Songbird 12

Haggar was waiting for us by the time Lotor and I reached the courtyard. She was actually tapping a foot in impatience, her eyes constantly turning to the crystal ball she held in her hands. I could see images moving inside it. Coba was apparently on the move, prowling the halls of the castle. What she expected her cat to find at this point I didn’t know, but Haggar was agitated. Perhaps even more so than Lotor and I were.

“So where are they?” Lotor demanded without preamble. He fixed me with a glare, one that spoke of the trouble I would be in if Haggar didn’t back up my claims about the Voltron Force. “Where is the Voltron Force?!”

“I do not know…” Haggar admitted. “They have disappeared…”

“What do you mean they disappeared?! How is that even possible?!” Lotor growled out in question.

“There is powerful magic where that robot is concerned.” Retorted Haggar. “Powerful enough to cloud even my crystal. I can tell you this though. They are on the planet…near enough to the castle to cause trouble.”

“That doesn’t tell me much.” Lotor grumbled. Haggar was unapologetic, giving a shrug of her shoulders. “Have our people scour the country side. I want them found.”

“Of course sire.” Haggar bowed her head in a nod. “I’ve already seen fit to dispatch some of our ships to do just that.”

“What is their game…” Lotor muttered out loud. “If they’re here to challenge Avok…why bother with this subterfuge…?”

“Maybe they’re not here for Avok.” I said, drawing Lotor and Haggar’s attention to me. “Maybe they’ve come for peace.”

“Peace?” Lotor snorted, dismissing that idea as possible. “There will be no peace. Not for Arus.”

Or for Pollux. But I didn’t voice that thought out loud. Haggar and Lotor would have merely laughed, might even have thought me insane for worrying for the fate of the planet. Drules who expressed guilt over what their leaders commanded them to do, didn’t last very long in the Empire’s employ.

“I’ve sent General Mogor into the castle.” Haggar was saying to Lotor. “He has a small squad of soldiers with him.”

“Good.” Lotor purred. “If the Voltron force does somehow make their way inside the castle, they’ll be caught almost immediately.”

“It will be a shame though…” Haggar sighed. “I was looking forward to seeing Avok fight their robot.”

“We can’t always get what we want.” Lotor told her. “If we can get a victory without employing that beast, so much the better.” He smirked at Haggar’s sullen expression. “Fear not Haggar. Avok won’t go to waste. You’ll get to see him on a rampage soon enough.”

His words were purposefully misleading, so that any of the many Polluxian soldiers in the courtyard would assume he meant on a world that wasn’t their own. The Drules knew better, exchanging sly glances and smirks as they waited eagerly for the destruction Avok would cause on planet Pollux.

“It will be a spectacular show, will it not?” Lotor asked her, and Haggar quickly nodded.

“Oh yes…I dare say it won’t take him long to decimate the planet either.” She cocked her head to the side, thinking about it. “With Doom offering support from the sky, I would say it would take less than twenty hours for the planet to be wasted.”

“That little?” I was amazed, but Lotor was not.

“Twenty hours? You overestimate Avok.” Lotor scoffed. “I say it takes at least thirty-two hours.”

“Would you care to bet on that, your highness?” Haggar asked. Even the witch was not immune to the Drules love of gambling.

“What wager do you have in mind?” Lotor was cautious. I could not blame him. Money did not interest the witch. She would want something else, and considering how high a position she held in Zarkon’s court, I couldn’t imagine her asking Lotor for more power. Whatever she would want to bet for, it would be unpleasant. Her cackle of laughter did not reassure me or Lotor, Haggar smirking.

“I’m not after you to give me your first born child if that’s what your worried about.” The witch wasn’t trying that hard to be reassuring.

“Then what?” Lotor demanded, expression guarded.

“It’ll be something you won’t even miss all that much.” Soothed Haggar.

“Let me be the judge of that.” Lotor grumbled.

“So suspicious.” Haggar sighed, as though put out by Lotor’s wariness. I thought he had a right to be wary where Haggar was concerned. “Perhaps someone else will be confidant enough to take my bet.” Her eyes met mine now, and I quickly shook my head no.

“I have nothing of value for you, witch!”

“No one ever wants to gamble with me.” Grumbled the witch, glancing down at her crystal ball. Coba had entered a room, choosing to crouch down under what appeared to be a couch. It was a comfortable looking room, full of plenty of places to sit down. Coba swept his gaze about the room, and it was then that we saw them. Prince Bandor and his sister, Romelle. She had taken then time to change into a blue dress to replace the one Lotor had torn.

They were standing near to the opening that led out to the room’s balcony, Romelle gazing away from her brother to stare at something in the distance. Coba wasn’t close enough to show us just what Romelle saw, but the feline was able to pick up on the princess’ words. “Oh…” She sighed out in appreciation. “The Planet Arus looks so beautiful tonight.”

Bandor didn’t seem impressed with Arus’ beauty, pointing up at it. His voice spoke of possession, the prince confidant in what he was saying. “By tomorrow at this time, we’ll have conquered it, Romelle. You’ll no longer have to stare at it from afar. We’ll be living there, leaving the nightmare of Pollux behind us.” Romelle glanced downwards at his words, a sad look in her eyes. It made Bandor sigh, the prince bothered by her lack of cheer. “You should be happy about this Romelle!”

“No…” She shook her head no. “War is nothing to be happy about Bandor.”

“It is too!” insisted Bandor, looking upset. “Lotor promised me that after Avok gets rids of Voltron, I can have my own castle!”

Romelle frowned then, placing her hands on her brother’s shoulders. “You can’t believe everything Lotor says.”

I glanced away from Haggar’s crystal long enough to see Lotor’s scowl. He hadn’t liked what Romelle had said, even if it was the truth about him.

“Is there a problem between you and the pretty princess?” Haggar asked, her voice teasing.

“Nothing more than a set back.” Lotor retorted, and Haggar studied his face. He had the scratch marks from Romelle’s nails on his cheeks, one having just missed his right eye.

“Your face tells a different story.” Haggar said, and Lotor snarled, flashing all his teeth at her.

“Keep your eyes peeled for Voltron, rather than looking for trouble elsewhere!” He glanced at me, and I quickly held up my hands to show I meant no harm. I didn’t need to be any more of a target for Lotor’s anger. Especially when he was still simmering with rage over the incident with Romelle.

“All right kitty, that’s more than enough of these two.” Haggar whispered to her crystal. She wanted Coba to resume his travels through the castle, the witch assuming nothing of interest would happen with the brother and sister. She was wrong, a noise sounding from the hallway. It drew Bandor and Romelle’s attention, and prevented Coba from leaving his hiding place.

Bandor pressed a finger to his lips, signaling for silence as his other hand drew the sword on his hip. Romelle nodded in understanding, mouthing the words to be careful, as Bandor snuck over to the open doorway. His sword was held out in front of him, ready to stab into anyone who was out there. We’d all get a surprise when we saw the green and white spandex of a Voltron Pilot, the boy jumping in place as the sword’s point touched his back.

“It’s that runt.” Lotor growled, even as Haggar gasped.

“The Voltron Force are in the castle! Alert General Mogor at once!”

“Yes, Haggar.” I quickly got out my communicator, dialing the number to Mogor’s personal line. He had been anticipating the call, so picked up immediately. I quickly relayed the information, Mogor and his men hurrying off to corner the Voltron Force. And all the while I kept an eye on the scene inside the crystal ball, watching as the youngest pilot of Voltron turned slowly to face Bandor.

Bandor was actually taller than the pilot, and he raised his sword to poke the boy in the cheek. “I don’t know who you are, but you better start talking!”

“I don’t know what to talk about!” The pilot in green cried out, sounding panicked. “How about sports or the weather?!”

“Real funny!” An angry Bandor snapped. “I bet you’re a spy.”

“Pidge, are you all right?!” A female’s voice called out from out of Coba’s view. We all recognized that voice, Lotor breathing out her name in pleasure.

“Allura!”

“And where the princess of Arus is, the others will soon follow!” Haggar said, just as Romelle lost patience. Her concern for her brother made her speak out, the princess already moving to join him at the door.

“Bandor, what’s happening?” She would arrive at the same exact instance as Allura, both princess drawing to a halt. They both gasped in surprise, staring at each other. Even though Allura was dressed in the pink and white spandex of her pilot’s uniform, it had to be like looking in a mirror. Even Bandor looked shocked, barely remembering to keep his sword trained on the one called Pidge.

Neither princess was moving, just staring at one another in shocked awe. But footsteps sounded behind them, Coba creeping into a new position to give us a better view. The three remaining members of the Voltron Force were rushing down the corridor, and they too stopped to stare at Romelle. Mouths dropped open, they all seemed speechless until the biggest one spoke.

“She looks like Allura’s twin sister.” The pilot of yellow lion exclaimed.

Pidge seemed immune to the sword at his cheek, muttering softly. “I’m glad I’m wearing my glasses!”

“You must be the princess of planet Pollux.” Allura had finally found her voice.

“I’m Romelle.” Came the answer, and Allura managed a smile.

“I’m Princess Allura of planet Arus.”

“Huh!” Romelle let out an exaggerated gasp, taking a step back. Bandor’s eyes had narrowed at those words, even as the pilot of black lion was speaking.

“They’re almost cousins…and still the resemblance is hard to believe!”

“Okay, you’re all my prisoners!” Shouted Bandor, abandoning Pidge to point his sword at Allura. The princess of Arus gasped, and backed up, Bandor advancing on her, his sword aimed at her face.

The male members of the Voltron Force acted with anger, and it was yellow lion’s pilot that moved. That large brute of a human bellowed out a question, barreling into Prince Bandor. “What do you think you’re doing?! HEY!!” Bandor fell to the floor, his sword sliding out of his grip.

Allura had recovered from her fright, turning to look at Romelle. “We musn’t fight!” She said, tone urgent. “If there is to be peace, it must begin here.”

“Who said anything about peace?!” Bandor leapt to his feet, and jumped between the two princesses. He seemed determined to shield Romelle from Allura, all but snarling at the Arusian princess. “When the fighting starts even Voltron can’t help you!”

“Romelle….listen…” Allura had seemed to realize the princess of Pollux was the only one of the siblings who might listen to her pleas for peace. Unfortunately for her, Romelle was the one Polluxian royal who didn’t hold any real power. Certainly not the power to make peace between their two worlds.

Haggar echoed my thoughts, cackling happily. “Fools! They waste their time and breath on Romelle. She can’t do anything for them, no matter how much she might wish to otherwise…!”

“It matters not..” Lotor said. “Just keep talking Allura. Keep talking until Mogor gets there!”

“It must make you happy, prince.” Haggar was sly then. “To see your future brides getting along so well.”

“I don’t care if they fight, so long as they don’t kill one another.” Smirked Lotor. I had the feeling he might enjoy it if they fought over him, for his affections and time. If that was the case, it was just another one of his delusions manifesting where the two princesses were concerned.

“Maybe between us we can bring peace…” Allura had started to cry, thick tears leaking down her face. They seemed to move Romelle, who was slowly nodding her head in agreement.

“Yes.” She said, even as Bandor gasped. “We must try…”

“Romelle! What are you saying!?” He demanded, just as Pidge called out a concern.

“Hey team! Guess what!!” He had gone to the balcony, and seen all the soldiers milling about outside in the courtyard. Lotor actually turned to wave up at him, smirking and radiating smugness. From Haggar’s crystal, came Pidge’s nervous exclamation. “We’re surrounded!”

“That’s right! Give it up!” Bandor said, dragging Romelle into the room and retrieving his sword. He seemed intent on going after Pidge, waving his sword wildly about. At the same time, Mogor appeared, the general having led a good twenty soldiers into the corridor.

“There they are! Open fire!” he cried out, and immediately the corridor was filled with red and blue lasers. The Voltron force was firing back, Pidge doing his best to avoid Bandor’s sword, and join his team out in the hall.

“Hey team, follow me!” The leader of the Voltron force said, running into the room with Bandor and Romelle. “We gotta get to Voltron. Out that window now!”

Romelle screamed, Mogor and his soldiers not bothering to stop their shooting, even though there was a chance they could hit the prince and princess of Pollux. Lotor growled, and I knew then that Mogor would be in a lot of trouble for endangering Romelle like that.

“Bandor!”

The prince barreled into his sister, knocking her to the ground. I was impressed by how brave Bandor was, the loyalty he felt to his sister. He didn’t hesitate to cover her with his body, protecting her from the lasers that flew over head.

Pidge was the first member of the Voltron Force to jump over the balcony’s railing. The other four would follow, diving into the moat that circulated through the castle’s inner courtyard. Immediately, Drule soliders surrounded the moat on both sides, firing their lasers into the water. The water of the moat churned violently, splashes exploding from the force of the lasers.

“Get Avok ready!” Lotor snarled at Haggar. She nodded, and turned, shouting out commands.

“Someone! Release those chains…” Drule soldiers hurried to do just that, and once the chains were off, Avok seemed to explode from the coffin. He was ready for a fight, spoiling for it, and screaming out his rage. At the same exact instant, the already formed Voltron flew out of the moat, everyone gasping in shock. We hadn’t expected them to hide the robot so close to the castle, and I would learn later that the moat was part of a large stream that fed into the castle from a nearby lake.

Voltron hovered in the sky for a brief second, before coming crashing down. They didn’t seem to care about the damage they would do, crushing a large part of the courtyard’s wall in the landing. Drule and Pollouxian soldiers fled, the humans screaming in a panic, neither race wanting to be stepped on by Voltron.

“It is the time to strike!” Haggar cried out, and from the flag ship came a beam. It hit Avok in the back, the robeast screaming more in surprise than pain. The beam would continue to pummel Avok’s body, till he glowed. I never understood much about the magic that went into enlarging our robeasts to gargantuan sizes. I just knew it was Haggar’s own spells that powered the beams, stored magic that further enhanced the robeasts.

Avok grew to be taller than the highest turret on the castle, and he roared out a challenge as he noticed Voltron for the first time. His blue skin was clad in the enchanted armor Haggar had made for him, the gray tunic and cape enhanced to absorb Voltron’s laser beams. In Avoks right hand he held a sword, though truthfully I thought he could do without it, and still do enough damage to Voltron.

He began twirling the sword about in complex patterns, showing off for Voltron. The Voltron Force reacted by forming blazing sword, but they didn’t get to do much with the weapon. Avok immediately knocked it out of Voltron’s hands with the twirling of HIS blade, and the robot seemed to step back in fright. Avok lunged forward, sword slashing downwards on the front of Voltron’s frame. Sparks showered down on us, everyone was running to avoid the two giants.

Frankly, I was surprised our ship didn’t get trampled on during the fight. Fortunately for all of us, Avok backed Voltron out of the courtyard, and into the open plains that surrounded the castle. Avok thrust his sword again, digging into the chest plate on Voltron’s front. He pushed forward, the sword slipping off the slick metal skin, forcing Avok to spin to recover. He roared with fury. and went to slash at Voltron’s face. The robot brought up it”s left arm, taking the blow on it’s elbow joint. A mighty groan was heard, the metal being splintered from the force of Avok’s slash.

Backing up, Voltron held up it’s right hand, a weapon called spinning laser blades appearing in it’s hands. The arm holding the weapon pulled back, Voltron throwing it at Avok. The robeast didn’t seem to register the weapon as a threat, continuing to spin his sword as he advanced on Voltron. I winced when the spinning laser blades clashed with Avok’s sword, both going flying.

Avok’s sword would come crashing down blade first into the courtyard, cracking open the cement surface as it buried into the ground. The soldiers had just managed to avoid it, and we were all running as Voltron’s lunge took Avok back into the courtyard. The robeast recovered enough to make a grab for Voltron, the robot grabbing at Avok’s wrist. The two ended up locked together, wrestling for control.

I was so focused on the fight, I wouldn’t even notice that the remaining members of the royal family of Pollux had evacuated the castle. But Lotor would, motioning to his soldiers to get into place.

The standstill between the two giants were broken, Avok picking up Voltron, and bending over backwards to body slam the robot head first into the concrete. Avok roared, his arms thrown up in victory as he stared down at Voltron. The robot didn’t have time to recover, Avok was stalking towards it, bending to grab Voltron by it’s head. He made a fist, intending to smash it down and break apart the face of Voltron when it happened. Fire erupted from Voltron’s mouth, the torch shooting up into Avok’s face. It blinded him, Avok letting go to grab at his own face, screaming in pain.

While Avok tried to put out the flames, Voltron lunged to it’s feet. It quickly turned and rushed towards the robeast, barreling into the distracted Avok. The flames were out, but Avok still couldn’t see, but he reacted to Voltron’s presence, grabbing at it’s body. The two began wrestling again, crashing into another part of the courtyard’s wall. It didn’t go down, not until Avok began kicking at Voltron’s right leg.

Leg weakened, Voltron fell over backwards, taking down the wall with it. The two would continue to fight, rolling down the hill, and into the stream that fed into the castle’s moat. Bandor would draw my attention from the fight, alerting me to his presence by his screams.

“Get him Avok, get him!”

Voltron and Avok stood up in the stream, both soaking wet. I wondered what would happen next, but before Avok could grab Voltron, the robot lit up with a golden glow. It was electricity that flowed out of the robot and into Avok, electrocuting him as he stood in the water.

Lotor had had enough, his communicator out in his hand as he growled into it. “Mogor! Blast them BOTH with everything you got! Demolish them!”

Star cutters rose out of the flag ship in response to Lotor’s command, a group of them flying out past the castle, and towards Avok and Voltron. Red beams lit up the night sky, the star cutters opening firing on both giants. The beams hit Avok in the back, only serving to enrage him further. He turned and began smashing the star cutters into pieces with his fists. Voltron would do the same.

Avok roared, and began chasing after the remaining star cutters. It seemed his attention span was limited, the once human prince easily distracted to a new target. Voltron would move after Avok, pausing occasionally to destroy more of the star cutters. I was watching all this with a bemused expression when Romelle screamed. I whirled in the direction her voice had come from, and saw her standing with her hands to her face. Her beautiful eyes were wet with tears, and she was shaking violently at the sight before her.

Her father, King Cova was staring downwards, the prince of Doom before him. Lotor was down on one knee, his sword in hand, and firmly planted inside Cova’s chest. So deep had he buried his sword, it’s tip had come out of Cova’s back. It glistened with Cova’s red blood, and I realized then that some of it had splattered onto Romelle’s skirts.

“Romelle, run!” Bandor screamed. He was fighting with some of the Drules, his sword waving wildly about. Polluxian soldiers were rushing to help him, and I realized then fighting had erupted all around us, Drules against humans. Even Haggar was part of the battle, holding her crystal ball close to her chest, as she waved her free hand, sending blasts of magic out at random soldiers.

Romelle didn’t react until Lotor looked at her, smirking as he slowly withdrew his sword from her father’s body. She screamed again, and spun on her heel, taking off for the castle.

“GET HER!” Screamed Lotor, shaking the blood off his sword. Before it could get cleaned, a solider from Pollux lunged for him, Lotor turning and lopping off the man’s head in one strike.

“Let me go!” Romelle screamed, four Drule soldiers around her. Two if them had her by the arms, and she was struggling as best she could, kicking out with her legs though her skirts got in the way. They were dragging her to the flag ship, and Bandor screamed.

“Sister!”

“Stop him!” Haggar cried out, and one of the soldiers with Romelle turned and aimed his blaster at Bandor. The red beam fired, hitting the prince who fell face first to the ground. Romelle screamed even louder, surely assuming Bandor had been killed. She was still screaming as they dragged her past me, onto the flag ship’s ramp.

“Sababth! Oh Sabbath! Stop this! Help me!” I felt guilt flare up in me as I studiously avoiding looking her way. I heard the betrayal in her voice, Romelle losing some of her fight to question me. “Sabbath why? I thought you were my friend…”

“You thought wrong!” laughed Haggar, stepping onto the ramp. I shot Haggar a hostile glare. I didn’t need her to make the situation any worse than it already was. “Oh but don’t worry princess. I’m sure Prince Lotor will be glad to console you about your broken dreams!”

A sob greeted those words, Romelle being dragged up the rest of the way into the ship. Haggar continued to laugh, even as she turned to blast another human soldier. Lotor was running towards us, cutting down human after human as he tried to reach the ship. He looked invigorated, the brutality of the battle suiting him well. He didn’t let anyone get close enough to hurt him, not even one scratch was on him as he ran past me, and up the ramp.

“Commander, let’s go!” He ordered, and I came out of my daze long enough to nod. I hurried up the ramp, and it was only then that I realized I hadn’t fired even a single shot during this battle. I didn’t know what to make of my inaction, or the shock that had gripped me as the events played out around me. Even knowing what I had known, I hadn’t expected the situation on Pollux to turn so brutal so quickly. If I was shocked by the violence, I couldn’t imagine what Romelle was thinking. I was glad for that, sure she hated me now as much as she hated Prince Lotor.


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