"Can You Hear Me Calling You?"

Story by Adele
Story Copyright 2003
A story based on the series, "Voltron, Defender of the Universe."

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
The Horrible Reality of Planet Doom

Lance was the first to wake up. 

He opened his eyes slowly.  The smell that greeted his nostrils was that of stale air and dampness.  He also realized that the ground beneath him was very cold. 

Lance rolled over, gingerly at first, then, once he focused in on his surroundings, he quickly got onto his knees... getting a better look at where he was. 

It was some sort of giant cell, with extremely high ceilings.  It resembled a dungeon-like atmosphere...like one he had read in fairy tales. 

Then...it struck him suddenly....

"This must be...Planet Doom!" Lance thought to himself.  "We're on Planet Doom!  We've been captured!"

A buried memory suddenly made its way to his mind...one that he had tried so hard to repress.  The thought came to his mind...of the day his village was destroyed, by King Zarkon of Planet Doom.  It was when he lived on Planet Ebb with his family.

Zarkon's attacking forces were brutal...and they wiped out most of his village...and took many prisoners.  His mother, his sister, Rebecca and his younger brother, Dale, all disappeared during the raids.  His very best friend in the whole world...his dog, Champ... was killed while sacrificing himself to save young Lance from death.  He and his other sister, Susan, escaped the planet with a few other refugees. 

They returned to Earth to meet up with their father. 

Since then, he has kept the memory to himself...he never told anyone.   When the assignment came up to come to Arus and battle against the evil forces of Doom that were dominating the planet, it was the opportunity that Lance had been waiting for.

A bit of sweet revenge, one might say.

He wanted to get back at Zarkon for what he had done to Lance and his family.  But he never told Keith or the others about it.  He was already labeled a live wire.  He wanted his options to remain open for just this sort of event to happen.  Now...Lance could hunt down Zarkon, like the dog he is, and to make him pay for all the hurt he's caused.

Lance's fists were shaking in anger, until he relaxed suddenly, having heard the sound of one of his other friends coming around.  It was then, that he also felt a small burning sensation on his left arm.  He rolled up his sleeve...and gasped.

It was Keith...coming around behind Lance.  As his senses began to come around, he too, felt the burning feeling on his left arm.  He rolled up his sleeve as well...

There, in the middle of his arm, was a small tattoo of a skeleton with horns on its head.  The symbol of Doom....

They had been branded for slavery.  It was Zarkon's mark.

Seeing that Lance was already up, Keith rolled, and woke his other friends, one by one...Sven, Hunk and lastly, Pidge. 

Hunk looked at his arm...
his teeth grinding in anger
upon seeing the tattoo on his arm.
"Zarkon will pay for this tattoo!"
Hunk seethed.

Lance gritted his teeth as well. 
"That's for sure!" Lance replied.

Sven looked his as well. 
"How did we get here?" Sven asked.

"Obviously, we were brought here
after we crashed," Keith replied,
rubbing his head with his hands. 
"I'm feeling a bit groggy, though."

"Yeah!  Me too," Hunk added.

"They must have given us something to keep us out while we were being transported here." Pidge added.

"But...why are we...here?" Keith asked.  "Why aren't we in the slave pits...like everyone else?"

"Because..."

They turned around...and saw two other men in the corner.  They were beaten and bloodied, leaning up against the wall. 

Quickly, the Space Explorers rushed over toward them. 

"What happened to you?" Pidge asked them.

"Do not...help us!" one man shouted. 

Keith immediately ordered his team to leave them alone, with a wave of his hand.  Then he looked down at the men.  "You were about to answer why we're here..."

"Because...you are like us." The man answered.  "Zarkon needs... entertainment.   I heard the guards talking, when they threw you into this place.  Zarkon knows who you are, and he knows why you were heading to Arus."

"How does he know?" Hunk asked them.

"Zarkon has many spies.  They probably obtained some vital information on you." The other man mumbled. 

"You are to fight for your lives...in...in the arena." The first man said.

"The arena?" Sven replied. 

"Yes...Zarkon wants to be entertained while you die." The second man said.  "You'll be taken there soon... after we are gone."

"Gone?" Lance replied.  "Gone...where?"

"To the arena," the first man replied.  "We are to face the Robeast monster."

"Robeast?" Pidge asked.  "What's a...Robeast?"

Lance looked at him.  "It's a 'part-beast-part-robot' thing, created by Zarkon's witch, Hagar.  They do Zarkon's bidding, and help to destroy many planets!  I've seen them!  They're fierce killers!" Lance replied in an angry tone.

Keith looked at Lance. "Where did you see it?" Keith asked.  "There's nothing like that in our neck of the woods."

"Not everyone comes from your 'neck of the woods', Keith!" Lance replied back  "Let's just say...I've seen it....and know what I'm talking about!"

"If you go into the arena, your fate is sealed." The first man said.  "Just as ours is soon!"

"Where are you two from?" Sven asked.

"We are from Arus...the planet we heard you went to.  But...you are not Arusians.  Who are you?  And why have you come?" The second man asked.

"No, we're not Arusians." Keith replied softly.  "We're...Terrans."

"From the Planet Terra?" the first asked. 

"Yeah," Hunk replied. "Only, we affectionately call it, 'Earth'. "

"Whatever you affectionately call it, no longer matters." The second man said.  "You will see it no longer."

"Is our Princess still alive?" the first man asked.

"We don't know," Keith replied. "We didn't have time to look.  We were captured the minute we entered the atmosphere."

The first man reached up and grabbed Keith's arm with his bloody hand.  "You must find a way to protect her!   She is the only hope Arus has for restoration!   King Alfor can no longer protect her!   And if Zarkon finds her, she will be a slave forever!  You must promise to protect her!"

Keith reached his hand up and grabbed hold of the man's shaking hand.  "We promise."

The man looked at Keith, as they touched  "You...what is your name?"

Keith hesitated for a moment...then finally,  "I'm Keith."

"Keith...I sense...yes...you will find our Princess.  I can rest in knowing you will find her...and you will protect her.  I sense you to be Arus's champion, foretold of long ago." The first one replied, as he released Keith's arm. 

"Foretold long ago?" Keith replied slowly.

"Arus's...champion?" Hunk added.  "Gee, Keith!  Your reputation preceeds you!"

Keith gave Hunk a stern look, and then returned his attention back to the two men.  "What do you mean by...Arus's champion, foretold of long ago?"

"I sense in you, a great spirit...you are one with the lion." the first man said.

"One with the lion...what are you talking about?" Keith replied.  "What...lion?"

A sudden noise was heard coming down the hallway.  The conversation immediately halted. 

The two men panicked.  "You must go back where you were before...pretend you are still unconscious!" the second man said.

"What will happen to you?" Pidge asked him.

"It is our time to join our beloved King Alfor.  It is our time to meet God." The first man replied. 

"We are being taken to the arena...it is our time to die, at last." The second man added with a smile.

"NO!" Lance shouted as he looked up to Keith.  "We can't let them die, Keith!  We have to do something!"

"Lamce, we're defenseless!" Hunk shouted.  "We can't even defend ourselves now!"

"Please, young one!" the first man said to Lance.  "You need not worry about us.  We will be fine.  Death is a sweet victory for us, for Zarkon can no longer hold our souls.  They will travel to heaven now...to a better place, with our Lord and with those whom we love who have been taken from us during this evil war."

"Don't try to save us!" the second man grunted.  "Save yourselves!  You must live to save Princess Allura!"

The noise grew closer.  Keith began pulling at the others.  Lance remained, however. 

"Get moving, Lance" Keith hollered in whispers.  "You want to get us all killed?"

"I can't leave them like this, Keith!" Lance moaned.  "I...I just can't..."

"You must!" the first man said.  "Grieve for Arus...not for us!"

"You must save Princess Allura!  She is the only hope Arus has left!  If she falls prey to Zarkon, Arus is most certainly doomed!" the first man whispered.  "Please!"

Keith was finally able to tug Lance back to the middle of the room by the cell door.  Both men dropped down, resuming a similar position that they had found themselves in when they awoke.

Everyone remained absolutely still...as if dead.

Suddenly...the door swooshed open. 

Four Doom guards walked into the cell.  They paused, noting that the Space Explorers were still unconscious from earlier.  Then, walking past them, they proceeded to the two Arusian prisoners in the corner. 

"On your feet, miserable fleshlings!" the one robot guard shouted.  "You are coming with us!  And pray to whatever god you serve, that the Robeast makes quick work of you...in the arena!"

The other three guards reached down and grabbed hold of the two men.  They began to drag them across the floor.

Keith couldn't help but tear up, thinking of the bravery and sacrifice that these men were making...giving him and his men time to figure out a way to escape...and somehow, get back to Arus.

Lance too, was weeping...but at the thought of what his own family's fate might have been.  He couldn't shake the thought of hope that arose within his heart... that somewhere, within the confines of this evil castle, were his mother, sister and brother...alive.

But in all likelihood, they were probably dead.  Lance kept telling himself that they were dead, as he squinted his eyes shut, trying to beat down the terrible thoughts running through his mind.

As to robot guards reached the door with the prisoners, one of them shouted spontaneously...

"ARUS FOREVER!"

The door slid shut behind them, and the cell was once again silent. 

"Everyone...stay still," Keith whispered, just loud enough that his team would hear. 

No one moved.  Instead, each of them lay quietly on the floor, pondering what had just taken place, and wondering silently what fate awaited them in the not-so-distant future.

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