The Polydeuces and the rest of the Polluxian fleet moved into their standard formation. Before them, the depressingly gray rock of Planet Doom was in sight.
After receiving authorization from Castle Control, the ships landed a short distance from Castle Doom. It reared up before them, black and forbidding, a colossal shadow towering godlike over lesser shadows. Its tall central spires were curved inward and sharply pointed on the tips- resembling three giant sickles. Yellow lights glowed in many of the windows like eyes in the dark. The thin gray fog that covered Doom year-round wrapped its hazy shroud around the Castle, casting a deathly pallor over their already ominous surroundings.
King Cova, Prince Avok and their entourage met with Commander Cossack and a few of his men in front of the hangar. The visitors were expecting to be greeted by King Zarkon, but the official explained that His Majesty was tied up in a meeting with the Warlords of the Empire.
I stood by the window of the observation room of the Polydeuces, drawing in a deep breath as I gazed out at the craggy hills of this godforsaken planet. While Pollux has an abundance of hills and mountains, it also contains trees and lush valleys and so I was glad I didn’t have to live in this desolate place. We have been here for only a couple of hours, and already I longed for my castle with its protection and crowds.
Bandor was sitting on the couch. He was silent, not his usual pleasant self since father ordered us to remain behind, while he and Avok talked to King Zarkon. Wearing a thundering frown that distorted the fine lines of his face, he gazed at me. “I don’t like being left out,” he said sullenly.
I walked over to him. “Dad thought it was best that we stay in the ship,” I said gently.
“But I wanted to go with them. I’m not a child anymore.”
I raised my forefinger to smooth down a tendril of his red hair. “I’m quite aware of that. You wouldn’t be wearing that magnificent blue tunic and white cape if you were.”
At that moment father and Avok entered the room. Father wore a short-sleeved royal-blue tunic. His gray leggings showed in the area between the hem of his tunic and his cuffed black leather boots. A white cloak was thrown back over his broad shoulders. Avok wore similar clothes, but his tunic was brown, his leggings were sage-green and his cloak was off-white with a yellow lining, and his boots were brown.
“How did the meeting go?” I asked anxiously.
Father beamed. “Zarkon wants to see your brother in action. Avok will fight his fiercest robeast this afternoon,” he stated proudly.
“Great!” Bandor crowed. “I can hardly wait to see Avok turn that robeast into a bloody pulp.”
“We must be careful, my son,” father cautioned, “Zarkon is a tricky man. He will rant and rave and try to wear us down with his dramatics.”
Avok forced a smile that looked more like a grimace. “I’m prepared to show him that I can defeat Voltron.”
Father patted him on the back. “Well, I’m going to my chambers to rest for a while. I suggest you do the same.”
“All the excitement has made me hungry,” Bandor said. “I’m going to get something to eat.”
As they left the room, Avok unfastened his sword and set it upon a table. He sat on a couch in front of the window and leaned back, closing his eyes.
“Are you all right? I asked, sitting next to him, and touching his arm.
He opened his eyes. With a sudden stab of fear I could see the uneasiness stirring in their depths. He seemed to hesitate for a few moments before answering me.
“Father didn’t want to tell you that our encounter turned out to be a very humiliating experience. Zarkon treated us like beggars, like simpletons. We had to wait at least an hour to meet him-” He broke off and sat forward, clasping his hands tightly together between his thighs. He squinted into the gloom of the alien landscape for a few minutes, and then, after taking a deep breath, he related what they had talked about.
“King Zarkon sat high above in his golden throne while his son, Prince Lotor stood to his right, and witch Hagar sat on his left, with her blue cat resting on her lap. We had to kneel down and bow before them all the time.”
Word for word, my brother slowly revealed to me the ugly events and the true nature of how they had come to pass.
“Your offer is very tempting,” Zarkon told us lazily. “You know how much I want to conquer Arus. Tell me more.”
“It’s very simple, Zarkon. Hagar will turn our greatest warrior- my son Avok, into a robeast.”
Zarkon’s lips curled up into a smile. “Cova– it’s not that simple. Have you forgotten Voltron? He’s the most powerful robot in the universe. Isn’t he, Lotor?” He asked his son, looking back over his shoulder. The prince nodded in agreement, grunting his response.
“I have not forgotten him,” father said through clenched teeth.
“Cova- your planet was powerful once- but no longer, or you wouldn’t be here. I want to be sure of your son’s strength. He will fight in the arena with my best robeast.”
We raised our gazes to him, as father declared, “We welcome that challenge. My son will slaughter the robeast.”
At that point Lotor leaped off the dais and landed in front of us. “Ha! I would like to see that. This weakling doesn’t have a chance,” he said, pointing at me. His reptilian eyes filled with ill-disguised sarcasm.
“Calm down, Lotor,” Zarkon chuckled. “Cova says he’s a great warrior, so let him prove it.”
Lotor smirked. “It’s going to be a short fight,” he went on, raising his hand in front of him. “The robeast will crush him like an insect.”
I stood up and glared at him. How I wanted to wipe that obnoxious smirk from his face.
“Avok, your father claims you are Pollux’s greatest warrior. Does he merely exaggerate?”
“My father has a kind tongue, Lotor. Shall we finish this quickly?”
“Very well,” he continued, raising an eyebrow. “The battle will begin at 1800.”
“I’ll be there,” I told him firmly.
As soon as my brother concluded his recitation, I reached for his hand and squeezed it. “Please Avok, let’s go home. We don’t deserve to be treated like this.”
He shook his head. “No Romelle, we must remain here, and prove them wrong.”
I winced at the coldness of his voice. It was the tone of a Polluxian when honor and duty were at stake.
“I’m sorry for what I’m about to say, but coming here to Doom was a foolish decision.”
Avok turned his brown gaze toward me, and a thick brow winged upward. “Any fool can make a decision, but a real man takes responsibility for the consequences of his decisions.”
Realizing that I wouldn’t be able to change his mind, I decided to let him rest. “All right, my dear brother,” I said, leaning forward and kissing him on the cheek. “Good luck, and make us proud.”
He shook his head and smiled. “I will, I promise.”
To Chapter Six
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