Freedom 46

With a bored sigh, Lotor threw down the papers from his hand, watching as the pages spread across the surface of his desk, bumping against his mug. It was the latest reports on the scientists’ official findings on the lions, the men asking for his approval to attempt to build one from scratch. They still didn’t know the power source the lions relied on, but were confidant they could make a craft that would come close to rivaling the lions in speed and power by using liquid lazon as it’s fuel. It was an intriguing proposal, one Lotor was considering, knowing he needed to have some sort of progress to report to his father.

He lifted up his mug, smelling the rich aroma of the coffee beans, his thoughts pondering just where his scientists could begin work on this new project of theirs. He took a deep sip of the mug’s contents, enjoying the taste of the liquid warmth, considering the possibility of setting up a secret facility on Arus’ moon when it happened. The door to his office was flung open, swinging inwards so fast it nearly hit the wall.

Lotor hastily set down his mug, already pushing out of his chair when he saw his wife run into the room, face flushed, eyes sparking with anger. He calmed down at seeing his intruder was Allura, even as Lotor geared up for battle, wondering just what had riled up the princess so badly.

“Lotor!” She shouted his name, coming towards the desk, the prince hastily sweeping up the documents to leave them buried in the middle of other papers. It was a force of habit, this hiding things from her. Lotor knew she wouldn’t be able to read the Drule writing, and yet he still hid the papers, his sense of paranoia keeping him safe and secure from her ferreting out his dark secret.

“Hello Allura.” Lotor said calmly, noting a man had followed his wife into the room. A sheepish looking guard stood in the doorway, clearly unsure of what to do now that the princess had forced her way inside the office. Lotor waved dismissively at the guard, the solider closing the door behind him. “What’s wrong? You seem…upset.”

“Of course I’m upset!” She said, and stopped before his desk, eyes glaring furiously at him. “I can’t believe you! Plotting behind my back, lying to me all this time! How could you do it?!”

Lotor felt a sense of unease, but he did his best not to show it. “Just what are you accusing me of now?” That seemed to agitate her further, Allura frowning at him.

“Are your lies so many, that you can’t guess? That you don’t already know?”

“I have not lied to you.” Lotor retorted. “I’ve been honest with you from the beginning of our relationship, so I cannot begin to imagine what you are referring to.” An amused snort escaped the man standing behind Allura, his face cast in shadows by the cap he wore. Except for a quick glance at him, Lotor ignored the man, focusing all his attention on his bride.

“Lotor, I know.” Allura said, placing her hands on the desk. “I know about your scientists. I know about what you have been having them do.”

“Oh?” Still he tried to play it cool, lifting an inquisitive brow at her. “Then you know they have been working on a way to quickly advance Arus’ technology, make the planet more self sufficient so it needn’t rely on others for aid.”

“I’m not talking about that!” Allura’s next words had him freezing, dread starting in the pit of his stomach. “I know about the lions. I know about the project to make a second Voltron!” He kept his face blank, which only served to anger her further. “How long have you been planning this?”

“I don’t know where you would hear such a thing…” Lotor began, and Allura suddenly shoved the papers on his desk over, documents spilling onto the floor in a jumbled mess that would take ages to sort out.

“I have my sources!” She retorted, eyes on his face. “And I note you haven’t denied the accusation. Lotor, I’ve seen the pictures…I’ve seen the papers with your signature on it, and I’ve seen the blue prints of the lions.”

“You’ve been spying on me?” Lotor demanded, and Allura shook her head.

“No. Never. I don’t waste my time on such things…I…didn’t think I would need too. But…damn it, don’t try and turn this around to point a finger at me!” Her eyes flashed, the blue bright with anger. “I’m not in the wrong here, you are!”

He still hadn’t admitted to any wrong doings, Lotor careful to turn the conversation around so that he did not have to outright lie to her. “Then who told you this? Who gave you these pictures, these documents? Hmmm?”

“I…You’ll kill him if I reveal who leaked this information to me.”

Lotor instantly seized on that tidbit, realizing it was a man who was the informant. “And just how do you know this man is trustworthy? That he doesn’t want to just cause us problems?”

“I trust him implicitly.” Allura retorted. “This is someone who wouldn’t lie to me….”

“And I would?” Lotor asked. “Allura, I do many things, but I don’t lie to you. I may of course leave out information, but it’s only to protect you.”

“Do you think me a complete fool?” She demanded, hands on her hips.

“No, of course not.”

“Then how did you think to hide a second Voltron from me?” Allura questioned. “Did you not think I would not notice when Doom suddenly had an army of Voltrons at their disposal? That I would not protest your use of them to conquer other planets?! Did you think me so compliant I would just roll over and play blind to what you are doing?!”

“Allura, the treaty said nothing about recreating the lions.” Lotor said, seeing her throw her hands up in the air. “It’s true! You said we couldn’t use Voltron except to protect Arus, and that we can’t take apart the lions. There was nothing about studying them, and using our findings to recreate the ships!”

“So you admit it’s true!” She pointed out.

“Yes, Allura.” He said tiredly. “Yes, we are working on trying to make another Voltron.”

“How could you?!” She asked sharply, Allura staring searchingly at his face.

“How could I not?” Lotor retorted. “Allura, you knew who I was when you married me. Knew what I did, what I do for my own people to survive and prosper. How can you expect me to do any less than try and secure their futures in the best way I know how?”

“By enslaving others?”

“It’s all part of the package.” Lotor replied. “Doom needs the resources other planets offer…and with them, comes the people. They’ll fight, but they’ll lose. Would you rather they just be killed?”

“No….”

“So they’ll live, and continue to work for us.” Lotor said. “It may not be the best of life but….”

“What about Arus?” Allura asked. “We’re proving that Doom can peacefully coexist with another. That you don’t need to take what you need. Arus can serve as an example of what you can achieve with other planets.”

“Allura, one success does not mean the others will be open to accepting us. Not after everything we’ve done. And the amount of Drules spread out through the Doom Empire is near endless, one planet alone cannot sustain us all.” Lotor pointed out.

“But it’s a start…” Allura said. “Lotor….if we could show the others that the Drules are not all blood thirsty fiends, we could then petition aid from Galaxy Alliance.”

“Yes, I’m sure they would help us the same day my father suddenly decided to free all the planets he’s collected.” Lotor grumbled. “Allura, there won’t be change in any time soon, not so long as my father is alive.”

“So we just fall into line?” She asked, gesturing wildly with her hands. “We just do as he decrees? Go on our merry way, while the rest of the Denubian Galaxy suffers?” He said nothing, but it seemed his silence spoke volumes to her. “Lotor, it will never end so long as you do nothing to change his mind.”

“My father won’t listen to talk.” Lotor told her. “What would you have me do? Kill him?”

“No…I’m not suggesting you murder anyone…but…” She trailed off, shrugging.

“But?” He prodded her.

“Stop your scientists.” Allura answered. “End this project before they go any further in discovering Voltron’s secrets.”

“It’s out of my hand. My father is desperate for his army of Voltrons.” Lotor said. “No one can stop this now that it’s set into motion.”

“No.” She whispered, and with a restrained sigh, Lotor moved around the desk, intent on taking Allura into his arms. “Don’t touch me!” She snapped, before he could lay a hand on her, Allura backing away.

“Allura, don’t turn away from me because of this.” Lotor went to move after her, hand reaching for her when the silent observer moved between them.

“The lady asked you not to touch her.” He said, and Lotor bristled with annoyance, drawing back to glare at this bold interference. For the first time he took a good look at this man, noting he had the growing start of a beard on his chin. Along with the thinness of his cheeks, it changed his whole face, making him near unrecognizable if not for the eyes. The eyes were familiar in the defiant way they glared at Lotor, the man not flinching as Lotor let out a low growl.

“YOU!” Without warning, Lotor grabbed him by the sides of his shirt’s collar, the man’s hands coming up to grasp the prince’s wrists. He struggled against him, even as Allura let out a startled sound, a protesting no as Lotor turned, and slammed the man onto the top of his desk. It shook from the impact, his mug overturning to spill coffee off the side, as the man’s cap came off, revealing hair that was as black as a raven’s feathers.

“Keith…” hissed Lotor, even as Allura came up behind him, grabbing at his arm. “You dare show your face here?!”

“Don’t hurt him!” Allura cried, trying to pull Lotor away from Keith. He ignored her, eyes locked onto the captain’s face, his fingers tightening on his collar. Keith’s hands were tugging hard on Lotors’ wrists, trying to move the Drule away from his neck.

“It was you, wasn’t it?” Lotor snarled, giving Keith a hard shake that had his head rocked back against the desk. “You were the one who told her what my scientists are up to!”

“Yes.” Keith practically spat out, expression mocking. “She had to know Lotor. She had to know just what she was dealing with, the kind of man she is married too!” A sharp inhale from Lotor, his hands itching to close around Keith’s throat. In this moment Lotor felt nothing would be as satisfying as to choke the life out of Keith, to see the light die down in his eyes. Only Allura’s hand on his arm kept him from giving in to that temptation, Lotor barely able to control himself as he glared down at Keith.

“You think you’ve won.” Lotor hissed out. “So smug in what you’ve done. Well, it doesn’t change the fact that Allura is married to me. She’s my wife, and nothing you say or do can change that!”

“At least now she won’t be fooled by you.” Keith retorted. “She won’t give her heart to you.”

“How petty of you captain.” Lotor sneered. “So you would rather she be miserable with me, than happy without you? Is that it?” Keith’s lips pressed together in a tight line, the man not answering Lotor’s questions. Lotor let out a disgusted snort, and let go of Keith, seeing the truth in his eyes.

“Lotor…what are you going to do…?” Allura said, turning to follow him as he marched towards the door of the office. Wordlessly he yanked open the door, seeing the guard pacing back and forth before it. The Drule instantly stood to attention, Lotor grabbing his arm.

“Arrest this man!” Lotor said, a dramatic pointing of his finger at Keith.

“Lotor no!” Allura cried out in protest, Keith immediately sliding into a defensive stance before the desk. The guard was moving hesitantly towards the captain, hand going to his belt to reach for the handcuffs secured there.

“Allura, he is a trespasser on Arus. He knew what would happen if he came here.” Lotor said, glancing at her. She looked so upset, her hand to her mouth to hide her expression from him. “He should be glad I don’t kill him.”

Lotor quickly turned his attention back towards his desk, seeing Keith grappling with the Drule. They each held a wrist, struggling back and forth when Keith raises a knee, slamming it into the guard’s unprotected gut. The air whooshed out of the Drule, the man slumping, allowing Keith the chance to turn and flip him over his shoulder. The Drule hit the floor at the same instant Keith withdrew a small blaster from his pocket, firing off a stunning shot to the guard.

“Keith!” Allura’s voice, seeming shocked by his actions.

“I’m not going to just let you throw me in a cell somewhere!” Keith snapped, blaster aimed at Lotor. The prince let out a growl, annoyance at the heart of it as he moved to draw his sword. Allura’s eyes widened, shaking her head fast so that her blonde curls whipped about her face.

“Stop it, both of you!” She cried out an order.

“What are you going to do Captain?” Lotor demanded of Keith. “If you keep on firing that weapon of yours, someone is bound to hear and come running.”

“I’ll be gone before they get here.” A confidant Keith boasted, even as Lotor edged closer to the captain. “Stay back!” Keith added, finger already pulling the trigger on the blaster. A blue laser shot out towards Lotor, the prince using his sword to deflect the blast, seeing the laser stray widely and scorch the wall next to a bookcase.

“You don’t give me orders!” Lotor snarled, and took another step forward. “I rule here, not you!” He was suddenly running, charging towards Keith, even as the captain fired off round after round of laser fire. Lotor deflected them all, blasts ricocheting wildly, Allura crying out, dropping to the floor to avoid being hit. Both men could barely keep their eyes off of each other, snarling and glaring as Lotor tried to drive his sword into Keith’s arm.

He missed, the captain rolling to the side, Lotor searing a hole into the middle of his desk. The wood caught around the sword, Lotor pulling desperately on his blade as Keith took aim at his back.

“NO!” Allura cried, alerting him to the danger. “Keith don’t shoot!” Lotor jerked to the side, feeling the laser blast go past, just missing grazing his cheek. It smashed into the window, the laser shattering the glass into a million pieces, alerting the guards in the garden. Lotor smirked at Keith, even as the captain let out a stream of curses.

“What will you do now Keith?” Lotor demanded, a taunt in his voice. Keith’s answer was to shoot another blast at him, Lotor dropping to the floor to avoid it. He heard Keith’s footsteps, the captain running towards him, aiming a blast just before the kneeling Lotor. It distracted him, kept him from grabbing at Keith’s ankle, the captain tensing up an instant before he leaped onto the desk. Firing off a round of shots, Keith followed the lasers, somersaulting forward through the broken window.

“Stop him!” Lotor roared, jumping to his feet. He grabbed at his sword, giving a hard yank, feeling it start to pull free of the desk. Out in the garden he could see Keith battling the guards stationed there, the black haired man diving behind a tree, just narrowly avoiding being shot by one of the Drules. Keith peered around the trunk of the tree, firing off a round that took out one of the soldiers, the man falling face first into the grass.

“Lotor, stop this!” Allura cried, grabbing his arm before he could climb on the desk and follow Keith out into the garden. “Just let him go.”

“He has to pay Allura!” Lotor said, seeing Keith make a mad dash for the next tree. “He can’t just waltz in here and turn my life upside down and not pay a price!” Another Drule fell to Keith’s blaster, Lotor letting out a wordless growl.

“If it’s anyone fault, it’s yours!” Allura told him, and now he turned to look at her. “You’re the one whose been keeping secrets from me…basing our whole life together on lies!”

“Allura. I’m sorry your illusions about me have been shattered. Perhaps it was wrong for us to come to Arus.” Lotor said, wondering if every word was tearing her farther and farther away from him. “If my father had sent us somewhere else, like on the Pollux campaign, you wouldn’t have had time to lie to yourself.”

“To myself?” She frowned. “What does that mean?”

He sighed. “I think you built up a false idea of how life with me would be. We can’t always stay here on Arus, living this ideal peaceful life. I have duties to do for my father, and for my people. The Doom Empire must continue to expand, and someday my father will call on me, on us to leave Arus and see to the capture of other worlds. I won’t always be able to be kind, and caring towards others, I will have to be ruthless, and to kill, to avoid making mistakes that allow others to think I am weak.”

Her eyes were frustrated, Allura looking downwards. “I thought we’d stay on Arus forever…”

“It can be our home only for a brief time.” Lotor said. “We can always return for visits, but someday Doom will ultimately be our home.”

“Doom…” Allura was saddened, making Lotor want to take her into his arms.

“Our time here on Arus should be cherished.” Lotor added, making no move towards her. “It’s what our life could be like under idyllic settings.”

“It’s like waking up from a dream…” She murmured. “And finding everything you know has changed.”

“I do love you Allura.” Lotor said, wanting to be clear on this. “But it’s not enough to change me completely. Just as you have your duty to your people, I too have mine to Doom. We must learn to accept each other, for all our faults and our charms.”

“What if I can’t?” She wanted to know, and Lotor sighed.

“Then you condemn us to be miserable.” He looked away from her, glance falling on the window once more. Keith had gotten as far as the gazebo, it’s high white walls shielding him as he made a run towards the garden’s gate. Most of the guards in the garden were all unconscious, only one remained, chasing after Keith, having to dart from tree to tree to avoid the captain’s returning fire.

“I…I thought I would be when I was first forced to marry you.” Allura said, drawing his attention away from the window. “I don’t want to be…but there are some things I cannot tolerate…” A hand to her face, Allura brushing back her hair. “An army of Voltrons is one of them.” She glanced out the window, and breathed a sigh of relief, Lotor turning to see what caused that reaction in her. His eyes narrowed in annoyance to see Keith had finished off the last guard, the captain giving a mocking salute an instant before he leaped over the gate of the garden.

“He’s gone.” Allura pointed out, and Lotor sighed.

“He still has to get off planet.”

“But he’ll make it. I know he will.” Allura said, voice confidant.

“What about us Allura?” Lotor asked. “Will we make it?”

“Honestly?” He nodded, and she looked away. “I just don’t know.” With that she was turning, moving to walk out of the room. Lotor let her go, waiting until she had disappeared down the hall to reach for the intercom on his desk.

Pressing down on the button, he waited impatiently for acknowledgment to come from the command center of the castle. He quickly barked out commands, alerting them to Keith’s presence, giving a full description of how he now looked, and what he was wearing. He finished up his commands with them to detain him on sight, and to keep all ships from leaving the planet. He was depressed as he did this, thinking more on Allura and her final words to him than any thoughts of getting revenge on Keith for what he had done to his marriage.

Kneeling down, Lotor was careful to avoid the pieces of glass as he began swooping up the papers off the floor. He grumbled as he did this, knowing the mess would be practically impossible to sort. He dumped them into the waste basket, figuring if anything was truly important, the documents could be resubmitted to him. He left the glass and the unconscious guard for the maids to deal with, Lotor turning to walk out of the room, sheathing his sword in it”s leather scabbard.

“Damn him.” Lotor muttered, walking down the hall but unsure of where he was going. He wasn’t even sure who he was blaming, Keith or his father, knowing each was a reason for his current troubles. What was worse was he didn’t know how to rectify the situation, Lotor letting out a depressed sigh as he realized that once again he was caught between satisfying Allura or his father.


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