"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 21
Reality In a Dream World

It was now later in the evening and Keith was sitting at his desk, complying data for Coran and the Princess on the team's performance ratings during the last attack by the G'Donar. As the Voltron Commander examined the statistics on target hits and misses verses damage sustained by the robot lions during the last raid, it became frighteningly apparent just how outnumbered Hunk, Pidge and Allura were.

Seventy-two G'Donar ships had approached the Castle...seventy-two...against three robot lions ship.

Keith dropped his hands from the computer keyboard...and just stared, mindlessly, at the computer screen. If he hadn't had the cloaking device in the Black Lion...if he hadn't gotten there when he did...if they had captured the Princess and the Blue Lion...

"This was just too close of a call." Keith mumbled…his mind still fixed on the facts.

A quiet knock came to the door of Keith's quarters, bringing a quick end to his mindlessness. He slowly rose to his feet and walked to the door. Releasing the security lock, the door quickly slid open...revealing Pidge on the other side of it.

Keith looked at him, puzzled. "Pidge? It's late! What brings you here?"

Pidge's stare was tense. "Can...can I talk to you for a minute?"

"Right now?" Keith asked him. "I'm in the middle of writing a report on our recent attack from the G'Donar..."

"That's exactly what I want to talk about, Keith." Pidge said.

"You do?" Keith replied…somewhat caught off guard. "What about?"

"The Princess." Pidge said quietly.

"What about the Princess, Pidge?" Keith asked.

Pidge's head turned back and forth... looking on both sides of the corridor. "Not out here. She might hear."

"Is it something that maybe, she should be hearing?" Keith asked, crossing his arms over his chest. "I mean...if it's regarding her performance..."

"No...I mean...yeah...well...kind of." Pidge replied back, now, appearing confused.

"Okay...come on in and we can talk about it." Keith said, now stepping aside to let Pidge come into his quarters.

The teen genius walked passed Keith, as the door closed behind him. Keith then walked behind Pidge, "Have a seat on the couch."

Pidge sat down quietly and looked at the coffee table. Keith took a seat in the cushioned chair, across from where the Green Lion pilot was seated.

"Okay Pidge...let's have it." Keith said. "What exactly about the Princess did you want to talk about?"

"I...I just wanted you to know...from a pilot's point of view... that if you're going to blame her for us being in the position we were in...well...go easy on her." Pidge said.

Keith was again caught off guard. "Pidge...I'm not blaming anyone for anything..."

"Keith... Allura...well...she did do her best to lead...but if it hadn't been for you showing up when you did...we'd have all been done for!" Pidge suddenly added. "She really did do her best! She led like a trooper! But, it wasn't good enough! Those guys were tough!  I mean, really tough! We couldn't win, Keith! And, as good as she was, Allura's no commander.  Not like you! But...she...uh..."

"But...she...what?" Keith said quietly, eyeing Pidge up. "Go on...speak your mind."

"Well...it was a no win situation...and we
were toast out there!  And....uh..."
Pidge started to say.

"You said that already." Keith reminded him.

"Yeah...well...uh...she's...she's a Princess...
and...well...she's more important on the
ground than in the air! I mean...that's where
she should lead!" Pidge said, suddenly
aggravated. "I just think that you should
take that into consideration when you
reprimand her!"


"You just said a moment ago that you guys were in a no-win situation. In one breath, you're covering for her. In another... you're blaming her." Keith said, sternly.

"She did do a good job...but...uh...well... she could have done better. That's...that's all." Pidge added, avoiding Keith's intense glare.

"I see. Well, Pidge...for the record...I had no intentions of placing blame on any one of you three. You guys did your best. That's all I've ever expected out of you." Keith replied back, crossing his legs, one over the other, while crossing his arms over his chest. "But...this is more than finding out whose getting chewed out...isn't it?"

Pidge paused for a minute...then sighed. "Uh...well...kind of...I guess..."

Keith shot Pidge a quick smirking grin. "I thought so. So, spill it, Pidge. What did you really come here for?"

"I'm concerned for the Princess, Keith!" Pidge blurted out suddenly. "She almost got caught this time! We were cut off from her...down on energy...and out of options! Geez...if you didn't show up when you did, she'd be with Lotor right now!"

"I realize that." Keith said calmly. "So...you came here under the guise of trying to get her into trouble, hoping I would ground her...is that it?"

"Something like that, I...I guess." Pidge replied with his head, now, looking downward.

"Pidge...I'm surprised at you! What made you decide to try and pull something like this?" Keith said with a stern stare. "Why, if Allura heard this, do you know how hurt she'd be?"

"I know! But...I was doing it for her own good! She should be on the ground, Keith!" Pidge cried.

"Do you want to tell her that?" Keith asked him.

"Well...I was...uh...I mean..."

"You were hoping I'd do it instead." Keith finished Pidge's thought.

"Well...you're the commander! And...well...she's knows the G'Donar are working for Lotor! And we all know Lotor has nothing but Allura on his mind! All she has to do is make once false move, or for us not to be there to save her...just once…and...."

"Pidge...wait a minute!" Keith suddenly blurted out loud. "Let's review a few facts for a second. She's an A-rated combat pilot. She's able to make capable decisions...she's more than capable of defending herself in hand-to-hand combat. I can't just tell her that she's grounded...and for no good reason! And as far as for her place being on the ground, that's a decision for her to make...not me! I will only ground one of you guys if you continuously demonstrate to me an inability to concentrate while in battle and then, become a detriment to the entire team. Do you see any of that in her position as Blue Lion pilot?"

"No...I guess not...and...I um...I didn't mean all that stuff I said earlier. She's a great leader. Not as good as you...but she's pretty darn close!" Pidge replied.

Keith smiled and let out a chuckle. "I appreciate the vote of confidence. But...if she's that good...then why all the pretending that she's not?"

Pidge sighed and said, "I...I was just trying to get you to ground her. I don't want to see her get hurt...do you? I mean...wouldn't YOU feel better if she were safe here in the Castle?" Pidge exclaimed.

"Define: 'safe', Pidge." Keith replied quietly. "None of us is safe, so long as Lotor's around. She could be in Blue Lion...or in the Castle...or in an underground cavern. It wouldn't matter. If Lotor's determined to find her...he'll do whatever he needs to do to accomplish that. And of course I'd rather have her on the ground than in the air. But then again...I'd only worry about her on the ground too."

Pidge's head was lowered. Keith got up suddenly from his chair and walked over to where Pidge was sitting, taking a seat next to him.

"Pidge...listen to me. I understand how you feel. Believe me. But...she's a member of the team. She's earned that right. I think she's proven her capability to handle the position of Blue Lion pilot...don't you?" Keith said to him. "I wish she didn't fly either. Sometimes...it scares the life out of me. But, I also know she's an able pilot, skilled...trained...and combat tested. She'll be fine. Just make sure that your concern for her doesn't interfere with your own safety up there. Be concerned...watch out for each other...but don't get carried away to the point that you're putting your own life in danger."

Pidge nodded in silence and then looked up at Keith and said, "It would kill me if Lotor ever got a hold of her."

Keith sighed...as anger built within his eyes. "Me too, Pidge. Me too."

"Then...all the more reason why she should stay out of battle!" Pidge said back in a raised voice. "I mean...doesn't it just kill you to have to send her into battle?"

"As her commanding officer, I have to treat her, just like I treat one of you guys. I have to. It's a delicate scale I have to balance...everyday. Sure...wouldn't I just love to give her all the
easy tasks…...shield her from danger...of course I would! But...I can't. She's part of the Voltron Force. She's a member of the team. And as a member of the team, she's pledged to stand with us... in danger and in safety. She would give her life for any one of us...same as we would for her! And that's what we as a team are all about. We watch out for each other...keep each other in check."

"I know...I guess...it just scared me to see her almost captured like that...you know...that feeling of being absolutely helpless. That's what I felt like, Keith." Pidge replied. "I felt like...like I was trapped...as trapped as she was. I couldn't reach her... and she couldn't escape! I...I would have done anything to save her...even if it meant giving myself up to Lotor instead of her!"

"I know...I know." Keith replied back, laying his hand on Pidge's shoulder once again.

"Its got to be worse for you...I mean...you being in love with her and all." Pidge added.

Keith paused for a moment before answering, trying to temper his reply...but then, he said, "Between you and me...she's the most important thing in my life. And that's what makes it so hard sometimes. The thought of giving an order...one that might mean her life...or any one of you guys, for that matter...that scares me even more. Being a leader isn't all the glory it's cracked up to be. I make decisions that affect all you guys...and for that reason, I'm a
stickler when it comes to procedures. I know you guys think I'm a, 'stick in the mud', and you can call me that, if you want. But I'd rather do it by the book then lose any one of you guys, for not doing it that way."

Pidge nodded his head. "Well...you're all right in MY book, Commander."

"Thanks. You're okay too, Pidge." Keith smiled back. "Now...I've got a report to finish. And you'd better go and get some sleep. It might be short lived."

"Gottcha, chief." Pidge nodded again with a smile of his head.

"Come on...I see you out." Keith smiled, standing to his feet.

Pidge rose up as well, and both men walked to the exit of Keith's quarters. The door opened up and Pidge stepped out into the hallway.

"Goodnight, Keith." Pidge said with a smile.

"Night, Pidge." Keith replied back with a smile all of this own.

Pidge stepped away from the door and it slid closed once again. Keith activated the security lock...then... silently leaned up against the door, in quiet reflection of his words to Pidge.

She was the most important thing in his life. And come hell or high water...he would see to her safety.

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


The hour was late...and Keith had just finished transferring his report to Coran's computer files for his review in the morning.

Exhausted, Keith rose from his desk chair and went to the couch. He could have just gone off to bed, but he wanted to a few minutes to unwind first, before venturing off to sleep.

Intending on just resting his eyes...he suddenly found sleep overtaking him.


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


His mind began to drift... as though he was traveling down a winding tunnel. He suddenly came upon a green grassy field...and a voice... calling him from the distance.

Turning his head...his breath was stolen from him...as his eyes beheld the love of his life. Allura was running through the field of flowers in the grass...running toward him...dressed in her familiar pink gown. Allura continued to call for his attention as she ran... drawing ever closer to him.

He quickly turned...and began running toward her as well.

Keith's heart raced...as the two of them drew
closer and closer toward one another.
Then...they reached their hands out
toward one another...and clasping
hands together...they both suddenly
fell to the ground, rolling, one over
another, through the field of flowers.

When they had stopped rolling, Allura
was lying on top of Keith, looking deeply
into his eyes. Keith's heart was beating
wildly with excitement. It was still a
mystery to him how the love of this
woman could entrance him so.

Once again, he found himself held captive by her beckoning, deep blue eyes.

"I love you, Keith." Allura's voice cooed softly, as sweet and alluring as the gentle-blowing breeze, waffling through her blonde hair.

"I love you too, Allura." Keith replied back...his hand now reaching up and tenderly playing with her long locks of hair, dangling down before his face.

She smiled back at him. That bright and beautiful smile…the same smile that lit up his very world, each and every time he had seen it. The smile that so sweetly and tenderly took hold of his very being. Her smile...as bright as the shining moon and as deep and mysterious as the clear evening sky, glistening with all of the wonder of the universe...

"Kiss me, Keith." she murmured…her voice now sounding like a beautiful, melody of praise, applauding him for who he was to her.

Keith smiled…knowing she would have her way with a kiss. How was it, that the power of this woman's love could turn his strength into absolute weakness...was beyond his comprehension. He had never known such power...the power of love...until he met Allura. From the first
day he had seen her and knew who she was...his world has never been the same.

And never would be, again.

She leaned down toward him and Keith closed his eyes...now feeling her soft, inviting lips cover over his...as tender as the gentle breeze in the air and as sweet as the fragrant smell of the flowers that had surrounded them both.

The kiss was warm and sweet...

He wished it never would end…...

But...all good things must come to an end.

And when it had, and their lips parted, Keith slowly opened his eyes once again, to gaze at her warm, smiling face...

...But instead...he gasped suddenly with fright!

"Did you enjoy the kiss, Commander Keith?"

Audra was now on top of him instead of the Princess. She was dressed in Allura's pink gown.

With another deep gasp, Keith quickly pushed Audra off of him and scrambled to his feet.

"What...what kind of trick is this!" Keith cried out.

"Oh...come now, Keith," Audra said, with a hint of wicked pleasure in her voice. "Tell me that you didn't enjoy the thought of kissing Princess Allura...even though the Princess was really me...in her place!"

"Where...where's Allura?" Keith suddenly shouted, standing in a defensive posture. "Where is she? What have you done with her!  Answer me...witch!"

"She's right here!" Audra said, releasing an evil giggle.

Instantly...the field of flowers vanished, replaced by a cage that once again had surrounded Keith. The room around him was dark and cold. But a single beam of light illuminated the area just in front of him.

He rushed to the bars...instantly recognizing the figure in the distance...

"Princess? PRINCESS!" Keith cried out loud, suddenly.

Allura appeared to be bound between two pillars, her arms extended out on either side, while in a kneeling position on the floor. Her head was down. She was now dressed in her nightgown.

"Yes...it is your Princess!" Audra laughed again, drawing nearer to Allura. "At least it is...in spirit!"

"In spirit?" Keith said, now suddenly bewildered. "What do you mean?"

"I mean...just as you are here in spirit...so she is here in like manner." Audra replied. "But…I am in control of her!"

"Let her go!" Keith shouted. "Let her go...or so help me, I'll..."

"You will do, NOTHING!" Audra hissed back him, viciously.

"I'm not afraid of you, Audra!" Keith shouted back at her.

"Ah...I know that you have no fear of what I may do to you. But... what about what I will do to her!" Audra chuckled back.

Keith stared blankly...unable to reply...somehow, now afraid to reply.

Audra turned her head toward the bound Princess. She extended her hand before her, and suddenly, a large, thick wooded stick materialized in her hand. At the same moment, Allura's gown that Audra had been wearing, disappeared, and was now replaced by a long, black gown.

Without so much as a moment's hesitation, the evil sorceress instantly stepped forward and released a winding blow to Allura's right arm. The Princess immediately rose her head up into the air, and let out an agonizing holler that immediately sent chills racing through Keith's
entire body.

He quickly extended his arm out of the bars toward Allura...

"NO! AUDRA...STOP THIS!" Keith cried out loud.

Audra took another swing...this time, connecting with Allura's upper back, sending her head flying forward…and causing yet another hollowing scream of pain.

"I SAID...STOP!" Keith shouted yet again.

Audra, paying Keith no mind, let loose a series of blows to the Princess's right shoulder... arm...and once again...to her back, bringing her to tears...as she suddenly looked outward toward Keith.  Her sad blue eyes seemed to now call to him, where her voice, somehow, could not.

"LEAVE HER ALONE!" Keith shouted once again, tears coming to his eyes, as he now grabbed the bars before him, and using all of his strength, began thrashing about...tugging and pulling against the strength of the cage that held him helpless to protect Allura.

Audra suddenly reached her hand over and grabbed a handful of Allura's long hair. She grinned at the Princess...

"Pretty little Princess Allura," Audra said in a mocking fashion. "Your Highness...how are you enjoying your royal treatment?"

She quickly wrenched Allura's head backward, causing her to groan in pain. Then, she released Allura's hair from her grasped and stood back. Raising her hands above her head...and with a few spoken words in an unknown tongue, Audra's hands lit up with fire. Instantly, the fire circled in the air and then, quickly engulfed the helpless Princess of Arus.

Allura began thrashing about...screaming in utter,
horrific pain, as the flames surrounded and
punished her body...but...did not consume her body.
Merely...lingering with intense pain and anguish.

Keith slipped down along the bars of the cage...
his hand extended toward Allura.
"NO...no...Allura...ALLURA!" Keith screamed
with tears running down the sides of faces.

Audra's hideous, evil laugher suddenly filled the air,
mixing with Allura's agonizing screams...and Keith,
now on the floor of the cage, quickly covered his
ears with his hands…trying desperately to block
out the sound…





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



"NO...GOD...HELP ME!" Keith screamed, as he sat up, suddenly.

He quickly looked around in utter confusion...

He was back in his room...in his quarters...on the couch...just where he had been when he fell asleep. As he quickly looked over toward the window...he could now see sunlight...

It was morning...blessed morning. The dream...had concluded.

Dazed, Keith slowly rose to his feet and walked over to look at the time. It was six thirty-six...he was late to lion practice.

But that was the least of his worries...

Once again...a knock came to his door…and he quickly ran for it.  Carelessly falling up against the door, he hastily released the security lock and the door slid open...

There before him, as before…was Pidge.

"Pidge!" Keith said, seemingly gasping for air.

"Commander...are...are you okay?" Pidge asked Keith.

Keith took his hand and wiped the perspiration from his brow.  "I...I've had...better nights." Keith replied slowly.

"We thought we should check on you." Pidge replied back. "You're never late for practice...you or the Princess."

"The Princess? You mean, Allura?" Keith said quietly.

"There's only one princess in this Castle." Pidge chuckled back.

Keith's attention now peeked, ignoring Pidge's attempt at humor.  "Where is she, Pidge?"

"I don't know. I was going to her chambers next." Pidge replied. "She didn't make it to practice either."

"She...she didn't?" Keith said to Pidge…his face, now contorting.

"Nope...and I was about to..."

Before Pidge could finish the statement, Keith was bolting passed… pushing him aside to exit his room.

"KEITH!" Pidge shouted as Keith ran down the corridor.

Pidge began running after Keith.

Arriving at Allura's door, Keith calmly rang the door buzzer...but when there was no immediate answer...he began banging on the door... forcefully.

Pidge arrived right behind Keith, now puzzled by his friend and commander's sudden and irrational actions.

"What's wrong?" Pidge asked Keith.

"Where is she, Pidge?" Keith shouted suddenly, as his banging became fiercer.

"She's...in her room...I'm guessing?" Pidge said, somewhat hesitantly. Something was going on that he didn't understand. Keith was acting strange.

"Allura...Allura... answer the door! Please... Allura...Can you hear me?" Keith cried out.

Suddenly...the door slid open, revealing the Princess standing on the other side of it.  Her face was tired in appearance.

Keith stepped toward her. "Allura?" he asked her quietly. "Are...are you all right?"

"I...I think so...I'm not sure." The Princess replied back, slowly. "I...I feel a bit...woozy."

Keith moved his hands to her grab her upper arms... and instantly, she yelled out in pain, suddenly recoiling herself from his grasp.

"Princess?" Keith said quietly. "What's the matter?"

"Are you okay?" Pidge added his note of concern.

"My right arm...something's wrong…" Allura said, now wincing in pain.

Keith turned his head and closed his eyes...grimacing.

She reached her left arm over and lifted the sleeve of her nightgown up toward her shoulder. But, before she could get a good look at her arm...instantly, her legs gave way…and with a pain-staking gasp, as she fainted to the floor.

"PRINCESS!" Pidge shouted, suddenly.

Keith turned his head, just as Allura had gasped and dropped to the floor… "Allura!"

Instantly, the two men knelt to the ground, with Pidge raising his hand up, activating his wrist COM…

"This is Pidge! Medical emergency…at the Princess's chambers!  Hurry! We need medical assistance...stat!"

Keith reached his hand down and lifted the sleeve of her nightgown. His face instantly turned white...

Pidge looked down at it as well...and gasped, "Bruises? Whoa! Where'd she get those?"

Keith said nothing...

Now, a commotion was being heard, coming down the corridor. A medical team was arriving at Pidge's summons.

Keith looked at Pidge… "Go get Coran and Hunk and meet us in the infirmary."

"Gottcha, chief!" Pidge hollered, rising to his feet.

Keith yielded his place beside the Princess, giving way for the medical team to get at her. He watched them, as they carefully picked her up off of the floor. Dr. Gorma was among the medical team.

He walked up to Keith... "What happened, Commander?"

Keith just stared at them, slowly shaking his head, as they placed the Princess onto a gurney, preparing to wheel her away.

Gorma shook Keith's arm gently to gain his attention, and the Voltron Commander startled for a moment before turning his head to look at the inquiring, royal physician.

"She, uh... she fell. She's got some bruises on...on her arm."

"The cause?" Gorma asked Keith.

"I'm not sure if I understand...or even...believe..." Keith stammered.

Gorma was about to ask him again when the medical team summoned him for his attention. He turned his head and called to Keith...

"Commander...I'd like you to join us in the infirmary."

"Yeah...sure...I'm coming." Keith said slowly.

Gorma looked at Keith again, then, turned back to his team and instructed them to take the Princess to the infirmary immediately. The doctor than came along side of him and, taking him by the arm, the two men suddenly walked in silence behind the gurney.



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



Hunk and Coran were following Pidge into the outer waiting area, where Keith was already waiting. He rose to his feet to greet his friends.

"Commander! The Princess…what has happened?" Coran questioned Keith.

"I...I...uh..." Keith stammered.

"Come on, Keith!" Hunk cried out. "Out with it!"

"I...I wish I understood," Keith said quietly. "It's...uh...its all a blur..."

"What's a blur, Keith?" Pidge asked him.

"It...it was like a dream... a horrible dream. The hitting...I couldn't stop it...I...I couldn't..." Keith mumbled.

"Did...you...you didn't...hit..." Hunk began to suggest.

Keith immediately turned on Hunk like a wild animal, grabbing for his shirt collar. "Don't EVEN say it, Hunk! I would NEVER lay a hand on her…and you KNOW IT!"

"All right, all right! I was just trying to find out what happened!" Hunk shouted back, wrenching himself free from Keith's grip. "You just mumbled something about hitting her...what was I supposed to get out of that, huh?"

"Not me, you idiot! I can't even believe you would think of that!" Keith hollered in an annoyed tone of voice.

"Hey...watch who you're name calling, bud!" Hunk growled.

"Guys...now's not the time to fight! Allura's hurt...and we don't even when it happened...or by who...or even, how they got in the Castle, to begin with!" Pidge shouted at them both. "I think we could use to practice some problem-solving skills, instead of arguing with each other!"

Keith sighed...shaking his head, before looking back up to Hunk. "I'm...I'm sorry, big guy. That's was uncalled for, on my part."

Hunk smiled, patting his friend on the back. "Hey...I'm sorry for jumping to conclusions. I know you'd never hurt the Princess. I guess my big mouth got in the way of my brain, again."

Coran stepped forward to interrupt. "Pidge tells us that you were somewhat dazed when you answered your door this morning...confused and disoriented. Is this true?"

"Yeah...yeah...its true." Keith replied back.

"Then, you left Pidge to go to the Princess's room." Coran continued. "Did you believe something to be wrong with Princess Allura? Something that compelled you to go to her?"

"I had a horrific dream, Coran!" Keith said suddenly. "Something's going on around here! And...and I..."

"Then...someone DID attacked the Princess?" Hunk stepped up and said.

"I don't know!" Keith blurted out. "I don't know WHAT'S going on around here!"

"Calm down, Commander." Coran said to him.

"Calm down? CALM DOWN?!? Are you kidding me?" Keith shouted. "Allura's lying in there...unconscious...in pain fron an unprovoked attack...and you want me to CALM DOWN?!?!"

The door opened to the inner examination rooms. An attending physician stepped out into the waiting area. The team gathered around her quickly.

"I'm Doctor Saglebond. Dr. Gorma is in with the Princess. Her Royal Highness has regained consciousness and has been given something to ease the pain."

"Ease the pain?" Coran gasped suddenly. "What kind of pain? How much pain is the Princess in and from what source?"

"Yeah...give us the scoop!" Hunk asked.

"The Princess has suffered some form of physical attack. Her body has been severely bruised and beaten...apparently with some form of blunt object."

"A blunt object?" Coran repeated back in disbelief.

Keith's face went instantly white. "Oh...my gosh..."

"Keith?" Pidge asked him, seeing the sudden fear in his eyes.

"Can we see her?" Keith immediately said to the doctor.

"Yes...she is requesting to see you...all of you." Dr. Saglebond replied. "Please...follow me."

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

As they entered the examining room, they suddenly saw the Princess...sitting up in her bed, with cushioned pillows propping her in an upright position.

The team and Coran immediately approached the bed where she was laying in. Keith gently took her hand and caressed it.

"Are you okay?" he asked her, his voice filled with love and concern.

"I...I think so, Keith," Allura replied back, now bewildered.

"Can you tell me what happened to you?" Keith asked her.

"My arm was suddenly throbbing, just after I opened the door to my room ...and I can't explain why. Then...I felt this...incredible pain in my back...my neck...all over. The pain seemed to come from the inside, out. I don't know what happened after that."

"I saw bruises... bruises on your arm." Keith said to her. He then looked at Dr. Gorma. "Did you...did you find bruises...anywhere else?"

"Commander...I've thoroughly examined Princess Allura. She will recover just fine."

"That's not what I asked you!" Keith snarled at him. "I asked...if she had bruises anywhere else...besides her right arm?"

"Some." Gorma said in a sudden, quiet voice.

"Where?" Keith asked him, now becoming agitated. "Tell me...where!"

"Her back...but..."

"May I see?" Keith asked Allura, gesturing that he wanted to look at her neck from behind.

"Keith...I'm okay...really..."

"I want to see, Allura!" Keith suddenly said in a demanding tone of
voice.

"Why?" Allura asked.

"Please...let me see them!" Keith blurted out again.

Allura looked at Dr. Gorma and then, back to Keith. She nodded her okay and sat forward. Keith moved in behind her as Dr. Gorma loosened the ties of the infirmary gown that Allura now had on in place of her nightgown.

She then lifted her hair up.

Keith's jaw dropped open...staring at her open back. He quickly turned away, closing his eyes, while moving aside, making room for Pidge, who had now moved in to see.

Pidge suddenly gasped...

"Princess...your...your...uh..." Pidge began trying to say.

Hunk moved in toward Pidge, with Coran right behind him.

"Princess...you've...your neck and shoulders...and your back... especially on the right side...are black and blue!" Hunk gasped. "Who did this to you!"

"I wish I knew!" Allura shouted back, as she looked toward Keith. His head was down as he now stood off to the side. "I don't remember a thing about this!"

"Was it possible she was drugged?" Pidge asked Dr. Gorma.

"No...I find no trace of any substance in her blood." Gorma replied back.

"But...bruises? How? How could this have happened! In a maximum-security facility, such as this...how could anyone go unseen, while perpetrated such a vicious attack on our Princess? Keith...you mentioned that you had a dream. What dream were you referring to?" Coran questioned him, suddenly.

Before Keith could say anything…

Instantly...the Castle sirens began going off...

"Oh no!" Allura shouted suddenly.

"We're under attack again!" Coran shouted.

"Dr. Gorma....Release me! I've got to join my team..." Allura began to say

"You're staying right here in the infirmary!" Keith shouted at Allura. "Pidge, Hunk and I will handle this."

"I am not!" Allura cried out. "I'm coming too!"

"I'm ordering you to stay in the infirmary, Allura!" Keith shouted. "You're grounded...until we find out exactly what happened to you!"

"Keith!" Allura gasped. "You can't do that to me! You boys need me!"

"That's an order, Allura! Stay on the ground!" Keith shouted back. He then turned to Hunk and Pidge. "Come on, you two! We've got work
to do!"

Pidge suddenly stared blankly at his leader. Only last night...he was being lectured on accepting the fact that Allura was part of the team… and now...Keith seemed to be doing a one-eighty circle on that.

"I'm fine, Keith!" Allura shouted out loud.

"Something bad is going on...something that I don't have time to explain!" Keith shouted back. "So for now...you're confined to the Castle of Lions!"

"KEITH!" Allura shrieked angrily. "You need me out there!"

"Allura...please!" Keith shouted back. "Just...do this for me!"

"But...I..."

Keith turned to Hunk and Pidge. "Let's go, I said! What are you waiting for? Get to the lions!"

"But..." Pidge asked him suddenly. "You said last night..."

"Never mind what I said!" Keith shouted at him. "Stop wasting time! We're under attack! Get to your lion, Pidge! NOW!"

Keith turned and ran out of the infirmary, on a designated course toward Castle Control. Hunk paused...but then, followed behind Keith.

Pidge hesitated...looking at Allura. Then...he turned and exited the infirmary for the control room as well.

"Take care of her, Dr. Gorma!" Coran shouted, as he too, turned and exited the room...leaving Allura there...alone and confused.

But, as the klaxons blared their warning...and remembering Keith's order to stay behind...she determined that if she was needed during the course of battle...this would become one order she would have to disobey. 
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