Disclaimer: All Voltron characters belong to World Event Productions and Toei Animation. This story is written for entertainment purposes only and no financial gain is being made by its publication.
This is a father-son story based on true events…
The door to his room was pounded from the outside with a lot of insistence. Prince Lotor woke up very mad indeed. How dare someone disturb him in the middle of the night with such a racket? That person would pay dearly with his or her life…
With just some shorts on and without any shirt, he walked fuming to the door of his room and when he opened it, he was about to scream to the intruder; but stopped flat when he saw Witch Haggar in front of him. Her wide pupiless eyes were staring at him while she showed him her fangs saying:
"Your highness, please…dress up…you must come with me"
"What the fuck is wrong with you? Why did you wake me like that?" said the prince now starting to feel his anger rise up against the witch.
"You must come with me sire…hurry" she said while she wailed her arms in a frantic motion.
"Hell no, get out of here you wretched hag…how dare you wake me up in the middle of the night?"
"Your father wants to see you now…" interrupted Witch Haggar.
"Father? Why? What's wrong?" now Prince Lotor's grimace change from fury to concern.
"Your highness, dress up and I'll tell you in your way there…please…I'll wait for you here," Witch Haggar's grimace reflected genuine concern.
"Very well," the prince sighed. "I'll be right out." The prince entered his room again and quickly dressed properly to go and see the king.
While the witch and the prince started to walk through the castle halls, he immediately asked her:
"Now tell me what's happening…"
"Sire, you know how the king is…he never admits that there is something wrong with him…" started the witch.
"Yes, I know my father very well," answered the prince still looking ahead to where they were heading.
"Well, when he asked for you I noticed that he didn't look well…"
"Aaah, Haggar…he never looks well," interrupted Prince Lotor shaking his head.
Haggar frowned her eyes and ignoring Lotor's last remark she added: "All day I noticed that he hardly tasted his food and was shaking constantly…he ordered the temperature on the throne room to be raised. That's not normal…"
"That sure isn't…he's always hungry…do you think someone poisoned him?" now Prince Lotor looked at the witch.
"No, he can't be poisoned, you know that…but when we were talking earlier, I had a chance to touch his hand and he was burning up," said the witch.
Lotor stopped walking and said: "What? Do you think he is sick?"
"I know he is not well, " the witch gestured the prince to follow her.
Prince Lotor started to walk slowly again while he said: "But that can't be…he can't be sick again. Last time you gave him an elixir so he couldn't be sick anymore…"
"Your highness…that was many years ago, he hasn't been too active and his diet hasn't been exactly the proper one for someone his age. Even I can't help him if he doesn't help himself. He eats what he wants, when he wants…he doesn't exercise enough. He always gives an excuse to fail to make the doctor's appointments, because he says that he's alright, but I know he's not…"
"Well, you know my father, he's always right…only he knows what's good for him, and doesn't allow anyone to tell him otherwise," said the prince with resignation. "But why does he want to see me witch? Did he tell you?"
"He did not," she said shaking her head and almost panting now. "Please sire, you must convince him to let himself get treatment for whatever illness he may have."
"That's gonna be tough Haggar, and you know it…he may be dying and he won't admit it; he never admits weakness. Last time he did admitted his sickness because he had excruciating pain; but if he's not hurting right now, I find it difficult that he will admit feeling sick".
"Nevertheless your highness…we must see to him that he gets treatment, please you must convince him sire," she said this while they arrived to the kings chambers.
Prince Lotor stood in front of King Zarkon's bedroom door looking at Witch Haggar and told her:
"I'll do my best…"
With that said, Prince Lotor knocked at the door in front of him. One of the king's guards opened the door for him and leaded the prince to where the king was sitting while he watched the empire's holographic images.
Prince Lotor bowed before King Zarkon and said:
"Father, you sent for me?"
The king acknowledged his son by pointing him with his staff. And answered:
"Yes I did…I need a favor from you".
"Tell me, whatever you need, I will be of service..."
"Stop kissing my ass Lotor and listen to me…" the king said with obvious loathe in his grimace. "I'm about to make you a little bit happier, but not for too long. I'm taking a week off, I need a vacation to gather strength and distract myself. I'm taking a space cruise and I have everything settled out."
"A space cruise?" asked Lotor.
"Yeah, a space cruise! Do you need me to spell it out for you now, you nitwit? Now listen to me and don't interrupt me again!" said the king obviously in a bad mood.
The prince shook his head and rolled his eyes.
Without looking at his son, the king said: "And stop rolling your eyes boy!"
Prince Lotor opened his eyes wide and said: "But father, I swear I didn't…"
"Don't lie to me insolent! I know you did…" Now King Zarkon was looking straight at his son. "Now listen to me, because my ship is departing three hours from now and I'm leaving you in charge of the kingdom."
Prince Lotor looked at his father with his eyes unable to hide his amazement. His father never did anything like this before.
"But father…I thought that you weren't feeling well," said Lotor with a frown in his eyes.
"Me? Who told you such a stupid thing? I'm feeling perfectly well…I'm just tired from all this work," the king paused a little bit like realizing something.
Then he looked at his door and added: "Oh, I bet it was that good for nothing witch. And I bet she's listening again behind my door!"
King Zarkon looked at his son again and said: "I'm feeling fine, I just need a vacation and I'm going to get it! Do you understand me boy?"
"Yes sire." Prince Lotor lowered his head to the floor before adding: "Father, will you please check in with your doctor before you go?"
"Don't be stupid Lotor! I have no time for that; I said I'm leaving in three hours and you better don't mess up my kingdom."
"Father I've been training for this job for quite a while…" Lotor said shaking his head.
"And don't feel too comfortable, because I'm not dead yet…and won't be in a long time."
"I know father."
"Good, go now and I will see you in a week when I come back".
"But father, if anything happens…leave your communicator open, please?"
"Nothing's gonna happen, but I'll always keep in touch. Now get out of my sight, cause my vacation starts after you leave my room." The king said this last remark while waving his left claw in dismissal.
"Yes, father…Have a nice trip." Prince Lotor bowed and left the kings chambers.
Witch Haggar was waiting anxiously outside the room and when she saw the prince emerge from the chambers, she approached him saying:
"Well sire…is he going to let himself be treated?"
"To be treated? Are you kidding me? He's going on vacation!"
"What? What do you mean sire?" The witch was distressed now.
"Just as you heard, my father's leaving on a space cruise in less than three hours…"
"But you were supposed to convince him to go get some treatment for his malady," the witch had her claws in front of her in a begging motion.
"Well, it seems that he doesn't want a doctor's opinion…he had everything figured out, as always. And I'm not the one to make him change his mind. If you want him to go to a doctor, go convince him yourself. I'm off to sleep now; in three hours I must wake up cause I have a kingdom to run. See ya!" The prince briefly waved his hand at her and left hurriedly back to his room again.
Witch Haggar was left there shaking her head sadly and walking slowly towards her own quarters.
Prince Lotor had so much work that he hardly noticed how that week went by so fast. The witch was the only one to look at him in a way that reminded him that his father possibly left on a vacation being sick. But his father did not contact him during all those days, so at least he felt relief from his father's constant oppression and humiliations.
After the week went by, Prince Lotor received a communication that the king was not going to arrive yet due to some delays of the ship. Then two more days passed by without any communication of his father. When the third day came, Prince Lotor's communicator went off.
"Prince Lotor here."
"Hey son, how's things in the kingdom?" King Zarkon's voice sounded relaxed.
"Father? I expected you to arrive three days ago…how's your vacation going?"
"Well, it's almost over…I'll be arriving there in an hour so have my welcoming committee ready at the hangars, ok?"
"Yes, father…have a safe trip…"
"Yeah, yeah see you later…"
His father's welcoming recurred without any misfortune, but Prince Lotor noticed that his father's walking was slower than he last remembered. But King Zarkon said nothing and went back to his royal duties the very next day.
Two more days went by in which Prince Lotor noticed his father's lack of appetite. Besides, he also noticed that his father's walking was becoming slower by the day. While they were at dinner and his father barely touched his food, Prince Lotor asked:
"Father, you're not hungry?"
"No, not much…"
"Too many things on my mind…and it's all your fault!" King Zarkon looked at him accusingly.
"What did I do?" Prince Lotor said with his eyes opened wide but not surprised at all just startled.
"It's what you haven't done. I'm still waiting for you to conquer Arus, but you keep playing around with that damned Voltron."
Prince Lotor arched his brow and said: "Are you sure that's the cause for your appetite loss?"
"What else could it be you nitwit?" the king was still looking at him with fierce annoyance reflected in his golden eyes.
"Nothing father, you're right…as always."
Prince Lotor continued to eat even if he was bothered by his father's comment. Then while he was going to take the salt for his meal, one of the other seasonings fell to the floor. He didn't wait for a slave to get it and absentmindedly he just tried to grab it from under the table. That's when Prince Lotor noticed something he hadn't before. He took a good look to his father's feet. His father had no closed shoes on, just some open sandals and the blue azure from the king's ankles were dark gray with wounds between his toes. But most of all, what really left Lotor speechless were how swollen his father's feet were.
He came from under the table looking straight at his father, the king oblivious to his son's thoughts but aware of his son's gaze.
"What?" the king asked his son.
"Father…your feet! Have you told the doctor about your feet?"
"No, you're not! I'm calling your doctor…"
"Stop it! I said I'm fine…" the king looked at Lotor defiantly.
"Who are you trying to fool father? Do you want to die?" Prince Lotor said while he stood up from the table.
"Sit down! And I'm not going to die!" the king pointed a finger at Lotor. "Now get off my back!"
Prince Lotor proceeded to tell a guard to look for the king's doctor.
King Zarkon got furious at Prince Lotor.
"How dare you defy me?"
"Ok father, let's just say that you are dying…would you want me to keep you from getting treatment so I can stay with your kingdom?"
"I'm not dying and I'll prove it to you…"
"Very well, then will you let the doctor check how you're doing?"
"Well, just to prove that you're wrong boy…even death fears me!"
Just then the doctor arrived and bowed to both royals.
Prince Lotor approached the doctor and told him: "Doctor, I want you to check my father's legs."
The doctor approached the king and asked: "May I?"
King Zarkon looked at the doctor and then at his son and moved his staff. The doctor proceeded to look at the king's feet. Then he checked the king's knees which were very swollen.
The doctor said to the king: "Sire, we have to hospitalize you immediately."
Prince Lotor shook his head while he looked at his father. The king's eyes were lost in distress unable to stare back at his son. Then the prince told the doctor:
"Do what you have to do to ensure that my father receives all the medical treatment he requires".
At the medical bay, Prince Lotor was sitting beside his father's bed while the king rested. Then the doctor entered the room and bowed to the prince and said:
"Your highness, may I have a word with you?"
While both drules were outside, the doctor started saying to the prince:
"The test results of the king came up."
"Yes? And what is wrong with him?" the prince said concerned.
"The king has Type two diabetes," said the doctor.
"Type two diabetes? How did he get that?" the prince was startled.
"Well, diabetes is a progressive illness; it can develop in a drule with a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. It could also be inherited. His pancreas is not segregating enough insulin, which burns the sugar levels in his blood stream. In the king's case, he must have had this illness for quite a while but kept it a secret. His sugar's levels were way up high and unfortunately the sickness has progressed enough to damage other of his internal organs."
"But why are his feet so swollen?" the prince frowned.
"That's what I'm about to explain to you, sire" the doctor's look reflected genuine concern.
"He has ulcers in his feet, which we are about to treat with an antibiotic…the infection has reached his bones. That will save his legs from being amputated."
"Amputated!" the prince was shocked.
"Yes, if he continues to leave his sickness untreated, he could loose his legs and…" the doctor fell silent for a moment.
"And what?" asked the prince.
"Well, it's a little bit more complicated," added the doctor. "You see…his kidneys are failing too."
"And what does that mean?"
"That if his kidneys do not respond to treatment, we will have to start dialyzing him to keep him alive." Responded the doctor with certainty.
"Are you telling me that he could die? Can't we get a kidney donor or something? With so many dead slaves and soldiers, we could probably find a spare one…" added the prince.
"Sire, in your father's case, it would be most improbable because of his DNA; not even you could be compatible enough to donate an organ for your father. But let's be positive and give him the treatment, if his kidneys respond and he takes care of himself, he'll probably get out of the medical bay in his own two feet."
"Well, let's hope so…" said the prince while he entered his father's room and looked at the king while he slept.
The treatment helped the king to regain part of his health back. His legs were saved and even his kidneys reacted to the treatment. But King Zarkon started to live again like he was all right. He skipped meals, he ate everything he wanted without following the doctor's orders that he had to follow a strict diet. King Zarkon just didn't care. Prince Lotor and Witch Haggar constantly scolded him to follow the doctor's orders, but the king always replied to them the same words: "I know what my body needs, and I will do whatever I want!"
Many months passed, King Zarkon was constantly going in and out of the hospital. He was the worst patient ever. He was always moody and hostile to every nurse and hospital employee that encountered him. It was like he blamed everyone else for what was going on to him. He couldn't realize that this sickness had become part of his life because he had made a lot of bad choices. Bad choices on his diet and bad choices on his lifestyle, but most of all, his bad choice was not accepting that he was sick and that he had to take care of himself. He had other complications like high blood pressure, partial blindness, more leg infections and the swelling in his feet that seemed to never heal from those damned ulcers. Soon his kidneys did not respond to any more treatments, they just stopped working.
His dialysis treatment started just eight months after he was diagnosed with diabetes. His dialyses were scheduled for three days in a week. At first the mighty King Zarkon was strong enough to walk in and out of the dialysis center. But a couple of months later, Witch Haggar and sometimes Prince Lotor had to take him everywhere in a wheel chair. King Zarkon's body became frail, skinny and weak. He couldn't even lie down on his luxurious bed; everything bothered him. He didn't like to depend upon others to take him to the places he needed to be. But he was in no condition to fight against other people's will.
Prince Lotor decided to take his father for a walk on the king's birthday. While Prince Lotor pushed slowly the wheelchair his father told him to stop on a balcony where they could see outside of the castle to the city landscape. Prince Lotor sat on a chair beside his father. The king told him:
"You know I can't rule anymore…I have to leave you in charge of everything"
"Father, you're a tough cookie; you're not dying anytime sooner," Prince Lotor answered without looking at his father.
Then King Zarkon put his claw on his son's shoulder and told him:
"Lotor, I have to leave you in charge. I'm in no condition of ruling anymore. I'm too weak. But I'll be behind the stage to make sure that you don't screw up my kingdom."
To that last remark, Prince Lotor couldn't help but slightly smile. He couldn't expect less from his father.
"Father, I'll do the best I can".
"I know you will, son. It amazes me, that you are the one taking care of me…I know I haven't been father of the year material."
For one instant, Prince Lotor gazed at his father; he wanted to tell his father so many things he had deep in his heart. But what he saw beside him was a frail creature that was surely paying with his condition for all the deeds that he had done in his lifetime. Prince Lotor slightly shook his head while thinking that he didn't need to waste his breath recriminating his father. Time and life made sure that his father paid for all the wrong he had done to a lot of people including himself.
Suddenly, as if reading his son's mind King Zarkon said:
"Lotor, this sickness is a terrible punishment. Of all the times I can recall, I thought that some warrior, warlord, another king, Voltron or even you would have the luck to finish me off… I have so many enemies and I never thought that I would kill myself with so many bad choices. I never imagined in my wildest dreams that my own body would betray me like this…I'm just a shadow of who I was, without any hope of regaining my health back. Just look at me, and remember to make sure that you don't allow this to happen to you."
Prince Lotor then looked back at the horizon and told his father:
"Don't worry father…I won't."