With a sigh, Allura closed her eyes and rubbed them with her free hand. She had been spending the past several hours reading over the trade agreement with the neighboring planet, Genoir. Due to some past hostility and mistrust between Arus and Genoir, Allura paid close attention to all the details. However, considering the agreement was over fifty pages long, the process was tedious.

A knock on the door brought Allura out of the world of tariffs and surpluses. “Come in.”

A maid entered carrying a tray. “You missed lunch, Your Highness.”

Allura glanced at the clock and moaned. “I did. Please, tell Nanny that I’m sorry. This agreement with Genoir has made me lose track of time.”

“Of course, Your Highness.” The maid set the tray down on the only empty part of the desk. With a curtsy, she left.

Allura poured herself a cup of tea, willing the strain to leave her body. She was about halfway finished reading the agreement and had found nothing to fault. Yet, her personal experience with the current president made her extremely cautious.

She had eaten about half of her sandwich and was finishing her second cup of tea when the alarms sounded. Allura paused for a moment, frozen by the unexpected noise. Realizing what was happening, she ran out of her study and headed for the Control Room.

“Coran! What’s going on?” the princess demanded as she entered the Control Room.

The elderly castle advisor turned and faced the young ruler. “We’re under attack, Your Highness. Some Doom ships have just entered Arusian airspace.”

“Lotor,” she whispered, her eyes glued to the various monitors in the room. She suddenly stood straighter, signaling she was prepared to take command of the situation.

“Coran, contact Pollux and Galaxy Garrison, requesting immediate assistance. Now activate the tunnels.”

Coran gaped at her. “Your Highness?”

“We don’t have very many options here, Coran,” she said. “We are going to need the Black Lion.”

Reluctantly, he nodded. “Please, be careful, Your Highness.”

“I will.”

* * * * *

“Keith!” Lance cried, running into their room. “Grab your stuff!”

Keith sat up on his bed, setting the book he had been reading down. He gave his oldest friend a curious look. “What’s going on?”

“Arus is under attack by Lotor,” Lance replied, flinging clothes into a bag.

Keith was immediately on his feet, grabbing some of his belongings as well. “Who’s defending Arus?”

Lance paused in mid-motion.

“Lance, who’s defending Arus?”

“The Castle of Lions and the Princess in the Black Lion,” Lance replied, zipping up his bag. He turned and saw every emotion he was feeling reflected in Keith’s face and then some. “Sven’s on his way there.”

“Let’s go. This other stuff can wait.”

* * * * *

Coran gasped as he watched the Princess narrowly miss a blast.

“Your Highness,” he cried.

“Coran, I’m fine,” she replied in a breathless tone as she returned fire. ‘For now,’ she thought. She shook her head slightly and continued her attacks, thanking Keith for his excellent training.

“When are the reinforcements coming, Coran? How are the castle defenses holding up?”

Coran moved to a nearby monitor. “The Polluxian fleet should be arriving any moment. The castle defenses are at 85%.”

“Thanks, Coran.”

With another gasp and clenched fists, Coran watched helplessly as the Black Lion took a hit.

“Princess Allura!”

“Coran, please, not now!” And with that remark the screen went black.

Coran bowed his head momentarily. "Alfor, please help to keep your daughter safe."