She stood before the console of the computer, hands resting on the surface of the key pad. Her fingers were idle, but she could feel the tremors in them, Allura surprised at how nervous she felt. She exhaled softly, trying to gather up her courage, glancing at the slip of paper before her. Numbers were written across it, personal com numbers that bore the planetary code for Earth.
All she needed to do is input it into the computer, and she would be connected in moments, and for that reason she hesitated. She was actually a little scared, wondering what she would say, how she would reason away not calling in such a long time. She knew not how to make amends, Allura wondering if they could forgive her. “I can do this.” She said, and glanced at the topmost number, her fingers poised over the keypad.
Fifteen numbers in all, one after the other, Allura carefully keying them in. She glanced at the view screen that hung suspended against the rear wall of the conference room, seeing it flicker to life as the numbers were put through the computer. The call was being sent through, bouncing off planet relays, the waves being transmitted from Arus to Earth in an instant.
“One moment please.” A robotic voice intoned, and then the screen showed a room, in messy disarray, clothes and items scattered across the floor, and hanging on every nook and cranny. A brown haired young man stood in the center of the mess, currently shirtless. It was a sight that would have ordinarily make Allura blush, the princess blinking in surprise but otherwise maintaining her composure.
“Princess?” The man seemed to do a double take, as though unable to believe who he was seeing.
“Hello Lance.” Allura said, risking a smile to him. “Do you have a moment?”
“Yeah sure.” Lance said, mirroring her smile. “Always for you.”
“Thank you.” Silence stretched on between them, Allura unsure of what to say. Lance lifted his hand, running it through his brown hair, his bangs spilling every which way at his finger’s commands. “How’s Keith?” She asked at the same exact instant Lance spoke.
“You’re looking well.”
Their voices mingled together, and they both smiled, some of the tension melting away. Lance nodded at her to speak first, Allura repeating her question.
“Keith?” Lance looked surprised. “You mean you haven’t called him yet?”
“No…not yet.” Allura admitted, though she kept quiet on how she was avoiding him. Some part of her was angry at the rude awakening he had forced on her, Keith making her see her husband in a way she hadn’t wanted to consider. “But I am concerned. Did he make it back to Garrison all right?”
“Yeah, he just got back last night.” Confirmed Lance. “Flew up in rusty old bucket of bolts that was practically falling apart around him. It’s amazing he even made the journey from Arus in that thing!”
“I’m glad.” Allura said, relieved he was all right, and off the planet, out of Lotor’s reach. This also meant Lotor could stop prohibiting ships from leaving the planet now. “I was worried he’d be stuck on Arus or worse.”
“Yeah I imagine Lotor is eager to get his hands on Keith after the bombshell he dropped.” Lance actually smirked, making Allura frown at him. “Sorry princess. Don’t mean to gloat. But the whole Garrison is in an uproar over the plans Keith brought back. Doom can’t be allowed to make another Voltron. Let alone a whole army of them!”
“I know.” Allura sighed. “But I don’t know how to stop them.”
“No one is expecting you to do it all on your own. Your friends will be here to help….if you let us that is.” Lance said, and she lowered her eyes.
“I don’t deserve your friendship.” She sighed, wringing her fingers together in a nervous gesture. “I’m sorry Lance. I’ve been neglecting you and the boys.”
“I’m sure it wasn’t your fault.” Lance said, sympathetically. “You just had a lot on your mind. I’m sure Lotor wouldn’t have allowed you to get in contact with us either.”
Guilt flashed through her, Allura realizing Keith hadn’t told him her admittance in forgetting to contact her friends. “You’re wrong. I’ve been selfish. I hadn’t even thought to ask him if I could…”
“But that’s going to change. I promise you. No more turning my back on my friends.” Allura said, feeling firm in her resolve. Lance flashed her a dazzling smile, all white teeth as he grinned at her.
“Glad to hear that princess.”
She smiled back at him, no longer playing with her fingers. “So, how are you Lance? How have you, Pidge and Hunk been?”
“We’re fine. A bit depressed all things considered, but doing well.” Lance answered.
“So you’ve decide to stay with Garrison?” She asked, and he nodded.
“For now at least. It beats being homeless.” That upset her, it surely showed on her face for Lance was hastily amending his statement. “I didn’t mean it Allura. None of us are in danger of being without homes. I mean we all have savings, and if worst comes to worst, we could always pool our money and share a house.”
“But it’s not the same, is it?” She questioned softly.
“Yeah.” Now it was Lance’s turn to sigh. “We miss our home Allura. We may not have been born on Arus, but it was home just the same. It hurts to be away from it and the lions.” A sober look, Lance asking, “How is she? How is my lion?”
“Red lion is fine Lance.” Allura assured him. “No one can handle that lion the way you can.”
“Certainly not a Drule!” Lance grinned. “Ah….I miss her. I miss the freedom of flying the lion. I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever get the chance to fly one again.”
“If Garrison makes their own Voltron to combat Doom’s, you just might.” Allura said, seeing how excited Lance grew at the thought.
“That would be great! But..” He hesitated for a second. “How would you feel about another Voltron?”
“It would be selfish of me to want to keep Voltron an exclusive to Arus alone. Not when more of the robot could do so much good.” Allura said. “If my father’s invention could be made to help protect the rest of the planet’s from Doom’s grasp, I’m sure my father would be proud.”
“Yeah, I bet he would too.” Lance agreed.
“We must do all we can to stop Doom’s advance on the galaxy.” Allura added. She had already taken small steps in refusing to train anymore pilots for the lions. She wondered if it was a futile effort, considering most of her knowledge had already been imparted to the Drules. “I’ll help as best I can…” Allura trailed off, wondering just what she could do. Perhaps she could be a spy, and ferret out Doom’s secrets, sending them to Garrison.
“Just be careful.” Lance advised. “You’re too close to the enemy to do anything too risky.”
“The enemy…” How strange it was to be back towards thinking of her husband as the enemy, when just days ago he had been friend and lover to her.
“Are you okay princess?” A concerned Lance asked.
“I’m fine. Thank you.” She said, offering a smile to him. “And I will be careful. But I can’t sit back and do nothing.”
“I know. I just don’t want you getting hurt.” Lance replied. “I know Lotor won’t hurt you, but can you say the same about Zarkon?”
A shudder went through her, Allura shaking her head no as she recalled Zarkons’ threat to her. “Lotor won’t let him harm me…” She began, just as an alarm went off. Lance grimaced, and bowed his head sheepishly.
“Sorry princess. Duty calls.” He was already reaching for a shirt, the material a vibrant blue that reminded her of Lotor’s skin color.
“I understand. “Give Pidge and Hunk my love. And know that I will be in touch with you all soon.” Allura added, seeing Lance nod, hastily buttoning up his shirt. “Good-bye.”
“Bye princess.” He was already distracted, cutting the communication short with a pressing of his fingers. The screen went dead, flickering into a white wall of nothing and Allura sighed. She retrieved the piece of paper with the numbers on it, tucking it into her pocket. She would have liked to have contacted Pidge and Hunk now, but knew they were busy dealing with the cause behind the alarm at Garrison.
She sighed, and began moving towards the door of the room, her thoughts thinking back on the last few days. It had been almost three days since the scene in Coran’s office, Allura spending much of that time worrying about Keith and his whereabouts. Lotor had his men scouring the planet in search of him, desperate to find him and exact some twisted form of revenge.
Allura herself had seen little of Lotor, her husband only daring to appear to her that same night that everything came crashing down. She had refused him entrance to the bedroom, barricading the door against him as much as she did her heart. He hadn’t stuck around long, banging his fists against the door a few times before giving up and moving away. Except for his demands of her to open the door, no words had been exchange between them, Allura quiet and cringing against the sounds of him hitting the door.
She was very relieved he had left when he did, Allura not sure what to say to him, and hardly in the mood to share her bed with him. The next morning a maid had arrived to pack up some of his clothing, Allura not inquiring what room he had taken over for his own. Perhaps the one vacated by Orla, the Queen leaving soon after learning of Lotor’s plans for an army of Voltrons. Her aunt had looked so disappointed upon hearing the news, merely heaving a sigh as she shook her head.
Allura echoed her sigh, stepping out into the hall. She wasn’t sure where to go, tired of spending time hiding in her room, yearning for some companionship that went beyond her four mice friends. She was almost aimless as she walked, not quite smiling as she thought of the mice who had taken to chewing holes in Lotor’s clothes, and pooping in his shoes. Harmless little pranks that were sure to annoy the prince.
Somehow her thoughts kept turning back to Lotor, Allura going around in circles, wondering how easily she could have been fooled by him. Wondering if it was as he had said, that she had been deluding herself into expecting things he could not give her. She found herself touching the wall, an absentminded caress as Allura thought with a breaking heart about leaving behind her home. It was the only one she had ever known, and she did not want to give it up for Doom’s cold embrace.
Nor did she want to go on raids with Lotor, and see everything she had fought for destroyed as he captured planet after planet for his father. Allura wondered how she could have forgotten who Lotor really was, how she could have been swept up in the excitement of finding love to overlook his past, and forget his words to her on Doom. He had warned her then, preparing her for the idea that he would bring her along on his conquests. Woe to her that she had ignored that once seeing him on Arus, acting the benevolent ruler.
She let go of the wall, moving down the corridor, a frown on her face. Always he had given her warnings, the day of Tamara’s death reminding her that he was a monster. And yet again she had chosen to ignore that side of him. She felt like such a fool, Allura angry as she turned the corridor, running smack dab into a broad chest. She started to stumble backwards, an apology on her lips when strong hands reached out to steady her.
“Oh please excuse me…” Her words trailed off when she looked up, seeing Lotor staring at her with a blank expression on his face. “Lotor!” She immediately tried to pull back, intent on running from him. But his hold on her allowed for no retreat, Lotor keeping her before him.
“Allura…I’ve been looking for you.” He said, even as she cursed herself for ever leaving the bedroom. “I heard you were in the conference room….”
“I’ve done nothing wrong.” She said defiantly, thinking of the numbers in her pocket.
“I’m not accusing you of anything. I just wanted to see my wife.” Lotor replied.
“I have something to show you. Something I think you’ll be pleased by.” Came his answer, Allura narrowing her eyes at him.
“Nothing you have could interest nor please me!” Her tone was haughty, seeing Lotor’s lips twitch as he fought to keep an impassive expression.
“Come now, that’s not true. You’ll like this…and I won’t have you withering away with curiosity…” Lotor said, and transferred his grip to her right hand. He gave a tug, trying to pull her after him, Allura dragging her feet on the ground.
“Where are you taking me?” She demanded, seeing Lotor glance over his shoulder at her.
“To my office. It’s not far from here.” He added, moving at an unhurried pace.
“I don’t know why you bother.” Allura snapped, reluctantly following him. “Nothing you can say or do will change how I feel.”
“Nothing?” Lotor asked, and she nodded adamantly.
“Then I hope all my efforts won’t prove to be in vain.” Lotor said, then smirked at her. “I am looking forward to proving you wrong.”
“Hmph!” Allura made a sound, her nose up in the air as she followed him through the castle. People paused and turned, surprised expressions on their faces. Allura knew it must have been the talk of the castle, her locking Lotor out of the bedroom so suddenly. Gossip always ran rampant when people gathered, and the affairs of their benefactors was a prime source of material to get tongues wagging.
It took just over ten minutes to reach the room that used to be Coran’s office, Lotor ushering Allura inside. She looked around, seeing the window had been repaired, new glass in it’s frame. There was still scorch marks in the wall, permanent marks of Keith’s visit, Allura jumping in fright as Lotor closed the door shut behind her. She quickly stepped away from him, noticing the boxes in front of his desk, seeing the table lacking it’s usual pile of paper work.
“Do you know what this is?” Lotor asked, walking over to the boxes.
“No.” Allura shook her head, and frowned. “If you think to bribe me with some sort of bauble, it won’t work…”
“Trust me Allura, when I say I know your affection can’t be bought with mere trinkets. However…” He opened one of the boxes, showing her piles and piles of paper. “This is all the information my scientists have gathered on the lions.” She stepped closer, peering inside, amazed at how much paper there was. “This is the complete hard copy of their findings.”
“Why are you showing me this?” She asked, her eyes widening when Lotor lifted a small blow torch off his desk.
“Just watch…” Lotor said, the torch flaming to life as he set the papers to burning inside the boxes. A small fire began in each container, the room smelling of burnt paper, Allura listening to the flames crackle.
“Is that all…?” Allura asked, and Lotor shook his head.
“No…here…” He handed her a tiny remote, Allura looking at it doubtfully. “I’ve taken the liberty of wiring all the computers on the Doom fleet to this remote. If you just press this button, a virus will be unleashed onto the ships.”
“A virus? What…?” She was confused, the emotion slipping into her voice and onto her face.
“A computer virus. One that will destroy all the databanks on my fleet. With it and the hardcopies destroyed, Doom will have no access to the information gathered about the lions.”
“It’s a trick.” She said, trying to hand him back the remote. “You wouldn’t do that.”
“Wouldn’t I?” Lotor asked. “I’ve already had my scientists taken care of.”
“Taken care of? What does that mean?” Allura asked suspiciously. He just looked at her, expression unfathomable, and she gasped. “You killed them, didn’t you?”
“It was the only way to ensure they couldn’t pass on the knowledge.” Lotor said. “It had to be done, in order to protect your lion’s secrets.”
She stared at him, eyes wide, thinking how casual he sounded about committing mass murder.
“Of course my father will send more scientists to this planet. But they will meet with similar fates.” A grim smile from her husband, Allura gaping at him in shock. “Well, Allura, aren’t you going to press the button?”
“You didn’t have to kill them..” She protested weakly.
“Of course I did. They could talk, recreate their notes. They’d do it quicker now too. Don’t you see Allura?” He asked, watching her carefully. “They had to die. Everyone who worked on this project had too.”
“How terrible…” She said sadly, and that made him frown.
“I did it for you. For us.” Lotor insisted. “To ensure our future together.”
“For us?” He nodded, and she shook her head. “You do it for the wrong reasons.”
“You should have stopped them because it’s the right thing to do.” Allura told Lotor. “That you realized it’s wrong to have an army of robots to take over the galaxy. Not because you wanted to curry favor with me!” She could see her words exasperated him, Lotor’s lip curling into a sneer. “Lotor…when will you ever learn…?”
“Apparently not today.” He said, and gestured at the remote. “Don’t let their deaths be in vain Allura. Push the button, send the virus into my ship’s computers.”
She stared down at the tiny remote, doubt in her eyes. Could such a thing really wipe out the computers of those ships? She hesitated just a second longer, and then her painted nail was pushing down on the button, feeling it begin to vibrate in her hand. She gasped and dropped it on the floor, where it made a horrid echoing noise,
“It’s done.” Lotor said, and reached for her. She smacked his hand away, shaking her head no.
“I won’t believe you that easily.” She said. “I won’t be gullible any longer. How do I know this virus really worked. That those men are dead?”
“I can take you to see the bodies if you like.” Lotor offered, and shrugged, “As for the virus, why not send a sample of it and this remote to your friend Pidge. I’m sure he could tell you whether or not it’s been faked.”
“I’ll do that.” Allura answered. “I’ll take you up on both offers.” The intercom unit on his desk began beeping, Lotor not taking his eyes off her as he reached back to acknowledge the call. A harried voice came over the unit, the Drule accent sounding more pronounced as the man spoke.
“Prince Lotor, sire there’s a red alert on board all ships from Doom!”
“Status report?” Lotor asked, and the voice continued.
“All the computers are going off line, and there’s been a few explosions off in the hard casing of the memory towers. They’re losing power fast, it appears nothing will be salvageable if this continues.”
“Explosions?” Allura exclaimed, looking surprised. Lotor waved at her to be quiet, speaking to the com unit.
“I will be there shortly. Until then, try to put out the fires and get all personnel to a safe zone.”
“Yes, sir!” The com unit was clicked off, Lotor looking at Allura.
“The hard drives of the computers had to be destroyed.” He explained. “Else we risk having the knowledge recovered.”
“Another necessity I see?” She asked, seeing him nod.
“Allura…” He touched her arm, looking pleased when she didn’t pull back. “Does this make everything all right with us now?” He sounded so hopeful, it almost made her not want to crush his hopes.
“I don’t think it does.” Allura told him, seeing his face grow confused.
“What else must I do?” He demanded, and she shook her head.
“I don’t know.”
“Allura….why are you making things so difficult?” He asked, and that made her snort, disbelief in her tone.
“Difficult?” Lotor nodded, and she all but growled at him. “You’re the one whose complicated things! Acting one way, when all the while you were planning things behind my back! Toying with my emotions, making me like you, making me care what happens to you.” She let out a breath, trying to control her words. “I…I wish we had never come to Arus. Then I wouldn’t have lied to myself about who you really are!”
“You paint everything in black and white, don’t you Allura?” Lotor demanded, making her glare at him. “Nothing can exist in gray areas, everyone has to be either good or bad. Well!” A short bark of laughter, the sound nasty. “The world is not as cut and dried as that, people don’t fall into neat little lines so that you can label who is right and who is wrong. I’m not good, but neither am I entirely evil. It’s time you accept that I can do both good and bad things, and right now I’ve done a very bad thing in the eyes of my people and my father.”
She stared at him, opening her mouth, but he was pushing onwards, shaking her arm. “Do you know what my father would do to me if he suspected I was the one who had those scientists killed? That I was the one who introduced the virus into the computers?! I’d be label a saboteur and traitor to my own people. And I did it all for you!”
She said nothing at first, Lotor letting go of her arm to pace agitatedly before her. The fire in the boxes had withered the papers down to nothing at all, Allura wondering when Lotor would put out the flames.
“I’m sorry…” She said at last. “It’s not that I don’t understand what you have done…”
“You just don’t appreciate it!” Lotor snarled, grabbing a fire extinguisher form the wall. He blasted the foam into the boxes, putting out the fire. Allura waited for the hiss of the extinguisher to die down before speaking.
“I do…” Allura insisted. “I am grateful….even as I am appalled that you could kill those scientists and their subordinates. Lotor…I…I need time.”
“To do what?” He asked gruffly, setting the extinguisher down on the floor.
“To think. And to get proof of what you say.” She said at last. “Please….take me to the ships with you. I need to see for myself the damage..”
“Fine.” He said, and gestured for her to step ahead of him out the door. She did so, turning to watch as Lotor locked the door behind him. Her heart was beating faster in her heart, Allura hoping that he really had destroyed all the information about the lions, even as she despaired at the thought of him killing more people. She wasn’t sure how to feel about it, though horror was chief at her thoughts. A part of her was almost touched he had gone to such lengths for her, but another was wary, Allura frightened that this would prove to be his greatest deception to her yet.