My Better Halfby Dr. Kat
"You are so beautiful. I can't get you out of my mind. It's as if I've known you forever, or else have looked for you all my life.
I want you. I need you.
And, oh, how I love you! It's a horrid pain in my heart, like claws ripping it apart, that you don't know just how much.
But, how can I tell you? I'm no good at words. I'd give you the stars. I'd give you the sky. I'd give you everything and more if only...
But you fear me. You hate me. You loathe me for reasons that I just don't remember. I wish it would all vanish. All of it. My past crimes, whatever they were. Just let them vanish from you as they have from me, please!
But, they won't. You will never think of me as I want you to. Why should you? I've caused you nothing but pain, I know that much. Oh, my love! Oh, my beautiful...
And now, I must go. Oh, how I wish...I wish...
Allura, I'm sorry. I love you."
The outside team discovered the unconscious scout, clad in only his undergarments. The team that surveyed the infirmary found the unconscious guard, stuffed in the supply closet. Both could add nothing to the investigation, neither of them catching even a glimpse of their attacker.
The sensors provided no help either. The ship left too quickly for its identity to be determined. Several Doom ships began a pursuit of the unknown craft, but then the trail abruptly ended. It was as if the pilot cut off all power and drifted for a time. It was fruitless to just follow the original trail; if this woman was smart enough to throw them off the scent, she certainly would know to head in the wrong direction at first.
Meanwhile, the king was in an incredible state of irritation. After sentencing the scout to time in the torture chambers and the guard to death, then destroying three goblets, his staff, four chairs, and the door to the throne room, Zarkon paced the floor at the top of the stairs, his hands twitching furiously at his sides. "First Eko-Parm...then that elf...then...that damn bitch has the nerve to steal my SON!" The king continued to fume and ramble incoherently for hours, while all the members of the castle kept their distance. Even Hagar stayed far away from the king's side at this time.
But, she kept herself very occupied. The witch was unable to locate the prince through her crystals; he was easily able to block her attempts. Therefore, she visited the torture rooms to mentally interrogate the scout, making sure he had left nothing out (no use trying to question the guard). Then, she stopped by the areas the intruder was known to have visited; the infirmary, the communications center, the corridor... She stared at the end of the hallway, concentrating on the window. Her long clawed fingers reached out towards the sill. Her nails scraped the rocky surface before grasping something very thin. She held it up to the light. It was a golden hair.
Her next stop was outside where the intruder had attacked the scout. The search team had uncovered some burnt remains hidden in the dusty soil. "The woman seems to have incinerated her old clothes to keep us from identifying her," one of the soldiers determined. Hagar looked at the charred cloth, and located a small lump of melted metal.
A knowledge spell crossed her lips briefly, and the lump glowed. It twisted like a serpent before finding its original form: an insignia. Hagar's eyes widened in surprise. It was in the shape of a "V."
"Voltron," she growled. Then, her eyes went even wider. "But, that would mean the intruder would have to be..."
Allura widened her search to include the outside of the castle. "Where could he be?" she asked herself. Then, she saw a figure near the edge of the moat. Lotor! As she watched, he stood slowly and walked closer to the water's edge.
He looked like he was about to walk right into the moat itself, but his feet remained just above the surface. Then, he stopped walking and rose into the air, flying across the moat. Where is he going, she wondered.
"Lotor!" she yelled out, but he was too far away. In fact, he was disappearing from her view. The princess broke into a run across the bridge and towards the woods.
"Aunt Mari! It is you!" Mari watched as Lotor arrived. She reached out her arms to embrace her nephew.
"Oh child, I didn't know whether you would even remember your dear old aunt. You were only three years old."
"Of course I remember you," he assured her, "You came to visit my mother. You had the..the...it looked like a guitar or something?"
"And Mother had a recorder." Lotor smiled at the memory. "I remember. You played so beautifully. Your fingers looked like they were dancing."
"I still play, child. I'll start teaching you when we get home, if you wish."
"Home," Lotor said. "I have a home?"
"Of course you have a home, child. And there you will be accepted, not feared and hated. That is, if you want to go."
"I'd like that," he replied.
"Shall we be off, then?" Mari stretched out her arms, bright blue with elf power. There, in front of her appeared the portal leading to the forest sanctuary. Mari summoned her nephew to follow her as she stepped towards the gateway. But, something made Lotor pause. He wanted to follow, but someone was calling his name.
"Lotor, wait! Stop! Where are you going?"
Mari turned towards the fast approaching figure.
"Allura!" Lotor exclaimed in joy. She had followed him!
Mari eyed the princess suspiciously. "Who are you, girl?" she asked.
"A friend," she gasped, out of breath from running, "Lotor, where are you going?"
"He's going with me to an elven sanctuary," Mari explained, "Away from Doom and Arus and the entire wretched Denubian Galaxy."
"I'm going home," Lotor told her.
"Home? But, your home is here," Allura told him. She turned to Mari: "And what right have you to take him away?"
"He does not belong here, girl," Mari snapped, "He belongs with his own kind."
"But, his home world is here! His father is here!" Allura couldn't believe she was defending Zarkon, but she had to keep Lotor from leaving with this stranger.
"But, his father's part is fading fast. I doubt you could even consider that 'mackerel' his father anymore," Mari remarked.
Recognition finally set in. "You caused it, didn't you?" Allura asked, "You made Lotor change! Lose his Drule side!"
"Indeed. And you'll never be bothered with the Prince of Doom again. Come along, Lotor."
Both elves began towards the portal again.
Seeing that she was getting nowhere with the woman, Allura tried appealing to Lotor. "Lotor, please, stay here," she pleaded.
"But why should I stay?" he questioned, turning around.
"This is your home!"
"But, no one wants me here."
"You just need some time to adjust."
Lotor shook his head. "I don't belong," he said. "Nobody even cares about me."
"Well..." Allura saw him walking again. She was about to lose him forever! Finally, she decided to acknowledge the truth. "I care!" she yelled.
Lotor stopped and looked at her in disbelief. "You do?"
He approached her. "But, they all say you hate me."
"Do you believe them or me?" Allura asked him.
"What about the rescue?" she pressed, "What about a few hours ago? Why else would I come looking for you? I don't hate you, and I do care for you." She clutched his arm. "Now, please, stay. For me?"
Lotor looked at her hands on his arm, then at her face. Allura! The decision that was so clear to him at first became cloudy. What was he to think? For her? What was he to do? "Allura, I don't know."
"What about my feelings? My memories? You can read them, can't you?"
Oh no, thought Lotor. Don't ask ask me that! "I...but, those deeper feelings...memories...it's..."
"Read them!" she insisted.
"It's so painful." But, a voice started nagging him and tried to push his doubts aside. What if it was true?
Lotor swallowed his fear and looked into Allura's eyes, allowing his mind to touch hers. He felt the same foreign memories Allura had of him, those that scared him. His face cringed in anguish as they flooded his mind. The hate. The terror. But, he held on and kept looking. Hoping.
Then, the fear dissipated. There they were. Newer, growing thoughts. And the memories: the message telling that he was alive. Her dreams of him. The pleasure of that brief kiss. Warm feelings. Of caring. Of need. And, as he searched the deepest recesses, a glimmering spark of...love.
"I missed you," he whispered, savoring her memories. It was true.
"Child?" Mari finally spoke up, "Lotor?" Lotor turned towards his aunt.
"The portal's closing. Are you coming?"
"Lotor?" Allura said.
Lotor thought for a second. "I guess not," he told his aunt.
Allura sighed in relief.
Mari eyed her nephew, then smiled. "You need more time, don't you? Of course you do. It's not easy to leave is it?" Mari walked into the portal.
"I'll be back again soon," she called as the portal closed, "Maybe by then, you'll be ready to go." Then, she was gone.
Lotor looked at the empty dark woods, his sight still imprinted with the bright portal light. Finally, it faded, and he could see the trees as they swayed in the soft night breeze. Why didn't he go? But he couldn't. He...he breathed deeply to calm his mind.
"Allura," he whispered.
"They all...say that...that I've cast some spell or...something on you. That I have seduced you somehow." He paused shaking his head. Then, he laughed very softly. "Why then does it feel the other way around?"
He looked at her deep blue eyes, oh so beautiful. He could be lost forever in those eyes and not even care.
"Princess?" The voice of Coran interrupted the stillness of the night.
Allura just looked at Lotor, unable to move.
She finally broke away from his gaze and pulled out the communicator. "Yes, Coran?"
"Have you found Prince Lotor?"
"Yes, he's here. He's outside."
"Well, you can put his mind at ease about the earlier ordeal," Coran explained, "Nanny and I have had a long talk about it."
Allura smiled at Lotor, who had a look of relief on his face. "Thank you, Coran," she said. "We'll be back in." She ended the connection.
"Are you sure you...want to..."
"...to go inside? Right now? I mean it's...a nice night and..." Lotor was again fumbling for the words. He felt like such an idiot. How could he put it that he liked being alone with her?
Allura felt herself blush. "I...don't think so. I mean...we really should go back now. I..." I think I've been around him too long, she thought to herself. Not only is he looking better, I'm beginning to sound like him, too.
Lotor tried his best to keep from snickering. He didn't mean to hear her thoughts.
"What are you laughing at?" she asked. "You HEARD!"
"I'm sorry," he apologized, "I didn't mean..."
"Oh great!" She couldn't help but laugh. "What am I going to do with you, Lotor?"
He shrugged. "Uh, ki...uh..." In light of the recent problems, Lotor decided not to push it. "I guess walk with me back," he said, slightly embarrassed. He started to move towards the castle, only to feel warm hands turn his face to the side, then the sweet taste of Allura's lips on his. His heart nearly leaped into his throat as she kissed him long and deep.
"Princess?" came Coran's voice again.
Allura finally broke the kiss, a smile on her face. "We're on our way, Coran," she replied, leaving Lotor barely able to stand up.
"PRINCESS ALLURA?!" the king bellowed for the thousandth time.
"Yes, sire," Hagar responded for the thousandth time.
"I don't know whether to burst out laughing or have a heart attack!"
"Hopefully not the latter, sire."
"The PRINCESS of Arus took my son?! Isn't it usually the other around?" Zarkon shook his head in bewilderment. "What the hell would she want him for?" he pondered.
"At least we know where he is. We can plan a way to get him back," Hagar suggested.
"Okay, let's go wreck a planet. Arus has been rather quiet for too long."
"Sire, NO!! Have you forgotten the power your son controls? If we launch a mass attack and he helps the Voltron force, we're looking at some serious scrap metal."
"So, we need a strategy. And I suppose you have a suggestion, Hagar?"
"Just give me some time, sire, and I will find a way." With a bow to the king, Hagar left the throne room and headed to her laboratory in order to prepare her little helper for the journey to Arus.
"Good morning, Prince Lotor."
Lotor backed up and peered in the control room. "Good morning, Coran," he replied and entered the room.
"Is your room to your liking?"
"Yes, it's fine. Thank you."
"Good." Coran leaned forward in his chair to study something on the computer panel.
Lotor turned to leave.
"Prince Lotor?" Coran looked up again. "A word, please."
"Do you remember when I told you to tone down your magic powers?"
Uh oh. "Yes."
"Well now," Coran continued, folding his hands on the desk "would you consider separating Keith's shoulder, breaking two of Lance's fingers, and changing Pidge into some form of seven-toed hogfish 'toning down?'"
"Uh..." Lotor shrugged his shoulders. "Yeah?"
Coran pinched the skin between his eyes. What a headache! "Look, you're going to put the entire Voltron force in traction if you keep this up."
"I know you don't mean to be doing anything wrong. And I do apologize for their attitudes. They have been rather rotten towards you. But, the way things are going, it might even be better if you were to just pick a normal fight with them. Not that I'm saying you should! Is any of this making sense?"
"No magic," Lotor stated plainly.
"That would be best, yes. Unless EXTREMELY necessary."
"I understand. May I go?" Lotor was anxious to find his other chaperone.
"I suppose so."
"Uh...you wouldn't happen to have seen...know where...um, Allura is, would you?"
Coran got up. "She went to breakfast. Come on, I'm heading down there, too."
"Oh, hell!" Lance again dropped the food on his fork.
"Don't you dare say zat!" warned Nanny.
"How can I help it? I can't use my left hand!" Lance slammed the fork on the table. "Stupid elf," he muttered.
"At least you don't have the taste of seaweed and flies in your mouth," Pidge croaked with a wince. His skin still had a little green tint left from the morphing experience. "Man! Never play a practical joke on an elf!"
"Good morning everyone."
"Good morning, Coran," the people at the table replied. A figure peered out from behind Coran.
"Good morning, Lotor," Hunk said to the figure. Suddenly, all eyes rested on the prince, many glaring unfavorably at him.
"Uh...hi," Lotor said in a very small voice. He had the look of pure terror on his face as he scanned the people at the table; Lance, Pidge, Keith...Nanny..."Coran?" he said in a whisper.
"I'm not hungry." Lotor backed up a few steps, preparing to bolt.
"Nonsense," Coran told him quietly, "There's nothing to be afraid of." He gave the boys at the table a warning glance.
"Lotor, come on and eat breakfast," Allura encouraged him with a smile.
"Yeah," Hunk joined in.
Lotor did the math: three people for, four against. "I'm not..."
"Go on in," Coran whispered.
"I'm not hungry," he again told him. He tried to back up once again, but Coran had taken his elbow and tried to urge him forward.
When he did not budge, Coran placed his hand on Lotor's back and with a squeak of his shoes, pushed him into the room.
The room was so quiet that Lotor stopped breathing. His footfalls sounded like thunder in his ears as he walked towards the table and all those eyes and...bandages. *Gulp* He looked around for a seat and found one next to Allura. But as he moved to the empty spot, he heard Nanny take a sharp breath, and she moved over to block the chair. He quickly moved away and located the only other vacant seat; between Lance and Pidge. Oh great! Lotor looked at Allura, and she gave him a warm smile in reassurance. He finally took a breath, moved to the chair and sat down.
No one spoke. No one even ate. The only sound was Coran taking the other empty seat and Nanny's footsteps as she entered the kitchen and returned with two plates. She set them down in front of Coran and Lotor, then moved to the back of the room, where she closely watched the prince. But, he didn't move. He could feel the two pairs of eyes regarding him from either side.. He took a quick glance at both; Pidge immediately looked away, but Lance gave him the coldest stare. He heard a few chews from Coran and Hunk. Lotor switched his gaze to his plate, but didn't dare move his hands to eat. As he pressed himself back into the seat, he wished the chair would just swallow him up.
"Did you sleep well?" *Eep!* Lotor almost jumped out of his skin at the sudden question.
"Y..y...yeah. I...yeah." He could barely get his voice to work. Maybe he could turn himself invisible.
"That's too bad," Lance mumbled.
"Shh," Pidge warned.
After that exciting conversation, the dining hall was again completely silent, save for the scraping of Hunk's fork on his plate.
Nanny continued to watch the prince. He looked like a trapped animal. His face was very pale. His hands were trembling. As he sat there, her mood slowly changed from one of animosity to one of sympathy. Her eyes shifted away from Lotor and across the table to Coran, Allura, Hunk...
"VHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?" she bellowed without warning, causing Lotor to visibly jump.
"I'm just EATING!" Hunk barked back.
"Not ZAT, you aren't!" she carried on.
"Awww, NANNY!!" he protested.
"They're out on the table!"
"Zey aren't for breakfast!"
"They are when I'm at breakfast!" Hunk grabbed two more and stuffed them into his mouth.
"You shtupid..." Nanny made a grab at the plate of eclairs, but Hunk already had it in his hands and raced to the other side of the table, Nanny in pursuit. Everyone burst out laughing as the two continued to run around the room. Allura looked across at Lotor, hoping...
He had cracked a smile at the dessert-athon, the uneasiness gradually leaving him. Then, his hand reached for a biscuit.
Seeing that no one was looking, she also reached out, putting her hand on his.
After the show was over, Allura pulled Nanny aside. "Thank you," she stated plainly.
"Yah, vell," Nanny looked at the squashed eclairs, "Maybe he's had enough. But don't think I'm not going to be vatching him shtill."
It was late morning. A short distance from the castle, a spacecraft arrived. The pilot of the ship immediately exited and headed towards the entrance to the palace. Meanwhile, farther off in the distance, a smaller craft in the shape of a coffin landed deep in the woods. Its passenger hopped out and, on furry paws, also approached the castle.
Coran did not feel comfortable when Allura announced her plans to give Lotor a tour of the castle. "Are you sure you're all right being around him?" he questioned.
"He's not going to DO anything."
"How do you know that, princess?"
"You should know. You've talked to him. He's no threat."
"I just don't want to see him turn back to his old ways," Coran explained to her.
"He won't," Allura insisted. "He respects me now." She turned to head towards Lotor's room.
"I hope you're right," Coran called after her.
Allura stopped and turned around. "I know I'm right." Then, she grinned. "Besides, you don't think Nanny would let us out of her sight for one minute, do you?"
Nanny wasn't the only one keeping an eye on Allura. Feral eyes peered at the princess through a nearby window. They watched as she disappeared down the hall, then withdrew to find a new observation point.
"Your Highness, another negative report about Captain Untor."
"What's he done this time?"
"It appears he has been siphoning taxes off of several of the empire's planets in the..."
"Kill him!" Zarkon rubbed his eye. He was in no mood to hear the daily reports. He was going to shorten this if it meant killing everyone in the listings. "What's next?"
"Sire?" A scout member stepped forward. "A report from the unexplained...eh forest, as it were, in the wasteland beyond the castle."
"What about it?" Zarkon grumbled.
"Well, everyone who went in that place never came back out."
"One of the outer perimeter scouts attempted that. There was no effect on any of the trees or plant life."
"Quarantine it, then."
"Your Highness?" Zarkon looked up to see Dr. Jannick enter the room. "May I speak with you about the health of your son, Prince Lotor?"
"EVERYONE OUT!!" the king shouted. "Not you, Jannick. You stay. Now, what is it?"
"Sire, I've analyzed the data given to me by Witch Hagar and that which we collected from our own tests. I've been monitoring a cell culture derived 36 hours...."
"Cut the crap and give it to me straight!" Zarkon growled.
"Yes...yes, sire. Well, the Drule side of his DNA has just come under attack by the elven side."
"And what the hell does that mean?!"
"Sire, the Drule side of your son is not only being pulled away, but it's now being destroyed."
"Destroyed? As in 'never coming back' destroyed?"
Zarkon couldn't figure out what to do with this upsetting bit of news. "There won't be a chance of saving his Drule side?"
"Not unless we get to him soon."
"It just started about ten minutes ago. At its current rate, I would estimate it would take less than 48 hours before there is nothing worth salvaging."
"In one day, over fifty percent of the DNA will be destroyed..."
"I kind of figured that!" Zarkon snapped.
"We have to get him NOW," the doctor insisted.
"HOW?!" the king yelled in frustration. "How, in the name of all the..."
"King Zarkon?" Zarkon looked over to the side at Hagar. Her eyes glowed with magic sight, then died down. "I have a way," she announced.
"Spit it out, witch!"
Hagar smiled. "Coba has just shown me that Sven has arrived at the Castle of Lions."
"In response, sire, to Princess Allura's grounding. Apparently, Coran did not approve of the princess going off to kidnap your son, and she cannot fly Blue Lion for awhile."
"The point, Hagar?"
"Think about it, sire: Voltron is called to fend off one of our attacks. It does not seem too dangerous, so no one even thinks to ask the elf for help. Prince Lotor, meanwhile, sticks to the princess like glue. I will keep Coba watching them, finding out where they go. Then, a surprise attack..."
"And we retake my son!"
"NO! We kidnap the princess!"
"What? Why? OH!!! Lotor's powers!" Zarkon finally caught onto her train of thought. "If the princess is in danger, he won't dare attack! Well done, Hagar! Get it...just a minute." Zarkon descended the staircase and pressed the button to opened the throne room door...several times...FINALLY! He surveyed the crowd outside, locating one of the soldiers. "You!"
"Yes, your Highness?"
"Has the captain been dealt with yet?"
"No, sire, but I'll tell them to get on it right away."
"No! Cancel the execution. Tell Untor...tell him I have one FINAL job for him. Hagar?"
"Hagar, prepare to do the fastest robeast job of your life."
"And somebody fix that door!"
Allura had almost activated Blue Lion when she remembered, or rather was reminded that she was grounded.
Under the watchful eyes of Coran, she reluctantly handed over the key to Sven. Then, still in her Voltron uniform, she headed back with Coran to the infirmary.
So much had happened since the arrival of Sven. Her tour of the castle had been cut short when, after a few hours, Lotor suddenly stopped in the middle of a corridor, and declared that he felt like something was happening inside him. He had insisted on seeing the doctor immediately.
In the few more hours that Lotor was being examined, castle scanners had picked up a fast approaching Doom vessel. At present, a giant robeast was heading straight for the castle. The Voltron force, which now included Sven, was off to battle the newest of Hagar's creations.
As he walked, Coran was conversing with Keith through a communicator.
"Don't worry, Coran," Keith was assuring him, "This one looks like a major flop."
"Don't jump to any hasty conclusions," warned Coran.
"I won't. We will keep on our guard, but I doubt it'll put up much of a fight."
"All right." Coran turned off the communicator. His ears then caught the sound of muffled voices in the infirmary.
"I have to find Allura!" Lotor insisted.
"I haven't finished running the tests yet," the doctor told him.
"But there's something trying to attack the castle!"
"We know, Lotor. Voltron is dealing with it now," Coran told him as he entered the room, the princess close behind.
"Voltron?" Lotor asked. "Who's that?"
"It's a large robot formed by combining the five smaller robot lions," Allura explained.
"Then, I'll go with you," he said eagerly. "I could help..."
"I'm not going. I'm not allowed to fly Blue Lion for awhile."
"Why not? Because of me, right?" Lotor concluded.
"No. The princess is not being punished because she rescued you," Coran told Lotor. "Rather it is because she did not inform us of her intentions, and because she put herself in incredible danger."
Yeah, right, Lotor thought to himself. "But it's not fair to take away...I should be the one who's...I called her to help..."
"Lotor, it's all right." Allura took a seat near the examining table. "I did something wrong, and I'm being punished for it." She leaned closer. "However," she whispered, "I'm not ashamed of what I did." She smiled. "Not in the least."
"Looks like a Drule, doesn't it?" commented Hunk. The five lions stood facing the giant robeast.
The creature touched ground and approached them, its fingertips glowing red. Then, fire shot from the ten digits, each one missing the lions by a considerable distance.
"Damn! That robeast's a wuss!"
"Careful, team! Take to the air, and form the standard attack pattern."
The Voltron force complied with Keith's command, surrounding the creature on all sides. Yet, although the robeast seemed to be incapable of sufficient attack maneuvers, it did have a protective shield which did not give to any of the lions' attempts.
"It's no good," Pidge declared as he studied the components of the shield. "That thing's loaded with armor."
"Then, we'd better combine forces," replied Sven.
"All right, let's...Lance! Get back in formation!" Red Lion had mysteriously strayed off course.
"I'm trying...Oww! Man!" Lance cradled his sore fingers. "I can't work the controls well!"
"Come on, Lance! You know they're no longer broken," Pidge reminded him.
"The doctor mended them."
"It doesn't mean they still don't hurt!" Lance snapped back.
"All right, team." Keith reached for the interlock. "Let's form Vol...Oww!" Stupid shoulder!
The lions were forming Voltron on the Doom ship's main viewscreen. The robeast's strong shield would give them enough time. At least Hagar hoped it would. She had spent almost the entire trip installing the protection.
She checked with Coba briefly. The prince and princess were still in the castle's infirmary. Now would be the best time, she reasoned. Hagar gave the Untor robot one more order, then tuned to the crew.
"Okay boys, get ready to move out."
The final results of the examination were displayed on the computer screen. Doctor Gorma studied the data for a moment. "Well, the 'curse' seems to have changed course. The new dormant memory sites are now becoming active."
"What's happening to the old ones?" questioned the princess.
"They're gone," replied the doctor.
"They have been completely destroyed." He checked the results again. "And if the data is correct, this destruction is happening throughout his body."
"Can you stop it?" asked Coran.
Gorma looked at all the data pouring in on the screen. "Sir, to tell the truth, I don't even know where to begin."
Allura was overjoyed. "Did you hear that, Lotor? It's going away? All the evil and darkness is going away for good!"
Lotor was sitting up on the examination table, his eyes staring at nothing. "For good?" he murmured.
Just think," the princess continued, "you won't have to worry about Doom. You won't be haunted by your past life because it won't exist! And no one will harass you for being the Prince of Doom or a Drule or a monster because you won't be! You'll be free!"
Lotor did not say anything. He put his fingertips on his forehead to think. One thought ran constantly through his head: empty. Empty.
"Lotor?" Allura knelt to his eye level. "We can be friends now instead of enemies." She lowered her voice. "We can be MORE than friends now, and they won't think it wrong."
Lotor felt a faint stream of love flowing from her. Isn't that what he wanted? He could live here as a friend, a lover, a...a ghost.
"Lotor?" Allura touched his arm gently, but he did not stir. "What's wrong?" she asked.
"Free..." he whispered. He finally focused on her. "Allura?"
"What is it?"
"I'm dying. I'll never come back. Half of me will...never come back. ME!" He put his hand to his chest. "Half of ME will be dead!"
Allura watched as his eyes again lost their focus. "What will that make me?" he questioned.
Allura could not answer or offer any words of encouragement. All her joy of the news was swept away by his words and replaced by puzzlement, then anger. But, isn't this what he wanted, she wondered. Didn't he want to be accepted instead of scorned? Didn't he want...didn't he want to be with me?
"Yes," he said softly to her thoughts.
"Then WHY all this doubt?" she snapped. "Why would you EVER miss that demonic part of you?"
"Because, it hurts to be empty." Empty.
Suddenly the prince's head shot up. "The CASTLE!" he yelled, as he stood up.
"The castle is coming under attack!"
Allura quickly looked over at Coran, who was furiously punching codes into a computer panel on the side wall. He read the screen, then sighed in relief. "No. Everything's fine," he declared. "You must be picking up the robeast."
"What about the ship?" Allura questioned.
"The Doom ship is still in far orbit. It does not seem to be part of the attack." Coran watched the screen for a moment. "In fact...it's leaving. It's gone." He looked at the princess, puzzled by the turn of events.
"But, I sense an attack!" Lotor insisted.
"There's no..." A rushing sound came from above.
"What was that?" exclaimed Doctor Gorma.
"It was the robeast flying over the castle," replied Coran. Another loud rush of air was heard. "And now Voltron."
"Did it hit the castle?"
"Not at all. It just flew over. I'll track it to make..."
Just then, Nanny came barreling into the room. "PRINCESS!!" she screamed, "YOU HAFF TO GET OUT!!!" As she hit the locking mechanism on the door, everyone in the infirmary could hear the sound of weapons firing.
"What the HELL?!"
"Zey're in the castle!"
Coran looked at the screen, which now displayed a small craft just outside the castle. "Damn it! A ship must have sneaked in while the scanner was tracking..."
"Never mind ZAT! Get her to safety!" Nanny grabbed the princess and hurried her to the other door. But, it was too late. Both doors were now under heavy attack by blasters. The main door was almost destroyed as robotic arms wrenched the pieces of metal apart.
"Are there any weapons in here?" Coran asked the doctor.
"Not unless you want to use a hypodermic," Gorma replied. "Wait! There is a laser scalpel..."
The door finally collapsed. Nanny placed herself in front of the princess. Everyone was bracing for the assault.
"Coran?" Coran turned his gaze from the door. "What, Lotor?"
They were now backing up away from the entering droids. "Is it EXTREMELY necessary' now?"
"YES! Yes, it IS!"
Without another word, Lotor stepped in front of them. His body began to glow brighter, his right hand turning a blazing white. He flung his hand out, and a ball of fire shot forward. As it hit the first droid, the power spread to engulf the entire troop. Then, the ball erupted. When the light died down, all that was left was a layer of metal shards on the floor.
"HO...LY SHIT!!" Coran exclaimed before he could stop himself.
Fortunately, Nanny was too stunned to reprimand him. They were so shocked by the display that no one paid any attention to the hole forming in the second door.
Four soldiers came in after the droids. They couldn't even fire their weapons before the elf crossed his hands together, and a stream of liquid cold hit them, freezing them in the magical ice.
Everything seemed under control. Then, in his supernatural state, Lotor could just barely hear the sound of growing panic. "The other door!" he heard Dr. Gorma yell out.
Lotor withdrew from his spells only to feel a strange presence. He whipped around to find that a lone person had entered the room while he was busy.
The old woman! He remembered her from Doom. Yet, instead of threatening him with her magic, the woman held her gnarled staff, glowing a sickly green, tight against Allura's throat. "Allura!"
"Don't even think about it!" Hagar told him with a smile.
Why did I have to leave my gun with Sven, the princess asked herself in her mind. The witch's claws were digging into her left shoulder. Allura tried to wrench free, but as she moved, the nails sent a numbing shock into her body, paralyzing her.
"Not a good idea, your Highness," the witch scolded.
Lotor froze in his tracks when he saw the situation. "Allura," he whispered. His hands slowly moved...
"Careful, my prince," Hagar warned, taking a tighter grip on her staff, "I can easily turn your precious princess to a pile of ashes at your feet before you can blink."
Coran was still kneeling by the unconscious doctor. Gorma had tried to stop Hagar, but ended up with a viscous blow to his head. "Hagar, you demon!" he yelled at her.
"It's nice to see you too, Coran."
"What is it you want? Just tell us what you want, and let her go!"
"Let's just say you have something that doesn't belong to you." Her eyes drifted over to Lotor.
"You want to take me back?" he asked the old woman. Doom. Back to that death land.
"Your father misses you, my prince," Hagar told him.
Allura! He should have protected her! Lotor looked at her, then the witch. "Okay, I'll go with you."
"Lotor!" Coran yelled in protest.
"Let Allura go, and I'll follow you."
Hagar cackled at the prince. "No. I don't think so. She's coming along with us as insurance."
"BLOODY HELL, Hagar!" Coran snapped. "You want insurance? Take me along!"
"Take us both!" Nanny added.
"But, the princess has such a greater pull on Lotor." Hagar looked again at the prince. "Doesn't she?"
"Either go with me or lose her forever!"
"No!! Princess!!" Nanny ran towards the witch.
"Nanny! No!" Coran warned as he left the doctor and tried to stop her.
"STAND BACK!!" Hagar warned. The witch's staff glowed brighter, and Allura cried out as it burned her skin.
Nanny stopped her advance in utter terror. "No! No! I'm shtaying back!" She slowly backed up. "I'm shtaying back!"
"Don't harm her!"
"I won't, Lotor. As long as you come with me right now."
"All right." He stepped towards the witch. "All right, I'll go."
"Not too close, Lotor," she warned backing up. "Just walk out that main door, and I'll follow right behind you with your dearest Allura."
Lotor walked forward, looking over his shoulder to make sure she was indeed following. He reached the four soldiers at the door.
"Oh, and would you care to unfreeze my escort?" the witch asked. "I need them to fly the ship. Don't try anything, though!"
Lotor closed his eyes and held out his hands, melting the ice. The soldiers stumbled around, trying to regain their balance and wondering what had hit them.
"Get between us!" the witch ordered.
The Drules moved behind Lotor and in front of the witch, giving her more protection in case the prince decided to do something drastic.
"Now, let's get out of here. Your father's waiting. Oh, and Coran? I would suggest you tell the Voltron force not to fire on us, or you'll be one heir short."
"We'll get you back, princess! Lotor!" Coran called after them as they left the infirmary. "We'll get you BOTH back!"
"Like hell, you will," Hagar chuckled.
It worked! Hagar was ecstatic as the ship landed on Doom. It actually worked! She actually won; tricking Voltron, the castle...she burst out laughing. Oh, they must feel like fools!
Her burst of pride had done nothing to make the journey over any easier, though. It was less crowded with all the droids gone, but Hagar felt like her arm was about to fall off from holding that staff. Even though the little ship was fast, the time passed so slowly since she had to watch the prince constantly from across the room. At least now, her ordeal was almost over.
The hatch opened. "Get out, Prince Lotor."
The small group was soon joined by the king's guard, and all of them headed to the throne room.
Lotor looked around the black corridors. The last time he was here, he had a twinge of remembrance. Now, he could not recognize anything. It was so dark and cold. Where are we going, he wondered. To my father? Who is he? My home? Is this my home? He needed to know! Lotor was unafraid as they reached the gigantic doors. He wanted to see...
"Your Majesty! Witch Hagar has returned with the crown prince."
Zarkon looked up as the witch entered with the princess. "Excellent work, Hagar!" he praised, then he eyed the stunned Allura. "You know, princess, even on our uncivilized planet, kidnapping is still considered a crime. Kidnapping royalty often results in capital punishment." The monarch watched as the guards entered, escorting the prince. "Especially when it's my son."
"Are you my father, then?" Lotor asked the man who sat on the throne.
Zarkon was stupefied. "What do you mean am I your father? Of course I am!"
"I do not remember," Lotor said in shock. "I don't remember you at all."
Neither could speak. He looks like a stranger, Zarkon thought. That skin and those eyes! It was eerie.
"What is he doing dressed like that?" The king glared disfavorably at his son's Arusian clothing. "He looks like a human! Take him out!" Zarkon ordered. "Take him out, and dress him properly!" Maybe it would make Lotor look more like his son.
"We don't have TIME for this, sire!" Hagar interjected.
"I'm not having my son dressed like that! They can take him to his quarters, then drag him to the infirmary, where we..." He looked over at Allura. "...and the princess will be waiting. So, you better not think of double-crossing us, boy!"
Lotor merely looked at his father and said nothing. Nor did he struggle as the attendants led him away.
"Put shackles on her," Zarkon ordered.
Hagar was relieved to release the paralysis spell. With her arms and legs fettered, the princess was going nowhere.
"Why are you doing this?" Allura questioned harshly. "Don't you know he doesn't like it here?"
"EXCUSE ME?!" The king's height made him tower over the princess as she lay bound to one of the infirmary beds. "For some reason, I have the impression that YOU are in the wrong this time. YOU took my son!"
"He asked for my help!"
"We were trying to help him! Then you came barging in and ruined the whole thing!"
"Why should you care? You never care!"
"Of course I care! I'm his FATHER! You think I like what's happening to him?!"
Anger left the princess' face. "You really want to help him?"
Zarkon found himself in a very vulnerable situation. "Well, I..."
"Sire, the prince." The doors to the infirmary opened. The attendants ushered Lotor inside and towards the monarch.
Allura turned her head to look and gasped. He wasn't in his normal battle uniform. Rather, it was an extremely regal costume. The jacket and pants were of a smooth rich black. The boots shone like obsidian. A long black cape was accented by an under-color of midnight blue, which was matched by the silken shirt. The cape was fastened to his jacket by what looked like a gold dragon with sharp red eyes, the skull belt and sword secured to his waist. His hands were covered with soft leather gloves, his hair held back by a gold clip.
Allura thought that he had never looked more handsome. An enchanted prince. He was breathtaking.
Zarkon looked his son over. "It's an improvement," he snorted.
"Your Highness, I'm going to place him in stasis," Dr. Jannick explained. "It will slow down his metabolism and hopefully, the curse as well."
"It should work, according to our knowledge," Hagar added.
"At least it will buy us more time to find a cure."
"Sounds good to me," Zarkon agreed. And after he's asleep, we can kill the princess, he thought.
"NO!!" Lotor yelled out. "Don't harm her!"
"I never said I would harm her," Zarkon denied.
"You just said you would kill her!" Lotor spat.
"He can read thoughts," Hagar reminded the king. She then had to quickly hold her staff to the princess' neck to keep Lotor from action.
"Let's set up the chamber," Jannick told his assistants.
"How could you want to kill her?" Lotor continued. "She HELPED me!"
"She's our enemy!" Zarkon argued.
"I LOVE HER!"
"Oh, we're not going to go through that again," the king grumbled. "All right!"
"You're not even giving her a CHANCE to explain..."
"ALL RIGHT, you lovesick kid, I won't kill her! Sheesh!"
"I don't believe you."
"Well, what do you want me to do to prove it?"
"Perhaps you should let her go," came a voice from nowhere. All the power in the castle instantly went off-line. "Along with Lotor."
"Where are the lights? Who is that?"
Hagar suddenly let out a scream and was thrown away from the princess. Bright blue rings surrounded her body. "S...s..sire!" She tried to move but couldn't. "Another elf is in here!"
Guards tried to reach both the prince and princess but were thrown back as well. Soon, all except Lotor were enveloped inside a large unyielding blue sphere in the middle of the room.
"Aunt?" Mari became visible next to the sphere.
"You seem to have gotten yourself into a very odd situation, my child." She looked over at the bound princess. "Well, what are you waiting for? Get her free and get out," she urged.
Lotor raced over to the table. His hands touched the shackles around her wrists, and the metal immediately shattered.
Allura sat up, a look of surprise on her face. "Aunt?" she whispered.
"She's my aunt," he told her, moving to her legs.
"She is?" The bonds broke easily.
"Well, my great-aunt, actually. She used to visit my mother when I was very young." He pulled her off the table.
His own aunt cursed him? "I never knew she was related to you."
Meanwhile, Zarkon was having a heated discussion with the older elf. "Let me out of here, you wretched old hellcat!" He pounded the supernatural wall with his fists.
"Oh, now. Don't be so furious, dear boy. I could have easily killed you, but I didn't."
"I just want my nephew back," Mari told him.
"DON'T YOU TOUCH MY SON!"
"He's not your son anymore." Mari turned towards her nephew. "Lotor, meet with me. I wish to talk." She lifted her left arm, and a thick ray of magic destroyed a part of the wall, making it accessible to the outside. Then, she took to the air and disappeared into the gray haze.
"Lotor! Son! Don't listen to her!" Zarkon pleaded. "Lotor, don't listen! Stay here! I'll let Princess Allura go! Just stay here!"
Allura looked at Lotor. "Your father does want to help you," she told him.
"I know," he said. But, he also knew what he had to do.
"Lotor! Don't leave!"
Lotor held on to Allura, and they rose up and out of the castle.
It's all my fault for being curious, Lotor told himself. After that night, after reading Allura's memories of him, the urge to remember became stronger than his fear. Later, he had tapped into a few memories from Lance, Coran, and the others. He would have even looked in the book, if he had been given the time.
"Where did she go?" Allura's voice broke through his thoughts. He pointed across the wasteland.
"To that strange forest?"
"I can't believe your own aunt wants to curse you. What reason would she have for doing this?"
"I don't know," he replied, "But I'll find out soon." He started flying away from the castle, over the bones and caverns and lifeless terrain.
"I...I have something else I want to find out." How could he tell her?
Allura looked into his eyes. "You want her to remove the curse."
She knew. "Yes."
They were coming up on the chasm where she had hidden Blue Lion before. "Why?" she asked him. "Just tell me why you want to do this! Don't you know what will happen? What you'll become again?"
"No, I don't. And that's why I must do this! Before, I could still feel that other part of me inside, even though I couldn't reach it. I knew I still had my life and that maybe I could get it back. Now, it's disappearing. It's like holes are forming everywhere inside me." He hovered above the entrance to the forest. "I can't let it die."
Lotor groaned. "I don't know! I don't know! I know it's a dark part. I know it's pure pain. Maybe I'm curious about who I was. Maybe it's because my past memories are so torn and fragmented, and I want them back. I feel a ghost. Like half a man." He paused. "Even now, I know it's dying. I FEEL it being torn from me, and I can't do anything about it!" He paused to take a few breaths. "Dammit!" he cursed himself. "Maybe I'm just a fool! But, I have to know."
Listening to his words, Allura's mind drifted back to that day; the day her parents died. Afterwards, she had tried to forget. She had thought that if the memory just disappeared, then she would be so much happier. She would be free from all that pain and torment. But, as she realized now, Allura found that she needed that memory. She used it, like all her others, as a foundation for her life.
What would happen, she wondered, if that foundation crumbled? What if she was suddenly robbed of her memories, even if they were her worst memories? Would she really want to lose her life? It was then she understood.
Lotor slowly descended to the ground. He looked at the forest. "She's here," he stated, then turned back to Allura, preparing to fly again. "First, I'll get you to a ship. With the castle powerless, you can easily get back to Arus."
"I'm not leaving you," she stated plainly.
Lotor was silent, struggling inside. "Allura," he started, "I need to know who I am..." He stopped for a minute. Then, he decided. He nodded his head. "All right. Just say the word," he told her. "If you want me to leave with you, to go back to Arus, just say it, and I will." He smiled feebly. "I'd rather lose myself than lose you."
He is so cute..."No," Allura said. "Lotor, I didn't mean that I wanted you to go back with me." She started towards the forest. "I meant that I was going with you."
"Into the forest?"
"I understand what you must do," Allura told him. "And...and I agree. And if that's what you must do, then I'm not leaving your side."
"Thank you." Without another word, both prince and princess followed the path leading into the elven forest.
"You certainly took your time getting here," Mari told her nephew from her perch in the tree. She looked at the young lady standing next to Lotor. "Stay there, girl. I wish to speak only to Lotor." As he approached the tree, Mari left the branch and descended to the ground. "So, do you wish to leave?"
"Aunt Mari," Lotor started out, "I need to ask you why you are doing..."
"Child," Mari interrupted him, "Tell me: what is evil?"
The question took him by surprise. "Evil? W...what do you mean?"
"You may or may not remember, but I had called you evil when you attacked me at my home. Now, why would I say that?"
"Because fighting is wrong," came the voice of the princess.
"Did I ask you?" Mari asked harshly. She turned to glare at Allura.
"Fighting. Battles. Wars. I've seen them come and go so many times in my life that I could care less! One side says they're right, so does the other! No, I am asking about the REAL wrong. The reason behind all of our problems." She faced Lotor. "Now, answer! What is it?"
"How can't you know?! I have already GIVEN you the answer several times!" Aunt Mari was enraged. "And even if I didn't, by now you should still know what I'm talking about!" She turned away from her nephew and stared at the trunk of the tree. "After all, I tried to rid you of it when I took away your Drule side."
"Because my Drule side hurt people?"
"EVERYONE HURTS PEOPLE!" she said to the trunk. "It doesn't make them evil, but sometimes it is caused by it. WHAT IS IT?!"
"What caused me to hurt?" Lotor asked.
"What caused you to hurt." Mari confirmed.
"I don't remember." Mari didn't answer him. "Why would I?" he asked himself aloud. He looked at Allura.
"Don't help him!" Mari told the princess.
The prince resumed thinking, this time changing the question. "Well...why don't I hurt them now?" he wondered. "What am I doing different?" What did Coran think strange? What did Allura think strange? Their thoughts were...that I was....listening? "Not listening?" he tried.
What did Mari say to me several times, Lotor wondered. He remembered a little: You will treat your dear aunt.... What about Allura? When she was talking to Coran: He....he...respects me now, Coran. Respects... "No respect?"
"EXACTLY!!" Mari turned around and clapped her hands together. "Evil is the lack of respect. You never understood anyone. If you don't strive to understand people and respect them, you HURT them as you did. And that hurt grows, leading to more barbaric results. Bravo, child! I'm glad you have finally learned. And now, if you'll excuse me." She turned to leave.
"Wait!" Lotor cried out. "Where are you going?"
"I only wished to speak with you, figure out if you wanted to leave yet, and know that you understood your lesson. I am finished and must go now."
"But, the curse," Allura chimed in. "Can't you get rid of it?"
"Please, Aunt," Lotor begged. "I want to be the way I was."
"The way you were? The demon?!" Mari shook her head. "I'm not removing the curse," she explained. "I have no reason to."
"But, I want it removed!" Lotor told her.
"That's not a reason," she replied, walking away. "You'll just have to get used to being an elf. And remember Lotor: you must respect others, even if it's just a little." Her figure was disappearing. "And most of all, you must respect yourself."
Myself? Lotor's eyes lit up! "But I don't respect myself."
Mari stopped and turned around in shock. "What?!"
"I don't respect myself," he repeated, walking up to her. "How can I respect myself if I don't know who I am?"
Mari eyed him. Lotor would not flinch.
"You have heard of what you were," she reminded him. "How could you ever want that back?"
"I need to understand."
"How could you live with yourself?!"
"How can I live without myself?!" he replied. He looked at his aunt coldly. "If you can't see that, you aren't respecting me! And, by your own definition, isn't that evil?"
Mari was silent, staring at Lotor straight in the eye. Suddenly, she smiled, then laughed, taking her nephew in a giant hug. "I knew it!" she said with a grin. "I knew you would catch on! You have learned! You can still be taught, my dear nephew!" She held out her hands. A silvery light filled her palms, and then vanished, revealing a small vial.
"What is that?" Lotor asked.
"The reward for your efforts," she replied. "But, are you sure you can live as a half breed?"
Lotor took the vial from her hands. "I must," he said.
"Even if it means pain?"
He looked at the bottle and at the deep black fluid inside. "I need to be whole."
"It is your decision. Just please remember what I have taught you." Then, Mari left her nephew and approached the princess. "Hello, child," Mari said to her. "Allura, am I correct?"
Allura looked at Lotor, but he was too busy staring at the vial, trying to make up his mind. She turned her gaze to Mari. She didn't quite know what to say to the woman. "You're his aunt?" She did look a little like him.
"You cursed him?"
"You gave him the antidote?"
"So, this was all a TEST?" Allura exclaimed in disbelief. "All this to teach him a word?"
"And he passed my test with flying colors."
"Why?" she asked the elf. "Why did you put him through all this torture?"
"Because, I love my nephew."
"You have a funny way of showing it."
"Do I, now? Allura, I care for him deeply. Ever since he was born, I have watched over him. Dear Ellysia would let me come over every chance I had. I would play with him and teach him. He was like my own son at times. "But, I had to leave for some years. During that time, his mother died. And I couldn't see Lotor anymore because he had gone away to be...brainwashed!" Allura saw the Mari's calm face torn with emotion.
"They taught him not to listen, but act! His father never taught him at all! They made him lose respect, even for himself. He gave up his mother's half, and I lost track of him. I was heartbroken. I thought he was dead. "I could barely believe it when I sensed him again. I could just touch his mind when he first met you. Then, when I felt his magic reborn, not two weeks ago, I knew I had to go to him. I needed to pick up teaching where my niece had left off."
"A rather unique way of teaching, too," Allura pointed out.
"So I've been told. It can be brutal, but I get results!" Mari said with a chuckle. She then turned serious. "He loves you. Only because of this love, and his rather flimsy respect for you did his better half not die. For this, I thank you very much, Allura. It gave me something to work with." She sighed. "But, he's still not through learning. There's so much more for him to find out. And, he'll need your help."
"My help? What can I do?"
"Well, for one thing: it is easy to recombine the body. But the mind," Mari told the princess, "that is difficult. He will be divided between what he was, and this rediscovered part. If you can, I'll need you to aid him in finding his balance. In some ways, you are his balance."
Allura smiled. "I'll try to help him," she promised Mari.
The old woman nodded. "I'm glad. Thank you, Allura." Slowly, she faded into the forest wind. "Oh, and he'll definitely need your help for this next trial, too," her voice echoed.
"Wait a minute! What next trial?" But Mari was gone. So was half of the black liquid as Lotor tilted the vial and finished drinking the spell.
Lotor stared at the empty bottle, then began to shake. The vial fell from his hand, and he staggered backwards, reached for his head, and finally lost his balance.
Allura quickly approached and knelt in front of him.
"I..." he whispered. "Lotor?" she asked worriedly.
Lotor looked at Allura, his eyes changing from the round, human-like eyes to golden cat eyes. "I remember," he said. "I...am." He shrieked in pain.
Allura could imagine the memories pouring into his mind, becoming a part of him again. A part that terrified him before, but that he knew he needed to be whole.
"Lotor?" His flesh was becoming blue in tint. He would be Drule again.
Allura felt a slight twinge of fear. He would be the same uncaring monster. Then, the fear dissipated. No. No, he wouldn't. Maybe a little, but never the same.
His eyes were welling up. "Allu..." The torrent of memories finally broke him. Tears flowed freely from his eyes, the pain clear in his face. Pain! Pain! Hate! Allura! She would hate him now. Never. Never. No love. No! No!
A hand touched his shoulder. Through his blurred eyes, Lotor could see her looking at him. He cried out in grief, choking on his misery. Yet, if his vision wasn't so fuzzy, he would also have seen tears in her own eyes.
Then, Allura's arms were around him, pulling him to her, until his face rested on her. There, he cried and cried as she held him close and ran her fingers through his long white hair.
It seemed like hours; Allura didn't know. She continued to hold the prince, soothing him with her touch and words. His sobs had begun to subside, and he stammered out a few broken words. Then, he was quiet again, breathing slow and even.
Lotor moved his head from her tear-soaked jacket but remained in her arms' tender embrace. His eyes fixed on the soil beneath him. He looked as though he were deep in thought.
"It's strange," he said in a whisper, his face still looking down at the ground.
"There are two parts," he tried to explain.
"The...the two halves of my mind. Two parts...I can't keep them together."
"It'll just take time, Lotor," Allura assured him.
"It feels so strange. They keep drifting apart."
"You'll be all right. I..." I'll help you, she thought to herself, but said nothing.
The prince finally raised his head. Allura released her grip slowly.
Shaking slightly, he stood up. "Trees..." Lotor looked around at the mysterious forest. "There aren't supposed to be trees on Doom."
"That's what I thought," said Allura. "Maybe Mari?"
"Without a doubt."
"Are you all right? Can you walk back?"
Lotor took a deep breath, then barely nodded his head. "I'll...try to..." His eyes closed tightly as he held back another wave of despair.
"Lotor, look at me."
His eyes opened and fixed on Allura's face. "I'm here," she said.
"I don't know what to do! The ANGER! You'll leave, and I'll..."
"Remember what I told you before." She touched his face to brush away a stray tear. "I'm NOT leaving you." She watched him regain control again. Standing on tiptoe, she brushed her lips against his cheek. "Now, is there anything I can do?"
"I don't know," he answered looking at her.
Silence reigned for a few seconds. Lotor placed his hand where she had kissed him. Something seemed to make a connection in him. After all that time chasing after her, threatening, begging, pleading. Then, because of the most bizarre situation and a little kindness... He sighed, then smirked. "You like me," he sang in a very soft voice.
"Don't even THINK about it!" she warned playfully.
"About what?" he asked in an innocent tone.
"About..." But she couldn't continue. The way he looked just then gave her a severe case of the giggles.
He grinned at the sight.
Finally, she recovered. "Let's just get out of here," she suggested.
Of course, after only a few steps, his face, eyes constantly glued on her, again took on a daydreaming appearance. "You like me..."
"Stop it!" She again began to giggle and gave a light punch to his arm.
"You know what."
"I'm not doing anything!"
"Just what am I doing?"
"SINGING?" he said in a shocked tone.
"AND," Allura continued, "you're contemplating...something again."
"I am not...okay, how do you know that?"
"You have that look in your eyes."
She gave him her best impression of a love-sick puppy.
Lotor burst out laughing. "I don't look like that!" he exclaimed.
"Do too." What a change, Allura thought. He was happy, and all because he was joking around. If only she could keep helping him like this, maybe he would gain control over his mind. She could keep his spirits high, encourage him to keep his respect, and...well, she guessed she could put up with that little devil in him, too.
Still arguing, both walked along the path leading out of the woods. After several minutes, Lotor's smile disappeared, and he seemed concerned. "Are we going the right way?" he asked Allura.
"I'm sure we are." She looked around. There was the path, but there wasn't an end to the trees in sight. She didn't see anything familiar either. "We didn't go this far into the woods, did we?"
"I don't think so."
"But, there's no break in the trees." She stopped again to look around. "You don't think you could still fly up and take a look..."
"Shhh!" Lotor was listening intently. "Someone's here," he whispered as he tried to locate the sound. Suddenly, he groaned and fell to his knees. He clutched the side of his neck in pain.
"Lotor!" Allura ran to his side to find a tiny arrow sticking out of the prince's skin. He pulled it out, looking at it with curiosity.
"Are you all right?" she asked with concern.
"I think...ohh!" Lotor was suddenly very dizzy. Then, as quickly as it hit, he was fine, except...
"Lotor, what's wrong?"
"I...I can't see!" he said in terror. Then, he heard the rustling again.
"Allura! Get down! Stay behind me!" But, as the princess watched, a red-haired woman dressed in brown appeared from behind a tree, a small crossbow in one hand.
"Greetings, intruders!" the woman declared, letting another arrow fly.
Next trial...The End