The noise of the hanger filtered into the hall, people talking, shouting over the sounds of a buzz saw. Electricity crackled, the sound of something sparking violently, people yelling in alarm. Good-natured ribbing came from those watching at a safe distance, the sounds of metal ringing as it was worked on. All this hinted that it was a busy time in the hanger, perhaps more so than usual as the mechanics worked to repair and salvage ships.
Lotor paused in the archway that led into the docking area, the prince overlooking the crowded floor. It was no less empty than the last time he had set foot into this area, the place packed full of ships, mechanics and service men running about the floor. They weren’t the only Drules at this time of day, a small contingent of guards were gathered in the rear of the hangar.
Clustered about a man who was taller than all gathered in this room, the guards were on high alert, ready to protect their king. Lotor hid a frown, not liking the way Zarkon took to traveling everywhere with his personal guard. It was a smart move, a safety measure that continued to prolong the king’s life, though his son itched for the chance to dispose of him. He kept telling himself soon, whispering words of reassurance that Zarkon’s time would come.
He just didn’t know when that day would be, Lotor holding back a sigh as he thought on Haggar’s advice. The witch was ever cautious, perhaps now more than ever, whispering to him to wait. She feared if Lotor struck to soon, it would not be just the end of him, but of Haggar, Cossack and Allura. Others would suffer as well, the men and women who had allied with Lotor.
But with Haggar’s powers still not returned, she had no way of telling when would be the most opportune time to strike. Allura, talented though she was proving to be, was no help in this regard. She simply did not have the skill to do a trusty worth divination of the future. It was coming down to a guessing game, Lotor making plans and moving people into position.
He did so quietly, replacing guards with men he had been assured was trustworthy. He did so a handful at a time, not wanting to tip off others to the presence of the new men. The nobles who visited Doom on a daily basis normally did not pay attention to the guards and servants who worked in the castle, treating them as faceless entities. But even they might notice something was wrong, and for that Lotor proceeded carefully.
Many of the halls of the castle were being patrolled by his men, leaving just the halls outside Zarkon’s private chambers to be guarded by the King’s most trusted men. Lotor had yet to replace the men in the throne room, knowing it would be trickier than most because it was always guarded by a mix of both Zarkon’s guards, and the guards that patrolled the rest of the castle.
The throne room might very well be their last stance, the battle ground for the final fight. Lotor was already giving thought to dressing up some of his men as nobles, sneaking them into the throne room for the final showdown with his father. ~Soon.~ Lotor promised himself, forcing himself to step out of the archway and into the room. ~You’ll kill him soon.~
Greetings were shouted to Lotor, men looking up from the work they were doing. The proper respect was paid, bows from the head as he passed by, the mechanics’ hands occupied with drills and saws. Lotor nodded in return, but his attention was solely for his father, seeing Zarkon standing before black lion, his head bent back so he could gaze up at it’s face.
“So the rumors are true.” Zarkon did not turn, the man barely reacting to Lotor’s voice. “You have been paying visits to the lions.”
“Why wouldn’t I?” Zarkon asked, his gaze locked onto black lion. “They are magnificent machines. I can feel their power, it sends shivers down my spine.” Lotor drew up besides his father, pausing to gaze up at the deactivated lion. It’s eyes were currently dark, no light to give it life. And yet something about the sheer majesty of the lion drew Lotor in, the prince experiencing a sense of awe in the lion’s presence.
The lions were currently preserving their power, having spent many days traveling and fighting. They were nearing their weekly limit, and needed to be returned to Arus soon. “I often wonder…” Zarkon began, intruding on Lotor’s thoughts. “Just how the Ancient Arusians made the lions.”
“If Allura is to believe, they didn’t.” That got the King to look at him, the man lifting a brow in question. “Their origins are shrouded in mystery…A mystery that hints at Gods and magic.”
“Hmph. A fanciful superstition for a simple people.” Zarkon said dismissive, clearly ruling out Allura’s words. “No, someone had to have made it. Some long lost civilization of Arus, with technology the likes of which we’ve never even dreamed of.”
“If they were so advanced, why are there no records of them?” Lotor asked.
“They probably grew too powerful. It’s happen before, civilizations turning inward, destroying themselves either by accident or design. We’re just lucky the lions survived their downfall.” Zarkon turned back to the lion, stretching out his hand towards it’s black metal hide.
“We’re lucky in more ways than one.” Lotor agreed, watching his father caress his nails against the lion’s side. “Without them we would have lost the kingdom.”
“Yes. All because that impudent bitch was holding back on us.” Zarkon grumbled. “I’ll have that beam of hers at my command soon enough. After witnessing Merla’s execution the scientists are practically fighting each other to be the first to spill Amazonia’s secrets. It’s refreshing.” He turned away from the lion, focusing on his son now. “To have a weapon we can recreate easily. I dare say the Doom Empire will soon be unstoppable between the lions and the beam.”
“That must make you happy.”
“It does.” Allowed Zarkon with a nod of his head. “Although I would be happier if we could have Voltron at our disposal.”
“I won’t risk Allura.” Lotor quickly said, seeing his father frown. “She is too fragile a flower to fight wars for you.”
“She could use some hardening up.” Groused Zarkon, giving Lotor a considering look. “You pamper that slave far too much. It weakens you both.”
“She’s the mother of my children and has never been in a fight. You think a girl like her will have the stomach to do what is necessary?” Lotor demanded, and Zarkon shrugged.
“There are other ways she can serve.”
“Oh?” Lotor was uneasy at that, staring at his father as he waited for him to clarify what he meant.
“I’ve been giving careful thought to that girl’s future.” Zarkon said, and his eyes unnerve Lotor, the king seeming to savor each word spoken. “And I’ve come to a decision…”
“Allura is my responsibility.” Lotor quickly interjected, fearing the worst. “I’ve made promises to her..”
“Promises that can be broken.” Zarkon snorted, his tone disdainful. “Really Lotor. Telling her you’d set her free was one of your more…insipid moments.” The king tsked, tongue clicking at his teeth. “She’s a valuable commodity, in more ways than one. Her blood is the only thing that can activate Voltron. Do you really think I’d allow her to escape our grasp?”
“It’s not your decision to make..” Lotor began, but Zarkon cut him off with a roar.
“Do you forget who is king here?!”
“No…” Lotor had to fight to maintain control, whispering words in his head about how Zarkon would not be king for much longer.
“I get the final say. And I will not allow that girl, that slave to leave. Her blood holds the key, blood that must be studied. Blood that must be passed on.”
“What are you hinting at?” An ill Lotor asked.
“I mean to breed her.” Zarkon flashed his fangs, Lotor trying to control his reaction but failing. “Come now Lotor, do not look so horrified! You’ll have your heirs, and I will have my test subjects. Babies that are born with the genetic key that will allow them to pilot Voltron. We’ll be able to study them at leisure, and perhaps come across the reason why her blood is so special.”
“What good will an army of potential pilots do?!” Lotor growled, Zarkon smirking.
“I haven’t given up on reproducing the lions. If we can crack the codes…we can have the robots for our specially trained pilots to fly.” Zarkon was moving, his guards clearing a path for him through the hanger. Lotor stalked after him, smoldering with anger.
“You never get tired of amassing power do you?!” he demanded, and Zarkon actually laughed. “When will it be enough father?!”
“When I have this whole galaxy cowering before me!” Came Zarkon’s answer.
Lotor wondered if even that would be enough to satisfy Zarkon. “I won’t allow you to use Allura like some brood mare!”
“You’ve no say in it!” Zarkon retorted. “Fight me on this, and I’ll separate you from her now.” Lotor stopped, clenching his hands into fists as he stared at his father’s retreating back. “I suggest you work on distancing yourself from the girl.” He called back to Lotor. “It’ll make it easier to part from her once your heirs have been born into this world.”
“Damn you.” Lotor growled, listening to the sound of Zarkon’s mocking laughter travel back to him. ~You go to far old man.~ Lotor thought, snarling softly to himself. He began striding through the hangar, the Drules there turning away, pretending not to have noticed the exchanged between father and son. Lotor practically saw red, fighting not to break into a run as he covered the distance to the archway.
His father and his men were just disappearing around a corner, but Lotor made no move to charge after them. Instead he forced himself to breathe, trying to calm himself as best he could. He would not allow Zarkon to goad him into making a move against him just yet, not when all he had at his disposal was the sword hanging at his side.
~Zarkon has to die and soon.~ Lotor grumbled in his head, and marched down the corridor. He walked at a fast clip, hurrying past startled faces, the prince growling under his breath. He didn’t let anyone stop him, refusing to acknowledge those who foolishly tried to get his attention. Soon he was at Haggar’s door, fist banging against the metal.
It took her a few moments to answer, the locks being undone one by one. He pounded his fist harder, letting his anger and impatience transfer to that movement. “Prince Lotor….your highness…” Haggar took one look at his angry face, then reached for his arm, drawing him into the room. “Do come in..”
Near the back of the room sat Allura, the girl perched on a stool, a vial of some kind in her hand. Lotor immediately went to her side, reaching for her hand, pulling her to her feet. She went into his embrace with protests, the girl stiff with tension as he hugged her. Lotor didn’t care if at the moment he was upsetting her, needing her nearness to calm him.
“You’re angry…” Allura whispered, and Lotor nodded, burying his nose in her hair. He knew he was doing things she didn’t like, overwhelming her with his nearness. But he feared Allura’s closeness was the only thing that could make him settle down, the only thing that could prevent him from doing something foolish.
“Tell us what happened.” Haggar was near, having finished with locking her door.
“It’s my father.” Lotor stared at the witch over Allura’s hair, seeing Haggar frown. “He goes too far this time.”
“He’s always pushing…what’s new about this?”
“He’s involving Allura in his schemes!” Lotor growled, tightening his arms around her possessively. “He has this insane notion of breeding her off to make more pilots suitable to flying Voltron.” He heard Allura make a shocked sound, Lotor relaxing his grip so he could peer into her face. Her eyes were wide and dismayed, her skin having grown paler.
“Calm down or you’ll let him throw you off your game.” Advised Haggar. She looked at Allura, and spoke soothingly to the girl. “We won’t allow that to happen, so don’t you worry my dear.”
“Haggar’s right.” Lotor said, slowly releasing Allura completely. “Zarkon won’t lay a finger on you.”
“How can you be so sure?” Allura asked, sounded worried.
“Because I intend to kill him….” he paused for dramatic effect. “Tonight.” Allura gasped, but Haggar had an unexpected reaction, the witch torn between laughing and scorn. “What witch?” Lotor growled out a demand. Haggar was only too eager to answer.
“I tell you not to let him get to you, and what do you do?! You let him!” Haggar sighed. “Not everyone is in place….You still have men to get into the castle. It will take a few more days yet before you can even make the attempt on his life. Think before you act!”
“But nothing!” Hissed Haggar. “Zarkon can’t even put his plan against Allura into motion until after she has your children. She’ll be safe from him if we wait just a little longer. Please your highness…don’t let foolish impulse cost you your crown.”
“She’s right Lotor.” Allura spoke up, touching his arm. “And you’ve waited this long…be patient for just a few more days.” She looked into his eyes, her gaze imploring. Lotor sighed, knowing for Allura he would wait.
“Fine. We wait. But the instant all my men are in place, Zarkon dies.”
“Yes, yes.” Haggar nodded. “And a fine day that will be.” She flashed a crooked smile at them, then turned. “Allura and I will be busy….”
“Busy?” questioned Allura.
“There are potions to be made child. I may not be able to use my power, but I can still lend a bit of magic to the prince’s cause.” She disappeared down the aisle of bookcases, leaving Lotor and Allura alone. They didn’t look at each other, staring down the path Haggar had traveled. It left an awkward silence between them, Allura fidgeting in place next to him.
Lotor held back a sigh, noting with regret that things were still rough between them. They weren’t spending as much time together as he would like, Lotor finding he didn’t really know what to say to Allura now that he had some idea of how she felt. And yet, even with those horrible silences between them, he enjoyed just being near her, Lotor loving to gaze at her beauty.
He didn’t just look at her, Lotor had taken to doing his own brand of touch therapy with Allura. Each time he visited with her, he held her hands and stroked his fingers up and down the length of her arms. He practiced holding her, being careful with his hugs, trying to acclimatize Allura to his touch and nearness. She put up with it as best she could, though she always seemed to vibrate with nervous energy when he held her, or tried to touch her elsewhere than her arms.
“Haggar…” Allura’s hesitant voice broke the silence, Lotor glancing at her. “Haggar says we need to set aside time to start practicing my breathing exercises for the birth. I…I assume you’ll want to be present for the twin’s arrival?”
“Of course.” Lotor quickly answered. “I want to be here for every stage, not just the birth. I’ll do anything to help you prepare.”
“Thank you.” A soft word from her, Allrua looking downwards. The silence descended upon them once more, Lotor desperate for a topic to talk to her about.
“Is it difficult?” That had Allura looking at him, a hint of confusion in her eyes. “These breathing exercises?”
“Oh no…not really.” She said. “I mean…it’s to keep me from panicking and breathing in a way that leaves me short of breath during labor. It helps to have a partner to keep me on track.”
“Will I give birth in the castle hospital?” She asked, and Lotor shrugged.
“If you like. Although we’ll have to get a doctor on staff the specializes in labor. Most of the doctors currently on staff are more for patching up the wounded, then ushering in new life to the world.”
“I take it it’s not often that a baby is born on castle grounds.” Allura said, and Lotor nodded.
“Usually not on purpose. But don’t worry Allura. I’ll get you the best doctor and best equipment needed for healthy babies to be born!” Lotor was earnest, smiling at her.
“I believe you…” She hesitated, and he urged her to speak, Allura looking anxious. “Do you think your father is serious about…about breeding me?”
“As serious as he is with any of his other insane ideas.” Lotor grumbled, then noticed her worried look. “But he won’t get a chance to do it. I promise you Allura! I will kill him.” She just looked at him, eyes uncertain. He sighed, and picked up her hand, lacing their fingers together.
“Doom is a scary place.”
“Sometimes it is…” agreed Lotor, and she look surprised at his agreement.
“Even to you?” Allura asked, and Lotor nodded.
“Even to me.”
“But you’ll bring change to the planet, won’t you?” Her eyes were intent on his face, waiting his answer.
“I’ll try my best too.” That seemed to satisfy Allura, the girl squeezing his hand.
“That’s all anyone can ask of you.” It left Lotor wondering if he’d be able to do as she asked, the prince fearing he would turn as hard and cruel as Zarkon if Allura was to leave him. But he didn’t dare voice his thoughts, just squeezing her hand back in reply.