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Lion's Den

Chapter Text

Allura took a deep breath as she wandered the halls of the Castle of Lions; it was late in the dim cycle for the ship, when some of the paladins preferred to rest. Two of them were often still awake at the late hour. One was the Black Paladin, Shiro, as his sleep was not restful, and he was often found in the Command Deck or the Library studying the cultures of this part of the galaxy. The other was driven by something that Allura could fully understand and appreciate.

 

The Green Paladin, Pidge, was driven by her quest to find her father and brother. A quest that consumed much of her free time, and worryingly devours much of the time she should spend sleeping, resting, or otherwise keep her health up for saving the universe. There were many examples when the Princess had come upon Pidge or Shiro during these late hours, and all but physically dragged them to their chambers to rest.

 

However, unlike the previous times she’d walked these halls, she was alerted to another being present by a soft sound that she recognized instantly. She had made it a few times herself, it was the sound of someone trying to cry silently, and failing. Following the soft sound, she found herself going into a secluded part of the castle.

 

Allura entered into a secondary dining chamber, which had hosted many wonderful state banquets and dinners in the peaceful times before the Galran invasion. But it was something much more to Allura, for there was a double-sized window that she remembered used to stare out over the fields of Juniberries back on Altea, and had a wonderful view of the oceans on Arus. However, now it was nothing but the endless darkness of space with tiny pinpricks of light drifting past the viewport. Even with the dim lights of the castle, it was easy to find the source of the noise that had gotten her attention.

 

Stopping in mid-stride she frowned as she saw something new about the source. Pidge was curled up with their head on their knees, and her entire body was shaking. In her hand was some sort of floppy, shiny sheet, which Allura could catch glimpses of two figures on it. The image was causing Pidge emotional distress, but it was important to them to keep it from the others. Allura wished to help, but Pidge had never accepted her offer to visit to talk.

 

But they had never refused you either,’ a gentle voice that reminded her of her father whispered in the back of her mind. Reaching up, she released her hair from the bun she wore it in and let it flow down her back. She remembered her mother always had her hair down when she was comforting Allura, and hoped that it would serve as well for the humans.

 

Walking softly, she moved towards the crying paladin, not making her presence known in case of scaring Pidge away. Sitting on the ground next to her, Allura waited a few seconds before speaking. At least that had been the plan, instead Pidge spoke first. “It’s massive… and I’m just… so small…”

 

Looking over at Pidge, she found the paladin wasn’t even looking at her, and strangely the glasses they always wore with their casual clothing were missing from her face. Her teary eyes were distant and unfocused, and in the dim light Allura could note the redness along the outer edges. The slight gleam of tears on Pidge’s cheeks reminded her of something her parents used to do when she was upset.

 

Reaching into her suit pockets, she pulled out a patch of soft cloth and began to wipe the trails of moisture from the paladin’s face. The jerking of the head and sharp focusing of the eyes suggested that Pidge hadn’t even noticed that she had settled in until they came into contact. “Princess?”

 

“Can you call me Allura?” the princess asked softly as she continued wiping the tears from Pidge’s face. How strange, she had tears coming from her nose as well as her eyes. “As you said, I am not your princess.”

 

Oh, that wince looked like it was not the right thing to say to Pidge. “I’m sorry about that Allura… I was angry and shouldn’t have said that,” the female paladin stated while avoiding the gaze of the woman wiping away the tears from her face.

 

“I meant that in jest Pidge, and I hold n-“

 

“Katie, my name is Katie, if you’re Allura right now,” the emotionally vulnerable girl cut in softly as she put her hand on Allura’s arm. “And I am sorry. I-“

 

“You were concerned about your family and felt I was being unjustly harsh,” Allura cut in this time, watching as Pidge took the cloth and folded it before wiping her eyes. She was then surprised as the usually aloof paladin leaned against her, resting on her shoulder with a pillow of hair. “Do you want to talk about why you were crying here?”

 

“No,” was the blunt reply, before she continued talking. “But I feel like I should. I was working on translating some of the captured Galra information, and got thinking about Matt and where he might be. Then I thought about where we’ve been, and realized just how impossible it was for me to search every system Zarkon could hide them in. And my mind just continued to tear into my hopes of finding my family. So I started walking along the halls to try and calm down, before I ended up here, and… I just kept staring into space, realizing how small I am in this big universe.”

 

Allura watched as Katie rambled, baring herself to the Altean with more than words. The lack of glasses made her eyes softer somehow, but they kept searching around the room as though to figure out what to focus on. Her hands worked the cloth, as though needing something to do. And her lips seemed dry and trembled slightly as she spoke.

 

This wasn’t Pidge.

 

“We are small, but like a single stone dropped into a still pool, our changes will extend beyond just where we splash down,” Allura offered, trying to help the poor girl put their efforts into perspective.

 

A small smile spread on Pidge’s face, the pain passing and the emotional maelstrom calming. “Thank you.”

 

Allura pulled her into one of the arm holds that she’d seen Shiro give the others, draping her arm around the smaller girl’s shoulder, and pulling her into a soft squeeze. She remembered that the others had called it a hug, and it seemed appropriate to use it again. In the back of her mind, she wondered if this feeling of warmth was normal, but she enjoyed it.

 

“Can we stay like this for a little longer?” she asked as her eyes drifted to look at the girl she was trying to comfort, only to blink as she realized that Katie had somehow fallen asleep on her.

 

Maybe a little while longer was acceptable after all.

Chapter Text

Resting against the vent grating she’d just emerged from the green paladin of Voltron let out a sigh as she found herself alone. She had to avoid one person to try and not be a huge babbling embarrassing example of humanity outside of combat, while the rest of the people in the castle she was avoiding because she knew, absolutely knew for an indisputable fact that they knew why she was avoiding the other person. “Ugh, what’s the matter with me? You’d think I’d learn…”

“Learn what Pidge?” the familiar voice of Hunk asked from around the corner, causing her to whirl on the corner she’d though abandoned to find him and Lance leaning against the walls. “What could you possibly need to learn?”

“Not saying it,” Pidge stated flatly as she turned to try and leave, only to find Shiro blocking the other exit with a parental expression of worry.

“Who’d ya think you’re kidding?” Lance asked, causing her to whirl on him with a suspicious expression as the older teen drew closer. “She’s the earth and heaven to ya.”

As he began to sing, she recognized where this was going, only for Hunk to block the vent she’d emerged from. Suddenly she wished she had her bayard as Shiro and Hunk joined in with the singing. “Try to keep it hidden, Pidgey we can see right through ya.”

The mock glasses that the three older paladins made out of their hands nearly had Pidge laughing, though the horrible Disney music was taking its hold on her brain. She wasn’t going to join in though, no, she wasn’t going to sing with them, but she could almost swear she could feel her resolve faltering as Shiro knelt next to her putting his awesome robotic hand on her shoulder and smiling fatherly at her, one of her greatest weaknesses that he exploited often. “Pidge, you can’t conceal it.”

Well it was true that she was horrible at concealing her emotions in front of the cr- person she admired. Thankfully though the Alteans and Keith either hadn’t put the pieces together like these three had, or thought it had to be something else. She didn’t really want to think about that right now, or really the feelings in the first place. Especially as the three in the room with her continued singing with her trapped, the swelling music belting out of her headphones she’d leant Lance a while back. “We know how you’re feelin’, who you’re thinking of…”

Pidge put up a valiant effort, really she did. But as the music continued to swell some part of her gave in and she had to belt out the next few lines. “NO CHANCE! NO WAY!” she practically screamed before toning it down a bit and turning away, “I won’t say it.”

“You blush, you sigh,” Hunk pointed out while patting her on the shoulder with a brotherly grin on his face. “Why deny it?”

“It’s too cliché?” she asked with a blush burning on her cheeks as she pulled away from his hands as a hug was likely to follow, something that would have had her agreeing to anything he asked within seconds. “I won’t say I’m in l- well that…”

Honestly, how cliché was it? She was a knight in glowing green armor that promised to serve and protect a princess from a great and terrible evil. And Green was a rather dashing steed, barring that it was a lion and not a horse. She didn’t know if that made it better or worse.

Before she could let the thoughts ramble even further down that particular rabbit hole, she found her path to the door open, and took the chance to bolt. Thankfully, the clichés weren’t acting up today as Allura wasn’t on the other side for her to plow into, and so she ran away to keep what was left of her dignity intact. She refused to give in to Disney, no matter what.

Maybe if she hid out in Green for the rest of the war, she could get over this silly little crush on Allura.

Chapter Text

PrincessLost: It never does go away, does it? The pain of losing someone.
PrincessLost: It has been so long since I lost my father, but it feels as though it was yesterday I was talking to him.
PrincessLost: Can anyone help me?

Katie Holt stared at the words on the open forum chat she had stumbled on while trying to avoid thinking about her father and brother being missing. She could relate, the pain of their loss was as sharp today, as it was when the base commander and chaplain came to the door with the heavy news. It was supposed to be a safe mission, in the hands of the best, but something had gone wrong, and Matt and Dad were just gone. They said that they were searching, but that had been over a year ago, and she knew there was more information than what her mother could pry out of Commander Iverson.

Closing her eyes, she wondered if she could help. It wasn’t that she liked talking to others, but she tended to be less supportive, and more abrasive. Sighing, she reached out and picked up the picture of her brother and her standing together just before he left for the mission. There was only one question that sprung to mind. What would Matt want?

 She knew the answer a second before her fingers reached the keys; he’d want her to try.

Technomancer: I don’t know if I can help Princess, but I can understand and try my best.
Technomancer: Would you like to just talk about it?

Brushing her brown hair back, she stared at the offer, a lump forming in her chest as she tried to figure out what she was thinking. She was terrible with people, she alienated herself most of the time, and those that did know her stated she was closed off and brash. So why was she doing this? Was it really what her brother would want?

 Or was it to distract her from what she burned to do and was working up the courage to?

PrincessLost: I would like that, thank you.
PrincessLost: To be honest, I do not know much. I lost much of the time between when it happened and now, but I remember that we were travelling on a ship, and something happened. He pushed me into an emergency vessel, and then I blacked out. When I came to, he was gone, and all I can assume is that he was gone.
PrincessLost: Coran, my father’s assistant, told me that my father saved the two of us, and paid the ultimate price for our safety. But it does not make it easier.

Technomancer: I don’t think anything makes it easier. From what I’m told, it’s a constant dull ache even years down the road. But I like to think that if I live a good life, I can still make them proud of me. Even if we never meet again, I want to be a person they could be proud of.

PrincessLost: That seems rather profound. Thank you.
PrincessLost: Would it be alright if I added you to my contacts list? Sometimes I just need to talk to someone, and you seem like a good person.

Katie sighed and looked at the message with a frown; she should have known the person on the other side would want to keep talking. But she wasn’t going to be their therapist. Looking back to the picture of Matt, she sensed what he’d want her to do without even thinking the question. He’d want her to help, and maybe make a friend that wasn’t him.

Technomancer: You can do that, and if you want to talk about other things too, I wouldn’t disagree too much.

PrincessLost: If that’s so, might I know what your name means?

Katie rolled her eyes as a soft laugh escaped her. Of course they would ask about that.

Technomancer: It’s a class from some old game that my brother played. When I brought back his computer from the scrapyard, he called me that, and I’ve just used it since.

The laughter faded, and she found herself staring at the words, her heart aching as the memories of her brother came flooding back. The worry on his face as he brought her the computer one stormy night after a power surge fried most of his motherboard, the relief on his face as he heard it booting back up, and then the mortification of explaining what he was looking at when the power went out. Nothing like a little bribery between siblings, and she did love having the extra peanut butter cookies when mom baked them.

They don’t taste as good now that he’s not here for her to extort them from.

PrincessLost: You sound very close to your brother, is he the one you lost?
PrincessLost: I understand if you do not wish to discuss this, but I would be willing to listen.
PrincessLost: Forgive me if I was being too forward in asking that.
PrincessLost: I just do not wish for you to consider it a one-way topic. We have both lost someone close to us, and I want to help you as much as you help me.
PrincessLost: I would like us to be friends.

Katie stared at the words on the screen as they zipped past; apparently her silence was worrying to her friend. She hadn’t thought it was overly long, but it might seem like that if one was afraid of offending someone they just met.

Technomancer: No, I would like to talk about him. He is amazing.
Technomancer: He and I were always close despite him being a few years older.
Technomancer: He joined dad at the Garrison right after graduating High School. They were assigned to this new mission thing that was supposed to be just a short thing, but then they didn’t report in. But something…
Technomancer: Something about the report they told mom doesn’t sound right.
Technomancer: I will find the truth.

Katie pursed her lips as she read those words, her eyes hard as she felt them drive something into her core. It was the truth, and she knew it. If she wanted to see her brother and father again, it was time for her to step up to the plate and show them how to get it done.

PrincessLost: I believe you will, and want to help you.

The words stared back at her, not seeming to change no matter how she stared at them. Someone believed her. They didn’t think that she was crazy for thinking her family was out there to find despite what the Garrison reported. The smile and blush that spread on her face was barely an afterthought to the gratitude she had for the words.

Technomancer: Thank you.

Chapter Text

Since the defeat of Zarkon, and the mysterious disappearance of Shiro, Allura has joined Coran watching the remaining paladins for strange behavior. For the most part they are forming tighter bonds and supporting each other, especially Keith who seems to be attempting to fulfill Shiro’s wish from when they were lost in space due to the wormhole and being the leader the team needs.

Lance is supporting the best he can with his humor and somewhat goofy nature, she could see in him the man that the Blue Lion had chosen as her pilot. A stalwart friend, and key support to hold the team together much like an adhesive substance that the others referred to as glue, but there had been times when he was lost in thought and not quite as alone as he thought where she would find him staring into the void of space and speaking softly to Shiro, asking what he was supposed to do, where he was, and why couldn’t he come back.

Hunk has taken to cooking and doing what Pidge referred to as mother henning the rest of the group, the fact that he redoubled his already caring ways was a feat in her opinion. He worked with Coran to ensure all the lions have emergency kits as he referred to them, inside are packs of water, dehydrated foodstuffs, medical supplies, and repair kits for their suits. That they hadn’t been in there in the first place was rather curious to Allura, but she didn’t voice that. The one thing she really was impressed with him adding was an emergency broadcast emitter that was set to a signal the Castle would be able to scan for, and not draw power from the lions.

Keith was growing as a leader by steps. He didn’t stand on the Command Deck with her, planning out their next moves, but rather would take the others into the training room to prepare for anything they could think about. He would approach Allura or Coran privately to voice worries about their training, and to see if there was ways to improve it. He seemed to favor Coran, which in a sense she couldn’t blame him since she had acted so rashly regarding his heritage. She had been seeking for a way to express her sorrow and request his forgiveness, but the Altean traditions didn’t seem like they would work for humans. Beyond that, she didn’t know where she would find the ingredients to make the traditional stew. Perhaps she could ask the other paladins for some of their traditions instead?

But she couldn’t seem to focus on him, as her mind seemed to latch onto one that seemed to be hurting the most with Shiro’s disappearance. The green paladin, Pidge, was acting strangely, at least more so than usual. The sharp focus spent originally on finding her family seemed to have engulfed the search for Shiro as well, cutting further into her sleep cycle. Her usually playful, if caustic, banter has turned harsh. And there were late cycles where Allura would find her standing in front of the Black Lion demanding answers from it vocally while hammering a fist against a claw.

It was the red rimmed eyes, and the dried tears that were the hardest for Allura to bear. It stabbed into her heart, making her wonder why Katie wasn’t reaching out to her. Had she done something wrong to her when they bonded that night she found her by the viewport? Was this something that was Pidge and not Katie? But Pidge was just a cover for Katie, right?

Resting her head against the soft pillow on the back of the couch, she let out a sigh as she turned her eyes towards the ceiling and asked out loud. “What do I do Shiro? How do I help Pidge?”

Rather than getting an answer from the missing Black Paladin, her answer came in the sounds of a struggle in the halls outside. Getting into a combat crouch on the couch, she peered over the back to see something she’d never expected. Hunk, the gentle giant of the team was holding Keith on one shoulder, while Lance was on the opposite one. Over their protests, she could hear his voice telling them something. “I’m kidnapping you for your own good. You are going to get some rest before you collapse.”

So it seemed that among humans, overriding personal authority of regulation was acceptable when it was for the other’s own good, and you state the reason for it. Slipping over the couch, she listened in to the squabbling argument of the two paladins, and the soft, gentle tones of Hunk cutting through them. “Please, you two have been getting into more scrapes than usual, just take a few hours and get it out of your system. I put some snacks in Lance’s room and Coran is going to lock the door for eight hours. You can work through your issues either by talking to one another, or sleep the entire time. The only way out is if there’s an attack or an emergency.”

A solid plan, talking or sleeping is how humans work out their issues. Would that work with internal turmoil? Perhaps, if she got another member of the team to stay with Pidge? No, this was something she should take care of herself. So she would have to arrange for the time for them to talk or sleep. Snacks seemed to be appropriate as well, she would have to somehow get them from Hunk without alerting him to the worries she had with Pidge. Perhaps she could see if he had an alternative to that food she mentioned back when she tried to leave the team on Arus... Peanut Butter was it?

Familiar territory for at least one of the parties should be provided, if she read the situation right. She knew that Lance and Keith met in each other’s rooms occasionally, and she could only assume Hunk chose Lance’s because of his own long-standing familiarity with the blue paladin. With that information, the plan began forming a clearer picture. It would be easier for her to subtly arrange things in her room, and the bed was a bit larger if Pidge wished to sleep instead, so they both could fit there. Perhaps they might also initiate forms of bonding common in their respective species if the initial concerns were addressed.

She had such fun looking hair, so short and coarse looking. It must be so much fun than the long, flowing, soft hair she had; maybe Pidge would consent to letting Allura brush and style it. Looking over at the wall, she found the mice there with grooming tools at the ready. Smiling to them, she nodded. They would perform the kidnapping for Pidge’s own good soon.

It was nearly 31 Quintents before she could ensure all of the arrangements were in place without alerting Pidge or the others. She had worked with Hunk in order to create something similar to the peanut butter cookies that Pidge spoke so highly of, apparently the peanut butter itself was a spread commonly used in addition with processed fruits known as jelly. Between working out the recipe for the cookies with Hunk, and various diplomatic missions, she also spent some time with Lance where she discussed what his sisters did when one of them were not their usual self. From that mountainous list of ideas, she was able to gleam a few that Pidge might enjoy, as well as a few that would allow her to play with Pidge’s hair hopefully.

The next step had been to arrange for her room to be acceptable for a secondary person to be inside it. Additional pillows were sought out from spare rooms in the castle, a snacking area was prepared to house the food for the evening and keep some chilled juices at the ready. Careful, subtle observations allowed Allura to pick out what she felt were Pidge’s favored choices. With the cookies was some other prepared foods that Hunk slid over to her with a wink, causing her to worry that her plan had been blown, but he just told her that he was trusting Pidge in her capable hands.

After that came getting them downtime to perform the ritual of Kidnapping for Their Own good was a tricky balancing act. It came down to their new ally Slav wanting to do some work on the engines and requiring them to be out in the middle of empty space for a period of three or four cycles. It took nearly all of her control and diplomatic training to not break out into a huge grin as he made that announcement. Keith announced that the three battle focused lions would be on patrol, just in case. Pidge was told that they could work for two-thirds of the day on a few projects back at the castle, but keep at readiness should the others need assistance.

The other third Keith insisted that they spend resting, an order he had ignored before. This time however, he asked Allura and Coran to help him enforce it with Pidge. The two Alteans agreed, despite the protests of the smallest paladin.

After the briefing, Allura explained the rough of her plan to Coran, and got his agreement to cover communications in case of emergencies. He was a little more thrilled to perform some part of an espionage exercise than he was to have his grandfather’s designs modified by someone else, or at least that was what he seemed to want to treat it as.

On the day of the plan’s fruition, she and Pidge saw Keith launching for his patrol, while Lance and Hunk rested for theirs later on. The first step was that she volunteered to help Pidge with her work, since Pidge’s Altean was just a little bit off of fluent, and Allura had shown some interest in honing her skills with computers. It marveled her how lost the green paladin could become in her work, tuning out the rest of the world with a laser sharp focus on the screen before them. When Hunk swung by to drop off something he called sandwiches, Pidge didn’t even look up from the screen, reaching out blindly to where Hunk set the tray and grabbing the one off the top. She didn’t want to hurt Coran’s feelings, but she had grown to enjoy the creations that the gentle giant of the team would come up with. She found the sandwiches a useful meal item, as they did not require utensils or packaging. And Hunk always seemed to find some new way to make them taste different than the time before.

After their lunch, Lance called in his launch, and Keith reported not finding anything, but altered the patrol route for Lance. Apparently, there were some anomalies that their scans didn’t account for that he wanted Lance to get a closer look at. Lance almost seemed bewildered when Keith said that he was trusting his piloting skills on this one, by making the route just a bit trickier to pilot.

Seeing the newfound camaraderie between them gave Allura a renewed sense of hope that her plan was going to be successful. As the end of Lance’s patrol, and the start of Pidge’s rest cycle approached, she could barely contain herself from launching the plan prematurely. But the oddly calming sound of Pidge typing away helped to soothe her eagerness. The mice were helping as well by sending her calming thoughts and running wires for Pidge between her computer and the ship.

Lance reporting in with a clean patrol came as a bit of a surprise to Allura, and she found herself at a momentary loss for what to do. She reached out and put a hand on Pidge’s shoulder to try and draw the smaller one’s attention. At Pidge’s “Just one minute.” she knew that it was time to for her to take control. Once Pidge’s fingers stilled, she reached forward and closed the top of the computer. She had to admit that it was somewhat satisfying to do that, there was something almost visceral about sealing the work away with such finality.

As Pidge turned to look at her with a confused expression, tinged with annoyance, Allura loomed over them with a smile on her face. “It is time for you to rest.”

“But I was so close Allura, another minute and I could have,” Pidge began to protest, until they noticed that the Princess wasn’t listening to her at the moment. And that her powerful, strong arms had slipped around Pidge’s smaller arms and encircled her in some strange form of embrace.

Allura lifted her up off of the ground as the mice gathered the laptop and took off with it under a work station that even Pidge would have trouble getting under. The lunge to grab it before the computer disappeared was cut short as Allura held Pidge firm in her arms. “You have not been resting Pidge, and it’s time for you to do so. Since you are not listening to reason, I am enacting your human ritual of Kidnapping for Your Own Good.”

Pidge’s squawk of confused protest might have been enough to deter her on some other day, but right now, Allura was on a mission of her own. Carrying the squirming paladin in her arms reminded her of the time she had tried to take a Yelmer to her room. She had to constantly shift her grip, adjust her lengths to prevent Pidge from getting used to one size and figure out some form of leverage to get free, and a lot of angry noises from said paladin.

As Lance exited from the hangers, he took one look at the pair and turned around to leave. “No Lance, don’t get involved. Remember what happened with your sisters,” he muttered as he made his way down the hallway, slipping into the first room he could find. Some part of her mind noted that he went into Keith’s room without knocking, but Allura had to focus on keeping Pidge pinned as the momentary distraction allowed the green’s mind to plan an escape.

“Please Katie, stop… I just want to help you,” Allura offered quietly as they neared her door. She didn’t know why she used that name, but it seemed to have had the desired effect as the struggles stopped, and Pidge allowed themselves to be carried into the room.

“Okay Allura,” the same small voice of the girl lost over her head answered from the normally brash paladin. It was both a comfort and a shard of emotional metal through her heart. She could only hope that she wasn’t about to ruin the ritual because she overlooked something.

“Thank you.”

Chapter Text

Shiro checked the halls leading to the training room carefully, his eyes focusing on every single shadow to ascertain that they were shadows before moving to the next. He had been planning this for a while now, and didn’t want any of the others to see him do this. He had a reputation with the others as the responsible, stoic leader, able to pull them through anything. And he didn’t want to shatter that illusion.

Walking over to one of the gladiators that Keith had nearly sliced through, he propped it up on the wall and took a step back to close his eyes and take a deep breath. A beat later, his eyes snapped open and an ominous purple glow surrounded his right hand as he brought it before his face, his voice soft and growing louder and more passionate as he spoke. “This hand of mine glows with an awesome power!” he quoted as his eyes fixated through the aura of power he was summoning up and locked squarely on the darkened eyes of his ‘opponent’.

“It’s loud roar tells me to defeat you!” he continued as his hand drew back slowly, bending at the wrist as he pumped more of the energy into the hand, not even glancing to see if it had its usual blade shape or not, just wanting to get through this before anyone caught him being a complete nerdy goof. “Take this! My love! My anger! And all of my sorrow!”

As he slammed the hand forward, into the skull of the gladiator, he could almost see the anime special effects surrounding him. Speed lines arcing, dramatic lighting crossing his form and the swell of music as he plunged the blade of his hand into the robotic skull of his opponent like a hot knife through butter, and his fingers landing on the skull. “Erupting… burning… FINGER!” he bellowed at the crescendo of the music in his head, seconds before the head in question exploded into tiny fragments.

Chest heaving from the exertion of all but screaming those lines at the top of his lungs, Shiro stepped away from the metal construct and let it fall to the floor. He was about to turn and go activate the automatic cleaning system when the floor opened up and swallowed it whole for him. Turning to the observation deck in surprise as mortification grew on his face, he could only recognize two things.

One, someone was standing there watching him, outlined in shadows.

And two, there was the distinct sound of clapping coming from them.

Chapter Text

“Tell me, Hag…” a deep voice rumbled out of the elegant form as the speaker turned, yellow eyes gleaming as the paused video sitting behind him shone through the white hair before being flicked back over his shoulder. “This one, the one featured in this video, tell me about them.”

“That is the least important of the paladins. I showed you them purely for completion. There is little to no information gathered about them, what has caught your attention about them?” Haggar asked, eyes gleaming from beneath her hood as she focused on the figure frozen on the screen.

“This one has a passion and savagery that impresses me, and I believe they might be the key to Voltron’s defeat,” Lotor mentioned as he turned back to the footage. “They also remind me of something from the Black Paladin’s file.”

“The former Champion?” the druid asked in confusion as she turned to look closer at the frozen Paladin, who happened to be standing next to the human in question. It was the shortest member of the team, and was only remarkable in that they were the pilot of the Green Lion, and had defeated a squad that had nearly captured the Castle of Lions somehow.

“Yes, I remember another human that looked much like that one with the Champion when we captured them. If I remember the reports, that one escaped with rebels not too long ago… but the third one remains in our custody,” Lotor commented as he leaned back to think. “These humans show a remarkable bond between members of their groups… perhaps if we use that elder as bait for the Black Paladin and the escapee, and then use them to draw in the others.”

“A bold plan my prince,” Haggar answered while watching Lotor plot. “What of the Green Paladin?”

“Why, they join my concubines, or I kill all of the other paladins, but not before I kill that escapee personally before them, of course,” the prince of Galra stated with a dark chuckle. “That one will be mine Hag, or I will destroy all they hold dear.”

Chapter Text

It was rare to see Lance up early on the ship, since he loved his beauty rest. However, since being kidnapped from his home planet by a sentient blue mechanical lion the size of a skyscraper, he sometimes found himself rising early because of random little things. A dream about the airlock attempting to space him again, the loss of his blankets reminding him of the chill of the cryopods, or countless minor aches and pains from training and battles causing him discomfort enough to rise earlier than he’d prefer and driving sleep from his mind.

Most times, he listened to music on the headphones that he borrowed from Pidge, but sometimes he just needed to move. To do something to keep his mind from focusing on everything that’s happened since joining in with a war ten thousand years in the running, which would lead to wondering about his family on Earth.

Walking through the halls, he found many empty rooms, quiet places to think, even an entire room full of clothes and a sewing machine. He was tempted to make Pidge some new clothes since the stuff she brought from Earth was getting a little small on her. Maybe even patch up some stuff for Hunk and Keith while he had the equipment warmed up and running.

Nodding to himself, he turned to go past the training deck when he heard noise coming out of the room. Turning, half expecting Keith to be fighting a gladiator drone, he had to check his vision as instead he found Pidge standing in a battle stance, in full armor, facing down what looked like an adorable fusion of a kitten and baby sloth. Before he could ask what she was doing, he heard a slightly mechanical voice announce, “Kaldrabuu.”

Pidge took a deep breath for a moment before resetting herself, eyes focused on the words floating about the creature’s head. While she was doing that, he noticed that there were scratches and dings that should have been patched up since their last battle. Even as he watched, he could see it knitting back together, proving his point. That meant that something more recent had dealt the damage.

“Kaldrabuu,” Pidge repeated, getting a noise from the system, as the adorable little creature suddenly wasn’t so cute anymore. It was now four feet of long limbs, teeth, and claws. He remembered something from a game his siblings played, something called a Deathclaw if he remembered right.

“KALDRABUU!” Pidge tried again, stepping back as she readied her bayard in a defensive position. The negative noise repeated from the system once more as the creature became more aggressive and sprouted several half-foot long spines along its neck, and stalked closer towards her with a claw raised up to strike. He thought she had pronounced it correctly, though with a surge of panic.

Clearing her throat, she took a couple deep breaths to still her growing panic while keeping pace from the approaching creature from his nightmares. “Kaldrabuu,” she repeated, adding an emphasis on the middle syllable, getting a more positive noise from the system and resetting the creature, this time into something that looked like a purple rabbit, with three tiny nubs on the crest of its head.

Pidge appeared confused for a moment before the robotic voice announced, “You have completed Lesson 3, do you wish to continue to Lesson 4?”

“No, stop lessons,” Pidge stated firmly as she removed her helmet, sweat shaking free from her hair as she shook it free from her face. As the creature disappeared, she ran a hand through the hair at the base of her neck and sighed. “I really need to cut this mess again,” she grumbled before turning to leave, finding Lance standing there with his jaw hung open in confusion.

“Hey Lance, are you wanting to study the Altean language too?” she asked after a moment.

“N-No? What the cheese was all that?!” Lance asked while waving towards where the creature had sat, almost like it would bring the thing back for reference.

The smaller paladin looked back to the spot, before giving a slight laugh. “Yeah, I’m usually better on the third run of the lessons, but this one had some weird emphasis issues that I haven’t figured out yet. I can set you up on Lesson 1 if you want, Keith finds some of those good for sparring that’s not the gladiator.”

Lance chose that moment to turn on his heel and head straight back to his bed. He had to be dreaming and sleep walking. That was the only possible explanation why Pidge would be risking life and limb to learn a language. Either that or she had another reason, but the only two possible sources of that, he didn’t want to consider at this moment. The mental chants of “Nope nope nope nope nope nope” that ran on constant repeat in his head probably helped to keep him from thinking about it.