Her foot planted itself into his groin, Allura hearing Lotor let out a a deep groan, pain at the heart of it as he tensed, an instant before he collapsed forward on top of her. Allura felt a mix of conflicting emotions, almost sorry she had had to hurt him. But another part of her was relieved, finding that at least that part of him was still flesh and blood, a curiosity she wondered about, one she would never admit to out loud.
Anger was also working it’s way through her, Allura sighing as she began to push the moaning pirate off of her. It never changed, they went round and round, ultimately ending up in the position where he forced her to hurt him. With a grunt of her own, she succeeded in knocking Lotor off her, Allura rolling to the opposite side, feeling more of her cracked armor fall free of her body.
It left her clad in her body hugging black Lycra, and the blue metal of her boots, the greaves giving her the added force in her kick. She could hear Lotor gasping, trying to get a hold of himself, Allura rising to her feet. She glanced around the room, eyes landing on the flap of the tent, but she made no move towards it. The other alien’s words still a deadly threat in her ears, Allura having no desire to be shot at.
“Ah…” A shuddery breath from Lotor, the man recovering enough to sit up on his knees. “Of course…” He looked at her, Allura taken a back by how bitter his smile was. “How it must repulse you to be kissed by this face…” He let his hair spill over the masked side, leaving just one perfect half to look at her sadly.
“That’s not true…” Allura said, no hesitation in her words. “I felt no disgust when you kissed me.” She refused to blush, reminding herself she wasn’t the young naive princess of five years ago.
“No? Then what?” He asked, and she had to fight not to look away. She couldn’t tell him that his kiss had stirred up old memories, that a touch of desire had accompanied the pressing of her lips. She was silent too long, Lotor sighing, his head lowering in a dejected manner. “Ah….no it couldn’t be desire…I am a fool to hope you would feel anything for me…It’s been what, five years? Surely you’ve had other lovers by now…ones who erased the memory of the Prince of Doom’s hold on your heart.”
“There’s been no one.” Allura said truthfully, seeing the surprise in his eyes. “I am not so quick to fall into the arms of just any man after being burned by you. Trust me when I say the experience has left me savvy in a way the Allura of five years ago was not.”
“Don’t tell me you’ve come away jaded?” Lotor asked, his one revealed eye wide with shock. “Allura….I may have deceived you about many things, but I was truthful in my desire for you. I still am.”
“You’re also still a wanted criminal.” She pointed out. “You were never the man I thought you were…never the man I…”
“What?” His voice was soft, his eyes watching her carefully. Now she did turn away, presenting him with her back as she thought carefully on her words.
“I was taken in by your act.” Allura said. “I believed you were something else, someone changed…reformed…It was foolish of me.” She heard movement from behind her, Lotor surely rising to stand. “I had harbored a crush on you, you know….I suppose it was only natural. You were the handsome prince who was so ardent in his proclamations towards me. What girl wouldn’t be dazzled by the first man to show such a potent interest in her…?”
“I am neither now….no longer handsome nor a prince….” Lotor said, and now she did turn, seeing him standing there in his long black robes that touched the floor, and hid his body from her.
Allura wondered who he was listening to that he believed so strongly his looks were gone. She didn’t know the extent of the scarring under the face plate, but the rest of his face was still as handsome as ever. “Lotor…you still have your looks…the metal mask is jarring to see, but it doesn’t detract from your beauty.” Now he was frowning, shaking his head no again and again, leaving her to sigh. “It’s true!”
“If you saw….if you knew what was beneath it…” He sounded so sad, so anguished. “You’d never see anything but the scars.” He lifted a hand to touch the face plate, wincing as he did so.
“Then let me be the judge for it?” Allura asked, and saw him drop his hand, a frown on his face.
“No.” Lotor refused, turning away from her. “I would rather you hold the memory in your heart of how I used to look…rather than let you be haunted with the truth of my new face.”
“You know I was never one to judge on looks!” She reminded him, but he still kept his back to her.
“Please Allura….let this fool maintain this one vanity…it is after all the only thing I have left…” Lotor said, and was moving. Not towards her, but towards a batch of barrels set up against the tent’s wall. He reached for a cup, a glass that gleamed, it’s crystal surface beautiful. He held it beneath an opening in the barrel, free hand turning the tap so that a rich brown liquid poured into the glass.
She watched him as he took a sip, and even from this distance, she could smell the strong scent of the rum. It seemed the more things changed, the more remnants of the past remained, Lotor still harboring a fondness for fine drink.
He tossed back nearly half the glass before speaking, turning to look her in the eyes. “Why didn’t you run?” She made a questioning sound, Lotor hurrying to clarify. “When you had the chance to escape me?”
“Once I would have.” Agreed Allura. “Even at a risk to myself. But that’s not who I am anymore.”
“You’re not afraid I won’t hurt you?” Lotor asked, finishing off his drink. He set the glass down on the barrel, taking a step towards her. “That I won’t force myself on you again?”
“Will you?” She asked bluntly, refusing to back away from him.
“I don’t know.” Lotor confessed. “I’ve been so long without a woman…..and those years spent in prison left me with little time to do nothing but dream of you. I could lose control at any second…”
“I’ll take my chances then.” Allura said as he stopped before her.
“Is that wise?” Lotor asked, lifting a gloved hand to her face. She caught at his wrist, and though she lacked the strength to keep him from touching her, he stopped all the same.
“It’s best to avoid temptation.” She told him, seeing him frown.
“You can’t stand to be touched by me!” His voice was accusing, and she shook her head no.
“That’s not true…not entirely.” Allura said, an admittance coming from her. “If anything, I don’t like the memories your touch stirs up.”
“Memories…? Of that time…that night so long ago?” He sounded wistful then, Allura nodding. “I’m glad then. It means you can feel something for me, something positive, something that leads me to hope things can change between us.”
“It’s not all good.” Allura replied, still holding onto his wrist. “I also remember how you changed….your betrayal…all the lies and deceits…” A shake of her head, Allura frowning. “It taints what we shared.”
He jerked his hand free of her grasp, letting his arm drop to his side. His face was disappointed, Lotor sighing. “Would that I could change the past. I’d do right by you….I’d never have lied to you, never have gone back on my word…Just think….it would have changed so many things…this face of mine, this body, would never have been destroyed if I had truly meant it when I said I wanted to do good.”
“Yes, the what ifs are endless.” Allura felt her own pain as she thought about them. She wondered if she and Lotor would have had a future together, if the relationship would have extended beyond a girl’s infatuation and one night’s curiosity.
“You sound as though you’ve thought about them.” Lotor noted, and she found herself nodding.
“Sometimes it’s all I can do…” Allura said. “Is think on the past, and how different things could have been.” She shook her head, her words coming out in an attempt to change the subject. “Lotor….where are we exactly? What is this place?”
“Do you like it?” He stepped back, raising his hands in a grand gesture at his tent. His robe opened slightly, showing the hint of the dark gray shirt he wore beneath it. “It’s my home away from home. The latest in my acquired bases.” His arms lowered, Lotor not quite smiling. “It’s no Castle Doom, but it’s more than adequate for my needs.”
“It’s…..different.” He laughed at that, giving in to the smile.
“I know, hard to believe the former prince of Doom could be satisfied living a nomadic lifestyle out on some barren desert planet. But, that makes it the perfect hide out.” Lotor said. “The Alliance is looking in all the wrong places, never dreaming I would waste my time in such an out of way planet.” A shrug then, Lotor continuing. “I’ve a few places set up through out the Denubian Galaxy. Similar in set up, an open invitation to all thieves and assassins, all dregs of a criminal lifestyle. Our black market thrives, and caters to those with a taste for the things outlawed by the Alliance.”
“Yes, I noticed.” Allura said, and now she narrowed her eyes at him, her voice taking on a chastising tone. “Slavery Lotor?! Why? Why must you constantly seek to subjugate others?!”
“It’s all I ever knew.” Lotor said. “Besides, it’s highly profitable to be a flesh peddler. There is a huge market to be found in the trading of slaves. I dare say you’d be surprised at who is buying. Why even some of the high ranking officials in the Alliance keep secret slaves.”
“No! I don’t believe you.” Allura protested. “They wouldn’t do a thing like that!”
“Oh really? Not even those whose planets thrived on the backs of slaves?” Lotor made a tsking sound, looking at her as though she was naive. “Old habits die hard. And not all who joined the Alliance are happy with the change.”
“What do you mean?” Allura demanded.
“Let us just say I have the secret backing of certain planet’s rulers.” A satisfied smile from him. “They give me money, arms, and manpower. Not to mention information on what the Alliance and Garrison and even the Voltron Force is doing!”
“Is that how I got here?” Allura asked angrily. “Someone leaked word that I would be at Garrison headquarters for a meeting, and you had your people move to capture me?” He just looked at her, Allura growing madder by the second. “Answer me Lotor!”
“I have had people working to track your every movement yes.” He agreed. “But…it was not my hand that acted to bring you here.”
“Then your father?!” Allura gasped out, and Lotor’s grin widened.
“Very perceptive of you. I knew you wouldn’t be fooled by his man of peace act.”
“Why?” Angry gestures from her, Allura frowning. “It’s very risky what he’s done. He has to know I won’t keep quiet about this deceit of his.”
“It matters not what you know.” Now his hands lashed out, grabbing her by the arms. “Allura, I won’t ever let you leave me.” She began struggling against him, Lotor drawing her against his chest. “It will be too late for everyone by the time Zarkon’s true nature is revealed…the galaxy is going to go back to the way it was…the old regime will be back in control. The Doom Empire will flourish, better than ever under our rule.”
“The Voltron Force will stop you!” She snapped, trying to pull back. His fingers tightened on her, Allura holding in a cry of pain as she fought against his hold. “I will too! I’ll find a way!”
“Calm down Allura.” Lotor ordered, voice rising over hers. “You’ll only upset…” Now she did cry out, feeling the hold on her left arm tighten to the point she couldn’t hold in her whimpers. Lotor reacted in an instant, releasing that one arm, a look of horror on his face.
“Forgive me…” He whispered, not flinching as she punched him with her freed hand. “I forget my strength….This damn arm is a blessing and a curse. It lets me do so much, and yet limits me in other ways…”
“Let go of me.” She said, and he nodded, letting go of her completely. She immediately brought her right hand to touch her left arm, rubbing it vigorously as she glared at him. “You’ve probably bruised me you brute!”
“Probably.” He agreed. “Allura I am sorry. I shouldn’t have grabbed you like that….”
“That’s right, you shouldn’t have!” She held her head up at a haughty angle, staring at him angrily. “This plan of yours won’t work. Good will always triumph over evil…It will!” She insisted at his head shake. “I believe that in my heart…”
“This is not a storybook where the outcome is decided from the start.” Lotor said. “It’s not so simple for good to triumph. And with only four lions active…”
“Where is blue lion?!” She interrupted him, her tone urgent. “What have you done with it?”
“Nothing.” He answered. “My father did not see fit to deliver the lion into my care. And truthfully I did not want it. You’d be to tempted to use it to flee. No…..the lion remains at the Alliance’s headquarters. Although the key, I dare guess is in my father’s possession. Without it, even if they find a replacement for you, they won’t be able to use it. Voltron is no more.”
“You sound so smug…..like you’ve thought of everything….but that can’t be true!” Allura insisted. “Sooner or later, you or your father will make a mistake…and that is when the Voltron Force will win.”
“Perhaps.” Lotor agreed, surprising her. “No one is infallible. But in the meantime you will have to simply sit back and wait on the outcome of this battle. Allura…” His hands reached towards her, Allura lifting her own to ward him off. He pulled back with a frown, sighing out his words. “You will be comfortable here. I’ll see to it. You’ll want for nothing while in my care.”
“Except my freedom.” She was quick to point out.
An exasperated sigh from him. “If you behave, and cause me and my men no trouble, I’ll consider taking you out with me on raids.”
“As if I would ever want to participate in such dirty dealings!” She snapped.
A smile from him, Lotor’s tone teasing. “Not even if it meant a chance for you to escape?” Allura fell silent at that, realizing such a thing might very well be possible if she went with him off the planet.
“Right now all your thoughts lie on trying to get away, on fighting what is your fate. But someday…..and I hope this will be sooner rather than later, you will come to accept me and this new lifestyle I offer you.”
“That will never happen!” Allura hissed out a promise.
“Never say never Allura.” Lotor said, and moved away from her. She watched him, seeing his destination was the tent flap.
“You’re leaving?” She was surprised, it showed in her voice, Lotor turning to look at her.
“I still have some work to do while the sun is up. But worry not, I’ll try to return to you as soon as possible.”
“Don’t hurry on my account.” Allura said, and he smiled.
“I will hurry none the same.” He bowed his head in her direction, and then was ducking under the flap, Allura catching a glimpse of two pair of legs outside. Guards no doubt, the princess sighing as she looked around the tent. Her eyes quickly passed over the displays of wealth, Allura finding nothing to hold her interest there.
Moving to the rear of the tent, she lifted up one of the expensive tapestries, hand being pressed to the tough material of the tent. She wondered if she’d be able to tear it open, make some sort of emergency slit from which she could escape through. ~If only I had a knife or something sharp to use.~ Allura lamented in her thoughts. She dropped the tapestry, and turned towards the center of the room just at the flap of the tent was lifted up.
A woman entered the room, back bowed with age as she struggled with carrying a silver platter. “Hello.” Allura said curiously, seeing the woman glance up at the sound of her voice. She nodded at Allura, but did not speak, walking a slow pace towards the bed.
“Here….let me help you with that….” Allura hurried over, trying to take the tray from the woman.
“No.” A clear command, the woman stubbornly holding onto her burden. Allura sighed and let go, watching as she ambled closer to the bed, setting the tray down. The covering was lifted, revealing a plate full of nuts and fruits, Allura noting the meal was composed of foods one could eat with their hands. No knife or fork added to the tray. She sighed in disappointment, sitting down next to the tray, reaching for a peach.
The woman began moving about the tent, heading towards the spot where Allura’s ruined armor lay. She knelt, trembling hands picking up the broken pieces, cradling them in the apron over her dress. She ignored Allura for the most part, collecting the remaining pieces of armor, then stood. With a curt nod in Allura’s direction, she turned to leave, ducking under the tent flap to get outside.
~No help from that one.~ Allura thought, thinking of how unfriendly the woman seemed. She continued to eat, almost greedily so, grateful for the chance to fill up her stomach. When she finished, she put the tray down on the floor, and sat back down on the edge of the bed. It wasn’t long before the combination of boredom and a full stomach had her yawning, Allura pulling off her boots. They thumped on the floor, the princess already moving to turn back the topmost fur, sliding beneath it to rest atop a rust red fur that was soft beyond belief.
It wasn’t a contented sigh that she let out, but it was a tired one, Allura closing her eyes. A part of her hoped that upon awakening this would prove to be nothing more than an odd dream, but even as she thought that, she knew it was a foolish hope to have.