It was bright and early when Diana entered the tent, another bowl full of soup clutched between her hands. A smile was on her face, a kind of expectant look in her green eyes as she gazed at her daughter. Allura could only smile weakly back, though she gladly accepted the meal from the woman. It tasted as good as last night’s meal, some sort of vegetable soup that Allura ate up to the last spoonful.
Diana sat besides her, hands fidgeting with her skirts as she waited for Allura to finish eating. Allura for her part took her time, nervous about the topics her mother would choose to discuss. It was the same nervous feeling that had kept her up half the night, Allura wondering just what to tell her mother about her upbringing. She certainly didn’t want to lie to the woman, and yet she was scared of the disappointment that would surely cross Diana’s features if she learned of the truth.
So she began searching for topics, mind desperate for ways to distract Diana from Allura. “What…” She was putting the bowl aside, licking her lips nervously. “What was Arus like before the Drule came?”
“Peaceful.” Diana promptly answered. “You must understand, the problems started a bit before we were conquered. You see Allura, Arus had little to fear in the way of enemies before the Drule Empire set their sights on our world.”
“Because of Voltron?” Allura asked, and Diana hesitated.
“We didn’t always have Voltron.” She said at last. “It was Alfor’s father who helped to create the robot. All in an effort to keep back the Drule.” Another pause from Diana, the woman surely considering her words. “Before Voltron we got by like all the other planets did. With a little luck and a strong military force.”
“But it wasn’t enough, was it?” questioned Allura.
“No….it’s unfortunate but true. The Drule Empire was relentless…attack after attack coming. We barely managed to hold them off, and it just got worse after Zarkon killed our King.” A sad look came to her eyes. “I wish you could have met your grandfather. He was a great man, your father Alfor bears many of his traits.”
“What about other grandparents?” Allura asked, wondering if she could dare hope to expand her family. “Do they still live?” Diana sighed, shaking her head no. Allura couldn’t help but deflate at that. “I shouldn’t be greedy.”
“Greedy?” Diana repeated, confused.
“For more than I already have.” Allura explained. “I’m lucky enough to have my parents alive and well. It should be enough…”
“Oh child…” A quick hug from Diana, the woman petting Allura’s hair. “It’s not wrong to want to have a family, a big one. And they would have been delighted with the woman you’ve become.”
Allura grew flustered at that, grateful the hug kept Diana from seeing her face. She had doubts that any member of her family would be pleased with her, a courtesan and mistress of the King of the very Empire that led their planet to ruin.
“Did you and Alfor ever try to have any more kids?” Allura asked, pulling back. She rubbed at her face, trying to calm down enough to stop worrying about where her life had led her to.
“No, not really.” Diana said. “It would have been to hard a life to introduce a child to. But also…we both agreed it would have felt like we were trying to replace the child we had lost…”
“I wouldn’t have faulted you if you had tried.” Allura told her. “I can’t imagine what it’s like losing a child….”
“It’s no more easy than losing a parent figure.” Diana replied. “We’ve all had losses in our lives…”
“Yes…yes we have.” Agreed Allura, thinking of Adaline. “Did you ever regret what you decided? Giving up the planet for the life of one child?”
“Oh Allura…” Diana appeared upset at her question, Allura flushing pink.
“I’m sorry….” Allura lowered her gaze, staring at her hands on her lap. “It’s just….I worried you would have come to hate me for the decision you made. When I found out you lived, about my heritage….so many thoughts went through my mind. So many fears and concerns…”
Diana was touching her right hand, giving it a gentle squeeze. “Never doubt that we love you. That we acted out of that love to keep you alive. It made things harder for us yes, but how could we do anything else?”
“But you had the whole planet’s welfare to look after…” Allura whispered. “Is one child really that important?”
“To us, yes.” Diana said. “It may have been foolish, it may have been wrong to balance out the lives of so many for one child….but we acted with the heart of a parent, and not the wisdom of a ruler.”
“They must hate me.” Allura continued to whisper, darting a peek at Diana. “I’m the reason for all this. The people of Arus wouldn’t be slaves if not for me. No wonder that man, that Garret looked at me with such malicious anger.”
“Garret…struggles with things. We all have our own demons to contend with. Some manage, some don’t.” Diana answered. “And yes, some people cannot understand why we chose what we chose. But you ask the mothers, the thought of letting their child die, and you can see they sympathize with the decision we had to make.”
“I guess we all have to make touch decisions sooner or later.” Allura said, thinking of Lotor in that moment.
“It’s a part of life.” Diana agreed. “Tell me Allura, how did you….”
“Will it be time for the test results soon?” Allura interrupted, fearing her mother had been about to ask a question that had unpleasant answers.
Diana looked a bit surprised at the interruption, but nodded. “Yes…why don’t we go and see now if they’re ready?”
Allura nodded, eager to escape the tent and whatever questions Diana might have had for her. “I’d like that.”
“All right then.” Holding Allura’s hand, Diana stood, gently pulling her daughter up with her. Allura nervously smoothed her free hand down her skirt, allowing Diana to lead her out of the tent. The guards were there, they turned surprised to see Diana escorting Allura out of it.
“Lady Diana…what are you doing?” asked one.
“It’s all right Layel.” Diana reassured. “We’re merely headed to Gorma’s tent.”
“I didn’t hear about any of this from Alfor.” complained the guard.
“Alfor is not the only one who makes decisions in this camp.” Diana retorted. “Now if you will excuse us…”
“At least take one of us with you as a precaution.” Suggested the other guard, seeming to pale when Diana turned to him. Allura didn’t know what kind of look her mother gave him, but it backed the man down.
“Allura is my daughter.” Diana announced. “I am confidant I am as safe with her as I am with anyone else in this camp. A guard will not be necessary.”
“All right my lady.” The guard murmured, but Allura had the distinct feeling they would be contacting Alfor about this.
“Thank you for your concern.” Diana added, and led Allura past the two guards. They walked a few feet more away from the tent, and then Diana was speaking. “They mean well. They don’t want anything bad to happen to me. It’s quite a change from a few years ago.”
“Oh?” Allura cast a glance back at the guards, who were staring at them suspiciously. “What do you mean?”
“There was a time when my husband and I weren’t always the respected pillars of the community.” Diana explained with a sigh.
“Because of the choice you made…” Allura realized.
“Yes. It was a difficult time….in some ways it still is.” Admitted Diana. “Not everyone has forgiven us. There are still sectors of Arus where Alfor and I are not welcome.”
“I can’t imagine what it’s like…” Allura said, noticing as they moved through the camp, people stopped to smile and wave a greeting to Diana. They also looked at Allura, eyeing her with some suspicion, leaving her to wonder what they knew about her. “To be so persecuted.”
“We’re working to make amends.” Diana answered. “This rebellion of ours…it’s an atonement for our past decisions…if we can bring about change to Arus, no matter how little as long as it’s positive…then we will have done something good for our people.”
“It’s an admirable effort.” Allura told her.
“And yet I hear your worry.” Diana turned to smile over her shoulder at Allura. “I haven’t forgotten what you said last night. You fear for us…and not just the rebels, but all the people of Arus.”
“I just understand how the Drule work.” Allura replied. “They are determined to end this, one way or another.”
“And they brought you here to Arus as part of that scheme?” Diana asked.
Allura hesitated, thinking it over before nodding. “Yes. They don’t know about you and Alfor, but they were hoping to use me as bait to lure out the rebels.”
“One way or another, be it the rebel’s desire for vengeance, or for a symbol to unite under. It didn’t really matter, so long as they came for me.” Allura explained. “I doubt the Drule expected me to be successfully taken from them.”
“They underestimated us then.” Diana said, pausing before a tent that bore little difference from all the other tents they had passed.
“They won’t make that mistake again.” Warned Allura, watching as Diana began to lift up the tent flap.
“Doctor Gorma? Do you have a moment? Oh…” Diana trailed off in surprise, having caught sight of Gorma standing with her husband. “Alfor…you’re already here…”
“Hello Diana…Allura….” Alfor and Gorma greeted them, expressions solemn. Allura wondered if the doctor had revealed the results of the test yet, and if that was the reason for such a dour look on her father’s face.
Diana smiled, seeming not to notice the expressions the men wore. “Were you that eager for the test results that you came rushing here?” She asked.
Alfor seemed embarrassed by the question, a slight cough escaping him. “Something like that.” He admitted. “What are you doing here? I didn’t call for you, either one of you…”
“I….WE couldn’t wait any longer.” Diana answered as she and Allura entered the tent. Allura took time to study her surroundings, noticing the many dried herbs that hung on the canvas walls, along with crates that supported various potion bottles. There was even some kind of lab kit spread out on a small table, with what looked like blood samples hooked up to the tubing.
Alfor was frowning at Diana’s answer, but it was Gorma who spoke. “Well, you are just in time…I was about to give your husband the results of the DNA testing.”
“I hope you have good news for us doctor.” Alfor said, though Diana bristled at his words.
“Of course he has good news for us! This is our daughter after all!”
“That remains to be seen.” Alfor said, turning to look at Gorma. “Well, doctor? What are the results?”
“Ah yes…” Gorma picked up a folder off the table, and began shuffling through the papers inside. “I can say…with almost 90 percent certainty…” He paused, seeming to study the pages for the first time. “That this girl is indeed your daughter.”
Allura didn’t know what to do in the moment, how to react. Somehow a gasp seemed inappropriate, Allura glancing quickly between her parents. Diana looked overcome with emotion, eyes gleaming with tears as she beamed with pride. Alfor was as always hard to read, but the merest glimpse of stunned disbelief shined in his eyes.
“My daughter…?” He whispered, and Diana was the one who answered.
“I knew. I told you I knew!” She was already pulling Allura into another hug, her body seeming to tremble with emotion. Allura hugged her back, but kept on glancing at Alfor who seemed shaken by the news.
“I…” He began, then trailed off.
“Yes?” Allura asked, and once again he was coughing, trying to cover his emotions with the sound.
“Forgive me for doubting you.” He said at last. “But I had to be sure. So much was…is at stake here…”
“Forget about that now, and come give your daughter a hug!” commanded Diana, her laugh seeming to die down on a sob. For a second it looked as though Diana would not release Allura to Alfor, the woman holding her tight. Alfor moved stiffly, but came closer, reaching out to touch Allura’s shoulder. At his touch, Allura became overwhelmed with emotion, breaking down into messy tears that dribbled down her cheeks.
“Father!” Allura cried out, and though Alfor made no move to embrace her, Allura was catching at his hand, clinging to it. It was the first time she could remember actually touching the man, and she relished the contact. She was sniffling, trying not to break down to the point she wouldn’t be understood. “I’ve waited for this moment.” Allura told them. “To be reunited with my parents…it’s all I’ve longed for since learning about you!”
“Learning?” echoed Alfor, and it was Diana who answered.
“She didn’t know.” Diana took a shuddery breath, trying to keep herself composed. “The truth was kept from her for all these years.”
“I didn’t know.” Confirmed Allura, still holding onto her father’s hand. “I only just recently learned about my true heritage. I grew up on Doom, with only the vague sense of knowing I had parents…but not who they were, not that they loved me, or of where I really came from.” She sniffled again, embarrassed by how pitiful she must look in the moment. “I’m sorry. It’s all so overwhelming….I went from having no family to having a mother and a father who loved me enough to make such a huge sacrifice.”
Alfor smiled slightly at that, his hand moving to cup her face. “There’s no need to apologize. We all have a right to be upset about what was taken from us.” Doctor Gorma was in the background, moving things around on his desk. He seemed to be ignoring them, trying to give them privacy inside his tent. “We were denied the right to be a family…just one more reason to curse the Drule.”
Allura blinked rapidly at that, knowing he did speak the truth. She should hate the Drule for what they did, and yet she couldn’t blame all of them. Certainly not Lotor who had been just a child when she was brought to Doom.
“We have that chance now.” Diana said softly, smiling at them both. “We can’t ever make up for lost time, but we can forge a future together.”
“A future..” Murmured Allura.
“Yes.” Alfor agreed. “But to guarantee it’s a happy future, we have to defeat the Drule. We have to rid Arus of them, or else we will always live under their threat.”
“It won’t be easy.” Allura shook her head, privately thinking it’s impossible. “You are vastly outnumbered.”
“We have to try!” Diana insisted, Alfor nodding.
Allura kept quiet, thinking her parents and the rest of the rebels were deluding themselves if they thought their terrorist tactics would be enough to free a whole planet from an empire. She thought their best bet was to talk to Lotor, to somehow negotiate for things to be better. She wondered if either side would agree, and feared they would not.
Her doubt must have shown on her face, Alfor was sighing, his hand releasing her cheek. “We’ve been making preparations. We’ll soon move on from the small tasks of sabotage, to something far more destructive.”
Her curiosity got the better of her, Allura asking, “Like what?”
Her father seemed to hesitate, earning a reproachful look from Diana. “You can tell Allura.” She didn’t wait for him to do so. “We’ve been gathering supplies…to make
bigger, more deadlier bombs…”
“More bombings?” Allura asked with a shiver going through her body.
“I know it must sound terribly violent, but freedom won’t be earned through peaceful methods. Not with the Drule.” A shake of her father’s head, Alfor looking disgusted. “Those savages only understand brute shows of strength.”
“But what if there was another way?” Allura wanted to know. “What if…you could talk things out?” Alfor and Diana did not laugh at her question, though they did
exchange amused looks.
“And just who would we talk to?” Alfor wanted to know. “Who among the Drule would even listen to us?”
“There’s….” Her answer was interrupted before it was fully voiced, the young rebel Garret bursting into Gorma’s tent.
“Garret!” Came an exclamation of voices, Doctor Gorma approaching the young man.
“Is someone hurt?”
“No.” Garret answered, locking eyes with Alfor. “We have to leave. The Drule search parties are drawing nearer to this camp.”
“Search parties!” Diana exclaimed, sounding horrified. “Why are they being so relentless this time around?”
“It’s surely because of her.” Garret hissed, glaring in Allura’s direction.
“I don’t believe it!” protested Diana, hugging Allura protectively.
“Believe what you like, but it’s happening right now.” Garret tore his gaze from Allura to look at Alfor once more. “There’s more.”
“More?” asked Alfor, and Allura had a very bad feeling about whatever Garret was about to say.
“The King of the Drule Empire is on Arusian soil.” The young rebel answered.
“WHAT?!” exclaimed Diana and Alfor, a mixture of emotions in their voices.
“Yes.” Another look at Allura, the girl sure she had gone pale with shock. “He’s been spotted in Rugasta. Bold as can be, setting up base in one of the buildings. Even made a pretty speech about how he was going to bring down the rebellion personally.” Garret narrowed his eyes at Allura. “She had to have known he was on board the ships that came to Arus.”
“Now, now Garret. You are jumping to conclusions.” Alfor admonished.
“Am I?” Garret demanded. “Then why does she look so frightened?” Alfor turned to glance at Allura, who shook her head no.
“What are you going to do?” Her voice was faint, Allura ignoring the question in her parent’s eyes.
“What do you think?” demanded Garret with a snide laugh. “We’re going to kill him!”
“Kill him?!” Allura gasped out her exclamation, truly horrified at the thought. “NO!”
Alfor frowned at her. “It’s one way to get our message across.”
“You’ll only make things worse for yourself if you kill Lotor!” Allura protested. She glanced at Diana, trying not to sob. “Mother please….Lotor is not like Zarkon. Tell them! He doesn’t deserve to die!”
“Doesn’t deserve to die?” scoffed Garret. “He’s a Drule. They all should die. If we could wipe out the entire race, we’d be doing the galaxy a favor!”
“There’s others who would rise up to take the Drule’s place.” Allura said, thinking of Demos now. “And Lotor was just a child when Arus was taken by Doom.” Her words didn’t seem to move them, Allura turning even more desperate. “Please! Don’t make the son pay for the sins of the father!” She brushed a hand against her eyes, smearing her tears. “If you would just let me get close to him, I could…I could speak on your behalf. I’m sure something could be arranged!”
“Listen to her Alfor! Your supposed daughter is a Drule sympathizer!” spat Garret.
“Only because she grew up among them.” Diana was quick to point out.
“It’s because I grew up with them, that I know what Lotor is like.” Allura snapped out, almost angry now. “I can talk to him, I know he’ll listen!”
“The time for talk is past. We have to act now.” Garret said. “We have to take this chance and kill him. Use her if you must to get close to him, but strike the blow Alfor. Strike it for all of Arus!”
“NO!” Allura all but screamed.
“We don’t have time to argue about this.” Alfor decided. “Garret, spread the word. We break camp. Everyone must help to carry what they can. We mustn’t let our belongings fall into the Drule’s hands.”
“We’re going to leave?” Diana was surprised. “We’re not going to stay to fight to keep this ground?”
“it’s just a small piece of land….we can easily set up elsewhere.” Alfor explained. But for now, we’ll leave it. Everyone is to merge with the slave encampments…hide amongst them until we can reconvene in a new spot.”
“Understood!” Garret said, a grim look on his face. “I’ll have everyone ready to leave within the hour.”
“Thank you Garret.” Alfor said, the rebel already hurrying out of Gorma’s tent. He glanced at Allura, but she seemed to be shell shocked, just staring glumly at the floor. “I’m sorry.” Alfor said, touching her shoulder once more. “I know you must be confused, your loyalties are divided. But you have to know you cannot trust a Drule, even one who is your childhood friend.”
“You’re wrong about him.” Allura insisted, shrugging off Alfor’s hand. “He’s not…not as bad as the other Drule!” That earned a sad, sympathetic look from Diana, Alfor muttering things about Allura being misguided. Allura ignored him, lapsing into silence, once again fearing for everyone involved in the situation on Arus. She couldn’t help but wonder what Lotor was thinking, revealing his presence like this, even as she knew he was probably acting out of desperation to find her.
She could only hope his desperation didn’t lead him to do anything more foolish, Allura not sure her heart could handle the unthinkable happening to either her parents or Lotor.