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Voltron: Accelerating

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Space. It's vast. It's beautiful. An endless sea of darkness, inhabited by an infinite number of planets and stars and moons any many, many more things.

Then, a large, mechanical, yellow lion flies by. Its pilot is heard screaming and rambling about death.

"Gyrgan, please, calm down," a woman can be heard saying from within a similar, green lion.

"Trigel, please tell me why I should be calm. We are the universe's last hope, and we are losing.”

There is a loud boom that sends debris flying everywhere.

"These damned Space Pirates are simply not giving us time to show them what real power is," the pilot of a red lion can be heard saying.

There's a black lion, larger than all the others. Something is shot at it. "Well, Alfor, we can try to do it quickly," the black lion's pilot says.

A blue lion shows up. "This may be a good time anyways. Things are looking pretty grim,"

The pilot of the green lion speaks again. "Yes. Zarkon, I am sorry to say this, but your wife, Honerva, has become unresponsive."

"You don't mean...No, no, she must be alive. Surely, her intercoms must have gone out," the black pilot says, choking on his words.

The yellow lion is shown firing weapons, shields going up around itself. "My fellow paladins, please. If we do not cease discussion, we will die here at this moment. I cannot hold them off forever."

"Then let us form Voltron," says the red paladin, slamming a fist on something. "I have already lost my wife to this war. Today, we avenge the fallen and save the children of tomorrow!"

The five lions fly in formation, twirl around, and a bright light flashes.

--V--

Voltron - Defender

(Roughly) Seven years later

A figure is bundled up in navy blue blankets. No part of their face is visible. A tan arm hangs off of the bed.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

The arm reaches over, their hand landing on an alarm clock and pressing the snooze button.

The person's arm falls back down. "Cinco minutos mas," he mumbles.

Three seconds of peace. Rapid footsteps are heard in the background.

The door sounds as if it's been kicked down, causing the boy to jump up.

The door of his room is swung wide open. In the doorway is a short boy. His light brown hair is choppy, pointing in all directions, a large pair of headphones probably not helping his hair, and his glasses seem too big for his face. He's wearing a green hoodie seemingly too big for his body. "Lance, that's the fifth time your alarm has gone off!" he exclaims. His voice cracks badly when says 'off'. "Get dressed, we're running late."

The first boy, Lance, sits there, doing the math in his head, before his eyes go wide as he mutters, "Caramba."

He throws the blankets off of his bed.

He opens his closet and pulls a grey shirt down. He snatches a pair of blue jeans off of the floor. He walks over to a desk, takes a wallet and his keys, shoving them into his pocket, then throws on a brown leather jacket that was hanging off of an office chair.

The jacket has an image of the Earth embroidered on the back. Above the image it says "Galaxy Alliance," and below it reads, "Cargo Pilot." There is a pocket right over his heart with the name "McClain" embroidered directly above it.

He runs out of his room, runs into a kitchen, where a third boy is waiting. This boy tall and somewhat chubby looking, and has dark skin, with dark brown, almost black hair framing his face. He wears a puffy, green vest and yellow undershirt.

He puts a plate down on the counter. Lance snatches it up, shoves whatever the contents were- he didn't even pay attention to the food he was eating, he was in such a rush- into his mouth, and runs off yelling "Thanks, Hunk!"

Hunk stares off in confusion as to what just happened.

Out the door Lance goes, with his roommates not too far behind.

Lance practically shoots out of the door of the dorm, his roommates peeking their heads out, looking at him, then at each other.

A boy with dark hair and dark brown eyes, wearing a navy blue shirt with yellow sleeves, is seen walking out of another door, turning around to lock it. He looks to his left, taking note of Lance running down the hall. He jumps back, back pressed against the door.

"Hey, Jeff, tell Keith that that mullet is getting him nowhere in life!" he yells as he runs past him, then turns a sharp corner to the right.

Lance's head peeks back around the corner. "Also, tell everyone that Loverboy Lance is going to the party tonight!” His head disappears from the corner.

--V--

Lance soon arrives in front of a large crowd. There is a man in military-like attire, watching him angrily.

The small roommate with the green hoodie is standing there, in front of the man.

"Pidge, how did you..." Lance says as he looks around, out of breath. "You left after me."

"I know a shortcut," he answers nonchalantly.

Finally, the large one, Hunk, makes his way to the area. The moment he stops running, he starts panting. "I'm here," he says as he breathes out heavily.

The man in uniform scowls at them. "McClain, Garrett, and Stoker. About time you three showed up."

“Let these three be an example to you all,” he continues, speaking to the crowd, “of what not to be.”

“Well, we’re here now, sir,” Lance says with a nervous smile.

A door opens, and Lance starts jumping up and down, a large grin on his face.

“Begin simulation,” a robotic voice says.

--V--

The screen cuts back to Lance, his shoulders sagging, a frown on his face.

"You three are the biggest disappointments I have ever seen," the man barks.

Hunk is wiping his mouth on his wrist. Pidge is cleaning his glasses with a stark white wipe, black soot leaving the outline of his glasses on his face.

"I'm sorry, Commander Iverson," Lance whimpers.

"The three of you. For pupils so bright, you cannot work together for-"

"Sir, our turn?"

The man, Commander Iverson, whips his head around. There's a group of three boys. The one in front is Jeff, whom Lance passed by earlier.

One boy is tall with dark hair. He wears a black windbreaker, unzipped and showing white tank top underneath. The other boy is slightly shorter, with hair just as dark, wearing a red jacket and has violet eyes.

Iverson moves aside. "Shirogane, Kogane, and Dukane. Please, show everybody where our first team went wrong."

Lance looks between Iverson and the boy in the red jacket. The boy looks over his shoulder as he steps through the door, making eye contact with Lance. Lance looks as if he could burn a hole into the metal doorframe the boy has his hand on. Quickly, the boy averts his gaze and picks up his pace through the door.

Lance lets out a sigh. "I can't even mess with my rival."

“Hey, you tried,” Hunk says softly, giving his friend a pat on the back.

"Don't touch me. I don't know if there's any barf on your hands."

--V--

Some time passes, and people begin walking out of the room they were all just cramped in for several hours. People scattered in different directions, be it to their dorm or the cafeteria.

The three dark-haired boys walk together.

"So, Keith," Jeff says.

The boy in the red jacket looks at him curiously, giving a hum in response.

"After today's success, I think you deserve to be invited to my party tonight," Jeff answers with a grin.

Keith blinks several times. "Thanks, but why do I need an invitation into my own dorm?"

Jeff falls silent for a moment. When he finally speaks, every word is pronounced slowly; carefully. "You see, I didn't want you scaring people off, but since you were good today, why not?"

The tallest boy looks at both of them. "As captain of this team, I think that this is quite the petty matter."

Jeff looks up at his higher up. "Shiro, why do you care? You're always invited."

"Yet I'm not," Keith adds on.

"Because your-" Jeff clears his throat- "'emo mannerisms,' as Lance calls them, scare people off."

The three stop in front of a door. The tallest boy, Shiro, pulls a key ring out of the pocket of his jacket.

Shiro sighs, throwing the door open. “Look, it’s our dorm. We should all be allowed in and out as we please.”

Shiro goes straight for his room. Jeff rushes to the kitchen, past a coffee table, and past a sofa, which Keith flops down on.

Keith picks up a remote, turning on a television. Next thing he knows, a package of plastic cups flies past his head.

He jumps up, looking into the kitchen. “Jeff, what the hell?!”

“Put those on the table. Come on, help me set up for the party,” Jeff says with a slight smile.

--V--

The living room and kitchen are now fully decorated. Keith is standing on the counter, pushing a thumbtack through a sign.

He jumps down. The sign reads in all caps, “Congrats, New Pilots!”

“Not bad, Kogane. Not bad,” Jeff says from the couch. Shiro is sitting next to him, giving a thumbs up.

There’s a knock at the door.

Shiro opens it.

A boy in a brown leather jacket is standing there with a nervous smile. “I’m here for the party?”

Shiro looks down at him, then looks into the living room. “Jeff, Lance is here.”

Lance waves as Jeff walks closer.

Soon, a pair of hands are on his shoulders. His smile falls slowly as Jeff speaks.

“But, I’m your friend…”

“But this party is for those who passed the simulation. It’s nothing personal, just...”

“Just business?” Lance asks with a nervous giggle.

“I wanted to say tradition, but okay.”

Lance smiles softly. “Still friends?”

Jeff pats him on the back. “Sure. Just, leave soon, please.”

Lance looks over his shoulder. People are crowded behind him. A girl with dark blue hair. A boy with a strong resemblance to Hunk. Another girl with blonde hair. Another boy with dark skin and light brown hair. A light-skinned boy with blonde hair.

“Right…” he looks at the crowd, presses himself against the wall, and slowly scooting away.

--V--

Lance sits down at a pristine silver counter. The stool he sits on is equally elegant, yet generic. His hands are cupped, a can of soda between them.

Hunk lays out food on the counter. Burgers and chips and hot dogs. He scoots an empty plate closer to Lance.

"Come on, buddy. Don't feel down," Hunk says with a soft smile. "You wanna eat?"

Lance looks up at him, shoves the plate to the side, and grips his soda tighter.

"You know, if I was you, I'd be drinking something a little stronger than soda," someone says. Lance turns around and jumps at the sight. Pidge is sitting right next to him, in front of the plate he rejected.

"You drink?" Lance asks. His eyebrows practically meet his hairline.

"No. I said if I was you. Also maybe go out, get a hoo-"

Hunk clears his throat. He scoots a bag of potato chips closer to the small boy.

Pidge opens the bag of chips. They fall onto the plate in a pile. "What? One night of that ish, with no meaningful relationship behind it. That's exactly what he would've done at the party." He takes one chip and pops it into his mouth.

Lance blinks. “Pidge, there’s a difference between hanging out with friends and uhhh…”

"Please, tell me the difference."

Lance slams his fist down on the island. "Firstly, you're with friends, and secondly, you don't have to pay for-"

Hunk slams his hands down. "How about we all go, have a guys night out."

Pidge lets out a laugh. No, not a laugh. A cackle. "And how do you propose that? The only place around for miles is a gas station."

"We can gas up my truck and drive around the desert. I can pack up some food, we can watch the stars in the bed of my truck…" the sweetest smile forms on Hunk's face as he trails off. "Maybe we'll run into someone else who failed the test. Hundreds of cadets, how can there only be one failing team?"

Pidge hops down from his stool. Only a handful of chips are left on the plate. "I'll grab my equipment."

Lance and Hunk both look at him in confusion.

"What, you didn't know? I'm a fothermucking awesome DJ."

--V--

Music. Loud, electronic music, with a base that can be felt. People talking. People talking loudly. People trying to dance. People bumping into things, leading to screams and giggles.

All of these factors had driven Keith into his room, where he lays on his bed with a book.

He flips a page. There's a loud bang on his door. Flip another page. Bang. Another. BANG.

He slams to book shut and makes a loud groan.

Turn the knob. It's Jeff.

"What?" Keith asks impatiently, eyes narrowed.

"Hey, hey, can you do me a favor?"

He crosses his arms. "I'm listening."

Jeff leans in close, Keith catching the smell of a beverage on his breath. "Lisa and I need some alone time..."

Keith glares at him. “Go to your room, then."

"I cooould, buuut..."

Keith walks over to his bed, picks up the book, walks over to a shelf, and nestles it nicely between two other books. The spines all give titles related to space, planets, or legends.

Then, he storms out, shoving Jeff out of the way, slamming the door, and muttering something offensive.

The girl with navy blue hair walks up to him with two cans in her hands.

He watches Keith walk away with a scowl. "Don’t worry, I have his spare key."

--V--

Shiro walks out of the convenience store of the gas station. He has chips, soda. It was good enough for him. He walks away from the building, cradles the bottle and bag in his arm, and dials a number.

“Hey, Ryou?”

 

An indistinct voice is heard over the phone.

Shiro laughs. "I miss you too. Guess what?"

The indistinct voice says one word.

"I passed the simulation."

Shiro steps into his car, throws the food in the passenger seat, and places his phone on the dashboard.

"Yeah, it's the last simulation before graduation. It was the big one."

He drives for some time, delving further and further into the middle of nowhere.

He passes by a truck. The electronic music inside of it was playing loud enough for Shiro to hear.

Inside the truck, Pidge is sitting down in the back seat with a laptop. He's bobbing his head back and forth, singing along.

A certain word comes up. Pidge is cut off in the middle of it.

Hunk's face can be seen in the rearview mirror, his eyes carrying a sternness. "Pidge, I swear to god, if you mutter that word one more time, I will turn this truck around."

Nothing can be seen past the reflection of Pidge's glasses. He looks down, presses a button. A new song starts playing, the first line being "I don't give a-"

HONK.

Pidge gives a sly grin. "What? I wasn't singing along this time, now, was I?"

"What do you have against cussing?" Lance chuckles, redirecting his gaze from the window to his friend.

"I just don't like it. I personally associate swearing-" he put extra emphasis on the word, as if 'swear' was superior to 'cuss'- "with negativity."

"Hunk, in this day and age, there’s negativity everywhere," Lance says flatly.

"Well, I’d like to avoid that. I've only dropped an f-bomb maybe five times in my entire life."

"And I was there for four of those," Lance snickers.

“Yeah, thanks for that,” Hunk grumbles. “Look, this is my car. I don’t want any negativity in my car. ‘Kay?”

No response.

The electronic music starts glitching out with beeps and screeches.

Lance slowly rolls down the window, a scowl on his face. “It’s Keith,” he mutters.

Pidge leans forward slightly, hugging his laptop. “What?”

“It’s Keith’s fault,” Lance says playfully, leaning out the window.

Hunk takes his right hand off of the wheel and pulls Lance back by the jacket.

“And you wonder why you were involved in every time I swore…”

Lance shoots Hunk a look. He turns back to his window. He starts yelling.

Hunk glances from the road to his friend. “Lance, what are you doing?!”

BEEEEP. Pidge’s music glitches again.

“So, if you passed, why are you out here?”

Pidge looks out the window. There’s a boy on a motorcycle. Keith.

He looks at Lance, then sighs, “Can’t you leave me alone?”

“I could, but come on, I want the deets. Did Jeff kick you out too?”

Silence all around, sans for the glitchy music.

Lance looks worried. “Did he-”

“I don’t have to answer that.”

“Do you want to hang out with us?”

“Truthfully? No.”

“Why not?”

The boy on the motorcycle sighs and speeds off.

“Wait, no!”

Beep. Beep. Beep.

“I mean, he was clearly out here, alone, for a reason,” Pidge mutters.

“You don’t know that he really wanted to be alone,” Lance says defensively.

“You’re right, I don’t know exactly. But I can make a hypothesis. And my proof for thinking such is that I like alone time too.”

Lance laughs, loud and dry. “You’re anti-social? You are aware of who your roommates are, right? How many times have you tagged along with us?”

Pidge pushes up his glasses. “Tell me, what do you even know about me?”

Lance unbuckles his seat belt to look at Pidge.

“Lance, seatbelt please,” Hunk says, refusing to take his eyes off the roadless area in front of him.

Lance makes a hand gesture in vain, as Hunk didn’t see it. Or chose to ignore it.

“You’re a guy?” Lance answers, his voice growing higher towards the end, as if he was unsure. “Your favorite color is green. You have vision problems. You like music. You’re a tech wiz.”

Pidge starts paying attention to his laptop. “Okay, that much is obvious. Wouldn’t say that you know me though. What’s my favorite animal?”

“...Pigeon?”

“Wrong answ-”

Pidge’s face is shoved into Lance’s seat. Lance falls back, hitting his back on the dashboard.

“Hunk, what the hell?” Lance yells.

“I told you to buckle up. Anyways, check that out.” Hunk points to something shooting across the sky.

More beeping. Pidge looks down at his laptop. He pulls a pen and a piece of paper out of his hoodie pocket.

He scribbles down letters and numbers. He draws lines. He crosses them out.

The beeping creates a far clearer pattern. Two beeps. Screech. Three beeps. Four beeps. Screech. Two beeps. Screech. Three. Four.

Lance leans over his seat again, watching Pidge. "I think your laptop's busted. Es no bueno no mas."

Pidge had taken the Spanish sentence as a sign that he was serious. He refused to believe it. "Don't you hear the pattern?"

The car starts moving again. "Yeah, that's definitely a doom day song..." Hunk mutters, staring out the window as he drives slowly.

A bright yellow light shines over everything. The object it radiates from seems to be moving closer to the ground.

"Step on it!" Lance screams as the large object falls closer to the ground. It looked far away, yet either big enough or close enough to leave an impact.

A black car rolls up near them. The driver honks their horn.

They roll down their window. He makes a motion, pointing somewhere. It's Shiro.

The three look at each other before given physical signs of agreement.

The two cars race across the desert.

Pidge's laptop beeps. Two beeps. Screech. Three. Four. Screech.

The yellow light grows brighter.

Two. Screech. Three. Four. Screech.

Shiro slows down and peeks his head out the window. "Up ahead is a shack. We'll be a little safer in there," he yells. It sounds faint over car engines and a large object breaking the sound barrier.

Two.

Hearts are racing.

Screech.

Engines roaring.

Three.

Barriers breaking.

Four.

People yelling.

Five.

Hunk cussing. Lance rambling in Spanish. Pidge in an eerie silence, even his headphones giving only static.

Screech.

Engines and hysteria stop. The four barge into a small, wooden building, much to the dismay of a certain boy wearing a red jacket. All five crowd around the window.

BOOM.

Everything shakes. Glass flies everywhere. Yellow light shines through the hole of a window.

Everything settles. No more racing hearts. No more ringing in ears. Everything becomes clear again.

Hunk opens his eyes. He’s leaning against a bed. “I’m not dead,” he says quietly. He quickly pats over his body. “I’m not dead! Wait…” He looks around. “We’re not dead, right? What if we’re ghosts. What if we are dead!”

Pidge, who’s sitting on the bed, surrounded by pillows with a blanket over his head, hits Hunk on the back of the head. “Pull yourself together.”

"That hurt," Keith grumbles, finally removing his hands from his ears. He's sitting under the windowsill.

"Yeah, I thought I was going blind there," Lance follows up, standing up and brushing debris off of his jacket. "At least the deaf know sign language. How do you talk to a blind man?"

Keith puts his hands together and takes a deep breath.

"What are you doing?" Lance asks.

"Praying away your stupidity."

Shiro looks out the window. “Guys, whatever just hit, it looks deadly.”

They all crowd around the window again to look at a yellow glow a distance away.

“It’s a radioactive bomb. Everybody within an x-mile radius is dead…” Hunk starts rambling.

“Then how come we’re still alive?” Keith asks.

"We're gonna slowly die from radioactivity."

Pidge opens his mouth. "Hunk, we're not-"

"We can just live out the remainder of our lives in here. We still have food for the meantime and..." he looks around. "Keith, there's running water in here, right?"

Keith shakes his head. "It was cut off years ago. Believe me, if I could just run away and stay in here, I would've already done that."

Hunk slams his fist into the palm of his hand. "Okay, so we need to ration the soda..."

Pidge rolls his eyes, and tries to get his attention by saying, "Hunk."

"...apocalypse sandwiches. When aliens tell our story, they'll call the sandwiches 'apocalypse sandwiches'..."

"Hunk."

Lance starts giggling at the statement, trying not to laugh.

"...I hope that in ten thousand years, when aliens discover us, that they'll like Earth..."

Shiro looks at Lance and Pidge and raises an eyebrow.

"Hunk!"

Finally, he looks down at Pidge. "What?"

"It can't be a bomb. Why would the Alliance drop one- especially a test one- where they know there's a nearby population?"

Hunk's eyes get big and he slowly says, "Good point-" he smacks himself on the forehead- "If it was a bomb, it would've been on Planet Doom, far away from here." He starts giving a nervous giggle, pokes his fingers together, face red. "Sorry for all that."

Shiro looks around the room. "Keith, I think the Alliance will be heading out here. You know, if they find this place, you could be in some deep trouble."

Keith walks over to a small desk. He snatches up a small knife, some keys, and a picture torn in half, and shoves them into a pocket in his jacket. "Okay, I'm ready to go."

Pidge looks at the desk. He picks up a pair of scissors and shoves them into his hoodie pocket.

Lance looks out the window. "Hey, so whatever that is out there, if it didn't kill us..."

"What if it's a UFO!" Hunk squeals. "What if, what ifff, they're really friendly, and adorable, and and..." he trails off, excited.

Lance snickers. "Could investigate. Beats watching stars."

Shiro looks at the two of them quizzically. "You two want to hunt...for aliens?"

"I was just thinking about running back to campus," Shiro continues.

Keith tenses up. "Alien hunting it is," he says quickly, taking position next to Lance.

Shiro looks surprised. "Okay. We're really going to-"

Before any of them know it, Pidge is out the door.

"Guys, I hear a voice!"

Shiro comes up behind him. "Where?"

He hands Shiro his headphones.

There's a female voice. The words are unintelligible, but pauses imply words. There are two words, then a long pause.

Shiro passes the headphones to Keith. He hears three words.

Keith passes them to Lance. Four words.

Lance passes them to Hunk. There's a long pause, then the message seems to repeat.

Hunk passes them back to Pidge.

"So, how're we going out there?" Pidge asks.

--V--

"I don't understand how somebody so small takes up so much space..." Keith mutters, look out the back window. Pidge is seen through the window, in the bed of Hunk's truck, laptop and speakers taking up the space surrounding him.

"That's Pidge for ya'," Lance answers.

Keith slumps against the left door. "I feel claustrophobic in here."

Lance, who's sitting at the opposite end of the back seat, looks at the empty space where Pidge should be. "Dude, just put your feet up."

He does so. Lance leans forward and yells "Hey, Shiro, can you be careful to not make any abrupt stops?"

Shiro is in the driver's seat. "Why can't you just buckle up," he sighs.

"I said the same thing earlier!" Hunk chuckles.

Shiro takes a deep breath. "How was I talked into this?"

Some minutes go by. The only sounds are the engine, and whatever Pidge was doing.

A grin forms of Lance's face. "Hey, Keith?"

Keith, who looks like he's about to fall asleep, groans in response.

"Why did you leave the party?"

"Whyyy..."

"Please?"

"You're just an f'ing gossip, aren't you?"

Lance puts his hand over his chest and gives a fake gasp. "How dare you!" he giggles. "No, really though, I want some dirt on Jeff."

"Oh, okay, I stand corrected. You're just a petty son of a-"

"Okay, who wants snacks!" Hunk announces.

He leans back and gives Keith and Lance shrink-wrapped sandwiches and small bags of chips. He gives Lance extra. "Hand some to Pidge."

Lance leans out the window. He tries his best to throw to food at an angle. The food hits the bed of the truck, the small lip preventing it from flying away. Pidge looks at the food, then at Lance, and gives a thumbs up.

Keith looks out of the back window. “I would say that y’all are crazy, but then again…”

“Your getaway was being stranded in the middle of a desert with no food, water, or air conditioning?” Lance guesses.

“Hey, I like the quiet.”

“And a normal person likes the indoors to feel like the indoors.”

Keith rolls his eyes and slumps further against the door. The car goes over a large bump, and his eyes snap open.

The car comes to a slow stop, a yellow glow illuminating their surroundings.

“Holy cats…” Lance mutters as he opens the door.

All five of them stare at the crater in the ground. Something large and yellow in cradled in the center. Its glow seems to have dulled, but it was clear.

Pidge slides down the side of the crater. Shiro takes hesitant steps. Keith jumps down. Lance slowly climbs down the steepest part. Hunk sits down on the edge and slowly slides down.

"A ship?" Pidge mutters.

"An anime mecha?" Lance laughs.

"Aren't mechas just ships?" Keith asks.

Lance places a hand over his heart and gasps. "Have you learned nothing from Rick Hunter and Roy Fokker?"

"Rick Hunter? Roy Fokker?"

"You gotta be kidding me..."

As the two bicker, Hunk slowly walks up to it. "It's pretty."

There's a creak. Everyone takes a step back, except for Hunk.

"Hunk?" Lance calls.

"Hunk? Hunk Garrett?" Pidge copies.

The object moves slightly.

Shiro comes closer to Hunk. "Mr. Garrett, please..."

The ship- mecha- whatever it was, moved again, slow and loud and painful as nails on a chalkboard.

"Hunk, we need to leave now," Keith asserts.

The thing moves one more time. One part perks up- a head? Metal squeaks against metal, sparks flying. A leg can be made out. A paw digs into the dirt. A tail swishes. The ship-mech-creature thing goes back into rest, laying down with its jaw wide open.

Pidge stares in awe. "It's a. A. A..."

"A cat?" Shiro finishes.

Hunk takes a step closer to it. He places his foot on its jaw.

Pidge pulls out his phone. "I'm recording this just to make sure I'm not hallucinating. Everyone on board with that?"

His question is ignored as Hunk walks inside of the cat-shaped ship.

Pidge follows, phone in hand. Then Lance, who seems to have been speechless for once. Then Keith, who gripped something in his jacket pocket. Then Shiro, who looked around carefully, not knowing what to expect, if anything.

Hunk takes in the glowing yellow interior. There's a seat. He flops back in it.

"This is..."

"Don't worry, big guy, we all see it too," Pidge assures him.

Static. Then a distorted voice. A holographic screen flickers on in front of Hunk's face.

Pidge points his phone at it.

Through the layer of static, something becomes visible. Eyes. And a mouth. And a nose.

It's a woman. She looks to be in her late teens. She has dark skin and blue eyes. She looked human. Almost. Her body shape seemed so familiar, so similar to a human, yet she still looked so foreign. Alien. Her skin didn't seem to have a visible flaw. Her pupils were a darker shade of blue. Under each blue eye was a pink crescent shape. Her ears came to elf-like points. Her hair is long and blue, falling over her shoulders in small waves.

Everyone stares at the spectacle. Lance whistles and Pidge whacks him on the back of the head in response.

"Greetings, paladin," the woman begins. Two lever-looking objects spring up on either side of Hunk's chair.

"Commander Allura speaking." She woman tucks a piece of hair behind her right ear. "Welcome to your lion."

Another screen pops up, giving what appeared to be diagnostics.

Pidge blinks. "Guys, did you notice?"

"Word count," Shiro mumbles.

"If you are sitting in that chair, then congratulations. You have been chosen to pilot the yellow lion."

"Pilot? Lion?" Hunk asks nervously.

"As the yellow lion, you will become the left leg of Voltron."

Lance starts chuckling, “Are you sure we’re not all just on some big acid trip right now?” Pidge wacks the back of his head again.

"Voltron is an almighty being. Artificial, yet almost god-like in power. It will be created through the efforts of you and four other paladins."

Keith touches one of the walls. "So, this is a tiny piece of a god?"

"Sounds poetic," Shiro says quietly.

"Your lion will be put on auto-pilot and will be brought to me. Upon arrival, I will explain your mission.”

"Any more questions?" the woman, Allura, asks.

Hunk raises his hand. "Yeah, a few, actually..."

"None? Great, because this is a pre-recorded message."

"Launch sequence should be activating in three..."

Hunk's eyes go wide. "What?! Launch seqen... what?!" He leans forward and starts mashing buttons.

"Launch sequence?!" He repeats. The lion shakes. "What the fuuu…"

"Two..."

The lion shifts. Everybody is tossed back, except for Pidge, who held onto Hunk's chair.

"...One."

The lion shifts one more time, sending four of the five sliding forward.

There's a rumble. Darkness.

--V--

Shiro opens his eyes to a crowd of maybe twenty people around him.

"Sir, do you know anything about the vessel that was just here?" somebody asked.

He takes in his surroundings. They're in the crater. There is no yellow lion. Hunk's truck is being towed away.

--V--

A room is seen. It is white, with blue things resembling light bulbs lining the walls.

There is a large screen with five lion heads. The woman from earlier is watching as the yellow one blinks. Most of her appearance is obscured in shadow.

"Your Highness," a man says. He has bright orange hair, a mustache, and is holding a tray of food.

"Coran, I am no longer a princess of anything. Ma'am will suffice," the woman, Allura, says.

"Sorry, ma'am. I was just wondering, are you sure that this is a good idea?"

She looks out of a window. There is a field of flowers. A large, white creature resembling a bird swoops down and picks something up. Allura stares blankly as there is a cracking noise, followed by a squelching.

"If we do not seize the opportunity to find new paladins before the predicted attack on Arus, then we will be just as helpless as that squirrel."

"Yes, I see, but how can we be certain that these are the right paladins?"

"The lions only choose who they trust. Even if those trusted somehow had malicious intent, they need a key." She pulls out something on a string from under her shirt. "I have only ever seen technological advances like this on Altea and maybe Daibazaal. I think it is safe enough."

She finally turns her attention to the man, Coran. She jumps slightly. “I am awfully sorry, Coran. Thank you for the refreshments.” She gently lifts the tray off of his hands.

--V--

Four boys sit in front of a desk. Behind the desk is a man with brown hair and a five o’clock shadow. On the desk is a nametag reading “Colonel Hawkins.”

“So, the four of you discovered an alien vessel and did not alert the Galaxy Alliance?” He asks.

Pidge slumps in his chair. “I kind of assumed that you guys would be aware of a giant fothermucking mechanical cat heading towards the Earth.”

Hawkins laughs. “No, we were aware of something heading to the Earth, but you actually got to investigate.” He leans forward on the desk. “What was it like? A giant cat, you say?”

“This is not the sort of tough interrogation I was expecting,” Keith mutters quietly.

“Okay, so you know what an anime mecha is?” Lance starts.

Hawkins nods happily.

“It’s not that,” Pidge groans. He pulls out his phone, “It’s something to handle. Swear to God, we thought we got high off of something because this made no sense.”

He puts his phone down on the desk, audio all the way up.

Hawkins watches contently. His eyes go wide. “Voltron?”

Shiro leans forward. “What about this ‘Voltron’ is so important?”

Hawkins looks around. He closes the curtains behind him.

“Sir?” Shiro asks.

“I shouldn’t be telling you boys about this, but- Mister Kogane, make sure the door is locked, please.”

Hawkins is standing on his chair in the corner of the room, sticking masking tape over a small black bulb. “You need to know about this if it took your friend.”

He jumps down, kicking the chair back behind the desk.

“Mister Hawkins?” Lance calls.

Hawkins is sorting through a filing cabinet. He pulls out a folder, flips through it, then puts it back. He does this several times, before throwing one on the desk, titled “8184981116.”

Shiro reaches for it, then pulls his hand back. “It’s okay that I can read this, yes?”

Hawkins opens the file. “I think it’s better that I walk you through.”

On the first page, there is the image of a figure. Most of its features are blurred and too dark to see, but a faint color could be seen, and a faint silhouette.

“Hey, what if it’s the hot commander chick from that message,” Lance remarks.

Keith squints. “I dunno, was the message girl purple?”

Lance looks at it closer. "Could just be weird lighting."

"Assuming that the message was recorded recently and that those aliens age like humans, I very much doubt that they are the same person," Hawkins assures.

"Who could it be then?" Shiro asks.

"I honestly don't know," Hawkins answers. "This was about nineteen years ago. Before my time as a colonel."

"Then how come you were put on edge at the sight of this stuff?" Pidge asks.

"Because you see, I don't know much, but what I do know has been a classified mystery. Let me explain."

He moves the picture of the alien to the side. The paper underneath appears to be a transcript.

"Some years ago, an alien crash-landed on Earth."

Pidge can be heard quietly going "Duh."

"You see, it spoke in a bizarre language. Much of its attempt at communication was lost on us," he points to the top of the sheet, where there are simply long strings of text creating gibberish. "In the time it was held in captivity, it took notes as we interrogated it," He pulls out two sheets of paper from underneath the transcript. They are covered in strange symbols and scribbles.

Keith snickers. "Why would you try to interrogate something that doesn't even speak a language known on Earth."

"Keep in mind, I was not in my current position at the time," Hawkins responds. "I wish I knew too."

"One day, it spoke to its interrogator-of-the-day in English," he points to a sudden shift on the paper. No longer is it covered in blocks of gibberish, but real words creating real sentences.

"It told this tale about something called Voltron. It was seeking people to aid in this war..."

Shiro looks over the paper. "And then what?"

"It had taken a liking to this specific man-" he moves the page to reveal the next- "and insisted on only ever speaking to him in English."

Keith keeps staring at the picture curiously. "What happened to them?"

"Well, as you can tell by the transcripts, they were being monitored."

"And?" Pidge asks. "Man, don't tell us it's a cliff-hanger."

"Sadly, Mister Stoker, it is. They disappeared for about a year after being found out," he says. He pulls out one last sheet. It says something about a flight. "Eventually, they returned. The man put the alien on a ship without authorization from his higher-ups. The alien got away from Earth, and its getaway ship was later found on Planet Doom, but the man..."

"He was put on death row for conspiracy to help a living being," Pidge says. It was hard to tell if he was joking or not.

"Nobody really knows," Hawkins says with a shrug. "At least no one working here. Every file on this man was destroyed. His name was removed from every document. Nobody currently operating in the Galaxy Alliance knows who this man was, let alone his fate."

"So, what's your point?" Keith asks. "How does knowing about a nineteen-year-old case help us find Hunk, aside from knowing the coincidence?"

Hawkins shoves the documents back inside of the folder, all but one transcript. "Because you need to know what you're signing up for."

"What are we signing up for?" Shiro asks nervously.

Hawkins puts a finger up, then points to a paragraph on the transcript. "Right here, the tale begins."

Pidge puts his finger up to the paragraph. "So, this alien, it was never a part of any matters concerning Voltron directly, but rather a piece of a bigger picture."

Hawkins nods. "So." He puts the final paper away. "How would the four of you like to be space explorers. Maybe you can finally end this case, get your friend back." Hawkins pushes the folder closer to Shiro.

Shiro picks it up and flips through. "This sounds amazing, but do you know where to send us? And what about our roommate, Jeff Dukane? He'll be without teammates."

"Well, as far as the other boy in Mister Shirogane and Kogane's dorm, he knows nothing about this case, so he will not be sent on the mission." A smug grin forms on Keith's face as Hawkins says this. "This mission must be kept a secret. Understood?"

Lance is now holding the folder, reading a transcript. "And the four other mechas? To echo Shiro, how?"

"Four objects similar to the one you just explored were detected landing on Alliance colonized planets. Balto, Doom, Cryodor, and Ebb."

"I never understood the space hospital," Lance giggles.

Hawkins laughs. "Well, you would have to ask President Wade why, because I don't understand either."

Hawkins pulls back the curtains, revealing a bright sun. Keith shields his eyes, Pidge's glasses reflect gold, Lance looks surprised, and the bags under Shiro's eyes become more visible. "I will give you until 10:00 PM tonight to gather everything necessary. That is thirteen hours to get things together. Then you will report back here, and I will send you in an emergency shuttle. Can we agree on this?"

Shiro stands up and puts out his hand. "Yes, sir."

Hawkins grabs his hand and shakes. "Today, you are no longer cadets. You are certified space explorers."

--V--

Lance starts throwing clothes into a brown suitcase. He throws a grey shirt with a blue collar and sleeves into the suitcase. A blue t-shirt with white sleeves and the number zero printed on it. A black t-shirt. He pauses at a blue turtleneck sweater paired with khaki bell bottoms. "Ew." He throws the outfit onto his closet floor, then pulls down a red v-neck. "When the frick did I wear this?!"

Pidge grabs a suitcase and a tote bag. He looks over at his desk. "Oh Gunmar the PC, how I will miss thou." He runs across his room to pick up his laptop from his nightstand. "But not that much. You're coming with me, Jim!"

Keith opens his bedroom door. Immediately, his face practically blends in with his jacket. "I hope both of you get a hangover. It better be a damn painful one too," he says in a low, low tone, kicking a discarded can.

Shiro packs a suitcase with basics. He puts in a few undershirts. A toothbrush. Soap. Food. The suitcase sits on his bed. He kneels down and pulls a shoebox out from underneath. He pulls out a picture of himself and a man and a woman. His parents. Then another where he's with a boy who resembles him sitting down on a bench. Then another- a family portrait it seemed. Another picture of him and Keith as kids eating ice cream. Another family portrait, but this time, Keith is there too. A picture is of a young man with messy dark brown hair and glasses, wearing a Galaxy Alliance uniform, standing outside of a shuttle. The last picture is of the same young man, with Shiro in the picture, handing him a greeting card. He smiles at the pictures. He gently places them in his suitcase, nestled between layers of folded clothes.

--V--

The four of them walk down a hall with white walls. Suitcases roll over tiles, making loud noises.

"Okay, so I downloaded the entirety of Robotech onto my phone," Lance starts, shoving his phone into Keith's face. "It's a ten-hour ride from planet to planet. That's forty hours where it's gonna be you, me-" he throws his arm over Keith's shoulders- "and mechas." Lance's eyes seem to sparkle.

"How about we don't?" Keith suggests, pushing Lance's arm away.

Shiro looks back at them. "Keith, that's still over eighty hours. Did you even pack anything?"

"Clothes. A book."

"Well, that better be one long book then."

Keith shrugs. "I mean, I'll probably be sleeping a lot."

Shiro sighs, then smiles. "You're a stubborn little thing, you know that?"

"Hey, I like to pack light!"

Pidge starts picking up the pace. "Sorry, but I'm bored. Let's get into space!"

--V--

"Now, boys, I need you to be aware that this is a risky mission," Hawkins says.

They're standing in front of a shuttle, looking up at it. Shiro turns around a gives a solute. "Understood, sir."

"There is a chance that you will not make it back..."

Shiro's eyes go wide. Lance drops his bags. "Wait, what?"

"The planets I am sending you to, they are safe, but after that, assuming it'll be just like Mister Garrett..."

"Then we find him, Lance. Don't be afraid of that." Pidge says.

Hawkins gives a warm smile. "Exactly." He hands Lance his suitcase. "Maybe this is a little shady. I'm sending four students yet to graduate on an unauthorized mission, half of which failed the simulation, but-" he looks over all four of them- "you are about to make history. You are the youth; you are not tied down by the same rules as I. I may lose my job from this, but you may go and do great, regardless of legalities. I believe in you."

Smiles. Smiles all around. "We won't let you down, sir," Keith says.

"So, in order to fight off a corrupt government, you send four idiots out into space. Seems legit," Pidge giggles. "We'll do our best."

And with that, the four of them climb into the shuttle.

--V--

The interior of the shuttle is much like that of a hotel- only smaller. Way smaller. There is one bed. There is a table with four chairs. And that's about it.

Shiro rests in the bed. No one ever really got a nap. They decided that as the unofficial leader, he needed a nap first.

Pidge is situated using everyone's luggage as a work area. He sits on top of a black suitcase. His laptop is placed over a blue suitcase.

Keith and Lance sit next to each other at the table, sharing a pair of headphones and looking at a phone.

"Told you you'd like it," Lance says.

Keith looks at him and shrugs. "It's a'ight." His eyelids begin to droop, and he tries to lay his head down. He groans takes off his jacket and wads it up for use as a pillow. Then, he shivers.

Lance pauses the episode, watching as Keith puts his jacket back on, takes out the earbud, and walks over to Pidge.

A moment later, he comes back with a lavender colored stuffed hippo.

He lays his head down, using the animal as a pillow.

Lance stares. "What the que?"

"What?"

"Why did you pack a stuffed animal?" Lance starts chuckling.

"Because it's mine and I like it and I wanted to keep it. Any more questions?" Keith yawns, takes back his earbud, and glares at Lance.

Lance slowly presses play on his phone.

Some time passes and soon, everyone is fast asleep. Pidge is sprawled out across every suitcase, music blasting through his headphones. Keith is still sitting at the table with his head resting on the plush hippopotamus. Lance is laying across the other three chairs, using clothes he packed as a pillow.

There is a loud beep.

Shiro slowly gets up.

The shuttle shakes.

Lance falls off of his makeshift bed, Keith subconsciously grips the plush tighter, and Pidge shrugs off the movement.

"Which planet is this?" Lance groans.

"Balto, I believe," Shiro answers.

"Just as a security measure, you may want to bring your suitcases," Shiro announces.

Pidge picks up his bags and speeds off like a wind-up toy. Lance follows, groaning.

Shiro waits for Keith, who is gently placing the plush in his luggage.

Shiro smiles. "Of all the things you could've packed, you chose your hippo?"

"I'm not leaving anything I care about in Jeff’s hands," Keith says, almost mumbling. He zips the suitcase up. "Also, it makes for a nice pillow. So, thanks for that."

Shiro ruffles Keith's hair as he passes through the door. "You're welcome."

--V--

Balto is a fascinating planet. There are villages filled with humans. There are fields of grass. There are birds and butterflies and life you would expect to find on Earth.

As the four explore a desert, Pidge starts to ramble, cradling his laptop in one arm.

"I mean, I know that the native life-forms here were documented- turn left- but what if they still existed? What would that culture be like? What if- turn right- what if instead of destroying a culture- an entire planet's inhabitants- we just lived alongside them?"

"That's damn depressing," Keith says quietly.

"I know, right? Oh, turn right."

"How are you figuring out where to go?" Lance asks.

"On the flight, I was busy installing a program. Hawkins gave it to us alongside the case file. You see, my laptop..." he takes a moment to think about how to speak and raise the least amount of questions, "...it can pick up radio chatter. I know how to decode that and find a message. But then- start going left ever so slightly- then, it picked up the message from the lion, and despite the output is similar enough to be picked up, there was nothing that could be easily decoded. However, this program that Hawkins gave me can utilize the sound waves in order to locate the lion."

Lance blinks. He begins listing off major words on his fingers. "Output, sounds waves, decoding, chatter..."

Pidge rolls his eyes. "Computer picks up sounds. Computer tells me where to go."

Lance crosses his arms and gives a 'hmph.' "You didn't have to dumb it down that much."

"What I personally fail to understand, is why we couldn't land closer," Shiro states.

"Come on, don't be a pansy," Pidge snorts. "We got roughly one mile to go."

Lance lets out a noise, sounding like half sigh, half groan. "Look, Pigeon, I've never been a particularly athletic person. One mile? That's a lot. I'm so lanky, I don't even think I have fat to burn!"

Pidge comes to a stop. "Fine. Don't wanna walk? Let's slide."

The ground in front of him makes a long slope, the crater and lion visible from there.

Lance makes another sigh-groan. "Fine, I'll walk."

Pidge starts laughing. "Sure about that? I kinda planned on sliding."

He puts one foot forward, then jumps on top of his suitcase, falling before anybody had a chance to catch him. Grass and dirt go flying, and butterflies scatter away.

"I swear, that boy is so sly, he's practically a ninja..." Keith mumbles.

"Turtle!" Pidge cackles from half-way down the slope, headphones on.

"If he was one, he'd be that purple one that nobody likes," Lance snickers. A moment later, his phone buzzes.

Pidge: Hey, what's wrong with an intelligent man who just happens to like purple? Donatello FTW.

Lance immediately texts back:
Lance: Ur a spoopy dude, u kno that?

Shiro stares. He can't see Pidge anymore. "Should we go after him?"

Everyone's eyes go wide as the ground shakes. The lion- seemingly green in color- lifts off the ground.

Lance's phone buzzes again.

Pidge: Oh, I know I am.

Lance blinks. "Man, green really is his lucky color."

--V--

The trip to planet Ebb had been interesting without Pidge.

Firstly, there was nobody around to cuss like a sailor while making pop culture references in song, which, now that he was gone, was missed in an odd way.
Secondly, there was nobody else who knew how to track a giant mechanical cat with a laptop. They only realized this upon arrival.

"Captain Graham, please," Shiro pleas.

The three are at a front desk. There is a woman behind it. Next to the desk is the man that Shiro is pleading to.

"Where's your proof of being a part of the galaxy alliance though?" The man asks.

Shiro facepalms. He motions to a patch on his windbreaker, right over his heart. He motions to the same thing on Keith. He motions for Lance to turn around, and puts his hands out as if to say 'tada!'

The man chuckles in this awful smoker voice. "I'm gonna ask again. Proof?"

Shiro holds up his ID.

"I still don't think that thing is real," the man says stubbornly.

Shiro's patience wears thin, as can be seen by the redness of his face. "What other proof do you want?! Our IDs, what else is there?! We were sent by Colonel Hawkins, taught by Commander Iverson, our jackets are proof of our alliance, a shuttle from Earth just landed," he throws his head back, takes a deep breath, then reaffirms a calm stance. "I'm sorry. I just don't know what you want, Captain Graham."

The man, Graham, laughs. "I can tell that Iverson was your officer. Okay, I can show you, then."

Shiro puts his hand to his forehead and mumbles, "I just blew up at a higher up..."

Lance gives Shiro a pat on the back.

Graham leads them back to an office.

"So. Why did Hawkins send you, instead of allowing us to handle the situation? Why did he not announce your arrival?"

Shiro chuckles nervously. "He just wanted us to investigate."

"So, he sent you three to look this thing over?"

"Yes," Keith nods.

"What do you know about this...thing."

Shiro fiddles with the patch on his jacket. "It's a mystery. And that's it."

Graham walks into an office. He puts up a hand as a sign for them to stay outside.

He comes back out with a small device. It's round with a small screen, with an arrow pointing west.

"Digital compass?" Lance asks.

"Pretty much," Graham answers.

He escorts them out of the building. When they arrive at the door, he makes sure to shove them. "Go on, you're burning daylight. I have to give Mister Hawkins a call..."

As they walk away, Lance quietly says, "You know, my jacket was actually my father's..."

Shiro gives him a death glare. "We got what we needed. Okay?"

Time passes. Snacks are eaten. Keith and Lance argue over Robotech. Shiro hits the compass, noting that it keeps taking them through a forest, going in circles around a lake. Sunlight shines on the small body of water. The water looks contaminated, but it sparkles whereas everything else is densely shaded.

Finally, Shiro sighs. "I don't get it. It keeps taking us back here."

Lance looks down at the water. "I have an idea."

Lance takes off his jacket and waves it at Keith. "Hold onto this, please."

Then, his white-and-grey undershirt goes flying. Then his pants.

Lance is only seen from the shoulders up. "If I'm wrong about this, and I die in this water, I want you two to know that I am slightly less jealous of you than I was three days ago."

And with that, after a few deep breaths and attempts to jump, Lance finally disappears under they murky brown water.

The water begins to fizz and bubble.

Shiro and Keith take a step back.

A blue lion emerges. It gives a loud roar. As its mouth is open, Keith throws Lance's clothes into the opening.

The lion tilts its head forward, its jaw touching the ground and moving trees. Shiro throws two blue suitcases into the entrance.

The lion closes its mouth, then proceeds to take off.

Keith looks over at Shiro. "Hey, remember like, a week ago when there were five of us?"

--V--

Planet Doom required hazmat suits. It was guaranteed safe, so long as they complied with this rule.

Doom was a wasteland. Miles of nothing but things once full of life scorched grey and crumbling.

Finding the remains of the living wasn't difficult on Doom. When Keith first saw one, he asked, "How much you wanna bet that this one was the alien from Hawkins' story?"

But, against everything grey and lifeless, a giant, red lion certainly seemed to be extra uncommon and could be spotted from miles away.

Keith stares at it. He stretches his arm, palm against its snout, facing away. No response.

"Maybe it’s yours?" he asks Shiro.

When Shiro comes near it, its colors seem to dull. When Keith gets near, its yellow eyes are like miniature suns, and the red seems far more vibrant. Still, it refuses to open.

Keith bangs on it. He hits it as hard as possible, only to find himself on the ground, gripping his right hand.

Finally, the lion shifts. It presses its cold metallic surface against the boy's side.

Keith looks up it curiously.

"I think it's yours," Shiro reassures.

Keith reaches for the lion's jaw.

The lion gets back and drops its jaw.

Keith looks back at Shiro, who gives a thumbs up.

"My lion..." Keith whispers to himself. "That's a weird phrase."

When he sits back and watches the video, it was different from the one found in the yellow lion.

The blue-haired woman gives the same introduction. But this time, after she explains the five lions, she leans forward.

"As the red paladin, you are the right hand of Voltron. You are possibly trusted with more responsibility than the head at times, as it is your duty to be right behind the black paladin should they fall."

"The Black Lion is safe with me. Instead of finding the Lion, our Black Paladin must find a key, hidden within an escape pod. It is your responsibility to ensure that he arrives on Arus. Understood?"

Keith nods. "Yes, ma'am.”

“This is a pre-recorded message, so any questions are to be saved for later."

He gets out of his chair. The material of his suit rustles with every movement. He takes cautious steps down the ramp that served as the lion's lower jaw.

"Shiro, you need to come with me."

--V--

The interior of the lion looked much like the one that took Hunk away, albeit red instead of yellow.

The ride felt inhumanly fast. Shiro and Keith had gotten hazmat suits off, then sat down to rest. At one point, Keith figured out how to lay his chair back. He closes his eyes. Then, all movement stops.

The lion already landed.

Both of them groan in response.

Keith stares at the ceiling, not even bothering to get up from his laid-back chair. "That should've been what, a ten-hour ride? How long was that?"

Shiro is sitting against a back wall, phone clutched in his hands. "About thirty minutes."

Keith sighs and rolls out of his chair.

The lion's jaw drops open.

Immediately, a cold wind comes through, bringing snow in.

"Welcome to Cryodor," Keith says, rubbing his hands up and down his arms. "Man, I thought Doom was bad."

Shiro walks down the lion's jaw-ramp-thing.

He looks back at Keith. “You’re not coming?”

Keith shakes his head. “This one’s yours. Not sure who else it could belong to.”

Shiro steps down, into the freezing cold.

He takes several steps through the snow before rethinking taking this mission.

He looks up at a silver-colored ship. It has blue lines running over it.

“Thank god,” he mumbles, looking back at the Red Lion some feet away.

“How do I…”

He pokes at it. He looks over it for an opening. He puts one foot up on top of it.

He pulls himself up. He looks around some more.

He notices some of the damage done to it. Long scratches running along its side.

He inches closer to the nose of the vessel. There’s a windshield, or something similar, at least. Spiderweb cracks are ingrained in the material.

He taps it with his index finger. Pieces fall into a small, dark hole.

He takes a breath.

He puts one foot through the cracked glass. It all falls away with his movement.

He drops into the cockpit. Somehow, it feels even colder inside.

He slowly repositions himself on something soft that he landed on. He assumed it was a seat.

He looks around for anything that could prove helpful.

Very little light led to him being unable to find much.

He pats around, glass poking his gloved hands.

"I don't understand..." he says to himself, the cold leaving a 'cloud' from his breath. He starts rubbing his hands up and down his arms.

He continues feeling around. He wrinkles his nose several times in an attempt to feel it. The cartilage of his ears sting. His fingers can hardly move.

"Please..." he says shakily through numbed lips. "Please."

He stands up in the small area. His head almost hits the ceiling of the vessel.

The cold continues to pour in, drowning Shiro's senses.

He walks through whatever small space there is. He uses his foot to sweep anything he can out from underneath the seat. He comes up empty.

He looks up at the clouded sky visible through the hole.

"Please, I'm trying to save innocent people," he tries to yell, but his voice comes out as a creek. "Please. If I am your black pilot, paladin, whatever, you need to trust me. Whatever message you have for me, please. I'm trying." Tears begin rolling down his cheeks as he sits down in the chair. “I don’t care about this magical destiny stuff, I want to help.”

The tears begin crystallizing. "I refuse to leave this place until I know that you- whoever you are- are willing to save others. That I can save others."

He closes his eyes and balls up his fists. Keith lacks control over the Red Lion. The emergency shuttle was left on Doom. He sits back and accepts his fate.

A dark purple, black-light looking glow comes through the palm of his right hand.

He tightens his grip around something. Slowly, he opens his hand. Sitting in his palm is a metallic black disk with silver lining the edge and the image of a white lion embedded in it.

He stares at it. "How?"

Suddenly, Shiro is thrown to the ground as gravity shifts from his seat to the wall.

He crawls through the windshield-thing. "Keith?"

The Red Lion has its snout near the now tipped over vessel. Slowly, it opens its mouth.

"Thank you," Shiro say through chattering teeth, still sounding joyous and relieved.

Keith stands about halfway up the ramp. "Shiro, your arm..."

The taller boy gives a confused look before looking down. From his right arm, near his shoulder, there is a split in the fabric of his jacket, showing off a long, crimson-colored line.

"I didn't even feel that," he remarks, using his left thumb to wipe some of the red drips away.

He puts one foot on the lion’s jaw. Keith holds out his hand. Shiro is pulled into the lion, then it shakes.

The two run up the ramp as it closes up.

The lights spark for a moment.

For a moment, some of the red lights lining the walls turn purple.

“Welcome, Black Paladin. Commander Allura speaking,” Allura can be heard saying as they walk up the ramp.

Shiro runs to the seat, standing behind it.

“Please, take a seat. Red paladin, this message is for you as well.”

Keith looks at the seat, then at Shiro. He continues to stand.

“My Black Paladin. You have been tasked with the most important role of them all. If you are here, it means that you found my key, and you found the Red Paladin.”

“Kinda feels like we cheated at this,” Keith whispers.

“You are the defenders of this universe. Alongside four other paladins, you may create a being known as Voltron.”

Shiro looks at his key. “Ma’am, this?”

“It’s prerecorded,” Keith reminds him, staring at the alien woman on the screen.

“As you can see, you have already met the red paladin. This is their lion. The Black Lion resides on the planet Arus, where you will meet me.”

Shiro nods.

“The Black Lion forms the head and torso of Voltron. You are what holds the team together.”

Shiro continues to stare at his key. He clutches it tightly.

“You must form a bond with your lion, as well as the Red Paladin, because should you fall, they are your successor.”

The lights return to red.

“Good luck, Paladins.”

The lion rumbles, then everything shifts, then it’s off the ground.

--V--

A room is seen. It has a high ceiling, crystals hanging down, directly over a long table.

Allura sits at the head. To her left sits Hunk. Next to Hunk is Pidge. To her right sits Lance. Next to Lance is Coran. The opposite end is empty.

“I find it fascinating that the Lions selected the same species,” Allura remarks, looking over the three.

“What were you expecting?” Hunk asks. “You sent them to those planets, didn’t you know?”

She shakes her head. “The lions chose where to land. But, from my information, they landed in a far enough proximity to be separate planets, no?”

Pidge twiddles his thumbs. “Yeah, people on Earth...if a planet is habitable, we’ve taken it.”

“In alliance? Are you allies, allowing life to live interchangeably on each planet?”

“No. The original inhabitants were exterminated.” Pidge answers.

The commander tucks a strand of hair behind her ear, keeping her eyes on the ground. “I see.” She directs her attention back on the three paladins. “I wonder why the lions chose such destructive beings.”

Lance looks around. “What? No, you got us all wrong, we’re just students if anything. We’re not responsible for any deaths.”

“And tell me, what were you students for?”

They all look around.

“Technician.” Hunk answers slowly.

“Programmer and flight captain.” Pidge mumbles.

“Fighter pilot,” Lance says, almost under his breath.

“And what were you going to use these skills for?”

“To help the people of tomorrow. The people of Earth…” Lance says quietly.

She clasps her hands together. “Assuming that such a life is all you have ever known, I suppose it makes sense.”

The three looks at her curiously.

She stands up, revealing a long pink dress. “You do indeed have the best intent, even if mildly skewed by the world you knew.”

“If you’re so skeptical of us, why haven’t you kicked us the eff out?” Pidge snickers.

Allura opens her mouth to speak before an alarm goes off. It sounds like an air horn. Not too threatening, but seemingly important.

“Coran, you finish this conversation with them, please. I believe those are the final two paladins.”

The man with bright orange hair smiles as they look at him. “You must forgive Miss Allura for being so...curious. She was anticipating something similar to the paladins of old.”

--V--

A silver room with blue tiles. There are three lions near the walls. In the center is the Red Lion.

Allura watches eagerly as the Red Lion opens its jaws.

Shiro walks out first. Every step he takes is hesitant. “Hello?”

She frowns. “Welcome, Black Paladin.”

Shiro looks at the woman. He holds out his hand for a handshake. “Hiii?”

She ignores his outstretched arm as Keith trails right behind. She stares. “Welcome, Red Paladin.”

Keith rubs his eyes, looking around the room.

“Welcome, Red Paladin.”

He finally looks at her, meeting her eyes. Her eyes seem to be looking for something. She looks angry, almost, as if she’s searching, but disappointed in what she found.

He blinks. His eyes catch a ring of gold resting on her forehead. “You’re a princess…”

In the blink of an eye, the point of a sword pokes his throat.

Keith stares at the blade with wide eyes. The sword's blade is pink, covered in silver swirls, coming down to a handle adorned with blooming flowers, small and pink and delicate looking.

“I am not a princess.”

He puts his hands up. “Okay, I’m sorry, ma’am. Got it, not a princess.”

Allura loosens her grip on the blade. With a light pink glow, it shrinks away. She tosses a small coin in the air, catching a disk in her hand. A key.

“We have no time to waste. The other paladins are in the dining hall.”

She begins walking swiftly, almost as if she is trying to leave them behind.

Keith and Shiro look at each other and shrug.

--V--

Allura leads the five through a long hall.

The walls are lined with doors. Each door has a color-coordinated symbol.

One one side, there are three doors with black, red, and blue symbols. On the other side, there is green, yellow, and pink.

Allura takes a stance in front of the pink room. "These are your rooms. Please, do not spend to much time relaxing. Find your armor and meet me in the hangar in half a varga."

Hunk shyly raises his hand.

"What?" Allura asks, narrowing her eyes.

"What's a varga?"

Allura stares at him, then pinches the bridge of her nose. "Did she never find a translation for time?"

Shiro tilts his head. "What?"

"Universal translators. You see, we are communicating right now via computer generated audio mimicking my voice, arranging my words into something you may understand, and vice versa," she points to her earrings. They are magenta teardrop shapes with a hole drilled in the middle, seemingly floating from a purple stud. "Some time ago, my father sent out a scout to gather the information. Unfortunately, she met her end before finishing our data on your language."

Pidge pulls out his phone. "Okay, show me."

Allura points to where the phone automatically says 5:01 pm. She points at the five. "Varga."

"Okay, we call that an hour," Pidge chimes. "Add that to your database."

Allura nods and smiles. "I will note it."

Shiro looks at a small indentation in the door. It seems to be the same size as his key. He curiously pops the key into place. With a purple flash, the door opens.

Lance looks over at him. "How did you?!"

Allura unclasps her necklace. There are five disks hanging from it. She pulls off all but the pink one and holds them out.

Keith grabs his last. Allura grips his hand. He tries pulling away, eyes locked with hers as if trying to stare each other down.

"Do not soil the title of Red Paladin. Right now, I fear that I am looking at the exact opposite of the Red Paladin of old. Make me proud."

She lets go, leaving red marks on his right hand. He pulls his right hand and key close to his chest. He glares at her. She seems almost anxious. His eyebrows knit together, then he smiles with determination. “I won’t let you down."

Everybody disappears into their own room, even Allura.

--V--

The first thing that Pidge does is look at the bed. His suitcase sits on top of it. He didn't recall taking it out of the lion. Slowly, he unzips it. He pulls out his laptop, cracks it open. A long message scrolls past the screen. "I'll wait to decode this one, Chip. There are lives on the line," he whispers to nobody. He hides the window, opens a media player, and starts playing an upbeat song.

Hunk looks around his room, adorned with mostly yellow decor. His sheets. His curtains. The lines on the wall. He looks down and lets out a squeal. By the foot of his bed is a pair of yellow lion slippers.

Lance wanders his room. To the right of the door is his bed. Straight across, to the left of the door, is a vanity of sorts. A large mirror and a sink. The wall to the right of the vanity has a door. Through the door is a bathroom, with one more set of doors leading to a closet. "And my abuela said I could never live like a millionaire."

Keith opens his bag. He pulls out his hippo. He walks carefully, wandering much like Lance until he finds a closet. Inside the closet is a whole wardrobe of what appeared to be dress shirts and formal attire. He blinks. Slowly, he walks away, hippo still in his hands, making a mental note to alert Allura.

Shiro unpacks quickly. He props all of his photos up on a black shelf that sits across from the bed, against the back wall. Then, he explores the closet until he finds what the commander must have been talking about. Porcelain white armor. The plates were bare, zero markings daring to stain the smooth surface.

Allura is sitting on her bed. While the layout of her room is the same as the paladins', her's appears more ornate and personalized. He blankets are silky, lace creating patterns on her comforter. A canopy hangs overhead. Her vanity's counter has many pairs of earrings scattered about. Allura herself is wearing similar armor to what Shiro had found. "Father, is it possible for the lions to choose incompetent paladins simply for a quiznacking laugh?" No response. She sighs, moving the canopy curtain to the side, placing one foot on the floor.

--V--

Allura waits in front of four lions.

She taps her foot impatiently.

Four pastel colored mice scurry up to her. She kneels down, picking one up and letting it sit in the palm of her hand. This one is large and yellow, looking as if it’s half asleep.

“What is it, little one?”

The mouse opens its eyes. It looks around, then shrugs.

“They are lost?” She sighs, pinching the bridge of her nose. “Of course.”

A purple one on the ground makes two rings around its eyes with its hands.

“All except for the green one...of course.”

“My name is Pidge.”

Allura jumps, causing the mouse to jump out of her hand and hit the floor with a squeak.

Pidge is standing in the doorway, suited in armor, helmet under his arm, headphones on and hair sticking up in every direction.

“How did the others get lost?!”

Pidge shrugs. “I just remembered the paths you took us through.”

She kneels down to the mice. “Can you go look for them?”

Each mice gives a small squeak. The yellow one starts running first. The purple one seems to give a small solute. A pink one nods. And a blue one gives a thumbs up.

She gets off the floor and clasps her hands together. “Remind me to reward you for not getting lost.”

Pidge gives a large, smug grin.

--V--

The blue mouse comes running through the door, Lance following right behind with a slipper in his hand. "Miss, miss, there's a, a..." The mouse runs near Allura's foot, and Lance practically lunges for it.

"Do not worry. The mice are friends," Allura says with a smile.

"If they're friends, why do they keep biting me?" Keith asks as he walks in, holding up his right hand, which has a pink mouse hanging off of his index finger using its jaw.

"They do that," she giggles. "Do you own a cat?"

He blinks. "You think this is funny? No, I don't own a cat."

Allura quiets her laughter, then holds out her hand.

He looks her in the eye. She nods. Slowly, he puts his hand out. She grabs the mouse's body and Keith's finger, and slowly works the mouse off.

The mouse scurries up to Allura's shoulder, nuzzling her cheek.

"It seems my mouse here shares my skepticism," she giggles.

Shiro follows the purple mouse, watching as it runs to Allura, then motions to her, as if showing off her beauty.

"Miss Allura, the mouse..."

"They are the royal pets."

Keith looks up from his finger, and Lance looks up from the mouse nuzzling the house shoe in his hand. Together they say, "So you are a-"

She gives a loud shush.

Hunk soon follows, yellow mouse on his shoulder, a container in his left hand, and a spoon in his right, shoveling food into its small mouth.

“These things are cute.”

He looks at everybody else. “What?”

“These things are freaking devils!” Lance cries.

Hunk looks at the fat mouse laying over his shoulder. “Really? This one kinda just...asked to be picked up and pointed at where it had to go.”

Lance takes a deep breath. “Allura? Why are these things little a-holes? ‘Cept for Hunk’s.”

She looks down at him. “What did it do to you? It seems awfully friendly now.”

Lance looks up at her. “It dragged me here like some ducked up game of tag. Why couldn’t it just point?!”

She giggles. “They are quite mischievous. Mister Shiro?”

Shiro shrugs. “I mean, I was just alarmed by the fact that there’s rats in this castle.”

The purple mouse speeds over to Shiro and starts gnawing at his armored foot. He looks down and nonchalantly says, “Okay, nevermind.”

Allura puts her hands up. “Alright, enough horseplay,” she says with a giggle. “We are getting off-topic here.”

She walks closer to the lions, taking a stance between the Red and Green Lions.

“You have your keys now. It is time to begin training, and fight for the glory of King Alfor and Queen Melanor!”

Shiro blinks several times. He nervously asks, “Wait, what are we doing, exactly?”

She looks back at him. “You are going into a war. Did you not know?”

“I mean...Yes, ma’am.” He looks around. “Wait, where’s mine?”

Allura smiles. “Paladins, to you lions.”

Hunk walks up to his lion. Slowly, he places his hand on its large paw. It shifts ever so slightly, metal squeaking. It suddenly drops its jaw, leaning closer to the ground.

He takes one step onto the ramp, and Allura yells. He turns around curiously.

“Leave the mouse.”

His eyes dart to the small creature slumped over his shoulder, nuzzling the armor. He gives her a look that screams ‘do I have to?’

Allura nods and holds out her hand. The mouse jumps and lands with a squeak, just as it had done earlier.

Pidge does the same, putting his left hand on the lion’s paw. The moment it’s low enough, he jumps and climbs inside. From the top of the fully open ramp, he waves, sticking out his tongue.

Lance attempts to sweet talk to his, starting with, “Eres terriblemente bonita.” Half-way into this, it drops. He sighs. “You don’t even care about what I have to say, do you?”

Keith walks up to his. It creaks open. Allura watches anxiously as Keith steps onto the ramp.

When the lion's mouth closes, she lets out a deep breath.

All four lions emit a faint glow of their respective color. A large hatch in the ground slides open, revealing a large, black lion.

Shiro looks down at it. "Do I just..."

"Jump."

He continues to stare. He closes his eyes, then jumps into the hole.

The Black Lion shoots up out of the hole, emitting a blue-purple glow, then landing in front of the hole.

Allura smiles at the sight, rainbows reflecting in her eyes.

She bends down and picks up something from the mice. Her own porcelain white helmet.

She puts it on, gently tucking her hair into it, then presses a button.

Split screen, the new paladins are seen. Color seems to spill onto parts of the armor, leaving bright spots of color, and an ornate V shape on the chest.

"Allura speaking," she announces with a laugh. "Who here is ready to take down some motherquiznackers?"

Pidge is seen looking between his left palm and a small, circular indentation of what looks almost like a dashboard.

He shoves his key into the indention.

The lion shifts. Pidge puts his hands on the levers on either side of him, then jerks them back.

The lion steps back. Pidge is heard cackling.

Allura walks out of the room, passing by Coran. "Good sir, please ensure that they do not kill one another. I have some announcements to make."

--V--

The silvery-white outside of the castle is seen. Outside await hundreds of peachy or brown colored creatures.

Allura carefully steps down the front steps.

One of these creatures rushes up to her. It is more on the pink side. It has large ram-like horns and a crown made of what appears to be snail shells.

"Your majesty," it begins in a deep voice. "We have seen the neon rain, and you have left the fortress. What do you need?"

She gives the small thing a pat on the head. "Do not worry. The neon rain means that we will see a tomorrow."

She stands up straight, putting a hand over her heart. "People of Arus, it is I, Commander Allura of Altea!"

Some yell 'lion goddess,' some yell ''Lura,' and some yell 'highness.'

"Please, I ask that you-"

BOOM.

A ship flies overhead, its body seemingly made up of many different materials. Its guns are glowing.

Her eyes widen. "Civilians, take cover. Military forces, follow me!"

A handful of the creatures holding spears follow as she runs up the steps.

Five lions come out from the back of the castle, moving unsteadily, bumping into one another.

The single ship shoots at the lions, and people scream.

A small pink alien hugs its mother. "Mommy, is this why the Lion Goddess is called the Lion Goddess? Did she summon her-"

A shot is fired. The larger alien tries to pull her child to safety, but shots keep coming. Then, there's a thud, and everything gets darker.

The Black Lion stands over not only the two aliens but several.

On the inside, Shiro is seen cautiously pressing buttons. There's a boom, causing him to look surprised.

Just like that, the ship is shot down, landing in a fiery blaze.

"That was...easy," Lance can be heard saying.

"Suspiciously easy," Keith adds.

"Man, I was expecting some bloodshed," Pidge grumbles.

The fire starts to die down as something inside the ship moves.

The metal tears away like tin foil as something fights to break free.

Snakes begin crawling out, then twirl into each other, creating various shapes. Two legs are visible, then they begin winding together to build a torso. Soon, there are two arms, constantly twitching, with no visible fingers. Finally, a head forms. It opens its mouth, snakes strung across the opening like stitches.

Hunk stares in horror. "What the-" the lion squeaks as he moves back- "is that?!"

"Make that eleven f-bombs, Hunk," Lance says, staring at the beast. "Six within the last week."

The beast slides forward, not even taking a step.

It inches closer to the castle, raising its fist.

A red laser shoots at it, causing the beast to let out a scream. It sounds like hundreds of small echoes. Every snake turns its small head towards the Red Lion.

"I don't really know what's going on," Keith starts saying as he moves the lion closer, "But I do know that I won't let you hurt anybody!" The lion charges through the snakes. All of the snakes wrap around the lion, weaving a trap of sorts.

The Green Lion lunges for the thing's head, getting nothing but a mouth full of small, slithering creatures. Its head reforms shortly after then entangles the Green Lion.

The Yellow Lion starts to shoot. Once more, the small echoed screams are heard, and smoke blows from the thing's shoulder, but this time, it angrily turns to the yellow lion.

"We're dead. We're gonna die. On our tombstones- if we even get tombstones- it'll say 'here lies those five idiots," Hunk rambles.

"Hunk, chill the fudge out,” Pidge reassures, pressing any button he can.

"Tell me why I should be calm?!"

Keith can be heard slamming his fist on the lion's dashboard. "What about that story? Voltron? Why can't we do that?"

"We can try to do that, but we have to figure it out quick," Shiro says. The Black Lion whips its tail around the beast, sinking into it. The lion pulls away, bringing hundreds of snakes with it.

"We better!" Lance yells. His lion runs in circles around the beast, then pulls the Yellow Lion by the tail. "I can't help but get the feeling that we're screwed."

"Where's the damn princess?!" Pidge yells angrily.

A new shot is fired. A blazing blue flame, hitting the beast smack-dab in the face. It drops the Green Lion, giving a mix of a hiss and wails.

Allura stands on a balcony. She puts her fingertips on a silver colored arrow, sparking electric blue flames, then places it in a bow, pulls back, and releases.

The small creatures do the same, albeit using something similar to matches.

The beast hisses and screeches, constantly twitching, forcing it to release all lions.

"We’re gonna live…” Hunk mumbles.

The lions slowly walk in circles around the withering beast.

"It's going down, let's get 'em while it's weak!" Keith yells.

Lance looks the beast up and down. "How?"

Shiro looks around. "I almost want to show it mercy. This doesn't seem fair."

The thing gives a roar made out of a million hisses.

All five lion charge at the beast. Snakes coil around metal legs and tails. Then, there is a flash of light.

The Black lion gets on its hind legs. Its head folds back, revealing a blank face.

The Red and Green Lions fold their legs in, attaching to the Black Lion's front legs.

The Blue and Yellow lions do something similar, in addition to their head folding at a sharp angle.

A robot man with cat faces for hands.

A transparent blue shield forms in front of the Green Lion, with a pair of matching wings on the robot's back.

Lance can be heard giggling through all helmets.

Pidge groans. "Lance, don't you start, this isn't the-"

"Anime mecha!"

Shiro puts one lever forward.

The beast's snakes slither up the robot's- Voltron's- legs.

With one movement, a squelching noise is heard. Hunk covers his mouth to hold back a gasp. "I am so sorry."

The amount left, while smaller, was still great. Together, they all hiss. The hiss turns into a word. A long, raspy, "No."

Keith can be seen reaching for his key. He closes his eyes.

Voltron has a sword. It has the same transparent blue coloring as the shield and wings.

The sword is near the shuddering figure made of snakes, significantly smaller, point to its chest area.

Everybody can be heard taking deep breaths. The few remaining snakes slither away, revealing a figure adorned in armor just as hodgepodged together as the ship it came in.

Voltron falls apart with a blast of light, lions flying in all directions. Lance can be heard yelling, “Gatos sagrados!”

As soon as the Black Lion gets to its feet, Shiro can be heard saying, "Mercy."

Shiro slides out of the lion's cockpit, then proceeds to walk up to the being.

"Hello?"

The being is tall and thin. Its armor consists of rusted metals held together by thin wires. Not much can be seen through the murky green helmet.

Shiro holds out his hand. "Mercy?"

The thing whips it head at him, hissing, the only facial feature visible being a pink tongue flicking against the green material.

The figure runs off. Allura continues to shoot as it runs into its ship.

A portion of the ship breaks off, revealing what appears to be an escape pod of sorts.

"What the quiznack was that?!" Allura yells from the balcony.

"Mercy," Shiro answers.

--V--

The lanky creature is seen in a room, bowing down to somebody. The room has rusted walls and shattered, sparking light bulbs for light. A tattered carpet and uneven stairs lead to a throne.

"Prince Bokar, you mean to tell me that you failed?" the person on the throne is heard saying. They sound as if they are wearing a helmet, gender hard to identify.

The creature takes off its helmet. It's a young man with pale, almost green skin, and scales running from his forehead, tapering down to his nose. He looks up at his higher-up with slitted snake eyes.

"Your Highness, you must understand, this battle was different," he says uneasily.

"And how so? How hard is it to take out a planet inhabited by creatures that my bird can use as toys?" A squawk is heard. "Yes, who's a good birdie?"

The snake boy clears his throat, taking the attention away from the bird. "You don't understand, they discovered Voltron."

Metal is heard clanging. "Lies."

"Please, I am telling the truth!"

"Voltron was destroyed alongside my father. Your lying mouth deserves a lesson."

Two female guards walk up to the prince. One guard has lavender skin and short plum colored hair, while the other is pink and hairless. They drag him away by the arms, silently ignoring his cries for help.

Two more female guards come up. One is large, with blue skin and fluffy purple ears, while the other is small, with a mouth and nostrils, but no eyes.

In their grip is a man who looks to be the same age as Allura. His skin is a light purple, his hair white. He has pointed ears with the smallest bit of fluff at the tips and blood red markings under his eyes. His armor is different. It looks neater than what Bokar wore. It is silver with a dark red symbol embedded into the chest.

"Your majesty, we found him trying to make an appointment to speak with you," the large one says.

"You should be dead," says the person on the throne. "You and that damned princess just cannot be destroyed, can you?"

The purple man shrugs best he could. "Yes, I am well aware. Surely, I can be forgiven. The sins of the father are not the sins of the child."

"Debatable. Are the sins not passed down by your admiration of the man who committed said sin?"

"The same can be said for you. Please, may you let this go?"

The two guards begin dragging him forward.

"I am asking for forgiveness because I have a proposition to make!" he yells quickly.

The person on the throne is finally seen, putting their hand up. They take off their helmet, revealing a woman with light grey skin, pointed ears, and a half-shaved head of pink hair, coming to a long braid over her shoulder. "I'm listening, Lotor."

--V--

The paladins are seen inside the castle. The squishy things, which everyone had learned were called Arusians, giggle and crowd the castle, some offering food to their heroes.

"You showed him mercy. Why?" Allura asks Shiro.

"He looked scared. I couldn't just do that to him."

Lance nudges Shiro, offering him a cup of unknown liquid. "Screw morality, just enjoy the celebration!"

The camera changes to Hunk and Pidge.

"Wait, but if that was just one soldier...there's whole armies. This is a war, right?!" Hunk asks.

Pidge has his headphones on, and his glasses only reflect white. "Then we fight. Destiny is a gift, blah blah blah, don't think, become."

Hunk blinks. "That'd be really profound if you weren't being sarcastic."

"Who said I wasn't? Maybe I just have one of those voices," Pidge responds with the slightest smirk.

Keith looks at all the alien creatures. He stares at Allura, who is placing a crown made up of leaves on what appears to be a child.

Keith walks up to Lance, still looking at Allura, watching her smile for once. He nudges the other boy.

"How do you think everything is back on Earth? Where there are no space princesses and intergalactic war?"

Lance shrugs in response. "Bet everyone's doing just fine."

--V--

Colonel Hawkins is seen sitting at his desk, filling out paperwork.

A knock is heard. "Come in, it's unlocked!"

An older man with grey hair is seen, throwing a case file onto the desk.

Hawkins looks up. "What is this for, President Wade?"

The older man, Wade, narrows his eyes. "You know very well what this is about."

"I really don't."

Wade grabs the younger man's shirt. "So you're telling me that you didn't send four students- two of which who failed the simulation- on an unauthorized mission to find a fairy tale? And you did not give away classified information?"

Hawkins looks Wade dead in the eye and says "No."

Wade pulls Hawkins forward by the shirt. "Really?"

"I..."

"Do you know the trouble you have caused?!"

"I...I do, sir. But you wouldn't have allowed the search for the child, would you?"

Wade continues to pull. "That's because military equipment costs far more than the life of some rambunctious teenager!"

Hawkins shakes his head. "Sir, I must disagree with you there. As a father, I would do anything to get my child back. I put myself in the shoes of-"

Hawkins is left rubbing his cheek, looking at Wade in shock. "Our ships are to be used for exploration, nothing more," Wade asserts.

"Sir, all we've ever done is take. Perhaps I made a reckless decision, but honestly? If it takes five children to fight a war and do what we've been too afraid to do, I think it's worth it."

Wade pulls Hawkins by the collar again, yanking him through the door.

"Mister Hawkins, you were a kind man, but your time has been terminated."

--V--

Jeff is seen sitting on a couch watching television, can in his hand. The navy blue haired girl, Lisa, is leaning against him, tapping away at her phone. She pulls a white roll tipped with orange out of her mouth.

Lisa nudges Jeff. "Dad just lost his job," she says quietly.

"Didn't you get in just because you're his daughter?" Jeff asks.

"Not 'just because,' but that is how my fees were covered."

Jeff pulls out his phone. "Idea. I got you covered, babe."

She watches as he scrolls through old texts.

He pulls up an image of a drone. It has varying designs, from a small pyramid to something resembling a dog. "Drone that helps ya' round the house."

She looks at it. "Isn't that Matthew Holt's idea?"

"You mean Chip? So what, he's dead in space. What if we just I don't know, sell the patent? Money!"

Lisa gives him a skeptical look. "Or, we build it ourselves, show it off, get rich off of that alone!"

Jeff grabs Lisa’s hands in his. “This is why I love you. Always on the lookout for number one-” he pokes her forehead- “and number two.” He points to himself. “Operation Rover is a go.”

Lisa laughs, then hooks her arm around Jeff’s neck. “Eat your heart out, Matthew!”

--V--

Pidge is seen sitting in the corner of the party with his laptop. A scrambled message flashes on the screen. He pulls up a document, then writes out the message unscrambled. It reads “Are you okay?”

He types out a new message. “I’m fine. Where are you now?” He looks at the message, then retypes it as a string of numbers. He hits what appears to be a send button.

Allura stands over him, casting a shadow. “Do you not wish to partake in the celebration of your accomplishment?” she asks, holding out her hand.

Pidge closes the laptop. He gives a small smile. “Sure. We defended the universe after all.”

--V--

Chapter Text

Allura sits on a round sofa. Her pale blue hair makes a million tiny waves, constantly moving as she speaks to four small mice taking comfort in the folds of her dress.

"Yes, the lions did choose these paladins. Who else would have that power?"

Thud.

A sliding door closes behind her, its movement seemingly reflecting the emotion of those walking into the room.

"One moment. Speak of the devil."

She picks up the mice one by one, allowing them to cling to her arms, then places her hand to the table in front of her, letting the creatures scurry out of her gloved hands, onto the glass-like surface. She stands on her knees on top of the couch cushions. "Have you formed Voltron again?"

Five boys are crowded in front of her face. All wear white armor with small, colorful markings covering all over.

Shiro, standing in the middle has black armor markings winding around his torso. "No, we haven't," he says, hanging his head in shame.

"Then why the quiznack did you come back inside?!"

Shiro puts his right hand on the shoulder of the boy to his right. His armor markings are red and wrap around his right arm. "Keith here was getting a migraine from all the flashing lights and Lance's screaming."

"I don't have a migraine," Keith deflects quietly.

Allura looks at the two suspiciously.

"The one time you're not complaining about a headache..." Shiro mutters. "Okay, I was the one getting a headache."

Lance, all dressed up in blue armor with patterned markings on his right leg, rubs the back of his neck. "Yeah, sorry about that." He looks at the woman. "Hey though, it takes a real man to show fear. And tiredness. We're real men now, right? Can we sleep?"

A look of unamusement washes Allura's face. "Fine. You will get two hours to rest. After that, you will resume training."

Pidge, green armor adorned, groans. "Hooray, two more hours of sleep. You know, the human body can totally live off of that." He rubs his eyes. "Where's my motherducking space coffee?"

Hunk clears his throat and holds out his hand.

"What? I didn't even cuss that time," Pidge says.

"You implied it," Hunk answers.

Pidge scowls and reaches under his armor, pulling out a wallet. He places a five dollar bill in the larger boy's hand.

"Thank you," Hunk says smugly. "Allura, look, I'm almost as rich as you!"

--V--

Voltron - Princess

--V--

"Paladins, to your hangars!" Allura yells. She sits on the front right paw of the black lion as if it were a bench. She holds what appears to be a microphone, then hands it to a small blue mouse.

Moments of silence. The mouse holds the microphone up to her.

She takes the device and says, "I am sorry. I should have specified now." Her words echo through the room and no doubt, the rest of the castle.

Shiro shows up first, looking clean and proper. "Sorry ma'am, I was asleep and-"

"You were the first to show up. You are on my good side today."

Next is Pidge. His hair sticks up in infinite directions, but it isn't an unusual occurrence for him. His headphones are still over his ears, and his glasses are pushed up the way one may place sunglasses atop their head. "Sorry, needed my...what is the space coffee called?"

"Coffee?"

"Yeah, there you go. Coffee."

Allura facepalms. "No, I mean, what is...nevermind."

Hunk comes in next, a nervous look on his face. "Miss Allura, I am terribly sorry for being late. I asked Coran how to make space coffee. I was the one who made the space coffee, I cleaned it up. And then I started talking to Coran a little more. Did you know he had a son? He's really-"

Allura motions for him to stop all the while giving a glare. "Enough. If this was a real emergency, neither of you would need 'space coffee.'"

"Man, a world without coffee is a world I don't wanna live in," Pidge says tiredly.

Lance walks in. His armor is clean, his hair is well kept. He presents himself much like Shiro, except he was asked:

"Why are you so late?"

Lance's overly confident smile falls. "I hit snooze. A lot. Sleep is valuable, don't you know?"

Keith walks in last. His hair is disheveled, though not as badly as Pidge's. Despite being suited up in his bright armor, he rubs the tiredness from his eyes still.

"Let me guess, 'snooze button?'"

Keith gives a blank stare. Every word to tumble out of his mouth is flat and deadpan. "I hardly got sleep. I was half asleep. Then you called and I thought to myself, 'what are the chances that the Princess is just messing with us? Yeah, she's just messing with us.' Then I half-slept to the sound of Lance's alarm next-door."

Allura takes a breath. Under her breath, she mutters, "Father, give me strength."

"Miss, our mission?" Shiro asks calmly. "You've never come into the hangar with us for training..."

"That's because it is not training!" Allura announces in a very chipper tone as if she were gushing over a product in an infomercial.

Lance throws his hands up. "Woahwoahwoah. What? We haven't even formed Voltron yet? And you're already putting us out there?!"

"Yeah, you haven't even told us what the hell we're fighting against," Keith adds.

"That is because it is not a mission that should not involve combat!" She was really trying to sell them this mission.

"Aww, that sounds nice," Hunk responds.

Shiro looks around. "And the mission is?"

"For the last seven years, Coran and I have been the only people living here. Now there are three point five times as many people aboard. We must restock on food, hygiene products, clothing- if you would like, that is. We also need a few new parts for the ship, since functions such as the training room have hardly been used in just as long." She continues with the chipper tone, only to softly muter at the end, "And I may or may not have destroyed a few training robots the last time I went in there..."

"So, we're going to what? A space mall? Space flea market?" Pidge asks.

"A swap moon!" Allura almost squeals.

"So, a flea market." Keith states.

Allura shrugs. "You can find a swap moon in about every other solar system. What makes them great is the inconsistency. In one solar system, the swap moon may be broken down and a breeding ground for crime, but in another, you may find something shiny."

Shiro claps his hands together. "And you're excited about that because?"

"Bargains."

Lance cocks his head to the side. "But you're a princess..."

Allura's eyebrows fall into heavy, flat lines. The words to come out of her mouth sound as if they came from Pidge. If Pidge managed to make his remarks sound oddly formal, that is. "You are absolutely correct. As your commander, the highest authority, I can simply pull an infinite amount of currency from where the sun does not shine."

Pidge cracks a large grin, trying not to laugh loudly. Lance stares, taken aback.

"Now, to your lions."

--V--

"Keep going straight. Keep going straight. Keep traveling further into the abyss that is space- wait, no, turn right ever so slightly," a man says. Coran, the man with bright orange hair and blue markings under his eyes, is leaning over Shiro as he flies his lion through space. Shiro does not seem happy.

In front of Shiro are four screens, two on the left, two on the right.

On the upper left screen, Pidge is talking. A white blur on his glasses hides his eyes, but his crooked smile shows enough.

"...so when ship wars broke out, I was always the one moderator who was quick to respond, call 'em all idiots, and then clean up all the messages," Pidge says as if he's reminiscing over something fun. In front of him, there is a screen in the middle, and the upper left one is missing. Lance is in the lower right.

"I miss internet access," Lance mutters. "I miss the crapposts. I miss getting annoyed by that one family member who thinks that their life is so fascinating. 'Oh look, I ate a freaking sandwich! Ooh, ah, praise me!' At least then I knew they were okay."

On Lance's lower left screen is Hunk. "Maybe there's a space internet?"

On Hunk's upper right screen is Allura. Keith is awkwardly trying to look past Allura, leaning this way and that. "What you yearn for sounds like the Universal Communication System. I would not recommend slacking off on it. It is a never-ending black hole of regurgitated jokes and meaningless thoughts."

"Great, just like Earth's internet," Keith grunts, trying to gently push Allura out of the way while giving minimal contact. He was failing at this paradoxical action.

The commander finally moves. "Thank you," Keith sighs.

Pidge, Hunk, and Lance go back to talking and laughing. Shiro keeps giving Coran confused glances as the elder man points forward.

"You slouch a lot," Allura remarks.

Keith rolls his eyes. He sits up straighter.

"You have a bit of an attitude, don't you?"

He says nothing, just presses his lips together, loosens, then tightens his grip on the levers controlling the lion.

"I think one of my mice would like to play with you."

The red paladin hangs his head and takes a deep breath. "Commander, what do you want from me?"

"Reassurance. Hope." She leans over, the small pink mouse resting in the palm of her hand. She pets it with her thumb. "Voltron must be reawoken. I know you can do it. You have done it."

"I know that, but what do you want from me?"

"Reassurance that you can live up to the paladins of old."

He groans. "I know that. But why are you here with me?! Sometimes you're harsh on all of us, sometimes you give me fricking death glares. And now you're playing nice but also not really? What is it, woman?!"

Allura places the ball of fur on Keith's shoulder. "I want to ensure that this lion is in good hands." Her mouth seems to make a slight frown. "It was my father's," she says solemnly.

His eyes go wide, eyebrows knitting together. "Oh," is all he can manage for a moment. "I'm sorry." He taps his thumbs on the levers, trying to create some sort of background noise other than the almost static-like sounds of laughter from the intercoms. "That reminds me. In my closet, I found some clothes..."

"Don’t touch them!"

"I wasn't going to!" he says quickly, leaving his thumbs hooked around the levers but flaring his fingers out as if he were putting his hands up. "I just wanted to let you know."

"...Thank you for telling me."

The mouse nuzzles his cheek with closed eyes in silence, as if giving reassurance for something. Then, it stops movings its head. It begins nibbling. He lets go of the levers and reaches for the pastel-colored rodent. It runs up his neck, leaving him shuddering. It settles down atop his head, resting in his hair. He reaches for it, stopping short as Allura puts up her hand.

She claps her hands and puts her right hand to Keith's right shoulder. The mouse scurries back to its owner, taking comfort in silk gloves.

"My apologies," she says, stroking the thing, "They do play differently with different people…” she makes a noise, like a quiet chuckle of sorts. “The last person I have seen them play with like that was Lotor..." The mouse runs around the woman's body, eventually disappearing into her puffy hair. She reaches forward to touch the paladin's neck. "Does it hurt?"

He flinches at the contact. "A little, but I'm not bleeding or anything. Should be... Wait, am I bleeding? Is that why you're asking?" His eyes go from Allura to the 'road' in front of him, consisting of millions of stars, then back to Allura, eyes narrowed. "Wait, who the hell is Lotor?"

"You do not know basic Universal History?" She asks ever so innocently.

"No, because you never tell us anything!"

"He was the son of Emperor Zarkon and Empress Honerva." She locks her eyes on the ground. "He was my lover."

He looks up at her with sympathy, the word 'was' sticking out to him. This person was somebody’s child, not is. "I'm sorry. I am. I understand what it's like. I mean, you can talk about it if you want. I suck at talking, but I can listen."

She shakes her head and takes a step forward and looks at the lion's pilot, positioned slightly to the right, her back turned to the stars and holographic screens. "Every moment we are fighting, we are fighting in the name of him, my father, his father, our mothers, the Paladins of Old. For them, we must be strong. There is no room to let emotion blur our vision in the middle of battle, lest we let them down. We let ourselves down. We let the universe down."

"But wouldn't it be nice to talk though? Maybe not to me, but Shiro maybe? He's level-headed, he can give advice. Or Hunk, since he seems to be good with people. Or Pidge can rationalize things. Or even Lance, he would probably eat up spending time with you."

She looks down at him with raised eyebrows. "Do you ever talk to anybody? Anyone at all."

"I read books."

“King of hypocrisy,” she snickers.

"Hey, what's going on in the Red Lion over there? Looks nice," Lance snickers over the intercom.

Allura twirls around, her face hardening once more. "And why is that?"

"I dunno. I mean, I kinda wanted to be the one who gets to have a moment of peace with the princess...You know, I'll gladly take up on Keith's offer to listen to you."

Keith looks around. "How long have you been listening?"

"Long enough to know you're stealing my girl!"

On the upper left and lower left screens, Pidge and Hunk can both be seen burying their faces in their hands.

Keith opens his mouth, but Allura immediately shushes him. "Firstly, I belong to nobody. Even when I was engaged to Lotor, I did not belong to him. Secondly, I am no princess- princesses have kingdoms to rule over. Finally, there is no room to cry on shoulders in war."

Both Keith and Lance stare at her, mouths agape.

"What?"

"You were engaged to this guy?!" They say in unison.

"That is the part you are curious about? My love life?"

Keith leans back in his chair and crosses his arms. "I don't think it's so much that as it is-"

"How old are you again?" Lance asks.

Allura opens her mouth, but Coran yells over Shiro's intercom. "The Ruimtellaan Swap Moon is just up ahead."

Keith squints and shields his eyes slightly. "It's really...bright."

Sure enough, the moon was covered in bright lights and neon signs.

--V--

Five paladins out of their lions. No armor, just street clothes. Plus a butler.

The commander stands in front of them. Her long pink dress flows as she walks back and forth. The collar of the cape she wears seems to give her the allusion of size, making her intimidating.

"Alright. Some ground rules," she announces with a boom.

"Rule one- stay together. The paladins of Voltron must stay together at all times as a safety precaution."

Pidge snickers. "That's a mighty fine load of bull there, Allura. I'm not staying with these dumbashes. I been stuck with them in a castle for two weeks, you really gonna limit our one day of freedom?"

Allura gives him a cold look and moves on. "Rule two- stay within close proximity to Coran. If you do wish to wander off, check in with him. Ensure you can make it back to him quickly if necessary."

"Will do, ma'am," Hunk says innocently.

She smiles. "Rule three- spend responsibly. I do not have endless money."

Shiro gives her a nod. "I'll keep track of purchases."

"Rule four- keep your keys on you at all times."

Lance nods with a smirk. "In case we need a huge robot to uncover crime in a mall. Nice."

She shakes her head. "They can be used for defense. However, above all else, should you be split apart, should you be unable to activate your keys, I hope that you have brought a backup means of defense. And if not...well. Anything can be a weapon."

Keith pats the pocket of his jacket. Pidge pulls out a pair of scissors from his hoodie pocket.

Allura smiles with pride.

"Now go on. I have my own affairs to attend to," she says, putting up her left hand as she walks off.

Keith turns to watch her. "Wait."

She stops. "What?"

"You're not staying nearby? What about safety? The rules you made?"

She laughs as if this was the darndest thing. "You are the paladins of Voltron. Not my paladins. If anything, I protect you. I do not need your protection."

"But you're royalty dressed in fancy clothes. Doesn't that kind of make you a target?" Hunk asks, poking his fingers together.

"Or, it visually enforces my authority and the consequences of putting your hands on someone of high status. Now, I will see you here in an hour." She turns back around to face the path to the Swap Moon. Her sheer cape flows behind her like smoke.

"This is like some crooked fairy tale, I swear." Keith mumbles. “Got a princess, aliens that look like elves, five knights, a magical destiny…”

“Nah, think we’re grounded enough in reality,” Lance whispers, giving the red paladin a nudge and pointing to a scene unfolding.

Coran counts several bills, which are transparent blue and impossibly thin, then places them in Shiro’s hand. “...and ten! Now, to the Casino!”

Shiro suddenly looks lost. “Wait, what?!”

--V--

Allura walks through automatic sliding doors. A bell rings, but there is no bell above the door.

Somebody can be heard talking. Something like a television hangs above the register. A laugh track plays.

A short, green creature stands behind a register. Many tentacles sort metallic pieces behind the counter, putting them under glass.

She places a notepad on the glass counter. “Hello. I am here to buy some materials.”

The creature looks up at her. It stares at the ringlet on her forehead. It grins and pops the cash register open with a tentacle.

--V--

Shiro looks around warily, following Coran closely.

There are no ceiling lights, but many, many machines light the way.

“...this is how you get the proper funds for a trip through the mall. Now, try not to bet too much, that is how I lost my son!” Coran explains, laughing hard at the last part.

“What?!” Shiro asks. He looks back at the rest of the group, then pats himself down. Were they also on the table for betting? Nobody’s stolen his kidneys yet, right? No puncture marks. Okay. Coran isn’t betting them. Hopefully.

“What about what?” He asks back, twirling his mustache.

Shiro pulls his hand away from his torso. “Your son.”

Coran laughs. “I did not bet him. But that is what I would have preferred happened! Then I would be allowed visits! Now I only see him and my wife in my dreams.”

Shiro looks confused. He turns his head to the rest of the group.

Keith it seems is just as confused. Pidge’s glasses conceal however he feels. Hunk looks rather sad.

Lance, wedged between Keith and Pidge, whispers, “Okay, on the count of three, we run and tell Allura that her butler is f’ing nuts.”

“I second that,” Keith whispers. He bumps past an alien resembling a triceratops, doing a double take.

“I betcha twenty that I can hack the system and we walk out with at least twice as much money,” Pidge says with a smirk.

“Guys, we can’t just abandon Coran. We’re not cheating at gambling either,” Hunk says sternly.

“I heard something about cheating back there," Coran says cheerfully. He begins taking a turn, no longer heading to the back of the room, but in between two machines that seemed to have long been broken, a fine layer of dust coating them.

He motions for the five to come near. They huddle together awkwardly.

"Now, Pidge, cheating is wrong," Coran says calmly with his palms together, "which is why my number one word of advice to survive the casino is: do not get caught." He cracks a rather mischievous grin.

--V--

The slimy thing behind the register grins, showing Allura rows of sharp teeth. "Nine thousand UC."

She looks at a small metal piece in his tentacle. It appears to be a gear. It's the size of her palm, covered in rust. "No."

"Ten thousand?"

She glares at him. "It is not worth that much."

"And how do you know that? Royalty keeps clean hands."

She forcefully places a palm on the glass counter. Blue ripples form, implying that it isn't glass. "You are correct. I do not know why it is worth what it is or even what it does, but my trusted aide does. What you are selling looks below that price."

"Then why are they not here?" A tentacle reaches out for one of her earrings. The cash register goes off again.

She quickly clamps her hand around the appendage and narrows her eyes. "Because he lacks the backbone to stick to his own prices."

--V--

“Five glasses of numvile please,” Coran requests, sitting at what looks like a bar.

The being behind the counter is robotic, wires running along an exoskeleton like veins. It whirls and twirls, mechanically grabbing bottles and cups. It spins with five cups balanced across its palms.

With a clang, five metal cups hit the counter.

Coran takes a sip. “Come one, try it.”

To the right of him is Shiro. He takes a sip, then covers his mouth. Keith takes a sip and sticks out his tongue. Lance tries it and starts coughing. Hunk watches and slides his cup back over to Coran. Bullet dodged.

"Humans, eh?" The mechanical being asks.

Shiro seems taken aback for about the twentieth time today. "Yes?"

The mechanical being gives a small hum. "I was born on Earth. Haven't been in a couple hundred years. How's New York?"

"What solar system is New York in?" Coran asks.

Hunk chuckles. "It's not a planet, it's a place on Earth."

"Ah, I see. What is it like?"

Hunk pauses. He looks at Lance, who gives him a deadpan look, as if to say 'come on man, you know the answer.' And he did. Keith shakes his head. Shiro shrugs. "Sorry, none of us have been."

"I see. What a shame," the thing says sadly. It then places a chrome bar on the counter. A wall of holographic text floats above. "This is your bill, by the way."

Coran snaps his fingers. "We will pay it by the end of the night. You see, we have a money maker in the back there..." he twirls around and points to the back of the room.

Pidge sits at a table, surrounded by aliens at least three times his size. He scoops piles of transparent blue bills closer to his body.

“Damn,” is all Lance can say.

Pidge’s mouth makes a straight line, the glare on his glasses making him unreadable. Then, he puts down a card and smirks. An alien, thin and pale, with long, long arms, slams its fists on the table with only a light thud. It tosses the thin sheets towards Pidge, then crosses its arms.
Pidge takes his prizes with a grin.

Some of the aliens lean in close, snarling and growling. Pidge pulls the scissors out of his pocket and twirls the handle around his finger. Some stay in his face, some flinch. All are angry moments later. He laughs and hugs the pile closer to himself.

At the counter, somebody pulls up a seat next to Hunk. A red being resembling a fox. He turns to look at them.

They smile. “Mind if I buy you a drink?” They- she says.

“No thanks,” he answers happily.

The fox woman leans closer. “Are you sure? A big, strong man like you should relax.”

“I am relaxing. I’m with my friends.”

Lance leans forward and looks past Hunk. “I wouldn’t mind it if you bought me a drink though. You’re muy bonita.”

A yellow clip on the woman’s dress blinks red. A similar clip on Lance’s jacket does the same. “I’m what?” She asks.

Lance’s face seems to fall on the floor, surprise hitting him like a slap. “The translators don’t pick up Spanish, do they?” His voice comes out like a deflating balloon.

The fox woman looks around nervously. “You all are weird.” And just as suddenly as her arrival, she disappears.

Lance buries his face in his hands. “Hunk, I am so, so sorry. I just ruined that for you, didn’t I?”

“I thought that was the point. So she would go with you. I wouldn’t have taken up her offer anyways though.” He pats his friend on the back. “I was surprised though. I know I’m not the most attractive, so I try to compensate with my personality. But she just…am I crazy or was she...was she really...?”

“She hit on you, Hunk. A girl was hitting on you. Because she did think you were muy guapo. Handsome.”

“Why do you do that anyways?” Keith asks. “The Spanish thing.”

“Because people think it’s hot when you’re bilingual. Tell me, what sounds better- ‘my abuela made pan dulce,’ or ‘my grandma made sweet bread?’”

Keith just gives him a blank stare. He slowly opens his mouth. “Is that really such a good idea? What if people don’t know-”

Hunk interrupts, saying, “Don’t bother, I’ve been having this debate with him since fourth grade.”

“I mean, even if I wasn’t such a beautiful man, I would be using some Spanish. Old habit from talking to my grandma. And now? I bet it could be used to my advantage in the future.”

Keith laughs. “How?”

“Pretend you’re interrogating me.”

Hunk and Keith laugh together.

“Ooh, I’m interrogating you,” Keith says with a grin, playfully throwing up his hands like a monster.

“What was that? No, you gotta do this-” Hunk starts playfully hitting Lance in the arm- “Gib us tha info,” he giggles, playfully nudging the thin boy.

Lance starts speaking quickly. “Hombre, no te estoy diciendo nada. ¿Me entiendes ahora mismo? Apuesto a que no. Me estoy riendo a tope en este momento. Pero no realmente. Apuesto a que lo estás haciendo.”

Hunk claps. “That was a success. Known you since we were what, five? And I had no clue what you were saying.”

“Now we just need to know why we would have to evade translators,” Keith says dryly.

Lance shrugs. “I dunno. Maybe we pretend we can’t afford working translators. Get some pity. Get some free stuff. You know, take advantage of shopkeepers.”

--V--

“Twenty thousand!”

“No.” Allura slams her hands on the counter.

A small coin purse sits on the counter. It’s blue with a single gold button keeping it closed. The creature wraps its tentacles around it. She grabs the limbs, tugging her bag away. Still, it fights to keep a grip.

“Come on, you got money to spare…”

Allura takes a step back and pulls. Hard. The thing finds its face slammed into the counter, ripples forming on the not-glass again.

“You know very well that a scaultrite lense does not cost that much. Especially a used one!”

It laughs. “How do you know?”

She adjusts her cape over her shoulders. “Even fools know that they are cheap. Mass produced.”

It continues to laugh. “Imagine how your planet must feel. Their cheapskate ruler. You must not let them eat, right? For budgetary reasons?”

She clenches her fists. She says calmly, “I am no ruler. No royalty. Not a princess or a queen. Because in order to be any of those things, one needs a place to rule over.”

“Then why don a crown and flaunt the gold you own?”

She leans forward and puts her elbows on the counter. “It is I have left.”

“If you had nothing left, you would have sold that gold so you could afford food. But, you don’t look like you’re struggling. Are you?”

She takes a deep breath. “You’re right. I’m not. But I also do not wish to venture close to that.”

“So, twenty thousand?”

She sighs. “Tell you what, while I prefer paying using orthodox methods, royals families do often have a knack for alchemy-”

“You just insisted that you’re not royalty.”

“Not anymore, but I was once.” She pulls out a strip of blue from her purse. A dollar bill, it seems. It’s glossy as if it were plastic, but too thin the be staying in its shape the way it is. She bends it, and it makes a crunch in her fist. Beams of light shine from between her fingers.

A diamond falls to the counter with a clink. “What will this buy me?”

--V--

A woman with blue-grey skin and pink hair sits down at a table along with a young man with purple skin and white hair.

“So, tell me, Lotor, what am I working with? Last I checked, your empire was fractured. How many branches are there?” the woman asks.

“Merla, why worry about such matters? You have me, my faction,” he responds.

“Your only benefit to me at the moment is power. Either you answer, or you fall.”

The man, Lotor, sighs. “Alright. Six factions. There is the main empire. The Galra Empire. But it appears you destroyed most of it.”

The woman, Merla, leans back in her chair. “Continue.”

“Then there we have the Drule, led by Zeppo. Then the Galveston, led by siblings Hazar and Dorma.”

“And why did they split off?”

“Differences in ideals after my parents’ deaths. You see, not everybody felt safe knowing that their newly crowned ruler was only ten years old. Although I suppose we were on slightly better terms before my ‘death.’”

She nods. ”Continue.”

“The Fire of Purification, led by Sendak. He is the most difficult to negotiate with.”

“And why is that?”

“His ideas were far harsher. While I suppose the Drule and Galveston do commit awful acts under the guise of good deeds, Zeppo and Hazar tend to be more forgiving, more lenient. Sendak...he never liked me.”

Merla runs a hand over the shaved side of her head. “Because?”

“He is not fond of half-breeds. Hence, ‘Fire of Purification.”

She nods. “Keep going.”

“Then there is the Deathblack group, led by Throk.” There is a moment of silence. “I personally do not like Throk much, given his arrogance, but I hear that he has tried to mend relations with the others- even the Empire, even Sendak. I was open to merging factions, aside from the Fire, but then, I was forced to fake my death, so surely they have fallen into hell and chaos once more.”

“You very well could have announced to the universe that Daaibazal’s prince is indeed alive, live happily ever after with your princess.”

“But then, I would have no guarantee that my people survive. By allying myself with you, I am afraid even Sendak would be disappointed with me.”

“Then why do it?”

“You wouldn’t have stopped the attacks until I died. But by providing a valuable resource, such as knowledge and what military I have left, you are at my mercy. You cannot kill my empire, lest you lose the war to Altea.”

“You know, you and your princess will die either way, no?”

“But if I remained against you, would you have spared my people?”

Merla nods, then sit up straight in the chair. “Noble, aren’t you?”

Lotor shakes his head. “If I were so noble, I would not be here aiding you. I am simply trying to salvage what I can.”

She smiles. She counts on her fingers, then looks at him. “You only listed five factions.”

He gives a nervous smile. “I did? Because that is all there are.”

“You said there were six.”

“Well, the last one is debatable, I simply assume it’s a faction now…”

“I can mine your mind for the information,” Merla says, holding her hand up.

“Then why don’t you?”

“Trust. I want you to trust me. Just a little bit.” She holds out her hand.

He slowly grabs her hand. “...They were initially a group of soldiers in the main empire, I often sent them to infiltrate the other factions. But now that I’m ‘dead’, and the main empire has mostly fallen, I suppose they are their own branch now.”

“They were allied with you, yes?”

He nods. “Yes. But where you’re going with this, no, they cannot help. They believe I am dead. I believe that they are aiding Allura now.”

She rests her chin in her hands. “Name?”

“The Blades of Marmora.”

She gets up from her chair. “I see. Come, let us see how the raid on Arus turned out.”

--V--

A television is shown. Alien creatures of all shapes and sizes are seen running around a field, throwing balls at each other’s faces. Half are dressed in green, half in blue.

“You have any clue what’s going on?” Lance asks, looking up at the television.

“Nope,” Keith answers.

“Which team are you rooting for?”

Keith squints at the screen. “There’s teams?”

“I think there are?” Lance plays a cup of water between his hands. “I’m rooting for the blue team.”

Keith laughs. “Yeah, I think I’m rooting for them too. Look at that little guy,” he points to a small creature, half the size of its opponents, running, trying to take cover.

Lance smiles. “Man, I love underdog stories. Like, against all odds, they came out on top!”

“...I just thought it would be freaking hilarious if they won.”

Lance looks at him. “You’re sadistic.”

“And you’re petty. Your point?”

“I’m not petty, I just care a lot!”

“Green team won,” Hunk mumbles.

Keith’s face goes pale as he looks at the screen. He reaches over and tugs on Shiro’s shirt. The slightly older boy has his back turned to the counter, watching Pidge in the back of the room. He looks at Keith, then turns around as he’s pointing to the television. On reflex, he shows a cringe when seeing the screen.

Shiro then nudges Coran. “Sir, I’m sorry but um, what just happened?”

Coran shrugs. “Universal translators can break. Sometimes, the brutality in sports is given a blind eye under the guise that there was a communication error.”

“Looks like it was so brutal that is was taken off the air,” Lance says. The screen is filled with static.

The static clears to show two figures. A blue humanoid being with webbed ears, yellow markings running along its blue, pupilless eyes. Pink dots run along the yellow streaks. Next to them is another humanoid resembling a snake. In between them is a short, pink thing. An Arusian.

“Greetings, universe. This is Princess Coral and Prince Bokar,” the blue one announces. “Live from Arus. We have a bounty up for you.” She lifts the Arusian up slightly. “Go on, describe them.”

It goes blank-faced for a moment. “Lions.”

“Come on, you just described them to me.”

“Robots.”

The snake man leans forward. “You know what we mean. The paladins.”

“They call themselves humans.” It sticks out its tongue.

“Draw them,” the man, Bokar, hisses.

The Arusian looks down at its hands. “I don’t have anything to draw with.”

The woman, Coral, hands the poor innocent a stick. “Draw in the sand.”

The Arusian takes the stick and begins making long strokes across the sand.

It draws a lopsided circle with a smiley face.

“Fine. We were given direct orders to not harm. At least not on purpose,” Coral says, throwing up her hands. “Call her.”

“She has been trying to call…” Bokar whispers.

“And you didn’t answer?”

“No, because I can’t! You try.”

He throws the silver object at her. She rolls her eyes as it hits her hand, then presses a button. She blinks. A hologram pops up with a message in an unknown language. The text is red and flashing.

She scowls, then freezes. Everything is still. The screen flickers.

Hunk looks at Lance, mouth agape. Lance turns to look at Keith, his eyes wide. Keith looks at Shiro as if consulting him for help.

Shiro whispers, “Coran?”

“Keep it down,” he responds.

The television goes blank, but a voice comes out. A woman. “Greetings. There have been some technical difficulties on tonight’s broadcast. Yes, there is a bounty.”

The primary color paladins all lean forward onto the counter and share concerned glances.

“The bounty is for Princess Allura Raimon of Altea. You may know when you see her. Fallen kingdom. Often travels without protection. Long blue hair. These hideous pink blemishes all over her skin.”

“I would not call them hideous blemishes. They are more like gorgeous lights embedded in her skin,” a man says, his voice broken up by static.

"Of course you find them beautiful. You have the same things.”

“You may see her with the paladins of Voltron. We have no data on their appearances, but I believe it may be a safe bet to guess that they are so dense that they’re all conveniently color coded. Black, red, green, blue, and yellow.”

Lance looks down at his blue t-shirt. He zips up his jacket.

The robotic bartender looks at them. It turns around and throws up its hands.

“If you happen to find them, please, report the news to the Universal Communication handle Dark Queen Of Amue.”

--V--

Allura watches in shock. She drops a diamond on the counter and grabs several bags. “ThankyouImustgonow.”

She runs out the door. People turn to look at her, a fluffy purple one seemingly taking some interest as he walks through the door. She pushes him aside as she pulls a silver communicator out from a space between the layers of her dress.

An image of Coran pops up.

--V--

All eyes are on the figures at the bar.

“Which one do you think is the most valuable?”

“Probably the big one-”

“Really? Not the black paladin?”

“What if it’s not even them?”

“Who cares. We could ask for money first, then hand them over, then run off.”

Everyone slowly stands up.

Pidge climbs on top of a table, then jumps down, almost falling on his face. He takes a handful of money and places it in the pocket of his hoodie.

He runs up to the bar, then grabs Hunk’s vest. “We oughta go now.”

Hunk begins walking with the small boy, trying to keep up to his pace. “Pidge, what did you do?”

“No time; gotta go.”

Five paladins and one butler speed walking out of a door. Some people give them confused glances. Some grin.

“What do you mean they don’t have communicators?!” Allura yells through static.

“I mean that before today, they have not left the castle without you, and have not needed one!” Coran yells back.

“You couldn’t remind me or attend to the matter yourself?”

“Hey, while you have Allura on speaker phone, you find asking her you know...what our mission is?” Shiro asks.

“I won too many times, okay? Okay?” Pidge yells at Hunk.

“Hey, who’s saving Allura?” Lance asks, trying to keep up with Keith as he looks back at Hunk and Pidge.

“It depends if she even needs saving. You said it yourself, we’re not living a fairy tale,” Keith answers.

“Coran, please, you can’t tell us?” Shiro asks.

“Look, Coran, I am almost to the lions,” Allura pants.

Static.

The screen of the communicator goes blank. Everyone quiets down.

Keith starts running ahead, weaving his way through crowds of people. “Okay, I take it back. We’re saving her.”

--V--

Allura backs against the blue lion. A bow in her hand. She looks around. One step away from the lion. One step into the bright lights.

Rustling.

“Come out you coward!”

SCREEEEE.

Something just scratched a lion.

Inhale. Exhale.

An arrow forms in her hand.

Pull back. Release. Into a dark void it goes.

Screaming.

A being falls. Purple fur covers it. It clutches one side of its face, shaking.

--V--

“Lance, you tend to her wounds while I fight off whoever-”

“Keith, you’re assuming the worst here.”

“Because if she’s dead, then what? Hate to admit it, but for everything she puts us through, she’s probably the reason we haven’t just died in the middle of space trying to run back home...”

Pidge rolls his eyes as they walk through the door. “Look, I bet she’s...fine…”

“Did she just kill a man?” Shiro asks.

Allura is crouched by the being on the floor. Her dress pools around her in tatters as the being- man?- grips the fabric. She looks over the man’s face, inspecting the wound. She looks up at Shiro as he walks up to her, wiping red on her dress. “Mortally wounded at best,” she says dryly.

“And what’s the worst?” he asks.

“He lost an eye.”

Hunk kneels down next to her. “And it doesn’t concern you that you just...what did you do?”

“I defended myself. He was after the bounty.”

She gives a cold chuckle. “I wasn’t even aiming for his eye.”

She gets up and dusts off her dress. The white silk covering her palms is stained red. “Let’s go. We should move the Castle of Lions away from Arus. Alert someone that this man needs medical attention. We can’t leave him to die.”

Pidge grabs his scissors. Keith grabs a knife. Shiro clenches his fist. Hunk points behind Allura.

Lance takes a stance, and a gun forms in his hands. White with blue markings all over. He has it aimed at the figure rising behind her. Then his eyes go wide with a realization. He drops it, and with a flash of light, a small disk falls down to the ground. His key.

Allura looks at him with surprise. Then it dawns on her why everyone took defensive stances.

“I-” coughing, “I’d rather die than live knowing that one of the tyrants responsible for this war helped me survive.”

A staff forms in Allura’s left hand. She looks over her shoulder ever so slightly. “You’re placing your blame on the wrong person.”

He lunges at her. Claws scrape across the smooth surface of the staff.

On the ground. Shreds pink and white of fabric seem to engulf purple fur. The pink and white staff is held across his chest.

Whispers. Everything seems darker.

“You’re only winning because you’re fighting a crippled man.”

“Then you shouldn’t have picked a fight,” she replies. “What faction are you?”

“I won’t tell you.”

She gets up. His hands grip at the bottom of her dress. “Very well. I won’t call for medical attention then.”

“Fine by me.”

She turns around, yanking her dress away with a tear. The swap moon’s lights seem to have died down. All five paladins look shocked.

“What?”

“What about mercy?” Shiro whispers.

The staff seems to dissolve into light. “I am giving him mercy by not outright killing him. Somebody will find him, I’m sure.”

“Actually, your highness, it appears that the swap moon is on lockdown,” Coran points out.

She looks around. Only now did she notice the emptiness of their surroundings. Only now has she really thought about the lights being dimmed.

She takes a breath. “We will leave, then.”

The Red Lion bows down for Keith. He steps onto the ramp, then stops to watch Allura.

“Aren’t you a gentleman.”

“No, I’m just here to make sure the lion doesn’t close on you.”

She cracks a small smile. “Thank you, Red Paladin, but you need not worry.”

She takes one last look at the scene. Poor man. There is no time to cry or be mad.

The purple alien on the ground picks up a silver object. “General Sendak? This is Commander Yurak- no, I didn’t get your errands done. I need help though.”

--V--

Merla looks over a screen. Many screens over a control panel. It beeps at a constant rate. She scrolls through messages quickly.

She grins, then turns to face Lotor, who stands idly by.

“Reports are coming in. There are several locations being reported, but the most common appears to be the Rumitellian Swap Moon. Would you be a dear and maybe go after them?”

“Why must I?”

“Because my second best lackeys are out and the best are tasked with looking after you. And I haven’t sent out the best in some time because I don’t want you running off.”

“You haven’t introduced me to anybody...

Four beings walk up behind Lotor quietly. A large one with blue skin. A small one without eyes. A slender pink one. A pale purple one.

The largest one puts an arm around his neck and grinds her fist into the top of his head. “Welcome to the family!”

The small one opens her mouth and lets out some sort of strained noise. She’s smiling. Laughter?

The big one lets go.

“...the hell,” Lotor wheezes.

The pink one pulls him into a side hug and pinches his cheek. “Awww, this is a cute one, Merla! He’s a keeper.”

The purple one stands off to the side. “You’re forgetting who this is. He isn’t cute.”

Merla smiles. “These are the best of the best. My generals. And your generals.”

He turns to look at them.

Merla begins pointing to them. The big one, “Zethrid.” The small one, “Narti.” The slender one, “Ezor.” The pale one, “Acxa.”

Lotor nods and bows. “Well, nice to make your acquai-”

“Cut the formalities,” Acxa says. “We can be formal later, but right now, come on Merla, tell us the plan”

Merla turns around and walks back up to the screens. “Honestly, the fact that she remained on Arus for so long kind of threw a wrench into everything. Yet, it's so much easier. Go, kill the paladins. Bring Allura back. I want to be the one to end her.”

“You underestimate her,” Lotor grumbles.

“Really? She didn’t even move the castle after defending Arus!”

“She had her hands full!”

“Who are you siding with?!”

“The remainder of my people!”

Silence.

“Look,” Lotor continues, “when it comes down to it, I must protect them, loyalty to either one of you be damned. My loyalty is to my planet.”

She nods. “I understand that. Do not think I don’t.” She taps a screen. “Feuds aside, go, get in the ships. We shouldn’t be far from Arus or the Swap Moon. In the name of your people, you can't turn on me.”

--V--

“Okay, so can somebody please explain what’s going on? I’ve been asking questions all day. We’ve all been asking questions since day one. No more vague answers. Please?” Shiro says from the Black Lion.

Coran raises his hand. “The universe is so vast that bounties can be held. To catch one criminal, you must catch them all. Authorities are limited to their planet. Places like Swap Moons? No security. Laws tend to be lenient if they exist at all.”

Shiro looks up at him. “And?”

“Somebody wants me dead,” Allura mumbles.

Pidge sits back and crosses his arms on the screen. “So, we’re not really defending the universe, huh? Just you?”

“And who the quiznak said that?” she deflects.

Pidge adjusts his glasses. The glare bounces off, then his pupils are seen. “You just did.” He looks off to the side, then back at Allura. “You sent out motherducking mechanical lions to capture people, tear them away from their homes, and for what? To protect your a-”

“Pidge, chill. Come on, let’s hear her out,” Hunk asserts.

“But she hasn’t told us anything else! Nobody finds that suspicious? She wouldn’t be ashamed to tell us if it truly was something on a massive scale, like the war she keeps telling us about. But there is no war, is there Princess?”

Silence.

“It is a little fishy that she’s not telling us anything,” Shiro whispers, his voice slicing through the silence.

“Yeah, no ish. And think about it. You can almost say she abducted us. Remember that one mission? The recent one to explore that new planet, fricking, what was it-”

“Kerberos?” Hunk answers calmly, in contrast to Pidge’s upset ramblings.

“Yeah, that one. Remember that mission?”

“...people died.” Hunk whispers.

“Or they disappeared,” Pidge continues, glaring at Allura. “What, did you need more mechs? Is that what’s making you so ashamed? Are we not the only ones?”

Allura seems cold. Her face is aloof. “Pidge-”

“Princess, tell me, did you take my brother? How many people have you dragged into this? The fact that Voltron seems to be a well-known legend, and that the Arusians welcomed us when we were ducking up their home. Clearly, there’s more people in on this plan that us- maybe they’re even more involved!”

“I think the biggest take away from all of that was this is- Hypocrisyyy,” Lance starts in a sing-songy voice over the intercom. “I mean, what do we know about you, Pidge? You’re asking Allura to explain herself when you just barely mentioned that you have a brother.”

“You know stuff about me. You know my favorite color is green.”

“All valid points,” Shiro points out. “Yes, Pidge, you have some explaining to do, although I’m sure your correlation between Allura and the Kerberos mission is just coming from a place of frustration. Lance, I think Allura should tell us her situation first, that way we can figure out what the hell we’re even supposed to be doing.”

Allura stands behind Keith, her chin resting on the back of the seat. “You only asked for an explanation on today’s events, not a whole tragic backstory. In short? Somebody wants to kill me right now. Why?” she pauses to look at her gloves. She flicks off a strand of fur. “Maybe that is why we need Voltron.”

Keith looks up at her. “Why do we need Voltron?”

She opens her mouth, then closes it. “There is no time to cry.”

“Then don’t cry,” the red paladin insists.

“I thought you were on my side.”

“Because I felt sorry for you?”

“Yes.”

“Allura, there’s more at stake here than whether or not you cry in front of us.”

Shiro looks up at Coran. “Can you tell us?”

Coran claps his hands together. “I can. It is some awful history, so please do not be upset with the princess-”

“Please do not call me that,” she mumbles.

“-at the commander for not wanting to talk about it.”

“So, long, long ago, there was a man named Alfor-” the mustached man is cut off as his body is thrown to the side.

Everything shakes. The Red Lion is thrown to the side as well.

Keith grips onto his chair.

There's a thud.

He gets out of his chair to look at Allura. “You okay?”

“Yes.” She moves the folds of her dress out of the way.

He awkwardly offers his hand to help her up.

“Thank you-” she says as she gets up, ignoring his outstretched hand- “but I don’t need your help.”

“Hey, lovebirds,” Pidge barks, “we’re being shot at!”

“Don’t call them that!” Lance yells.

Alerts all over. Over the dashboard. Next to the video chat screens.

Allura looks over the notifications. “Scanners show five extra ships.”

Shiro slams his hands down. “Form Voltron.”

“But we don’t know how!” Keith yells, looking at Allura, who seems distant.

“You can,” she says quietly.

“Then tell us how,” Lance insists. “Look, lady, a pretty face can only go so far. We need real answers now.”

The yellow lion is seen. It rams into a ship. “Look, we’re about to die, how about we save the exposition for later?” Hunk cries.

Allura pulls out her communicator. She scrolls through lines of strange letters. She selects one.

Static. A man not unlike the purple one from the mall appears. Cat-like ears and orange markings decorating the fur on them. “Princess, you interrupted a meeting,” he hisses.

“It can wait. Kolivan, I need your assistance. We need extra defenses as we travel to Arus.”

“But you have Voltron,” he states flatly.

“Yes. Please come?”

He lets out a long, gravelly sigh. “What happened to your paladins?”

“You assume something awful happened to them.”

“It is just a question worth asking, given the history.”

“They are alive, just...undertrained.”

Another sigh. “Arus in one hour.”

The screen disappears.

“Alright, paladins, in your armor!” She announces.

Shiro falls back and his chat screen shakes. “How would that work?”

The red lion tilts, and she holds onto the back of the seat again. “You still don’t get it, do you? The lions are sentient!”

“Wait, if they’re alive, then doesn’t that mean…” Shiro takes a moment to look over his hands, then slam down on the dashboard. “Form Voltron!”

“...they need paladins for a reason,” Allura follows up. “It was a nice attempt at strategy, however.”

Shiro hangs his head in disappointment, then gets up out of his seat.

Pidge can be sitting back, arms crosses, armor adorned already. His camera shakes as he bounces up and down ever so slightly. “So, we’re guaranteed to survive then, huh?” He looks down at the ground. “I mean, I get it, it just takes away all of the tension.”

Hunk plops down in his seat. “Does that mean we can just do nothing?”

“I would not say do nothing, simply that it is okay to move from time to time,” Allura answers, sitting in Keith’s seat.

Lance comes rushing back to his seat and yanks on the lever with a scream. There’s a flash of light. He stays still and wide-eyed.

Shiro is standing up, pressing buttons with his left hand, trying to put on the pieces of his armor with the other. Coran is behind him, leaning over in his chair, rambling on about something. Shiro looks down at the screens, confused, then at Coran.

Allura smiles, running her hand along the levers of the Red Lion.

Somebody clears their throat behind her.

RIght. Keith.

With a sigh, she gets out of his chair.

He takes her place, then panics slightly upon seeing whatever’s in front of them. He pulls a lever, slams his hand on a button, looks over the foreign language of the screens. He whips his head around to look at her.

“Go with what you feel is right.”

He takes in a breath. “Go with your gut, got it.” He places his hand on a holographic screen.

There’s a rumble. She grips the back of the seat.

The Red Lion plows forward into an enemy ship. Some sort of blade is in its jaw, sparking against the exterior of the ship.

The enemy ship spins slightly from being hit.

Shiro looks at everyone’s faces over the cameras. “So, we have to run off of instinct?”

Allura shrugs. “Is not every battle like that? Even if you strategize, it comes from a desire to survive.”

Shiro takes a breath. He steps back, then presses his hand to a screen.

The Black Lion reveals a pair of large, blue wings. It runs through the enemy ships, wings scraping the sides like blades.

All of the ships begin turning around and flying back to wherever they came from.

“They’re retreating? This early?” Hunk can be heard over the intercoms. “Yay?”

“Okay...if I learned anything from last time, it’s that it can’t be that easy,” Shiro says, watching skeptically.

The ships stop. The three in the middle lock together and begin folding like some sort of 3D puzzle.

Allura can be heard gasping. “They have their own…” She clenches her fist and hits the back of the seat.

Keith looks up at her. “...Allura? Answers?”

She shakes her head. “Later. Step on it.”

He places his hands on the levers. He leans forward and closes his eyes.

Pidge does the same over his camera, but with his eyes open. He starts rambling, yelling over the intercom, “If they have their own Voltron, we should take advantage of the-”

A flash of light blows them all back.

Pidge looks wide-eyed and scared. Keith is frozen.

Shiro’s voice crackles over the intercom, “You all see it too, right?”

Hunk and Lance nod.

“Evil-tron,” Lance whispers.

“Draco-tron,” Hunk murmurs.

The enemy ships are now one. Rusted scrap metal, shiny blue strips that must have been a part of something more impressive. Gold is embedded along the long tail- it has a tail. Long and spiked at the tip, with a pair of orange wings slightly above it.

Shiro begins hitting buttons. “Form Voltron,” he says weakly.

The large ship comes charging at the Black Lion.

Shiro keeps slamming buttons. He looks back at his chair. “Coran!”

The elder man is sound asleep.

He begins shaking. “Allura, how do we-”

His camera shakes.

The larger ship has a grip on the lion, flying away, ready to slam it into something.

“You have to agree on an objective,” Allura states firmly. “Voltron is built off of teamwork.”

“Okay, that’s great, fine and dandy. But who the hell is thinking we shouldn’t beat the crap out of that thing?!” Lance yells.

The Black Lion comes hurdling back at the Yellow Lion, sending sparks flying.

Shiro’s hand is the only thing visible from the camera as he reaches up. Then he grips the dashboard and hoists himself up. He groans. “Am I dead yet? I think I’m ready to die.”

Everyone takes a moment to look at him. Blink.

Lance claps his hands together. “Yeah, I think I envy you waaayyy less than I did weeks ago, man.”

“The universe’s only hope,” Allura reminds them. “The universe’s only hope.”

The Green Lion is lunging at the large ship.

It grabs the lion, twirls around, and throws it.

The Yellow Lion comes up behind it and chomps at the larger mecha’s leg.

It shakes off the Yellow Lion.

The Black Lion speeds into the mech’s chest. The Red Lion flies past and runs a blade across the mech’s neck from the back.

The larger mech grabs the Black Lion by the tail. If it could snarl, it probably would have.

The Blue Lion is slightly beneath and behind the mech as if sneaking up. The Black Lion crashes into it.

“Defend the Universe, right…” Shiro huffs, gripping the dashboard. He looks over at Coran. Still asleep. Maybe it’s for the best.

“Form Voltron!” he yells.

The five lions come close together. The mecha stays still as if contemplating its next move.

It spins around and begins flying away, picking up speed until clink.

A thick, glowing blue blade hooks into its shoulder. A long glowing rope trails from it.

Voltron was formed.

The other mecha grips the rope and attempts to pull back. Instead, Voltron yanks it backwards.

The other mech lets go, floats while flying back for a moment, the comes rushing at Voltron.

Pidge can be heard murmuring, “Oh, shi-”

Everything seems to go at light speed.

--V--

A fair skinned woman is seen. She has puffy pastel pink hair and two blue dots under each eye. She sits at a table.

To her left is a boy who appears older than her. He has one blue dot near the corner of his eyes and dark pink, almost red hair that comes to small curls.

To the woman’s right is a boy who appears younger. Three small blue dots are lined up under his eyes. His hair is hot pink and sticks up messily.

“Prince Avok, since the death of your father, you have been avoiding addressing certain issues,” a well-dressed man with blue hair states. He holds onto some sort of transparent tablet.

The older boy seems to slouch in his seat. “Why should we break relations with Altea? They are all dead. It should not affect us.”

“Sire, you are aware that the princess is still-”

“I am well aware, but what can she do?”

The younger boy slowly raises his hand.

The blue haired man points a stylus to her, “You may speak, Prince Bandor.”

“The Altean Princess may still be alive and well, and she may be the only major power left from her kingdom, what of the Blades? She is guarded by them, the Arusians, and I suppose us.”

The older brother, Avok, gives a slight chuckle. “My dear brother, that is a fraction of a dying empire and a planet of spineless cowards. Against what? How many kingdoms has Merla allied herself with?”

The woman raises her hand.

“Princess Romelle may speak,” the man with the tablet announces.

“We must be allied with the stronger side. I do not think that it is about abandoning a dead alliance so much as this should be about the best way to protect our kingdom. The Galra factions are unaffiliated with either of them. All we need is protection against them, right?”

Avok frowns. “I was supposed to come up with a plan like that.”

BOOM.

Everything shakes. Light flicker. The three siblings huddle together.

The formal man looks over his tablet. He taps around, pulling up several images. He throws the tablet down on the table for the three to view.

The enemy mech has Voltron pinned beneath it in the middle of several buildings. There are several surrounding buildings, which people are running to.

The three siblings glance at one another.

Bandor looks at the screen. He stares at it. “You know, if we are historically so closely tied to Altea, how come we don’t have robots to defend ourselves?”

“Budgetary issues,” Romelle answers.

“But, we are the government here!”

Avok looks down at him. “Again, budget.”

The man with the tablet clears his throat. “I am glad to see that you three are able to take a tragedy so lightly.”

“Show us the live feed,” Avok requests.

The enemy mecha raises a fist, Voltron still pinned beneath it. A canon forms in place of its hand.

--V--

Lights flash red inside of all lions. Paladins scramble to press buttons, make the lions do something.

Shiro grips the levers, finally sitting in his seat as Coran looks on in shock.

Pidge is slamming his hands down on things.

Hunk is carefully poking and prodding at buttons.

Lance runs his hands along the screens, making sure he presses everything.

Keith still grips his levers. Allura stands to the right, gripping one lever with both hands, feet firmly on the ground.

She pushes forward with closed eyes. The markings on her face glow brightly. Somethings pink glows beneath her gloves.

Keith looks at her, surprised, pushing the levers with her.

She places one hand on top of his. Her eyes open. They’re solid blue and glowing. She looks at him, then through the window.

The levers give way.

Voltron begins to push back.

The mecha backs away as it is hit with something blue.

Slowly, the five lion mech gains footing. In the Red Lion’s maw is a sword. Blue flames swirl up to the tip.

Both giant robots seem to hesitate as if they too were shocked.

“I thought...you said you needed us...meaning you couldn’t…” Keith stammers, looking in awe.

Allura slouches, leaning against the side of the pilot seat. “I cannot pilot the Red Lion, yes. I still cannot. I simply gave you a nudge.”

Shiro looks at Coran. “Can you do that?”

Coran puts up one finger and happily answers, “No!”

Voltron comes running at the other mech. Every step seems to shake the ground.

It swings its sword, colliding with the other mech. The other mech catches it and uses its other hand to punch Voltron.

“I would like to see this guy’s weapons,” Lance mumbles. “How are they kicking our butts so hard?”

The other mech charges at Voltron. Metal slams against metal and Voltron stands its ground, dirt gettings kicked up as its pushed back. It begins pushing back harder until eventually, Voltron is shoving the other ship. Dirt gets kicked up. A building begins crumbling. And another. And another.

Screaming. A lot of screams are heard.

Finally, Voltron stops, the enemy mech lodged half into a structure.

The other mech slowly rises up, stumbling.

The other mech has its own sword.

The other mech begins strikes. Voltron blocks with a shield.
The mech now has a mace and swings again, harder this time. Voltron is pushed back slightly.

“Hunk, shields down,” Shiro orders.

“But-”

“But we can’t do anything hiding behind a shield.”

Voltron takes a step back. The shield falls. In Voltron’s left hand is a grappling hook.

“Wait...Pidge, is that your weapon?” Lance asks, the slightest hint of a giggle in his voice.

“I guess so,” Pidge says smugly.

The hook is spiked all over like thorns. Voltron slowly swings it.

The other mech is pulled closer, and Voltron uses its right hand to punch it.

The other mech skids through the dirt and grabs the grappling hook. It spreads its orange wings. If it could smirk, it probably would have. It takes off flying.

Voltron get dragged along. The string of the grappling hook fizzles away and Voltron falls slightly before spreading its own blue wings. The enemy is still flying up.

“Do you think he didn’t notice?” Hunk asks, leaning forward to watch.

“Maybe?” Shiro answers. “I hope so.”

The enemy mecha stops in its tracks. It swoops down.

Voltron is slammed into the ground again.

The mech is gripping Voltron’s neck tight as if it would do something.

It tears the right arm off of Voltron. Sparks fly as the Red Lion unfolds back into a lion. It tosses the lion to the side, and it skids into a building, sending people running.

The Red Lion lays there.

“That’s possible?” Keith groans. He looks up at Allura. She’s shaking. “‘Lura?”

“I didn’t think so either,” she whispers.

The rest of Voltron lets out beams of light. The enemy ship is holding down a single Black Lion.

The Yellow Lion rams itself into the enemy, which is seemingly trying to pry open the Black Lion.

It drops the Black Lion on top of the Yellow one.

The Blue Lion begins shooting at the enemy. It turns around and looks down. It raises its fist and- hesitates. Something wraps around its right shoulder.

The Green Lion has a grappling hook trailing from its mouth. The hook is in the mecha’s shoulder.

The Green Lion begins running, pulling at the arm.

The arm is severed.

The mech begins falling back into five pieces. Each piece crashes to the ground, sending dust everywhere.

The Black Lion comes face to face with what Shiro assumes is the middle piece. It’s shaped like a dragon. The Lion begins slashing at the other robot. Sparks fly. The lion begins pressing down. A dent is left in the opposing robot.

Out of the Dragon’s snout stumbles a figure. The lion stops. It bows its head. Shiro steps out.

Slowly, everyone but Coran starts climbing out of their ships.

Allura takes place in front of everyone, now wearing her own suit of solid white armor.

The two teams stare each other down in silence. At least, the enemies were probably staring, as their helmets made it hard to see faces.

The largest of the enemies delivers the first blow, right to Hunk’s helmet.

“Damn, I was hoping to shatter the damn thing,” she laughs, watching him recoil from the hit.

Pidge jumps at her, screaming, hitting aimlessly.

“I’ve been so fudging done all fothermucking day! Don’t you dare put your hands on him!”

The smallest enemy comes over and grabs Pidge’s leg. He stops dead in his tracks.

When she lets go, he falls to the ground, shaking.

Lance looks down at him. Now he looks down at her. He pulls back his fist for a punch but doesn’t hit her. Instead, he hits another armored person, presumably another woman. She is tall and slender. She pulls his fist away from her waist and twirls him around, putting her left arm around his neck and pulling him closer, pressing against his throat.

Shiro helps Pidge up. Something small and bright almost hits them.

Another female figure stands there holding a gun.

Keith runs past the slender woman, grabbing the hand placed near Lance’s neck, pulling her off balance as he runs towards one with the gun.

Allura and the remaining figure look at one another. He doesn’t get involved with the escalating fight. He just watches. Slowly, she backs away from him to fight.

Hunk pats Lance on the back, holding a transparent blue shield up for the two of them.

“You can’t do much from behind a shield,” Lance whispers at the large lady looks at them, waiting for them to make a move.

Hunk sighs. He lets it down. She has a mace. He raises his fists. She grabs his arm and swings him into Lance.

Pidge pulls a pair of scissors out from underneath his breastplate. He jabs them at the large woman’s back. The one with the gun grabs his hand and buts the handle of the scissors into his helmet, making a loud crunch.

Keith hits her in the side with a sword. A red, glittering sword.

She holds her side and looks down. There’s a sharp dent in her armor. She looks up, then at something else. Allura.

Allura is shooting arrows at blurs. It jumps from location to location until finally, she grips the bow. In a flash of light, it becomes a staff. She swings it low until the thing trips. It was the small one.

The small one scrambles to the rest of the fight. She tugs at Hunk’s armor from the back.

“Pidge, you can just ask me for a shield,” Hunk says, reaching back. His eyes go wide as he grips some abnormally shaped limb and he shudders. It’s not Pidge.

She sits atop his shoulders and hugs his helmeted face. Pidge runs up and tugs at the thing’s tail. He stops panicking and puts up a shield, pushing the small paladin away. He sort of stumbles around, the small woman still holding onto him.

Allura runs up to the shield and runs a sword across its surface. It cracks, then starts fizzing away.

Lance and Keith both stop in their tracks and yell in unison from across the battlefield, “You can do that?!”

She grunts as she pulls the small woman off of Hunk. “Yes, I can do that.”

The small enemy slips away from her arms, quickly yanking off her helmet, revealing a face with no eyes and a wide mouth. She opens her mouth wide, letting out a high pitched noise. Glass cracks and warning signs pop up all over Allura's helmet.

She hesitates. "Dismiss," she says. When everything clears, the small one is already running around again, tripping up paladins.

She gets ready to run after her again, but freezes as something hits her back.

Gun woman.

Allura turns around, staff forming in hand.

The gun woman’s gun turns into a sword.

CLING

Sword meet staff. The staff gets pushed back.

Allura twirls her staff and knocks the sword away. Gun woman grabs the staff and pushes it into Allura’s chest, knocking out her breath.

Gun woman has one knee on Allura’s chest, one hand on her throat. In the opposite hand, her sword reforms. It glitters in the setting sun as she holds it up. She brings it down upon the princess’ neck.

But it doesn’t.

Instead, she clashes with another sword.

The male enemy is blocking gun woman. His sword is a silvery color with purple gems embedded here and there. Allura looks at it in shock, then at the man.

He pushes the woman away, leaving her in confusion.

Allura begins backing away, still barely sitting up. “You’re...you…”

The man’s head hangs. Something red glows inside the helmet, like some sort of signal to her.

“Traitor,” she whispers. She pushes herself off of the ground.

The gun woman looks at the man. She shakes her head. She yanks off her helmet, revealing purple hair. She yells, “Retreat!”

All enemies stop in their tracks. The large one drops Shiro and Pidge. The small one jumps down from Keith’s shoulders, leaving him disoriented. Hunk catches him. The thin one is dipping Lance over, then drops him.

All rush to their ships. The man looks at the middle ship. The gun woman follows him. “Busted, huh?” She sighs. “I’ll call Merla.”

Lance dusts the dirt off of his armor. “Hey, commander, you alright?”

She stares off at the man and woman.

“To your lions,” she says in a low and bitter tone.

Shiro walks up behind her. “Shouldn’t we offer the locals some help?”

She whips her head around. “I said to your lions.”

--V--

There’s an air of awkward silence on the way back. Allura just rests her chin on the back of Keith’s chair. Sometimes her eyes are closed, sometimes she’s staring at the floor.

"Do you want to talk about it?" Keith asks.

"You never talk about anything," she mumbles. "Of all the paladins, I know nothing of your family or what you miss about home."

"Yeah, but alsooo, the universe has never depended on my ability to talk about my feelings." His voice goes quieter, "I know you saw something out there."

"Later," she mumbles, closing her eyes.

Upon arriving at the Castle of Lions, Allura weakly makes an announcement as she follows Keith out of the Red Lion, eyes still on the ground. “Five minutes. You all have five minutes to get in some comfortable clothes, then I will explain.”

--V--

The same cat-like creature that Allura called earlier is sitting on the round sofa. Several Arusian are brushing his fur, weaving in a flower here or there. He holds a tiny teacup in one hand. An Arusian is sitting next to him, hugging a teapot and rambling on about something.

Four more large figures wearing masks are also on the sofa, contently listening to the Arusians talking about local legends.

The one holding a teacup, Kolivan, looks down at the teapot Arusian.

“I promise, you don’t look stupid!” the Arusian says in a high pitched voice.

“Okay,” he answers flatly.

The Arusian holds up the teapot. Her face is lit up.

He looks at his reflection. “Beautiful. I like it,” he says in a monotone tone.

The Arusian frowns. “You don’t sound like you do.”

He gives a small smile and reaches out to pat her on the head. “I do like it.”

Her face lights up again.

“Haven’t I said for you to not sneak in like this?” Allura asks.

“Then don’t make it so easy to hack open, especially if you're forcing us to wait three hours later than intended.”

Allura rolls her eyes and sits down across from him. “Honestly, I’m not sure what disturbs me more- the fact that you people broke into my living room, that you all broke into my kitchen, or seeing the result of both happening.”

“You have to be a heartless behemoth to tell them no,” Kolivan says flatly.

“Would you like some flowers?” the teapot Arusian asks Allura.

“Not now, but thank you for the-”

She starts to whimper. She drops the teapot.

Allura sighs. “Come here.”

She hugs the Arusian.

There’s a whistle. “You should go around like this more often,” Lance says, leaning over the back of the couch. “I like girls with tattoos. I like people with tattoos. Tattoos are cool.” He gives a small smile while blushing.

Keith is next to Lance. He tries not to stare. “Yeah, they’re pretty.” Lance gives him a death glare. “Nice,” Keith adds on. “The tattoos are pretty nice, I mean.”

Pink markings run up Allura’s arms. A collection of dots and swirls going down to the back of her hands. Her dress has noodle straps, showing that the marks go up her arms and possibly down her back.

“Thank you,” she says quietly. She lets go of the Arusian and pats the cushion next to her as a signal to sit down.

Keith sits down next to Allura. Lance tries to wedge himself between them. Keith lets out a long, long sigh and scoots over.

“Are they all cubs?” Kolivan asks.

Keith looks confused. “Do you mean kids?...”

“Hey, I’ll have you know that I am well over eighteen!” Lance shouts.

“I thought you were eighteen,” Pidge says from halfway across the couch. Everyone looks at him with wide eyes.

“You have potential,” Kolivan says, pointing to the green paladin.

Shiro comes over and sits between Keith and Pidge. He looks just as lost as ever. “You’re the people Allura called for protection?”

The Arusians continue to rush around with teacups and brushes. Kolivan stares blankly. “Yes.”

“This honestly has to be one of the cutest things ever,” Hunk cries as he flops down next to Pidge.

Kolivan looks all of them over. He nods. “I see your problem now, Princess. They are all children.”

Allura nods slightly. “Yes, and we can talk about it later. Right now, other things have to be addressed.”

She looks down at the ground. “Coran is working on upgrades right now. Tonight, we’re leaving Arus.”

“I mean, we kinda put that together,” Pidge snickers.

“But it is time that I tell you why-”

“You haven’t told them why?” Kolivan asks.

“It has been three days, I wanted to leave it Coran, but he prefers to dance around it just as much as I.”

She takes in a breath. “Once upon a time, the Galra empire was a single planet allied with many others. Then-” Keith raises his hand. “Yes?”

“Okay, slow down. Galra? We know Altea and Arus, now there’s another culture or place or race or whatever?”

Kolivan clears his throat.

Allura motions to him. “Galra.” She traces her markings on her right arm and continues the story. “Anyway, the Galra empire suddenly had blood on their hands. A handful of generals rebelled and did awful things to assert dominance over the ruler at the time, Zarkon.”

Her voice suddenly goes so, so quiet. “They destroyed a planet.”

“Wait, how do you destroy a planet?” Lance asks.

“Same way we ducked up Doom,” Pidge answers.

Allura opens her mouth slowly. “I am unsure what you are talking about, but if you mean by pillaging, then yes. They burned cities to the ground, did ungodly things to the remaining citizens, then killed them. And when all was said and done, they salted the earth so nothing may grow there again.”

“No way in hell this was a small rebel group,” Shiro says.

“Oh no, by then, it was a conspiracy. And when confronted, the leader of the resistance, Sendak, said it was to prove himself. And you may ask, prove what? Well, you see, Zarkon’s son was born several years prior.” She pauses. Several breaths. “The child was a half-breed. His mother was a beautiful Altean named Honerva. She was empress. So you see, Sendak had thought that the empire was tainted by allowing half-breeds and foreigners to rule. He wanted to take the throne.”

She picks at a few strands of hair. “The rebellion broke off. Now they call themselves the Fire of Purification. But you see, it was not the rebellion who paid the price. The few refugees from the planet blamed the empire. They vowed vengeance.”

She pauses. She takes another breath. “The planet was called Amue.”

“As in, the Dark Queen lady?” Shiro asks.

“Yes. The king raised hell. He attacked relentlessly, not daring to give up. He fought so, so violently. One refugee by the name of Alec Sigil created an alliance with others. He advocated peace and attempted to reach out to the Galra and their allies.”

“Sigil sounds like a wonderful man,” Hunk says with a small smile.

Allura looks at him sadly. “When the king found out, he was executed, and the alliances he forged were taken over and used against others, held together by threats of destruction.” Hunk can be heard giving a small whimper. “But, he did leave us with an idea. A weapon to defend the universe.”

“Voltron?” Shiro asks slowly.

“Yes. You see, the basic concept was intended to be something that can protect all. All defense. The Galra and their closest allies, the Alteans, got to work on this weapon for peace.”

All of the mice pop out of Allura’s hair. They know what’s coming. They all skitter into her lap.

“Over the course of years, they had built the Lions. Alchemy was used to bring them together into one defender.” She pauses and pets the blue mouse. “They gathered a handful of other allies to pilot the lions. The original line up consisted of King Alfor in the Black Lion, Queen Fala in Blue, King Blaytz in Red, Lady Trigel in Green, and King Gyrgan in Yellow.”

Keith looks at her sadly. “Fala was your mom, right?”

She gives a sad smile. “She died in battle. She died honorably.”

“After her passing-” her voice seems to quiver a bit- “Alfor fell into a bit of a depression. He was always on edge, always upset. The Lions thought he was no longer fit to lead. He moved down to Red, and Blaytz moved down to Blue. And Zarkon, who had previously not been accepted by a Lion, was chosen as the new leader. He had stayed the most level-headed of all.”

Everyone stays quiet. She looks like she’s trying to keep herself together, covering her face.

“Are you okay?” Keith asks.

Lance gives him a condescending look. He turns back to Allura. He reaches out as if he’s going to put a hand on her shoulder, but hesitates. He puts his arm over the back of the couch.

“It’ll be okay,” the red and blue paladins say together.

“Commander, if it hurts you that much, you can stop. Kolivan is it? Can you explain it?” Shiro asks.

Kolivan opens his mouth, but Allura puts her hand up. “I’m alright,” she whispers. She takes a deep breath. “Upon the final battle, the king of Amue fell. And so had the paladins of Voltron.” She pauses one more time. Tears roll down her cheeks, but she doesn’t sob. She tries to control it by wiping them away and breathing slowly. Keith and Lance both look at her sadly. They both reach towards her slightly, then put their hands down.

Kolivan sits up and opens his mouth. “It is highly speculated that their spirits rest in the Lions. Honerva was also killed. In the same battle, she had been trying to fend attackers away from planet Diabazaal, and the simple foot soldiers had overwhelmed her,” he continues. “The heirs were then crowned rulers of their respective planets. Except, there were only three heirs. Allura, daughter of Alfor and Fala; Lotor, son of Zarkon and Honerva; Coral, daughter of Blaytz.”

“Allura tried her best to hold Altea together. With the looming threat of the Fire of Purification, the Galra Empire fractured over what should be done to protect themselves. Few remained with Lotor, most fearing that he would fail spectacularly, given that he was just a child then. But among those who stayed, the Blade of Marmora was formed to infiltrate the more… aggressive factions.”

“You’re the Blades, right?” Shiro asks.

Kolivan nods. “And then that brings us up to the last several months. The heir from Amue, Merla, has vowed to avenge the death of her father. Coral very quickly surrendered and joined forces with her. Meanwhile, Allura and Lotor refused to back down and she attempted to murder them. Only Allura got away.”

“It’s a lie,” she mutters.

“What, Princess?”

“He motherquiznaking lied to us,” she says angrily. “That son of a biibohbii has been alive this whole time.” She gets up and curls her fist. “All those people that died in an attack solely intended for us. All the innocent people. He lied to us about being dead.” She begins walking up to the wall right behind where she was sitting. “He stabbed us in the back and-” she pulls her fist back- “he’s helping her!” Her fist collides with the cold, metallic wall. She grits her teeth, takes a breath, and laughs. “It felt good to let that out.”

“Ma’am, you’re scaring us,” Hunk squeaks.

“I’m not scared,” Pidge deflects.

“Ma’am, you’re scaring me.”

She laughs again. “Lotor was my fiance. I loved him. And he just...my feelings be damned, have you any idea the pain he put all of us through? The lives lost? Now he lives guilt free.” The tears still roll down her cheeks.

“Princess, how do you know all of this?” Kolivan asks.

“I saw him in battle today. He saved me.”

“They were all wearing dark helmets,” Shiro points out.

“The one male soldier had a sword. Guess what? Weapons like that are tied to their holder. Some people may have the same type of weapon, some people may have several weapons, but embellishments will differentiate them and tell you who the holder is. It was his sword. And I saw his Altean markings glow through the helmet.” She rests against the wall. “I guess he sold the secrets of Voltron to her too because guess what? Go ahead, guess.”

Kolivan looks at the paladins.

“...They had their own Voltron,” Pidge answers.

--V--

Lotor and Acxa sit inside of the damaged ship, Merla’s face on a holo-screen.

“How did you make it work like Voltron?” Lotor asks.

“Somebody in your ranks released the plans for it. Granted, they were hard to read, but I could tell that they were the real deal.”

“But, my mother’s name was a pseudonym, how did you-”

“Don’t underestimate me, boy. Did you really think that hiding her work under the alias of ‘Haggar’ would make it any less obvious of whose handiwork it was?”

Lotor sits there in shock. “Okay, and the plan? Surely you knew I would hesitate, that I would be unable to hurt her.”

“All I needed was for our generals to get rid of the paladins of Voltron. Then from there, it’s easy work.”

“But the plan didn’t work,” Acxa chimes in.

“Acxa, one day, my main plan will be fulfilled. Lotor and Allura will be gone. I will be gone. The cycle of vengeance will be over and you will do what you can to fix everything we all caused. So come on, be clever. I know you are. The plan didn’t work, but think of a positive.”

Acxa takes a moment to think. “We offer to help Pollux and bring them into the Coalition?”

Merla gives her a smile. “Yes. There is strength in numbers. Defend them.”

Someone is heard faintly yelling from outside the mech. “This is Prince Avok of Pollux. Reveal yourselves, you miscreants!”

“See that? The opportunity just fell into our lap,” Merla says with a smirk.

--V--

Allura is back on the couch, tears still flowing. “I’m sorry for not telling you sooner,” she mumbles. “I’m just as much a part of this team as you are. I have to guide you to do right.”

“I’m sorry for pressing so hard earlier,” Pidge replies. “If I knew it would be this ducked up…”

Allura wipes her tears away. “No, no, it’s alright. I’ll be fine.” She cracks a small smile. “In honor of this newly formed bond, how about a little training? There's still so much I haven't taught you.”

--V--

“Welcome to the holo training room!” Allura announces.

”Someone please kill me,” Shiro whines. He’s in armor again.

Allura is smiling again as she speaks. “I know my paladins, you may be exhausted, but tell you what. After this, I will allow you a whole day to relax...given there are no emergencies. This stuff here is important.”

“Alright Kolivan, give me your criticisms,” she says.

Kolivan stands next to her. For the first time, everyone realized how big he is.

He looks over them all. “The Black Paladin seems like he doesn’t wanna be here.”

“I really don’t. I just wanna rest, then come back to the fiiight. I want to be a hero, but you can’t just drive your hero into the ground.”

Kolivan looks at Allura. “How long do you let them rest?”

“I...I’ve hardly given them any breaks.”

He nods, then turns to Shiro. “And you, where’s your willpower?”

“I think I left it in my bed.”

Kolivan nods again. “Both of you should work on that.”

He looks down at Keith. He tilts his head. “You remind me of this agent we had. She was a scrappy little thing, but her determination always beat out what she lacked in size.”

“Thanks?” He takes a moment to think. “Hey. Wait, did you just call me little?! And what do you mean had?!”

“She died on a mission. Work on your temper and impulse control.”

“You hardly know us?”

“Firstly, watch that attitude, cub. Secondly, your lions chose you for a reason.”

Keith looks confused and somewhat annoyed, throwing his hands up.

Kolivan is whispering something in Allura’s ear. She looks at Keith, then back at Kolivan. She shakes her head and gives a motion of dismissal.

Next, he looks at Pidge. “Keep fewer secrets.”

The glare on Pidge’s glasses masks his emotion. His headphones are on. “Why? It shouldn’t affect anything as long as I work with others. Besides, isn’t it a little hypocritical coming from a freaking space ninja?”

“Yes, but it’s difficult to work with one when you cannot gauge them. Are you exhausted? Are you afraid? No one can tell. Do not be afraid to let others know how you feel.”

“Didn’t you tell me I had potential?” Pidge snickers.

“I am not saying that you do not, simply that you would waste it if you don’t work with your team.”

He moves over to Lance. “Don’t let your heart outweigh your brain.”

He squints his eyes. “...Are you calling me dumb?” He stands up straighter. “You just called me dumb!”

“I never said that but that may be the case,” he responds with a slight smirk. “I think I take back my assumption about the red paladin having a bad temper. Or perhaps that’s just it. Your heart took a hit from my statement, and your brain didn’t pick up quite what I said.”

Lance crosses his arms. “But it’s only human to use your heart.”

“I did not say to not feel, just to think a bit more.”

Lance rolls his eyes.

Kolivan moves over to Hunk. He places his hands on his shoulders.

“Yellow Paladin, I recall something that haunted your precursor.”

“What?”

“People are awful. All of them. Even yourself in some ways. But you must not lose faith in the world. Strive to make it better, even if it seems impossible.”

Hunk looks like he’s about to cry. “Is that all?”

“That is all. The former Yellow Paladin never got in much trouble.”

“Thank you for the life advice, you truly are worthy of your title as a royal caretaker, but what do you think about their fighting prowess?” Allura asks.

Kolivan looks down at her. “Well. What do they know?”

She walks in front of all five paladins all lined up. She stops and motions to the paladins who make up the right side of Voltron. “Alright, Lance, Keith, quick, how did you form your weapons and can you show our guest?!”

“...You mean the gun scare?” Lance asks. “I don’t know, I just wanted to protect you…”

She nods. “Keith?”

He shrugs, putting his hands up.

Her smile dies. “Where are your keys?”

Everyone either holds it up or puts their hand out. She nods, then closes her fist around her own. A staff rests in her hand now.

“Do this.”

Hunk looks at her as if she’s crazy. “You didn’t tell us-”

“Don’t think, just do,” Pidge answers. He closes his eyes. There’s a slight flash of green light. When he opens his eyes, he has a grappling hook.

Allura smiles. “Hunk, I am aware of how well acquainted you have become with our shields. It’s just like that.”

Hunk closes his eyes.

Nothing.

She turns around. “Tell you what- how about I make something for you to fight?”

“One training bot, please!” she yells to the room.

A robot pops out of a panel and clunkily walks to her. She puts a hand on its shoulder. “Holograms up; opponent only!”

Screens pop up. She scrolls through so many strange words, tapping every few lines. An image glitches around the robot.

She steps to the side. The robot has an image of a purple-skinned man with long, white hair.

“Is this the evil ex?” Pidge asks.

Allura nods.

Lance looks the image over. “Okay, okay. Yeah. Uh huh. Yeah, screw it, no way I can live up to that.” He nudges the red paladin, “You should probably give up too, Keith.”

Keith looks at him, confused. “Who said I like her?”

“Your face does. And my jealousy. Mostly my jealousy.”

Keith rolls his eyes in response.

“Training, start!” She yells.

The robot still moves clunkily, breaking the illusion that it’s alive. It throws itself at Shiro. He grabs its arm. It twirls around and twists his right arm. He hisses in pain and pulls away.

The robot is yanked back and thrown into a wall by something.

A glowing green rope is wrapped around its neck. Pidge yanks it back down to the ground. The image on it glitches out.

Allura shakes her head, looking at the image. She backs away, trying not to look. Kolivan covers her eyes.

The robot gets up slowly. Something blue hits its torso, leaving a small trail of smoke.

Lance has a gun.

It turns around, giving Lance its attention.

Shiro comes up behind it slowly. A gauntlet is over his fist. He winds up for a punch and clank. A large dent is left in the back of the robot’s torso. The image turns to static.

The robot twists around unnaturally, face half glitched out.

It creeps closer to Shiro. Something explodes in its face.

Hunk looks down at his own large gun in shock. He grins. “I did it!”

The robot is in the ground, twitching, trying to crawl. It sparks from every joint.

“Kill it with fire!” Keith yells, running up to it and slicing through its neck. The image of Lotor is completely gone as it collapses.

Shiro looks at him. “You just had to be extra.”

“Okay, we defeated one...where do you think the six other evil exes are?” Lance laughs.

Kolivan leans down and whispers, “Should we tell them that that was one of the ones you broke and it was on the lowest setting?” She tries to hide a smile and shakes her head.

Allura comes back up to the paladins and claps. “Congratulations, you just performed alchemy.”

“What?” Shiro asks. “I thought alchemy was something about souls…”

“Gold. Using other metals to create gold or other materials,” Keith answers. “Right?”

Allura nods happily. “Yes. That is how Voltron is formed. It takes a new shape, but the same materials are still there.”

“Wait, but our keys are tiny,” Lance points out.

“Consider the rest of the matter an extension of your soul.” She turns to Shiro. “And to answer your question, no. You can create a body, but not a soul. You can recreate a loved one’s looks, but not their soul. And if you try, well. I can’t tell you. Nobody has ever tried.”

“Altean magic sounds fascinating,” Keith says.

“Altean? No, any species can do it, Alteans just have it more ingrained in their culture.” She gives a proud smile like she knows all about the topic. “There’s all sorts of magic. Illusion, for example. Sometimes, you are stuck with this small object that looks like a big object, but when you touch it, it’s still a mere pebble. But if you train hard enough, you can make it feel real- you can even make it seem that things are smaller! It takes someone truly in tune with the universe to see it for what it really is. Then there are telepaths- I think the one small soldier we fought was one, and-” she cuts herself off, realizing that she was rambling. She looks embarrassed. “Sorry.”

“You smiled. You really smiled,” he says with a chuckle.

“Should do that more. You’re beautiful when you’re happy,” Lance says. Keith elbows him.

She continues smiling.

“The ship is ready to take off,” Coran announces over speakers.

“Alright, let's tell the Arusians goodbye,” Allura says contently.

--V--

Allura is bowing down to two Arusians outside of the castle. Both appear to wear warpaint and have rocks strung around their necks.

“King Alor, Queen Ariella. Thank you.”

Everyone looks rather happy.

Shiro leans over and whispers to Coran, “Hey, so why does Allura have a key?”

“It goes to the castle. Although, she does like to joke that there is a secret White Lion hidden somewhere.”

Shiro nods. “Cool. cool.”

“Hey, Pidge?” Hunk asks.

“Yes?”

“I never did tell you that you owed me for swearing earlier.”

His face falls. “Shoot.”

“Ca-ching.”

“Son of a witch!”

“Thank you.”

“Fothermucker!”

“Woah, your pockets are just lined, huh?”

“You know damn well they are.”

Hunk gives a giggle. “Thanks for standing up for me earlier. You don’t owe me anything. If anything, I owe you.”

Keith stares at the ground. “So, if the mice treat me the same way they used to treat Lotor, does that mean that I’m destined to turn evil?”

Lance bends over and picks up a rock. He tosses it from hand to hand. “Or it means you’re destined to become her boy...friend…” he drops the rock.

Keith chuckles at the notion. “Yeah, most stories don’t play out that way.” He starts laughing a little harder, “I bet I’m more likely to turn evil.”

“Don’t say that,” Shiro says.

“Since when were you superstitious? You’ve been joking about death all day,” Keith responds.

“Fair enough.”

Allura hugs the two Arusians. She gets up, dusts herself off, and walks away, looking back over her shoulder at them.

“Why did you come to Arus of all places?” Shiro asks.

“My father trusted them to care for me in the event Coran did anything...foolish. Now, obviously, Coran is still alive and well, but we needed someplace to hide. So Arus reached out.”

“So, basically godparents?” Shiro smiles at the familiarity of the concept. “Nice.”

--V--

Allura steps into the living room wearing a long blue gown. The paladins are all spread across the couch, talking about whatever. They all look up at her.

“Blue looks nice on you,” Lance says.

She smiles. “Thank you. Pink is the Altean color of mourning. I don’t want to mourn anymore.”

“So what I’m hearing is that you were a goth for a while there,” Lance says, eyebrow raised. Keith elbows him, trying to ask his own smile at that statement.

Shiro looks at them, then looks at her. “Well, I’m glad to hear that you’re doing better, commander.”

“Actually, call me Princess.”

Chapter Text

Hunk, a dark-skinned boy wearing an orange bandana is racing around a kitchen. Everything is chrome and spotless.

He picks up a knife. Four mice sit down on the counter around a cutting board. A purple one lays down in the middle, flops over and sticks out its tongue.

He looks at them unhappily. “Really?”

The mouse that’s playing dead picks its head up.

“Get off of my cutting board, please. You’re getting fur everywhere.”

It rolls over and slowly walks off, looking angry.

He dusts off the cutting board. He drops some sort of alien vegetable on the board.

A large yellow mouse stays next to the board. It rolls over.

Hunk reaches out to scratch its stomach. It smiles, then frowns. It gets back up and starts pawing at the food.

“Oh.” He cuts off a piece and gives it to the large mouse. It grips onto it and starts nibbling. The rest of the mice start reaching for its food.

The blue mouse tries to snatch it away. The yellow mouse won’t budge. The pink mouse tries to bite it. The purple mouse tries to break it up.

“Oh crud, stop, I’m sorry.”

The mice all stop to look at him. They go back to fighting.

He cuts off three more pieces. He throws them at the mice.

They all stop. Slowly, one by one, they take the food.

All of them run off but the large one.

“Why are you still here?”

It flops over again. It reaches out one tiny hand.

He sighs and puts the large small thing on his shoulder, giving it a pat.

He works away, cutting things up, occasionally giving to mouse a piece.

He looks over the pile of food. He slows down. “Okay, Coran told me I needed these ingredients, but not how to cook them…” He taps the counter. A holo screen pops up. His mouth makes a smile, but it doesn’t reach his eyes. “I can’t read Altean.”

The mouse nuzzles him as if saying it’ll be okay.

--V--

Voltron - Yellow

--V--

“Food!” Lance yells as he runs up to a silver table with one bowl of god-knows-what in the middle.

Allura, sits down at the table with a content smile. She picks up a fork, somehow managing to hold it so elegantly.

Lance sits to her right. Her smile falls.

Another boy sits to her left. Keith. He calmly twiddles his thumbs.

Next to Lance is Pidge.

Next to Keith is Shiro.

Hunk comes in with Coran, both holding food.

After putting down a plate with some sort of grilled alien animal on it, Hunk sits down.

Pidge reaches for the plate, scooting it closer to himself.

“Pidge, manners,” Shiro says sternly.

Allura puts up her hand. “Don’t worry about it. Manners are the least of our worries.” She reaches out her hand and says, “Someone give me the vegetables.”

Coran hands her the bowl.

“You know, our food supply is running awfully low,” Coran says. “We have to stop somewhere soon to buy more.”

Allura blinks. “We just went shopping the other day at the Swap Moon.”

“That was a while ago, Princess,” Shiro points out. “Also, we kind of didn’t buy anything there, meaning your supply was from before that…”

She narrows her eyes. “Right. Who has the casino money?”

Pidge makes a grumbling noise.

Hunk raises his hand.

Allura nods and points her fork at him. “We’ll stop somewhere soon, then.” She takes a bit of her food. "I don't want to resort to food goo."

Coran shudders.

“Is it that gunk I found in the back of the fridge?” Hunk asks.

Allura stares off into space and starts speaking quietly. “When I was little, and we were in the height of the war, we ate the food goo every day.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. It must bring back some traumatic memories, huh?” Keith says.

“Oh no, it’s just some nasty stuff. I don’t want to eat it ever again.”

Pidge leans back and crosses his arms. “How bad can it be? I mean, if we can subsist off of it, it can’t be too bad.”

Hunk looks down at him. “Pidge, it looks like it’s growing mold.”

Pidge claps his hands together. “Where’s the nearest planet?”

--V--

Hunk washes dishes. The chrome sink looks so clean still. It’s a strange sight.

He focuses on cleaning.

Someone walks into the kitchen.

Lance slams his hands on the counter to the right of him.

“We’re going to a planet full of rocks!”

Hunk drops a plate back into the sink. “Why? Shouldn’t we look for a place with life on it?”

“No no, that’s the thing. These people are like rocks!”

He nods. “That’s cool and all, but your point?”

“I hear that some of them look like diamonds are growing on them. Imagine how we'll be rewarded for saving them! Imagine how beautiful it must be there!"

“Firstly, your vision sounds boujee as heck, then imagine how quick we’d run out of money. Secondly, if there's an oversaturation of diamonds on the market, they're good as worthless."

“Is Lance spreading lies again?” Pidge says from the left. The other two boys shudder.

“Crap, Pidge stop doing that,” Lance chuckles nervously.

“Well now I gotta keep doing it,” he cackles. He pulls his headphones down. “Allura says the data on this planet hasn’t been updated in about two decades. Last update, they had tech but used it sparingly. Their economy ran off of trade of goods. Surprisingly, they don’t participate in the universal economy. There hasn’t been any word from them in the last two decades.”

Hunk looks at Lance like a disappointed parent.

“Hey, maybe they spent the last twenty years improving their economy,” Lance says with a shrug.

Pidge puts his headphones back on. “And the rumor about them looking like diamonds? Yeah, there are no pictures of the citizens. It’s rumored that once upon a time they donned a lot of diamonds and no one was sure whether they were jewelry or growths. It remains a mystery.”

Hunk shakes his head. “So, what’s this place called?”

The light catches Pidge’s glasses. “Balmera.”

--V--

Hunk sits back in the pilot’s seat of his lion. “So, of all the places, why Balmera?”

Allura leans over Keith on the video chat screen. “Because it’s the closest planet with life and we need food.”

“Also, isn’t it kinda shady that we haven’t heard anything from them in all these years?” Shiro asks.

“That too,” Allura says.

“What if there’s nothing, and we’re left with food goo?” Lance asks.

“I would rather starve,” Allura answers.

“Damn, you really hate that crap,” Pidge snickers.

Hunk clears his throat.

“Duck off, man. I ran out of money.”

Hunk laughs a little, then lets out a sigh while smiling. “So, what can we expect from this place? Really.”

“The people are rather similar to Arusians, it seems, in the sense that they have technology, but do not rely heavily on it. They still had a tendency to hunt their food but were still civilized in a manner,” Allura answers. “Or so I’ve heard.”

“And that’s all,” Keith finishes.

“Yes. That is all.”

Hunk takes a breath. “Alright. Let’s do this.”

--V--

Upon landing, the Lions kick up a lot of dust. The bright colors of the Lions stand out against the dark night sky.

“It looks like there’s no civilization,” Hunk mumbles, still in his Lion.

“Maybe they’re all taking cover because they could see a bunch of giant mechanical cats speeding towards their planet,” Pidge says. “I mean, I wouldn’t be scared, but it’d be smart to hide so you don’t die.”

“Or they’re sleeping,” Lance says.

“But wouldn’t there be some sort of camp?” Hunk asks.

“Allura, this was a pretty poorly planned trip,” Shiro says.

“I am not eating food goo,” Allura deflects.

“So, what now?” Lance asks.

“We’ve come this far, we may as well walk around,” Allura answers. “We could have simply landed in an undeveloped area of land.”

“Like a desert,” Keith adds on with a slight grin.

“Damnit,” Lance groans.

--V--

“...and it's quiet, no headaches from too much going on. It's just simple out here,” Keith goes on with a content smile.

“I get it, you like it out here,” Lance mumbles. "I'm ready to go home."

Shiro sighs. “This was poorly planned.”

Allura looks down at the ground. “Something is telling me that it wasn’t. Truthfully, I feel that this will be an important trip,” she says. “How, I am unsure, but it will be important. I feel it. The Universe is telling me”

“I see something!” Hunk yells.

"Alright, it could be dangerous," Keith says as he steps closer to Allura.

She looks at him. He smiles.

Lance crosses his arms. He leans closer to Hunk. “I don’t like this,” he whispers.

“Being outside or-” Hunk points to Keith and Allura- “them.”

“Both.”

Hunk pulls him into a side hug. “Tell you what, when we get back to the castle, I’ll find whatever the space equivalent of ice cream is, and we’ll find something to watch.”

Lance gives a little laugh. “I bet they’ll stop whenever we get back. I mean, this is just Keith being in a good mood and Allura...Allura being sweet.”

Hunk sighs. “Alright, man. I’ll have the ice cream ready for your next heartbreak.”

“Stop trying to be a good friend,” Lance snickers, elbowing his friend in the ribcage.

“That tickles,” Hunk giggles.

“Besides, that’s breakup stuff. I guess you can’t really mourn what you’ve never had…”

“You can live an unfulfilling life and grieve the fact that you didn’t achieve your dreams,” Pidge shoots back.

“He has a point,” Hunk says. “So, ice cream?”

“You care too much,” Lance groans.

“Love you too, bro.”

“Blahhh.”

--V--

“How long ago did you say you saw something, Hunk?” Shiro asks.

Hunk shrugs. “I mean, it’s still in view.”

“Why can’t we just take the lions up there, drive them like cars?” Lance whines. “I said it back on Balto, and I’ll say it again. I don’t have that much fat to burn.”

“We’re kinda far from the lions,” Shiro points out.

“Actually, it is possible to call the Lions in times of need,” Allura says.

Shiro blinks several times. He slowly raises his hands to either side of his mouth. “Black Lion, come to me!”

Silence.

Silence.

Silence.

Allura gives a small giggle. “That was a good attempt, but it doesn’t work like that.”

“I see something,” Pidge says. “Fire.”

Keith squints. “I think they’re coming to us.” He reaches for Allura's hand. He hesitates. She looks at him. He drops his hand to his side and looks away.

Something yellow comes into view. Several yellow things. Dots. Eyes.

“Galra?” Shiro whispers.

Allura stands still for a moment. She puts a hand over her mouth. “Could be.”

“Maybe it’s one of the good factions? Maybe they were curious too?” Hunk suggests.

“Perhaps, although if it were the Blades, they would contact us. And if it were one of the other groups, they must have liberated them from the Fire. They could be in the process of doing so right now...” Allura says quietly.

A rock comes flying at Keith. It bounces off of his helmet.

Another rock flies at Allura.

And one at Pidge.

And another at Shiro.

Everyone is being pelted with rocks.

Hunk jumps forward and puts up a shield.

Whispering.

Slowly, Hunk lowers the shield.

“Hello?” Shiro says curiously.

One figure comes closer. It seems somewhat reptilian, with growths resembling rocks on its shoulders.

“Who are you?” It- he asks. “What are you?”

--V--

A purple-skinned man with white hair, Lotor, sits in a field of flowers with Allura. Green stems and pink petals stick up and brush their legs.

“My love, I’m sorry,” he says quietly.

“Forgiven,” she says back.

She leans forward to kiss him.

He gently pushes her away, covering his mouth. “My dear, your lips are cold.”

“They are?” she asks innocently.

When he looks at her, the dark-skinned woman with blue hair is replaced with a grey-skinned woman with pink hair. Merla.

He opens his mouth to scream, but nothing comes out.

Why can’t he breathe?

--V--

Lotor awakes with a large, blue hand over his mouth. He tries to yell, but it’s muffled.

The large woman, Zethrid, moves her hand away.

“Zethrid, why?”

“Sorry, you were making weird noises. Didn’t want anyone to think we were murdering you.”

He looks at her. “Thank you?” He rubs his eyes and tosses his blanket to the side.

They’re on a tiled floor. Lotor, Zethrid, and two others sleeping peacefully, Ezor and Narti. Blankets lay scattered about.

“Are you okay?” she asks.

He dusts himself off. “Yes. I think I just need to take a walk.” He looks around the room. “Where’s Acxa?”

“In a meeting with Merla and the Pollux people.”

He nods and walks off.

--V--

Lotor leans into the doorway of a room. A long table rests in the middle. It reminds him of Altea.

The eldest brother of three siblings, Avok, sits across from Merla.

He has a cocky smile. “So, you’re telling me that I could potentially be the key to ending the war?” He leans forward. “Please, tell me more.”

“Excuse me but-”

Acxa, sitting to the right of Merla, turns to look at Lotor. She mouths something to him.

“I just wanted to go for a walk,” he whispers.

She rolls her eyes. “I beg your pardon, but Lotor wants to explore.”

Merla looks at her general. “Then let him. Go with him.”

Acxa lets out a long, long sigh as she gets out of her chair.

She tugs on Lotor’s ear as she walks out the door. “Let’s go, prince.”

--V--

“So, they haven’t even heard of Voltron…” Allura whispers.

The paladins and princess all sit scattered about a cave floor.

“Allura, are we getting arrested?” Hunk asks.

“No, no. They simply want their Chief to talk to us.”

“So, interrogation, then we’ll be arrested,” Keith whispers. “Nice. Real nice. This place was too good to be true.”

Allura gives him a pat on the back. “We’ll be fine.”

“And if we won’t?” Shiro asks.

“Destiny will bail us out,” Pidge mutters.

Hunk takes a moment to think. “Actually, is there some sort of prophecy orrr?”

“I think it’s just some trippy ‘the universe tells me’ alien magic BS,” Lance answers.

“Firstly, I feel that we’ll make it out alright. I do not know how this will play out precisely. Secondly, anyone can do ‘trippy alien magic,’” Allura responds.

Lance starts staring at Pidge.

“What are you doing?” he asks.

“Trying to see if the universe will tell me anything about you.”

“Lance, just leave him alone,” Hunk whispers.

Lance turns his attention to Keith instead. “The universe tells me that you like to steal my thunder.”

Keith blinks. He starts laughing. “Seriously?”

“This isn’t the time to do this,” Hunk mumbles.

“Yeah. I mean, look at you, passing the flight test and getting the better lion and being the Princess’ favorite.”

“I never said I had a favorite paladin,” Allura says.

Keith looks at him. “If I had a choice, I wouldn’t be choosing the literal right hand of Voltron. Why am I, of all of us, the right hand?”

“Because Shiro trusts you,” Allura says.

“Why was that? Shouldn’t you be the Black Paladin?” Shiro asks. “You know all your stuff, meanwhile I’m still learning how to be a leader.”

“Yeah, Voltron makes really ducking bad decisions,” Pidge chimes in.

“Okay guys, let’s not get into debates over forces we don’t entirely understand,” Hunk says quietly.

Allura gasps. “Pidge, Voltron is made of the souls of the paladins of old. Infused with alchemy and magic.”

“So, what I’m hearing is, you believe you invented a god?” Keith says.

“I never said that.”

“Then what is Voltron, really?” Lance asks.

“A robot made up of smaller robots which happen to be haunted,” Pidge answers.

“And those spirits were once mortal,” Shiro says. “Prone to mistakes.”

“But they’re also one with the universe,” Allura says.

“But normally, spirits haunt because of unfinished business,” Lance points out. “Therefore, not one with the universe.”

“But the universe could be guiding them, since how were the originals chosen?” Keith asks.

“Exactly. The Universe,” Allura says happily, clapping her hands together.

"Who's side are you on?" Lance asks, pointing at Keith.

"I'm playing devil's advocate."

“So, we're basically being forced to pray to God,” Pidge says flatly. “We’re putting all our faith into invisible forces.” He takes a breath. “Look, that’s great and all, but you can’t expect us to believe-”

“I never said to believe in The Gods, simply to trust the universe,” Allura responds.

“Right, so God,” Pidge spits back.

“No-”

“Stop, everyone, stop.”

Hunk is standing up, holding his hands out, looking over everyone. “We’re about to get interrogated, potentially arrested. This isn’t the time to be yelling at each other about religion or cosmic deities or magic or whatever the heck it is.”

Lance gives a small cough. He points behind Hunk.

More of the aliens walk in. One in the middle seems frail, lines running all over its body. Wrinkles? Cracks? Two stand on either side, both seeming far more youthful. One holds a basket of rocks. The other holds a basket of food and flowers.

Hunk gives a small, nervous chuckle and sits back down.

Allura puts a hand over her heart. “Greetings, Chief of Balmera. I am Princess Allura of Altea, and these are the paladins of Voltron.”

The elderly one nods. He slowly puts out a hand and opens his mouth to speak. His voice is a small creek. “Weeelc-”

A rock lands between Allura and Keith.

The one holding rocks looks angry. “I don’t know what Altea or Voltron is, but they’re not welcome here,” he says.

The one holding flowers sighs. “Brother, we haven’t even gotten through introductions,” she says. She throws a flower at Shiro. “Forgive us.”

The elderly one continues as if nothing happened. “Weeelcooome.” He takes a step closer. “Tooodaaay yooou wiiillll faaaccce juuudgmmmeeent aaat-"

The one holding the rocks sighs loudly. "Today you will face judgment at the hands of the Cheif, Bronn, his son, Rax-" he points to himself, then to the one with his flowers- "and his daughter, Shay."

The daughter, Shay, waves. "Yes. If my brother runs out of rocks, then you are guilty, but if you happen to be found innocent, I will reward you." She holds up the basket with a warm smile.

"What if we throw the rocks back?" Keith asks.

"Immediate detainment," Rax answers.

"That's bull," Pidge says, crossing his arms.

A rock comes rushing towards his face, causing him to duck down.

The chief, Bronn, smiles, paying no attention to his son. "Whaaat briiingsss yooouuu heeerrre?”

“We came here out of concern for the state of your planet,” Allura answers.

“Wait, I thought we came for food,” Lance points out. Shiro shushes him.

Rax puts a hand up. “There is no need for concern, the Fire of Purification is taking care of us.”

“Crap,” Pidge hisses under his breath.

Allura puts her hands together. “I see. Well, apologies for being concerned, it’s just that there are no recent records of communication from this planet.”

“Weee’rrre aaalrrriiight,” the elderly one insists.

“Yes. We have food and protection,” Shay insists.

Shiro raises his hand. “But, isn’t the Fire bad?”

The three pause and look at one another.

“We have protection from outside forces,” says Rax.

“Yet we were able to land here,” Keith says with a smirk.

A rock is thrown at him.

“Please, you should let us go,” Allura insists. “Voltron is a super weapon, something to defend the universe.”

Another rock in her direction. “Lies.”

Hunk slowly raises his hand. “We’re not lying. We’re just trying to protect the universe.”

The elderly one puts a hand to his chin.

“Father,” says Shay, pointing to the entrance of the cave, “the sun is coming up.”

The Chief slowly smiles. “Weee caaan’t miiissss thaaat.”

“But the prisoners,” says Rax.

“Buuut theee suuunriiissse.”

Bronn slowly begins walking away, his son sighing and following in suit.

Shay looks at the paladins with sadness. She drops her basket. She puts a finger to her lips and whispers, “Run.”

She turns around and runs after her family.

Breaths are held until footsteps are no longer heard.

“Well, you heard her. Let’s run for it,” Lance whispers.

Pidge holds onto the basket, rummaging through its contents. “There isn’t a whole lot in here. There’s more flowers than food.”

“Screw food, we have to help them,” Hunk insists.

“Yes. Voltron is a tool for good. Its paladins should embody that,” Allura says, standing up.

Shiro gets up. “Let’s form Voltron.”

Keith stands up next. “Summon the lions?”

“Or we just walk the frick outta here,” Pidge says, already halfway towards the entrance.

--V--

The three Balmerans in charge are sitting on top of the cave, looking at the sun in awe.

“It never gets any less beautiful,” says Shay.

The paladins begin walking away, from the entrance, looking up at the three.

A wall of earth, with the cave in the middle. On top of the wall appears to be plant life, trees sticking up, but not much else visible.

On the paladins’ level, there’s nothing but dirt.

“So, if we walk across this area, they’ll see us, and if we climb up there, they’ll probably see us…” Hunk thinks out loud.

“Stay close to the wall,” Shiro orders. “We’ll walk across.”

One step. Two steps. Three steps.

Something slides down the wall. Then another. And another.

“Where are the prisoners?!” yells Rax.

All the paladins look scared.

“Crap,” Shiro mutters, still frozen. He shakes his head. “Pidge, grappling hook! Grappling hook!”

Pidge pulls out his key. He throws a rope with a hook at the end. “You all can climb a rope, right?”

One after one, paladins climb up it, with Pidge holding the part it winds up on.

Shiro looks at it. “Go on, I’ll go last.”

“Shiro, you dumbash, this is my weapon. If I let go, you’ll have nothing to climb. This isn't the time to be a martyr.”

Shiro seems taken aback. He starts climbing.

On top of the wall is everyone but Pidge. Hunk looks down. “Pidge?”

He comes rushing up as the rope coils back up. His hand flies up, almost hitting Hunk as he tries to get a grip on the dirt.

The larger boy grabs the smaller boy’s hand and helps him up.

Pidge grins. “That was freaking awesome!” he says as he throws his fists in the air.

Hunk grabs him by the shoulders and turns him around to look off the edge of the wall- the cliff.

“What. The. Frick.” Pidge says quietly.

Technology. Ships with supplies getting loaded onto them. Ships with technology getting loaded off.

The citizens of the planet working away, gathering food, moving large objects, crawling out of what appears to be mines. All the while, purple creatures yell at them. Galra.

“I officially hate this place now,” Keith says.

Lance nods. “Yeah, no wonder they were looking forward to the sunrise of all things. This looks like…”

“Hell,” Hunk finishes.

“This is disgusting,” Allura says grimly.

Shiro takes it all in. “We go down there, guns blazing, and fight them. Maybe even call in some reinforcements? Arus? The Blades?”

Allura walks right to the edge of the cliff. “We fight. We look for the commander of this...this thing.”

“And then we negotiate for them to stop?” Hunk asks.

“No.”

“Oh.”

Pidge looks over the village. At least, that’s what he thinks it is. “Can we make Voltron wreck some ish?”

“Take out the ships, leave them with no escape. I like that,” Lance says with a smirk.

“Or we go down there, fight, and when we’re caught, we summon Voltron,” Keith says.

“Too destructive,” Shiro says. “Why are you guys like this?"

“Where’s your plan, then?” Allura asks.

Shiro looks at everyone. He looks down at the village.

“Lance, Hunk, long-distance attacks. Shoot down the captors. Pidge, you give Keith, Allura, and I a rope. We’ll climb down, free the prisoners. Pidge stays by the cliff in the event we have to run, and Hunk and Lance will keep watch over us.”

“What if I don’t wanna shoot people?” Hunk asks quietly.

“Set to stun,” Lance suggests. “I mean, the weapons do what we want.”

Hunk nods. “Alright.”

Shiro starts walking along the cliff. A stretch of landfills the distance, curving around the visible civilization.

He looks over his shoulder at his teammates. “Who’s ready to liberate a planet?”

--V--

“Why must you wear armor on an afternoon stroll?” Lotor asks Acxa.

A purple man wearing formal clothes. A pale blue woman wearing armor. The two walk down a sidewalk, past large, metallic buildings. People walk by, looking at them curiously.

“It strikes fear in those around us.”

“Why must you? The people know that we are on peaceful terms with Pollux.”

“Yes. And you see, little Prince, peace isn’t for everyone. Some people have differing views. Then we have those who just wish to see the world burn.”

“I suppose that makes sense,” he says quietly. “How old are you? You sound as if you have experienced quite a bit.”

She looks up at him. “Fourteen.”

His steps slow. “You’re only…”

“You wonder why we stay by her. Well, imagine being so little, so young, fending for yourself. Alone. Then someone comes along and finds you and protects you. They’re a damn child too, but they have their stuff together. Army like a family, she brings you in. Then it’s the two of you against the world. The three, then four, then five.”

“Just because someone performs one act of kindness does not make them good,” Lotor says.

“I think that you are looking at a world in black and white, Prince.” She says the word ‘prince’ as if it were a slur.

“Acxa, do you know the planets she has destroyed? The people maimed?”

“I do. Two. Altea. Daibazaal. You think of her as some big bad demon, a warlord. Really, she’s united people.”

“You’re blind.”

She chuckles a little. “Dear Prince, where was your all-powerful Voltron to aid the people of Pollux? Your benevolent princess ran. She gave not a damn about the people here.” She looks up at him. “And yet, we did. Perhaps you are the blind one.”

“But her empire-”

“Operates like yours once did. Helping those in need. She wants to restore her family’s honor. Everyone has their vendetta.”

Lotor goes quiet.

“Well, Prince?”

Lotor is looking at the ground. “I think something is following us,” he whispers.

“Come on, don’t make-”

He looks over his shoulder and stops walking.

A blue cat with an orange stripe down its back trots up to him. It nuzzles his leg, then sits down, looking at him curiously. He kneels down to pet it and it runs.

He runs after it. Down the sidewalk, across crosswalks. Acxa is yelling.

People yell as he weaves through crowds.

People come out of shops to yell slurs at him.

The cat stops in front of what appears to be a jewelry store.

He stops, leaning against the window of the shop.

He kneels down again. He puts out his hand.

The cat nuzzles his hand.

Acxa can be heard saying as she walks back up to him, “I swear to quiznaking Bob, this is why I wanted to keep you handcuffed, but then Merla said nooo, you have to trust us.”

Her shadow is cast over him. “Please tell me why you chose to drop everything for a cat.”

He stands up and dusts himself off. “I thought it felt...important.”

She tugs on his ear. “Let’s go, Prince. People are staring.”

He looks around. He chuckles. So many people had stopped what they were doing to watch the scene.

The two walk away, small cat in tow.

--V--

Gunshots. Beams glowing blue and yellow, headed towards the village.

Bodies fall, and shackled Balmerans looks around in confusion.

Pidge drops down the edge of the cliff on a rope.

Then Allura. Then Keith. Then Shiro.

Shiro walks up to a group. They get down on the ground, faces to the ground, shaking. He raises his hand. His weapon forms. A gauntlet.

Chains snap.

One of the citizens looks up at him.

“Go. You’re free now.”

They blink.

“Go. Take care of your kids, eat something. I don’t know.”

Three smaller Balmerans huddle up with them.

The larger one gets up. They start going back to pushing a cart.

“Shoot, shoot, shoot, Allura, I just made one cry!” Keith can be heard yelling.

Allura walks away from a group. They’re all yelling at her.

“They’re used to this…” Allura says sadly. “They don’t want to be saved.”

A scream is heard.

“Guys! Guys!” Lance starts yelling at the top of his lungs.

Everyone looks up.

A large, large galra stands atop the cliff. Scales cover her face. She keeps Hunk over her shoulder. She holds onto Lance by the neck, before throwing him over her shoulder too.

She jumps down from the cliff.

“What are you, Voltron?” she asks as she drops the boys. Both land with a nasty thud.

“Actually, we are,” Pidge says, yanking away his grappling hook from the cliff, making small pieces fall. He runs towards Hunk and Lance.

She turns around to face him, herself already halfway to Shiro. “I didn’t even notice you there, runt.” She laughs. “Really? Voltron? I'll be quiznaked.”

Allura takes advantage of her back being turned. She comes running with a sword.

An armored fist catches the blade. The woman squeezes it, making it shatter, then dissolve into light.

“Last I heard the legend, there was no White Lion,” the woman snickers as she watches Allura stagger back.

Keith comes running up with his own sword.

The woman looks down. She grabs his wrist, pulling him off the ground. He flails and fights. She headbutts him.

He drops to the ground. His helmet is covered in small fractures.

“Alright, I got the primary colors out of the way. The rest of you?”

Shiro calmly walks up to her. She does nothing. “I’m not afraid of you,” she laughs.

He pulls back his right hand, the one with the gauntlet.

She catches his fist.

He pulls her back. Or tries to.

“Crap,” he whispers.

She slams him into the ground.

She looks around. “You should stop playing. You know this is a pointless battle.”

Pidge creeps up behind her, grappling hook rope wrapping around her neck.

For a moment she staggers back, before gripping the rope. Something rips.

She turns around to face Pidge. The pieces of rope torn off, as well as the hook, fizzle away from her hand. She swings the rope to the left, twirling in full circle before letting go and sending Pidge flying.

Allura sits in front of the other four paladins, all lined up near the cliff. She gently places her fingers to each of their wrists, feeling for pulses, then gives a sigh of relief.

Allura gets up.

She begins approaching the woman. A staff forms in her hand.

She twirls it, ready to hit, only to be caught.

Her wrists are held together with one of the woman’s hands. She’s pulled off the ground.

“Just surrender already. You’re taking valuable time out of my day.”

Allura sighs, her head hanging. “Fine. I surrender.”

She meets the ground once more.

“Help me carry your teammates,” the woman says with a wicked grin. “From there, we can negotiate on either execution or pledging allegiance.”

The woman bends down to pick up Hunk. Allura holds her sword up high.

One backhand hit sends the princess to the ground.

“Nice try,” says the woman, standing over her. “This is my planet. You can’t just overthrow me.”

--V--

Lance wakes up to someone holding his hand, feeling his wrist.

“‘Lura?” he asks groggily.

“Oh, good, you’re alive,” Hunk says. Lance’s hand is dropped.

Lance takes in his surroundings. Walls of rock surround them. A cave. He puts two and two together. He scrambles to sit up. “¡Ah, mierda, hombre!” He looks over himself, then at Hunk. “You’re okay, right? Everyone alright?”

Hunk shrugs. “I only got to check Pidge before checking you.”

“He alright?”

“I think so?”

Hunk pokes at Keith’s wrist. His hand twitches. Lance hesitantly pokes at Allura’s arm. She smacks his hand away. The two boys look at each other, give a sigh of relief, then look at Shiro.

Shiro rests face first in the dirt.

“He’s gonna be the first one of us to kick the bucket,” Lance says.

“Totally,” Hunk giggles.

Hunk flips him over. He gives a playfully dramatic gasp as he feels the older boy’s wrist. “This man is...is...alive!”

“It’s a miracle!” Lance cries. He starts laughing.

“Honestly, I wish I was dead right now,” Shiro mumbles, his eyes still closed. He pulls his hand away from Hunk, then starts sitting up.

“Sorry, the Universe said we can’t die,” Pidge says. “No death, no comas, no broken bones.” He pops his knuckles, then winces. “Bruised bones on the other hand…”

Hunk turns around. Pidge leans against the wall of the cave. The large boy picks up the small boy, cheering. “You’re okay!”

Pidge groans. “Crap, no you dumbash, I’m alive, not exactly okay. Maybe, maybeee I have a broken rib or two.”

He puts him down. “Sorry,” Hunk says. He holds out his fist with a smile.

Pidge fistbumps him. “Yay. We’re alive.”

“We are?” Keith asks, staring at the ceiling.

“The universe works beautifully,” Allura mumbles. She rests on her side, strands of hair obscuring her face slightly.

“So, does The Universe determine when we wake up now too?” Pidge asks in unamusement.

“Did you wish to be slaughtered in your sleep?” she asks in a still groggy tone.

Keith sits up slowly. He leans forward, putting a hand to his forehead. “I thought we were slaughtered back there.”

Allura rubs her eyes, sitting up, then tucks the loose hair behind her ear. “Keith, let me see where she hit you.”

His eyes go wide. He raises his hand slightly, pointing at her face. "Allura..."

Lance scrambles to get in front of her. “Woah woah woah. Princess. Your eye.”

She places her hand over her left eye. Lance pulls her hand away to look at it.

Keith lets out a hiss as he sees her face. "Are you okay?"

Lance looks at him. Not a look of anger, just one that screams ‘are you kidding me?’

Allura pulls her hand away from Lance. “I don’t need pity from anyone, I just had yet to realize I was hurt.” She touches the skin around her eye. It’s darkly bruised. She winces slightly. “With that said, how bad is it? Be honest.”

Lance and Keith both stare at her.

“It’s the most gorgeous bruise I’ve ever seen!” Lance insists.

“It’s...not very nice looking,” Keith says slowly.

“Thank you,” she says, pointing to Keith.

Lance blinks. “Wait, but he was blunt!"

“I said to be honest.”

“Alright, so to clarify, no one is badly injured? No concussions, nothing is broken, we’re all good?” Hunk asks, standing up.

“My spirit is broken,” Shiro says grimly.

“That isn’t exactly a recent development,” Keith says.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Hunk responds.

“Wait,” Pidge starts. “Are you okay? You been asking about us, but you never took a look at yourself. You were the first one of us to go out, y’know.”

He shrugs. “I wasn’t really concerned about myself.”

Shiro stands up, giving a wince. “Alright, then. Let’s go. Let’s go be heroes.”

“Shiro, wait,” Keith says.

Shiro turns around.

“We’re not handcuffed. Who’s to say there aren’t any traps ahead?”

Hunk stands next to Shiro. He balls up his fist and forms a shield.

Lance stands behind him. Then Pidge stands next to Lance. Allura comes up and puts a hand on Hunk’s shoulder. Keith stands to the right of Shiro.

“Now let’s go,” Shiro says, making sure to stay behind Hunk’s shield.

“I can hear you,” a woman says, her voice echoing off the walls of the cave. The same woman from earlier.

Hunk grips the shield tighter. “Be brave,” he whispers to himself. He starts running.

He comes to a halt as he runs into something- no, someone.

“You all are pathetic,” she growls.

He continues to push onwards. Cracks begin to spread across the shield.

She grips the edge of the weapon, squeezing it, bringing it closer to obliteration.

PEW PEW

She staggers back, hands over her face.

Lance is being held up by Allura, Keith, and Shiro. He loosens his grip on his gun, staring in awe.

“Alright, let’s run,” Pidge yells, grabbing Hunk’s hand.

Lance is dropped as Keith and Shiro run off. Allura catches him by the arm, preventing him from falling. She gives him a pat on the back before running off.

Hunk circles to the back of the group, covering everyone else’s backs with the shield. He walks backward, keeping an eye on the woman.

She pulls her hands away from her face. Soot covers her face- or is that burned skin?

She starts to stomp closer to the Yellow Paladin.

He looks back at everyone else. He looks at her. “I’m not afraid of you!” he yells.

She creeps closer and closer. “You son of a biibohbi. You think you can hold me back? I am a General. I have maintained dominance over this planet for longer than you’ve been alive.”

He looks back again. There’s light from the entrance. Everyone else stands by and watches him.

He swallows, then puts on a smile. “Destiny says I’ll win this battle,” he says smugly.

She reels her fist back, ready to punch down the shield, before stopping. There’s a rumble.

He looks back at the rest of the team. They’re all looking out of the cave. “Our Lions are here!” Lance exclaims.

“Hunk, you gotta run!” Pidge yells.

He remains facing the woman but picks up his pace. “You’re not getting to them,” he asserts.

She rams her body into his shield. His feet slide through the dirt, but he does not fall.

She continues to push, gripping the shield, sending cracks through it. The cracks repair themselves.

She growls. She brings her fist to it, sending Hunk falling back. Only when he falls does the shield give way.

He looks up at her, shuddering. He starts backing away, still on the ground. He turns around, pushing himself off the ground, making his way toward the sunlight.

Then he stops.

“I was wrong. I think I like playing with my prisoners,” she says with her arm wrapped around his neck.

The Yellow Paladin begins shaking.

Somethings begins to obscure the sunlight.

There’s a roar.

“No quiznaking way,” she mumbles.

The Black Lion stands in front of the entrance.

Hunk tears himself away. With a flash of light, he holds a machine gun.

“I- I’m not afraid to shoot, d-dammit!” he stammers.

She laughs. Not a cackle, but a legitimate laugh, as she wasn’t enjoying his misery, but genuinely found his efforts hilarious.

He takes in a shuddering breath. He remains frozen, hand on the trigger. She shoves him aside, looking up at the sky.

The Black Lion flies into the sky. It takes a ship lifting off into its maw, bringing it down like a dog with a bone in its mouth.

She pulls out a communicator. “Sendak? This is General Kuri. We need some backup.”

Ships, red with orange highlights, start to shoot at the lions.

The Red Lion swiftly flies away, jumping at one of the ships. It knocks the thing down, sending dust flying.

The Blue Lion shoots at a ship, then pounces on it as it falls.

The Green Lion wraps a rope around a ship, yanking it down.

Hunk remains frozen.

“Do something, hero boy,” the woman, Kuri, says.

“They’re already taking you down!” he yells.

“But you?”

He looks around. The Yellow Lion is nowhere to be seen.

He starts backing away. He lifts the gun higher.

He pulls the trigger.

Screams tear through the air as he runs.

Dust fills Hunk’s vision.

The Yellow Lion bows down.

He runs to it. He stops. He falls to the ground, holding his leg.

Kuri stands several feet behind him, gun in hand.

She comes closer to him. Every step makes him shake as the half-burned face comes closer.

“You’re a brave one, you know. You stayed back to make sure your friends got away safely.” She kneels down next to him. "Too bad that'll be how you meet your end." She gives him a wicked smirk and raises her fist. His shield goes up.

His back is against the ground. He starts panting.

She stomps on the shield, causing it to shatter. He rolls away before she comes in contact with him.

Slowly, shakily, he gets off the ground. He raises his fists. “Y-you don’t scare me,” he chokes.

She flips the gun in her hand. “Is that true?”

He looks down at the ground. “No. I am afr-”

She rams herself into his body, grabs his hands, and slams him into the ground. She keeps one hand on the back of his head.

He tries to push himself off the ground. She pushes back harder.

“I-” he keeps pushing back- “I am afraid.”

His face comes closer to the ground.

Her hand comes flying up.

“That’s why I gotta keep fighting,” he says, kneeling on the ground.

--V--

Merla sits back at the table, playing with a vulture.

The door opens.

“The Prince made a stop for a cat,” Acxa says, tugging Lotor along.

“It felt important!” he insists.

“No, it wasn’t! What was so important about a quiznaking cat?!”

“I felt like saving it.”

She stares at him, then throws up her hands. “Behold, Saint Lotor! Saving every quiznaking animal he stumbles upon.”

“Not even every animal, just this one.”

“You know what’s important? Fighting in the ongoing war. What isn’t? Stray animals and afternoon strolls.”

“Acxa, don’t you know the importance of animal companions?” Merla asks. The vulture perches on her hand. “Sometimes, animals just...have a connection with you. As if the universe is choosing this animal to tell you secrets.”

Lotor smiles. He picks up the cat and puts it on the table.

The vulture starts squawking at it, the noise growing louder and louder.

Merla pats the bird on the head, frowning. “That thing…”

Lotor pulls his cat closer to himself.

“...If it makes you happy, keep it,” she says slowly, looking the animal in its eyes. She then looks at her vulture. “I’d recommend being wary of its actions, however.”

He nods and pets the cat. It doesn’t react positively. Instead, it walks away from his hand, lays down, and just stares at him.

“The fact that you’re enabling this,” Acxa murmurs, rubbing her forehead. She walks up to the door. “I’m going to see if Narti wants to spar.” Then, she’s gone.

Lotor takes a seat next to Merla. “Where’s the Pollux family?”

“Lunch break. Discussing how the Fire of Purification will fall.”

“And you are not partaking?”

“This is my break from people. Besides, it offers me time to think over a move to be made.”

The cat seems to perk up at her words. Lotor looks down at it. “What is that?”

She pets her bird. “I’ll let you know when I decide.”

The cat stares and stares at the both of them as if it disapproved in something.

--V--

The Green Lion weaves its way through ships, leaving fighter jets to shoot at each other.

The Blue Lion is shot down. It falls, seemingly hitting the ground. Then, it comes back up, mouth wide open. A beam is shot, shooting ships down.

The Red Lion rams into a ship, sending it falling to the ground.

The Black Lion catches the falling ship by the wing. Slowly, it brings it to the ground.

“Where’s Hunk?!” Pidge yells as the Green Lion passes by the Blue Lion.

“No clue, but I don’t think we need him yet. This is easy stuff.”

“You’re not concerned?” Allura asks. The Red Lion shoots up into the air and slams into a ship.

“I’ve known him since before pre-k. He’s a tough cookie,” Lance answers.

“Zero concern though?” Keith asks.

“Yeah, he’s fine, I bet. He’ll pull through whatever it is.”

“I hope you’re right,” Shiro says, the Black Lion flying past a cliff.

On the cliff is a battle.

“I am not going to die,” Hunk says, holding up his shield, punches coming his way, his back away from the cliff.

“Of course you won’t,” says the general with a grin. She grips the edges of the shield and drives her knee into it, making the shield fizzle away. “You say that. Of course you won't, hero man."

She raises both fists. He dodges it, barely creeping up behind her.

She twirls around, leg sweeping under Hunk.

He falls with a nasty thud, his head right on the edge of the cliff. He winces. “Sorry, I just didn’t want you to die.”

“I don’t need your pity!” she shouts, punching him in the gut.

He groans and grips her hand. “What pity?"

She pulls her hand away. He holds on for dear life, using her hand as leverage to get up.

She tries to shake him off, but he holds on. Struggling, but holding on. How does Pidge do stuff like this?

She lets out a loud growl and drives him into the ground, her back to the cliff.

She places one hand over his neck, pinning him down.

"You will not persist!" she shouts.

Hunk looks up in horror. Something wet falls on his face. For a moment, he's shocked.

"My mother failed. My father failed. My brother failed."

He looks up at her sadly. She loosens her grip on his neck as more tears fall. "It's okay to fail."

Tears run down her cheeks, her face still scrunched up in anger. "Do you know what failure is punishable by?"

"You learn. It's rewarding."

She growls. "You naive fool." She moves her hand down to his chest, pressing until spiderwebs crack across the armor. "The Fire doesn't care. If they see your failure, do you know what happens?!"

"You don't have to stay with them. I know a rebel group, they can help you, you can fight back!"

She moves her hand up to his jaw. "Shut your mouth!" She begins to press hard on his jaw.

She suddenly staggers back as yellow light bursts out from beneath her.

Hunk holds his machine gun up high, his breaths heavy.

She glares at him, teeth bared.

A large shadow covers both of them.

They both look up. A red and orange ship is flying overhead.

She looks at him, then the ship. Slowly, she takes a step closer to the edge of the cliff.

“I could’ve done what they couldn’t, but I didn’t. All because of you.” Another step back.

"What are you doing..."

She chuckles. “I don’t want to face the punishment. I would rather go out on my own merits than to be executed.” Another step. The cliff crumbles slightly.

“Please. Be brave. You can face them- you can fight back! There’s a group called the Blades of Marmora. They can help you. Please don’t…”

She smiles. “You are far braver than I. I hate that. It means you’ll persist, but-” she steps right on the edge, one foot halfway over it- “I suppose that’s not my problem anymore.”

With one step, she drops off of the edge. Hunk dives after her, gripping her hand.

“You can live,” he groans.

“Maybe I won’t go out a complete failure after all,” she says distantly, ignoring what he just said. She swings from his arm, making him wince, the kicks the cliff.

Shaking.

Crumbling.

Falling.

He remains frozen. What just happened?

Hunk comes in contact with something. For a second, he can’t tell what.

It’s cold and metallic.

There are yellow lights everywhere.

He blinks.

Slowly, he sits up, realizing it’s the Yellow Lion.

It’s flying upwards, away from the cliff.

His eyes go wide. “You have to save her!” he yells at the lion. No response.

“Come on, please!”

He brings his fist down upon the floor. “You coward. You quiznaking coward! Please, she’s gonna die, she’s gonna…”

He sits in silence for a moment. “This is what you want, isn’t it?”

No response. The Lion doesn’t falter. He feels nothing. “You’re awful!” He hits the floor again. “Why? Why is this the only way? Why can’t we all just live in peace?!”

Static cackles for a moment. “Hunk, you there?” Shiro asks over the intercom.

Slowly, Hunk gets up and walks around a semicircle shape that makes up the dashboard.

He slouches back in his seat. “I’m here,” he says distantly.

“You okay?” Lance asks.

“Did you kill a man?” Pidge cackles.

He remains silent for a moment, prompting Pidge to let out a small “Oh,” followed by a look of guilt.

Hunk rubs his eyes. “Let’s just get this over with.”

One large, large ship is overhead.

The Red Lion goes flying forward, ready to attack. Next, the Black Lion. Then, Blue. Then Green. Yellow goes last.

The five lions speed closer to the ship, faster and faster until they’re all a blur of light.

A transparent, blue sword comes into contact with the bottom of a ship.

Swiftly, Voltron pulls the blade across the bottom of the ship, sending sparks flying.

Voltron moves out from underneath the ship.

The ship does not falter much.

“I thought that’d work,” Shiro says quietly.

The large, red ship moves at a slower pace. Then, something clicks, and something spins around.

Firearms. Shots being fired.

Voltron raises its shield, then comes racing back towards the ship, sword in the Red Lion’s jaws.

Allura places her hand over Keith’s.

The sword is on fire.

Just like that, a large slash is across the rear of the ship.

Alarms begin to blare.

Several smaller ships appear.

Voltron looks down. There’s a canyon below.

“Guy, on my count, we split up, mislead them, then turn them on each other,” Shiro orders.

“But we just formed Voltron,” Keith points out. Allura nods in agreement.

Shiro stares at him over the monitor. “This isn’t the time to rebel.”

Keith rolls his eyes.

Voltron splits apart in a burst of light.

The Black Lion stays in place as the other four fly down into the canyon.

The Black Lion shoots higher into the sky.

Ships zip down into the canyon.

The Blue Lion winds itself around a rock formation. A ship follows it in a circle. It stops. Two spots on the ship’s front begin glowing. Then two on the back. Lasers are charging up.

The ship shoots its lasers, anticipating a lion to be shot. Instead, the Blue Lion comes down from above, slamming into the ship. The shots fired hit two more ships.

The two ships flip around.

The Red and Green Lions come at the two from behind.

Sparks fly as the two ships go crashing down.

Several of the smaller ships shoot at the Black Lion as it flies around the larger ship.

Lasers leave marks on the large ship, but it doesn’t stop it from moving on.

Small cylinders pop out from the sides of the large ship. Shots fired at the lion.

Many smaller ships are stuck in the crossfire.

The Black Lion begins to falter as it flies away.

The rest of the lions rush to it, ships following them. Some fall. Some remain chasing the lions.

Voltron reforms.

Many of the small ships begin to back away.

“Peculiar,” Allura remarks. “One would think they would continue their attack.”

“So what? We scared them away,” Keith says with a smirk. “Blazing sword?”

She shakes her head. “I don’t have the energy for it.”

“Okay, normal sword it is,” he says sadly as Voltron’s sword forms. “Yay.”

“You can do it yourself,” she says calmly, placing her hand on his shoulder.

He closes his eyes.

The sword swings towards the ship, sparks flying until-

Nothing.

Voltron comes to a halt as something bursts against the large ship.

The ship begins to fall. Alarms blare and blare.

Voltron looks around.

Another large piece of spacecraft had arrived. Shades of purple and green cover it.

Voltron raises its shield. The transparent blue object flickers.

Voltron’s shield disappears entirely.

Voltron begins racing into the canyon, reaching for the falling ship.

The mech unfurls its transparent wings as the Red and Green Lions grip a wing of the ship.

Voltron does not stop gravity, but the ship begins to slow in its journey to the ground.

The impact feels small to a large robot.

Slowly, Voltron brings the other side of the ship to the dirt.

Smoke spills from the vessel, crowding the surrounding air and building a tower into the sky.

People begin to evacuate the ship. Then a handful freeze, catching sight of Voltron. Do they go back inside? Stay outside?

Voltron looks down at them before flying off.

The super robot lands on the upper ground with more than a thud. It stands there, looking down at the new ship. Someone in green and purple armor, matching their vessel, stands in front of it.

“This is Commander Mogor, arriving on behalf of Hazar of the Galveston,” the man announces.

Voltron stands there, frozen.

“Galveston? Is that a planet or…?” Keith slowly asks.

“It’s one of the factions Lotor tried to find peace with...they never did have their meeting on peace negotiations…” Allura mumbles. She keeps her chin rested on the back of the Red Lion’s seat. “Let’s hear them out.”

Slowly, Voltron kneels.

“Voltron helping the Fire. What a pity,” the man, Mogor says. “Where are this planet’s rulers? What have you beasts done with them?”

Voltron backs away, try to keep a distance from the man.

The robot breaks apart in a burst of light.

The Lions rest on the ground.

Shiro comes out of his lion first.

“Hello,” he says sternly. “We are the paladins of Voltron and-”

“Wow, I had no clue.”

Shiro stares. “Sir, we are by no means helping these beasts, we simply chose mercy over reckless manslaughter.”

“I see,” says Mogor, staring down at a screen. “And why were you here?”

“Suspicious activity,” Keith answers, walking up to take his place next to Shiro.

“Or rather a lack thereof,” Allura says, standing next to Keith.

“Also food,” Lance says, coming up next to Allura. Everyone stares at him.

“I swear, we weren’t going to harm anybody,” Hunk says with his hands up.

“Why are you here?” Pidge asks. He stands between Hunk and Shiro. When he showed up, nobody knows.

“The distress signal sent out from this planet. No one has heard from Balmera in years.”

“But wouldn’t the Fire keep their signals limited to one another?” Lance comments.

“Space ninjas,” Pidge says. “They intercepted the signal using spies, just like the Blades.”

“It was not intercepted via spying,” Mogor answers. “It was a public signal.”

Allura starts laughing. “How does one quiznak up so badly?!”

“T’was no mistake. I was the one who sent the public signal,” says someone new.

Heads turn in one direction.

Someone is walking up to the group. Torn clothes. Rough, grey, skin. Large yellow eyes. Flowers stuck here and there.

It’s Shay.

Mogor looks at her as she walks. “Greetings, queen of Balmera.”

“Queen? There are no queen and kings in these parts. Only a chief.”

“Greetings, Chief,” Shiro says.

“Please, my father is chief.” She stands between the paladins and the galra commander. She kneels. She isn’t very graceful, but she tries her best to show respect. “Thank you, all of you.”

Keith raises an eyebrow. “I’m sorry, but we didn’t shoot down the-”

Lance covers Keith’s mouth. “Yes, we are heroes!”

Slowly, Shay rises off the ground. “If you had not arrived, nobody would have shot down the ship. Nobody would have set out to topple our awful infrastructure.”

She turns to Mogor. “And thank you for coming to our aid.”

The commander nods. “Yes, thank you for alerting us of the horrors that have occurred here.”

She smiles. “Come with me, all of you! I would love to announce that the infinite sorrow is over!”

--V--

Hundreds of Balmerans look around, confused. Some hold children in their arms. Some hold hands. Some stand alone.

Shay sits atop a rock. The paladins and the one galra commander stand at its base.

“People of Balmera, I am happy to announce that today, we are to begin rebuilding our society, for we are free!”

Some cheer. The vast majority, however, tend to share whispers of concern.

“Dear sister, do you not see the chaos you have unbottled?” says someone from behind her.

Rax climbs atop the rock.

“Please, dear saint, tell me. How are we to rebuild? For many, this is all that they have ever known. They were secure.”

Shay stares at him from over her shoulder. “But it was a hellish lifestyle. For quiznak’s sake, it was slavery,” she says sternly, yet softly.

“But really, do tell. What now? Can you not see the fear in these people’s eyes?”

“Then you overcome your fears.”

“But you see, fear is a survival instinct. We are afraid because truly, how will we live on now? You just tore jobs away from people.”

“But what did we get in return for those jobs?”

“Food. Protection from potential invaders.”

“The Fire were the invaders!”

“Then perhaps people are simply afraid of change.”

Shay looks at her older brother dumbfoundedly. “That was your reason for obeying?” She pushes herself forward and slides down the side of the rock.

“Quickly, which of you killed General Kuri?”

Everyone turns to Hunk.

“I didn’t…”

Shay grabs his hand and holds it up high. “You see this? This is a brave man! He faced his fears and slew a beast!”

Hunk’s eyes widen with horror. He yanks his arm away and rubs his wrist. “I didn’t kill her! Okay?! I just couldn’t...save her…”

“Don’t be modest! You’re a hero! You freed us!”

“No, I’m not!”

She gives him a curious look. “You had to face your fears to fight her, yes?”

“...I guess.”

She smiles. “Then you are a hero! You did all you could, and you were brave about it!”

He looks down at the ground. “I guess.”

She pulls him into a side-hug. “You see this man? He is an inspiration! Not for slaughtering a monster, but because he had the courage to fight the monster!”

“I still do not see your point, sister,” Rax says from atop the rock, taking her place.

“This man is courageous. We should all strive to be like him. We should all put aside our fears in the name of freedom!”

More people begin to cheer.

Hunk hangs his head in sadness.

Shiro taps Shay on the shoulder. “Miss, this whole situation clearly has our friend distraught, do you mind letting him go?”

She does so. Quickly she moves on. “Freedom means that we no longer have to work out of fear that we will not earn our food. Freedom means that we no longer have to wear the same ragged uniforms. Freedom means that we are us. We are individuals, leading our own lives. And if that means we have to set aside irrational fears, so be it! If the Fire returns, we will fight back!”

The entire crowd erupts in cheers.

“I’m telling father!” Rax shouts.

“Telling father what? That we’ve begun restoring our planet to what it was in his youth?”

Rax turns his gaze to the ground. He stands up, then jumps down from the rock. He sighs. “I suppose the damage, if any damage, has already been done.”

Shay turns to the Galveston commander. “And you. Mogar is it?”

“Mogor.”

“Yes, I thank you, sir Mogor, for answering my call.”

He nods. “Perhaps I can gain the authorization to help you rebuild.”

She smiles. “Dear people of Balmera. We are free to live our lives! Rejoice!”

The people of Balmera cheer.

Shay turns to Hunk. She looks at her wrist. Small bumps cover it. She breaks off a particularly large growth and folds it into the edge of her tunic, rubbing it. When she opens her hand, a diamond rests in it.

He stares curiously.

She takes his hand and places the diamond in his palm, then closes his fingers around it. “Please, be proud of your accomplishment.”

“Wait, the stories were true?!” Lance shouts.

Hunk looks at her, still confused. “Ma’am, I am no hero.”

“Dude, just take the damn thing,” Lance says from behind.

Pidge elbows Lance.

Hunk looks down at the jewel in his hand. “Okay.” He closes his fist. “Okay.”

--V--

On the way back, Allura leans against the back of Keith's seat. She pulls up a holoscreen.

It beeps several times, like a phone ringing.

"Meetings, Princess, meetings," says the recipient of the call rather aggressively.

"Sorry to interrupt, Kolivan, it's just that we have uncovered dire news-"

"Is it Balmera?"

"Yes? What did you know about it, did you know?"

For a brief moment, he looks slightly less serious as he shrugs. "Nobody knew about it until just now. It was kept tightly under wraps, we suppose."

"So, what I'm hearing is, the space ninjas were out ninja-d," Pidge says, sounding as if he's about to laugh.

"Princess, turn the screen around so I can see the Green one."

Allura does so. Screens upon screens as they stare at each other through cameras.

"Child, you do not comprehend the hell that my soldiers have to go through living with the Fire, let alone the obstacles that must be overcome to become somebody that can see the horrific secrets. The body count required for such a high honor. The devotion to battle that taxes your body-"

"Okay, okay. Got it. Holy quiznak," Pidge says, putting his hands up. "But, has anyone ever worked their way up like that?"

"Once. Only once."

"What happened to them?" Keith quietly asks.

"They got slaughtered by another faction before they could even find us anything."

"That quickly?!" Lance shouts.

"Yes, generals are often high up on hit lists."

"Death. It's always death," Hunk groans.

"Indeed, Yellow paladin. What did I tell you some time ago?"

"People suck, including me?" he looks down. "Yeah, I can see how true that is now."

"Isn't that a little pessimistic?" Shiro asks.

"But tell me, is it not true?" Kolivan says. "Deep down, we're all flawed and spiteful and selfish and wish to give up, no matter how high and mighty you are."

Shiro opens his mouth, closes it, thinks, then nods in agreement.

"But that does not mean we are all doomed, simply that we must make the right choices and attempt to show the good."

Hunk nods sadly.

Allura turns the screen to face herself once more. "So, what now?"

"We send out more soldiers..."

Hunk stops paying attention to the conversation.

--V--

“You okay, man?” Lance asks, sitting next to Hunk on the castle’s couch.

Hunk sits down with the yellow mouse resting in his hand. “I’m just…I’m still thinking about it.”

“What happened back there anyways?” Keith asks, leaning on the back of the couch.

Hunk takes a deep breath. “We were fighting, then she started crying. She said that she would be punished for failure, that she wanted to go out on her own terms, then…”

“I could’ve saved her…” he says quietly. “I could’ve saved her, she could’ve helped us, she could’ve-”

“You did all you could,” Allura says from the other round sofa right across from him.

“She could’ve let you save her. Not everyone wants to be saved, messed up as it is,” Shiro reassures, sitting next to Allura.

“I still could’ve tried harder. I just let her die, I basically killed her!”

Pidge takes a seat next to Hunk. “Hunk, look at me.” He takes Hunk’s hand in both of his and squeezes it. “You are the textbook definition of a good person. You did all you could.”

Lance hugs him, and Pidge gives him a pat on the back. “Okay,” Hunk says quietly.

“You are a hero,” Lance says. “Like Shay said, because you faced your fears.”

“And because no matter what, you never rubbed your hands together and said ‘yesss, I want this woman to die!’” Pidge reassures.

“You tried,” Keith says softly.

“You did what you could. That’s heroic enough,” Shiro explains.

Allura gets off of the couch, walks around the opposite couch, and stands next to Keith. She places a hand on Hunk’s shoulder. “You should not be expected to get over this so quickly, but we just want to tell you that it is not your fault. You shouldn’t have to blame yourself.”

“Okay. Okay," he says quietly, pulling both PIdge and Lance into a hug.

Lance starts chuckling. “Hey, Allura, is there any ice cream in space?”

--V--

A long table stretches across a room. Chairs line the entire stretch. All silver and chrome. While it must have been decorated at some point, it is now blank.

The three Pollux royals sit in a row. The eldest, Avok in the middle. The middle, Romelle, to his right, and the youngest, Bandor, to the left.

Merla sits across from Avok. Lotor on her right with his cat in his lap, Acxa on her left. The other three generals are spread out unevenly, with the uneven side being rounded out by a holoscreen displaying two faces. Bokar and Coral.

“Welcome, welcome all of you!” Avok announces.

“Cut to the chase,” Acxa says.

Merla gives her a nudge. “I beg forgiveness for her brashness.”

“No worries. I did not expect much manners from such an...uncivil group,” Avok says. It sounds as he’s trying to pad his words, but they hurt all the same.

Ezor, the thin one, bangs her fist on the table. “We never wanted to be here anyways.”

Zethrid, the large one, gives her a pat on the shoulder. “Let's just get this over with.”

Merla puts up a hand. “Yes, Zethrid. Let us proceed.”

Avok clears his throat. “So, since Pollux had negotiated peace with...uhhh…”

“Amue,” Merla says impatiently.

“Yes, Amue- a dead planet but okay.” Avok pauses to consider how to continue.

He rises from his chair. “The lovely Miss Merla, for the riches she lacks in wealth, she returns in her allies.”

Avok leans on the table. “I propose that we take one step forward, from co-existing in peace to military allies!”

Merla stands up. “Yes. You see, it has been brought to my attention that I have been placing my blame on the wrong group-” she glances at Lotor- “which is why I propose that we expand our reach.”

“So, you have dropped your grudge?” Lotor asks.

She laughs. “Oh, no, your father still slaughtered mine. That does not change. But with recent revelations, it is undeniable that the fall of the Fire of Purification is far more important.”

“I see…”

“But with that said, I ask something of you.” She grabs his hand, lifting it off the table. The cat jumps onto the table, glaring at her.

Slowly, he stands up.

“I ask that you announce your presence formally. That you yourself say that yes, you are alive. That you speak to the other galra factions.”

He looks at her. “To my knowledge, I am alone. The closest is the Blades of Marmora, who are simply working in my name at this point. If I attempt to speak without domain, no one will-”

“Which is why I have one more proposal.”

Everything goes silent for a moment as she quietly says, “Nobody would want to harm you if you are a king. Perhaps married into a larger group.”

Lotor realizes what she means and pulls his hand away. “But you want to kill me!” He frantically looks around. He points to the middle Pollux child “Can I marry Romelle instead? She’s part of the same coalition.”

Romelle is sipping water, then chokes and drops her cup.

Avok puts a protective hand in front of his sister. “I am sorry, but you are not dirtying our bloodline with…umm…”

“It is a mere formality, but go on. Say it,” Lotor insists.

“Nevermind,” Avok mumbles. “And what about when your mission is over? Imagine the press, the reputation you would give us!”

“Well, what do you say?” Merla asks, her hand out.

He looks at the generals. They all seem pretty indifferent to the ordeal. He looks at the royals. Avok glares, Romelle watches with a raised eyebrow, and Bandor just seems fascinated.

He looks down at the cat. It looks so disapproving.

Slowly, he grabs her hand. “It’s a deal, if not only so I may speak to Allura once again.”

The cat hisses and screeches.

“I’m sorry, who thought to bring an animal to the table?” Avok asks.

“You were alright with her before!” Lotor insists.

“It wasn’t feral before!”

Narti, the eyeless general, reaches out to pet it. It does not stop.

Lotor kneels so he’s level with the cat on the table. He strokes its head. “No need to act like a disapproving mother,” he chuckles.

“So, we are making arrangements, yes?” Merla asks.

“...Yes.”

“Meeting adjourned!” Avok announces joyfully. Then he frowns. “Alright, shoo, shoo.” He motions for the other side of the table to leave. Then he points to Merla, “Not you.” Then he points to each of his siblings, then to the door. “Yes, you.”

All seven of them pour into the hallway. They can still hear Avok through the door, saying “Now, tell me more about these mechs and robeasts…”

“Congratulations for getting hitched!” Zethrid shouts, lifting Lotor up.

“What a cute couple,” Ezor giggles.

Narti opens her mouth and several low screeches come out as she laughs.

“Put him down, he could still kill Merla in her sleep,” Acxa says, hitting Zehtrid’s arm.

Zethrid drops him.

“It’s a mere formality,” he says, dusting himself off. “Although, I am amazed that Merla trusts me more than you do, Acxa.”

“That’s because she can get in your head. She knows where you’re vulnerable. But that doesn’t mean that she will always know what’s in your head. And by no means do I know any of it. So. You could always be giving us the illusion of someone nice.”

He stops walking. “She knows where I’m vulnerable…” he whispers curiously. He thinks about what this may mean.

The four generals continue walking. Romelle is gone too.

But Bandor remains next to Lotor.

“I think you could marry my sister,” Bandor says quietly.

Lotor seems taken aback. “Why is that?”

“If you love someone, you should marry them! It should be possible!”

“I don’t love her, I was just suggesting so for a formality.”

“I know. But damn what Avok said. He doesn’t want a hybrid in our bloodline, but if you love someone, you should be able to love them!”

Lotor smiles. “Then I hope your sister finds a love from another planet, purely to spite your brother.”

“Spite!” Bandor laughs.

“Yes. Spite,” he says with a smile.

Bandor happily skips off into his own direction.

Lotor frowns. He looks down. The cat stands next to him.

He picks it up, cradling it in one arm. He smiles. “Kova. I think I’ll call you Kova.”

It glares at him.

“Truly, that face reminds me of whenever my mother disapproved of my actions.”

He walks off in his own direction.

--V--

Shay and Mogor travel into the canyon on a makeshift elevator made of wood.

“Greetings,” Shay announces to the group of galra huddled together.

One in different armor, presumably the leader, raises his gun.

Mogor stands in front of Shay. “I would like to say that you may take us out. You may shoot, you may go up that elevator, but if you do, you will be facing dire consequences.”

Slowly, the leader points the gun at himself.

“You may join us,” Shay says.

Several in the group look at one another.

One gets up and walks to her side, shaking.

The rest stare.

Several more get up.

The leader remains on the ground.

Shay covers her mouth to prevent herself from screaming as a gunshot rips through the air.

Mogor tries to get her to look away. “Okay. We have an answer. Let’s go.”

They climb back onto the rickety elevator, Shay still in shock.

--V--

Hunk is asleep on the couch, sitting up, head hanging to the side.

Pidge is asleep with his head resting on Hunk’s leg.

On the opposite end, Allura is leaning over, mice getting cozy in her hair, with Keith resting against her shoulder.

Shiro props his head up with his hand, his elbow against the back of the couch.

Lance is leaning back between Hunk and Keith. Sleeping. He grips his phone, holding it up for all to see. It had to have turned off long ago. Then, it slips out of his hand.

He jolts awake. He looks around, then picks up the device.

“Guys, wake up,” he says, rubbing his eyes.

Pidge groans. “I’m cozy here though.”

“Come on, Hunk’s leg isn’t a pillow,” Shiro says, getting off the couch.

Pidge rolls his eyes and gets up.

Keith opens his eyes begrudgingly, his eyes going wide as he realizes he fell asleep with Allura. He rushes to get up. He looks at Hunk. He’s still sound asleep. “Should we?”

Slowly, Allura reaches out and jostles Hunk’s shoulder.

He groans. “I don’t wanna train.”

“We aren’t,” Allura assures. “We’re going to bed. After the last day, I believe it is much needed.”

Slowly, he gets off of the couch.

“Yeah, for all you did, you deserve rest,” Shiro adds.

“Okay,” he says, rubbing his eyes.

“Still afraid to fight?” Keith asks.

“Yeah.”

“And that’s okay,” Pidge adds.

The yellow mouse shows up suddenly.

Keith backs away from it.

Hunk picks it up and pets it.

“See? See that right there?” Lance starts. “Good person.”

“I guess you’re right,” Hunk says with a small chuckle.

Chapter Text

Five boys sit on one round sofa, huddled around a phone.

Anime plays. Robots fight.

Arguments about sub vs dub are heard.

A notification pops up. Plug in the charger.

Lance sits in the center, holding his phone up. He sighs.

Pidge, sitting on the far left, groans. “I always forget that our stuff still came from Earth. Ducking first world problems, man.”

Shiro, on the far right, says, “That’s why I haven’t used my phone in what, a good…” he thinks about all the time spent in space, “...four months?”

“That’s what my phone says,” Lance notes.

Then they realize it’s been four months.

Shiro breaks the silence. “Crap. I haven’t heard from my family in four months. The last time I heard from my twin brother, he was panicking because his boyfriend said that if he wasn’t back from the grocery store in five minutes, he couldn’t expect him to be there when he got back. The last time I heard from my brother...” He starts laughing a little, putting a hand to his forehead. “I miss them.”

Lance starts laughing. “Yeah, that’s how it goes with siblings. Last time I heard from my brother, he said he was gonna sell off my action figure collection.”

“Do you think he did?” Pidge asks.

Hunk, sitting between Pidge and Lance, starts counting down on his fingers.

“What do you think is in my suitcase?” Lance answers.

“...Lance,” Keith, sitting between Lance and Shiro, with a small, pink mouse trapped in his hands, lets go, puts his hands together and takes a deep breath. “If we ever have to go somewhere reclusive, and we can only live off of the stuff we packed, I would not choose you as a partner.”

“I told him not to,” Hunk insists. “But no. Y’know, screw basic necessities like food, a toothbrush-”

“Hey. Hey man. I packed a toothbrush.”

“But still. The figures. Did we really need them?”

“They remind me of home. Don’t you wanna be reminded of home?”

“I’d rather not be reminded, honestly,” Shiro remarks. “Reminded of all you can’t have. All you’re missing.”

“I don’t know. I mean, I’m not very sentimental for Earth, but there are little things I don’t mind remembering,” Keith says. He grunts for a moment as the mouse had climbed atop his head, tugging at his hair. He grabs it. “Food. Music. Home. My real home.”

“You mean the place in the desert?” Lance says with a laugh.

“Yeah. It was quiet back there.” He smiles a little, patting the head of the pastel-colored rodent with his thumb.

“Now I wanna go back home,” Pidge groans. “Screw y’all for getting me all sentimental.”

“Well, get ready to keep getting sentimental. I gotta charge my phone off of your laptop,” Lance says. He gets off the couch and flips his phone in the air. “Lemme get my cord.”

On his way down the hall, his phone starts ringing. Something squeaks on the ground.

He looks down at a blue mouse. “Should I answer this?”

Squeak.

“Okay, I’m answering it then.”

--V--

Voltron - Blue

--V--

Lance sits on his bed, covering his mouth.

A video plays on his phone. An elderly woman calls his name.

“Grandma, it’s okay. He’ll respond eventually,” says a girl. His older sister.

They hang up. Another one plays.

Two boys look sadly at the screen. “C’mon, bro,” says the slightly older one. “Please be okay.”

A slightly younger boy nods. “Yeah. Please come home. Your toys are still here.”

“He took them with him.”

“Shut up.”

The girl comes back on screen, squeezing between the two brothers. “Lance, come on. Please answer. Please.”

The call ends. Another starts up.

The elderly woman is looking down at the camera, crying. “Nieto, nieto, por favor?”

The older brother comes up to her. “Granny, please, I don’t think…”

The younger brother shushes him. “No. Let her leave another message. I don’t think any of us wanna believe that he’s gone, so let’s have some hope.”

Their grandmother begins to cry. “Neito, por favor?”

The sister comes into view. “Okay, abuela, you may not want to hear this, but-”

“But what, Veronica?” the woman snaps. “If you were lost out there, wouldn’t you want us to call you, even if you never got it?”

“Grandma...”

“Que? Por que?”

“Why what, grandma?”

“Why do you want us to stop calling your brother?”

“Abuela, I don’t think it’s healthy to keep refusing-”

“Your hermano could be out there!”

The phone falls. They stopped paying attention to the phone.

Someone picks it up. Little brother. He frowns a little, then taps the phone.

It hangs up.

No new video plays.

Lance stares at the screen in silence. He stays there for several moments. The phone remains glowing for several more seconds before the screen flashes red several times, then the device turns off.

The blue mouse rests next to him. He pets it absent-mindedly.

Knocking.

He drops his phone, then scrambles to catch it. He throws it on the bed.

He slides the door open, expecting a paladin. Instead, it was Coran.

“I was informed that you’ve been gone for fifteen minutes, and the other paladins really want to watch this…’anime.’”

“Oh? Oh yeah,” he rubs the back of his neck. “I just realized that we’ve been watching a lot of anime on my phone recently. Should probably just do something else.”

“Oh...okay.” Coran frowns. “I would’ve liked to witness this ‘anime’ but I guess nobody cares for an old butler’s feelings.”

Lance sighs. “Ask Pidge if he has anything downloaded, okay?”

Coran turns around with a large smile. “You do care for an old butler! You truly are like one of my own!”

“Yeah...yeah.”

As Coran speeds down the hall, Lance ducks back into his room. He looks at the phone on his bed. What? How? Why?

He mentally pulls himself together, snatches the device up, and walks out.

--V--

Allura rests back in a chair. It seems to float. She’s sitting in front of a large, large monitor.

Messages scroll across the monitor. She mumbles something about the Blades of Marmora.

Her hair is disheveled. No mice to be seen though.

Dark circles line her eyes as she stares at the screen. Or tries to, at least. Her eyes begin to droop.

“Hey, Allura?” Lance says, coming through a door across the room.

She bolts up. “Yes?” she says frantically.

He stands next to her chair. He begins regretting coming to her, seeing her lack of sleep. Does she need extra stress? “Nothiiing?”

“Then why did you come in here?”

“Because I care about you?”

“That’s kind, but you said that like it’s a question.”

“I mean, I do care about you...actually, when was the last time you left this room? Or ate? Or slept?”

She shrugs. “I’m not sure. When did Coran teach Hunk to bake cookies?”

“This morning.”

She blinks. “That was this morning? Felt like last week.” She gives a yawn. “By the way, tell Keith that I am sorry about the mice.”

“The mice? Keith?”

“He brought me some cookies this morning. The mice did their little mousey thing and glared at him as he handed me my plate. Then the moment he let go, they jumped on him.”

Lance thinks for a moment. “So that’s why he was just chilling with a mouse earlier…”

She smiles. “Sounds quite adorable.”

Lance frowns and looks down at the ground. He takes a deep breath. “Okay, well, umm, I think you should get some sleep soon, eat some real food. Take care of yourself.”

She laughs. “Keith said the exact same thing when he came in. Do you want to hear what I told him?”

“...what?”

“Quiznak no! I have work to do.”

He sighs. “How about we have Coran take over, then.”

She thinks about it for a moment. She throws her hands up. “After lunch.”

Lance stares. “Princess, lunch is long gone.”

“It is?” she shrugs. “I’ve lost all concept of time, I suppose.”

“Yeah, you need some rest.”

She sighs. “Alright.” She stands up and pops her back.

She makes her way to the door before stopping. “Wait. You came in here for something else.”

“Nah, it’s nothing.”

“Lance.”

“It’s fine, I realized I don’t need help.”

“Blue Paladin.”

“I’m fine.”

“Pilot of the Blue Lion.”

“Where the hell are you going with this?!”

“Why the quiznak won’t you tell me what you came for?”

He sighs. He pulls his phone out of his pocket.

“I got a call from my family. Several, actually.”

She gently grabs the phone. “Yes, that makes sense, does it not? That’s how the Universal Communication System works.”

He shakes his head. “No, that’s not how Earth phones work. We need a signal. And they called me, my number. They think I’m dead. And if I’m assumed dead, then my number would go to someone new. It doesn’t add up.”

She presses a button. The phone briefly flashes on. “It doesn’t add up, and yet it happened.” She taps curiously at the glass screen. “This is strange,” she comments.

“My situation or the touch screen?” he asks, watching her.

“Both,” she remarks as she flips the phone around, still curious.

“The universe is strange,” she says. “Things don’t always have to make sense. Sometimes, things simply...happen.”

“Yeah, okay, but should I tell the others? Their families must be worried, they must have messages too, they gotta hear from their families.”

She hands the phone back. “Lance, tell me. Did the sight of your family make you want to go home?”

He thinks for a moment. “Yeah. A little bit.”

“Then no. We can’t risk it.”

“Risk what?!”

Calmly, she says. “Paladins wanting to leave. Their hearts no longer in the battle.”

“So? At least they’ll know that their families are okay.”

“And if one of you wishes to leave? Don’t you understand the ramifications that would have on Voltron?”

“I mean, I don’t think a quick pit stop by Earth would hurt...”

“Lance. You don’t get it, do you? There is no time for such distractions. Spending hours upon hours trying to contact home, or hours upon hours trying to do what? Visiting Earth? For what, Lance, for what? You can help your family by defending the universe.”

He opens his mouth to argue, then closes it. Then he says, “Okay.”

“Get some sleep, your highness,” he says as she walks out the door.

--V--

Sparring.

Paladins in armor, coming at each other with weapons in hand.

Pidge has a smirk on his face. He holds his grappling hook in one hand, a pair of scissors in the other.

Keith is across from him. Sword in one hand, a small knife in the other.

“Bishop please, I’m gonna win,” Pidge cackles.

Keith smirks. “Okay. I honestly don’t doubt that.”

Shiro, Hunk, and Lance all sit off to the side. Mice are next to Shiro, eating something similar to popcorn from a large bowl.

“Alright, let’s start placing bets,” Shiro says. “Winner gets whatever popcorn the mice don’t eat.”

“My money’s on Pidge,” Hunk says.

“Same,” says Shiro.

Silence.

“Lance.” Hunk waves a hand in front of his face.

Lance is looking down at the floor. He gives a small hum. “Pidge?”

Shiro blinks. “Okay then. Who wants to vote for Keith?”

Hunk shrugs. “I believe in him.”

Pidge whips the rope of his grappling hook out. Keith dodges it and grabs it.

Keith chuckles and pulls at the rope, tugging Pidge closer to him, bringing his knee to the smaller boy’s chest.

Pidge wheezes and squeezes the handle of the grappling hook.

Electricity crackles down the rope for a moment, causing Keith to hiss in pain.

Keith maintains his grip on his knife, but the sword fizzles away. He swiftly takes the knife’s blade to the rope of the grappling hook. He laughs as the hook and rope fizzle away.

“A pocket knife? Really, man? Gonna use that to disarm me?”

He realizes that the whole rope disappeared. Pidge let it go willingly.

Pidge comes running at him, scissors in hand, ready to stab.

Keith blocks him with his arm.

Pidge circles around, coming up behind him.

Pidge hits the ground as Keith dropkicks him.

“You’re cocky, Pidge,” Keith says with a smirk.

Pidge looks off to the side and grins.

“What? What’s with that fa-”

He gives a slight yelp, falling to the ground.

His head rests on the floor, surrounded by mice.

“Whyyy.”

The mice squeak.

“You did that just for food?”

Squeaking.

“If you wanted a cookie, you should’ve asked Hunk or even Allura.”

Squeak.

He sits up. “Yeah, okay, I agree. Wouldn’t have been wise to take food from her. She’s been needing it.”

Squee.

“Wait, you jumped on me so I could take you to Hunk? Why didn’t you say so.”

The pink mouse shrugs.

Everyone watches dumbfoundedly.

“Okay, who wants to point out that he’s having a full conversation with a bunch of mice?” Shiro whispers.

“Yo, boi, ya’ talking to the feral animals that sleep in Allura’s hair!” Pidge shouts.

The mice squeak and hiss, backing closer to Keith.

“They’re not feral,” Hunk and Keith say together.

“It is weird though. Generally they kinda just...play charades,” Hunk remarks, making motions with his hands to illustrate how the mice do so.

Keith scoops up the mice in his arms. He gets up off the floor. “Okay, we’re checking up on Allura, I’ll be back in a minute.”

Shiro watches him as he walks out of the room. “Keith, as the head of Voltron, I order that you remain- aaand he’s gone.”

“So, did I win?” Pidge asks. “He basically forfeited.”

“Oh yeah.” Shiro grabs the bowl that once held popcorn. “Welp. Nevermind.” He flips it over. Only crumbs fall to the ground. “So. Who wants to fight Pidge?”

Hunk nudges Lance.

Lance gives a small hum.

“You’ve been quiet, man.”

“Yeah, just thinking about something.” He looks down at the floor again. “Who won?”

Shiro stares at him. “Okay, Lance is up next.”

“Wait, what?”

Pidge laughs as Lance walks up to him, confused.

Right off the bat, Pidge wraps the grappling hook around Lance’s waist, yelling, "Get over here!" He pulls him forward and brings his fist to the taller boy’s jaw.

Lance grabs PIdge’s hand.

Pidge twirls him around.

Lance hits the floor, Pidge keeping one knee on his back, and one hand still pinning down Lance’s hand.

“Owowow. ¡Mierda! Pigeon!”

Pidge rolls his eyes and lets go. “This was no fun. Where’s your fight?”

“Dunno, I’m just kinda distracted.”

“Is it all of the Earth stuff?” Hunk asks.

As he sits up, Lance slowly says “Yeahhh.”

“We’ll be home soon,” Shiro assures. “Hopefully.”

“Yeah. Hopefully,” Lance repeats, staring at the floor.

--V--

--V--

Lance lays down in bed. The blue mouse lays by his head. He’s gotten into a deep conversation with it.

“I don’t know, is it a good idea?”

Squeak.

“But if I just run off…”

Squee.

“True, but…” he pauses. “Wait, should I be listening to a mouse?”

Silence.

“Holy crap, I’m talking to a mouse.”

He scoops up the mouse in his hands. “I have to tell everyone about this! This is amazing!”

The mouse facepalms.

--V--

Lance rushes into the living room.

“Guys, I just had a whole conversation with a mouse!”

Shiro, Pidge, and Hunk are all sitting on one couch. They stare at him.

Pidge facepalms. “Boi.”

“What?”

“You really weren’t paying attention earlier, were you?” Shiro asks.

“Why?”

“That’s exactly what Keith did during our training session,” Hunk remarks.

Lance looks down at the creature in his palm. “Damnit. He beat me to it, didn’t he?”

Squeak.

“I honestly don’t see how it’s that amazing. Allura held long a-eff conversations with them long before any of us,” Pidge comments.

“Maybe it’s because we’re getting used to being around them?” Hunk suggests.

“Could be. Keith has been spending a fair amount of time with them…” Shiro points out.

Lance frowns. “Where is Keith?”

“With Allura,” Pidge says.

“Isn’t that your job?” Lance asks, pointing to Shiro. “Aren’t you supposed to be the one overseeing our mission?”

“She’s resting. He’s checking up on her. It has nothing to do with our mission.”

“Ice cream?” Hunk asks, looking over Lance’s face.

Lance takes a seat next to Hunk. “Maybe.”

“If you’re so jealous, why don’t you go check up on her?” Hunk asks.

“Because he’s already there. She’ll know what’s up. He’ll know what’s up”

Hunk sighs and pats his back. “Okay. Well, if you make no effort, you have no reason to be upset if they-”

“Don’t you dare suggest it.”

“I’m just saying. Brought this one upon yourself.”

Keith comes running in. Coran is right behind him. And behind him is a tired Allura.

“Mission time,” Coran chimes.

Shiro sits up straight. “Great. What is it, sir?”

“The Blades of Marmora have gotten information about a particular Fire base. Rumors claim that this is where a fair amount of their ships and heavy weaponry are manufactured.”

“That’s all?” Shiro asks.

“Well...there are claims of there being some...what is the word you use? Shady? Yes, shady activity down there.”

“Shady as in…?”

“Aside from reportedly being a barren planet? Disappearances of crew. Claims of strange creatures wandering about. Some claim there are failed, inhuman experiments down there.” He twirls his mustache. “Quite frankly, it sounds awfully entertaining. Imagine being down there, playing a game of survival.”

“No thanks, I’d like to live,” Pidge mumbles.

Shiro starts laughing. “But, the Universe-”

“Don’t start it. I am not in the mood to hear it,” Allura groans.

Keith nods. “Don’t worry princess, you’ll stay here, right?”

She looks at him tiredly. Then at Shiro. Shiro shrugs. “Who am I to argue with a princess?”

“Paladins, in your armor,” she says lazily.

--V--

The paladins run into their lions.

Allura trails behind Keith, stepping onto the lion’s ramp of a mouth.

He turns around.

“Allura, you shouldn’t-”

“I don’t care. I’m coming.”

“What are you even gonna-”

“I wish to feel involved in my own battle.”

He looks at her. Then to the side “Shiro?”

Shiro watches from the entrance of his lion. “Sorry, she has authority over me.”

“Shiro, you still rank higher than me! Argue with her!”

She yawns. “Alright then. I suppose I could ride with Lance. T’was my mother’s original lion after all.”

Keith moves aside. “Right this way, princess.”

“Wait, no, no! I wouldn’t mind!” Lance shouts, his voice echoing through the hangar.

Lance sighs, turns his back and plops himself into the seat.

He watches the chat screen of the Red Lion.

Keith offers her his seat.

She points out that it wouldn’t make much sense.

Keith chuckles.

He sits down. His eyes dart around as he looks for a solution.

She rests her chin on the back of the seat, wrapping her arms around both the seat and Keith’s neck, her arms resting over his shoulders.

He gently touches her hands. His face turns red. Not as red as his lion, but it’s red. She closes her eyes with a soft smile.

‘Stop being so smug,’ Lance mouths.

‘About what?’ Keith mouths back, genuinely confused.

“You really have no clue?” Lance whispers.

“No? I didn’t mean to be smug about anything,” he whispers back.

The blue paladin narrows his eyes. He keeps whispering. “You. Her.”

“She’s just nice. We’re just friends. She’s just taking a nap, she needs something to hold onto. Okay?”

“‘Just friends,’” Lance scream-whispers.

“Oh quiznak off, you two are just friends too. Now stop, I’m not sure if she’s listening to us in her sleep.”

Lance opens his mouth, ready to yell, but Pidge interrupts by saying, “Guys. We can all hear y’all and it’s effing petty, man.”

Lance crosses his arms.

“She must be tired then,” Shiro remarks. “She hasn’t said anything. No way someone can fall asleep that quickly...can she?”

“I’m too tired to give a quiznak,” she mumbles quietly, eyes still closed.

Keith and Lance look at each other over the camera, shocked.

“Yeah, fine, I’ll shut up,” Lance says timidly.

“Agreed,” Keith responds.

--V--

The Lions speed through space. They go at warp speed.

“I hate warp speed, man,” Pidge mumbles. “I like looking at all the new stuff out here.”

“On our way back, maybe, maybeee,” Shiro says like a stern parent.

Pidge rolls his eyes. “Fine, dad.”

“Don’t call me dad.”

“Daddy.”

“Ew, Pidge, stop before I turn my Lion around.”

Pidge starts laughing. “Got it, Space Daddy-o.”

Shiro sighs.

The Lions come to an abrupt stop. They hover close to the planet in question. And by close, a couple hundred feet probably.

“I think this is it,” Shiro mutters. “Think the coordinates are right, think this is the same blacklisted planet…”

“Okay, we either go in guns blazing with Voltron, but with the limitations of traveling in a mech, orrr, we get out and investigate, but at the risk of death,” He continues to mumble, hand on his chin.

“Say that again?” Keith insists.

Shiro repeats himself, but more confidently this time. Then he says, “There, do I sound like a good leader now?”

“No, I just wanted confirmation of what I thought you said.” He breathes in as Allura begins to stir awake, hugging him tighter. He puts his hands over hers. “We could investigate...find something helpful.”

“But, the Blades could come down after we wreck production,” Shiro begins strategizing. “...but why wait…”

“Quiznak this, I’m going down there,” Pidge says. His Lion begins to rapidly race towards the surface of the planet.

“Hell yeah,” Lance follows up, the frown on his face turning into a smirk.

Keith starts laughing. “Come on, let’s go!”

The Red and Blue Lions follow Green.

Shiro looks at Hunk over the camera. “You ever get the feeling that without us, they’d be dead?”

Hunk nods.

The Black and Yellow Lions fly down after.

The five Lions land, shaking the ground. Denting the ground.

A layer of metal covers the ground.

Buildings are in the distance, but no people.

“Okay...who wants to bite the bullet?” Shiro asks.

Lance coughs. It sounds vaguely like he said, “Fearless leader.”

Shiro looks surprised, then nods, as if to say that’s fair. He gets up from his chair, going off-camera.

A rustling noise comes over the intercom. “Hello? Hello hello?” Shiro tests. “Why are these helmet coms so hard to turn on…”

“Space dad. Space daaad. That’s actually not too bad of a nickname…”

“Who wants to tell him we can hear him?” Hunk whispers.

“Crap!”

“Oh no, he knows,” Lance says ominously.

“Abort mission teasing Space Dad. Abort, abort,” Pidge playfully panics. “Hurry before he grounds us!”

Keith chuckles. “Hey, Space Dad-”

“Don’t you turn on me, Keith!” Shiro screeches over the com.

“Have you been lying to me? Are you my true adoptive father?!”

“Yes. My name is on the adoption papers. I’ve been posing as my own father this whole time meanwhile my brother poses as me under our shared alias of ‘Sven.’”

“I’m so confused,” Pidge whispers. “Is this some kind of inside joke?”

Keith starts laughing. “You guys have never seen Shiro’s brother.”

“Do we wanna know?” Hunk asks.

Keith starts laughing harder. “They’re freaking identical twins. And I mean identical.”

“Hey, we have different haircuts!”

“Same face. Same voice. They can even both do this one thing-”

“Don’t you bring it up.”

“C’mon, please? I wanna introduce everyone to Sven.”

“You haven’t mentioned anything about a ‘Sven,’” Allura mumbles, cracking a smile.

Shiro sighs. He begins speaking in a heavy, fake Norwegian accent. “Hi, my name is Sven. I think all birds are beautiful. Except for vultures. Ugly birds.”

Lance starts chuckling. Pidge cackles. Hunk gives a hearty laugh.

Shiro is laughing too. “Okay, enough is enough. It seems safe out here.”

Keith gets out of his seat. Allura giggles.

“What?”

She points to his back.

He turns around curiously. The mice are gripping onto his armor for dear life.

One by one, he pulls them off and places them into her hands, where they scurry off into god-knows-where.

“You’re staying behind, right?” he asks.

She shakes her head, then takes several steps past him.

Suddenly, Shiro’s scream tears through the intercom.

He begins running, grabbing her hand and pulling her along.

--V--

Lance stands in front of his Lion, frozen by the sight in front of him.

A beast stands in front of him. A chimera of things. He can’t make out heads or tails. Actually, no, he can see some sort of an appendage holding something.

Something glows a blue-ish purple. Shiro’s gauntlet forming. He presses his armored hand against the thing’s limb.

The thing recoils and hisses, dropping the boy to the ground.

“What the hell is that?!” Pidge shouts.

“It’s dead, that’s what it is,” Keith says, sword forming in his hand. He glances at Lance. He makes a gun with his fingers and aims haphazardly.

Lance nods.

The beast remains hunched over, panting.

Shiro begins backing away, pushing himself off the ground.

The beast looks down at him and whimpers.

Shots fired.

A laser beam grazes the creature’s leg.

It cries out and reaches for the Black Paladin once more, snarling, ready to attack.

Shiro runs around to its side, hitting it in what he assumes to be its ribs.

Keith comes charging at it, slashing its face.

It hisses and screeches, turning its attention towards him.

A large blast hits the side of its face, throwing it off-guard.

Hunk runs up to everybody else, tugging Pidge along, Allura trailing behind. His machine gun fizzles away in exchange for a shield.

Pidge wiggles free, running his own direction.

Hunk scoops up Lance in his free arm.

The beast glares at them. It roars, then pounces forwards, running.

“Shelter. We need shelter,” Shiro announces.

“Really now? I had no clue!” Pidge screeches.

“This is why I wanna go home!” Lance whines.

Allura glances around. Metal everywhere. People had to have been there once.

“There’s a tower in the distance…” she remarks.

“Note the word distance,” Lance spits back.

She thinks about it for a moment.

She weaves her way through her teammates, past the shield.

Hunk stops dead in his tracks. “Allura, what are you doing?!”

“Stay behind the shield. I have an idea.”

She puts up her hand as the creature charges at her.

It skids to a stop, staring at her curiously.

Finally, the team could get a good look at it.

Its many eyes blink. Its long snout sniffs the air. Its oddly humanoid limbs grip at the smooth ground, trying to step closer to her.

“Good, good,” she whispers.

It gives a low growl before roaring loudly in her face.

She closes her eyes and pulls back one hand. A bow forms in her hands. She pulls back on the string harder before-

It suddenly rolls over unnaturally, as if it's been pulled.

A glowing green rope is wrapped around its waist.

Pidge stands behind the beast, weapon in hand.

Keith walks up to it. He rests his sword against its neck.

Shiro keeps his gauntlet near the thing’s face.

Hunk steps in front of Allura, shield up.

“If you try that one more time, you’re dead,” Lance says, crouching next to Allura, gun in hand.

The creature whimpers. It goes limp. Its eyes still blink, it just appears to have given up.

“Wait, you understood that?” Keith asks.

Lance starts laughing. “I’m the animal god!”

The thing snorts. It attempts to get up.

“Pidge, let ‘im up,” Shiro orders.

It slowly sits up, vocalizing its fear.

“You understand us?” Keith asks again.

It blinks.

“Watch this,” Lance snickers. “Blink once for yes, two for no.”

One blink.

“Okay. Are you just saying that?”

Two blinks.

“How many of us are there? Blink that many times.”

One.

Two.

Three.

Four.

Five.

Six.

“How did you know to do that?” Keith asks.

Lance shrugs. “Siblings, man. We do weird stuff. You never did that with your family?”

Silence. Keith glares at Shiro. Quietly, he says, “How come I was never in on the stupid games like that?”

Shiro returns his attention to the monster and claps his hands together. “Okay, can you take us to your ummm...master? Leader? Do you have one?”

Two blinks. Pause. One blink.

Lance holds up his gun higher. “Okay. Then I guess we’ll just have to-”

It begins wailing. Loudly.

“Then take us there,” Shiro demands.

The thing blinks once. Then it begins walking.

“Wait!” Allura yells.

It pauses.

“Can we get a ride?”

--V--

The thing runs on all fours. Allura, Shiro, and Keith sit on its back.

Pidge’s weapon is wrapped around its waist.

He sits in Hunk’s lap. Hunk uses one hand to grip onto a shield that they’re resting on, the other holding Pidge tight as the creature drags them along.

Lance sits with his back to everyone else, watching things go by.

“Look at what we’re leaving behind...metal ground peeling up. Metal ground all scuffed up. Nail sticking up…”

“Look at what we’re running towards,” Hunk responds. “A tower, shinier metal…”

“Sounds fun back there,” Keith laughs.

“It is,” Pidge sarcastically mumbles.

“We’re almost there,” Shiro assures.

“It’s gorgeous…” Allura mumbles as the tower comes into full view. It’s a tall, silver building, windows tinted purple. “This is a weapons manufacturer?”

“I don’t know, you’re the one with all the meta-knowledge,” Pidge responds.

--V--

The entrance to the building is far less beautiful than it seemed from afar.

What should be a sliding door hangs from its socket. The other half of the door rests against the floor, dented up. The doorframe is mildly bent out of shape.

The border of the entrance has millions of tiny scratches etched into its silver finish.

And yet, dim purple lights radiate from the room.

“This is it?” Shiro asks the beast.

It blinks once.

Lance gets off of the shield. Pidge lets go of his weapon. Hunk gets up and puts his shield away.

Both Keith and Shiro nervously slide down the side of the creature.

Allura hoists one leg over the thing so that both legs are on the same side. She jumps down.

“Be ready for anything,” Shiro announces.

“Yeah, no ish,” Pidge mumbles.

Allura slowly steps through the door.

The sight makes her gasp.

Everyone crowds around the entrance.

In the front room is a man. He seems older than Allura, but still fairly young. His pointed ears poke out from underneath nicely combed, bright orange hair, and two blue triangles under his eyes glow against his light skin.

He sits on his knees. He moves his hands around a purple glow, fascinated by whatever it is.

Lance, at the back of the crowd, turns to the thing. “Hey, what the hell. Is this a prisoner or something?”

It blinks twice.

“But it’s an Altean...in Fire territory.”

“The door is open though,” Hunk points out.

The creature walks up to the doorway. It nudges its way past the paladins.

It sits down in front of the man, panting happily.

“Why are you here?” he mumbles distractedly. “Need food?”

It groans.

“What? Speak up, boy.”

The beast walks back to the door. It lets out a low growl, trying to get his attention.

He finally looks up. “What is it, boy?!”

He looks at his guests with surprise. “I thought I heard voices. I just assumed they were the ones in my head.”

He gets up and dusts himself off. “Well. Hellooo. Are you here to check in on my progress? Nobody has done so in quite some time.”

Shiro stares. “We’re the Voltron force…”

He stares vacantly at the boy. “Never heard of them.” He looks over the group. “Ooh. You have a chimera in your ranks?”

They all look at one another.

“Welp, you hear that, Pidge? He thinks you’re some ungodly hybrid,” Lance chuckles.

Pidge elbows him in the ribs.

“I mean, honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s you. It’d explain why you’re so secretive,” Keith adds on. That earns him a kick to the shin.

“Sir, we know not what you speak of,” Allura says.

He blinks. He double-takes at something. Then he laughs. “I forget that not everyone can see what I see.”

The man twirls around on his heel. “Well, my good sirs, who would like a tour?”

Shiro shrugs. “He’s sorta just handing us the info…” he whispers. “Seems too off his rocker to be planning anything…”

The man begins to run up a flight of stairs. The only thing decorating the empty room.

Our heroes follow suit.

--V--

Lotor sits in a ship. He leans forward in his seat as Romelle watches the vast expanse of space fly by.

In front of them is a mech.

“You’re sure this planet will be safe for the test run?” she asks him.

“Yes. It is a dead planet. All the maps say so. All my sources say so. Merla checked.”

She nods. “Okay.” A smile stretches across her face. “We have our first piece of heavy weaponry. And my brother aides in its operation.”

“Your brother has a bit of a pride problem, does he not?”

“A sly bit.”

“You speak as if I can’t hear you,” Avok, Romelle’s older brother, says from over the intercom.

“Apologies, my sibling.”

“Now I must show off to spite you,” Avok laughs.

“Or you could not,” Lotor suggests. “I reckon you be careful in that thing.”

“Of course, of course! How dumb do you think I am?” Avok asks.

Lotor bites his tongue. No comment.

--V--

“And this is my room of knick-knacks,” the man announces, motioning to a room in a hall.

Lance peaks into the room. “Sweet. Reminds me of what I think reminds Allura of Altea.”

The man puts a hand over his chest. “Oh, Altea. How I miss my home.”

“I can relate to that,” Lance responds.

“Really? Were you sent off to a random planet with your mother at the age of eight too?”

“...no…”

The man laughs and laughs. “Well, what is your tragedy, then?”

“Wouldn’t call it much of a tragedy...we were just selected to be heroes…”

“Same!” he laughs. “After my mother died, the Fire took me in, said I could be useful. And I am!”

As they pass rooms, they randomly peer into them. Strange things are in each one. Remains of...something living. Old armor. Old weapons.

“This was a weapons manufacturer, right?” Shiro asks.

“It was. This was my base to oversee operation.”

“Then what happened?” Keith asks.

He shrugs. “I figured out how to make chimeras.”

Allura slowly starts, “And by chimera, you mean…”

“I take animals and throw them together. This place started falling apart because, after my discovery, people did stop checking up on me. Or at least, they didn’t get to.”

They all look at each other, getting an uneasy feeling.

“Then I started taking the bodies my pets found and gave them new life!”

“Sir, the chimera that brought us here…” Hunk starts trying to articulate, not knowing how to continue that sentence.

“He was a little dear I saved. Alchemy is amazing, y’know. Although, it’s worth noting that you can only fuse one sentient being. Your chimera here...he’s two sentient species, but one being. Is he a natural chimera?”

“Isn’t that just a hybrid…” Lance mumbles.

“Nobody here is a chimera,” Pidge barks.

“I see that you’re defensive because you think it’s you, but I assure you, wom-”

His eyes go wide and he rushes to say, “Shut the quiznak up. I don’t care. None of us are hybrids.”

He looks over them all skeptically. “If you say so.”

He looks around for a moment, turning his back to the paladins. “Well. Where do you wish to go now?”

Allura raises her hands. Bow and arrow. “You caused all of these innocents to die. Whether you’re saving them or not be damned, you ruined their lives.”

Lance stands by her and raises his gun.

The man twirls back around, a smug look plastered on his face. “Hooray, more test fodder.”

Allura releases the arrow.

The man reaches for a door. He grips it tight until it glows. Then he twirls back around and brings it in front of himself, the arrow bouncing off as the door is now a shield.

“Two can play the magic game,” he remarks.

--V--

Six robots land on the metal ground.

Five are vaguely dragon-shaped.

One is vaguely humanoid.

“Keep it steady, Avok,” Lotor advises.

“Yes, yes, I know. What do you expect me to do? Fly off into the sun with one slip of the hand?”

“With an ego like yours, I wouldn’t be surprised if you managed in some sort of one-up-mans-ship,” Lotor mumbles.

The new mech moves around. One heavy step forward. Raise one heavy fist.

“What does this button do?” Avok asks, his hand hovering over a panel.

“Which one?”

The Pollux prince shrugs. He starts pressing random buttons out of curiosity.

Shots fired. From the mechanical being’s hands, from canons on its back. Shots fired.

“Princess, get the other spoiled prince under control, please!” Acxa over the intercom.

“Acxa, we have it under control. Should there be such a misfortune for this planet to still host life, we have the money to cover it,” Romelle tries to convince her.

“That’s beside the point,” Lotor argues.

Romelle shrugs. “It’s under control.”

Avok’s mech stumbles around. It steps backward. Its torso spins around.

“How fast can this thing go?” Avok asks.

Lotor glares at him over the camera.

Ezor, the pink general, throws her hands up over her camera. “That’s it. I’m just gonna say it. We should’ve made him a robeast, not a mech-”

“Ezor, don’t be that harsh,” Zethrid, the large one, interrupts.

“It’s true though. Who here actually enjoys Avok’s presence? Hmm?”

Silence.

“Little girl, I can have you executed for such crimes,” Romelle hisses, pushing Lotor out of the way to wag an accusatory finger at the general. “If you wish to kill my brother, you must expect your own life to be taken as payment.”

“And that’s why we didn’t do it,” Acxa says deadpan. “No crap it’s a punishable offense- the effects it would have on Pollux, on your family. Of course, it’s punishable. We’re not heartless.”

Lotor sighs. “Look, it was a rude remark, but you must realize that Avok’s ego...it’s the size of his robot. He isn’t someone who appears to be a pleasant ruler. He has to better himself.”

“Rude! I should have your head!” Avok yells over the intercom.

Lotor sits back. “You want to know how fast it can go? It's fast.”

Avok smirks and tugs the levers of the mech.

The mech begins moving steadily, picking up speed, picking up speed, blasting off, mildly hovering.

“All good?” Lotor asks.

“Yes! Hell yes!” Avok exclaims.

--V--

The man isn’t a swift or slick fighter. He’s clumsy. He trips frequently. It was his alchemy that often bailed him out.

Lance holds his gun up high and just keeps shooting at the man until holes were burned through the various objects.

“You can’t stop me,” the man giggles, holding up a piece of armor from another room, morphing it into something to hide behind.

Something hits the flat piece of metal harder than usual.

The man peeks out from behind. He sees a very, very pissed off Hunk.

“You’ve been hurting these people,” Hunk spits. “You’ve been hurting innocent people, innocent creatures!”

He throws his hands up. “The way I see it, I’ve given them a second opportunity to live. I’m useful to them!”

Pidge begins creeping past Hunk. The larger boy glances at the smaller boy. He keeps talking as a diversion.

“This is useful to you?”

“Yes. I’m needed so these people- and yes, things too- may experience life once more!”

“Do they even want to keep living at this point? I believe all life is precious, but to this extent, it can’t be ethical.”

“But I believe you just said it. All life is precious. Tell me, if you wanted to die, should you kill yourself?”

“No, I should try to get better, but that’s different. They never asked to be brought back-”

“So it should illegal to give birth too, huh?”

Hunk just keeps a glare on the man. He glances at Lance next to him. Lance winks at Hunk.

He aims his gun high and-

The man stumbles back as a laser barely grazes past his head.

The flat piece of metal slips, clattering to the ground as Pidge pulls his rope around the man, keeping it coiled tightly around him.

Allura kneels next to him. “You. Why would you commit such sins! This is a new low, even for the Fire.”

“Didn’t you just hear me? It’s nice to feel useful.”

She glares at him in disgust.

“Are we keeping him for interrogation?” Shiro asks.

“Yes.”

Pidge tries to lift him up before-

THUD.

The building begins to shake.

Pidge’s rope dissolves away.

The ceiling begins to crack.

“We have to run now,” Shiro says with a dry mouth.

Allura, Pidge, and Shiro run down the hall, ready to get out.

Keith reaches for the man, trying to carry him out.

“Keith, I don’t like saying this, but his life isn’t worth it,” Hunk says.

Debris starts to fall. Hunk begrudgingly turns around to run out of the building.

Lance stays several moments longer. “Come on, let’s go.”

“He could have important info…” Keith mutters.

“It doesn’t matter, the Blades can take care of it. Let’s go. Now.”

Keith sighs and takes a step forward.

The man reaches for his ankle. He freezes as a purple glow is emitted from the man's hand.

The man is laughing as Keith hisses in pain.

“Chimera, I’m keeping you. You’re interesting.”

Keith bars his teeth, showing somewhat sharp canines. He kicks the man away with all his might, then starts to back away, panting.

Lance pushes Keith aside, standing between them. Lance does a double take at Keith's face.

"What?"

Lance blinks, looking at the Red Paladin's confused expression. Everything looks normal. "Nothing, just thought I saw something weird. Just, you go. Now.”

The sits up, looking entertained by the conversation.

Keith stares, mouth agape. “But…”

“But he’s trying to hold onto you for god-knows-what. I guarantee I can make my way back. You can’t.”

“You don’t know that.”

A large chunk of the ceiling falls between them, causing both of them to leap back. It isn’t large enough to block the path entirely, but it is alarmingly large.

Lance looks Keith in the eye. “If I can’t make it out, take care of Allura, please.”

Keith chuckles. “I mean, I don't think she needs protecting.”

“You know what the hell I mean. Do what you've been doing. Make sure she takes care of herself.”

Keith turns his back to start walking. He glances over his shoulder one last time before running off.

Lance glares at the man. "He's right. You have info. I don't know what you did to hurt him, but you're not gonna hurt me."

Lance runs into the man and pulls him into a headlock.

“Quiznak quiznak quiznak,” the man whines.

“This is pathetic. I’m the weak one, y’know.”

The man whines.

Lance pulls one arm away. He uses his free hand to form his gun.

He points it to the man’s head. “Okay. Show me where the escape pods are. That has to be quicker than getting to my Lion, right?”

“I won’t tell you,” he giggles.

Lance moves the gun slightly, so a laser hits the wall.

He frowns. “Okay.”

--V--

Lance holds the man’s wrists with one hand, his gun with the other, dragging the altean along as he speedily makes his way down halls, the man giving directions. Debris falls behind every step they take.

They come into a hangar.

Four small, round, and unarmed, ships sit in a row.

“Get in there,” Lance barks, gun still in hand.

The man climbs into the pod.

Lance picks up his leg to climb in, only to be stopped as the entrance begins glowing.

The entrance seals up, leaving a smooth wall.

He stares, dumbfounded. The ship then begins to take off.

A large chunk of debris falls near his foot. He jumps out of the way.

He inhales, then climbs into the next pod.

It’s cramped. Suddenly, he feels glad he didn’t share one with the man.

He looks over the jumble of symbols that serve as letters.

The pod automatically begins to take off.

A screen flashes. He looks around for some sort of clue as to what it is.

He gets an idea. Then he takes a moment to think it over. He has two options. While one is more manageable, it’s the more screwed up option.

Not knowing how to request his other option, the good idea, he breaths in.

“Take me to Earth,” he says.

Nothing.

“Earth.”

Nothing.

“Set coordinates for Earth. Dirt. Dirt planet. Milky Way Galaxy.”

The screen stops blinking. New symbols pop up.

“Okay. I’m heading home,” he sighs.

--V--

Keith sits down in his seat, twiddling his thumbs.

Everyone shows up on the camera but Lance.

“Where is he?” Hunk asks.

“He insisted he’d stay behind, try to hold off the altean we found.”

Much to his surprise, Allura gives him a hug. “Give me a moment, then.”

“Hold these, please,” she says as she plops the mice in his lap.

She runs out of the Red Lion.

The pink mouse opens its mouth, leaning closer to Keith’s thumb.

“No. Nooo.”

The mouse stops and looks up at him innocently.

“Good boy...girl?”

“Don’t assume gender,” Pidge screeches in the most nasal voice possible, then he starts laughing hard.

He shrugs and pats it on the head. “Good mouse.”

“That is precious,” Allura coos over the Blue Lion’s camera.

Shiro stares at her. “I thought…”

“I’ll explain later,” she says. “Let’s go.”

--V--

Voltron stands up.

The new mech stands by the tower.

The new mech is tiny in comparison to Voltron.

The new mech leaps forward.

Inside, Avok is laughing.

“Look at this, sister! I can take on Voltron.”

“Avok, you better retreat now,” Lotor orders. “We are not going to battle Voltron.”

“But, why not test out the power of this beast?”

Avok runs his hands across all of the buttons.

Voltron puts up its shield as lasers fire at it.

The ammo runs out.

The smaller robot takes off, flying into Voltron.

Voltron raises its sword.

“Watch this you peasants, I’m going to catch-”

The lights inside of the mech flash red as the boy’s eyes get big. The ear bleeding sound of metal tearing spills from the speakers in the other ships.

Static.

Romelle pushes Lotor aside and grips the levers of the ship. “We are checking on my brother right now.”

--V--

Voltron stands still as the paladins ramble on.

“That didn’t seem honorable…” Pidge says flatly, his eyes large. “Too easy. Should’ve shown mercy.”

“Nobody’s coming out of that thing…” Hunk comments.

“We can’t do anything about it,” Shiro sighs.

“We have to find Lance,” Allura remarks.

Voltron splits apart.

The Lions fly off, nobody daring to look back at what just happened.

--V--

Lance sits curled up in the escape pod. He opens various panels, looking for food in the event he did get lost.

Nothing.

“Guess I know how the guy found food back there. He just cleaned this stuff out,” he mumbles.

He looks over the unintelligible language on all screens.

He doesn’t even know how long it would take to get to Earth.

He messed up. Big time.

He just thought, if he could bring him back with info...it’d be handier to shove him into one of those things than run to his lion. By the time they got to the pods...that would be time wasted, wouldn’t it? To just go back to the lions, making the time he just spent walking through the tower pointless.

He didn’t think anything through here. It was a good idea at first, but he didn’t think about potential repercussions.

He pulls his knees to his chest and closes his eyes.

--V--

Romelle runs out of Lotor’s ship. She climbs on top of the debris that was once a giant robot.

She tears at wires, throwing them to the side. She reaches into a gap in the metal. It’s barely smaller than her body.

“Where’s the blind one?!” she shouts. “I need her.”

Narti climbs up and crouches next to her.

“What are you waiting for? Retrieve my brother!”

She jumps into the gap.

Moments go by.

Lotor stands next to Romelle, watching just as anxiously.

Several more moments go by.

There’s a scraping noise.

Romelle smiles. “Careful with my sibling.”

Narti was just climbing up alone. Her black gloves have a slight red sheen to them.

“Where is he?”

Narti grabs her hands.

Romelle starts sobbing. Narti releases her hands, leaving behind red stains.

“You killed him,” Romelle croaks. “You killed my brother!”

“No, your brother killed himself with his recklessness.”

“No, you killed him with your shoddy handiwork.”

“I’m sorry, I never told him to try to grab Voltron’s sword.”

“You rigged it! You meant for him to die!” she shouts in his face.

“No, I did not.”

“Your bride rigged it!”

He remains quiet for a moment. “She is not my favorite person, but she has a code of honor. She wouldn’t.”

She huffs. “I’ll have your head for this,” she hisses.

“Woman, how about we own up to it being no one’s fault but his.”

“It’s Voltron’s fault then.”

He opens his mouth, then shakes his head. “It was Avok’s fault.”

Romelle raises her fist.

Narti grabs her hand again. She puts her fist down, looking expressionless.

The small general guides the princess off of the robot.

Lotor climbs down after them. The other three generals are waiting on the ground level.

"We're keeping this between us. We are not letting her blab on about this, understood? The people of Pollux will already be upset enough without her shouting conspiracy," Lotor says sternly.

“It is fishy that Voltron just up and left though,” Acxa mumbles.

Lotor doesn’t argue with that.

--V--

Merla knocks on a door.

Bandor opens it. He smiles. “How’s the mission going? Is it cool? Are the weapons cool?”

She clamps her hands together. “Bandor, I ask that you take a moment here to brace yourself.”

“Why’s that?”

She rubs her forehead. “I got the report back. It isn’t good.”

“Why? Did the weapons fail?”

She breathes in. “Look at me, kid. If that were the case, I wouldn't be talking to you about it.”

He stops smiling. “What are you getting at?”

“Your brother and sister...there was an accident.”

“Okay. They’re just a little injured, right?”

She steps forward and hugs him. The top of his head barely reaches her chin. “I’m sorry. I wish that were the case.”

He starts getting misty eyed. He grips her cape tightly, sobs starting to leave his throat.

She ruffles his hair. “Do you need our assistance ruling Pollux?”

He picks his head up. “You better go. Now. You know people will begin conspiring against you. People don’t like accepting accident. The blame has to be pinned on someone. They won’t take ‘accidents’ as an answer. Which in turn will have my head placed on a pike, I suppose.”

She nods. “Better for your sake that we cut ties.”

He pulls away from the hug. “Thank you for everything, ma’am.”

“What is there to thank me for? My weapon failed.”

“You tried though. You tried to help us. Even when bad happens, and it’s out of your control, you try to make it better. Like right now. I wish you luck on your future endeavors.”

She smiles. “I’ll begin packing my things.”

She walks away.

Bandor remains in the doorframe. He covers his mouth, trying to mask the sobs.

He presses a button on the inside of his room, near the door. He speaks into a microphone hidden somewhere. “Raible, my dear advisor, something happened.”

--V--

“There’s two small spacecrafts on my radar,” Shiro comments, watching two dots move across a screen.

Allura presses a button and pulls up her own radar.

One on the right. One on the left.

She stares at them.

“Left. It’s the one on the left.”

Keith looks at her curiously. “Positive?”

“Yes. The universe tells me so.”

--V--

What did Lance do? Why the hell did he do this? It’s just now dawning on him that he may never see his friends again. Or his family for that matter.

He remembers being little. Someone knocked on the door.

When his grandmother answered it, a woman was holding a plastic container full of cookies. A small boy wearing a yellow shirt stands next to her.

“Hello. I’m new to the neighborhood and I just wanted to introduce myself.” She holds out the container. “Cookie?”

Lance’s grandmother puts up a finger and leans her head back into the house. “Kids, come say hi to the new neighbor!” she shouts.

A girl, probably about middle school age, runs up to the door.

Two boys trail not too far behind her. They have to be somewhere between eight and ten.

Finally, the youngest shows up. He seems to be around the same age as the neighbor’s son. He ducks behind his older siblings.

“Hunk, sweetie, say hi please,” the neighbor insists, giving her son a pat on the head as he tries to hide behind her leg.

Lance’s grandma laughs. “Don’t worry about it. We have one about his age. Kids are just shy like that. Lance, come here.”

Lance, the smallest, continues to hide behind his siblings.

“See?”

The neighbor smiles. “Well, my name is Tabitha. This is my son, Hunk. We moved out here because my husband works at the Garrison not too far from here.”

“My name is Maria. These are my grandkids- Veronica, Marco, and Luis.”

Lance whines.

“And Lance,” she chuckles. “Do you want to come inside?”

“Not if it’s too much trouble. I know it’s still early in the morning and-”

The grandmother snorts. “Nonsense. Come in.”

The two women sit on the couch. The smaller children remain close by.

Lance stares at Hunk. Hunk is eating a cookie.

“Can I have some?” Lance asks.

His grandma frowns. “Lance, where are your manners? It’s his-”

Hunk breaks the cookie in half. “It’s okay, ma’am. We have a lot. We have like, ten!”

The two women laugh at his idea of a lot.

Years go by. The two families spend a lot of time going to and from each other’s houses across the street.

Some time goes by.

Veronica is sitting on the couch, hunched over a laptop.

She groans.

“What’cha doin’?” Lance asks.

“School stuff.”

“What kind of school stuff?”

“School stuff.”

“Please? Plez. Pless.”

She sighs. “It’s stuff so I can get into the Garrison.”

“What exactly does the Garrison do? I know it’s space stuff, but what exactly goes on there?”

“Space travel research,” she answers, making a rainbow with her hands.

“Wooow.”

She goes back to typing.

He leans against her. “What are you applying for anyways?”

She strokes the side of his face and eerily whispers, “Technician.”

“Technician,” he repeats in a deep voice.

“Yes, technician,” she laughs.

More time goes by.

Lance and Hunk are sitting down outside, eating lunch. They’re in middle school now.

A girl with blonde hair walks up to them. She sits next to Hunk.

Lane raises an eyebrow. “Hellooo?”

“I just-” she looks off somewhere- “I just wanted to know umm. Will you go out with me?” she asks.

“Which one of us?” Lance asks.

She points to Hunk. “I need a date for the spring dance,” she mumbles.

Hunk puts down his sandwich and smiles. “You...you like me? A girl likes me?”

She nods.

“Yes,” was his answer, eager to date.

A week goes by.

They’re eating outside again.

“She dumped me,” Hunk pouts. He doesn’t seem heartbroken, just disappointed.

The girl comes back up to them. This time she sits next to Lance.

“Ginger, you just broke up with him via text, what the hell-”

The girl, Ginger, scoots closer to him. “I just wanted to know if maybe you wanted to go out with me?”

Lance accepts.

One more week passes by. Another lunch period spent outside.

Both boys pout.

“She left me for Jeff,” Lance groans, laying on the ground, looking up at the sky.

“She left me for you,” Hunk mumbles.

“She left us for Jeeeff.”

A lesson was learned. They grew cautious about who they’d date.

Months go by.

Someone tries to hurt Hunk with words while outside in PE. Lance has no clue what they were doing that day, he just remembers sitting on the sidelines.

A tall boy with light skin and dark hair looks back at his friend group, consisting of a pale boy with blonde hair and a dark-skinned boy with dark hair.

The just keep saying things. Things ranging from offensive to annoying to heartbreaking.

“See? No way in hell someone can be that nice all the time,” the first boy laughs as Hunk rubs his forehead.

Lance stands up.

“Lance, leave it alone. They’re just being jerks.”

“Hell no.”

“Lance-”

“Listen here, Shannon, he’s a better person than you’ll ever be. I’m a better person than you’ll ever be! And that says a lot!”

The leader of the group, Shannon, chuckles. He puts a finger on Lance’s chest. “What’s on your shirt?”

“Seriously? What do you think I am, five?”

The dark-skinned, dark-haired boy punches Lance.

The last thing he heard was a whistle and Hunk yelling, “What the f-”

Then he woke up in the hospital. His grandma was so upset. She’s talking to his siblings in Spanish. Something along the lines of, “I tell people I have a brilliant granddaughter, two brilliant grandsons, and one more grandson.”

“Thanks a lot, Abuela,” he mumbles.

The elderly woman stands up. “Boy, you broke your nose. What the hell did you do?”

“Nobody told you?” he grunts.

“Yeah yeah, the Garretts are on their way. Still, why the hell did you pick a fight like that?!”

“Hey, he stood up for me,” Hunk remarks as he comes into the room.

“And you boy-” Lance’s grandma turns around- “why the hell would you get yourself suspended like that?”

Hunk’s mom sighs. “He was standing up for your son after his attempt to stand up for my boy backfired.”

“Wait, what happened now?” Lance asks.

Hunk looks down at the floor. “I punched Shannon.”

“Thanks, man,” Lance groans sarcastically. “Totally worth it to get suspended.”

“Hey, school sucks. I’m okay with that.”

Both of the women shake their heads and sigh.

Another year goes by, just like that. The two boys sit down on a couch. It’s Hunk’s house.

“I don’t know what to say to this guy…” Lance mutters as he looks at his phone. It’s on a long message about wanting to go out.

“Well, do you like him?”

Lance shrugs. “I mean, I could give him a chance I guess. Dunno. He’s weird. He’s really into memes.”

“...so, you?”

He shrugs. “Yeah, I mean, I wouldn’t date me.”

Hunk looks at him. “Ehhhh, okay, yeah. If I found a girl who acts just like you, I wouldn’t date her.”

“Hey!” Lance elbows him.

“Isn’t that exactly what you’re doing to this guy though?”

Lance inhales. “Okay, I’m gonna do this then.” Text sent. It was a yes.

When Lance showed up to the date, which was in the park, the other boy was on the phone.

“Yes Hutch, I’m sure he isn’t just punking me.”

“Yes, I know it’s been twenty minutes but- Hutch, no, why would he?”

Lance coughs and taps the boy on the back. “Yo. Marvin. I’m here.”

The boy, Marvin, hangs up the phone.

Later that night, Lance is walking down a sidewalk, on the phone. “Hey, Hunk? Can I come over? Something happened.”

He sits down on the couch.

Hunk’s mom is sitting with them, wearing a robe. She hands him a cookie. “Alright, honey, what happened?”

Lance kicks his shoes off and pulls his knees to his chest. “He called his dad to pick us up. His dad had no clue I was the date. He got pissed and just left me there. So, I’ve been walking.”

“Language,” Hunk asserts.

The woman puts up her hand to let Hunk know to leave it alone. “And why didn’t you call ole’ Maria?”

He shrugs. “I don’t think Abuela would be proud of me.”

“Why’s that? She knew, right?” Hunk asks.

“Yeah, she knew. I just wasn’t smart. I didn’t ask about his home situation or if we’d be okay, then…”

“I’m calling Maria,” Hunk’s mom says.

“Wait, it’s midnight, isn’t it?” Lance asks.

“Around there,” Hunk responds.

“Can you hold it off till the morning? I don’t want her to be even more upset if I interrupt her sleep.”

The woman sighs and puts her phone away. “You’re lucky that I know her well enough to say that’s accurate, plus the fact you’ve been in and out of this house thousands of times over the last ten years.”

She leaves the room.

Hunk gets up. He’s gone for what seems like forever.

Ice cream. He came back with ice cream.

Over the next year or so, they spend a lot of time on that couch. Sometimes they’re crying, sometimes they’re celebrating.

At some point, Lance is holding up a phone. It’s on speaker.

“Hello?” a girl answers.

Lance looks at Hunk. “Say something,” he mouths.

“Hello?” she asks again.

Hunk stumbles over his words.

“My friend wants to get in bed with you!” Lance yells.

“What?!” the girls shouts.

“No, no, I don’t, promise. I’m waiting until I get married, I just. I. I,” Hunk is stammering on.

He takes a deep breath. “I wanna take you out for dinner. Please?”

The girl starts giggling. “Alright. It’s a date. Text me the deets.”

The phones beeps to signal her hanging up.

Hunk is frozen. “I’m going on a date.”

Lance grabs his hand and gives him a high five.

Hunk gives Lance a hug.

More time spent on the couch. Sometimes there's a tub of ice cream and tissues. Sometimes there are videogame controllers.

Time goes by once more. They’re sophomores, sitting down in an auditorium.

A man in uniform stands in front of several thousand students.

“At the Galaxy Alliance, you can learn about space exploration. Technology. Environmental science. Coding. Interplanetary archaeology.”

Actually, most of that speech was a blur.

They were told that they could sign up for the Galaxy Program instead of taking their last two years of high school.

What kid could say no to that?

Flyers were handed out. They could put in their info, then turn them in.

Naturally, the two of them had signed up.

And so did Ginger. And Jeff. And Shannon and his two little friends. And Marvin and Hutch. And so many other faces, both familiar and unfamiliar.

They spent one last time on that couch, watching anime and talking about the future.

Lance sits on the couch in his house.

His grandma walks in with a box. She hands it to him.

He pops the lid off and gasps.

"It was your father's," she remarks.

He pulls something out of the box. Something brown and leather.

It was a jacket.

He throws it on. It's a little big, but that doesn't matter.

“Your parents would be so proud of you,” his grandmother says softly.

“You really think so?”

She waves her hand slightly. “Ehh. I do not think you’ll make this familia much money, but I think you can find some sort of success. Now your hermana? She’s destined to become a millionaire.”

“...thanks.”

Now, thinking back on it, her words were motivational, not to tear him down.

He made it. Right? Saving the universe? Alongside Hunk and Pidge...oh god, Pidge.

Their first day at the Garrison was a strange one. Look at that, the universe couldn’t separate these two almost-brothers.

Then Pidge showed up.

Lance said hi, and Hunk held out his hand for a handshake...Pidge just made a b-line for his room.

That just about summed up their first several months there. Pidge came out for class, then would go right back to his room when it was over.

Then one day, they shook things up.

Tired of Garrison food, Lance and Hunk made plans to drive out and pick up something from the local gas station.

“Food? I heard something about food. Non-Garrison food,” Pidge says flatly, suddenly appearing next to Lance by the counter.

He stifles a scream before answering, “Yeah. Yeah. Wanna-”

“Hell yes, I’m tired of this place.”

So, they went to the convenience store.

Pidge grabs bags of chips. Chocolate bars. A lot of random food.

Then he grabs a box off of a shelf.

“...are those tampons?” Lance asks.

“I need them for a project,” Pidge hastily replies.

Lance still wonders about that to this day.

Eh. Pidge is weird. Wouldn’t put it past him for that to be the truth.

Then they went back home.

Jeff sits outside the dorm complex, a can in his hand. He waves at Lance.

Lance waves back.

Jeff motions for him to sit down.

Lance curiously points to himself.

Nodding.

“Hey, I’ll be a minute,” he announces as his roommates walk away.

He takes a seat on the concrete. “Yeah, man?”

“Hey, man. Haven’t spoken to since what, middle school?” Jeff asks.

Lance shrugs. “What is it, Jeff?”

He shrugs back, giggling like an idiot. His face is rosy. Not from anger or something lovey-dovey. No. The can is in his hand.

“I just wanna talk about my roommates. Let out the negative energy.”

“What’s wrong with them?”

“Well, one of them is fine. Name is Takashi. Or Shiro. Whatever-” he burps- “the hell. He’s cool.”

“And the other one?”

“Some little punk named Keith. He don’t like talking to me much. Shiro says to be cool around him. His mom died in a car crash when he was a baby and his dad abandoned him. He was in the foster system until Shiro’s family took him in. I say screw that though. He’s damn near an adult. We shouldn’t have to dance around his goddamn feelings.”

Lance looks at him. “My parents died in a car crash,” he deadpans.

“What? Are you offended, you little snowflake?”

“No, but I know that some things are touchy. Maybe your aggressive nature scares him. Reminds him of the bad.”

“You just told me that you’ve had some bad in your life. You’re not a punk like he is.”

“Well, first off, I was never orphaned. Secondly, I’d like to consider myself an optimist, and finally, we’re different people. This isn’t a one to one comparison.”

Jeff nods. “What pisses me off the most about this guy is how all this crap was handed to him. We have to study hard, make sure to pass the tests. This guy? He just remembers and it freaking annoys me! It’s like the universe gave him a pass because his mommy and daddy left him.”

Lance sighs. “Well. I can agree on that.”

Jeff pulls a lighter and something else from his pocket. He lights a cigarette.

His phone goes off. He looks at the message. “Crap. Forgot about our study session.”

He hands Lance the small stick. “Here, you can have this.”

He walks away.

Lance drops the cigarette and grinds it into the ground with his shoe. Then he picks up the can and dumps its contents several feet away.

He went back to his dorm after.

Through the months, yeah, he was upset. Keith did always one-up him.

Sometime later, they failed their test.

They found the Yellow Lion.

The memories are interrupted as someone pulls him out of the seat.

--V--

He feels like he’s being dragged. Now he’s on the cold floor.

The person checks for his pulse.

He cracks his eyes open to see Allura standing over him. Somehow, she looks more tired than she ever did in the last several weeks.

“You foolish, foolish boy. What in the bloody hell have you done?!”

He sits up. Blue light everywhere. Right. Blue Lion.

“I thought you couldn’t…”

“The Blue Lion accepted me, but without my own team, Voltron wouldn’t.”

“Oh, okay-”

“But that doesn’t matter. What matters is why the hell you ran off like that?!”

He shrugs. “I don’t know. I just had a stupid idea and I ran with it and I kinda felt like it could’ve been okay because hey, the mice agreed.”

She glares at him. “Lance. Are you telling me that you put your faith in the same rodents that sleep in my hair and make a game out of nibbling on Keith?”

“...yes?”

She opens her mouth to yell at him but then pauses. She says instead, in a low, gravelly voice, “Get in your seat.”

--V--

Inside the other escape pod, the Altean man is tapping away at screens.

The image of someone pops up. It’s a fuzzy galra who’s missing an eye. Yurak.

“Hellooo,” the man sings. “This is Roland.”

Yurak glares at him.

“Sorry, I meant Saint.”

Yurak continues the glare. “What have you been doing? Why haven’t we heard from you in five years?! Why does every operative who goes by your base die?!”

The man, Roland, shrugs. “I don’t know, but I need someone to retrieve me, please.”

“You’re lucky that you bring us such power. Otherwise, you would’ve been dead a long time ago,” Yurak growls.

Roland starts fixing his now disheveled hair. “I know,” he chimes happily.

--V--

Merla stands behind Lotor’s seat in his ship. He seems to have just arrived, and they’re striking up a conversation.

She leans forward. “So. You’ve finally seen Voltron for the heartless beast it is. The heartless beasts that pilot it.”

He sighs. “It is hard to ignore that they just up and left the battle once more but are we any better?”

“Nobody wants to take the blame for the prince’s death,” she notes. “Which, to be fair, was his fault.”

“I feel bad that we’re just gonna keep Romelle,” Ezor chimes in from her screen.

Narti flicks her tongue. She’s leaning back in her seat, using one hand to hold onto Romelle’s wrist.

“Well. We have a whole empire behind us now,” Lotor says unsurely. “We can drop her off with the Drule faction.”

Merla chuckles. “Oh, how fun was it to negotiate with the Galveston. Pity that they declined.”

“But now the Drule and Deathblacks are on our side. It makes up for the loss of Pollux, yes?” Acxa remarks.

Merla shrugs. “Well, come. We have to leave soon.”

--V--

Lance stumbles out of the Blue Lion. Allura follows him.

Hunk runs up to him, scooping him into a hug.

Pidge comes up to him. He socks Lance in the arm. “Never pull that BS again, man.”

“I am quite interested in what exactly you were doing,” Shiro says sternly.

Lance sighs. “I missed home. I don’t know, it was a stupid plan, but I was just eager to go back home. For it to be like old times. Back when I could just call my siblings, back to when the three of us could just chill in the dorm, back to when I just knew Keith as some bratty kid and Shiro as a cool guy.”

Keith pulls away from hugging Allura. “Thanks. I sorta figured that if anything were to happen to me, you’re the person I’d trust with the Red Lion, but okay. Screw you too.”

“I just wanna be home is my point.”

“Did this morning’s talk really have that much of an impact on you?” Pidge asks.

He takes a moment to think of what to say. “I got a phone call this morning. Several.”

“That can’t be possible,” Hunk mumbles.

“Yeah. I explained that to Allura. She said the universe is just weird like that.”

The room is dead silent.

“I could have calls from my family…” Shiro mutters.

“You could have texts from Kat…” Keith adds.

“Crap. I could have texts from Kat,” Shiro shudders.

Pidge clenches his fists. He runs out of the room.

--V--

Everyone but Pidge is on the couch, checking their phones.

“Crapcrapcrap she wants to get back together,” Shiro panics. “I have more messages from my ex than I do from my family.”

Keith shushes him. “We’re in space. You can ignore her.” He scrolls through his phone. “By the way, Ryou spammed me because he tried to reach you once.”

“Yeah, sounds about right.”

Hunk cries as he watches a string of calls similar to Lance’s.

Lance just rewatches what he saw earlier, staring at the screen sadly.

“Let this fill you with determination,” Coran chimes, standing behind the couch.

Shiro looks up at him and nods. Then he does a double take at Coran’s bright orange hair and blue markings. Wait.

“Hold up. If anyone knows about a strong familial resemblance, it’s me,” he mutters. “Coran, I know this subject may hurt a little, but how were you separated from your son?”

“We ensured that he and my wife could hide away from not only the attacks on the castle but any attacks to be had on Altea. They ran to wherever was safest for them.”

“And how old was he?”

“Oh, little Roland was about eight at the time.”

Shiro looks at Allura, who's holding onto Keith’s phone. “It lines up,” Shiro says.

“Yes, but that guy was crazy,” Lance retorts. “He could’ve just been babbling on about nonsense.”

Keith nods in agreement. “Yeah, he tried to keep me back there. Turns out I was the one he was calling a chimera. Clearly, he’s got a screw or two loose.”

Allura places her hand on top of his. “I’m sorry he tried to do that. But Shiro has a point.”

“Yeah, it’s so oddly specific...he had to have known in some capacity,” Hunk says.

“So, basically, what y’all are getting at is that we found Coran’s son?” Lance asks.