"Forever...United."

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! 

Enjoy!


Chapter 14
'Apologetics'

"He's coming around now." the old woman named Santora said quietly, alerting Keith's friends that he was starting to stir to consciousness.

Hunk and Princess Allura quickly got up from the chairs they had been sitting in and made their way over to the bed.

Santora smiled, her heart warmed by the affection and concern that these two young people had for their leader.

She had been watching over the young Voltron Commander for the last few hours, since her new, young friend, Hunk, brought him to her home.  She was honored by the presence of Princess Allura...and touched by her warm and compassionate heart.

The Voltron Commander was unconscious when they had arrived with him...and even so, he was shaking uncontrollably and bathed in a cold sweat.  Santora had instructed Hunk to place Keith on the bed in her room.

Keith had been suffering from laser shock when they had arrived with him.

She quickly went to work on him, bathing his wound in pama root...a soothing, natural healing remedy she had been using for many years.  She also had prepared a special elixir, ready for him to take orally, once he came too.

His uniform had been cut away, exposing his left shoulder and some of his back area.  He had also been placed on his stomach so that the wound was more accessible to Santora.

She had seen many, many cases of laser shock in her time. 

Some lived...some died. 

But Santora, like most Arusian citizens living in communities near to the Castle of Lions, had heard the rumors about the Princess and the Voltron Commander.  After observing the deep concern in the young Princess's face...she knew the rumors were more than just idle court gossip.

It was quite evident that she felt something more for this young man lying on the bed.  Something more than mere camaraderie was shining in her eyes as she kept a careful vigil over him.

For the sake of the Princess... Keith had to recover.   And Santora would see to it that he would.

Allura sat down on the left side of the bed, next to Keith's head, and gently brushed her hand through his thick, black hair, pushing stray pieces of it away from his eyes.

"Keith," Allura said in a soft voice.  "Keith...can you hear me?"

His face began to grimace a bit, as his senses came around, one by one.  He slowly opened his eyes, just slits at first, then, blinking rapidly.  He suddenly sucked a deep breath of air...feeling the burning from his left shoulder once again.  The muscles in his body
tensed, reflexively,in response to the pain now surging though his body.

Allura attempted to soothe him by talking to him,  "Keith...you're all right now.  Can you understand me?  Keith?"

Slowly, Keith nodded his head, but said nothing in reply.

Hunk bent over into his line of sight...  "Hey buddy...do you remember what happened?"

"Yeah...I got hit by laser fire...and I don't need...memory...to know that." Keith groaned.

"How do you feel, Keith?" Allura asked him tenderly, her hand resting gently upon his head.

"Right now...it's a bit on the painful side, but ....I'll live."

"This will help with the pain." Santora said, as she quickly began to dab the burned area with a cloth, saturated with pama root.  "Some of the nerve endings in your shoulder have been damaged...but will heal with time."

The pain instantly decreased and Keith relaxed his body instantly... his facial and body muscles returning to normal.

"There," Allura said in a soothing voice, now stoking his head once more.  "Is that better?"

" Much... What is that stuff?" Keith asked, feeling a sudden soothing sensation.

"Pama root, my young friend." Santora replied softly in a shaky voice.

"It really does the trick." Keith replied, feeling much better.

"I have some for you to drink as well," Santora added.  "As soon as you think you can sit up again."

"You can drink it too?" Keith asked.

"Yes, direct application is excellent, for the short term.  But for long-term benefits, drinking it will allow the body to absorb it more efficiently...telling your brain to deaden some of the senses." Santora explained.

"So...its like a drug?" Keith said slowly.  "I'm not too keen on drugs."

"I will help until we can get you back to the Castle and have Dr. Gorma look you over." Allura said.  "How do you feel, otherwise?"

"Okay, I think... a bit in the fog, though." Keith replied.

"That's from the laser shock." Hunk replied, looking at Keith.  "I'm surprised it took those Doom-goons that long to tag you.  I tried to take out as many as I could after you busted the water tank all over them.   But... I guess I didn't get them all."

"You...you saw the whole thing?" Keith said, suddenly lifting his head up off of the pillow a bit.

"Sure...I tagged one that had a perfect aim on you... after you broke the tank and took off running for the building." Hunk said.  "He'd have gotten you, dead to rights too, had I not been there."

"How did you know we were here, Hunk?" Allura asked him.

Hunk shrugged his shoulder.   "I know everything going on around here, Princess.  We've had the goon squads here a couple times, recently... just within the last couple of days.  We've all been on a heightened security watch.  But to answer your question, one of the security parties spotted you two and the hover car.  They called us into action.  But I knew it couldn't be the Doom patrols... no way they'd have a hover car.  I figured it had to be something else."

"And then, you came out looking for us." Keith added.

"I saw you emerge from the brush, Keith.  Then, I saw the Doom soldiers surrounding you.  You rolled and ducked some fire...and then, returned with some of your own.  We were about to tip our hand of our presence, but then, you took out the water tower.  I thought
it was a great move...get them occupied with something else... and then, boom...you'd take off, leaving them in the dust.  That's when I noticed one of them taking aim on you.  I quickly took him out, before he could take you out, instead."

"Thanks." Keith replied. "Thanks a lot, Hunk."

"Sure thing... it's the least I could.  After I acted like such a jerk back at the Castle a few days ago, I figured I owed you...at least once.  Probably more than once.  Listen... speaking of...about the other day... I sure didn't mean to hit you, Keith.  I feel just awful about
it."

"Forget it, pal." Keith replied back.  "No hard feelings, okay?"

Hunk smiled warmly.  "Thanks Keith.  I just don't know what came over me."

"Sounds...familiar." Keith replied back.  "Like I said, forget it."

"Thanks.  But hey!  I thought you left Arus for good?  Why'd you come back?" Hunk asked.

"Someone... asked me to." Keith said, setting his eyes on Allura.

Hunk smiled, instantly understanding what he meant.  "She has a way with people, doesn't she?" he said with a winking eye at the Princess.

"Some people." Allura replied back, resting her hand gently on the top of Keith's head once more, while flashing a modest smile. "Some of the time, anyway."

"I'll bet you let her think she's got control over you." Hunk laughed, directing his question at Keith.

"Not likely." Keith snorted back, jokingly. 

"You're stubborn...." Hunk chuckled as he looked to Allura.

Allura nodded.  "As stubborn as they come.  Though getting him to admit that, is like pulling teeth."

"She'll admit it for me." Keith chuckled to Hunk in reply.  "Just ask her."

"I don't think I need to ask her, to know that!" Hunk laughed back.

Things suddenly got quiet.  Keith turned his head to look at the kind old woman on his left.

"And you are...?" Keith began to say to the elderly woman, now looking at him with a smile.

"Oh," Hunk answered.  "Her name is Santora.  She's lived here most of her life.  I first met her a few months ago.  She lost her husband during the Lion Wars, but, has now become one of the leading citizens in this town. She took me when I came here a few days ago...just like I was a member of her family!"

Santora smiled at Keith.  "Welcome to my humble home, Commander Keith.  What is mine...is yours."

"Thank you ...for taking care of me...and my friends." Keith said to her.  "You're very kind."

Santora smiled and waved her hand back and forth...  "Ah...think nothing of it, Commander.  It is my honor to serve you and our beloved Princess."

"Well, I could be in real trouble right now, had it not been for your kindness in caring for me." Keith restated.  "I could feel I was in trouble, back there in that building..."

"Speaking of which," Allura said to Hunk and Keith.  "I thought you two were dead!  How in the universe did you make it out alive?"

"I hauled it...as fast as I could." Hunk replied.  "We were real close to the exit and Keith had managed to take out some of the closest soldiers with his rifle blaster.  But it wasn't enough.  They just kept on coming and coming..."

"So then...how did you possibly..." Allura started to say.

"Easy, Princess!" Hunk interrupted, knowing exactly what she was going to ask. "When the building started falling in on us...most of it started in the middle...right where our, 'friends' were standing.  The ceiling caved in first on them, giving me just enough time to get us out before the entire thing came down."

Keith turned his head back toward Hunk and Allura to speak...

"As it was, we just barely made it out." Keith added.  "Hunk ran like I've never seen him run before.  Debris started falling all around us on the outside too.  To be honest...I don't know how we didn't get hit by any of it."

"Well...I'm certainly glad to have you both here, telling me the story all about it!" Allura replied.

"Yeah...anything beats having the Royal Coroner tell it!" Hunk added.

Keith paused, and then said,  "Listen... uh, Hunk... about that 'incident'....You weren't the only one out of line back there a few days ago.   I was out of line too.  Like you said... something just came over me..."

"It seems to me as if something came over us all." Allura said.  "We've all been doing things that are uncharacteristic.  You leaving Arus, Keith and me, lying to you about the way I felt about you.   And Lance, leaving for Pollux..."

"He's next on my hit-list." Keith said suddenly.  He then eyed Hunk. "I've obviously come here today, nearly getting myself killed in coming...to ask you to come back to the team."

Hunk bowed his head.  "You still want me, Chief?  I mean...after the way that I treated you?  I really walloped you good."

"Yeah...but I probably deserved it." Keith added.

"No...I had a brewing anger...but you're not the one I really owe an apology to.  I think I scared the daylights out of Pidge.  He fled the Castle, because of me." Hunk added.

"No!  He came back!" Allura said suddenly.

"And saved me and Allura in the process!" Keith replied.  "So...it just goes to show you... we all need each other.  If you hadn't been there today..."

"Keith would probably be dead." Allura added.

"From the story you've told me about the guy that had me in his sights, it sounds like I was finished right then and there...if not for you." Keith said.

He began to push himself off of the bed.  His arms shook as he strained to lift his body off of the bed.  Allura and Hunk helped him get into a sitting position.  Once in place, Keith took a deep breath of air and slowly let it out.

"What I'm saying, Hunk, is... we're a team.  We really need you back with us.  You've got special talents that none of us have.  You're unique.  Will you come back with us?" Keith asked him, looking him squarely in the eyes.

Hunk's eyes started to tear.  He glanced over toward Santora, who was smiling and nodding her head.  He then looked back at his friends.

"Well," Hunk said, throwing his massive arm over his head to rub the back of his neck.  "If you're sure you can still use me..."

Allura rose to her feet and rushed to hug Hunk.  He reflexively reached down and hugged the Princess in return.

"Of course we still need you!" she said...her voice now tear-filled.  "We'll always need you, Hunk.  Never forget that."

Hunk closed his eyes for a moment...and the tears began to brim his eyes.  He opened them and looked down at Allura.

"For you and Keith, Princess...anything.  I'll come back."

Allura hugged him again, tightly.  Keith smiled at Hunk and nodded his head.

"Okay you two...break it up." Keith replied with a chuckle in his voice.  "We've got work to do...and plenty of it.  We've got to get back to the Castle of Lions.  I've got plans to drop in on an old friend."