Chapter 1: Keith's Trial & Escape
Keith makes his escape and heads toward Earth, where his destination is luckily an island.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Thace stood at attention, face set blank. He stood in front of the entire galactic panel, who were to decide his fate. Not that there was anything to worry about; he’d gotten away with this for seven years, surely there was no way anyone could have discovered him now.
“Princess Allura of Altea,” Zarkon introduced, stepping to the side as she entered. Thace had only ever seen the woman twice before this, yet she was still so beautiful. Of course, she would be more so if it weren’t for the scowl on her pretty face.
“Read the charges,” Allura said, staring down at Thace.
“Thace stands before us on the account of illegal genetic crossing of Glaran and Altean blood.” Just as this was said, a ship entered through a doorway in the back. Thace narrowed his eyes, huffing as he turned back around and placed his hands behind his back.
“And, how do you plead?” Allura asked. The ship stopped beside Thace, and he smirked, tossing his shoulders back.
“Not guilty. All experiments I’ve done have been theoretical. Creating something would be disastrous, and unethical and I would never, never-“
It dropped. His experiment dropped from the ship, landing on a platform that quickly sealed him in a bubble. The creature zipped around his bubble in a fury, jumping and rolling as he tried to find a way out.
“-uh…make more than one…” Crap. How had they found him?
“What is that monstrosity?” Zarkon all but demanded.
“Monstrosity?!” Thace repeated, throwing his hands up. “What you have before you is the beginning of our future! He was created with Glaran and Altean bloods, only from the bravest and most notable of warriors and technicians! He’s brilliant and quick, and strong enough to lift 3000 times his own size! His only desire is destruction!” He threw himself into laughter, howling in a way that made his experiment even look at him funny.
“So, he is a monster,” Allura said calmly.
“Only a little one, though,” Thace reminded, smug grin on his cheeks.
“Place this danger to society under arrest!” Zarkon shouted, slamming his fist against the wall. Thace was grabbed from behind by guards, tossed into handcuffs and dragged away.
“You’ll regret whatever you do! He can’t be stopped!”
The experiment turned to watch, his too-large purple ears twitching with his growing curiosity. Where were they taking him? How come he couldn’t get rid of Thace, but these guys had such an easy time? That wasn’t fair!
“And as for you,” Allura started, dragging his attention back to the front. “If you can show us a sign that you’re good, and that you aren’t just a mistake, your sentence will be less harsh. Go on, then…” She pulled a very forced smile in her attempt to be peaceful with this disaster.
Oh, yeah. First impressions. He slipped his hands behind his back and cleared his throat, ears still twitching madly. “I’ll kill you all!” he shouted, jumping at the glass bubble around him. He dragged his claws down the glass, scraping to make the loudest noise possible. The entire room erupted into chaos as guards ran in after him, grabbing him just as the glass shattered. He squirmed and thrashed, biting at their hands and guns.
“Place him in isolation! He must be placed in maximum security until we can put him down!” Allura commanded, sending the guards away. “Zarkon, you will be in charge of getting him to the prison, understood?”
It had been an hour since he had been locked up. They cuffed his hands and muzzled him, just to make sure no “funny business” went on. How cowardly. The guard in the room did nothing, not even so much as glance his way.
Ugh, it was annoying that Thace hadn’t even given him a name. How pathetic. He was the most dangerous being in the universe, and he didn’t even have a name? How were parents supposed to tell their little kiddies to be afraid of him when there wasn’t even something to call him? Somewhere in Thace’s pile of books, he remembered a book of names. None of them seemed really all that interesting, except one. Keith. Associated with stubbornness and rebellion.
He’d never met another Keith, and it didn’t really sound like a common name…he kind of liked it. If no one else was called Keith, then it would make him unique. It would make him different, which was exactly what he was meant to be. It was then he decided, Keith would be his name. It was a good name to him, but he was maybe a little biased.
Now, how did he get out of this? Keith looked up at the guard, who sat slumped in his seat, a drink in one hand and a magazine in the other. Hmm…he wouldn’t even notice…
Keith lifted his hind leg up and pawed at the muzzle, scratching his head and digging his toes into his scalp. Finally, he could feel the strap of the muzzle loosen, and then break off. How stupid! They couldn’t even muzzle him properly! With a free mouth, Keith was able to bite into the cuffs and rip them off.
“Hey, you!” the guard yelled, jumping up. Keith smirked, waving before he ran off. “Get back here!”
Keith scrambled down the hallway, racing from end to end as he tried to find an escape. Guards filled the halls quickly and made it much more difficult to find his way around. But, he eventually found what he was looking for.
“Zarkon, the experiment’s in the hangars!”
A loud bang filled the ship and they all watched as a metal lion zoomed past them.
“…He took the red one…”
A wormhole opened up and Keith flew right into it. Zarkon made the ship head towards the wormhole, but it closed before they could get in. He groaned, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Get me the Altean headquarters…”
“Where is he?!” Allura shouted as she ran into the control room.
One of the aliens spoke up, “He’s in the 759th galaxy, headed towards the 1023rd. Final destination, a planet called…Earth…”
“Someone get me an expert on the planet, immediately!” Allura demanded. She watched on screen as the lion flew across the map towards Earth. “What is all of that blue on the planet?”
“Water, ma’am, most of the planet is covered in it.”
Allura sighed in relief, “He can’t survive in water, his molecular structure is too dense…” The entire room cheered lightly, thankful for the great news. That is, until the map zoomed in on the landing site. “No…”
The lion showed a chain of islands, and the landing spot was one of them.
“Of course,” Allura groaned, tossing her head back. “We’re going to have to gas the planet.”
“Hold that thought, Princess Allura!” In came a man with wild red hair and mustache to match, “Coran here, one of the kingdom’s most trusted advisors.” He adjusted his coat and pulled out a drawing sheet with big yellow flowers on it. “Earth is a flower reserve. We use that planet to rebuild the dandelions, which might I remind you are one of the most beautiful plants in the universe!”
Allura rolled her eyes, and brought her hands to her front. “Then, could we just gas the island?”
“What, no! You’re crazy! A special type of dandelion grows on those islands and they would be lost if we destroyed that island!” Coran explained. “Not to mentions the other life forms on the planet would be sent into a panic if we arrived!”
“Then, what would you suggest we do?” Allura asked.
“…does he have family?” Coran asked. Allura huffed, and started for the door. Coran ran to follow, rambling off suggestions as they headed towards holding cells. “Uh, princess?” Coran questioned as they rose up to a 15th level cell. The door opened, and on the bed sat Thace.
Thace smirked when he saw the princess, leaning back on the bed as he spoke. “He got away, didn’t he?”
“I’m sure this is of no surprise to you,” Allura said. She took in a breath before speaking again, knowing this might be the dumbest thing she’d ever done. “I am willing to trade your freedom for his capture. You’re the only one who knows how to control him, after all.”
“Princess!” Coran shouted, snatching her arm. He dragged her down and brought a hand up as he whispered to her, “Who’s going to control him? He’s a criminal Galran!”
Allura giggled and stood up straight. “You’ll control him, Coran,” she said as she headed towards the door.
“Oh, that’s a good one, my princess!” Coran laughed, stiffening when she disappeared. “Oh, you weren’t joking!”
Thace stood and made his way to Coran, “So, on what poor, pitiful, defenseless planet has my little boy been unleashed?”
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Chapter 2: Lance's Prayer
After their visit from Shiro, Hunk and Lance have a heart-to-heart about their family.
“Cesar!” Lance yelled, shaking a baggie of sunflower seeds. “Cesar, I made it!” He crawled onto a rock, spreading his feet as he glanced around for Cesar. After a few minutes of waiting, panic started to set in. “OK, Cesar, f-funny joke! Please just come out, now.” Lance spun around to look, tears slowly filling his eyes. Where was he?! “Cesar!”
Lance gasped, spinning around in the direction of the noise. “There you are!” he exclaimed, jumping down with the bag in his hand. “I know I’m late this time, but we were out of sunflower seeds and Hunk didn’t put it on the shoppin’ list, so we had to go get them this morning.” The duck greedily ate the seeds Lance laid down, looked up when no more arrived, gave a quack, and waddled off. Lance giggled and stood up straight, cracking his back.
“What were you doing?”
Lance spun around to see a girl sitting on the rock he’d just been on. He puffed his cheeks at her tone and grabbed his bookbag. “Jus’ feeding the ducks, Katie,” he said.
Katie shook her head and hopped down, leaning under Lance’s nose. “That was no random duck. And why was you callin’ it Cesar?”
Lance paused, looking at the little girl in the eyes. She was in a similar situation as him, right? Her daddy and brother were taken aboard an alien ship and tortured. Granted, they were returned and under Galaxy Garrison help, whereas Lance’s family had been killed.
Maybe he could tell her…
“Well, Lancelot?” Katie demanded, growing impatient with the boy.
“Cesar followed me here from Florida…” Lance mumbled. “I fed him every day before school back home…except, the one day.”
“So, now you gotta feed him every day here?” Katie asked, crossing her arms.
Lance nodded and looked out towards the other ducks. “I can’t lose anything else…”
“You know that’s not how life works, right?”
That made Lance mad. His hands balled into fists and he could feel his little body tremble. “You don’t know that!” he shouted, “How would you know anything?!” He pushed Katie down, ignoring her cry as he bolted into the trees.
“Lance,” Hunk called once he reached the duck pond. “Time to go, little buddy.”
Lance, however, didn’t respond. There was no rush to grab Hunk’s hand, no happy callback, no nothing. Where did Lance go?
“Oh noooo,” Hunk rubbed his hands over his face, groaning loudly into them. “Of course he’d choose today to go missing.” With that he spun around and took off back down the road. “You’d better be home!” He ran all the way home, praying that his charge was there.
“Lance!” Hunk shouted, running up the steps that lead into his home. He grabbed the door handle, which didn’t even budge. But, judging by the sounds of music from inside, Lance was in there. “Open this door Lance,” Hunk commanded, exasperation in his voice.
“Go away,” Lance said from inside. Hunk dropped his forehead against the window to the inside.
“Lance, we don’t have time for this. The Garrison is sending someone over to check on us this morning, so we need to clean and, and-“
“Are you the guardian?” a voice came from behind, freezing Hunk stiff.
He whipped around and faked a smile, laughing a forced laugh. “O-oh, you’re early!” he said, hand scratching the back of his head. “Well, I’m Hunk, it’s nice to meet you…” He held out a hand for a handshake.
“Shiro,” the man said. He shook Hunk’s hand quickly, then directed them to the door. “Are you going to take me inside?”
“Uh…” Hunk started to sweat. There was no way Lance was going to open the door for them, and if he busted it, that would look bad on them. “I was thinking we could just sit out here and talk?” he tried, gesturing to the picnic table that looked about ready to fall apart.
Shiro’s eyes narrowed and he crossed his arms. “Hunk, let me in.”
“Right, right.” All Hunk could hope was that Lance hadn’t locked the back door. “Just – wait right here, OK?” He hopped over the banister, which was as painful as he knew it would be, and ran through the brush around the side of the house to the back.
Shiro shifted on his feet as he waited. There was a crash from inside, then stomping, and whatever music had been playing shut off. The door opened with Hunk heaving, and Shiro could see a little boy sat on the floor with dried tear trails on his cheeks.
“So,” Hunk said, pulling Shiro’s attention away, “lemonade?”
“No thank you,” Shiro said, pushing his way in. The home was littered with machine parts and scrap metal, with what looked like a work-in-progress piled on the sofa. The little boy sat on the floor with a tub of toys by his feet. He held a little blue lion in his hand, which he cradled like a baby. Shiro smiled at him and stooped down, “What’s your name?” he asked, rubbing a hand against the boy’s cheek.
“Lance,” he giggled, squirming at the touch.
Shiro laughed and stood, ruffling Lance’s hair. The boy seemed about as happy as he could be, so it was on with the house and Hunk. He stepped past Hunk into the kitchen and it wasn’t hard to miss Hunk’s shoulders drop. The kitchen was…less than tidy, if he was kind. Dishes stood in tall piles in the sink, the fridge had many stains, most of which Shiro was a bit too afraid to ask about, and the floor looked like it hadn’t seen a mop in months. Well, that was enough for him. Back to Lance.
Shiro sat back down in front of the boy, and Hunk stood behind them near the television. “Let me ask you, Lance, are you happy?” Shiro asked.
Lance looked to Hunk, who nodded to him. “I’m adjusting…” Lance started, still eyeing Hunk as he spoke. “I look both ways before crossing streets, eat as healthy as I can, and take long naps.” Hunk made a fist, cheering the little boy. But, that was misinterpreted. “And get disciplined?”
“Disciplined?” Shiro repeated, turning to look at Hunk, who made a slashing motion across his throat.
Lance, however, decided to run with it. “Yeah, he disciplines me real good! Sometimes five times a day! With bricks!”
“Bricks?” What ran through this kid’s head?
“Uh-huh, in a pillowcase…”
Hunk ran over and snatched up Lance, clamping a hand over his mouth. “OK, that’s enough sugar for you!” He gave an awkward laugh and set Lance on his feet, handing him his lion toy. “Why don’t you play, now, you little cutie!”
“Hunk, I need to talk to you,” Shiro said, motioning for Hunk to follow him outside. Hunk could only expect the worst. “Look, I know you care about Lance and that you’re really trying with him…but this house is not suitable for raising a child.”
“I know, and I’ve been meaning to clean it, but with my jobs and Garrison work and taking care of Lance…it’s kind of fallen to the back,” Hunk explained.
“Jobs? How many jobs do you have?”
“Three, right now. It’s the only way I can afford both Lance and myself and still have something left over…”
“Hunk,” Shiro’s voice filled with sympathy. He put a hand on the man’s shoulder, watching as the façade of pure happiness drained away. “If it’s too much for you, we can relocate him, you know.”
“No, no!” Hunk pushed him away. “Lance can’t move again, it’ll destroy him! That kid’s already lost so much, and not everyone in the Garrison will understand him!”
Shiro smiled slightly and crossed his arms, “I was hoping you’d say something like that. However, I can’t ignore the living conditions or the fact that you left him here alone-“
“That’s not true, he ran away. Wait – no!”
“Hunk, that’s even worse…” Shiro groaned, rubbing his face with his hand. “You have a week to get this place cleaned up, and if I so much as catch hint that Lance ran away again, I’m going to have to relocate him. Understand?”
“Good,” Shiro sighed. He headed down the steps, testing boards as he went.
Once Hunk was sure Shiro was gone, he stomped into the house. Lance froze in the hall doorway, locking eyes with his caretaker. Then, he screamed and bolted. “Lance!” Hunk shouted, flying off after him. He grabbed the boy and lifted him in the air, which let Lance drop a wad of spit on his face. “Augh!” Hunk dropped him and wiped at his face.
Lance took off again, scrambling for the laundry room.
“Get back here, Lance!” Hunk shouted. He heard the dryer door squeak shut, so he collected himself and went as quietly as he could towards the laundry room. Hunk spread a blanket on the floor and hid behind the laundry basket so he could slam the back door.
Lance cautiously crawled out of the dryer when he heard the door slam. He noticed the blanket only a second too late as Hunk scooped him up. “Lemme go!” he shouted amidst his growls and hisses.
Hunk dragged him into the living room, dropping the blanket down. He snatched Lance arm before the boy could get away, his anger setting in. “Why weren’t you at the park? You know you were supposed to wait for me there!” Lance clawed at the hand squeezing his wrist, squirming as he tried desperately to get away. “Do you not understand what’ll happen if the Garrison thinks I can’t take care of you? They’ll take you away. Can you understand that? Do you want to be taken away?”
“No!” Lance shouted, flipping around in Hunk’s grip.
“No you don’t understand?”
“Nooooo!” Lance dropped to the floor, moaning and whining into the boards.
Hunk sat back and rubbed the heels of his hands into his forehead. “You are such a pain,” he said.
Lance hopped up, “So why don’t you sell me and buy a rabbit instead?!” he shouted, stomping off towards the steps.
“At least a rabbit would behave better than you!” Hunk shouted, getting to his feet and following Lance.
Lance climbed up the steps, pausing only to yell at Hunk again. “Go ahead and do it! You’ll like it ‘cause it’ll be smarter than me, too!”
“And quieter!” Hunk yelled back at him.
Lance grabbed the doorknob to his room, turning around for one last comment. “And it’ll be stinky like YOU!” With that, he slammed the door shut.
Hunk stomped off and grabbed a pillow, screaming into it. Why was this kid such a pain?!
A few hours later, Hunk went to check on Lance, a plate of food in his hands. He knocked gently, entering when no noise came from the other side. “Hey,” he whispered. Lance didn’t move; he sat slumped on his bed with his lion in his lap. “I brought you some pizza, in case you were hungry.”
Lance shook his head, looking up when Hunk stooped beside his bed. He didn’t say anything, but the look on his face spoke for him.
Hunk took in a breath, letting it out as he spoke. “Look, Lance, about earlier…I’m really sorry. I shouldn’t have yelled at you like that.”
“Mommy did that, too, don’t worry…” Lance whispered. “You still like me, right?” Sniffles escaped him, and little droplets fell onto his hands.
Hunk smiled, standing to scoop the little boy up. He shushed him and pulled him into his lap as he sat on the bed. “Of course, of course…nothing’s ever gonna change that. You’re my brother now, remember?”
“But not your real brother…”
“No, no, no,” Hunk took hands, fiddling with the fingers. “Just because we come from different places doesn’t mean we’re not brothers, OK? You’re as real of a brother to me as they come…”
Lance leaned back against Hunk’s chest, still sniffling. Hunk played with his hair and kissed the top of his head.
“Did I teach you the word for family yet?” he asked. Lance shook his head, taking up one of Hunk’s hands to play with the fingers. “Ohana means family. Do you know what family means?” Lance peaked up at him, and Hunk smiled gently. “Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten. Everyone you care about and remember, that’s your family. Your ohana.”
“Does that include Katie Holt?” Lance asked, pushing himself upright.
“Well, do you care about her?”
Lance nodded, looking down at his sheets. “But, I don’t always like her. I pushed her down earlier, at the pond.”
“You pushed her?”
“And yelled at her…”
“Lance, you shouldn’t-“
“Everybody treats me weird,” Lance whimpered, burying his face in his knees.
Hunk pulled the little boy into a hug, squeezing him tight. “They just don’t what to say…what you want…”
Just then, a bright flash filled the room. Out the big picture window, the boys could see something fiery hurtling down toward land.
“A falling star!” Lance shouted, scrambling out of Hunk’s lap to the window. The ‘star’ exploded in the trees and sent out sparks and smoke from where it had landed. “I call it!” Lance tossed his arms in the air, then pushed on Hunk as herded him toward the door. “Get out, get out, I have to make a wish!”
Hunk paused in the doorway, lowering himself as Lance scooted on the floor. “Oh no, gravity’s increasing on me!”
“No it’s not!” Lance insisted, pushing on Hunk’s legs as hard as he could.
“It is too, Lance, the same thing happened yesterday,” Hunk said matter-of-factly before he dropped to the floor unceremoniously.
“You rotten brother, your butt is crushing me!” Lance fussed, clawing his way out from underneath Hunk. He stomped into the doorway and grabbed the door, shouting “Why do you have to be so weird?!” before slamming the door.
Hunk rubbed his head, wincing at the pain. Whatever Lance was wishing for must have been important if he was so angry…So, like a good big brother, he spied on the boy.
Lance sat on the floor in front of his bed, picking at his toes as he spoke. “It’s me again…I know I pray a bunch, but this one is important. I need someone to be my friend, someone who won’t run away or judge me because of my family…maybe you could send me an angel! The best angel you have!”
Hunk could feel his heart breaking, but there wasn’t much he could do. He just hoped Lance knew he was there for him.