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One Billion Stars in this Universe (And None are Mine)

Chapter Text


Haggar glanced between the Commander she had revived and his second, distrusting of the smaller. “...You informed me that you had no ruling partner.”

“That is none of your concern.” Sendak said darkly. “What is it you want?”

“...I am taking a ship on a reconnaissance mission.” Haggar hissed. “I will not be there to defend your fleet.” She told him. “My student, however.”

At this, another being stepped forward. His robes ended at his knees, hood over his head and face concealed by a thin black mask, four eyes a glowing blue.

“...Who is this?” Sendak growled.

“Mokrai, is the most advanced of my Druid students.” Haggar informed. “He is capable of defending your ships, until my return.”

“...Mokrai, I assume you know your place?” Sendak snarled.

“Of course, sir...” A faintly lilting tone came from beneath the mask. “...I aim to serve. Vrepit sa.” He purred.

“Vrepit sa!” The other Galrans proclaimed.

Haggar nodded to her favourite student, catching his dull smirk behind the mask.

Lance couldn’t help but listen in on the conversation Lotor and Allura were having. It was so soft and sweet it was going to make his teeth rot, and he liked sweets. Regardless of that though, he felt it fit to glare needlessly at the floor about four feet from him

The Galra. Lotor. Voltron was officially allied with the main part of the species they had spent two years fighting. He was tired.

Sitting back with a rough yet near-silent sigh, Lance wiped a quick hand over his face, resting on his Paladin armour before dropping to his armrest. The hard surface jarred his elbow, making him wince, but he relaxed after that.

He couldn’t help but think of everyone, everything he left behind on Earth, and what he was missing out on. Nevermind what he had lost in space. Innocence, peace of mind. He quickly shook his head. That was stuff to bury deep, somewhere between hopelessness and abandonment issues.

Part of him wondered if his room was untouched. Veronica would’ve cleared it. If she figured I was dead. He decided. Then he winced at that line of thought, mind racing with the concept of his entire family believing he was actually gone.

He got out of his chair as Allura carefully aligned the Castle of Lions with the Galran core fleet ship, uncaring of Shiro’s dad glare, ‘to stay seated until the ride had stopped.’

Literal quote.

“I’ll go get the airlock ready.” He called back needlessly, escaping the room, Lotor, and his own thoughts.

Dios, if the universe kept going on like this, he was going to hate space.

Lance padded into the Galra ship on Lotor’s left, across from Shiro. Mostly, he decided he wanted to guard.

Their leader was talking, but Lance was distractedly glancing around at the geometric shapes of the Galran ship, taking in the purple glow of various machines that he was still curious about. Pidge probably knows what they are. He thought offhandedly as a door opened before them, leading into a huge space where twin ribbed power supplies stood out like small houses.

“Lotor!” A new voice called, prompting Shiro to stop his talk and Lotor to mutter out a low, ‘oh no’.

“Uh...” Lance began, leaning in front of Lotor. “Who the heck are you?”

The scary Galra lady, clearly a furless one, glowered at him, stepping forward. “How dare you speak to me without authorization from Blood Emperor Lotor!” She exclaimed, bending a small stick between her hands, yellow eyes glittering...

Right before she whipped him in the face.

Lance yelped, jerking back with a hand to his cheek. “Ow!”

“She was my governess.” Lotor explained with a sigh. “No one has used the term ‘Blood Emperor’ since we were a star-faring race.” He said through half-lidded eyes, meeting the Galra woman’s. “And these, are my colleagues.” Lotor introduced with a glance back to the other Paladins. “They have more than my permission to speak. Everyone, this is Dayak.”

Various greetings rose from the Paladins, while Lance only growled. His face was still stinging from the previous hit.

“So, to what do we owe the honor?” Lotor questioned Dayak.

With a glance to the Paladins, then back to Lotor, Dayak smiled. It made her look no less scary. “Word of your victory at the Kral Zera has spread throughout the empire. I always knew you had it in you to crush your enemies!” She said with a wider grin. “Dayak’s raised you from a child to a man,” Her whip swiped through the air, “and now I’ll witness your ascension to the throne!”

Lance couldn’t help it as he gave a light laugh. “Wait, she raised you from a child?” Oh, this is too good! “Aw, is this your nanny?” He glanced at Lotor with a gentle grin. He had dirt on the prince now.

“Governess.” Lotor corrected.

“You have a nanny!” Lance said excitedly. “Oh man, is she going to read you bedtime stories? Is she gonna rock you to sleep? Is she gon- Ow!” The swipe to his other cheek was not entirely unexpected, though unpleasant.

“I instructed Lotor in the ways of the Galra!” Dayak proclaimed. “The history of our conquests, our customs, battle philosophy, the art of war!”

Hunk, oddly, spoke up next as Lance rubbed his cheek. “Hmm. Galra customs, huh?” He began. “Is that like when you guys say ‘vrepit sa’ and stuff?” He asked, prompting Lotor to glance curiously at him. Then he groaned. “There’s so much we don’t know about you.” He murmured, looking down.

“If you’re, interested in our society’s history,” Lotor leaned over, putting a hand on Hunk’s shoulder. “you couldn’t find a better teacher than Dayak.”

“What Lotor says is true.” Dayak agreed, though Lance was still glaring at Lotor, unimpressed.

“Oh wow.” Hunk chuckled as Lotor pulled away. “Would you really teach me about the Galra?” He asked.

“What’d’ya wanna know about the Galra for?” Lance questioned, glancing to his best friend.

Hunk twisted to meet Lance’s eyes. “We’re going to be working with Lotor to bring peace through the empire, right?” He explained. “Makes sense the more we know about their society, the better.”

Dayak towered over Hunk, suddenly dark. For a second, Lance swore there was fire in her eyes. “If you are to learn the ways of the Galra, be prepared for the most challenging trial you could ever undertake. There will be no turning back. Victory, or death.”

And that turned Lance off it.

Hunk looked frightened. “Uh, oh, that’s ok.” He said, putting up his hands in surrender.

“Hunk, you’re a Paladin of Voltron.” Allura proclaimed, voice melodiously flowing through the area. “There is no challenge too great for you.”

“Will I learn what ‘vrepit sa’ means?” Hunk asked suspiciously.

“Yes.” Dayak agreed.

“Let’s do it!” Hunk cheered, following Dayak out of the room, leaving Lance and the others alone. The red Paladin felt vaguely betrayed.

“Let’s get to that briefing.” Shiro said, glancing to Lotor.

Lance listened closely to the Galran general as his gaze flicked over the red, angular map, then focusing on Sendak’s furry face. His eyes narrowed at the one-eyed Galran, glare dark and hard. Ever since Lance woke up to learn that Sendak had nearly destroyed the Arusians, he had hated the commander.

Which was another weird thing. Lance had never hated anyone before, not even his rival Keith.

He seemed to understand what that word meant a lot better after two years in space.

“It is time I address all Galra and make my claim as Emperor absolute.” Lotor said determinedly.

“Is that going to start with you freeing planets?” Lance questioned.

“It’s not that easy.” Lotor sighed, but he actually sounded... Regretful. “My grip on the empire is tenuous as is. I need to proffer an alternative to our current state.” He explained. “That’s why it is so important that Allura and I gain access to the quintessence field.”

“Are we to focus all our energy on that?” The princess asked calmly.

Lotor raised his eyebrows. “It is paramount. However, we cannot let the empire fall apart.” He stated determinedly. Every so often, something happened that made Lance actually root for Lotor, like his desire to keep his species together. “I will address my people at the astral conflux.”

Lance nodded. “Sweet. I’m gonna go.” He pointed to the door, before trotting away.

“Lance!” Allura shouted, making Lance stop and glance back. “Don’t launch anything this time!”

Lance winced sheepishly. “Yeah! I won’t...” He murmured, before darting out.

The blaring alarm made him trip over his own two feet before spinning around and sprinting back for the briefing room, Paladin shoes squeaking on the floor.

When he managed to slide back in, a Galra commander, covered in spikes, was speaking.

“The planet has already been fired upon, and we do not have the means to protect ourselves.” He said, looking at Lotor’s form at the foot of the hologram. “You must send assistance immediately.” The Galran was saying as Shiro walked in line.

“Understood...” Lotor murmured darkly, hanging up.

Shiro glanced between them. “What’s going on?” He questioned.

“One of our labor planets is under attack from Sendak and his fleet.” Lotor spat.

“Sendak?” Lance huffed. “Not that guy again...”

“We’ve gotta help that planet immediately.” Pidge stated.

“Sendak would have me respond to his attack and neglect my empire.” Lotor’s voice was fraught with anger.

Allura spoke up from Lance’s side. “Voltron can handle this while you continue to rule.”

“But princess, I need you here.” Lotor said softly. “Without you-“

“Your plan has waited this long.” Allura interrupted. “It can wait a tick longer.” Her smile was assured. “We must protect your innocent subjects.”

Lotor glanced away, wary, before looking back. “Of course. You’re right.” He agreed.

“We will return, as soon as we can.” Allura stated, turning and heading out, prompting the other Paladins to follow.

Lance caught the tail end of Hunk and Dayak’s conversation, right as Hunk dove into the elevator. He toed his friend in the ribs. “How is training?” He asked with a laugh.

“Har har.”

Lance smirked at Hunk and Pidge’s conversation, and was about to chime in, when Shiro sounded... off.

The Black Paladin seemed alright for the time, and they dove into the wormhole  without further problems.

Dumped out in the middle of a fleet, everyone immediately shot off to the side, swirling between ships.

Lance’s hands tightened on the joysticks of the Red Lion, her low rumble filling his lungs with reassurance and an easy sense of calm. “Thanks Red...” He murmured softly, even as they swirled into formation, staring at the fleet.

Which was when he heard Shiro’s gasp of pain.

“Shiro?!” Lance shouted into the comms. “Shiro, are you alright?”

“I’m fine.” The black Paladin reassured. “...C’mon team.” He began.

Lance winced. Shiro wasn’t alright. Something was very, very wrong. And he knew what the leader was going to say anyway.

“Let’s form Voltron!”

There it fuckin’ is... Lance thought, flying forward. He always loved the rush that came with forming Voltron... but when Lance touched Shiro’s mind, he recoiled slightly, making his lion latch on just slightly slower than Green. Sorry Red... He thought as she growled angrily at him.

When Voltron was formed, Shiro flew back at the head ship, all of them readied for combat, when Sendak appeared on their holoscreens.

“I know your true weakness.” Sendak said on the message. “That you value the lives of others. And I will hammer that weakness until you are crushed beneath my heel.” He told them darkly.

The cannon charged, but oddly, it was the one aimed away from Voltron.

Past them... And into the shield station.

Everyone stared for a long second.

“No! Without those panels in place, the planet will be fully exposed!” Pidge shouted.

Lance spoke up next. “Which means?!”

“No protection from the radiation bands!” Pidge exclaimed.

“Puta...” Lance hissed, off comm as they watched the panels drift apart. “We can’t let him get away!” He barked as the ships pulled farther back, but oddly, didn’t leave yet.

“Lance, there’s no time. We’ve got to fix that shield as soon as-“ Shiro grunted, exclaiming in pain abruptly.

Allura told the question before Lance could. “Shiro, are you alright?”

With mocking concern, Lance mouthed Shiro’s response. “I’m fine.” Their leader said. “We can’t leave that planet unprotected.”

Voltron flew down, leveling with the main station.

While Shiro was talking to the station’s generals, Lance looked around the cockpit, trying frantically to come up with an idea.

He was only drawn back when Shiro called for Hunk’s attention.

“We need to split up. Pidge, handle the generator system.” Hunk stated.

“I’ll need Shiro with me.” Pidge said. “I can use his arm to repower the mainframe.” She explained.

“Ok good.” Hunk agreed, clearly thinking. “Allura, Lance, I need you to re-fuse that fractured plate.” He stated.

“Affirmative.” Allura agreed.

Lance’s eyes sharpened in focus as he and Red went along the same thought line. “You got it.” His vision changed when Red aligned herself with him, further blurring the line.

“I’m going to try to get the plates realigned.” Hunk told them.

“Ok. We’ve got our orders, let’s move!” Shiro commanded, and the group split up effortlessly.

Lance led Allura over the fractured plate, the pair drifting over it. “Ok.” The former blue Paladin chuckled weakly, “broken massive shield plate. Don’t suppose there’s a quick tutorial video on how to fix this, is there?” Though inaccurate and hopeless, it was funny.

Red growled her irritation at him, for making jokes in a tense situation. It’s how I deal, flames. The mental barb made Red do the lion equivalent of a laugh.

“Make sure the connection is straight!” Hunk shouted into the comms. “If it’s even one degree off, the shield will fail.” He determined.

“That’s not a tutorial!” Lance responded.

There was a pause on the line. “If you hold them in place, then I could freeze them together.” Allura reasoned. “But I don’t think the ice will stand the radiation for very long.”

Considering that for a second, Lance got an idea. “Hey, maybe after you freeze them, I could use my heat ray to weld them together!” He exclaimed. Something his uncle had taught him.

“Great idea Lance!” Allura‘s voice held a smile.

He blushed within his helmet, just a little. “Aww, thanks, Princess. I couldn’t’ve thought of it without you though.” He reasoned, attempting to flirt. “Really, I think we make a great team.” Internally, he winced, and Red started chuckling. “Here we are working together, just the two of us.” He continued, attempting to recover.

“Let’s go, Lance.” Allura sounded a bit irritated.

Dios, Veronica would kill me if she heard how I flirt with chicks... Lance thought as he dove down to the plate, pinning down the various pieces while he was at it.

“They’re all in place!” He shouted to Allura.

The ice ray hit the plates, quickly growing between the cracks. “That should hold them.” The princess determined.

Lance swirled back a good distance. “Hope this works!” He called, as his chest seemed to heat up, then burn, before he felt the heat ray ignite, working carefully and slowly over the lines. He knew how to weld.

“We did it!”

“Nice work guys!” Hunk responded as Lance took a few deep breaths.

Lance and Allura swirled out of the way slowly, with Lance looking back. “Uh, guys?” He called nervously. “That radiation belt’s getting real close.”

“Last piece in place. Fire up that power, Pidge!” Hunk said.

It took a few seconds, illuminating brightly as the building powered up...

Before powering right back down. “What’s going on with the plates?!” Lance shouted, just as he saw the sparks down the weld lines...

Glowing, powerful, and Allura is in the way.

Lance screamed her name, then rammed Red into Blue, her screaming her agreement for this motion.

White light filled everything from his mind to his Lion, body arching in unrestrained agony, Red’s howling with him...

And then nothing.

When Lance woke up, it was to Allura’s kind face and sapphire eyes glittering in front of him.

“...You... Saved me.” He murmured softly.

“I owed you one.” Allura returned with a light chuckle.

“Uh, guys..?” Hunk barked. “We have a problem.”

“And what’s that?!” Pidge shouted in response.

“Sendak’s back!” The other said.

Instantly, Lance lunged forward to take control of his Lion, Red mentally shuffling herself out to get back into her game. “Gah...” Lance panted, shaking his head.

“Lance, you need to-“

“Drop you off at your lion, I know.” Lance nodded, pushing Red toward Blue as Allura stared at him for a few seconds, then nodded, and sprinted from the cockpit.

“E-everyone, to your lions!” Shiro barked, Black and Green pulling up and into formation with the others.

They were exhausted, but ready for this fight.

However, at the inner ring of the horseshoe of the Galra ship, something was off.

A glowing blue-ish light, as though from a cannon, seemed to be charging. It was laced in black and white electricity, snaps of it briefly connecting to the ship.

That’s not a normal shot. Lance thought. Red too, seemed confused.

When the shot fired, a ball of quick-moving energy, Lance realized that it wasn’t aimed for the ship below, which was where Shiro had obviously figured it was going. No.

It was going for Shiro.

For the second time that day, Lance dove in front of another Paladin. “SHIRO!” He shouted, Red’s flame cannon firing back at the ball, nearly in the same instant it hit them.

This time, it was worse.

The other lions jerked away as bolts of light streaked away from the impact point, several lancing around and even striking the Galra ships.

Through the damaged comms, they could hear the Galra shouting orders to retreat, warping away with several ships damaged.

Pidge shouted her fury, turning and whirling to chase down the limping, flagging ships.

“Lance?” Hunk called, voice panicked. “LANCE?!?”

“LANCE!!” Shiro shouted, Black twisting around to try and locate where the other lion was.

Pidge spun, hauling back over. “Lance!” Her voice cracked. “LANCE!”

“I... I can’t find him.” Allura barely breathed, sounding like she was seconds from screaming. “I can’t... I can’t see his signature, anywhere!” She gasped, voice breaking.

The comms went silent... all but the sound disbelieving, heavy breaths.

Chapter Text

One second Lance shoved Shiro out of the way of some weird cannon shot, blasting fire back at it viciously.

And the next he was falling, spinning, while pink and green flashed constantly in Red’s cockpit, light reflecting the near-neon colors though the windows.

Struggling to get her to hold still so he could stop feeling like he was on the world’s deadliest tilt-a-whirl, Lance yanked on the joysticks, Red sluggishly jerking in his grip. The initial shot had clearly rattled her.

“Puta! C’mon girl, you got this...” Lance hissed to her, the pair working together even as the ground came closer. “Red, c’mon!” He shouted.

Red roared in exertion, even as she fired her front thrusters at the exact last second, bright green-blue grass rushing forward to meet them.

The crunch of metal, dirt and various other things rang through the cockpit, Lance’s vision flickering with the agony of being shaken like a mouse.

Both he and Red struggled to pull up after they quite literally flipped head over heels, clawing hopelessly at the air, thrusters snapping sporadically...

And burying once again into the dirt, back first.

Fire and ice shot through Lance’s left thigh and right shoulder as his head hit the back of the seat, illuminating his already blurred sight with bright white, then red, then nothing.

His vision was shaky at best, and the gut-wrenching headache wasn’t lessened by the soft screech of some kind of alarm, with the slowly rising and falling of red lights in the back of his eyes. Disconnected, floating, Lance felt like he was separate from his normal body, distant and alone.

For several moments, the red Paladin remained still, brain slowly starting to catch up to everything that had happened. Crash. He realized. Right.

When Red’s familiar, comforting heat was nowhere to be found in the back of his mind, he panicked.

Reeling from the sudden jolt back into his body, Lance flailed abruptly, right before dropping from his seat, to the side, and crashing unceremoniously onto one of the panels to what was normally the right of the cockpit.

Turning, boosting on his aching left arm, body in utter revolt, Lance threw up, half digested food goo and Hunk’s meals splattering on the inner side of the window. Sorry Red... He thought, fatigue gripping his limbs as he slumped back down, draped over the panels.

The low, raspy-whistle moan that came out of his mouth upon exhale didn’t sound right. “...Red.” He whispered, trying to get her to respond. “Red!” He hissed, only to break down in coughing. “...Red...” He murmured, eyes flickering shut as pain grabbed onto him again.

He forgot the next while.

His ribs burning and his lungs screaming for oxygen kinda woke him up.

Carefully, Lance pulled his arms beside his chest, trying to boost up and roll down, onto the floor...

When his right arm told him rudely that, that wasn’t happening.

Lance screamed as his right shoulder gave out, then slipped, rolled over and crushing the same shoulder, even as he managed to get himself flat to the ground.

Panting weakly, body shaking as his right arm flopped listlessly to the side, Lance put his head back, eyes fluttering shut. “H-hijo de puta...” He muttered, mentally hoping his mother never found out how much he swore in space.

Like, ever.

Lance glanced to his right shoulder, where the one hard pad of the Paladin armor was crushed.

The angle his shoulder was at made him twist away and throw up again, then pass out.

Dislocated. Lance told himself. Just dislocated. Put it back. He said, left hand reaching up shakily to poke at the damaged limb.

He knew how. Especially at this position, he could just shove it and it would go back in. Thank God for First Aid training in the Garrison.

He braced his shoulder against the back wall, gritted his teeth to keep from biting his tongue, and slammed his fist into his shoulder.

The fact that he felt it shift, but not go in, was disgusting.

Lance let out a wail, coughing up bile once more, tears streaming down his face as he forced himself to hit his damaged shoulder again.

The blinding agony and dull sh-klunk it made sliding back into place made Lance start dry heaving, leaning to the side as salt streamed into his mouth from his eyes. It occurred to him later that the wailing cry filling his ears was his own.

It didn’t sound like him.

The world went away again.

This time, when Lance got up, the klaxon was off, the cockpit was dark, and growing rays of soft pinkish-orange light filtered through the dirt-smudged windows.

He managed, through some miraculous, hateful ability, to get up and stagger to where the first aid kit was, getting his Bayard off the floor as well. After attempting to put it into the left storage bars, he learned that his armor had cracked in certain places. Forced to rotate to the other side, despite his ribs screaming in protest, Lance put the Bayard away in his right storage bars.

His left leg screeched whenever he put weight on it, and there was a really weird pain sensation when he tried to stand, but he made it.

“Red?” He called softly as he opened up a panel in the storage spaces. When the light, aluminum-like sheet snapped from it’s last hinge, falling into his hand, Lance threw it needlessly to the side. “Red, baby?”

This time, he felt her respond and nearly collapsed in relief. She was sluggish, weak, but alive and semi-awake.

“I’m here...” Lance panted, laying a hand on one wall. His injured arm was gently held against his stomach, jostled only by his slow breathing. “‘m here.” He told her, carefully leaning on the wall, eyes fluttering shut as he connected with her, two injured beings taking comfort in each other’s live presence.

She encouraged him to leave her, to take care of himself first, but he wanted to stay in her warmth and safety a bit longer. “Got it.” Lance panted softly, slowly pushing away when she growled unhappily at his stubbornness.

Weak and tired, swaying on his feet, Lance used his single good hand to shuffle through various Altean medicines, labels and jars. “C’mon, c’mon...” He muttered furiously, glaring between things he could half read, and the shattered plastic jars and goo of things left behind.

Tiny labels, smudged by transparent green sludge with the same consistency of aloe vera, were taped to some jars. English.

Pidge, I love you. Lance thought, snatching something labeled ‘Space Tylenol- eat 2-3’, ‘Healing goo’ and what were definitely bandages. He took the cleanest ones he could grab.

“Red?” Voice breaking a bit, Lance leaned to the wall and slid to the floor, wincing at the jarring on his body. “Red, babe, I know this is hard...” He said, bracing himself. “Can you sit up? Just sit flat?” He asked. “Or at least your head?”

Red didn’t respond for a while.

Then the cockpit shifted, rolling to upright, causing various broken pieces to fall to the ground, the panel he tossed away earlier making a loud, metal sheet clatter.

Lance bit his lip to keep from screaming, keep from distracting Red as she laid flat. “Thanks girl...” He whispered, shifting so that he settled flat against the wall. She gave a weak, flickering moan, before she retreated from his mind. “There. You rest...” He told her softly as he used one hand to carefully pry free his Paladin armor, laying it on the floor.

When the legs and arms were off, Lance prying his cracked helmet off his head, wincing as it rattled his concussion. Wiping off the drying blood from the side of his head and glancing to the helmet.

The visor was broken, but just along the bottommost left corner.

However, he’d need to clean out the bottom of it. It was sticky from the vomit that pain had driven from him. “Great.” He muttered, then glared at the chestpiece. That was going to hurt.

Flicking open the sides, Lance popped the front of the chestpiece open, and carefully rotated his arms up, over his head. His right burned as he grabbed the shelf behind, using his left to pull the chestpiece from his neck.

It dropped to the floor, arm following it as he hissed in pain. “Yeah. Got it.” He agreed softly with his body, attempting to breath deeper to smooth the pain, tamp it down. “Fuck...” He whispered.

It took him a long time to peel the black suit off his body, then into what his normal outfit was. It was messed up from the crash, dirty, and one pant leg was a little ripped, but it was wearable and comfortable. He needed two hours and the healing jelly to soak in.

Lance sighed softly, laying down on his back, eyes fluttering shut. Takin’ a break. He thought when Red’s consciousness stirred at his motion. Go back to sleep.

He followed her into darkness.

This time, when Lance woke up, it was a lot nicer than any other time.

Slowly, he pulled to his feet, letting himself get his body to sit still, settle, before he started to head to the back of the cockpit and out of Red’s mouth. “It’s alright girl...” He told her, leaning on the wall as he turned toward the exit, toward fresh air.

Red made a low rumble, then her mouth cracked open when he got to the end.

He realized, as a wash of cool air rushed into the cockpit, that he hadn’t checked if the air was safe to breath. Well, whatever.

Judging by the fact that Red let him out, and that the first inhale actually made him blink more awake, it was probably fine to breathe.

Slipping from the mouth of Red, Lance dropped onto soft dirt that squished beneath his extra pair of sneakers. It was a pale orange colour, almost rusted, and it smelled fresh. Even millions of light years from earth, fresh still smells like fresh. With a quick shake, a smirk, and a glance toward the canopy, Lance shifted to standing.

The bark of the trees, which was smooth - like eucalyptus - had twisting teal and gold lines that swirled over the bark, circling the trunk before disappearing into the various branches. The leaves were pale green on the underside.

Lance away from Red, eyes tracing the shattered trees and the scraped trench of dirt where teal-green grass had been torn open by a Lion of Voltron crashing.

He stumbled to the clearing’s edge, attempting to find sticks that he could use to brace his leg. It stung something fierce when he put weight on it, and the sensation of bone grinding was not one he enjoyed.

When he found pieces the right length, he used lengths of the gauze to tie the struts together.

After carefully testing his weight, relieved that his shin hurt less now, Lance took a deep breath and headed back to Red.

She seemed a little more awake when he pressed against her mind, growling in either irritation or a comforting gesture. “Mh.” Lance agreed to nothing, digging into another cabinet an yanking out a pouch of food goo.

He gently slid into the centre seat. “...Fuck.” Spine bending as he slumped to the side, the red Paladin relaxed into the arm of the chair, weakened form giving into sleep without real sleep.

Outside, the screech of various animals and his own fears kept him from resting.

Climbing was hard with an injured leg, but he was making the best of a bad situation.

Lance scrambled uneasily up the slight incline that the rest of the forest had, attempting to find a high enough vantage point to see the planet surrounding them. Red was more awake and significantly better. Maybe even good enough to take off later.

After a quick walk-beside her that left him out of breath and hacking weakly into his aching arm less than half around, Lance came to the realization that he probably had cracked ribs.

One of Red’s back legs had popped a driving hydraulic looking thing, her paint was scratched to beat Hell, and her left shoulder didn’t look spectacular. She was less screwed than he was however, and that was a win.

Lance slipped and landed on his chest, immediately bursting into gasping coughs, the whistling in his chest as he inhaled disturbing Red.

“‘m ok, Red...” Lance managed to get between hacking.

He lay very still for a while, just gasping for air on the teal grass under the green trees.

When he got up again, the sun had moved and Red was very worried. I’m still ok. He told her as he got up, determination driving his exhausted legs.

Something hopped, like a frog, in front of him. Lance recoiled with a disgusted gasp, then relaxed minutely. Aside from the tiny wings and elephant-trunk... it’s a little like a gigantic, mammalian Praying Mantis. He thought, further ensuring his horror. Yep. Nope, not thinking of that again. Cringing away from the creature when it hissed, Lance pulled out his Bayard.

Raising the Bayard up, watching it form into his blaster, Lance pulled the trigger without a pause.

The creature exploded into dust.

Lance shrieked, falling back because by God he did not want to breath that. With as much of a sprint as he could do on a broken leg and the potential for pneumonia, Lance charged back to Red, quickly diving inside her mouth.

At her questioning growl, Lance sighed. “” He muttered. “I didn’t find out where we are.”

Mentally, Red huffed and turned away, going back to resting, leaving Lance to his thoughts.

Like how he couldn’t even survive on a planet, with his Lion, without shooting some manatee-fly-rat that could’ve poisoned him.

Yep... Lance thought with a wince, leaning his head back in his seat. Seventh wheel.

His second attempt at exploration was no better, especially since the cough was getting worse.

Lance was tired and now pissed off. He was missing even Pidge’s annoying lack of self-care. “Where the hell are you guys?” He asked the sky above one night, glaring to the stars that looked nothing like Earth’s.

They didn’t reply.

The second try for any answers failed when Lance attempted to climb one of the smooth trees, slipped, and fell flat on his back, then passed out after coughing for two minutes straight.

It didn’t sound any worse, but there was an odd rasp, a heaviness now. Something was wrong.

He made an attempt to take a full breath and ended up hacking up at least one lung.

At night, he made a fire that burned all his fine arm hair off on just his left arm when he lit it.

Which was when he guessed that this planet had more oxygen than normal, so that wasn’t all bad. At least it had oxygen.

The food rations that he was eating were not made for their taste, that much Lance knew. It’s texture was a lot like half-hard Jello.

Drinking half-hard Jello was like eating lukewarm skinned grapes; A lot of ‘why’ and self-imposed ‘fuck you’.

Red hummed confusedly in his mind.

“Don’t ask why I know what that tastes and feels like.” Lance muttered softly.

The Lion went back to resting.

Third try was two days later.

Two days of eating ration bags and drinking recycled water while Red self-remained enough to fly again.

Third try got him up to a decent vantage point, staring out at the planet beyond.

The sky was pale, pink and violet, faint orange-grey cloud-like wisps flowed through slipstreams far above his head. To his east, a river of something transparent and faintly orange drifted lazily over the faintly hilly landscape.

It was no grand mountains like anywhere he had lived, or anywhere cool from pictures. Alternatively, it was nothing like anywhere he had visited. This planet was shockingly ‘dull’, in terms of geography.

When he looked up, far above to the stars he could see in the pale sky, he realized abruptly that he couldn't recognize any of the constellations. Not even from where they were before, fighting Sendak.

He carefully stepped down the slope, coughing at the midway point, leaning weakly into a tree. Ow. Ow. Ow. He thought with each cough. “...fuckin’ hell...” He griped, limping back to Red.

Red’s worry came through their bond, but when Lance said ‘I’m fine’ for the millionth time, Red didn’t believe him.

Chapter Text


When the rain started falling, hot and hard, burning the t-shirt that Lance had finally managed to get mostly clean, he discovered that most liquid on the planet was actually an acid, and that the plants were somewhat silicon-like.

So shelter for him and Red became his focus, slowly venturing farther from the lion each time he went out.

One morning, he walked far enough into the forest, with only his Bayard for companionship and defence, that he didn’t return until the evening.

Red growled at him when he came back, carrying a branch behind him. The tree’s branches and inner rings were as pretty as the trees themselves, but heavier than most hardwoods on Earth.

“Oh what?” Lance snapped back. He was tired and hungry, patience worn to a wire. “I came back!” The statement was full of anger. “Brought something too.” He muttered, throwing the branch at her feet. Apparently, these trees didn’t lose branches or twigs often, which explained how he had so far only found dried bushes, and pieces of those to burn.

He needed a walking stick. It took him so long to get back to Red because as the days wore on, he rapidly lost steam. By the end of the seventh day, his coughing had turned into a hard, painful thing.

It took him a try or two to get his Bayard to form into the Altean broadsword that he had summoned few times before, but he did it. After that, it was delicate work... with a sword that felt like it was designed for lopping off heads.

Honestly, a broadsword, according to even human ancient history, was really meant for that exact purpose.

Under the deep brown bark, was a lustrous copper colour, and those same swirls of teal and gorgeous golden that painted the outermost layer.

It took Lance nearly three evenings of carving to get the thing worn down, and then smoothed with a rough stone he found by one of the acid rivers. After that, he slowly ran it just above the fire, heating it slowly, not wanting it to crack.

After that, he actually started making decent progress.

Having something to lean on, to boost him up in hard areas, to even just provide a frame of reference, the stick became one of his favourite items.

“...I can make this work.” Lance said one day, standing atop a hill.

There was no way in Hell he was living through this night.

He had shot another weird animal, just after sunset, and about twenty minutes later, what appeared like thousands of them had come out of nowhere, pouring from the canopy, climbing and chewing on Red.

He drew his gun, blaster warm and heavy in his palms, but after the pale green dust they turned into started to blanket the ground, he lept onto Red’s left forepaw and forced his Bayard to reveal his sword, hoping for a change.

It made little difference, and Red was in pain, even standing up and roaring at one point, tail cannon coming up.

“RED NO!” Lance shrieked, and immediately she stopped, thrusters going to fire slightly, escape seeming like the better option.

Coughing at the dust that kicked up, Lance shook his head out and started climbing Red, stopping at one point when she went back to the ground, roaring.

I’m ok! He tried again, gripping to one of the handles and trying to get his breath back.

That was when he saw a flash of warm-coloured rainbow, and an odd creature, like a Phoenix but as a fox and a cat combined, dove past him, beating back the smaller, six-legged things.

When it hit the things, they puffed up rather than explode, forming small balls that squeaked.

The fox-cat grabbed them by ears, tails, and otherwise to fly away with a triumphant yowl.

Lance watched it go, curious for a moment, but when he felt tiny mouse-paws grab onto the hem of his pants, he got a boost of adrenaline and practically sprinted up Red’s arm, into her jaw to get the stick.

When he swung it clumsily at the first thing that entered her mouth, it swelled up and squealed like a baby pig, but didn’t explode.

Lance pulled the stick above his head and brought it down on the next one, sweeping it’s now-spherical body into several others.

Red seemed to get the point. Blunt force worked.

Outside, he could hear the joyful howls and triumphant hisses of the fox-cats.

Red’s tail hit the ground and swept dozens of them away, no shots fired as the pair worked frantically to keep the horrific little animals from consuming everything.

Morning came, and the light seemed to scare away the small creatures.

Lance, completely exhausted, had Red bend down to the ground so he could get out.

Several of the flying fox-cats were still in the area, making their soulful, song-like cries that he hadn’t yet heard in the forest. They dove at any remaining creatures, chasing them away.

“Thanks!” Lance called to them, watching as they landed on the branches of trees before vanishing.

His shoulders slumped. Once again, he was all alone.

He went back to Red.

“Uh, Log 1?”

Lance looked at the tiny log recorder, then to Red’s roof, then back to the log recorder.

Since she was healing, she went back to being a subtle presence in the back of his mind, like normal. So Lance decided to use the thing he had heard about exactly once since Coran had given him a tour of his lion.

“Uh, so, hi.” He said, waving to the tiny, diamond-shaped recorder in the wall. Apparently, the Lions would automatically transfer these between each other, if they could. They wouldn’t send location, unfortunately, but they would send timestamps. “...Uh, I’m just waiting for the coordinates, and map to load on Red’s scanner, but...” He glanced over his shoulder. “If you get this, uh, I’m alive!” The following cheer was soft, sarcastic. “Yay...”

He wiped a hand over his face, and it came back tinged green at places, ripples in his skin filled with the dust. “Well, I uh, had to fight these weird things last night.” He said, lifting his eyes from his hand. “I probably look like hammered crap.” With that weak chuckle at the camera, he broke down coughing. When he was done, the long-suffered sigh that came out was exhausting in itself. He just wanted sleep, honestly.

Leaning forward and leaving his chin in his hand, Lance propped his elbow on the table in front of the camera and stared at the half-finished loading bar on Red’s screen.

It was a long time before he spoke again.

“I’m going to try to get some sleep.” He murmured. He didn’t feel like himself, and he had forgotten what drove him to leave this message. “...Maybe my next log’ll be better.”

He switched it off and left before he could think about how much he missed his team.

Lance woke up to the sun rising for a second time, which meant he had gone clean through the day and night.

“24 hours is an acceptable amount of sleep...” His mocking mutterings didn’t amuse Red, but it did make him feel a bit better mentally. “A fucking coma, yay... Dios.”

He hopped out of Red’s mouth and kept his Bayard in his storage pocket, while he put the stick on the ground.

The instant he did, he heard a lusty ‘mmmrae?’ to his left.

Glancing over, he found three of the fox-cats high above his head, watching him attentively.

He blinked at them as they observed, long, sleek but slightly fluffy tails swaying beneath them, muzzles and pointed ears turned to him, like they were waiting.

“...What, are you waiting for something?” Lance asked them, glaring.

One of them made another soft ‘mrrae’ noise.

The Red Paladin rolled his eyes and started into the forest, hoping to find a higher area where he could get a better signal for Red.

Above him, the branches moved in the wind softly, leaves swaying and peppering him with soft spots of light.

About three hours into the woods, he heard it again.


It made him nearly jump out of his skin, but he turned and found the fox-cats again. This time, it was only two of them, but they were still watching him attentively.

“What, are you laughing at the big loud biped?” He demanded half-heartedly, then winced. When he spoke up, he could hear the crackle his voice held, the liquid in his lungs that made it hard to breath, and the stabbing pain from his ribs.

It made him feel so off-centre that he didn’t know what to even do, other than yell at the dumb fox-cats.

“Mmrae?” One said, before darting off.

“Yeah, sure.” Lance chuckled, nodding to them as he walked away, through the woods to find another open space. The download for coordinates had stopped the night prior at around 88%.

He needed to find the Castle of Lions. He needed to find home

Certainty wasn’t something he was unfamiliar with, but... He forgot when he started thinking the Castle ‘home’ as much as Varadero, back in Cuba.

He shoved it aside.

Lance was looking out the window when the recorder blipped to let him know it was on. “Log two, Paladin Lance of Earth, former pilot of the Blue Lion, current pilot of the Red.”

Then he laughed. “Alright, well, so,” He glanced back to the camera. “that was ridiculous. But it works, yay.” He breathed out a final few chuckles, shaking his head softly. “If like, this ends up broadcasting to someone’s space phone, they’ll know who I am.” He shrugged.

Turning away and standing up, Lance grabbed the bottom of the recorder and pulled it slightly so it was pointing at the pilot’s seat. “So, uh...” He called over to it as he walked back over to Red. “I got the name of the planet, but also some weird-ass message that tells me I’ve got a poor connection.”

After tapping out a few keys, he pointed to the blinking blue dot on the holographic screen. “This is-“ His throat caught and he was forced to bend over hacking, shaking his head out with a small groan right at the end. “Ok. Ow.” He muttered, rubbing his forehead again, then his chest. “Ok, so, this is where I am.” He tapped the blue point, then dropped his arm.

For a moment, he just stared at the empty black hologram of unknown space, and the message in the bottom corner. ‘Poor connection, cannot expand.’

He sighed. “The planet’s called ‘Rinnal’. It’s got... a bit more gravity than Earth does?” The shrug was noncommittal. “And the atmosphere is thinner. But it’s got more... Oxygen concentration.” He pulled up the page on Rinnal. “Yeah, it’s like, 50%.” Pidge might want to know. He reasoned with himself. “Isn’t Earth like, only 20%? I have no idea.”

Then he twisted around to look at the camera again. “So, yeah. Rinnal. When I figure out uh, any like...” He glanced out the window. “...Landmarks, I’ll tell you.”

He walked over and pushed the camera back into it’s proper slot in the wall. “Signing off!” He gave a mock salute before turning it off.

The sudden silence gave him a vacuum somewhere in his chest, and he didn’t register being curled up coughing and crying until a bit after the fact.

“C’mon girl.” Lance muttered as he slid into the seat behind Red’s glittering eyes. “I’ve got a place.”

His hands tightened on the levers, feeling Red shift underneath him. She let out a low rumble of power and prowess, shifting to her feet.

Her thrusters fired, jerking the pair of them off the surface and into the air, slowly rising above the treeline, and above to keep from burning the gorgeous trees below her as he flew toward the highest hill he had found in the radius he could search.

The movement disturbed dozens of odd, fat little creatures that floated from the trees. Literally floated up, like balloons.

Lance laughed slightly when he saw the fox-cat things shooting over the trees, bringing down the little ball creatures quickly.

He could hear their triumphant howls, even in Red’s cockpit.

They landed, Red settling easily on the hill as Lance struggled to figure out how to get the map to search again.

“We’re gonna send a message to the Castle, we’re gonna get out of here, we’ve just got to work.” Lance said. “We’ve got this. Yeah.” His voice held an edge of hope now. “We’ve got it.”

After half an hour, the map finally loaded, unchanged.

‘Poor connection. Cannot expand.’

Lance screamed.

It was nearly another three days of coughing and exploring before Red stood up and roared loud enough that it scared the fat creatures again.

Lance, in the forest, grinned. “You did it!” He shouted at Red, turning around and gripping the stick in both hands for a moment.

He was happy for her. She was fully healed.

As quick as he could, he hobbled back to her, where she was standing as pretty as the day he met her.

Admittedly, she was much more covered in dirt and scratched than before, but still all proud and gorgeous. On top of that, she was practically preening, a warship with a kitten’s mind, like she wanted to do nothing but play with him.

Lance hopped into her cockpit, sliding into the seat and putting the stick beside him.

Stood and roared again as they fired the thrusters, shooting forward over the planet’s surface. The Paladin could feel where she wasn’t quite back up to strength, but she was determined to show him that she could do anything she needed to.

So when they next crossed an open area, a lake, Lance pulled back on the handles, forcing her to an abrupt stop, before they aimed upward, and shot into space.

Lance whooped, ignoring the pain and irritation in his chest as they cleared the pinkish clouds, the world slowly growing darker around them until they were covered in the black blanket of stars, a yellow-orange glow to their back as Lance grinned out into the wide open expanse.

He remembered why he loved space. The freedom. The purity, the simple beauty in the glittering universe.

“Ok girl...” Lance grinned, pulling up the map, watching as it scanned. “We’re goin’ home.” After breaking off to cough several times, he eased the handles forward, starting Red off at an easy pace while the map found a signal.

When it finally did load, the better part of the screen was still black, unread nothingness. “Uh, Red..?” Lance asked, staring at the two or three solar systems that he could actually see, clustered right close to each other.

He glanced to the corner with the coordinates in it, and blinked. “Que demonios..?”

The coordinates simply read, ‘Unknown Location. Sector Space. One Pylon found.’

“What the fuck does that mean..?” Lance muttered, eyes drifting back across the screen, and finding the words he never wanted to see again.

‘Poor connection. Cannot expand.’

He sat, staring at the screen in silence for a long, long time.

Chapter Text

“Log three. Lance McClain of Earth, Voltron Red Paladin.”

He was back to staring at the tiny camera.

“That one sounds better, right?” He asked, then chuckled. “Please tell me that sounds better.” He put his elbows onto the table and dropped his head, fingers threading through his hair with a low exhale. “So uh... I’m in space. Still, space. No surprise.” He muttered, hands tightening on his hair, eyes squeezed shut. 

When he finally pulled his head up, he put his chin on both hands. “...So it’s quintant three. In space. It’s good. So far.” He murmured tiredly, leaning over and breaking down coughing. When he finally recovered, he glanced back to the tiny screen. “I mean, this section of space is... like, open.” He was lost. So lost. “I’m trying to figure out which way I should go to get out of ‘sector space’.” He pulled his head up and made air quotes, then went back to resting. 

He turned, dropping one hand and staring out of the cockpit, tapping the finger of his lowered hand against the table. “...Yeah.” He sighed. “So, I’m going to keep flying,” He turned back, sitting up straighter with a small grin. “I’m gonna fly out here, and see if I can make it to some sort of signal.” He smiled wider, happy that he had a reason to keep flying that he had told someone, even just the computer.

“Signing off!” He saluted with two fingers. 

Red had been flying for another two quintants. With a sigh, then a soft cough, Lance stood up off the seat and walked over to the compartment with the food and water in it. 

Good news was that the Lions were pretty good recyclers, so water was less concern than food.

He stole a packet of water out, stabbed it and pretended he was drinking a Capri-Sun instead of stale recycled water that had been his pee less than a few hours ago. 

Red growled curiously at his focus at the Capri-Sun concept. “The one thing America did right. Aside from, like, McDonald’s, and spaceflight. They did ok on those too.” He explained to her, then tried to dredge up a memory of him tasting a Capri-Sun for the first time. 

Embarrassingly, the first time he had a Capri-Sun was way later than it should’ve been, when his old roommate offered him one and said that sometimes astronauts drank them. 

He was wrong of course, but 14 year old Lance came to the conclusion that Capri-Sun was the beginning and end of all things good and holy in the world. 

Capri-Sun was goddamn delicious and nothing, would ever in a thousand years, change his mind. 

And yet, despite that tasteful memory and a well-timed anecdote, Red thought it was ok to laugh

“Dios mio, Carmesi!” Lance scolded as she continued doing the Lion form of cackling, like a low chuff. “You can’t mock Capri-Sun! They’re the greatest shit!”

Red cared not for his insistences, and chuffed toward him. 

“Fair enough.” The Paladin shrugged at the lack of response, staring out the windows. 

When he was done the imaginary Capri-sun, he turned back to the compartment, and went looking through the shelves for food. 

It took him nearly thirty seconds to actually locate a food pouch under the pouches of recycled water. “...Fuck.” 

So his natural response was to pull apart the entirety of the shelves and sort them apart, finding how many food pouches he had. 

Twenty. He had twenty pouches left. Six, maybe seven days. Ten if he stretched. Compared to the seventy-someodd he had of water. 

“Alright Red...” Lance muttered, putting the pouches away and standing up. “We need to find an inhabitable planet. You can make the food out of other things, right?” 

Red’s soft growl was a distinct ‘yes’. The rest of her sentence though, was more like ‘it won’t taste great’.

Tapping a finger on the keypad in front of him, Lance loaded back up the mostly useless map. It’s screen still displayed the error message that was burned into his retinas by this point, having lost the fun part of mocking it in a nasally voice. 

“Ok, ok...” Lance murmured, eyes narrowing. They had traveled a little south, revealing a bit more of the map, but just a thin line that showed nothing good. The other three or four solar systems were unoccupied, according to the files on them. 

He shook his head softly. “...Nothin’. Sorry girl.” He murmured. 

The low rumble under his feet was simple, plaintive, saddened that she was separated from Voltron, and worried for her paladin. 

“It’s ok, girl...” Lance checked the timer he had set to measure when he should sleep. “...Ok. I’m going to nap.” He murmured, patting her seat as she purred in his mind, lights turning off or dimming. 

He flopped into the bed, the uncomfortable platform in the back of the cockpit, and wrapped himself in the thin space blanket that was tucked there, before falling into restless darkness.

Lance’s eyes snapped open. 

He felt like he hadn’t slept at all, but Red was stopped and resting on an asteroid, lights off. 

The familiar weightlessness of low gravity felt a little odd, but it was actually comforting as Lance pulled his legs over the side, wondering what woke him up. He couldn’t remember dreaming...

Which was when a yowl came from Red’s body, somewhere deep within her.

He glanced down, wondering what was going on, and pushing off the bed to land on the floor. 

Silently, slowly, Lance moved down to the panel torn loose by their crash on Rinnal, access to Red’s underbelly and mechanical systems. He half-floated, half-fell into it, climbing down the dimly lit tunnel. 

The howl came again, far louder.

“Same.” Lance muttered, even as he pulled his body around a small bend...

And saw the glittering blue eyes on the other side of the tunnel. 

They were slitted, like a cat’s, staring him down through furrowed brows, angry. 

“Uh... heya.”

The creature hissed, and Lance abruptly realized that the claws on the end of it’s three-toed paws had clouds of blue, crackling substance around them. The Red Paladin stared at it stupidly for a moment, before realizing that he had recreated that blue substance in science class. 


He pushed back a bit. “Hey, hey, whoa...” He murmured, shifting his weight as it howled again, claws scraping on the passage’s metal floor. “Hey, it’s ok chica...” Lance said kindly, pulling away. 

The creature hissed, backed up, and there was a massive, frightening crackle of blue that encompassed the hall. 

Lance yelped, covering his face as he shot away. 

The crackling went about halfway up the passage, but then cut off, thank God. 

It did wake up Red, though. 

She roared, and the creature went silent, crouching. 

“Red, can you uh...” Lance peeked around the corner. “Turn on the lights?” When they slowly came on, it revealed fur and feathers, a pointed muzzle, sharp horns, and ears with holes in them. “...Huh.” 

One of the fox-cat creatures from Rinnal sat at the end of the tunnel. 

The boy put his weight back a bit, sighing softly and staring at the terrified thing. “Ok chica.” He nodded, pulling away and turning around, crawling from the passage and upstairs. 

He didn’t think about it as he snagged a food pouch and went back down, opening the corner and reaching forward. “Hey~ kitty cat...” He murmured comfortingly. “C’mere.” He waved the food pouch toward the winged fox-cat, who stretched it’s neck and sniffed at the food, before hissing at Lance. “Not gonna hurt’cha, chica...” He reassured. 

When it finally crept back closer to him, he tossed the pouch. 

It immediately sank sharp fangs into the pouch, ripping it open to lick out as much of the food he could. 

“There you go...” He murmured, slowly backing away. 

He figured he could leave it alone for a bit. Maybe he could get it back to Rinnal. 

Lance was cleaning up some stuff, even as he moved about the Lion’s cockpit. 

“Log four.” Lance called to the camera. “Lance McClain of Earth, Voltron Red Paladin.” He grunted as he lifted up a storage box, sliding it back into it’s place, then breaking down coughing for a while, wheezing. When he was done, he sat back up. “There’s uh... A cat-fox thing, from Rinnal.” He chuckled. “Stuck in my basement.” 

Red growled softly. 

“Yes, Red, I mean your access tunnel!” Lance responded. She made a questioning rumble. “Well, because it sounds way dirtier if I say it like that! Puta, girl, it’s like you have learned nothing!” He laughed. 

Red was laughing with him, amused at hearing him say the dirty term at all. 

She had learned after all.

They continued into the darkness, Lance humming Despacito, mouthing the lyrics as Red flew toward a star that was close enough to fly to, hoping that maybe, by some stroke of luck, there would be life. 

It was another quintant of his rations, which he had cut down to only one a day. It sucked, but he wanted the fox from Rinnal to live.

Each time he went down, it came closer, and it only discharged plasma at him twice. 

He went down the shaft again, and this time, the cat came up to him. As it was eating, less than a foot from him, he sighed. “You need a name.” The thought had occurred to him before, but not quite like now. 

Now, when he could see it’s breathing, when he could feel it’s heat... it seemed different. 

“...huh... uh, Rocket?” He asked. No reaction. “...Orange? Ay...” Lance shook his head. “Well, I could call you Chica... naw, that doesn’t work.” He murmured. 

After going through a half-dozen names that didn’t seem to fit, he landed on the right one. “...Ninja? Ascua?”

The cat blinked at him. It was probably for no reason, she didn’t even look him in the eye. 

But Lance felt a connection to that. 

“Ascua?” He asked. “Is that your name?” 

The cat made a soft growl. 

“Ok, yeah.” Lance nodded. “Hi Ascua.” He reached a hand out to her, only to almost get bit. “No touchy yet, got it.” 


He was running out of food. Between himself and Ascua, he had maybe another day. 

The fox-cat wasn’t happy with Lance, but she was alive and hanging out in the cockpit most of the time now. 

She refused to let him touch her, but she stayed within a few feet. That was nice. 

Lance liked to watch her. She had feathers that shone slightly, as though glowing, and her form was lithe and filled with grace, but still playful. Her penchant of finding anything that wasn’t locked down making it a toy was annoying, but entertaining. 

She was pretty, to just watch moving. 

Red roared in his head. “Hey, whoa...” He said, glancing away from Ascua, toward the windows of the cockpit. “How’s it-“ He cut off, when he realized they were looking toward a planet. 

Most of the land looked as a grey-green, pale orange area, with white clouds as navy water spread in thin sections across the planet. 

That was when the map dinged, and suddenly, another section was revealed. 

‘Unknown Location. Sector Space. Two Pylons found.’

“Shit.” He whispered. “We should-“

Red had already turned as Ascua dove into her hiding spot, afraid of the motion and loud noises. 

Diving through the atmosphere, Red went through the light cloud-cover effortlessly, even as Lance grinned, staring at the ground. It was covered in neon green grass, patchy in the more open areas, and the rocks were a soft golden-tone in colour. 

I can get food here! Maybe this planet has people!

He pushed the lion through the final cloud...

Only to catch sight of the high spires and violet shapes of a Galra base. 

Lance lunged away from them, shooting over grey-green trees and plunging into the forest, Red crouching down and hiding. 

“C’mon...” Lance begged softly, Red’s neck craned as she stared up to the sky, waiting for a patrol to come along and out them. 

But none came. 

“...We’re good.” He murmured as Red growled her affirmative, slowly standing up straight. 

However, it was then that he noticed the rocky quality of the ground, the boulders around, and finally, a geometrically shaped crystal rolling around the ground. It bounced occasionally, making a soft, tinkling noise. 

Lance brought Red’s head to the ground to check the crystal, when he saw eyes. 

The crystal... thing, was taller than a human, four arms with odd growths, like shields at the outer edges. When it folded it arms in, it became a near-sphere. It was waving it’s arms at him, sound radiating from it’s chest. 

Lance turned on the speaker system in Red. 

“Paladin! Voltron! You’ve arrived!” It was saying, joyfully. 

He blinked. 

“Follow! Come! Must now, with me!” It said, waving an arm before it rolled into the rough sphere, and headed down, into the forest. 

“...Alright girl...” Lance murmured, and they started through the woods, following the pale blue crystal creature, Red’s smaller stature allowing her to slip under the branches, hiding from the patrols above that were no doubt looking for the thing that had come through their atmosphere. 

The crystal person unrolled, waving it’s arms and gesturing to Red to follow, heading toward a cliffside, covered in lichen. 

It pushed the vines and creepers aside, pointing to a wide cave mouth, Red’s head too far away to pick up what it was saying. Lance got the gist however, and used one of Red’s huge paws to carefully open the curtain of plant matter, slipping her huge body within. 

When the vines dropped back over their hiding spot, softly glowing red crystals were the source of light in the cave, bathing everything with a faint, bloody glow. 

The blue crystal person rolled up again, leading them down the tunnel and underground, deep. 

When Red finally stepped into a larger space, Lance laughed. 

Under here, they had a space large enough to house at least three Lions, or even just Black and Yellow, on top of the two other, elegant looking ships already in their places. Red had no problem stepping inside. 

The blue crystal person was speaking with a few others, as a deep purple one ran in front, holding two white, shining crystals in his hands. 

He waved Lance forward, and the pair were quick to step in time with the purple crystal’s orders. Directed into a particular spot, Red had to carefully turn herself around, tail wrapping around her legs as she faced the people below them. 

Lance ran a quick scan over the air outside. It was about the same density as Earth’s atmosphere, but less oxygen. His helmet was recommended, but not necessary.

Quickly sliding on the helmet, Lance locked it, letting the mask form over, and patted Red’s side. “Take care of Ascua for me.” He told her. 

Then Red growled, and another screen snapped up. 

The atmosphere was perfectly breathable for Ascua. 

“...Huh.” He muttered. “...Good to know.”

When the air started filtering, he broke down coughing. His chest hurt like hell, but he went outside anyway. 

Crystal people were gathered by the dozens, faces - while having few features - displaying a rough approximation of surprise and elation. They murmured between themselves, bodies resonating with the sounds. It was quite interesting. 

“Red Paladin-“

“She has the Blue armour though...”

“That is the Red Lion-“

“Where are the others?”

“I thought there were five...”

“She seems a little small-“

“Shh, she’s here!”

Lance was suddenly standing in a semi-circle of fascinated faces, staring at him in wonder. 

“Uh...” He began slowly. “Hi?”

“Paladin!” One stepped forward. The blue one from earlier. 

“Yep, that’s me.” Lance nodded with an awkward grin. Just hearing another voice made his chest swell. He felt great. “Paladin Lance of Voltron, at your service.”

“We are glad you have come.” It smiled. “We were beginning to fear that our time change effects would render our distress signal mute.”

Lance paused. “...Wait, did you guys send out a signal? A Pylon?” He asked. 

Suddenly, the whole group appeared confused, or concerned. “...Paladin, you’re in Sector Space.”

“Yeah, my map’s been giving me that alert for a while.” He sighed, warily rubbing the back of his neck. “But it says I’ve only found two Pylons.”

The blue crystal person glanced to it’s friends. “...Paladin Lance, come with me.” The hum was slow, considerate. “I must take you to our king.”

“...Uh...” Lance paused, glanced to Red, and nodded. “...Sure.”

The blue being led Lance through what appeared to be a maze, into a room full of red crystal lights, illuminating silver and gold walls, pale brown cloths draped over the lithe forms of beautiful crystal beings. 

“Paladin of Voltron...” The one, built lean, stood upon a circle of precious metals. “It is a pleasure to see you. My name is Ralin Quaar.” It said, stepping down. The voice was clear and calm, vaguely feminine. “I am the king of Dirmon.”

“Uh, thanks, your Highness.” Lance said, quickly remembering his manners and doing his best to impress by taking a knee...

And almost falling over. 

There was silence as he scrambled to his feet with an embarrassed smile, then low chuckling from the room. “S-sorry.” 

“It is alright, Paladin.” The King purred. “Call me Ralin. It’s... Most lovely to see you here.” It (He? She? How did this work?) stepped toward him. “I am sorry as well.” It smiled enigmatically. “It has been a long time, since we have had visitors.”

Lance winced. “I... Don’t know how to tell you this...” He murmured. 

“Oh?” Ralin said, cocking it’s head. 

“...I’m... I’m alone.” He muttered sadly, rubbing the back of his neck. When Ralin glared at him, clearly about to ask if the problems on Dirmon were not enough concern, Lance put up hands in a universal ‘cool it’ sign. “No, it’s not that! I’ve been separated from Voltron, from my team...” He sighed softly, glancing to the side. 

Ralin, and then it’s court, seemed to gasp faintly. They looked at him with varying levels of concern and horror. 

“Paladin,” Ralin breathed softly, eyes wide. “...I am, so sorry, you are separated from your pack, that is...” It took a deep breath. “...terrible.”

“It’s uh,” Terrifying. “not that bad.” Lance smiled. “I’m ok. Trained for it.”

Ralin was still looking at him sadly, but now it seemed a little better. “...Alright then, Paladin.” It nodded, sighing. “I suppose you have questions.” It stated. “From your earlier responses, you have not been trained on...” The smile was kind, but a little joking. “Sector space.”

Lance chuckled. “Nope, never even heard of it.”

The laugh Ralin made sounded like ringing bells. “Ah, well, I will send you to the astrology studies with Tybin. She knows the professors.” 

The blue crystal person from earlier stepped out, and Lance had to reconfigure a lot of his head. Lance had figured out long ago that aliens often had vastly different gender dimorphism. Alternatively, little to no dimorphism. It was strange, but who was he to judge? 

Lance walked over to Tybin. “So, how do you like Ralin?” She asked, chuckling as she led him away. 

“Uh, nice.” Lance nodded. 

“He was hitting on you, by the way.” Tybin grinned.

Lance almost choked, as Tybin laughed at him, turning a right down the corner. 

When they stepped into an observatory, Lance smiled at the graphs of stars on the walls. It reminded him a lot of home, but with entirely different stars. So many different stars, to be precise. 

“Alright, Paladin Lance...” The crystal being began, waving him toward a wall. “Over here.”

Quick to trot over, Lance glanced up at a map that looked oddly similar to-

“That’s the map that Red keeps expanding.” With a gasp, he stepped closer. 

“How many Pylons have you found?” Tybin questioned.

Lance sighed, eyes tracing over the corners of the room. “...Two.” He sighed. 

Footsteps echoed around the otherwise silent area, Tybin moving to the side. 

“Alright, so, sector space...” Tybin began, pulling out a stick. “Sector space is... odd, because it’s bordered almost entirely by black holes and pulsars.” She pressed a button on the side of the map, and various lights of purple and white appeared around the edges. “As a result, time moves far faster here than outside. The speed increases too, as though... we get faster in here, than outside.”  

Lance winced. He had no idea what that meant for Voltron.

Tybin continued without pause. “The Pylons were laid by the Altaeans, long ago, so that other ships could navigate this place. They were laid because most scanner and mapping devices don’t work in here.” She tapped another button, and blue lights lit up in a grid-like pattern. “These are the Pylon locations.”

“...How do I get out of Sector Space?” Lance murmured softly. 

With a quick glance over the map, Tybin tapped her pointer to a place near the south. “There’s a pulsar, flanked by two black holes. If you fly into the pulsar, it sends you out.” 

Lance opened his mouth to reply, when the ground shook abruptly, both him and Tybin staggering. 

A few rocks dropped from the ceiling, and Lance pulled Tybin closer, his shield coming up to guard them, crouching to the ground. The dust caused Lance to cough brutally, even through his helmet. 

When the ‘earthquake’ finally stopped, Lance slowly pulled upright. “You alright, Tybin?” He asked.

“Y-yes.” Tybin said warily, looking around at the rocks that had fallen around them. Lance wasn’t sure if a fallen one would’ve cracked the crystal being, but from the way that Tybin kept staring at some of the larger ones, she very well could’ve been. 

“...What the hell was that?” Lance asked, helping up Tybin, looking around. 

Tybin glanced at the roof, shaking slightly. “...That was... A Galra attack.”

Eyes narrowing, Lance grabbed one of Tybin’s hands. “Let’s go.” He stated, running back up through the maze, quick to look around in desperation for which way to go. 

“Go yur!” Tybin said. 

Lance gave her a confused look. 

She pointed left. 

“Left, got it.” Lance muttered in a half breath. 

They sprinted together, eventually making ‘yur’ and ‘dai’ clear enough in his head. 

“Yur is left, dai is right,” Lance repeated as finally, they sprinted into the main room. “Ralin!” He shouted. “Ralin, what the hell was that?!” 

“A Galra attack.” The king said, shaking himself out. “...I assume Tybin told you where to exit Sector Space?”

“Yeah.” Lance nodded.

“Then you must take off immediately.” Ralin ordered. “Rejoin your pack, fight the Galra. We will hold them back from your capture.”

Shaking his head, the Red Paladin glared at the king. “No disrespect meant, Ralin, but no.” Lance stated. “I can’t leave, knowing you guys are all in danger.” He said clearly, to the room at large. “...Do you guys have... maps? Or diagrams, of the... of the Galra base?”

A green coloured, decently thick Dira stepped forward. “My name is Crik. I can help with that.” She said with a low smirk. 

“Good.” Lance nodded. 

He was freeing this planet.

The Galra base was quite tight together, hard and well-defended. The Dira had made attempts to take it before, but nothing had worked. They weren’t organized enough, not after the Galra had decimated their army. 

“Ok.” Lance said, grabbing the remaining pieces for what seemed like a board game. The last squads that had stayed together. “Only one base, that’s good. Four pillars, less good. Are they mining something?”

“They have a power core, close to the centre.” A thin, purple Dira explained. “If we could get close enough, we could blow it to Jindera, but we’ve never managed.”

“The power core...” Lance murmured, glossing over the new word. “...Do we have any sort of... like, info?”

“I do.” 

A crystal clear Dira stepped forward, almost invisible. “My name is Iitri, Paladin.” He said softly. His voice was soft, like a light bell. “I am the general of the Clear Dira.” His explanation continued. “We act as the... reconnaissance, for the rest of the army.”

He placed a small pad of paper on the table, and Lance picked it up. “...This is a Quintessence harvester, if what Lotor said is true...” He said softly. “...Then we need to get rid of it fast. It’s killing your planet.” The horrified and angry gasps that met him at those words changed the whole dynamic of the room. He ignored it for now, choosing to look over the papers more. “...If you blow up just the harvester...” Lance muttered. “Then the rest of the base gets quiznacked.” He said to the group.

They seemed to guess the meaning of that pretty fast.

Crik, the purple Dira and Iitri grinned, a low growl rising among them. 

“I can give a lot of defence, with Red.” Lance said clearly. “But in order to get down far enough to set a bomb, I’ll need more work from you guys.”

“That’s easy enough.” The purple Dira purred, raising an arm. “My squad is known for it’s use of light conduction. It’ll be easy enough to give cover, if you can get us to the spires.”

“Sounds good.” Lance nodded. “I can fly you guys up in Red, drop you at the towers. It’ll be a fight, but-“

“Nothing we cannot handle.” Iitri said calmly. “If we desire our freedom, then we must be prepared to battle for it.” He said. “Ritrigi tao!” He called to the others. 

”RITRIGI TAO RITRARI!” The generals, guards, everyone shouted. 

Lance found the odd solidarity, like Vrepit Sa, rather comforting.

“Ritrigi tao ritrari!” Lance called out in agreement. The Dira cheered.

They would win.

The purple commander - her name was Torgosi, apparently - was loading in with the other 23 of her squad. “Six of us on each pillar.” 

“Just hold on.” Lance encouraged with a grin. Others were getting ready as well, in metallic four-wheeled things that ran low and close to the dirt, spiked wheels eating through distance and barriers.

The rest were footsoldiers, but they rode on odd, floating disks made of metal. Their weapons were visible, looking around at the others, or hugging family. 

This would be a difficult fight. 

Lance stepped inside, settling into Red’s cockpit. Ascua looked him over, suspicious, but she didn’t leave. The cat-fox gripped to the bar that she had found near the side, and stared out the window with her wings half-spread. 

“You know, don’t you, Ascua?” Lance questioned, offering her a hand. 

She glanced at him, but made no move to either come closer or go away from him. 

Lance nodded. “Yeah, you do.” He sighed, and lay his hands over the sticks of Red’s control. The damage and chaos still served as a harsh reminder for what they had gone through. 

Red though, shook herself out and shifted to her feet, the people roaring with her. 

Out front, a bright orange general waved a lighted spear, and they started. 

Red could walk, powerful, as the footsoldiers leapt onto their disks and shot forward, the four-wheeled things eating through the forests as the Lion followed, army spreading to surround the whole base.

”This is commander Crik, come in Paladin Lance, come in...” A voice came through his helmet. 

“This is Paladin Lance, what can I do for you commander?” Lance asked with a smirk.

”Very funny.” Crik chuckled. ”Take off on the signal, we’re going to start the attack.”

“Got it.” Lance pulled Red to stop, and waited. His eyes narrowed in focus, body tense. 

Red rumbled beneath him, a reassurance and call to battle. “Let’s do this.” Lance muttered, taking a deep breath. 

When the horn sounded, Red shot into the air, roaring with fury. So far, no lasers were fired at them, no cannon shots anywhere close. 

Six of the laser shooter Dira hopped out of Red’s mouth when she hovered close to the first tower. 

After they started shooting, Lance pulled Red away and moved to the second tower. That set jumped out, just in time for a blast that forced Lance to pull away streaked by Red’s shoulder.

Red took off again, tail cannon shooting at the offending gunmen as they moved to the third spire.

Lance failed to land the first time, jerking back with a few choice swears, swallowing the hitch in his breath before coming in and finally dropping off his cargo. 

Last spire, c’mon... He thought as Red’s claws sank into the metal, pulling her to a stop as she opened her mouth. “GO GO GO!” The Paladin shouted painfully as Red ducked another cannon shot. 

The people on the spires were now focusing their attention around, effortlessly providing covering fire as Red took off and started diving down, into the pit. 

The bomb, crystals and metals in a neat, baseball sized package, promised a payload delivery big enough to implode the core. 

Which would annihilate the Galra base, and leave a crater where it was. 

But Lance was really trying to mentally avoid the casualties he was about to cause.

Red shuddered as she took a cannon shot to the side. “PUTA!” Lance shouted, Red roaring in agreement as she turned, mouth cannon charging and punching a hole through the shooter’s area on the offending spire. Lance ripped off his helmet and tossed it to the side. The crack was distracting him. 

The spires were warped inward, preventing Red from flying deeper into the core, landing, paws splayed, on the standing spikes of the building. 

Lance winced, quickly sliding from his seat. Red shifted, turning alarmed, as her Paladin clambered up and around, sliding into her mouth. “Red, open up!” He demanded. 

She only hesitated for a second before opening up, and Lance, bomb in hand, dropped from her jaws. 

He shouted as he fell, but eventually swung his body the right way, shakily falling as he coughed, unable to aim through tears of pain from his lungs. His Bayard shifted to it’s common blaster form, and he proceeded to randomly fire at whatever shot toward him. 

His jetpack fired a few times, slowing his descent as he plunged for the core, Red’s furious howling behind him. 

Eventually, he managed to get back his lungs, still dropping, as he held his Bayard a bit tighter. “Ok, ok...” Lance whispered as he continued to dive, only firing his jetpack when he got a little fast. 

Several Galran soldiers appeared on a balcony, and Lance unloaded on them, face contorted into a snarl as he dodged their shots.

Eventually though, he realized that the core was a little closer than he strictly liked. 

His jetpack roaring as he increased the thrust was his saving grace, but he still hit the ground at a decent velocity. 

Forcing his body to relax, Lance leaned forward as his knees crumpled, rolling into a somersault to avoid injury. It worked to a degree, though his ribs rattled as his left leg shook, forcing his right shoulder to take some weight as well. 

An ache ran across his side, Lance leveraging off his right leg to standing. 

His Paladin armour had fortunately braced his leg, but it still stung. His head still stung, and his chest was full of fire. 

But he had a job to do. 

Quickly, he knelt properly and put the bomb down, tapping the code out that Crik had taught him. 

A shot landed less than two inches from his right foot, and instinct born of spending years fighting the Galra threw him to the side, even as the bomb clicked active. 

A Galra sniper levelled a gun at Lance, nearly twenty meters away, almost upright. 

Lance pulled out his own rifle, rolling out of the next attack, before focusing down the sight. 

He tensed up, held his breath, and-

The coughing shocked both him and the Galra, the poor guy missing again as Lance’s shot whipped past his ear. 

“Maldito quiznak... fuck fuck!” Lance cursed, ducking another shot as his jetpack launched him skyward, fighting gravity as he streaked back to Red, now in her red shield sphere.

Heat streaked across his ribs, mostly deflected by his armour, but he dropped a few feet when it happened, raising his blaster and unloading as fast as he could. “C’mon, c’mon...” He hissed, turning back to face upward and continuing toward Red. 

But then heat streaked across his face, just over the left side of his mouth, and Lance screamed, falling a good distance before he adjusted, one hand pressing to his face. It had felt like a burning slice. 

When he got close enough, she just roared and opened her jaws, snapping down on him effortlessly. 

Lance landed in her mouth with a jarring thud, pain shooting through his entire left side. “Shit...” He breathed, climbing into Red’s cockpit and sliding into the seat. 

Lance turned her head upright, firing a single blast into the sky. 

Abruptly, he had a lot more shots focused on him and Red’s scratched bodies. 

Red shuddered when a particularly hard hit nailed her side, and Lance shoved her sticks upward, pedals working as she turned and leapt upward. They had to get out as soon as possible, like the others. 

They flew free of the base at the same time that Ion Cannons turned to focus on them, Red swivelling to focus on the base, giving the Dira time to flee at a good distance. 

He hadn’t managed to get a handle of the Dira’s time system, not yet, but he still thought he had more time when the base’s centre was filled with white light, right before a blast wave threw Red away, Lance’s skilled hands adjusting her back upright, guiding her toward the sky as trees swayed below them, her thrusters braced against the wave. 

When the ash, dust and metal started coming down, caught by the leaves of the trees, Lance brought Red down, landing back at their Muster point. 

The cheers at the destruction before him lightened his heart, from the death his actions had wrought. 

“Iitri Egan, of Dirmon, Crik Morn, of Dirmon, Parr Falri, of Dirmon, Lor Mai, of Dirmon, and Paladin Lance, of Voltron.” Ralin announced. “It is with great honour and great pride that I present to you the Silver.” 

A pale green Dira stepped onto stage with five small, reflective silver pendants on a small metal sheet. She took her time sliding each one on their necks, each one bending down to receive the necklace. Lance gave her a smile before he returned upright. 

“For exceptional leadership, prowess, and focus in the heat of battle. We honour you, warriors of Dirmon, for your acts in removing the Galra from our peaceful planet.” Ralin said clearly, a smile on his face. 

Lance grinned out to the crowd, confident and free, his injuries forgotten. 

They had won the day.

Chapter Text

Lotor looked Allura over, her downcast figure shadowing the moment. The Sinclair ships were so beautiful, but Allura was so... pained.

The prince winced as well. He had even grown vaguely fond of the Red Paladin. Not the mean one with the black hair, no, but Lance. Lance had been interesting, and like a glue to the others.

But now that glue was gone. As was the Red Lion.

Voltron was unable to form. Which made the Sincline ships even more needed.

Lotor took a deep breath, opening his mouth slightly to say something, but ended up shutting it again, waiting another second before speaking. “...I’ve waited an eternity for this.”

“We’ve done everything we can to prepare us for this moment.” Allura said with false bravado, trying to stay strong. “We’re ready.”

Lotor turned to her. “ means... so much to me, to share this with you.” He said softly.

It didn’t take them long to suit up and load into the ship, Lotor at the main helm. “Beginning system check.” He said. “Front and rear stabilizers.”

“Front and rear stabilizers are go.” Allura said.

“Quintessence collection array.” Lotor stated.

Allura repeated, with confirmation.


“Infracels up.”


“Dynotherms connected.”

“Switching on mega-thrusters.” Lotor stated, the ship rumbling beneath them.

“Mega-thrusters are go.” Allura smiled slightly, the first she had since...

The launching bay opened, ship rising from the ground. Lotor pulled back on the handle, and just like that, the ship fired off toward Daibazaal, streaking away from the castleship.

“T-minus 10 ticks to entry,” Coran said through the radio. ”Nine... eight... seven... six... five... four... three... two...”

Lotor’s hand tightened on the stick, the display rattling...


“Are you ready?” Lotor asked.

“Here we go.” Allura murmured.

They were gone. Completely gone, but in the quintessence field. Hunk could sense it.

Even now, only a few days after... the incident, as they were calling it, Hunk had wanted to get Coran, Shiro, anyone to call off this trip to the field.

Because he couldn’t bear to lose Allura too. Not now, not ever.

His wounds were still too fresh, from looking up and his best friend being... gone.

The blaring, red alarm jolted him from his thoughts. “What is that?” He asked.

Coran stepped forward. “I’ve got an incoming craft.” He said.

“Shields up.” Shiro ordered, eyes sharp. “And pull it up on-screen.”

When the ship appeared, Coran gasped. “That... that can’t be!” He exclaimed. “That’s an Altean pod! A really old one!”

“What... what’s it doing here?” Pidge whispered.

“Let’s find out.” Shiro growled, eyebrows narrowing. “Attention, Altean pod. Identify yourself.”

And Keith popped up on the screen.

Hunk’s eyes just about blew out of his head in shock.

“Shiro, it’s Keith.” He said clearly.

“Keith!” Shiro breathed, stammering. “A-are you ok?”

“Where have you been?” Pidge said.

“How did you get your hands on that pod?” Coran demanded.

Hunk did a double take. “Keith are you... bigger?” He asked in confusion.

”Where’s Lotor?” Keith demanded.

“He’s in the quintessence field.” Hunk informed.

Keith groaned, wincing slightly. “Oh no...” He murmured. "We're coming in for a landing. Can you open for us?"

The Paladins lunged for the elevator as they opened the bay doors, practically piling over each other to get downstairs and to the hangar. If Keith was back... maybe Lance could come back, just to fight with him.

The pod spun to a landing, and Keith, bigger, well muscled, and in his Galra suit, jumped out. Hunk blinked at him, eyebrows lowering in concern.

“Keith... it’s so good to see you...” Shiro murmured, still looking shocked.

Keith strode forward toward the Paladins, eyes narrowed. “We need to stop Lotor.” He said darkly. “He’s been lying to all of us.”

“Wh- Lying about what?” Shiro inquired.

“Everything!” A new voice, young and female, stated. Blond, long hair in neat, crowning braids on her head.

“Y-you’re...” Coran stared. “You’re Altean!”

“Who’re you?” Pidge questioned the Galran.

“Is that a wolf?” Hunk asked.

“Where did you come from?” Coran demanded.

“I promise I’ll explain everything once we get to Lotor.” Keith stated determinedly.

“We can’t get to him.” Pidge shrugged, shaking her head. “He just entered the quintessence field with Allura.”

“We’ve travelled realities before. We can fly in and attack.” Keith stated, eyes narrowed.

“What about Allura? We can’t hurt her.” Hunk asked. “And why are we even attacking?”

“Look, Keith, everyone, calm down.” Shiro interrupted. “When they return, we’ll get this all sorted out.”

Keith nodded deeply.

“Hunk is right.” Shiro noted. “You do look different.”

“Time is different where I’ve been.” Keith said.

“Shiro, I am Krolia.” The Galran stepped forward. “Keith has told me all about you.” She shook his hand. “Thank you, for raising him to be the man he is today.”

“Krolia is with the Blade of Marmora.” Keith explained. “Also... she’s my mother.”

Shiro only looked surprised for a moment. “It’s an honour to meet you.”

Krolia opened her mouth to respond, when she was interrupted.

“Wait.” Keith said, eyes suddenly flicking over them, like he had noticed something was wrong earlier and was just now getting what it was. When he had a moment to properly check them over without the stress of thrown questions, he knew what it was. “...where’s Lance?”

Shiro’s eyes dropped, his whole demeanor slumping.

Pidge clammed up, eyes sharp and narrowed, looking away.

Hunk’s heart dropped to his stomach, and he couldn’t meet Keith’s confused look.

Coran swallowed, hands tight on one another.

“...Keith.” Shiro said slowly.

“Wait, what’s going on? Where is Lance?” Keith demanded.

“Keith, it’s...” Shiro began softly. “...complicated.”

“Make it less complicated,” Keith said, and for a moment, Hunk wondered if he had finally gotten a sense of humour. “Where. Is. Lance?”

“He’s gone, ok!?” Pidge snapped, whirling on Keith with rage in her eyes.

Keith flinched back, eyes wide. “...what do you mean, ‘he’s gone’..?”

A deep breath came from Shiro, who’s eyes were shadowed with loss and pain. “’s...” He murmured softly. “...only a few days ago.”

“Three.” Pidge interrupted with a hiss.

“Three, days ago.” Shiro corrected. “...Lance and Red took... a Druid hit, for... for me.” He said, haltingly. “...they were both... blown. To... nothing.”

Keith’s face went pale, like all the blood had been entirely sucked from his body. “...what?” He whispered.

“...there was a Druid’s energy attack, aimed for Shiro.” Hunk filled in softly. “The attack looked... stronger, than normal. Lance dove in front of it.” He explained. “He tried to blast it back but... he got hit. And... he and Red were...”

“Killed! Destroyed!” Pidge shouted, glaring at them. “They’re dead! I saw that time!”

“But...” Keith said softly. He looked like he had so much to say, and no words to say it with.

Everyone was silent for a while.

Shiro sighed. “We need to deal with the matter at hand first.”

Keith ran a hand through his hair, face still shockingly pale. “R-right.” He murmured. “This is Romelle.” He said, glancing to the Altean. “And I think she should tell her own story.”

“That’s...” Hunk began, hands clasped over his chest.

“All this time...” Pidge hissed, bitterness colouring her tone.

“He’s a monster.” Keith said darkly.

The screen beeped, scanners coming alive. “They’re back.” Coran said.

“What are you waiting for?” Romelle demanded. “Open fire!”

“Princess Allura is in that ship!” Shiro stated. “We won’t fire on that ship until it’s on-board.”

“We’re going to let him back on-board?” Hunk gasped in concern.

“We must.” Coran said. “As long as the princess is with him, we cannot risk any sort of attack.”

“Once Allura is secure, we will take Lotor down.” Shiro growled, cold and harsh.

They were waiting, in a rough semi-circle, when Lotor and Allura entered. Each one of them with a grim determination in their eyes.

“What’s going on?” Allura asked, just as Krolia shot out and levelled a blaster at Lotor, Keith’s sword sharp and gleaming as he did the same.

Hunk could almost picture Lance training his sniper on Lotor’s head.

“Allura, step away from Lotor.” Hunk ordered, concern for his friend coming out in hard tones. Pidge pulled out her own Bayard, the line on it dropping to the floor, ready to be whipped at Lotor.

“I will do no such thing!” Allura snapped, stepping in front of the prince, between him and Pidge. “Tell me what’s happening here!”

Romelle stepped forward. “Lotor is a monster!” Hunk noticed Lotor’s eyes widen in fear at Romelle’s words. “And has been harvesting Altean quintessence for generations!”

“An... Altean!” Allura said in shock, before twisting to Lotor.

“You killed my brother. And thousands of others.” Romelle continued with determination.

“Lotor has been lying to us this whole time.” Pidge said, sparks crackling down her Bayard. “He’s a murderer. Just like his father.”

Lotor straightened up, even as Allura listened in growing horror. “You know nothing of what you speak.” He announced.

“What are they talking about?” Allura questioned, shock and disbelief colouring her tone.

“Allura, listen to me.” Lotor began, and the princess turned to him. “I’ve dedicated my life to preserving Altean culture. Now that we have unlocked the quintessence field, all of your people, who would’ve been hunted down long ago had it not been for my intervention, can live in peace.” He paused. “Were some lives lost in the process? Yes. But they were martyrs to a noble cause. I sacrificed a few, to preserve the future for millions!” He seemed so... sincere. “Allura, do not let this ruin everything we’ve worked for.” He stepped closer, face soft. “Think of what we experienced in the quintessence field.”

He grabbed her hand, gently, as though a lover.

And Allura flipped him.

Lotor bounced on the floor of the ship, groaning as he slid to a halt a good distance from the point she had thrown him from. Keith’s wolf sniffed the limp body.

The alarms blared. Loud, in their ears, and almost painful.

“The hangar’s been breached!” Coran shouted

“It’s Lotor’s troops!” Hunk realized abruptly. “They’re stealing the ships!”

Several things happened at once.

Pidge jumped toward Lotor as Shiro dropped, hands pressed to his skull. Hunk went with him, rubbing his back. “Shiro, Shiro...”

Shiro glanced up to him, eyes filled with rage.


Hunk remembered Shiro’s Galra arm hitting him, and that was about it.

He woke up to Coran urging him to his feet. “C’mon now, Hunk... Now’s not the time. We need you.”

Hunk groaned, pulling into a cross-legged position and rubbing his head.

”Hunk, Allura, can you still pilot your Lions?” Keith called through the comm system.

“Yeah. I’ll manage.” Hunk said, rubbing his head.

“I can.” Allura confirmed with a growl.

”Then let’s go.” Keith said. ”If we’re going to catch Lotor’s ships, we’ll need Volt-“

Everyone jolted like something physical went through them.

“...We’ll use the Lions.” Hunk murmured. “...It’ll be... ok.”

The lions flew out, aggressive and quick. Yellow roared in Hunk’s head, as they struggled to manage through the connection. Despite the hits he took, he was forced to adjust to get Yellow upright again, fighting the Sincline ships as best he could.

He finally landed a hit, and the ship spiraled off course.


Keith’s face appeared onscreen. ”Without La-“

Pidge’s snarl cut him off.

”...Without Voltron, we’ll need to plan this out carefully.” Keith began as they fell into formation without thinking. ”Hunk, stick with me. We can take the main ship together. Allura, take corner ship one. It’s slower than the other. Pidge, stick with ship two. When we drive off one, Hunk and I will split up to assist you.”

”And I’m here!” Coran said, the Castleship falling in line with them. ”We can provide covering fire!”

”That works.” Keith stated. ”Alright everyone... let’s go!”

They shot forward, pumped by adrenaline, determination, and necessity.

They could not afford to lose.

Chapter Text

His hands twisted the sheet of metal he was using as a mirror slightly down, angling it toward his face more.

Lance opened his mouth, checking if his skin stretched and tore, if it caused more pain than he wanted it to.

In the deep silver surface of the metal sheet, Lance could see the white, sharp streak in the left side of his own mouth. It cut neatly over both his bottom and top lips, and when his mouth was closed, it made a complete slice. Where a Galran shot had nicked his skin.

It was less than an inch long, total.

Fingers pressing on the skin around the scar, Lance twisted to examine the mark.

“At least it looks hot.” Lance commented offhandedly. Red chuckled in his head, mocking. “Don’t make fun of me.” He told her.

He coughed, rubbing his side, gently shaking his head.

A movement and a half ago, he had left Dirmon for space. After spending three days on the planet, which was lovely, Lance had to keep going. He had figured out that he had to head away, south toward the location that Tybin had given for the pulsar.

Lance poked at his cheek for another few minutes, but then sighed and walked over to the pilot’s seat. “I should probably make another log.” He said softly to Red, hands settling over her sticks and fingers falling into place.

Then Ascua slipped forward, and purred slightly. With food and decent time in Red, Ascua had relaxed a bit. “Hello, chica.” Lance chuckled, reaching down. This time, she sniffed his fingers and gently leaned against Lance’s hand.

After a quick blink in surprise, Lance opened his hand, going to touch her in a pet, only to get her shying away from his touch. “Ok, ok. You touch me, not the other way around.”

He coughed a tiny bit, easing the sticks forward as they continued onward through Sector Space.

“Log five. Lance McClain of Earth, Voltron Red Paladin.” Lance announced from across the cockpit where he was performing repairs, as best he could, on his armour. His normal clothes were still dirty, but less so than the scratched and cracked disaster of his armour. His one saving grace was that the helmet had replaceable visors, and the undersuit had stayed together.

“So, about... two movements ago, maybe three, actually...” He began, before he considered that. “Ok, let’s say two and a half movements ago, I landed on a planet called Dirmon. I uh...” He reached for the white bottle labeled ‘sealant’ and squeezed some out, sealing a crack in the left piece of his thigh.

He tapped the storage bars a few times, but they refused to light.

“I helped them destroy a Galra base. It was good. That planet’s officially free.” Lance laughed. “Oh, uh, and I-“

He broke off, hacking, keeping his fingers off the table as Ascua jumped up nearby, purring her concern.

Lance stood, one arm on the table and the other on his knees, sucking oxygen like it was all he could do. “O-ok... So... I learned what Sector Space was.” He said with a sigh, wiping his hands free of the sealant on a few towels. “Essentially, it’s a chunk of space where nothing quite goes what it should be.” He walked over to what should’ve been the recording seat, and almost fell into it. “Oh Dios it’s good to be off my feet...” He groaned, as Ascua walked over and lept onto the table nearby. He offered a hand to her, and she nuzzled it gently.

“They helped me get some food. And gave me a location in Sector Space where I can get out. It’ll be a while though, especially in Red.” Lance explained. Red growled in displeasure. “Oh don’t you growl at me, flames!” He demanded playfully. “You know that’s not what I meant! Dios, cat...” He rolled his eyes.

He turned back to the camera. “I’ve uh, got a long way to go.” Lance chuckled, shaking his head softly, then turning to glare at the floor between his feet. “...It’s gonna be a...” He took a deep breath, eyes shutting. “...long haul.”

He couldn’t bring himself to sign off.

His routine had become something... mindless.

Every morning, he rolled to sitting on the bed and pulled his pants on, then put the left lower leg armour of his Paladin suit over his pants.

That gave him enough support to fully use his left leg, and from there the routine went on.

He made his bed, checked the Paladin suit for more cracks, ate a food goo packet, fed one to Ascua, applied more healing gel to his ribs, leg and shoulder, then finished getting dressed and put on the upper right leg of his armour. This allowed him to keep his Bayard close.

Sometimes he’d make a log. Sometimes not. Most times he just sat at Red’s helm, took them off whatever rock they were on, and kept going.

The... time was filled with endless stars, galaxies, and planets. Meteors that looked like peacock ore as he flew past them, otherwise silent.

When he was on Earth, space was curious, brilliant, sharp and inviting, the light of the stars calling him like some kind of siren song. Their glittering edges seemed so soft at a distance, loving and playing, dancing within their black veil.

Now he was outside Earth, far from the Milky Way and her kind light. Far from the sun and his warmth, the moon, the ocean. He was far from the Castle, from his team. From Allura. From Keith.

And he knew that space was beautiful in the way deadly things are.

It was a siren song. A calling to the inky depths of nowhere and everywhere. A place to feel alive in until it killed you. A glittering edge slicing across his heart. A blaster shot through the chest.

At the end of his Quintantly travels, he would find a rock for Red to settle on. Feed Ascua, eat something himself. Tell them both good night, and go to sleep.

He pretended not to cry for an hour or two before sleep sucked him in, coiled in the warmth that his blankets and Red provided, unable to warm the ice in his bones.

He was never going to make it out of Sector Space.

That night, when he started crying, he felt a curious paw poke his ribs. Carefully, Lance turned over to look, wiping his face.

Ascua, blue eyes glowing in the dim light that Red’s cockpit gave off, stared back at him, making a soft, confused noise.

When Lance rolled back over, he felt her step overtop of him, then a snout shoved under his arm, followed by a curious, foxlike face.

He held onto his fellow living, breathing, alone creature, as hopelessness stayed from his heart.

Ascua’s not going to get home either. We’ll be ok. We’re together. Lance told himself.

He kept telling himself that, even if he didn’t believe it, until he fell asleep.

Red’s scanner popped up in front of him just a few hours after their Quintantly travels began, and he blinked. “Red, what’s up?”

Then her map showed up, with flashing sections outlined in green

Lance glanced to the corner, and read, ‘Pylons 4, 5 located. Opening locations.’

Before he could murmur any surprised noises, a chunk of the map opened, almost a solid sixth of the whole rectangle. “Holy-“

Before he realized it was almost entirely empty.

One galaxy, exactly the opposite direction from where he needed to go, was all that he could see.

Lance sat back jarringly, blowing out harshly as his hands went up, sweeping through his hair in stress. “Fuck. Fuck.” He whispered, standing up and sweeping away from the screen, wanting to get away. Anywhere.

“...Log... Twelve.” Lance said, voice floating up from his slumped body. He had crossed his arms on the table, forehead resting on the cold table. His eyes were shut, arms blocking out most things except the low, hard thrum of Red’s blasters, his own breathing and when he spoke.

“...I’ve been in the middle of butt-fuck nowhere for two months!” He shouted into the table, uncoiling his arms and slamming his fists on the table, either side of his head. In the corner, Ascua’s head came up, but she didn’t move.

Slowly, he pulled his arms back up around his head, coughing slightly. “...Well, it’s officially been...” He shrugged. “...Four. Five months. In Sector Space. I’ve got enough food for another two weeks of travel, out here. We’re heading... for a planet. That might have life. It has organic material. According to the Pylons.” He sighed, finally pulling up his head to rest on his folded arms. He didn’t say anything for a while, thoughts both racing and silent. “...I miss you guys.” He muttered, burying his face in his hands again.

He didn’t say anything else.

Another few days passed before Lance made it to his goal.

Chactan was a peaceful planet. According to what the Pylon sent, Chactan had been inhabited, but had been mysteriously abandoned hundreds of years ago.

Like a ghost town, but... An entire planet.

Red came through the atmosphere fairly easily. Ralin had reassured that he would find edible food on Chactan, and that the atmosphere was a little waste-gas heavy, but breathable.

Which was when Lance learned that what Ralin was calling ‘waste gas’, was actually oxygen. The stuff he needed to breathe.

Finding a place to land was no big deal. The planet was grass, minty and off green, long and unkempt. When they landed, it waved underneath Red’s thrusters like something possessed, throwing up feathery wisps as her huge body lowered softly to the ground.

Lance pushed her forward, and Red started walking toward a river nearby. He did a quick scan, to check the air, and then the water.

Turned out, it was actually water, and very clean at that.

Lance slid out of Red with an urgency that he didn’t know he had, energy returning to him as he skidded to a halt on the riverbank, grinning. When he first stuck his hands into the cold, clear liquid, he felt euphoria fall over him, joy, something that felt like home.

He was laughing. He was crying. It was all so much at once, as Red settled into sitting. Lance ran around her as best he could with a bad leg, whooping and cheering as he jumped through the grass. It hurt, but temporarily, all his pain was waived in favour of happiness.

Lance went back into Red, tapping a few scanners. He had to know what he needed to get, even if he wanted fresh water.

Red’s screens neatly lay out what he needed, and the Paladin smiled faintly. It wouldn’t be hard to get the items, but he wanted to spend a few hours on this earthlike planet before going anywhere.

He slipped out of Red once more, but this time, Ascua came to her mouth as well.

“Hey pretty girl.” Lance said as he strapped on a few pieces of his Paladin armour, particularly his arm pieces. “Ascua, wanna come out?” He called to her as he stepped into the grass.

Ascua tentatively put a paw out, batting at the grass as her tail waved behind her, curious.

When she finally did step out, her wings flared, head tipped up as the grass came to her chin. She slowly jumped for a while, shoving her way out of the grass, and Lance realized that she might fly away, and he’d never see her again.

However, Ascua stepped right out, and walked over to Lance. She nuzzled his arm, an interesting sensation with her horns, but she did it regardless. Lance noticed that now, her ears were turned to face forward, not folded back like normal. “It’s nice out here, huh girl?” He asked her.

Which was when Ascua jumped forward, spread her wings and the feathery triangles behind her hips, and shot into the sky.

She flew effortlessly, Lance cheering as she swooped back around, whipping past him with a joyful song.

Lance gave up the last ghost of being a strong, stern Paladin of Voltron on this planet.

He chased the brightly coloured cat flying 20 feet over his head like he was eight.

Red had walked downstream as Ascua flew around her head, searching for a lake that might’ve had what they were searching for. When Lance saw the large, almost current-less widening of the river, he had Red stop.

Ascua landed by the water, gently dipping her tongue in. Red had confirmed that water, along with most earth things, was safe for her to eat and drink. However, whether she knew that she could drink them...

Lance then remembered that he had been giving her water packets for weeks. She would be fine.

The cat proceeded to shove her whole muzzle into the lake, and pull herself out, tipping her head back as she used her front paws to rub the water into her fur, fluffing herself up like some kind of pom-pom.

Her fur was a lot thicker than it seemed, sleeked back to her body normally.

Blinking at her for a moment, Lance did a quick sniff test and winced away from himself slightly. “Alright. Shower time.” He muttered.

He went back into Red, and found everything he could that was wearable. Some of the pants were torn or had things spilled on them from the initial crash. The shirts weren’t much better. The Castle had been able to generate clothing from articles they already had.

Fortunately, the undersuit for the armour seemed to smell exactly as much like it did the day he got it. However, he still wanted it washed.

Lance lay out the clothes he had. Exactly three pairs of pants, two not-destroyed shirts, his jacket, a pair of mismatched socks, and a pair of shoes.

Taking the pile of clothes, Lance headed down to the rocky bank, pebbles worn smooth and even by the water. A few minutes of searching found him a branch that was acceptable to dry stuff on, and he stripped it clean of excess twigs.

Ascua watched him curiously as he dipped the first shirt in the water, and started mixing it as best he could. Without soap, there was a limit to his capabilities, but he was willing to try. When he was done that, he lay it over the branch, then moved on to the next thing.

He continued this for a while, until everything was drying. Ascua was still cleaning herself off, fur sleeking down once more. “Ascua!” Lance called, waving a food goo pack.

Immediately the cat moved for him, and he hid the packet.

She growled, sniffing to search. “No girl.” Lance said determinedly. “C’mon. It’s time to teach you a few things.”

His method of training worked well.

Ascua was willing to learn, to fly off into the distance and then return to his arm when he raised it. It took her a while to do it without the promise of food afterward, but she was trying.

Lance leaned slightly to one side, holding his left arm level with the right in his pocket as Ascua swooped down, wings sweeping around Lance. The wind buffeted him, wings surrounding him with a halo of warm feathers.

He held steady as her wings beat, stabilizing her as her claws gripped tightly to his armour, head leaning forward as she shook herself out, purring slightly.

“Good girl, Ascua!” Lance laughed as she sat back on his arm, feet sitting over his bracer as she preened under his attention. Eventually, she got bored of his arm and went to his shoulder, sitting like a small sentinel, trilling at the wind.

Sitting on the bank of the river, feet in the cold water as Ascua’s tail waved across his back, Lance felt peace. He leaned his head on the warm, soft cat, smiling to himself as he did so.

“...I don’t want to...” Lance looked up to the trees. The bark was a little... orange, and the leaves were small circles, but they were pale green. “...I don’t want to leave.”

It felt like home.

He slowly lay back, as Ascua twisted to lay over his chest, head down. He put a hand on her back. “...You’re going to stay with me, aren’t you?” He asked her.

She didn’t respond. She didn’t need to. Lance got the point.

Lance came up from the water with a laugh, looking up at Red. “Hello!” He called to her, hair slicked back. He hadn’t been happy to learn that the shot hitting his ribs had been hot enough to burn him, even under his armour.

It was a faint line, streaking over the lower right side of his chest. For the moment, it was fairly hidden by the kaleidoscope of blues, browns, reds and barf greens of his damaged ribs, but Lance knew that one day, when his ribs were fixed, the mark would be rather clear.

He sighed. Just one more thing space left me with, huh... The thought was offhanded and rather dark.

Lance twisted and dove back into the water to drown it out.

It was nearly a movement before Lance bothered to leave Chactan.

He found ruins of an old civilization. He had no idea what to do with the overgrown place, but... It was cool to look at, at least.

At one point, he had found skeletons. Rather flat, angular skeletons that belonged to some kind of creature. It looked like... A pair of them, holding each other, face to face.

It made Lance miss his team a little more.

When he was looking, he found a few pale flowers, pastel red and yellows, to make into a tiny bouquet, and lay on their interlocked hands.

He didn’t know why he did it. He had taken off the next morning.

“Log, uh...” Lance thought about it a while, rubbing his head. “Fourteen? Yeah, that’s the one. Lance McClain of Earth, Voltron Red Paladin.” He said with a chuckle. “It’s been um, three... movements, since I left Chactan.” He smiled, standing. “Kinda... quiet out here. I’d even take Hunk’s ancient disco by this point.” He laughed, shaking his head. “So, I’m still heading south. Restocked on food and water there, got to spend a few days. There was like, rivers and shit!” He grinned widely at the camera. “I got to swim! No rain or anything, and no real ocean that I could find, but...”

He thought to the civilization, to the lovers in the house.

“...It was really nice to be there. Somewhere like home.” He sighed. “...Signing off.”

Eyes narrowed, face pinched in concentration, glaring at the screen like it had done some violent wrong.

“I’m going to get this.” Lance snapped at it, hissing slightly.

The ticker only beeped at him, uncaring.

“Ok... One Illuminati, two Illuminat- that doesn’t work.” He sighed, sitting back. “Uh, Red, you know any 5-syllable words?” He asked the Lion. She growled in his head, but it was of confusion. “Ok. Uh, let’s try...” He tipped his head back, thinking as he rubbed his chest through his shirt. “Ab-ra-ca-da-bra. That works, let’s see... One abracadabra, two abracadabra.” He swore when it didn’t line up. “Damn. Ok.” He said to himself, more than anybody.

Ascua was cleaning off her paws, sitting in front of the pedals, at the corner of Red’s window and the floor.

“You got anything, Ascua?” He questioned. The cat flipped her head over her back, staring at him while upside down. The absurdity of it made him laugh, almost shutting down the screen with the ticker on it. “Ok ok ok...” He giggled. “Ok, uh...” He shook himself out. “Let’s try... Lou-i-si-an-a... One Louisian-no.” Lance stopped. “That sounds stupid anyway. Un-i-ver-si-ty.” He counted out. “One university, two university, three university four university, five university...” He chuckled. “It works.”

That was one universal problem solved, at least for humans. It was quite convenient, to be able to count seconds using ‘Mississippi’, but seconds didn’t work in space.

“Yay! University!” Lance laughed. Red mentally rolled her eyes at his antics, the soft glow of her internal lights brightening momentarily.

He settled back for more flying.

“You run like a wolf, like the cold blood through my... veins...” Lance hummed, tapping his fingers as he moved around the cockpit with a soft tap of light feet. “Picking up speed as the drugs overtake my... brain...” He continued, gently swaying side to side as he closed his eyes, briefly letting the song remove him from himself.

Red purred confusedly in his mind, which caused Lance to miss the next line.

“What? What’s up?” He asked kindly.

Red offered her confusion again, but this time, it was more directed at the song.

“What’s it about?” Lance filled in. Red confirmed. “Well, it’s about... Like a person... Missing... someone. Someone they love.” He murmured.

Why? Red asked.

“Uh, well, I guess because the someone left.”

This time, she seemed to ask it more about his reason for singing the song.

Lance considered that. “Well, I thought it was pretty. It’s an old song. I like a lot of older music.”

Red said that he was lying.

Lance blinked. “...What do you mean?”

This time, the thought was pretty clear. Missing someone.

He turned away, downcast. “...Yeah. I guess I am.” He muttered. “I miss the team.”


“Ah, yeah. I guess I am missing ‘someone.’” His mind floated to Allura. To her smiling face, to her encouragement, to her voice...

Someone. Red said again.

Lance didn’t know what to say to that, but something in his heart said Allura wasn’t who she meant.

Purple and grey, the planet looked like a little kid had scribbled on it.

Especially considering the silver-blue part was the land.

Red angled her body into the atmosphere, thrusters slowing to start their descent, when a shot rang out, just past her shoulder.

Lance yanked her to the side, thrusters firing back up as she dipped out of the way of the next shot.

Weight hit Lance’s left shoulder, Ascua making herself known as she gripped onto him, determined not to be thrown off or rattled within the cockpit.

Return shots were fired as Lance dipped and weaved, Red’s jaw snapping open to throw the huge blasts. Her tail became a second, support cannon, as they dipped and weaved through the spires of the Galran outpost.

“Hijo de puta!” Lance shouted when one shot went clean past Red’s ear. “Tienes unos putos cojones!” He screeched, when Red shook by taking a shot to the side. “Fuck!” The bark was in English this time, but he still felt like swearing more in Spanish.

Whirling on the high towers with the cannons, Lance blasted a shot straight at one, barely dodging the return stroke.

The impact blew the top ten feet clean off the spire, and destroyed the attached cannon. Lance shouted in rage, spinning to the next one, only for another’s shot to hit Red’s hip, spinning them off-balance.

Dropping rapidly, Lance could barely manage to keep Red in the air as they swerved to the side. “Shit, c’mon...” The Paladin hissed, yarding on the sticks to make Red’s left paw fold under her body, then swivelled her right so that it faced the opposite way she was spinning.

Red’s swerve slowed, and Lance put out her other paw, jets roaring with power.

She settled back into her power stance, just in time to dip under yet another shot.

“Jaw blade!” Lance shouted, feeling the power thrum through her teeth as she grabbed tightly to the handle, diving toward another tower.

This one received a long, deep slash through the centre mass, mini-explosions lighting up across the metal. Lance turned the handles upright, and shoved forward, aiming  for the next tower.

The first one though...

Could still punch a hole through his side.

Red crashed into the side of the tower, jawblade disintegrating. She roared, struggling to get up, even as Ascua howled beside Lance.

Raising his Bayard, Lance slammed it into the glowing port, Red’s powerful fire cannon erupting into reality on her back.

“C’MON!” Lance screamed, the lion rearing to her back legs to spin and face the tower that had shot her, forepaws driving into the dirt with an unmatched ferocity.

The fire beam ripped through it like paper before a match, burning the metal to liquid, as well as any bodies in the way.

Red staggered to the side, Lance peeling his Bayard free as she roared, returning to her normal state, painful though it was.

Panting, Lance shook himself out, Red guarding as best she could, as he desperately searched for an exit.

“We’ve gotta get out, we need to...” Lance murmured, frantic.

The web woven by lasers and chaos  had a hole. For two seconds, it had a hole.

Not a big one, but big enough.

“Right there, girl.” Lance whispered. “...You know?”

He could feel her hummed affirmation. Her stance...

They lunged, as one, upward.

He could see through her eyes, their jets shooting them into the sky, even as lasers hit their legs, sides, chest...

They dove through the hole, two seconds.

But not quite enough.

The shots hit Red’s back leg, and suddenly she was spinning off balance once more.

She whirled, Lance putting all his weight into controlling the spin, yanking back, even as Ascua gripped tightly to his shoulder.

When he realized there was no way, as they spun down toward the grey forests and their grey trees, he grabbed Ascua, pulling her tight to his chest as he whipped off the seat, diving into a back corner under a bench with her tucked tightly into his chest.

“Red, I’m sorr-“

And they hit the dirt.

Coming to was once again, an unpleasant experience.

His left leg hurt, his side twinged whenever he breathed, and his throat felt oddly dry and achy.

But this time, it felt... Warm.

Almost soft.

Lance jolted upright, taking a deep breath.

“Whoa, whoa, hey...” A cool voice said nearby. “Hey, relax...” A hand landed on his shoulder, gently pulling him back down. “Breathe for a moment, Paladin...” The voice said again.

Lance swivelled to face the person speaking to him, only to be greeted with a rectangular, snakelike head. Like a python’s, but... huge.

It rested atop an elegant crimson neck, long s-shape curving slowly down to it’s thin shoulders. It’s body was lithe, chest only slightly wider than it’s neck and hips about the same.

After that, a long, whip-like tail flowed down onto the ground, curling around thin, reptilian feet.

Lance blinked, right as his ribs twinged, and the reptile-person got the strength to push him back to the bed. “You’re still hurt, and it’s... Not pretty, quite yet.” It said with a smile that looked oddly... sharp.

“What-“ Lance gasped, trying to sit up again. “Where... where am I?”

“Paladin, for Rochi’s sake, lay down!” The crimson snake-person ordered.

Lance stay down.

“...ok.” He said finally. Quietly, just to the snake.

It nodded. “Alright.” It said with a sigh.

Then the door slammed open, and another snake person, green this time, shot into the room.

“Shazir, are you-“ The green one began, then blinked at Lance. “Oh. He’s... Awake.” He said softly.

“Just barely.” ‘Shazir’ turned his head to face the newcomer. “He’s hurt and shouldn’t be moving around too much.” He stated pointedly.

“But, the Lion-“

“I know it heals itself.” Shazir said coolly. “The Paladin is a little more urgent.”

“But Tomoq is-“

“Ralsky, if you have nothing useful to tell me, get out and allow me to tend to my patient.” The crimson one said darkly, standing up. Lance realized abruptly that he was really tall.

“...Ok.” Ralsky murmured, and quickly darted out.

Lance settled back, eyes shutting almost against his will, before he suddenly gasped. “Wait, where’s Ascua?!” He demanded, staring at Shazir.

The snake blinked at him.

“The uh... cat-four-pawed, thing. With wings.”

“Oh, the Zeptrin.” Shazir nodded. “She’s fine.”

“The... what?” Lance asked.

“Zeptrin. That’s what we found protecting you, anyway. Big, pretty girl. She’s in better shape than you are.” Shazir chuckled.

“You... know, what she is?” Lance questioned slowly.

“We used to be a trading planet.” Shazir dropped his head to rest on his four-fingered hand, seeming disappointed. “I’ve seen a few of them. They’d show up on people’s shoulders and such.” He chuckled. “Then the Galra showed up. I haven’t seen one since then.”

The Paladin considered that. “How... long have they been on this planet?”

“About 150 Deca-Phoebes.” Shazir shrugged.

Lance blinked. He hadn’t realized that he was talking to something that old.

“Anyway.” Shazir boosted off the floor, standing up. “Get some rest. I’ll see if I’m allowed to bring... what’s her name again?”

“Oh, um... Ascua?” He said, not sure if they meant her or Red.

“Yeah, Ascua. Pretty name. I’ll bring her.” He nodded.

Shazir was gone with little more than a nod.

It was a movement later when Lance actually managed to get up.

Shazir had indeed brought Ascua, and she had spent most of the time curled beside him, growling at the snake whenever he came.

“She doesn’t like me much.” He commented at one point, crimson scales glittering as he chuckled.

“Nope, I don’t think she does.” Lance had agreed.

Apparently, he had been unconscious for at least half a movement, and they had done a lot of work in that time. Shazir informed him that they had done something called ‘Morin-kramik’ to his lungs.

Lance had discovered that Morin-kramik was a lot like vacuuming, but inside the lungs, which explained why his throat had hurt.

They had managed to repair his ribs, and seal them up with a temporary, biological substance that bonded to bone after sinking through skin. They had done the same to his leg.

Shazir led him into open sunlight, Ascua padding along beside him. The snake wore a tan diamond of cloth that covered from his shoulders, but then only came to his elbows at the sides, and his hips at the point.

The faintly orange star was dimmer than Earth’s yellow, but it was quite lovely regardless, and cast a flaming light across the world.

The sandstone palace that Lance stepped out of wasn’t as impressive as other castles he had been to, and the city itself seemed rather dull. Slate-coloured roads, more sand-coloured buildings, all surrounded by the same grey, hardy trees that he had seen high above. It was the people that made the city spectacular.

The snake-people, Creeminians, came in rainbow. Their scales shone like jewels in the light, and the beasts on which they rode, great, two-legged... things, came in contrasting, deep colours.

Lance limped down the steps of the castle, leaning a bit on Shazir. He had discovered that first off, Shazir wasn’t nearly as tall as he had thought. Even at the shoulders, he was only an inch or two taller than Lance, but it was the head that made the difference.

The dude had an extra foot and a half of neck. Lance couldn’t contend with that.

Second, Shazir was about his age, mentally. Physically, he was over 200, but he was another person, just like Lance. He wanted to see the stars too, but... They couldn’t leave their planet. Not since the Galra arrived.

He brought Lance to a small area nearby where several of the beasts were lined up, tied.

They were big. Taller than even Shazir, standing at full height. Beaklike jaws, with almost no definition. They just looked like... a round bullet point.

The rest of their body was snakelike, with back-canted legs. They did have a front set of ‘feet’, but they were less than a foot long, total. Completely vestigial. They were even covered in a fine layer of downy feathers, almost like fur, that only got long enough to be hair at the back of their heads and rumps.

Shazir led Lance right up to a deep purple one, smiling. “Hello, Clew!” Shazir purred at him, and the beast flopped onto the ground, trilling at the snake. Lance caught the flash of tiny, thin fangs, too numerous to count.

Grabbing one of Clew’s feet, Shazir squeezed the pad of it, remarkably like a three-toed cat. “Beans beans beans...” Shazir said to himself and the animal. “Beans beans beans beans beans...” He continued, smiling.

Then he stood up, and so did Clew. “Alright Lance, hop on. Clew and I can guide you, keep you off that leg.” He said clearly, then helped Lance get on top of the massive snake thing.

Clew’s body was powerful, lean but solid, and he moved with a form of grace that seemed somewhere between a cat and an ostrich. It felt solid, well-muscled and powerful.

“So... uh, Clew is...”

“They’re called Scalbers.” Shazir explained, looping the reigns over Clew’s head to the front, and leading him away. “They’re a pursuit predator. If not for us, they’d be the apex.”

Lance figured this was a bad time to mention that humans are pursuit predators.

“That’s neat.” He smiled, gently patting Clew’s neck. He made a trill when the Paladin touched him.

“We managed to get you and your Lion into the city. We’ve been keeping an eye on the sky, but none of your fellow Paladins have-“

“I’m alone.” Lance interrupted with a grim edge to his voice.

Shazir winced, and nodded. “Noted.” He said, almost sadly. “She’s been recovering, but most of that paint...”

“Her paint’s been pretty shredded for a while.” Lance muttered, glaring down.

“Yes, but we had to scrape a lot of it off.” Shazir informed with a sigh. “Rayty wood chunks went pretty deep into the metal. Had to get them out.”

Lance groaned. Red would be insufferable without her paint.

When they turned around another flat-roofed, sandstone building, Lance caught sight of her.

“Oh man...” He whispered.

Most if not all of the red paint on her forepaws and back feet was stripped, as well as a good portion of her chest, back and head. “...This is so much worse than last time.” He muttered.

Admittedly, she appeared in good health, laying down but with her head up.

Lance blinked at her, realizing abruptly that the matte silver sections of her body were also painted. The visible metal was a stunningly white sheen, practically glowing. He had never seen it before, but now he could see the comparison. Her arms, legs, and abdomen were stripped a lot too, to seal up cuts in her sides.

“She seems pretty good though. Even let us clean up her cockpit.” Shazir chuckled.

The Paladin shook his head with a smile. “That’s different.” He murmured as Shazir helped him slide off Clew, and onto the ground. Red’s mind opened up to him immediately, purring. “Hello girl!” He called to her, and her eyes glowed.

He could sense her irritation at the lost paint, but the pride at being shimmery bright was a little greater.

Lance laughed. “Oh yeah. She’s good.”

“Paladin!” Someone called, and a pale orange snake person slid up to him. “You’re on your feet!” It purred, smiling.

“Paladin Lance, this is Acil. She’s been the head of repairing your Lion.” Shazir smiled.

“Thanks so much for taking care of her.” Lance offered a hand to shake. After a moment of consideration, Acil seemed to understand and gave Lance a easy shake. “She looks pretty good.”

“She feels pretty good! I’d love to be a Paladin.” Acil chuckled. “But, I think she likes you better. We’ve managed to repair most of her, but... That paint’ll need to be fixed.” She shook her head. “Can’t have you heading into battle looking like a Rochi-far beacon.”

Shazir’s eye-ridges raised at Acil’s alien profanity.

“Well, I don’t know, the red is normally pretty bright...” Lance said slowly.

“Garish.” Acil exclaimed, spinning around and heading toward Red, leaving Shazir to assist Lance toward her. “You see, Paladin, we’re a species that made our living on Creemin by sneaking around the bigger predators. Now we do it with bigger alien predators.” Her tail swept the ground behind her. “So, your Lion? Is quite a... statement, on a battlefield. She’d look more effective with some black, maybe some-“

Red’s growl cut Acil off.

“She’s pretty attached to the red.”

Acil laughed, throwing her head back. “I like it! Stand up for yourself, pretty!” She told Red. “Alright, both of you stay here. Because I, as a spaceship designer and modeller, cannot allow you to fly so much blinking lights into the stars, infested with Galra!” She snapped, and ran off.

She returned fifteen doboshes later, with an assortment of moderately large, metallic cubes, covered in different colours of paint. All various shades of reds, greys and blacks. Then she removed several small glass cubes in deep teals, but a few lighter ones as well.

“These are what we have for reds.” Acil informed Lance. “You can pick, with her.”

Lance limped forward, and examined the colours. At first, he picked up a bright red that was rather similar to what Red had before, but then he noticed her attention directed elsewhere. Particularly, on a deep, hard, almost bloody red-burgundy. It was more red than burgundy, but the faint shade of purple was definitely visible.

He held it up to her, and immediately he felt her... project an image. An image of her, but darker. Shadows sharper, eyes paler, lights dimmed and shining hard red.

Working with that in mind, Lance picked out a moderate grey that had warm tones when light hit it, and the darkest black he could find. Then he selected a deep teal, before turning back to Acil. “These. Think you can match the basic pattern she had?” He questioned suspiciously.

Can I?” Acil grinned, showing off sharp teeth and a slightly evil grin. “Paladin, it has been my honour to repair your Lion. It will be moreso, to paint and repair the glass for her battle.”

The teen smiled at her. “Thanks.” He said.

“With her permission, I can also do some work on her thrusters. I can make her faster, lightless, and silent.” Acil smirked.

Red hummed. She liked that idea, being quieter than Green.

“She says go ahead.” Lance nodded.

“Then we’ll begin work immediately. Paladin, if you wouldn’t mind hopping into the pilot’s seat for a few doboshes, we’d love your help moving her into the repair bay.”

When Red was settled into a canvas, grey wood and stone building, Lance went with Shazir back to the palace, to rest and go through another round of healing.

Physical therapy was the worst. Lance didn’t need much, but his leg was pretty unhappy from walking weirdly for a few phoebs.

So, when he proved to Shazir and his overseer Kalr that he could dodge and run again, he was permitted to have free run of Kadir-Halm, their last remaining city.

Shazir had explained that Kadir-Halm was their capitol, and that all the cities had fought against the Galra previously, but when they put down the outpost, the fight was nearly lost.

“If we could get the outpost off the planet,” Shazir said as they walked down the street with Kalr. “we could push back. Strengthen our defences.”

“Paladin!” Acil’s voice came from down the street. “It’s wonderful to see you on your feet.” She smiled.

They had taken his armour, repaired and repainted it. Now, it was deep, everlasting blue, and grey. The teal strips on it still glowed bright. He glowed under the orange sun.

“It’s good to be up.” Lance smiled at Acil. “How are you?”

“Better seeing you! Come quickly, we must go to your Lion!” She whooped, and led Shazir, Kalr and Lance down toward the bay where Lance had walked her only a few quintants ago.

When the doors slid open, and Red was revealed, Lance gasped slightly.

The black on her body looked like it was made of nothing now, like chunks of Red had been replaced with dark matter. The deep, heartblood-red of her back and body glittered, teal lights dimmer and brighter than he had ever seen. Her body held faint orange highlights across the grey surface of her skin.

“...Wow.” Lance breathed. It was so... different, to how she normally was.

In his mind, she preened as the Creeminians stared at her, astonished and impressed at her size, her colour.

“Girl, that is a good look at you.” Shazir grinned at her.

Red purred, shaking herself out mentally.

“You do look good.” Lance chuckled. “...Kalr.” He turned to his friend. “...I’d like to help you. And the others, get the Galra off your planet.”

Kalr’s snakelike head whipped to face him. “...Really?”

“Yes.” Lance nodded. “I’m only one Paladin, with one Lion... But we can do a lot.”

Kalr clapped him on the shoulder. “...Paladin Lance... It would be my honour. To fly beside you.”

Red stood up and roared.

Shazir started cheering, and everyone else, despite not knowing what happened, started as well.




(VERY Shit edit of Red's new paint. Maybe I'll actually draw it later.)

(Oh yet more information, I have pictures of the Scalbers and Creeminians, so here, have some shit art right from my point of reference)

(This is a Creeminian.)

(And a Scalber!)

Chapter Text

“Log 13.” Lance stated, not even looking at the camera as he fitted his newly repaired and darkened helmet overtop of his skull. “Lance McClain of Earth, Voltron Red Paladin.” He twisted the helmet into it’s spot, then locked it, taking a breath of the filtered air as he started putting on the rest of the armour.

“I’m on Creemin.” He informed, locking the hip-bar into place, then sliding the forearm piece on. “And I am T-minus one varga to possibly, the fight of my life.” The left side forearm went on, as Ascua hopped onto his shoulderpad. He pulled on the right and left thigh, wincing at the lack of lights on the left side.

The Creeminians couldn’t fix everything.

“I did a scouting run with a few of my friends on the planet, and... Well, it’s better defended than...” He blinked at the camera.

Did I tell them about Dirmon? He wondered. He had forgotten.

“Better defended than most bases I’ve seen. If this one stroke fails, the results, well...” He snapped the chestpiece tight.

”We won’t fail.”

Red stood tall and proud over the now-burning base, new paint glowing in the flames, as the arrowhead shaped ships of the Creeminians floated around him. The Galra ships could only do so much, when they were attacked on all sides by dense, sharp edged ships that cut through their own.

The Creeminian ships didn’t have great cannons, so their ships were designed with a particular metal, that cut through other metals effortlessly.

Watching six of them in formation punch through the walls of the Galra tower like cookie cutters for thin diamonds was impressive, but more impressive was being able to fall the towers in moments.

The escape pods were flying high above them, even as Red’s tail tracked, and fired shot after shot.

Every shot fired was another downed pod, the footwarriors quickly starting after the falling ships, Scalbers shrieking as they tracked down the surviving Galra.

Another arrow-ship fired into the sky, chasing down one of the escape pods and blowing off it’s back end.

Red’s head turned upright, mouth opening as she fired at one of the two remaining ships.

The last one was cut off by an arrow-ship that tore it’s thrusters off.

”Paladin Lance, the Galra in the base need to be taken out.” Commander Kalr’s voice came through his helmet. ”We’re sending in a squad, but we were curious as to-“

“I’m going.” Lance told him, standing up and putting his Bayard into the right side storage, before turning and heading out Red’s mouth.

Ascua shrieked her displeasure at being left, following Lance with quick wingbeats.


She howled in his face, practically at point blank, like she was stating that he was in no way, shape or form allowed to leave her behind.

“...Fair enough.” Lance shrugged at her, letting her land on his shoulder to keep her safe and close to him. “Let’s go.” He told her as he slid out of Red’s mouth and hooked a foot onto her shoulder, sliding down her arm.

Shazir ran up on Clew, pale grey armour shining. “Get on.” He said. “We’re going to meet the crew.”

Clambering onto the creature, Lance held to Shazir’s armour as they ran down the crater’s edge, meeting with about forty other various Creeminians in tough, skin-like black armour. “Paladin Lance, it’s wonderful of you to join us.” A pale blue one said, with almost a singing tone.

“I’m glad you’ve decided to come with us into the, hole of loss.” Another one hissed.

Pit of despair! Lance wanted to call back. “Sorry for Ascua...” He sighed at the cat-fox on his shoulder. “She won’t leave me.”

“The Zeptrin? She may hunt however she likes.” The blue one shrugged.

“Zeptrin are capable of taking down things many times larger than themselves.” Shazir informed. Lance glanced to him, then blinked to Ascua. “Galra will be no problem.”

Then he nodded, coming to terms with the murderous fox on his shoulder. “So, what’s the plan?” He asked with a smile.

“My name is Altes.” The blue one said, sliding forward. “And we’re splitting into teams. Paladin, you are with me. We will give you instructions in your team.”

Lance nodded, following Altes and Shazir as they headed to a corner with five other Creeminians.

Altes explained that they were taking the main halls, and that stealth was important.

“I can be sneaky.” Lance reassured himself under his breath.

Shazir smirked at him, like he was agreeing with Lance. “You ready?”

“Born that way.” Lance grinned to the lizard, one foot shuffling into position behind him.

“We move quick, we hit hard. They’re expecting us.” Altes confirmed grimly.

The team nodded, and with little more than a hiss, an orange Creeminian taking a hook blade and driving it through the roof. He tore it open and then stepped back, glancing at Altes.

She jumped through the hole, dropping silently down to the floor, tail lifting off the ground. Her tail flicked, and Shazir, the orange Creeminian, and several others hopped down, landing silently.

Lance dropped down, only slightly louder than the Creeminians, as Ascua dove through the hole and onto the flood, nose working to catch the scents of prey.

He snapped his fingers, and Ascua focused on him. There was a pause as Lance held up his hand, and Ascua remembered to hold.

Then Altes nodded, and led them all forward.

Ascua glid effortlessly forward, even as the Creeminians and Lance sprinted down the hall, guns prepped or weapons low, ready. Bayard in hand, Lance leaned on the wall, ready for whatever the Galra could throw at him.

Altes pointed at him and Shazir, snapping her fingers and pointing to direct them away, down the other hall. Immediately nodding, the pair turned from the main group and went down the hall, Ascua following them.

The Galra they did find were quietly taken care of. So far, no mass panic had infected the base.

A bit over a varga in there though, and they felt the explosion rock the base.

Lance spun instantly, blaster forming in his hand as a thick Galra rounded the corner, receiving a punching shot in the chest.

He got up a few ticks later, and Lance’s eyes went wide, shocked...

Shazir’s spear cut him down, blood spurting from his throat as the tip sliced apart his neck.

“...You need the power on that blaster tuned.” He said.

Lance blinked. He had killed before, but... Normally it was in the middle of battle. Not when he could stare someone in the eyes.

“Y-yeah.” He said slowly. He did need people dead. He looked at the blaster, then focused as the barrel lengthened into his sniper. That had enough punch.

Shazir smirked at the appearance of the sniper. “Fancy.” He said with a grin.

“Yeah, well...” Lance hefted it slightly, gun warm and heavy in his palms. “It’s got more punch.”

With it lowered across his abdomen, Lance lunged forward, even as Shazir’s feet rapidly tapped over the metal floor.

They sprinted forward, feet light and elegant as they spun around a corner.

“Lance, down!”

Lance dropped down, sliding just under a gun barrel as his rifle glowed, sword grip falling into his palm.

Instinct took over, bringing up the sword, tip slashing through the chest of the droid, just in time for Shazir to stab a hole in it’s head.

“Keep going.” Lance said with a grim look, starting only after Shazir twisted and continued down the hall.

With a growl, Ascua suddenly beat her wings faster, lunging in front of them and swerving around a corner to the left.

The subsequent shriek of pain and three shots of a blaster said a scuffle went down, but when the pair turned said corner, Ascua was sitting on top of a Galra, blood on her muzzle.

“...Ascua, heel.” He ordered softly, and Ascua bounced back over to him, wings half-spread and growling.

“Let’s go.” Shazir nodded, and they once again sprinted down the hallway.

They spun around another corner, and Lance hit the deck, grabbing Shazir’s shoulder and yanking him back.

Shots flew over their heads as they slid, scraping over the floor, and into an opposing hallway as the purple laser blasts left burn marks into the ground. “Fuck. Fuck.” Lance snarled, sword morphing into his sniper as he darted back into the hallway.

The first Galra drone went down without a fuss, but once again Lance paused over the trigger on a real Galra.

It didn’t matter, because Ascua swung around the corner, claws and teeth crackling and lit with blue. Her wings cut a sharp swerve as she slammed into the Galra at top speed.

The blue plasma that had formed on her paws blasted across his armour, Ascua’s thin mouth finding her mark on his neck, his eyes going wide right before he screamed, energy lacing through his body as he was flash-cooked in his armour.

A body fell.

The others, pinned down though they were, hadn’t expected Lance and Shazir’s return, as the drones were mown down by Lance’s quick, practiced shots.

He still missed a few, and almost growled at himself for it.

They had chased Galra through the base until well into the night. Several had surrendered, and Lance turned a blind eye as the Creeminians cut them down without hesitation.

This wasn’t supposed to be a planet of warriors. They wanted their fine crafts and to be left in peace.

Not this.

Not the war.

“Nice place.” Shazir said abruptly, causing Lance to spin and stare from where he was putting his armour away in Red’s cockpit.

“Oh, uh, thanks.” Lance said, sliding his Bayard into his pants, careful not to activate it.

“So...” Shazir leaned on the wall, eyes gliding over Lance. “...When were you... planning on leaving?” He asked.

Lance shivered slightly under the snake’s assessing gaze, but it wasn’t invasive, just... assessing. “...Soon.” Lance sighed. “I gotta keep moving.”

“I’ve got a better idea.” Shazir said softly, walking over and putting a hand on Lance’s ribs. “You’re thin. And tired. And space hasn’t been kind to you.” The Paladin glanced away, hearing the truth of his words. “Stay.” He said kindly. “Stay for just a few days. Learn some things with us. Rest. Eat.”

When his brain hesitated at the offer, Lance almost kicked himself. He wanted to get back to Voltron, but burning himself into nothing wouldn’t help his friends. Especially if they were in trouble when they next met.

“Plus, it gives me time to take a good, long look at Red.” Acil walked over, hand on her hip. “I think I can do a lot for you, girl.” She chuckled.

Red purred at that idea.

“...Alright.” Lance finally sighed, slumping slightly as both of them let out whoops of excitement.

Shazir quickly grabbed Lance’s arm and pulled him toward the exit. “Oh, Lance, I think I’ve got a class you need to join...”


“Fighter’s class.” Shazir explained. “Just some standard stuff, but it includes stuff about flexibility, combat strategies...”

“Sounds like fun.” Lance smiled, following him. “When does that start?”

“In about half a varga.” Tail flicking, he lead Lance through their city.

With a signature smirk, Lance nodded. “I’m in.”

While they were waiting, Shazir led him around Kadir-Halm, explaining how the Creeminians had managed to carve the houses out of rocks brought from mountains elsewhere.

Long ago, it had been a huge trading port, but Galra soldiers came, talking of a ‘Republic’. Many Creeminians liked the idea, that they’d get protection from an army outside of their own. Then, more of them could go about jobs they were good at.

Soon enough, the political leader at the time had agreed to join the Republic of the Galra, just temporarily, see if it was a right fit.

Which was when Galra fell upon the planet. By the time the queen had sunk her claws back into the political head, their cities had been ruined, thousands dead, and those who were fighting back weren’t enough.

It took them a while to gather in Kadir-Halm, but that was where they had held.

Until now.

“Now that we can get off the ground again,” Shazir said, quickly swallowing one of the sticks he had gotten for Lance. “We can get some of the materials we need for better weapons and trades! To keep the Galra out!”

Lance poked a stick. It was called a Mimish, and looked a little like a mozzarella stick, aside from the fact that the ‘cheese’ was pale pink.

He picked one up finally, and bit into it. It tasted a lot like mozzarella and pork. It was really good. Stupid good. “Mmh. Fuck.” He muttered as he chewed it. He felt like he missed Hunk more in that moment. Then he really wanted a hug his friend. “...That sounds, like a great idea actually.” He nodded, taking another bite of the Mimish.

“You know, those are really easy to make.” Shazir chuckled at Lance’s urgency.

Are they now.” Lance muttered, almost disbelieving.

“Yeah. Cut a block of Chorzoni meat into strips, then put them on sticks, close to a pulse engine.” Shazir explained, pointing at an animal that seemed... vaguely like a boar, with stubby wings, and an elephant trunk. “We made them on... space travels.” He sighed.

“I’m sure you’ll get to make more soon, out in space.” Lance smiled.

“Yeah. That’d be nice.” Shazir sighed with a soft, reminiscent grin.

“Paladin, it is wonderful of you to join us.” A pale violet Creeminian purred with a light grin. Her body was draped in white, thin cloth. “I’m glad you can attend this lesson.”

“I’m glad as well.” Lance replied. “Thanks for letting me.”

She purred, and nodded to a space on the dirt. Both him and Shazir slid to sitting poses between a half-dozen other young Creeminians.

“Hello everyone. My name is Tallis.” She slid upright effortlessly, not even appearing to shift her upper body. “Today, we will be reviewing or learning several basic forms...” She dropped into a neat set of splits. “Of stretches and movements. Did you all bring your weapons?”

Shazir brought up his small knife, and squeezed the handle of it, causing it to snap out, extending into his spear.

Lance brought out his Bayard, and lay his arm over his legs, the Bayard comfortably slack in his hands.

“Alright.” Tallis’ head turned toward Shazir and Lance, and suddenly he realized that her eyes weren’t focusing, clouded over and shifting only with her motions.

Tallis was blind.

“On your feet.” She ordered, the smooth, sensuous snake lady suddenly sharp and hard. “Turn around.”

Behind them, targets, like approximations of a Creeminian’s torso.


Lance’s sword swung out, and he got into stance.

“...Paladin...” Tallis said slowly. “...That is a sword, yes?” She asked.

Glancing behind him, Lance considered Tallis. “...Uh, yes.”

“Good. Go over to the leaders, and ask for Weneq. He’ll teach you more than I can.” Tallis instructed, and turned to the others.

Just like that, he was dismissed, from class and from their conversation. Unsure of what else to do, he nodded, and marched over to a group of warrior Creeminians in a loose circle.

Warily, he raised his voice. “Uh... I was... Instructed to find, Weneq?”


The Creeminian who stepped toward him was huge, bigger than all of the older ones he had seen. He was deep orange, with sections and marks of brown on his back. His smile was wide, green eyes flashing. “I’m Weneq. What can I help you with?” He said, the motion revealing multiple scars on his muzzle.

Lance only blinked in surprise for a second. “Uh, Tallis sent me... Because I have a sword?”

Weneq beamed. He seemed excited. “Finally!” He cheered, quickly bringing Lance to a small circle of dusty ground. “You’re one of few swordsmen on this planet.”

“Well, I think I’m the alien...” The Paladin drew his broadsword, spinning it around his wrist.

Tail flicking, Weneq drew closer, growling slightly. “You’ve got a good handle on that blade.” He commented with a soft smile. “...Can you fight with it?”

Instinct brought Lance’s blade up to cross with Weneq’s odd, blueish blade.

“You can!” He purred, neck curling slightly, bringing his head higher. “Good!”

When he curved his blade, and pulled Lance to the side, abruptly shifting him out of stance and shooting the sword out of his hands, burying it’s tip in the sand a good few feet away.

Lance paused when Weneq’s knife-point came to his neck.

“...Can you adjust though?” Weneq asked with a smirk.

Well, Lance hadn’t fought the Galra for two years without getting good.

One hand came up to guide the blade from his face without a pause, rolling in the same motion to land and snag his own blade. He spun on one foot, other one braced behind him, dust scuffed up in a short arc.

“Very good, Paladin!” Weneq’s grin widened.

“Lance.” He called in response. “...My name is Lance.”

Fingers played over the grip of the blue-bladed sword, wrist elegantly circling so that the blade swung in a circle beside his leg. “Alright, Lance.” Weneq said, almost like a hiss, almost like a threat. “Come and fight.”

Lance smirked. He liked Weneq. “Done.” He grinned, lunging forward.

Day three with Weneq, and Lance was wondering if the decision he made was an error. He never exactly stopped aching, not since he had started yesterday.

Weneq insisted they never use anything but their real swords, he learned very quickly.

They both earned their fair share of bruises, whenever a sword impacted the armour they wore. It never went through, they were careful, but a good hit could still break bone.

Twisting his sword so that Weneq’s next blow was parried, Lance brought one foot over, slamming it down just on the claws of Weneq’s foot, twisting the blade in an attempt to disarm him.

“Very good! Use close tactics!” Weneq encouraged.

Lance spun on one foot, planting it back down when he was separated from his older, snakelike opponent.

They launched together again, clashing in great showers of sparks.

Behind them, several small, dusty coloured Creeminians sat, but in miniature. They were so much smaller, so much less noticeable than the bigger ones.

Lance hadn’t seen them until Weneq let him have a break.

“...Who are they?” He asked Weneq finally.

“Them?” Weneq inquired, glancing back to the giggling, small Creeminians. “Ignore them. They’re just curious.”

Then he seemed to register Lance’s confused expression.

“...Oh! That is what... young Creeminians look like.” He chuckled.

Lance blinked at them. They were so cute, and suddenly it made sense.

“...So, kids?”

Weneq laughed, but nodded. “We call young Scalbers ‘kids’, but yes, I suppose. Lings, is what they are called.”

The Lings waved at Lance when he glanced over.

“Lance, eyes on your opponent, not the Lings!” Weneq ordered.

“Yessir!” Lance snapped, whirling back around with his sword at the ready.

Lance had never had an official mentor. Not counting Adam West.

Adam had been his tech teacher, and later, a friend. Someone he could speak Spanish with, gossip with... It was a piece of Cuba, right there in the Garrison.

Adam had taught him how to be as accurate as he was. He wasn’t like some aliens, all quickshot and dead on, but he was a good sniper. Adam had taught him that.

Adam was Shiro’s boyfriend. Partner. Fiancé. Everything. Eighty percent of what Adam talked about, was Shiro.

At least five percent was being mad at Keith, who lived with Shiro, and therefor Adam.

Sitting on a planet, millions of billions of miles from home, staring up at a pale blue moon, perfectly round and large, surrounded in hundreds of stars an constellations he didn’t know, Lance wondered if Adam was ok.

His fiancé, adopted child and favourite student had vanished. Again.

Lance sighed, dropping his head to the grass under his feet.

“You know, practice early tomorrow will be awful if you stay up.”

He swivelled around, staring at Weneq, who smiled at him.

Turning back so that his spine wasn’t twisted, Lance relaxed, staring longingly out to the stars. “Yeah. Sorry.”

There was silence for a few moments, before Weneq stepped forward and slowly, slid onto the grass beside him. “...Can you see your galaxy from in here?”

“No.” Lance muttered. “Not at all.”

Weneq nodded slowly, eyes remarkably calm. “...I wasn’t born here.” He admitted softly.

The Earthling glanced at him.

“No. I was born there.” Weneq pointed to a star, pale red and surrounded with several other blue or whitish ones. “Glaow. It’s a tiny cluster of stars, like the very beginnings of a galaxy.”

Blinking up at the aforementioned star, Lance nodded. “...So, how did you come... here?”

“Well...” His black tipped tail flicked, which was the first time Lance noticed that it was actually missing a good three inches right off the end. “I lived on a planet called Brraxis. It was really peaceful there, though it was a death world.” He grinned slightly. “Seventy percent water, more than ten tectonic plates...” There was a low chuckle. “Chaos.”

Lance didn’t want to say a word. He knew that Earth was 70% water from science class, and he knew that Earth had 17 tectonic plates from a Trivia game with Pidge.

“That’s why I’m bigger than the other Atrox.”

With an almost disbelieving chuckle, Lance shook his head. “So that’s your species name. I’m a human.”

“Atrox? Yeah.” Weneq’s neck bent slightly, like he was stretching. “Human. Interesting.” The dip was quick, almost like a strike. “Atrox have been living on Brraxis for a while, and we started to... change.” He pointed to his tail. “Markings, and I’m a lot darker coloured than your friend, Shazir there...”

“Yeah, no... On earth, I’m a subset of humans, called Cubans. We’ve got like...” Lance poked his arm. “Darker skin.”

The green eyes flicked over him in a curious, assessing look. “...That’s interesting. We have variation depending on what planet you go to, but not... on the planet, unless it’s a death world.”

“I guess Earth would be classified as one then.” Lance chuckled. “What else qualifies a ‘death world’?” He asked.

“Well, they’re normally classified by tectonic activity and number of other species in the same genus.”  Weneq nodded. “On Creemin, they had one natural predator. The Scalbers. Out on Brraxis?” He chuckled. “Six or seven different species.”

“Earth has like... a dozen predators for humans. If we count the ones in the water, then more.” Lance explained. “Like a tiger.”

“Tiger?” Weneq asked.

“Yeah. It’s uh... Like, Ascua, but without wings, and with a thinner tail and flatter face.” Lance explained. “And then, so, so much bigger. The colour of like, fire, but with black stripes.”

Weneq hissed slightly, but the way he did it sounded almost like a whistle. “Tiger. Sounds adequately powerful.”

“They can run really fast, not like a cheetah, but-“

“A... Trick?” Weneq’s face tilted.

“Cheetah.” Lance corrected. It didn’t seem to translate, judging by Weneq’s still confused face. “Chee. Tah.”

“Oh! Chee-tah?” Weneq confirmed.

Grinning, Lance nodded. “Yeah! Chee-tah.” He had to separate the word more, but that was fine. “It’s the fastest land creature on earth.”

“Fascinating.” The orange Atrox nodded. “On Brraxis we had something known as a Khorrat.” He said. “It’s... Essentially, one of us, but limbless, and so much larger. Fangs as long as my forearm and venomous.” He shuddered slightly. “With a huge hood, that it spread whenever it was about to strike.”

“Sounds like a cobra.” Lance commented. “We had something like that on earth, but a lot smaller.”

“...Huh.” Weneq chuckled. “I suppose death planets are fairly alike, then.”

“I guess.” Lance nodded, staring back up at the stars.

After a few more doboshes, Weneq stood up and offered a hand to Lance. “C’mon. No sense in sitting out here all night. Let’s go get some Mimish.”

“Can you get those this late?” Lance asked as he took Weneq’s hand and boosted upright.

“Ling, we can get anything we want.” Weneq chuckled.

“Today, we are learning to pick locks, and use a molding key!”

Tallis handed out a small, pale grey lump of something to everyone. It was hard, but when he touched it for a while, his finger started sinking into it, like modelling clay.

“Molding keys are made from specific minerals and metals, so that they are indestructible, except by themselves.” She lectured as she walked past Lance. “You cannot break, snap, or pull apart your molding key.”

Lance pressed it between his palms, amazed that it seemed to melt slightly, becoming almost jelly-like in consistency.

“However, you may have noticed that pressing it in your hands for a long time will melt it.”

“Mine’s melted.” Lance said, grinning.

Tallis paused, turned around and walked back over to Lance. “...Paladin, I recommend that you take your molding key and go see Weneq.”

With a sigh, and no further argument, Lance turned away and walked off, looking for his teacher.

“They kick you out for melting your key too fast?” Weneq asked with a smile, putting down the cup he had been drinking from.

Lance blinked, confused. “How did you-“

“I did too.” Weneq laughed. “Out on Brraxis, we’ve got a lot less sunshine. So... in the end, my core temperature is different than most.” He explained. “So, I can teach you how to do some of that stuff.” Tail waving behind him, slightly excited, he seemed eager.

“Sure!” Lance grinned.

Reaching into his back pocket, Weneq pulled out a similar lump of small, grey stuff. “So, molding keys... Virtually indestructible, and extremely versatile.” He nodded, sitting on the grass with Lance. “They can be knives, wedges, so on and so forth... but the one thing that most of us use them for, is lockpicks.”

Lance cocked his head, poking at the grey lump.

Bringing out a pair of Galra handcuffs and setting them in front of Lance, Weneq continued. “Their doors might be based on biometric scanners, but their keys are still keys.” He chuckled. “So, all you need to do, is this.”

Skillfully, Weneq turned the key into a thin bar in his hand, and inserted it into the slot of the Galra cuffs. He waited for what felt like at least a handful of ticks, before turning it.

The cuffs popped apart.

Lance blinked as Weneq twisted the key back to level, and pulled it free. “And Yitra! You walk a free Ling.”

The Paladin could only stare. “How did you-“

“So, these things can’t be broken.” Weneq interrupted, squeezing the key in his hand, re-melting it. “What you need to do is melt it, shape it to be thin enough to put in there, and hold it there for like, twenty ticks.” He shrugged. “That allows it to harden, and you can use it like a key.”

He clipped the cuffs back together, handing them to Lance. “Twenty ticks.”

“Got it.” Lance tightened his hand around the molding key. It took him a few tries to get it thin enough, but then he took it and pushed it into the keyhole.

“Hold it now.” Weneq murmured.

Mentally, Lance counted to twenty-university, then turned the key.

The cuffs opened.

“...No fuckin’ way.” He murmured, pulling out the key. To his shock, the key was perfectly shaped to the lock. “...That’s...”

“Well, glad you’re impressed. Let’s try this a few other ways...”

By the time the orange sun started setting, Lance could free himself from both wrist and ankle cuffs (“No tail to get in your way!”), make a wedge, knife, anything out of a small handful of material.

Lance placed the molding key on his sock, at the top of his foot, and pulled his boot on overtop. “So...” He began softly. It had been a movement since their talk, and Lance hated what he had to tell Weneq.

“When are you goin’ back out there, Ling?” Weneq interrupted again. The student glanced over, but it didn’t make Weneq’s pained smile any less real. “Because, I know you need to.”

Blue eyes turned down, to the grass under his hands. “...Tomorrow.”

“...Well.” Weneq chuckled. “Your Lion’s all tuned up?”

“Faster than ever.” Lance confirmed.

“Good.” Weneq nodded with a soft look. “...Just do me one thing.”

“What’s that?” He glanced to the taller, larger being.

The huge muzzle parted in a fanged grin. “...Give ‘em Hell.”

That made it through the translator loud and clear.

The Creeminians were there, at the launching pad, when Red took off. Shazir was waving, along with Acil, and they seemed overjoyed, hollering at Red when she stood up and roared.

He could feel her pride at new power, new strength. Whatever Acil had done - and she had given him a list, Lance just didn’t know how to read it - Red loved it. She felt stronger than she had since she had first used her Bayard.

As her thrusters tuned up, Ascua gripping to the inside of the carpet coated box that would provide her with safety during take off and landing, Lance looked down to the Creeminians again, fingers briefly stilling over the buttons and switches.

Near the back of the pack, stood Weneq.

He wasn’t waving, but Lance could sense his smirk.

He saluted.

And the snake saluted back.

The cheers slowly dimmed as he headed up into the stratosphere, and fired Red’s thrusters.

Faster than he had felt her move before, they were gone.

“Log, um...” Lance paused, looked around the cockpit. “...What is this, 15?” He turned to Ascua, licking clean a paw atop her box. “I recorded one like a movement ago right?”

Red reminded him that it was more like four quintants ago.

“Got it. Only four quintants, thanks Red.” Lance chuckled, turning back to the screen. “We wound up in a nebula, scrambled a little bit. But it’s ok, apparently whatever Acil put on the shields sure took it out. We’re just getting straightened out.” He smiled.

He got up, leaned a little on the pilot’s seat, one foot crossed over the other. “So, we’re movin’ pretty fast now. I spent a few extra movements on Creemin, but y’know what? It’s good. We’re on track.”

Padding back over to the computer, he smiled. “Signing off!”

Lance had decided not to bother landing until late that night.

Or, what the equivalent of night was.

He had been keeping an Earth clock running in Red, just to remind him of how long he had been out of there, and remind him how old his cousins and siblings were.

But that night, when the clock turned, it didn’t turn to one of them.

The roar of the engines went silent as Lance brought them to rest on the asteroid. When they were still, Lance turned off the cockpit lights, head down and mind empty.

Ascua was asleep, Red was tired and took no time to lay down, going to the Lion equivalent of rest.

He walked to the front of her cockpit and sat down, knees laid on top of each other, resting on one hip. His arm went out to support his body, shoulder shrugged close to his neck.

For a while, he just stared out at the stars, at the ones he didn’t recognize. At the ones he would never know the names of, because once he left, he might never see them again.

Like he might never see his family again.

When his tiny clock made a soft noise, like a chime, Lance turned so that his back was against the glass, knees pulled to his chest and arms hugged around them.

“...H-happy birthday to you.” He began softly. “...Happy b-birthday t-to you... H-happy bir-rthday d-dear La~ance...” He whispered, feeling the lump in his throat through his singing. “...Ha-appy bir-rthday... to... you...”

He pressed his face into his knees, and cried  until he was empty.

“There it is.” Lance told Red. Their newest Pylon had brought them a new planet, in their direction of travel.

Warlain had very little information written about it, but seeing the planet, with a rift down to it’s core, suddenly made the foreboding, ‘Use caution, inhabitants dangerous’ warning in the list a lot clearer.

“...Well...” Lance took a breath, smiled, and turned Red toward the planet. “Let’s go.”

Chapter Text

The thrusters burned lower as they swooped through the atmosphere, Lance’s fingers flaring slightly over the handle, the palm of his hand easing the throttle back.

Red’s controls were snappish, since Creemin. She was light and elegant before, a marksman’s rifle, but now she was a sniper shot. Harder, stronger, faster.

In the movements since Creemin, he had gotten better at the new sensitivity, the new reactions. She felt so much stronger, so much quicker than ever before.

Gently, he twisted the handle. Red’s feet swung the other way, and Lance pushed back forward on the throttle, slowly accelerating to slow their descent. “Ok Red... C’mon girl, I know you’re fired up, but we’ve gotta land safely...” He murmured.

Warlain looked strange. Half of it was predominantly water, with islands scattered across. The other half, separated by the huge, crumbling rift, was rocky, only with streams and lakes in the area.

They crossed over at one tiny strip, where a thin, long lake connected the ends of the rift valley.

“...Alright Red, you don’t like the water, so we’re gonna pick the rockier side...”

They turned to the side, and started up again, moving swiftly toward the ground. Lance let them slide through free-fall, just gliding overhead, as they headed over land.

“And, any minute now...” He hummed, easing up the throttle to slow.

It wasn’t until he heard Ascua’s screech of both warning and fear that he saw the huge, bolt of rock shooting at them.

“RED!” Lance shouted, and she fired her thrusters, suddenly shooting back and whirling away. Ascua darted into her box, snarling as her claws snapped with tiny discharges of plasma.

Red was quicker now, but the problem was adjusting to that. Red helped where she could, but she wasn’t as good with her own feet right then either. Dipping through the abrupt onslaught of stones streaking through the air at them, Lance forced her to spin around, arching away from the shots, back over the rift.

“There we go... There we go...” He murmured as they dipped back over the water half of the planet. His heart was in his throat, still double checking the ground for more shots.

No rocks came.

He flew overhead for a while, unsure of what to do until he noticed what appeared to be a runway, stretching over a few islands. “...Think we have friendlies over here, Red?” He asked, running a quick atmospheric scan. Ascua would need to stay inside, and Lance would have to wear his helmet.

Warily, they swooped over the runway, Red’s thrusters adjusting as they slowly turned, lowering to the ground.

Nearby, a few people walked out.

Their legs were built similarly to a human’s, one knee at the midpoint and ankles low. They did, however, walk on tip-toe of their clawed, birdlike feet. Behind them, a sweep of feathers stood out, like a macaw’s.

Tall, long wings that seemed attached just above their hips formed sweeping dress or cape-like things. Their faces and torsos though, were more like a cat’s, much more elegant, and covered in fur rather than feathers. The oddest part, was their apparent lack of mouth.

Their muzzles looked... Closed. No opening, no place where it would split.

It was stranger, even, than their lack of arms.

Their faces had simple, rounded ears, like a lion’s, with a wide, large eye, and some sort of thin, oval-shaped second eye underneath that. No visible nose, no mouth...

Though they had no mouths, one of them placed the wrists of it’s wings on the ground and brought up it’s feet, holding a... gun.

Lance put his hands up. “My name is Lance, Red paladin of Voltron!” He was quick to say, to avoid getting hurt.

They seemed to examine him for a while, then the one holding the gun lowered it. “...Come with us.” It murmured shortly, shifting to the side to allow Lance to come in front of it. Then a gun stabbed into his ribs, ordering him to turn and walk toward the building nearby.

Lance had to walk out on a floating platform, careful not to lose his balance, and into a wooden hut.

A very extravagant wooden hut.

The outside was coated in some kind of blackish grey tar substance, but the inside revealed the golden wood with distinct lines of pink, blue and red-orange in it. Their fires, torches lit on the walls, were a faint green. “Whoa.” He murmured, looking around.

The jab of a gun at his back reminded him that he was being frog-marched into the place.

He was pushed into a room that looked... strangely ornate, with woven reeds, beads, shells and otherwise. Strung on the ropes were small glowing beads, glittering off the golden wood behind a single, tall, brown and green bird-creature.

It leveled a long spear on Lance.

“Name yourself, alien.” It snarled, and suddenly, it’s mouth opened.

They had no lips. Their mouths were literally just... sealed together, but they had teeth that seemed completely one with their skull. When they shut their jaws, there was no difference between muzzle and mouth.

“Alien!” The one with the gun pressed it into his back.

“Lance Lance Lance! Lance McClain!” He shouted. “I’m a Paladin of Voltron! Red Lion!” He repeated, hands up. “I’m here to get some water and food, continue on my way!”

That seemed to make everyone pause.

“...Do you not... work, for the Galra?” The one with the spear questioned.

“No?!” Lance demanded. He figured now would not be a time to explain Lotor’s and Voltron’s alliance. “I’ve been fighting against them for two years, I’ve been separated from my team, and I’m trying to get out of here!”

There was a sickeningly, startlingly long pause period. Then, the barrel of the gun slid from his spine.

Lance breathed a sigh of relief.

Then searing pain shot across his right leg. He howled in shock, dropping to the ground, as strong, clawed feet gripped his biceps. “Remove his helmet!” The spear one demanded.

“Waitwaitwaitwait!” Lance burst out. “I can’t breathe without my helmet! It’s not safe for me!”

The leader held up it’s foot, and the other two stopped.

“...If he breathes in the atmosphere, he is Galra. If not, he is not Galra.” The leader stated, and made a short gesture.

Lance was struggling, shouting things, as they pulled off his helmet. Two breaths and he felt like he was choking, and then Red panicked.

He tried to tell her that it would be alright, but he blacked out just slow enough to see a massive clawed foot coming through the roof.

Hours later, he could breathe.

That was such a nice realization, taking a deep inhale of clean oxygen.

“Hello.” A voice said softly.

Lance glanced up, to see a brighter, bigger one of the bird-creatures kneeling by him. It had fixed his leg up, fortunately a graze, very intentional. “...h-hi.” Lance groaned, slowly pulling an arm under him and sitting up. “Ouch. Yeah. Hey.”

It giggled softly. “The shot caught you pretty well.”

“Thanks, I guess.” Lance muttered, slowly adjusting to sit upright and look at his damaged leg. “...Is everyone alright?”

“Your... Beast, seemed to relax when we had your helmet back on.” It said.

“Her name’s Red.” Lance explained, gradually shifting to kneeling, starting to stand. “She’s a Lion.”

“We’ve heard rumors of creatures, beings like you. Many generations ago. Many.” It said. “My name is Iiali.”

“Lance.” The Paladin muttered, trying not to be bitter.

“Good to meet you. I apologize for Eagi’s shot. They needed to ensure you were not... Galra.” Iiali explained.

Lance nodded. “I get it.”

“We’ve been at war for so many years.” Iiali sighed. “It is hard to trust the words of people.”

Sighing slightly, Lance glanced to the side. “Yeah. You guys are fighting the Galra?”

“And the Rowlan Warlins.” Iiali informed, nodding.

“...So, are these Rowlan Warlins working with the Galra?” Lance questioned, examining her carefully.

Iiali shrugged her wings. “...Well, I don’t know.”

With a sigh, Lance shifted his weight off his hurt leg. “Who does know?”

“Chief Yaqui.” Iiali shrugged. The paladin was starting to wonder if she was being rude or just ignorant.

Regardless, he gave a polite nod and turned away. “Can I talk to him?”

“Over there.” Iiali pointed around the corner, and Lance abruptly realized that he was outside, it was just night.

Or, at least, partially night. Their moon was apparently reflective enough to dye the world a pale, off-green. Understanding that Iiali was not going to be assisting him further, Lance stepped into the building, their green torches almost no different inside than out.

He recognized the one, with the headcrest and holding a spear.

Puta. He’s Yaqui. Lance thought, about a half second before the being turned around.

Understanding that these people had little idea of who he was, Lance dipped his head, going into a one-knee bow.

That seemed to impress Yaqui, who nodded for him to stand.

“Lance. I see you are on your feet again.” Yaqui said coolly, appraising him through thin, narrowed eyes.

“I am.” Lance replied, not adding ‘no thanks to you’ to this particular alien. “I was curious as to Galra activity here. Are they allied with the Rowlan Warlins?”

The other two bird-people glanced between Yaqui and Lance, nervous for a moment, before Yaqui sighed. “Lance of Paladin.” Lance had to bite his tongue to keep from correcting the chief. “Walk with me.”

The Paladin followed Yaqui as the taller bird-being strutted through the halls of the hut.

“We’ve been at war with the Rowlan Warlins for many generations, since they stole our rightful territory over half the rift.” Chief Yaqui continued. “But recently, their weapons have been far stronger. Our war kept this world in balance, and we kept our control of the rift, on Warlian.” He said, stepping into the moonlight and remaining quiet for a while. “To keep it from growing, we must aid the water flow. The Rowlans, across from us, keep rocks from being buried in her core, cutting us all off from her warmth.” He waved a hand over the rippling, island-dotted surface. “But, with these new weapons, the Rowlans have become greedy.”

“...they want more than just the rift valley...” Lance murmured.

With a nod, the chief continued. “These new weapons... we are unable to combat against. It is... more difficult than one imagines.” He said, turning away with a sad look in his sharp eyes.

“These weapons purple?” Lance asked abruptly. The chief spun around and stared at him. “Purple, glowing, they say ‘vrepit sa?’”

“Yes, how did you-“

“I’ve been fighting them for a few years now.” The explanation came out hard, and Lance felt oddly bitter after saying it. Yaqui dipped his head, like he understood the horrible memories. “...I know I said I’d just be here to get some food and water, but... I’d be willing to help you fight.” He continued.

Yaqui seemed to consider that. “No, Lance. It is not your place.” He said finally. “We can fight the Rowlans ourselves.”

“And the Galra?” He questioned.

That made the chief look away, kneeling down by a garden and gently pushing his left wingtip into the dirt. “...We have never needed those... beasts, you fly. Those that roar through the sky, that fight in the stars. We have brought peace and balance, to this world.” He murmured softly. “And we have never needed you.”

Lance felt a little stung, though he knew that the chief meant the royal ‘you’.


Yaqui stood, facing Lance. “...We do not need your help. And therefor, I cannot ask you to do this.” The Paladin glanced away. “However...” Yaqui held out two foot chunk of... wood. “...I offer you this Corvan wood core, so that you may look at it and know, the Witri Warlins will view you as another ally.”

Taken aback, Lance managed to get his brain back online incredibly fast. “Uh, yes. Um...” He reached to his back pocket. He knew he had an extra. “...This is a communicator.” Trading the smooth silver and blue object for the Corvan wood core, Lance stepped back. “It will... Call me. If the Galra ever get to be too much.”

“If the Galra and the Rowlans become more than we can take...” Yaqui gazed at the communicator in his clawed foot. “...We shall know we have an ally.”

Lance smiled. There wasn’t much else he could do.

“So, leaving already?”

Turning, Lance caught sight of the bird-being who had first brought him to the chief. “Yeah. You guys are... uh good?”

“Well, I wouldn’t call us good. I did shoot you.” He commented.

The box he was holding dropped. “That was you?!”

“Sorry.” The guy shrugged. “My name’s Uame.”

“Lance. Though I’m guessing you knew that.” Lance slid off of the ramp, nodding to Uame.

Uame laughed slightly. “I guess I did, but I suppose that I should’ve introduced myself before I shot you.”

Shaking his head with a soft chuckle, Lance sat on the edge of Red’s mouth. “Yeah. You guys going to be alright?” He asked, glancing around at the water’s surface.

Uame sighed. He seemed... regretful, angry, resentful of Lance leaving. “...We’ll be ok. But...” Seeming to consider something. “...Tell you what. Stay an extra few nights, and I’ll teach you a few hand to hand combat moves.”

That caught his attention.

Lance turned, Uame smirking like he knew he had the Paladin’s interest.

On one hand, he should leave, keep moving, keep going through sector space...

But the other end of him said that a little hand to hand combat was going to be useful.

Night one was like sparring with Keith all over again.

Lance got his ass handed to him.

Apparently, Uame’s wings were used both as a guard, and then as legs. His actual legs were used like arms.

Each time that Uame put him on the sand, Lance got back up, determined not to let anything get the better of him.

Not even a bird-armed man from an alien planet.

Lance did learn, slowly. Uame was a hard teacher who didn’t give much legitimate instruction, more just... Action.

Quintant two, and Lance spent some time circling the planet. He saw a few Galra ships, but no large forces. Enough that it would be easy to take out within a few vargas. After his patrol, he slid back to the ocean side, landing on the island where Uame’s house was.

Uame was a simple bachelor, apparently, who just knew how to shoot a gun. He was a conscript, more or less, to their new militia.

The Witri Warlins had never needed a formal military, because they kept peace over their half of the rift responsibilities. Uame just shot a gun because he liked it. He wanted to teach, not fight.

Which was weird, because that was what he was doing to Lance. He was teaching the Paladin to fight, hand to hand.

Lance had to be careful, watching how he blocked each hit from Uame. A wrong hit would scratch badly at best, those long claws making short work of his skin.

He noticed that later, too.

He had been noticing more detail. Making better assessments.

Reactions seemed so natural now, but Lance felt like they were starting to turn him into something he wasn’t. He didn’t want to be a fighter. He never had. He just wanted to fly a ship, through space, to search around for the origins of everything.

And look where that got you. He thought during a spar the second night, as he blocked a cutting right from Uame.

Dancing back and resetting his stance, Lance went back into the fight.

Each time he took a punch, he got faster. There was a tiny separation, but not much, each time he threw a hit.

They moved through defensive, karate-like motions that would use an opponent’s weight against them. Lance picked those up easily, feeling like he noticed a pattern. Left foot meant right foot plant. Forward or backward showed how heel needed to be rotated.

Shift weight, use arms. Flip, done.

By night three, Lance was wondering if something was wrong with him. Hand to hand was never this simple before, but now it felt weightless. A little like a dance with more violence. Even Uame was throwing proper hits now, and the result was that Lance could feel the strength through each harder hit, but it didn’t make him want to back down.

And Lance, that night in Red, hovering above the Witri Warlin’s side of the planet, sat in front of the log recorder and stared at his left hand. New callouses, scars, and other small marks made up his skin. His thumb rubbed over his palm, feeling each ripple and dent, each stitched together mark that wasn’t worth visiting a healing pod for.

And those ones that now, didn’t have a healing pod for.

When his earth timer dinged, reminding him that a new day had passed on Earth, Lance picked it up and looked it over, before opening up the months and marking off the passed day.


Something was off. He couldn’t’ve been in Sector Space that long.

Rapidly, he flipped through the months, trying to find days he had missed. Any huge stretches of time that could be attributed to Sector Space, anything.

A handful of days, probably when he crashed. Or when he was fighting on Dirmon. Or when he was fighting on Creemin.

That was it. Maybe fourteen days, total.

There was no way to avoid it.

The small clock clattered to the table as the calendar turned off, and Lance’s head fell into his hands.

Eleven months. He had been in Sector Space for Eleven. Months.

Less than a full month from his birthday.

He felt numb, shocked, staring blankly at the floor. He couldn’t even bring himself to cry.

“The chief thinks you’re crazy, for coming back.” Uame sighed when Lance walked over to him.

“Yeah. Probably should be considered that.” Chuckling, Lance sat down beside the bird-being on the beach.

Eyes gliding over Lance’s face through the helmet, Uame assessed him, but then paused on a detail. “...So, that mark. In your...”

“Lips?” Lance said.

“Yes. Mouth, lipz.” Uame tapped the corner of where his own mouth opened. “Where did you get that?”

Lance shrugged. “I fought Galra, far from here. And I... Well, I won, but I got a scar for it.”

Zkar.” Uame murmured. “We don’t have a word for it.”

The Paladin didn't bother touching on the pronunciation. “Scars are... Like, deep enough injuries that they never... go back to normal.” Lance explained.

“Yes.” Uame nodded, and held out his foot. On his ankle, was a section where feathers were no longer growing. “...Zkar.” He murmured, running a hand down it. It looked like it had come from a blaster shot.

That night, Lance told him the names of the stars he had memorized from Sector Space.

The next morning, Lance packed up early. He told Ascua he was sorry for leaving her in Red for a few quintants, and sat at the helm, a grim sense of determination in his mind.

Red felt it too, and she knew what he wanted to do. What he was going to do.

That night, over Warlain, pieces of the Galra ships fell. Like shooting stars, metal chunks smoking into the dirt, falling through the rift, vanishing as the small scout ships, unused to fighting a Lion, fell before her claws and her jawblade. It wouldn’t solve all their problems, but it would solve enough of them.

Lance saw the red flare that launched from Uame’s island, briefly brightening the ground. He was close enough to see it, and take it’s thanks as it was meant to be taken.

And then he was gone.

Chapter Text

“Red, donde diablos esta ese maldito mapa?” Lance half-demanded, staring at the glowing screen.

Red offered no location.

“For fuck’s sake, I just want the maldito map!” Lance exclaimed, still scrolling through the saved files. He needed to find the one that Tybin had given him, but because of the previous damage from Creemin, some files were a bit corrupted.

Finally, he managed to get it.

“For God’s sake...” He muttered, pulling it up on the larger screen. “Here we go, ok.” With the map visible, Lance tapped on it a few times. “Just need to get our position... We’re about... South of Warlain...”

His dot that had been very focused, bright red and right where it always was supposed to be, was now a transparent oval that seemed to include Warlain and a wide space that didn’t have anything nearby.

It can’t get the position. Lance realized abruptly.

They weren’t close enough to a Pylon to get a proper location reading.

Which left him at a problem. He didn’t know where to go.

Mostly as a distraction, Lance walked over to the recording spot and settled in, reaching over to press the record button.

For a moment, his finger hesitated over the button. Speaking to the camera sometimes felt like he was going mad.

“...Log 17. Lance McClain of Earth, Voltron Red Paladin.” He said with determination, glancing briefly to the map. What did he say? How did he explain this? Last log, he had just left Creemin.

And he hadn’t known that he was there for 11 months by that point.

“...I’ve left Warlain.” Lance sighed, sitting a little straighter. “...I uh... Guess I should update on, like, everything... huh?” There was a long pause as Lance assembled himself enough to speak. “...So... Turns out I’ve been here for... 11 months.”

He felt like someone should laugh. Maybe I should.


“...That’s a... long ass time.” He muttered, not quite able to look at the camera. “So, I’ve been... I encountered a planet that didn’t know what Voltron was. Really cool, uh, I need to write this down a sec...” He scribbled down a note, ‘Pidge re. Warlain’. “Then asked me to leave, though I could’ve helped with the Galra there, so, super frustrating!” He felt like he was just venting now. He tossed his pen across the room, and suddenly realized he was way too jacked up for this.

“I need to... Clear my head, not talk, fuck this, fuck fuck!” Lance shouted, slamming the recorder off and lunging away, sitting back in Red’s pilot seat, grabbing the sticks and throwing her forward.

Ascua flew over and sat in his lap, simply watching the stars move past them as they sped to what Lance assumed was south. God he hoped.

“Log 18. Lance McClain of Earth, Voltron Red Paladin.”

This time he felt just, blank.

“...I’m currently in the dark section of Sector Space with no exact location, and minimal - at best -mapping of the immediate area.” He told the camera, staring at it with intensity. Maybe it’ll burst into flames. Maybe one of my friends’ll come through it. Maybe I can just sit here until I die.

Ploughing on with hope of burying his feelings, Lance continued, “I’m hoping to continue on my current course south.” He stated. “Hopefully, I can go even to the next Pylon. That’ll get me a location.” He glanced it over. “So far, it looks like...” With a pause, he assessed distances. “...At least another...”

A full Phoeb. A month and a half.

And that was proving he actually made it to where he had to go.

“Phoeb.” He murmured. “A full Phoeb. The planet that I’ll get to at that point will be... Zianik.” He smiled softly.

Glancing out to the stars beyond, the mostly empty section of space that faced him, Lance sighed.

“...Guess I better get moving.”

Space was empty.

He could remember Adam telling him that space was mostly blank area, devoid of planets, meteors, anything.

Lance had shrugged, laughed it off. Naive him figured that his ships would be flying planet to planet, and he figured he would never go through a blank space like that.

He actually believed that.

And now he was in the middle of Sector Space, nowhere, hopeless and barely knowing where he was.

Picking up a thin ruler-like thing from the log table, he walked back over to the pilot’s seat and stood in front of it, eyes flicking over the big map of Sector Space that he had finally found.

Behind him, something fell over. Maybe that odd branch that Chief Yaqui had given him. It only piqued his attention, but not brought his gaze over.

Turning back, he put his finger on the holographic map. “Maybe a little...” Lance drew a line from a midpoint in the bottom half of his red oval, to Zianik. “Here we go. So, then I should adjust my course, but...” Running a hand through his hair, Lance growled softly at the lack of a true direction.

If he went too far east, he would miss the planet, and go through a meteorite field. If he went too far west, he’d keep going through the middle of this section of nothing.

Worst part was, he wouldn’t be able to tell where he was while in the empty spot. His options were to either keep going straight through the dark spot, with very few planets, for about a phoeb and a half. Survivable. Unpleasant, but survivable.

His other option was to head a little east, and hit a Pylon by a planet in a meteor field that was a little off-course, but it would be a place where he could find his location.

That worked for him.

“...Red, let’s adjust uh... Just aim us like...” He considered it. “Um, let’s go, about...” Eyes falling to the compass, Lance sighed. “Maybe another three degrees south? No, make it... Ugh, wave off the south thing...” He muttered.

Red growled, unhappy at the weird instructions.

“Yeah yeah.” Lance agreed. “...Hold on, uh...” Zooming the map in, Lance rubbed his face and glanced out the window. “Red, that meteor right there, that one look a little like uh... Does it have silicone and iron in it? Oh, and some... uranium and quartz?”

There was a pause, but then she huffed an affirmative.

Lance redrew the line from closer to the end of the red oval, to Zianik. “Red, tune the course like,” He put a hand on the stick, pulling it out and to the side himself, stopping when the compass reached some odd point at about 3/4 degrees off the next degree marker. “That. Just like that. Can you hold that girl?”

Red made a purr noise, as her thrusters roared to life.

With a grin, Lance sat down. He had an idea of where they were going now.

Lance only spent a few vargas sitting at the helm of Red before he stood up and stretching. “Hey babe, can you like, dim the lights for a few minutes?” He questioned, putting a hand on his hip and leaning back slightly. His spine made a set of unconcerning, and surprisingly pleasant pops.

Ascua was lazily napping over the foot-pedals, like they belonged to her. Her body was languidly spread out over them, making them completely unusable without stepping on the offending animal.

The internal lights slowly slid to something soft and dim, as Lance walked over to the bed in the back. Shoving his blanket out of the way, Lance flopped down ineffectively into the bed, not bothering to properly settle himself for another few doboshes.

Then he pulled his legs up, half-curled into the bed with a low sigh. Pulling up the blanket, Lance nuzzled into his cardboard space pillow and hoped for sleep.

A few moments later, he flipped over.

And then again.

He spent some time staring at the ceiling, before flipping over again, eyes shut.

He didn’t keep track of how many times, how long he lay looking at the roof, but he did know that it had been two vargas since he had stood up from the pilot’s seat.

Giving up on chasing the illusive ghost that was a midday nap, Lance stood up, and ran a hand though his hair. His fingers briefly stayed in it, feeling how the strands were too long, too broken. As he went back to his seat, his hand strayed over his skin.

Dry, worn... tired.

Lance sighed.

Just one more thing space has taken from me.

Sitting in Red’s pilot seat, he slumped a little, rubbing his forehead. The headache had started sometime when he had been lying in the bed. Could’ve been five doboshes after he started. Could’ve been a varga and a half in.


“Red can you... keep the lights low?” Lance requested, with his hands on the shift sticks. “Let’s... Yeah.”

There was a long period of shooting through space before Lance heard an odd click behind him. After flinching to spin around, too much fighting breeding instincts, he ignored it.

Ascua came and sat on his lap, watching the stars go by.

“Log, um... 20.”

He ran a hand over his face, then back into his new, shorter hair. He had used an Altean razor-looking thing very, very carefully. He had managed, barely, to style it. It had turned into something short and even on the sides, and slightly longer up top. Like a blended undercut.

“Lance McClain, Voltron... Red Paladin.” He took a slow breath in through his nose, trying to get his thoughts to stop swimming. “I’ve been in the empty part of Sector Space for a little over a movement.” He said softly, one finger gently rubbing over the wood piece the chief had gotten him. The bark was oddly smooth, yet rippled.

“Still moving, though, and I think uh, I should hit a life supporting planet here within...” Pausing and turning over to the map nearby, Lance assessed his approximate distance. “The next movement.” He shrugged. “I really don’t have an exact, because of like, everything? But the next couple doboshes, providing we keep at this rate.”

He leaned on one arm for a moment, staring off into space. “Not much has been going on. Warlain was ok. Gave me a weird stick and some sparring.” He shrugged. “When I next land on the uh, next planet I’ll see what I can do about like, getting some practice in.” Lance sighed. “For sniping.”

He got up, padded to the back storage box, pulled out two food packs and tore one open. He placed it in Ascua’s box, where she flew up to go about her meal. Then he went back to the recorder and sat down. “Also, food rations in the Lions? Suck.”

Red growled.

“Oh yeah, sure, they’ll keep me alive, but whatever!” He leaned back to yell up at her. “They taste like blended sweat socks!”

She made a low huff noise.

“Just because I can’t find us planets with half-decent food does not mean I can’t- Literally bite me, Red!” Lance called.

Then he saw the note he had written down days earlier. ‘Pidge re. Warlain.’

“Oh, uh, Pidge! If you see this, you remember that talk we had once about the African Rift Valley and what happened if it spread deep enough into the planet?” Lance grinned. That conversation had been at 4 AM in Lance’s room. “Warlain’s like that! I took a few pictures, you’ll love it. It’s... I kinda wish they were nicer people.”

He shut his eyes, briefly shutting out the world. They wouldn’t even accept his help, no matter how much he could change their world.

Eyes open, he his arms, crossed over each other. “...They were nice, actually. I wish they let me help.”

“...Signing off.”

The planet was soft. Green. It’s name was Phylin. Pronounced like fay-lin.

Predominantly land, which might’ve explained why there was mostly plant life. Everything else was tiny, mouselike. The plants were enough for Lance to harvest and use as food.

As Red touched down in a field of something like blue-flowered wheat, Ascua was practically screeching at the door.

“Yeah. I guess it does look a little like Rinnal.” He told her as he double checked the air for safety.

Nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide and neon. Perfectly safe.

Lance dropped into the hip-high wheat stuff with Red’s scanner as Ascua lunged out of Red’s cockpit with a howl, shooting into the sky like a phoenix.

He had noticed immediately how hot it would be on the planet, which was why his sweater was around his waist in a messy knot. On his left arm was a Paladin suit piece, to catch Ascua if she ever came down.

But she didn’t seem to be coming down much, definitely not as she swooped overhead, hunting for the odd, six-limbed mice with long ears that hid in the grass.

Lance scanned everything he could, getting a grip on what was edible and what wasn’t. The mice were, by Ascua eating so many she would get fat on them, but not a lot of the grass. Apparently, the wheat stuff was.

In Red’s shadow, Lance sat down and plucked a strand of the flowering wheat. That was the palatable stuff.

Ascua landed next to him with a mouse clutched in her long jaws. She made a soft purr noise, settling in as Lance examined the flowering kernels carefully. Eventually, he popped a few in his mouth.

Salty, kind of savoury. They’d make better food than whatever the hell they picked up on Warlain.

Ascua lounged in the sun, proper cat she was, with her belly all stretched out from eating enough raw meat to sate her for the next few movements.

Lance spent the rest of the day going calmly through the fields, picking the flowering wheat into large bundles.

Nearly half a dobosh later, Lance was sitting back in Red’s mouth, carefully peeling the kernels off of the stalks until his thumbs ached. He didn’t think about it, just continued without hesitation for hours.

He didn’t stagger inside until the sun was rising again, with a bag full of the kernels in his hands, to put into the special little thing, that made the food packets.

Lance collapsed into the bed, disturbing Ascua who had moved inside at some unknown time. She growled at him softly, but then settled back down with a soft hum. “S’rry, Ascua...” He muttered, pulling the blanket up and hugging the thin pillow over his shoulder, to his chest.

The next dobosh had him doing the exact same thing.

Lance leaned on Red’s arm as Ascua spent her day bringing him various things.

One varga it was a leaf. The next, a dead mouse. The next, another mouse. A rock, a piece of grass, a chunk of bark. Several large, black berries that made potent dye.

He decided to keep a large chunk of those in his fridge, just in case.

A few more leaves, some more rocks, more bark.

She brought him something small and deerlike, with thick, firm hide. Not a single tooth mark left on it.

“Hm.” Lance murmured, looking it over. He wondered if it would make a tasty meal. Maybe something that actually tasted like something.

He didn’t know how much he liked the idea of skinning the thing though.

After taking the seeds inside, Lance came back out and assembled a space in the dirt where he could put a circle of Ascua’s rocks. “Yep. There we go.” Lance nodded, putting some bark in the pit and tuning his blaster. At it’s lowest setting, potentially he could use it to light the fire.

Which was when Ascua dove toward him, something in her mouth.

She landed nearby, patiently waiting as Lance lit the fire, and sat nearby with his sword.

While Lance was doing fine-tune work with his blade, not a thing meant for it, to carefully try and peel free the skin from the poor animal.

Not only was it rather hard work, but also bloody, sticky, and unpleasant.

He couldn’t quite manage to get the chest cut neatly down the middle, so he ended up for more of a spiral cut, making a nice long strip of soft skin.

“This is fuckin’ nasty, Ascua.” Lance sighed.

She nosed a strange thing toward him.

Lance picked up the odd, flat-oval stone. It shimmered, white-metal and gold chunks shining in a green-blue crystal. “Huh.” He murmured, turning and twisting the gem. Whatever it was.

Ascua meowed, or made a sound like a meow, and nudged it.

“You like this, don’t you?” Lance smiled. “Alright, I think...” He tried to place it on her fur, but of course, it didn’t stick.

He frowned. He really didn’t know what to do for that.

“Alright, uh...” He muttered, putting it at Ascua’s feet. She defensively curled her paws around it.

Lance removed the organs, and discovered that honestly he’d be better just skewering this poor thing and eating it with the bones in.

Which is exactly what he did, holding it over the fire. “So, Ascua... How do we get that on you?” He asked.

She meowed.

“Good plan, good plan.” He nodded, meowing back to her. She made an odd bark noise, nuzzling him. “I’ll go get rid of this.” Lance said, carefully picking up the skins and organs with a wary hand.

Then he noticed the long, inch-wide strip of skin that he had cut from the chest.

“...Ascua? You know how to cure skin?”

She made an uncertain ‘mrrr?’


Lance tried it with a few other pieces. Scraping off the soft fur, then the weird fleshy stuff, then placing it by the fire. He tried closer, or farther from the flame. He wished he had salt, maybe some bark, but that soon proved it wouldn’t be an issue.

Whatever the animal’s skin was made of, it became soft and workable, but also tough like leather in mere doboshes.

The food got ready pretty fast too. By the time Lance had finally figured out that washing the hide strip after medium heat worked, he got to eat the little dear thing. Ascua had her raw mice, perfectly happy with them, but Lance got to eat solid food, with crunches of bone.

He felt extremely satisfied as he watched the strip of hide bake in the heat, finishing up just as he removed the piece, and put it into the stream he had found.

A few moments later, he was using the tip of his sword to carefully dig a slot through the thick section of the gem, gradually making a slot for the leather to slide through.

Then he strung it, and called Ascua over.

He looped it around her neck and chest, then neatly tied it off over her ribs. “There.” She trilled happily, nuzzling into him. “Yeah yeah, love you too.” Lance laughed.

He lay under unfamiliar stars, in a sky so clear he could see for miles, with Ascua on his chest, her wings touching his ribs and head over his shoulder, beside his neck. She was asleep, ears fallen back over their concave horns.

“...cold... bones... yeah that’s my love.” Lance murmured. “She. Hides away, like a ghost...”

”Ooh, does she know that we bleed the same? Don’t wanna cry but I break that way?”

He fell asleep after that.

The sun woke him up by blazing it’s hateful rage into his tired eyes. His back hurt from sleeping on the ground and Ascua left a dead mouse right beside him.

He had never had a better morning than eating roast mouse with her.

That afternoon was spent with pieces of bark or leaves set up far away, with Lance practicing.

He trained each one, took a breath, and shot.

Each time, he just got faster.

He found it sobering.

Glassy eyes and a throbbing headache reminded him that he hadn’t slept in too long. He felt like he was drugged, all dizzy and foggy, memory lazy.

It was a movement, since he left Phylin. He felt so... alone, out in space, but on that planet, where he had spent the day before he left sniping rocks off the edge of a field, or getting the grime off him in the stream...

He felt peaceful.

He couldn’t stay forever though.

And now he was less than two full movements from his next location.

Red huffed abruptly. “What’s up?” Lance asked, not bothering to turn away from his focus, into the far reaches of the empty place.

She growled, and pulled to the side, toward a lone, large meteor.

“No, Red, I don’t need to stop...” Lance groaned, rubbing his eyes. “I’m fine.”

Utterly ignoring him, she sat down and refused to move, dimming the lights.

“Fine!” Lance barked as he marched to the bed and sat down. This time, something odd pressed into his chest, and he reached into his shirt to find the Silver, the Dirmon thing.

He stared at the small, reflective lettering on the shining piece, an alien language.

“...I’ll sleep, Red.” Lance promised. He managed to keep that promise for once.

The next quintant, Lance got up and went to start again, when Ascua barked.

Confused, Lance turned to look, and saw the small Galra outpost on the next meteor.

Pulling behind the rock with a sharp hiss, Lance waited for the sound of laser fire to give off his position. “...Alright.” He murmured, finally peeking out.

Small base. Taking it out with Red would attract attention.

Taking it out on his own though...

“Red, stay here.” He said, getting out of the pilot’s seat and taking his Bayard. “If I’m not back in 5 vargas, come get me.” Feeling relieved for the break, he slid on his helmet and sealed it up, taking a breath of the filtered oxygen. “Hey, and Red?”

She purred.


He petted Ascua on the way out, then jumped onto the surface of the meteor, slipping his Bayard into his right hip storage. Gaze flicking over the meteors between him and the base, Lance managed to locate a path through.

Each jump was nerve wracking. He risked falling into nowhere, not that Red would let him go off, but being shot by a Galra turret while floating away would be more unpleasant.

Just as he thought that, the meteor he was going to hit moved slightly, causing him to miss.

In a split-second, training from Weneq kicked in, his sword was out and driven into the rock, Lance using it to pull himself back up.

After that, he kept the sword out, using it as a quick adjuster for any failed jump.

When Lance made it onto the meteor with the base, he immediately put his Bayard away, then sprinted across the rock to slam into the wall, back first.

Searching for cameras, watchtower guards, anything, Lance slid, close to the building.

Finally finding the entryway, Lance waited for a bit. Someone had to come out eventually.

The poor Galra who did come out got the butt of Lance’s Bayard to the face, dropping him like a stone.

Carefully dragging him out of the way, Lance stole what seemed like a keycard from the Galra soldier, and used it to unlock the airlock, then slip into the base.

“Londak? That you?” A voice came through the speaker.

“Uh, yeah.” Lance answered after a moment, deepening his voice slightly. “Nothin’ outside.”

“Sounds good. Can you take my shift over when you get out of the lock?” The Galran on the other side said.

“Sure.” He smirked slightly, blaster falling heavily into his hands.

The airlock buzzed, drained and equalized, before opening.

And Lance shot forward with a deerlike leap, his blaster finding it’s mark on the Galra’s chest.

When in close quarters, he found the blaster much better than the rifle, not that it wasn’t badass to noscope someone.

His blaster morphed into his sword, but he noticed something off. It held differently. He had felt it like that a bit on Creemin too, but not to this degree.

He couldn’t risk studying it. Not right then. Right then, he could hear more guards coming.

At least two, He thought, eyes shut, focusing.

When the guards were within striking distance, practically on top of him, Lance grabbed the corner and shot around it, lashing his blade at the one.

The blade moved faster than he had ever felt, and Lance barely noticed any change when it sliced through the Galra’s arm. The return stroke cut through the Galra’s neck, just in time for Lance to spin with an effortless strike across the second one’s chest.

It went through armour without hesitation, suddenly feeling like an extension of himself, a longer, stronger, effortless weapon.

It didn’t feel like the Altean Broadsword anymore.

He risked a glance.

The guard was a little smoother, the blade thinner. The grip was slightly longer with a sharper point, but other than that, it seemed... exactly the same. Colouration, design...

But not hold or weight.

The word longsword popped into his mind.

“Huh.” Lance murmured, smirking. This was so much more comfortable to hold. Even when Allura had told him about the sword, holding it with her in the training room... This just felt so much lighter.

“Hey!” A voice shouted.

Lance’s head snapped up, hands fitting perfectly into the grip together. With the broadsword, two-handed was a little crowded, not as much range of motion.

With this...

’Hold your stance! You’re fast! That sword is slowing you down, use it’s weight!’ 

Lance dodged a swing, suddenly feeling like he was freer than he had been with the broadsword.

The first one went down after a cutting blow to the upper chest, too shocked to do anything. The second, a neat cut on his jaw and neck. He could live, if they got medical attention.

With an almost crazed grin, Lance spun to the third, and parried the Galra’s first blow, then thrust the sword forward.

The soldier stared at the hole in his stomach with Lance’s sword in it for a good few moments, then glanced up at Lance.

The Paladin tore his sword free, and kept moving.

He didn’t have time to sit there and look at the bodies on the ground. At the bodies he had left.

He had more important things to do.

Galra storage rooms were always full of untold secrets. Weapons, bombs, toys, etcetera... But Lance was there just for explosives. He was going to blow this base sky high.

Loaded up with bombs, tied on his hips, Lance checked the hall before darting through, listening with each corner he hit. So far, nobody else seemed to be around his area, as he followed the directions down the halls, toward the power core.

He remembered Pidge mentioning that if you set off a bomb in those, the whole place would go.

Slipping inside using the Galra’s keycard, Lance found himself in a glass observation tower, high above the actual core. Below, were dozens of Galra workers.

To get the explosives down, he’d need a lot of them removed. Taking the timer on his hip, Lance gave himself a solid 20 doboshes, then stared out over the power core.

His sword became his sniper, heavy and effortless in his hands. The smooth barrel slid up, against the glass, as Lance trained in on the first one, scope zooming up to level on a Galra’s head.

Attacking people with a sword was one thing. He knew that maybe, maybe, the person could live.


Lance’s finger rested on the trigger, breath filling his lungs as he steadied the rifle, feeling everything smooth out. From his thoughts, to his mind... Everything went calm.

I’ve been fighting this war for too long.

The first shot went off. Lance adjusted just up a bit, popping a second. A third shot, and a fourth. The fifth, looking around in confusion. The sixth, just about to pull an alarm.

It took until the tenth guy before someone managed to get the alarm up, but by the time that anyone started fully reacting, another two were down.

Lance’s jaw was set, watching them drop. It wasn’t as hard as he thought it would be.

When a few soldiers finally figured out that he was up in the observatory and broke in, Lance remembered that he needed to breathe.

With a gasp, gun becoming his sword, Lance spun and swung the blade through the glass.

The tinkle of shattered pieces was all-too-loud in his ears, breathing heavily as he fended off the Galra guards. One of them brought up his sword, almost too fast for Lance to react, and a stinging blow fell across his face.

With a pained shout, Lance rolled out the window, sword driving into the wall to slow his descent. It pulled his shoulder painfully, but not enough to dislocate it.

Shoving off the wall and grunting with the weight off his arm, Lance brought the explosives off his hips and threw them at the core, running for all he was worth. The heat or the timer would set them off in the end.

For now, he had to move.

When he swung a corner, his body reacted before he did.

A sword-wielding Galra slammed a blade where his neck would’ve been, if he hadn’t dropped to his knees and slid through, not bothering to turn around and continue the fight.

He just had to get out.

At the airlock, the poor guy he had shot earlier was just waking up, slamming the ‘close’ button on the airlock.

Lance slid through with inches to spare, ignoring the Galra.

After that, he ensured that his mask was all fixed up, and slammed his sword into the slot of the doors, prying them apart.

“RED!” Lance shouted into his comms, hoping she could hear. “Red start the thrusters, time to fuckin’ GO!” He fired his jetpack, shooting toward where she was hiding, skidding to a landing on their meteor.

Immediately, she leaned down, snapping him up as he skidded into her cockpit, landing in the seat and firing the thrusters, shooting away as fast as they could.

Which was good. Less than a full dobosh of them in the air, and the base went up like a firework, the explosives utterly detonating the core into a blue fireball that consumed the rest of the base.

Breathing heavily, Lance stared as the glow finally started to die down, debris floating blindly through space, a crater left in the rock.

Red made a concerned ‘mrrh?’ noise.

Lance brought up his shaking hands, seeing the blood splattered across his armour, across his chest and fingers.

She kept autopilot on as Lance hugged his arms to his side, shoulders around his ears, and sobbed.

Just one more thing space has taken from me.

At the end of the phoeb, Lance realized he was still a little off.

“We’re too far somewhere.” Lance whispered, eyes wide, in the middle of nowhere.

No inhabited planets. No meteors. No nothing.

Just stars, and nothing in the distance.

Firing the thrusters, Lance pushed Red forward, searching and desperate.

It took them nearly a full two quintants to finally locate the edge of the meteor field they had been aiming for, and then a solar system.

And then a planet.

Lance could’ve cried out of sheer happiness as he turned for the life-bearing planet, and the loud ping in his ears of a Pylon being located was never a better sound.

“Wait a second.” Lance said, staring at the map as they came closer to the planet. “...That’s not Zianik.”

They were a long distance south of Zianik, at another planet called...


Red roared, and Ascua shrieked as a huge ship abruptly appeared to loom over them.

Galra ship. Not a small one either.

“Shit. SHIT!” He shouted, spinning into a sharp dive to avoid the dozens of cannon shots that came at them.

A second ship warped in, just at the space Lance was about to go, and he yarded back. “PUTA MADRE DIOS!” He screeched, shoving Red to the right and down as they went under the Galra ship, barely avoiding the maze of lasers.

Whirling to shoot ahead of the ships, Lance had to once again spin away as a third ship appeared, finally pinning him in the middle of them.

They danced to avoid the blasts, returning fire whenever they could. Ascua was hiding in the box, waiting for the chaos to be over as her claws gleamed with barely restrained energy.

Red took a blast to the hip that rattled both of them, Lance hissing in pain as they spun to face the offending ship.

Then the next one shot. And the next one.

Lance was desperate, just about to go shoot the one, when the one behind him caught them in a tractor beam.

“No, no! Red, c’mon!”

They were doing their best but... they were drawn into the bay regardless.

Lance stood at Red’s mouth, waiting for the first idiot to come in.

It felt like vargas. Bodies at his feet, fighting for everything he was worth. Every cutting blade through a Galra only revealed another, until finally, Lance dropped to his knees, sweat dripping from his forehead.

He couldn’t stand again. When they clubbed him over the head, and his eyes went dark with a flash of red, it was just the bitter taste of blood and regret in the back of his mouth, thick like he was choking on it. 

The world slipped away.

Chapter Text

Keith had been pushing Black to his limit. His wings ached, and his body was just finished. The Sincline ships had stung, and fighting them without Voltron had been just that side of impossible.

It had been... Hours now. Vargas. Whatever, he still wasn’t good with space time.

Not that it mattered. Shiro was... not Shiro. But they had caused it. Something was brutally wrong.

Without his proper thruster, he couldn’t catch the Altean pod, just stay consistently behind it. “Just a little longer, Black.” He muttered, still pushing the Lion faster.

Black groaned, but kept going. They were exhausted, but they were determined. For Black’s Paladin, and Keith’s brother.

Keith could feel the hopelessness that was starting to crash on him. He had lost his rival, his partner, his friend. Nearly 5 quintants now. He had spent so much time away from them, to him anyway, and when he came back... he was dead.

First Lance, now Shiro.

Nearly a quintant passed, of Keith uselessly trying to get a message through to Shiro, and of the older Paladin ignoring them.

Then there was a sharp ‘beep’ noise from behind him, which Keith ignored. He had one focus, to get to Shiro.

Black though, seemed confused. Like he hadn’t felt that in a very long time.

“What, what is it?” Keith asked him softly.

‘Logs received.’ A screen read. Then, some jumbled, ever-changing coordinates.

Keith sighed. “...Ignore them. We’ve got other things, Black.” He muttered, pushing him faster.

They were still moving. Shiro was relentless.

Keith was exhausted, and Black felt bothered. Bothered by those logs. There were 7, received. One was corrupted slightly, and they gave no information on who they were from.

Black growled at him. They wanted rest, Black wanted to recover as his core was drained, and Shiro was. Not. Stopping.

Probably just Pidge. Talking to Green. Or Hunk and Yellow. Maybe even... He thought about them being Shiro’s logs. From when he had piloted Black. “...Ok.” He muttered softly, pressing the button, hearing a recording snap to life from behind him. “I’ll play them.”

There was silence for a bit longer as Black processed them and got ready to play them.

“Uh, Log 1?”

Keith could hear the air go out of his lungs, feeling like he had just been punched in the stomach, like a gunshot had just hit him in the chest and there wasn’t enough air in the ship.

“Uh, so, if you get this, uh, I’m alive!”

Black was slammed onto autopilot as Keith spun around, too shocked to be bothered by taking his eyes off Shiro’s pod.


Lance was on the screen. Lance was on the screen. Lance was alive.

The recording Lance wiped a hand over his face, clearly intending to clean off the green-tinged dust, but it just smeared it. “Well, I uh, had to fight these weird things last night.” Lance glanced up, those blue eyes meeting Keith’s through the screen. “I probably look like hammered crap.” Lance chuckled, then coughed, thick and heavy and painful but alive. When he was done, Lance sat back, sighing heavily, like he was too exhausted to even think.

Leaning forward and leaving his chin in his hand, Lance propped his elbow on the table in front of the camera and glanced away from the camera, toward the cockpit.

It was nearly five minutes before he spoke again.

“I’m going to try to get some sleep.” He murmured. “...Maybe my next log’ll be better.”

A hand came toward the screen, and the log stopped.

Keith couldn’t breathe. His eyes felt wet.

He was staring at Lance. Proof he was alive.

“...Black. They’re alive.” He whispered, sitting back in the pilot’s seat as Black brought the screen over so Keith could see it as they followed Shiro.

Lance was turned away from the recorder when it turned on. “Log two, Paladin Lance of Earth, former pilot of the Blue Lion, current pilot of the Red.”

Then he laughed. “Alright, well, so,” Lance faced the camera. “that was ridiculous. But it works, yay. If like, this ends up broadcasting to someone’s space phone, they’ll know who I am.” He shrugged.

Rotating his chair and standing up, Lance’s hand reached toward the bottom of the recorder and pulled it slightly so it was pointing at the pilot’s seat. “So, uh...” His voice got a little fainter as he went back to the pilot’s seat. “I got the name of the planet, but also some weird-ass message that tells me I’ve got a poor connection.”

After tapping out a few keys, he pointed to the blinking blue dot on the holographic screen. “This is-“ His voice cracked, and he bent over coughing for a while. “Ok. Ow.” He muttered, rubbing his forehead again, then his chest as he stood up. “Ok, so, this is where I am.” He tapped the blue point, then dropped his arm.

For a moment, he seemed frozen, staring at some point of the screen.

“The planet’s called ‘Rinnal’. It’s got... a bit more gravity than Earth does?” The shrug was noncommittal. “And the atmosphere is thinner. But it’s got more... Oxygen concentration.” He pulled up the page on Rinnal. “Yeah, it’s like, 50%.” “Isn’t Earth like, only 20%? I have no idea.”

Then he turned around to look at the camera again. “So, yeah. Rinnal. When I figure out uh, any like...” He glanced out the window. “...Landmarks, I’ll tell you.”

He walked over with an odd limp on his side, pushing the camera back. “Signing off!” He gave a mock salute before turning it off.

Keith was focusing on Shiro’s pod, trying to get a message to the other Lions. “Guys. Lance is alive.” He whispered, voice breaking. “He’s leaving logs. He’s...”

Keith turned off the communicator. He couldn’t speak.

“Log five. Lance McClain of Earth, Voltron Red Paladin.” Lance’s voice was distant, not close to the recorder at all. He had his back mostly turned to the recorder. “So, about... two movements ago, maybe three, actually...” He began, before he considered that. “Ok, let’s say two and a half movements ago, I landed on a planet called Dirmon. I uh...” He grabbed a white bottle, and poured it on something hidden by his body.

“I helped them destroy a Galra base. It was good. That planet’s officially frrr...”

The screen went fizzy, unable to finish until it came back to Lance, bent over and breathing hard. Some part of an... animal, seemed to be in the corner of the screen. “O-ok... So... I learned what Sector Space was.” He said with a sigh, wiping his hands clean a few towels. “Essentially, it’s a chunk of space where nothing quite goes what it should be.” He walked over to what should’ve been the recording seat, and almost fell into it. Keith noticed something weird about his mouth, but he . “Oh Dios it’s good to be off my fff...”

‘Connection lost, log incomplete.’

Keith pressed the next one. He had to know. Lance had to be alive, even as he followed Shiro and tried to reach the other Paladins.

“...Log... Twelve.”

Keith’s heart jumped to his throat when he saw Lance’s slumped form, arms crossed over his head.

Silence, just Lance’s breathing. His breathing sounded better. He must’ve been a little healthier. Had he found Coalition members?

“...I’ve been in the middle of butt-fuck nowhere for two months!” Lance shouted into the table, arms unwrapping to slam furious fists either side of his head.

Slowly, he pulled his arms back up around his head, coughing slightly. “...Well, it’s officially been...” He shrugged, a listless action. “...Four. Five months. In Sector Space. I’ve got enough food for another two weeks of travel, out here. We’re heading... for a planet. That might have life. It has organic material. According to the Pylons.” He sighed, finally pulling up his head to rest on his folded arms. His eyes were focused elsewhere, staring off into nowhere. He didn’t say anything for a while. He just breathed, silent.

Keith’s thoughts were racing through the silence, so many questions. Was Lance alright? Was he still alive?

“...I miss you guys.” He muttered, burying his face in his hands again. He didn’t say anything else.

Keith wondered if he would’ve gone crazy without wolf and Krolia on that whale.

This log, wasn’t started like the others. It was clearly a long time between log 12, and this one.

Lance didn’t even seem to know he was being recorded, head perking slightly at the log starting, but making no noise other than that. His clothes looked a little different. A little... more worn.

He looked more worn too.

Turning back, Lance put his finger on a holographic map, like nothing Keith had ever seen. “Maybe a little...” Lance drew a line from a midpoint in the bottom half of a strange red oval on the screen, surrounding an empty part of space. “Here we go. So, then I should adjust my course, but...” Lance ran a hand through his too-long hair, groaning in frustration. He sounded older.

Lance seemed to be at a dilemma. Navigating was hard work, and navigating without a proper point of location...

All Lance had was a large red blob.

“...Red, let’s adjust uh... Just aim us like...” He paused, seemed to consider something. “Um, let’s go, about... Maybe another three degrees south? No, make it... Ugh, wave off the south thing...” He muttered.

Red growled.

“Yeah yeah.” Lance agreed. “...Hold on, uh...” Zooming the map in, Lance rubbed his face and glanced out the window. “Red, that meteor right there,” Lance pointed to something. “that one look a little like uh... Does it have silicone and iron in it? Oh, and some... uranium and quartz?”

A pause.

Then Lance redrew a line from the red thing to a planet. “Red, tune the course like,” He put a hand on the stick, pulling it out and to the side himself in an effortless motion. “That. Just like that. Can you hold that girl?”

Red made a purr noise, as her thrusters roared to life.

Lance chuckled, and sat down.

‘No movement. Skipping.’

The recording skipped a few vargas before Lance stood up. “Hey babe, can you like, dim the lights for a few minutes?” He questioned Red, putting a hand on his hip and leaning back slightly. His spine made a set of loud crackles.

The internal lights slowly slid to something soft and dim, as Lance walked over to the shelf-bed. When Lance simply flopped on his side, not even covering himself with the blanket, Keith’s concern grew.

Has he been sleeping on that metal slab for all this time?

Lance finally pulled up his legs and put on the blanket, cuddling the thin pillow.

A few moments later, he flipped over.

And then again.

He spent some time staring at the ceiling, before flipping over again, eyes shut.

Every few moments, the tape would skip, then Lance would shift.

As he got up, abandoning the sleep idea, Lance touched his hair. Keith suddenly noticed how dry it was, how frazzled he looked. Lance’s hand dropped over his cheek, feeling his skin, and Keith realized that he looked... Exhausted. Dirty. Worn.

Lance sat in Red’s pilot seat, slumping a little and rubbing his forehead.

“Red can you... keep the lights low?” Lance requested, with his hands on the shift sticks. “Let’s... Yeah.”

‘No further movement. Log end.’

Keith’s chest felt tight. Lance, beauty parlour Lance with his perfect skin and flawless hair and beauty sleep looked so tired.

“Log, um... 20.” Lance ran a hand over his face, then back into his hair. It looked... Shorter. Sharper. Like a blended undercut.

“Lance McClain, Voltron... Red Paladin.” He took a slow breath in through his nose, like he was trying to get his head settled “I’ve been in the empty part of Sector Space for a little over a movement.”

“Still moving, though, and I think uh, I should hit a life supporting planet here within...” Pausing and turning over to the map nearby, Lance seemed to assess something. “The next movement.” He shrugged. “I really don’t have an exact, because of like, everything? But the next couple doboshes, providing we keep at this rate.”

He leaned on one arm for a moment, staring off into space. “Not much has been going on. Warlain was ok. Gave me a weird stick and some sparring.” He shrugged. “When I next land on the uh, next planet I’ll see what I can do about like, getting some practice in.” Lance sighed. “For sniping.”

He got up, padded to the back storage box, pulled out two food packs and tore one open. He placed one on something offscreen. Then he went back to the recorder and sat down. “Also, food rations in the Lions? Suck.”

Red growled.

“Oh yeah, sure, they’ll keep me alive, but whatever!” He leaned back to yell up at her. “They taste like blended sweat socks!”

She must’ve replied.

“Just because I can’t find us planets with half-decent food does not mean I can’t- Literally bite me, Red!” Lance called.

Then he seemed to remember something.

“Oh, uh, Pidge! If you see this, you remember that talk we had once about the African Rift Valley and what happened if it spread deep enough into the planet?” Lance grinned. “Warlain’s like that! I took a few pictures, you’ll love it. It’s... I kinda wish they were nicer people.”

Lance’s face fell, body straightening. He looked so much older with his face pensive and slightly downcast, arms crossed over each other on the desk.

He opened his eyes, studying his arms. “...They were nice, actually. I wish they let me help. Signing off.”

If Lance could survive in Sector Space, bruised, injured and torn up, then Shiro was still there.

Black swirled around the large rock, identifying Shiro’s pod as they tracked his footprints. Determined, Keith landed.

Lance is alive. Lance is alive. He thought as he followed Shiro’s prints. Shiro is too. Shiro has to be.

The building in the rock was so Galra it hurt. Keith could take the elevator without problem, using his own Galra blood for it to activate.

Glancing up at the strange machinery around, Keith searched for his brother. When Shiro didn’t reveal himself, Keith walked to one of the pods and put a hand on it, curious.

His whole world felt like it fell in, when he found himself staring at Shiro.

And another one. Dozens of them.

“...Hello, Keith.”

And just like that. It began.

Keith woke up, in Black’s jaws. Safe.

It was silent, aside from his own breathing, and then...

“You saved us.”


Keith got up, got into Black’s seat, and focused.

...Alright. Black... Thanks. Let’s go. He thought, taking control of the huge Lion.

And they started again.

When they were far enough away, Keith opened a call.

“Hailing the Castle of Lions!” Keith said, eyes hard. Allura picked up immediately. “This is Keith.”

“You’re alright! Where have you been?” Allura said rapid-fire. “Did you get Shiro?”

“I got him, but not the Shiro we know. The Shiro that took Lotor was a clone.” Keith explained grimly. Allura looked both regretful, and semi-horrified.

“Where is the real Shiro?” Allura asked.

“It’s complicated.” Keith said. “...And tell everyone to check their Lions when we get a free moment.” He informed.

“What? Why?”

“...Lance is alive.”

What?” Allura gasped, breathlessly.

“I received logs, from him. Not many, but... He’s alive.” He reassured. “...At least, I hope. But right now, you need to focus on Lotor. I’ve picked up the Sincline ships on my scanners.” He sent them the map. “It looks like Lotor’s headed back to your position. Right where you are.”

“He needs to get back into the quintessence field...” Allura scowled.

“I’m on my way to you now, but without a wormhole, it’s going to take me a while.” Keith growled, pushing Black faster against pained muscles. “You’ll have to hold off Lotor without me.”

“We’ll do our best.” Allura reassured.

And then they turned off the comms.

“...Shiro, if you’re here, I could use your help.” Keith murmured. “I need to get to the team before Lotor.”

Black growled, and fired them faster.

When Pidge heard Lance’s voice in the Green Lion, she cried. She cried as much as she had when she had learned her father was dead.

Just like then though, she dried her eyes and focused. Lance too, was depending on them. Wherever he was.

She wouldn’t abandon her team again.

Hunk also broke down into tears.

His best friend was alive. His best friend was working, his best friend was...

God, where was Lance? Where was Sector Space?

That wasn’t... it wasn’t that it wasn’t important. It was just that Lotor was coming. If they didn’t stop him... there would be no home for Lance to come to.

Allura smiled. So wide, so bright, when she heard him. Even facing the grim reality of destroying the inter reality gate, she was so happy.

Lance was alive. The flirty Lance, the team glue, their person to talk to...

He was there.

Her smile lasted, inside at least, even as they destroyed the gate.

“Lotor will be here any second. What’s the plan?” Pidge asked.

They would wait vargas.

Chapter Text

Lance woke up abruptly, wincing at the throbbing of his head. “Ugh.” He groaned softly.

He was still in armour, and he could tell that because of his enraged shoulder. Whenever he slept in his armour, on his side, his shoulders hated him because of the pads.

His head rested on cold, hard metal, the rumble of a ship under his ear.

“Red, what the hell... Ascua, where th’ fuck’s my pillow..?” He murmured, slowly shifting upright...

Only for his arms to pull on chains.

Lance collapsed to the floor with an abrupt grunt, jaw clicking on the metal. “Fuck!” He spat, sitting upright with much more skill.

Wriggling to his knees, then his feet, Lance walked to the door, staring through the slot as he rubbed his jaw on his shoulder. “Hey, fuckers!” He shouted. “Yeah, Galra bitch!“ He barked, hearing someone move. “Trae tu puto culo aquí para que pueda vencerlo con un maldito zapato!” Lance shouted, kicking the door a few times for good measure.

It took him around another ten minutes of straight profanities that probably didn’t fully make it through the translators, but got the message across anyway.

“Voy a sacarte el bazo del culo y te golpearé con eso, ¡borraré esa maldita sonrisa de tu cara!” Lance spat, taking a step back as finally, someone came to the door.

A Galra, rather skinny looking one with very little fuzz, glared at him with blank yellow eyes.

“...You’re awake.”

“Oh, the swears didn’t tell you that, huh?” Lance snapped. “What, you both deaf and stupid?”

“Shut up, Paladin.” The door rang with a few taps from a blaster butt as another, thicker Galra appeared in the slot. “You’ll make a fine prize when we bring you back to high command.”

“Eat shit and die!” Lance hissed viciously. He was sick of the Galra and their bullshit.

“You’ll never escape, Paladin!” The thin one said. “You won’t get out of this ship. Your friends aren’t coming.”

Several more Spanish swears were thrown as they walked away.

Lance had a good grip of time. Spending movements and phoebs in nowhere without any sun to tell him when it was did a good job of teaching him that.

The first quintant, he yelled until his voice broke. Then he lay down for a few vargas. The second one he did the same, but with only one change.

“Where the everloving carajo is Ascua you mother fucks? Give me back my Goddamn cat you assholes!” He shouted, kicking the door. “I swear to fucking Christ, if you hurt her, te voy a cortar y dejaré que Ascua se coma el culo de tu perra!” He screeched. They ignored him.

The third, he went silent, pretending to be broken hearted or even just waiting

“See Paladin?” The thin one said on the third quintant. “Your friends aren’t coming.”

He made his move on quintant four.

Thanking every damn star he could see - the ones through the tiny slot in his prison door - he had trained with the Creeminians for flexibility, Lance bent over backward, hooking his feet between his wrists and slowly working the cuffs around his legs, to his front.

“Ok...” He muttered, pulling off his Paladin boot. The Galra hadn’t been smart enough to search him, and the piece of metal was still on his foot. The molding key unstuck from his sock with an oddly Velcro-like noise, but he had to practically break his wrist to get it into the lock for the cuffs.

“One university, two university, three university,” Lance muttered under his breath, waiting the required 20 ticks for the molding key to do it’s dirty work.

When he hit ‘twenty university,’ Lance turned the key and watched as the cuffs slowly snapped free. “Ohhhkay.” He hissed, catching them before they could clang to the floor, and sliding them into his belt just in case.

After that, he crept forward to the door, shifting his weight to search through all possible lines of sight. The guards were gone, just a dark hallway and other cages with... wide spaced, extremely thick bars. He hadn’t bothered to notice those before. Stupid. Stupid mistake. Lance thought, growling to himself.

Breathing out, he knelt by the door, looking at the molding key. After molding it into a neat, tear-shaped wedge, he wormed it between the wall and the door, slowly bending it. The magic of whatever the fuck the molding key was made from, was that it didn’t break.

You have to cut it using itself. He thought with a smirk.

Lance stood up slowly, wriggling the key deeper in, and working his way up to the lock.

“C’mon. C’mon.” He whispered, slowly pushing on it, working it deeper, until he heard the faint grind of the lock.

Lance threw his weight against the door, yanking as the mechanism changed positions.

It made about two feet of space before the massive lock-hook caught on the door with a loud ‘clack’, making Lance cringe.

Jumping to position his body between the wall and door, Lance slid to the floor, planting his feet on the closing part of the door as he used his back to worm free. Removing the key and putting it in his belt, Lance shoved himself out of the room, barely managing to catch the door before it slammed shut, and using his hands to lower it closed.

After that, he started slowly down the corridor, eyes flicking side to side between the dark and seemingly empty cages, wary of them. The oddest part was, that the bars were big enough for him to slide between if he turned sideways. Some of them larger than that.

What are they for?

Curiosity got the better of him, and he stepped silently toward one of the cages, leaning forward, squinting to see into the deep, inky black of the back corners, when the shadows moved.

In an abrupt uncoiling if scales, red-gold eyes gleaming in the light while shimmering black, pearlescent claws scraped across the floor, a creature rose up, like a Wyvern of myth, wings flaring as much as they could in the confinement, head arching high over his as he stood, paralyzed in fear, while it roared at him.

Now, at the Garrison, they taught some biology lessons, and his teacher, Kent Fraser, liked to talk about instinctive fears, like darkness - where stuff would pounce out at you, things with wide jaws- to take off heads, and other scary stuff. Lance, at the time an idiot foreign boy, was enthralled with morbid curiosity for all sorts of instinctive human fears.

Lance had experienced them in small doses during his time in space, but most of them were being in a battlefield, not anything with teeth and jaws.

Looking back, he realized in a split second that Kent Fraser was an absolute bastard who had never felt instinctive fear a day in his damn life.

Lance screamed at the creature, tripping gracelessly backward over his feet to get away, even as it’s massive, claw-tipped wings stretched though the bars to get him, still roaring far louder than he was screaming.

The talons scraped the ground, edging closer to him as he kicked away.

When he was out of its range he lay on the metal flooring, panting heavily as he tried to get to his feet, stared down by furious red eyes. It stood slightly to the side, head cresting high over his, teeth barred slightly.

“Dios...” Lance whispered, hand on his chest as the creature rumbled again. “Carajo, quiznack...” He repeated, brain slowly coming back to him as he struggled upright.

Rage and ferocity lay in the creature’s gaze, but behind the forefront emotions lay a glimmer of intelligence.

And confusion.

“Uh...” Lance murmured as it leaned down, to his head level. The creature sniffed at him, and it’s gaze softened slightly, questioning. “Ok, ok...” He breathed, reaching for his Bayard that wasn’t there.

Which was when he heard the fuzzy asshole guard yelling down the hall. Both his head and the huge creature’s swung to the door, Lance momentarily pausing in his scramble to standing.

When he heard footsteps, he panicked, brain briefly blanking. He was still a little rattled from the concussion a few quintants ago.

Something grabbed his foot.

Abruptly, the dragon-thing yanked him back, Lance letting out a startled screech as it did so, trying to stand and run, only for its muzzle to snap shut on the back of his Paladin suit...

And pull him through the bars.

Lance went to fight it, prepared to battle for his life in front of his captors, when the wyvern shoved him behind it, one massive back leg planting itself in front of him.

Three massive talons scraped the ground, wing spreading out to blind him, keep him trapped.

The shouts of the Galran soldiers came loud and abrupt, pale violet-red flashlights illuminating the massive, deeply coloured flesh-fan in front of him, blood vessels snaking through it like a spider’s web.

The massive foot stepped forward, the one on the other side sliding back as the dragon-wyvern spread its wings a bit and roared. It sounded louder when he had been in front of him, but now he just stared at the sheer power radiating through this animal’s body.

“Ah, it’s just Saja, running her lungs again...” One of the soldiers that Lance didn’t recognize grumbled after they recovered from the terror of this thing roaring.

“She’s mean.” The other - fuzzybutt dickwad - said, laughing nervously as they turned together and walked off, the screeches and howls of more of the... wyverns, greeting them.

When the door on the other end of the hall shut, Saja turned around, crowned head cocking as she looked over Lance. Her gold flecked red eyes glittered in the light of the hall, assessing him with a lightning quick flick up and down his body.

“You saved me from being captured again.” Lance realized abruptly, still unable to get his brain to want to be closer to her. Her forwardmost fangs were as long as his palm.

Saja made a dull, low rumble, stepping closer to him. She seemed to know he wasn’t Galra, but he still could’ve been prey, considering that her jaw could literally swallow his head whole, along with most of his torso.

“Uh, g-good, Saja...” Lance stammered, holding out a hand, instinctively trying to stop her advance.

Until she nuzzled her entire, huge head, against his hand.

The purr was unexpected. Strange. It felt warm and comforting against his palm, scales like armour that covered her hide. Closer up, he could see her colouration.

Saja’s underbelly was a dark cream colour, pearlescent and shimmery. The rest of her though, was a deep, powerful burgundy that was only accented by the golden markings on her sides and back. Her claws and ridge were black, iridescent, and shimmering. The oddest part though, was how the ridge on her spine seemed to skip a section, right over her shoulders.

“...well, you’re not too bad...” Lance murmured, until his hand glanced a little close to her jaw and he could feel the teeth.

He moved back to the top of her head as he examined her body.

Nothing but muscle. She was twenty five feet of muscle and predator, but the way she nuzzled into him said she was more like a cat than anything.

“Good girl, Saja...” He murmured nervously as he squeezed around her, moving carefully along the walls, until he could step outside of the cage.

Saja made a confused trill noise when he was out.

“Sorry girl, I gotta go get Red.” Lance told her, turning around and going to leave.

Saja whimpered, huge jaws shivering with the sad noise.

Lance stopped in his tracks with a soft groan, turning around and walking over to the cage. “...give me a second.” He muttered to the wyvern, examining the keypad.

Using the molding key as a wedge again, Lance pried the panel free and cut the wires, twisting them in that way that he knew they worked.

The cage bars shuddered, slowly grinding upwards, into the rest of the ship.

Saja’s massive head came out first, followed by the rest of her body, filling the hallway easily. The others made low shuffling noises, some starting to bark.

The freed beast made a harsh, low hiss noise, which seemed to shut up everyone else. The hall now only had the sound of Saja’s tail sweeping the floor, and the click of her claws when she walked.

Her nose pushed Lance toward another cage, where an orange and blue wyvern thing resided, head lifting at Saja’s growl.

It was about the same size as Saja, and shone much brighter. Like a labradorite gem.

“ want me to free them.” Lance realized abruptly. Saja rumbled.

Lance weighed his options. On one hand, he helped them escape, and they all got out. On the other, they got captured again.

He sighed, but knelt by the panel. “...Ok.”

It took him what felt like vargas, to pry off every panel and free every beast, each one purring at him as his fears of being caught increased with every second.

“Ok, ok ok...” He murmured, going to the last cage. That wyvern was slightly injured, but with a purr from Saja’s second in command, they got up. “There, ok. Now what?” Lance asked Saja.

She dropped her wings and upper body, lowering down close to the floor, and looked at him expectantly.

Lance stared, confused, until he noticed that her actions had exposed the section of her back where the sharp ridge of spines were missing. “ it.” The Paladin murmured, and using her leg as a foothold, boosted onto her back.

It took him a minute to realize he was supposed to hold onto two small handles, attached to a leather band on her neck, and position himself so that when she moved, he wouldn’t get... sliced in awkward places.

Saja’s head reared up the instant he grabbed the handles, and Lance gasped slightly at her motion. She‘s trained. He realized abruptly. She knew what those handles meant and that it wasn’t a Galra behind her, that apparently Lance had been deemed as ‘safe’.

Lance gave an experimental pull on the handles, and Saja’s head swivelled to the door, the other wyverns clearing her path.

One huge, clawed foot, scraped at the floor like a horse stamping at a race track, waiting for the gun. She was pointed at the door, head lowered and a dull thrum running through her body. He could feel her tension, her patience, her coiled strength.

Lance took a deep breath. They had to get out of here. Saja was going to be his ticket.

He pushed the handles forward, and Saja charged, putting her weight behind that huge, battering ram head and strong shoulders, body tensing as she sprinted.

It was midway through the charge that Lance realized she was aiming for the small door.

However, it was also midway through the wall when Lance realized that it really didn’t matter.

Saja’s wing-paws hit the now ripped wall to avoid Lance going through the sharp metal, her neck twisting side to side as she roared at something out there. Probably some misfortunate Galra soldiers with no idea what they were dealing with. The whole wall had rattled with her impact.

Her neck twisted to the side, head withdrawing through the huge hole she had punched through the wall and door, and her mouth split in a roar. Her fury at the foolish Galra soldiers who were somewhere on the other side was deafening.

The other wyverns howled behind her as Saja’s claws hooked into the metal and tore it open, her huge wings clattering against the shredded edges as she twisted down the hall, Lance still pressed to her back.

Her tail swept out behind him, the ceilings in the place more than enough for Saja to move. It could’ve been wider, but it was big enough.

The three soldiers in front of them raised weapons, eyes wide through their masks with fear. Two drones stood beside them, metallic bodies at the ready. Behind them, Lance could also hear guns charging, at least two. His hands tightened on the handles, intending to get Saja to attack.

The blue and orange wyvern abruptly crashed through the hole, slamming into the wall and crushing one of the Galra soldiers between it’s teeth. The screech and gurgle of broken ribs and metal piercing flesh rang through the hall, even as Saja shot forward to crunch one of the soldiers to pieces, a drone firing at her, only for her forepaw to slam on it’s chest, crushing it’s mechanisms.

Lance could only hold on as Saja raged through her opponents. When there were none left, she glanced back to the blue and orange one, making a chuff noise.

Just like that, their deadly dance was broken.

Alarms rang off at the same time that wyverns poured free of the crack, Lance guiding Saja down the hall. He needed his Bayard.

Glancing back, he couldn’t believe the sheer number of beasts following him. He hadn’t counted the cages he opened, but looking now, there were more than twenty of the animals, howling and barking behind him.

It took them hallways, rooms searched, to find the armoury, Lance sliding off of Saja’s arm. “Stay here!” He ordered her, ducking into the room quickly.

A guard on the inside swung a punch at him, but Lance only grabbed his wrist and shoved his shoulder into the Galra’s flexed elbow.

The snap told him it had worked, and the scream told him he was safe to move more. He yanked on the Galra’s damaged arm, pulling him in front of the door, then kicked him outside as he moved to find his Bayard.

Just as he found it, he heard a screech in the back. “Ascua?!” He cried.

She responded with a howl.

He found her jammed in a tiny cage, wings crowded, hissing as he cut her free. “C’mon, it’s ok girl...” He said, storing his Bayard and helping her out. He re-emerged to discover that the Galra had met a less fortunate end than a broken elbow. Not that he cared.

He had told himself before that there were good Galra. This guy, in armour and with a gun, wasn’t one of them.

Clambering back up onto Saja’s shoulders, Lance gripped the handles and pushed her forward. She reacted exactly how she had been trained for it, charging down the hall. She even ignored Ascua, flying over Lance’s shoulder.

The patrols they met were made short work of, Lance following their trails toward the main hub of the ship.

Midway through, he summoned his sword and started using it to slice through Galra who had the misfortune of being close enough, like some kind of knight atop a horse.

Except his steed was a twenty five foot dragon thing from space, and his sword was supposed to be the key to some powerful force in a robot lion.

Tolkien, eat your heart out! Lance thought as Saja spun around a corner, tail lashing.

The double doors at the end of this hallway told him all he wanted to know.

This time though, the big orange and blue one jumped in front of Saja, snapping unhappily, eyes gleaming. Saja pulled back, and the other wyverns went silent.

The orange and blue one pulled it’s head back, neck making a sharp ‘S’ as a glow started to form within it’s mouth, claws sinking into the floor as it prepared itself...

And released a blast like an ion cannon.

It lasted less than a second, but it punched through the door effortlessly.

Saja shot forward the instant she had the opening, darting through the hole like a snake and emerging into the command hub with a roar, rearing to her hind legs as she spread her powerful wings, others rushing inside, smoke floating over the floor.

Various Galra soldiers raised weapons, but not all in this particular room had them.

Which meant that, when Lance noticed Saja’s eyes fell on the General at the helm, he was going to get eaten without a chance to defend himself.

He was fluffy, with a bit of a beard. Like an older, two-armed Sendak.

Their gazes meeting didn’t last long enough to even blink, as Saja’s head came down on his shoulders.

The Galra commander howled in agony as Lance slid off Saja’s back, vaulting the command station and slashing his sword at a stunned Galran by the screen.

Lance parried her next block, and his sword found his target of the Galra’s throat.

The wyverns were busy making short work of everything else for the next six hallways, as Lance shoved a body off the command system and began tapping out commands. He just wanted to know where Red was, and if the atmosphere were safe to drop in.

The atmosphere was safe, very safe, and they were just within it. He could drop any time. As for Red, she was in the holding bay, in a tractor beam, underneath the huge ship.

A tractor beam that could be deactivated once he got over there.

Lance smirked. He had an idea of how to do that.

“Ok girl...” He said to Saja. “These things work?” He questioned rhetorically, patting her wings.

Another one, slightly smaller with pale green and grey scales, roared at Saja, turning toward the window and clawing at it.

Then it pulled back, and charged up a cannon shot in it’s mouth. It’s teeth gleamed, sparks connecting to it’s fangs as the soft white glow grew at the back of it’s jaw.

The punch melted the glass of the front with a loud crack, a huge hole melting through the cockpit.

The green and grey scaled one roared, leaping forward and falling, before it’s wings opened and it flew down, toward the ground.

Lance urged her forward, uncertain about the whole flying thing. Can she carry me?

Saja didn’t hesitate, stepping onto the melted section. Her wings folded tight to her sides as she lept through the hole before they flared out, huge sails of scales and skin filling with air as she dropped down a few feet, head tipping forward to dive toward the surface. Behind him, the other wyverns started to dive out, like gigantic scaled birds, heading down toward the surface.

Lance pulled Saja up, forcing her to steer back toward the ship. He caught sight of Red, limp in the grasp of the tractor beam and her protective shield.

“Alright girl, we’ll get you loose.” He whispered, sitting up as he got Saja close to the underbelly of the ship. She didn’t like it, growling repeatedly, as Lance tried to reach the panel. “...ohhhkay...” He whispered, slowly, carefully standing up on Saja’s back. She made a soft cry of alarm, worried for him, as he screwed around with a panel enough to watch the tractor beam release. Red would keep herself from impacting the ground too hard.

Then he heard something power up beside him.

Spinning, Lance abruptly realized that a cannon was pointed right at his chest. A ship cannon like the ones sometimes fired at Red.

And like he did every, single time he was presented with a large, glowing shot that seemed inevitable, Lance did exactly what he did with Shiro, all that time ago.

He shoved down on Saja, her unhappy squawks filling the air as she turned away, hands scrambling to clutch to the handle of the control panel. “ASCUA GO FLY!” He ordered, the cat falling off his shoulder with a worried bark.

It pulled under his weight as Lance struggled to cling to the underside. Red was slowing her descent, but without Lance, she was just sliding to the ground.

He had no time to dodge.

Searing pain shot up his torso, from his hip to his collarbone, every muscle in his body strung tight as he screamed in agony, shock and fear. Vision flashed as he struggled to remember to hold on, trying to resist the crushing blackness that wrapped around him...

And then he was falling.

Waking up was honestly just getting more unpleasant every single time.

But this time, it was to a low rumble and repeated, rhythmic burning-spike pain through his chest.

Lance made a weak moan, one hand coming up to uselessly push at whatever was holding him, delicately, in it’s iron grip. He couldn’t move his left arm.

The thing made a soft, wary rumble.

“Sss... sssahh...” Lance wheezed, slowly remembering burgundy scales and huge jaws.

The wind and repeated shocks of pressure through his damaged torso suddenly made more sense. That was Saja flying.

She made a rumble-whimper noise when he tried to say her name. She was worried.

“...s’kay...” He murmured weakly, one functioning arm gently rubbing over her jaw. She made another deep noise.

The wind changed, and Lance slowly realized they were descending. Saja’s wings backstroked, slowly bringing her down to the surface. He heard her back feet hit the ground first, dust kicked up as people, or, what sounded like people, called out to them.

Her wings were still flapping, slowly bringing them to a very soft rest on the dirt. She seemed to growl, assessing something, head turning side to side slightly.

Then he felt himself be lowered down, laid on the ground by the huge wyvern creature he had saved.

Her head was low, close to him, swivelling overtop of his chest, staring at the other things that were gathering around them.

When a hand grabbed his hurt arm, forcing out a whimper of pain, Saja stepped overtop of him, growling ferociously.

“Saja!” A new voice called, above the others. “Down!”

Saja shifted foot to foot, growling faintly. She wasn’t happy, but she seemed to know that voice.

“Saja...” It growled, coming slightly closer to them. “Down.”

She snarled, but slowly moved her wing. Lance winced away from the light with a low moan.

Hands were on him, checking over his chest, over his body. “Someone call the medic!” The voice that had commanded Saja snapped. “He’s hurt badly!”

The world went away again.

When Lance woke up, his body felt warm, but also wet. Everything did, in fact.

He felt like he was in a hammock, in water.

Sound was muddled, as was sensation. Everything felt peaceful. Lance dropped his head back, perfectly content to ignore the hidden pain across his chest.

Until water swamped over his face.

Lance shot upright with a shocked cough, pain blazing across his chest as hands landed on him. “Whoa now, whoa...” Someone said, supporting him mostly upright. He slumped into the touch, brain not quite online, body even less so.

“Hey, alright pretty boy.” The voice continued, helping him lay back into the warm water, but putting a pillow under his head to keep it steady. “Can you open your eyes for us? You’ve been out for a while.”

Lance slowly groaned, taking a few moments to carefully blink awake.

The hazy image of a snout came together. Like Saja’s muzzle, but smaller and more round. Like his own head, but with a full, draconic face.

“There we go. Hello Paladin. Breathe for me, ok?” She said.

Lance nodded softly, eyes drifting back shut as he took a few deep breaths, some small metal pad scanning his chest like a stethoscope. “Sounds good. Alright, take a nap, maybe. It’s gonna be ok.”

Lance was already halfway there.

“...that was a ship’s cannon shot across the chest, you cannot possibly expect him to be moving now. Give it time!” The voice barked at someone, then slammed a door. “Kronos’ sake, I hope that was she gets shot. Then she can know how you feel, huh Paladin?”

Lance blinked fully awake, shifting in what he realized was a net, to keep him on the surface of the water.

“Oh, huh.” The woman-being from earlier carefully knelt beside him, double-jointed legs not lending themselves to it, as her dual-tipped tail flicked behind her. “Hello, Paladin.”

She looked like a dragon. Fangs, horns, ridged scales down her back. Slitted eyes. He noticed, when she reached out for him, that her hand had... small, short wing-like things that only came to her elbow. They looked a lot like small versions of Saja’s wings.

“Where...” He murmured softly. He really wanted to stop waking up without memories of anything that had happened. He remembered the Galra ship, and that was about it.

“You’re on T’branin, Paladin. Your wound was severe, but we did heal it. Unfortunately, it... scarred.” The dragon-woman said. She had shimmering scales that went into a t-shirt-like outfit, with a pair of pants shaped for her strange legs. The cloth was black, but it fit almost flush to her skin, a little like denim.

Her skin and scales were a fiery orange, sharp eyes a deep green.

“Ugh, that’s...” Lance struggled to get a leaden arm under him, fingers hooking into the net to push himself up. “Fine. It’s fine. How long have I been out?” He asked.

“Two Winteks.” The woman said.

Lance paused. He had no idea what that was.

“Uh, sorry, about that.” She chuckled. “Quintants. Approximately two quintants.”

Lance winced. “Oh wow.”

“My name’s Kir’in.” Her tail swayed, two points sweeping the stone floor. “I can’t keep calling you Paladin.” She chuckled

“Uh, Lance.” He answered. “Lance McClain of Earth.”

“Whoa.” Kir’in said, eyes wide in disbelief. “Outside of Sector Space? Jin’da! How the R’ik did you get here?”

“Long story short, a Galra Druid shot me with something that sent me here.” Lance said, wondering if she knew about the Galra.

“C’orsa.” Kir’in hissed in a bitten tone, making Lance wonder how bad a swear it was. “There have been a few Druids at planets we’ve freed, but never enough that we got blasted outside of Sector Space.”

Then it occurred through Lance’s tired mind.

“ know, outside of Sector Space?” He whispered.

Kir’in laughed. “Well, yeah. Galra war, Voltron, we get updates from the expedition scouts that go out.”

“You guys leave?” Lance gasped.

“I know, for most things in Sector Space, it’s really weird, but- ohh wait, you want to get out...” Kir’in realized.

“My team, yeah. They’re... without me. And-“

“You can’t form Voltron without all the Lions.” Kir’in nodded. “Yeah. Problem is, leaving the atmosphere.” She said, pushing Lance back down, then walking over to a lever and pressing a button.

It pulled Lance out of the water, moving the net over rock ground.

Kir’in walked over, and helped him off the net, handing him a diamond-shaped towel, then a same pair of the black pants and t-shirt she was wearing. “The Galra arrived here about three movements ago. They’ve been sending reinforcements constantly. The five great ships that caught you, well... they’ve been the big problem. Good news is, you took down one.”

“I... did?” Lance asked.

“It fell from the atmosphere about a... varga before Saja came down carrying you.” Kir’in said, shaking her head.

Lance realized that they had put tight shorts on his lower body, as he pulled on the pants.

“Sorry if those don’t fit you, by the way. We attempted to measure for your size.”

Lance just smiled as he pulled on the shirt. The pants felt a lot like very soft denim, whereas the shirt was much smoother, like nylon, but thick. “Thanks.” He said, rolling the bottom of the ankles up a bit.

“Hey, you took down a ship, are a Paladin of Voltron...” Kir’in gestured outside, claws clicking on the stone floor. Lance followed her. “We can get you some help.”

The city he was in was huge.

Skyscrapers that looked smooth, ships and other things docking at their tops before flying off again. Everywhere he turned were the huge wyvern creatures, like Saja, in technicolor.

“Dios mío...” Lance said softly, turning to stare at the skies, at the buildings towering over them.

“We’re the only planet in Sector Space that’s capable of leaving and returning, and communicating outside.” Kir’in stated, almost sadly. “...the Galra won’t take us down.”

Suddenly a loud snarl-roar came from the side, and Lance spun, reaching for his Bayard, realizing it wasn’t there just as Saja’s head barrelled into him.

“Saja!” Lance cried, grinning. “Hey pretty!”

“Well, glad to know she takes a liking to some alien.” A deep, rough voice, like a smoker’s, came up beside Saja. The voice who had called her off.

This one was big, wearing full grey neck to foot combat suit. Taller than Kir’in, with a few more missing scales and longer teeth.

“Uh, hi.” Lance said, standing upright as Saja purred against his hip.

She smirked. “Heya. Thanks for rescuing her.” The tall one said. “Ru’al.” She held out a hand.

“Lance.” Lance took it and shook it. She seemed pleased.

“Good to see you moving.” Ru’al said. “Thank you again. I can’t imagine that the Galra were nice.”

“No, but, just what I’m supposed to do.” Stepping a bit close so that Saja would step back, Lance had to tip his head up slightly to meet Ru’al’s eyes, but not much.

“You rescued over three gularin D’haku.” Ru’al chuckled with a swish of her tail. “Any B’hra would be thanking you.”

“...why did the Galra want them?” Lance inquired, petting Saja’s head.

“They’re loyal, and strong. Plus, their Tova attack is... deadly.” Ru’al smirked.

“Tova... that laser blast?”

The blue-navy B’hra nodded. “Also.” She began, reaching onto Saja’s back saddle packs, and pulling out a larger cage.

Then she freed Ascua.

“Hello!” He laughed, petting her as she nuzzled into his neck with sharp mews.

Ru’al chuckled. “She came down following Saja and Jasp’r. We kept her safe.”

“Thank you, for that.” He let her settle on his shoulders.

“Now, Paladin, if you’re well enough, hop on.” Ru’al vaulted onto Saja’s back. “We have your armour repaired, but your Lion...”

“Got it.” Lance said, shifting onto Saja’s back. “Thanks, Kir’in.”

“Of course. Ru’al, don’t beat him up.” The nurse instructed.

“Never.” Ru’al said sarcastically, before she pulled on Saja’s collar handles and pushed her forward.

Lance had been worried about Saja carrying him.

When she shot into the air with both him, Ru’al and the packs of whatever on her sides, he realized he didn’t need to be.

Saja made a snort noise as they rose steadily, gliding over the city as Ru’al guided them toward a huge building on the outskirts of town. “Your Lion was kept with our Ge’ain ships.” Ru’al called over the wind. “They seemed to like her!”

“Ge’ain...” Lance muttered, confused, but he didn’t get that much time to ask questions, when Saja turned and headed for the runway, landing easily and powerfully. Another B’hra ran over, waiting for them to get off before Saja to a nice little spot with a few other D’haku.

“Follow me.” Ru’al purred, leading him to the doors of the massive building, pausing as both their eyes adjusted to the bright inner lights.

Lance spotted Red in about the middle of the rows, standing tall and proud, but she seemed happy enough. Her dark paint was still shining, though scratched, and one foot was lifted up so repairs could be done on the thruster.

Ru’al lead Lance down the building, as other B’hra ran past in very military-like format. Two by two, lead by a single.

It felt like the Garrison.

“So, we noticed your Lion was made of the same material our Ge’ain ships are.” Ru’al said.

“Really? There’s more interdimensional ore?” He gasped, amazed.

“We get it, rarely, here in Sector Space.” Ru’al nodded. “If she wants, and if you’d be alright, we would be able to preform numerous repairs, upgrades and otherwise on her.”

“I’ll need to ask her. The last time she was upgraded, we were on Creemin.” Lance explained.

“Creemin. I’ve been there with Grey.” Ru’al smiled.

“Grey?” Then the lights came on over a huge stall beside Red.

The metal beast sitting there was shaped like a velociraptor. Teeth, claws. The majority of him was a pale grey, while the rest was smoky ash.

“Whoa.” Lance breathed. He got the same sense of power off Grey that he felt from Red or the other Lions.

“There are seven, of our Ge’ain ships.” Ru’al chuckled. “I pilot Grey. Lead.”

Lance ran a hand through his hair, staring at the huge claws and the massive jaw, the tail curling back around his feet. “He’s gorgeous.” Lance said.

Red growled, echoing in the hangar.

“You’re pretty too, babe!” Lance called to her.

She seemed satisfied.

“We’ve needed to hide them, to keep the Galra from capturing them.” Ru’al sighed. “Orange is starting to get feisty. Which is why I would like to ask you something...” She turned to face Lance. “...will you help us to take back our skies?”

Lance smirked, looking to Red, who’s eyes gleamed. “Of course.” He told her.

The next quintant, at a meeting for this, Lance learned everyone’s names.

Ru’al was the pilot of Grey. He represented storms, clouds, and power.

Cov’rn was a lean, green-blue B’hra who seemed too pleased for the whole situation. He piloted Orange. He represented fire and heat.

Ques was thickset and heavy, with white ridges and mostly violet-indigo scales. She piloted Tan. She represented land and ground.

Wor’av was a fairly average guy, with a kind smile and soft words, oddly fitting of his pale red scales. He piloted Indigo. He represented shadows.

Ti’ap’an, or just Tiap, was mint green and grey, missing an eye. He reminded Lance of a more exhausted, younger Shiro. He piloted Teal. He represented the ocean.

A’dajo was copper orange with black markings. He had a half-foot scar in his left leg. He piloted Crimson. She represented blood, and war.

Ju’rak was a neat, iridescent black. He was missing the entire wing-fan on his right arm, and kept looking at A’dajo like something was fascinating him. He piloted Neon. He represented space.

“So, we got a Voltron Pilot here.” Cov’rn said with a smirk, leaning forward on one elbow. “Fancy.”

“They’re called Paladins, you ignorant sorv.” Ques told him.

Cov’rn shrugged, “and he’s fancy. My statement still stands.”

“Oh I’ll show you stands!” Ques shot toward Cov’rn with claws outstretched, vaulting the table as the blue one darted to the side, chuckling softly. “Get back here! I’ll make your skin into a coat!”

“Can we not wrestle... for once?” Tiap asked in an exasperated tone.

Sheepishly, Ques and Cov’rn returned to the table.

“Alright, now we just need to wait for Tor’lak.” Ru’al said with a soft smile.

“Good, then I’ve got time!” Ques once again jumped the table to wrestle, playfighting with Cov’rn, as Ju’rak got lashed in the leg by a stray tail tip and fell into the fight as well. A’dajo made an attempt to rescue him, but it ended up with those two fighting all on their own, laughing. Ju’rak laughed louder than A’dajo, who seemed shy, but it was fine.

Then a door slammed open, and everyone froze.

Tor’lak was huge. Bear-sized, and he walked like it. The group on the ground quickly untangled, settling back into their positions at the table.

“...Alright.” Tor’lak’s voice was... soft. Light, almost. “Now that I have your attention...”

“Cov’rn started it.” Ques said.

“Can you not embarrass us in front of the out of Sector Paladin of Voltron?” Tiap asked with a long-suffered sigh, wiping a hand down his face.

Lance blushed slightly, shuffling down.

“Aw, I’m sure he gets into wrestling matches with his own teammates.” Ju’rak said with a grin.

“If you wanna call your UST showing off ‘wrestling’.” Wor’av muttered and the table burst into laughter as A’dajo looked confused and Ju’rak turned away, embarrassed.

“Yeah, I’m sure Lance wrestles with his own team.” Ru’al rolled her eyes.

“I uh... did, yeah.” Lance said softly.

His tone seemed to make them all freeze.

“...Paladin Lance.” Tor’lak began, soft and worried. “ long have you been in Sector Space?” He asked.

There was quiet as Lance calculated.

“...a Deca-phoeb.”


Just the sound of a family, a team, shocked out of air.

“...Chi’var.” Ru’al turned from the table with the word hissed low. “You’ve been in Sector Space alone for that long... Chi’var.”

“ Kronos, I’d go mad.” Cov’rn said, sounding grim and serious for the first time.

“It’s... not that hard. I’ve been working to get out.” Lance muttered softly.

“You’re still a fair distance from ‘out’, Paladin.” Tor’lak said with a sad air. “Another... several phoebs.”

Lance winced, turning away with a bitter expression. “...step one is getting the Galra away from you guys.”

“The Ge’ain ships need some startup time. It’s because of their long bodies, and many laser use claws. They need a little time to get into the air.” Ru’al stated, putting down a screen that showed the Galra ships in the upper stretches of their atmosphere. “The Ge’ain ships can’t take off while the shield is in place. So we need someone to go up first, play distraction. There are four ships.” She pointed out the Galra ships.

“I call the c’orsa who shot me down.” Cov’rn smirked.

“No.” All the others said.

“At the moment, none have shown threat of warping in or out. They’re waiting for backup.” Tor’lak said steadily.

Lance shrugged. “I can go up there. Spend a few doboshes playing keep-away, for you guys to get up there.”

“...Paladin, that could risk your capture again.” Tor’lak murmured.

“And the other option?”

There was a pause.

“...I’ll do it.” Lance nodded. “Just get in the air. Then I fight with you.”

The event was scheduled for less than twelve vargas later, giving Ru’al time to bring him to the suit-up station for his armour.

“We couldn’t fully repair it. Same with your Bayard...” She said, handing him the weapon. It’s red was now deeper, like Red’s new paint. “Though it seems to have taken no damage.”

“It shouldn’t.” Lance said steadfastly, walking to where Ru’al had his armour set up on a stand.

The chestpiece had a matching scar, deep and winding, that now rested on Lance’s chest. It was filled in and sealed with black material, brutally real against the white of the armour. It cut the corner of the ‘V’ off, making him....

It looked so...vicious.

He kind of loved it.

“It’s... Wow.” Lance murmured as Ru’al handed him the undersuit. “...What’s it sealed with?”

“The same material we use in our our armour, which seems to be slightly more solid than yours. They’re basically the same though.” Ru’al said, pulling it out and putting it on the table beside. “Go put on the undersuit. I’ll get your armour set out.”

Lance nodded, ducking behind a wall to slide into the slick, smooth undersuit. On the outside it felt like leather, but the inside felt more... soft.

When he walked back out, Ru’al was waiting with his armour all set out, and beside his, lay another set.

Black, with clear silver markings. In the centre of the chestpiece, lay a long, open-ended diamond, twin points sticking down toward the ground.

“...That yours?” Lance asked as she picked up the belt of his armour.

“Yeah.” Ru’al nodded. “I think you and I can do this little pre-battle ritual of our planet.” She held out the belt.

He went to take it, but the realized.

Assembling your battle partner’s armour. That‘s the ritual.

He put up his arms and let her clip on the belt, then the legs. The chestpiece went on with a strong, hard click as she locked it down and sealed it to the undersuit. The black stood out brutally, like a testimony of what he had survived.

Once the arm pieces were on, she picked up his helmet, and he dipped his head to allow her to slide it over his ears, locking it on.

Despite the strange pieces, Lance figured it out without too much assistance. He put on the belt, that stretched slightly up and under the chestpiece, guarding her stomach. Over the legs, the back of the tail. The arms, then he held up the helmet and watched as her horns folded down somewhat, so that it slid on easily.

He kind of liked the feeling of trust that went with it.

“...You ready?” Ru’al asked Lance.

“As anyone can be.”

Once the hologram shield was up, a B’hra with glowing sticks, like a plane marshaler, led them toward the exit, and into the shielded sunlight. Other doors opened, letting more of the marshalers draw the raptors out.

Sitting down, the raptors just appeared quiet, with long claws and powerful, mechanical bodies.

Grey stepped out though, and Lance realized that the claws were just openings for lasers, like the Lion’s jaw blades. His claws glowed a steady silver-white as he slid into the sunlight.

He was huge. Longer than Red, and slightly taller than her to the shoulder.

His motions seemed so... lifelike. Even the shake his body gave as his head turned around, assessing Red with sharp, blue eyes.

Beside Red, a roar came up, and a slightly smaller, slimmer raptor with an ash-grey base tone marked with bright orange sections came out with the howls of the damned. He sounded terrifying, feisty and wild, claws tapping against the tarmac. His front limbs were longer than Grey’s, by a good amount.

At Grey’s other side, another stepped out. Ash base tone, with markings in soft, birch wood tan. She huffed, making a sharp cry toward Orange. Orange put his front paws on the ground and barked.

“This is awesome, Red! They’re like, alive!” Lance grinned. The Lions never were this vocal.

Next came Indigo. His body wasn’t lean in the slightest, his shoulders wider than Grey’s or Tan’s. His form was also a lot darker, from the indigo detailing to the ash main.

Crimson stepped out next, and Red felt a vague flash of jealousy, but also interest. She was like Red’s old colour, distinctive and sharp against the dark grey. She was thinner than Grey or Tan, but larger than Orange.

Teal stepped out next, and he moved fluidly. Silent and effortless, like slipping through water. He was about the same as Grey or Tan.

Finally, Neon stepped out.

He was small. Smaller than Orange, even, and he moved with a soft sort of bounce. He was, like the others, predominantly dark grey, but sections of him gleamed with bright iridescent colours.

“Lance, come in.” Ru’al said through his comms, her face appearing on a screen.

“I’m receiving you, Ru’al.” Lance grinned.

“Woo-wee!” Cov’rn cried, at the same time as Orange rearing up.

“We’ll need another three to five doboshes to take off.” Tiap stated, focussed on something away from the camera. “Orange and Neon can be up in two, but it’s still two doboshes. Can you handle that?” He asked Lance.

“I think I can do that.” He nodded, eyes narrowing. “See you in two doboshes.”

“Hat’chi var!” Ru’al proclaimed.

“Hat’chi var!” The others called, and suddenly they started glowing, brighter.

Lance turned Red’s head up, staring at the barrier, waiting for it to vanish...

The instant it did, Lance shot into the air, streaking toward the Galra ships.

“Hey bitches! I’m BACK!” He shouted as they struggled to keep up with his rapidly darting form, blasts lighting up their sides as they tried to fight back.

They were quickly becoming organized, but Lance was starting to put some distance between him and the ships. He had bought time. Now he just had to keep their attention for a bit longer-

Red spun to the side when a hit caught her hip. “Fucking-“ Lance hissed viciously, adjusting immediately and spinning up, going to bear down on one of the other ships.

And those hateful tiny drone ships appeared.

“...Goddamn great.” Lance muttered. He spun to the side, swirling into space in an attempt to lead them off.

Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed one of the large ion cannons levelling on him.

Only to get slammed by something that tore through it like it was paper.

Something lightning fast and iridescent danced through the ships following Lance.

Red slowed, turned around, as Orange and Neon appeared, hovering by a simple pair of feet jets and hip jets, like the Lions.

Lance smirked. “Time’s up. Rules change.” He said softly, toward the Galra ships.

“Hey Lance!” Cov’rn called through the comms. “Say we firebrands give this thing a pounding, huh?”

“Let’s do it!” Lance agreed, slamming his Bayard into Red’s slot and activating the cannon as Orange dove for the ship, claws and teeth outstretched.

Together, they ripped into the ship while Neon provided cover, effortlessly redirecting damage cast at them with the use of seemingly glass shields.

They spent barely ten more minutes before the others appeared, five more making short work of the ship they were focussed on.

“‘Dajo, take the flank!” Ru’al ordered. “Ques, the other flank! Lance, charge the cannon with Tiap and Ju. Ju, guard them, draw the fire.”

“I do that best!” Ju’rak purred, shooting down toward the next ship with Tiap and Lance flanking him. The ion cannon swung around to face them, and Lance had to force himself and Red not to pull up, to stay level.

The ion cannon struck Neon’s shield, and did nothing.

“Damn. If only Pidge had that.” He muttered to himself as Tiap glanced to him.

“Lance, get ready. The instant that thing’s done firing, we strike.” The Teal pilot ordered.

“I was born ready.”

The instant the last dregs of energy had blazed off the sides of the glass shield, Teal lunged forward, as Lance did with Red, and called up her jaw-blade.

Between Teal’s claws and Lance’s blade, they made short work of the cannon, spiraling out of the way as other shots came up.

The ships were starting to either flee or go down. Between the eight smaller, faster, stronger ships flitting around them, and the arrival of several more spaceship-like ships with small guns, they were losing ground.

The raptors took down the other two in lightning quick motions as Lance and the small ships were fighting the final one, limping away.

By the time that Crimson had set bombs on them, then gotten out of range, none of them were moving anyway.

The explosives that cracked the ships apart and blew them up were a good thing.

The fight had lasted longer than Lance though. He had gotten too much into the combat, into the blood of battle.

When they landed, the cheers that greeted them felt a lot like those he heard on other planets, when Voltron had defeated something, and the people were cheering.

As the pilots removed their helmets, Cov’rn dragged Lance into a half-hug and cheer, holding up his mask. “You should stick around for a few days! Do some training, some upgrades...” He said over the shouts. “Plus, we just saved the planet.”

Lance, for the first time in a long time, felt a smile break on his face as he leaned into the craziness that Cov’rn was calling him to.

He held up his own helmet, and cheered.

Chapter Text

Lance had been invited to spend a few quintants with the Pilots, Red in the hangar with them. 

It felt good to be able to breathe unfiltered air, watch Ascua fly effortlessly over the tarmac, and relax. 

“Hey, Lance.” Cov’rn trotted over one morning as Lance called Ascua back to his arm. “How’re you?”

“Pretty good.” Lance smiled.

“Yeah, uh, Ru’al has the chief engineer over.” Cov’rn said, jabbing a thumb at the hangar. “He wants to talk to you.”

“Sure. Just... Ascua!” He called again, making her finally wheel around and dive for him. 

Holding up his arm, steady, Lance tightened his shoulder as Ascua slammed into him, all twenty pounds of her weighing down his arm. “There we go.” He smiled at her, petting her head as Cov’rn lead him inside, to the meeting room where Ru’al, Tor’lak and a forest green B’hra they hadn’t introduced waited. 

“Thanks very much, Cov’rn. I’ll see you at training in a few doboshes.” Ru’al said as the other one nodded and left. 

“Paladin Lance, it’s an honour to meet you.” The green one offered his hand, voice sonorous and kind. “I’ve heard you have been here in Sector Space for quite some time.”

“...Yeah. It’s... hard work.” Lance chuckled warily.

“I understand that.” The green one smiled. “My name is Br’tova. I’m the head engineer for the Raptors.” He shook himself slightly. “I happened to notice a few things regarding your Lion, against the Raptors.” He nodded to all of them, and they moved as a group out, toward Red in the hangar. 

“You see,” Br’tova said as they walked. “the Raptors are still the first of their kind, and were designed at approximately the same time as Voltron. Unfortunately, we had neither Altean magic, nor mystic to tell us how to do more with them.” 

“...I’m uh, not Altean.” Lance said.

“I know that!” Br’tova laughed. “On the other hand, the Alteans relied a little too much on their magic and forgot what rare elements could to for thrusters.” 

“Uh, I’m not much of an engineer either.” Lance murmured. 

“You must have a bit of skill for it, to pilot a Lion.” Br’tova purred with a smile, stepping in front of Red and staring at her with appreciation and longing in her eyes. “No, what I’m asking of you is fairly simple. With Red’s permission, and yours as well, allow me to fill the gaps between us. Many upgrades to Red, with rare elements, and a chance to use some of the Altean knowledge to upgrade the Raptors.” 

Lance blinked at Red’s almost immediate affirmation. She liked them. They made fine battle partners to her, and she wanted to see them again. As for upgrades...

“What upgrades could you give her?” Lance asked.

“Imagine if her reaction time to your motions was within a micro-tick.” Br’tova smirked. “If her laser blasts were higher strength, if she could take more damage while retaining, or even increasing her speed-“

Red roared. She was sold.

“She’s down for it.” Lance chuckled as Br’tova, Ru’al and Tor’lak stared at the sheer volume.

Br’tova adjusted the aviator-like glasses he was wearing. “Incredible. She’s got remarkable power behind that roar.”

“So, how long?” Lance asked. No more than a movement, he couldn’t allow himself more than that.

“You wish to get back to your team...” Br’tova nodded. “If we start on upgrades and system comparisons today, I can have them done within three quintants. Meanwhile, testing would take, at most, just upward of five.” 

Lance considered that. That was just over a movement. “...Alright.” He nodded. “...During testing, what do you need?”

“You.” Br’tova chuckled. “You, to train with the Raptors.”

He shifted in surprise as Red purred. Black hadn’t allowed them to train with each other in a long time. 

“After that, you can get a fresh coat of paint, and we’ll send you off.” Br’tova smiled. 

With a soft breath, Lance nodded at Red. “...That sounds great. Go ahead.”

Bored, Lance went outside about two vargas later, leaving Ascua in his room. 

Outside on the tarmac was a few rather impressive things. 

Ru’al and Tiap were sparring, Ru’al using a long, languidly curving knife that seemed brilliantly bright and sharp, with a dark handle. Tiap was using a mystique polearm that seemed to curve to slot over his arms perfectly when he spun it. 

Ju’rak was standing on his hands, feet and tail kicked above him, as A’dajo sat nearby, sharpening a longsword. 

“Hey, Lance!” Ques called from the side, where she had been sparring with nothing at all but her shadow. “C’mon over here!” She shouted, waving him closer. “You know how to do hand to hand?” She asked when he was close enough.

“I got some training.” Lance said with a smirk. He then had gloves shoved into his chest. 

“Put those on then! Let’s see what ya got!” Ques smirked, hands by her muzzle in a boxing stance. 

Lance slid on the gloves, then lunged without warning, a vicious hook catching her off-guard. She barely blocked before Lance’s foot came up and shoved her back, looping around to go on the offensive. 

He did exactly what Uame had beaten into his skull. 

Keep the opponent off balance. 

Each strike was well-placed, and while Ques was guarding well, she wasn’t perfect. By the time Lance stepped off, the others were watching them too. 

“Wow!” Ju’rak breathed. “That was incredible!”

“Uh... thanks.” Lance smiled sheepishly. 

“Well now.” Ru’al pulled off her sweater. “Let’s see what you can really do, Lance.”

“Whoo, get out of the way!” Cov’rn cried with a grin. “She’s on the r’ik’n warpath!”

The first hit was different than Ques’.

Suddenly he understood why she was the leader. 

They were fairly evenly matched. She used the sharp, wing-frill things on her arm as guards, blocking Lance’s punches effortlessly. His speed was his one advantage, as well as practice. Whenever she swung at him, he glanced it off. 

It took them nearly five doboshes to separate with a low groan, Ru’al collapsing to her ass and Lance leaning on the wall. “...Chi’var you’re tough.” She hissed. 

“You’re not bad yourself.” Lance smirked, sucking wind. 

“...Everyone, take a varga. We’re uh... gonna reconvene, and... Do more training.” Ru’al managed to get out through panting.

Everyone chuckled. 

The afternoon was spent fighting each one of them, or them fighting each other. Lance learned several judo-like moves that involved flipping his opponent over his back, or flipping overtop of them to grab in a different way.

Ju’rak showed him how to do a proper handstand between fights, even teaching Lance how to do them one-handed. The Paladin surprised himself a bit with his own strength. 

“Ju’rak! Lance! Stop showing off and get in the r’ik’n ring!” Ru’al barked at them, causing Ju’rak to fall over while Lance laughed at him as he rolled out of the handstand. 

Ju’rak was experienced and quick. He was just as fast as Lance, though he lacked some power. 

Plus, his one side with the frill was a little slower than his side where the frill had been cut out. 

That evening, Lance came to dinner with them, and ate something other than food packets for the first time in a disturbingly long time. 

Tiap was next door to his, and when Lance got up in the night because his stomach violently rebelled to solid food, he learned that the soft-spoken one of the Raptors’ ranks was very caring.

Tiap took him downstairs, to the kitchen, and got him more food, without even asking why. Lance ate more slowly, and got back to bed at a reasonable hour. With a full, slightly more relaxed stomach, Lance fell back asleep rather quickly.

Lance woke up again when the sun rose. T’branin’s sun was blue, nearly white, and it cast the world awake very quickly, in some cases, and slowly in others.

For Lance, it was the former.

“Hey, Lance.” Cov’rn shouted, waving to him from where he was laying on the grass. “C’mere!” 

Jogging over quickly, Lance noticed that Cov’rn was holding a rifle. A gigantic, heavy sniper rifle. “That’s beautiful.” He commented.

“Can you shoot?” Cov’rn asked as he lay back down, levelling the sights. 

The targets were barely visible, but Cov’rn nailed them effortlessly, in quick succession. They fell back, but then reset themselves.

“Probably not that well.” Lance chuckled, shaking his head. “But I’m good.”

Cov’rn smirked. “Well, have a go.” He offered his gun, but Lance pulled his Bayard out of his back pocket and focused, drawing the heavy rifle out. Cov’rn’s eyes went wide. “Whoa. That’s r’ik’n incredible.” He murmured. 

“Thanks.” Lance lay down, levelling his sights and taking a breath. 

Of the three, he was a little slower, and missed the last one.

“Ok, that was really good.” Cov’rn nodded. “But, I can make you better...” He said in a tempting sing-song.

“Alright then.” Lance grinned. He was totally willing to learn. 

For nearly two vargas they lay out there. 

“So, you come here every quintant?” Lance asked him, standing up as he watched Cov’rn readjust himself. 

“Every morning at sunrise, if you want to join me.” Cov’rn dipped his head, head lightly tapping on the scope. “Never could sleep through the sunrise.” 

“Yeah, that was the problem I had.” Lance sighed softly. 

“You’re from Earth, right?” Cov’rn cocked his head, standing up as the targets reset. “So, what colour’s your sun on the other side of the universe?”

Lance lay down, settling his gun against his shoulder and chest, a much better, tighter bracing position. “Yellow.” He said. “Really bright yellow.”

The targets fell. 

“Huh.” Cov’rn stepped up, standing this time, unlike the other times. “Never seen a yellow sun.” 

“Really?” Lance murmured, moving away from the shooting line. “It’s uh... really warm. Not hot, but warm.”

“I get what you mean.” Cov’rn said. He had to take five shots. “Can you do it standing?”

“Normally, that’s all I do.” Lance chuckled, settling into stance. 

The targets went down in three lightning quick shots. “Whoa.” Cov’rn gasped. 

“You gotta drop your weight a bit.” Lance gestured to his stance. “Helps. Why have you never been to a planet with a yellow sun? I thought you guys explored Sector Space.”

“Well, we do. But royal we. Well, I mean, technically Ru’al’s been out there a lot. “The Raptors aren’t ready for distant travel yet.” Cov’rn said, settling into a similar stance that Lance had. “Though, your Lion might be the key to fixing that.”

“And then what?” Lance questioned as Cov’rn took only four shots. 

Cov’rn moved out of the way as Lance jumped rapidly to the sides, still needing only three shots. “Well, first off, that’s just showing off.” He chuckled. “Second, we’re... actually assigned to go out. Give the war effort some help.” He nodded. “We’ll just... ensure that something like what happened to you never happens to any other team.” He shuddered slightly. “Being separated...” He said softly. “Full separation from your team... must be maddening, during the empty parts of Sector Space.”

“It is.” Lance murmured. “It’s really... quiet.”

“...see, we form packs. We’re bonding creatures.” Cov’rn murmured. “...are your people?”

“Yeah.” Lance nodded, smiling slightly. “...I had been with my team for about two doboshes. Less.” 

“ when we leave Sector Space... we’ll be helping the war effort.” Cov’rn nodded.

At that, Lance felt brighter. “...So, how about this then? Later, I’ll give you guys a communicator to reach me outside, so when you guys get out... Well, we can meet up again. Give some assistance.”

“That’d be great.” Cov’rn smirked. 

“ATTENNNNNTION!” Tor’lak shouted toward them, prompting Lance to jump into a battle stance. “At ease, Paladin!” He called. “Are you joining us for training?”

“Please do.” Cov’rn said, slightly sheepishly.

Feeling slightly outnumbered, Lance nodded, trotting over to line up with Ju’rak, Tiap, Ques, Wor’av and A’dajo. Ru’al still wasn’t there as they all fell into neat lines, at attention. 

So much like the Garrison. Lance thought, at the end of the line. 

“Is Ru’al coming?” A’dajo sighed. 

“Well, you know her! She has to come from in-city!” Wor’av defended their leader.

Then there was a terrifying roar, as Saja’s shadow flew overtop, all their heads turning to watch her burgundy-gold body swoop to the side. Ru’al sat on her back, one hand on the handle and the other on Saja’s neck, leaning back slightly as Saja beat her huge wings, going to land on the station nearby. 

“So, why does Ru’al have Saja?” Lance asked. 

“Well, many hundreds of thousands of deca-phoebs ago,” Tiap began. “The B’hra and D’haku were a symbiotic species. We were defenseless against things such as the Rikshow or the T’oya, both of which are prey to the D’haku. However, the D’haku couldn’t build it’s own homes often, and territory was hard to come across.” He explained with a soft smile. “So we began working with them. Now, only some B’hra bond with D’haku. It’s called the Shivar’shar. Life-bond.”

“That’s... incredible.” Lance breathed. Like a dog being your best friend, but... forever.

“Ru’al is the only one of us who’s bonded with a D’haku. When we leave Sector Space, Saja will come with us in Grey’s hold.” Ques added. 

“Is that jealousy I detect, Ques?” Ju’rak grinned. 

“Well, yeah!” Ques exclaimed with a shrug. “Look at her.” She swept a hand toward Saja and Ru’al. “Gettin’ to be all soft with her...”

“Now the question is, is she jealous of Ru’al, or Saja?” Ju’rak asked with a knowing smirk. 

Everyone burst out laughing as Ru’al ran over, Saja waiting for her by the stands. “Sorry, Tor’lak.” She huffed, shuffling into formation. “Had to convince Ju’lu that he should still be asleep.”

Everyone seemed to kind of deflate at that, though Ru’al stayed steadfastly silent, eyes sharp. 

“Understandable, Ru’al. Give me ten.” He told her, and Lance watched as she dropped into the equivalent of a push-up, and clapped with each up. “The rest of you, start crosses.”

“Lance. Like this.” Cov’rn demonstrated something that seemed a lot like jumping jacks as everyone else went about it. 

With a nod, Lance started in time with them, noticing Ru’al join them after a while.

Lance kept going, almost absentmindedly, and noticed that everyone else seemed to be getting tired, even Ru’al. “Come on! How are you calling yourselves ‘combat ready’ when the real combatant on this tarmac is kicking you across the field?!” 

“With all due respect... sergeant...” Cov’rn chuckled breathlessly. “‘Combat ready’... and ‘combatant’ aren’t the same thing.”

Everyone else gave winded laughter as well as Tor’lak just shook his head. “At ease, my Kronos.” He said softly, rubbing his muzzle. “Alright. Sprints, 200 M-Units.” He moved to the side, pointing to the orange flag on the other side. “No taking it.”

“Damn, but fight-sprints are the best.” Ques murmured. 

“That’s next.” Tor’lak said. “Lance, Cov’rn... go!” 

They took off. 

Cov’rn had the advantage of leg length and double jointed feet, but Lance had the advantage of power and endurance. On the way back, when Cov’rn fell a bit behind as he was smiling at someone nearby, Lance put it on and blew past him, just a tick in front. 

“You r’ik’r.” Cov’rn huffed. 

“Now, can anyone tell me what Pilot Cov’rn did wrong?” Tor’lak asked. 

“Oh oh! He was trying to impress Kir’in and got served?” Ques spoke up. 

“Good guess, try again!” Tor’lak said. 

Ju’rak voiced his own smirk. “He tried to out-do a Paladin of Voltron and got his tail handed to him?”

Tor’lak sighed.

“He failed to use his endurance intelligently, running out of energy during the final front of the race, which allowed Lance to pass him while he was distracted.” Ru’al stated. 

Tor’lak breathed out relief. “Ok, so, someone’s been paying attention. Because of his leg shape, Lance is slower than you at raw top speed, however, he clearly is fast, and has greater endurance.” Tor’lak smiled at Lance. “Ques, Ju’rak... go.”

“Hey, A’dajo.” Cov’rn began with a slow smirk. “Ju’rak’s tail looks good in those shorts, no?”

“What are you doing looking at-“ A’dajo cut himself off. “...I’m not looking at my competitor’s tail.” 

“I was just commenting!” Cov’rn put his hands up in surrender, hiding his winning smirk. 

“You’re all hatchlings.” Tor’lak sighed.

“Ring up!” Tor’lak shouted. “Ru’al and Lance, A’dajo and Ju’rak, Ques and Tiap, Cov’rn and Wor’av.” He barked, dividing them neatly up as Ru’al pulled out her blade. 

It curved in a neat ‘s’ shape, but not so sharp. Like someone had taken the tips of an ‘s’ and pulled it almost straight. When it touched the sun, it lightened to a pale silver-white colour, rather than the darker colour it had been.

“What is that?” Lance asked, staring at it as he pulled out his own sword. 

“It’s a Shinkanjen’shi-arva.” Ru’al said softly, sharpening it.

“A what?” Lance asked after a few moments. 

“A mark of prowess, capability, and honour amongst our people.” Ru’al smiled. “Their common name is Shin’shi.”

“So...” Lance knelt by her, eyes flicking down the blade. “...It’s so weirdly curved. And so.. Long.”

Too long for a dagger, too short for a sword. Plus, it was perfectly half hilt, half blade. Seven inches of hilt, and seven inches of blade. 

“That’s so you can do movements with it. Ramnan alloy is really heavy, when exposed to air.” Ru’al explained, handing him the weapon. It felt...

Balanced. Perfectly, half and half, right in the dead centre of it. 

“‘When exposed to air’?” Lance questioned, returning it to her. 

Ru’al nodded. “Ramnan alloy changes it’s properties depending on it’s environment. It’s an odd substance like that. A little like luxite, but not... so simple.”

“Luxite... I...” Lance took a moment to remember that. “Luxite! Right! Ok, so uh, it transforms into a bigger blade?”

“Like I said, not as simple as something so dull as luxite.” Ru’al rolled her eyes. “No, luxite is connected to a person’s life force, and therefor, their person. Ramnan alloy is connected to the person who forged it. They are the one controller.”

“...You can control it?” Lance stared at the blade in concern. 

“Well, not really.” Ru’al shrugged. “It just means I can... access all it’s powers. It’s most notable one is the colour change. The metal becomes black when it’s dark. However, the other things... Like it shifting density to balance, become clear when you’ve forged it.”

Lance nodded, understanding. “...Huh. How did you forge yours?”

“A master watched me training. And offered to help me craft one.” Ru’al smiled, standing up. “Are we going to talk about my blade forever, or fight?”

The first strike told him that he wasn’t quite fighting against anything normal. It felt like another of his own sword slamming into him, with all the arcing effortlessness that transdimensional ore gave. 

They fought for a while, Lance doing his best to fight the powerful blade, but it wasn’t like anything he had ever faced before.

The knife’s curved shape became useful the first time Lance saw it slide around her arm to her other side as she spun around, catching his shoulder in a vicious strike. The blow staggered him, pushing him a bit back, as Ru’al’s foot slammed into his stomach. Lance, winded, stumbled more, and found Ru’al’s blade at his neck. 

“I win.”

It’s not won until the enemy is dead. Lance thought. Because he had been in combat.

Before Ru’al could even blink, Lance had put his hand between her knife and his throat, then flipped his sword around, pushed forward, and pinned her to the ground with his sword over her head. 

“Trust me, it’s not over until the enemy’s down or dead.” Lance sighed, standing up and offering her a hand. 

“How did you do that?” Ru’al murmured. “That... reversal trick?” She inquired. 

“Oh!” Lance smiled, then put his sword up to her neck. “Now, slide your hand between the sword and your neck, good, ok, and brush it to the side. Don’t try to push it out of the way, just past your throat.” 

Ru’al put enough distance between her neck and the edge to be safe. 

“Good, now push forward, aim for my chest with one hand, take the knife in the other, and knock me down.”

The next second had Lance blinking at the sky with his lungs missing air. 

“Like that?”

“Just like that!”

“Look there.” A’dajo murmured as they got in line, nodding one tail tip toward a few B’hra, scales worn and horns much shorter and less shiny.

“R’ik.” Ru’al hissed. “How long have they been there?” 

“A little over four vargas.” A’dajo whispered conspiratorially.

“Who are they?” Lance asked softly. 

“Those masters I mentioned. They’re probably surveying for the next one to get a Shinkanjen’shi-arva blade.” Ru’al snapped angrily, at herself. “I would’ve had us in our armor.” 

“Yeah, well, they got to see us in training...” A’dajo muttered.

“Silence!” Tor’lak shouted. “We’re visited by Masters Co’curra, To’vi, Sha, and Ela’ap.” 

The four bowed slightly to the students, and Ru’al seemed to perk up at the sight of one of them. 

“They’re here to assess two candidates for Shinkanjen’shi-arva blade crafting!” Tor’lak snapped. “I expect everyone here at their best! Dismissed!”

Lance followed Cov’rn into the building, as Ru’al trotted toward one of the masters, bowing to him, then giving him a hug.

“That’s Master To’vi. He helped her craft her blade.” Ju’rak said. 

Nodding, Lance headed to the cafeteria with them. He just hoped not to eat too much this time.

Watching Cov’rn bring out Orange’s personality was something special. The raptor stood up, into position for repairs, only for his huge tail to lash into the wall when he shifted, roaring while the clamps came down from the roof, grabbing him around the chest, tail, legs and head. 

After he was elevated a solid ten feet off the ground, Cov’rn was allowed to get out, and come down. “Your Lion was easy to put in the lift!” Br’tova reassured. “Sittin’ all nice like that. No issues with her. Repairs are going well.”

“Repairs?” Lance’s eyes widened in concern. 

“Well, step one is ensuring everything works well. So far, we’ve managed to improve Red’s flight speed by nearly 1.34 percent, just by doing repairs!” Br’tova grinned. “She’ll be faster by the time we’re done with her.”

“Thanks.” Lance smiled at him, nodding. 

“Hey, no big deal. It’s an honour to be working on a Lion of Voltron!” Br’tova shook his tail tips out, preening slightly. “Repairs have been made. We had some ore saved, and she’s back to full health.”

“You guys... just have some extra ore?” Lance asked. 

“It’s not hard to find if you search the right areas.” Br’tova smirked. “She will be operational in another two quintants, nicely.” 

“That’s awesome. Thank you.” Lance repeated, wondering how Voltron would be changed by more transdimensional ore. 

“...Hey, don’t look, but Master Sha has his eyes on you.” Br’tova said softly. Lance stepped toward Br’tova as they turned a corner, and Lance caught a glimpse of the master. 

He was thin. Shorter than most. Scales a worn tan. He gave Lance a soft smile, seeming to know that the Paladin was watching him. 

Lance didn’t know if he liked the older one yet or not.

The next quintant, Lance got up at the same time. 

Cov’rn was already outside waiting for Lance, his rifle beside him. “Brought your Bayard thing?”

“Of course.” Lance chuckled, holding it up. 

This time, there were moving targets, lots of sharp motions and jumping around. That was how Lance was used to doing it, all his warrior life.

Nearby, Master Sha sat, staring at them softly. His eyes seemed oddly kind, appraising.

Lance kicked off his front foot, spinning all the way around, and the final shot took out the last target. 

“R’ik. I’m nowhere near that good.” Cov’rn groaned softly. 

“Yeah, well... It’s just practice. You’re very good!” Lance smiled. 

It was a few vargas of practice before Tor’lak came out and lined them up, starting to train again. 

Lance was starting to understand the motions that Ru’al could do with her blade, and made his adjustments accordingly. However, that day he was fighting Ju’rak, who was another longsword fighter. 

The Pilot was fast. Lightning quick, but he lacked the battle strength that was required to take the hits. 

Using that weakness to box him in, keep him contained and off his balance, Lance ignored Ju’rak glaring him down. “Lay off!” He huffed. “Callin’ it.”

“You’ve gotta pull up a bit, your tip points down. Keep your stance.” Lance said. 

“...I can do that.” Ju’rak grinned. 

“Lance! Switch with Ques! Against Tiap!” Tor’lak called. 

With another sigh, Lance trotted off to go work with Tiap.

Later, he noticed Ques staring at Ru’al with a sort of... something in her eyes. It kind of reminded him of how Keith looked, when he didn’t know Lance was looking.

“You should kiss her one of these days.” Cov’rn told Ques. 

Ques hit his arm.

That evening, the group were all sat together, joking as Lance simply observed them from the next table, when Master Sha stepped up. “May I sit?” He said in a cool, soft tone.

“Uh, yeah.” Lance nodded to the seat. “Go ahead.”

Sha smiled, and sat down across from him, robes draping over the seat. He seemed slightly out of place, in the sharp, angular building. A B’hra with soft edges, grey robe, and pale scales. “Paladin, you’ve shown me much about yourself these days.”

“Uh... thanks?” Lance winced slightly. He wasn’t sure if that was a compliment. 

“I promise you, that was a compliment.” Sha chuckled. 

Lance laughed slightly as well. “Oh, well, thanks.”

Sha hummed, dipping his head. “...Paladin, I wish to extend you an offer. I understand that you plan on leaving us within the movement, yes?”

“Yes, I... Do.” Lance sighed. He didn’t really want to, but he had to. He wanted to get back to his own team. 

“Well.” Sha nodded, sipping on whatever tea-like drink he had. “...I’d like to give you the opportunity of crafting a Shinkanjen’shi-arva blade.”

Lance went silent. “...Me? But I’m-“

“A being of prowess, capability, and honour.” Sha smiled. “...You look like you could use a smaller, blade weapon, that fits your quick skill set.”

“...what about-“

“In addition to, Paladin.” Sha purred, like he knew exactly why Lance was rejecting this. 

He considered. On one hand, it was an honour to be assessed for this. On the other... he didn’t want to take it from one of the Pilots.

“Oh, if you are feeling guilty, don’t.” Sha comforted, reaching a hand out of his robes to place something on the table. “They are not ready yet. One day, but not yet.” 

“...oh, uh...” 

Sha slid a small, coin-like piece to Lance. “Let me know, if you ever are ready.”

Then he walked off. 

Lance picked up the coin, staring at it’s engraved surface, which was when Ju’rak plopped down with him. “Hey Lance, have you ever- holy r’ik! That’s a Master’s coin!” He exclaimed, staring. 

Ru’al immediately glanced over. “What?” She blinked at it, then glanced down to her own knife. “...I received one of those the day they offered me a Shinkanjen’shi-arva blade too.”

“ didn’t accept?” Lance asked her softly. 

Shaking her head, Ru’al’s hand fell to her hip, resting on the grip. “Not at first. I didn’t think I had earned it.”

Turning the coin over in his hands, Lance gently nodded to Ru’al. “...Yeah.” He murmured softly. 

“If it makes you feel better, I think you should take it.” Ru’al said. “’ll... be neat, for you to carry our tradition.”

Lance dipped his head, staring at the engraving of a fire. It seemed just a tad past ‘engraving’ and a lot more lifelike, a campfire on a summer night.

Finding Sha was the hard part. 

He practiced sniping with Cov’rn in the morning, then hand to hand training with Ques and blade training with Ru’al before he finally caught sight of Sha again. 

After his spar with Ru’al, he nodded to her, and jogged over. “Master Sha.” Lance said as he stepped closer to the older B’hra. “...I’ve considered your offer. I’d... like to accept.”

Sha smiled like he was half his age, tail tips twitching. “Then Lance, keep that coin. Ask Ru’al to fly you to my house an hour before sunset.”

He nodded. He could do that. 

With a quick, respectful dip of his head, Lance went back to training. 

Flying in Red wasn’t like flying with Ru’al and Saja. Saja’s body might’ve felt warm like Red’s, but the muscles that shifted under her hide felt so... powerful. It was a living, breathing creature that was currently flying him miles above the city. 

Ascua kept pace beside Saja, making a soft cry every few flaps. Saja responded with a rumble, and it seemed to become a call-response game between them as Saja brought them to a stop before a large, high rock wall that surrounded a small house. Within the wall seemed to be a... short cliff, with steps on either side. 

Landing beside a large pair of double doors, Saja settled down, shoulders shifting as her upper body hit the ground. “This is Sha’s house. I’ll see you in... a while.” Ru’al smiled. 

Lance hopped off the big wyvern, and held out an arm for Ascua. She hit his arm, then sat on his shoulder as he knocked on the door. 

It didn’t take that long for Lance to be answered. He was greeted by a large, dark green B’hra, who didn’t seem to pay much attention to him.

“Do you come bearing proof?” He asked in a bored tone.

Lance blinked. “Uh, proof... so... what kind of...” He paused. “Oh!” And finally, pulled out the coin that Sha had given him. 

The green B’hra took a long look, and finally, opened the door fully, showing Lance through. 

The courtyard was bright. Stone walls and brick flooring with moss faintly growing between the pieces, open air and rocks spread neatly, like a garden. 

Sitting at the foot of the small drop, was a massive navy and gold D’haku. His eyes were dark, almost black, but the grain was easy to see when she gave him a second look. His eyes were green

He glared slightly at Lance, huffing lightly as the Paladin walked over to him, offering a hand. The big navy D’haku sniffed him, then allowed Lance to run the hand over his head.

“I see that you’ve met Tyro.” Sha said, lightly stepping down the stairs. “He’s a bit of a grumpy old man.” 

“He’s ok.” Lance said, still gently petting the D’haku.

Sha noticed, and abruptly paused. “...You seem to get along quite well with them. All of them.” 

“Uh, I guess?” Lance chuckled, gently petting down Tyro’s jawline. “I don’t know. I’ve only met two of them.” 

“Not true.” Sha purred, leaning on the wall. “I know you rescued those in the capture Galra ship.” He chuckled, gently easing off the wall. “There are few who could command an Etamain like Saja, and fewer who could do it on first contact.”

“...Etamain?” Lance asked, gently stepping away from Tyro. 

Sha nodded as he led Lance toward a workshop. “Some breedings of D’haku are stronger. Significantly.” He hummed. “They grow larger, and hold command position in families and packs.” 

“And Saja is one of these?” Lance asked as Sha showed him into the building. 

“Yes she is. And still rather young at that.” Sha smiled, turning on the lights in the warehouse. 

Lance, temporarily blinded by the lights, turned to Sha. “She’s young?”

“She’s only about fifteen doboshes.” Sha said clearly, walking to a table. “Follow me.” 

“That’s young?” Lance asked, even as he followed Sha toward the table. “Ok, so... what next?”

“Paladin, you ask many questions.” Sha chuckled. “But, your first step is fairly simple. You must choose your materials.” He said, laying out various items on the table. 

Hammers, pins, glue... the items just seemed to spread across the table. After that, came several ingots of a dull, pale brown material. “...what’s this?” Lance asked, picking up an ingot of it. It was surprisingly light.

“That, is Ramnan metal.” Sha smiled, gently pushing Lance’s hand back down to the ground. 

Lance turned to sharp, obsidian black metal ingots instead. “...Are these... a different kind of Ramnan metal?” 

“No.” Sha chuckled. “That is Branin. What our planet was named for, long ago.” He smiled. “Branin metal is... strong, almost unbreakable. Ramnan has a tendency to shatter if it’s pushed too hard.” 

“So you combine it with Branin.” Lance realized. “And that’s what creates the alloy!” 

“Exactly.” Sha smiled gently. “Now, there are many questions you must ask involving your Shinkanjen’shi-arva blade. Silver or gold addition, grey, black or brown blade, and what type of wood to use for the handle.” He lay a sheet of paper on the table. 

Models were written on the table, displaying width, type of wood, grey or brown blades...

“Uh...” Lance leaned forward, staring at the models. “The silver is better, as is the black blade.” He chuckled, looking over the wood choices. “Why can’t tylo wood be used?” Lance asked.

“It’s too light. Denser woods are better. The denser you can get, the better.” 

Lance considered that. 

“Ascua.” He said, turning to the cat. “Go to Red, and get the Corvan wood. The core.” He made the shape of it with his hands. 

It took Ascua a few moments to consider what he was saying, then she turned and launched out the window. 

“Just wait. She’s getting a really weird piece of wood I received from another planet.” Lance said. 

“Alright...” Sha smiled, chuckling.

A little over half a varga later, Ascua swooped back in, holding the Corvan wood core. “Perfect.” Lance smiled at her, taking it, and then handing it to Sha.

Sha’s eyes went wide. “This material is fascinating. It is wood, but so much denser than normal.” He said coolly. “...this will be perfect. We will make you a Shinkanjen’shi-arva unlike any other!”

The first step, Lance learned, was heating. 

Tyro lit the fire in the forge with a much smaller Tova blast that had torn through the ships when Lance had fought the Galra. 

After that, it was up to Lance. 

To get a black coloured blade, also known as ‘shadowshift’, there needed to be more Ramnan metal in the alloy. Grey was equal, called ‘stormshift’, and brown was more Branin metal than Ramnan, called ‘mountainshift’.

Sha’s own blade, a striking, almost coppery thing, was a mountainshift. 

Through that night, without rest, Lance ensured the fire kept going. Sha stayed with him, told him what to do, but gave him no time to think on if he could. He simply pushed Lance for every inch he was worth. 

It was hours before Sha nodded, and took the melted alloy free of the forge, sprinkling some unidentified, glittering substance over the liquid metal. 

Then he poured it out, slowly filling a curving, brilliant mold. The knife. 

“Now.” Sha said, waiting for it to harden enough to remove from the mold. He handed Lance a hammer, and a pair of pincers. 

With instruction, Lance pounded the metal into it’s proper shape over a crystal-looking anvil. The metal, previously dark, started turning brighter as it got colder, as Lance pounded it into shape. As it formed up, it was brilliant. It was sharp. 

They heated it again. It glowed brighter, turning a pale blue as it was warmed. 

“Douse it.” Sha ordered. The Paladin obeyed.

Lance carefully wiped off his brow, slamming the hammer back into the metal yet again. Over and over, exhaustingly. 

It was bitter work, seemingly endless, to shape and adjust the metal as it was meant to be. The crystal anvil adjusted the colour. Adjusted the sensation. Adjusted the motion and power. 

He could feel the weight of the blade, each time he hit it, heated it, doused it. It’s tension, it’s strength. 

It started resisting. Each time, each impact, he could feel the strength of the metal. 

It was unlike Earth metals, that could only be heat treated once. 

“Very good, Lance. Now, we need to create the pins for the handles.” 

Lance took the nail-like thing, and punched holes where Sha instructed. Each hit, and through it went. 

They sawed apart the wood piece, building the handles. Each side had to be the same thickness, the same length. 

They checked and double checked the positions, before pounding the holes through the wood. Then the wood needed to be heat treated. 

When the pieces were assembled, ready for final marking, Sha pulled Lance toward the blade and Tyro. “ comes the most vital step, of yourself and the blade. The final cooling.”

“...the final cooling?” Lance asked softly. 

“Yes.” Sha handed Lance a small knife, little more than a very sharp penknife, and stepped in front of the sword. “...Ramnan alloy will not heat treat unless with a particular substance.”

“...what substance?” Lance asked slowly. 

“Blood.” Sha murmured. “Use the knife, Lance. Cut open a place of your choosing, and wet the blade.”

Tyro blasted the blade, making it glow blue again with the power of his slow-burning white Tova. 

Lance chose the back of his arm. It would prevent major damage, as he cut a good three inches open, blood streaming down his fingers. The scent when it hit the hot metal was acrid and stung his nose, but he didn’t stop. Sha wiped the blood across the knife, and then flipped it over, so Lance could do the same on the other side. 

After that, he picked it up using the tongs... and dragged the tip across the wound Lance had left in his own arm. The cauterization quickly quelled the flow of blood, though Lance hissed in pain, gripping the table with his other hand. 

“Lance. Go to the house.” Sha instructed.

“Ok. What should I get?” Lance said, gently folding his arm to his chest. 

“Some rest. On the second floor, you will find a bed. From here, I shall finish your weapon, and present it.” Sha said with a soft smile. 

Lance opened his mouth to argue, but a hard look from Tyro turned him down. He turned, called Ascua, and walked out. 

The sun was setting. Haven’t been here that long. Felt like longer.

Lance’s head hit the pillow, and he forgot to care about anything for a while.

He woke up to Ascua nosing his face, growling and purring, batting him, before he managed to stand and follow the insistent cat. 

“I promise, I’ll feed-“

Then he saw Tyro and Sha standing in the yard. 

“Paladin Lance, of Voltron.” Sha began, holding a leather sheath with a chain belt in front of him. “You may not be of this planet, but you are of the same blood and breed that we are. The survivors, the explorers, the lonely. It has made you stronger than you were, and given you desire to return to your team.”

Lance blinked, words sinking in. 

“You have forged proof of this, and it shines with your blood.” Sha stated, putting a hand on the hilt of the blade. “And thus, with this knife,” freed of the sheath in a flourish, the blade’s sides gleamed with blue and red undershine, glittering through the silver-white as it was exposed to light. “I mark you, Paladin Lance. I mark you an Arva! May this blade prove, to any who meet you, that you are...” He sheathed it, then offered the blade to Lance, to take. “One of us.”

Lance’s hand fell over it’s handle, tightening, before he pulled it out. The smooth noise it made was effortless, and it felt perfect in his hand. It was balanced. So perfectly balanced. The Corvan wood gleamed with a deep golden base, distinct lines of pink, blue and red-orange shining. Lance grinned at it, feeling the hum of power in the metal. 

“ Ru’al. She’ll tell you what is going to be next.” 

Lance smiled, then, softly, bowed. 

“Thank you.”

Sha chuckled. “It is my duty, to show the next generation.”

Saja alone was waiting for him, with a note slid into her collar that read ‘gone back for training. You know how to fly’. Lance fortunately, did know how to fly, and with the Shin’shi blade tied to his side, he pushed her forward, into the air. 

It was terrifying. He had flown her for all of a few doboshes, but yet she seemed to give him a hand. When the hangar came into view and Lance found his landing spot and brought her down, he found Ru’al waiting for him. 

She said nothing as he got off, thanking Saja for the ride, and spoke when he walked over. “ You’ve been gone more than a quintant. I want to see it.” 

Lance blinked. Ok. So maybe it has been that long. He thought, before pulling out the blade and handing it to Ru’al. 

“’s lovely.” Ru’al said after examining it. “A little heavier than mine, but because of the properties, it should be no issue. Tomorrow, at 06000 sharp, you report to me. I’ll teach you to use it.” 

As he put the blade back, Lance nodded, then looked around. “How was the day?”

“Well, the Raptors, and Red, are done.” Ru’al smiled. “So, another few days of adjustments... and you’re free to leave.”

Lance figured she sounded slightly regretful about that, but he didn’t mention it. “So, uh... well, when do we start testing?”

“Tomorrow at 10100. We’ll be up working on your blade skills.” Ru’al smirked. She seemed to take a sort of perverse pleasure in training hard enough to hurt. 

“Sounds awesome.” Lance grinned. 

There was a pause. 

“Now go get a shower in and something to eat, Chi’var.” Ru’al muttered, turning away as he laughed. 

Lance learned with the blade quickly, perhaps because the blade was so easy to use. 

It moved with his body, not the other way around. It felt like it could loop around him, a hoola-hoop but with sharp edges. 

They didn’t even notice that the sun had fully risen and that the base was becoming active until the hangar bay doors opened, shining light on their beasts. 

“Hey. Let’s go get ready.” Ru’al purred, leading him back into the base. Lance sheathed his Shin’shi, and followed.

When they were both dressed and ready, they met the other Pilots in the waiting area, waiting for Br’tova to come and give them direction. It was Tor’lak though, who appeared. “Into your Raptors! No takeoff yet.”

The scramble to get into his Lion was followed by everyone else’s getting into their Raptors. He only paused to note that her jawline was different, as were her teeth. Then he glanced down, and noted a difference in her paws. Her claws were still fixed, but longer.

Red purred the instant Lance was within her again, her mental cat self nuzzling into him. “I missed you too, girl.” Lance chuckled. As they walked, he noticed she was oddly... smooth. Almost too smooth. Like someone had oiled all her joints. 

She felt it too, and liked it.

“Alright, hello hello, Pilots and Paladin!” Br’tova said in their comms as they stepped into the light. Nearby was a hovering plane, pale grey in colour, with a wide front. Not for actual spaceflight. “Welcome to testing phase.”

“Good to be here.” Ques purred. 

“Lance, that’s the on-deck ship.” Cov’rn said softly.

“Yeah yeah.” Br’tova chuckled. “Alright, now, I want Grey forward first.”

The biggest Raptor shifted his weight, then slid out of their lineup, going to his launchpad. “Alright.” Ru’al said as Grey settled into waiting. 

“Very nice, we’re looking very smooth on the joint and connection front.” Br’tova hummed. “Can you give me a complete motion check?” 

“Yes sir.” Ru’al purred, and immediately Grey shook himself out like a dog, his huge plates of metal shuffling to lay flat again, arms stretching out as his claws hooked viciously, tail swinging and jaw clacking, legs lifting and shifting in all directions. “Systems optimal.”

“Now that is what I want to hear! Alright... Can you give me a base fire on those thrusters?” 

Like the pre-fire of a rocket, Grey’s feet-jets lit up, the tarmac below taking it. Whatever it was made of, the Garrison needs. Lance thought. 

“Perfect. So far, we’re steady, power output perfect, no damage. Ru’al, can you do me a favour babe?” Br’tova said with a smirk.


“Can you put Grey up to low flying power? Maybe... 40 percent?” Br’tova asked. 

There was a pause as Grey shuffled. “I can do that.”

“Spectacular, alright, if you could go in three... two... one... Launch.”

Several things happened at once. 

Ru’al yelped into her headset, Grey’s thrusters fired far more than she expected, and the Raptor himself flipped head over heels, back slamming into the dirt in a completely spectacular arc. 

There were immediate cries of ‘whoa’ and concern from the other Pilots and flight instructors on-deck.

“Ru’al, are you alright?!” Tor’lak demanded.

The Pilot in question coughed several times as Grey slowly made his way to his feet. “Yeah.” She groaned roughly. “We’re good. Power output is... more than expected.”

Everyone chuckled as Grey got back up, shook himself off, and went back to the launchpad. 

“Alright, are you good to try that again?” Br’tova said. “Maybe, about...15 percent?”

“Got it.” Ru’al nodded as Grey’s thrusters hummed against the ground. 

“Three... two... one... launch.” 

Grey’s tail swung out as his feet lifted from the tarmac, Ru’al adjusting him as they stayed a solid ten feet off the ground. 

“How are we doing there, Ru’al?” Tor’lak asked, a little worried. 

There was a pause. “Much better, Chief. The thrusters are reacting much faster and smoother, and Grey feels a lot better for it.”

Cheers rang up from the on-deck crew, even through Br’tova’s instructions to bring it down, and go back to lineup. “Alright, let’s try the rest of you. Orange, Tan, and Indigo, up.” He ordered. “Orange, keep it at 10 percent, you’re lighter. Tan, Indigo, 15. Three... two... one... Launch.”

They all lifted off seamlessly, Cov’rn even adjusting his angle so that Orange skated to the side slightly. “This is so great! He’s so smooth!”

“She’s launching without any issue, Chief.” Ques purred. “Tan is a go.”

“Indigo as well.” Wor’av chuckled. “No problems so far.”

“Bring it in then.” Br’tova instructed. “Crimson, Teal, Neon, up.” 

They stepped forward, and they too went without any issue. 

“Red, up.” 

Red walked proudly onto the field, standing on a launchpad. “Ready.” Lance said, fingers playing over the handles of the sticks.

“Ok, can you give me... Maybe 20% thrust, Lance? Three... two... one... Launch.”

Red went into the air without issue, faster and higher than Lance had felt her go before at that power. He shifted, getting their balance back under them, before hovering. “No issues. More power though.” He chuckled. 

The Lion was preening. 

“Very good. Bring it down, let’s head out to the field.” Tor’lak instructed, and Grey turned, starting a run East. 

The others followed fairly effortlessly, even Red. The Raptors may have had longer stride length, but Red could keep up. Orange ran over some obstacles using his front paws too, matching Red’s pace for a run on four paws. 

When they got to a wide open, rather open space, the on-deck plane floating nearby, Tor’lak began again. “Alright. Teal, Orange... Think you can give us some experimentation, maybe a spar?”

The laser aspects of their claws vanished abruptly, leaving just the spaces they’d fill in, and Orange rose from the ground almost effortlessly, Cov’rn tuning his jets to a good height. 

”Spar?” Lance muttered, confused, off comm. What the hell does that mean? Right now?

Which was when Orange shot forward with a scream, hitting Teal with his jets firing behind him. 

Teal made an equal shriek, before his back feet found Orange’s underbelly and threw the other Raptor past the on-deck plane. 

The other Raptors and Red all scrambled back as Teal shot forward, propelled by his new thrusters. 

“What the hell is going on..?” Lance whispered. 

“This is a spar, Lance.” Ru’al said coolly. 

“The Raptors are built for air to air combat, but they’re much more effective ground ship combatants, places they can land and dig claws in.” Wor’av informed. 

“In a way, they’re designed for fighting things like Voltron.” Ru’al sighed sadly. “...They were first designed to protect us if enemies got wind of Voltron’s design, and built their own.”

“...Huh.” Lance nodded. Watching Teal and Orange go at it was impressive. There was a lot more physical contact than the Lions normally did, more claws and because their jaws were capable of opening, they could bite on a target. They didn’t much though, as tearing each other apart was a high risk. If only we had them when fighting the Robeasts. He thought.

“Alright, Teal, Orange, that’s good!” Tor’lak called to them, and they separated after a few seconds of angered growling. “I want you group out here training every day with the new thrusters and weapons. Red, Grey! Up!”

Red was moving before Lance could remember he had no idea how to fight like this. 

“It’s ok. I’ll show you.” Ru’al comforted. 

She showed him with no small amount of force, what to do where. How to plant body weight to throw an opponent around, how to move... It was all interesting. 

Lance had quintants of it.

“Your exit point is here, you can take this route.” Ru’al said between spars, as they stared at a map. Crimson and Neon were duking it out powerfully, but it looked almost like playfighting after a while.

“What about through there?” Lance gestured over one area. “Why not there?”

“That’s the Hewin Zone. It’s very dangerous, but would cut a full Phoeb off.” Ru’al murmured. 

“What would I need for it?”

The sun was setting.

The sun was setting, Red was packed.

The sun was setting, Red was packed, and there were people outside to see him off.

He didn’t want to leave. 

Red and the Raptors had been training for another four quintants, and Lance had too. His armor was repaired, Red repainted, and he had food for several Phoebs. 

That, and he had a course. 

As he stood in Red’s jaw, waving, the Pilots waved back. 

“DON’T WIN THE WAR WITHOUT US!” Cov’rn screamed at him. 

“THEN GET OUT FAST!” Lance called in return. His helmet was under his arm, and the whole Pilot’s team had insisted that they help him put on the armor. 

It had felt for a moment, like the Castle. 

I’ll be home soon. He told his team, even as he waved to the Pilots. 

Then, he noticed how Ques was standing, and pointed at Ru’al. Ques took a moment to take the hint, but gave him two thumbs up. She’d do something.

Red’s mouth shut as Lance sat in the helm, Ascua growling softly in regret. She had fun too. 

“Sorry babe.” He murmured, wiping his eyes. He didn’t want to be alone again. 

Then Grey, in the hangar, stood up. 

He sucked in air, or seemed to, and made an echoing howl, eyes gleaming. The others followed suit, and Red roared. 

Then with a final goodbye, Red’s new jets fired, and they lunged into empty, empty space. 

Lance was reassured by the fact that nobody but Red and Ascua would see him cry.


This is the B'hra and D'haku! I used Ru'al and Saja as the models! Their horns can vary in size, curvature, and angle. 

And this is the Raptor ships! Their design is based a bit off the Tek Raptor from ARK: Survival Evolved and a bit my own head. I chose Tan because Tan is the average one. Grey is bigger with a longer lower leg-ankle section, and Neon has longer legs in general. Orange's forelimbs are longer too. 


Chapter Text

Bored wasn’t a good feeling.

Not while hurtling through space at more knots than most spaceships from Earth would be dreaming of.

Bored with a knife was an even worse idea, which probably explained his extremely slow movements. “Oh, I have... all... my... fingers... The knife goes chop, chop, chop...”

It was practice. Because yeah sure, the Shin’shi wasn’t supposed to be a toy but it was going to be. “An’ if I miss the spaces then my fingers will come off...”

Red said nothing as he continued playing a game with it, skillful hands now used to working with the Shin’shi knife.

It moved near effortlessly, and Lance was getting faster. Slowly, steadily, but he was getting faster. “I can practice more another day too.” He murmured.

He put his knife back into it’s sheath.

Lance sat at the desk, sighing. “Log uh... is it 20? Or 21. It’s 21?” He settled neatly, hand sipping his jacket up properly. “It’s kinda cold in this area of Sector Space.” He chuckled. “Ru’al warned me about this. We’ve had to talk lots about navigating in this place. Apparently, it’s hell to go through.”

He paused, then crossed his arms behind him and pulled down slightly. His spine made a series of crackles that made him groan in satisfaction.

“Alright, so, we’ve got to head through a few sections that are really hard. The initial starting point is about two phoebs.” Lance said softly. It sounded worse out loud. “The second point is where we enter a place called the Hewin zone, and that’s gonna be some fucked up shit.” He chuckled. “Stay awake for two straight quintants. Technically, that’s about...” Taking a second to calculate, he nodded. “53 hours. Long time to be awake but it’ll shave a full phoeb off the journey.”

Ascua made a ‘mow’ noise, so Lance got her some food. “Anyway. Once we’re through the Hewin zone, we’ll go straight for the exit. It’ll be another... 6 phoebs still.” He murmured, settling back and tapping his fingers. “...and a few Pylons, but none saying anything about inhabited planets. The most advanced planet in this place is T’branin.” He sighed.

There was quiet for a while, as Lance got up again to lean on the seat, staring into space. Ascua had claimed his spot.

“...So.” Lance continued. “...I think I am going to get back to it.” He turned around. “Signing off.”

“Oh, I have all my fingers... the knife goes chop chop chop... and if I miss the spaces then my fingers will come off, and if I hit my fingers... the blood will soon come out... but all the same I play this ga- shit.”

Lance sucked a finger as they continued through the darker part of this area. Space was cold, away from a planet and a star. Even with Red, the Lion of Fire, Lance was still a little cold.

That could’ve been just loneliness taking a different form though.

Ascua rested in her box, watching the distant heavenly bodies as Lance double checked their course.

He was alone.

I shouldn’t’ve stayed on T’branin. Lance thought. then at least I wouldn’t need to relive the lonely thing. 

Loneliness was the worst during the first movement of it. After that?

It just became normal.

“Oh, I have all my fingers... the knife goes chop chop chop... and if I miss the spaces then my fingers will come off, and if I hit my fingers... the blood will soon come out... but all the same I play this game ‘cause that’s what it’s all about, oh chop chop chop chop chop chop chop I’m picking up the speed, and if I hit my hand well then my hand will start to bleed. No, you can't use a pencil. You can not use a pen. The only way is with a knife, when danger is your fr-fuck!”

One movement became three by the time that anything fun happened.

Particularly, a Galra ship. Alone, otherwise unguarded, as Lance crept up on it, then boarded with both his Shin’shi and Bayard. It was dangerous, to sneak onto a Galra craft, but Lance was ready for it.

His Shin’shi was at it’s side, blade black in the low light. In the artificial gravity, it felt light and easy to handle.

When the first guard came around the corner, his lifeblood was spattered across the wall before his companion was finished his sentence, and then Lance attacked him too.

Stepping over the corpses, Lance moved on.

Each patrol he came across was disposed of with the cover of silence, and the swift, sharp motions he had learned.

It wasn’t until he sixth patrol was killed when the alarm actually event off.

“About damn time.” Lance muttered, sliding into a gap in the wall just as a pair came down the hall. The one of them though, had good reaction time.

He twisted, and caught Lance across the jaw with a sharp, quick cut. His companion yelped as Lance spun away, the impact having snapped his neck to the side. The Galra stood, silent, not quite sure what to expect.

Lance stood up slowly, wiped the blood from his jaw, and flicked his fingers away. “That.” He spat, eyes slowly tracing up to the Galra’s face, his opponent’s eyes widening in primal terror. “Was a mistake.” He snarled viciously.

Patrol seven was gone within seconds.

Lance put his Shin’shi away, and pulled out his sword. It would be more striking than the dark blade that nobody saw. When a patrol rounded the corner, Lance hooked an arm under the first Galra’s elbow, between him and his gun, in an armlock. “Put the gun down, or I break this joint.”

The other Galra stared for a second too long.

“Fair enough.” And lance snapped his elbow, then his arm, then kicked him to the ground and brought out his blaster. When target one was dead, he leveled it on the second guy’s nose. “Now... where’s your leader?”

The sword slammed through the spaces between the doors with little pushing as Lance pressed some weight into it, testing angles and motions...

Finally, he found it.

Shoving the door open far enough to slide through, Lance stood in the entrance of the huge, central command room, greeted by astonished silence.

“Now.” His voice rang out clearly as the Commander stepped away from the helm, slightly toward him, but then froze at his sharp glare. “This can go two ways.” He said coolly, the sound hard as his face. “The easy way, or the hard way.”

What was that thing Shiro and Keith were always saying? Lance thought.

“The easy way is you drop your weapons and I drop you at a rock with a communicator, and we go our separate ways.” He stated.

Several guns levelled at him just as he remembered. Oh yeah. He mentally nodded as he put both hands on the grip of his longsword, pulling it back to his right hip. Patience yields focus.

He shot forward effortlessly, and thrust the blade forward and up.

The crunch of metal then bone vibrated through the handle as Lance plunged it deep through the commander’s chest, the short, thin Galra’s eyes going wide with a choke as Lance stared back at him, eyes blank and faintly glaring.

For a moment they stood in a deadly tableau, the Galra’s feet barely touching the ground as the Paladin’s sword stuck out his back, the hilt the only reason that Lance’s hand wasn’t through his chest.

In the same fluid motion, Lance shoved the body off his blade and swept it to the side, the commander hitting the ground with a final thump as blood dripped lazily from the edge of Lance’s glistening sword.

“...I’m going to ask again.” Lance said, loudly enough for everyone to hear.

The guns hit the ground before Lance had time to repeat the terms.

He left them on a meteor, threw a communicator at the second in command’s feet. Then he took the ship, guided it away, and got Red to blow it to shit.

Lance didn’t look back when he left the smoking debris and stranded Galra behind.

“Oh, I have all my fingers. The knife goes chop chop chop. And if I miss the spaces then my fingers will come off, and if I hit my fingers. The blood will soon come out. But all the same I play this game ‘cause that’s what it’s all about, oh chop chop chop chop chop chop chop I’m picking up the speed, and if I hit my hand well then my hand will start to bleed. No, you can't use a pencil. You can not use a pen. The only way is with a knife, when danger is your friend. And some may call it stupid, some may call it dumb. But all the same we play this game because it's so damn fun, oh chop chop chop chop chop chop chop I’m picking up the- Missed the beat, puta.”


“Log 23, Lance McClain Voltron Red Paladin.” Lance said in the same breath, lazily flipping his Bayard around his hand. “It’s just starting phoeb two,” He gently touched the bandage he had stuck to the corner of his jaw. The Galra’s claws had cut deep, and it had probably left another scar.

“Uh, things are ok. Got another Galra ship.” He shrugged, gripping his Bayard’s handle to abruptly stop it’s spinning. “Now it’s all about how fast we can move. For how long, too. Can’t stop too many nights here.” He put down the Bayard and stood up, running a hand over his helmet. He felt so cold.

“...This area is still pretty chilly. Even Red doesn’t like it.” He said, then chuckled. “Hell, I think Ascua’s the only one dealing. She’s covered in fur though, she doesn’t count.”

Ascua made a purr from the corner.

“She’s smug about it too, el cono...” He muttered, sticking his tongue out at her. “Anyway, I’m heading for a little planet called Runei. Last place to stock up before I hit the Hewin zone.” He nodded. “I won’t be recording in there. Gotta push, according to Ru’al.”

With a smirk, and a mild chuckle, Lance turned away. “Signing off.”

What am I gonna do when I get back? He wondered as he ate a piece of the jerky that Cov’rn had given him.

Nothing would go back to how it was. Lance knew that much.

Keith was gone God-knew-where, and Allura was with Lotor. Pidge and Hunk were still his bros, and now he just needed to get back to them.

Allura was beautiful. Allura always had been, but she wasn’t his. And Lance was a lady's man but he wouldn't move in on anyone, not even Lotor. As for Allura, she had Prince Lotor, now Emperor Lotor, who would rule his space-kingdom, and would probably need a princess.

She deserved better than some random kid from Cuba who hit on her within ten seconds of meeting.

Red growled at him. He wasn’t allowed to think bitterly right then, it was dinner time.

“Yeah yeah, so what do you suggest?” Lance asked.


“Me? What about me?”

You. Want. Red said easily. They had gotten better at talking over their time.

“What do I want?” Lance confirmed. At Red’s huff, Lance considered it. “...Well, I mean, I think I’ll still be with Voltron for a while yet, so I guess I want someone who I love.” He said. “Someone who I love, who’ll stay with me, wherever we end up.”

Red growled, questioning.

Lance sighed. “...No. I don’t think Allura’d be happy.”

Which was when something clicked. He liked Allura as a person. Them talking, them being friends, was not something that he wanted to change. Yeah, sure she was sexy, but maybe that was where his brain was making a mistake.

“...So, what do I want.” Lance said out loud.

Someone who I love, who’ll stay with me, wherever we end up. Red reminded him of his own words.

“...Yeah.” Lance nodded, feeling abruptly a little softer. “...You’re right. Thanks.”

Red hummed, but it sounded vaguely like satisfaction and smugness.

They were landed on a meteor nearly two movements later when Lance and Ascua were jolted awake by the meteor shattering in a blast. They lunged away, not willing to fight an unknown opponent, to hide on another meteor to try and get some sleep.

For almost a full movement, they were pursued by some invisible force that kept Lance on his toes, sleeping faintly and keeping watch. It was stressful to both him and Red, and Ascua, who’s long sleeping habits were being interrupted.

He caught a flash of it on quintant seven of the movement.

“There.” Lance snapped to attention, staring at the space it had been, realizing that it had been curving. “Red, you caught that?” He asked, sitting in the pilot’s seat, but keeping Red’s lights off. “...Next pass it makes.” He murmured, feeling Red shift to tension.

When he caught sight of the ship, he lunged forward, Red’s jaw closing on the wingtip, new teeth sinking through the metal effortlessly as she spun, forcing it’s own engine to drive it down, buried nose to rock. Her huge paw took a swipe at the powerful thruster, and it was over. Lance hopped out of Red with his sword at his side.

The cracked cockpit glass slid back to reveal four aliens. One was Galra, but the other three looked some combination of Galra and something else. They seemed terrified as they dropped free of their ruined craft, a sharp, elegant thing, made for hiding in the shadows and lightning quick sneak attacks.

But not fast enough.

Lance tapped his helmet a few times, then gestured for wave 4 signalling.

When they had all adjusted their helmets to it, Lance spoke. “So... You have been following me and Red for nearly a movement. Got a reason?” He asked.

They all shuffled warily, even as Red’s tail lashed. Something that he had noticed after T’branin was how much more Red moved for the sake of moving. She did it like the Raptors, where even when the Pilots weren’t in their cockpits, they would shift on their feet, growl, look at people...

And now, she was standing overtop of Lance, eyes glowing as she glared at the four Galra who they had brought down, tail whipping behind her.

“Look, this can go either I kill you fast, or she,” Lance jabbed a thumb at Red. “can do it slow.” You’ve already cost me sleep and time. I’m going to kill you. 

Red snarled for emphasis.

The full Galra swallowed. “Um... we were... paid, by a fleet, to find you...”

“And you didn’t expect to be yanked out of the fuckin’ sky, did you?” Lance snapped. His patience was worn stunningly thin. Should've killed those fucking Galra when I had the chance...

“...No, sir.”

“Red!” Lance snapped, spinning away. She didn’t require further instruction, a single blast from her mouth-cannon finishing them off. “Alright, fuck it, we’re already behind. Let’s go.” He hissed, sitting down in the pilot’s seat.

As they walked past the ship, getting ready for launch again, Red paused without Lance’s permission, and slammed her foot into the ship, then fired the paw-thruster.

Lance didn’t even object, smirking at the burned, hulking wreck of the ship as they blasted off.

He didn’t sleep that night, but Red slept like a fat, happy cat.

“Log 26. Lance McClain, Voltron Red Paladin.” Lance said, from where he was fixing up his helmet. “We should arrive on Runei within the quintant.” He smiled a bit. He had rested up over the last few weeks, and when nightmares didn’t come, it was actually ok. “After that, it’s right through the Hewin zone.”

He took a deep breath as Red purred in worry.

“The Hewin zone is known for it’s Eldritch beasts, apparently. Hallucinations, you can’t sleep the whole time you’re in there because they’ll steal you.” Lance explained. “...Ru’al said she had been there once. Apparently, it’s just a long strip. You can see the exit once you enter it.” He said with a shrug. “This is the thinnest area, so I’ll pass through and away we go.”

After less than a full quintant of napping, eating and resting on Runei, Lance took Red off, the small orange and gold planet fading behind them. “Alright. Hewin zone...” He murmured, and finally, spotted it.

A strip, hundreds of miles tall or wide, but filled throughout with milky, silvery streaks, meteors and other small debris. It looked a little like a nebula, but fit into a very confined space.

Shaking himself out, Lance petted Ascua gently, then sighed. “...Alright. You ready girl?”

Red growled softly.

“Sweet. Let’s do this.” He nodded, and fired the thrusters as they shot into the smoky region. Lance blinked, and suddenly he could see the end of it. The space where the smoke stopped, and real space began.

Nodding with a smirk, Lance pushed them faster. “Two quintants awake, possibly fighting battles.” He purred, activating the earth timer for 54 hours. “I can do that.”

Lance, just as a precaution, instructed Red not to let him adjust their ending course after about 24 hours. However, after 24 hours, Lance felt unaffected. Still humming softly to himself, still playing his fingers across the seat, and feeling ok. Just to check his cognition, he wrote his name out, played one of the Altean games that Red had downloaded, and generally chilled out.

Ascua got to sleep as much as she liked, since she wasn’t the pilot, but she did stay awake with him for a while.

So far, he hadn’t experienced any of those things that people had warned him about in the Garrison, space insomnia and whatever else. They warned him about coordination deficiencies, but Lance honestly wondered if some of his insomnia-based nights, nightmares loud in his ears, had trained his body for this.

So far, it seemed ok.

He felt buzzed.

He couldn’t stop tapping his foot, and every shadow seemed to jump out at him slightly. He couldn’t honestly decide if the weird Eldritch beast that Ru’al had described was following him yet or not. She had called it ‘Ran’junlankir’ho.’ Lance just called it the Eldritch thing.

Ru’al had said that was a better name.

He got up with a groan, rubbing his eyes as he leaned slightly on the wall. He felt wobbly when he stood, which wasn’t great. “Here we fuckin’... What is that uh...” He knelt down by the storage box and went looking for the food packets. “...Is this jerky?” He asked, squinting at the label, then at the opaque silver packet. His eyes felt like he had rubbed them with salt.

In the end he just stood up and walked back to the seat. Though, he was stopped by Ascua, planting herself at his feet.

“...What’s up?” He asked.

She glared at the food packet in his hand and made a bark.

“Oh! Yeah! Ok..” He muttered, quickly turning around, getting another one and opening it before giving it to her. Before he could forget, he turned away and went to the log station, quickly scribbling down a note on some of the sticky notes that Pidge had left in Red. He was almost out out them.


He stuck it to the front of the seat, right where he could stare at it.

Some part of him recognized that his print was messy. The rest of him didn’t give a shit. He ignored the static-like buzzing in the back of his mind.

It had only been another four hours, but he was certain that there was something outside. He and Red had been stopped for nearly twenty minutes, Lance’s poor coordination having slammed her into fight mode. He was ready for that.

When nothing came out of the darkness, he told himself he was nothing more than dreaming because he was tired, and asked Red to go back to the course, since he couldn’t quite think of where that was.


Lance’s head snapped up. He swore he could’ve heard Keith.


“Red..?” Lance asked warily.

Neither of them could sense anyone else.



That time, Red’s leg creaked and there was something there.

His clock only said 6 hours left, and Red’s ship clock said another three and a half vargas. “Why’s it... why’s it off, Red? Why aren’t they the same?” He asked plaintively, rubbing his face.

She comforted him, and Lance felt oddly happy. Relaxed, warm, safe...

He jolted awake, disoriented, less than a dobosh later. “Fuck... ok, FUCK!” He shouted, rubbing his temples. “Red, ok, thanks babe, thanks, puta madre Dios I’m... I’m losing it.” He bent forward, face buried in his hands.

It was only another varga before Red spun off course, Lance’s hands slamming into the levers, but instinctively. Exhausted but not finished, he whipped around and saw-

The Castle.

The Castle was here.

“...ance!” Keith called from the comms.

Red felt a wave of relief, slamming through Lance as they pushed slightly forward, smiling together. The static got louder.

Lance paused for a second, almost pulling Red back. Wait... what’re they doin’... out here? In hell? Sector Space? Same difference.

Something was wrong.

Then Ascua screamed, hitting Lance’s shoulder and biting his arm. Lance shouted, shoving her off, but when he turned back to the Castle, it was simply a gaping, beaked maw that stared back at him.

Instinct led him where coordination was failing. He missed the first hit, but slammed the Bayard into the slot and raised the fire cannon.

His finger twitched just quick enough.

The beast’s roar was a wail, a howl and a hiss, blended into a cacophony that sounded like a lullaby.

Lance roared in response, as did Red, as they fired again and again, refusing to let this thing win.

When it screeched, retreating, tentacles waving around them as it backed up, Red steered them away from it and jetted back on course, Lance ignoring the disorientation that came with another random blackout.

When they re-emerged into real space, with stars clear and skies silent, black spaces between no longer filled with wispy grey smoke, Lance managed to take hold of Red’s levers and had enough cognizance to steer them down onto a rock a fairly good distance from the Hewin zone.

“Alright, good work.” Lance whispered, petting Ascua with shaking hands. “Good j’b, guys...” He murmured, Bayard slipping from nerveless fingers as he staggered to the bed and flopped into it, Ascua immediately sliding under his arm. “Th’nks for savin’ us.” He whispered to the cat.

She licked his jaw, one wing spread over his shoulder as he fell asleep.

“Log... 27?” Lance yawned, rubbing his face, then a hand through his messy bedhead. “Log 27.” He nodded. “L’nce McClain, of uh... earth... Voltron Red Paladin.” He murmured, leaning slightly on the wall. “...I’m out of the Hewin zone.” Lazily, he glanced toward his Bayard, still on the floor. “I’ve been... asleep for like, 6 vargas. I’m fuckin’...” He muttered, wiping a hand over his face. “I’m fuckin’ wrecked. Christ. This sucks more than uh, when that one fuckin’ ship was chasing me.”

He turned it off without even bothering to sign off, going back to sleep.

He felt a lot better after another 6 vargas unconscious, getting up, thanking Ascua again. Her teeth in his shoulder had shocked him back to what he was already suspecting.

“You’re perfect, my ember.” He kissed her soft forehead as she purred, paws wrapped over his one arm, jawing his thumb. “Dios, saved my life...”

She got jerky treats for that, and more hugs. Then they had to keep going.

Whenever they landed on a planet to stock up, it was a strange sight, not that anyone but Lance, Ascua, Red and the animals of the planet would ever be able to tell it.

Ascua flew high above, letting the sun warm her feathers. She had gotten so much faster than even the other Zeptrins Lance remembered from her homeworld.

The Paladin himself padded across the plains, a bag or some other carrying item over his shoulder, completely at ease.

Beside him, walking slowly but remarkably lightly, Red was, her connection to Lance allowing her the same freedom to walk like Ascua.

It was certainly an odd sight, for the huge figure of Red to walk beside him like a pet cat, while his real pet preformed a slightly more dignified glide over his head.

“Well, Red?” Lance asked from the edge of a warm lake he was resting in as she stared at it, sitting like she normally did in the hangars. “You can come in, you know. The water won’t eat you, you know.” He grinned, flipping over to float in the lake.

Red seemed to consider it as Ascua landed on Lance’s chest, almost forcing him under the water with a laugh. “No, Ascua!” He told her. Then her head snapped to the side, and she abruptly shot toward the beach as fast as her wings would go. “Where are you-?”

Then he saw Red, suspended over the lake with her body extended in a long leap, right before she dropped into it with an almighty splash, wave washing Lance up and over his head for a moment, spitting water. “Yeah!” Lance cheered as she came up, turning toward him with a soft growl. “Whoo! Yeah!!” He put his fists in the air like he was at a soccer game, waving them before slamming his hands back into the water.

He could tell Red wasn’t partial to the liquid, but she was certainly enjoying how much joy she was bringing to him.

Lance spent the next few vargas amusing himself by getting Red to sit still and jumping off her nose, diving into the deep lake.

With the Altean razor, a bit of luck, and some mirror pieces of metal to cut his hair again. It was hard work, but he was getting better at it. It certainly got a certain badass look across.

He also checked on a few of the scars that just seemed scattered over his face. His cut hair also showed off a small scar right up over his forehead and into his hairline. After parting his hair to get a good look at it, he wondered if it was because of one of the crashes.

The jawline one the Galra had given him was healed to a thin white line, and the one on the corner of his lips was... still sharply distinct. The one arching slightly toward his eye where it was cutting through the corner of his right brow was also healing.

Lance peeled off his shirt.

The thin break on his ribs was still scarred, as was the massive, discoloured mark where the explosion had nearly killed him. That felt like ages ago.

But it was the huge burn, running from his navel up to his left collarbone, that made his heart stop.

Carefully, he lay a hand on the burn, starting at it’s thinnest point, running just past his navel, missing it by an inch below, and slowly tracing the growing, massive burn up to his left shoulder. At that point, it was nearly as wide as his outstretched fingers. A little less.

It was discoloured. The B’hra knew how to repair skin and muscle, but they didn’t do skin grafts. Removing skin from one area prevented scales from growing. As a result, it was pale. Faint, compared to the rest of his skin.

Lance dropped his hand and stepped back from his makeshift mirror.

There were thinner, less noticeable scars now, on his arms. Just general marks that wouldn’t be easily seen.

But this was him now.

Lance sighed, and slumped slightly.

“...So much for space making me look like a Greek god, huh, Red?” He murmured softly, sliding back on his shirt.

Red hummed, sadly.

“Well, let’s get back to it.” He muttered, sliding his jacket on and pulling it straight. “We’ve got a lot of ground to cover.”

Chapter Text

“I wanna hold ‘em like they do in Texas- fuck.” Lance muttered, hand thrown over his face. “Now I’m even forgetting lyrics.” He sighed, shuffling into his blanket a bit more. “So, what? Are we looking at another... uh...” He flicked on the map. “Huh.” He murmured, scrolling through his path. It seemed like majorly plain flighting now, a little meteor dodging, one planet, and then he was at the edge.

“...Hey Red.” Lance said slowly. “...Can you uh...” Staring at the map, he ran a hand up it’s side. “Light up Rinnal.”

It was so far, high up, in the northwest corner of the map.


It was closer to centre, and farther south.


West past the centre, south.

“...And we’re here.” Lance dragged his finger down, almost straight to the dot that blinked with their location. “...Red, can you... show our travel path?”

The winding, wobbly path that traced from Rinnal, through several dozen planets and rocks to where he was now was the result of...

“How long?”

One deca-phoeb, five phoebs and four movements, they had spent in Sector Space.

Twenty one months.

For a while, he just stared at the results.

He had another two phoebs of travel.

Silently, and with tension he didn’t know he had, he curled into a ball with his back on the chair, and cried.

“My, ghost, where’d you go?” Lance hummed as he went through the spar, effortlessly shifting his stance and movements to match the pace. He was trying to make this one switch-turn right. “I can’t find you in the body sleepin’ next to me...” He murmured, finally shifting into the proper stance.

His feet fell perfectly aligned with his movement, and for a moment, his heart hummed. “...There.” He whispered, settling out. “...I got it.”

Red purred.

“...We’re ready for whatever the outside has to throw at us.” Lance said as he gently rubbed her nose.

There was almost nothing here now. Just Lance, with his cat and his other cat, on rocks. Sometimes, he’d let Red go at a meteor for no reason other than training, let her smash it to pieces with whatever weapons she chose.

Which just meant a lot of time with Lance, and his thoughts.

“So like, there’s gotta be someone out there for me, right?” Lance muttered with a smirk. “You can see into my head Red. What’s my future, c’mon...”

Red rolled her eyes with a huff.

“Don’t be like that, sweetheart!” He laughed. Red chuffed slightly as he pushed forward, diving under a large chunk without issue. Navigating in this meteor pit was a mess, but he was willing. “Or what, is it unclear?”

The Lion only made a growl, bumping up slightly against a smaller meteor.

“Fair enough. So, what are we gonna do when we get back? Think Keith’s home too?” Lance asked. He felt a little... Hopeful. Something he hadn’t let himself feel since landing in Sector Space. “That’d be nice. See him again, huh?”

Red chuckled, and agreed, but then a different feeling came about. Possessiveness. Over Lance.

I had another. Now, my Paladin is you. 

He blinked. “...Thanks.” He said softly, running a hand over her dashboard. She purred.

Ascua made a soft cry, like a joyful howl. Red growled and then roared along with her.

With a smile, Lance took a look inside himself and found that he didn’t miss Blue. Not anymore. Blue had Allura, and Allura was a great pilot.

If you can hear me Blue? Lance thought out to her. ...Thanks. For choosing Allura. 

Lance lay on the meteoroid, staring up at Red, who had settled into that nice cat-loaf shape with him between her paws. It had been a rough day, and Lance felt oddly pained, in his chest.

“...What if they really didn’t need me?” He asked softly. “...What if I really was just the seventh wheel?”

Red told him that was absurd. Not one without us. 

He knew what she meant. Voltron couldn’t function without it’s right arm.

“What if they’re dead?”

Falling oddly silent, Red’s head turned away from him. She seemed just as bitter as he was.

Neither of them wanted to think of a world where his teammates, his family, were gone.

He stepped up to the log table, hand reaching out to touch the camera, when he stilled. He didn’t feel the necessity anymore.

Did his teammates even know he lived? Had they ever gotten one of his logs?

His hand fell to the table, then his head did. “...This place is Hell.” He muttered. Hell with a few good places. But still Hell. 

When Red stomped down on the Galra patrol, Lance felt nothing. He saw nothing, not until blood welled up between her claws, flowing over her arms. Their broken bodies crawled toward him, groaning as claws tore apart his clothes, burned hands and broken fingers smearing blood across his arms.

The commander, a hole in his chest that crawled with maggots and dripped with fluids, some kind of gaping, toothed maw, staggered forward, mouth open in a silent scream.

Lance shoved them away, unable to see Red any longer. Catching sight of his own hands, he noted the blood, still dripping, warm and fresh from his fingers.

Please! I’m trying! I’m trying! Lance screamed, backing away as several with holes through their skulls, brains cored out by single laser blasts, crept forward. I just want this war to be over! I just want to go home! 

He kicked and fought, but in the end they pulled him to the bloodstained dust, the taste of iron and sweat filling his mouth, making him wish he could throw it up, cough, scream.

Please no! I’m trying! I’m sorr- 

Lance shot upright with a gasp. He was panting, heart like a scared rabbit, Ascua staring at him in concern.

Raising a shaking hand, Lance stared at his palm, wondering briefly where the blood had gone.

He clasped his hands, then slowly slumped forward, face hidden in the space between his knees, arms wrapped around his shins. He stayed that way until the alarm went off.

Sitting against the glass of Red’s cockpit with his eyes shut, head leaned to rock against he window, had become his nights. It left him with odd kinks in his back, but now his nightmares felt brutally aggressive.

Before, at the start of all this, he had them. But now...

Now he just felt ‘on’, all the time, like someone had flipped his switch. He felt like he was watching at nights again, when that ship had been chasing them, the fear in the leader’s eyes, his horror as Red’s paw came down, bodies crunching as-

Christ, stop! He ordered himself, abruptly squeezing the sides of his head.

It took another varga before he could uncoil. “Fuck, what’s wrong with me?” He hissed, angry. Nothing could stay normal and alright for more than a few movements.

“...sorry for keeping you up, Red.” Lance said softly as they took off again. “I don’t know... what’s going on.” He muttered.

He fell asleep the next night, and thankfully, didn’t dream.

Lance felt alert. Hyper-vigilant, built to go but with nothing to go on.

“They’re the enemy. The fight isn’t over until the enemy is down or dead.” He told himself, shaking his head out. Getting up, Lance went to the navigating box that Ru’al had packed him. She had told him it would help him when he reached past the Hewin zone, and before the last planet.

All it contained was a note, and beneath that, a pile of money.


These are the things I couldn’t tell you aloud, while on my homeworld. I am not a good person. I understand you, as Grey understands Red. We were once separated. I, alone in a jet, once flew through the empty zone. The zone you flew through a few phoebs ago. I’m sorry that you had to be truly alone. I nearly went insane, just me there.

So, I give you this. A philosopher once went to war and told me this quote afterward. It’s the reason I’m still alive to write this, and why I didn’t use my Shin’shi to take my own life.

‘Chaos destroys, then brings order, like war destroys, then brings peace. The weak murder, the strong kill only for battle. May you never lose yourself to the insanity of murder, but keep yourself with the strength and knowledge that you may one day never spill blood again’.

Long, I know, but the ‘chaos brings order’ part helps me. Repeating it, ‘chaos brings order’ is kind of like a mental help for me. Breathe deep, relax, settle in and accept what’s happening

I’ll see you on the outside one day.


Chaos brings order. Lance tried. It felt weird, but he was willing to attempt.

The other side was a whole list of things to do when he reached the way out, how to stabilize himself and Ascua, how to get Red through, where to go.

‘If you focus on where you want to go, it’ll launch you there. Focus on your team with all your heart and soul.’

Lance smiled softly. “Thanks Ru’al.”

Some nights he woke up feeling like he had just come back out of that Galra ship, tormented and yet smiling, mildly crazed.

Other nights, he could just taste the blood.

It felt too real.

“I’m going crazy. Aren’t I?” Lance whispered, mostly to Red. “...I’m actually losing my mind.” He hissed.

Finally, he took a deep breath, settled back against the wall, and whispered, “Chaos brings order.”

It took only a few breaths, and something like empty stole over his chest.

Chaos brings order. 

Bethilao was maybe the second most technological hub in Sector Space, that Lance could tell at a distance. Ships, Galra and otherwise, swirled around it’s dusty tan surface.

“Unidentified craft number 5093, please identify yourself and state entry or exit.” A clear, cool voice said through the comm system.

“This is Lance McClain, Voltron Red Paladin.” Lance stated as they slowed slightly. “I’m here on exit.”

“Alright, since this is your first time down here, I’ll go over the rules with you real quick. No fighting with any craft or crew while in the airspace or on the surface, general flightspeed needs to be less than 1000 knots while in the airspace, land only where the ground crew tells you to, no docking for longer than three haranshis or two quintants.”

“Understood, ground control.” Lance nodded. “My ship is a V-TOL, with one passenger.” He said, and got up, putting Ascua in her box with a few food packs. She seemed to understand as he slid her into a hidden drawer.

“Passenger species?”

“Human. From Earth.”

There was a pause. “You’re a long way from home.” The guy on the mic chuckled.

“Sector Space is a long way from anywhere.” Lance commented back.

The guy laughed. “Fair enough! Landing pad 153, to the port side of the wall and tower.”

Red, as ordered, did only 900 knots as they entered the atmosphere, finding the pad with ‘153’ written in huge numbers. She touched down, and settled out. “Perfect.” Lance smiled. “Red, baby, I’ll be back in a bit. Stay here.” He smiled, sliding on his helmet as he strapped on his Shin’shi, put his Bayard away and headed out.

Several Galra by ships close to him glared, but even they would obey neutral airspace laws. They probably can’t afford to lose this as a landing point. Lance thought as another ship warped into the sky above, this one more similarly shaped to some of the Creeminian ships he had seen.

He saw several of them, and then even some B’hra. Several other species he didn’t recognize from Sector Space also walked around as Lance made his way toward the marketplace.

He used Ru’al’s money, which she must’ve given to him for exactly this purpose.

After he had his food, he simply trotted around, examining each stall with muted curiosity.

Until he came across a B’hra with a slight, pale orange D’haku behind him. They were both examining some kind of gemstone in the B’hra’s hand, his golden scales glittering off the smoky, silver-blue streaked inside. Like the wisps of smoke from within the-

Hewin zone. 

Lance stepped toward the table, prompting the B’hra to glance up with a small smile that turned to a gasp when he saw Lance.

“Pardon me...” He stood up, glaring at Lance slightly. “...But where did you get that?” Pointing accusingly to the Shin’shi, the B’hra glared.

“Uh... It’s um... It’s mine?” Lance said warily.

“...Prove it. Pull it out.” The B’hra ordered.

Lance slowly pulled it from it’s sheath, the black blade turning silver-white in the light, and immediately the B’hra relaxed. “I... apologize.” He said softly. “I’ve seen people steal them from...”

“Other B’hra.” Lance filled in with a nod. “It’s alright.” He said as he sheathed it again.

He hummed sadly. “Yes. My name’s Quin’quer.” He smiled.

“Lance.” The Paladin offered a hand to shake, and Quin’quer gave him a rather vigorous one. “So, I was actually curious, what are these?”

The smoky crystals seemed way too similar to the Hewin zone to be anything normal.

“These? These are Ran’junlankir’ho crystals, or just Ran’jun crystals. Made in the Hewin zone.” Quin’quer smiled. “Most think the Hewin zone is a place of horror, but actually, if you can show the Ran’junlankir’ho that you mean them no harm, they’re quite pleasant.”

“...huh. What do they do?” Lance asked, gently touching one. It seemed to gleam with a soft inner light, the silver and blue lines moving and mixing at his touch. “Whoa.”

“You survived an encounter with a Ran’junlankir’ho.” Quin’quer chuckled. “...They’re sometimes bought by warriors who experience the horrors of war. It’s known to give off a glow at night. Some keep it as a reminder, as a way to feel like they’re not alone.”

Lance lifted his finger from the one he was touching. “...I’ll buy one.” He said softly, pulling out some money, but then groaning when he was just a few pieces short.

Quin’quer wrapped it up and put it in a container regardless. “I’ll spot you for those pieces. It’s a joy just to see a Shin’shi again.”

With a soft bow, Lance grinned. “It’s peace of mind to see a B’hra again.” Then he paused. “...Hey, if a B’hra named ‘Ru’al’ passes through here at some point in time... Can you tell her and her team I said hi?”

“I can do that. Best of luck on the way out of here, Lance!” Quin’quer waved to him.

“I don't care if it hurts... I wanna have control... I wanna perfect body... I wanna perfect, soul...” Lance sang as they continued going, the Ran’jun crystal gleaming from it’s spot on his desk. “I want you to notice... When I'm not around... Oh you're so very, special. I wish I was, special...”

Another phoeb, come and gone.

According to his maps, he was getting close. The pulsars were messing with his scanners, but not enough to be bad. They were powerful, but not strong enough.

“Looks like we’re almost there.” Lance murmured. Ru’al’s note had warned it could take a quintant or two to find the exit, a blue pulsar. Most were white, but not this one.

Lance crested a planetoid, devoid of anything but stone, and blue light shone upon his face, temporarily blinding him.

Then Red darkened her glass, and he could look.

A blue pulsar. Two black holes, far away. He could just fly into the funnel.

“...Happy fucking birthday to me.” Lance chuckled, being entirely literal. Maybe for once, I get a birthday present that’s exactly what I want. He thought, positioning himself and Red at the front. He switched on the full power thrusters, and got Ascua into her box, bolting it down.

He put everything into covered, hidden, tied down areas, even the Ran’jun crystal. He turned off his comm, his radio, doublechecked everything, turned on his radar scrambler... If he landed in hostile airspace, then he was being smart about it.

Then he put on his armour.

“...Alright Red.” He murmured, sitting back in his seat and using a long belt to keep his chest tied back. “...You ready?”

She growled. She was more than ready.

“...Here we go.” Lance whispered, and slowly eased forward on the throttle.

Their speed gradually grew, increasing constantly as they got faster, blowing past the black holes, straight toward the Pulsar. Lance could feel his heart beating in time with it’s spinning, it’s thud, his blood in his ears. Red let out a roar, a howl.

Lance focused.

Allura’s smile. Pidge’s look of realization when she figured something out. Coran’s unending joy. Hunk’s look when he cooked. Shiro’s leadership. Keith’s... Keith. Just Keith. Keith was something he couldn’t describe.

Take me to them. He thought, eyes squeezed shut. Take me to my team. 

Everything when blue, bright as the sun itself, light and warmth bathing them, making them feel eternally free, eternally flying, time passing without them even thinking, into something bigger, more important, more vicious than themselves, right before-

Chapter Text

“What is that thing?” Pidge demanded, faced with the Sincline monster. The three Lion had to dance, preform feats they’d never thought possible, just to fight off the Sincline ships.


“He’s made his own Voltron.” Allura gasped, the hopelessness of her town audible. “That is why he was using me...” She breathed, eyes wide in horror. “I helped him build it.”

“Well...” Hunk began. “Good news is it’s now three on one.”

They stood, silent, as they waited for Lotor to speak. The tension could be cut with one of the Lion’s jawblades, as Lotor snarled.

“This. Ends. Now.”

The beast’s eyes gleamed, dropping slightly, and lunging forward at an unbelievable speed.

“Look out!” Allura shouted as she was thrown back with a strike of Lotor’s tail, the others scattering. Hunk was yanked back by his tail, shouting as the Sincline monster whipped him away.

Pidge shot her tail cannon in dozens of spurts. “It’s way faster than us!” She shouted, grunting as it’s feet slammed down on her back, shoving her away.

They were no match. Not by any stretch of the imagination, as they dodged and dove between each other in a deadly maze, fighting for their lives.

As they were thrown aside, the Castleship came to their aid with a strike intense enough to blow away nearly anything.

Streaks of energy lanced off the Sincline monster, bearing through it, before abruptly, a violet sphere began forming between the ship and the shot, then, it blasted the cannon shot away.

And hit the Castleship.

“Impossible!” Pidge shouted. “Lotor’s weapon completely repelled the Castle’s attack!”

The purple beam showed no signs of slowing in power or speed, as Allura shot forward again, determined to save them.

Lance groaned, feeling his limbs come back online. Everything seemed like he had crashed on Rinnal again, achy and heavy.

“R’d...” He hissed, hands closing over the sticks again. “Red, c’mon girl...”

His eyes opened slightly, vision coming back in bits and pieces. Everything had an echo of something else around it, hazy, and his ears were ringing.

Red also seemed pained, but she too was coming back.

“Fuck, ok... ow...” He whispered, helping Red adjust upright. “R-Red, babe, when you’ve got a tick... run a quick system check.” He murmured, putting a hand to his head.

Nothing was broken. He was one hundred percent whole. So was Red.

She huffed, lights coming back as she woke up. She felt achy and heavy too, but Lance noticed that the more he woke up, the less he could feel that.

“‘s just post-warp sickness girl, c’mon.” Lance whispered, urging her to get to her senses, even as he righted his own head.

After unclipping the belt around his chest, Lance got to his feet. The cockpit tilted, but he made it to the fridge, and sucked back two waters. “Ascua, c’mon, you’ve gotta be ok, right?” He asked softly as he got out her box.

Ascua was also dizzy, but alive. She stayed in her box as Lance dumped another water pack over his face, gasping. With a growl, Red seemed to be almost ready to go.

“Give me a tick, those of us with biological stomachs are trying not to throw up.” Lance muttered, sitting back down and swiping his wet hair to something neat. “Alright.” He huffed. “Where the fuck are we?”

Which was when a purple laser shot streaked just past their shoulder, and Lance snapped to attention as they dropped into a crouch, hiding effortlessly behind a meteor. What the fuck was that? He glanced around, searching for their assailant. Silently, Red pulled up a scanner, revealing five signatures.

They were really far back though. To the side of the combat, in the debris of Daibazaal, and at least several doboshes from reaching them. The scanners had no tags on what was what yet.

“...We’re not going in guns-blazing.” Lance muttered. “Not anymore. Red, let’s move.”

Silently, they began their slow, steady hop motion forward, between meteors.

Blue, Green, Yellow.

Limp, sparking, bodies damaged and heavy, as they limply floated in space.

“It didn’t have to end like this.” Lotor said. “But you’ve made your choice.”

The beast opened up it’s huge chest cannon, taking aim at the Paladins, helpless in it’s aim... Before something gleamed in the distance.

And Black swooped out of nowhere.

Wings spread, he threw back the Sincline beast before swooping around, falling in front of the others. “What the- Keith? Where did you come from?” Pidge demanded.

“...I had some help getting here faster.” The Black Paladin explained vaguely. “Everyone, get your Lions up. I’ll hold off Lotor.” He snarled, staring down the beast before him.

“Keith, that’s suicide!” Pidge shouted.

“No. Get up fast.” Keith ordered, then lunged forward into battle again, dipping and diving around Lotor as the monster clawed for him.

Keith had several good hits, right before Lotor snagged him.

With a shout, Black was thrown back, the Sincline monster’s tail whipping behind him. It’s axe-blade had caught the head of Voltron, tossing him to the side.

They considered their angles for a moment, before shooting back at Lotor with a roar, determined not to be put down.

Red finally landed on a meteor with a good view of the fight. “Alright, what do we-“

His team. His Paladins. His friends.

His heart was in his throat at the limp way Blue, Yellow and Green were floating, even the Castleship silent and stunningly dull, as Black and-


The thing that Black was fighting, and losing against, was as big as Voltron. It was grey, with blue and orange markings, and purple emissives. It reminded him of the Sincline ships, of Lotor and the Galra...The way it was fighting, with it‘s tail and it’s hands, guns and power...

It’s fighting physically. Lance blinked in realization.

“...Red...” He whispered as they took a small step closer, both of them wincing as Black took another blow. The Lion was nearly finished, barely able to turn and fight again. “...Red, scan that thing.” His eyes narrowed.

Interdimensional ore. With Lotor at the helm. That fucking whore. He manipulated us. I’ll kill him. Lance thought, and Red growled in agreement.

“...Think you can go through it’s shell?” He murmured. It was going to be like fighting the Raptors, but bigger. She snarled as Lance crouched them down again, out of sight. “...surprise is our biggest threat.”

Black took another hit, and this time, flew to the side. He sparked, struggling to face it again, right before he received another punishing blow. The huge monster flew closer, within range of Red now, and Lance pushed them so Red’s chest was flat on the ground.

Lotor’s monster raised an arm, levelling a ball of growing light straight at Black’s head.

“...Get ready.”

Keith couldn’t get Black to respond. He was physically exhausted, no longer able to turn and face the Sincline monster, jets worn and overheated. His team wasn’t on their feet, wasn’t able to stand.

“...I’m sorry.” Keith said softly, as Lotor raised an arm, ball of energy glowing, at Black. I failed, Shiro.

“Paladins, there’s another signature!” Coran shouted in panic. “It’s right next to Loto-“

Something shot off the meteor beside the Sincline ship, suddenly biting into it’s arm. The charged shot went wild, missing them completely as the thing’s thrusters fired, looping around the monster’s arm and cutting deep through it’s armour.

Then it jumped, planting it’s thrusters on the Sincline beast’s chest, and firing them. Lotor was shot back, and the thing pursued him aggressively, roaring with a sort of screechy undertone.

“What the hell was that?!” Pidge shrieked, just as Green started crawling to her feet.

“I don’t know!” Coran said. “I just noticed it!”

“Whatever it is, it’s friendly.” Keith growled as Black struggled to reactivate, not quite working. “It had time to take us out. It went for Lotor.”

“Yeah, but what is it?” Hunk asked, Yellow’s thrusters finally reactivating, getting up. “It’s faster than us!”

Blue edged a little forward. “...It’s very dark.”

“Everyone get ready.” Keith ordered, suddenly feeling like they had a chance. “That thing can’t hold Lotor off forever.”

It wasn’t Red fighting Lotor.

It wasn’t Lance fighting Lotor.

They were one. 

Their hands tightened on the sticks, driving forward as they ducked another clumsy strike from Lotor, unused to and not expecting their driving ferocity. Their claws gouged small lines into the corner of Lotor’s chest-cannon, and they adjusted the thrusters to make their movements faster, ducking below a shot of the chest cannon.

“COME ON THEN, BITCH!” Lance roared, Red roaring with him as they shoved him back, ducking the tail and returning strike with a hard hit to the cockpit, courtesy of a thruster that was rotated at the last second, impact ringing.

Each motion they made was decided, like fighting the Raptors but faster, bigger, stronger.

Lotor wasn’t ready for physical fighting. They had trained in it. He was fast, but so were they. He was bigger, but size didn’t matter unless he could use it.

Dropping height, they spun to his rear, swinging so their back end was leading as front claws drove through the plates on Lotor’s spine, yanking him off balance as their feet drove against his chest, and thrusters fired.

He missed the tail at the last second.

They spun to the side, firing thrusters and stabilizing instantly. “Got it then.” Lance snarled, putting themselves straight and firing forward, back into the fray.


The dark, aggressive thing that never gave ground, never turned it’s back, and never stopped coming was keeping Lotor on his toes, forcing him to back away from the recovering Lions.

Even when it took it’s first hit of the fight, a glancing stroke from the axe tail, it didn’t stop. It had flipped almost immediately, already lunging forward before Lotor could celebrate his hit.

“I can’t get a read on it!” Coran shouted. “The Castle’s scanners are a bit damaged!”

“We can’t get a read either, Coran.” Pidge adjusted Green, slowly coming into formation with Keith.

All the Lions fell in as their mysterious helper took another hit, but shook this one off as well, going for a little more usage of the environment. Bouncing off a meteor, it came at Lotor’s side, biting his shoulder before neatly jumping off, claw and retreat.

“Is everyone up?” Keith demanded, concern shining through his urgent voice, as Blue and Yellow came up too.

“Y-yes.” Allura answered first, still sounding slightly shaken. “I’m alright.”

“Yeah, I’m up.” Hunk answered, the bubbly chef abruptly serious.

Then their comms crackled, a channel that hadn’t been opened in nearly a week coming back to life, drawing all their attention, as the thing shot Lotor through a meteor, then withdrew, shooting closer toward them.

It just dodged a shot, violet practically skimming it’s side, as Lance popped up on the comm screens, jaw locked in a vicious, deadly expression, glaring straight forward at his opponent, now recovered, and returning to face him.

“Lance?!” Allura gasped, hand going over her mouth.

Hunk coughed at his appearance. “Lance!?”

“What the fuck-“

Keith couldn’t even think. Lance was there, fighting for them.

Red, it had to be Red, shoved Lotor back with another thruster blast, but then rotated around and streaked back startlingly fast toward them.

The thrusters burned until Red spun around overtop of them, falling neatly into formation. “Talk later, act now!” Lance told them in a slightly deeper than normal bark. “Shiro, Keith, whoever’s in Black, go time!”

Keith blinked out of his stupor of disbelief as everyone else seemed to fall into one. “R-right! On me, form Voltron!”

Lance had to take a moment. To focus. To breathe. To concentrate.

Chaos brings order. 

He focused on forming Voltron. Not on any memories, on becoming one. He focused on being with his team, not the shitshow that had been his life for two years.

And Red, dark burgundy paint glowing, fell into line with the other Lions, and Red, fell into the right arm of Voltron.

Voltron stared down the Sincline monster, both still as the team felt a missing piece fall into place. The sense of family it gave them, to feel Lance as part of Voltron again, compared to nothing.

Keith though, noticed that the piece just slid in, but didn’t connect. To him, Lance felt like a part, but a part covered in smoke. There were no emotions coming through Lance’s connection, just the connection itself.

Something was wrong.

“Coran, you’ve got incoming.” Keith shouted to the Castle, sending Shiro to the relative safety of the larger ship.

The Sincline ship charged a beam like the one that had almost killed Keith, and shot it for them.

“Shield!” Keith demanded, Pidge’s arm coming up to block the blast as it hit them, shoving Voltron back. With a groan of pain, feeling the tension that hit them, Keith shouted, “Hunk, form cannon!”

“You got it,” The yellow Paladin replied, massive shoulder cannon forming to fire a heavy blast, tracking just behind the Sincline monster, Voltron adjusting.

“He’s too fast!” Pidge shouted.

“Then we’ll just have to get in close.” Keith huffed, determination in his tone. “Form sword!”

Lance immediately responded, almost too quick, as the sword grew to fall into his hand, the right hand of Voltron.

Something was different this time. Much different.

Maybe it was the way the sword felt like... Keith couldn’t control it.

The Sincline ship’s dual scimitars were terrifying, to realize that he might not be able to fight them off...

Red moved before Keith told her to.

Lance blocked Lotor’s strikes, and then held fast as they were shoved back. “Now we will see how Alfor’s legacy stands against the new Altean defender!” Lotor shouted.

Red was, once again, doing something that Keith wasn’t telling her to.

When Lotor broke the blade lock, Lance and Red parried both strikes with their own, then neatly blocked Lotor’s leg coming in to kick them as Keith shot Voltron backward.

When Lotor charged, Keith shouted, “Move!”

They dropped, and when Lotor next came at them, Red was far faster than Keith had ever felt her. She moved like a snake, all sharp and brilliant.

“Shield up!”

Then, abruptly Keith could feel Red’s irritation at being held back.


Pidge broke them this time as Red and Lance proceeded to go for one hell of a fight back. The sword was suddenly too skilled in Red’s hands, almost like Lance was expecting, anticipating each movement.

Like a swordfighter.

When they were slammed by the tail, he really felt Red’s irritation. Lance was still oddly silent.

After they managed lead Lotor in, and block the attacks done on the rock, Keith planted his feet and waited.

“...Wait for him. Wait for him to build up speed...” He murmured softly. “NOW!”

And then they moved, letting Lotor bury himself in the stone.

This time, when Red and Green shot Lotor, he was pinned down, nowhere to go...

And then he was gone.

In and out, with a strike that felt like hell.

“Is everyone ok?” Keith inquired.

“How is he moving so fast?!” Pidge snarled

“We’ve gotta get up and attack!” Keith shouted, shoving them forward.

“How can he just disappear like that?!” Hunk demanded.

“He’s...” Allura’s eyes went wide. “Entering the quintessence field at will.”

“Didn’t we blow up the gate?”

“How is he entering without it?!”

Allura went silent. “...Because I gave his ships the ability.”

“You’ll all need to focus your energy.”

Hunk’s solid rock. Keith’s wind and sky. Pidge’s breath of life. Allura’s wave of water. Lance’s...

Lance’s fire was low-burning. A blue flame softly flickering with untold heat, untold power.

And just like that...

“Form sword.”

The sword blazed. Not with orange fire, no, but blue and orange, calm and rage, the fine line between chaos, and order.

And suddenly, in a burst of flame that surrounded them, swallowed them...

They were bathed in white.

“I underestimated you, princess.” Lotor hissed.

Like an unspoken purr, they went through the fight, Red and Lance now moving seamlessly with the others, but faster than before, a beam of lightning burning silently off his blade, into Lotor.

“We have to get out of here!” Allura shouted over their cries of rage. “We’re out of control! This is exactly what happened to Zarkon! Exposure to the quintessence has turned him into a monster!”

“We’re out of control!” Hunk called.

“All our systems are overloaded.” Pidge informed.

“Here comes Lotor!” Keith warned, voice hard.

They shot away, not fighting anymore.

“How do we stop this!?” Hunk demanded.

Allura paused. “We give Lotor all the power he wants.”

The blast subsided, abruptly, leaving almost a vacuum in it’s wake.

“Let’s grab Lotor and get out of here!” Keith cried.

“No, we can’t!” Pidge shouted. “We have to leave now!”

“We must try!”

“Pidge is right. We stay in here much longer and Voltron is done for!”

The portals left behind were gleaming, glowing swirls left in the cuts and rips of space.

Lance was panting, glancing behind him to Ascua.

Her eyes gleamed, but other than that, she was healthy.

I’m glad you’re ok, girl. He thought as she walked over, easily sitting on his lap.

“Oh, you’re back!” Coran shouted.

“Lotor is no longer a threat.” Keith said.

“Right.” Coran sighed softly. “We’ve got a bigger problem now. Lotor’s jumping in and out of the quintessence field has created multiple growing rifts in the fabric of time and space.”

“What does that mean?” Allura hissed.

“It means that unless we do something fast, those tears will continue to expand until all of existence as we know it has been destroyed.” Pidge explained.

“There has to be something we can do.” Keith whispered.

“Scanning the rift for any strand of refabrication possibilities.” Pidge informed.

Lance lay his head on Ascua’s. ...We’re still fighting a goddamn war. I'm so sorry. He shut his eyes.

“I’m running a few different models now to see if it can close on it’s own.” Hunk said.

“Nothing.” Pidge whispered.

“Nope. Me neither.” Hunk murmured.

“How long do we have?” Keith asked, voice low and grim.

“Well, based on the way those rifts are expanding, about 15 doboshes.”

Lance didn’t even remove his helmet as he sprinted through the Castle. He had the sense to zip his jacket over his armour though.

Avoid questions for now. There’ll be time later. He thought, giving Pidge and Coran a hand on the Teludav before running to his room, keeping his head low. He couldn’t look anyone in the eye, until he shoved open the door.

For a moment, he could only stare.

It seemed... alien, to him now.

Like the first day he had spent in it.

Lance carefully walked through it, staring at the nothing, and the everything there. Sitting on the bed, he took a moment just to look around.

His friends hadn’t touched his stuff.

Carefully, he shuffled through his things and took his clothes, the few he had left. “...Ok.” He murmured to himself, quick to shove it into a bag and turn away.

Then he caught sight of the Earth clock on his dresser. The same one in Red.

Picking it up, he read it’s time, date...

Nearly two years in the past for him.

Lance put it down and headed out of the door.

For a moment, he thought of his products in the bathroom.

He went downstairs, and led Kalternecker up instead, into Red’s cockpit.

When they were ready for launch, they waited for Coran before shooting off, otherwise silent. Nobody said a word, not as the explosion came, and left them floating in space.

“...It worked!” Hunk cried as they turned around, grinning, to each other.

“...You did it, Coran.” Allura whispered.

“And look!” Hunk said, shooting forward abruptly, going for something.

“What is it?” Keith asked.

“A... diamond.” Hunk murmured, staring. “The pressure crushed the Castle of Lions into this little diamond.”

“...What now?” Pidge whispered.

“We need to find some place to land.” Keith said. “And see if there’s some way we can help Shiro.” And Lance. I haven’t heard him since the fight. 

They landed on a planet, a far enough distance away to not be haunted.

The Lions settled down, and everyone finally got a good look at Red.

She was darker. Her thrusters and other glass surfaces were now a hardy teal, not the neon blue the rest of them had.

The red sections of her body were a bloody burgundy, eyes a deep gold. Her claws were longer and sharper-looking, and her jaw was different. Keith didn’t think she appeared like the same Lion he had piloted.

As the others all climbed from their Lions, the beasts then straightening up and sitting, they all seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. The fight was won. The universe was saved.

They all removed their helmets, the atmosphere safe to breathe, and settled down into a small circle to relax.

Red hadn’t let out Lance yet.

“Uh, Lance, buddy?” Hunk called into his helmet. “Lance, uh... you alright?”

“I’m ok.” Lance said after a few seconds. “I’ll... be right there.”

Everyone glanced between each other, wary.

“You believe him?” Pidge questioned Hunk, sitting on the ground.

Hunk only shrugged. “I guess I kind of have to.” He murmured. “He didn’t sound hurt.”

Finally, Red shifted out of sitting, and bent forward to let Lance out.

Everyone turned, grins on their faces as their red Paladin walked toward them, before their smiles all abruptly stopped, and died out.

Lance’s helmet was under his arm, fingers gently gripping to it. His hair was styled differently, a little sloppy, but a definite short, vicious style. On his left shoulder, an alien... cat-fox thing with horns and wings rested, head high and aquamarine eyes glaring at them like the lasers that Voltron had shot. It wore a small leather collar-thing, with a gem slid into it.

His armour was almost normal as he walked up, but the blue was deeper, darker, like velvet, not so flashy.

But the most disturbing part, was the voided line, tracing from the centre of his chestpiece over to his left shoulder. It seemed to be an injury, maybe a burn, that had been sealed up with black material instead of white. It looked like it had been deadly.

“...Hey.” Lance said softly.

Hunk was off and running first, hitting Lance into a tight, hard hug, nearly pulling the thinner Paladin off the ground.

The weird cat-thing on his shoulder jumped off, then glid neatly to the ground, licking a paw clean, then watching it’s master.

Lance seemed frozen stiff for a moment, blinking in surprise. Then, slowly, his hands curled over Hunk’s back, face falling into his shoulder, fingers gripping into Hunk’s shoulders.

Hunk could feel his best friend, shaking slightly against his own chest, too-thin body tight with muscle that hadn’t been there before. “God, Lance... God, I’m...”

Shaking his head a bit, Lance just pulled Hunk in a little closer.

Unable to stop herself any further, Pidge picked herself off the dirt and darted over, hitting Lance’s arm lightly.

“Ow, h-hey.” Lance said, grinning slightly through tears as he separated from Hunk, though the other Paladin kept a hand on his shoulder.

“Where the hell have you been!?” Pidge demanded, then melted, tears coming to her own eyes as she hit Lance in another hug. “You don’t get to leave, asshole!”

“W-wasn’t really my choice.” Lance laughed softly. It sounded hoarse and unused.

Then, through tears, Pidge blinked at him. “Did you get taller!? Bitch!” She snapped, but kept hugging him.

Allura went over next, joining the hug. “...I’m so glad you’re ok.”

“Thanks, Allura.” Lance murmured, leaning into her slightly too.

Then Keith’s taller, muscular form came over, and drew Lance into a full-bodied hug. “...Like Pidge said. You’re not allowed to leave.”

Once again, Lance could only, silently, cry into his leader’s shoulder. They were almost the exact same height now. “You can’t either. You got bigger too.” He chuckled tearfully, having noticed Keith’s height change. “And you got this big-ass burn.”

“That came... after, I left...” Keith laughed slightly. “...I’m not leaving again.” He murmured, pressing his face into Lance’s shoulder too. “...You idiots get in trouble when I leave.”

We get in trouble?” Lance said incredulously, then laughed. It sounded odd, a little rough, but normal. So stunningly normal.

A sound Keith had missed, in the two years on the space whale, was his team. Especially, he had missed Lance. Lance who had never given him an inch, who ‘made a good team’, who was their family.

All of theirs.





So after a while, I won’t let you wonder about Ascua’s body and Zeptrin any longer! 

This is the species study I made for Zeptrin back at the start of this! It doesn’t describe Ascua herself, but it does describe how the species works!

She’s normally described as a cat, despite being the size and shape of a fox, because of how she moves and acts, and how her fur looks, and her claws. There is no detailing about her claws on here, but we’ll get more into Zeptrins and mentioning what they do in the sequel! (We let Coran have a look at her... sorry...)