Songbird 25

It would take time for the Voltron Force to find the downed cargo vessel. And all because they didn’t have the advantage of it’s tracking beacon like we had had. Still the flames could be seen for miles all around, even with the snow working to cover the ship. All we had to do was wait for the Voltron Force to notice them.

The waiting was interesting. Everyone onboard Lotor’s ship was tense with anticipation, people making bets on whether of not Haggar would succeed. Lotor allowed this, though he stayed out of laying down a bet of his own. It left us all unsure of what he thought of the witch’s chances, if he was only playing at being confident that she would succeed. Certainly it would bring down morale if he bet against Haggar, and thus the soldiers would suffer doubts towards engaging their enemy.

Still, from the sounds of things, the soldiers didn’t believe Haggar’s trap would work. They believed the odds were stacked against her. And all because the Voltron Force had immeasurably good luck when it came to foiling Doom’s plans. The soldiers were uneasy, many would have left planet Nieve right after collecting Romelle from the remains of her stolen ship. But Lotor, ever greedy for the chance to obtain the princess of Arus, insisted on remaining.

I can’t say I knew what exactly was going through his mind while we waited. Nor did I really want to know. It unsettled me, the way he kept Romelle on his lap, the exaggerated care he showed in caressing her cheek and stroking her hair. His gentleness could end at any moment, and I found myself hoping she would stay unconscious for longer than she actually did. My reasons for this was both to spare her the anguish of the wait, and Lotors’ attention. I was sure he would turn malicious, and set out to torturing us both.

How right I was, Romelle soon stirring. She would appear disorientated, as though the princess didn’t realize just whose lap she sat on. That would only last a few seconds, Lotor grinning at her. His fingers instantly went from gentle and soothing to a cruel grip, tearing a cry of pain from Romelle when she tried to jerk back off his lap.

“So glad you could join us Romelle.” Lotor pulled her closer so that he could graze his lips against hers as he talked. His voice was like a silky seduction, purring satisfaction to her. “I wouldn’t have wanted you to miss all the fun!”

“You leave my cousin alone!” Romelle snapped, looking very much like she would bite him. Lotor jerked back from her teeth, tsking all the while.

“You still don’t get it, do you?” He asked. “You don’t get to give me orders! However, if you beg me a little more sweetly, I might just reconsider.”

Everyone on board the ship knew that was a lie. There was nothing Romelle could say or do to get Lotor to leave her cousin Allura alone. He was that obsessed with her, wanting both princesses for his own.

Romelle didn’t buy into his words either, narrowing her eyes into a glare. Lotor’s amusement faded. “Not going to beg?”

“I wouldn’t give you the satisfaction!” She hissed back at him, then cried out when he pulled on her hair again.

“Pity for you, I’ve already taken plenty of satisfaction from your body.” A gasp followed his words, Romelle turning crimson at his implications. He’d still be holding onto her when she slapped him, the move as vicious and forceful as she could make it. The entire command deck seemed to go silent, some of the soldiers staring with open mouths. None could believe she had slapped the dread prince of Doom, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who feared he would end her life then and there.

“That was a mistake!” Snarled Lotor, shoving Romelle off his lap. She hit the floor, but did not make a sound, staring up at him with more anger than fear. Lotor stood, towering over Romelle. But he did not draw his sword, giving her a considering look. “You just love pissing me off don’t you, my dear? Why is that? Do you hope I’ll end your nightmare for you? That I’ll put you out of your misery?!”

He stepped on the tattered hem of her dress, still staring down at her. “Or maybe you like seeing just how far you can go, how much you can get away with? Hmm? Is that it? Well, Romelle, you should know. Your actions have consequences…mistakes must be corrected, and people will suffer in place of you.” Lotor snapped his fingers then, and I found my arms grabbed by two nearby soldiers. They would drag me closer to the prince and the princess, neither one of them looking in my direction. They were too focused on each other, but I knew that wouldn’t last.

“What are you going to do?” She demanded, and Lotor gave a cruel look her way.

“What won’t I do?” He asked, and at a gesture from him, another soldier began to beat me. Romelle cried out for him to stop, Lotor merely laughing in response. I groaned, and wondered how much more my broken body could take. And yet I was still defiant. “Lotor…” My voice rasped out, gaining his attention. He stopped the beating long enough to hear what I had to say, and even injured as I was, I managed to smirk at him. “You spineless bastard! Are you too afraid to get your own hands dirty?!”

“Sabbath! What are you doing?!” Romelle was alarmed. She surely thought me a fool for goading the prince on like that. “No, Lotor, leave him alone!” She scrambled to her feet, but Lotor knocked her back down with a push.

“You really are a glutton for punishment, aren’t you Commander?” Lotor demanded. He was flexing his fingers, as though warming up before punching me. “Do you really think you stand a chance against me? Especially now, broken and in pain…?”

I really didn’t stand a chance, but then the odds were stacked against me regardless of who was beating me. Doctor Shabatoba would confirm as much, hurrying forward to protest my treatment. “Your highness…he won’t live for much longer if you continue to abuse him in this manner!” Lotor gave him a look that screamed that he didn’t care about my chances for survival.

“Lotor stop!” Romelle added her voice to the mix, having moved to kneel before him. “Don’t do this! You’ll kill him!” Another uncaring look from the prince, he truly seemed like an unfeeling monster then. “He’s your friend…” She added plaintively, and Lotor suddenly snaked out a hand, grabbing her by the chin.

“You mean he’s YOUR friend! That’s the only reason you even care.” And that caring bothered him. Surely Lotor couldn’t understand how I had managed to ingratiate myself into the princess’ feelings when he had failed to gain even a smidgen of her affections. He didn’t have to understand to hate it, Lotor wanting Romelle dependent on him, and him alone.

“Yes.” She whispered, and Lotor’s movements turned agitated, the prince touching her lips with his thumb.

“What would you do to save him?” Lotor asked. “How far would you demean yourself to ensure his life? Hmm?”

“Romelle don’t…” I started to say, not wanting her to do anything she would regret. Lotor gave me a sharp look, and it was enough to get the soldier to punch me again.

“Well, Romelle? What will it be? How much value do you place on Sabbath’s life?”

She hesitated. I would have held my breath, but I was too busy wheezing. I have to admit I was curious too. Just how strong an attachment did Romelle feel for me? And yet I was afraid of finding out, because I knew Lotor would use those feelings against her.

“What do you want me to do?” A simple reply, with it Romelle appearing ready to do anything Lotor asked of her. His eyes narrowed, he wasn’t satisfied or appeased by what she had said. If anything it made him more angry, Lotor beyond pissed that she was willing to sacrifice so much for me.

He could have asked her to do anything, to do some humiliating act right in front of his men. Instead he gripped her chin once more, glaring down at her with this infuriated expression. The situation was worse than it had ever been, and it was all Romlle’s fault. It was inadvertent, she had been trying to save me. Instead it looked like she had condemned me with her actions.

“How very self sacrificing of you Romelle.” Lotor’s voice was barely controlled, the prince hissing like a snake. “But it’s ultimately a useless gesture.”

“What?” I could see she didn’t understand, the confusion apparent on her face. “But I…”

“I want to thank you though Romelle.” Lotor continued. “You’ve helped me to put things into perspective.”

“Perspective?” She frowned. “What does that mean?”

He wasn’t going to answer her, touching her lips once more. He was still so angry, barely controlled fury simmering within him. I couldn’t know just how disappointed she had made him, but I would find out soon enough. But first I would have to endure a few more punches, Lotor giving the command, Romelle screaming out in panic.

“NO! You can’t! I said I would do anything!” She scrambled to her feet, Lotor catching her around the waist to keep her from throwing herself on me.

“Ro…Romelle…” I was trying to speak, but the punches left me pained and breathless. I suppose it was better I couldn’t talk, it surely would have devastated her to hear that that was exactly the reason why he was having me be beat. And from the looks of it, he would have continued the abuse until I died, the prince ignoring Romelle’s ear piercing shrieks all the while.

“Sire! We have an incoming message from Haggar the witch!” A technician approached, trying not to cringe at the look Lotor gave him. We had been waiting for this moment, flying blind where the witch was concerned. All because there had been no time to set up a live feed between the downed cargo vessel and our own ships. Whatever had happened inside that vessel, be it good or bad, had happened without our knowledge.

“It’s about time.” Lotor grumbled, gesturing for the beating to stop. It wasn’t to spare me, he just wanted Romelle’s shrieking to be at an end. “Put her up on the view screen.” He commanded.

The technicians hurried to do just that, the sight of Haggar’s brown cloaked figure appearing. She was in one of the land bound cruisers, driving at a frantic speed. Her cat was perched on her shoulders, tail lashing in agitation. To her left, was a body, and Romelle cried out in surprise. “Bandor!”

Lotor immediately shoved her away from him, eyes narrowed. “You were supposed to get Allura!”

“There was an unforeseen complication that arose.” Haggar retorted, eyes more on the land before her than the monitor. We couldn’t see them, but we could hear the sound of the lions’ feet, paws pounding on the snow and ice as they gave pursuit. Occasionally a lion would roar, an intimidation tactic that had no effect on the witch. “Fear not sire, I am bringing you all of the Voltron Force!”

“I’m only interested in Allura!” Lotor grumbled. Romelle was inching towards me, her hands shaking as she reached to touch my face. Her eyes looked wet, she mouthed my name, and the words that she was so sorry. I could barely keep my eyes open, but nodded to reassure her.

“And you shall have the princess of Arus, along with the lions!” Haggar retorted, her voice sounding exasperated. “Have Mogor get the robeast ready…I brought a special kind of beast along with us just in case an emergency cropped up.”

“Mogor, you heard her!” Lotor snapped, and the General hurried to do the witch’s bidding. “Haggar, what’s your estimated time of arrival?”

“I’m still a good ten minutes away. If his highness would be so kind as to come out to meet me, that would greatly expedite things.” Retorted the witch. An explosion rocked her ship, but Haggar showed no fear. “Hurry your highness!”

The transmission went dead, but Lotor didn’t waste a second in giving orders. The ship’s crew immediately began procedures to have it drive out to intercept Haggar and the Voltron Force. We would move out at top speed, coming upon a large crater just as Haggar’s vehicle clear it’s top. She quickly boarded the ship, driving her cruiser up the ramp.

Things began to happen quickly, Lotor turning and noticed how Romelle was gingerly wiping the blood off my face with her skirt. He scowled, eyes narrowing, all his anger returning full force. It seemed everything Romelle did where I was concerned, only damned us both further.

“Sire, there’s no time.” Mogor had returned, and seemed to sense where Lotor’s thoughts lay. “The Voltron Force is in the perfect position for an attack.” Indeed they were in the very center of the deep crater, looking around for Haggar’s cruiser. We were just pulling in at the edge of the crater, the lions instantly going on the defensive.

“I know that.” Lotor snapped, stepping towards Romelle. He grabbed her arm, twisting it behind her back. She struggled, and whimpered in pain but didn’t look at him. She was too concerned with me, and Lotor noticed where her fixation was.

“Sire?”

“Romelle, you will still be of some use to me after all.” Lotor announced. He would drag her away from me, Romelle fighting him every step of the way. “I’m sure you’re cousin will be more appreciative of my affections than you ever were.”

“You’re deluding yourself if you believe that!” Romelle snapped back, and then they were gone from the command deck. The soldiers still held me by the arms, unsure of what to do when Doctor Shabatoba approached. He scowled at them, insisting on being allowed to tend to my wounds.

“Don’t bother.” I told him, slumping on the floor of the ship.

“I can’t just sit back and do nothing.” He retorted, cleaning up my face and checking me over to see how bad the injuries were. I’d probably have another rib broken, and that was if I was lucky. If I wasn’t, I was facing some serious internal bleeding, and might still die from the beating I had received.

I didn’t focus on the doctor as he tended to me. I was watching the ship’s large view screen. The drama outside the ship was playing out on the monitor, I could see Lotor, along with Haggar and Mogor pushing Romelle and her brother Bandor out into the snow. The young prince had regained consciousness, and the siblings were clinging to each other. Someone had been kind enough to give Romelle a cloak, which surprised me.

The wind blew out everyone’s hair, and rustled their clothing. Lotor had his sword drawn, and he was laughing. I heard the captain of the Voltron Force make a comment over the speakers of his lion. “That’s Lotor’s happy chuckle!”

“He’s got my cousins!” That was the princess of Arus, her voice sounding fearful.

“Yes, Allura!” Lotor shouted, his voice barely able to be heard over the howling wind. “And I will send them back to freedom. But for that favor, you must come to me. ALONE!”

“What is Lotor doing?” The doctor wondered out loud. I sighed then, and even that hurt to do.

“It seems he’s tired of fighting with Romelle.” I was certain what had motivated him to give up Romelle was the realization of how deep her feelings for me were. It angered him, as much as it had disappointed him. He probably thought he would have a clean start of things with Allura, rather than continue to try to make Romelle accept him. He simply didn’t have the patience or tolerance to allow a woman of his to have feelings for another man.

“She what?” The Voltron Force was talking, voices carrying over each other.

“I don’t believe he’ll give anybody up!”

“You can’t bargain or trade people like animals you creep!”

“You have two minutes to accept my generous offer! Otherwise…” He brought his sword to bear on Romelle and Bandor, the threat obvious. At least one of them would die, and with the way Romelle had angered him, I wouldn’t be surprised if he killed them both. “Say good-bye to Romelle!”

The Voltron Force quieted at that. I couldn’t know if they were holding a private dialogue between them, but eventually both the princess and captain emerged from their lions. It was at that precise moment, that a nasty storm began to happen, dark clouds covering the sky. A heavy snow fell, blown about by the wind. The captain stood next to the princess, shouting up at Lotor.

“Okay Lotor, we accept your offer! She’s on the way. but I want the others released at the same time!”

“Don’t worry!” retorted Lotor, a gloating smirk on his face. “I made a bargain and I am a man of honor!”

“Don’t do it Allura!” Bandor screamed. “He doesn’t know the meaning of the word honor!”

“Now, get out!” Lotor kicked Bandor, Romelle hurrying to catch him before he fell over the crater’s edge. “But I warn you, no tricks! I’ll be watching every move!”

The princess began climbing up the crater at the exact time Bandor and Romelle began their journey down. The way was difficult on foot, the winds battering them around. At one point Allura slowed, and Lotor was quick to shout down to her. “Don’t stop princess! If anything goes wrong, you know what will happen!” She continued moving, and Lotor continued to gloat. “I’ve been patient…but my moment of triumph is finally here!”

“Mogor! As soon as she gets close, send the mighty robeast to destroy the lions!” advised Haggar.

“Will do!” Mogor hurried back into the ship. He was gone long enough for Allura to reach and pass her cousins. They paused for a moment, to stare at each other. And then they were moving again. I’m not sure I understand why Lotor got so impatient, but he did. Calling out for the robeast to attack. Snow would go flying, the robeast enlarged and attacking, slamming a fist into the ground.

Romelle and Bandor would fall, the force knocking them backwards. They were still too far to reach the lions, but the princess of Arus was now before Lotor. “So you finally come to me, my proud princess. You don’t know how much I relish this moment!” The princess was covered in snow, enough that the pink parts of her uniform was obscured. But then the strangest thing happened, an all too male voice speaking to Lotor as the snow began to shake off.

“I hate to spoil your big moment…” The captain of the Voltron force was revealed, smirking at the prince. “But you’re going to be very disappointed in the girl of your dreams.”

“‘GAH!” Lotor charged him, his sword drawn. “A contemptible trick!”

The captain quickly drew his blaster, halting Lotor in his tracks. “Now! Who will give themselves in exchange for you?!”

Haggar’s cat answered that question, flying towards the captain. He would try to shoot the cat, but move too late, the blaster being knocked free of his hands. Lotor immediately tried to stab him with his sword, the captain rolling about the snow to avoid the blade. He managed to evade Lotor for several seconds more, before slipping on the ice.

Down on his knees, Lotor’s sword was pointed in his face. “You see my friend. Even a simple cat will offer himself for a prince. And I intend to be king. As soon as I dispose of you, and my robeast finishes off the rest of Voltron!” He then screamed, the sword flying from his hand. An unknown shot had blasted the prince, and the captain turned, crying out a name.

“Prince Bandor!”

I felt dread to see that Romelle and her brother had returned to the ship. I didn’t know what their motivations were, but I feared for them both. Romelle’s expression was grim, she was determined to see Lotor dead.

“Take my weapon!” Bandor shouted, tossing his blaster to the captain. “Your friends are in great danger from the robeast. You gotta go and help them!” Sure enough, all this time, the other four lions had been doing battle with the robeast. They were just barely managing to evade the monster’s attacks, and desperately needed black lion so they could form Voltron. “We’ll take care of Lotor!” Added Bandor, to the amusement of many of the Drules on the command deck. It was then that Bandor drew the sword on his hip, and Romelle had a small dagger in her hands.

“He’s hurt us the most.” She said, advancing on Lotor. “He’s killed our father and brother, and enslaved our people!”

“Listen you two! Don’t be foolish!” The captain had paused, to try and stop them. “Lotor is too dangerous to take on by yourselves! Let the Voltron Force do it!”

“I have a score to settle for my planet!” shouted Bandor, running towards Lotor. He tried to stab his sword into Lotor’s side, but the prince quickly side stepped him. He followed that up with an elbow chop to the prince’s back, the boy falling to the ground.

“Don’t send a boy to do a man’s job!” Haggar laughed at Lotor’s words, raising her staff to fire a bolt of energy at the Voltron pilot. Romelle screamed, sounding vicious as she lunged towards Lotor with her dagger poised to drive into his heart.

“Take this!”

“No!” Lotor punched her in the stomach, and caught her in his arms. “I’ll take you instead!” He threw the unconscious princess over his shoulder, and turned to walked up the ship’s ramp. Haggar was still laughing and firing on the pilot of black lion, and I grunted out my dismay.

“Romelle…no!”

“Calm yourself!” Shabatoba said, pushing on my shoulders. “There’s nothing you can do for her…not now…”

Maybe not ever. The thought caused me to give the doctor a bleak look.

“He’s got her..” Moaned the captain, writhing in pain from the witch’s spell. Bandor who had been forgotten, lunged at the witch, crashing into her and breaking her spell. The captain immediately lunged for the nearest weapon, which happened to be Lotor’s sword. He threw it point first at the witch, who screamed and scurried up the ramp. The door quickly sealed shut behind her, Bandor screaming.

“I tried sister!”

The ship immediately began to take off, Lotor or Haggar must have radioed a command to the deck. Bandor was still screaming, sounding very much like a lost little boy. “Romelle!” He had to be dragged off by the captain of the Voltron force, the man assuring him that they would get Romelle back. But it wouldn’t be today. Even as he hurried down to get into his lion, our ship was rapidly flying away from planet Nieve. We wouldn’t even stick around to watch the battle. Why would we when the outcome was so certain? Voltron would utterly destroy the robeast, winning the day’s battle. But it was a bitter victory for them, the group succeeding in doing nothing as far as Romelle was concerned.


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