Songbird 31

It is difficult to explain what exactly happened next. And all because I wasn’t there to witness it as a first hand account. I had to hear the tale from several sources, each Drule adding a piece to the puzzle. It wasn’t a pretty picture when complete. For you see, Romelle had been brought to the throne room with a specific purpose in mind. Zarkon and his witch Haggar had WANTED the princess to overhear their plans concerning Arus and the Omega Comet. They had wanted Romelle to know what they intended to do, had wanted her so horrified she couldn’t think straight.

Her horror, combined with her physical and mental exhaustion, and the starved state of her body making her weak and easily susceptible, had her believing into their story. Such was the mental anguish they caused her, that Romelle didn’t turn a suspecting eye on the situation. Her weakened state made it easy to trick her, but she was no fool. Any more than I was. We had both believed, though that belief manifested in different actions.

I had been trapped in the throne room as per the King’s orders. It was just another stage of his grand scheme, Zarkon wanting neither I nor Lotor to succeed in diverting Romelle from the path he had laid out for her. General Mogor was in on the scheme, as was a dozen other guards. He would take Romelle, but not to the dungeons. Not at first anyway. Instead he would take a winding path that would put them close to the communications’ room.

Along the way, some of the guards in on the scheme, were waiting. They staged an all out brawl in the corridor, General Mogor being “forced” to walk into the heart of it, in an attempt to break it up. It was there that Romelle saw her chance, the girl gearing up her courage to sneak away. The quarreling soldiers pretended not to notice, nor did Romelle seem to register how suspicious it was that the corridors leading to the communication room were empty of all people.

The communication room had also been left unguarded. But more than that, it was devoid of the technicians and personnel that was needed to run the communication grid. Romelle must have thought she was truly fortunate then. She hurriedly put in the personal com number for the castle of lions, her voice frantic as she began talking before she was even acknowledged.

Her message was short and to the point, Romelle warning Arus of the Omega Comet’s approach. General Mogor gave her enough time to just barely get out the words, before he was apprehending her. He’d then return her to the dungeons, the Drule then hurrying to the throne room to report on a job well done. King Zarkon was pleased, chuckling evilly over the success of stage one of the plan.

Lotor and I were both confused. It seemed the prince had been left in the dark as much as I had been. Zarkon had thought Lotor’s ignorance would add a convincing touch to the proceedings, not trusting his son to be a skilled enough actor to fool Romelle. Lotor was angered over this, annoyed he had been kept out of such an important plan. The King did not try to soothe him, remarking that Lotor would have found a way to ruin things if he had known.

Frankly I was surprised they had trusted me enough to fill me in on some of the details, even if it was after the plan had been enacted. I seethed quietly in my seat, thinking on how devastated Romelle would be if she were to find out she had played right into their hands. It might kill something inside her to know she had led the Voltron Force into a trap that was meant to claim their lives.

Yes, it was a trap. Zarkon had no intention of destroying the planet Arus. He was too greedy for it’s land, it’s people, and all the resources he could mine out of it. He knew that to get the planet under his control, he needed to dispose of Voltron. Once the robot defender was gone, it would be all too easy to capture the planet.

The Omega Comet was meant to be the final resting place of the mighty robot and it’s pilots. Lotor and I, along with Haggar and General Mogor, would be dispatched to witness Voltron’s final moments. We would take a small armada of ships, careful not to fly too close to the comet.

I don’t know what I expected to happen. I didn’t think I would witness the end of Voltron, and yet I was unsure. I knew of the Omega Comet’s destructive capabilities, had witnessed the gravitational pull at it’s worse. I didn’t think it possible for anything to escape once in it’s grasp, and wondered how the Voltron Force expected to defeat it.

I was given no time to prepare for the mission into outer space. Certainly there was no time to finish my letter to Romelle, and even if there was I wasn’t sure I should tell her about the trap she had played a part in. There was mercy in not knowing the truth. It would save her heart some anguish if Romelle thought she had done the right thing.

Of course, she wouldn’t remain ignorant for long. I’d find out much later that she had been brought onboard Lotor’s ship. It seemed the prince wanted to torture her with the sight of the galaxy’s champion’s total defeat. It would be a night of revelations, torture a predominant theme.

There was time before the Voltron Force would arrive. I was out on the bridge, staying as far away from Lotor as I could manage. The prince had been taking pot shots at me, heaping insults and snide comments my way. I fought not to rise to the bait, settling on ignoring him as I paced back and forth by a row of computers and their technicians.

Pretending to keep an eye on the readouts on their monitors, I listened to Lotor and Haggar talk. There was an air of uncertainty to Lotor’s words, a worry niggling away at him. It was the concern for the princess of Arus that troubled him so, Lotor needing reassurance that she would walk away alive and relatively unharmed from this latest scheme.

“Tell me again, old witch.” Lotor was saying, his own movements an agitated pacing. “Just how will you ensure Allura does not die out there on the comet?”

Haggar sighed, more than a little put out by the repeated questioning Lotor continued to do. “I have taken everything into careful consideration. The Blue lion will be roughed up, but the precious passenger inside it will not be harmed. After all…I know how much having the princess of Arus as your bride means to you, sire.”

“It means everything!” Lotor grit out passionately. “I will be very displeased if this plan fails.”

“Fear not! My Iron Ripper will work to sever the right leg of Voltron. Once the leg is separated from the body of the robot, our ships will use grip beams to capture the blue lion. It should be an all too simple trick to pull Allura’s lion to safety.”

“Hmph.” Lotor didn’t look happy about that. “These grip beams…is it possible for someone else to use them to pull the rest of Voltron off the comet?”

“Oh no!” Haggar quickly protested. “The lions when combined into the robot, are simply too heavy to lift. Especially given the gravitational pull of the comet. Blue lion’s weight alone will almost be too much for us to handle. There’s no possible way any one else can free the rest of Voltron, even if they used a thousand grip beams!”

“I hope your calculations are correct.” Lotor warned her. “If the lion is so much as a single pound over the limit our grip beams can handle, Allura will be lost to me!”

“She won’t!” insisted Haggar. “By this time tomorrow, she will be in your bed, serving your every desire.” She knew how to distract him, Lotor suddenly smirking as he imagined just what he would do to the princess of Arus. “I’m sure with Voltron’s defeat, your father will give you a proper amount of time to be able to enjoy your blushing bride.”

“Maybe we’ll have the honeymoon on planet Arus.” Lotor mused. “Allura would like that, wouldn’t you agree, Haggar?” Even as Haggar bobbed her head in agreement, I was making a rude noise, snorting under my breath.

“Not bloody likely.”

“Do you have something to say Lieutenant?” Lotor growled out sharply. Feeling his eyes boring into my back, I turned. I don’t know why I tried to antagonize him, except to say I didn’t want to see another princess abused. Especially one who was Romelle’s cousin.

“You are a fool if you think you can make Allura happy.” I told him. “Never mind, she won’t love you. She’ll hate you as she sees first hand what you do to her people and her planet. You think watching her world be enslaved, seeing the after effects of Doom’s invasion could possibly make her happy? Or do you intend to keep her locked in a bedroom in the castle, away from all the sights and sounds of her people’s subjugation?!”

From the look on his face, it was clear that had been Lotor’s intent. I laughed, the harsh sound of it mingling with the electronic beeps and frantic clatter of assorted keyboards. Many of the Drules onboard the bridge had gone silent, speaking only when necessary to complete some minor ship function.

“Allura will come to see how much worse it could have been for her people. I will not work them nearly as hard as I do other slaves.” A smirk then. “Of course my…kindness is dependent on my bride’s willingness to do certain things.”

“She won’t love you. She’ll despise you! Just like Romelle does.” I told him, watching how the anger filled his eyes.

“Romelle was a mistake. I should have never assumed she’d be half as good as Allura.” I fought not to twitch with my own anger, incensed at what he was saying. He noticed, his smirk deepening .”She wasn’t even that good in bed.”

“Why you…” I abandoned my position by the computers, already stalking towards Lotor. “As if she would ever attempt to please you in that way! You raped her, you bastard. You hurt her deeply, in more ways than just the rape. And then you have the nerve to act surprised when she doesn’t fall in love with you? Lotor, you act as if you’re entitled to love.”

“I am.”

“You’re not. No one is. You have to earn it first, not take what you want from others!” I was almost to him now, my hands clenched into fists. I was pretty sure I was going to take a swing at him, a foolish attempt to defend Romelle’s honor, and stop him from further soiling her with his words.

“Romelle has truly addled your mind Lieutenant.” It was Haggar who spoke, her staff being thurst before Lotor to prevent him from stepping forward. It seemed she didn’t want us to fight. “I wonder if Zarkon was correct to allow you to resume your military duties?”

“I can still function.” I told her, never taking my eyes off of Lotor.

“Maybe just barely.” She retorted. “But if you continue to persist in talking to the prince in this manner, another demotion in ranks may be necessary.”

Lotor was still glaring, his smile angry. “I think he should be demoted back to private. And then I can stick him in one of our star cutters with the hopes that one of our enemy’s ships blows the Lieutenant out of the sky!”

“Not man enough to try and get rid of me yourself, Lotor?” I demanded. “You want to leave it up to someone else?”

“You’re not only stupid, you’re suicidal.” Lotor said, already drawing his sword. “If it’s death you want, I can grant you that desire.”

It wasn’t my death I wanted, it was Lotor’s. I was already inching my hand towards my hip’s gun hostler, intent on drawing my laser pistol. Lotor narrowed his eyes even further at me, lips curling back with a snarl.

“Sabbath!” Romelle’s voice took away some of my anger, replacing it with shock. What was she doing here?

“Surprised Lieutenant?” Haggar had read me like a book. “The prince thought it be fitting for Romelle to bear witness to that which she set into motion.”

“Set into motion?” repeated Romelle, General Mogor following close behind her. “What do you mean?”

“Why it’s very simple Romelle.” Lotor and I were still staring at each other, both wary of the other’s intentions. “Our plan was never to destroy Arus. We just wanted to lure Voltron out to the Omega Comet.”

“You’ve been very helpful Romelle.” added Haggar with a cackle. “The Voltron Force would have never known to travel out here without your call to them. You were instrumental to our plans!”

“No…” whispered Romelle, her voice sounding so horrified I didn’t want to see the look of despair on her face. “You lie…”

“Why would I lie about something like this?” demanded Haggar. “We’ve been planning this for months, waiting for the opportunity to use the Omega Comet to destroy Voltron.” She laughed again, smirking. “You should be honored Romelle. You finally have a purpose, one to thrust the entire Denubian Galaxy into Doom’s grasp!”

“NO!!” Romelle screamed the word out this time. The next thing I know, she was in my arms, the princess having broken away from General Mogor to fling herself against me. My arms awkwardly went around her body, though I kept one wary eye on Lotor. The prince was scowling, not liking that Romelle had sought comfort in my arms.

“It seems the Lieutenant is not the only one whose mind is addled.” Murmured Haggar. She had noticed Lotor’s reaction. It was enough to make the witch and I both wonder if Lotor still retained some amount of feelings for Romelle. Minimal though they may be.

“What did you say, old witch?” Lotor demanded, turning his sword on her.

“Put away your blade, my prince. No one need die today on this bridge.” Haggar was dismissive, turning away from him. She was confidant Lotor wouldn’t try to stab her with his sword.

Visible seething, Lotor stared at her a long moment before abruptly putting his sword away. I couldn’t relax, still eyeing him in suspicion. Romelle stayed in my embrace, my hand absentmindedly petting her hair as she cried softly. She truly seemed heartbroken, Romelle as devastated as I had feared.

“Sabbath…” She whispered in between sobs. “Is there truly no hope left? None at all?” Fortunately her voice was too low for Lotor to hear. He surely would have made some snide comment, one meant to crush her even further.

“There’s always hope.” I eventually told her. “Even in the darkest hour. It’s when we give up completely, that hope is lost…”

“I’m so tired…” She confessed. “So tired of holding onto hope, of praying and wishing for rescue. When will it all end, Sabbath?”

I was alarmed by her words, fearing what would happen if she truly let go of all hope. “Romelle, listen…” I pealed her off of me, putting enough space between us so that I could look at her tear stained face. “You must never give up…no matter what happens…”

“How much more can I take?” She wanted to know.

“You’ve survived the worse…” I pointed out. “And you’ll keep on surviving….for Bandor and the people of Pollux.”

“Bandor…” She whispered sadly.

“What are you two whispering about?” Lotor demanded angrily. He was still standing, his command seat empty.

“Does it really matter?” I asked in retort.

“I don’t like it. I don’t like you two keeping secrets from me!”

“I think you just don’t like the thought of them being close.” Haggar laughed at that, and Lotor scowled.

“You’re right I don’t.” He agreed. “Romelle, why do you waste your time with him? He’s left you to rot in the dungeons, all but forgotten you!”

“That’s not true!” Romelle bravely insisted. “Sabbath wasn’t the one to toss me in the dungeons.”

“Hmph. He’s done nothing to improve your situation, nothing to help you.”

“It’s not because he didn’t want to!” protested Romelle. “You and your father have simply left him in a position where he can do little for me…”

“That’s right.” Lotor nodded, still scowling. “He’s worthless. Absolutely useless.”

“You wouldn’t understand a good man’s worth if he hit you in the face!” Romelle snapped back. Lotor let out a low growl. “He defended me from you…”

“Not that it did either of you any good.” Lotor pointed out.

“He supports me in my time of need. He took care of me when I needed it. He picked up the pieces that were left of me after your abuse.”

“I think the Lieutenant won’t always be around to play hero to you.” Threatened Lotor, and Romelle gasped, turning fully in my arms to face the prince.

“Don’t you dare hurt him!”

“You don’t’ give me orders! About this or anything!” Lotor said, then laughed. “If it’s my desire for Sabbath to die, then there’s nothing you can do to stop it! No amount of begging, pleading, or debasing yourself will save him!”

“Lotor you asshole…” I began, and Romelle quickly put two fingers to my lips in an attempt to stop my growl.

“No, Sabbath, don’t. Don’t antagonize him further!” I could see the fear in her eyes. Romelle was worried if Lotor and I had one more exchange of hostility, it would end in my death.

“Ah Sabbath, are you going to let that woman, a slave, boss you around?” Lotor demanded, trying to goad me into retorting. When I didn’t say anything, he tsked in disgust. “And you call yourself a Drule? Hmph…you’re pathetic. A disgrace to our own kind.”

I tensed, and Romelle gasped, pushing at my body to keep me in place. “Sabbath no, don’t listen to him!”

“There’s only so much I can take…” I told her, shaking with agitated energy. Romelle shook too, trembling in fear as she clung to me.

“If I lose you, I’ll die.” She told me, earning Lotor’s contempt and laughter.

“Losers always gravitate towards one another.” His words made me growl. I was taking a step forward, even with Romelle hanging onto me.

“Princess Romelle is not a loser.” I told him. “Take that back!”

“Make me.” Goaded Lotor. “Are you such a coward, you’d hide behind a woman’s skirts?”

It wasn’t the insults to me that bothered me. It was the implications he made about Romelle. I was still yearning to avenge her honor, to kill him for his abuse of her. With Romelle present, so near to both Lotor and I, it made my anger quicken. It made me lose focus, made me so irrational I wanted to fight with him even knowing I would probably lose.

“Sabbath don’t…” whimpered Romelle.

“He can’t keep insulting you.” I told her, looking down as she tugged on my shirt. “It’s not right…”

“There’s been very little that has been right these last few months.” She said sadly. “Don’t make things worse by letting him goad you to your death.” It stung to know even Romelle didn’t believe me capable of beating Lotor in a fight. Even worse, I didn’t believe it, and my hands clenched into helpless fists. Lotor continued to laugh and smirk at me, mocking me with his cruel amusement.

“Brow beaten by a woman.” Lotor sneered. Romelle quickly reached up to cup my face in her hands, drawing my attention away from Lotor. Her beautiful blue eyes were still wet with tears, but she managed a shaky smile for me.

“It’s okay…” She soothed. “Ignore him.”

“I’ll try…” I said, and then a voice was speaking over Lotor’s next insult.

“Your highness, we are registering a large amount of energy approaching the Omega Comet….”

“It must be Voltron!” Haggar called out in excitement.

“It’s about time.” Lotor grumbled.

“What are your orders Prince Lotor?” asked General Mogor.

“Have a quarter of our ships engage the robot.” Lotor decided. “The rest of our armada stand down.”

“Yes sire.” Mogor hurried to relay the commands, and Romelle peeked up at me.

“What are they doing?” She was confused. “I thought they wanted Voltron to reach the Omega Comet?”

“We do.” Lotor assured her. “But if we make it too easy for them, they will become suspicious of our true intentions. It’s better to let them think we are trying to keep them away from the comet, and let them waltz right in to their destruction!”

“You fiend!” Romelle cried out, and Lotor laughed.

“Very much so. Now sit back and watch as all the pieces of our plan come together!”

Muffling a sob, Romelle was otherwise quiet. We turned to face the forward view screen, watching as the star cutters were launched from the Doom carriers. Perhaps three hundred of the tiny, one man fighter ships were released. Large, behemoth sized ships also moved forward. They were all intent on intercepting Voltron before it came near to the Omega Comet.

The lions appeared, already formed into the mighty robot. The designated ships began moving towards Voltron, lasers filling up the space between them as both sides opened fire. Voltron had better shielding than any of the ships in the Doom’s armada. The blasts of lasers and photon beams were absorbed by the shielding, turning them harmless.

Star cutters continued to fly, buzzing all about Voltron. The robot would punch and kick at them, the tiny ships exploding on impact. I was disgusted at the waste of life, so many Drules sent on a suicide mission in order to keep up Lotor’s deceit. I wondered if the pilots even knew they had been sent specifically to die, or if they truly believed they were fighting to keep the Voltron Force away from the comet.

Explosions lit up the blackness, a larger ship spiraling out of control. It was pulled into the orbit of the Omega comet, white electricity seeming to surround the ship. The ship couldn’t even fight the gravitational pull, being yanked backwards at an astonishing speed. We watched as the ship began to crumple inwards, cracks appearing all over it’s metal shell.

By the time the ship crashed into the surface of the Omega Comet, most of it had collapsed in on itself. I doubted any one had survived long enough for the ship to land on the comet. Not even ten minutes later, several damaged star cutters would also get sucked into the pull of the Omega Comet. And all the while Voltron continued to do battle with the ships, tearing apart a flag ship with it’s bare hands.

Eventually, they would succeed in beating back the remaining ships. Lotor gave the order for the armada to pull back, ships moving to put more distance between Voltron and the Omega Comet. I don’t know what the Voltron Force thought of our retreat, but they didn’t have time to chase after us. Not when they thought they had to prevent the Omega Comet from journeying to Arus.

Silently, Romelle and I watched as Voltron approached the comet. Debris of the destroyed Doom ships floated about space, some of it being sucked into the comet. The Omega Comet continue to be streaked with white lightning, tendrils of it shooting out wards to latch onto random bits of debris. Some of that debris crashed into Voltron, the robot being battered about until it was close enough to the comet to be affected by it’s gravitational pull.

Romelle gasped, still clinging to me, as we watched Voltron start to speed towards the comet. It was apparent it had lost control, the robot twisting and turning, spinning about with no purpose.

The lightning of the comet surrounded Voltron, trying to hasten it’s descent. Voltron would twist again, and latch onto the largest of the debris, a piece of ship that was almost as large as the robot. It didn’t seem to make a difference though, Voltron being dragged even faster towards the Omega Comet. Then, just as suddenly, the ship segment shattered into a million pieces. It left Voltron fumbling, the robot turning to face the comet.

The lion heads roared, red and green opening their mouths to shoot out flames at the comet. The flames were almost immediately put out by the winds of the comet, Voltron then trying an attack with it’s feet. Yellow lion and blue lion fired off sting ray missiles, those projectiles crashing into the surface of the comet. They exploded but otherwise had no effect, Voltron continuing the attack.

“What are they trying to do?” asked Romelle.

“I believe they are trying to knock the Omega Comet off it’s course.” I answered.

“It’ll take a far greater blast than they are capable of to do that!” laughed witch Haggar.

“Ha, if they only knew the right setting.” Added Lotor with a chuckle.

“If they put their power crystals on a four sector setting…” began Haggar. “And concentrated all their attacks on those rings I placed on the planet, they would be able to foil our plans! The Omega Comet would be knocked off course, and I would no longer be able to control it.” Romelle had lifted her head off my chest. I was so intent on what Haggar were saying, I didn’t notice the crafty look that appeared in Romelle’s eyes.

“At the rate they are going, they will soon use up all their power!” Lotor laughed triumphantly. “Victory is imminent. Allura shall soon be mine!”

“Never…” Romelle whispered fiercely, then abruptly tore herself out of my embrace. Startled, I turned and watched her run over to the command seat. There was a console panel before it, electronics built into it. Those controls allowed Lotor to fire off weapons, and make calls. Romelle used it now, to put out a frantic call across the airwaves. She didn’t even try to contact Voltron on a private channel, letting all of the Doom Armada and the planets near by hear her voice.

“Voltron!” Romelle cried out. “Listen to me! Put the power crystal on a four sector setting!” I was wondering why no one moved to stop Romelle, and then I saw Lotor smirking.

“Romelle, don’t do it!” I shouted, realizing it was a trap. Haggar scowled, and blasted me with a beam from her staff. The magic shocked me, brining me down to my knees with a groan. I continued to whisper, pleading with Romelle to stop. But she was determined to help the Voltron force, not realizing she had fallen into another one of Lotor’s traps.

“That’s the secret attack plan!”

“Huh?!” The Voltron Force was making surprised exclamations. “What?!”

“Once on that setting, aim for the rings on the surface of the comet!” continued Romelle. “Destroy them, and Haggar loses her ability to control the Omega Comet!”

“But the sector four settings aren’t used for attack…” protest one of the pilots. “We’ll be vulnerable if we do that…”

“It doesn’t make sense to me either…” It was the captain of the Voltron Force. “But there must be some explanation. Princess Romelle wouldn’t lie to us. We gotta try it.” Romelle was sagging in relief, turning to smirk at Lotor.

“I’ve foiled your plans!” She announced, and lifted her head high. “Do what you will to me, but the Galaxy will be safe from Doom now.”

“Fire up power crystals!”

“All four sectors are activated!” Came another pilots’ voice.

“Move in towards the surface of the comet.” Ordered the captain of Voltron. We watched as Voltron purposefully moved closer to the comet, and then screams filled the bridge, the pilots panicking as the robot was dragged even faster downwards.

“Something’s wrong!”

“Pull it up!”

“I can’t hold it!”

“We’re going to crash land and there isn’t anyway to stop it!” That last was from Princess Allura, her voice almost shrill in her terror. The pilots continued to scream as Voltron spiraled out of control, spinning as it crashed into the Omega Comet. It landed face first on the ground, the screams continuing.

“We’ve been betrayed!” Keith cried out just as Lotor switched off the transmission.

Romelle was gasping, her hands flying up to her mouth. “It can’t be…” She whispered.

“But it is!” Lotor grinned. “You told them exactly what we wanted you to tell them. Thanks to you, Voltron is utterly defeated.”

“You’ve been very useful princess.” Added Haggar as Romelle collapsed to her knees. “Thank you.”

“Romelle..” I was still writhing in pain from Haggar’s magic, but I reached out a hand to her. She didn’t seem to notice, Romelle breaking down in sobs. She didn’t even try to muffle them, loudly weeping as her tears splashed onto the floor. The other Drules on the ships would join in Lotor’s laughter, people breaking out into cheers at the sight of Voltron utterly trapped on the comet’s surface. It was a bit too early to celebrate, and yet it truly seemed that Voltron was defeated, the Drules relishing in the crushing of the galaxy’s hope.

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