It was to the splash of cold water hitting her in the face that Allura awoke, the girl regaining consciousness with a startled gasp. She swore some of the water was sucked in through her nostrils, leaving her to cough in a choking matter. The water was in her eyes too, Allura blinking rapidly and shaking her head, realizing in that instant her helmet had been removed.
Confused and disorientated, she became aware that the water had splashed a generous amount across the upper portion of her chest too, leaving her to shiver as the wet Lycra clung to her skin. There was sounds amidst her coughing, male voices, someone laughing at her. The others were talking quietly, but in that odd, guttural grunting that the Drules used.
DRULES! She immediately stiffened, giving one last shake of her head to clear the water from her face. To Allura’s horror, she realized she was surrounded by Drules, a mixture of blue and gray skinned colored men. There was only one other woman among them, a pale lavender female that would have been pretty if not for the starkness of her stern features.
All of the gathered Drules were dressed in matching outfits, black uniforms that held blood red accents on their jackets and seams of their pants. None of them wore medals, these were low level grunts, soldiers who hadn’t advanced very far in their military career. Allura didn’t know what it meant that she was not dealing with someone more high ranking, the girl wondering when or if Prince Lotor himself would show up.
She cautiously scanned the front of the room, noting it looked strangely familiar to her. She couldn’t place why, but couldn’t shake the odd sense that she had been here before. The door was locked, barring her view of what lay beyond this room, and Allura had a sinking suspicion that there would be more Drule soldiers waiting outside it.
She knew then that would not be her way out of this room, not if she wanted to make a break for it. Allura nearly laughed at the thought, wondering how she could hope to fight past this group of Drules to get to freedom. Especially with her hands chained behind her back, Allura sitting in an uncomfortable metal chair.
The Drule female was studying her intently, Allura turning her gaze back in that woman’s direction. Suddenly the woman reached into the pocket of her jacket, Allura’s eyes widening as she saw her lion’s key dangling between long fingers. Allura had to bite back her first retort, the girl wanting to angrily demand her key back and realizing how pointless that was.
Still, whatever showed on her face got the Drules to react in an excited manner, the men speaking loudly in a speculative way. The woman did not quite smile, stepping close to Allura the key extended towards her face. The woman opened her mouth to speak, and the words were just as foreign and unintelligible as anything Allura had heard spoken all day.
“I’m sorry…” Allura said with a shake of her hand. “I don’t understand you. I don’t understand any of this….” That earned her a frown from the woman, the female’s eyes narrowing as she growled out things out in Drule. Allura could only shake her head no again and again, speaking in Arusian, begging them to bring an interpreter. “Please…I don’t understand…the language! Find someone who can speak my language.”
This went on for several more minutes, Allura and the woman talking to each other, the princess growing more and more anxious with each passing second. The female Drule was no better, she was practically snarling now, seeming frustrated. That frustration was mirrored in the male soldiers, and one of them moved, suddenly snatching the key out of the Drule female’s hand.
With an angry growl, and a nasty glower on his face, he shoved the key in Allura’s face, shaking it frantically. Allura leaned back in her seat to avoid having the key scrap across her cheek’s skin, her blue eyes wide with fright. “I told you I don’t understand!” She shrieked, and the man seemed ready to slap her.
He was stopped by the woman, her fingers curling around his raised hand. She gave a curt word, and the man turned to glare at the female soldier, eyes flashing with anger. Whatever he said to her, had the woman biting back a retort just as angry as his, a fight breaking out between them.
Eventually the woman seemed to win the argument, snatching the key back and replacing it in her pocket. The man still glared, his eyes holding a threat in them even as he slunk off to stand with the other Drules. For a moment Allura was ignored, the lavender colored Drule turning to her comrades, the princess wondering if they were her underlings.
She spoke urgently to them, the men answering, several shrugging and looking apologetic or disgruntled. The Drule female seemed to sigh, rasing fingers to her head to rub at her temples. She continued to speak, and finally one of them said something hesitantly. The Drule female pursed her lips together in disapproval, but nodded, shoulders seeming to sag in defeat.
The man who has spoken saluted her, and then hurried from the room, Allura catching her first sight of the area beyond the closed door. And what a sight it was, the girl reeling back as she reacted in recognition. It was the basement of the Castle of Lions, though some of it was different from what she remembered. No longer merely rooms for storage, they had been converted into holding cells.
That left her frowning anew, for Allura knew that the castle had never had need of a dungeon before this. She didn’t understand anymore than she had since flying through that smoky explosion, Allura positive she was having a very weird dream.
The door was closed again, the woman stepping into Allura’s line of view. She still wore a displeased frown, and now she placed her hands on her hips. Another smattering of words erupted out of her, Allura just shrugging tiredly. She was no closer to understanding then before, not recognizing any of the Drule words spoken to her. The woman sighed again, and seemed to realize how pointless this all was. She paced away from Allura, to lean against the side wall, arms crossed over her chest.
The men were talking again, eyeing her, and one walked over to the small metal table she hadn’t noticed before. Her uniform’s belt and helmet lay on the table, her blaster out in the open but it’s charge had been removed. The Drule picked up the blaster, testing the weight of it in his hands, grunting out a comment that excited the other males. Several came forward to study the blaster, one touching a finger reverently to the metal.
Another comment was made, the man looking awed, and then a squabble broke out. She realized with a start they were fighting over her weapon, though she couldn’t understand why. The female Drule let this go on for a few seconds, and then was barking out a sharp toned word. Almost guiltily, the men stopped, the one Drule placing the blaster back on the table.
He then picked up what she assumed was documents, approaching Allura’s chair. He turned it around, and she realized with a start it was pictures of Blue Lion, Allura making an excited sound. The female soldier said something, Allura getting the impression she was telling the man not to bother. But he pressed on, flipping through the pictures, showing Allura images of her lion being opened, of her body being carried out by the gray skin Drule in Keith’s uniform.
“What is that?” Allura demanded. “Why is that man in Keith’s uniform?! Why were Drules piloting the lions! Why are Drules inside the castle?! What is going on?!” She was so desperate for answers, and getting none, Allura growing more frustrated than scared. “I’m wasting my breath, aren’t I? You don’t understand me anymore than I understand you.”
She seemed to sag in place, her head bowed in defeat. The man spoke to her a little more, but walked away disappointed, the pictures being returned to the table. She noticed then her communicator was also on the table, that tiny device ignored for the moment. Allura began to wonder if she’d have a chance to use it, if she’d be able to summon help that way.
Or if not, would she have to remain here, forced to wait until the Voltron force came to her rescue yet again? She didn’t like the thought of playing damsel in distress for the umpteenth time, but Allura also realized she didn’t have much choice in the matter. There was simply no way she could overpower the Drules on her own!
With her head bowed, Allura let the time pass, drowning out the sound of the Drules talking with her own worried thoughts. She almost missed it when a change came over them, the Drules voices dying down to a murmured hush as they turned expectantly to the door. Only the female soldier remained nonchalant, leaning against the wall with a disgusted curl of her lips.
The door unlocked, and the soldier who had left entered, but not alone. Following on his heels was a much taller Drule, with off white colored hair that looked almost dirty in the wrong light. His dull yellow eyes flashed, the black slant narrowed out to thin points that almost left him looking blind. His skin was a blue color, and he was dressed far differently from the last time she had seen him.
Where once he wore ragged clothes beneath thick armor, now he was dressed elegantly, in a neatly pressed suit, and draping blood red cloak. His arm swept aside the cloak, flashing a glimpse of his medal covered chest. The medals spoke of his various accomplishments, Allura amazed to see so decorated a soldier. But he was no ordinary soldier, Allura let out a terrified exclamation.
“Cossack the terrible!”
That earned a multitude of reactions, several of the Drules turning to gape at her. The female soldier had pushed away from the wall, a question in her cold eyes as she looked at Allura. But it was Cossack who reacted, speaking in Drule. Whatever he said he the others laughing, though the sound was uncertain.
He continued to speak, striding forward, his cloak slipping off. A soldier hurried to catch it before it could hit the floor, the Drule coming not to Allura but to the female soldier. They looked at each other, and a tension that was previously not in the room crackled to life. The Drule female looked absolutely livid at whatever Cossack was saying, her eyes showed her seething hatred of the man.
Cossack however was leering, all but undressing the woman with his eyes as he spoke to her. She let out a huffed out retort, looking as though she wanted to stalk away from Cossack. Allura had no idea what was going on, nor was she sure she should be glad to be so ignored. She kept quiet, just watching the two Drules talk, and eventually the woman reached into her pocket to get out blue lion’s key.
Cossack took it from her, and held it up to his face, examining it closely. He murmured a few things under his breath, and then with a dismissive air about him, turned to look at Allura. His earlier, quick glance clearly hadn’t prepared him for just who was the prisoner sitting among the Drules. He blew out his breath in a shocked exhalation, fingers tightening around the key so as not to drop it.
“Allura?!” He said her name, stunned confusion in his voice.
She fought back her fear of him to nod, Allura speaking softly but surely. “Yes, it’s me!”
Cossack shook his head, and tore his eyes away from her to bark out some orders. It sent several of the men running out of the room, leaving Allura with just three Drules now. Cossack turned his attention back at her, just staring for a long moment. His look made her uncomfortable, she felt the weight of his stare moving over her, the man studying everything about her from her hair, her face, to her wet uniform.
Cossack frowned, and walked over to the table, touching the pictures of her being carried out of blue lion. He asked a question to the remaining Drules, and the female answered. Again he hissed, a loud gasp of air escaping him as he stared at her belongings on the table.
“Cossack?” Allura risked speaking, cringing when all three Drules turned to stare at her. Two of the looks were openly hostile, but Cossack still wore confusion. “What’s going on? Why are you here? Where is Keith and the others?”
“Ah….” Cossack cleared his throat, and to her surprise he spoke Arusian. But the words were slow and hesitant, as though the Drule was long unfamiliar with speaking them. “That’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time…”
Allura blinked, confused. But she pressed on with the question. “Why were there Drule in the lions? How did the castle fall under control of your people? What’s going on!?”
He took his time responding, as though he was slowly translating her words in his head. “I think the better question is what were you doing in Blue Lion!? Where did you come from, how did you find it?!”
“Find it?” She frowned at him. “It was never lost….”
“The hell it wasn’t!” He snapped. “It’s been missing for years, no not missing. We thought it destroyed. And now you come waltzing in, looking like a dead girl, and flying a lion that should not exist?!”
“A dead girl?!” She questioned sharply, staring at him confused. “I don’t understand….Just what is going on?!”
“That’s what I want to know!” Cossack all but roared, causing her to flinch back in fear. He didn’t apologize, reaching out to snag her by the chin, jerking her face up to better study it. “How can you have her face?! How can you look exactly like the princess Allura, not even a day older?!”
“Because I am Allura!” Allura tried to jerk out of his grasp, but he merely tightened his fingers on her, glaring. “I am princess Allura of Arus and I order you to take your hands off of me!”
He actually let go at that, but laughed cruelly. “You don’t give orders here. Even if you are who you say you are, Arus has changed. In more ways than one!”
“I don’t understand.” Allura admitted. “Just what is going on?! I was fighting one of Doom’s robeast this morning….when it’s cannon beam succeeded in hitting my lion. My shields barely blocked the attack, smoke and fire was all around me. When I cleared through the smoke, I see sights I have never before seen on Arus, a city like no
other! And then i see the castle covered in Doom’s colors, and are shot down by my lions! I just want to know what is going on!!”
He had stiffened at her words, a shrewd look in his eyes. ” A robeast with a cannon you say?” At her nod, he frowned. “We haven’t employed robeasts in decades. But…”
“But what?” Allura asked, noting how hesitant he was.
“What did the robeast look like that shot at you?” Cossack asked instead of answering. It made her frown, but before she could protest, he was adding the following. “Please, it’s important.”
Still frowning, she began to talk, easily answering his question. “It was a purplish pink color, with gray veins drawn all over it’s skin. It had a cannon weapon on one arm, and carried a chained spiked ball on the other.”
“By the Gods!” Cossack murmured, looking stunned. “How could you know that?!”
“What do you mean?” Allura demanded. “I was just fighting this robot a scant few hours ago! Of course I would remember it!”
“It’s not possible…” Cossack continued, and then began talking urgently in Drule. The remaining man nodded, and hurried out of the room. The female was argumentative, Cossack growling at her in reply. The woman’s stiffened, and returned to leaning towards the wall, a glare on her face.
“What’s going on?” Allura asked nervously, looking back and forth between Cossack and the woman. “What’s happening.”
“We’ll need proof.” Cossack was speaking her language again, some of his anger dissipating. “You understand we need to confirm your identity.”
“My identity? But I already told you who I am!”
“We can’t just take you at your word, or face value. This could be a trick!” answered Cossack.
“A trick?” She didn’t understand, and let it show in her eyes. “Why would I want to trick you?”
“I don’t know!” Cossack admitted, seeming agitated. “But this could be some weird scheme to get to him. Though how you know the details of that day is debatable…..”
“Please….tell me what’s going on? Why don’t you believe me? I have the lion, isn’t that more than enough proof of who I am?” Allura asked.
“Maybe….but we need more. HE’LL need more.” Cossack said, and the soldier returned with another Drule. This one was clad in white, and had an air of professionalism around him. This white clad Drule set a black bag down on the table, and began rooting around inside it. “We’re going to unchain your hands. Don’t try anything foolish…Allura.” Her name was said hesitantly, as though he was still doubting who she was.
The female Drule undid the chains, and Allura immediately began rubbing the feeling back into her wrists. The white clad Drule turned to her, a large needle in hand, and she gasped. “Don’t fight him!” advised Cossack, and Allura nodded, allowing them to roll up her uniform’s sleeve and prick her arm with the needle. She winced, looking away so as not to see her blood drawn.
The doctor drew three vials worth in all, then packed them up in his back. He said something to Cossack, and the Drule nodded, answering back with an urgent tone. Allura wasn’t chained back up, and she didn’t ask them why, choosing to remain grateful for the freedom.
“Cossack, please….now will you tell me?”
He frowned at her, but nodded. “It’s a good thing you’re sitting Allura. This is probably going to come as quite a shock….at least if you are who you say you are.”
“What? What is it?” She asked.
Cossack hesitated, then was forcing forward. “That fight with the robeast? The one that hit you with it’s beam cannon? Allura….you died that day.” Her eyes went huge at that, and she shook her head in denial.
“I did not…”
“Yes, you did.” Insisted Cossack.
“No, I did not!” She leaped to her feet, but the female Drule pushed her back down to her seat. “Cossack, you can see me! I’m alive and well! A little shaken, a little cut up, but otherwise fine!”
“No Allura. You died. i saw the explosion with my own eyes. There was nothing left of you or the blue lion.” She shook her head in denial, Cossack continuing. “His highness was devastated by your loss…It was all I could do to command the battle, and urged our troops onward to claim victory from the four remaining lions. Without blue lion, they were unable to form Voltron. Arus was easy pickings for Doom.”
“You’re lying!” Allura cried out, horrified at what he was saying. “You have to be! Even if the attack knocked me out for a few minutes, the lions—Arus couldn’t have fallen to Doom so fast!”
That earned her a funny look from Cossack, the Drule shaking his head. “Allura, it wasn’t a few minutes that have gone by. You’ve been missing for nearly twenty years!”
“Twenty years?!” She stared at him shocked, mouth dropping open foolishly. “No…” A shake of her head. “I don’t believe you.” But she noticed things she hadn’t paid
attention to before, saw the frown lines on his face that added years to his age. Could that much time really have passed? It would explain the city she had seen, and the absence of Doom’s ships in the sky. So much was making a twisted sense, even as she grew horrified at the thought of losing twenty years of her life in an instant.
Cossack seemed to read her expression, seeing her slowly coming to accept at least some of what he was saying. “It’s true Allura….you know what you’ve seen matches up with what I say. And there’s more that can shown to prove it to you….Arus is a far different planet than it was twenty years ago…”
She barely heard him, mind reeling. “I…I’m in the future….?” She didn’t even noticed him nodding, she was already slumping down in her seat, bringing her hands up to cover her face. She felt a sense of horrible loss, but more than that guilt, Allura wishing there had been some way to evade the robeast’s attack. Surely then this would have never happened, and the Drule Empire wouldn’t have taken over her planet.
“It’s all my fault…” She whispered, feeling the first of her tears wanting to fall down her cheeks. Cossack seemed not to know what to say to that, instead focusing on talking to the Drules in the room. She tuned them out, breaking down in tears, not caring who saw her as she cried.