Lance glared at the black hair cascading down the other boy's neck as the two passed by in the dull halls, the other's face guarded from the cold set of eyes, unknown to the judgement reeking from the footsteps beside him.
Unkempt, messy, long and fine black hair with no care or thought placed into it. It reflected his personality. Untamed and uncontrolled.
It was disgusting, how little care he had to what he received when life had gifted him everything Lance had to work day and night for.
Keith's life was perfect.
Lance would never forgive him for it.
Type and enter. Type and enter. Type and...
A small smile formed on her face clicked the final button.
The program she had worked on for the past two weeks unfolded in front of her eyes, color codings neatly falling into place throughout the intricate maps and various buttons that had taken long, tedious hours of coding.
This was all her. Everything she was seeing was all her work, and her work alone.
This was Pidge's first ever Altean based program without Coran or Allura's help. All her.
Flopping back into the cushions, she let out a long sigh.
"I don't understand why we haven't switched uniform."
Their leader stood stiff, back turned to his right hand man. The consequential silence weighed heavier than the Castle.
He pressed on.
"I'm in red but I'm wearing blue. You're in Black but you're wearing red. Allura's in blue but she's wearing... pink?" A shrug. "All I'm trying to say is, it's kind of confusing."
The Red Paladin floundered for words he didn't need, intently watching for any signs of acknowledgment.
Finally, a slow turn.
"I fly the Black Lion." Keith's intense gaze burned through Lance. "But Shiro is the Black Paladin."
"Do you think you could shape shift into a human?"
Blue eyes blinked owlishly at brown as one girl stared at another. The Green Paladin was always full of odd conversation topics.
"Well, yes." She reached up and touched the pink she couldn't feel, but knew was there. "Though markings would still be there."
Pidge turned back to her computer. Allura's face fell into a gleeful smile, closed her eyes, and focused.
The surprised shout was not from her assumed recipient, but Hunk, who wandered in at the right time.
The humans' burning curiosities will never fail to amuse her.
Chapter 5: Science
A commotion stirred behind his back as he evaluated the screen in front of him, filled to the brim with Altean language he swore to never forget.
His elongated ears flicked back towards the sound of bustling and foreign words as the Paladins lounged in the center of the common room.
While the translator couldn't pick out every word, the Emperor was bitterly reminded of his Generals. Soon he would be with them again.
Allura needn't know that the Emperor was studying the ancient art of harvesting Altean quintessence.
She never needed to know, nor would Lotor ever tell her.
Chapter 6: Names
"No, Katie, it's Paige. Not Pidge."
A set of wide eyes looked blankly at her mother before stomping her foot. "Pidge! I'm Katie Pidge Holt!"
Colleen's sigh turned into breathy chuckles as she gazed fondly at her daughter. When she had waddled up to her parents and demanded to be called Katie, her and Sam had already predicted this day would come and helped her with an upgraded wardrobe.
The only issue was that Katie was old enough to know she is a girl, but hasn't received enough speech therapy to pronounce "Paige".
It was charming in its own way.
Chapter 7: Firsts
Shiro was tall. Towering, even.
But he wasn't towering in the way the foster parents were, who used their height to assert they were in charge. They knew what they were doing. They had the first and final say.
Shiro was not that. Shiro used his height to stand up for him, to assert he was going to take care of him no matter what. He knew what he was doing, but... he listened.
Shiro used his height to reach out a helping hand to someone almost half his height.
It was the first time a fostering hand was kind.
Watching Krolia gently place her arm around Keith's shoulders, Shiro felt a pang of... sorrow? Pride? Reluctance?
Shiro had first met Keith as a scrawny child with no parents, no one to turn to. Shiro had taken up both of those positions for no other reason than kindness and a more youthful sense of determination.
Keith is an adult now, nearly Shiro's height. He has his mother. He has the Paladins, his friends, the Blade of Marmora.
He had never thought that the last time Keith would turn to Shiro would be lost in the blurred memories of his clone.
Poor Shiro has empty nest syndrome. He's gonna have to adopt more kids now
Chapter 9: History
Allura would never say she was disappointed upon meeting Romelle.
In fact, the familiar ears and markings brought her to tears, once the shock of Lotor's betrayal and the battle wore off.
No, she was not disappointed.
But Romelle was not from the Altea she knew. Her dialect was so strong it required a translation, their different vocabulary and traditions unrecognizable to each other. They tried to connect from their shared species but only found differences.
She was not disappointed, yet her heart broke for Altea.
Coran lives on, Allura lives on. Alteans live on.
But Altea is gone forever.
Chapter 10: Home
Home, by definition, was a permanent residency often as a family member. Many foster parents said home was here. Home was now, and it should always be home. That was never true.
No, the last time Keith had a home by definition was fourteen years ago.
Not having a home wasn't so sad anymore, as he stepped onto yet another liberated planet in need of restoration.
Keith didn't often lump his personality into his species. But perhaps his grievances were truly from being galran, a nomadic species by nature; trapped to a single planet, a single country, a single city.
Chapter 11: Privacy
"I'm not telling you anything."
Shiro glanced down towards the prepubescent child he's spent so much time working to help, so much money to help get out of the accursed foster system that harmed more than helped.
"That's okay. You don't have to." Shiro gave the younger a reassuring smile. "Just know that if you do decide to tell me something, I'm always here."
Shiro knew just by his facial expression that it was the first time this child was ever told that.
The familiar aching anger at this boy's situation, his inexcusably poor upbringing, nestled into his chest again.
Chapter 12: Hatred
The Galra, in the steadfast opinion of Coran Hieronymous Wimbleton Smythe, is a race of natural born soldiers ready to fight from their very first breath.
Determined, disciplined, and intensely loyal. Selfless to an extreme.
The Royal Advisor saw it now, reflected in the deep purple eyes of their new Red Paladin.
Coran was reminded of this once again as he watched the Red Paladin quickly shuffle pass him without a single spared glance in the hallways, filled with visible shame.
Eventually, Keith should learn to be proud of his heritage. Coran would see to it himself, if need be.
Chapter 13: Art
A gentle hum broke free from the Green Paladin's throat as she evaluated her work after an hour of concentrated silence.
Five cartoon figures smiled and waved back at her from the blue alien paper, the sixth one scowling with crossed arms to stay in character.
The back of Pidge's mind told her it was silly to draw her friends, her sketchbook filled with doodles of small, funny interactions that couldn't be translated to a computer document yet she desperately wanted to hold onto.
But that's okay. This is the most amount of friends she's ever had at one time.
Chapter 14: Earth
In a universe that has centered around the influential Altea and the conquering Empire, a planet like Earth that is entirely free from linguistic and cultural influence is so, so rare.
Allura listened as Keith and Lance babbled away in a different Earthen tongue from the others- "Spanish" as they called it- finally finding a middle ground in the form of a shared language. On Altea, there is one language. In the Empire, there is one language. Earth is unique just by having more than one.
She wants to visit Earth and travel their world. It would clear her head.
Chapter 15: Death
Blood, blood, and more blood.
The wound in their friend's chest split from the shoulder and out of the lower abdomen. It's not the first time they had seen a freshly killed body, and yet. Every detail was neon, the surrounding noise was static.
She and her friends kept their faces neutral until they boarded their separate ships. In the privacy of the comms, Ezor broke down deafeningly into her ears. Zethrid gave soothing words wobbling with grief. Acxa's tears were silent, hands gripped in rage.
The one thing Acxa had to hold onto was gone.
Lotor hadn't even blinked.
Chapter 16: Life
We are both ancient Alteans, and yet we led such different paths from the very beginning. I had to work to get where I was before Zarkon, while you were born into a life of perfection.
Now you've worked so hard, to the point that you'll give up that life you earned. I disagree.
I see your face twisted in protest as I push you away, back towards your friends. Your family. You are too selfless, too young to give away your life alongside someone as heinous as me.
Be selfish, young girl. We must be with our loved ones.
Chapter 17: Secrets
Familiar chirping caught her pointed ears as Allura slid under the blanket. Smiling, she watched as her mice raced around her.
"You're all very talkative tonight."
All of them were squeaking among each other, deciding what to say.
"Secrets? I heard you say secrets, Platt, don't deny it!"
Platt tipped down his head in momentary shame, before they mice glanced at each other before squeaking up at her again.
"Lotor is a... scientist? Well, of course. That's not much of a secret."
The mice looked worried, but no more secrets were shared. Not until Romelle stepped foot on the Castle.
Chapter 18: Selfishness
There is a fine line between "selflessness" and "selfishness".
If one is so selfish that they only care for what they love, it can be mistaken for selflessness. Lance is somewhat selfish. Shiro is selfish. Hunk is more selfish. Pidge is too selfish.
If one is so selfless that they will give up what they love, it can be mistaken for selfishness. Coran is selfless. Allura is more selfless. Keith is too selfless.
Being inherently selfish is seen as a bad thing. It often is. But more often than not, extreme selflessness hurts selfish ones. So is one really worse?
Chapter 19: Heaven
The concept of "heaven" and "hell" was something Allura had learned from her human family when the words did not translate. The answer, she had found to be incredibly interesting.
On Altea, everyone knew of the higher plane. It was not an abstract concept, it was a reality. A place know no one knew was like until they went there.
Except for her. Allura had lived to tell the tale of the grand expanse of peacefulness the higher plane had shown.
Quite honestly, she preferred the hardships of life much better. There was no replacing the peace found in family.
Chapter 20: Newness
These new Paladins were not the same.
While someone whose life has expanded ten millennia might see the similarities, one like Allura who's cryogenic sleep passed like a blink of an eye would only see stark contrasts.
These new Paladins were children.
Allura gazed down at the ones in Red, Blue, and Yellow. They were standing in a triangle, animatedly discussing something insignificant about their education in voices louder than necessary, laughing at poor impressions of their educators.
These new Paladins shared a culture.
That was the one thing that drove Allura mad, for reasons that sourced in heavy grief.
Chapter 21: Bullying
The biggest plot twist upon being shot into space was learning that Keith is awkward.
Hunk had expected the Keith to be his new teammate in Voltron to be a very different Keith. He expected the Keith that would purposefully mess up flight maneuvers and simulators. He expected a Keith that was like the one he saw when they met Shiro; commanding and condescending.
No, that can't be right. Hunk watched with a raised eyebrow as Lance's silly yet simple chant went right over Keith's head.
How do you misinterpret someone's personality as bad as the Garrison students did Keith?
Chapter 22: Sadness
The last time Krolia let herself cry, she had been a toddler. It was one of her earliest memories, when she slammed into a metal beam and her now deceased father scolded her for not paying attention to her surroundings.
Krolia never expected, in the centuries upon centuries she has lived, to have an opportunity like her father did; a child that you have a chance to raise and nurture.
She had that opportunity, but here she was now; crying over her metal controls as she left behind the chubby, clumsy baby she loved more than anyone she's ever known.
Chapter 23: Hiding
Katie has gotten a fair share of slurs throughout her life. The first time she started to hear the words, her mother had sat her down and explained, in a very serious tone, the cruelties and hardships Katie might face. She lives by the words she was told that day.
She wasn't conforming, this wasn't conforming, this was necessary for her family; she chanted this over and over as she chopped off her hair shorter and shorter and shorter.
Pidge was happy they were shot off into space. She wasn't sure how much longer she could endure as a boy.
Chapter 24: Play
"Now just where in this house could he be?" The man enunciated each word, pointedly looking away from the shifting cabinet door. "He couldn't possibly fit in the kitchen cabinets."
That sparked a muffled giggle and a faint clang of metal from the cabinet his son was most definitely not hiding in.
"That's such a shame. A real shame." The smile on his face widened. "Guess I'm gonna have to get ice cream alone..."
"NO!" He laughed as Keith fell out of the cabinet in a rush, and picked up his pouting son.
Another peaceful moment Krolia would never see.
Chapter 25: Love
Allura was, essentially, raised by Coran and her nanny.
She loved her parents deeply, most especially her father who she still remembers the gentle voice and loving hugs. But at the end of the day, she was raised by Coran and her nanny.
Her nanny was, in actuality, her grandmother. After Queen Melenor passed away, she moved to the castle to provide a familiar presence during times of heavy grief. She died before Allura turned ten.
Coran, however, is the most stable presence in her life. Even when their entire world ended, his shoulder was still there to cry on.
Chapter 26: Story
"...and really, we weren't allowed to be in anywhere outside of Lotor's dedicated area in the headquarters. It was extremely restrictive."
Her conversation partner pursed his lips. "I guess I just don't get how you guys could push around Zarkon's commanders but also... not be able to do anything."
Keith was, as Veronica once eloquently put it, a good 'rant buddy'. Most people were put off by her usual tangents about the Empire's oppression, but Keith almost seems like he's interested in what she has to say.
The concealed interest is a bit odd, but she appreciates the outlet nonetheless.