Time 03

She spent the next two days drifting between stunned dismay and tired aggravation, Cossack giving her little time to come to terms with what was happening. The General as she now learned his rank was, continued to push her, asking her question after question. It was an endless interrogation, the Drule seeming determined to catch her in a lie, prove Allura wasn’t who she said she was.

She was asked everything from things that were easily made known to the public such as the names of her parents, to secret things, things few people would know aside from those that had been there to bear witness. Each time she was questioned, Allura snapped out an answer, having no way of knowing if she was passing Cossack’s tests or not.

From the look of things, the General did not know either, the man becoming more agitated as the hours passed by. Both were going without sleep, and though Cossack was a full blooded Drule, even he began to feel the press for rest when the first day reached the twenty-four hour mark. Mercifully he conceded to a temporary retreat, allowing Allura to curl up on a cot that had been brought into the holding cell.

The female Drule, whose name was Lashina, was a constant presence in her cell. Cossack explained Lashina was there for both their sakes, the woman there to keep Allura from being molested by any of the male soldiers. He also explained she was there to protect Cossack’s reputation, Allura would not be able to claim she had been molested by him, not with Lashina keeping a watchful eye on the proceedings.

Allura was unnerved to hear that the Drule would even consider molesting her, the princess turning grateful for Lashina’s presence. Even if the woman was constantly glaring whenever Cossack set foot into the room, leaving Allura to wonder at their relationship.

She learned other things, such as the fact her communicator and blaster were considered ancient relics of a decade long past. They didn’t understand how she had managed to get a blaster that was so new looking, Cossack having explained that only a few still existed, expensive items that only the richest of weapon aficionados could afford to buy to add to their private collections. That she had one that was in working condition puzzled the Drule, Cossack taking to carrying her weapon around to make sure none of the soldiers swiped it to sell on the second hand market.

Of course the real puzzler was the fact that she had blue lion, though Cossack was still trying to deny it could be the same lion he had witnessed the destruction of. He didn’t tell her much of what they were doing with her lion, only hinting that Drule technicians and scientists were carefully studying the lion. Allura feared they’d take it apart, the girl begging Cossack to tell the Drules to be careful with it.

He had just given her a weird look at that, remaining tightlipped on the ultimate fate of her lion. It wasn’t just blue lion that he was reluctant to discuss, she could barely pry any information out of him, learning little of this new Arus, and it’s occupation by the Drule. Allura rolled the tidbits of information she did have, remembering how Cossack said it was he not Lotor who had led Doom to victory against the remaining four lions. No doubt that was one of the reasons behind all his medals, and the elevated rank.

She also latched onto the information that Cossack had said Lotor had been devastated by her death, and it left her to wonder why. Had he really loved her? She didn’t know, Allura having assumed Lotor had always just been claiming love. She had never even thought the Drule capable of understanding the emotion, of being capable of loving anything but himself. How wrong was she about that, if the life of one girl could devastate him so?

And just where was Lotor? Cossack wasn’t answering that, telling her she had more pressing matters to be concerned with. It left Allura wondering if Lotor even knew of her miraculous return, and just what he would do upon seeing her. But as the hours turned into days, Allura began to doubt she would ever see Lotor again. She wasn’t exactly sure how she felt about that, the girl knowing she had always been terrified of the man. Would twenty years have been enough time for him to change, even in the slightest?

She did not know, and her time for quiet contemplation was over with, Cossack entering with a tray of food. Her mouth watered at the sight of the white and yellow slop, she didn’t care what they were about to give her, so long as it filled her stomach.

“Here.” Cossack said, placing the tray down on the table. She immediately rose up off the cot, and dragged the uncomfortable metal chair over to the table. She noted they hadn’t given her any utensils save for a plastic spoon, Allura sighing as she began scooping up a gelatinous substance. It wasn’t exactly stellar fare, but Allura was so hungry she didn’t care, eating almost greedily of the meal.

Cossack stood next to the table, just watching her eat, his fingers drumming an impatient tune on the table’s surface. She knew the questions would start soon enough, Allura wondering if he’d even let her finish the meal before starting in on her again.

Apparently not, for when she had just a little bit of white goop left on her plate, Cossack began talking to her. “Where did the space explorers who would become part of the Voltron Force come from?!”

“Earth.” She sighed, setting down her spoon. The tray was immediately pulled away from her, Cossack pacing before her. “They came from Earth, as members of Galaxy Garrison. But before they could arrive on Arus, they were captured by Drule slavers and brought to Doom. They managed to escape, however….”

“What was their mission?” He demanded.

“To find out if the legend of Voltron was true, and revive it if they could.” A wry smile then. “Clearly they succeeded.”

“That they did.” Agreed Cossack. “The Voltron force would proceed to be a problem for the Doom Empire for how many years?”

“A little over two years.” Allura said. “Though the Doom Empire would plague Arus for nearly sixteen years before the space explorers arrived.”

“That makes you how old?” Cossack asked, staring hard at her.

“Eighteen.” Allura told him, wondering how old Cossack was now. When she had first met him, he had looked a good twenty years older than Lotor, but with Drules it was hard to tell. They aged differently from humans, living longer, and slow to show the ravages of time on their skin. Cossack could very well be sixty years of age now, or even older than that! She had no way of knowing, and had a feeling he would not tell her the answer.

Cossack slowly lowered himself onto the spare chair brought into the room, his eyes fixed on her face. “Let’s talk about you and Lotor.”

“Me and the prince?” She shouldn’t be surprised, Allura giving a shrug of her shoulders. “Sure, what do you want to know?”

“Everything.” Cossack replied, with a mirthless smile. “Many of your encounters were kept out of history books.”

“If they weren’t documented, how would you know if I was telling the truth?” Allura asked, earning a grin from Cossack.

“Smart girl. Fortunately his highness told me some of what happened between you. Take the bridge incident.”

“Chozzerai? What about it?” Allura questioned, watching as Cossack leaned forward.

“Well…we know the prince destroyed the bridge during it’s opening ceremony. But what happened after he cornered you alone?” She hesitated, Cossack’s sharp eyes missing nothing. “Don’t you know?”

“No, I remember.” Allura told him, trying not to frown. “It wasn’t that often that I ended up all alone with Lotor. I was frightened, terrified out of my wits.”

“I didn’t ask if you were scared.” Cossack’s tone was cold, the man seeming impatient. “I asked what happened between Lotor and Allura then?”

She drew herself up to a straight sitting position, leveling her gaze with Cossack’s. “It’s true, he cornered me on the way to Blue Lion. He was actually waiting with it, and began talking about wanting to unite our two peoples through marriage. I turned him down, I even pulled my blaster out, and he ripped my dress. I got away though, but not before threatening to kill myself, rather than be taken by him.” Cossack was silent, just listening to her. “Is that enough, or do you need to know more details? Should I tell you of how he tripped over a rock, giving me the opportunity to shoot him?”

“No.” A grunt from him, Cossack shaking his head. “That’s enough about that. What about the first time we met? What can you say about that?”

“I had had a few encounters with Lotor since the bridge incident, but he was no less scary to me. I was separated from the others, my lion falling into a crater. I got out
to explore and came upon a tunnel. Drule soldiers were there, and drew my blaster on them. It was then that you and Lotor appeared.” Now she fixed him with an angry stare, her words almost accusing. “You struck out with a whip, injuring my hand enough for me to drop my weapon.”

“Lotor was very upset about that.” Cossack admitted. “He gave me quite the ear chewing, and sentenced me to twenty lashings so I would know just how the sting of a whip felt.”

Her eyes went wide, Allura staring shocked at the general. “Lotor did that? How terrible!”

“You always did feel emphaty for others that were treated badly, even if they were your enemy.” Cossack murmured. “I think that’s one of the things he admired the most about you.”

“He cared only about my beauty, and the assets my planet could give him.” Allura quickly retorted, earning a hostile glare from the General.

“That’s not true! His highness cared more about you than you ever realized! If you can’t see it, it’s your loss!” His one hand curled into a fist, but to her relief he did not bang it on the table. Nor did the storm clouds in his eyes calm down, Cossack looking furious at her. It almost made Allura want to apologize, the girl biting her lip to keep from saying anything lest she further agitate the Drule.

Their staring contest continued, Cossack slow to cool down. Lashina said something, her voice breaking up some of the tension between them. But Cossack didn’t turn to look at the Drule female, instead continuing to stare at Allura. “Do you remember the summit meeting?”

“How could I forget that time!” Allura cried out, her voice more passionate than she wanted it to be. “Lotor nearly succeeding in killing Keith. Doom nearly won against Arus.”

“His highness…what did he say to you when he cornered you alone in the woods?” Cossack wanted to know.

“In the moments before Keith appeared?” Allura asked, wanting a clarification. “Why he said….”

A beeping was heard, Cossack holding up his hand for silence. She obliged, watching as he pulled out a communicator from his belt, thumb pressing down on a button. He growled out his name, the words that followed were all in Drule, leaving Allura in the dark as to what he was discussing.

A pause, and then an answer was crackled out over the airwaves. Cossack seemed to roar, a one word response that had Allura cringing back in her seat. The General slammed his fist onto the table, tray and spoon rattling in reply, as he leapt to his feet. Lashina was coming forward, a concerned expression on her face. She didn’t get a chance to ask what was going on, Cossack was shaking his head, shouting into his communicator.

Allura stared wide eyed, watching as he continued to holler and snarl, free hand waving wildly. Drules came running into the room, the soldiers wanting to know what was happening. Cossack looked at them, and began issuing orders, the men looking frightened and uncertain. Cossack seemed to grow angrier, all but growling.

“What’s going on?!” Allura cried out, earning a pointed glare from the General.

“Never you mind.” He said in Arusian, and with that was stepping towards the room’s only door. He didn’t cast even one glance back at the girl claiming to be Allura, Cossack walking out of the room, slamming the door shut behind him.

The soldiers were still milling out in the hall, looking anxious and unsure. Cossack’s foul mood turned even uglier, his glare full of deadly menace. “Well?” He demanded. “Get to your posts, you know what to do!”

“But…” A hesitant voice, the soldier looking torn over what he was about to say. “Are you sure? I mean…it’s the King….”

“It’s because it’s the King that we will keep him away from this room, and the girl inside!” Cossack snapped back. “Now go! I don’t care what kind of excuse you give him, but find a way to delay his arrival! Do everything you can!”

“Yes, General Cossack!” The soldiers were saluting him, and then they ran off, hurrying towards the stairs that led out of the castle’s dungeon. Cossack waited until he was alone in the hall, and then he was cursing, a loud, “FUCK!” being issued out of him. The curse was followed up by his communicator being thrown on the floor, the General not caring if it was damaged from the violent fall.

“He’s coming…” Cossack muttered to himself, hands going up to grip at the hair of his scalp. “He’s coming and there’s nothing I can do to stop him!” So upset was he, the General nearly pulled out fistfuls of his hair, the man leaning against the door of the occupied holding cell. “Damn it!”

He knew they weren’t ready for this visit, knew they didn’t have concrete proof either way that this girl really was who she said he was. But inwardly Cossack knew he was lying to himself. This girl, this Allura knew too much, was getting all the facts right, even the stuff that wasn’t made available in the pages of the history books. She knew all the details, hell she knew about the time he had injured the princess of Arus’ wrist, and that was something no one else but Lotor knew!

And then there was the matter of blue lion. So far it seemed the real deal, passing all the tests they had run. The pilots of the other four lions were chomping at the bit to fly blue lion themselves, also wanting to find a fifth pilot to man the machine. They, and that included the scientists and technicians, were dying to see Voltron formed, and Cossack wasn’t sure what would happen if the lion proved to be capable of forming the right foot of Voltron.

He didn’t know what Lotor would do if this girl really proved to be the princess of Arus. But worse than that, he didn’t know if Lotor could handle it if she turned out NOT to be Allura. Once had been bad enough, Lotor absolutely devastated by her death all those years ago. Would he be able to survive losing Allura a second time? “Damn it!” Cossack shouted out loud, wanting to punch his fist into something.

It was why he had been careful to keep any reports from ending up on Lotor’s desk. He didn’t want his highness to learn about this girl’s existence, didn’t want him to build himself up on hope, only to have it dashed when she proved to be false. It had taken years for Lotor to recover from Allura’s death, Cossack didn’t think either one of them could handle another descent into despair for the Drule royal.

He heard the sound of footsteps pounding down on the staircase at the exact time his communicator gave a weak beep. Cossack lifted it up off the floor, and pressed down on it’s buttons. “Yes?”

“We couldn’t get him to stop!” The voice said, confirming what Cossack already knew. “He’ll be there any second!”

“Yes…I know.” Cossack said tiredly, listening to the sound of multiple footsteps on the staircase, all but running in an attempt to keep even with one person. Cossack had no doubt it was the King himself, coming to see the prisoner with his own eyes. He pocketed his communicator, and hurried over to the foot of the stair case, prepared to greet his King.

He got down on one knee, arm bent before his chest as he bowed reverently to the Drule. The King cleared the landing, giving an acknowledging nod to the General. “You can dispense with the formalities General. Is she here?”

Cossack held back a sigh, rising to stand and follow his King. The Drule was anxiously scanning the closed doors of the various holding cells, not kowing which one to go to first. “Sire, I really think this isn’t a good idea…” He was ignored, the King hurrying forward to throw open a door. A male prisoner blinked in surprise at them, his mouth falling open stupidly at the sight of the Drule King.

The door was slammed shut, the Drule moving on to the next. Cossack followed, making no attempt to point the King in the right direction. He was too busy wondering how the King had found out about this girl, realizing he must have heard about blue lion’s appearance over the city of Altea to have come running here so quickly.

“Where is she?!” demanded the Drule, frustrated when a third door did not produce the results he wanted.

“Sire, please….allow me to handle this…” Cossack began, earning an annoyed look from the Drule. The King continued to try doors, there was only two left, and Cossack was growing desperate. When his highness moved towards the door in which Allura was behind, Cossack threw himself against the door.

“General Cossack!” gasped the King, looking shocked by his actions. “What are you doing?!”

“Just give me another day with her!” begged Cossack, not moving from the door. “Enoguh time to get the truth. Enough time for the DNA tests to come back!”

“I have no need of your truth and your tests!” He sneered in response. “I’ll know if it’s her or not the instant I see her!”

“Sire, it’s not a good idea. Her face…the resemblance is uncanny…even you can be fooled!” It was the wrong thing to say, the King’s golden eyes narrowing in rage. “I’m trying to protect you, damn it!”

“Your protection is neither wanted nor warranted.” The King replied coldly. “Now move General.”

“But…”

“MOVE!” He snarled, and reached forward to haul Cossack away from the door. Cossack stumbled backwards when free of the King’s grip, nearly falling to the floor in the process. He could only watch helplessly as his liege, the man he was sworn to protect, opened the door.

He heard a gasp, a mingling of two voices speaking at once. The King seemed to fall against the door frame, Cossack did not need to see his face, to know his eyes had grown wide with shock. Cossack let out a moan of his own, knowing all his attempts to protect Lotor from devastation had been ruined in the instant he opened the door to Allura’s holding cell.


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