Time 06

Their meal sat before them, virtually untouched for Lotor had been too busy talking, and Allura too focused on listening to him. Lotor shifted in his seat, wondering if his unease showed as he thought now on what he knew had happened to Allura’s friends, the members of the Voltron Force.

“You have to understand…” Lotor began, his fingers playing against the rim of his glass. “A lot of this is second hand…told to me by others during my lucid
moments.”

“Lucid moments?” Allura look confused. “What do you mean?”

He smiled at her, but the expression lacked all humor, Lotor pushing aside his glass. “I wasn’t well Allura.” He explained, watching her eyes widen. “Call it shock, call it a depression, call it even sickness of the heart. But when you died….when I realized no trace of you remained, I…I reacted badly.” He looked away, but not before seeing her frown.

“Reacted badly? What does that mean?” Her voice took on an urgent tone, Allura almost accusing in the next. “You didn’t hurt anyone, did you?”

“Not on purpose…” Lotor said, though he knew that was a lie, his mind flashing back to the moment he had wrapped his hands around Haggar’s scrawny neck.

“Not on purpose?” She repeated his words, drawing him form his private thoughts. “So you did hurt someone…who?!”

“It wasn’t any of your friends Allura. Of that I can assure you.” He said dryly. “The time when the Voltron Force and I encountered each other, I was barely functioning. I dare say I wasn’t even aware of just who they were, or where I was….”

His memories, feeble though they were, took him back to that moment on the flag ship, Cossack being brought to him. He could vaguely remember the commander’s shock, the Drule looking around the blood strewn cabin. “Leave us.” Cossack had ordered, and though the soldiers objected, they beat a fast enough retreat. Cossack had told Lotor about what happened next, the commander approaching his prince.

Cossack had knelt down besides Lotor’s body, reaching for his sword. Lotor had made a noise, sounding like a feral animal as his fingers tightened on the blade’s hilt. “Okay fine..” Cossack had said, not attempting to struggle with Lotor for the sword. “You don’t want to give up your weapon right now. I can respect that.”

Lotor had just stared, leaving Cossack to do all the talking. The commander had kept his voice quiet and light, trying not to upset the prince in any way. “I’m not going to ask what happened here. I can guess. It might even be partly my fault for leaving you access to your sword. But those were good men you killed, your highness. They didn’t deserve to die, and not in that way.”

Lotor wasn’t sure if he was grateful or not for not remembering the way the bodies had been torn apart, lazon severing limbs, hacking off pieces of flesh. Cossack had told him he had kept attacking long after all three soldiers were dead, it was a wonder there was anything left to identify the men by.

No one would ever discover what had triggered the attack, or the attacks that would follow. Lotor certainly could not give them a clue, those time he had blacked out completely. What had felt like a momentary relief became a new horror to him, Lotor knowing he did terrible things to himself and to others when he had his episodes. He was fortunate he never turned his rage on the commander, Cossack helping him through the worst of it.

What’s more, Cossack tried to cover for him, getting rid of the bodies, and lying point blank to Zarkon’s questions. Lotor could remember being talked down from his grief time and time again by Cossack’s gentle chiding, the commander helping Lotor to become lucid for longer periods of time.

But that was a while yet in his future, the questions Allura asked making him relive the moments inside the cabin. Cossack had tsked, rising to stand, toeing at one of
the body’s pieces. “I don’t even what to know what that is.” He had muttered with a shiver. He had turned to look at Lotor, and had frowned, noting how dirty the prince’s hair had become.

“We have to get you cleaned up.” Cossack had decided. But he hadn’t dared call for serving girls, not sure what Lotor’s reaction would be to the blonde haired wenches. Instead he coaxed the sword out of Lotor’s hand with soft tones, Cossack tossing the blade to the far side of the room as he helped Lotor to his feet. Cossack would them half carry, half drag his prince to the bathroom, leaving Lotor to rest on the cool tile.

He had continued to talk to him as he removed Lotor’s blood stained clothes, dumping cold water on the prince in the hopes the shock of it would snap him out of his damaged state of mind. Not even a shiver was given, Lotor had stared through Cossack, the older Drule sighing as he lugged the prince over to the bathtub. The blood had dried to ugly reddish brown crusts in Lotor’s hair, it flaked off as Cossack rubbed shampoo into the prince’s hair.

“The pilots of the lions survived the attacks.” Cossack had murmured, surely hoping that news would inspire Lotor’s interest. “No doubt they’ll be executed for their crimes against the Doom Empire.” He had chuckled then, but the sound had been forced, Cossack too worried about Lotor to feel any real humor at the situation. “No doubt you’ll be wanting to personally put an end to the captain of the Voltron force.”

Not even the thought of killing his long time rival had roused Lotor from his cationic like state, and that had made Cossack worry even more. “Think of the crowds that would draw! You against the captain, a fight to the death in the arena! Of course it would be a one sided brawl, that human is no match for you.” Lotor hadn’t even reacted to boast, leaving Cossack to fear nothing would ever be the same for the prince.

“Your father is on his way to Arus as we speak.” Cossack had continued. “I know it’s unusual for him, but he wants to see Doom’s latest acquisition for himself. I think he’s just eager to steal accolades from you…No doubt he’ll be bragging it was his smarts that truly led us to victory against the lions.” A snort then, Cossack rinsing off Lotor’s body. “You can’t let him do that sire. If anyone deserves the credit, it’s you. You’ve put in more time and effort to winning this war than the King ever did sitting on his throne!”

“So please…” A hoarse whisper, Cossack struggling to pull Lotor out of the tub. “Don’t wallow in self grief. It’s unbecoming of a Drule such as yourself.” Lotor had been told he never reacted even one time to any of Cossack’s words, even when his friend grew angry, the commander back handing him across the face. Such an act was seen as treason to the Drule, and yet Cossack was willing to risk it if it meant returning Lotor to his former self.

“Snap out of it!” Cossack had growled, and still no reaction from Lotor. “Be a man and stop sniveling about some woman!” He had actually shook Lotor by his shoulders, snarling into his face. “She’s only one girl. There’s a million like her in this galaxy. Take one and stop blaming yourself for something that isn’t your fault!”

Lotor often thought if he had been lucid, he would have struck out, friendship be damned. No one talked about Allura in that manner, not around him, not without deadly repercussions. But even that hadn’t broken through his grief stricken state, Cossack sagging in place as he held on to Lotor.

He wasn’t sharing these memories with Allura, Lotor instead thinking what happened after Cossack had dressed him. The commander and several soldiers had escorted Lotor off the ship, the prince blindly moving in the direction the Commander tugged him towards.

It was an unfortunate timing of fate that the pilots of the lions were currently being brought into the castle. The four boys had been in handcuffs, a loose length of chain stretched between each wrist. Their legs had yet to be shackled, the Drules not taking them seriously. They thought without the lions, the Voltron Force was useless, not a match for Drule strength in any shape or form.

Lotor of course hadn’t been aware of their presence, hadn’t even realized that Keith was so close. It made him ill prepared for what happened next, the captain of the Voltron force snarling at the sight of Lotor. “YOU!”

Cossack had ground to a halt, the soldiers behind him pausing when the commander did. Cossack had been looking at Lotor, hoping for a response of some kind when Keith broke away from his Drule captors. Before anyone could even think to stop him, he had covered the distance to Lotor, and socked him a hard punch with his clasped hands.

It had been a punch fueled with the captain’s fury, enough strength to knock Lotor’s face to the side. An audible gasp had been heard in the hall, followed up by the sound of weapons clicking into readiness. Cossack, ever shrewd, ever ready to find a way to get through to Lotor had held up his hand, a signal to the Drule soldiers to stand down.

They were confused, but did as asked, the Voltron Force just as stunned as their captors. Keith had barely noticed any of it, he was punching Lotor again, and then grabbing him by his tunic, spitting and screaming in the prince’s face.

“It’s all your fault!” Keith had screamed, eyes ablaze with grief and inhuman rage. “Allura is DEAD because of YOU!” Lotor had turned to look at the captain then, a trickle of blood leaking down the corner of his mouth.

“Allura?” Lotor had asked, voice deceptively calm. “Dead?”

“Because of you!” Keith had restated, and Cossack said Lotor had made a sound as frightening as the one aboard the command deck of the flag ship. It had even creeped out Keith, though the captain’s anger lessened not one bit. With a scream that almost drowned out Lotor’s moan, Keith slammed his fists into Lotor, his knee coming up to stab into the prince’s stomach.

“Stand up and fight me coward!” Keith had growled, growing frustrated with a target that just stood there. Not that it stopped him from continuing the attack, the other members of the Voltron force cheering wildly, and shouting out taunts to the prince.

It didn’t take long for the prince to topple backward, Cossack still keeping the soldiers from rushing to Lotor’s aide. He had watched with almost impassive eyes, Keith riding Lotor’s body down to the ground, never missing a beat in punching him. It was a one sided beating, Keith pummeling the Drule as best he could. It would last only seconds, and then Cossack himself was hauling Keith off him, the human red faced and panting.

“You disgust me!” Keith had spat in Lotor’s direction, hardly satisfied with what he had done. Cossack had said Keith probably wouldn’t have felt at peace even if he succeeded in killing Lotor.

“Check on the prince.” Cossack had ordered, holding back his sighs. The soldiers had moved towards Lotor, cautious should the prince suddenly leap into life. But Lotor just lay there, not even whimpering in pain though one eye was already swelling shut. Two of the Drule lifted Lotor to his feet, ready to carry him off for medical attention. “Stop.” Cossack had said, even though he had known Lotor needed to be checked out. “He comes with us.”

“Useless bit of space trash!” sneered Keith, even as Cossack shoved him back towards his comrades. The soldiers were quick to grab Keith by the arms, making sure he could not run back to attack Lotor.

The Drule soldiers moved, taking Lotor deeper inside the castle. Cossack stood watching for a moment, his back to the Voltron force. Keith continued to mutter insults, bringing Allura’s name into the whole sordid mess. “I can only thank God Allura isn’t here to witness this moment! Or to bear the brunt of Lotor’s depravity towards her!”

“Lotor loved your princess.” Cossack had spoken to them then, voice calm and quiet.

“Love? ha!” Keith had scoffed then. “Lotor doesn’t know the meaning of the word!”

“It is you who know nothing!” Cossack had whirled to face Keith, eyes narrowed as he glared. “What can a human know of a Drule’s emotions. You have no idea the strength of our feelings, the depth of our emotions. Lotor loved Allura, more than any of you ever could!”

“He only lusted after her!” retorted Keith. “He would have tired of her eventually…”

“Hold you tongue, lest I remove it for you human!” Cossack had snarled, advancing on Keith. Keith had stared at him, eyes defiant. “Even now our prince grieves her.”

“He’s only grieving a missed opportunity to slake his lust!” That comment from Keith ended in a groan, Cossack slamming his fist into the captain’s stomach. The wind had been knocked out of Keith, one blow from an angry Drule enough to bring the human to his knees. Cossack said he had been tempted to beat Keith the way he had attempted to do to Lotor, but he knew Zarkon would want the human in good health for the arena.

“Take them to the holding cells onboard the flag ship.” Cossack had ordered, not trusting that the humans would know how to escape the castle’s dungeons. He had then hurried into the castle, not taking the time to properly marvel at his surroundings. He had much to do, what with Lotor being out of commission for the foreseeable future. Everyone was reporting to the commander, not knowing what else to do with their prince in so delicate a state.

Cossack would soon go to the castle’s control room, and it would be there in the heart of the command center that he would come across Coran. The woman Nanny, would be by his side, both humans on their knees, hands locked into manacles as Drule soldiers surrounded them. Other humans, various men and women who worked the controls of the command center were in similar positions, guarded closely by the Drule.

But Cossack had been all eyes for Coran, knowing with Allura gone, he was the closest thing to a leader the planet had. The man had been grieving, his face full of sorrow as the commander approached him. He didn’t show his surprise at dealing with someone of lesser rank than Lotor, and it had left Cossack wondering if Coran had suspected just how deeply Lotor had loved the Arusian princess.

The woman wasn’t as smart as the man, she began talking, her impertinent tone earning her a slap to the face. Cossack had ignored her completely, staring into Coran’s face, even as the woman began to cry, gulping big tears that bordered on hysterical.

“My poor princess! She died because of your kind! Because you wouldn’t leave us alone!” Nanny had then turned to look at Coran, sobbing even harder. “We always knew it was too risky to let her fly in the lions. Oh why didn’t we push harder to keep her on the ground?!”

Coran had said nothing, just staring back at Cossack. Nanny had grown bothered by the lack of response, glaring at Cossack. “Why didn’t your prince try to protect her?! If he loved her like he said he did…”

“Coran…I am commander Cossack. We shall be dealing with each other for the foreseeable future.” Cossack refused to dignify Nanny’s words with a response, focusing all his attention on the advisor.

“Commander…” Coran had sounded tired then, shoulders sagging. “I only ask that you would treat our people with some modicum of kindness.”

“I think that depends on how willing you are to help us.” Cossack had answered.

“Help you? Don’t be ridiculous!” Nanny had scoffed. “As if we’d ever help you Drule!”

“Gag the wench.” Cossack had ordered coldly, and Nanny continued to scream even once a dirty rag was stuffed in her mouth.

“Commander, I don’t see how I can be of any help to you. The lions have fallen, and with them have the hopes of the planet. Our princess is dead…” He had fallen silent then, as though Coran had been struggling not to start crying.

“Yes…Princess Allura is dead.” Cossack had agreed. “It puts you in a dangerous position. You have no one to reason with Lotor, no one to be Arus and it’s people’s staunch worth defender.”

‘Then it is hopeless…” Coran had sighed, looking downwards.

“Not completely.” Cossack had told him. “If you tell us what we want to know…”

“Know?”

“We have many questions about the technology that made Voltron. The lions can still be of use to us. They are damaged, but not destroyed. If we can repair them….” Coran had cut him off with a curt protest.

“You cannot!”

“Come now Coran!” Cossack had smirked at him, but his eyes had been cold. “I’ve seen the lions recover from worse than what they suffered this day. You have the knowledge, you just have to share it with us…”

“And put the whole galaxy at risk?!” Coran had been aghast in the moment. “Never.”

“Never is a long time slave.” Cossack had retorted. “And I doubt you have the strength and fortitude to last very long against our most experienced torturers.”

“I may surprise you.” Coran had been defiant in that moment, earning a bit of Cossack’s respect.

“Yes, you may.” Cossack had nodded. “But if you won’t give in for your sake, we’ll soon see how you feel about the suffering of others.” A wave of his arm, Cossack gesturing for the captured humans to be taken away. “Toss them in the ship’s holding cells. We’ll let Coran and his…friends stew on what will happen if he doesn’t talk.”

“You’re a monster.” Coran had gritted out before being dragged out of the room. “As every bit as horrible as Lotor and Zarkon!”

“Why thank you.” Cossack had replied, taken aback by what he saw as a great compliment. He had then walked over to one of the chairs in the command center, taking up position before a computer. It would be from the castle’s own command center that Cossack would call to keep the king informed about the situation on Arus..

“My father was too busy gloating to even wonder about why it wasn’t I who made the calls.” Lotor said with a sigh. “No doubt he made his own assumptions about what I was doing before he learned about the fate of blue lion.”

Allura said nothing to that, just trembled as silent tears dripped down her face. The tears pained him, as did the knowledge that she would do more crying before his story was over and done with. “Allura…” Lotor picked up a cloth napkin, and leaned forward to tenderly wipe her face clean. It made no difference, more tears were pouring out of her eyes. “Do not be so sad….All this happened a long time ago…”

“It’s my fault it happened at all!” Allura sobbed. “If I had lived…if I hadn’t been tossed through time…”

“You can’t know that.” Lotor replied. “Doom might have had it’s victory that day, even if you had been present.”
“But…I could have lessened the pain my people would go through…” Lotor paused to just cup her face in his hands, Allura not fighting his hold. “I…I would have given
myself to you, if it meant sparing even one person from a horrid future.”

“Shh…shhh…” Lotor made soothing sounds, even as he grew excited at the thought of Allura handing herself over to him. “I wish I could tell you otherwise, that the people of Arus did not suffer….but…”

“But they did…” Allura lowered her eyes, lashes wet with tears. Lotor wanted to lick away her upset, to taste her sadness on his tongue. But he held off doing anything more than stroking her cheeks, just enjoying the realness of her skin. “What ultimately became of Coran and Nanny?”

“Ultimately?” Lotor frowned. “Coran was tortured. For days on ends.” Allura gasped at that, and jerked her hands free of his grip. “I’m sorry….but my father, my people would not be denied the information he had.”

“Coran would never tell the Drule about the lions!” Allura protested, and Lotor sighed.

“They may have been the case once but…” An inelegant shrug of his shoulders, Lotor almost apologetic as he talked. “Coran broke easily enough. It was a combination of his own grief over losing you, and the horror of seeing innocents tortured and killed for his silence. It wasn’t long before he was telling us everything, about the lions, about their origins, about the lairs, about how to repair the damages done, and even what little he knew about piloting them. Coran was a fount of information, and he was kept alive for that very reason.”

Allura was brushing at her face with the back of her hand, trying to keep a fresh wave of tears at bay. “Does he still live?”

“Who knows…” Lotor shrugged. “After the first two years, when it became apparent he had told all he knew about the lion technology, my father had him shipped off to Doom. Presumedly to work in the mines until he died. We’ve never kept track or meticulous records of our slaves. There’s simply too many of them.”

“How horrible…” Allura whispered, and Lotor found himself nodding in agreement. ‘And what about Keith and the others? Did they go to Doom as well? Did they die in the arena like Cossack had eluded to?”

“They weren’t quick to die.” Lotor answered. “You’d almost be proud of them…”

“I AM proud of them.” Allura retorted, sounding a bit angry in the moment. “And I want to know…need to know about their final moments…” He went silent at that, it caused Allura to grow urgent, the girl nerving herself to touch his arm of her own violation. “Please Lotor….tell me what you know…”

“All right Allura…” he sighed, even as he reveled in the touch she had freely given him. “I’ll tell you…though I wasn’t present for the spectacle first hand.” He didn’t know if those words comforted her or not, Allura just nodding grimly. He was left with his own uncertainties, Lotor wondering if everything he was telling her was just making her hate him.

“Your friends, they didn’t die the day after Arus fell to Doom. Nor did they die the next day, or even the next week. it would take time to arrange things, time for my father to travel to and from Doom. You see Allura…” Lotor sighed. “He wanted to be present for the moment the Voltron force was killed. He wanted to revel in their deaths, to celebrate with his people.”

“So when did it happen?” Allura asked, hugging her arms around her as she shivered at his words.

“A little over a month later.” Lotor answered. “The mood in the stadium was anticipatory, Zarkon dressed in his finest robes, drinking the best wines as he sat in his box. He surrounded himself with Arusian slave girls, wanting them to bear witness to their heroes’ deaths.” Lotor kept quiet how the final moments of the Voltron Force had been recorded, broadcast to all of the galaxy to show what happen to those who opposed Doom.

“Pidge would be the first one called to face off against opponents in the arena.” continued Lotor. “My father was counting on the runt to be the most disappointing of fighters. He wasn’t that far off in his assumptions, it didn’t take much for the alien gladiators to squash the little guy.”

“Pidge..” Allura sniffled, but was otherwise quiet.

“I won’t go into details of their deaths.” Lotor said. “You should be spared that gruesome a memory of your friends.” He didn’t get even a hint of gratitude for that, Allura too miserable with all that he had told her. “Lance was the next to fight. He managed to defeat two of his opponents before being killed. And Hunk? That man was surprisingly quick for his size, avoiding many blows, and using his strength to defeat six of my father’s gladiators.”

“Gladiators….you mean the aliens that would become robeasts?” Allura asked, once she had composed herself. But her eyes were still red and puffy, the occasional sob escaping her.

“Yes…though by that time we didn’t really…that is…” Another flash of him choking Haggar, amidst the shouts of the men around him. “We no longer had the means to turn those aliens into monsters….”

“You can no longer make robeasts?” Allura was amazed. “How did that happen?”

“Keith was the last to enter the arena pit.” Lotor said, choosing to ignore her questions. She gasped out the captain’s name with enough emotion to stir jealousy in Lotor’s heart for the dead man. “He went up against ten gladiators…” He could see Allura was already preparing herself for the idea of his death, Lotor hesitating to tell her what happened next. “They all died.”

“Keith…” She started to say, and then shook her head, eyes wide. “Wait…did you say THEY?!” Lotor nodded, and Allura gasped, amazed. “But how?”

“It was astonishing even to us Drules.” Lotor admitted. “But even more to my father, who was beyond impressed. We had never had a human that could last against so many in the arena, although a well trained Drule such as I could manage such a feat.” He wasn’t boasting, just stating a fact. “My father decided to spare Keith’s life…”

“Spare his life?” Allura seemed dull with shock, as if she didn’t dare believe what Lotor was saying.

“In a way.” Lotor conceded. “He made your captain the arena star.” He kept quiet about how badly they were in need of one, with Lotor out of commission. “Keith would retain his champion status for the next three years, killing to survive. He was a different man from the boy you knew, changed, and not just by the scars on his body. He became a ruthless fighter, and I’ve no doubt if we had retain the secrets to making robeasts, Keith would have become one.”

“Keith….” Allura seemed to moan, weeping fresh tears. “How did he finally die?”

“In the arena, sooner or later there is always a bigger, badder, stronger opponent.” Lotor answered. “Even your captain couldn’t avoid that fate. He…he was..” He was hesitating, seeing how badly Allura was trembling. She wasn’t even looking at him, hunched over, arms cross her chest as she moaned and sobbed. He knew then he couldn’t tell her anymore about the captain’s final moments, Lotor abandoning the tale to reach over and wrap Allura up in his embrace.


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