Freedom 05

Allura woke to the feeling of something touching her, a playful tugging on her hair. She tried to roll over to get away from it, not yet ready to wake up, but the touching persisted. “Cheddar stop it.” She murmured sleepily, raising a hand to brush back the tiny creature from her pillow. Her hand landed on something, a hand that was definitely bigger than the mouse.

Suddenly wide awake, her eyes snapped open, Allura not quite containing the gasp that escaped her. “Lotor!” He smiled pleasantly at her, kneeling down besides the bed, the bright yellow of her hair a stark contrast against the blue of his hand. He was still wearing his dirtied and torn uniform, Allura quick to realize the ship most likely did not have shirts that could fit the Drule’s broad chest.

Seeing him there made her realize it could only mean one thing, Allura voicing her fear out loud. “Are we there yet?” Lotor nodded, his golden eyes showing the relief he felt at being so close to Doom. Allura knew her own eyes showed nothing but her horror, Lotor petting her hair in such a gentle manner she realized he was attempting to soothe her.

That only upset her more, and she once again moved to knock back his hand. He let her, watching as she slowly sat up. “We are in Doom’s atmosphere now. We should be landing shortly.”

“And….what will happen to me when we get there?” Allura asked. She was scared of the answer, but the not knowing was worse. It left her mind to imagine all sorts of horrible scenarios, each one more frightening than the last.

“You will be presented to my father.” Lotor said, his words making her shiver. He noticed, and placed a hand on her knee, squeezing it in reassurance. “It’s only a formality. You are my spoil of war, and I will not be parted from you.”

Allura closed her eyes, swallowing nervously. She wasn’t sure if relief was the word that described the feelings she felt, Allura knowing Lotor was somewhat preferable to King Zarkon. But his constant handling of her, the touches and the kisses set her on edge, making her worry about just what Lotor intended to do with her.

“I’m going to ask my father for permission to marry you.” His words had her opening her eyes, Allura staring at him in wide eyed disbelief.

“Marriage?!” She squeaked out, unsure whether to laugh or frown at him. He was nodding, looking at her strangely, Allura unable to keep silent. “I can’t marry you! You’re…”

“I’m what?” Lotor wanted to know.

“I don’t even like you!” Allura cried out instead. “And our planets are at each other’s throat. Our people would never accept this.”

“You’ll LEARN to like me.” Lotor said, his tone practical and perfectly reasonable. “And our union will put an end to the war. There will be peace on Arus at last. And what does it matter what the common man thinks, it is our duty to dictate to them not the other way around.”

“I don’t want to dictate to anyone!” protested Allura. “That is not the way a proper ruler acts! You work for the people, not them for you!” Lotor threw back his head and laughed, highly amused.

“Is that what you think?” Lotor tsked, shaking his head. “Oh Allura, it’s no wonder you are so easily taken advantage of.”

“What do you mean?” Allura asked, feeling anger at his words.

“Always running off to help others, opening your home to the people. Lending Voltron to other planets. The list goes on and on.” Lotor said. “You need someone with a level head on his shoulder looking out for your best interests.”

“And I suppose you think that someone is you.” She hissed.

“Yes.” A self satisfied smile on his face. “I do.” The urge to slap him was strong in her, Allura wanting to wipe that smirk off his face. Instead she curled her fingers into fists, feeling her nails dig into her palms.

“I won’t marry you.” Allura whispered, eyes defiant as she looked at Lotor. “I won’t!”

“You’re starting to sound like a petulant child about to throw a tantrum.” Lotor told her. “You will marry me, and I will explain why. For those very people you profess to care and love. The people you work so hard to protect. The people you would do anything for.”

“So now you make threats to get my consent?” She said bitterly.

“If I must.” Lotor replied, showing cool indifference to her bitterness. “It is for the price of their freedom that you will give in to me on this matter.”

“They’ll have no freedom so long as Doom is tied to them.” Allura snapped.

“Ah, but think on how much worse it could be. Your people made slaves, their valuables taken away, forced to work the fields for crops to feed Doom’s armies. My father if left unchecked will mine your planet dry, leeching away all it’s natural resources until it’s nothing but an empty rock floating in space.” Lotor explained this all in a matter of fact way, neither smiling nor showing pity for the prophesied fate of her people. “And once that happens, he’ll throw Arus aside, leave your people to die. He’s done it before, and he’ll do it again.”

“You’re all monsters!” Allura whispered, willing herself not to cry as she imagined Lotor’s words coming true. “Every last one of you!”

“What will it be Allura?” Lotor asked, ignoring her words. “Will you be my bride or won’t you? I warn you now, I mean to have you one way or another, the only thing that will change is the fate of your people.”

She hung her head in defeat, knowing there was no other option for her. “All right.”

“What was that?” Lotor asked, smirking. “I didn’t quite hear you.”

“I said yes, damn you!” Allura shouted into his face, fists still curled tightly together.

“Yes!” Lotor breathed out triumphantly, and was suddenly pressing forward, his mouth capturing hers in mid scream. His hands grabbed at her wrists, keeping her from pushing him away, Lotor heaving his weight against her so that she ended up flat on her back. Allura made a cry of disgust, trying to turn her face to the side. He let her, planting his mouth firmly against her jaw line, placing ardent kisses along it’s length.

She squirmed beneath him, trying to get a knee up between their bodies but Lotor left her little room to maneuver. “Get off of me!” She cried out, feeling him lick her, his tongue washing over her skin. It made her shudder, body shaking beneath his.

One last lick of his tongue, Lotor pulling back at the feel of her trembles. He stared down at her, his breath coming a little faster, his golden eyes clouded over with desire. She turned to look at him, offering him her most ferocious glare. Her look made him sigh, Lotor shaking his head. “You’ll have to get used to me kissing you sooner or later.”

“You were doing a little more than just kissing!” Allura snapped, trying to get her hands free of his tight grip. He took the hint, and the instant he let go of her wrists, she slapped him, putting all her might into the blow.

“That almost hurt.” Lotor growled, annoyed.

“Good, I’m glad!” Allura retorted, relieved to see the desire had faded from his eyes. “Now let me up!!” She was relieved when he complied, pulling back so that she could sit up. It felt good to have his weight off her, and she brought a shaking hand upwards to brush back her hair.

“We’ll have to work on you being more receptive to me.” Lotor told her, standing before she could strike him again. “I simply won’t have a cold fish for a bride.”

“Then marry someone else!” Allura told him, still glaring.

“But you are the one I want.” He pointed out, hands reaching to smooth down her mussed hair.

“Then every time you kiss me, every touch will be a battle.” Allura said, her words dripping with promise. She jerked away from his hands as though to prove her point, still glaring. “I will never, ever….” Her voice was rising with each word, the princess practically shouting at him. “Let you forget that I come to you unwilling!”

His eyes darkened, his lips curling into a sneer as he hissed back at her. “Then you will be condemning yourself to be miserable! Play the martyr if you will, Allura. It won’t change anything.”

Deep down she knew that, Allura not wanting to give him the satisfaction of accepting her lot in life. At least as long as she was miserable, she would be able to tell herself she hadn’t betrayed her people with her heart. She fixed him with her stoniest glare, seeing Lotor turn away from her. A quick step to the left, and he was at the desk, her eyes widening as his hands drew her attention to an object that lay there.

Handcuffs, a dark gray metal with a short length of chain between the two cuff rings. When Lotor turned back to her, they were in his hands, his expression unreadable as he approached her.

“What are you going to do with those?” She asked foolishly, already knowing the answer. “Lotor…it’s not like I can go anywhere. We’re on Doom!”

“I know that.” He said, reaching for her right arm. She evaded him for the moment, not wanting that metal to touch her skin. “But it’s all for show. You must be seen as my prisoner before my people and father. Now give me your hands!”

The cuff snapped onto her right wrist, the sound echoing too loudly in the small cabin. Lotor quickly caught hold of her left arm, securing her other wrist with the cuff. Immediately Allura tested the chain, trying to pull her hands apart. It clanked loudly, but held together her hands separated by mere inches of length. If possible, being handcuffed made her feel even more helpless, Allura staring glumly at her hands.

The ship rocked gently, the metal enhancing the loud thump it made as it sat itself down on the planet’s landing strip. Alllura didn’t need Lotor to tell her what she already knew. That they had arrived at their destination at long last.

“Let’s go.” Lotor said, hands pulling on her arm, guiding her to stand. She thought about fighting him, about making a huge scene of refusing to leave the cabin, but she knew in the end it would make no difference. She could either exit the ship with as much of her dignity intact, or be dragged, kicking and screaming like a hysterical woman. She knew which method she preferred, her feet moving her forward as she walked with Lotor.

His men were finishing up the shut down procedures when they emerged from the cabin, view screens shutting off one by one. Two of the aliens stood up, hurrying over to the door that led to the outside world. They took up positions beside it, saluting Lotor who nodded briskly at them. A word in Drule, the door opening at Lotor’s command, allowing Allura to see the desolate land he had brought her to.

The landing strip was a small field of tarmac, stretching out all the way to the castle. Doom’s royalty lived in a structure that was all twisted rock, with many turrets and towers reaching for the sky. Lights occasionally flashed from windows that otherwise remained dark, and thunder boomed, the sound seeming to welcome them to Doom. The storm was heavy in the air, she could smell it’s approach and knew it would be a heavy downpour.

Caught up with staring, she didn’t realize it until her feet touched the ground that they were moving again. Allura wanted to scream as she walked on Doom soil for the first time, her head whipping about as she heard strange sounds. Her eyes widened, and she unconsciously scuttled closer to Lotor, wondering if that was a robeast she saw walking in the distance.

There was Drules all around them, and it was strange to see the aliens clad in something other than the uniforms the soldiers wore. She had never really seen Doom’s people in any other capacity, and she tried not to stare now. They were bowing and scraping for attention as Lotor and his two guards walked her past them, the prince ignoring them completely.

Soon they reached the end of the tarmac, where a large statue was positioned. It was made out of navy blue mineral, a thick block of it that had been chiseled down to resemble a woman. At least, Allura thought it was a woman, thought it was hard to tell since her face was that of one of the more monstrous looking Drules. Her hands were clasped together in prayer, carved robes loose fitting so as not to define her figure.

Lotor paused before the statue, letting her look it over. “This is Matrima.” He confided in her. “She’s one of the Gods my people worship. We must thank her for our safe journey.” He was already bowing, his hand on her back guiding her to do the same. Even the guards were showing reverence to the statue, low bows of respect that were normally reserved for royalty alone.

Soon they were moving on, drawing near the steps that led up to the castle. Here Drules in military garb hastened to open the huge double doors, Allura unable to see anything but darkness emanating from within the castle. Her feet dragged as they began the upwards climb, Allura trying to keep from being frightened at the thought of going into that dark place.

All too soon they reached the doors, Lotor not pausing as he ushered her into the darkness. It wasn’t a true absence of light, up close she could make out a faint light that tried it’s best to illuminate the corridor. But when the walls were made of black marble, and the floor a dark gray tile that reflected the dark colored ceiling, it was almost impossible to brighten the place up.

They passed more Drules, both servants and nobility, Allura recognizing their stations by the way they dressed. The servants practically fell over in their attempts to bow to Lotor, while the nobility was more dignified in their greetings to the prince.

They seemed to walk forever, navigating a maze of twists and turns, Allura wondering just where he was taking her as they went deeper and deeper into the heart of Castle Doom. Some of the sights they saw, had Allura tensing up, Lotor squeezing her arm in warning. Amidst the aliens were people like her, slaves by the look of things, dressed in tattered rags, with heavy collars around their necks. She wanted to scream when she saw the guards whipping a human slave, and all for the simple offense of spilling a drink onto the floor.

It only served to remind her of the cruelty the Drules were capable of, Allura forced to look away, though she could not block out the sickening crack of the whip, or the sound of the man’s screams. Such sights only grew more frequent the deeper they went into the castle, Allura horrifed to see beatings giving out for the most minor of offenses, or to see slave girls molested and in one case raped right out in the open where anyone could see.

Lotor tried to shield her from that sight, drawing her close to his body so that her face was buried against his chest. With that awkward position, he walked them past the lustful Drule and his unwilling servant, Allura biting her lip and trying not to retch as she listened to the girl’s screams.

“I’m sorry you had to see that.” Lotor murmured to her, and Allura risked a glance up at him.

“Well, I’m not!” She snapped, even as a tear escaped down her cheek. “It only serves to remind me just how horrible you and your people are!” Her words had an effect on him, Lotor’s setting his lips into a thin line of disapproval. They spoke no more as they continued their journey, walking for several more minutes, Allura noticing the ceiling seemed to grow higher and higher as they walked along the hallways. Finally they reached a huge set of double doors. They took up the length of the wall, Allura staring at the carvings on the door, of dragons spitting fire. Their eyes twinkled in the dim light, jade jewels giving them sight.

More soldiers hastening to open the doors, Lotor bristling with impatience as the thick doors were slowly drawn back. Sounds drifting to them, of music and talking, even cruel laughter could be heard leaving Allura to wonder what sights awaited her behind these doors. She got her answer all too soon, plenty of light spilling into the hallway as a room with blood red carpeting was revealed.

It was immense in size, surely the floor above it had been removed to add to the height of the ceiling. Gold glittered on the walls, gold Allura would later learn was fake, and banners hung from pillar to pillar. It was a room she had seen only in her nightmares, though her imagination hadn’t come closed to defining what the throne room of Zarkon really looked like.

Lotor dragged her into the throne room, and the music stopped, the noble court turning to bear witness to their arrival. The crowd parted, leaving a straight line towards a large set of steps, Allura realizing they led up to a dais situated in the rear of the throne room. And at the very top of that dais sat the monster from her dreams, King Zarkon in dark purple robes, a goblet of red liquid in his hands.

Somehow, she forced herself to move, trying to hide her fear as she and Lotor walked past leering Drule Nobles. Allura tried to look anywhere but at the king, and that was when she noticed witch Haggar crouching to the side of the dais, her blue furred feline curled up at her feet, it’s eyes glowing as it stared at Allura.

No one was speaking, letting Lotor reach the dais in total silence. It was eerie, causing the hairs on the back of Allura’s neck to rise. Once again Lotor’s hand was forcing her to bow before her enemy, Lotor also doing a show of reverence to the king. They stayed in place, hair swept forward, eyes on the floor, just waiting. King Zarkon took his time before acknowledging his son, taking a long drain on his goblet as he lazily considered them.

“So.” His voice was as terrible as his looks, Allura fearing her knees would start to shake. “You survived.”

“Yes, father.” Lotor said, still bowing.

“I suppose I should be grateful…” continued Zarkon, tossing his goblet down the dais’ stairs. It rolled to a stop at Allura’s feet, the princess seeing a wealth of jewels encrusted on it’s sides. “Your return saves me the trouble of having to sire another heir.”

“However…” continued Zarkon thoughtfully. “Your latest defeat has left me most distressed. The loss of men is at an astonishing number, as is the loss of ships. What’s more, you failed to destroy Voltron. Tell me why I shouldn’t have you killed for your spectacular failure.”

Lotor straightened, his voice cool indifference as he spoke. “I only offer you one reason, but it is one I can assure you that will make even you acknowledge my accomplishments.”

“Oh?” Zarkon asked, voice sardonic. “And what pray tell is this reason?”

“You won’t kill me because I have finally brought you the victory over Planet Arus that you so crave.” A pull on her arm, Lotor guiding Allura out of the bow. “I present to you, Princess Allura…” Gasps from the crowd, a low murmur of voices talking excitedly.

“Silence!” Zarkon bellowed, rising to stand as he glowered at the court. The talking ceased, and Zarkon stared down the dais at his son and Allura, eyes narrowed as he looked her over. She stared back at him, and after a moment, Zarkon smiled, lips revealing a mouthful of sharp, pointed teeth.

“So this is the wench that has caused me so much trouble.” Zarkon sat back down, never taking his eyes off of Allura. “Not so high and mighty now that you don’t have blue lion to hide behind.” A squeeze on her arm from Lotor, kept Allura’s tongue silent, the princess heeding his warning not to speak.

“I’ve already negotiated some of the terms of her surrender.” Lotor said, and Zarkon laughed, body shaking with mirth.

“Surrender?! Ha ha ha! Lotor, you jest. She did not surrender, she was captured. As such we need not negotiate anything with her.” Zarkon pointed out.

“Ah but there is still the matter of her planet and Voltron.” Lotor said. “Things will go easier if they hear it from their ruler that the war is over.”

“From the way the princess is glaring at me, I get the feeling she doesn’t think the war is over either.” Zarkon snickered, a wheezing sound that hissed out between his teeth. “Tell me princess. If you were to die, who would take over the rulership of Planet Arus?”

“My Aunt, Queen Orla.” Allura said immediately, and before Lotor could stop her, she was continuing. “She will fight you to her last breath. She will not hand over Arus to you, no matter what you try to do!”

“So, in other words, if we don’t deal with you, we will just have another pesky female rise up to take your place.” Zarkon said musingly.

“Arus has already wasted years of our time.” Lotor spoke quickly, his father nodding in agreement. “Do we really want to waste anymore on that planet?”

“No. No, we do not.” Agreed Zarkon. “All right Lotor, tell me what you proposed. What has the princess agreed to in these negotiations you speak of?”

“It’s really quite simple.” Lotor smiled for the first time since entering the throne room. “She will marry me, and tie our two planets together. There will be an immediate ceasefire on Arus’ behalf, with our forces stationing themselves planet side.”

“Marry? Her?” Zarkon looked at Alllura once more, frowning. “I suppose she is beautiful enough, though I wonder if she is worth all this trouble.”

“She comes with an impressive dowry.” Lotor said, ignoring Zarkon’s question. “Voltron itself will be at our command.” The thought pleased Zarkon, Allura could see the way his eyes lit up with pleasure. “We will no longer have to deal with the robot stopping us from taking other planets. No longer will it be turned against us, but working for us.”

Allura glanced at Lotor alarmed, wanting to scream out a chorus of nos. She couldn’t bear the thought of her father’s creation being used for evil. The people around them were talking again, their reactions pleased as they thought to put the mighty robot to work for their empire.

“Very well my son.” Zarkon said, smiling once more. “You will have your bride.”

“Thank you father.” Lotor said, though he did not smile at the confirmation.

“Tomorrow I want you two to meet with my lawyers. They’ll hammer out an iron clad agreement between the two planets.” Zarkon smirked. “One that will prove unbreakable.” He looked at Allura now, speaking to her. “I do hope you are more than just a pretty face for your people’s sake. You will have to be a quick wit if you want to negotiate their chance for a somewhat leisurely life.”

“I’m sure we will come up with an agreement that is pleasing to both parties.” Lotor said, and Zarkon laughed once more.

“I doubt it, but it will prove amusing to watch. Now come! Let us celebrate your victorious return!” The people cheered, and surrounded them, Lotor lifting a wine glass from a server’s tray. Allura cringed back from the Drules, not liking the way they looked at her, or how some tried to sneak touches of her hair. Their voices were leaving her confused, Drule and basic being spoken as they offered their prince congratulations on his impending marriage.

Allura tried to keep her expression blank, wanting nothing more than to ditch the crowd, and hide in a dark corner somewhere. She stifled an angry snort of laughter, realizing here in the castle, there was many such corners to choose from.

Lotor’s arm was around her waist, the prince downing another goblet, leaving her to worry at his fast rate of alcohol consumption. He pressed the goblet to her lips, offering her taste of the expensive wine. Allura shook her head no, keeping her lips tightly sealed. Lotor shrugged and finished it off for her, guiding her towards a table where steamed meats and an array of alien delicacies were to be had. Her stomach growled at the sight, but Allura was in little mood to eat.

She said as much to Lotor, begging him for the chance to be taken away from the party. He looked at her for a long moment, before nodding. At a signal from the prince, a guard approached, Lotor pausing to undo the handcuffs that were around her wrists.

“Take the princess to my private chambers.” Lotor ordered, his hand leaving her waist. “See that she is made comfortable.”

“Yes, sire.” Said the Drule, bowing to Lotor.

“Allura, I will see you later.” Lotor said, turning to her. He leaned in to give her a quick kiss on the lips, the smell of berries on his breath as the court attendees cheered at the display of affection. Allura was relieved he didn’t try to deepen the kiss, suffering through it with only the mildest of sighs. “Later.” He repeated, a hand brushing back her hair.

She nodded, then turned to follow the guard, the Drule jabbing playfully at the crowd with his spear. They moved before the pointed end could touch them, clearing a path for the princess and the soldier. It still took them several minutes to navigate through the throng of people, but once clear of the crowd, Allura breathed a little easier.

“This way my lady.” The soldier said, gesturing for Allura to follow him. She hurried to do just that, praying she wouldn’t see any more horrific sights on the way to their next destination.

It would seem the Gods were listening to her, there was few people in the halls the soldier took her to, and very little of them were human. She soon realized they were where the bedrooms for royalty were housed, a private area kept away from most Drules. Paintings began appearing, expensive canvases that depicted various Drule leaders, most of them men.

Their eyes seemed to follow her every move, leaving her to shiver and turn away. Her guard continued to move, pausing only occasionally to make sure she still followed him. Eventually they reached another set of doors, this time a servant needing to be fetched to unlock them. Allura stepped inside, the guard reaching for a switch, the room flooding with light. It took her eyes a second to adjust, leaving Allura to blink owlishly.

It was clearly a man’s room she found herself in, dark granite furniture that was sparsely laid out among the floor. Twin shields were on the wall, bearing the house crest of Zarkon, and a map was laid out on a table. Upon closer inspection she realized it was a map of her home, Arus, chief landmarks circled with a thick red pen. There was bookcases against the far wall, it’s shelves full of thick novels, bound in rough leather. She let her fingers touch the spines, feeling the embossed lettering as she made out some of the titles. Books about war, and strategies, things a man that was military minded would need.

The guard said his good-byes as she explored, locking the door behind him. Allura paid him no mind, moving about the room, studying it. In one corner was a computer console, a huge array of expensive electronics that hummed and beeped at intervals. She hurried towards it, tapping her fingers across the keyboard, trying to activate the communications program.

A warning beep went off, red words demanding a password which left her groaning in frustration. With an annoyed look at the screen, she turned, noticing a closed door. It led to the bedroom, Allura turning on the lights as she looked about. One wall was taken with a view screen, a fake river setting offered up for her eye’s pleasure. It only served to make her miss her home, and she turned away from it.

A bed seemed to dominate the room, large enough for at least four people to sleep comfortably in it. It made Allura wonder why someone could need a bed of this size, her mind unable to come up with an answer. She approached it, perching on the edge. It was soft, the mattress molding perfectly to her body. With a sigh, Allura slouched down, putting her head in her hands. Now that she was alone, the tears didn’t want to come, leaving her to clutch at her dry face.

“Oh father…” She whispered to herself, wishing for his guidance. “Whatever am I going to do?” No answer to her question, but then she hadn’t really been expecting one. With a heavy heart, she let herself crawl under the blankets, willing sleep to claim her.

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