Songbird 32

The sound of Romelle’s weeping was back drop to the cheers of the Drules onboard the bridge of the command ship. Many were relaxing, talking to their neighbors. Laughter and easy going conversation filled the room, the Drules thinking of the celebration that would await them once they returned to the home world. A grand party would be held, there would be feasting and more importantly drink and women for all the men who had survived this encounter with Voltron. Everyone was talking as if the robot’s defeat was a done deal, Romelle’s sobbing seeming to confirm it.

Lotor seemed content to ignore Romelle completely, the man seated in the command chair. He was practically purring with pleasure, watching as Voltron struggled to get up. The Omega Comet’s white lightning crackled all over Voltron’s body, and the gravity kept Voltron pinned down. Every once in a while Voltron would managed to lift up it’s head, or bend a knee. And then it would abruptly be pulled back flat onto the comet’s surface.

The sight of Voltron’s struggles seemed to upset Romelle even further, the girl letting out heart wrenching sobs. And yet the Drules showed no pity, several of the soldiers jeering. They would only increase their taunts when they saw me struggling to my feet. I was shaky, tendrils of Haggar’s earlier magic still on me. They would send out the faintest of shocks, but they were more irritant than dangerous.

Stumbling forward, I walked towards Romelle. My intent was to try and calm her, to offer what little solace I could during these dark times. Romelle didn’t look up at me, as I moved to crouch down besides her. She was too busy alternating staring at the view screen, and covering her face with her hands.

“Romelle…” My voice was hoarse. I didn’t know quite what to say to her. After all, what words could I offer her during this bleak time? I ended up sighing, my hand moving to stroke over her hair. She actually flinched at my attempt to pet her, her sob taking on a near hysterical note. I froze, dismayed I had done nothing more than add to her distress.

“Oh do stop your sniveling.” Snapped Haggar, casting a grimace in Romelle’s direction. “You’re starting to annoy me!” But Romelle continued to cry. Haggar’s eyes narrowed, a look of menace to her expression. Reading the mood, I could tell Haggar intended to do something to stop Romelle’s sobbing by force and I quickly moved to try and prevent that.

Letting myself sit down on the floor, I pulled Romelle onto my lap. Stricken, she pushed at my chest at first, a hiccup of sound coming out of her. “It’s okay, Romelle. It’s me, Sabbath…”

“Sabbath?” She blinked, seeming to become aware of me for the first time. I nodded slowly at her, and her hands turned clutching. Fisting my shirt, she leaned into me. “Tell me it’s not true! Tell me it’s all some nightmare! Tell me I didn’t just lead the Voltron Force into Doom’s trap!”

My eyes lowered. This was a nightmare, but there was no waking from it. Not for me, and not for Romelle. My silence was enough to get her to start crying again. I attempted to brush her tears away with my fingers, but they were too fast and too many. But at least she wasn’t loudly sobbing, letting her grief take on the form of silent tears.

“I’m sorry.” I whispered, and she shuddered as she twisted to look at Voltron.

“Is there nothing we can do?” She wanted to know. “Nothing anyone can do?”

“Not a thing.” Lotor spoke up now. “Even if we wanted to save them, there is no way. Not for a robot of Voltron’s size!” He seemed satisfied when Romelle let out a sob, the girl moving to muffle it by burying her face against my chest. Haggar was rolling her eyes, not wanting to hear any more of Romelle’s sobbing. “Oh my pretty little slave, look what you’ve done! With friends like you, Voltron doesn’t need enemies!”

“Prince Lotor, that is enough.” It was not kindness that moved Haggar to speak. She just wanted Romelle to be silent. “We have better, more important things to attend too. You can torment Princess Romelle later.”

“Ah yes…Allura.” Lotor said the princess’ name with relish. “Mogor…have our ships prepare the grip beams! I want full power diverted to them!”

“Yes, prince Lotor!” acknowledged Mogor.

“Well, witch.” Lotor was breathless with anticipation. “Bring out this Iron Ripper of yours.”

“What are they going to do?” Romelle asked softly.

“They’re going to try and separate blue lion from Voltron.” I answered, voice just as soft.

“Oh we’ll do more than try. We’ll succeed.” Cackled Haggar.

“We better.” Lotor’s tone was ominous then. The witch let out a nervous laugh. It didn’t serve to make anyone feel confidant about the plan to capture Allura’s lion.

“We can’t let him have Allura.” Romelle said urgently. “He’ll hurt her…hurt her like he did me!”

“There’s nothing you can do to stop this, Romelle!” Lotor retorted. “Allura will be mine. She’ll become my bride, the future Queen of the Doom Empire. If you’re lucky Romelle, I’ll let you rot in the dungeons.”

Neither one of us asked what would happen to Romelle if she wasn’t lucky. The princess shivered in my arms, then gasped. “Look!” Voltron had managed to get up on it’s knees, energy pulsating over it. We could all see the struggle the robot was having to stay upright, but so far it hadn’t been pulled back down. It made Lotor snarl, the prince turning to Haggar.

“Witch! Do something!”

“Fire all a photon beam at Voltron!” Haggar ordered. “Knock that robot back off it’s feet!”

“No, don’t!” Romelle cried out a plea. She was ignored, a powerful beam of photon energy shooting out of the command ship. It hit Voltron square in the chest, knocking the robot off balance. Romelle flinched, and screamed. “You’re all awful! Have none of you any decency?! You know what will happen to the galaxy if Voltron is lost! And yet you…you…”

“Unlike Lieutenant Sabbath, the rest of us aren’t bumblers whose loyalty to the Empire has weakened.” Lotor told her. “You can’t sucker all the men onboard this ship into ending up on your hook. Isn’t that right Mogor?”

“Yes, Prince Lotor.” The General answered. “The rest of us aren’t so gullible as to fall for some human wench’s charms.”

“You Drule are a terrible, terrible people.” Shuddered Romelle.

“Remember that as you cling to one of the more pathetic defects of the Drule race.” Lotor smirked. “You’ve ruined him Romelle! I’m embarrassed to think that Sabbath was once one of my most trusted comrades.” He tsked. “Is she worth it Sabbath? Is she worth the ruin of your loyalties and military career?”

“Yes.” I said without a doubt.

“Is she worth the loss or your life?” Again I spoke without hesitation, acknowledging that yes she was. Romelle looked up at me, blue eyes wide with shock. Tears glistened at the corners, she seemed shaken by what I had confirmed.

“You two are so sweet, it sickens me.” Grumbled Lotor.

“I think we bother you because you know, no matter what you do, you’ll never have as true a connection as we do to Allura. To Allura, or to anyone else for that
matter!” I retorted. He scowled, body going tense. “You know I speak true.” I goaded softly.

“Haggar! Hurry up and unleash the Iron Ripper!” He shouted out instead of responding to me.

“Yes, Prince Lotor.” Cackling, Haggar reached into her robes. Out came a large sized remote, the witch fiddling with the controls. Voltron was continuing to attempt to lift off the comet. Each time some progress was made, the white lightning would seize hold of the robot. Voltron ended up pinned on it’s back this time, struggling desperately. The boosters built into the feet of Voltron kicked in, flames trying to propel Voltron upwards. Even that failed, the flames flickering before dying. Voltron was losing it’s power at a rapid speed.

“Isn’t Voltron pitiful?” Lotor asked. “And we owe it all to Princess Romelle, who betrayed her friends!”

I hugged Romelle against my chest, whispering to her. “Ignore him. He’s only saying that to get a reaction out of you.”

“How can I ignore him, when what Lotor says is the truth?” asked Romelle. “My ignorance led to this situation. I should have never tried to help the Voltron Force….”

“Romelle, you’ve sentenced the Voltron Force to a miserable end!” Lotor began laughing mockingly. Romelle shuddered at the sound of it, but didn’t try to fight against my arms’ embrace. I kept her head pressed against my chest, trying to shield her from the sight of Voltron’s plight.

The ship that had originally brought Haggar’s rings to the Omega Comet, lit up. Haggar was controlling it, giving it a boost of auxiliary power from it’s reserves. The power not only activated the controls of the ship, but allowed a side door to open. And out of that open door, some strange contraption emerged. It had to be what Haggar had named the Iron Ripper.

Consisting of four connected wheels, the iron ripper had sharp, serrated edges. It very much resembled a large, mobile saw. It rolled across the surface of the Omega Comet, the white lightning and gravity having no effect on it’s movements. Beneath it the ground was churned up, the saw’s edges ripping open the rock. Haggar began to laugh.

“Behold my metal monstrosity! With it’s sharp teeth, it will have no problem severing blue lion from Voltron’s body!”

The Iron Ripper wheeled towards Voltron at a rapid pace. It would take no more than five minutes to cover the distance to Voltron, and once there it immediately set about to trying to separate blue lion from the robot. Blue sparks shot off the right leg of Voltron, the iron ripper’s saws blurring with their speed. I had no way of knowing how long it would take for the lion to be sawed free, but already a grove was being worn into the metal.

“At last…” Lotor was saying. “Allura will finally be mine.”

“This plan involving the Omega Comet was a stroke of genius, even for me!” boasted Haggar.

“I’ll be sure to speak to my father about getting you a proper reward!”

“You know sire, your father can’t live forever.” Haggar approached the command seat, sidling up to Prince Lotor. “I would be grateful if you consider making me part of your council when you assume the Empire’s throne.”

“First bring me Allura, and then we’ll talk about the future.” Lotor told her.

White lightning was coursing over Voltron’s body at a rapid pace, the tendrils numerous. It was as though the Omega Comet was reacting to the Iron Ripper’s presence, and trying to hasten the demise of the robot. Haggar and Lotor continued to laugh, anticipating no further problems. And then it happened, lasers torpedoing down onto the surface of the Omega Comet.

The lasers, along with photon beams and energy bombs came perilously close to hitting Voltron. The Iron Ripper wasn’t so lucky, taking several direct hits and blowing apart. Haggar screeched as though in physical pain from the loss of her weapon. Lotor pounded a fist on his console, and leapt out of his seat.

“Who fired those weapons?!” He demanded.

“Your highness, past that moon to the East, we’re registering a large presence of ships!”

“WHAT?!” Lotor roared in anger. “Send out the star cutters. I want those ships found and blown to smithereens!”

“Yes, sire.” A quarter of the remaining ships of the Doom Armada took off to approach the moon. The view screen split in half, one following the ships on their travels, while the other stayed focus on Voltron. Lotor wasn’t content to wait, growling at Haggar.

“Do something witch! Get me blue lion!”

“I…I…” She stammered, uncertain.

“You HAVE to have a back up plan!” Lotor snapped, and the witch shook her head no.

“There was no need….the Iron Ripper should have been indestructible.”

“The proof of the fallicy of that statement is right before you on that screen!” Lotor snarled, gesturing at the broken remains of the Iron Ripper.

“I…I…forgive me sire. There’s nothing more I can do…” I barely saw Lotor move, and already he was on Haggar. He grabbed the witch by her throat, effortlessly lifting her up so that her feet dangled off the floor. She gasped, choking in response to the grip he had on her throat.

“Are you telling me to give up on Allura?!” Lotor’s voice was low, a dangerous menace about his question. “To give up on my bride?!”

Haggar didn’t try to answer in words, weakly lifting up her staff. It’s top end glowed, and then a bolt of magic energy shot out of it and into Lotor. He went flying across the room, slamming into the wall. With a groan, he and Haggar both fell on the floor.

“You’ll just have to forget about Allura.” Haggar croaked out, having recovered first. She was rubbing her throat, a grimace on her face.

“I’ll never forget about Allura, or forgive you for this witch!” Lotor snarled.

“There are other women in the galaxy. I’m sure you can find someone just as beautiful….”

“I don’t want anyone else!” Lotor snapped. “I want Allura!”

“She’s lost to you! Now pull yourself together, and act like the leader we need you to be!” snapped Haggar. Her staff glowed again, the witch firing off another magical bolt of energy at the approaching Prince of Doom. He just barely managed to dodge it, looking absolutely murderous towards Haggar.

“I won’t forget this witch!”

“You must!” insisted Haggar.

“Watch your back old woman.” Threatened Lotor. “I will be coming for you. I will have my revenge. On you, and on whoever else cost me Allura!” He turned abruptly away from Haggar, barking out a question to Mogor. “Do we know where those ships came from?!”

“Yes, sire! It’s a Galaxy Alliance Star Fleet.”

“The Alliance?!” gasped Haggar. “They are supposed to be engaged with Doom’s ships. They shouldn’t have had any fleets to spare!”

“Another one of your plans failing? Why am I not surprised.” Lotor said snidely.

“It’s a set back, but ultimately one we can deal with.” Haggar said defensively. The star fleet crested over the moon, coming into view. Romelle gasped, and stood up, a look of absolutely shock on her face.

“Those are ships from Pollux!” She exclaimed, then gasped. “It must be my brother’s fleet!”

“What?! That child, Prince Bandor?!” Lotor asked.

“It is Prince Bandor who is at fault for you losing Allura.” Haggar insisted. “It is he you should take revenge on.”

“I’ll crush him! I’ll blow apart his entire fleet until nothing is left!” Lotor shouted.

“No, you mustn’t!” protested Romelle as I got to my feet. I touched her shoulders, trying to draw her behind my back.

“I wouldn’t remind me of your presence here Romelle.” Lotor warned. “Not when it was your brat of a brother, who cost me my heart’s desire!”

Bandor’s fleet was still doing battle with Doom’s ships. But the numbers on Doom’s side had lessened noticeably, the Star Fleet having gained a small advantage. Their fighter jets engaged the star cutters, attempting to distract and block the armada from the main part of Bandor’s fleet.

“What are they doing now?!” demanded Lotor. No one could give him an answer, Haggar and Mogor shrugging.

“Sire, they are communicating with the Voltron Force on an enclosed channel.” Came a report form a technician.

“Someone hack into their signal! I want to know exactly what they are plotting!”

The bridge’s technicians got on it, the computer experts hacking into the transmission frequency Bandor was using. The young prince’s voice was heard, static at first making his words come out garbled. Someone immediately set to making the connection clearer, in time for us to hear the tail end of the prince’s protests.

“….hit this comet with everything we got. A whole star fleet opening up with every laser in it’s arsenal. Don’t you see, you’d be right in the middle of it with no protection at all. You must understand. If you survive, it’d be more than a miracle!”

Romelle gasped. “No…it’s too horrible to contemplate…”

“We understand.” Came the voice of the Voltron’s Force’s captain. “And we’re prepared for the sacrifice!”

“I’m with you Keith!”

“Me too! You’ve been a great bunch of guys to team up with. You too, princess!”

“Thank you Hunk.” Princess Allura sounded on the verge of tears. “I’ll miss you all…”

“I can’t….can’t do it.” Bandor’s voice quivered with emotion.

“You must Bandor.” pleaded Allura. “We’re counting on you.”

“Why does this have to happen to good people?” wondered Bandor.

“Just remember us Badnor. Someday you will tell your grandchildren about the Voltron Force who always fought for justice.” Said Allura.

There was a long pause, everyone waiting for Bandor’s answers. Both sides continued to do battle just outside the orbit of the Omega Comet. And then Bandor spoke, sounding very much like he was crying. “I’ll do it. But I swear, Zarkon’s gonna pay!”

“I’ve heard enough.” Lotor said, signaling for the transmission to be cut short. It would die then with Bandor commanding his fleet to open fire. Romelle’s eyes were huge, staring as each of the larger ships in Bandor’s fleet lit up. They were charging their lasers, every available weapon on their ships preparing to fire.

“Don’t look.” I urged her, but she shook her head. She needed to witness what could be Voltron’s final moments for herself.

The ships couldn’t manage a simultaneous firing of their weapons. Some blasted the Omega comet before the others, but all too soon we were blinded by the light of a thousand lasers firing. I had to squint my eyes to protect them from the light, but I couldn’t block out the sight the lasers striking the comet repeatedly. Over and over, until the rings were destroyed, and the Omega Comet was knocked off it’s course.

“It’s done.” Haggar said quietly when the lights at last dimmed. “They may have destroyed my rings, but they won’t be able to save Voltron. Arus is ours, as is the rest of the Denubian Galaxy!”

It was a sour victory for Lotor, the prince scowling. “What good is victory without Allura to celebrate it with?”

Haggar had no answer for him, Lotor retaking his seat. His body seemed to slump, shoulders down as he sulked. Outside the command ship, the battle continued. The rest of Doom’s armada had yet to engage Bandor’s fleet, waiting for Lotor’s orders. Before he could give it, Mogor was speaking.

“Sire! Prince Bandor’s fleet is in hot pursuit of the Omega Comet. They appear to be moving to close in on it.”

“Just what are they attempting?” Haggar wondered.

“Maybe they want to join Voltron on the surface of the Omega Comet….” suggested a soldier.

“More like they think they can rescue the robot.” Lotor muttered. “Well, let the fools try. They’ll just end up as trapped as Voltron!”

The ships were indeed moving closer to the Omega Comet. It’s tendrils of white lightning shot out towards them, trying to snag the ships in it’s grasp. The lightning would fall just short of the ships, Romelle breathing a sigh of relief.

“Whatever Bandor is planning, I hope it works…” She whispered to me. I nodded in agreement, not caring if anyone thought me treasonous for sharing in Romelle’s hope.

Bandor’s fleets would glow, though it wasn’t as brilliant a light as when they fired off every one of their weapons. Cables were shot out of the bottom of the ships, yellow in color, and thicker than my arms. They were grip beams, the same kind of cable Lotor had hoped to use to capture the blue lion. Now over thirty of the beams were sent to fasten around Voltron’s body.

“Fools. It won’t work…it can’t!” Lotor said, sounding as though he was trying to convince himself of that very thing.

“You don’t sound very sure….” I paused a moment, voice turning mocking. “…prince.”

Lotor shot me a dirty look, rising to stand. But then Haggar was speaking. “Do not waste your time with the Lieutenant. You must destroy that star fleet!”

“All in good time witch.” Lotor answered.

“Do it now!”

‘What’s the rush Haggar?!” I demanded. “I thought you said not even a thousand grip beams could lift up a robot as heavy as Voltron!” Now she gave me a look as angry as any Lotor had ever given me.

“Yes, Haggar. Surely thirty grip beams shouldn’t budge so much as an arm on Voltron!” Lotor said.

“They won’t.” Insisted Haggar. “But we should rid ourselves of this new pest, and go on to Arus! Your father will want the people there subdued immediately!”

“My father’s wants can wait.” Lotor said.

Haggar scowled. “I am begginning to think you are hoping Prince Bandor succeeds in saving Voltron. Your highness, do not let your desire for the princess of Arus cloud your judgment. Destroy the star fleet and give the command to journey to Arus!”

While Haggar and Lotor were arguing about this, Bandor’s fleet was diverting all their power to their engines and the grip beams. They were attempting to back away from the comet in the hopes their hold on Voltron would drag the robot free of it’s gravity. The lightning was crackling over Voltron, the Omega Comet trying to hold on to it’s prize.

“Lotor!” snapped Haggar, almost desperate. He hesitated a long moment, and then finally sighed.

“All ships focus your attacks on that fleet! Blast them to pieces!”

One by one, the Doom armada began picking off the larger ships of the star fleet. The grip beams began to fade out of existence, the numbers lessening until there was only three ships trying to save Voltron. We could see the grip beam’s light flickering. They were going to tear at any moment.

“Lotor stop this!” Romelle begged.

“This is your brother’s fault!” Lotor snapped. “If he hadn’t interfered, Allura would already be safe in my arms!”

“Your arms are the last place Allura would ever want to be!” retorted Romelle, abandoning her attempts at pleading with him.

“You’re wrong about that!” Lotor was walking towards us now. “There are dozens of fates far worse than being loved by the Prince of Doom! I’m sure she’d rather wed me than be stuck forever on that comet!”

“Clearly you’ve never heard of a fate worse than death.” I muttered snidely.

“Oh I’ve heard of it.” Lotor replied. “I’ve even engineered such torments for those who deserved it.” Two of the last remaining ships were destroyed, the command ship desperately hanging onto Voltron. And then the grip beam snapped, sending Bandor’s ship flying. It spun over and over, past the scattering Doom ships. Lotor took note of this, and began giving orders. “Send some ships in pursuit of Bandor’s ship. Tell them not to come back until he has been killed.”

“NO! Leave my brother alone!” Romelle cried out.

“He cost me Allura!” Lotor reminded her. “He doesn’t deserve to live!”

“Please…” Romelle fell to her knees at his feet. “I’m begging you…”

“Beg all you want…” Lotor said, dismissive and turning away from her. “It falls on deaf ears.” Romelle reached out to grab his leg, trying to get him to turn to face her. Lotor grew enraged by this, turning to slap her across the face. Romelle shrieked in pain, falling over backwards. A new rage came over me, I was suddenly lunging towards Lotor, barreling into him before he could draw his sword.

Together we hit the side of the command chair, and then my fist was punching into Lotor’s face. He let out a howl of pain, and tried to punch me back. But I was enraged, the anger fueling me with new strength. Even as Lotor tried to knee me between the legs, I was avoiding that movement. I wouldn’t go far, grabbing Lotor by his hair, and slamming his face into the arm rest of the chair.

I lost focus of everything and everyone but Lotor, tossing him about and beating him. I’d hear the satisfying sound of bone crunching, Lotor making pained noises. Eventually I’d get my hands around his throat. My arms would tense, all my strength going to my hands as I attempted to squeeze out the life of Lotor. He flailed his arms about, fists hitting me in the side of my head. I still wouldn’t let go, a kind of exhilaration filling me as I thought I finally had the chance to kill this bastard.

And then it happened. Pain so sudden and intense I screamed. Vaguely I could hear Romelle screaming with me, but I couldn’t turn towards her. My hands relaxed their grip, and someone, maybe General Mogor, pulled me off Lotor. The prince would be wheezing, coughing for air. Someone would begin to punch me repeatedly in the stomach, voices shouting at me.

I’d slowly realize it had been a beam of magic energy from Haggar’s staff that had been responsible for my sudden pain. Even as a soldier continued to beat me, Haggar was hurrying to check on Prince Lotor.

“Sire, are you all right!?” Lotor could barely speak to answer, the witch solicitously helping him sit up.

“Sabbath…you bastard. You’ll pay for this!” Lotor managed to growl.

“Forget about him. We need to go to Arus!”

“Don’t kill him!” Lotor choked on a breath.

“What about Arus?” Haggar demanded. Lotor was still ignoring her, which made Haggar growl in annoyance. “The people of Arus have defied us again and again. Now with Voltron gone, it is time they learn the price of their rebellion! You know what you must do…”

“General Mogor. Get a ship ready.” Lotor said. “You and Haggar will travel with half of our armada to Arus.”

“What about the other half?!” Haggar demanded. “And what will you be doing during all this?!”

“I’m going home.” Lotor told her. “I find my heart no longer cares what happens to Arus either way.”

“You idiot.” Haggar cursed. “You are acting no better than Lieutenant Sabbath, losing all sense over a woman.”

“You wouldn’t understand.” Came Lotor’s retort. “After all, you’ve never been in love.”

“Neither have you!” hissed Haggar. “You’ll let that wench ruin what should be your moment of triumph!”

But no matter what Haggar would say, or what argument she would try to make, Lotor remained set in his decision. Haggar eventually gave up talking to him, calling him a fool before leaving the bridge with General Mogor. I was struggling to remain conscious, in pain with my vision blurring. I’d vaguely hear Lotor speak to me, the prince telling me I’d soon learn pain that was worse than what I was feeling now. And then I blacked out, Romelle’s voice following me into dreams.

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