"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 17
Testing Pidge's Theory


Several hours had passed . . . and Keith had since been released from the infirmary.  He immediately rushed to his room and contacted Sven on Planet Pollux, making the  arrangment for a visit.  He then quickly packed an overnight bag and made his way to the control room.

There was no time to waste.

The trip to Planet Pollux would be nearly forty-five minutes in length and as it was,  Keith was wondering to himself just how to present a plea to Lance to return home.  Their friendship was strained, and although Keith bore very little of the blame, in his mind, he felt
that perhaps coming to Lance in a humble manner...even just a little bit...would be enough to soften Lance's disposition.

Hunk and Pidge stood ready for their Commander's arrival, receiving word that they were to escort Keith into outer space.

Keith entered the control room and immediately was greeted by Hunk and Pidge.  He looked over to the control board and saw Coran...seated in his usual spot, at the console.

But . . . one person was noticeably absent.

"Where's the Princess, Coran?" Keith asked him.

"Her Highness has relayed a message, wishing you well.  She had other matters to attend to." Coran replied back.

"Other matters?" Hunk snorted.  "What could possibly be more important--"

"Cool it, Hunk." Keith said sternly.  "She's got stuff to do.  That's good enough for me. Besides . . .  she and I said our good-byes in the infirmary."

"What kind of good-byes, Keith?" Hunk snorted playfully, crossing his arms in front of himself.

"Yeah," Pidge began to say,  "Is it the kind that involve--"

"ALL RIGHT!" Keith shouted, stifling out the last part of Pidge's statement.  "That's enough out of you two!"

Suddenly, both men broke down in a fit of laughter.

Keith was hardly amused . . .  "When you guys are all finished," he groaned, "We've got a job to do!"

Coran turned away, silencing a giggle or two of his own.

"Coran...raise the lion tunnels." Keith ordered.

Regaining his composure, Coran activated the tunnel.  The command center rose up into the air. Keith then turned to his team...

"Okay, let's go..."


"WAIT!"


Keith, Hunk and Pidge paused suddenly.  Turning around, they were now seeing the Princess...running into the room.  She was carrying something in her hand.

"Princess?" Keith said to her, now turning to face in her direction.  "What's wrong?  I thought Coran said you had something else to take care of..."

Allura ran up to her friends . . . somewhat winded, she lifted her hand up to signal to them to hold on for a moment.

Keith looked to Pidge and then, to Hunk, before looking back to the Princess.  He reached for her shoulder... "What's the matter?"

"I . . . I didn't . . . think that I would . . . catch you . . . in time," she said, breathing rapidly.

"What's going on?" Hunk asked her, suddenly defensive. "Are we under attack?"

"No, no," she returned, still catching her breath.

"Then, what is it?" Keith asked her.

"I have something . . . for you, Keith." she replied back to him.

"For me?" Keith said, somewhat startled.  "But--"

"It's a medallion.  It belonged to my father. I received it...after he had died.  I'd like you to have it." Allura said to him, now extending her hand toward him.

Keith stared at the medallion in her hand. It was small . . . and made of solid gold in the shape of a lion's head. The eyes were tiny white diamonds.  A solid, thin gold chain was threaded through the medallion.  It looked absolutely priceless . . .

Keith was speechless . . .

"Please . . . take it, Keith." Allura said again.

"What? The medallion . . . it . . . it belonged to your father . . . No! I can't accept--" Keith started to say.

"Please Keith! Call it a good luck charm, if you'd like." Allura replied. "Father would want you to have it.  I know he would approve."

"Allura . . . I can't take something that belonged to your father." Keith began to say.

"Please . . .  I beg you to take it.  I'll feel better knowing you have it." she instantly said to him.

Keith paused . . . looking deeply into her eyes . . . those blue eyes of compassion . . . the eyes that seemed to cast a magical spell over his heart each and every time he looked into them.

He just couldn't refuse her.

"Thank you, Princess." Keith replied, quietly.  "Then, I'll accept it and wear it with honor and pride."

He bent himself down low toward her, as if he were being knighted.  The honor, however, was the receipt of the medallion.  She neatly slipped it over his head, allowing it to dangle down to his chest as she let go of it.

Keith lifted his head, once more, meeting the full weight of her stare. She smiled, in return.

"Now . . . bring Lance back to us." Allura said softly.

Keith took a step backward...shooting her a quick military salute before relaxing, to say, "Yes Your Highness.  I'll do what I can."

"I know you will." She replied back, smiling in return. "Please...be careful."

"Count on it." Keith said to her, shooting her a quick nod of his head, before turning toward his other two friends. "Let's go."

Hunk and Pidge nodded, then, turned and ran for their tunnels, grabbing onto the T-bars and disappearing into the chutes.  Keith began to turn . . . but Allura suddenly grabbed onto his arm, pulling him back toward her.

In a spontaneous move, she quickly leaned into him . . . kissing him full on the lips . . . and then, she released him.

He looked at her . . . somewhat stunned . . . and yet, not really surprised at all.

"For good luck." Allura said to him.

"I thought that's what the medallion was supposed to do." Keith smiled back.

Allura giggled, "A little extra never hurts."

Keith smiled at her. "Yeah . . . I guess not."

"You'd better get going," she said to him. "We'll hold things together here while you're away."

"I know YOU will." Keith said, stressing 'her' in his reply.

"WE will!" she repeated again, including Hunk and Pidge on the deal.

He nodded, then, turned for chute number one. A quick run toward the tunnel . . . and he was now jumping for the T-bar . . . slipping away from her sight . . . riding down the chute, heading for his robot lion.

Allura's smile quickly faded, along with his presence. "God's speed, Keith.  My heart is with you."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Keith was quickly loaded into the cockpit of the Black Lion.  "Everyone on?" he asked through his COM link.

Pidge replied, "Here, Commander!"

"Ready when you are!" Hunk shouted back into the COM.

"Then...insert keys!" Keith ordered.

On top of the Lion Monument, the Black Lion's eye light up with a yellow, fiery glow, then, standing to its feet, it released a loud, intimidating roar before lifting off into the air.

The three lions launched from their resting places and met up in the air.

Keith unconsciously fingered the medallion, now hanging on the outside of his uniform, while looking at the guidance system and radar.  All was clear...for now, anyway.

"Okay Pidge . . . what's the scoop on this thing?" Keith asked, now dropping his hand from the medallion and back to his controls. "Will this work?"

"In theory, it should . . . once you activate the cloaking device, Black Lion should be enveloped in a multi-phase energy band . . . creating a stealth-like environment, allowing the lion ship to completely disappear from sight and from any scans sweeps." Pidge replied back.

"In theory?" Hunk said, suddenly anxious. "You mean to say that this thing of yours hasn't been tested?"

"Of course its been tested, Hunk!" Pidge replied, somewhat insulted by his comment. "But in simulations only, in a lab environment."

"There was no time to test it." Keith added. "So, we'll test it out now."

"Keith . . . I'm getting a tingly feeling . . . " Hunk began to say.

"No time for your tingles, Hunk." Keith replied back. "Just keep your eyes peeled and be ready for action . . . just in case this thing doesn't work like Pidge says it should!"

"Read ya, Commander!" Hunk responded.

Keith blew out a forced breath of air... and then, lifted his finger up to the button... but then...

"Commander!" Pidge suddenly shouted into the COM. "I've got bogies . . . approaching from the southeast, rear!"

"Confirmed!" Hunk added. "Looks like we've got about 30 Doom and G'Donar ships  . . . coming up on our tails!"

"I'm showing that they'll be all over us in a matter of minutes, Keith." Pidge replied.

"Okay . . .  I want you two to take off . . .
but stay together.  I'm going on ahead. 
Watch to see if I phase out . . . and, if so . . .
and if you guys can confirm I'm out of sensor
scan radius . . . then don't ask me to reply. 
I'm going to maintain radio silence or they'll
attempt to find me by piggybacking my
COM signal." Keith said to them.

"Roger that, Keith." Hunk replied.

"Understood." Pidge replied.

"Okay . . . move out!"
the Voltron Commander ordered.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From Castle Control, Princess Allura stood quietly, looking over Coran's shoulder, watching him as he tracked the progression of the lions and their COM transmissions.  They both watched as Pidge and Hunk began to carry out Keith's plan of action . . . as both Green Lion
and Yellow Lion veered off course, leaving Black Lion all alone.

"I don't like this, Coran." Allura vocalized her thoughts to her Advisor. "He's taking a big risk."

"He knows what he is doing, Allura."
Coran reassured.

"Does he?" Allura replied back softly.
"Does he, really?"

Coran looked over his shoulder toward her.
"He feels this is the best course of action."

"I don't agree," Allura replied. "And frankly . . .
I'm surprised that Keith would take this kind of a risk."

"Desperate times call for desperate measures." Coran said to her. "We have few options available, Princess. Our planet is war-torn. Our citizens' lives have been devastated and we do not have all the parts of Voltron operational. Without a pilot for the Red Lion . . . Voltron is useless and Arus . . . unprotected.  Keith feels, in light of these circumstances, it is imperative for us to take whatever steps are necessary, to bring Lance back to us."

"Certainly casting your hopes on a untested cloaking device is not one of the ways I would proceed." Allura said. "And now, with Doom and G'Donar ships, hot on his trail, if this doesn't work . . . Hunk and Pidge--"

"Are ready for action." Coran said, deliberately finishing her sentence. "They are prepared and know the risks involved. And so does Keith."

Allura said nothing more.

Coran turned back to the control panel.

Allura watched the monitor that focused in on Black Lion. Her stomach became instantly in knots. What if something did go wrong? Would Hunk and Pidge get back to Keith in time?

"Keith . . . Please . . . be careful."
she thought to him.

An instant later . . . much to her
surprise . . . an unexpected response . . .



"I will . . .  just hold things together
while I'm gone." was his voice's
reply within her.



Allura smiled, while nervously intertwining her fingers together.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Keith opened his eyes, now concentrating on his task . . . forcing himself to temporarily forget about the woman he loved . . . that he was leaving behind.  He reached up his hand and gently touched the medallion that she had given him.  Then he dropped his hand once
again.

"Keith . . .  you've got company knocking at your back door!" Pidge advised through the COM.

"Whatever you're gonna do . . . better do it quick!" Hunk shouted.

Keith nodded is head and stretched out his hand toward the button that would activate the cloaking device.

"Okay . . . hang onto our hats, guys." Keith said. "Here we go!"

Keith deactivated his outgoing COM link and then, pressed the button . . .

And then . . .  held his breath . . .

Suddenly, a surge of intense energy began to radiate around Black Lion's exterior.  On the inside, Keith's head began to fog up . . . feeling woozy instantly.

"Whoa!" Keith mumbled to himself. "This is some ride!"

He could feel his head bobbling back and forth . . . and his eyes began to roll backward. But he forced himself to stay with it, reassuring himself that the feeling would pass quickly.

And it did.

Now was time to test out Pidge's theory.  Halting Black Lion in mid air . . .  he waited to hear what his team would say and more importantly...how the Doom and G'Donar ships would react.

Keith was now hearing COM chatter between the lions and the Castle . . .



"He's gone! Confirm . . .  Castle Control . . . are you getting any readings on Black Lion? Over . . . " Pidge's voice asked.

"Castle Control to Green Lion." Coran's voice boomed. "That is a negative.  No confirmed readings on Black Lion's position. Do you read?"

"Read and acknowledged.  It appears that the device is working like a charm!" Pidge replied back.

Keith smiled. Now . . . the real test. He moved Black Lion forward and to the left of his previous position.

"Okay . . . lets play a little game of 'now you see me, now you don't' . . . and let's see if you guys can see me or not." Keith said to himself of the approaching Doom ships and G'Donar fighters.

Black Lion hovered in space . . . and the Doom and G'Donar ships rapidly converged on his position . . .

But . . .


The Doom commander opened up a communication link to the rest of the ships under his command . . .

"Command One, calling all fighters. Sensor readings--"

After a long pause . . .

"Nothing sir." was one fighter pilot's reply.

One by one . . . the rest of the Doom ships replied in like fashion.

The Doom commander opened a link to the G'Donar and activated his universal translator. "Any sign of the alien lion ship?" he asked them.

In a garbbled language which was quickly translated into the Drule language...

"Negative readings on the alien craft."

"It couldn't have just...disappeared!" The Doom Commander shouted. "Find that ship! Immediately!"



The ships swarmed and moved in a circle, combing the area where Black Lion had once stood . . . but had since moved away from.

From a safer distance, sat Keith in the Black Lion . . . content that the device was working properly, and now, anticipating being able to use this in combat as well as defense.

"Okay . . . " he breathed a sigh of relief. "On to Pollux."

Keith turned Black Lion around and monitored the activity of the Doom and G'Donar ships, as his lion ship moved away at Mach one.  They appeared to not even notice his  presence . . . in any fashion.

Which suited Keith just fine.



And on Planet Arus . . .

Allura too, breathed a sigh of relief, to see that Doom and the G'Donar apparently had not found Keith as of yet. She closed her eyes . . .

"Keith. . . . are you there?"


"Right here, Princess." Keith voice echoed in her mind.


She smiled to herself. "Where are you?"


"Moving away from the enemy . . . undetected.  Looks like Pidge's invention works." he thought to her.


"Yes . . . it appears so . . .  thankfully."


"Feel better now?" Keith asks her.


"Much." Allura thought back.


"Good. Now, I'm on my way to Pollux now.  I'll talk to you soon.  Just remember to take care of yourself.  Don't take any unnecessary risks.  I don't want to find your life in jeopardy again when I return this time, understand?"


"Oh Keith!" Allura thought. "What's a leader if she isn't willing to take a few risks now and then?"


"Don't play with me, Allura!" Keith thought in return, now suddenly in an agitated voice. "You remember . . . you're not just a leader . . . your the ruler of Planet Arus.  You can't afford to take too many risks!"


"Just remember . . . the image you portray stares back at you, Commander." Allura replied playfully.


"Look . . . just do what I ask." Keith replied back. "Okay? Never mind trying to mince my words for me."


Allura's mind silenced for a moment, and soon, Keith began to wonder if she was still there....

"Allura?"


"I'm here." she replied in thought.  "I'll make you a deal.  You take care of yourself and I'll do the same here."


"It's a deal." Keith thought back to her.


"Fine." she smiled to herself.  "I'll see you soon. Say, 'hi' to my cousins for me."


"Will do. Signing off...."


"I love you!" she thought quickly....



After a momentary pause...

"I love you too, Allura."



Black Lion zoomed through space, under the protective covering of the cloaking chip...

Next stop... Planet Pollux.