"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 15
Lotor's Shining Hour


Dawn broke over Surbain.  And Anserrot had been up earlier than everyone else had been. He had just finished a conversation with Prince Lotor, which had brought him much to fear.

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

"Okay, you old fossil!  You had better not
foul up this plan!  Or it will be your neck!"
Lotor hissed. "I grow impatient! I must have
Allura as my bride!"

"You shall, Prince Lotor!" Anserrot
groveled. "You shall have her by
end of day!"

"You had better be right!  Or by end of day, you shall be dead!" Lotor barked back. "And you had better figure out a way to get rid of the pesky Voltron Force!"

"Your Highness... if we remove the influence of their Commander, the one they call, Keith, then they shall be of no use!" Anserrot said.

"KEITH!" Lotor shouted.  "Anserrot!  I want his head, if you can get it!  And if you do get rid of him, and deliver me the Princess, you shall have more than Planet Arus as your reward!"

"You shall have them both, Sire!" Anserrot exclaimed.

"Bring me the Princess and Commander Keith!" Lotor hissed. "Or else!"

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

Anserrot shook himself back to reality. 

He had to figure out a way to deliver Keith Hunter...and the Arusian Princess...to Lotor...and soon!  But how?

Then... it hit him.  "I will send him on morning patrol...alone!  I will say that the rest of them must remain behind to protect the Queen.  Then, I can signal Prince Lotor that he is on his way... and have him captured!"

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


Lance, Pidge and Hunk were enjoying breakfast when Keith and Sven came into the dining area.

"Smells goot" Sven commented.  "I'm starvft!"

"You and Hunk both!" Pidge chuckled, and then they all suddenly focused in on the large Yellow Lion pilot.  "He's on his second helping!"



Nearly 20 minutes after breakfast began, Anserrot walked into the dining room.

"Commander Keith, you are so ordered to
take the first patrol.  You will leave within
the hour in the Black Lion."

"Me?" Keith asked, pointing to himself.
"I thought we were all going out together?"


"The plan has changed.  Intelligence has reported that Prince Lotor might be heading for Surbain.  You therefore, Commander Keith will patrol on the first watch.  The second watch shall be for the Red Lion, followed by Blue, Green and Yellow, in turn.  Is that understood?"

Keith raised his eyebrows
curiously to Anserrot.  "Who
gave the order, to separate us?"

"His Majesty, King Augusta,
himself!  He felt that the forces
of Doom might attempt to kidnap
his new bride.  He wants shifts
taken, so that the other four lions
may remain behind to guard the
palace, and to protect Queen Allura
from harm."

"Understood." Keith said slowly, as he suddenly broke eye contact with the Surbainian advisor.

Lance, however, wasn't accepting the order.

"Understood?" Lance shouted
suddenly, throwing his spoon
down on the table.  "Keith!  This is
a setup! I can smell it a mile away!"

"Lance, keep quiet!" Keith replied in a very low, stern voice.  He then turned back up to Anserrot.  "Okay, I'll go."

"Good.  Now finish your breakfast, and be off." Anserrot spat out, as he turned on one heel and left the room

Hunk became irritated.  "I'm really getting tired of that little green pipsqueak!" He growled as he threw his fork down and stood up.  "Keith, do you want me to go clean his clock for you?"

Keith shook his head, as he waved his hand at Hunk.  "Leave him alone, Hunk." Keith replied. "He's not worth it."

Hunk reluctantly took his seat.  "Well, how about if I do it for me?"

"Hunk!" Keith said, a bit more sternly.  "I said... let it go."

Lance scratched his head.  "Something's just not right!" he said.  "Why's he sending you alone, Keith?  Allura would never go along with that!  It doesn't make sense!"

"Yeah, I know.  And so suddenly too." Keith thought out loud.

"It still smells bad to me, Keith!" Lance replied back, his voice more anxious.

"Better be careful, Keit." Sven warned.  "Lance's right.  It sounds like you're being baited for someting."

"Yeah, what's up with that?" Hunk said, scratching his head, a bit calmer now.  "Why just Keith...alone?"

"Well, maybe its because Black Lion is the strongest of all of the robot lions.  Maybe Anserrot figures you can handle this on your own." Pidge said suggestively.

The comment drew curious looks from everyone.

"Uh-huh.... Right!" Pidge added with a sarcastic twist to his voice.  "As if... come on guys! I wasn't serious!"

"Well, I'm serious, when I say
you guys had better keep your eyes on
Allura while I'm gone!" Keith
commanded. "You hear me?
Don't let her out of your sight!
If this is a set up to bump us off,
one at a time, I want you guys to
flush it out.  If something happens,
your orders stand...your first priority
is to protect Allura.  Everyone
clear on that?"

"You've got it, Commander!" Pidge said, giving Keith a fancy military salute.

Keith rose to his feet and walked out of the dining room without uttering another word.

Lance leaning into the group...

"You know what?" Lance began.  "I don't
like that little short green guy.  He's up to
no good... I can feel it!  I have a sense
about these things!"

"I have to agree wit you, Lance."
Sven said, rubbing his chin
thoughtfully.  "It's so strange.
Why would they only want Black Lion
to fly?  I wonder..."

"Keith's walking into trouble," Lance added, shaking his head.  "And he knows it!  I'll bet the Princess doesn't know anything about this!  In fact...I know she doesn't!  She'd be down here...right now!"

Sven suddenly rose to his feet.  "Come on!" he said, as he hastily made his way to the door.

"Where are we going?" Hunk asked, his face suddenly puzzled.

"We've got to find da Princess!" Sven said.  "We've got no time to waste!  I tink Lance is right!  I'll just bet you that she doesn't know a ting about dis!"

"And if she doesn't.... that means..." Pidge started to say.

"Exactly!" Sven finished.  "Either the King himself or Anserrot is trying to get rid of us all...starting wit Keit!"

Hunk jumped up, stuffing food in his mouth as he spoke.  "What are we waiting for?"

"Come on!" Sven shouted as he ran out of the door into the corridor, followed by Lance, Hunk and Pidge.

**********


Allura was sitting alone in her chambers... missing her friends.  She had been to the palace library, and selected an old book of writings from the Surbainian rulers of long ago.  She had just settled herself down to read the book at her desk.  She thoughtfully and silently began reading...


"The Turnery Factor... a Book of Awakenings. King Shalimar, first crowned ruler of Surbain, crowned in the year, one thousand two-hundred and thirty six, at the age of 21 years, made his first proclamation..."



The door buzzer sounded. Allura frowned again, slamming closed the book before her.  "If that little... PEST... doesn't just leave me alone..." she said, referring to Anserrot.

The door buzzer sounded again, and Allura stood up, quite annoyed by this time. "Alright, alright! I'm coming already!" she hollered as she walked toward the door.

Allura unlocked the door, and as it swished open, she saw Sven, Lance, Pidge and Hunk, standing in the corridor.

Allura smiled at the sight of her friends. "Boys!  This is a pleasant surprise!  I'm so glad to see all of you..."

Then, as she looked behind them, she noticed suddenly that Keith was not among them. Allura saw the serious appearance on their faces, and she became worried.

"What's wrong?" she asked.  "Where's Keith?"

"Princess... did you hear of an order for Black Lion to go on patrol alone this morning?" Lance asked quickly, stepping forward from the rest of the team.

Allura shook her head, a twisted look of confusion coming over her face.  "No, I didn't.  The King had ordered all of the lions on patrol today."

"Well, not anymore!" Hunk interjected angrily, shaking his fist. "Anserrot just sent Keith out in the Black Lion... alone!"

"WHAT?" Allura shouted.  She began shaking her head.  "All alone?  No!  That's not possible!  I'm sure Augusta ordered all of the lions on patrol!"

"Well, if he did, Anserrot didn't get the message!  He ordered only Keith to go!" Lance shouted.  "Princess, if Keith runs into Lotor, he could get himself killed!"

Allura immediately pushed past the Force, running down the hallway toward the throne room. Sven motioned for the group to follow her.

Allura's face was burning with anger...

"Just what does he think he's doing?" she thought angrily. "By sending Black Lion out there alone, he's sending Keith into danger!"

As Allura arrived to the entrance of the Palace throne room, the Palace guards immediately halted her.

"One moment, Your Majesty," one guard said.  "We have not been informed by the King that he was expecting you."

"I must see him at once!" she insisted. "You will announce me!"

"I'm sorry, Your Majesty, but unless the King summons you, your admittance is forbidden." another guard said.

"I am his wife!" she demanded.  "I am the Queen!  You will allow me to speak to my husband at once!"

She started to push into the guards, but they instead pushed her back away from the door.

"Your Majesty, please!" the first guard said. "Do not make this hard on yourself. Unless King Augusta has summoned for you, you are not allowed admittance into the throne room! Those are our orders!"

"Your orders are to obey me! I insist that you announce me at once!" Allura cried, trying to push past them once again.  Instead, one of the guards grabbed her by her arm, and shook her slightly.

"Your Majesty!  Please control yourself, or you could get hurt!" one of the guards repeated.



"Let her go!"



Allura turned as she heard Lance's voice shouting authoritatively.  Joining him at his side were Sven, Pidge and Hunk.

"Just let her go, now!" Lance said angrily, his fist clenched.

The guards immediately released Allura.  They now took a defensive position toward Lance.

"Stay where you are!" the first guard shouted, as he and the otherguard grabbed their blasters from their side holster.

Hunk stepped up next. "Go on, bucket-head!" he shouted, his own blaster in hand. "Make my day!"

"What do you mean by grabbing our Princess?" Pidge added, his face twisted with anger. "You guys are real he-men!  Picking on a woman!"

"Yeah!  Come on and pick on someone more your size!" Lance hollered out. "Like me!"

Sven swung around to Allura and pulled her back from the confusion.  He leaned into her ear. "Princess... while dey keep da guards busy, you git into d... throne room... now!"

"Got it!" Allura whispered back.

As the verbal war escalated between the guards and the Force, Allura had managed to slyly push open the door and sneak inside the throne room.  She began running through the hall, the heels of her shoes clicking with every step she took.

As the Throne came into sight, she saw Augusta seated on it, listening to Anserrot as he read to him from a large book.

"Augusta!" she cried out, as she came on fast approach.

Suddenly, a Palace guard appeared out of nowhere, grabbing onto Allura from behind.  She shrieked, frightened at first, then suddenly angry.

She struggled in the guard's grip as he began forcing her away from the throne.  Enraged, Allura suddenly relied on her combat training...

"Leave...me...alone!" She shouted, and with one swift movement, tossed the guard over her shoulder and onto the floor.

Then, Allura quickly began to run toward the Throne.  But another guard appeared, grabbing her waist, and turning her around.  He secured her arms tightly behind her back.

"Come with me...Your Majesty!" the guard said as he struggled with Allura.

She turned her head and began screaming at the King... "Augusta!  I must speak to you! Please!"

Augusta rose to his feet suddenly, extending his hand toward Allura.  "It's alright, guard. She may remain."

The guard ceased struggling with Allura, and immediately released her from his grasp. Augusta looked at both of the guards. "You may go." he commanded.

The guards bowed and walked away. Anserrot immediately approached the King.  "Your Majesty, she has not been summoned here!  She must leave at once!"

The King threw his advisor a nasty gaze.  "I will say who goes and who stays!"

"Yes, Your Majesty." Anserrot said, stepping aside.

Allura stood at a distance. Augusta again extended his hand to her.  "Come, my Queen." He said. "Approach me."

Allura moved forward cautiously.  As she approached the throne, she curtseyed before him, her head down low.

Augusta smiled, charmed by her beauty and her humbleness.  "Arise.  What is it you wish of me, fairest Queen Allura?"

Allura stood upright and addressed the King.
"King Augusta, I have come to ask you why
you have ordered only the Black Lion out on
patrol this morning?  You know the forces of
Doom are bent on the destruction of Voltron.
By sending Black Lion out on patrol alone,
you have created an opportunity for Prince
Lotor to attack and conquer Voltron by
destroying the Black Lion, and it's Commander!"

Augusta's face twisted.  "I'm sorry, but I have not idea what you are talking about." He replied quietly, as he returned to his seat on the throne.

"I am told that Anserrot told Commander Keith that he was ordered to patrol this morning...alone!" Allura said angrily.  "Do you deny giving such an order?"

"I gave no such order!" King Augusta said firmly.  Then he turned to Anserrot, who was huddled over near the corner.  "Did you give this order?  Answer me!"

Anserrot's shoulders shifted in fear of Augusta's wrath.  "Your Majesty...I simply intended Black Lion to only go out and patrol.  I never instructed him to engage the enemy!  I would assume that Voltron's Commander would have more sense than to engage an enemy on
his own!"

"You assume too much!" Augusta shouted, pointing his finger angrily at Anserrot. "You had no authority to send Commander Keith out there alone! I will deal with you later!"

Then Augusta turned to Allura.  "When was he sent out there?"

"Nearly an hour ago!  We have to send the other lions out to help him orà" Allura voice drifted off suddenly.  She bowed her head, and she found her voice once again, her words were filled with the sound of tears.  "If we don't send the lions out, Keith will be killed!  You
can't let that happen to him!  Please!  You have to do something!  Don't let him die!  He means the world to...to me!"

Suddenly, Augusta's eyes opened wide.  For the first time, he finally caught a glimpse of how important Keith was to Allura... more than just her commander... but possibly...

"Guard!" Augusta shouted quickly.  The guard immediately arrived in front of Augusta's throne, dropping to one knee.

"Your Majesty, what is thy bidding?" the guard asked.

"Go to the remaining members of the Voltron Force.  Send them out immediately to join up with Black Lion!" Augusta commanded.

"Sire!" the guard said, pounding his chest with his fist.

Augusta approached Allura quietly.  Her tears were streaming down her face.  Augusta came along side of her where she stood.  He paused for a moment and regarded her quietly.  Then, he spoke tenderly to her...

"You're in love with this Commander of yours, aren't you, Allura?"

Allura gazed up at him, her eyes brimming with tears.  "I'm sorry, Augusta.  I never meant to hurt you.  I know I am your wife...but...I was never supposed to be.  My heart is not in our marriage."

"Then it's true?" he said. "You do love him?"

She sniffed aloud. "Yes. I do."

The King turned quietly. "I see," he sighed.

"I only hope the rest of the boys aren't too late to save him!" Allura said.

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


Meanwhile, Black Lion was indeed in trouble.

Keith was caught in some sort of impenetrable force shield.  The shield quickly began to suck the energy right out of Black Lion.

"Mayday!  Mayday!" Keith shouted
over the COM. "If anyone can here
me, I need back up, and I need it now!"

Suddenly a voice returned the hail
over his COM. Keith suddenly
gasped, as the voice became
recognizable.

"Well, well...Commander Keith!  What a treat!  Nice of you to drop by!"

Keith's face contorted with anger. "Lotor!  I've been waiting for you to show your ugly head!"

"Compliments, compliments!  You are just so full of them... and much more!" Lotor's voice responded. "Well... now that we have you, what do we do with you?"

Keith grunted aloud, continuing to broadcast a signal of distress...

"Really Keith, I'm surprised that you let this one get past you.  You're usually a very thorough man." Lotor scoffed.  "You see, marrying the Princess off to that idiot King was part of my plan.  Only... now that I'm here, the marriage will be annulled, and I shall take over as Allura's rightful husband."

"In your dreams...PAL!" Keith shouted. "You'll never get your grimy paws on Allura!  Not if I can help it!"

"Oh come now, Keith." Lotor's voice replied over the COM.  "Surely you realize that your being out here...alone...was no accident...it was arranged to get you out of the way!"

"I figured that part out!" Keith bellowed, as he began to prepare a homing beacon.

"Then surely you must also know that you will never see the Princess or your miserable friends again!" Lotor continued. "But I won't kill you right now.  You're worth more alive then dead.  When I have the Princess in my possession, then I will kill you, leaving the path
free for me to marry her!  But for now, you're...shall we say...my guest!"

"Great," Keith scoffed, sarcastically.  "I just can't wait to see the luxury guest suite!"

"Oh...you'll love it!" Lotor laughed. "Complete with all the appropriate, 'toys' to keep your attention!"

Keith busily prepared the silent homing beacon in Black Lion.  Pidge had installed one months ago in each lion, just in the event that one of the ships was damaged or captured, then the rest could find it on a frequency only detected by the lion computers.

"Oh, and don't worry, Keith.  I always treat my guests well." Lotor mused.

"Yeah, I'll bet you do!" Keith replied
sarcastically, trying to stall for time
in hopes someone would find him.

He checked his gages, "Black Lion's
energy is almost gone." he thought.

Keith then looked out his main viewer
at Lotor's ship, dead ahead.  He frowned,
as another thought came to him suddenly...


"Well, team...unless you guys have a brilliant plan up your sleeve, I'm done for!  Once Lotor captures Black Lion, Voltron is finished, and so am I..."



"Well now, I think Black Lion is ready to come on board." Lotor said, suddenly interrupting the thoughts ringing out in Keith's mind. "This is it, Keith!  Say goodbye to the outside world!"

Keith watched in horror as Black Lion's power cells continued to drop.  Then, he felt the pull of a tractor beam... it abruptly grabbed onto Black Lion, and was now pulling him toward an open landing bay inside Lotor's ship.

Deciding that he was doomed no matter what, he cut power to the Black Lion, conserving that little power it had left...just in case...

Keith quickly looked for another option of escape, and found nothing...

Except....

He quickly flipped on the homing beacon...and sat back in his chair...waiting for the end.

Keith grabbed the picture of Allura that he kept with him in his uniform pocket.

He regarded her... "Oh Princess," he thought sadly.  "I only wish we had more time... you and I..."

He tucked the picture under Black Lion's control panel.  If he was searched, he didn't want Lotor to have it.  Just like he didn't want Lotor to have her.

Black Lion was dragged into the haul of Lotor's cruiser, and the door quickly shut behind him, trapping Keith inside.

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

On the bridge of his command ship, Lotor was laughing triumphantly.  "At last!  I have my adversary right where I want him!"

Hagar hovered nearby.  "What do we do with him, Sire?"

"Do?  We are going to throw him in the holding pen!  I want to imprison him... as he once imprisoned me on Bastille 12!" Lotor sat down on his command chair.  "Prepare him for torture!  Let's see how well Galaxy Garrison prepares its officers!"

"Very well, Sire." Hagar bowed her head.  "But Lotor, what about the Princess?"

"She'll willingly give herself up for that incompetent fool!  I have no doubt about that. Especially after she sees how well I've treated him!" Lotor replied.

"But you have no intention of letting him go, do you?" Hagar questioned.

"Of course not, hag!" Lotor shouted.  "But Allura doesn't know that!  She'll only see the broken body of her once beloved Commander, and immediately throw herself at my mercy! Once she's in my grasp... I'll finish off what's left of Commander Keith Hunter!  Then Allura will be mine forever... without any more interference from Keith, or the rest of the melding Voltron Force!"

Lotor immediately rose to his feet and let out a fierce shout.

"VOLTRON IS DOOMED!"

Lotor immediately gave the command to Hagar, "Prepare to go into the dream dimension!"

"At once, my Prince!" Hagar hissed.  

She lifted her magic globe into the air. Suddenly, a brilliant green beam of light shot out from it.

Outside, a swirling black hole appeared right in front of Lotor's ship.

The Doom cruiser quietly slid into the hole created by Hagar's magic, transporting them into the dream dimensionà with Keith and the Black Lion prisoner.

The hole consumed the ship, and then closed up again, leaving no trace of it ever being there.

...and effectively cutting off Black Lion's beacon.
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