"Obligation"

A story based on. "Voltron, The Third Dimension"
Copyright 2002
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! 


Chapter 1
An Afternoon Delight

Planet Arus in the Azure Quadrant had enjoyed several weeks of an unusually peaceful atmosphere.  There were no evil forces anywhere in the vicinity to pose the threat of terror on the peaceful planet.

Princess Allura, taking advantage of the unusual quiet, set out to visit a nearby village.  She hastily crept off of the Castle grounds.

Allura knew that she would have not been allowed to leave the premise without an armed escort of the Castle Guard, or at the very least, someone from the Voltron Force.

She felt as if her Chief Magistrate, Coran Anderson, was too overprotective of her.

After all, she was 25-years old, and no longer a baby to be watched over.

She wanted to be free to leave the Castle and visit the people she loved so dearly.  She wanted to be close to her subjects, as her father, the late King Alfor, had once been.

As she reached the Royal Stables, she quickly ducked around corners with stealth-like quietness.  Opening one of the stalls, she suddenly found herself face to face with her favorite mare...Sweetheart.

Allura named the horse personally, after witnessing her birth a few years ago.  The first words she uttered upon seeing the young colt were:

"Oh...what a sweetheart you are!"


The name had stuck ever since that day.

Allura walked quietly up to the horse, petting the mare's head gently, and softly cooing in the horse's ear.

"Sweetheart... hello there!" she said, as she fed her a lump of sugar she had stolen from the Castle pantry.

The horse reacted calmly to the Princess's voice, nudging her arm to be petted.  Allura quickly accommodated the horse's desire.  She stroked the horse's full main, gently.

"I need your help, my friend," she said just above a whisper. "I need you to carry me to the village of Porter."

The horse bobbed her head up and down... as if to say that she understood the Princess's request.

Allura smiled.  "I knew I could count on you!" she giggled softly.

Allura quickly saddled up Sweetheart, and with smooth finesse, mounted the mare sidesaddle. It was easier to ride that way while wearing a formal gown.  She had no choice but to wear it, since it would have been nearly impossible to sneak out of the Castle dressed any other
way.

She guided the horse out of the stall, and outside of the stable.

As Allura rode away on Sweetheart, a shadowy figure appeared from his hiding place behind the hay pile...

Commander Keith Hunter had been at the stable, contemplating a ride of his own.  He had heard the noise of someone coming.

Seeing that it was the Princess, he quickly ducked behind the hay pile to curiously observe her movements.  And since it was quite apparent that she was quietly attempting to sneak away, he suddenly suspected that she hadn't notified Coran, or anyone else for that matter, that she was leaving the safety of the Castle.

He frowned as he watched her ride off.  "Allura..." he huffed disapprovingly.  "You know you should have an armed escort.  What are you trying to prove?"

Keith quickly opened up a channel on his personal COM from his wrist.  "Commander Keith to Castle Control. Come in Castle Control."

Suddenly Lance's voice responded.  "Hey there!" he cheerfully said.  "Enjoying your day off?"

"Enjoying my day off?" Keith grunted.  "I thought you guys were suppose to be watching things at the Castle today?"

"Well, what do you think I'm doing right now?  Playing chess?" Lance huffed back.  "The sky is clear, the airspace hasn't been violated..."

"And the Princess is gone!  Or did you forget about looking after her?" Keith interrupted abruptly.

Lance nearly fell off of his seat in Castle Control.  "What do you mean...gone?  Where did she go?"

"She's gone riding... without an escort!  You guys are supposed to be watching over her!  That was the agreement!  I take the day off, and you guys watch the Castle and guard the Princess!  How could you let her sneak off like that?" Keith scolded.

"Okay...okay!  I'll send Pidge to look for her!" Lance replied. "Happy now?"

Keith sighed aloud.  "Never mind, Lance.  I'll go after her.  I know where she's going."

"Where?" Lance asked.

"She's heading to the village of Porter." Keith said, as he turned to saddle up a horse.  "I'll bring her back."

"But Keith, one of us should go!  It's your day off!" Lance insisted. "You're supposed be relaxing... you know...not worrying about the Princess!"

"Yeah, well you guys sufficiently screwed that up for me!" he reprimanded.  "Besides, I can do with a little visiting to the village myself."

"Or, a bit of spending time with a beautiful Princess?  Eh, Keith?" Lance teased.  "Not that I can blame you!  Believe me, I'd love the pleasure of her on my arm...even for a minute or two!"

"Look, just keep your eyes to the sky and not on the Princess!  And try not to let something else get past you, today... okay?" Keith said, as he finished strapping the saddle on the horse.

"Okay, okay!" Lance chuckled.  "Have a nice time!  Oh, and say 'hi' to the Princess for me, 'Commander Jealousy'!"

"Keith out!" he growled, as he abruptly terminated communications.  Keith grabbed hold of the reigns and mounted the stead.

"Yee-ahhhh!" Keith shouted,
as he directed the horse to quickly
gallop out of the stall and out of the
stable.

As the horse galloped on, he could
suddenly see the Princess off in
the distance, gently riding Sweetheart
through a meadow filled with
flowers.

Keith slowed his horse down to a gentle trot.  He didn't want Allura to know she was being followed...at least, not just yet.

He had a point to prove to her...and she was making his case for him.

Keith was furious with her for not taking an escort.

"This is just the sort of opportunity Lotor would love to see her in!" He mumbled to himself. "He could easily snatch her in broad daylight!  What the heck was she thinking about in doing this?"

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

The Village of Porter was a 45-minute ride from the Castle.



The Princess arrived first, suddenly greeted by the hustle and bustle of the village.

She was proud of the people of Porter, who had struggled to rebuild their devastated village. It was once leveled to the ground by one of Zarkon's earlier raids, eight years ago.

Today, the village was booming in business... a favored tourist spot.

Allura rode to a nearby stable, and dismounted Sweetheart.  She handed the reigns to a young stable boy, who was now awe-struck that the Princess of Arus was visiting his village today. Allura smiled at the young boy and thanked him ahead of time for caring for Sweetheart.

She straightened her pink gown, and fluffed out the full-length skirt.

Then she leaned down to the young boy.  "Oh!  Please make sure she has water, alright?" Allura said sweetly.  "I'll be back in a few hours."

"Yes, Your Highness!" the boy replied gleefully.

Allura smiled at the boy once again, then looked at Sweetheart.

"Now, you mind your manners for this young lad," she said with a giggle.  "Or I'll hear of it!"

With a pat on the back, Allura turned away from Sweetheart, and walked out of the stable, heading down the street for some shopping and mingling with the village folk.

A few minutes after she had disappeared into the crowds of people, Keith rode into the village stable.  He saw the Princess's horse, being attended to by the young stable boy.

"Excuse me!" Keith called out.  "I'd like to check my horse in please."

The young boy quickly ran up to him, recognizing him immediately.

"Hey!" The boy resounded.  "You're Commander Keith Hunter of the Voltron Force!"

"You got it!" Keith said happily.  "And if you would be so kind as to tell me which direction the Princess went, I would be grateful."

The boy took hold of Keith's horse, and pointed his finger to the left.  "She went that way... into the village."

Keith rubbed the young boy's head, messing up his already unmanaged hair.

"Thanks a lot!  I'll see you later!" he said, trotting off to find Allura.

The boy smiled as he watched Keith leave.  Two celebrities in one day...!  This would make quite a story around his family's dinner table tonight!




Nearly a half-hour later, Allura had already been to two shops, collecting gifts for her friends back at the Castle.  She began to realize that she should have maybe picked up some sort of carrying tote for purchased items.  She was having a hard time holding everything in her hands.

Allura saw a gift shop full of books. She knew Keith's favorite hobby was reading.

"Perhaps I could find something in here for him." she thought as she walked in.

The shopkeeper quickly recognized the Princess, and rushed up to her side.

"Your Highness!  Welcome to my humble store!" he patronized.  "It is truly an honor to have you here!"

Allura smiled.  "Thank you!" she said.

"Perhaps, there is something of interest I can help you find?" he asked, straightening his apron out.

"Actually..." Allura began,  "I have a very close friend who loves to read.  Do you have a collection of Arusian fairy tale stories?"

The shopkeeper bubbled, "Oh, yes Your Highness!" he pointed.  "Right over here!  Follow me!"

He led the Princess over to a corner rack. "Here you are, Princess!  A collection of the finest Arusian tales... your friend will just love them!"

"Thank you very much!" she smiled back.  "I think I'm all set for now."

The shopkeeper bowed, "If you need anything else, simply call me!" And with that, the shopkeeper trotted off, back to the counter.

Allura scanned the rack carefully, looking for anything of interest.  Then she saw ità the perfect book for Keith.  It simply seemed to jump out at her.

She carefully placed her items down on a nearby ledge, and picked the book up. She regarded the book's title:


TRUE LOVE'S CALLING


Allura remembered her father reading the story to her many years ago.

It was a story about a young man who loved a woman with all his heart, but knew the young woman had another suitor pursuing her... someone the girl's father approved of.  The young woman didn't like the man her father had selected for her, but because tradition had it that
she marry by arrangement,she had no choice but to honor her father's wishes.

The story ended with the suitor giving up his right to the young woman, allowing her to marry the man of her choice.

Allura sighed as she recalled her conversation with her father at the time...


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

Young Princess Allura, age 8, was
sitting in the Castle reading room
with her father, King Alfor.  The King
had just finished reading the
story to his daughter.

"Father?" Allura asked, innocently,
while sitting comfortably on his lap.

"Yes, my daughter?" the King replied.

"I'm troubled, Father." Allura said in her
high-pitched voice. "Will I have to marry
someone I don't want to marry?"

"My child, why are you worried about such things?" the wise King said. "You will marry whoever you want to marry.  And you'll only marry when I say its time."

"But Father... what if I have to marry someone that I don't love?" she asked.  "What if I never find someone I like?"

"Allura, when he finds you, you will both know it." Alfor said.

"How?" she asked.

"Allura, my daughter, when love presents itself before you, you will know him.  Your heart will tell you right away.  Love is wondrous, and love is special.  When the right man comes along, you will know him."

"Does he have to be a prince?" she asked.  "Nanny always says I have to marry a prince! What if the man I fall in love with isn't a prince?  Then what, Father?"

"Whoever he is, he will be a prince... the prince of your heart.  My child, your mother and I had decided a long time ago, that if you fall in love with someone who is good to you, and treats you with respect as he should, then prince or no, he will be accepted in this family."

"Even if he's a peasant... like Nanny says?" Allura asked.

"Nanny ought not speak to you like that.  You must have respect and compassion for those who are less fortunate than you, Allura.  Remember, my daughter, you might not have been born into an under-privileged family.  No one should take pride in riches and fame.  These things are material things, and will not last.  You must not look down at the less fortunate. Remember that the future King of Arus may be of royal blood... and then again, he may not be.  It may turn out that he should be crowned King upon his marriage to you."

Then, King Alfor reached over and picked his daughter up and set her down onto his lap. "Allura, enough of this now.  You'll have plenty of time to look for the right man.  Right now, I want you to be content as my little girl!"

Allura snuggled closely to her father's chest.  "Yes, Father." she spoke with a whisper. "I love you...so very much!"

"And I love you too, my little princess!" The kindhearted King of Arus replied, holding his daughter to him, protectively.



"I love you...so very much...."



A tear came to the now, grown-up
Princess's eye, as she recalled
her father's tender advice, and
her deep love for him.

"Oh, Father," she sighed sadly.  "I wish you were here to advise me.  In these matters, matters of love, I'm so lost without your guidance.  I feel like I've met just the man you described to me so many years ago,but...I'm so unsure of myself.  My heart tells me it's
him...but...oh...I'm afraid he doesn't see me as anything less than a Princess."

Allura referred to the handsome young 'prince' that made his way into her life more than eight years ago.

She thought of Keith, and how perfectly he matched the description her father had laid out all those years ago.  It was as if Alfor knew that Keith would someday step into his daughter's life.

She smiled fondly, feeling a blush come over her all of a sudden, as she held the book dearly to her.

"Keith will love his book!" she thought, deciding in that moment that she simply had to get it for him.

Satisfied with her decision, Allura began to gather all of the gifts she had purchased, back into her arms.  Then she bent over to pick up the book.

But as she did, the other gifts she had been holding began to jostle around.  Suddenly, one came loose from her grasp.

As she turned, trying to catch it, she lost grip of the other things as well.  Everything spilled to the floor.  Frustrated, she grunted as she stooped down to pick everything up.

As she reached for one of the items, a hand reached for the same one at the same time.



"You know, Princess..." the familiar, yet irritated male voice began.



Allura looked up quickly... meeting Keith's gaze.

She gasped suddenly, "Keith!"

"You should get a bag or something
to carry these in," he said coolly. 
"You're only going to bobble
them around again, otherwise."

She stared at him as he began to
pick the items up from the floor.
Puzzled, she asked,  "What are
you doing here?"

Keith stopped what he was doing
and looked up at her.  "I was about to
ask the same thing of you, Princess."
He said sternly.  "How many times do
I have to tell you... leaving the Castle
unprotected is not a very wise idea!  What do you suppose you would have done, had Lotor
been the one surprising you here instead of me?"

Allura nervously bit her lower lip.  "I... I don't know." she said, stammering, without words to reply with.  "I guess... I would have called for help."

"You guess?" Keith raised his voice to her.  "Princess... you above all people should know what Lotor's capable of!  It wouldn't take much for him to overpower half the men in this village!  You have to be more careful... you know that!"

"I just wanted to spend a quiet afternoon out of the Castle!" she said defensively.  "I didn't mean to worry anyone!"

"Then why in the galaxy, didn't you ask someone to go with you?" Keith questioned.  "Any one of us would have been happy to accompany you!"

"Well, Lance was minding the Castle.  Pidge was off reading.  Hunk was off tinkering with the lions. And I hate being followed by the Castle Guards.  Just who was I suppose to ask?"

"ME!" he shouted, pointing to himself.  "I'd have gone with you...if you'd just asked me!"

"But Keith... today was your day off!  I didn't want to disturb you!" she shouted back.

"You already did that!  I had to trail after you!  Oh... that's right... you didn't know I was following you, did you?  And it's just that easy for Lotor to do the same!"

Allura rose to her feet suddenly.
"I didn't ask you to follow after
me, Commander!" she said angrily.
"I am perfectly capable of taking
care of myself, thank you!"

Keith rose up to his feet, squaring
off with her.  "Princess, like it
or not, I'm charged to protect you!
And if that means following
after you to make sure you're safe,
then that's what I'll do!"  He looked
her over for a moment. "You don't
even have a blaster on you for defense,
in case something happened, do you?"

"NO, I DON'T!" she screamed suddenly.
"I didn't think of it!  Satisfied?" Keith let
out a annoyed sounding breath of air as Allura
continued, "I know you hate it when I disappear without warning, but did it ever occur to you that I'm simply tired of being under lock and key all of the time?  How would you feel if you were in my place?"

"I'd certainly try not to do something that would endanger myself, or others in charge of protecting me." Keith said calmly.  "You place yourself in unnecessary danger, far too often, Princess!  Do you think I like tagging along, watching you make wrong choices...all in
the name of freedom?"

"If you hate, 'tagging' after me so much, then why not send Lance or Hunk, or even Pidge, out to do it?" Allura said in a snippy tone. "You needn't endanger yourself from my, so called, 'wrong choices', Keith!"

Keith shook his head and then turned and headed for the door.  He then suddenly stopped dead in his tracks.  "It's not like I hate looking after you, you know.  Did you ever stop to think how I'd feel if something happened to you?" he said, his voice suddenly lowered.

He then turned back around and looked at Allura.  She was staring at him, her mouth hanging open. 

He shot her a pained look. "You asked me to place myself in your shoes.  Now, take a moment and walk in mine.  Don't you understand that I would never forgive myself if
something happened to you, Allura?"

Allura stared blankly at him,
suddenly ashamed of herself
and her childish desire for solitude.
Keith was right...what would she have
done if Lotor had suddenly come
across her path?

Keith's head dropped suddenly.  "I know you're angry, Princess.  And I'm quite sure I wouldn't like the feeling of being followed all of the time, either.  But I'd rather risk you being angry with me, then my having to deal with myself if something happened to you on my
watch.  You're far too important to the continuance of this planet...and...you're far too important to me....personally speaking."

Allura slowly rose her hand to cover her mouth.  She had said too much, and now she knew it to be so.  She unintentionally had hurt Keith's feelings with her temper tantrum.  Something that she now, deeply regret doing.

"Oh Keith..." she said, her voice full of regret.  "I didn't mean what I said to you.  I know you're only looking out for my best interests.  Please forgive me."

He sighed.  "I know you didn't mean it. And there's nothing to forgive."

He then walked over to the counter, asking the shopkeeper for something.

The shopkeeper nodded his head, and ducked under the counter.  When he stood back up, he handed Keith a large white bag.

Keith placed the few items he had been holding in his hand into the bag.  Then he walked back to Allura, as she stood quietly by the bookshelf.

"Here," he said. "Use this for your stuff."

He handed her the bag, and she slowly accepted it from his hand.  "Thank you...Keith."

"I'll be waiting for you outside." he replied to her, now turning to leave the shop.

After he exited through the door, she bent low and started placing her gifts carefully in the bag.  Then she reached for the book, and remembered what she had thought of prior to Keith startling her.

Something her father had said to her all those years ago...



'Allura, when he finds you, you will both know it.'




She stared at the book, then regarded the front of the shop.  "When he finds me... we will both know it..." she thought.

There was no denying her feelings for Keith.  They were strong.  She knew that, practically the day she had met him.  And his feelings for her were just as strong.  She was almost sure of it!  But something was keeping them apart...

His end or hers...it didn't matter... something was holding them back.

She brought the book to the counter and paid for it.  Stuffing it in her bag, she walked out of the store.

She found Keith leaning up against the building, a short distance away from the entrance. His arms were crossed over his chest, and his gaze was toward the ground.

Allura saw him there, and felt very guilty about disrupting his day off.  She reached her hand in the bag, and pulled out the book she had just bought for him.  Sighing, she walked up to him.

"Thanks for waiting, Keith." she said shyly.  "By the way, I have something for you." She extended the book to him...somewhat of a peace offering, she had hoped.

Keith brought his gaze up to meet hers.  He regarded the book she held in her hand, and then smiled at her.  "Thank youà but, you didn't have to go to the trouble of..."

"It was no trouble, really," she quickly added. "I wanted to get this for you."

"Thank you again, Princess." he said, still smiling at her.  He reached over and accepted the book.  He looked at it, and regarded its title.

"Hmmm..." he hummed thoughtfully, suddenly very interested in the book.  "Looks interesting!"

"Oh, it is!" Allura insisted.  "My father once read it to me when I was a child.  I hope you enjoy it, Keith."

"I'm sure I will!" he said happily.  He tucked the book under his arm, then looked at his digital watch.  "It's almost one o'clock.  I'm starved, how about you?"

She tilted her head, suddenly feeling her stomach remind her of the same thing.  "Actually, I am... now that you mentioned it."

Keith straightened up, and extended his elbow to the Princess.  "Come on.  I'm buying!"

"Thank you!" she smiled, grabbing onto his elbow. "I'd be delighted!"

"I assure you, the pleasure is all mine!" he winked back at her.

Allura once again felt a blush come over her face. "Thank you, Keith." she said winsomely. "I'm... I'm sorry if I ruined your day off."

"Aw, don't worry about it, Allura.  Actually, it turned out a lot better than I planned.  At least I get to spend it with a beautiful Princess!" he smiled, realizing he was mimicking the phrase he heard Lance repeat to him only a few hours ago.  "Not many guys I know can say that!"

Suddenly, they both hesitatedà looking deep into each other's eyes.  It was Keith who finally broke the spell of the stare: 

"Hey, come on.  We better get going," he said.

"Alright." She replied, allowing him to lead her to a nearby village eatery.



'Allura, when he finds you, you will both know it.'

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