"Obligation."


Story by Adele
Story Copyright 2003
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 9
Queen Allura of Surbain

The sound was deafening...

The sound of shoe heels clicking on the floor inside Castle of Lions, echoed with the feeling of a hollowed death march...one of impending doom.

For the two people who were walking the corridor pathway...it was as if they were marching to their lives's end.

As Commander Keith escorted Princess Allura down the long corridor toward the Castle's Control Room, commotion could be heard, as the sound of shouting and arguing made it's way to their ears.

Allura's grip tightened with an almost tourniquet-like force on Keith's hand, as they both turned the corner and entered into the Control Room.

Present there were Sven, Coran, Hunk, Pidge and Lance.  They were screaming at King Augusta.  Anserrot was returning verbal fire at Sven when Keith and Allura entered the room.

Lance noticed them first.  "Keith... Princess!"

Everyone took notice of the two of them holding hands.  To everyone else, it looked like a gesture of support that Keith was giving to Allura.  Everyone except Sven, who knew that Keith must have told her... finally... how he felt about her.

Sven's heart instantly went out to his good friend and former Commander.  He realized this was probably the best and worst day for Keith. Sven imagined for himself, how he would feel if he and Romelle were in the position that Keith and Allura were in right now.

Here Keith was...confessing love, and loosing it... all in the same day.

Anserrot immediately approached Keith and the Princess.  "So, here you are!" he said angrily, eyeing the Voltron Commander.  "Where have you been with the King's bride?"

Keith flared.  "She's NOT his bride... not just yet!"

"Nevertheless, she was to be here in the Castle at dawn!  His Majesty has decided that the marriage shall take place at high noon, here on Arus in the Castle Courtyard." Anserrot said firmly.  "And no monkey business from you or your men, Commander!"

"You don't have to worry about that!" Keith shouted at the green-skinned man, trying real hard not to grab him by the throat and choke the daylights out of him.  It was because of this little fool, that Allura is in this predicament to begin with.  Keith chose to keep his
cool.

Anserrot then grabbed the Princess's arm.  "Come with me, Princess.  Your personal maids have been given instructions for your preparation."

"Unhand me!" Allura demanded, as she pulled her arm free from his grip.  Then she looked at Augusta.  "I am ashamed!  Ashamed that I am to be married to the likes of you! I plead with you, one last time...please, stop this madness!"

Augusta stood blank-faced, seemingly moved by the plea or the comments.

Anserrot resumed pulling on Allura's arm when Keith finally had had enough.  So, apparently had Lance, Sven, Pidge and Hunk, who came along side of the Princess and their Commander.

"That's enough, pal!" Lance shouted, rushing over to where they all stood.

"Let her go!" Sven also shouted.

"You heard the Princess... release her!" Keith said in a low, angry voice.

Seeing that a brawl was about to break out, Allura settled the matter on her own.  "Are my attendants in my chambers?" she asked Anserrot, her voice full of attitude.

"Yes, Your Highness.  They await you there.  Come with me, and I will escort you to them." He replied, still tugging at her arm.

"No thank you.  I don't need an escort.  I know my way!" she said, once again shaking her arm loose of his grip.

Her eyes met Keith's for a brief moment, and caught the wink he had flashed to her.  She nodded only once, acknowledging to him that she saw it.

Releasing Keith's hand, she turned to leave the Control Room, heading down toward her chambers.

Keith sighed as he watched her exit the Control Room.

Augusta moved to leave the room as well to prepare for the wedding.  As he passed Keith, he said dryly to him, "You can be assured that she will be well cared for."

"By whom?  You...or your servants?  Can't you see this is tearing her apart?  How can you live with yourself!" Keith replied, angered by the cold comment.

"That is no longer your concern, Commander.  Just know that she will be well cared for. And once the ceremony is complete, you and your men will fly Voltron, and accompany my convoy back to Surbain."

"That's what this is all about, isn't it?  Its because you're a spoiled rotten King who didn't get his way, and now wants to eliminate the obstacles to get what he wants.  That's it, isn't it?" Keith pressed.  "You want Voltron...not the Princess!  And yet, you'll take her by force to get what you want!"

"You have a crude tongue, Commander!  Take care that you do not loose it!" the King warned.  "As of noon, you will be taking orders from me!  And any insubordination from you or your men will be severely punished!  Do I make myself clear, Commander Hunter?"

Keith's eyes burned with rage.  But he kept it inside.  "Yes sir, Your Majesty!" he flared back.

Augusta stared at him, a slow smile coming to his face.  "Good.  You see...you're learning even now to keep your tongue at bay!  Perhaps we will get along after all!"

Augusta turned his head, "Anserrot! Attend me!" The advisor immediately left with his king.

When they had gone, Lance shouted out loud.... "So, what are we going to do?"

Keith sighed, looking at Coran, who had remained quiet throughout the whole exchange. Then Keith addressed everyone in the room.  "Nothing.  We are doing nothing."

"NOTHING?" shouted Hunk,
Lance and Pidge, all at the same time.

Lance approached Keith.
"You're kidding, right?"

"No Lance, I'm not."
Keith replied, closing his eyes.

"Are you crazy?" Lance shouted. "You're just going to stand here and let that lizard slither away with Allura?  What's wrong with you?"


Keith began to tell of his visit by King Alfor and the unexpected appearance of Queen Ariela. Everyone took it all in.



"So you see, guys, we can't do
anything... or we'll endanger Arus
and Allura. King Alfor and
Queen Ariela said to leave
it alone.  Voltron has to go to
Surbain, and I believe somehow,
the only way for us to save Surbain
from Lotor, is if Allura becomes
Augusta's Queen.  At that point,
she'll have access to areas we wouldn't
otherwise be able to get access to."

"But how?  How do you know this?" Lance shouted.

"Alfor and Ariela gave me that impression." Keith replied quietly.

"Keith!  This is crazy!  There has to be a way for us to save Surbain, without Allura marrying Augusta to do it!" Lance said fiercely.

"Lance..." Keith sighed.  "I don't pretend to understand it all.  And I'm sure not tell you that I necessarily agree with it.  I'm just telling you what I was told.  And I have no reason to dispute it."

"Keit," Sven said.  "What happens after Allura marrying dis idiot?  She will be cut off from us...from you."

"I don't know what will happen, Sven.  For whatever greater good it will bring, it has to be." Keith said sadly.

"Then...you're willingly giving her up, aren't you?" Lance asked. "How can you stand yourself?"

"Look, guys...I don't like this any more than any of you.  But we are forced to let this thing play out to the end.  We have no choice.  Arus and Surbain are at stake.  The Princess knows that, and is willing to make the sacrifice...and so am I.  I can't pretend anymore.  I do love her, and she knows that now.  But we have to stop Lotor!  And if Allura's marriage to Augusta will give us the chance to take him out for good...then... somehow, its worth the sacrifice.  Not just for Arus or Surbain, but perhaps, for the entire universe as well."

"Lotor is a scoundrel!" Coran finally spoke out.  "To stoop this low... I am just beside myself."

"I know.  But we have to do this." Keith said lastly.

Coran looked at Keith...staring deeply into his eyes.  He sighed as he approached the Voltron Commander.

"Keith...I have suspected your deep compassion and concern for the Princess.  I somehow knew that someday, you would find it within yourself to admit the truth.  But I must say, that your timing is less than perfect." Coran replied.

"I know, but she had to know, Coran." Keith said.

"But...what shall she feel now, when she is about to marry another?" Coran asked.

Hunk suddenly spoke up...

"Hey!  Wait a minute!  Doesn't this Arusian custom say that the Princess marries whoever you choose for her, Coran?  Doesn't it say that if she isn't married by her 25th birthday...
you have to pick someone to marry her?"

"Yeah!" Lance added.  "So...why not pick Keith!"

Coran shook his head.  "Sadly, it is not that easy.  Commander Keith is not of Royal blood, and King Augusta is, and his family's bonds of friendship in Arus's past make his challenge supreme.  It can not be overturned."

"That shouldn't matter!" Lance screamed, angrily.  "He loves her!  Shouldn't that figure in somewhere?"

"I am sorry.  Custom is as it is.  I can not go against our traditions." Coran replied, staunchly.

"Why not?" Hunk blurted out.

"Guys...this isn't helping Keith any!" Pidge sudden reminded in a whispered voice.

Keith looked at his digital watch.  The time was 10:30am.  He shook his head.  "The wedding will be in an hour and a half.  We better go and get ready so we can be there for the Princess." Keith suggested.

After several nods of the head, everyone dispersedà except Sven and Keith.  Sven asked Keith to hang back for a moment.

"So...you did tell her then?" Sven asked.  "Did you tell her everyting?"

Keith sighed.  "Yeah... I told her.  For all the good it did."

"You mean she didn't feel the same?" Sven said.

"No.  On the contrary, her feelings for me were exactly the same.  It's just... now she's marrying someone else, and I'm powerless to stop it!"

"Keit, you said it yourself.  You have to trust dat everything will work out okay." Sven said, giving Keith a pat on the back.  "Come on.  We better get ready now."


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

Allura was almost ready for the wedding and coronation ceremonies.  She was dressed in a simple white gown, lacy and full of charm.  On her head, she wore a simple princess-crown, adorned with white see through material to act as a veil. It was the best that could be
done in such short notice.

Princess Romelle watched as the maids made the final touches on Allura's bridal apparel. When they had finished, Allura dismissed them from the room, wishing to be alone for the last remaining moment of freedom.

Romelle remained with Allura.  She agreed to be Maid of Honor only by her cousin's request. It was in protest, however, that Romelle remained behind for the wedding.

Allura looked at herself in the mirror.  She felt she looked like a stunning bride, but didn't feel like one.  She kept sighing from time to time.

She tried to paint on a happy face,
as she turned to Romelle.  "Well,
what do you think?" Allura smiled,
falsey.

"Beautiful, naturally." Romelle replied
back.

Allura nodded her head and turned back
toward the mirror to look at herself once
again.  The brave smile quickly faded.

Romelle laid a gentle hand on Allura's shoulder, giving her an affectionate squeeze. "Allura, be at peace." Romelle said.

"How can I be at peace, when I'm marrying Augusta?" Allura sighed sadly.  "I should be marrying Keith," Allura abruptly paused, covering her mouth, and realizing that she had said too much.  But she could see in Romelle's eyes that her cousin wasn't surprised at
all.

"I know," Romelle whispered.
She looked at the gown Allura had
selected. "I always thought you said
that when you got married, you
were going to wear your Mother's
wedding gown?"

"When I marry the right man, Romelle, not this mock wedding I'm being forced to participate in.  This isn't my wedding.  This is a diplomatic wedding.  King Augusta is not going to find me a very pleasant person to live with!" Allura snidely remarked.

"I can certainly see that!" Romelle giggled.  Then, when the chuckling ceased, Romelle playfully fingered one of Allura's curls on her head.  "Anyway, at least Keith isn't being barred from the wedding."

"I wish he were..." Allura said quietly.  "That way, he would be spared the pain of watching me being given to another man."

"You don't really mean that, Allura?" Romelle questioned.  "Keith wants to be there! Didn't you hear him?  You told me that he said that no matter what, he'd never be far from your side!  He means that!  There is nothing that could keep him from you... even the
title of Queen. S urely, you know that!"

"Keith did say that." Allura said slowly.

Romelle nodded assuredly.  "And you do believe what he says, don't you?"

"Yes." Allura whispered, feeling tears starting to fill her eyes.  "Still, I'd feel better knowing he wasn't there... watching me being torn away from him."

"Allura... Keith knows what he's doing.  You should trust in that." Romelle said.

"I know I should, and part of me does.  But," Allura hesitated for moment.  "But I wish it were Keith I was marrying." Allura stood to her feet and faced Romelle.  "I feel so lost... At last, I find out that Keith loves me, and I too, confess that I love him, and now, I'm
about to be married to a complete stranger that doesn't want me at all... but only is doing it to get Voltron!  And all the while, Lotor is laughing out there somewhere... waiting for me to be turned over to him like some sort of prize!"

Romelle grabbed onto Allura's hands.  "Now you listen to me, Cousin!  You have the most precious gift that anyone could ever have... a man who loves you with all of his heart! Don't forget that he's suffering in all of this too!  You have to be strong for him... just
as he is struggling to be strong for you!"

Allura stared deeply into Romelle's eyes, and realized that she was right.  Keith was hurting too, just as much, if not more.  Allura bowed her head, and nodded sadly.

"I will, Romelle," Allura wept.  "I'll be strong for Keith.  Just like he has always been for me."

"That's right." Romelle said.  "Don't forget what he said... your love for each other will see you through this.  Just hold on to that thought as tightly as you would have held onto Keith."

Allura nodded again.  At that moment, the door buzzed, and then, slid opened, revealing Coran standing on the other side of it.  His face was drawn and downcast.  He walked into Allura's chambers and crossed the room to meet her.

"Princess... it is time." he said sadly.

Romelle grabbed her bouquet, after she handed Allura's to her.  Coran extended his arm, and she hooked onto it.

As they started to walk for the door, Coran suddenly stopped them.  Allura became worried.

"Coran?" she asked. "What is it?  What's wrong?"

"I suddenly remembered..." he said as the tears started to form in his eyes.  "Commander Keith sends a message to you."

Allura's face twisted in anguish.  "What is it?" she asked.

Coran cleared his throat, attempting to hold back the tears.  "He says to remind you to be strong.  And no matter what happens... he will be with you."

After hearing the message, Allura found that the floodgates suddenly opened, and the tears silently began to fall like rain.

"Let's go, Coran." was all she could manage to say.

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


The Castle Courtyard was filled with people from Augusta's royal court.

The Archbishop of Arus was unwillingly present, to perform the wedding ceremony and coronation.  His feelings had been made clear to both Coran and King Augusta... even as far as to say a curse of God on King Augusta, for forcing the Princess into doing this.

The Voltron Force was up in the front by the Archbishop, acting as Royal Honor Guards to the Princess of Arus.

Keith, Lance, Sven, Hunk and Pidge... the five original members of the Voltron Force stood in an unwavering military stance, awaiting the processional.

Keith stood stone-faced, gazing at Augusta. 
His eyes waxed cold with anger.

The music began from the back of the
Courtyard, piped in by Castle Control. 
There was no time to secure a live
orchestra.


Romelle was first to come down the isle.  When she reached the front of the Courtyard, she bowed humbly before the Archbishop.  She shot a quick glance to Sven, who smiled half-heartedly back at her.  She quickly took her place to the adjacent side of the Voltron Force.

Then Allura proceeded down the isleà Coran was escorting her.

As she passed each person, they bowed in honor of their former princess and new Queen. As she reached the Force, each member got down on one knee, taking her hand and kissing it.  Pidge was first.  He had tears in his eyes as he kissed Allura's hand before she moved on to Hunk.

One by one, they knelt before herà Sven, Lance, and then finally, Keith.  Allura's tears rushed down her cheeks as Keith silently took her hand in his, kneeling before her, and kissed her hand gently, as he had in the Royal Garden earlier that day.

When he finished, Keith rose to his feet.  Allura wiped the tears as they fell from her eyes. She caught a glimpse of Keith... mouthing the words:


"I love you, Princess...no matter what."


She silently mouthed back:  "I love you too, Keith....no matter what."


Coran tugged at her arm, pulling her toward King Augusta and Anserrot.

The Archbishop stood before them both, with a disgusted look was on his face as he began the ceremonies.

"If there be any just cause why these two persons should not be lawfully joined together, let him speak now, or forever hold thy peace." The Archbishop announced.

Lance leaned over toward Keith. "Keith!" he whispered.

"Hold your place, Lance," Keith whispered forcefully.

Lance turned back to look at Sven, Pidge and Hunk.  He shook his head, signaling that Keith made it clear not to do anything.

The remaining members of the Voltron Force
stood at attention as the ceromony began.

Keith looked at Allura quietly as the ceremony
pressed on.   He snickered at one point in the
ceremony, when Allura was asked if she
will have Augusta as her wedded husband.
Her response tickled Keith
from the inside.


"Well, if I must, then I guess the answer should be yes." She said. "In protest!"



The end had finally arrived. Keith's lower lip began to tremble from anger and anguish, as the Archbishop spoke the final words:

I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride." The Archbishop said.

Augusta leaned toward Allura to kiss her on the lips.  But she avoided his kiss, giving him instead, her cheek.

Augusta chuckled out loud.  "Well, this is quite a show of affection, beloved." he smugly said.

"That is all I will ever give you freely, Augusta!" she hissed.

The Archbishop cleared his throat, gathering the attention back toward him.  He then brought out the Royal Crown of Surbain.  In a brief coronation ceremony, Allura was crowned Queen of Surbain.  She declined the title for Arus, citing that she felt no obligation to take that title at this time for her planet.

"I therefore, pronounce you, Allura Adrianna DeVille, Queen of Surbain." The Archbishop announced.

The crowd from Surbain broke out into a wild frenzy of applause, while those who gathered, representing Arus, meagerly clapped out of courtesy.

Allura sadly turned her head to where Keith had stood.   He was as stiff as stone...
immovable.  She only wished she could make her heart the same way.

King Augusta escorted Crowned Queen Allura to the exit of the Courtyard.  As the crowds followed closely behind the royal couple, the team, and Princess Romelle huddled around Keith, waiting to hear what he would say next.

To their surprise... he had nothing to say.

Sven looked at Keith.  "Hey dere?  Are you okay, Keit?" Sven asked.

Keith finally took a deep breath in and out, as if to bring his very soul back into his body. He looked at Sven.  "I need you to pilot Blue Lion.  Can you do it?"

"Of course!  You know I can!" Sven said, pounding his fist to his chest.

"Let's get ready to leave.  My understanding is that the convoy is going to depart for Surbain within the hour.  We are to follow behind it." Keith said quietly.  "Meet me in the Control Room in 45 minutes."

Keith then pushed past everyone and left the courtyard.

Lance shook his head.  "Poor guy.  This is killing me.  I can't imagine what its doing to him."

"Come on.  We've got to get ready to leave.  No time for talking now!" Sven reminded everyone.

The team left the courtyard as well, preparing for whatever peril was in store for them next.
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