Chapter 12: Building Broken Bridges
The sun began to peer over the horizon of the mountains facing the castle of Lions. Allura had long since made it back to her room and tried to sleep with all that she now faced. She had to be careful of how she acted around Keith and the others. She could not give any indication that anything was wrong and that Lotor was in her room the night before. She rose from her bed and started getting dressed. Putting on her pink jumpsuit she so often wore, she waited for Nanny to come and do her hair.
"Princess, you look so tired. You're not getting enough sleep." Nanny stated.
"I..I've just had a lot on my mind nanny. Not flying the blue lion has been hard for me to accept." Allura replied.
"You must let go of this ridiculous notion that the only way you can protect your people is up in that mechanical beast. You have to set an example for your people by being the ruler they need...on the ground. And you can't do that if you don't get a proper amount of sleep. You also cannot lead your people if you keep yourself isolated in this castle. It's time for you to start getting out again and be amongst your subjects. If a princess is to lead her people, she has to know her people. Understood?" Nanny scolded.
"Yes nanny. I will go out today. I realize I've been selfish wanting to fly the blue lion when I know I need to do something less dangerous." Allura said. She knew it was simply to make Nanny happy. She hated not being in the blue lion. But what else could the princess do? She was alone in her feelings.
"I wish they'd stop treating me like a child. I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself." She thought.
"I'd like to visit the stable. I haven't been riding in a long time." Allura suggested.
"Wonderful! An afternoon ride would be just the thing to take your mind off all this chaos. I'll have two sentries escort you to the stable." Nanny said.
Allura turned away gritting her teeth. She didn't want anyone coming with her. She knew the way to the stable, but her ever protective governess would not have her going off by herself. At the very least Nanny wasn't coming along herself. She was rather afraid of big four legged animals since having an unpleasent experience with one particular steed.
"I'll have Coran inform the stableboy to saddle Izabelle up for you."
"Um, I thought I'd ride Flame instead of Izabelle." Allura said.
"Absolutely not. That beast is crazy. Your life is in enough peril with that horrible Zarkon running about. I'll certainly not have you endangering yourself riding that psychotic creature. You're riding Izabelle. I know I can trust her with you." Nanny said firmly.
"But Nanny, Flame only kicked you because you stood behind him and smacked his backside when he accidently hit you with his tail." Allura pouted.
"You are not riding that crazy beast and that is final. You're riding a dependable, and sensible mount like any proper young princess."
"Why don't you just put me in a baby carriage, and put a bottle in my mouth!" Allura thought frustratedly. She let out a defeated sigh knowing she was not going to win the argument.
"All right, I'll ride Izabelle." She muttered.
"You're life is too precious to put it in danger. You must be kept safe at all costs." Nanny said firmly.
"I understand." Allura replied in a hushed whisper.
"Get over here you insulent bitch!"
"Leave me alone! You're drunk again!"
"I said get over here!"
"Get your hands off me!"
A drunk but no less volatile drule grabbed his wife by her hair shoving her violently against the wall of their bedroom. "You belong to me wench! I'll have you even if I have to beat you into submission!" He barked.
"Let me go!" The woman cried trying in vein to push her tormentor away.
"Mother..." said the voice of a young drule boy. He walked hesitantly toward the direction of the fight and saw his father forcing his mother down on their bed.
The drunken husband looked and saw his son standing with a horrified look on his face. Drunk on both wine and power, he smiled coldly at the child.
"I think it's time you learned just how you were concieved boy." He growled shoving his wife down on the bed.
"MOTHER!" The child screamed.
"Kaladan, run! Run! You're father is drunk!"
But instead of running in fear, the young red haired drule ran toward his parents. Rage burned in his golden cat like eyes as he rushed toward his father. He began beating on his father's back to try and avert his attention off his mother. It worked, but then put the youth in grave danger himself. Kaladan found himself brutally backhanded to the floor.
"You ungrateful little bastard. You dare raise your miserable little fists against your own father!" The angry drunkard barked as forced the child to his feet and dragged him toward a corner in the bedroom. He grabbed a leather strap and snapped it straight.
"You want to act like a little bitch, I'm going to treat you like one." The father growled as he raised the strap and brought it down on young Kaladan's back. He cried out in pain as the blow shot through his body.
"Stop it! Stop it you monster! He's just a child!"
"I will not have such blatant rebellion in my house!" The father barked as he brought the strap down again.
Hearing the cries of her son, Kaladan's mother grabbed a large glass bottle sitting on the table next to the bed. She rushed at her husband smashing the bottle over his head. Stunned, he dropped the strap. Before he had a chance to recover, his wife took the broken bottle and used it as a crewd dagger stabbing him in the chest over and over.
"RUN!" She screamed as she continued stabbing her husband's now bloodied and lacerated chest.
Kaladan did as his mother ordered and ran from the bedroom. He ran to the front room and hid in a darkened corner. There he watched the brutality take a deadly turn as his father managed to grab his mother and forced her against a wall. His hands went around her throat and he began to squeeze as hard as he could. But even in his deathgrip, she continued clawing his chest with the broken bottle. She stabbed so hard that pieces of the bottle broke and became lodged in his chest. She gasped, coughed and sputtered as her eyes grew wider and began to bulge from their sockets. At last, she choked out her last breath and her body went limp. His father, blood spurting out of his chest, stumbled back and watched the corpse of his wife fall to the floor. He turned around and tried to walk from the bedroom. As he stalked into the living quarters where Kaladan was hiding, he clawed at his chest trying to dislodge the the fragments of glass in his chest. He looked down and saw the broken bottle sticking out of it. In his drunken state, he stumbled and fell foward. The impact forced the broken bottle into his heart.
Kaladan sat there huddled in terror as he watched his father die. Tears streamed down his cheeks. "MOTHER!"
"Kaladan! Kaladan wake up! Wake up!"
He woke to find Lotor forcefully shaking him trying to bring him back from his nightmare. His eyes were wide with both terror. Seeing he was finally concious Lotor stopped shaking him. He backed off for a moment to let his comrade gather his senses.
"Are you all right?" He asked.
"Yes, I am now." Kaladan answered taking in a deep breath.
"Was it a nightmare?" Lotor asked.
"Yes, it was the night my parents killed each other."
"They killed each other?"
"Yes. My father was a cruel and terrible man. He often got drunk and would force himself upon my mother. It was...how I came to be concieved. That night she finally had taken enough from him and fought back. I tried to get my father off of her but he knocked me to the ground and started beating me. That's when my mother found a weapon and started stabbing at him with all her strength. It gave me the chance to get away, but my father managed to get his hands around her neck and strangle her. When he killed her, he tried to come after me, but he was so drunk and wounded that he stumbled to the floor and ended up driving a broken bottle through his chest."
"That must be why you hate brutality against women and children so much."
"It is. I was only a child myself, and I couldn't protect my mother. I was taken to an orphanage not long after. Drule military commanders saw me and took an interest in me. I began military training when I turned ten. I was only seven the night my parents died. After I completed my training I became a lieutenant in Zarkon's armies. He saw how skilled I was as a warrior and the command I took over my soldiers. He made me the high commander of his armies. I had my own reasons for accepting the position. I wanted order in my ranks and the men under my command were too occupied with brutality and intoxicants. It sounds strange. A man sent to conquor civilizations showing compassion to the people he overtook."
"Not long ago I would have seen it as weakness. But being through all I've been through now, I can understand your reasons."
"What of your mother Lotor?"
"I never knew her. Father said she died soon after I was born, and he never spoke of her beyond that."
On planet Doom, huge robot servants moved a gigantic metal container into the center of Haggar's laboratory. It looked like a monstorus silver box. The old witch looked down at the thing with an evil smile. Her eyes glowed like two wicked beams from out of her hood. She watched as robotic arms fired lazors at the sides of the container beginning to melt the edges. She chuckled coldly watching the process.
"Yes...soon my beauty you will be free. You will be the key to our greatest glory and the fall of all who oppose king Zarkon."
"Haggar! Haven't you done something with that thing yet?" A voice barked.
Haggar looked around to see King Zarkon stomping toward her.
"The process takes time great king. I don't want this precious cargo damaged in any way." The old witch replied.
"What in the empire is in that container? You've yet to inform me of just what it is I've let into my castle." Zarkon demanded.
"An ancient beast of unimaginable power. With my magic I am going to increase that power ten fold and make it indestructable. It will garentee your ultimate victory." Haggar answered.
"If this is what I think it is, then you had better be able to control it. I don't want this monster turning on us."
"The beast will be completely under my control sire. You seem quite troubled in light of this wonderful news."
"I've learned that two thorns in my side may not be dead as I thought. A woman from planet Taebos informed me that Lotor managed to escape both planet Carnos and Taebos alive. Another traitor travels along with him...Kaladan."
"Kaladan was believed to have died sometime ago."
"Well, if what this wench says is true then he isn't dead. He and Lotor will cause me no end of trouble if they're allowed to live. If Lotor finds out the truth of what happened after his birth,"
"It is of no concequence sire. The brat will die along side his companion. They will all be crushed beneath my masterpiece."
"He is of more concequence than you can imagine. If he and the princess of Arus were to join forces, it will be disasterous for myself and the empire. The prophecy would come true as foretold."
"It will not matter. Even if Lotor were to win the heart of the Aursian princess, they will be powerless against the ultimate weapon and the alliances formed within the empire. Final victory will be yours."
"If this plan fails, it will be the last mistake you ever make witch."
"This plan will not fail. I can assure you of that. How does this woman know Lotor and Kaladan are still alive? She might have said anything to save her neck."
"I've taken that into consideration. But she says she saw them both with her own eyes. I've sent her to planet Arus to spy on them both. If they were to find their way here they'd both seek revenge against me. I will bring them both to their knees. This time I will make sure they both die before my own eyes."
Kaladan made his way through the cave's interior finding a small pool of water. "Lotor, I've found something."
Lotor followed Kaladan's voice to find him standing beside the pool. They both looked down to find an abundance of fish swimming hectically in the sparkling water. "These should keep us fed if the princess can't find us any food." Kaladan said.
He kneeled down trying to catch one of the fish, but found the squirmy creatures were too fast for him to catch let alone hold onto. "Damnit. The things are too fast." He grumbled.
"I think I have a better way to catch them. Stand back." Lotor said unsheathing one of his swords. He watched for a moment and raised the blade and quickly brought it down impaling a fish. The thing flopped and flailed relentlessly but that only caused it to impale itself further down the weapon.
"Not bad. Where did you get those blades from?
"On Taebos from a guy who didn't know when to quit."
As Lotor poised to catch another fish, he and Kaladan both heard a voice calling from outside the cave.
"Kaladan! Lotor! Are either of you here?"
"Allura. That's Allura's voice." Lotor said as he rushed the cave's entrance with Kaladan following behind him. They ran to the cave's entrance to find Allura seated upon her dappled silver mare Izabelle. She dismounted and stood by her steed.
"I came to see if you both were all right. I would have brought you some food, but Nanny has me watched like a hawk. I'm lucky I hold a high position over the guards or they'd have followed me here." She said.
"It's all right. Kaladan found a pool with fish swimming in it. We'll be able to sustain ourselves for a little while at least." Lotor replied trying not to let the smile overtake his face. The site of her beautiful face never ceased to fill him with joy.
"Are you all right Allura? You look troubled." He asked.
"I've had a lot on my mind. I admit I'm still a bit shaken up from seeing you again after thinking you were dead. But that's not the most of it. I'm no longer piloting the blue lion." Allura said with a defeated sigh. "Everyone seems to think I'm safer on the ground. Nanny feels she has to keep a constant eye on me. She won't even let me ride my favorite horse, Flame. She said Izabelle is a more sensible mount. Kieth and the others say I should keep my feet on the ground. Sven is flying the blue lion again. And Coran sides with them."
"They're only thinking of your safety my lady." Kaladan said.
"I know, but I feel so smothered. I'm a grown woman, and I can take care of myself. However, I seem to be the only one who feels that way. I feel so helpless." Allura replied.
Lotor looked at Allura trying to think of something to say to make her feel better, but he couldn't find the words. Of all the times when he needed something to tell her, and all he drew was a blank. Allura looked down at the ground.
"I wish they would just see things from where I stand. I wish they could understand the burden I carry upon my shoulders. They're looking out for my welfare, but I'm charged with the welfare of an entire planet. And right now, just telling my people to be brave isn't enough. They need to know their princess can protect and defend them as well as lead them." She said with a sigh.
"Allura, I can't say I understand how you feel. I've no right to say that I do. Your friends are so worried about you because you're the hope of your people. You are all they have left, and if something happens to you, then they lose that hope. You must realize how important you are to the people who love you. You give hope to your friends who fly the lions. You are your father's legacy. You are everything to all who inhabit this planet. I know you bear a great burden upon your heart. But try to understand the burden that your friends carry upon theirs. I...I don't know how to put it any other way than that." Said Lotor.
"I do understand. It's just that," Allura paused. "I honestly don't know what to do anymore. I want to do more for my people than I'm being allowed."
"I admit that I worry for you as much as your friends do. You're the most important person in my life. I don't know that this may sway them from their way of thinking, but at least talk to them. Tell them you feel. They may come around to your side more than you think. Even if they don't, realize that the very fact that you're alive is more hope to your people than they've had in the past. They need you." Lotor replied.
"I have to go or my escorts will start looking for me. If anyone finds out I've been talking to either of you, we'll all be in a lot of trouble." Allura said getting back on her horse. Allura responded.
"Be careful princess." Kaladan said.
"I will." Allura said taking the reins.
As she was about to turn to leave, she looked at Lotor for a moment. "I feared the man you once were, Lotor. I'm coming to admire the man you've become." She said with a soft smile and then rode away.
It was late on planet Namoria. Leena lay in her bed trying to sleep. Her troubled thoughts prevented her from drifting into a more peaceful slumber. She tossed and turned, rolling from one side to the other trying to get comfortable. As she began to close her eyes once again, a voice called to her from deep within her mind.
She tossed off the covers feeling compelled to leave her bed. Not even bothering to put on her robe, she rushed from her bedroom towards the great hall. She ran fast but light so no one would hear her. All in the castle where asleep as she rushed. She felt an almost supernatural pull leading her to the chosen destination. She stopped at the end of the hall where a large portrait hung. It was dark, but she looked upon the portrait as if she could see the image in the light.
"Leena my granddaughter, the time has come. It is time to restore hope to our people and peace to the universe. You and your cousins must find the heir who will carry my spirit into battle."
"Where must we look grandfather?"
"The planet of everlasting darkness and despair."
"Planet Doom." Leena whispered to herself.
"Yes granddaughter. Only there can you find the key to saving our world and countless others."
The voice of her grandfather faded from her mind. She felt alone once more. "Father...he's alive. He must be the heir grandfather spoke of. I have to wake Avian and the others. We have to save my father."