Sendak was returning to his rooms after a particularly brutal training session when he heard the unmistakable sounds of a fight from a nearby corridor. Sendak paused. He wanted to ignore it, he wanted to just- walk past. He was so tired, but-
He went towards it instead and turned down a dark hallway to see five Galra beating up on the unmistakable form of Prince Lotor. As he watched, Prince Lotor lashed out against the Galra holding him, fighting to bite his hand. The Galra only laughed and viciously backhanded him over the face.
“What is this?” Sendak demanded.
The Galra flinched and looked back at him. He recognized a few- the one holding Lotor was Sniv, and one of the others was definitely named Ladnok.
“Sendak,” Sniv said with a grin. “We’re just showing the halfbreed his place. Teaching him the ways of the Galra.”
“I see,” Sendak said slowly, staring at Lotor where Sniv had him pressed to the wall by the throat. The prince seemed scared but he looked angry too, scowling up at them. “Step back, Sniv. I’ll teach him.”
They all laughed and Sniv stepped back as Sendak moved closer. Lotor flinched when Sendak raised his hand to wipe away the blood from his chin. “Listen close, my prince,” he said quietly. Lotor stared up at him, his eyes full of such intense anger and hatred that Sendak’s breath caught in his throat. “The Galra way is victory or death, strength before all. Do you know why strength is the most important thing?”
Lotor stared up at him silently, breathing hard, and then he bared his teeth in a snarl.
Sendak couldn’t help being impressed that he could be so brave, even now. “When you are strong, you can do anything,” Sendak said. And then he turned and punched Sniv in the face hard enough to send him flying into the opposite wall. He looked at the rest of them calmly and they flinched back. Pathetic.
“How dare you?” he asked coldly. “Halfbreed or no, he is your prince, the Emperor’s own son. How dare you lay hands on him?”
“Sendak, please-“ Ladnok breathed out.
“You have shamed yourselves,” Sendak said. “Leave- now. Before I see fit to tell the Emperor what you’ve done.”
They paused for a long moment, staring at him in fear, and then they ran, dragging Sniv’s unconscious body away with them.
He waited until they were gone before turning back to Lotor, staring up at him uncertainly now.
“Disgraceful,” Sendak said and was impressed when Lotor scowled instead of flinching. “You may be small, but you are fast and at least twice as clever and cunning as all of them combined. You shouldn’t have allowed them to best you.”
“Fuck you, Sendak,” Lotor spit out. “How am I supposed to best anyone? I have no training outside of what my Dayak can teach me and what I’ve learned from watching the training pits-”
“I don’t want to hear your excuses,” Sendak growled, shoving him back against the wall roughly. “You have to be better- stronger- if you are to survive.”
“Fuck you!” Lotor yelled. “You have everything! My father dotes on you, trains you himself- and I have nothing! I have to make do with scraps while- while everyone- while you-“
He broke off, breathing hard. His eyes were suspiciously bright and Sendak’s heart shriveled in his chest as he watched him fighting not to cry. He was in pain, he must have been, but he didn’t show it, his whole body trembling with rage instead.
“Come to my rooms tomorrow night,” Sendak said slowly, not sure what he was doing. This was dangerous, for both of them. “I’ll train you myself. Make sure no one sees you.”
Lotor laughed, the sound jagged and vicious as it echoed through the empty hallway. “Do you take me for a fool?” he hissed. “You think I’ll willingly put myself at your mercy?”
“I think you’ll weigh your fear and your desire and decide the risk is worth taking,” Sendak said before turning to leave.
Sendak was awake and waiting when the timid knock came on his door. He stood slowly. Somehow he knew this would happen, that Lotor would go through with this.
Lotor was standing in the hallway, dressed in a padded training jumpsuit, staring up at him with fear and uncertainty.
“Come inside before someone sees you,” Sendak said roughly as he stepped aside to let Lotor pass.
This was dangerous, they weren't supposed to be doing this. This went directly against Zarkon’s will. But Sendak couldn’t leave Lotor floundering like this, couldn’t leave him defenceless in the heart of the Galra Empire. There were hundreds more like Sniv and his flunkies, thousands. Lotor was smart and quick and strong in his own way, but he needed help if he was to stand a chance.
“Show me your fighting stance,” he said with no preamble. He’d already cleared a space in his rooms in preparation for this, he’d already shoved the furniture to the sides.
Lotor didn’t ask questions, just did as he was told.
“That won’t do,” Sendak said as he watched critically. Lotor had taken a Galra stance, one meant to capitalize on strength and size and reach. It made sense, if he’d been learning by watching the others, but it would do him no good- not when his strengths lay elsewhere.
“You’re too small,” Sendak said and watched as Lotor scowled up at him, his whole body tensing. “It can’t be helped, it’s nothing to be ashamed of,” Sendak said, more gently. “It just means you have to learn to use your opponent’s size and strength against them. You have to learn to use your strengths and exploit their weaknesses. I can teach you to do that. Here-”
He stepped forward and adjusted Lotor’s stance.
“Here,” he murmured, showing him how to plant his feet and hold his shoulders, his hips. “Better,” he said at last. “You have to use your speed, your cunning. You can’t expect to overpower a Galra twice as big as you, but you can trick them, trip them up, tire them out. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” Lotor said quietly, and some of the distrust and paranoia faded from him, leaving him standing taller somehow. “Yes- what’s next?”
“Let’s try a few simple moves,” Sendak said, squaring off against him. “I’m going to come at you, I’m going to try and hit you- stop me.”
Lotor nodded grimly and then Sendak was moving, advancing on him. He swung his fist at Lotor’s head and grinned as the smaller man ducked under him and twisted away. He tried to hit Lotor again but Lotor grabbed his wrist and yanked him forward with the swing, pulling him off balance and sending him tumbling to the floor.
Sendak gasped in shock and turned to see Lotor staring down at him, his eyes wide with fear.
“Good,” Sendak said with a grin. “That was good- that was exactly right.”
“Yes?” Lotor asked uncertainly.
“Yes,” Sendak said. “We’re going to do it again, and this time I won’t hold back. Are you ready?”
“Yes,” Lotor said with a small nod, smiling faintly now.
“Very good,” Sendak said as he stood. “Again.”
They trained together every night and soon Sendak found himself looking forward to it. Lotor was an excellent pupil, quick to learn and eager to obey. He never complained, he always picked himself up and simply kept going, no matter how tired or frustrated he was. Sometimes it took Sendak’s breath away- that he could be so good at this, that he’d even trusted him enough to give this a chance in the first place.
He was driven to learn, to excel, to win, and sometimes it was all Sendak could do to keep up with him. Once they started using weapons Sendak’s respect for him only grew. He was a natural born swordsman, his rate of improvement was practically unheard of.
And still he was never satisfied, he always wanted to do it again, to learn more, to practice one more time. Sendak had never felt as spent as he did after their sessions, never slept this soundly or bonelessly. A few months in and he was already flagging, aching for a break, but Lotor would just show up to his rooms and demand to be shown a move, a parry, an attack- demanded the practice, and always one more time.
“Again,” Lotor said after a practically gruelling session, his eyes glittering with determination.
Sendak laughed in surprise. How could Lotor still be so adamant, still full of strength and fire? Sendak was exhausted, his whole body trembling with exertion. But Lotor was staring at him expectantly, shifting restlessly on his feet as he adjusted his grip on his sword.
“I can’t,” Sendak said. “I’m spent- I can’t take any more.”
“Come now, Sendak- surely you have one more bout in you?” Lotor taunted.
“No, my prince,” Sendak said, sitting heavily on the bed as he let his sword slip from his hand.
“Well… what are we to do, then?” Lotor asked uncertainly. “I can’t leave for another twenty minutes without the sentries catching sight of me.”
“We can talk,” Sendak suggested.
“Talk?” Lotor asked, his eyebrows drawing down incredulously. “About- about what?”
“Anything you like,” Sendak said.
“Well,” Lotor said awkwardly as he put his sword away. “Well. I- uh. I- I don’t-“
“Let’s play a game of Kotat then,” Sendak said, taking pity on him. He stood with a groan and went to retrieve the deck of cards from his nightstand.
“I don’t know how,” Lotor said.
“We can play a different game, if you like. Rum’ka? Or maybe Porak?”
Lotor was frowning up at him as if he’d never heard those words before. “I- I don’t know those either. I don’t know any games. Dayak says games are a waste of time.”
Sendak drew up short at that. “So what do you- what do you do then, in your free time? When you’re not at your lessons?”
“What do you mean?” Lotor asked, his shoulders rising defensively. “I- I sleep, and eat, and bathe. Once a month I report to my father on my progress, and- and sometimes I am permitted to watch flight maneuvers. I don’t exactly- I mean. What more is there?”
Sendak swallowed hard as he imagined it, being shuffled from one tutor to the next, not being permitted to even play a game. He suddenly realized he’d never seen Lotor in the mess hall- he even took his meals alone.
“That’s no way to live, my prince,” he said sadly.
Lotor drew himself up to his full height and balled his hands into fists at his sides. “The way I live is not up to me,” he hissed. “I didn’t come here for your pity, Sendak. If you’re too weak to continue our lesson tonight then I’ll go and take my chances with the sentries-”
“Stop,” Sendak said, taking him by the wrist to keep him from leaving. “Just- sit. I’ll teach you to play Kotat.”
Lotor seemed- Sendak wasn’t sure. Lost, maybe. He couldn’t see further than that, couldn’t understand the way Lotor bit his lip and looked down. Was he afraid? That didn’t seem like him. Maybe he just needed a little push.
“Unless you’re afraid you’ll lose?” Sendak asked with a grin.
“I know what you’re doing,” Lotor muttered, narrowing his eyes and pulling his wrist out of Sendak’s hold. But then he pulled out a chair and sat at the small dining table in the corner and Sendak sat across from him as he shuffled the cards.
“Games aren’t a waste of time,” Sendak said. “Kotat, for one, dates back for centuries, since before the first Emperor. It’s a game of strategy- it teaches tactics, logic, bluffing. But beyond that- games are fun. It’s healthy to have fun sometimes, my prince.”
“Fun is a waste of time,” Lotor muttered, leaning his face on his hand as he watched Sendak deal the cards.
Sendak couldn’t help but laugh and Lotor glanced up at him in surprise.
“Perhaps, my prince. Perhaps that’s why it feels so good. The rules of Kotat are simple enough-“ he explained the rest and tried not to smile as he watched Lotor relax.
They played for a while, long enough for Lotor to get comfortable with the rules and start winning consistently. They played for much longer than twenty minutes, but Sendak couldn’t bring himself to put an end to it while Lotor was laughing as he lay down a winning hand, smiling as he drew cards.
But he couldn’t deny it any longer- it was late and Lotor needed to go, for both their sakes.
“Tomorrow I’ll teach you Rum’ka,” Sendak said with a smile. “It was invented just ten years ago by a drunk mechanic and has no redeeming qualities, but it’s fun. I think you’ll like it.”
Lotor paused at the door uncertainly, and when he looked up he was blushing. “Thank you, Sendak,” he said quietly, and then he was gone.
They continued their illicit training sessions, though now Sendak made sure to pepper in games and other amusements. As Lotor opened up to him Sendak found himself more and more horrified by the treatment he’d been subjected to, and beyond that- how normal he thought it all was.
All of his lessons were one on one with tutors, older Galra who used the Palen Bol as their main method of teaching. His time was taken up by lessons and doctors visits, and beyond that he had nothing. No friends, no hobbies, no other joys. He had his cat, Kova, as his only companion. He ate alone, and always it was some tasteless solution perfectly tailored to meet his dietary needs and nothing more. It was horrific but Lotor took it all in stride. He had no frame of reference, no idea that his life was- empty.
Sendak had no idea that it was this bad, he could barely believe Zarkon would allow this, much less order this. He found his respect for his Emperor fading despite himself. How could he treat his own son this way? His son- who was brilliant and driven and eager, kind despite everything, despite how hard they tried to suffocate him.
He tried not to make a thing of it, tried not to make it worse. Lotor was brittle and defensive, so Sendak couldn’t be direct. Instead he offered Lotor sweets and other delicacies, showed him docu-dramas and gave him books to read. He made sure to smile at him when they passed each other in the halls, and grew even more determined to teach him, to protect him. He wanted to show him everything, show him what life was supposed to be like.
And then the fleet came to a tropical planet and the troops were given shore leave and Sendak knew what he had to do.
He was grinning as he snuck down to Lotor’s rooms in the middle of the night, glancing around nervously as he knocked.
For a long time nothing happened, and then the door opened and Lotor was standing there in just a nightshirt, looking up at him with a frown. Sendak stepped inside quickly, turning on the main lights as Lotor winced at the sudden brightness.
“Sendak?” he asked. “What are you- why are you here?”
“We’re in orbit around Trakia, my prince. It’s one of the most beautiful planets in the Galra Empire- I’m taking you down to see it.”
“What?” Lotor asked uncertainly.
“Get dressed, we need to go soon if we’re not to be discovered.”
“But I-” Lotor frowned and looked away. “I’ve never- and I- I haven’t been given permission-”
“Lotor,” Sendak said, taking him by the shoulders. “Tell me- do you want to go? Do you want to see it?”
“I- I-” Lotor stuttered.
“Lotor,” Sendak said firmly. “You don’t have to be afraid. I’ll take care of you, I promise. I’ll keep you safe. But it’s up to you. What do you want? Do you want to go?”
“Yes,” Lotor said after a long pause. “Yes, I’ll- just- just give me a moment.”
“Hurry,” Sendak called after him. “It’ll be warm down there, dress accordingly.”
Lotor came back dressed in his armor with a thin cloak over it. “Sendak-?”
“Come,” Sendak said, taking his hand with a smile. “Stay quiet.”
He led Lotor through the halls towards the hangar and to his small ship. He helped Lotor inside and then they were leaving, flying towards the planet. Lotor’s eyes were wide with wonder as he took everything in. He was shivering and Sendak put his hand on his narrow shoulder.
“Alright?” he asked.
“Yes,” Lotor said, still peering up through the canopy wide-eyed. “Yes, I- I’ve just never- never left Central Command before.”
“Never?” Sendak asked incredulously. He didn’t know why he was still surprised as he found out some new indignity Lotor had been subjected to. It pained him to think he’d never even stepped on solid ground. It was torture, tragedy, it was everything that Sendak couldn’t stand for and hoped to fix. “Then this will be a treat, my prince,” he forced himself to say lightly.
Lotor laughed with excitement and that was already more than Sendak had been hoping for.
He took them in for a landing, to a small clearing by the side of a waterfall cascading into a hot spring.
“Don’t we need our suits?” Lotor said with alarm as he watched Sendak take off his helmet and stand.
“No, my prince,” Sendak said. “The atmosphere is breathable. Come- we’re here.”
“Alright,” Lotor said, following him nervously.
Sendak relished the way Lotor stopped and raised his head, looking around in wonder. They were in the midst of a lush forest, loud with the sounds of night birds and insects, the air warm and humid from the nearby falls.
“What is that smell?” Lotor breathed out in surprise.
“Fresh air,” Sendak laughed. “Come,” he said, taking Lotor’s hand to lead him to the water.
“What is this?” Lotor asked as he bent to brush his hand over the ground.
“Grass,” Sendak said as he started taking off his armor.
“What are you doing?” Lotor asked in alarm as he watched.
Sendak laughed again, stripping down to his underwear. “I’m going for a swim. You should join me.”
“Is it safe?” Lotor asked uncertainly.
“Safe enough,” Sendak said as he waded into the hot water. “We’re two fearsome Galra warriors, and this planet is uninhabited. What do we have to fear? Join me, my prince. The water is fine.”
Lotor watched him for a few long minutes, and then he started taking off his own armor, his blush bright enough that Sendak could see it even through the gloom. He couldn’t help watching as Lotor stripped. He was strong and lean- beautiful- but Sendak couldn’t help the way his heart sank as he saw the scars and bruises lacing his skin.
But this night was about fun and mischief, not about pain or the way Lotor had been wronged. Sendak forced himself to stay silent even though he wanted to rage against the treatment his prince had been subjected to.
“It’s hot,” Lotor laughed as he stepped into the spring.
“Yes,” Sendak said. “It’s a hot spring. Do you like it?”
“Yes,” Lotor said as he sank into the water, smiling widely. “It’s- it’s wonderful.”
“I’m glad,” Sendak said, and then he thrust his hand into the water to splash Lotor’s face.
“Hey!” Lotor sputtered, and splashed him back.
The next few minutes were lost to wild roughhousing and Sendak felt giddy with the way Lotor laughed and played, easy and unconcerned for once. Afterwards they floated for a while, looking up at the stars above them.
“It’s beautiful here,” Lotor said with a smile. “Thank you for showing me.”
“You deserve this,” Sendak said. “This and so much more. You deserve to live, to have fun, to- to- to have anything you want. Do you understand? You deserve so much more than what you’ve been given.”
“Sendak,” Lotor whispered fearfully.
“No- it’s true,” Sendak said. “I was afraid to say it sooner, but- but it’s not right, the way you’ve been treated. You deserve so much more.”
“I’ve been- my lord father has-”
“No,” Sendak said. “No, he’s been cruel to you, and you don’t even know it.”
Lotor looked down and rubbed his hand over his eyes. “No, I- I know,” he said quietly. “But I- if I prove myself to him, then he’ll- he will-”
“Lotor,” Sendak said, moving closer to take his hand. “I don’t think he will. I think he’s- he’s gone mad.” Even as he said it he realized it was true. Zarkon was mad, there was no grand plan, no method to what he was doing, just empty violence. “He doesn’t see you. He doesn’t see anything but vengeance.”
Lotor shivered and pulled back from him, turning away. “We should go,” he said quietly as he climbed out of the pool. “We should- we shouldn’t have come here. It isn’t safe. We need to- we have to go back.”
“Yes, my prince,” Sendak forced himself to say. He’d gone too far, pushed too hard. He should have just let Lotor have this night, but he’d failed and now Lotor was upset.
They were quiet as they got dressed, as they returned to the ship. Sendak led him carefully through the halls, pausing as they reached the doors to Lotor’s rooms.
“Lotor,” he said urgently before the prince turned away. “Listen to me,” he said, taking Lotor firmly by the shoulders. “You’re amazing. You’re clever, and strong, and kind. You’re- you’re beautiful. You can do anything, do you understand? You can do anything you’d like. Don’t let them convince you that you can’t. Don’t let them beat you down.”
Lotor looked up at him, his expression unreadable. “Good night, Sendak,” he said at last, and turned to walk away.
Lotor stopped showing up to his rooms for their training sessions and Sendak wanted to kick himself. He’d been so stupid. Lotor hadn’t been ready, and still he’d- he’d told him, he’d pushed. Lotor needed him, needed someone who saw him, who cared about him. And now he was too upset and afraid to take what Sendak was offering and it was all Sendak’s fault.
Now that he was actively looking for him, Sendak realized how painfully hidden away he was. He caught sight of Lotor maybe once a week as they passed each other in the halls, only now Lotor refused to look at him.
How had he allowed himself to fuck everything up so badly? He’d ruined everything with just a few words, and now Lotor was alone and there was no way to reach him.
After a few weeks Sendak was going mad with worry, and eventually he went to Lotor’s rooms. But there was no answer to his knock, and finally he had to leave or risk being discovered by the sentries.
He was floundering, angry and sad and lost, and then Zarkon awarded him his first command and he learned he was being sent away. He didn’t want to go, didn’t want to leave Lotor here alone. Sendak’s mind raced as he tried to figure out what to do, how to stay-
But he couldn’t refuse. If he did, Zarkon would just execute him and send someone else in his place. At least if he went he could stay alive, and he’d be more use to Lotor alive than dead even if he was far away.
The night before he was to leave he found himself staying awake, hoping-
A few minutes past midnight the timid knock finally came and he stood to open the door and let Lotor in.
“It’s good to see you,” Sendak said quietly, earnestly.
“Yes,” Lotor said, not quite meeting his gaze. “I wanted to- I wanted to say-” He broke off and licked his lips uncertainly.
“I’m going to miss you,” Sendak said, carefully setting his hands on Lotor’s shoulders. He was so small, but so strong despite it all, so capable. He looked up and suddenly Sendak couldn’t quite catch his breath.
“I’ll miss you too,” Lotor said. “Sendak- could you-?”
“Yes, anything,” he said. “I’ll do anything you ask.”
“Could you- kiss me?” Lotor whispered, blushing. “I’ve just- I’ve never- and I- I want it to be with someone… someone I care about. Before you go- just this once.”
“Yes,” Sendak said, hardly daring to believe his luck as he let his hands drift up to Lotor’s face. He leaned in slowly, holding his breath until their lips met. He couldn’t help shivering and pressing closer, tightening his hands. Lotor whimpered quietly against him and the sound made Sendak’s whole body tighten with desire. He deepened the kiss, pushing Lotor backwards until he was pressed against the door as he plundered his mouth, so warm and welcoming.
Lotor moaned as he clutched at his shoulders, his arms. It was bliss, and then Lotor turned his head away and slid to the side, and Sendak let him go.
“I’d better-” Lotor breathed out, refusing to meet his gaze. “I should- It’s been- it’s been-”
“Yes,” Sendak said quietly, stepping back. “Yes, it’s been-”
“Good night, Sendak,” Lotor said, looking up at him at last. More than anything Sendak didn’t want to let him go, but he couldn’t stop him, either. He couldn’t stop anything that was happening, to either of them.
“Good night, Lotor,” Sendak said. “Until we meet again.”
“Yes,” Lotor said with a quiet nod, and slipped back out into the night.
Sendak did as he was told, he took command of his fleet and went to conquer at his Emperor’s bidding. He tried not to think of the past, not to think of Lotor, but it was impossible.
He did his best to keep track of news from Central Command, searching for any hint of Lotor, what he was up to. There was so little, it was like Lotor didn’t exist at all.
Months into his campaign he found his engineers huddled over some strange schematic. They scrambled to shut it off and act casual as he came in, but he forced them to show him.
“What is this?” he asked. He already recognized Lotor’s work, some sort of advanced shield frequency.
“It’s- it’s- we received it from an engineer in Gnov’s fleet, and they got it from Bogh. It’s-”
“I can see what it is,” Sendak said with a grin. “It’s Prince Lotor’s work.”
“Yes,” his head engineer said with a wince. “We’re not supposed to have this, but-”
“But it’s good, isn’t it?” Sendak asked, raising an eyebrow. “It’s a significant improvement to what we have now. Implement it.”
“Yes, Commander Sendak,” his head engineer said. But there was something in his gaze, some shiftiness-
“There’s more, isn’t there?” Sendak asked.
“Yes,” the man said at last. “Yes, there’s- there’s a lot more.”
Sendak couldn’t help grinning as he forced his engineers to tell him the full truth of it, couldn’t help his heart swelling with pride. There was an entire archive of Lotor’s work, being traded secretly between the engineers of various fleets. Shield improvements, weapons frequencies, ship schematics. Sendak didn’t know how it had gotten out, but somehow Lotor had become a legend of sorts amongst a certain type of people- engineers and pilots and inventors- all clamoring for the new schematics and developments he came up with.
“Check it all and then implement,” Sendak ordered firmly. “We will not be left behind in the past, we will learn and adapt.”
“Yes, Commander,” his head engineer said with a smile.
Sendak tried to keep an eye on Lotor after that but it was nearly impossible. There was such little news- and then he heard that Lotor had angered Zarkon somehow, and had been sentenced to a hundred blood duels in the arena.
The severity of the punishment was unheard of and Sendak felt cold all over as he wondered at it, wondered what Lotor could have done to deserve such a thing. Knowing Zarkon, it could have been anything or nothing. He could have looked at him wrong, or had the audacity to speak before he was spoken to, or even breathed too loudly in Zarkon’s presence. Sendak considered turning his fleet back, returning to Central Command and just- getting Lotor out. But that would doom them both, and he had faith in his prince. He could make it through this.
The first duel was broadcast far and wide, it was meant to be his execution. Sendak watched with bated breath, watched as Lotor used every lesson Sendak had taught him to easily dispatch his much larger opponent.
The remaining matches weren’t broadcast and Sendak could only fret and worry. But there was no news that Lotor was dead, and eventually there were rumors of how well he’d fought, how he’d excelled, the speech he’d made at the end of the last bout. Something about changing the ways of the Galra, something about mercy and forgiveness. It was so like him, and Sendak couldn’t believe for a moment that he was dead. It was simply impossible.
Afterwards there was silence again, all but the occasional schematics that got passed around.
It was a relief to know that Lotor was alive and well, but it wasn’t enough and Sendak needed more, needed to see him. But there was no way.
When Lotor was put in charge of his own mining colony Sendak rejoiced. Finally- he’d show Zarkon that he was wrong, that there was a better way. Sendak followed his success closely, as closely as he was able, but still- news was slow to reach him on the fringes of the Empire. By the time he’d learned of the colony’s destruction and Lotor’s exile, over two weeks had passed.
Sendak was angry and distraught, so much more distraught than he’d thought possible. Lotor had been doing so well- Sendak had seen his quintessence output numbers for himself. He’d been doing better than anyone, and still Zarkon had felt the need to punish him.
There was no sense in it, no lesson. It was just cruelty. Sendak was filled with unspeakable rage as he thought of it, and that was when he made his decision-
He would find Lotor.
He would find him, and he’d never leave him again.
It was so much easier said than done- Lotor was gone. He’d disappeared beyond Sendak’s grasp, beyond anyone’s. Sendak sent out soldiers and spies to search for him, hired mercenaries, and still- there was nothing.
Sometimes, in his darkest moments, he wondered if maybe Lotor was dead. But then he picked himself up and shoved those thoughts away. He would know if he was, somehow he would know.
The years passed, and then they stretched into decades. And still there was no word, but Sendak didn’t allow himself to lose hope.
The conquest continued, the Empire spread. It sickened him, the endless parade of destroyed worlds, the frightened stares of conquered peoples as he took their planets and put them to work in quintessence mines. It was pointless violence, there was no honor or glory in it. But if he didn’t do it someone else would, someone worse. He tried to keep the body count as low as as he could but he didn’t know how to stop it alone. He needed Lotor, and Lotor was gone.
Over a century passed before he received a recording from an encrypted comm signature. He knew in his gut that it would be Lotor, and still- seeing him knocked the breath out of him.
He looked the way he did in Sendak’s nightmares, thin and pale with dark shadows under his eyes. He sighed heavily and ran his hand through his greasy hair before looking up.
“Sendak,” he said. “Sendak- I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. But I had to do it, I-”
He broke off and licked his dry and cracked lips nervously. His eyes were suspiciously bright and oddly unfocused, his pupils blown. He was slurring his words slightly. Was he drunk? Or- or worse? This wasn’t like him, but who knew what he’d been through over the past century- out there on his own.
“But I never meant to- I didn’t want to hurt you, I don’t want to-”
He ran his hand through his hair again and swallowed loudly. “Sendak-” he said urgently, leaning forward. “You have to listen to me, please. Whatever you do- don’t answer the reaper. Do you understand? Don’t. Don’t answer the reaper. I- I’m sorry.”
The message cut off and Sendak sat back. His hands were shaking and he tightened them into fists to steady himself. He had to find Lotor, had to help him. He had to figure out what the hell Lotor was talking about, and now he finally had something to go on- a message.
It took him nearly a week but he finally managed to trace the call back to some backwards moon and took a shuttle down. He searched for another few days, but then he tracked down some rumors about a strange cat, a strange man. Sendak was sure that it was some sort of terrible mistake even as he walked into a dirty hole of a bar, and then Kova was there, rubbing himself against his legs and meowing pitifully.
“Where is he?” he asked the cat, feeling like a fool as he did. But Kova just meowed and ran through the building, leading him out the back towards a dumpster, and a man curled up beside it.
“Fuck,” Sendak hissed. “Lotor?”
The man didn’t stir but Sendak knew it was him, knew it instinctively even before crouching down and pushing back the hood of his dirty cloak. He was passed out, he was gaunt and pale and his hair was greasy and lank. He reeked of drink and for a moment Sendak wasn’t sure he was even breathing.
“Lotor,” Sendak said firmly, slapping him on the side of the face.
Lotor groaned and opened his eyes, looking up at him in confusion. “Sendak?” he asked.
“Dammit, Lotor,” Sendak said, suddenly angry. “This is what you’ve been doing for the past century? Drinking yourself to death in some hole?”
Lotor laughed weakly and the sound of it made a shiver run down Sendak’s spine. “Not the whole time,” he managed. “This is just- the end. I’m finished now. My work is finished. I’m finished.”
“No,” Sendak said, cold with fear. Lotor was completely out of it, this wasn’t safe . How had he allowed this? How had he allowed it to get this bad? Sendak slipped his hands under Lotor’s shoulders and knees, picking him up carefully. “I’m here now, I’m taking you back to my ship.”
“Sendak,” Lotor said, turning to press his face into Sendak’s shoulder. “Did you get my message?”
“Yes,” Sendak said. “But I don’t understand- what is the reaper?”
“I’m sorry,” Lotor whispered. “I’m sorry.”
“Lotor, what did you do?” he demanded, but Lotor was passed out again and all Sendak could do was carry him back to the shuttle.
He took him to his rooms and stripped him of his filthy clothes, horrified by how thin he was, horrified by old scars and fresh bruises. He cleaned Lotor up as best he could and tucked him into bed so he could sleep it off.
Sendak couldn’t sleep that night, all he could do was sit beside him and watch him breathing. By morning he wasn’t better and Sendak realized he wasn’t just drunk, he was sick. He was running a fever and Sendak didn’t know what to do.
It was a minor miracle he’d managed to bring Lotor on board without anyone seeing. He wasn’t supposed to be here, he couldn’t be here on an Imperial ship while he was supposed to be exiled. If anyone found out- if it got back to Zarkon- he could be executed just for being in Galra space. Sendak couldn’t risk it, couldn’t risk taking him to the medbay, getting a doctor.
He put Haxus in charge of the bridge for a few days and didn’t care how erratic his actions must have seemed to the crew. He took care of Lotor as best he could, trying to keep him cool, trying to get him to eat and drink. Lotor grew delirious, muttering nonsense under his breath while it was all Sendak could do to keep him calm.
And then all hell broke loose and Sendak was dragged away by his duty to his fleet. Something was happening in the Empire, something big. Fleets were disappearing without a trace, there were wild rumors spreading about spies, sabotage- some unknown force of cloaked ships that came out of nowhere to destroy Galra warships only to vanish again without a trace. The Empire was in an uproar, chaos. Soldiers and even Commanders started running, deserting their posts in fear.
“Lotor,” Sendak asked him one night. “Lotor- did you- do you know what’s happening? Did you-” he was almost too afraid to ask. “What did you do?”
“I can’t,” Lotor breathed out. “I can’t do it anymore. I can’t be afraid anymore. I just want it to be over. I want it all to be over.”
“Lotor,” Sendak hissed fearfully. “You can’t mean that.”
“I can, I do,” he said, and when he looked up his eyes seemed clear for once, surprisingly focused. “I am my father’s son. I’m a monster.”
“You’re nothing like him, you’re not a monster- how can you say that?”
“It’s true, Sendak,” Lotor said and looked away, curling up into himself.
“What happened to you?” Sendak asked quietly as he reached out and brushed the lank hair back from Lotor’s face. Lotor flinched at the touch and Sendak pulled back, his heart breaking all over again.
“Everything.” Lotor laughed jaggedly. “My father ripped me to shreds, and I think I lost some of the pieces. I think I lost- something. Something important. My soul, maybe. I don’t-” He winced and broke off, panting hard.
“Rest,” Sendak said. “You have to rest so you can recover, my prince.”
“There’s no recovering from what I’ve done,” Lotor whispered.
“It’s going to be alright,” Sendak said, stroking his back soothingly until his breathing evened out into something like sleep. He tried talking to him again the following night but he couldn’t get anything out of him and the senseless ranting was too painful.
Where was his prince? Where was the young man who’d found a way to trust him enough to come to his rooms alone for combat training, who’d laughed over a game of Kotat, who’d spoken of mercy and a better Galra Empire in the arena?
Zarkon had burned him out, drowned him at last, and it was all Sendak’s fault for letting it happen. He should have found a way to steal Lotor away before all this, before it got this bad. He should have seen where his path led, should have helped him, before it was too late.
He should have done so many things, but now all he could do was leave Lotor alone and let him sleep in peace, let him rest.
Zarkon ordered all troops to return to Central Command and for a while Sendak considered running. He couldn’t bring Lotor back there, couldn’t put him at risk like that. Except it would be even more suspicious to disobey. They’d be hunted down if he did, and finally he turned his fleet back. They traveled for a week with no sign of anything odd before they received a Galra SOS signal.
“Sir,” Haxus said as he frowned down at his console. “It’s a distress signal from a Galra cruiser- designation Reaper Five. Shall I answer it?”
Sendak’s blood ran cold as he remembered what Lotor had said.
“No,” he said firmly. “No- don’t answer the reaper.”
“What?” Haxus asked in confusion. “But- protocol says-”
“Don’t,” Sendak said. “I don’t know of any Galra ship with that designation. Bring us into visual range first.”
“Yes, Commander,” Haxus said.
It took them another two hours, and the whole time the distress signal was broadcasting, almost- taunting them. Sendak’s eyes widened as they finally reached the source. It was the charred remains of an entire Galra fleet- completely destroyed.
“There is no Reaper Five,” he said slowly. “This looks like- it looks like Ladnok’s fleet.”
“Yes, sir,” Haxus breathed out.
“Send crews to investigate, we have to find out what happened here.” He had a feeling he already knew what happened, but it seemed impossible. Lotor had done this somehow, but he was laying weak and delirious in Sendak’s rooms, so how-?
He waited tensely for the soldiers he’d sent to investigate to return, but finally they were back with a small storage device, Commander Ladnok’s log.
“On screen,” Sendak said after they’d plugged the device into the system, and watched as Ladnok’s face came into view. She was terrified and sweating, emergency lights flickered behind her and there was a strange alarm wailing in the background like nothing he’d ever heard before, almost like mournful singing.
“We- we received a distress signal, from Reaper Five,” she said urgently. “As soon as we answered it we lost control of our ship. It was- some kind of virus. It took control, it spread to the whole fleet. It’s- it’s started a self destruct sequence. We can’t stop it- we can’t launch escape pods. We- we’re going to die. All of us.”
She closed her eyes, breathing hard. “If anyone finds this- please. Please listen to me- don’t answer the reaper.”
There was an explosion and Ladnok winced before the transmission cut out.
“Sir,” Haxus said slowly. “Sir- how did you know?”
Fuck. Sendak closed his eyes, breathing hard. He’d been right- Lotor had done this. He wasn’t sure how he felt- dizzy and faint, numb. There was a loud ringing in his ears as he considered it- considered the fact that Lotor had created something that could destroy them all, and then he’d set it loose. The Lotor he knew could never have gone through with such a thing- what had happened to him to make him this way? How could he have-
Sendak had no idea what to do now, what to think.
“Oh no,” Haxus said and Sendak opened his eyes in alarm. “Oh- oh fuck. It- the log file, I think it was infected. I think we- we’re next.”
The main lights powered down with a whine leaving only flashing red emergency lights and Sendak watched in horror as the rest of his fleet went dark.
“Can you stop it?” Sendak asked, even as he knew he couldn’t.
“I’m locked out,” Haxus said frantically, his fingers a blur over the console.
An alarm started ringing through the ship like a low mournful hum, like singing.
“Evacuate, now,” Sendak ordered.
“I can’t,” Haxus said weakly as he sat back.
For a long moment the bridge was enveloped in shocked silence, and then the door slammed open and Lotor staggered in, his hair wild around his face as he clutched a blanket closed over his shoulders. “I told you not to fucking answer!” he snarled.
“Prince Lotor?” Haxus asked in shock.
“Get up,” Lotor said, stumbling over. “Get out of my way.”
Haxus threw a fearful glance at Sendak before scrambling to obey. Lotor sat at the vacated console and started to type. For a long moment nothing happened, and then there was a beep and a computerized voice asking for an override code.
Lotor closed his eyes as he shivered at the controls, and Sendak thought he wasn’t going to do it, that he was just going to let them all die- but then he exhaled sharply and typed in a long command.
The strange alarm shut off, leaving them in silence.
“Everyone out,” Sendak ordered and his officers left the bridge in a stupor. He stayed silent for a while longer, watching as Lotor slumped at the console and buried his face in his hands.
“Lotor,” Sendak said slowly. “How- how could you do this?”
“I had to,” he whispered. “He won’t stop. So I have to stop him.”
“You started a massacre,” Sendak said. “You- you’ve killed thousands of us. Innocent Galra-”
“There are no innocent Galra!” Lotor yelled as he fought to stand. “We’re all guilty- we’re a plague spreading through the universe and we all deserve to die! Even me- even you, Sendak. How many planets have you conquered- how many people have you killed?”
“I did what I could, but I had to follow the orders of my Emperor-”
“I don’t want to hear your excuses!” Lotor cried out. “You’re just as bad as the rest of them!”
“Is that so?” Sendak asked numbly. Out of everything, maybe that hurt the worst. “Then why didn’t you just let me die?”
Lotor wiped at his eyes, trembling as he swayed on his feet. “Because I’m weak, and greedy, and selfish,” he said. “I should have. I meant to. I meant to drag us all to hell. I wasn’t in my right mind when I warned you, but I just- I couldn’t. You’re the only one who ever cared about me and I couldn’t do that to you. And now I’ve ruined everything.”
Lotor pulled the blanket closer around himself but it didn’t stop his shivering. “Your crew will tell others what happened here, the reaper will die and the Empire will continue to spread like a disease, all because I failed to destroy it.”
“Is that what you really want?” Sendak asked slowly. “Truly? You want the Empire destroyed?”
“Yes,” Lotor hissed. “But what I want has never mattered before, so why should it matter now? It’s too late.”
Sendak closed his eyes, breathing hard as he tightened his hands into fists. So long ago now, he’d told Lotor that he could do anything, have anything he wanted. He’d told Lotor that he would do anything for him.
He’d meant it.
“I’ll give you what you want, my prince.”
Lotor stared at him in confusion as he went to the communications console and hailed Central Command.
“Emperor Zarkon,” he said as the man appeared on screen.
“Commander Sendak,” Zarkon said, and Sendak was shocked at the magnitude of the hatred that filled him at the sound of Zarkon’s voice, the sight of his face. For all his power, all the fear he inspired, he was small and petty and soulless. He’d twisted all of them into monsters and murderers, turned the Galra into the nightmare of the entire universe. Suddenly what Sendak was about to do seemed so simple, so easy.
“Sire- I’ve made a startling discovery. I came across Ladnok’s destroyed fleet. Her last log entry may be of interest to you.”
“Very good,” Zarkon said with a cruel thin-lipped smile. “Transmit it to me right away.”
“Yes, sire,” Sendak said and sent him Ladnok’s log. He waited as Zarkon played the message.
“Send this warning to all our troops,” Zarkon ordered one of his officers.
Lotor gasped as his knees buckled and he sank to the floor, wide-eyed as he watched his father on screen. They didn’t have to wait much longer for Zarkon’s ship to start shutting down, the sound of the strange alarm echoing through the comms making Sendak shiver with fear.
“What’s happening?” Zarkon exclaimed in shock. His bridge was in chaos; his officers scrambled to override the virus but it was no use. “Sendak-” Zarkon snarled, and then there was an explosion and the transmission cut off.
Sendak felt numb as he stepped towards Lotor and knelt to take him in his arms. “Are you satisfied now, my prince?” he asked sadly.
“No,” Lotor said, wrapping his shaking arms around Sendak’s neck and burying his face in his fur. “No, I’m a monster.”
“We’re all monsters,” Sendak said. “But it’s over now, just like you wanted. You don’t have to be afraid anymore. Let’s get you back to bed.”
The halls were lined with his confused and terrified crew, watching silently as Sendak carried Lotor back to his rooms.
“Sir,” Haxus called after them. “Sir- Commander Sendak! What- what shall we do now? Should we resume course for Central Command?”
“Central Command is gone,” Sendak said. “The reaper took them all. We’re the only ones left now. Set a course for Trakia instead.”
By the time they reached Trakia most of Sendak’s fleet was gone. Some asked permission to go, and Sendak always granted it. Most didn’t ask, just stole away in the middle of the night. Sendak vaguely hoped they wouldn’t turn to piracy but he found himself too numb to care. All he cared about was Lotor, finally getting over his illness at last.
But even though he seemed better physically, he was distant and lost in his own mind. He didn’t speak, didn’t sleep, he didn’t even eat unless Sendak forced him to. For the most part he seemed content to lay in bed, shivering no matter how many blankets Sendak tucked around him.
Sendak gave his cruiser to Haxus and took Lotor down in his personal shuttle, back to the falls where they’d swam together so long ago. He made Lotor walk, and eat, and slowly his color returned, slowly he put on weight again. The ship’s crystal had more than enough power to run the life support and the replicator, and they were comfortable enough aside from the cold silence between them.
“How about a game of Kotat?” Sendak asked one evening as he watched Lotor picking at his food.
Lotor looked up at him incredulously. “Kotat? ” he asked, his voice hoarse from disuse. It was the first thing he’d said to him since that day on the bridge. “How can you think of playing games after what we’ve done?”
Sendak shrugged. “I suppose I’m not finished living quite yet.”
Lotor exhaled sharply and dropped his fork. “I thought I was. I never intended to survive this. Even now I can’t- how can you bear it, Sendak? How can you bear what we’ve done?”
Sendak paused as he thought about it, surprised at himself, at the fact that he’d never really given it a second thought, never doubted it. He’d been raised to be loyal, to obey- and as he realized that Zarkon was not worthy of his loyalty it had shifted towards someone else, to Lotor. He felt no guilt over what he’d done, no regrets. It had been the right thing to do because Lotor had wanted it, asked it of him, and Sendak trusted him to weigh the variables, to know.
But he wasn’t fool enough to say as much now. He knew if he did it would only add to Lotor’s guilt. So instead he tried to dig deeper, and said something else.
“Galra believe in victory or death,” Sendak said. “You couldn’t allow your father’s victory, so you gave him death instead. It is our way.”
“What I did was dishonorable,” Lotor hissed.
“You could have spent centuries in exile raising an army to bring down upon him, you could have challenged him outright and risked everything. You could have done any number of honorable things to bring about the Empire’s downfall, but during that time we would have been conquering, killing, pillaging. Your solution was… elegant, in its own way.”
“You’d call genocide elegant?” Lotor demanded.
“Genocide?” Sendak asked with a laugh. “Tell me, my prince- did you target peaceful Galra settlements?”
“Of course not!” Lotor exclaimed in horror.
“Do you intend to hunt down survivors?”
“No. You targeted the military might of a vicious Empire and destroyed it in one decisive move. Our people have a term for that- Vrepit Sa, Lotor.”
“Why are you so determined to hate yourself?” Sendak asked.
Lotor sighed and looked down. “Why are you so determined not to?”
“What would be the point? What’s done is done,” Sendak said. “I don’t concern myself with guilt and regrets. I did what I did because you were right about your father, and because you wanted it. Because I told you I’d do anything for you and I meant it.”
Lotor stared at him in shock, and then he slowly stood from the table. “I need some fresh air,” he said quietly before turning to go.
He was gone for hours, long enough that Sendak wondered if he should go looking for him as he lay awake in his cot. Just as he was thinking about getting dressed and going out there, Lotor returned, walking quietly through the dark shuttle.
“Are you awake, Sendak?” Lotor whispered.
“Yes,” he said, sitting up to look at him standing uncertainly in the middle of the room.
“You know the answer is yes,” Sendak said. “Yes- to anything.”
“Alright,” Lotor breathed out and climbed into the cot with him. Sendak gathered him into his arms, pulling him close against his chest. He stroked Lotor’s hair and ran his fingertips gently over his ears, his neck, his back.
“My brave prince,” Sendak whispered to him. “You did everything I taught you to. You knew you couldn’t face him- us- head-on so you used your cunning instead. I’m proud of you. Even if you’d let me die- I still would have been proud of you. I love you, my prince. I love you, Lotor.”
For what seemed like the first time since Sendak had found him again, Lotor stopped shaking and relaxed with a quiet sigh.
Lotor started spending more time alone, but he talked more, too. Sendak didn’t know what to say in response to Lotor’s stories about the terrible things he’d been through, but it seemed like most of the time listening was enough.
Slowly it seemed like Lotor was coming alive again, and Sendak felt something in his heart easing at the sight. Lotor smiled more, even laughed once in a while. They played Kotat, and when they got tired of replicated food goo they went out to look for edible fruits and wasted an entire afternoon eating berries until they both felt sick. Lotor spent a week painstakingly carving small figurines out of wood, and smiled as he showed Sendak the finished product.
“I thought I’d teach you a game for once,” he said. “It’s called Taliia- I learned it while I was stationed at the mining colony.”
“How does it work?” Sendak asked and watched with interest as Lotor explained the rules and the pieces. They played until dark, and afterwards lay close together out on the grass watching the stars. When Sendak reached over to take Lotor’s hand he didn’t flinch, and he didn’t pull away.
“Come,” Sendak said at last, weeks later, as he took Lotor by the hand and led him to the hot spring. “Let’s go for a swim,” he said with a smile before getting undressed.
Lotor hesitated on the shore.
“Come,” Sendak urged as he stepped into the water.
“I don’t think either of us wants to see that,” Lotor said with a wry smile. “I’m disgusting.”
“No,” Sendak said firmly, “you aren’t- come here.”
Lotor hesitated a while longer, but then he slipped out of his tunic and pants and followed. Once he was close enough Sendak took his hand and pulled him into his arms.
“You’re beautiful,” he said, running his fingers through Lotor’s hair, over the scars on his back, his shoulders, his chest.
“You can’t still want me,” Lotor said, looking up at him in confusion. “Not now, not after- everything.”
“I can,” Sendak said, “I do.”
“Sendak,” Lotor whispered quietly, fearfully.
“I want you,” Sendak said. “Do you want me?”
“I-” Lotor said uncertainly, looking down.
“Tell me,” Sendak insisted. “Tell me- what do you want? I’ll give you anything, I just need to know- Lotor, please-”
Lotor winced. “I- I don’t-”
“Look at me,” Sendak growled, and when Lotor did he could hardly catch his breath.
“I- I want you,” Lotor breathed out, and that was all Sendak needed to hear. He bent to take Lotor’s lips in a kiss even as he pulled Lotor more firmly against him, holding him tight by the waist with one arm as he let his other hand wander.
He went slow, waiting until he felt Lotor’s heartbeat speed up to deepen the kiss, waiting until Lotor’s cock was hard against him and he was moaning quietly before touching him.
“Sendak,” Lotor whispered, burying his face against Sendak’s shoulder as Sendak took both of them in hand and started to stroke.
He could do this forever, Lotor was so light in his arms, weightless in the water. He shifted restlessly, trying to push into Sendak’s hand as needy moans fell from his lips.
“Yes, my prince,” Sendak whispered into his ear and Lotor’s arms tightened over his shoulders and he made a strange sound, like something between a gasp and a sob. “Come here,” he said roughly, helping Lotor wrap his legs around his hips as he moved to lean back against the rocks lining the edge of the spring. “Easy, now- everything is alright.”
He kept stroking as Lotor gasped and whimpered against him, holding on for dear life.
“That’s it,” Sendak said gently, his own heartbeat pounding through his ears. “That’s it, easy. Is this alright?”
Lotor nodded jerkily and dug his fingers into Sendak’s back and it was enough for now. Sendak tightened his grip and sped up, breathing hard as he brought both of them over the edge.
He came and at the back of his awareness he knew that Lotor was there too, with him, and for a second it was bliss, but then Lotor made that sound again, and then he was sobbing for real.
“Oh,” Sendak said and didn’t know what to do. Lotor was clutching at him and pressing his face against his neck, so Sendak held him closer. “It’s alright,” he murmured against Lotor’s ear. “Everything is going to be alright.”
There was no calming him so they stayed there at the edge of the spring for a long time, for what felt like ages.
Afterwards Sendak carried him to bed and wrapped his arms around him, pulling him back against his chest so Lotor would know he wasn’t alone.
“It’s going to be alright,” Sendak said and Lotor turned towards him, holding him close.
Slowly Lotor blossomed and Sendak couldn’t get enough. During the days they sparred or explored or played games, and at night they swam and made love and it was glorious.
Lotor never said it outright but he didn’t need to for Sendak to know- Sendak was his first, his first kiss, his first everything. It was intoxicating to know that Lotor was his in every way possible, to claim him and know him, to teach him everything.
They did everything, slowly but surely, and Sendak was the happiest he’d ever been, both of them were.
But he knew Lotor couldn’t be satisfied with this for long. He was brilliant and driven, clever and ambitious. How long could he possibly be content to stay on an uninhabited tropical planet frolicking in the forest? Sendak noticed as Lotor grew restless and didn’t know what he could possibly do about it, how to fix it.
They could leave, go somewhere else, but Sendak couldn’t help but be afraid. The Galra Empire had collapsed in a matter of weeks and he had no idea what to expect out there, what would greet them. He waited, afraid to lose what they had, and as the days dragged on Lotor grew more despondent, pulling away again.
It was torture but Sendak had no idea what to do, how to fix it, but then-
“Sendak,” Lotor said one morning as he stood outside, squinting up at the sky.
“What is it?” he asked, but he knew as soon as he joined him. There was a fleet in orbit, although it was unlike any fleet he’d ever seen. There were a few Galra cruisers, but the rest were from other races- Olkari, Puig, Unilu, others that he didn’t recognize.
“They’ve finally come to put me on trial,” Lotor said thoughtfully as he watched the shuttle descending towards them.
Sendak growled low in his throat at the mere thought of it. “Over my dead body, my prince.”
Lotor smiled wryly at him and took his hand as they waited for the shuttle to land.
Sendak was surprised to see Haxus step out and immediately drop to one knee, bowing his head.
“Vrepit Sa, Prince Lotor, Commander Sendak.”
“Vrepit Sa, Lieutenant Haxus,” Sendak said. “Or is it Commander Haxus now?”
“That part remains unclear,” Haxus said with a small smile as he straightened. “Prince Lotor, we’ve come to ask for your help.”
“My help?” Lotor asked in surprise. “With what?”
“The terraforming equipment on Naxzela is malfunctioning. Our engineers are helpless, and if we don’t fix it soon it could destroy the entire sector. We hoped you’d be willing to come and take a look, that you could repair it before it’s too late.”
Lotor seemed speechless at that and he looked up at Sendak uncertainly. It could be a trap, a trick of some kind. But why bother with something so convoluted when Haxus clearly had the manpower to take the two of them by force?
“It looks like your work isn’t finished after all, my prince,” Sendak said, his heart singing as he realized this was it- the purpose and direction Lotor needed, they both needed.
“Apparently not,” Lotor said, some newfound determination entering his eyes. “Very well, Commander Haxus. Lead the way.”