Rarely a day went by when Hunk didn’t wonder how he ended up where he was. How did he end up piloting the Yellow Lion? How did he end up being a key instrument in an ancient space war? How did he end up on a planet full of bloodthirsty aliens that looked like some hellish mix of Mickey Mouse and clickers from the Last of Us?
It was all just too much sometimes. And usually the times when he felt closest to a breakdown were the times when a breakdown would not go over well at all.
Like right now, for instance. His Lion was miles away, everyone except for himself had been captured, and he had no idea where to even start to look for them. He was ducked in an alleyway, and his mind was racing.
Get his team back. Get to his Lion. Get off of this stupid planet and back to the Castle. Maybe not in that order. After all, fighting in Yellow could give him an edge, right? It would certainly be safer.
But the longer he was away from his friends, the more likely it was that they would get hurt or killed or sold off to the Galra or any other number of terrible things that Hunk was currently imagining. They had to come first. He could do this. He didn’t need Yellow right now. He was a Paladin of Voltron, and he was just as capable as the rest of them.
‘Okay, Hunk. What do you have that you can use,’ he thought to himself. ‘My bayard, my armor, my helmet, and my brain. I know they probably took the others to that palace thing they have. First step is gonna have to be to get in there without getting caught myself.’
Hunk leaned out from his hiding spot to peek up at the fortress he was going to have to break into. And then back out of. He needed to know what he was facing once he got inside. There had to be some sort of security system- cameras, records, patrol guards, anything. There was absolutely nothing he could do from the far away. Steeling himself and patting his bayard at his thigh once, he stepped out of the alley and started walking in the shadows towards the palace. He needed to get closer. Surely at the gates there had to be some interface, at least to open and close access inside. And maybe, depending on how interconnected the palace’s systems were, he would be able to tune into other parts of it.
As he neared the gates of the compound, he was relieved to see that he was correct. There was a small screen on the wall next to the closed gates. He noted the camera mounted just about it and paused to think about what to do with it. On one hand, one camera usually meant many others. But on the other hand, if someone decided to check the camera while he was working, then he would be caught and possibly rendered unable to help his team.
He couldn’t stay hiding all day.
He needed to get into that system. If he couldn’t do that, then he had no chance of finding the others.
With a deep breathe, Hunk stepped forward and walked to the little screen. Taking it apart was easy enough. Once he got in and saw all the wires, however, he faltered. This interface was entirely foreign to him, and he had no idea how to work with it. He studied in intently with a racing mind. He couldn’t figure it out. If he couldn’t figure it out, he would be caught very soon. And if he got caught-
No. He wouldn’t get caught. He was going to figure it out. He examined the way the wires were arranged, and considered what each one did and how to get it to work for him. Carefully, he reached in and unplugged two wires that his gut was telling him would work and immediately reconnected them to the other’s place. At first nothing happened. Then a small live feed appeared in the bottom right corner of the screen, showing two guards walking side by side down a hall.
Perfect. He was on the right track. This was engineering, plain and simple, and once Hunk realized that, he started handling it much better than he had been before. His engineer mind was reminding him that people (and aliens, hopefully) would always take the easiest way when it came to design. And it was right. After a few small changes, Hunk was able to look at nearly all the cameras in the palace to get his bearings. And find the cell block that held the other Paladins.
He examined it a moment before holding up his arm and scanning the screen with his gauntlet. He briefly considered connecting his gauntlet to the security system, but he didn’t have the time to mess with it. And a picture of the screen could work as good a map as he could otherwise hope for.
Hunk very nearly commed in to get the gate open for him, but he decided against it. Element or surprise and all. So instead, he grit his teeth, and started the difficult task of climbing the wall. The wall stood nearly three times as tall as Hunk was, and there weren’t many hand or footholds. So instead, he used his jet pack to jump from one handhold to another until he was at the top and flipping himself over. When he landed on the other side, he glanced at his gauntlet’s hologram and made a path in his mind.
It may be that he had a route to the others, but he had no way of knowing what was waiting between him and their cells. Or how long they would be kept there. He would need to be alert. His right hand hovered over his bayard as he crept through the quiet halls, ready to pull out his blaster at any moment.
The next left should put him in sight of the dungeon, or whatever the aliens called their holding cells. He was surprised how easy it had been to get here-
Then his heart stopped when he heard a click and a hiss behind him.
He’d jinxed himself.
Okay. He’d gotten this far and there was no way he’d give up now. His friends needed him. He was the Yellow Paladin for goodness sake, and he would not let them down. He turned around with a forced smile on his face to see two of the freaky creatures staring (he assumed) at him. It was hard to tell where their eyes were though. But his suspicions were confirmed when one of them reached out and grabbed his chin, vicious claws digging into his skin and drawing pricks of blood. It jerked his head up, eliciting a startled yelp out of Hunk. They hissed again at the sound.
Hunk couldn’t place where their voices were coming from, but when he heard them, he was surprised at how smooth they were. He silently thanked the stars that he had his helmet on with access to his translator. Although he was wishing he’d left the mouth guard down.
“Another one,” the first Mickey Clicker (that’s what Hunk was calling them in his head) said.
“How many is that now? Four?”
“Five. Is there room in the cells for this one?”
“I don’t believe so. What should we do with it?” It still hadn’t released his chin, and Hunk was wishing for the first time ever that his bayard could be a sword like Keith’s. He had no skill with close up weapons like Keith or Pidge did, but right now his blaster would be too large for him to use effectively against them. “Shall we take him to Queen Theafae?”
“Yes. She will know what to do.”
No, no no, he couldn’t be taken away now, he was so close! “Wait! Queen- uh- Theafae sent me to- interrogate the prisoners!”
“What’s this? Our Queen sent you? You’re one of them.”
“Nope! I’m… I’m in disguise. Queen Theafae thinks that- she thinks that they’ll talk to someone who looks like them. So I’m dressed up as one of them and just need to go in there right now.”
“Sounds suspicious,” one remarked.
“Very. Why would the Queen trick them into talking when we can just force them?” The other seemed to agree, but it released Hunk’s face all the same.
“Uh- well, I don’t know how the Queen thinks, but you- you know how Queens are, am I right? And I’m sure you don’t want me telling her who it was that stopped me from following her orders.” Hunk was trying hard to sound confident.
There was a pause, and then the one with the grip on his chin let go and the both of them shimmied their shoulders. “You have no idea. We never intended to obstruct Queen Theafae’s orders. Please, carry on.”
“Be sure to tell the others what I’m doing. I don’t want to be bothered,” Hunk added quickly.
They did some sort of salute that Hunk did his best to imitate, and turned around and left.
‘How the heck did that work?’ Hunk wondered as he hurried to the end of the hallway. The door opened without him having to use his bayard, and he could’ve cried when he saw his imprisoned team. “Guys! Oh thank god!”
“Hunk!” Everyone stood up and beamed, and Hunk had to remind himself that they weren’t safe yet. He scanned the room, considering what would have to be done to get them out. He was guessing Shiro’s arm wasn’t able to slice through the bars, since they hadn’t escaped already. And they all had their hands tied behind their backs.
“Hunk,” Pidge called again, getting his attention. “They’ve got some sort of automated lock over there by where you’re at. I haven’t been able to look at it too closely, they’ve got us all tied up.”
“Got it.” He turned to look at what she was talking about. It was another screen in the wall, similar to the one up front. Studying it closely, Hunk started pressing buttons. The others couldn’t see what he was doing, but soon enough he had the door to every cell opened.
“Great job, Hunk,” Shiro said with a smile. “Now untie us, and let’s get out of here.”
“Wait,” Hunk said, “I want you guys to stay tied up.”
“Because. You’ll be my prisoners,” he answered. “I told a pair of guards that I was in disguise to trick you guys- long story, but we might be safer walking out just hiding in plain sight.”
Shiro’s skeptical expression and Keith’s outright scowl let Hunk know that this idea was not a favorite. If it came down to fighting and they were all tied up, then they would be completely vulnerable. But then again, the idea was to avoid fighting. Lance and Pidge just nodded. They had complete faith in him. Hunk was desperately hoping that faith was well placed.
“Okay Hunk, we’ll try it.”
“Awesome,” Hunk said with a grin, pulling out his bayard. “Get your hands up then.”
“Our hands are tied,” Keith said.
“Well, then line up.” Hunk rested his bayard on his shoulder and pointed it at his friends. “Let’s go!”
“How the hell did that work?” Keith panted as they sprinted through the streets towards the Yellow Lion.
“Because Hunk is a genius!” Shiro’s smile made Hunk’s chest swell with pride.
“Man, I’m just glad those Mickey Clickers were dumb enough to trust me,” Hunk said as they all loaded into his Lion.”
“Yeah… they looked like a mix on Mickey Mouse and the clickers from that video game.”
“Oh yeah,” Lance said. He was the only one who managed to make the connection. The others just stared at Hunk blankly.
“Okay!” Shiro held his hands up placatingly. “I’m proud of you Hunk. You did so well.”
Hunk collapsed into the pilot’s chair and started up his Lion. Yellow purred in the back of his mind, letting hunk know that Shiro wasn’t the only proud one. “Alright boy, let’s get back to the Castle and let Allura know that this planet sucks.”