Time was ticking down fast, the seconds seeming to fly by, drawing ever closer to the appointed minute. All eyes seemed to be on the watch on his wrist, the women holding their breaths, the room silent as they waited. Lotor didn’t blame them for not wanting to talk, he found he had little to say, just sending glances towards his wife, occasionally reaching out with his hand to touch her cheek, or finger one of the long curls of her hair.
Allura’s eyes were worried, but she kept a determined look on her face, pistol secure in her hand. Orla seemed just as resolute as the princess, the Queen holding her own weapon, seeming almost impatient for the fighting to begin. Lotor would have echoed her sentiment if not for the concern he felt for Allura, the prince worrying over the things that could happen to her. A laser blast was the least of their problems, not when the terrorists had threaten torture to his wife. Just the thought of them laying hands on Allura with the intent to harm her had him growling, his wife setting a hand on his shoulder in concern.
“I’m fine.” Lotor assured her, feeling a bit embarrassed to have made that sound. “Just gearing up for battle.”
“Well, do it more quietly.” Snapped Nanny, the irritating woman glaring at him. He glared back, seeing she held a pistol in her hand, the weapon shaking violently in her nervous grasp. It made him want to take the gun away from her, Lotor worrying how wild her shots would be. But before he could even think on how to make that suggestion, the com unit on his lapel went off.
Everyone startled, looking at Lotor who sighed and activated the unit. It crackled into life, and words hissed out over the air wave, deadly and precise as the leader of the terrorist spoke.
“Time’s up.” With just those two words, the world seem to explode, Lotor grabbing Allura and pressing her down, his own body hovering over hers. The couch moved, bumping into his back, and through the strands of his hair, he saw the debris of the door fly past, charred steel that smacked into the wall only to fall on the floor. Some of the blackened remains of the door glowed with orange and red embers, the light of the flame on them.
It was not just the door that was destroyed, most of the furniture that had been barricading the door was also a smoking ruin. But some remained, and the terrorists began to shift the furniture out of their way, trying to push their way into the room.
“NOW!” Lotor shouted, and he was already turning from Allura, moving to go on his knees and lift his blaster over the top of the couch. Allura and Orla recovered and moved into their positions, peering around the sides of the long piece of furniture. Without warning they began shooting, finding the terrorists easy pickings as they struggled with the furniture.
Their weapons were set to kill, terrorists falling with screams, one landing face first on a piece of heated steel. Nanny was behind Lotor, but she wasn’t shooting. Instead she held the gun and prayed, her voice a constant background babble to the sounds of laser fire.
“They have weapons!” shouted one of the men, amidst the cursing. The terrorists began backing out the door, some opening fire on Lotor and the women. Their lasers bounced off the walls, Lotor swearing as one came close to hitting him. He had no room to draw his sword, no room to maneuver it about to block the laser fire, Lotor having to rely on his skill as a shooter and luck alone.
The terrorists set up on either side of the gaping hole they had created, their hands easing around to shoot off their blasters and rifles. They weren’t even trying to take aim, just offering an intense fire of lasers that forced Lotor and the women to duck back out of sight. Nanny raised her hand, and shot off a blast, Lotor grabbing her arm and pulling her back down.
“Don’t do that!” He snarled, seeing the woman look at him in confusion.
“But they’re doing the same thing. I don’t understand!” Nanny exclaimed.
“Nanny, we’ll run out of ammunition if we fire blindly.” Allura explained, the woman’s eyes lighting up with understanding.
“They have the luxury of extra weapons and ammo.” Continued Orla. “We do not. Every shot has to count. We can’t waste it.”
The laser fire continued to barrel towards them, tearing holes into the couch’s cushions, a flurry of feathers erupting from the pillows. Scorch marks appeared on the walls, and the expensive decorations shattered into a million pieces. Lotor could smell smoke and realized the books on the bookcase were on fire.
“They’re tearing the room apart!” Allura exclaimed, gasping as a laser blast just missed her shoulder.
“Damn it….it won’t end this way!” Lotor swore, and lifted up to sight down his blaster. A man was in the archway, hesitantly moving forward with the others peering around the wall. They were shooting more carefully now, providing a covering fire for the man to advance forward. Lotor aimed at where his heart would be, and pulled the trigger, feeling a brief sense of satisfaction as the laser smacked into his chest.
Immediately the terrorists began shooting in Lotor’s direction, the prince hastily ducking back down. “Damn….there’s so many of them….It seems they are out in full force tonight!”
“What do we do, what do we do?” A panicked Nanny demanded.
“We fight.” Lotor told her. “We fight or we die, but we do not give in. There is no honor in surrendering.”
“What does a Drule know of honor?!” demanded Nanny, and Lotor glanced at her, hearing Allura let out a sharp word.
“I probably know more than you.” He retorted, and met her angry gaze with one of his own. “Don’t think I don’t remember. You tried to shut me out of this room. I won’t forget that.” He had the satisfaction of seeing Nanny flush, the woman turning away from his accusing eyes. “But for now I’ll settle for getting us, ALL of us out of here alive.”
“Here they come.” Orla said, the Queen having spent the time peering around the side of the couch. Lotor risked lifting his head up, seeing three men advance, holding shields before their body. It made him curse, Lotor gritting his teeth as he spoke.
“Aim for their legs. We may not be able to kill them, but we’ll strike a disabling blow!”
“Right!” agreed the two women, and in unison the three began firing off another round of lasers, the men screaming and dropping to their knees as their legs were damaged by the lasers. One was so foolish as to drop his shield, Lotor shooting him in the face, the skin becoming a smoking black ruin that held eyes that were too white against the darkened flesh.
The two remaining men began trying to crawl backwards out the room, dragging themselves forward with one hand, while the other held up their shields. Others came, blocking the hole in the wall, setting up a table as a barricade for the lower half of their bodies, their upper half blocked with the shields. Again Lotor and the women paused in their shooting, conserving their shots as they waited to see what the next move of the terrorists would be.
Soon a dark figure appeared behind the table, standing at a safe distance behind the shields. “Lotor! Allura! This is foolishness. You cannot hope to win. Give yourselves up to me. To us.”
Lotor recognized his voice as the one who he had spoken to on the communicator, the so called leader of the terrorists. He remembered the threats against his wife, and saw red, Lotor popping up to aim a shot off in his direction. It was a wasted blast, the shields blocking it, sending it rebounding back towards Lotor who ducked down just in time.
“You cannot hope to win. You’ll run out of ammunition in time. And then…”
“There will be more dead before that happens!” Lotor promised, and heard the leader laugh.
“I bet I have more men here then you have shots left. And for every man killed, I will personally take it out on you and your wife’s hide.” The leader promised. Lotor tensed at the threat, but a calming hand from Allura soothed the savageness he felt. He glanced at her, seeing her shake her head no, and nodded. “Ah….and what of your party guests? Would you leave them to our mercy?”
“You mean you haven’t killed them yet?” demanded Orla.
“No, they are still alive. A bit….tied up at the moment.” The leader laughed at his own joke, Lotor not amused. “But that can change at any second. If you don’t put down your weapons and surrender immediately, I’ll start killing a hostage every minute you make me wait…starting with this pretty little thing.”
A cry was heard, Lotor glancing in time to see the red head he had danced with earlier that night. The front of her emerald dress was torn, scorch marks on her stomach, and her eyes were wide with fright. She struggled against the hold the men had on her, her hands tied behind her back, a gag in place across her mouth. Pitiful sounds escaped her, muffled screams and pleas for her life.
“Stop!” Allura, kind heart that she was, was starting to stand up, ready to make herself a clear target.
“What are you doing?!” Lotor hissed, and snagged her arm, jerking her back down to the floor.
“Lotor, they’ll kill the countess. I cannot allow that to happen…” Allura began, and Lotor shook her.
“They’ll kill you instead. Do you want that?!” He snarled out his question.
“But nothing! They mean to do you harm before they end your life. To get me to be compliant and do what they say. You think I will allow you to just walk over there and hand yourself over?!” Lotor demanded, his voice growling all the time. She looked sad, and so resigned, staring down at her pistol.
“He’s right.” Orla was speaking, the Queen grimacing. “It’s brutal, and it’s not pretty, but you cannot give in to their demands. If you do that…”
“If she does that Arus is lost.” Lotor said, seeing Allura shaking her head no, her shoulders shaking. “Because I will follow you, and try to kill as many as I can before they hurt you. I will most likely die in the process. Then they will be left to deal with my father, who will be…” His lips twitched, but he couldn’t smile at a time like this. “…perturbed at my lost. He’ll rain down ruin and destruction on Arus.”
“No…” breathed out Allura in protest.
“You know it to be true.” Lotor said. “My father may not give a damn about me, but he does care about his reputation and saving face. It will be the only thing to do to rectify the problems caused if he loses his heir.”
They had been whispering, a heated discussion, and now Allura sighed. “All right…” She looked close to tears, shaking her head. “No deal. We fight and try to hold out until help arrives.”
“Well, Lotor?! Is this your decision?” The leader shouted out his question, his tone rife with impatience. He reached for the redhead, drawing her to the side of his body, pressing the his laser rifle right between her breasts. Allura let out a whimper, Lotor placing a hand on her shoulder, prepared to hold her down.
“No deal!” Lotor shouted back, and didn’t so much as flinch as the rifle went off, blowing a hole into her chest. Allura let out a scream, Nanny echoing the sound, the woman’s shaking growing worse. Only Orla and Lotor were stoic, the prince wondering if the Queen was unmoved by the killing or just that good of an actress.
“Fine…maybe you won’t be so…heartless if one of your own is threatened.” The leader said, dropping the red head’s body into the waiting arms of one of his men. “Grab one of the blue skinned freaks.”
The man nodded, and disappeared, dragging the body with him to deposit it out of their sight.
“Sixty seconds Lotor. Every sixty seconds another will die. And it will be because of your stubbornness!” taunted the leader.
“You’ll kill the Drules anyway.” Lotor pointed out. “I doubt anything I could do could stop you.”
“So you’ll just sacrifice them so you can keep on living for a few minutes longer?!” The leader sneered. “Just like a Drule. Only looking out for one’s self! Ah….and here’s victim number two.”
It was Clemenas who was brought struggling into the archway of the room, the leader pressing his gun to the temple of his head. “Any last words?” demanded the leader, tearing the gag from Clemenas’ mouth.
“Prince Lotor, please!” Clemenas’ voice was high pitched with fear, the Drule struggling, trying to break free of his bonds.
“I’m sorry Clemenas…” Lotor said. “Know your sacrifice won’t go unavenged.”
“NO! Please!” The Drule turned terror stricken eyes towards the terrorist, and began babbling, words for mercy falling free from his lips. “Please don’t do this. I am a man of wealth. I can give you anything, anything!”
“Can your wealth buy back all the lives that were lost fighting against Doom?” demanded one of the other terrorists. Clemenas shook his head, falling silent at that.
“Didn’t think so.” Said the terrorist leader, and he pulled the trigger, blowing the Drule’s brains out through the side of his head. He let the body topple to the floor, one of the terrorists going so far as to spit on the corpse. “Bring me another.”
“Lotor…” Allura, reaching to touch his hand on her shoulder. She gave it a light caress, turning to look at him with tears in her eyes. “I can’t take anymore….please…..let me go to them.”
“No…” Lotor denied her request, his own eyes bright with anger at the terrorists actions and the pain they were causing Allura. “Don’t break….not yet. Don’t let Clemenas and the countess’ deaths be wasted.”
“But more will die…” She whispered softly.
“And they will still die even if you go to them.” Lotor answered.
“He’s right.” Orla said. “If they can kill so coldly, they probably aren’t planning to keep anyone alive.”
“How can you stand it…?” Allura asked her Aunt, staring searchingly at the Queen’s face. “Does it not pain you in the slightest to see these senseless killings?”
“It does. But as a ruler, you must hold your head high in public, and give in to grief later in private. You have to carry on, and not give in to the demands of people like these terrorists. Just imagine what the planet will be like left to their care.” Orla told her, and Lotor nodded his head in agreement.
“It’s so hard…” Allura sighed. “I can take killing in war, because it’s a fight for survival….but do just do it in cold blood….” She trailed off, biting her lower lip, the tears looking close to falling.
“Number three Lotor!” Came the voice of the leader, intruding on their private moment. He glanced over the couch and saw it was another Drule leader, a man with orange tipped spikes instead of hair. His gag was removed, the Drule being kicked to his knees as a gun was aimed at his head. “Beg for your life.”
“Never.” Said the Drule, staring resolutely ahead. “Real men don’t beg, and real men don’t give in to cowards like you.”
“Cowards?!” An uncertain laugh from the terrorists. “Are you joking? It took guts to storm the castle, to deal with the guards.”
“Guts are not the same as bravery.” The Drule pointed out. “Only a coward does what you have done. My prince! You do Doom proud in refusing to cater to this scum. Never forget that.”
“ENOUGH!” snarled the leader, and the sound of a laser discharging was heard.
“How many party guests were there?” Orla asked.
“Counting their dates, fifty in all.” Allura said. “Plus at least ten servants.”
“So….barring any who escaped, plus the guards, we have about an hour of this kill fest to get through.” Orla sighed, and shared a glance with Lotor. Her look said it all, Allura would not be able to handle watching sixty plus people killed so ruthlessly before her. Lotor glanced at blaster, his finger easing the weapon to stun. Orla was nodding, approving of his intentions.
“Princess Allura! What about you?” The leader shouted, one of the maids being brought before him. “I know you are a kind woman. Or has your time among the Drules change you to be a cold hearted bitch?”
“Do not speak about my wife in that manner!” Lotor shouted, but his eyes were for Allura. She was still looking his way, and he didn’t want to shoot her while she faced him. Lotor did not want to see the look of betrayal in her eyes as she felt the blaster release it’s stunning blast.
“You can’t stop me!” Mocking laughter accompanied the words, and then the maid shrieked as she was shot. Allura cried out with her, her chest heaving, the princess gagging as though she would vomit. Lotor pulled her into his arms, and cradled her face against his chest, his hand with the gun rising. But before he could shoot, a disturbance was heard, the leader of the terrorists letting out an annoyed shout.
“What’s going on?!”
More angry shouts were heard, Lotor hesitating to shoot Allura as he exchanged a frown with Orla. Nanny was quiet, lifting her head up from her prayers, her eyes lacking hope to them. And then they heard it, the sound of lasers shooting, people screaming in pain and horror. Lotor risked raising his head to glance over the top of the couch, seeing there was still men at the door. But their backs were to them, blocked by the table and their shields. But they were shooting into the ball room, and laser fire was being returned their way.
“Well, well.” Lotor smiled slowly, seeing Allura glance up at him a question in her eyes.
“What is it?” She asked.
“It seems the cavalry has arrived.” Lotor told her, settling down to rest as comfortable as he could against the couch’s back. He kept her pressed against him, the hand not wielding the gun going to her hair, playing with one of the loose strands.
“Most likely my men off the ships.” Lotor explained, listening to the screams. “It seems the battle has turned in our favor.”
“And not a moment too soon!” Orla added. “I won’t breathe a sigh of relief until the castle guards are here to safely escort us from the room.”
“That may be sooner than you think.” Lotor said, wondering how many of the guests would be caught in the crossfire of the laser battle. He wondered if his men were shooting to kill, or merely to stun, and as he thought of the leader of the terrorists, he hoped very much that the man would survive long enough for Lotor to be the one to do the killing blow.