failure to properly identity Allura’s kidnapper. “She wore a cloak, it was a vivid blood red color, with black accents. It left half her face shrouded in darkness, but I could see her eyes, gleaming golden with power.”
“A red cloak….” Lotor repeated, noting the two technicians had knelt besides Cossck, turning him onto his back. He felt relief to see the commander’s chest rising and falling, the man still alive. “What happened here? How did this….woman knock out my commander?!”
“She…she did something with her hands.” The blonde explained. “Green light emerged from her fingertips, shooting into this man.” She said something else, but Lotor was turning away, hearing Cossack moan as he started to regain consciousness.
“Cossack!” Lotor dropped to his knees, bending over the man, his state both concerned and agitated. He wanted to reach out and grab the Drule by his shoulders, shake him into a more alert state. He yearned for answers, and knew Cossack could confirm his suspicions that a witch had been the one to take Allura.
“His pulse is steady…” One of the technicians stated, holding onto Cossack’s wrist with his hand. “I’m no doctor, but he doesn’t seem to have suffered any long term damages from the attack.”
Another groan from Cossack, the sound pain filled. His eyelids fluttered open, Lotor’s impatient face being the first sight the Drule would see. “B….boss!” stammered Cossack, voice an excitable whisper. He immediately tried to sit up, the action weakening him to the point he collapsed back down on the floor.
“Stay still.” Lotor ordered, but Cossack was shaking his head no.
“I can’t. I have to go after her. She took Allura!” He moaned again, muttering a curse under his breath. “You trusted me with her and I failed you…”
“Calm down, you haven’t failed me yet.” Lotor assured him, grasping his flailing hand in his. “It was a witch that attacked you, wasn’t it? There’s little defense against their magic for those of us who have no skill in the mystical arts…”
“Yeah…it was a witch…” agreed Cossack, a grimace on his face. “And I saw her face too.” He seemed to shudder, closing his eyes briefly. “I’ll never forget it…It…it was that witch of Zarkon’s.”
“Cortana?!” Lotor breathed out, showing his surprise on his face. “Why her?”
“She said something before she took Allura.” Cossack replied, and was pulling on Lotor’s hand, drawing the prince so that his ear was next to his lips. “She said…said she was looking forward to talking with the girl who holds the secret to Voltron’s formation.”
“NO!” Lotor exclaimed, his blood turning to ice in his veins. He pulled back, seeing the grimacing Cossack nodding, an apologetic look in his eyes. “She knows?!”
“I’m afraid so…” Cossak said, tone mournfully. “I don’t know how. You have to believe me when I say I told no one.”
“I know Cossack, I know.” Lotor let go of Cossack’s hand, pushing up off his knees. “Rest…I will go after them.”
“You can’t do it alone…” Cossack was insistent, trying to sit up. “Her magic will flay you alive…”
“I’m not going alone.” Lotor told him, gesturing for the two technicians to hold the injured Cossack down. “I’m going to go find Haggar…”
“Haggar!? Yes….fight magic with magic!” Cossack seemed to wilt with relief, approving of the idea.
“Get him and these women to the infirmary.” Lotor told the technicians, gesturing at the slaves from Arus. They looked relieved to hear they weren’t about to accompany their prince to take on a witch of Cortana’s caliber. “Then return to the command center. I want my father located, and the guards sent to Cortana’s den.”
“Yes, your highness.” The two men murmured in unison.
Lotor turned, catching the eye of the blonde Arusian he had spoken with. “Don’t worry.” He said gruffly in her language. “I will get your princess back.”
She nodded at him, expression fierce as she boldly retorted. “You better.” It was the sort of tone that once he would have killed for, but now he merely smirked, knowing the girl was merely concerned for Allura’s well being. It was good of Allura to have such a protective friend, Lotor giving a slight nod back to her before moving past the huddled women.
He could hear Cossack protesting, the Drule struggling against the two technicians. Such was his weakened state that he wasn’t able to over power the weaker Drules, Cossack calling out frantically to Lotor.