Freedom 01

The window to her room was open, the thick armored shell down for the moment, allowing her an unobstructed view of the forest. Trees spread out as far as the eye could see, the lush green foliage beautiful but hiding a dangerous threat. Allura knew that somewhere in the forest, evil lurked, an encampment of Drule soldiers which had survived the day’s attack.

Allura couldn’t help but wonder if HE was among them, the princess not knowing which ship the Drule prince had been on. She could still remember the shock she had felt when Voltron set missiles flying, the deadly metal tearing into ships, causing explosions in mid air. The sky had been lit up, an orange glow that had taken hours to fade completely.

Some part of her had been frightened, horrified at the loss of life caused by the robot’s hands. Yes, the Drules were her enemies, the villains that tormented not only her people, but the people who lived throughout the Denubian Galaxy, but at the heart of the matter, they were still people. Living, breathing mortals, who had a right to life. Allura had always felt that her mercy, the respect for life she and her people had was what set them apart from others in this war. Yes, there had to be fighting, but a loss of life could be kept to a minimum at best.

What happened today went against everything she believed in, the princess giving in to silent tears as ship upon ship exploded. She knew Keith and the others didn’t understand, knew they felt it a great victory. Even now the Voltron Captain was pushing Arus’ soldiers to search the forest, to find and capture the survivors. It all left an unpleasant taste in her mouth, Allura wondering if the castle’s dungeons were big enough to contain the Drule captives.

Behind her, intruding on her thoughts was the idle chatter of her maids. The two women were chipper, in good spirits as they escaped the watchful eye of Allura’s stern nanny. She could see their reflections on the pane of glass, the two moving about her room, tidying up. Occasionally they sent worried glances at their princess, surely disturbed by her silence. Allura couldn’t bring herself to speak, leaving them to fret and ponder the reason behind her silence.

Minutes passed, Allura remaining by her window, just staring out into the darkness. A knock sounded, and even that was not enough to tear her from her perch, the door to her room whisking open with a loud hiss of air. Her nanny stood in the entrance, looking as prim and proper as ever, brown hair coiled back in a thick bun. At her piercing look, the maids fell silent, hurrying to finish their work.

“Any word yet?” Allura asked, listening to the footsteps of her nanny as she approached her.

Nanny hesitated, her face twisting into a frown. “No nothing.” She said at last, heaving a heavy sigh. “Those filthy Drules still elude our soldiers. But…Allura my dear…” A hand on her shoulder, the woman attempting to turn Allura around. “You shouldn’t worry about such things. Let the boys handle it. You need your rest.”

She was tired, but she feared she’d be unable to sleep so long as she didn’t know the state of Lotor’s well being. “I think I’ll stay up, just a little longer.”

“You really mustn’t do this to yourself.” Nanny said, misunderstanding her reasons for wanting to stay up. “You mustn’t let fear and anxiety keep you up. What can those that survived the attack do? They are small in number, and will be easily overcome by our men. Rest princess…you have earned it.”

“Has Keith left yet?” Allura asked instead, hearing Nanny make a tsking sound.

“Ah he has.” Nanny said.

“I want to join him out in the forest.” It was a sudden impulse, Allura feeling she couldn’t do anything less than join the search. Nanny let out a displeased sound.

“Absolutely not Allura! It’s dangerous out there!”

“I am no stranger to danger.” Allura retorted, at last turning to look at her flustered Nanny.

“No….you cannot go. I won’t allow it!” Nanny said, hands on her hips. “Bad enough you fly around in that metal death trap. I won’t have you traipsing about the woods at night when the enemies are on the loose. Anything could happen! What if that fiend, Lotor is there?!”

“But I will be accompanied by soldiers. He won’t be able to get to me.” Allura said reasonably.

“Better you stay in the castle, where we can be sure Lotor can’t touch you!” Nanny said insistently. The maids had finished up, and were now watching the argument, eyes wide as they listened to Nanny shout.

“Lotor has gotten into the castle before.” Allura pointed out, knowing he wasn’t the only one of the Doom Empire to successfully infiltrate the castle. “Really Nanny, if he’s that determined to get to me, he’ll find a way.”

“So you’d rather just go out and hand yourself over to him?” Nanny demanded, hands on her hips.

“I think you underestimate not only my skills, but the skills of our soldiers.” Allura snapped, starting to feel annoyed with the stout woman. “I will be perfectly safe, and I am capable of defending myself.” She moved to step past the woman, heading towards her bureau. Nanny continued to sputter angrily behind her, as Allura rummaged through the top drawer, seeking out her spare blaster holster.

“You are that determined to do this? To go out and risk yourself like this?!”

“Yes, Nanny, I am.” Allura said, looping the holster around her slim waist. She then retrieved her blaster, the metal snow white, and molded for small hands. She glanced at the woman as she placed the blaster gun into her holster, seeing her lips pursed together in disapproval.

“Then I am coming with you!” Nanny announced, her words making the maids gasp in surprise.

“Nanny?!”

“I must see to my charge’s safety.” The woman said, offering a grim smile to the princess. Allura’s own eyes were wide with shock, and she hesitated to tell Nanny that she would most likely get in the way of their own soldiers. She opened her mouth to protest, but the woman was speaking over her. “My mind is made up princess, I am coming with you.”

“…..Fine.” Allura said at last, giving a curt nod to the woman who had raised her in place of her mother. “Let us go tell Coran we’re leaving.”

————————————————————————————————————————————————-

He was less than pleased by the news, Coran having offered up his best arguments as to why she should not go. Allura had shot them all down, displaying a firmness she did not often show when dealing with either one of her two caregivers. It left those around her nearly stun with shock, watching as Allura behaved like a ruler used to having her orders obeyed.

It didn’t take long for Coran to give in, and all too soon, Allura, her nanny, and nearly a dozen armed men were walking about the forest floor. They moved about in near darkness, not wanting to risk too many lights for fear of giving away their position to their enemies. Their communicators were switched on, ready to transmit should the need for assistance arise.

The two women walked in the center of the guard, Allura biting back a smile as Nanny grumbled under her breath. The woman was having a difficult time moving about the forest in her long skirts, her feet crunching loudly on gravel and twigs, clothing getting snagged on branches. She carried a blaster, and her hands constantly shook, showing off how nervous Nanny was to be handling a weapon.

Allura’s own blaster was holstered, her right hand staying close to it in case she needed to draw it. Her eyes were constantly scouting about the trees, ears alert for any strange sound. So far they had yet to come across Keith’s search party, leaving Allura to wonder how deep in the forest the captain was.

Occasionally Allura glanced upwards, trying to see the moon through the tree’s thick foliage. It offered little light, and she sighed, knowing she was at a disadvantage to the Drules. The alien race had superb night vision, allowing them to skulk about in the shadows with ease.

“This is a waste of time.” Huffed Nanny, sounding a little out of breath. “We are not going to find anyone in the dead of night.” No one responded to her complaints, the woman continuing to speak. “Please princess, let us turn back now. The others will find them.”

“I’m not ready to go back.” Allura told her, paying more attention to her surroundings than her nanny’s words. The woman sighed, disappointed as she fell silent once more.

Deeper they went into the forest, and soon they found signs of recent activity. Blaster marks scorched tree bark, and the dirt was scuffed up as though feet had moved in a hurry. One of Allura’s soldiers knelt down, fingers touching the dirt. “There’s been a fight here….recent too by the way those marks are still emitting heat.”

“Yes.” Allura agreed, looking around. It was too dark to see if any blood had been spilt, and she felt relived that no dead bodies were laying about. “Let’s keep moving.” She took a step forward, leaving the safety of the soldiers to part branches along a path. Footsteps behind her alerted her to the fact that they were following her, close on her heels as she took the lead.

The further they progressed, the more signs of battle appeared, leaving them to wonder at how their forces were doing. Soon they could hear sounds, faintly but it was there, lasers discharging. Allura’s nose wrinkled as she smelled the smoke, quickening her step towards the sounds. The closer her party moved, the louder the noise got, shouts being heard, voices angry and bellowing challenges.

At one point a stray laser nearly bounced into Allura, a soldier knocking into her back, causing the both of them to fall face forward into the grass. The man quickly rolled off her, a hand held out to assist Allura to her feet, the princess dusting stray dirt off her pink suit.

“Princess are you okay?” hissed Nanny in concern, her voice a loud whisper as she hurried towards Allura.

“I’m fine.” Allura said, already moving towards the battle. Nanny grabbed her by the arm, trying to stop her as the men ran past, their weapons in hand as they went to join in the fight. “Nanny, let go of me.” hissed Allura, yanking her arm free.

“No, stay here where it’s safe!” Nanny insisted, just as another laser came ricocheting between the trees, nearly missing taking off their heads. Allura couldn’t tell for sure, but if she hazard a guess, her nanny’s skin had paled in fright from the near miss.

“Nowhere is safe right now.” Allura said, and turned, running towards the fight. Her nanny miraculously kept up with her, panting all the way. They paused between two trees, stunned as they took in the sight of devastation. Soldiers, both human and Drule laid out on the ground, some face down with blaster holes in their backs. Others were fighting, clothes torn in places, burn marks on their skin.

Allura’s eyes traveled over each person, feeling relief to find Keith still in one piece. The red suited captain led the assault on the retreating Drules, though even he had to admit his party had suffered a tremendous loss of men. She turned quickly, trying to spot Lotor among the Drules, hear heartbeat pounding in her ears. Nowhere among the blue colored men was there one with white hair, and she feared what this meant.

She was stepping forward, blaster in her hands, her nanny a constant shadow as she moved. Keith’s eyes widened as he saw her, lowering his blaster to stare shocked at Allura. A Drule saw his chance, leaping towards Keith, intent on wrestling the blaster away from him. Fists locked around wrists, both men struggling, Keith determined to not let loose with a cry of pain as the alien’s strength overwhelmed him.

Amidst the noise of laser fire, a crunching could be heard, bone snapping in Keith’s arm, rendering his hand useless, the blaster falling free to the ground. The Drule smiled, thinking he was victorious, and Keith lashed out with his knee, smashing it into his groin. It was a dirty but effective trick, the Drule hunching over, letting go of Keith’s wrist.

The Voltron Captain kept his good hand on the Drule’s wrist, and with a turn of his body, was throwing him over his shoulder and onto the ground. A foot slammed into the Drule’s wind pipe, Keith pressing down with his full weight, the Drule choking as he tried to catch his breath.

“Behind you!” Allura shouted, and fired off a shot, hitting a grotesque Drule square in the chest. He crumpled to the ground, unharmed for the most part since the princess had set her blaster to stun only. The Drule Keith had pinned was making a horrible noise, Allura hastening to stun him to put a stop to the sound. Only then did Keith moved off the Drule, bending to pick up his discarded blaster.

No time to watch him fumble to use it in his non dominant hand, Allura was already laying her sights on another Drule, ready to shoot when she heard her nanny scream. Allura gasped and whirled around, eyes going wide as she saw Prince Lotor himself holding onto her nanny. She didn’t feel the relief she had longed for at seeing him, instead a horrified anger boiled it’s way in the pit of her stomach. He was holding his lazon sword against the woman’s throat, his other hand cruelly twisting her arm behind her back.

Nanny’s eyes were huge, and her chest heaved as she tried to keep from panicking. Her lips moved, a silent plea to run as she looked at Allura. The princess shook her head, and brought her blaster to aim at Lotor, who laughed at her efforts.

His laugh chilled her to the bone, and brought a temporary halt to the proceedings in the woods. The two sides stared each other down, and unbeknownst to Allura, the Drules were smiling, thinking victory at hand.

“Princess Allura….” Lotor purred out her name, making it sound like a seductive whisper in her ear. His golden eyes looked her over, slowly traveling down her body, leaving her to feel as though she stood naked before him. “How nice of you to come out to see me.”

“Let her go Lotor.” Allura said, finding her voice, pleased that it didn’t waver at all. Again that chilling laughter of his, and his lips curled into a self satisfied smirk.

“You presume to give me orders Allura?” Lotor shook his head, making a tsking sound. “I think you fail to realize the severity of the situation. I am in control here. And unless you want this woman to suffer, you’ll learn to acknowledge that!” The lazon of his sword hummed, the bright light of it illuminating the prince and her nanny clearly amidst the darkness.

A rustle from behind her, Lotor drawing his attention over her shoulder. “Ah ah ah, captain! You do not want this woman’s blood on your hands!”

“Damn you Lotor!” Keith snarled, but was otherwise silent.

“What do you want Lotor?” Allura asked. “You cannot possibly hope to walk out of here. Your ships have been destroyed, you have no way off the planet.”

“Don’t you think I realize that?!” snapped Lotor. “No…my back may be to the wall, but I will not be defeated by a mere setback.”

“Setback?!” snorted Keith, trying to stifle laughter. “It’s more than just a setback. Face it Lotor, you have lost.”

“And yet I still hold the trump card.” Lotor smirked. “You fools should have never allowed a civilian out onto the battlefield. You’re simply all too kindhearted to allow an innocent to be harmed.”

“Again I ask, what do you want?” Allura demanded.

“What have I always wanted, dear princess?” Lotor asked her, his eyes boring into hers with fierce intensity. It actually made her blush, and she whispered out an answer.

“Me.”

“Yes, you.” Smug satisfaction in his voice. “Now drop your weapon. All of you!” Hesitation from the Arusians caused Lotor to clench his hand on Nanny’s arm, making her cry out in pain. Sounds of metal thumping in the ground followed Nanny’s cry, the soldiers surrendering.

“Tie them up!” Lotor barked out his command, the Drules hastening to approach the soldiers.

“Why not just kill us and be done with it?!” demanded Keith, gritting his teeth to keep from crying as a Drule wrenched his broken wrist about.

“An excellent idea Captain.” Grinned Lotor. “But I thought to spare your princess that gruesome sight. Besides, I have further use for you.”

“Oh yeah, what?” asked Keith, his arms now tied behind his back.

“You’re going to survive to give my demands to castle Arus. Tell that advisor of yours I want no further pursuit of my men. In addition, I want a ship to be delivered to the edge of the Crystall Falls. Fully stocked, and enabled with warp drive.”

“They’ll never give in to your demands.” Keith told him, as he was secured to the trunk of a tree. The Arusian soldiers were similarly being tied, only Allura was left free. “You’ll die on this planet.”

“I think not!” Lotor retorted. “For I am taking your princess with me. Coran will do anything to ensure her survival.”

“You wouldn’t dare hurt Allura!” gasped Nanny, and Lotor growled.

“SIlence wench!” Another squeeze of her arm, Nanny falling silent with a cry of pain. “You have no idea what I am capable of. Now.” Once again his eyes sought out Allura’s, Lotor smirking at her. “Come here princess.”

A quick glance at Nanny, who was mouthing the word no over and over again, and then she was moving. Allura stepped into reach, and with an expert move Lotor was kicking out Nanny’s legs, causing the woman to drop to her knees. His sword was sheathed before he reached for Allura, taking a firm hold of her arm. But there was a tenderness to his touch, his fingers squeezing but not exerting biting force.

A soldier approached, with a length of cord, ready to tie Nanny up. She fought him, but all too soon she was trussed up to a tree, eyes angry at her own helplessness. Other Drules were lifting the two unconscious soldiers off of the battle field, ready to carry them to safety. They knew they could not afford to lose any more men.

Grinning, Lotor began to usher Allura past the tied up Keith, the Captain speaking, a threat in his tone. “So help me Lotor, if you so much as look at her in the wrong way I’ll make you pay.”

“I’ll do more than just look at her.” An amused Lotor said, and with astonishing speed was lashing out with his foot, kicking Keith across the face. The man slumped, dazed, even as Allura let out a horrified, “Keith!” She strained against Lotor’s hold, wanting to check on her friend, but the prince was dragging her away, his men laughing, pleased with the way things had turned in their favor.


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