Songbird 13

It was pure pandemonium beneath us, what few soldiers the Drules had left alive milling about aimlessly. With their rulers either dead, incapacitated, or captured, they had not a clue as to what to do with themselves. Some hovered over the bodies of King Cova and Bandor, obscuring the two from our view. Others ran into the castle, joining the dead King’s advisors in looting the place. And still others stood, and opened fire on the flag ship, making many of the gathered Drules laugh.

I was not one of them, finding nothing amusing about this situation. Especially with Romelle standing so near to me, her eyes full of the betrayal she felt. She didn’t even seem to care about anything else, or anyone, so focused on me was she. I tried to avoid looking her way, but I swore I could feel the weight of her gaze. Or maybe that was my own guilt manifesting, leaving me to wish I had done something, anything different.

She never said a word to me, just stared. Her tears had dried, Romelle drawing on the inner strength she had told me women of Pollux possessed. She would use that strength now to keep from breaking down any further, not wanting to provide any more amusement for the Drules around her. Not many were paying attention to her, too focused on their jobs to keep the ship airborne.

The ship began to return fire, and the effects were devastating. Laser blasted into people and the castle, blasting apart the stonework. The windows of the castle were blown apart, glass shattering inwards. The people in both the courtyard and inside the castle didn’t know where to go, both options seemed to promise their death. Lotor let out a satisfied laugh, approaching Romelle to gesture grandly at the destruction below us.

“Look at it Romelle!” He sounded smug. “There will be nothing left of your home, your kingdom, when Doom is through!” She didn’t react, continuing to stare at me. I felt Lotor’s gaze added to her own, the prince becoming annoyed. “Yes, I’m sure Sabbath is a fascinating sight to behold. But he can’t compare to the carnage below us! And it won’t just be the castle that suffers! All of Pollux, ALL of it, will be wiped off the universe this day!”

That got Romelle’s attention, she turned to look at him, eyes narrowed with hate. “I’m sure you can understand what’s going on….of the situation you find yourself in.” He stepped closer to her, his hand reaching to do a gentle caress of her cheek. It was at odds with his words, and the malicious enjoyment he expressed. “Pollux will be no more…Arus will fall, and Avok? He will continue to conquer new worlds for the Doom Empire.”

“Stop it…” Romelle words were quiet, but no less forceful, the girl every inch a princess as she commanded Lotor. “Stop this at once!”

“Even if I WANTED to oblige you, I’m afraid it’s all out of my hands.” Lotor didn’t even try to sound apologetic. “King Zarkon has made his decision. Pollus is to be destroyed.”

“Why!?” Romelle demanded. “We were allies! We gave you Avok!”

“And you were all so very stupid to have done that!” Lotor retorted. Romelle jerked away from his hand, but she had nowhere to go, surrounded by enemies. “Only a fool like your father would believe the Doom Empire would share power. That we would be content to split up worlds to satisfy some piss poor planet whose only contribution to our efforts is ONE robeast!”

“I have to thank you for that Romelle.” Haggar spoke up, her blue cat Coba resting in her arms. It was General Mogor who had retrieved the feline, bringing him onboard the ship. Haggar would have thrown a tantrum otherwise, refusing to leave without her precious familiar. “What do they feed the boys on Pollux to make them so strong and viable a robeast?!”

As if in answer, we heard Avok roar. He was fighting Voltron once more, the two on the plains that surrounded the castle. They were wrestling once more, kicking and shoving at one another. Lotor scowled, and shook his head. “Not strong enough if he can’t defeat Voltron after all this time!”

Star cutters continued to circle the two giants, shooting lasers down on them. They must have felt like insects, harmless but annoying. Occasionally, Avok would pull apart from Voltron long enough to swat at one. But his focus was on Voltron, the robot still struggling to put an end to Avok.

Even without Avok free to run a rampage on the planet Pollux, the world was in dire straits. All over the planet, over every city and town were the ships of the Doom armada. The order to attack had come not long after Lotor had boarded the flag ship, the call to arms being raised all over the planet. The remains of the Polluxian’s military was fighting back, but they were pitiful in numbers.

“We will fight you.” Romelle was saying. Lotor laughed again, amused by her words. “Pollux will not be content to just fade into oblivion!”

“I’m sure that is true. But ultimately the fight will prove futile.” He nodded at Mogor then. “Put it up on the view screen. Let the princess see what is happening all over her beloved planet.”

“Yes, sire!” Mogor roused the ship’s technicians into action, the view screen splitting into several smaller scenes. One window kept a focus on the battling giants, but the others showed the fighting that was taking place over several of the major cities of the planet. Their skies were filled with ships, both from Doom and Pollux. Lasers were everywhere, the ships trying to do damage to one another. And Doom’s side was dropping bombs onto the cities during all this.

Romelle was outraged and horrified, all but snarling a command to Lotor. “Stop this you monster!”

“Isn”t it a beautiful sight Romelle?” Lotor asked her instead. “To see your people fighting so valiantly for survival?”

“What purpose does it serve to wipe us out?!” She demanded. “We have done nothing to you….We honored the alliance!”

“Oh yes….that’s right.” He looked at me now. “She doesn’t know, does she?”

Romelle followed his gaze, looking at me now. I could scarcely meet her eyes, so ashamed and saddened by what was happening to her. “What does he mean?” She asked. “What do you know?”

“Do you want to tell her, or should I?” Lotor asked, a sly smirk on his face. I didn’t know if I could lessen the blow by telling her of her father’s betrayal instead of the prince, but knew Lotor would relish every minute of her horror.

“It was the King.” I said at last. “Cova had his own betrayal in mind.”

“What? no! My father was honest!”

Lotor laughed at that, snickering meanly. “Your father was a liar, and a back stabber. Not to mention greedy and lusting for power. He truly lived up to Pollux’s reputation of evil.”

She whirled around to glare back at Lotor, and I could see she was shaking with barely controlled fury. “My people are not evil. Not like you! Not like the Drules!”

“Oh? Then what would you call Cova’s desire to rule the known universe? Hmm? He wanted to kill my father, and take over the Doom Empire. To use it to further his own worldly ambitions.”

Romelle was quiet a moment, thinking it over. “I don’t believe you!” She finally said. “And even if it was true, to condemn an entire planet of people for one man’s actions….it is wrong!”

“No more wrong than trying to enslave Arus.” Lotor countered. “We’re all dirty in this Romelle. Even you, for going along meekly with your family’s plans for Arus!”

“No, I…”

“You stood by, content to watch what happened. Did you even try to change your father’s mind?” Lotor asked, and I spoke up.

“That’s enough prince.” My voice was quiet but firm. It earned me a sour look from Lotor.

“The truth hurts, doesn’t it Romelle?” Lotor couldn’t resist taunting her one last time. A glance at Romelle showed how upset she was, blue eyes full of pain and worry.

“Why destroy Pollux?” She wasn’t content to let this drop. “Why not add it to your empire…?”

“As if we’d want this miserable rock!” grumbled Lotor in reply. “It’s worthless, absolutely worthless!”

“The planet may not have much value…” began Haggar, a speculative look in her eyes. “But I’m sure some of the men would be worth the trouble of taking back to Doom.”

“More robeasts witch?” Lotor asked with a sigh. She just cackled in response. “I am not convinced these humans make good robeasts. Look at all the trouble Avok continues to have with Voltron!”

The two giants were trading punches, each one seeming to grow more vicious. Avok’s face was wet with blood, rivers of it streaming down from his nostrils, and the corner of his mouth. He was at the disadvantage here, he could feel the pain of the punches, could grow tired from this fight. The robot had no such problem, being unfeeling metal. We knew from experience the pilots could be made to feel pain from certain types of attacks, but Avok wasn’t doing anything that could hurt them at the moment.

Avok roared in pain, and pulled back his arm, punching Voltron in the face. It didn’t even stagger the robot, Voltron returning the punch in a rapid two strike assault. Avok stumbled back, dazed and Voltron followed up by kneeing him in the stomach. When the robeast hunched forward, Voltron smashed it’s fists onto the top of Avok’s head. It wasn’t enough to bludgeon the robeast to death, but it cost him all the same.

Avok was faltering, anyone could see it. I heard Romelle whisper out a no. She was as frozen as the rest of us, watching the battle. Voltron was pressing the advantage, pummeling Avok again and again, mainly in the face. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what sort of damage to his skull had been done from that kind of abuse. Voltron stepped back, and lifted it’s arms, green and red lion’s mouths opening. Wind and fire shot out of them, the flames setting Avok on fire, the wind battering him about.

While Avok struggled with the elemental attacks of Voltron, the robot ran past him, rushing to retrieve blazing sword. Avok would continue to be distracted by the flames licking at his skin, never suspecting the danger that approached his back. Blazing sword seemed to glow, a white light coursing along it’s blade as Voltron lunged forward. The lion heads all roared in victory, blazing sword being slashed in a diagonal arc across Avok’s back.

Blood erupted, coating the blade and the robot. Romelle screamed when Avok fell face first to the ground. He was not moving, not even twitching in death throes, so complete was his murder. He would not be getting up ever again, and when that became apparent, Romelle dropped to her knees, her hands over her mouth. She had just witnessed the murder of what was the last remaining member of her immediate family.

“Avok! Avok, no!”

“Useless!” Lotor muttered, pounding a fist on a computer console. “Mogor, get us out of here.”

“Yes, your highness.” Mogor said, and started barking out orders. “You heard the prince. Divert all power to the shields and engines, we are to take off for Doom at once!”

We stopped firing on the castle, and began speeding upwards, clouds streaming past us. We would get the shock of our lives when Voltron gave pursuit, the robot not so damaged that it couldn’t fly fast enough to catch up to us. Someone panicked, dropping a bombardment of missiles on Voltron’s head. The robot deftly dodged those, and continued to come after us.

None of us were sure of Voltron’s intent. It left us unprepared for what happened next, Voltron latching onto the side of the flag ship. The ship slowed down, the robot’s weight impeding our escape. And then it happened, Voltron punching a hole into the side of the ship. I saw red lion’s head resting inside the hole. Drules were shouting, and running about, though a few opened fire on red lion. Not that it would do much good, those pitiful hand blaster’s didn’t have a charge strong enough to do damage to the robot.

“What are they doing?!” Lotor screamed in absolute fury as green lion punched a second hole into the ship. “Don’t they know we have the princess Romelle as our hostage here?!”

“I don’t think they care sire.” Mogor said from behind him. He looked nervous, and I’m sure he thought if Voltron didn’t kill us, Lotor would!

Red lion pulled back, and went to punch a third hole into the ship. The fierce wind howled, rustling our clothing. Everyone was running about, abandoning the command deck to take off for the escape pods. I knew we had to do the same.

“Prince Lotor, we must leave now!”

“I know that you fool!” growled Lotor, and he grabbed Romelle’s hand. “You’re coming with us!”

“NO!” She shrieked, fighting him even as he hauled her up off her knees. “Leave me be!”

“You’ll die if you remain here!” Lotor growled at her, surely not understanding that at this point and time that was what Romelle wanted. With her family dead, and her planet in ruins, she surely thought she had nothing to live for. Not even revenge was a great enough motivation for her.

Lotor snarled with wordless fury as he threw Romelle over his shoulder. She screamed and kicked out her legs, beating her fists on his back as he ran down to the corridor that would lead off the command deck. Haggar was already ahead of him, walking surprisingly fast for one of her age. She clutched Coba to her, not wanting to lose her familiar. General Mogor and I would bring up the rear, running off the deck just as an explosion occurred behind us.

“Shit, that was close!” exclaimed the General, not slowing to look at the damage.

“We’re not out of danger yet!” I retorted, feeling the heat of flames behind me.

“Cut the chit chat, and let’s move!” Lotor snapped, then grunted as Romelle pulled on his hair.

“I hate you!” She was snarling. “Let me die!”

“You’re not going to die!” Lotor told her, slapping a hand on her ass as if that would control her. It just made her grow more wild, Romelle shrieking and fighting harder. She would continue like this all the way to the escape pod, Lotor throwing her into one of the seats. She’d continue to beat her fists against his chest, even as he tried to strap her into her seat.

Lotor showed a remarkable amount of patience then. I was surprised he didn’t try to slap her in response to her continued abuse of him. He managed to secure her seat belt, and take the chair next to her. She immediately set about trying to get the belt’s fastening open, though I don’t know what she thought she would do next. She probably wasn’t thinking much at all, Lotor reaching over to grab her wrists, and hold her hands captive in his grip.

Mogor would take off to the front of the pod, firing up the flight mechanisms. I had barely buckled myself into a seat across from Lotor and Romelle, when the pod took off. It ejected from the flag ship with violent force, causing us all to hit the back of our cushioned seats. Haggar’s cat yowled in protest, it’s hackles raised as the witch held onto him for dear life.

“It’s all right kitty…” She was whispering to him. “I don’t like this situation any more than you do…”

“I hope we all die!” snapped Romelle, still struggling with Lotor.

“That’s not going to happen.” Lotor retorted, sounding more tired than satisfied. “We’re going to leave here and get to Doom. One way or another!”

I turned away then, to look out one of the round port side windows built into the pod. There were other escape pods flying around us, leaving Voltron with no way to know which one held Lotor. After the way Voltron had attacked the flag ship, I was uneasy, expecting them to start batting escape pods out of the sky. But they didn’t, too focused on tearing apart the remains of the larger vessel.

The sight of that wrecked ship made me shiver, and I wondered if everyone had managed to evacuate that vessel in time. Probably not, I thought, counting the number of escape pods in the sky. We were nearly twenty short of the full number, so many lives wasted. Of both Drules and humans, this whole attack on Pollux seeming senseless. In the end, we had accomplished nothing, the planet damage but recoverable. And all thanks to Voltron, the mighty robot taking off to help the planet Pollux’s military fight off the Doom armada.

We had nothing to show for our efforts, ships, soldiers, and resources wasted. It was a total defeat, our betrayal of Pollux accomplishing what the two princesses had hope for. Peace between their planets, Arus and Pollux entering into an alliance. That alliance would cause no end of trouble for Doom. And though Pollux’s military was small, they were determined and resourceful, driven by the need to revenge themselves on Doom. We didn’t know it yet, but the betrayal of Pollux would prove to be the biggest blunder Doom could have made.

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