We would leave for planet Boltos almost immediately. Neither Lotor nor I would have time to say our good-byes to Romelle. As much as I wanted to see the princess, I couldn’t help but be relieved this mission had come up. It would buy her some more time, keep Lotor away from her for just a little while longer.
Of course Lotor also viewed this time away as a good thing. He strongly believed in the human saying that absence made the heart grow fonder. He thought if Romelle had enough time, she would get over her upset, that she would come to appreciate the wealth and comfort of her surroundings. The surroundings Lotor had provided for her. He couldn’t, wouldn’t understand that she would have been happier inside the dungeons.
It was Lotor’s delusions at work again, the prince feeling confidant that by the time he returned from planet Bolto, Romelle would happily fall into line. He set himself up for disappointment, but then that was nothing new as far as the prince was concerned.
But before that disappointment could happen, the Bolto incident had to play out. We would travel straight to it, our lazon fueled ships flying at top speed to the planet. Onboard was one of Haggar’s hastily construed robeasts. It’s sole task would be to take on the lions, for the missiles had already destroyed much of the planet’s civilization.
It would take our fleet nearly three hours to get to the planet, which was an hour after the Voltron force’s arrival. The Voltron Force was already on the move, having been discovered rooting through the remains of a building. Star cutters from the fleet that had been continuously bombarding Boltos, were attacking. The lions roared out the pilots’ anger, fighting back with those ships.
Our star cutters were merely a delaying tactic. They weren’t capable of handling ships such as the lions. Nor did Lotor see a point in prolonging the star cutter’s battle once we arrived. He quickly launched the robeast, the beam of magic enlarging it once it was on the planet’s surface. It was an ugly thing, and it kind of reminded me of a bat that had been twisted by Haggar’s magic. It even had wings, and the large ears of that earth creature, though fortunately it didn’t rely on a bat’s sensitive hearing.
The robeast was able to launch it’s own flame based missiles, along with a cyclone of cold air. The wind based cyclone sent the lions flying, causing them to crash into the ground. They never had time to get up, the robeast flying overhead and bombarding them with it’s missiles. The lions seemed as weak as kittens then, and I remember well the excitement that filled the flag ship. We all thought Doom was finally going to win, and it was with lifted spirits that we set about our duties.
The robeast should have finished off the lions while it had them pinned down. Only then would disaster be diverted. But Lotor was enjoying the show too much, goading the robeast on to greater attacks, laughing as the lions bounced around like oddly shaped balls. I should have talked some sense into him, instead of letting Lotor have free reign to do as he pleased. All we were succeeding in doing was buying the Voltron Force some much needed time, blue lion soon arriving.
Of course Lotor was delighted to see Allura’s lion. I could remember him gloating, purring in satisfaction about how she was saving him the trouble of going to Arus to fetch her. He didn’t think she’d be able to do anything to turn the tide of battle in the Voltron Force’s favor. Neither did I truthfully. She had always proven to be the weakest link of the Voltron Force, often falling prey to our attacks. What could she hope to do against a robeast that had pinned down the other members of her team?
The robeast was in the midst of burying the Voltron Force, having knocked the lions down into a pit inside the planet, when blue lions’ laser darts began blowing up the stray star cutters, and striking the robeast. Lotor immediately tried to capture her lion, a lighting laced tractor beam surrounding her. We could hear Allura’s screams over the air waves, but so distracted were we by blue lion, we didn’t notice the lions were fighting back.
Even with blue lion in trouble, the lions seemed invigorated by it’s presence. They would claw their way out of the pit, and attack the robeast. At the same time, the planet was besieged by earthquakes, a result of all the missiles Doom had bombarded Boltos with. It caused a volcano to erupt violently, lava flowing, and large rocks taking to the air. They made effective projectiles, and some hit our vessels, including the flag ship.
An electrical short circuit occurred after the third boulder struck us. The tractor beam was disrupted enough for blue lion to get free. The princess immediately flew towards the other lions, and together the five moved to form Voltron. It was all over for the robeast once that happened, electro sabers and blazing sword playing a part in slaying the monster.
Lotor hadn’t wanted to accept that it was over. He actually had wanted to try and fight Voltron with our ships. The rest of us knew that was folly, ships no matter the size, were no match for Voltron. In the end, it was a readout from one of the onboard technicians that convinced Lotor to call the order for retreat. Boltos was just minutes away from total destruction, the core of the planet having grown so hot from the missiles, it would soon explode. We could have remained to fight Voltron, but all of us would have died in the process.
Even Lotor could understand that, though he grumbled about the fact that he would have to face his father with news of this disappointment. I was nervous about the same thing, not sure how I could explain why we had lost when the lions had been separated. No one had expected blue lion to come to Boltos, no one had expected there to be enough time for Allura to make a difference.
I could have, should have blamed Lotor. He had after all, allowed the robeast to have it’s fun with the lions. But I was still thinking of him as my friend, and so I didn’t point out his failings to King Zarkon. It left me with little excuse to give the King, leaving my to stand awkwardly before his throne. Lotor was to the right of me, sullen and defiant. He didn’t see the seriousness of the situation, arguing that we had at least destroyed the planet Boltos.
Zarkon sighed, his eyes gleaming with annoyance. Anyone could see he was displeased by what his son had said. “Lotor, my bumbling nincompoop of a son. This mission was never about Boltos or it’s destruction!”
“That’s right!” Haggar spoke up from besides the King’s throne. She was radiating disapproval, scowling with her upset. And all because she hadn’t even begun to prepare a sure fire plan for Arus’ invasion before word had come of our failure on Boltos. “You were supposed to keep the lions busy! Keep them well away from Arus so that the planet could fall from MY attack.”
“You should have worked quicker witch.” Lotor retorted. “There was a window of opportunity. It took time for Allura to fly blue lion to Boltos.”
“Are you insane?!” The witch demanded. “There was no way I could have had a robeast ready in the hour it took blue lion to reach Boltos! And even if I had, it would have still taken time for our ships to fly to planet Arus!” She was holding her blue cat, petting the feline’s fur in an agitated manner. The cat seemed to echo her displeasure, tail lashing about angrily as it glared down at us. “At the way the Boltos mission went down, the lions would have arrived on Arus at exactly the same time as Doom.”
“Are you saying your robeast wouldn’t have been able to stand up to Voltron?” Lotor demanded, not risking a smirk this time.
“I’m saying that an ill prepared robeast would have been reduced to mincemeat at that robot’s hands!” Haggar snarled. “You’ve seen how quickly they end the battles, if I do not have the time to carefully augment a monster’s powers!”
“Enough.” Zarkon grumbled. “We’ve already established the fact that Haggar didn’t have time to make plans for Arus or to execute them. We are to discover whose fault that is. Commander….what do you have to say about it?”
I tried not to show my discomfort. “Blue Lion was an unfortunate set back. One we did not see coming, nor were we prepared for how that lion would give the other pilots the motivation to regroup and continue the fight.”
“Is it not true my son tried to capture blue lion?” The King asked me. I didn’t so much as blink, ill at ease as I confirmed that yes he had. “And wouldn’t you, in your estimations, say that was pure folly? That if Lotor hadn’t been so determined to not bring harm to blue lion’s pilot, that if he had set out to destroy it, rather than capture that lion, then things would have gone differently on Boltos?”
“Blue Lion was the deciding factor in this battle.” I wanted to look at Lotor and give him an apologetic look. “If it hadn’t arrived, if it had been destroyed by our ships, then the other four lions wouldn’t have been able to combine with it and form Voltron. The lions and their pilots would have perished on Boltos.”
“See Lotor. Even your trusted Commander thinks the fault lies with you…!”
“However!” I hastily spoke up, my voice ringing through the cavernous chamber. “The prince was determined to continue to fight the Voltron Force. He had to be persuaded to leave. Even when presented with proof of the planet’s imminent collapse, Lotor hesitated.”
“It might have been better if you had remained on that planet Lotor.” Zarkon grumbled. “At least then, if you died with Voltron, you’d still retain some honor to your name.”
“Sire, your son did everything possible to try and gain us a victory over the lions. His only mistake was that he didn’t try to take down blue lion.”
“Commander, even that is one mistake too many.” Zarkon told me. He stroked his chin then, sharp claws careful with their caresses. “There is much for me to consider. And even though I am becoming used to Lotor’s failures, it still disappoints me.” He narrowed his eyes in my direction. “You disappoint me too Commander.”
“You were supposed to watch over him, to keep him from making such foolish mistakes!” Zarkon’s fingers tightened on his scepter. I feared he was about to fling it towards me, and remained rooted in the spot. If he was going to kill me, running wouldn’t save me. Zarkon despised cowards, and would have no problem on spearing me in the back with his scepter.
“In all truthfulness sire, can you imagine the prince listening to anyone save you? Especially someone who is of a lower rank then he is?” I asked, trying not to break out into a cold sweat. “I am free to give my advice, but without a way to force the prince into following it, there was little I could do.”
“He speaks true sire.” Haggar of all people came to my rescue. “Lotor is headstrong and impulsive. He never wants to listen to anyone, not even you. And when that princess of Arus is added into the picture, he becomes even worse!”
“You make a valid point Haggar.” Zarkon nodded. “All right commander, you can relax. I won’t be killing you today.”
“Thank you, sire.” I bowed, but never took my eyes off the King. You didn’t survive long in the courts by trusting the King’s words.
“What about me father?” Lotor demanded, and the King’s eyes narrowed.
“I wouldn’t be calling any attention to myself if I was you!” Zarkon snarled. “I think you need to work to get over this obsession with the princess of Arus. She will never be yours, it’s time you accept that.”
“Allura WILL be mine!” Lotor shouted. “I will see to it personally that her planet falls, and she ends up in my possession!”
“Hmph. You’ve been trying for weeks now to do just that. And each time you fail. All because of your fixation on her. Don’t think I haven’t noticed! Your friends might not want to rat you out, but there are other, lesser soldiers that owe their loyalty not to you, but to me! Rumors are abounding, telling me of how you continue to make mistakes, continue to protect Allura’s lion. You should be treating her like the enemy she is, focusing your attacks on her! Not coddling her like a child!”
There was no real way for Lotor to respond to that. Not without endangering and damning himself in the process. The truth of the matter was Zarkon’s accusations were right, Lotor had been going easy on blue lion. He didn’t want to damage the precious cargo inside it, wanted to keep Allura out of harm even if it had meant sabotaging our own missions.
“Your concern, that infatuation, it disturbs not only me, but the entirety of our people!” continued Zarkon, pounding a fist on the arm rest of his throne. “You’re poised to become the laughing stock of the Empire. Do you even realize that your actions reflect badly on me, on our entire people?! DO YOU?!”
“If you will just calm down, and allow me another chance, I will not disappoint you where the princess is concerned.”
“Sometimes I think I am the bigger fool for granting you those chances! I must be addled minded to not disown you, and wash my hands of the mess you made!” Zarkon grumbled in retort.
“Then why don’t you?!” challenged Lotor, to the gasps of the court.
“Lotor, don’t tempt me…” Zarkon growled in threat, Haggar coughing to get his attention.
“You son is young and impetuous. But such things can be curbed, and improved upon with time.”
“I may not have the patience for him to mature into some semblance of brains. Nor for him to tire of Allura!” Zarkon retorted.
“We all make mistakes…Need I remind you of Adaline?” Haggar asked, and the court erupted into talk at that name. Zarkon didn’t look pleased by their reactions or what Haggar had said, openly glaring at the witch.
“I thought I made it clear you are to never speak that name.” He hissed, looking like he could barely control his rage.
“I just thought it important to remind you of your own past mistakes and follies.” Soothed Haggar. “It wasn’t that long ago that a certain King was young and foolish, and hopelessly infatuated too.”
Zarkon grimaced at that, then pounded his fist once more. “Silence! All of you!” The court didn’t immediately quiet, stray voices whispering through the room.
“You can admit there are similarities between that situation and this…” Haggar continued, and Zarkon growled in her face.
“That was different and you know it!”
“Different how?” The witch wanted to know. “Mistakes happened even then, the Empire losing face from them.” The King’s face grew angrier yet, mouth tightlipped and showing the briefest hint of fang. “Show some leniency towards your son….he is struggling to do right by the Empire and by his heart.”
“I would rather have you come up with a potion to wash him of his lust for that princess!” grumbled Zarkon. “Rather than stir up unwanted memories of the past…”
“If such a potion could exist, I would have made it long ago.” Haggar almost sounded wistful then. It made me all the more curious about their exchange, and I was left wondering who this Adaline was.
“Hmph.” Zarkon rose from his seat, the entire court seeming on edge over what would happen next. “Court is over with for today. Lotor, go…do what you must to get over this obsession with Allura of Arus. I do not want any further screws up where she is concerned.”
“Yes, father.” Lotor bowed slightly, mockingly. The rest of the court would follow his gesture, although their bows were more respectful. Zarkon would walk down the dais steps, Haggar following close behind him. They would leave together, and I could only wonder what they would talk about. Would it be about the mysterious Adaline?
The crowd of nobles were slower to leave, hanging around the throne room to openly gossip about today’s events. I glanced at Lotor, who was scowling. He clearly didn’t look like he intended to do what his father had commanded of him.
“Just who was Adaline?” I asked him, and an array of dark emotions crossed his face. “Lotor?”
“She was my mother.” It was all he would say on the matter, but it shocked me all the same. There wasn’t much known about the woman that had given birth to the prince. To the point it had to have been on purpose, the people of the castle who had lived during the Queen’s time, keeping quiet with what little they knew. I would learn later it was the way Zarkon wanted it, the King refusing to have any reminders spoken of that woman.
“What are you going to do now?” I asked, following the prince out of the throne room.
“I’m going drinking.” He paused, and smirked at me. “Care to join me?”
“No thanks, I’ll pass.”
“Pity.” Lotor feigned a sigh. “I could have used you.”
“Used me for what?”
“To find the rat who blabbed to my father about my attempts to spare Allura from harm.” His look was positively murderous then, and I realized Lotor was intending to go drink with the soldiers in an attempt to track down the spy. I almost felt pity for the one who had been reporting on the prince’s actions to Zarkon for I knew if Lotor found him, he wouldn’t live out the night.
“Good luck with that.” I wished him sincerely. Lotor nodded, and walked away, his pace leisurely as though he had not a care in his world. All to better lull those who looked at him into a false sense of comfort. I wasn’t one of them, feeling uneasy. I had thought my sense of foreboding had had to do with dealing with King Zarkon on the heels of our failure. But even now that we had escaped his wrath, intact and alive, I still felt a kind of trepidation through me. I didn’t know what was causing it, nor did I know how to settle down from it. I wouldn’t know it then, but some part of me had sensed that this evening was going to be the night that changed all our relationships for forever.