Things were going better than Lotor ever could have anticipated. Knowing all good things are short lived made him want to be wary of their success so far. Finalizations were being made for the second Sincline ship and soon enough preparations for the third would begin. However with his father’s recovery making a turn he would inevitably lose his control of the empire, an inconvenient but necessary change that was bound to happen eventually. Despite the unavoidable loss of power Lotor had no plan to let Haggar and his father slow down his plans. Things should turn around in his favor if everything works out.
As Lotor stands watching over the construction of his ships Acxa approaches from behind, “My lord, we have just received a message from central command. Emperor Zarkon requires your presence immediately.”
“Very well.” Lotor turns to face his generals, all but Zethrid stand before him expectantly. “Prepare a ship for my departure.”
Ezor sways on her feet with piqued curiosity, “Do you think he’s onto us?”
“No, my father is simply ready to reclaim the throne. He can have it, our plans haven’t changed.” Lotor takes a step forward and looks to Narti, “Narti, come with me. The rest of you continue to oversee construction, I will return shortly.”
Knowing what was to come left Lotor feeling something strange, anticipation leaving him with something parallel to concern. When he returned their plans will have to accelerate, they will be working under the pressure and scrutiny of his father’s eye. Suspicions from his father could drive everything he’s worked for into the ground, and this meeting has the potential to shatter his impunity.
The flight to his father’s battleship was short and Lotor opted to stay silent for the majority of it, only speaking just before they reached the ship. “If for some reason anything goes wrong and I can’t return with you report to Acxa, continue the construction of the third ship, and I will attempt a speedy return.” Shutting down the ship as he finished Lotor muttered, “Now into the belly of the beast.”
Haggar was waiting just outside the ship bay and greets, “Welcome, Prince Lotor. Please, follow me.”
Shielding any sign of surprise Lotor follows silently behind the witch, with Narti a pace behind, down the familiar halls. He could have easily navigated to the throne room without assistance, but it would be a shock if Zarkon trusted Lotor with the simplest task even if just walking down a few corridors. That isn’t to say he wouldn’t avoid this audience if given the chance.
Acting the fool for his father was hardly Lotor’s favorite pastime. Nevertheless he put on the face of a wistful boy to delude his newly recovered father.
Narti stood guard outside the throne room, and upon entering Lotor forced himself to suppress a flinch or any outward reaction to his father’s appearance. So it seems his recovery was a slim path, death was narrowly escaped at the hand of the paladins. Normally the throne room would be empty save the high priestess and his father, now two guards stand not far from the throne.
Ignoring the generous amount of new information Lotor knelt before his father, “Father, it gives me such pleasure to see that you’ve made a full recovery.” Hardly. “You look stronger than I’ve ever-”
He was interrupted, “Silence. I did not bring you here to waste time with your flattery.” Lotor looked upon Haggar, who unabashedly wore a smug expression, and his father with wide, innocent eyes. In a faux apology Lotor bows his head, and doesn’t speak further knowing now his father will want to speak.
“You are relieved of your position, effective immediately.” Zarkon spoke with disdain, and it was easy to see that things were going just as he predicted. All that is left to do is act out a natural-appearing reaction.
Standing and looking forward with tearful shock Lotor gives a weak protest, “Lord, I beg you, do not discard me. Let me stay by your side.”
“Your short reign will be regarded as a black spot on the Galra Empire for years to come.” It came as no surprise that his father would think as much, mercy was never the galra way. “However, seeing as you have used your freedom to work against what I have built I have decided that you would be better suited occupied.”
This is unexpected.
Lotor tenses, but doesn’t dare move under the glare of his father. There is nothing he can do without exposing the extent of his betrayal, and that of his generals. Haggar simply raises a hand, which given her fondness of magic was enough to make him flinch, and with it comes movement from the corner of the prince’s eye. This was all planned and he is helpless, forced to allow this to run its course.
The galra soldier to his right steps into his field of vision and before Lotor can protest he is shot through the shoulder.
Knowing his demise was a possible outcome, Lotor makes sure to vocalize his reaction with the hopes that Narti would perceive it as a warning. Falling to the floor and holding desperately tight to the wound, he desperately pushes down the rage that tries to spill out recklessly.
It isn’t hard to summon a few tears, “Father what do you mean to gain by shooting me? Or do you intend to kill me? Of course my efforts to rule the universe seem feeble beside your inestimable accomplishments, but I could learn if you were to train me.”
“A sixth lion of Voltron was recently discovered. You are going to use it to gain the paladins’ trust, and you will help me personally take down Voltron.”
With blood bubbling to the surface of the wound and soaking his glove Lotor allows irritation to take hold, “And it was necessary to shoot me for what? Cooperation?” His words come with a growl and the urge of attack.
Though there was no way to see facial expressions with Zarkon’s new appearance it was easy to tell there was disappointment. “Signs of physical struggle in your escape will make you easier to trust, lowering you to their level is necessary after you have actively fought against Voltron.” It will also inhibit his ability to gain information, but apparently time isn’t an issue.
“I will know if you try to disobey my orders, do not fail me Lotor. Guards take him to the lion.” Zarkon orders without lifting a finger.
Before Lotor can further respond he is grabbed under each arm and dragged from the room, with no care for the wound profusely bleeding out. When they exit Narti is standing where he left her, and though her reaction cannot be seen there is a sense of alarm radiating from her.
She should be gone by now, “Go, now Narti.” Lotor growls without care of what the soldiers are overhearing. He cannot say anything else as they continue the opposite direction of his ship. Though Lotor wouldn’t be able to warn Narti of his uncertain future, he could hope that they would know what to do in his absence.
The distance to the lion was agonizingly long, and the delirium created by blood loss did not help his state. Seeing the trail of blood he was leaving was certainly disconcerting even with his familiarity to such severe wounds. After sometime they stopped, and though Lotor was faced the opposite way it was clear they had reached the lion’s bay. A code was entered and he was thrown through the door with little thought.
Lotor only looked upon the lion after the door shut, leaving him alone with the immense white mechanical lion. The eyes glowed a deep yellow and the spherical barrier around it fell as Lotor struggled to his feet. If given the time Lotor would have spent vargas marveling the lion’s existence and composition, but the lion seemed to be conscious of his declining health.
Almost immediately Lotor could feel the creature intruding his thoughts, another wildly unexplainable sensation to throw him off his feet today. “Will you help me?”
The creature roared with great ferocity, and for a moment Lotor feared the lion would attack, before lowering its head and opening what looked to be the entrance.
Inside there was a pilot’s seat and controls like nothing he’s ever seen before. Not being allowed the time to take in the lion for its worth was maddening, but the lion had a mind of its own as it began to fly.
Tentatively taking hold of the controls Lotor says, “We need to go to the castle of lions, can you get us there?” Not expecting any kind of response he is pleasantly surprised at the feeling of reassurance emitted by the lion.
Muttering under his breath, “Great, I just might make it out alive.” Lotor does his best to relax against the seat, wincing at the spark of pain that radiates through his shoulder and chest.
Exhaustion long since taking hold of his demeanor Lotor allows himself a moment to close his eyes, knowing that he can’t expect to relax once he arrives at the castle. They will want him to convince them of his case, because even a gunshot wound cannot erase his heritage and previous actions. He has yet to meet the paladins in person, another hurdle to jump in this series of tests today. Lotor can’t know what to expect from the paladins, but his generals were able to paint the picture of what the humans are like. And acxa was persistent in her belief that one of them is part galra, due to a blade he owned, so camaraderie may be found there.
His train of thought was interrupted by a loud beeping, and when Lotor opened his eyes a screen had popped up with a symbol and the simple instructions to push a button on the control panel. Said button was flashing bright red as well, and it appeared to be able to release a hailing signal. Just what he needed to get there attention.
After doing so it was a matter of moments before they were hovering in front of the castle, but Lotor knew better than to enter without being invited in. The black and red lion flew out to meet him once a few doboshes passed, and Lotor wasn’t given the chance to speak as the black lion took the initiative.
“We aren’t going to attack you, the castle scanned your lion and after it was proven to be genuine Princess Allura of Altea sent us to greet you.” The paladin pauses, his words were blatantly cautious. “As long as you come in peace we will lead you into the castle, and introductions can be done outside the lions.” And then there was silence.
Speaking now could lose what little trust he has now, but they wouldn’t allow him to leave with the white lion either. His doubt must have been loud enough to be intrusive to his lion as a single word was expressed: trust.
However, the paladins didn’t wait for him to respond as the lions left his side and flew towards the castle, and without touching the controls his lion followed. The sentience of this lion could easily get him in trouble if it ever went against his wishes. As if his thoughts were material for conversation, his lion continued to respond to each doubtful thought with encouragement.
When they landed Lotor sat for a moment letting the dread take over his system, dizziness adding to the disorienting situation his father threw him into. Lotor could typically pride himself in his adaptive skills, but it is harder to use such skills when he is now in all technical senses a paladin of Voltron.
Moving his hand from the wound to gripping onto the seat Lotor pushes himself to stand, resting all his weight against the chair knowing that without the support his legs would give out beneath him. It may be beneath him to call out for help, but it sounded so much more appealing than trying to walk out here on his own.
Stubborn tears threatened to spill as Lotor forced his legs to move towards the exit, his uninjured arm never leaving the lion’s walls.
Lotor anticipated two paladins to be waiting for him at the exit, but alongside Princess Allura stood four humans who all had varying states of shock plastered on their faces as he emerged. They recognized him, but none of them dared take a step forward to either attack or capture him.
The idea of making it down the ramp without any kind of support sounded impossible, so Lotor stopped in his tracks and leaned against the wall. Now holding a hand to the open wound he inhaled a sharp breath, which was all he could manage, and spoke. “Zarkon shot me and I’m going to bleed out if you will not help me. If you can do anything to help me my life would be forever in your debt.”
Another short gasp for air and something snapped, everything went white before Lotor collapsed into darkness.