Game 09

He ran through the forest, the dense thicket brushing against his body. Thorns tried to snag on his clothing, but Lotor ignored the discomfort of the brambles scratching open his skin. He’d endure far worse to catch up with his love, Allura somewhere up ahead of him. He couldn’t see her, but he could hear the sounds of her progress, the princess crashing into things in her frightened flight.

Lotor couldn’t blame her for being scared. She had come close to dying, to being killed. He shuddered anew, remembering the sight of Merla on top of Allura. Of the Queen’s hands around that pretty neck, the Drule female enraged as she tried to choke the life out of the princess of Arus. Lotor almost hadn’t made it in time. Almost hadn’t been able to pull them apart. He thanked any God listening that his arrival had been the catalyst for Merla letting go of Allura. He might even thank the Gods for allowing him to spare Merla’s life, for that single bit of hesitation that had come through despite his rage. And he had been angry, Lotor furious and ready to kill. To end Merla’s life in a far quicker manner than the Queen had tried to do to Allura.

But something had held him back, some lingering feeling. Some desire to attempt one last time to understand Merla and the reasons why she did what she did where Lotor and Allura were concerned. There had to be more to Merla’s insane jealousy, than a simple attraction to Lotor. Just as he didn’t believe she would go to such lengths just to hold onto her claim to the Doom Empire. Lotor strongly suspected Merla liked him. A lot more than she was willing to ever admit to. Lotor was arrogant enough to believe that was reason enough for Merla to risk enraging Zarkon with this unauthorized use of Doom resources. Or at least, that is what he had thought before Merla had made her startling confession.

Never in Lotor’s wildest thoughts could he have imagined Merla revealing what she had. Despite all the sex they had had, Merla becoming pregnant was the last outcome Lotor had ever expected. And it was perhaps the only thing strong enough to get him to stay his hand, for not even a full out confession of love would have been enough to get Lotor to forgive the bruises on Allura’s neck.

Even now, recalling the way Allura had choked on her own desperate attempts to breathe, had Lotor’s anger spiking anew. His sword slashed forward, cutting down low hanging branches that sought to get in his way. It was almost violent, the way he charged through the forest, leaping over tree’s roots, bashing things out of his way. It did nothing to appease the emotions inside him, Lotor angry and realizing it didn’t all have to do with the fact that Allura had almost nearly died. Merla was at the heart of his anger. Her lies and manipulations, the way she had went behind his back to come to Arus just to kill Allura? It all paled in comparison to the fact the Drule female was pregnant with HIS child. A child she had foolishly risked, a child she had even admitted to considering aborting.

His sword slashed through the air, the violent swings a tangible manifestation to the anger he felt. He couldn’t believe Merla was that cruel, that selfish to not even tell him about the baby until her back was up against the wall. What if he had been a little too quick to act on his first impulse, what if he hadn’t hesitated? Merla would be dead, and their child with her!

Lotor let out an enraged snarl at that thought. Merla had no right. To kill Allura, to kill their baby? No right to any of it. Just as he felt she had no right to demand he give up Allura, that he live up to the promises their marriage implied, and become committed to Merla and their child alone. Lotor didn’t like ultimatums, didn’t like having his own back up against a wall. And he felt that was exactly what Merla was doing, trying to back him up until he was trapped, and had no choice but to be hers. He didn’t like it, and Lotor damn well wasn’t going to give up that easily.

It was just one of many reasons that had him traipsing through this forest. Love for Allura moved him, but this was also an open act of rebellion. Against Merla, and maybe even against his father and the marriage Zarkon had forced Lotor to enter into. Even though Lotor knew he should have remained behind with Merla. Should have stayed to make sure nothing happened to the pregnant Queen. His was torn between conflicting instincts, the desire to go after the woman he loved, and stay with the mother of his unborn child. In this moment, Lotor was too angry to think he might care for Merla more than that, the prince furious over the things Merla had attempted to do this day.

Some part of him hissed that Lotor should go back. Stay with Merla long enough to get her back to the fleet. But to do that would cost him Allura, and Lotor was not yet ready to give up on his dream of having her. Never was there a better chance to catch her than at this moment. Never was there more at risk than what was happening now, the skies of Arus full of battling warships. Lotor knew he could end this all by capturing Allura. He could put a stop to the war in one fell swoop, make today’s debacle worth it. His father’s anger would be appeased, and Lotor might even be able to convince Zarkon to let him KEEP Allura. Lotor would figure out what would happen afterwards, what he would do with Merla once Allura was settled on Doom.

He was still too angry to think any tender thoughts towards the Queen. Too unwilling to examine that he might like Merla more than he should. He wouldn’t allow himself to reflect on the time passed, the weeks he had spent living with, quarreling with, even enjoying Merla. Lotor refused to consider that at some point he had gone from merely tolerating Merla, to maybe liking her.

Like, tolerate, or hate, Lotor knew he had to do something about Merla. He just wasn’t sure what that something should be, especially now that she was carrying his child. But Lotor refused to believe a baby changed everything for him. He still clung to his dreams, to the idea of having Allura for his bride. Of laying the universe at her feet. Somehow a baby off another woman didn’t fit into that vision, and yet Lotor knew he would cherish the child. It was half his after all, a part of him. Even if the child had the wrong woman for a mother.

Grumbling about the unfairness of it all, Lotor caught sight of a flash of pink. Some piece of Allura’s clothing had torn off, leaving a tell tale marker to let him know he was on the right track. He picked up speed, Lotor knowing he had to catch her before she got out of this forest. The castle of Lions lay at the very end, and once in sight the guards there wouldn’t hesitate to come to their princess’ aid.

He wouldn’t have any problem killing those would be saviors of hers. But Lotor would prefer to avoid blood shed, if only to keep Allura calm. Keeping her calm was important, as important as not giving Allura any further reasons to think him a monster. Saving her from Merla might play well in his favor, might have Allura recognizing the sincerity of Lotor’s feelings. But then again, she HAD run. Not even lingering to offer up a thank you to her savior.

He came across a clearing, and there crossing to the other side, was Allura. She didn’t pause at his shout, didn’t even react save to run even faster. But she was breathing heavily, pushed to her limits and perhaps not recovered from her near strangulation. Lotor shouted again, and charged after her, dropping his sword.

“Allura, wait!”

“Go away, Lotor!” She surprised him by speaking, but it wasn’t enough to get him to stop his pursuit.

“I can’t!” He told her, a determined look in his eyes. “I won’t.” He was nearly on her, Lotor extending his arm forward. Reaching to snag hold of her arm. She cried out at the contact, Lotor feeling triumph as his fingers locked around her. Allura tried to twist away, her motion almost violent. He couldn’t see her face in the moment, Allura keeping herself turned away from him.

“Let go!” She shouted, as though her screams could be heard over the overhead battle, and somehow reach the people inside the castle. “Leave me be!”

“No.” He jerked her against him, Allura finding her body plastered against his front. He saw as much as heard her gasp, her pretty lips parting in shock. Terror spiked in her eyes, Allura starting to struggle even harder. Lotor gripped her by both arms now, his strength holding her down so that all the princess could do was a pleasing wriggle against his body.

It excited him, his own gaze darkening in arousal. It had been too long since he had held a woman, and even longer since he had bedded anyone but Merla. If Allura wasn’t careful, she’d find herself on her back, bedded before wedded.

“Allura.” Her name was a husky whisper on his lips, Lotor bringing his face down towards her. He was intent on claiming her lips, on gaining a taste of her to satisfy the lust raging through him.

“Don’t…” Allura ordered, turning her face to the side so that all he kissed was his cheek. Even that was stimulating, Lotor grazing his lips over the softness of her cheek.

“Why not?”

“You’re married.” He had never forgotten that fact, Lotor kissing along her skin so that he could whisper seductively in her ear.

“Easily fixed.” He was practically purring, tongue snaking out to trace behind her ear. “I’ll divorce the witch. Make you my Queen. The whole universe will be laid at your feet, untold power and riches yours to command.”

“I’ve never cared about ruling the universe.” Allura began, but a shiver went through her at the touch of his tongue. “And even less about power…” Again she tried to pull away from him, Lotor tightening his grip. “And even if I did care about those kind of things…I wouldn’t take another woman’s husband!”

“Merla and I don’t love each other!” Lotor told her. “It’s a marriage my father forced on us. Inconvenient at best, I would toss it all aside for you, my love!”

“And what about the baby?” Her words slammed into him, Lotor going still. “Would you toss aside your child just as easily as you do, Merla?!”

“I…of course not! What kind of man do you think I am?!” He demanded.

“That’s a question better left unanswered, wouldn’t you say?” Allura asked. She sighed, and shook her head no. “Go home Lotor. Go back to your wife, to the family you’re going to have.”

“No.” His tone was stubborn, Lotor all but clinging to Allura. “It’s you I love, not Merla!”

She didn’t argue if he was capable of love, nor did Allura try to deny his feeling for her. “And what of the baby? Do you love it as well?”

“Of course I’ll love it! But this between us? You and me? It’s a different kind of love….the baby’s not even here yet…I only just found out about it…”

“You haven’t even had time to process what this child means for you AND for Merla.” Allura pointed out. “I think you should leave. Take the time you need to figure things out.”

“I already know what I want. A future with you…”

“That’s not possible.” Allura said, tone and manner firm.

“Why?” Lotor asked, but then didn’t let her answer. “Because I got Merla pregnant? That was an accident, I assure you.”

“An accident it may have been, but it doesn’t change the fact that she’s pregnant with your baby. If you weren’t prepared for the consequences, you should have never slept with Merla in the first place.” Chided Allura.

He frowned, Lotor studying her expression. He didn’t quite gasp in understanding, giving her his infamous smirk. “You’re jealous.”

“What?!” She looked startled, gasping in shock.

“Oh, Allura, there is no need to be. Merla means little to me. She’s nothing more than….than an incubator for my seed. You are who matters to me.” Allura’s jaw had dropped open, the girl gaping at him. Lotor smiled, and caressed fingers over cheek, tempted to lean in and kiss her. “It doesn’t matter how many women I’ve slept with, they’re not you. They’re not special, they’re not the one I love.”

“I don’t care how many women you have, or have not slept with!” Allura exclaimed. “You don’t inspire confidence in me. If you can toss aside Merla so easily…”

“Oh Allura, I would never toss YOU aside.” He was earnest. “I LOVE you. I want to marry and start a family with you…”

“And yet you are willing to toss aside those same things, the commitment and family you have with Merla!”

She made him feel exasperated. “Only because I don’t love her!” She was frowning, shaking her head no. “Allura…it will be different between us. We will be happy….a real family, a true marriage.”

“There is no us.” Allura snapped. “And the sooner you realize…”

“No!” He spoke over her. “The sooner you realize we are going to happen, the better off you’ll be.”

“Is…is that a threat?” She demanded, her tone trying for brave even as her eyes were fearful.

“No, it’s a promise.” He told her. “Eventually there will come a time when you accept a life with me. You’ll have no choice but to.”

“You’re delusional if you think that!” Allura snapped.

“Just confidant.” He grazed his fingers over her throat, frowning at the bruises there. “I almost lost you, today.” Lotor whispered, hugging her to him. He felt Allura shiver in acknowledgment.

“A jealous Drule female is a fearsome thing.” She muttered. “Though I can’t say I completely blame her. Not if she’s trying to keep her marriage and family together.”

Lotor scowled then. “So you would lay down and die to keep Merla’s future secure? Is that what you’re saying?!”

“No. I’m just saying I understand better why she went to such lengths to kill me.” Allura said, giving him a concerned look. “You should go back to her, Lotor. She didn’t look too well.”

“Merla will be fine.” Lotor insisted, stamping down that uncertain feeling in his gut.

“Lotor, she was bleeding out her nose!” Again that twinge, worry manifesting itself inside him. “Lotor…” Allura sighed. “Even if you don’t care about Merla, she is carrying your child. You should probably make sure she’s safe…”

“I am sure she’s already returned to her ship.” Lotor insisted. “Which is something we should be doing as well. Come on.”

“No.” She didn’t move. “I am not going anywhere with you!”

“You don’t exactly have a choice!” Lotor pointed out with a growl. “I caught you fair and square Allura. You’re mine now, and with you, Arus falls!”

“You haven’t won yet, Lotor!” Allura snapped. “Good will always triumph over evil!”

“When will you learn that people don’t fit in so neatly into your black and white world?” Lotor demanded, hauling on her arm. “Gray exists for a reason.” She said nothing to that, digging her heels into the ground so that she stumbled when Lotor dragged her behind him. “You’ll learn that lesson first hand on Doom.”

“I am not going to Doom!” A glance behind him showed Allura had paled in fright. “Not now, not ever!”

“That’s not your decision to make.” He continued to drag her, heading towards where his sword lay discarded on the ground. He’d bend to pick it up, Allura starting to beat her free hand against his back. Lotor ignored her fist’s blows, taking his sword and sliding it into his scabbard. He then reached for a tiny remote in one of his pockets, pressing a button. It activated a signal, which would draw his jet to him via autopilot.

It would take several minutes for the jet to arrive. By that time Allura was shouting, a desperate screaming that was an attempt to draw a rescue to them. But they weren’t anywhere near the castle. And even if they had been, it was unlikely there was anybody close enough by to hear Allura’s screams over the sound of the battle taking place over the roof of the forest. Lotor had to hold in his laughter, hardly able to believe that what had nearly resulted in Allura’s death had ended with the princess in his hands. Arus was as good as his, and he couldn’t wait to report the news to his father. The only dark spot in an otherwise silver lining was Merla, the prince unsettled as he remembered the look in the defeated Queen’s eyes.

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