"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 23
The Choice

"Hurry children!" Allura's voice boomed over the Blue Lion's external loud speaker. "Quickly...find shelter in the underground caves!"

The children began to swiftly file out of the metal jaws of the Blue Lion ship, and then, scurried away like frightened mice, the moment their feet touched the ground.

"Princess!  Get moving!"
Hunk's voice echoed in her ears.
"There's five or six of them…
heading right for you!"

"We can't let them reach the village!"
Allura shouted back. "I'll get them to
follow me."

"Whatever you're going to do...do it quick!
Here they come!" Hunk warned.

On her screens, Allura suddenly saw the
enemy ships...diving in fast
to her position.

"Move it, Allura!" Hunk shouted out.

Blue Lion reacted quickly, jumping into the air...narrowly missing a destructive round of laser blasts from the G'Donar ships, which were now swooping up back into the sky after her.

"They're hot on your tail, Princess!" Hunk cried out.

"I can see that!" she shouted back in a frustrated tone. "Can you give me any backup?"

"I'm pinned down here!" Hunk replied back. "I was hoping you'd do that for me!"

Blue Lion swung around, trying to get back to where Hunk was.  But now, several Doom ships joined up with the G'Donar fighters...all of them now attempting to isolate the Princess, once again.

"Watch it, Princess!" Hunk shouted the warning.  "They're singling you out!"

"I can't shake them, Hunk!" Allura hollered. "They're right on me!"

"Zigzag, Allura!" Hunk shouted into the COM. "Try to confuse them!"

"Hang on guys! Here comes the, 'Green burettes'!"

Green Lion was now screeching in on approach to Yellow Lion's location.

Yellow Lion was surrounded, being slammed by enemy fire. The shields were beginning to weaken.

"Pidge-o!" Hunk shouted.  "Help me out!  I'm getting pulverized by these guys!"

"On the way!" Pidge shouted. "Princess...you okay for now?"

"I can just barely outrun them, Pidge!" Allura replied back.

"Just hang on for a few more moments and we'll come and take care of those guys!" Pidge said.

"We've got to hurry, Pidge!" Hunk shouted. "They're after Allura again!"

"Hunk, direct your fire to the left...I'll handle the rest of these goofballs!" Pidge instructed.

"Hurry boys!" Allura's voice shouted,
as G'Donar were beginning to close in on her.

"Read ya!" Pidge shouted as he turned
his attention back to the ships
around Hunk. "Okay you multi-arm
slim beasts... take this!"


Green Lion's mouth opened up and a hot blast of wind power blew forward with the force of a mighty tornado. The impact took out several ships in the area. Yellow Lion, meanwhile opened up its mouth and sand blasted several enemy ships right in front of it.  Then, tail lash lasers to the rear, destroying two more.

Green Lion came around and fired its laser cannon blasters, disintegrating six more, while at the same time, Yellow Lion's side head panels opened up, revealing more laser gun cannons. Hunk immediately let loose everything in his arsenal...adding his firepower to Pidge's efforts. The combined force of power sent the remaining ships into retreat.

Yellow Lion flew up and joined Green Lion.

"There she is!" Hunk shouted. "She's in trouble!"

"Princess! Head back toward the Castle! Keith's monitoring our transmissions! He can help us take out some of these guys!" Pidge shouted.

"Turning..." Allura acknowledged.

Blue Lion came back around, with the G'Donar ships right behind her.  Green Lion and Yellow Lion remained in pursuit behind the G'Donar, picking off the tail enders of the pack.

"Keith!  Keith...this is Pidge... we're coming your way...and we're bringing guests that would just LOVE to meet you!"

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

The Castle was under heavy alien attack. The balcony and wall mounted cannons were firing vigorously at the enemy. Black Lion was flying around, in an invisible state, destroying ships left and right, leaving a trail of destruction.

Keith heard the call from Pidge...

The Princess was in trouble...the G'Donar were after her lion...and the three of them were on their way back to the Castle.

He was angry, not just with the G'Donar and with Doom, but with Allura as well.  She had directly disobeyed his order to say in the Castle. She was hurt...she had no business coming into battle...none whatsoever. Now, just as he knew it would happen, the G'Donar were
after her...trying to capture her again. And...there was the mysterious business surrounding her injury to begin with.

Was the dream so real...that Audra actually inflicted physical harm on Allura? Or...could he have been manipulated in his sleep, to go over to her room and do that to her? He had many questions... and no time for answers to them.

While he was milling this over in his mind, one lone G'Donar ship was hovering nearby...taking in the destruction pattern being laid down... and watching very carefully for any opportunity to strike.

The Black Lion sensors began going off.  Keith looked at his monitors...

"Here they come!" he said out loud.

Blue Lion was streaking in from the north, with about twenty G'Donar fighters right behind her...now firing at the retreating lion.  Green and Yellow lions were right behind the G'Donar...taking pop shots, but doing very little damage to the main pack.

Keith moved Black Lion into position...just to the left of the approaching group of ships.

"Time to clean house!" Keith said with gritted teeth. "Main battery laser cannons...FIRE!"

The lasers flew out from seemingly no where...slicing right through the group of enemy ships...scattering them instantly. They began to take on a swarming defensive, attempting to gain their bearings and find the Blue Lion once again.

"These guys don't know when to quit!" Hunk shouted angrily, releasing several more rounds of fire power into the gathering crowd.

Blue Lion swung around and opened fire on two ships that had continued to pursue it. They were destroyed instantly. But three more were coming in from underneath it.

Hunk saw them…and reacted quickly...and recklessly.

"LOOK OUT PRINCESS!" he screamed, as he quickly moved his lion in to act as a shield for her.

The G'Donar opened fire on the already weakened Yellow Lion, now directly in the path of the Blue Lion...scoring a direct hit through the shields. The lion faltered...then,,,spun down out of control to the ground in front of the Castle.

"HUNK!" Allura screamed.

Keith shouted as well...but could do nothing to help his friend...only watch, as Yellow Lion crashed to the ground. He retaliated…quickly...blasting several Doom ships that were in front of the Castle. The destruction path was now patterned, as Black Lion took out the ships that were lined up...taking them out one by one in turn.

That was the pattern that the lone G'Donar ship was waiting to see.  Sending a signal to its brother ships, the G'Donar suddenly swarmed the area where the Black Lion was suspected to be...and opened fire.

Keith was caught off guard...

"No!" he shouted, trying to maneuver away, but found himself now surrounded.

No point in maintaining COM silence now…

"Guys! Take out the rest of the ships!"

"Keith!" Allura shouted. "We're coming!"

"Forget about me! Save the Castle!" Keith replied back.

Power was suddenly disrupted…and the cloaking device deactivated...revealing Black Lion to everyone's sight. It was effectively surrounded.

"How did they find him?" Allura began to question.

"They must have piggybacked his signal from before and just followed the destruction path." Pidge shouted back "Keith didn't vary his attacks enough and made himself a target instead!"

"LOOK!" Allura cried out. "BLACK LION!"

Black Lion took another powerful hit from the combined power of three G'Donar ships. Their shield draining lasers shorted out the energy from the Black Lion.

Inside the cockpit, Keith was
suddenly paralyzed by static
shock, and now, screaming in pain.

Black Lion immediately began to
nosedive into the lake.

"NO!" Allura screamed. "KEITH!"

"PULL UP!" Pidge shouted.

Black Lion splashed into the lake...without a single reply from Keith. The splash was large enough that the powerful waves washed up to shore with a brutal force.

"Hunk and Keith are down!" Allura said suddenly. "What are we going to do?"

"Hit them hard and hit them fast!" Pidge shouted back.

"Firing lasers!" Allura said suddenly.

"We're outnumbered, Allura!" Pidge shouted. "We'll never be able to...huh? Hey... wha... what's going on?"

"Am I seeing what I think I'm seeing?" Allura said slowly. She then quickly opened up link to the Castle of Lions. "Coran...can you confirm what we're seeing?"

"I can, Princess." Coran said back in the COM. "They appear to be retreating."

"Retreating?" Pidge gasped. "What the heck kind of strategy is that?"

"Not a very good one," Allura surmised. "Especially when they all but had us, right where they wanted us."

"What's Lotor up to now?" Pidge growled.

"Who cares!  We've got to take advantage of this, while we can!  Coran...send out a medical detail to the Yellow Lion crash site.  Pidge, get down there and see to Hunk's injuries. Do whatever you can for him until help arrives.  I'm going into the water to check on Keith.  Once I get the Black Lion to the surface again, I'll call for medical back up."

"I shall have a second medical team on standby, Princess." Coran replied. "We will await for your signal to come after Commander Keith."

"Let's just hope everyone's okay." Allura murmured. "Move out!"

"On it, Princess!" Pidge shouted, turning his Green Lion in the direction of the downed Yellow Lion.

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

Meanwhile, Keith had regained consciousness.  Slowly, his senses returned, and he quickly found that he had sustained no physical injury as a result of the crash.

Looking up, he saw that his control board was out. The only visual he had access to was the main view screen. He could see that he was on the bottom of the lakebed.

Fortunately, the lion's metal frame had not been compromised and it appeared he wasn't taking on any water.

The ultra wave and COM were still functional, however.

Suddenly...a message was being received. An ultra wave signal...

He quickly activated it...knowing it was either Allura or Pidge… coming in after him.

The image came in fuzzy...but as it slowly came into view...Keith once again, gasped, at the image now on his ultra wave link.

Audra was now on the screen before him.

"You see, Commander Keith," Audra said with a smile. "I do control reality from your dreams.  As I once said before...your dreams are as real as anything that is real in the real world. Laughter...joy... sorrow...and yes...even...death...can occur here…with a simple wave
of my hand."

"Are you threatening me with Allura's life?" Keith suddenly seethed in anger.

"How perceptive of you, young human."

"Leave her out of this!" Keith shouted back. "This is between you and me!"

"She is the upper hand that I hold against you, Keith Hunter.  Now you have seen a brief demonstration of my powers. So...know this... unless you surrender yourself to me, before your time clock strikes its last second of this day...at the stroke of midnight...I will kill the young, Arusian Princess...mercilessly."

"NO!" Keith shouted. "There's no way I'll let you do that!  Do you hear me, witch!  She'll be surrounded by guards...under maximum security!  I'll fight you myself, if I have to!  You won't even come within a mile of her!"

"Foolish human!  You have seen that I can inflict pain from a mere dream.  I told you that her spirit...and yours too...were bound in the dream that you saw.  I have the power to exact destruction on the living body...by merely severing the spirit from its host.  I need not be present in a room to accomplish that! I can kill with a mere thought!  If you fail to surrender to me...I will destroy Allura by severing her spirit from her body...and her body will die in the
nature world."

"NO!" Keith shouted.

"The choice is yours to make.  And you have until the stroke of midnight to decide what is most important to you...your freedom...or Allura's life.  If at the stroke of midnight, you have not contacted me with your answer of yes...Allura will die.  If you, however, surrender to me...she shall live."

"How do I know you'll keep your word and not harm her, after I've gone with you?"

"I've given you no word to keep."

"Then...what about Lotor?  As part of the deal...you keep Lotor away from her!"

"Do not exact demands against me, human!  I have a special attraction for you...but you shall not force your will over mine.  Our bargain is regarding you and I...only.  The Prince and I have...unfinished business...and when that concludes, he may do as he wishes."

"So...I'm supposed to be your personal slave?" Keith said to her. "Just...give myself up to you...no questions asked...and that's it, right?"

"You are clever for a human." Audra replied with a smile. "You'll enjoy being my servant. You will have riches beyond your wildest imaginations."

"Just so long as I obey you...is that it?" Keith snarled.

"Cross me, and you shall LONG for death!" Audra shouted suddenly, then...her voice calmed. "But...I will give you ample time to become acquainted with me."

"How acquainted?" Keith frowned.

Audra smiled, sinisterly. "We shall discuss that...later."

"If...I decide to agree with your deal...how can I reach you...before midnight?"

"Call my name.  I will hear you...and appear."

Keith stared into the ultra wave signal...

Audra smiled, as she suddenly began calling his name...

"Keith...Keith...are you there?"

Suddenly, Audra's voice changed to a more familiar voice, and the ultra wave image began to change shape as well...morphing into Allura's face, as she now called for his reply.

"Keith...Keith...please...answer me!  Are you all right?  Can you hear me, Keith?  Come in, please!"

The Voltron Commander's eyes were fixed on the ultra wave image before him…the face of the lovely young Princess.  Was it really Allura, calling for him? Or was it another one of Audra's cruel tricks, sent to haunt his mind?

Blue Lion came up along side of Black Lion. Activating the tractor beam, Allura's lion latched onto Black Lion…and began towing it back to the surface of the water.

"Just hold on, Keith!" Allura's voice echoed.  "If you can hear me... it'll be okay now! I'm here!"

It'll be okay now...

A far cry from the truth, indeed.

Keith quickly began to think... he had precious little time to prepare...

But...prepare...what?

He had some ideas...but nothing he wanted to share right now. His options were limited...and his time...short. Whatever he was thinking about...had to be executed quickly.  It was just after eight in the morning...and he had less than sixteen hours to formulate a plan of action...and to say goodbye to all of his friends...one very special one in particular...the one hardest to leave behind.

He continued to hear Allura's voice, calling for his reply. But...he just couldn't reply. Not right now, anyway. He would break down... and she would know something was wrong. He had to keep it together... he had to speak to Pidge...and quickly…before time ran out.

Before time ran out.