"Happy Birthday, Keith."

Story by Adele
Story Copyright 2002
A story based on the series, "Voltron, The Third Dimension"

The characters of Voltron are the property of World Event Productions.  All other characters are the copyright of Adele.  Please do not use them without asking for permission.  Thank you.


Chapter 19
Ultimatum to Arus

Lotor calmly sipped at his wine as he sat patiently on his command chair of his space cruiser. With only minutes away from Arusian airspace, he puffed up with pride at the thought that Allura would soon be forced to become his bride at long last.

And this time...she would have no choice.

Anticipating that his beautiful spy would turn against him, Lotor had paid a visit to Planet Neeve ahead of the Voltron Force, and destroyed the last of the Parma trees... the trees who's bark held the only cure for Keith's ailment.

However, he retained a small quantity of the precious bark...a bargaining chip to use against the stubborn Arusian Princess.  If she dared to refuse to be his bride, he would destroy the remaining bark, sentencing the Voltron Commander to certain death.

He took another long draw of wine from his wineglass...happily pondering the thought.  He should let Keith die anyway.  But, he decided it would be greater revenge to allow the Voltron Commander to live...and know that Allura would be out of his reach for all time.

"Sire," one of his robot pilots announced.

"Yes...what is it?" Lotor replied smugly.

"Approaching Arus, Sire."

"Good.  Are we in range for communications to the Castle of Lions yet?" Lotor asked.

"Yes, Sire." The robot replied.

"Excellent!  Open a frequency and summon Princess Allura of Planet Arus.  Tell her I wish to speak to her about an offer she simply can't refuse."

"At once, Sire."

Lotor settled back into his chair...with a sinister smile hovering on his face. "Very soon, Allura...you will be my bride.  And this time... Voltron can't help you!   Not when Green and Red Lions are missing in action!"

Allura was sitting next to Keith's bed, attempting to cool his forehead with a cold washcloth.  It was then that a Castle guard entered the infirmary. "Your Majesty, please forgive the intrusion."

Allura quickly looked over to where he was standing.  Keith opened his eyes slightly, their aching making it too difficult to see clearly... but he could hear.

"What's wrong?" Allura asked, noticing the look of fear on the man's face.

"Minister Coran sent me to find you.  Prince Lotor of Plant Doom has entered our airspace with several of his fighter ships.  He is demanding to speak to you, immediately.  He says he has something you need to hear." The guard replied.

"The only thing I need to hear from him on, is that he vows to leave me alone." Allura said quietly.

"He's right on time, Allura..." Keith mumbled, weakly reaching up and grabbing onto Allura's arm. "He was just wanting for this moment.  Red and Green Lions gone... me out of  commission ...maybe permanently..."

"Stop saying that!" she shouted. "You must concentrate on getting better!"

"Allura...be realistic..." he replied.

"I am being realistic!" she shouted again at him. "You are not going to die!  Do you hear me? As your Princess...I'm ordering you to not give up on yourself!"

Keith smiled weakly. "I'll try my best, Princess..."

Allura smiled back as she reached down and gently brushed his forehead with her fingertips. "I'll be back.  I must go and deal with Lotor."

"Don't do anything hasty." He warned. "He's not here...to...to pay a social call.  He's after you."

"I'll take care of Lotor.  You rest." She said, a half smile on her face.

Allura rose to her feet and followed the guard out the infirmary door.

Coran, Sven, Hunk, Princess Romelle and Prince Bandor were all in the Control Room when Allura walked in.

Bandor quickly ran up to her. "You've got to recall Green and Red Lions!  You can't face off with Lotor with only three lions!"

"We're going to haft to, Bandor." Sven replied. "We've got no choice."

Allura walked up to Coran.  He looked up at her. "He's on stand by, Princess.  He keeps saying that this is a call you simply must take.  He claims he has something very important to talk to you about."

"I hardly think that he could ever have anything that important for me to hear.  But...I'll take the call nevertheless.  Screen on, Coran."

At once, Princess" Coran replied, activating the ultra wave.

Lotor's image appeared
on the view screen. His half
metal face gleaming almost
as brightly as his sinister smile.

"Good afternoon, my dear
Princess Allura!" Lotor said, full of charm.

"Cease with the theatrics, Lotor."
Allura replied dryly. "What is it
that you want to talk to me about?"

"Our future...the future of Planet Arus...
once it comes under my
protective hand." Lotor replied.

"You mean when you enslave my people!"
She snorted. "If this was what you have called to talk about, I'm afraid you're wasting my time and yours."

"Actually...I called to find out how Commander Keith was hold out.  I've heard a rumor that he was very sick...near death, perhaps?" Lotor said, oozing with false concern.

"Commander Keith's condition is not up for discussion, Lotor." Allura huffed back. "I'm terminating the link..."

"Uh-uh, Princess! Wait just a moment!  I have something else to share with you..." Lotor mused.  He then held up a small transparent bag, containing what appeared to be purple colored bark. "You see, Allura I obviously know what Keith's illness is.  After all, I helped to
create it!  And I am the only one with the cure for it."

"That's not true, Lotor!" Hunk barked out loud. "Lance and Pidge are already on Neeve getting what we need!"

"Well then...I'm afraid that they're wasting their time, and a lot of lion energy, to go all that way...to find nothing!" Lotor smiled.

"What do you mean?" Allura said cautiously. "To find nothing?"

"Well, as I stated...I, of course, know what's killing Keith...and I also know what will save him too." Lotor said, waving the bag back and forth gently.  "Contained in the bag that I'm holding, are the only remains of the Parma Trees.  All of them have beenoh, shall we say... exterminated from existence!"

"WHAT?" Allura shouted. " ARE YOU INSANE?"

"But of course!  I'm insanely in love with you, Allura!  And I'll stop at nothing to win over your affections." Lotor said, another ghastly smile creeping across his face. "Now, here's my offer. You agree to be my bride, and turn over Planet Arus to me...and I'll save your precious Commander's life, by giving you what's in the bag."

"And if she refuses?" Sven barked.

"Then I'll destroy the tree bark here and now...and you can start planning Keith's funeral! He'll be dead in a day or two!" Lotor hissed. "The choice is up to you, Allura.  Accept my offer, and Keith lives.  Spurn me, and he dies!  You alone control his destiny, Princess."

"How can you leave me such a choice?" Allura shouted at the screen's image. "You're definition of choice leaves much to be desired!"

"True... perhaps, 'compromise' would have been a better term to use." Lotor hissed. "If you give yourself over to me immediately, then I'll in turn, hand over the lifesaving bark.  But I won't stand for tricks, Princess.  You'll do it on my terms...or the deal's off!  And if that happens, make certain you say good bye to Keith for me!"

"I need some time to consider your offer..." Allura said, stalling for time.

"I'll give you one hour, Princess, but no more!" Lotor granted. "If I don't hear back from you in precisely one hour, I'll assume you have rejected my kind offer, and I'll destroy the Parma bark!"

"How can we be sure you're not lying about having the only bark left?" Hunk shouted.

"Well, if you don't believe me...call Red and Green Lions.  I'm sure by now, they've landed and found the trees all destroyed." Lotor suggested.

"I mean...how do we know that that's Parma bark in the bag?" Hunk shouted again.

Lotor chuckled. "Well, my chunky friend, I guess you'll just have to take my word for it!  But in truth, can you really afford not to trust me?  After all...if I'm not lying...and you turn me down... then Keith dies.   It's as simple as that.   But...I'll leave the decision up to you, Allura. And remember...I expect you to contact me in one hour... or else...bye-bye bark, and bye-bye Commander Keith!"

The ultra wave signal terminated abruptly, leaving silence in the Control Room.  Allura took one look at Coran.  He had a panicked expression on his face.

"Princess," he said softly. "You can not possibly be thinking of..."

"What other choice is there?" she hollered. "I can't just stand here and let Keith die, now can I?"

"But Princess...you know Keith would never..." Hunk said, before Allura cut him off too.

"Hunk...Keith is not making this decision!  I am!" Allura replied.

Romelle stepped forward. "You can't turn Arus over for one person!"

"Romelle...you would do the same if it were Sven dying!  You know you would!" Allura countered her cousin's defense.  Romelle quickly backed downnodding her head.

"Be reasonable, Princess!" Coran said. "You do not even know if his story is true!"

"Then raise Lance on the ultra wave, immediately!" Allura demanded.  "Let's just find out what they've found."

"At once, Your Majesty!" Coran replied, instantly turning the command chair around to open the COM.