"Forever..."

A story based on, "Voltron, The Third Dimension"
Copyright 2004
By Adele Previte

"Voltron" and its characters are a trademark and copyright of World Event Productions.
All other characters are copyrighted by me and can be used with my permission.

Thanks!  RATING WARNING:  PG-17 FOR VIOLENCE.

Enjoy!



Chapter 23
The Haunting Daydream

Several days had turned into three weeks, since it had become known that Lotor was behind all of the attacks by the fierce alien race, the G'Donar.

The people of Arus were becoming intolerant of the night raids.  Many had lost their homes and all of their belongings.  Many more had lost precious loved ones.

The crowds began to gather daily at the Castle of Lions...and shouts of anger were being hurled at the Castle...shouts of anger, directed at the Princess of Arus.

On one late afternoon, Keith stood outside on the balcony, just out of sight of the people, yet clearly able to hear the angry people shouting for the Princess...demanding her to stop the G'Donar.

If only she could.

Voltron had been out every night for weeks now, and now, the Doom raiders, as early as two nights ago, began joining up with the G'Donar squads...together, reeking havoc upon the Arusian planet.

Keith leaned against the Castle wall, with his arms crossed in front of himself.  Part of him grieved for the people...and still another part of him was angry with the people.  After all, Allura was certainly doing all that she could to stop the attacks.

There were just too many of them at once.

And just recently, word had reached the Castle of Lions, that Lotor had appeared via some sort of holographic communication, inciting the people to violence, by telling them that if only the Princess would surrender Arus, the attacks would stop and the people could live in
peace once again.

Keith snorted at the news...thinking that it was typical of Lotor to try to gain support among the people that he was literally destroying.

Fear and anguish were a good recipe for betrayal and rebellion.  And when the people didn't see any sign of even the smallest of victories by the Princess, they began to quickly turn their allegiance to Prince Lotor...literally demanding that the Princess surrender for the sake
of Arus.

Keith looked at his digital watch and sighed.  It was nearly dinnertime once again...and once again, he would have to endure the pain-staking expression of overwhelming grieve that the Princess would portray.

There was no consoling her these days.  Something seemed to occupy her thoughts, but she couldn't say what it was.  Keith, himself, had questioned her on several occasions, to no avail. She had seemed to close herself off to everyone...including him.

She was often lost in thought, as she continued to watch the numbers of orphan children coming into the Castle.

Then...there was Keith's responsibility to Jennica Gibbs.  He was torn between wanting to support Allura, emotionally, while wanting to care for Jennica. It was a hard balancing act to do.

Keith unfolded his arms and turned to enter the Castle, to head for the dining hall.

********************

Allura, meantime, had been down in the royal crypt...again...her place for nearly four days straight.

She had been trying to reach her father's spirit...only to find that he had, for whatever reason, suddenly disassociated his presence from her.

She had called...and called...and called again.  There was no response from the kingly ghost...which was troubling to Allura.  In the most trying times of her life, her father's spirit had always been there to offer her wisdom and comfort.

Now...there was only silence...and at the most crucial time of her rule.

She looked up at her father's tomb...with tears streaming down her face, as the light of the torches that surrounded her father's tomb blazed a faint glow all around her.

"Father...why won't you answer me?  Why have you abandoned me now?" she questioned tearfully. "Why is it that you have chosen this time to depart from me?"


"Allura..."


The Princess quickly turned around...only to find her trusted advisor, standing behind her.  He had a look of concern on his face.

"Princess...please...come away from this place.  Attend me for dinner." Coran said to her, extending his hand to her.

"Coran...where is he?" Allura asked him.  "Why doesn't he answer?"

"I do not know, Princess." Coran replied softly.

"Why, at the time that I need him the most, is he no where to be found?" Allura wept.

"Allura...your father is dead." Coran said bluntly.  "And perhaps, his appearance was only for a time of comfort..."

"Can't he see what's happening, Coran?" Allura cried softly.  "Arus is dying!  And I can't seem to stop the bleeding!"

"You must be strong, Allura." Coran said quietly.  "Remember who you are and why you are here."

"I only know that the people hate me, Coran!" Allura replied back.  "They hate me because I have failed to stop the G'Donar!"

"Princess...the G'Donar are a fighting race.  They are fierce beings with incredible instincts. It would be difficult for anyone to come against them...and to win." Coran added.

"The people don't want to hear that, Coran." Allura replied softly.  "They want an end to the violence.  They want peace.  And as their Princess, they look to me to provide it." Allura turned her head back up toward the tomb.  "And I've always looked to my father for advice.  I feel so...so lost, Coran."

"Allura...you must learn to stand on your own."
Coran said to her.  "You are the daughter of a 
great bloodline of royalty.  You have strength
within yourself that you have not even begun
to understand.  Perhaps, the simple fact that
you have always trusted in your father's advice,
has become a tool of complacency in your life.
You have never learned to carry on without him.
And perhaps, that is my fault. I have never
allowed you to fully explore your own
potential. My job was to protect the only
ruler that Arus had left.  I have spent the
years, shuttling you from hiding place to hiding
place. I have sheltered you from the most
basic of emotions...love, grief, sadness...
all because I had felt these things in my own life.
I wished only to protect you from them. I feel
now, that I have made a grave mistake in doing so."

Allura turned back to Coran.  His head was turned downward as he continued...

"Allura...since the death of King Alfor and Queen Angelica, I have spent my life taking up the cause as your guardian.  But truly, you are more than just a charge to me.  You are as my own daughter would have been to me, had I had one of my own.  I have always considered you as my child, to raise, protect and cherish.  I sometimes forget that you are an adult and quite capable of making adult decisions without my guiding hand.  And the presence of your
father's spirit has always been a comfort to us all.  But perhaps, his absence is his way of showing, not only you, but all of us, that we must look within ourselves to find the answers to the circumstances we must face in life.  Look in yourself, Allura...and find who you are...and be that great woman I know you are capable of being."

Allura's tears fell like rain down her face as she listened to Coran's words of wisdom.  She suddenly, and without warning, ran into his arms, hugging him close.

"I love you, Coran." Allura whispered.  "You have been, as my father would have been to me."

Coran said nothing, only holding the young Princess in his embrace, and remembering a time, not so long ago, when this was the embrace of a grieving child.

"Somehow, Allura...things will work out for the good.  You must believe in that...as we always have." Coran managed to say, through the tears.  He suddenly cleared his voice, attempting to take on a more serious tone. "Now, I insist that you attend me to dinner. And we must hurry. I fear that the cook will be crossed with us if we allow his food to get cold for a third day in a row!"

Allura chuckled at the comment and lifted her head up from his shoulder to look at her kindly advisor. She smiled gently at him and nodded.

**************************


"I'm hungry!" little Jennica cried.

Jennica had been seated between Keith and Lance in the main dining hall.  It had become her normal seat for weeks.  She had become a permanent dining guest at the Princess's table, at Keith's request.

Allura had expressed concern over Keith's apparent guardianship over the child.  She had told Keith that she felt it to be somewhat inappropriate, and that perhaps, he should assist in finding Jennica a new home and a new family.

Keith, however, would hear nothing of it. It had become something a sore spot between them both for weeks now.  But, Allura chose to not bring the subject up any longer and welcomed the child at her table, instead.

"Do we have to wait for her every night?" Jennica groaned, while tapping her fork on the table methodically.

"Yes." Keith replied quietly.  "Just calm down, Jennie.  Princess Allura will be here any minute now."

"Hope so!" Jennica blurted back.  "I'm starved!"

Keith sternly looked at her.  "Jennie...I think you know how to behave better than this, don't you?"

Jennica suddenly paused, then, frowned.  "I'm sorry, Keith."

"Its all right." he said with a smile.  "Just have a little patience.  The Princess will be here shortly."

Pidge shook his head and leaned over toward Hunk.  "She's worse than you are!" the young genius commented.  "What a brat!"

"Yeah, I know." Hunk replied.  "She complains about everything... her clothes, her food...the cook's got to make her something special every night, because she won't eat what they make the rest of us."

"I don't know how Keith can tolerate that." Pidge whispered back to Hunk.

"I think he feels guilty about the girl's parents, and all." Hunk replied back.  "He kind of feels responsible."

"I think it's unhealthy, personally." Pidge whispered quietly.  "He's got to let her go. It was an accident. No one expected the attack to happen or her parents to get killed."

"Yep and the kid seems to thrive on Keith's attention, too.  I think she looks to him as a father." Hunk commented.  "That's no good...for either of them."

"Keith can't commit to being a father to her." Pidge replied.  "He's got too many other responsibilities. And she takes up quite a bit of his time, as it is."

"Yeah, she has her faults, but she is a cutie though!" Hunk chuckled quietly.  "And she's a great vid game player!  She can pick up any game and learn it fast...faster than anyone I've ever seen!"

"Uh-huh." Pidge mumbled back...rather disinterested in Hunk's comment.

Lance yawned as he looked at his watch. "Well, personally, I'm inclined to agree with Jennie here...where the heck is the Princess?"

"Cool it, Lance." Keith murmured back to his second. "I said...she'll be here.  Just give her some slack.  These last several days have been difficult for her."

"I've been hearing a bunch of people outside, shouting stuff up to the Castle." Jennica commented.  "They sound like they hate Princess Allura.  Do they?"

Keith smiled as he looked at the child.  "No...they don't hate her, Jennie."

"Then...why are they shouting all of that mean stuff, for her to hear?" Jennica asked.

Keith frowned.  "They're very sad.  And sometimes when you're very sad, you tend to take things out on other people, who may have had nothing to do with why you're sad in the first place.  They shouldn't do that.  Its wrong for them to blame the Princess for what's going on."

"I'm very sad, but I don't take things out on the Princess." Jennica commented.

"Well, sometimes you do, kid." Lance blurted out suddenly.

Jennica looked at Lance crossly.  "Why did you say that?"

"Because, you're always ragging on her!  Like now...she's late for dinner, again, and you're about to take her head off when she comes in the door."

Jennica looked at Lance and frowned.  Keith looked at Lance too, and gave him a frowned expression, which only strengthened Lance's argument.

"And you're not ready to do the same, Lance?" Keith drolly asked.  "You've been complaining, just about as much as Jennie has been.  You're a fine example to follow."

"And, speaking of, 'fine examples to follow', there's something I need to talk to you about, Keith.  But I'll do that later, with no one around."

"You can save your breath, Lance." Keith replied, waving his hand around.  "I already know what you're going to say...and I've heard it before from the Princess."

"Well, maybe you need to hear it again!" Lance said loudly.  "You don't seem to be listening to what we're saying!"

"And just what's that supposed to mean, Lance?" Keith grumbled back.

"Like I said...it's for your ears only.  I'll speak my peace later in private." Lance replied. "There are certain ears that I don't want to offend."

"Me." Jennica said softly.  "It's about me, isn't it?"

"It's about a lot of things, Jennica." Lance replied back.  "And none of your business what exactly they are."

Hunk's temper suddenly flared.  "Hey!  Leave the kid alone, Lance!"

"I didn't include you in the conversation!" Lance replied, glaring back at the Yellow Lion pilot.  "Besides...you...I'm still mad at!"

"Yeah...well...it wasn't my idea to trash Keith and Allura's outting, now was it!" Hunk returned. 

"Are we going to start that again?!?" Lance shouted. 

"Guys...guys!" Keith called out to them.  "Keep it down about forty decibles...will ya?"

"He started it, Keith!" Lance accused, pointing at Lance.

Hunk fumed, "No way you cocky, little..."

"I THINK I said that's enough, guys!" Keith shouted.  "Settle down, you two!   Right now, I'm having a hard time deciding who's the kid at this table!"

Hunk and Lance shot each other angry stares.  Keith grunted disapprovingly at his friends, but quickly forgot it, as he heard the sound of two sets of  footsteps, approaching from behind him.

He quickly turned his head and saw the Princess and Coran coming to the table.  Keith looked at Allura.  She appeared drawn and tired and he quickly surmised that Coran had to fetch her from the royal crypt once again.

Everyone rose to their feet as Allura step up to the table, and nearly in unison, everyone called out a rousing greeting,  "Good evening, Princess."

"Good evening, everyone." Allura replied back in a solemn voice.  "I must apologize for being late again for dinner."

"...again." Lance mumbled just above a whisper. 

The comment didn't go unnoticed.  Pidge quickly reached over and gently tapped his Lance's with his foot, warning him to keep his cool.  

"You're okay, Princess." Pidge then replied back with the comforting words.

"Yeah, don't worry about it, Princess!" Hunk added his voice to Pidge's.

Coran held out the chair for Allura, allowing her to sit down.  He then pushed it in beneath her, making her comfortable.  He then gave the signal to the servants to begin dinner, as he took his own seat.

****************

Dinner progressed quietly...as it had for several nights previously.  Not much was said and very little mentioned about the attacks on Arus.

Allura had lifted her fork up with some of her dessert cake upon it...when she suddenly froze...and her face became expressionless.

No one noticed, at first, until Jennica looked up and saw the Princess staring blankly ahead of herself.  She leaned over toward Keith and tapped his arm for his attention, interrupting the conversation between himself and Lance.

"What is it, Jennie?" Keith asked the child, as he was about to take another sip of his coffee.

"What's the matter with Princess Allura?" Jennica asked Keith, as she pointed toward the Princess.

"Huh?" Keith replied.  "What do you mean, what's the matter with the...uh... Princess..."

He then quickly looked over to Allura.  Lance did the same...and suddenly, the entire table took notice of what Jennica had observed.

"Allura?" Keith said, looking at her oddly.  "What's the matter?  Are you all right?"

Allura stared straight ahead toward the opposite side of the table...right to Coran.

"Princess?" Coran uttered.  "Is there something the matter?"

Allura remained still and expressionless...as if...in a trance.  Keith immediately became concerned, quickly putting his coffee cup down on the saucer.




Meanwhile...Allura's mind had focused in on a vision...

She saw herself in a great hallway...perhaps the main hallway of the Castle of Lions.  Things didn't appear to be normal.

When suddenly, she heard a scream...a horrifying, agonizing scream.  Her skin crawled, as she turned to see who had screamed, and why.

Then, she heard a voice as she was turning around...

A voice she could not recognize...uttering her name with an eerie, vocal tone...


"PRINCESS ALLURA..."



She suddenly gasped...




As she turned to find the voice...
she suddenly saw Keith's body...
lying on the floor in a pool of blood.
She gasped again and screamed
at the sight of him lying dead on
the floor, just ahead of her.  Then
she immediately realized... the
screaming voice of horror that she
had heard only moments ago
...belonged to Keith.










Allura suddenly dropped her fork onto the
dish...startling everyone.  She quickly gasped,
raising her hands to her mouth, and then, she
began hyperventilating, suddenly.

"NO!  OH NO!" Allura shrieked. 

In a moment's notice, Keith, Lance, Pidge,
Hunk and Coran were running to her side.
Keith and Lance were there first, with Keith
grabbing her by the shoulders from behind.

"Princess?  Princess!  Come on, Allura...answer me!"
Keith called to her.

Suddenly, Allura came out of the transient state, blinking rapidly, with labored breathing, as if she were confused.  Moments later, she had regained her composure.

Keith came around to the front of her and knelt down at her side.  "Hey, hey!  Are you all right, Allura?" the Voltron Commander asked her.  "What happened to you?"

"Yeah...why'd you scream like that?" Lance asked as well.

"Oh no..." Pidge echoed her words.  "She said, oh no."

"Oh no...what?" Hunk said as he looked at her.  "What'd you see, Princess?"

Allura's eyes opened wide, as she focused in on Keith's face.

"I...I'm...uh...I'm not sure." she stammered her reply.

"Geez, you look like you've seen a ghost!" Hunk added.

"A what?" Allura gasped suddenly, then quickly looked back to Keith.

She reached out her hand and gently touched the side of his face.  Keith took his hand and cupped hers in it.

"What's the matter?" he asked her again.

"I...uh...that is..." Allura stammered again. As she felt the warmth of his touch, she suddenly took a deep breath of air and released it quickly.  "It's...its nothing.  I'm fine.  I just had a fainting spell...that's all."

"Maybe we should have Dr. Gorma check you out...just to be sure." Keith said right away.  You've been under a tremendous amount to stress lately.  How much sleep have you been getting?"

She paused, dropping her chin.  "Not much, I'm afraid."

Keith nodded.  "Its all these mid-night runs.  They're taking their toll on you.  Maybe...it might be best for you to remain on the ground for now."

"On the ground?" she said, suddenly looking up at him.  Her eyes bore a painful stare as she looked deeply into his face.  "You mean...you're ground me?'

"Not really grounding you," Keith was quickly to reply.  "Just...to give you some time to...you know...catch your breath."

"No!  I'm fine, Keith...really...I'll be fine." she said, trying to control her emotional outbursts. 

"Just the same...you should at least let Dr. Gorma have a look at you." Lance added.

"No...really!  I'm fine!  Keith's right...it's the stress of everything going on around me.  I'm sure that's all it is." Allura replied back.  "Don't worry about me."

"But I do worry about you, Allura." Keith replied back.  "We all do."

"Yeah!" Pidge boisterously said aloud.  "We sure do!"

"You know it, Princess!" Hunk quickly added to Pidge's voice.

Allura smiled at her friends, and then, looked at Coran.  "If you don't mind, I'd like
to retire to my chambers for the evening.  I'd like to catch up on my rest."

Coran gave a fake smile and nodded his head.  "Shall I accompany you, Princess?"

"No, I'll be fine.  All of you stay here and finish your dinner.  I'll be all right.  I do think the sleepless nights are catching up with me, finally." the Princess replied.

"I'll escort you, Allura." Keith spoke up.

"No...Keith!  Now, I said I was fine...and I am fine!  Don't...don't let your coffee get cold.  I'll be all right!  I just need some rest, that's all...really, Keith." Allura quickly replied.

"But...Allura...I...I'd feel better if I..." Keith started to say.

"Now, I insist that you stay here." she said with a smile.  "I'm going to go right to my chambers and go to bed.  I think that's the best thing for me."

"You're sure you don't want an escort?" Keith asked again.

"Absolutely sure." she smiled back. "I'm fine, Keith.  Really...just...everyone continue eating and I'll catch up with you all tomorrow."

Keith rose to his feet, not completely satisfied with her answer, but enough that he was convinced that the strain of the attacks was finally beginning to take her down, mentally.

Allura placed her napkin on the table and excused herself, bidding everyone goodnight as she left the room.

The room remained in silence as she departed.



As soon as she was out of earshot of the dining hall, she suddenly lifted her gown skirting up from the floor and took off running down the corridor toward her chambers.  When she had entered them, she quickly dismissed Marie, her private chambermaid, as well as the other chambermaids.

After everyone had gone...Allura's room was in silence...except for the faint sound of the multitudes that had gathered outside of the Castle's main gate, in protest to the attacks and seemingly lacking response on the Princess's part, in stopping them from happening.

Allura sat in her high-back chair, allowing herself to think about the vision that her mind had seen in the dining hall.  And the sound of the horrifying scream, that was Keith's voice.

The sound resonated in her mind, as clear as if someone were speaking to her directly.

She shook her head, attempting to clear her mind of the horrible image.

But...it remained.

Perhaps a good night's sleep would relieve some of the stress that was now manifesting itself on her, in the form of violent thoughts.

She rose from her chair and silently made her way to her bedroom chambers, turning off the lights in the main lounge area behind her...and as the door to her bedroom slid closed...

An ominous green hue lit up the lounge area that had been left in darkness after the lights went out.

The green hue became the transparent figure of Audra...hovering in mid air in the Princess's chambers. 

The image of Audra bore an evil grin of content upon her face.

Seconds later...it had disappeared, returning the room to darkness once again.

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