"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.

Enjoy!


Chapter 21
For the Love of a Friend


She had Keith to thank for this...

Allura moved through the Castle like a cat on the prowl, ducking skillfully in and out of corridors and doorways.  She moved swiftly, using the stealth skills that Keith had taught her to use when she was attempting to cover up her tracks, or move silently, undetected,
anywhere she had to go.

Now was the time to use them...if ever there was a time.

She knew that Lance, Sven and the other members of the Voltron Force would never have allowed her to leave the Castle at such a critical time as this... with Lotor's attack fleet hovering only several hundred miles above the surface of Planet Arus.  But she was leaving
the Castle for a reason.

She had worked out a deal with Lotor...

Herself...in exchange for the badly needed Parma bark, that would save the life of her champion ...and her dearest friend.

Deeming it a necessary trade, she spoke to Lotor on a private channel from her chambers, arranging the transaction...



"I'm offering you myself, and in return, I expect the Parma bark...no tricks attached!" The proud Princess said firmly on her private line, linked directly to Lotor's ship. "Either we have an agreement...or we don't."

"My dear Allura," the evil Prince said, his smiling disposition could be heard in his voice through the COM. "I, of course, will not hesitate to hold up my end of the bargain.  How do you purpose we accomplish this feat, since it's obvious that you comrades don't know your intentions?  They aren't just going to let you waltz freely out of the Castle."

"I'll take care of that," she insisted crisply. "You just see to it that you deliver the Parma bark as agreed."

"Of course, my dear Princess." Lotor said slowly. "I promise to uphold my end of the bargain, and save that miserable twit's life."

"He's MORE of a man then you'll ever hope to be, Lotor!" she hissed angrily, obviously referring to Keith. "And I'll thank you to treat his name with respect when you are in my presence!"

"You seem to forget who is in control here, Allura." Lotor said, his voice now adding a tone of frustration. "May I remind you that without the Parma bark, your precious Voltron leader would be doomed!   I can simply destroy it at my leasure!"

"I hold some of those cards too, Lotor," Allura said sharply. "You have something that I want, and I have something you want.  I believe the Earth term for that is...stalemate."

Lotor groaned angrily at her through the COM.

"Princess...I grow tired of this game you are playing!  Meet me outside the confines of  your Castle's outer barrier shields, and I'll exchange the Parma bark for you.  Disappoint me...and I'll destroy any hope you have of saving Keith's life!  Do I make myself clear?"

"You do." She said, suddenly feeling the need to back down from him. "I'll make my way to where we agreed.  Have the Parma bark ready.  Princess Allura out."



And so...there she was...sneaking out of the Castle in an attempt to surrender herself over to Lotor, for Keith's sake...against his wishes and against her better judgement.

But she had little choice.

She couldn't bear to stand by and watch Keith, the strong young hero in her life, die right before her eyes.  He had saved her life more times then she could count.  Now it was her turn to save him.

She quickly dashed around the corner, and saw her chance to dash out the Castle doors. Once she had cleared them, she quickly made her way across the bridge over the Castle mote...the sleeping place of her beloved Blue Lion.

She paused in mid-step, suddenly realizing she may never see her Blue Lion...or any part of her beloved planet ever again once this day was done. 

She leaned over the railing and gazed down into the water that surrounded the Castle.  The water seemed somehow murky to her, as if to mourn her departure.

"I'll miss you, my friend," she whispered softly to the resting blue robot lion, hidden just beneath the waters of the mote. "I charge you and the other robot lions to protect Arus always.  I know I can count on you, Blue Lion."

Tears suddenly and quickly welled up and dropped like rain from her blue eyes.

She suddenly recalled the first day she had ever flown the Blue Lion, and all of the training that Keith and the other boys had provided to her.  A Royal Princess with no experience as a fighter pilot, who was placing herself then, in the greatest of jeopardy, for the sake of her
planet's freedom. And to protect the ones she loved so very much.

Once again, she found herself taking on that very roll...this time, to save the life of the man she loved more then her very own life.  

If only she had had the courage to tell him so...

The regret was painful to think about.  She would never have the chance to fall more in love with Keith, maybe even to marry...

Allura's hand quickly came up to her throat, covering it protectively.  She began to slowly look around at the beautiful world she had grown so fond of. Not just because she ruled here, but because she lived here. This was her home...and would be forever... no matter where she rested her head from here on in.

She paused momentarily, wondering if
she really was doing the right thing or not
by giving herself up.  

Allura's hand hovered toward her mouth,
as a small fragment of indecision entered
her mind.

She slowly turned her head upward and
gazed at the silent Black Lion, proudly
perched in a watchful position over Arus...
much like that of the brave pilot who flies him.

Keith too, proudly had taken his stand against
the forces of Doom on countless occasions,
in order to protect the Princess he vowed to
guard with his life.  The least she could do now
was to offer her life in exchange for his.  

It was in that moment, that she felt in her
heart that she was making the right choice...
the only choice she could.   And she prayed that Keith would someday come to understand why she chose to do so.

Allura hurriedly placed her thoughts behind her, as she quickly made her way across the remaining distance of the bridge to land.  Then, she moved quickly toward the outer reaches of the protective shields surrounding the Castle.

The Princess had now reached the emergency control box, and opened it, without a thought of what she was doing.

Once the power was disconnected, she would only have 20 seconds to move outside of the protective shield before it reactivated once again.  The move would not go without detection. Castle Control would surely receive a warning alarm that someone was tampering with the shields from emergency control box.

By then...it would be too late. She would be beyond the Castle's protective energies, and left to her demise at the hands of the monster she hated most in this universe.  But it would be worth it all to know that Keith would live to grow old.  And perhap...he would find another to love in her place.

She would be content to know he was safe, and had the chance to be happy someday. Nothing seemed more important to her then his happiness.  Which made the decision to abandon her planet and her friends a bit easier to swallow.  Without the love she harbored in her heart for Keith, she would have never found the courage to give up her life, as she knew it, for him.

She felt content in knowing that Keith, together with the other boys, would continue the fight to protect Arus...even in her absence.  And she was confident that Coran would handle the affairs of the kingdom on her behalf. He had been doing so for nearly all her life...since
her father had passed away.

"I'm waiting, Allura!" Lotor said, standing before her on the opposite side the energy barrier.

In his hand, he dangled the bag filled presumably with purple Parma bark.

"You must hurry, because I will not throw the bag behind the protective shields of your Castle, until you stand here before me!"

Allura startled at the sound of his voice.  She breathed shallowly in trembling fear of the half-man, half-cyborg being that stood before her.

Only the Castle's shields stood between her vision of heaven and hell.

"Stand away," she warned, as her hand flew to the box and activated the timer, momentarily disarming the shields around the Castle.  Allura quickly ran out to stand in front of Lotor.

He smiled, giving her the bag he held in his fleshy hand. "Here you are, my bride!" he said with a sinister smile. "And as promised...the bark in exchange for you!"

Allura, without further hesitation, quickly grabbed the bag from his possession and tossed it with all of her might behind the shields of the Castle.  Then, as quickly as they snapped off, the shields reactivated, once again resuming their protective stance around the Castle of Lions.

Lotor quickly grabbed Allura under her arm. "Now that we both have what we desired out of this transaction, I'm taking you to my ship, where we will return to Castle Doom...your new home." He said, a half-smile on his face.

As Prince Lotor signaled his ship above to scan them both aboard, the distant cry of people running toward them caught the attention of the downcast Princess.

Allura quickly turned her head around to catch a glimpse of Hunk and Sven...running out across the Castle grounds toward the edge of the protective barrier.

"NO PRINCESS!" Hunk shouted as he ran toward her and Lotor.

"RUN PRINCESS!" Sven also shouted. "GET OUT OF DERE, HURRY!"

The tears in her eyes began to cloud her last glimpse of her friends.

"Get the bag, quickly!" she cried as she pointed toward the ground
with her free hand. "There's Parma bark inside! Save Keith with it!"

"NO PRINCESS...RUN! YOU CAN'T TRUST HIM!" Hunk shouted again, nearly
to the where she stood outside of the barrier.

"Take care of Keith!   Ask him to
understand and not be angry with me!"
she shouted, her voice thick with tears.

"Scan us now!" Lotor shouted into his wrist COM.

Allura gasped, "Tell Keith...that.. I..."

Their images faded rapidly, leaving only her fragrance of perfume behind on the wings of the wind. Her sentence remained unfinished.

Sven and Hunk came to a screeching halt. 
Huffing and puffing, Hunk shook his head,
tilting it upward to the sky. "We're in trouble," he
breathed heavily from the long run.
"He's got her!  Now what?"

Sven reached down and picked up the bag
that was loaded with bark.

Bringing it to his face, he stared at it
briefly before saying another word.

"We do like she said," he replied.
"We see if it's really Parma...
den save Keit."

Hunk stared at his former teammate. "Have you lost your mind?" Hunk shouted. "She's gone!  She's been kidnapped!  We have to go after her now!"

Sven verbally attacked Hunk.

"SHE WILLINGLY GAVE HERSELF TO HIM!" he screamed.  Then, he relaxed, as he thought of what Keith's response would be, and the promise he was unable to keep, vowing to Keith that he wouldn't let the Princess give herself up to Lotor. "I'll tell Keit.  I havt to be da one who tells him." Sven added.

Hunk blinked angrily before turning to storm back to the Castle for his lion, leaving Sven behind to ponder what just happened.

Sven didn't want to be the one to tell Keith that she was gone.  He knew there was a bond deeper then words could say that lingered in his friend's heart for the young Arusian monarch. This was not going to be easy or him to say, or for Keith to hear.

Sven found himself admiring Allura's spirit, and her loyalty to those whom she loved.  She was nobler then anyone he had ever met in his life...even more so than his beloved Romelle... Allura's cousin.

His only hope now was that somehow, they could bring Allura back to Arus...before Lotor compromises her virtue.

"Keit's not going to like dis at all." Sven sighed softly, as he turned to run back to the Castle infirmary, and then to Blue Lion, for a desperate, almost certainly useless search for her.

The air stirred as he ran off, leaving behind the sweet fragrance that belonged to the Princess he hoped that he would see back on Arus soon.

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