"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 17
Heart Ache

Princess Allura said a tearful goodbye to each of her friends.  Armed with only her Lion Claw, an ancient artifact from the Arusian archives chamber, she waited to be scanned up to Lotor's ship.

Lance hailed Lotor's cruiser.

"Lance to Doom Ship. Princess Allura
is prepared to turn herself over to
Prince Lotor, as he requests. 
And Lotor... if you can hear me...
if you hurt her... I swear I'll find you
and rip your head off!"

Lotor's voice came through the COM.  "Lance, you should know that I would never hurt the Princess.  She'll be in good hands... mine!"

"Yeah, I'll bet." Lance scoffed.  "You just remember my warning!"

Lotor laughed,  "You just remember who's running the show here, little man!"

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

On board the Revenge, Lotor gave the command for Allura to be scanned up to the ship.

As Allura materialized on the command deck, Lotor smiled affectionately. "Ah, my beautiful Princess!  So nice of you to come and join your new family!"

Allura surveyed her surrounding for a moment.  Then she met Lotor's gaze.  "I want to see Keith!" she replied sternly.  "Bring me to him!"

"Of course," Lotor said, raising to his feet.  "We might as well get this over with."

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

Keith had been released from his bounds over an hour ago.  He had been tossed carelessly on a dirty cot in the cell.  Laying flat
on his back, he could feel his body
shaking from the shock of brutality
he had received. 

Keith closed his eyes, trying all he
could to endure the pain.   He grabbed
for the pillow that was nearby...not
sure if he wanted to use it to prop
his head up, or cool his burning body. 

Finding little comfort in lying down
flat on his back, he slowly crawled
off of the cot and down to the filthy
floor below.  Keith then slowly
crawled toward the cement wall.

The guards that were standing outside of the cell began to hurl insults at the weakened Voltron leader.  But he paid them no mind.

It would all be over soon, he kept telling himself. 

Nearly exhausted, Keith crawled to the corner of the cell, using all of his strength to prop
himself up against the cold wall, using it to cool his enflamed back.

His whole body throbbed with pain from the horrendous, inhumain ordeal he'd been through.  Every muscle in his body ached unceasingly.

He was so weak... so tired.

He suddenly imagined a vision before him...

The image took on the form of his
beloved Princess Allura. Even the
scent of her hair that he remembered
so well, had filled his
nostrils, suddenly.

It was like she was really there with him...


"Keith... Keith... can you hear me?" the vision spoke to him. "Its me...Allura! Oh please, Keith! Speak to me!"

It was then that Keith realized that his vision was no vision at all.  His eyes grew wide as he focused in on Allura, hovering just inches above him.

"Oh, Keith," she sobbed, reaching her
hand to his head, to brush away
the locks of his hair, that were
hanging in his face. "What has he
done to you?"

"Princess...?  What... what are
you doing here?" Keith grunted
uncomfortably.

"I'm here to help you."  She said quietly as she gently stroked his forehead.

"No... you...you can't do this... Allura...please, go... go back..." Keith struggled to say the words.

"I can't Keith.  I can't leave you here like this.  I won't leave you here like this.  Remember what you said... no matter where tomorrow finds us, our love will keep us strong." Allura whispered quietly into Keith's ear.  "I won't let Lotor hurt you any further."

"But...but Allura...Lotor's going to kill me anyway!  I don't want you... to see that!" Keith weakly said.  "You...have to...get away... from here!  Get back to Arus... and... go on without me!"

Allura leaned down and planted a light kiss on his forehead.  "I'm staying with you." She smiled.

Keith sighed, struggling not to show her how much pain he was in.  She helped him sit up straight. "Princess...I...I'm sorry I got you dragged into this.  You deserve better than me..."

"Nonsense!" she said firmly.  "I love you for who you are!  And I hope you feel the same about me."

"Allura...there are no words that can express how I feel about you...all the love that I feel for you in my heart." Keith said, smiling weakly.  "But...you have to think...about your future...
and Planet Arus!  Don't throw your life away for me...please Princess!"

"I can't turn back now, Keith." she said quietly, gently caressing his cheek with her hand. "I'm here to stay, I'm afraid."

Keith frowned at her, then turned his head.  "You should have never come in the first place. I asked you not to."

"I had to!" she said angrily. "If I didn't, Lotor would have tortured you to death!"

Keith slowly turned his head back toward her.  "He still is going to!" he replied with as much expression of anger as he could.  "If he doesn't physically torture me, he'll mentally do the job, when he parades you in front of me as his prize!"

He turned his head again, not wanting her to see the tears beginning to brim in his eyes. "I asked you not to come.  I could have endured the physical pain. Eventually, my body would have given out anyway.  Now, I'll go with the memory of you being with Lotor."

She winced as if she had been slapped. Was he deliberately digging at her...now...in their final moments together?

"I'm sorry, Keith!  I just couldn't live with myself knowing you died being tortured to death! I saw what they were doing to you! I saw the pain you were in! I just...I just couldn't let it go on!"

Her voice trailed off...

He took his hand and wiped his face of the few tears that had rolled from his eyes.  He then turned his head to look at her.

She was crying.  He silently cursed himself for making her cry.

"Allura," he said weakly. "I'm sorry. Don't cry, please."

"What would you have done in my place, Keith?" she asked tearfully.

His facial expression softened, and he sighed.  "Probably the same thing you did, Princess."

Keith slowly lifted his hand up to her face, raising her chin with his fingers.  "Hey..." he began.  "Look at me, will you?"

She sighed, heartbroken, and at last brought her tear-filled gaze to meet his deep onyx stare.

Keith winced in pain, but managed to smile at her. "Even if things look dark and hopeless..."

"I know..." she sighed tearfully.  "Our love...will... oh, Keith!  I just can't do it!  I can't believe anymore!  I can't live, if you must die!"

"Yes you can...and you will.  You must go on.  For the sake of Arus, you must go on.  You must find a way to escape from Lotor!  The Black Lion is here, somewhere in the bow of this ship.  Find a way to get to the Black Lion, Allura!  You can do it, I know you can!  I trained
you to be the best!  I know you can do this!" Keith said, gently touching the ends of her hair with his hand.  "I'm asking you to be strong... for me."

She thrusted herself into his arms, and he tried as best as he could to cover her with them. She sobbed once again, and he suddenly felt the wet tears dropping onto his bare chest.

He shook for a moment...not from pain, but from the power of love that this woman had for him. He'd never felt anything so strong in his life.

He settled with the thought that if Lotor was going to take him out of this world, he would leave it with the deep feeling of love he carried for Allura... and knowing that she felt the same.


"How touching!"


Allura jumped back, and Keith looked up toward the cell entrance.  "Lotor..." he whispered to her.

She turned around and looked at the evil Prince.

"What are you doing here?" she said angrily.  "You promised me one hour!  It's hardly been 10 minutes!"

"I lied," he chuckled.  "Besides, you don't want the Commander to continue to suffer now, would you?"

"He wouldn't, if you would let him go!" she shouted.

"I'm sorry...did I mention to you that I can't do that, Allura?" Lotor said sarcastically.  "He's been a thorn in my side for far too long.  And now, its time to weed the garden!"

"Lotor...please, don't kill him!" Allura pleaded.  "I'd never be happy, and never be completely yours knowing you killed him!"

"Allura, please don't..." Keith's voice strained, as he tugged on her sleeve.

Ignoring him, she continued to speak.  "Lotor, wouldn't it be better if he remained alive? I would at least be content staying here with you, knowing that you didn't destroy him."

"I think not, my sweet!" Lotor bellowed.

"Allura!" Keith hollered.

Allura tried again... "There is more benefit to you by allowing him remain alive, Lotor.  It could be the ultimate revenge, Lotor."

Keith's body tensed.  "Allura, I said, NO!"

Lotor thought for a moment...

"Perhaps...you have a point, my love." Lotor slowly said, looking down at human lying up against the wall on the floor.  "I'll have to think about this for a moment."

Attempting to push her point home, she offered him one more thing to think about... "Wouldn't it be more agonizing for him, if you allowed him to live with the thought that he had lost me forever to you?"

"Allura...what are you saying!" Keith said, struggling to get himself off of the floor.

She flung her head around, shooting him a reassuring gaze that seemed to speak the words, 'I know what I'm doing', to him.  He relaxed himself for a moment, waiting to see where this would lead.

"Very well, Allura," Lotor spoke at last. "I'll let him live... for your sake."

Hagar objected, "My Prince, it is not wise to let him live!  He could..."

"Silence, old crone!" Lotor shouted to Hagar.  "Or I'll cut your tongue out!"

Hagar angrily turned and hovered out of sight.

Allura's face grew bright with a smile.  She bowed her head...

"Thank you, Lotor." she said quietly.

Lotor huffed.  "I'll give you another 20 minutes... but no more!  Then I'll scan him to the surface of the planet.  It'll be up to him to find his way back to the Palace.  I'll have no more to do with it.  If he lives or dies, it is of no further consequence to me."

"Agreed," she said. "And what of the Black Lion?"

"Black Lion stays here!" Lotor shouted.  "Do you really think me a fool, Allura, that I would send with him the very thing that he could use to defeat me? Think again!"

"No, no... I wasn't so much thinking that, as I was what will become of Black Lion." She said.

"Black Lion will be brought back to Castle Doom, and set as a trophy to remind the entire galaxy that I, Lotor, was solely responsible for the dismantling of Voltron!"

"You may have the lion, Lotor, but the essence of Voltron can never be destroyed.  Voltron is more than mere machine.  Each of the five robot lions is part spirit, part machine. You can't destroy the spirit of Voltron, Lotor."

"Perhaps not, but I can successfully destroy the spirit of at least one part of Voltron...its Commander!" he said, glaring at Keith.  "Now say your good-byes.  After this, you'll never see each other again!"

Lotor turned on one heel and left the two of them alone.

Allura turned and knelt down to her knees, pushing her gown out of the way as she did.  She placed a gentle hand on Keith's shoulder.

"Now I'm happy," she said, trying to put on a smile for him.  "Now that I know you'll be safe and sound.  Just promise me you'll take care of Arus for me."

Keith shook his head, "No, Princess!  There's got to be another way!  I can't let you stay here with him!  I won't..."

"Keith, my mind is made up!  Lotor has promised to let you go if I stay.  And I promised him I would do that.  You must return to Arus.  Without Voltron to protect it, Arus will be at the mercy of Doom!  I need my most skilled and trusted soldiers on alert to help defend Arus!" Allura said, her voice thickened by tears.  "You just can't turn me down on this one, Keith."

"I can't return without you!" Keith protested.  "I can't!  It's with you, or not at all!"

"A moment ago, you were telling me that I must go on without you.  Now, I'm telling you same.  You must protect Arus on my behalf." Allura replied.

"YOU are Arus!" Keith hollered.  "You're being foolish!"

"Keith, I refuse to spend our last 20 minutes together arguing about things that aren't going to matter in an hour's time!" she shouted at him.

Keith suddenly became silent. He just stared at her.



"How can I just let her go?" he thought.  "She's my whole life!  I can't...I can't leave her here alone with that... that fiend!  What am I going to do?"



"I wish there were some other way, Keith." Allura thought silently as she stared into his sad eyes.  "Oh, Keith... I love you...more than life itself!  I only wish I could spend the rest of my life telling you."



"Allura," Keith finally broke the silence between them.  "I'll move heaven and earth to bring you back.  It may look like we've reached the end, but I'm not giving up!  And neither should you!"

Teardrops rolled down the Princess's face as she listened to him.  His love was so incredibly deepà

"It's not hopeless, Keith.  So long as we have love, nothing is hopeless." She said finally.

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

When 20 minutes had passed, and Lotor returned, as promised. "Princess...time's up.  Say goodbye now!"

Allura looked at Keith. "Well, this is it, Commander." she said tearfully.  "Remember me."

With a determined look, Keith whispered,  "Don't give up, Princess!  All is not lost! Remember that!"

She leaned down and gave him a gentle kiss on the lips.  Keith reached his hand up to her face, caressing her cheek lightly.

"I love you, Keith." she wept.

"I love you too, Allura." he answered back.

Allura rose to her feet and turned to face Lotor.  "You will send him back to the planet... no tricks?"

"Princess...on my oath as a Royal Prince, I promise to send him back to the planet...no tricks." Lotor replied, bowing to Allura.

"That doesn't reassure me in the least." Allura replied with a sarcastic tone of voice.

"I will do as I have promised." Lotor said, bowing before her.

Allura nodded, then turned one last time to look at Keith.  With the pained look in his eyes, it was all she could do to restrain herself from rushing back into his arms, and hiding herself there forever.

"Come to me, Princess!" Lotor commanded.

Keith sat upright; angered that Lotor was commanding her around.  Allura walked over to Lotor, and he grabbed hold of her arm.  She gasped in pain at the tightness of his grip.

That was all Keith could stand. He pushed himself off the ground, using the wall as a brace for his pained body.

"Lotor, stop!" Keith grunted as he slid up the wall.  "You're hurting her!"

"She's none of your concern now, Commander Keith!" Lotor shouted. "Be thankful that I'm allowing you to live!"

"I won't rest...until she's safely back on Arus!" Keith shouted.

"That shouldn't be long..." Lotor hissed back.  "With Allura as my bride, Arus becomes mine to rule!  And with Black Lion as my trophy, Voltron is a memory!"

Keith gritted his teeth together, an enraged feeling coming over him. "This isn't over yet, Lotor!"

"It is as far as I'm concerned, little man!" Lotor shouted.  Then he looked to his Doom guards, pointing his cybernetic arm toward Keith.

"Get him out of my sight!  Return him to the surface of Surbain!  Let the elements decide his fate!"  Lotor turned to Allura, as she struggled in his grasp.  "Come, my Princess.  I want to show you your new home!"

Allura winced in pain as Lotor dragged her down the corridor and out of the cellblock.

When they had gone, the Doom guards picked up Keith by his arms, and dragged him against his will to the scanner.  He fought them, as they pulled him across the room.

Finally they threw him into the scanner beam, and he dematerialized from sight.

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


Keith re-materialized on the surface of Planet Surbain... but several miles from the Royal Palace. He had no shirt, and the hot Surbainian sun began to beat down on him fiercely.  He looked up, using his hand to shield his eyes from the bright sun.

The intense heat began to sear at his wounded back.  The pain grew agonizing once again.

"Got to find some shade...fast!" he thought, his survival instincts kicking in from his academy training days.

Keith forced himself off of the ground, and he scrambled recklessly through the dessert-like terrain.

After searching for nearly five minutes, he finally found shade beneath a large slate of rock that was imbedded in the ground.

He dropped to his knees, exhausted, and crawled in behind it.  As he sat, sheltered from the intense sunlight, he started to feel the effects that his skin had suffered in the brief time of exposure.

The sun would set in a few hoursà and when it did, Keith would find yet another problem to deal with.  The night temperature...it could drop as low as 20 degrees below zero. Exposed as he was, it would be a stretch for him to make it back to the Palace in such conditions, without freezing to death.

But suddenly, he saw Allura's anguished face in his mind's eye...and he knew he couldn't fail her. He had to try to get back to the Palace somehow.  He had toà somehow.

But for now, Keith settled himself down for a quick nap, his strength robbed from him.

He curled up in a ball on the sandy ground beneath him.  He fell asleep quickly... but not soundly.  His heart's ache reminding him subconsciously of the Princess he was forced to leave behind.

His only hope was that somehow... she would be safe.
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