"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 28
Reassurance

The villagers gathered around the gravesite.

It was decided that Amy should be buried among the people she had spent so many years with.
The villagers had become her family.  It was the right thing to do.

"It's hard to believe this is the end." Voltron's commander pondered to himself.

Keith stood next to the simple wooden box that had been made for Amy, running through ramped thoughts in his mind.  He just stared at it, remembering his last moments with her. 

The Voltron team had decided to delay their departure in order to have a funeral service for Amy with all the military honors she was due.

Keith had spent all of yesterday feeling guilty over his treatment of her.  He never thought that it would be one of the last conversations he would have with heralive.

He just stared blankly at the makeshift coffin.

Utan had come up to the box, placing a bouquet of wild flowers that he had picked from a nearby field. He was wiping tears from his eyes as he set them gently on the top of the box. Unable to contain his emotions, he quickly stepped away, balling like a small child.

Looking at Keith, Lance took notice of his best friend's solemn stare.  But he decided not to approach him at this time.  He knew that it was all that Keith could do to just keep it together long enough to give the appropriate eulogy for Amy.  Lance insisted to Keith to let him do it. But Keith declined, only saying he felt compelled to do her the honor.

Allura, Hunk and Pidge were standing next to Lance.  Allura's tears were drying on her cheeks, as she realized how much this woman loved Keith. And as for Keith, her heart was breaking for him too. 

The anguish that he must have felt as he held her in his arms...she just couldn't get the picture of the horrified look on his face out of her mind.  She knew he felt a sense of responsibility for what had happenedfalse as it was.  It wasn't his fault for what happened.

And in fact, if he had gone with her, he too, might be dead.

Even at the distance Pidge was at from Amy, the explosion was so powerful, that it sent him flying backward into the bushes near the path to the village. If Pidge had been any closer...he would have been killed too.

Fortunately, Pidge came away with only a sprained left ankle, a few bumps, some bruises, and some burns on his face and hands.  It would all eventually heal.

Keith took a deep breath, trying very hard to maintain control over his emotions. He was both angry and sorrowful at the same time.  He knew that Lotor had something to do with the explosion that killed Amy. In the past years of fighting against the Drule Empire, while serving in the Garrison Defense Forces on Earth, Keith had seen many of his friends blown away.  But nothing affected him like this.  It was frozen in his mindforever.

"Friends..." Keith began. "We have come here today, to pay our final respects to a woman we all knew and loved. Amy Johnson was truly a remarkable person. She seldom thought of herself, as much as she thought of others.  She was full of spirit, full of compassion, full
oflove... and hope. Of my friend, I can say..."

The crowd was silently staring at Keith. His voice began to crack, as he laid his hand gently on the coffin. Tears began pouring out of his eyes.

"My friend..." he attempted to say again. He cleared his throat, trying to finish his thought. "I can truly say that even in death, she remained honorable, and dedicated to the belief that peace was possible for this planet that she loved so much.  Let us all take steps to ensure that.. that her dream didn't die with her."

An assortment of sobs and tearful moans could now be heard throughout the crowd that had gathered.

Keith sighed again, heavy in heart. "We'll miss you, Amy.  I'll...I'll miss you, Amy." He whispered. "I wish things had been different between us. I'm sorry for any pain I had caused you. Be at peace, now, dear friend."

He leaned over, and kissed the coffin farewell, leaving drops of tears on its lid as he stood up straight once again.  At that moment, the few village men that lived there, came along side of
Keith, and picked up the wooden box, lifting it up, and gently sliding it into the freshly dug ground. It slipped into place with a thud sound.

The sound made Keith wince.

As the villagers quietly left the grave, the men that had just put the coffin into the ground began to shovel dirt over top of it. Lance and Hunk moved to Keith, grabbing him on either side.  Allura helped Pidge, as he hobbled along behind the rest of his team mates.

As they all started to walk away, Keith suddenly found the strength to separate himself away from Hunk and Lance's grasp.  They exchanged puzzled looks with one another, as they slowly watched Keith move off on his own toward the forest.

"Keith?" Hunk shouted after him. "Where are you going?"

Hunk made a move to follow him, but was stopped by Lance, who had just thrown his arm up in front of him, blocking his path.  Hunk looked at Lance angrily. But the anger quickly dissipated as he saw Lance slowly shake his head no.

"Leave him, " Lance said. "He needs some time to digest all of  this."

Hunk sighed, and ceased his attempts to follow after his anguished Commander.

Allura watched him disappear into the thicket. She felt she should go after him, but then agreed silently that perhaps he did need some time on his own to deal with his emotions. She instead went back with the rest of the guys to where the Lions had stood.



Several hours had passed by, and still no sign of Keith's return.  Lance elected to not bust camp, in the event that they would need to spend yet another night on Zorn. His instincts proved to be correct,  as their Commander turned up missing hours after the funeral.

Lance didn't feel the need to push the panic button.  Knowing Keith, he was okay, just doing a lot of heavy thinking.

It was then, that Allura decided to sneak off to go and look for him.  She knew Lance would say no if she asked to go and look for him, so she decided to make up an excuse saying, she too, was going off for a brief walk to do some thinking of her own.

But Lance knew what she was up to but decided to let her think she had gotten away with it.

"Maybe she can get through to him..." he thought.

Being worried, Allura decided to walk through the forest first. When she didn't find him there, she checked the place where Amy's house had once stood, now burned to the ground.

He wasn't there either.

And he wasn't at or around the gravesite.

Allura was now becoming concerned for him.  Where could he have disappeared?

Then, she thought to check the only place leftthe place she, herself, once went to, when she thought Keith had abandoned her and the rest of the team...

The lake.

She silently crept down the little path that led to the lake.  As she made her way through the brush, she paused suddenly. She sighed; relieved at last...

He was there.

Keith was just sitting there, his back to her, gazing out over the lake.  Allura crept quietly through the remaining brush, and slowly walked up behind him.  He appeared to be so deep in thought, that he didn't even hear her approach from behind. Truly uncharacteristic of  him, because he almost always was aware of who or what was around him.

He never moved a muscle as she approached...but he knew that she was there.  Her perfume gave her away. 

In one way, he was glad it was Allura. 
In another way, he wished that she had stayed at camp.

Allura stepped to his right, and dropped gently down to the ground, taking a seat beside him. His concentration never broke... he just continued to stare at the water, not even acknowledging she was there.

Several silent minutes passed by, and all that could be heard, was the sound of the insects that were native to Zorn.

"Lotor meant that for you, I think." he suddenly mumbled.

Allura jumped slightly: startled by his voice that so suddenly broke to silence.  She turned her head and looked at him.

After what seemed like an eternity, Keith finally allowed his head to move, tilting it toward the ground. He sighed. "I don't know what I would have done if that were you lying out there... dead." Keith said quietly.

She didn't know what to say. She didn't know how to respond to such a statement. She chose to let him talk, instead.

He sighed again, bringing his head back up to gaze at the lake once again. "She's gone...gone. And I treated her so badly just before she died. I ignored her, as if she didn't matter at all. Why did I do that?"

"Lance told me what happened. You shouldn't blame yourself, Keith." Allura finally said. "It was an accident. You couldn't have known."

Keith abruptly turned his head toward the Princess. "It was no accident, Princess!  And yes, I should have known! I should have known that Lotor might try and pull something like this! I should have seen it coming, and ordered a full scan of her home before anyone went into it!" he shouted at her. "Instead, I was too busy making sure she got the point of what I thought was truly important!  It wasn't important at all...not compared to protecting her life!  And in the end, I failed her!"

"No, Keith. You didn't. You did what you thought was best at the moment. No one is going to blame you for that." Allura replied.

Keith shook his solemnly at her. "Allura...don't you see?  Don't you understand?  I should have guessed this was coming!  And I didn't!  I made a bad judgement call! Lotor is capable of anything, and I know that!  I let my guard down, and it cost Amy her life!  The next time... it could cost you, your life!"

She stared at him: a puzzled look was on her face.

"There can't be a 'next time', Allura!  I... I..." he huffed. "I would never forgive myself if something like this had happened to you" he finished quietly.

Allura looked at him, tears beginning once again to form in her eyes.  She reached over to put her hand on his shoulder, hesitating at first, but then placing it gently on him at last.

His body shuttered at the power of her touch.  He turned his head to look at her.  She could
see in his eyes, that the pain he was feeling was real.  She wanted with all of her heart, just to wrap her arms around him, and comfort him.  To see him like this tore her apart.

"Keith..." she whispered. "You have always watched over and protected me from harm.  I know you would willingly give your life for any one of us, if you had to.  And you'd do it without question.  And I know that you would have done the same for Amy if you could have.  As a matter of fact...you did. You were the one who wasn't going to accept Queen Serena's threat to Amy's life.  You were the one who came up with the plan to rescue her!"

"But all of that doesn't matter, Allura!  They might as well have killed her then!  It ended the same way. She's dead! And I can't help but feel that it's my fault!" Keith said, continuing to punish himself, mentally.

"You don't really believe that, do you?" Allura said, raising her voice at him. "Your ability of self examination is quite an admirable trait, just not a very sound one when it turns into self torment.  You need to know that you did what you thought you had to do concerning her."

"I shouldn't have let my personal feeling interfere with my duty or my judgement!"

"Keith... I know she was your friend. And I'm so sorry to see this happen.  But you can't spend the rest of your life blaming yourself for not feeling for her, what she felt for you!" Allura said
convincingly. "That is truly why you're feeling guilty, isn't it!"

Keith looked at her again. There was wisdom in her words, and as he looked into her eyes, he could see that there was a deep feeling of compassion emitting from them.

He smiled slightly. "You know,' he began. "You have a way of cutting through the red tape in my mind."

"I know you.  And I know how you can get." She smiled back. "And I know how you just love to blame yourself for things that you have no right to blame yourself for.'

Keith chuckled. "I guess you're right, Princess." he conceded. Then he suddenly became more serious. "I just wish..." Then, he paused in mid-sentence.

Allura waited for him to finish what he was saying. Finally, when he didn't come out with it, she immediately piped up, "You wish...what?"

"I wish that Amy could have gotten past her unhealthy love for me.  I can't imagine what her life must have been like," he said quietly.  "Waiting for something that would never happen. Holding onto a dream that couldn't come true."

"And are you comparing that to maybe...yourself?" she boldly asked.

Keith froze. "Huh?" he asked, fearing where she was heading with this.

"Well, " Allura said coyly. "Isn't that what you're thinking right now about your chances with me?  Or am I being too forward in asking?"

Keith blinked several times in disbelief. "Its like she can read my mind!" Keith thought.

She smiled. "I'm right! Aren't I?"

"Princess..."

"Yes, Keith?" she smiled.

"I'm...I'm not worthy of you.  You're a princess. I'm just a pilot.  What business do I have thinking like that? I'm not worthy to kiss the ground you walk on!" he stumbled.

At that moment, she stood up. His eyes followed her every movement.  She looked down at him, the smile remaining on her face.  "At least you could do me the courtesy of allowing me to select my own suitors, before you shoot them down, that is, Commander!"

"I don't understand" Keith queried.

"Keith...if I've told you once, then I've told Coran a thousand times!  Let me decide who's best suited for me! I refuse to marry some stuffy old, stick in the mud prince, who doesn't know how to have a bit of fun!"

"But I..." he floundered.

"No buts, Commander!" Allura said sternly. "If you care anything for me, then you will stop putting down the man I admire most in my life!"

"Who's that?" he asked with a tone of excitement in his voice.

"Whom do you think?" she said with a sarcastic tone. "If you don't know, then I'll leave it to you figure out for yourself."

Allura turned abruptly, beginning her hike up the path back toward camp.  He watched her leave him behind. Just before she was out of sight, she threw her head back toward him,

"Don't be too long!  We've all got to go to bed early!  We have a big day tomorrow!  We're going home!"

She turned and merrily skipped away from sight.

Keith turned his attention once again back to the lake.  He had a lot more to think about now.

"She's too much." He thought to himself.  "She's a princess!  She's suppose to fall in love with a prince...not some low-life, loser, nothing like...like me?"

He sighed... grateful that he was the low-life, loser, nothing she apparently had her heart set on.  The question now was; how should he proceed?  Or should he keep a low profile for now?

So many question... and so little time. It was hard to believe that this was the woman that he had dreamed he would someday find.

And nowhe couldn't bear to lose her. And no matter what it took, he would see to it that she remained safe from harm.

He continued to look at the lake, and as the now setting sun reflecting off of it, he suddenly remembered what she had said to him just before she left him there to return to camp.

"We're going home..."

"Home..." he thought quietly. "Now there's a place I'm looking forward to returning to.... Arus."

Suddenly feeling inspired, Keith stood up, and began to walk off in the same direction that Allura had headed.

He smiled to himself. "She's right.  It's time to go home."



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