"The Ambassadors of Arus."

Story by Adele
Story Copyright 2002
A story based on the series, "Voltron, The Third Dimension"

The characters of Voltron are the property of World Event Productions.  All other characters are the copyright of Adele.  Please do not use them without asking for permission.  Thank you.

Enjoy!


Chapter 16
Reunion


Hours had passed by since the Princess's disappearance. Lance hadn't gone to sleep at all that evening. His head was too full of thoughts for Allura...and for Keith.

He sighed aloud as he thought about everything that brought them all to this point.  Deep anger for Amy had spent those last several hours making its case against her in Lance's heart. He couldn't stop thinking about it.

Though he now knew she was not directly responsible for Keith's abrupt attitude change, he was still having no trouble in finding bitterness harbored against her.

He couldn't help but feel that they all had her to blame for the predicament they were in...
especially for himself...commanding a rag-tag team of would-be rescuers.  Instead of a peace mission, they now had to turn it into a search and rescue operation.

And Voltron was currently down by two pilots.  Lotor would have no trouble taking them on now...should he decide to.

On top of it all...his unfamiliarity of the Black Lion waned heavy on his soul.  He was never formally trained in it, and now, he was faced with operating Voltron from Black Lion's cockpit.

Then, there was the trip home...and finally, having to explain to Coran why the Princess or Keith were not amoug them.

This was simply...a nightmare.

Even if he managed to somehow rescue the Princess without getting them all killed in the process, how could he get all five lions through the asteroid belt that awaited their return?

Without Keith...the task loomed large.

Lance was still brooding about, it when Hunk showed up. "Hey, mind some company?" Hunk asked. "I... I can't seem to sleep."

Lance laughed a bit. "Join the sleepless crowd." he said as Hunk took a seat next to him by the fire.

The two men sat looking into the flames.  Lance looked over to Hunk, who was now shaking his head. "What?" Lance asked his friend.

Hunk stopped shaking his head. "How are we going to get her back?" he said. "I know you're trying your best at this command thing.  But let's face it.  It's not your forte', is it?"

Lance turned his head back, and looked into the fire. "Oh... I don't know.  I wouldn't say that!" he replied, trying to sound confident. "I think I can come up with something.  Just nothing's coming to mind right now."

Hunk frowned at Lance. "What if nothing comes to mind at all?  We have to get her out of there!  Lotor's in there!  God only knows what terror she's facing right now!  Lotor's face is enough terror for me!  And if he even lays a hand on her..." Hunk stopped in mid sentence, not wishing to even think what Lotor would do to her.

The two men became silent again.  Then, the sound of footsteps came up behind them.  Hunk turned quickly and saw Pidge standing behind them. 

Hunk smiled half-heartedly at his little friend. "Let me guess. You can't sleep either, right?"

Pidge sighed. "Can't stop thinking about her, or Keith.  This whole thing is like a bad dream I wish I'd wake up from."

Lance sighed too. "Yeah... me too. But let's face it. Keith's not coming back.  He's content with staying with 'her'."

"It makes no sense!" Pidge added. "We all know that he loves the Princess!"

"At least, that's what we thought." Hunk said. "The way he acted with her..."

Pidge sighed. "Yeah, I know. But Keith's never actually come right out and said he had feelings for her."

"Did you really think he would?" Hunk asked Pidge. "Keith's a private man.  I don't think I've ever heard him talk about anything personal.  He stuffs everything."

"Well, Hunk... a Commander can't go around showing off his perceived weaknesses.  It could work against him when it came time for discipline and control." Pidge replied.

"What do you mean, Pidge?" Hunk questioned further, a confused look on his face. "How can confessing the way you feel for someone be a weakness?"

"Commanders aren't suppose to fall in love with those under his command...get it now?" Pidge said. "It could take on the appearance of favoritism."

Lance puffed up. "Well, I'm perfectly willing to offer my services to her as 'suitor'!"

Hunk jumped up. "Not if I get there first!" he joked.

Pidge returned things to a serious nature. "Hey, come on, guys!  She's been kidnapped, remember? And unless any of you lunkheads come up with an idea to get her out of there, no one's going to have the chance to be her boyfriend... no one except Lotor!"

"If he so much as lays a finger on her... So help me... I'll bash his head in!" Hunk shouted, gritting his teeth, finishing his earlier thought on the subject.

Lance put his hand on Hunk's shoulder. "Cool it, Hunk!"

"I'm still baffled how Keith could fall for this!" Hunk said, allowing his anger to subside a bit. "I thought he was smarter than that!"

"Hagar's cunning, no doubt about that." Lance sighed. "He probably couldn't help himself. Her magic is pretty powerful. Remember what she did to Sven?"

Pidge suddenly leaned over toward Lance and Hunk. "Hey you guys!  I just heard something stir in the bushes over there!"

Lance stiffened up. "Don't look!' he whispered. "Don't let whoever's over there know that we suspect anything!"

Hunk turned back and looked at the fire. Pidge straightened up.  Lance leaned over toward Hunk. "Make up some excuse to go to bed.  Then double around and surprise whoever is there!" Lance looked down at Hunk's weapons belt. "Do you have your blaster on you?"

Hunk whispered back at Lance. "Hey, I was born at night, but not last night! Do you think I'm stupid or something? Of course I've got it!"

"Make sure you have it drawn and ready. Pidge and I will cover you!" Lance leaned back over toward the fire. "Move out!"

Hunk put on a phony act. "Well guys (YAWN) I'm going to hit the hay. See ya in a few hours."

"Goodnight, Hunk!" Pidge said, readying himself to assist Hunk.

Hunk stood up and walked away from the fire and toward his tent, standing in the darkness. Lance and Pidge stayed ready, waiting for Hunk to give the word.

Hunk moved into his tent. Once inside, he then ran to the back of it, lifting the back up from the ground, and crawling underneath it. Hunk dropped the tent's end back to the ground, got up, and moved quietly around back toward the fire by way of the wooded area. He kept low,
trying to remain undetected in the darkness. As he creeped along, he suddenly stopped as he saw the intruder, just sitting in the shadows, in a crouched down position near a bunch of trees that stood close to the fire.

He resumed his crawling, trying once again to approach the intruder without being detected. Suddenly, Hunk surmised he was close enough, and immediately darted out at the intruder, letting out a wild, startling holler. The intruder jumped up quickly, making a run through the trees, as if trying to escape through the darkness.

Hunk cut across and came close enough to throw his body out at the intruder. Hunk wrapped his big arms around the intruder's legs, hauling him to the ground. A struggle ensued, and Hunk pounced on top of his fallen foe.

Pidge and Lance came running up to the Hunk, who now was practically sitting on the intruder's head and upper body, in an attempt to force his surrender. 

Lance flung out this utility light. "Okay, let's see what we've got here!"

Lance knelt down and shined the light into the intruder's face.  He immediately gasped and jumped back up.

"Keith!" Stunned momentarily,  Lance shoved Hunk off of him. "Get up! It's Keith!"

"Keith!" Pidge cried. "Oh my gosh! What are you doing here?"

Keith sat up, brushing himself off.  Hunk immediately slid over toward him. "What do you mean by scaring us like that!"

"Sorry, guys.  I guess I did act kind of recklessly." Keith replied. "I wanted to try to pick my moment to come out and talk to you guys."

Lance knelt down next to his former commander. "Are you okay?  Hunk didn't hurt you, did he?"

Keith shook his head. "I'm fine." He stood up and brushed off his legs. He turned and looked at Hunk, who was still sitting on the ground. "You nearly twisted my head off, you know!"

"Yeah... Sorry Commander...oops!  I mean...uh...that is..." Hunk struggled. Then he came to his senses. "Hey, wait a minute!  What are you doing here anyway?  Why aren't you back with Amy?"

Keith bowed his head. "Long story. The short version is that I finally fought off Hagar's spell."

Lance grabbed Keith's arm. "Then, I was right! It was Hagar all along!  And all this time I blamed Amy for it all."

"How'd you figure out Hagar was behind it, Keith?" Pidge asked. "You were pretty much blindsided."

"Amy confessed." Keith turned and started walking toward the camp, Pidge, Hunk and Lance walking at his side. "You see, guys, something in my heart still knew what the truth was... even if my mind didn't want to believe it.  I started recalling things in my memory about you guys... and suddenly, it just snapped, and I was free."

Lance stopped Keith. "So, did Amy meet up with Hagar, and the two of them hatched out this idea?"

"No, Hagar came to Amy with it.  She laid it out for Amy in such a way that she couldn't resist.  She had such strong feelings for me, and all she wanted was a chance to have me all to herself.  She was even willing to sacrifice everything I worked for to keep me there with her."

"What a screwed up woman!" Hunk added, anger in his voice. "She has a lot of nerve!"

"She's not totally to blame, Hunk." Keith said, defending her. "Hagar was pretty persuasive."

Lance grabbed Keith by the arm, halting his conversation. "Keith, there's something you need to know. Allura has been captured by Hagar, and we think she's been taken to the palace."

Keith bent his head low. "Yeah...I know."

Pidge walked up in front of Keith. "You know?  How do you know?  We just told you!"

Keith sighed. "Allura came to me in my dream.  Or at least, her heart spoke to mine.  I could sense she was in danger somehow.  That's what mainly broke the force of the spell."

"Keith, we have no way of getting her back." Hunk said. "Nothing."

Keith turned around. "There's no such thing as 'no way'!  Not in my book!  We can do this! I've been thinking of a plan while I was on my way looking for you guys!"

Hunk leaned over to Pidge and whispered in his ear. "See I told you Keith would think of something!"

But Keith still had one more thing to ask of his friends. "Before I tell you, I need to ask a question. And you are by no means obligated to say yes."

The three men gathered in front of Keith.  He bent his head down. "I'm ashamed of the way I acted. I can only hope you'll forgive me and take me back.  But if you don't, I'll understand.
We'll rescue the Princess, and when we finish this mission, I'll head back to Earth."

Lance started up. "So... first you turn in your uniform and your key, and now you want it back?"

Keith exhaled softly. "I don't expect you guys to forgive me, but I'm asking you to.  I want to take back my resignation as Commander of Voltron.  I never really meant to give it up in the first place.  I was...a bit out of my mind then."

Hunk, Pidge and Lance looked at each other.  Lance spoke up, teasing his friend still. "And we're suppose to just forget everything that happened, is that it?"

"You have every right to be angry. I deserve it." Keith said, his head still bent low. "I guess this kind of answers my question."

Lance shouted at him. "No it doesn't!  Wait here!"

He stormed off toward the tents. Keith remained silent as Hunk and Pidge stared at each other.  Moments later, Lance returned with a bag in his hand.  He suddenly threw it at Keith's feet. "Here!  This answers your question!  Open it!" he demanded.

Keith stared at the bag set before him on the ground. He looked up at Lance. "What's in the bag?"

"Your answer!  Now open it!" Lance replied, his voice raised.

Keith squatted down to the ground and slowly opened the bag.  A slow smile came over his face as he looked inside.  Hunk and Pidge remained puzzled as to what Lance was doing. Keith slowly reached his hand inside the bag, and pulled out his uniform.  He dropped the bag to the ground, stood up, and held the uniform up in front of him.

Then, he looked at Lance, who was now smiling too. "I think I speak for everyone by saying... welcome back... Commander Keith Hunter!" he said, emphasizing the word 'commander'.

A single tear dropped from each of Keith's eyes, his heart warmed by the true friendship he felt from his team.

"Thanks guys..." he replied quietly. He reached over and shook each of their hands. Throwing the uniform over his shoulder, he quickly took on the commander-like stance:

"Okay... let's get with it here!  We've got only a couple of hours before dawn, and I have a plan to rescue the Princess.  But we have to do it before dawn breaks, while everyone's asleep."

Keith motioned everyone to join him at the fire.  Within a half-hour, Keith had everyone ready. "Okay everyone knows his role in this, right?"

"You've got it!" Hunk said. "I know mine down pat!  It's the easiest!  I get to crack some skulls, if any Doom soldiers show up!"

"Okay!  Let's get to Voltron, deactivate and separate the lions!" Keith commanded.

As his team scattered, Keith looked toward the palace.

"If you can hear me, Allura, hang on. I'm coming for you!" the thoughts rang from his mind.

He suddenly ran to a tent to change into his uniform, ready to take his place among his friends.

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