We found father in the conference room, talking with Frans, his faithful assistant.
“The Voltron Force is here?” Father demanded, hitting the table with his fist “How is it possible that our defense was breached so foolishly? No one has lay siege to us in one hundred years!”
Frans grimaced. “Your Majesty, they used the underground aqueduct system to gain entrance to the castle. The guards found a trail of hiking knives on the east wall of the castle. They lead to a window in the fifth floor, where Her Highness’ chambers are located. Commander Cossack and his men are still looking for them.”
“They won’t get away,” father said, his even tone betraying nothing of his anger.
I took a deep breath, then came forward and touched his arm. “Dad,” I said. “They want to talk about peace.”
“Romelle, don’t you understand? They had come with false pretenses. They know that Lotor will consider any form of alliance with them an act of betrayal and he could retaliate against us!”
He stared at me as If I was his foot soldier and not his daughter. Never had I experienced his great anger, but still I refused to allow my father to overcome my determination.
“Father- Princess Allura and her Champions are not evil. When Cossack discovered us talking in the hallway, he ordered his men to shoot, not caring that Bandor and I were in the line of-”
A guard broke into the room. “Sire!” He cried. “His Majesty, Prince Avok is fighting with Voltron!”
Father jumped from his seat. “Who gave the order to release my son?!”
“Commander Cossack, Your Highness,” he replied.
“They’re making decisions without consulting me!” Father shouted, his grizzled face reddening. “This wasn’t part of the deal.”
We ran out the door, down the stairs, and through the common room. We quickly reached and descended the narrow stairs built into the wall beside the river and came to a halt. The courtyard was in an uproar as the two giants battled fiercely.
I held my breath. It was not a pretty sight, watching Avok and Voltron bent on destroying each other, while father and Bandor shouted encouragement. I wished it were all over, this confrontation, the anger, the confusion- and the treaty with Zarkon and Lotor.
Avok lunched forward and up, grabbing Voltron by the neck like an unwanted puppy. He gave him a vicious shake, then tossed him against the wall. The robot crumpled to the ground and remained still.
“He got him! I knew he would!” Bandor said exhilarated. “DESTROY HIM, BROTHER. DESTROY HIM!” He cried, cupping his hand around his mouth.
My brother leaned over and reached for Voltron’s head, when suddenly, fire came out of Black Lion’s maw, enveloping his face. He cried out and stumbled backwards. Voltron jumped to his feet and lunged at Avok. They crashed onto the concrete wall again, and rolled across the yard, ending up in the river.
They got to their feet, knee-deep in water. Avok took up his stance opposite Voltron. When he was about to strike, the robot was engulfed by a magnetic glow that reached my brother, making him shriek in pain, and he dropped to his knees.
“Son!” Father gasped loudly. “What have I done?”
My stomach tightened with dread as I heard his words. I clutched his hand and prayed to God that Avok would rise.
“Come on Avok,” Bandor pleaded, “Get up!”
Slowly, Avok rose to his feet. His face had gone pale and hard with anger. Then we heard a humming sound. We looked up and saw a swarm of Doom fighters coming toward Voltron and Avok. Their lasers hit my brother repeatedly, but instead of faltering, he became furious and began batting at the ships, as if they were pesky insects. He caught some of them and crushed with his bare hands.
The attack intensified, and then a laser hit him on the back, making him fall to the water, face down.
“Oh no!” I gasped, my hands flying to my face. “He’s hurt!” Through a buzzing haze, I heard my father’s hoarse oath, and Bandor’s simple, “My God.”
“COME BACK, AVOK!” I screamed, but he floated like one dead. Was he gone from us, leaving us all alone to face a madman?
“SWIM UNDERWATER!” Bandor shouted.
“I must help him,” I declared, and ran to the edge of the river. “SWIM TOWARD THE SEA!”
“ROMELLE! LOOK OUT!” Father exclaimed.
I glanced back and saw four Doom soldiers coming toward me.
“RUN!” Bandor shouted, motioning me to the castle. I tried to escape, but two of the Drules clasped me by the arms, yanking me away.
“Let me go!” I demanded, struggling against my captors. One of them wiped a gloved hand across his mouth. “Calm down, Princess,” he said mockingly. “We’ll let His Majesty Prince Lotor decide what to do with you.”
“I detest Lotor!”
“I’m sure His Lordship will change that,” the other man said, leering at me. I felt my face flush with humiliation as they began to laugh at me.
“My father and my brother will rescue me, and they will have all of you-“ I struggled to think of the worst torture they could endure, but my sheltered experience left me at a loss. “-Severely punished!”
They continued to laugh as they dragged me toward the destroyer. I heard my father and Bandor shouting my name, and a thought assaulted my mind- will I ever see them again?
The walk though the depths of the ship was one of the most humiliating moments of my life. Every guard and drone stared or smirked until I had no choice but to raise my chin and try to look defiant. Finally I was led me into the bridge. Lotor was there, and I felt a chill as I saw the deep frown and the taut line on his jaw.
“Romelle,” he said, stretching out his hand toward me. “Come here.”
“Go to hell,” I replied for the first time in my life, and it felt pretty good. I took a step backward and lost my footing. My attention wavered from him as I struggled to regain my balance, and a strong hand clasped my arm and jerked me forward. I tried to raise my hand to strike him, but he twisted my arm and pulled me against him.
“Let me go!”
“Don’t fight me, Princess,” he stated grimly. “You’re bound to lose.”
I felt a numbing sense of disbelief sweep over me. I thought he was a gentleman- an arrogant, yet sophisticated man. I now realized through a haze of fear, that he was something completely different; an evil man I did not know.
I managed to break loose and run until I felt cruel fingers grabbing at the small of my back.
“Leave her alone, Cossack. She is not a fool,” Lotor snarled.
“What’s the meaning of this?” I demanded.
He narrowed his eyes at me. “Did you really think I was going to leave your miserable planet empty-handed?” He asked ominously, striding toward me. I forced myself not to move, and thrust my chin upward, unwilling to let him see how frightened I was.
He raised a mocking eyebrow at me. “Not mad- maybe desperate, for I was forced to employ some rather rough methods to secure your presence.” Then he turned to the helmsman. “Morgill, lay course to Doom.”
“Yes, Your Highness.”
I drew a deep breath and swallowed the growing lump in my throat. “I’m not going with you,” I said steadily.
He blinked at me, then threw back his head and laughed aloud, his white teeth contrasting with his azure face. “You don’t have a saying in the matter, my dear Princess.”
Suddenly, a flash of an explosion blinded me. The blast made my ears ring. The concussion of air sent us stumbling forward. When I opened my eyes, I saw flames in the nearby consoles, causing its operators to run for cover.
I stole a glance at Lotor. His icy countenance had begun to turn purple with rage. “Damned Voltron Force!” he growled. I tried to escape, but he slammed me down on my feet. “Try that again and I’ll…” He took a long breath and let it out slowly. “Don’t you understand? They’re trying to demolish my ship!”
I didn’t care about his blasted ship! I only wanted to go home to my family!
It was at that moment that Red Lion tore into the chamber. The Voltron Force was trying to rescue me, even though my brother had tried to destroy them!
“LOTOR!” Their leader snapped. “RELEASE PRINCESS ROMELLE IMMEDIATELY!”
Without thinking, I rushed forward toward my saviors, but Lotor quickly stopped my flight by grasping my wrist in his large hand.
“DON’T COME ANY CLOSER, OR SHE WILL SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES!”
I bit back a moan. “Help me,” I choked out.
The Voltron Force was silent for a few moments, and Lotor took the opportunity to order Cossack to prepare his cruiser.
“AND NOW TO PLANET DOOM!” The dark prince crowed triumphantly, and then began to laugh- a hideous sound that sent shivers up and down my spine.
Minutes after boarding the cruiser, we looked on as the destroyer burst into flames. Voltron had not been able to save me, but at least I had the satisfaction of seeing that Lotor had lost part of his fleet to them.
Cossack approached us. “Sire,” he said nervously, “There’s something I have to tell you.”
“What?” He snapped.
“I forgot to fill the tank,” he mumbled.
Lotor gave him a thundering frown. “Speak up, you idiot!”
The officer swallowed hard. “The cruiser doesn’t have enough fuel to reach Planet Doom.”
With a growl, Lotor rushed to Cossack and grabbed him by the collar; he kicked his legs from beneath him, slamming him to the floor, where his nose, making hard contact wit the floor, began to bleed profusely.
“Because of your incompetence, I will have to stop for fuel in Planet Arus!” He spat venomously, pressing the heel of his black boot on Cossack’s upper back.
“I’m sorry, sire,” he choked out. “It won’t happen again!”
To Chapter Twelve
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