Songbird 26

I won’t dwell long on the flight back to Doom. For that trip was predominantly uneventful, Lotor spending most of the time screaming at Haggar. He was angry, absolutely furious about the princess of Arus escaping his grasp. Lotor was always his most violent whenever he had come close to securing Allura for himself, the encounters and her subsequent escapes enraging him to no end. Many a crew member on board the command deck had fallen to the floor as a result of Lotor’s fists. We were all fortunate he had lost his sword down on the ice planet, else heads would have rolled.

I tried to make myself small and unobtrusive, sitting quietly on the floor. Doctor Shabatoba had wisely moved me over behind a half wall, keeping me out of sight and out of mind for Lotor. I’m not sure if that really saved me, or if Lotor was just that uninterested in finishing me off while Romelle was unconscious. Whatever the case, he continued to shout at Haggar, blaming her for everything that had gone wrong. Saying things like she should have grabbed Allura and not Bandor, or that she should have suspected the captain of the Voltron force’s trickery. Even the usual argument of how Haggar should have built a better robeast was growled out.

Haggar for the most part, maintained her calm, though anyone could see she was visibly annoyed. She didn’t like being screamed at in that manner, and only the prince and King Zarkon could have gotten away with such actions without ending up cursed by the witch’s magic. I think part of Lotor’s frustration was the fact he couldn’t really punish Haggar the way he wanted to. She was his father’s most trusted ally, and as such, the old King would not take kindly to her being abused. Note even by his own son.

Romelle lay face down on the floor for most of the journey back to Doom. Doctor Shabatoba checked on her, but made no attempt to rouse her. It was his pity that kept Romelle asleep, the doctor not wanting to watch the princess be further tortured by his prince. Lotor ignored her once he dropped her on the floor, more intent on an active target like Haggar and the command deck’s crew.

He’d continue to rant and rave, almost like a madman, so focused was he on the loss of Allura. Even as castle Doom loomed ever closer, he continue to bitch at Haggar, the witch growing exasperated.

“Enough!” She sharply cried out, throwing up a hand in an angry gesture. “I get that you are angry. I get that you are disappointed. But there is nothing I or anyone else can do to change what has happened! You’ll just have to accept that Allura is lost to you, and move on!”

“I will NEVER accept that old witch!” Lotor hissed back in retort. “Allura is mine! And one day she will be standing here by my side!”

“Well, that day isn’t today!” Haggar pointed out.

“And whose fault is that Haggar?” Lotor demanded, hands on his hips now. “Whose fault is all our failures!?”

“You can’t blame this all on me!” snarled Haggar, and stepped towards him. It should have been comical to see a female who was hunched over with old age trying to back up the prince. But there was nothing funny about Haggar, the witch seeming to glow with mystic energy. “I brought you Prince Bandor, I gave you a robeast. A robeast that was doing just fine until Voltron was formed.”

“I didn’t want nor need Bandor!” Lotor retorted. “And when will you make a robeast that can stand up to Voltron? It’s not enough to be able to beat the lions if those ships can still form that blasted robot!”

“I’m working on it!” Haggar hissed out through clenched teeth. “Every loss as hurtful as it is, brings us a valuable data about the robot. Soon…soon I will have the key to Voltron’s ultimate defeat.”

“Not soon enough for my liking!” Lotor retorted. “You’re slacking off on the job Haggar!” She let out an outraged gasp at that, but Lotor wasn’t finished. “You should have brought Allura to me, not Bandor. You should have known there was a trick being pulled during the trade, you should have finished off the captain with your magic! Instead you were defeated by a mere boy!”

“I did the best I could under the circumstances!” Hagger jabbed a bony finger against Lotor’s chest. “Why weren’t you more suspicious of them during the trade? Why didn’t you try to kill the captain instead of grabbing Romelle? Don’t try to pin the blame solely on me Lotor, because you’ll neither get away with it, or like what I have to say!!”

Lotor scowled at her, hands making fists that he rose up in the air. Haggar didn’t so much as blink, glaring a challenge at him. Her look seemed to dare him to hit her, and anyone could see how tempted Lotor truly was to do just that. But after a few exaggerated breaths, Lotor lowered his hands. Haggar nodded satisfied, the prince relaxing his fists.

“I think we should concentrate less on placing blame and more on how to calm down your father.” Continued Haggar.

“My father?!” Lotor practically gasped. “He doesn’t need to know about this…does he?”

“He’s bound to already know. We took off in such a hurry, and we weren’t exactly trying to hide the reason behind it. He won’t like this…”

“You’re damn right he won’t!” grumbled Lotor.

“But we can make him see it’s not a total loss.” Continued Haggar. “We have Romelle…”

“Fat lot of good she does us.”

“You know he won’t take kindly to the thought of the princess escaping. Especially now.” I was intrigued by that, wondering what the witch meant. Lotor took on a shifty eyed look, stepping closer to the witch.

“What do you mean?” He asked, and the witch smiled.

“All in good time sire.” Lotor growled in annoyance at that, and the witch almost laughed. “Your father is not the only with spies about. I’d rather not talk about his plans until we are behind closed doors, in a room secured by my magic.”

“You know I hate being kept in the dark…” Lotor grumbled.

“It will be worth the wait, I promise.” Haggar told him, making a feeble attempt at soothing his upset.

“It better be.” A moan then, Romelle was awakening. I wish she could have stayed asleep longer, or at least kept quiet. That moan of hers only drew both Lotor and Haggar’s attention to her, the princess making a pain filled sound as she tried to push up off the floor. She flinched, and her hands immediately went to her stomach. Lotor hadn’t held back his strength when he punched her. No doubt Romelle would be sore for days there.

“Ah…” Romelle blinked, and shook her head, looking panicked as she realized where she was. And who was near her, the girl gearing up for a scream. Lotor walked towards her, a menacing look in his eyes as he reached to snag her by her hair. “Noooo!”

“You tried to kill me Romelle.” Lotor’s tone was almost conversational, as though he was talking about something pleasant. “You should have known you’d fail. A weak little girl such as yourself, what could she hope to do against a capable Drule warrior?!” Haggar looked uneasy behind him, surely remembering the indecipherable visions she had had regarding Romelle and the trouble the princess would bring to Doom.

“You and your brother are fools.” Lotor continued. “You two should have never come back….you only succeeded in making your situation that much more worse!”

“What have you done to my brother?!” demanded Romelle, anger warring with fear in her voice. “Where is he?”

“He’s probably still on that miserable planet Nieve.” Lotor replied. He didn’t look pleased when she sighed in relief, Lotor hauling her up off the floor by his grip in her hair. “Doom’s robeast was fighting Voltron…there’s no guarantee of the robot’s victory…”

“I have the utmost faith the Voltron Force will have won that battle.” Romelle retorted. “I’m just glad both my brother and my cousin are safe from you!”

“Worry about yourself Romelle!” snapped Lotor. “You’re in a lot of trouble, and I don’t think you realize just how far you’ve fallen out of favor with me!”

She let out a bitter, unamused laugh. “Is your cruel treatment earlier a sign of how you act when your happy with someone? Because if it is, I want no part of your favor!”

“I’ve treated you well, all things considered.” Lotor hissed. “I’ve given you comfortable surroundings, rich food, expensive gowns, and a handful of slaves.”

“You also raped me, you bastard!” Romelle shouted, her blues eyes enraged. “And you nearly beat to death my only friend on Doom on several occassions.” Lotor’s eyes narrowed at that, I wasn’t his favorite subject especially when spoken of by Romelle.

“Ah yes…Sabbath.” His very look screamed that he was contemplating rectifying my alive status at once. “You two have quite an effect on each other. Especially you on the commander. I’ve never seen such a loyal soldier fall so quickly, and all for a piece of flesh.” He laughed then, cold amusement in his voice. “Pretty package that you are, you are ultimately spoiled goods….Sabbath is stupid to waste his career on playing the hero to you.”

“Don’t talk to Romelle like that!” I snarled, ignoring Shabatoba’s frantic hisses to be quiet. The princess’ eyes had turned shamed, her face flushing crimson. “She’s worth more than that…worth more than ten of you put together!”

“Really now?” Lotor asked, turning to watch as I struggled to my feet. “Then maybe I haven’t been trying hard enough where this girl is concerned.” That left me with a bad feeling, Lotor doing a gesture that belied any affection as he caressed Romelle’s cheek. And yet I couldn’t stop defending her honor, determined as I spoke.

“No matter what you do, or try to do….you can never bring down her worth!”

“Is that a challenge commander?” Lotor asked, tone mild. “Because I do so love them.” He was still stroking Romelle’s cheek, while his other hand held her captive by her hair. The look in his eyes said he would not find it a hardship to attempt to demean Romelle’s worth in my eyes.

“It’s not a challenge…” I spoke quietly then. “It’s the Gods’ honest truth.”

“She’s only a human….used and rebellious…you risk much for her…”

“She was only a human when you decided you wanted to marry her!” I retorted. “That and her rebellious streak didn’t deter your desire in the slightest!”

“I’ve had time to reconsider.” One last stroke, and then just as abruptly, Lotor was shoving Romelle away from him. “She’s not worthy enough to be my bride. She certainly doesn’t deserve to sit on the throne as the future Queen of the Doom Empire.”

“But I suppose Allura is?” I couldn’t resist asking, tone snide.

“Yes…she is.” That delusional look was back in his eyes again, Lotor’s tone dreamy. “She’ll be everything Romelle is not. She will love me…”

“Fat chance of that!” Romelle snapped from off to the side of him. Lotor growled at that, and a technician spoke up. “Now entering castle Doom.” We barely took notice of our arrival, the three of us exchanging glares and hostile words. Haggar continued to look nervous, petting her blue cat in an attempt to calm herself.

“Allura will love me!” Lotor insisted to Romelle. “She has a more giving nature, a more forgiving heart…”

“There’s nothing you can say or do that would make my cousin excuse your evil deeds and foul behavior!” Romelle retorted. “You’re twisted Lotor, your very nature corrupted and wicked!”

“What do you even know of Allura?!” Lotor demanded then. “You met her just one time, exchanged but a handful of words!”

“It was long enough to recognize a kindred spirit.” Romelle told him. “I know her soul, her inner goodness. She is just like me, and she will despise you just as strongly as I do! Face it Lotor, you are not worthy of her love, or of mine!”

I was already wincing at that, watching Lotor advance on her. He looked ready to slap her for that, Romelle turning to run. None of the soldiers would try to stop the prince, though thankfully none made a move to restrain the princess. She somehow dodged Lotor enough to run towards me, taking shelter behind my back. I stood straighter, ignoring my pain to stare down Lotor.

“Stand aside Commander, or I will kill you where you stand.” Lotor warned. I swallowed but did not move.

“I’m sorry…” Came Romelle’s whisper at my back. She was speaking to me not Lotor, and surely had realized the danger she had put me in.

“It’s fine.” I said to them both. In that moment I hoped Lotor would forget about striking Romelle, if he focused his anger on me. But a voice spoke up, a potential savior in our mists.

“Your highness! We are being boarded by Zarkon’s personal guards!”

“What?!” Lotor turned from me, spinning to stare at the crew member who had spoken. That soldier looked apologetic, but there was nothing more he could say or do. The King’s guards went wherever they pleased, moving on the expressed orders of their liege.

“I told you he would know!” Haggar cried out, just seconds before Captain Adamentius stepped out onto the command deck. His squad was close behind him, and spreading throughout the ship.

“What is the meaning of this?!” Lotor demanded, striding forward to meet with Adementius. “Is my father fool enough to arrest me a second time?”

“We are here for the princess Romelle.” Adementius answered. “Your father has decreed you too incompetent to keep watch over her for even a second longer.” Romelle was shaking behind me, clinging to my shirt’s back as soldiers approached us. We would be pulled apart, Romelle being dragged off.

“Sabbath!”

“Don’t worry Romelle!” I called after her. “The King will not harm you.” Not so long as he had a use for her. And from what Haggar had briefly mentioned to Lotor, I was sure he did.

“Your father is waiting in the throne room.” The Captain was saying. “He wants a full report on your escapades. I would not keep him waiting. Not with the mood he is in.”

“Fine.” Grumbled Lotor. He moved to walk past the captain, but Adementius stopped him. “It’s not just you he wants to speak to. He wants the witch, along with your commander and general.”

“Commander Sabbath needs medical treatment.” It was Shabatoba who spoke. The captain of the King’s guards looked at him, expression uncaring.

“That can wait until after his audience with the King. Now no more delays, lest I throw you all in shackles and drag you before the King!”

Lotor was scowling again, not liking what Adementius said. “You go too far captain.”

“I go only as far as my King has allowed me to.” Retorted Ademenetius. He wasn’t intimidated by Lotor, nor did he care that he had upset the prince. Lotor let out a put upon sigh, and stalked out of the command deck, Haggar and Mogor following him. I was slower to move, and the guards came behind me. They were intent on making sure we went straight to the throne room, not willing to tolerate any delays.

Court was in full session when we arrived, Zarkon forcing us to wait out his audience with some petitioners. It pained me to remain standing upright for that long, nor was I allowed to relax against a wall for some support. Lotor probably enjoyed my discomfort. Or at least he would have if he wasn’t so busy scowling at his father for keeping us waiting.

But eventually the nobles were done with their petition, Zarkon passing down a judgment that favored them. The group disappeared into the crowd, all smiles on their faces as they whispered congratulations to each other. Captain Adementius would usher us forward, and Zarkon would stare down at us with a bored look on his face. He’d keep us waiting a few seconds more, drumming his clawed fingertips on the arm rest of his throne.

“Well?” He finally demanded, and Lotor exchanged a look with Haggar. “What do you lot have to say for yourselves?!”

“It wasn’t our fault…” Lotor began, and Zarkon interrupted him.

“Oh? Then whose was it? You allowed princess Romelle, a valuable prisoner to escape.”

“It was not I!” Lotor quickly protested. “If anyone is to blame, it’s Commander Sabbath for that! He’s the one that allowed the princess to drug him. He’s the one whose key was stolen. Hell, he’s the one who got her the drugs in the first place!”

Really now…” Zarkon’s gaze swept over me, it wasn’t a kind smile he gave me. “And what do you have to say to these accusations Commander?”

“It’s true that it was my key she took, and that I procured the medication she used to drug me. However…it was Lotor who had her moved out of the dungeons against your orders. It was the prince who raped her, it was the rape that forced her need for a doctor and drugs. If Lotor had left her alone, if he had never touched her none of this would have happened. The princess would not have been motivated so strongly to escape.”

“Sabbath…” Lotor growled and stepped towards me. A word from Captain Adementius had the other guards rushing to keep Lotor away from me.

“Lotor, I take it from your reaction, this is all true.” Zarkon questioned. Lotor looked at him stone faced, refusing to answer. “It sounds to me as if both of you had a role to play in the princess’ escape. As such you should both bear punishment for this act.”

“Father no!” Lotor protested. “You cannot…”

“You do not tell me what I can and cannot do!” snapped Zarkon.

“But father…”

“I will suffer no more of your interruptions!” Zarkon roared, banging his fist on his throne’s arm rest. Even Lotor was suitable cowed into silence, all waiting for Zarkon to pronounce judgment on us. “Commander….you will henceforth be demoted down to Lieutenant. Your salary will be adjusted to reflect this. Moreover, I want you to take an extended leave from your duties. I do not want you back in this castle until I’ve called for you, is that understood?”

I froze, thinking how Romelle would be left all alone, at Lotor’s sadistic mercy. I didn’t want to leave the castle, was so upset I barely even noticed I had been demoted, and had lost a substantial amount of money to my weekly salary.

“Lieutenant!” Zarkon snarled, voice sharp in the moment.

“It’s…it’s understood sire.” I bowed to him as best I could, given my injuries. The guards moved to escort me out of the throne room, but Zarkon held up his hand.

“I’m sure you’re interested in Lotor’s punishment.” Zarkon smirked, seeming to enjoy what he was about to reveal. It wasn’t a kindness the King was doing me, he just wanted everyone to hear of Lotor’s humiliation.

“Well, father, what is it?” Lotor demanded, trying to play unconcerned.

“First of all, you are to be placed under house arrest.” Zarkon said, ignoring the gasps of the court. “You will be confined to your rooms, and the only time I want to even see you is when you’re leaving on missions I have approved of. If you conduct yourself well, you will gain back your freedoms. Haggar of course, will be in constant contact with you, to help you form suitable plans to further the Empire’s expansion.”

It was no hardship, this house arrest. Lotor would still have access to all the luxuries he was accustomed to. I suppose the prince thought he was getting off lucky, until Zarkon said the following. “You are to be forbidden any further contact with the princess Romelle. That means no more talking, looking, or buying her gifts. And it certainly means no more fucking her either.”

Lotor was scowling, looking as though he was biting his tongue to keep from shouting protests. It seemed contrary to his previous claims, he wasn’t completely over Romelle yet. Or maybe he just liked the thought of torturing her that much. Whatever the case, I was greatly relieved, allowing the guards to drag me from the throne room. Romelle might not be in the clear yet, but the King had made her situation infinitely safer by barring Lotor from her.


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