"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 20
Sneak Attack

During the night, Lotor sent a scout craft to Surbain, to learn of the fate of his enemy, Commander Keith Hunter.

Prince Lotor had no idea that Keith had been rescued already.

Assuming he was dead, but not sure enough in that feeling to let it go, he decided to send the scout ship to check it out.



"Bring me back the body...if there is one!" Lotor had ordered his scout crew.



It was during that time that Pidge had picked up the Doom scout ship on his long-range scanners.  He alerted the team to the intruder's movements.

"Pidge, Lance," Keith said, as he checked out the radar. "You two get your lions in the air and check it out."

"Right Keith!" Lance shouted, as he tagged Pidge on the arm to follow him.

King Augusta moved in next to Keith cautiously.  The King still felt sure that the Voltron Commander blamed him for all that had happened.  He felt that although he should be made aware of the activity on his planet, he was careful not to anger Keith any further than needed.

Surprisingly, Keith turned to the King.  "Your Majesty," he began, as he bowed before the suddenly timid King.  "What are you doing up at this hour?"

"I...I suppose I have no right to know, but I was wondering if you have thought of a plan to bring Queen...uh...I mean, Princess Allura... back to us."

Keith's eyebrows knitted together.  "Not yet, Your Majesty.  But we will soon."

"You sound so confident, Commander." The King sighed.  "I wish I were so.  I fear that my planet will become a wasteland after Lotor finishes with it."

Keith turned to King Augusta. "That
will never happen, Your Majesty.  The
Voltron Force will see to it that Planet
Surbain is safe, and its people free to
walk about, with having to fear Lotor or
his evil. We've dealt with Lotor before,
and it may seem hopeless, but sooner
or later, he'll slip up and give us the
advantage we need."


As Keith turned back around toward the monitor, a quiet sigh escaped him, as his thoughts, once again, fell upon the lovely Princess of Arus.

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

Red and Green Lions burst through the night sky over the surface of the planet, preparing to intercept the scout ship.

"Pidge, I have it on my scanners." Lance said over the COM.  "It's a big one!"

"Yeah, Lotor must be losing it...sending such a big ship after one little man, to see if he's dead or alive!" Pidge added.  "Totally pathetic!"

"Yeah, old Lotor must really be afraid of Keith,
to send such a monstrosity out after him!"
Lance scoffed.

"Well don't forget that Keith represents a
threat to Lotor!" Pidge replied back.

Lance leaned over his scanners, and did
a sensor sweep of the whole ship.


The scout craft, in turn, took notice of the presence of two of the
robot lions and immediately opened fire on them.

The lions dodged the incoming missiles with ease.

"Well, looks like its time to earn our paychecks." Lance shouted.  Then he activated his weapon's system. "Okay, you hunk of junk!  Spinning laser blades!"

Red Lion's mouth opened wide and emerging from it were dozens of spinning laser blades, suddenly hurling toward the enemy ship.

Green Lion's cannons lifted up from its back, pointing toward the ship. "Proton rays!" Pidge shouted, as the bright green bream zoomed out toward the scout ship.

Red Lion's paws tore into the ship, sending it spinning toward the surface of the planet.  As it crashed, Green Lion swooped in to take out the robot Doom soldiers that began to emerge from the wreckage.

One by one, the soldiers were destroyed.

When the last of the robotic soldiers had been eliminated, Red Lion landed on the ground, followed by Green Lion.

Lance jumped out of his lion, his blaster in hand, and Pidge came up right along side of him.

They both stood at the opening. "Shall we?" Pidge asked.

"Why yes!" Lance said.

"Age before beauty!" Pidge teased, as he stepped aside to allow Lance to step inside first.

"Very funny, pip-squeak!" Lance smirked.

After they searched the ship, and finding it to be empty, Lance opened his COM to home base.  "Keith... this is Lance.  The ship is has been downed and the robot dumb-bots have been sent to the scrap metal heap!  What now?"

"Great work, guys!" Keith's voice rang over the COM.  "Tow it back here.  I think I have an idea that might get us on board Lotor's ship!"

"What's the plan?" Lance asked, curious as to what Keith had up his sleeve.

"Just get back here on the double!" Keith's voice rang full of authority.  "I'll explain when you get here!"

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

Lance and Pidge returned to home base with their prize in tow.  They walked into the command center, eager to hear what their Commander had planned.

"So, what's the plan?" Lance asked, thumbing behind him toward the scout ship.  "What do you want with that bucket of bolts?"

Keith slowly moved over toward the window, taking a good look at the damaged Doom ship. Then he swiftly turned to Hunk.  "Check it out.  Tell me what you think!"

"Gottcha, Commander!" Hunk said with a snappy salute, and quickly dodged out of the room, heading for the wreckage.

Lance and Pidge scratched their heads. "Let us in on it!" Pidge said, now becoming frustrated over the whole silence thing.

Before another word could be said, Hunk came jogging back in to make his report about the Doom ship.  "I can make it happen, Commander!"

"Excellent, Hunk!" Keith smiled.  "How long do you think you'll need?"

Hunk tilted his head for a moment.  "Maybe half an hour, tops!"

"Get to work!" Keith directed.

As Hunk jogged back to the ship, Lance moved up to Keith's face.  "If you don't tell me what's going on around here, I'm going to..."

"Easy Lance!  We're going to repair the ship, and Sven and I are going to take it back to Lotor's cruiser." Keith said calmly.  "While we do that, you three are going to remain on standby alert until we call for backup."

"You're going to sneak back on aboard Lotor's ship...in that thing?" Pidge shook his head. "You'll never make it!  That thing will conk out before you even make it back!  Lance and I did some serious damage to its thrusters!"

"We just need one trip there.  Once inside, we can rescue Allura, and then, find Black Lion. All three of us can cram into the cockpit and pilot out of there!" Keith insisted.

"You'll never make it, Chief!" Pidge objected.  "If Lotor finds out, you'll be killed!"

"I've already made up my mind, Pidge." Keith proclaimed.  "For Allura's sake, we've got to try...dangerous as it might be."

"Wow! Keith... this is so... not you!" Lance teased.  "This is so reckless...I love seeing you like this!"

"Well, it's the best plan we have. And believe me, it's not my preferred method of rescue, but it's got to work!" Keith said.  "If not, we'll die trying."

Sven came running up with Doom soldier uniforms that he had removed from some dysfunctional robot soldiers that were still inside the ship. "Keit, I found dese uniforms!"

"Good work, Sven!" Keith said, grabbing one and throwing it on.  "With these, and the guard helmets, we can fool Lotor into thinking we're robot guards.  Once on board, we have to work quickly to find the Princess."

"Right," Sven nodded while putting his uniform on.  "We'll only have a few moments to find her before someone is on to us!"

Keith nodded back. Then he turned to Lance.  "I need you to take the lead role as our backup." Keith said, putting his hand on Lance's shoulder.  "Think you can do it, Lance?"

"You bet, I can!" Lance smiled, placing his own hand on Keith's shoulder.  "Good luck, Keith. You and Sven just bring her home.  We'll do the rest!"

Keith nodded affirmatively. "That's the plan.  I hope it works.  We've got to get her off of that ship."

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

Once Hunk had the ship was ready, Keith and Sven boarded it.  It only took them a moment to verse themselves on the controls, before they caught on to the operational protocol.

Keith took the helm while Sven navigated. Both men were in the air in moments.

On the ground, Lance, Pidge and Hunk stood ready, awaiting the command to attack.

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

As they neared Lotor's ship, Keith held his breath, "Okay Sven, no turning back now."

"No way, Keit! I'm wit you for the long haul." Sven replied.  "We've got to get da Princess away from that mad man!  Dis iz da only way we can do it."

"Agreed!" Keith said strongly. "Just hope we're not too late," Keith thought afterward.

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

The door to Allura's Doom chambers slid open, and she suddenly leapt off of her bed, slowly backing away from Lotor as he entered the room... the door sliding closed behind him.

"My Princess, don't be afraid." Lotor said calmly.  "I won't hurt you."

"Stay away from me!" she said anxiously.  "Just leave me alone!"

Lotor halted his approach.  "Aren't you pleased with your accommodations, Allura?"

Allura said nothing, keeping a defensive position.  Lotor smiled at her.

"My dear Princess Allura!  Fight as you will, you are mine...to do with as I please!"

"You may think you have me, but what you really want, you can never have!" she said sternly.  "I'll never love you, Lotor!  Never!"

"Never is such a strong word, Allura." Lotor said.  "I don't believe in the word, 'never'.  They said I would, 'never' have you as my bride.  And now...here we are... about to consummate the marriage of our souls!"

Allura's eyes grow wide with fear,
as she heard the words she feared
most... consummate.

She began once again, to slowly
back away from him, her hands in
front of her. "Lotor, please,"
she pleaded. "Don't do this! I beg
you! Please...don't do this to me!"

"I will do as I please, Princess!
I thought I had made that pretty
clear to you." Lotor said, slowly
circling around in an attempt to corner her.

"Lotor!  If you love me, as you truly say that you do, you won't violate me against my will!" Allura wept.

"You are mine!  I've waited
endless years, aching for you!
I would have preferred you to
come to me willingly.  But you
chose to thrwart my every attempt
to show you the true affection
that's in my deepest heart for you,
Allura." the evil Prince said. "Now, you
WILL love me!"

"Love is not forced, Lotor!" Allura replied, sharply. "Love is a mutual feeling...shared between two people who love each other very much!  You will never force me to love you! And I will do nothing for your pleasure!"

Lotor shouted his reply. "My PLEASURE, PRINCESS?  My 'pleasure', is to have you!  And it will be up to you how easy that will take place!"

"NO!" she screamed, as she took off running toward the door.

Lotor swung around and cut her off. She froze as he confronted her.

"Come now, Allura!" Lotor said, standing only feet away from her.  "Don't make this difficult on yourself!  Give in! Y ou can't win!  And your puney 'heroes' can not help you now!"

"I will never surrender myself to you!" she shouted, beginning once again to back away from him.  "You'll never take me willingly!"

"Run if you'd like, but you'll never escape this room!" he said, now approaching in a threatening manner.  "Things will be a lot easier on you if you submit yourself to me now!"

"I said, NEVER!" she screamed.

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

Keith and Sven had managed to clear the security guards, and land the ship back in the docking bay.

Once the ship was shut down, Keith and Sven walked out in a mechanical manner, mimicking the robots they had seen before.

Sven gently elbowed Keith in the side, drawing his attention to the left.


Black Lion...












Black Lion was parked just to the left of their present position, and under minimal security in the docking bay.   It was right where Keith had last left it, before Lotor had captured him and
tortured him.

Keith suddenly recalled the path out of the docking bay, and motioned Sven to follow him. Once outside of the docking bay, they both quickly ran down the hallway and ducked out of sight.

Keith removed his helmet, and Sven did the same.

"Do you have the bomb?" Keith asked Sven.

"Yez." Sven nodded, removing it from his utility belt.

"Good," Keith smiled.  "Time to cause a distraction so we can find Allura!"

"Right!" Sven whispered, as he attached the bomb to the wall and set the timer.  Once in place, the bomb began to time out a 60-second delay.

Sven pulled on Keith's arm, and both men took off running toward another hallway.  Keith took out his scanner, and began to home in on Allura's humanoid life signs.  A slow smile crept across Keith's face as his scanner picked up on her readings.

"Got her!" Keith said.  "10 degrees to the right and 25 degrees left!"

Suddenly, Keith's face lost the smile it had, as his scanners picked up another life form with her. "Sven...she's not alone!"

"Lotor?" Sven asked with a frown.

"That's my guess!" Keith said, his whispered tone becoming agitated. "We've got to get her out of there, quick...before Lotor..."

"Let's go, Keit! No time to babble!" Sven tugged.  "Dat bomb is going to cause a lot of commotion in a few moments!"

Both men put their helmets back on their heads, and headed down the hall toward the place where Allura was sure to be.

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

"Give up, Princess!" Lotor hissed, as he once again lunged and missed the fleeing Arusian ruler.

"Stay away from me, you beast!" she screamed, dodging another grab.

Lotor took his good hand, and picked up a vase, throwing it at her.  She ducked, narrowing missing it. It was just what Lotor needed to distract her long enough to grab hold of her.

Lotor lunged forward, and with one swift motion, grabbed Allura by her left wrist.

Trapped in his grasp, Allura screamed and clawed at Lotor.  He only smiled at her, as he began to drag her toward the bed.

"A nice try, Princess!  I must admit, you are even more beautiful when you struggle against me!"

"No Lotor!" she began to plead once again, losing the battle to save herself.  "You mustn't do this! You can't!"

"You are mine, Allura! Now you will know that truth!" Lotor shouted, as he threw her on the bed, cornering her with no escape route.  "It will be less painful if you would just give in to me, Princess!"

"I'll never give in to you, Lotor!" she shouted, tears now streaming down her eyes.

As Lotor neared her, cornering her, the voice of the one she loved with all of her heart, filled her mind with encouragement...



"No matter what, Princess, I won't be far away from you. Remember...I love you!  Draw strength from that."



She decided to do just that.

As Lotor pulled on her arm, her gown tore, revealing her shoulder and part of her arm.  She screamed, gasping in fear, as she now realized that Lotor was going to take her piece by piece, if necessary.

With her free hand, she clutched at her torn clothing.  But Lotor began to pull on her arm, tearing more of her clothing away as he did.

"Come to me, Princess!" Lotor shouted, as he pulled at her, ripping even more of her gown away.


KABOOM!


The sudden force of the explosion rocked the whole ship.  Lotor and Allura were both shaken... the force of the explosion sending them spawling onto the bed together.

Lotor immediately shuffled to his feet, screaming in anger as the door swished open revealing one of his Doom soldiers standing in the doorway.

"Prince Lotor," the voice announced. "An explosion!"

Lotor pushed the guard away from him. "You idiot!  I know that!" he shouted as he ran down the hallway.

As he ran, he shouted behind, "Guard the Princess!  Don't let her out of your sight, or I'll blow you up next!"

"By your command, Sire." The guard said.

Lotor had dashed out of sight.

A companion guard joined the first Doom guard.  They gathered inside the Princess's chambers.  As they moved closer inside, they found the Princess still spawled out across the bed, her face down to the mattress, clutching her head with both of her hands.

One Doom guard looked at the other, and they both quickly moved toward the Princess.

Allura felt a hand reaching out and touching her.  She suddenly screamed, scrambling away from it. Looking up, she saw the two Doom guards standing in front of her.

Suddenly, one of the spoke...

"Princess! What did he... what happened to you?" the first Doom guard said, apparently shocked at the sight of her torn clothing.  "What's Lotor done to you?"

"Stay back!" she screamed, picking up a vase from the bed stand, and hurling it at the Doom guards.  "I said stay back!"

"Princess!" the first guard said once again. "It's us!  It's Keith and Sven!"

Allura peered closer, allowing her defenses down from a moment.

"Keith?" she said; her voice ladled with fear.  "But...it can't be!  I don't believe you!  This is another trick!"

The guards removed their helmets, revealing the faces of Keith and Sven.  "Allura, it's me! It's Keith!"

"And me!" Sven said quietly.

Hesitating for only a moment, Allura blinked several times before finally saying, "Keith?" she said timidly at first.  "Is... is it really you?"

"Yes, Allura," Keith said, his arms outstretched toward her.  "Yes...its me!  It's Keith."

"KEITH!" Allura shouted, scrambling toward him.

He quickly moved around to her. As she reached his awaiting arms, she crumpled to the floor, her emotions taking over, and the fear reducing her to wracking sobs.

Keith saw her gown had been torn away from her shoulder and arm, and that it was hanging off of her body, threatening to reveal much more than Keith dared to think about.  He suddenly became angry.

"Did he do this to you, Allura?" Keith seethed.

Allura nodded slowly.

"Did he do anything else?" Keith grunted, holding her in his arms.

She shook her head, struggling to speak.  "No... the bomb...if it weren't for the bomb, he'd...he would have...Oh Keith, thank God you came when you did!"

"It's alright Allura.  We're going to get you out of here." Keith comforted, gently rubbing her back, as her head lay buried in his chest.  He turned to Sven.  "Let's get going."

"Right!" Sven whispered, drawing a blaster from his holster.

Keith gently pulled Allura away from him, bringing her into an upright position. "Princess, I need you to pull yourself together long enough to get out of here." He said compassionately. "I need you to be strong, Allura."

Allura nodded, using her free hand to wipe the tears from her eyes, while using the other hand to hold her dress to her body.

Keith rose to his feet, pulling the Princess up with him.  He swung around and grabbed a bed sheet, covering Allura's body with it.  He then grabbed her by the shoulders and quickly escorted her to the door where

Sven was waiting.  He had his helmet on already.  Keith slipped his on, then grabbed onto the Princess by the shoulders from behind.

Sven looked at Keith, waiting for the signal.  Keith nodded, and the two men entered the hallway with the Princess.  Sven walked ahead, while Keith walked behind the Princess, keeping his hands on her shoulders in a false, threatening-like manner.

Doom soldiers were running here and there, reacting to the explosion and subsequent fire.

Allura's eyes roamed back and forth, as they traveled quickly through the hallways, heading in the direction of the docking bay.

"Halt!" the threatening, mechanized voice bellowed from behind them.

The trio came to an abrupt stop.  Sven clutched onto his blaster, waiting to react.  Keith remained still, allowing the questioning guard to approach them from behind.

"State your destination!" the robotic guard ordered.

Keith turned his head, looking toward the guard.  "We are to deliver the Princess of Arus to Prince Lotor!  You are in the way!  Stand aside!  If we do not deliver her as ordered, we will be deactivated!" Keith said in a mechanized voice.

The robot guard paused for a moment.  Allura was trembling with fear, afraid to look at the guard, fearing she might give something away.  She kept her view to the ground.

After what seemed to be an eternity of waiting, the guard finally acknowledged them. "Proceed."

Keith nodded, and grabbed the Princess abruptly, causing her to gasp.

As they drew out of earshot, Sven leaned back to Keith, "Too close, my friend."

"It's going to get a lot closer before it's over!" Keith whispered up to Sven.  "Just keep moving!"

They continued to move toward the docking bay.  Keith's heart was aching as he forced himself to push and shove the Princess along abruptly.

"Please forgive me, Allura," he thought silently, hating himself for having to be so rough.


"I do, Keith."


Allura's head turned slightly, only enough to give Keith the physical understanding that she accepted his treatment as part of the plan of escape...and nothing more.

The door to the docking bay slide open, revealing a room full of chaos.  Sven looked over to where Black Lion was standing.

Surprisingly, no one was guarding it, now. Sven leaned back to Keith and Allura,

"It's now or never!" the Norwegian pilot said in a low voice.

"Let's go, quickly and quietly!" Keith whispered for both Sven and Allura to hear.

Methodically, the trio moved in next to Black Lion, ducking behind one of its enormous paws. Keith motioned for his team to get down on the floor and start crawling for the head, where the entrance to the cockpit was.

Sven and Allura immediately dropped flat, following their leader.

Keith reached his hand up, and carefully opened the door to the cockpit. After jarring it, he ducked back down, and turned his body to face Allura and Sven...

"We've got to do this fast!  It won't be long before these tin-heads figure out what we're up to!" Keith motioned his hand to the cockpit, referring to boarding Black Lion.  "We don't have much time.  Once they see that we're stealing the Black Lion, they're going to shoot
first, and ask questions later.  Are you two ready?"

"I'm ready!" Allura whispered, still clutching the bed sheet about her.

"I'm ready too." Sven also whispered back, his blaster ready for action.

"Okay, I hid the Black Lion key in the special compartment just under the console. Hopefully, these guys weren't smart enough to look there and find it.  If it's not there, we've had it!" Keith said in a whispered voice.

He then motioned Allura and Sven to follow him.

Keith got in first, looking around to see if he attracted attention.  When it was safe, he hoisted the Princess up next and then, Sven got in last.  Keith and Allura ran for the Command chair, while Sven secured the cockpit door.

Keith quickly climbed into the command chair, while Allura crouched in low next to him on the right. Sven quickly joined his friends, parking himself behind his Commander in the passenger seat.

Reaching his hand under the console, Keith prayed silently that the key would still be there. A look of relief came over his face, as the compartment slide open, and his hand eagerly found the key to the Black Lion... just where he had placed it.  He retracted his hand,
the key safely in his palm.

Keith paused, taking a deep breath and slowly letting it out again.

"Okay you two," he said quietly to Sven and Allura, bringing the key up just inches away from the activation slot.  "Hang on to your hats, this promises to be a rough ride.  Inserting key... now!"

Keith placed the key into the slot, and the front monitors and the console came alive.  From the outside, the Black Lion came to life with a mighty roar, grabbing the attention of the robot Doom Soldiers.

"It's the robot lion!" one of them shouted in a mechanized voice.  "Fire all weapons! Quickly... before it escapes!"

All Doom Soldiers began to open fire on the Black Lion.

Inside Black Lion, Keith brought the weapons system online.  "Activating proton rays!"

A proton cannon materialized on Black Lion's back.  "Fire!" Keith shouted.

The white hot beam shot out from the cannon, making direct impact on the docking bay doors, instantly disintegrating them.  The beam also disintegrated several robot Doom Soldiers as it shot forth.

Black Lion roared once again, rising up into a standing position.  With a mighty hop, the lion immediately made its way to the self-made exit it had created.

"Go Lion!" Keith shouted from inside the cockpit.

Black Lion reached the edge of the docking bay doors... or what was left of them.  By its pilot's command, the robot lion jumped out into space, soaring at lightning speed away from Lotor's ship.

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

In his command center, word of Allura's escape reached Lotor's ears.

"WHAT!" he screamed angrily.
He turned to the robot guard that
brought him the news. "Full scale
attack on the Black Lion! Immediately!"

"Yes, Sire," the robot guard said,
crossing its hand in front of his
chest while quickly turned to leave.

Lotor turned to Hagar. "Keith...It has to be him!"

Hagar nodded agreeably. "I would assume so, Prince Lotor." she hissed.  "You should have never allowed him to live!  That was your first mistake, Lotor!"

"And my second, you know-it-all?" he angrily shouted at her.

"Not destroying the Black Lion!" she shouted back. "You have allowed Voltron to live again!"

"Not now, Old Witch!" he screamed, turning to the monitor.  He thought things over for a moment. "You have left me no choice, Allura." he thought.  "Hagar," Lotor finally said, whipping his head back around toward her.  "Launch your new Mega-Robeast!  Bid him to destroy the Black Lion...and everyone on board!"

"But Lotor, that will destroy Princess Allura as well." Hagar reminded him.

Lotor's gaze fell upon the fleeing Black Lion on the main monitor, as he stood on the bridge of the Revenge.  His eyebrows were suddenly knit together and a snear appeared upon his face.

"Then...so be it." Lotor replied in a low angry voice.  "She has made her decision.  And so have I.  Do as I have commanded, Old witch! Destroy them all!"

Hagar bowed her head. "At once, Sire."

As she hovered away, Lotor walked over to his command chair and sat down in it. He began to drum the cybernetic fingers of his right hand on the arm of the chair.

"Allura," he said quietly. "I would have treated you well.  Now, I have no choice but to destroy you. I'm sorry, my love."

Lotor then rose to his feet, addressing his front gunner. "Open fire on the Black Lion!  All weapons!"

"At once, Prince." the robotic gunner replied.

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

"I'm telling you, it's not over yet, Lance!" Keith said through the COM to his second, who was still on the surface of Planet Surbain.  "Lotor is going to throw everything he has at us. And he'll retaliate against Allura, by attempting to destroy this planet! Secure the planet first, then get up here to help us!"

"Okay," Lance sighed.  "I'll prepare things down here.  How's the Princess?"

Allura tilted her head toward the console COM link.  "I'm fine now,  thanks to Keith and Sven!"

"Did that monster touch you, Princess?" Lance said angrily.

"I'm fine, Lance." Allura repeated.  She was lying, motioning Keith to keep silent for now.  Lance was a hothead, and they all knew that it wouldn't take much to set him off.

"Okay, do what you can down on that planet, then get up here!" Keith said. "Black Lion out."

Keith turned his head back to Sven.  "As soon as I can, I'll get you back to the planet to get Blue Lion. I can just feel a dog fight coming on."

As if being prophetic, the internal sensor alarms went off on the console. Keith swung back around and flipped on the rear monitors.  The expression on his face said it all...

"Okay, here we go.  Get ready for round one!" Keith said, preparing for attack.  "Incoming fire!"

Allura gripped tightly to the side of Keith's chair.

Outside of the lion, a barrage of firepower was being launched.  Skull cruisers and Skull fighters were streaking up behind Black Lion, opening fire.

"Evasive maneuvers!" Keith shouted, as he prepared for battle.  He opened the COM once again to the planet surface.  "Black Lion to Voltron Force!  I could use your help up here right about now!"

"Lance here, we're coming! Just hang tight!"

"If you don't hurry, dere will be noting left of uz up here!" Sven shouted, now to his feet and standing behind Keith's chair.

"Get those lions launched, Lance!" Keith commanded.

"Gottcha!" Lance replied back.  "We'll be there in a few minutes!"

"Good, because a few minutes is about all we have up here by ourselves!" Keith replied, dodging another round of missiles that were propelled at him.

Keith turned to Sven,  "It would seem that Lotor's given up on Allura.  He's more interested in destroying Black Lion at the moment."

"I tink you're right, Keit." Sven agreed.

Keith turned his head to the Princess. "Are you okay down there, Allura?  Sven should get you strapped in to the passenger seat behind me."

"No, I'd feel better staying right where I am." She replied.

"Okay then," Keith said, turning back to his monitors.  "Hang on, everyone.  It gets bumpy from here!"

Keith turned the lion around to face the oncoming attackers.  "Lion torches!"

Black Lion's mouth opened wide and shot out a fire blaze directed toward the oncoming attack squad. It instantly melted dozens of fighters in its path.

"Proton rays!" Keith next commanded.

The proton rays disintegrated another half dozen Skull ships.

"Okay, we're doing well so far.  Just a few more rounds and... What in the galaxy...is that?" Keith gasped as his monitor revealed a tremendous object approaching quickly from behind them.  He shouted out loud, "Robeast!  Everyone... brace for impact!"

The Mega-Robeast pulled in behind Black Lion.  With a mighty swipe of its arm, Black Lion was sent tumbling out of control toward Surbain.

It then turned to follow behind Black Lion.


"AHHHH!"


The trio screamed as the attack progressed. Keith struggled to gain control of Black Lion.

"Hold on! Mega-thrusters, go!" he flipped on the stabilizers, attempting to gain control of the falling lion.

Caught in the gravity of the planet, Black Lion was being hauled downward, and the Robeast was right behind him.

Keith opened the COM. "Lance, where are you?" he said, struggling to gain control of the out of control robot lion. "We've got new trouble!"

"Red Lion, here!" Lance shouted over the COM. "I see it!  We're approaching from your left, Black Lion!"

"Nice timing, guys!" Keith replied sarcastically, pulling on his control levers.  "Taking in some scenery on the way up, were you?"

"Well, we were finishing our coffee and donuts when you called." Lance teased.  "Union rules, you know!"

"Coffee break over!" Hunk shouted over the COM.  "Firing Isotopic missiles!"

Yellow Lion flew around in front of the Robeast and opened fire on is.  The missiles impacted the ugly, enormous monster, with little, to no damage.

"Whoa," Pidge said over the COM.  "My sensors show this thing is made up of a special metal. It's almost like a type of living metal substance!"

"Can we penetrate it, Pidge?" Keith called out, finally gaining control of Black Lion.

"No, not without Voltron!" the young genius replied. "And maybe...not even with him."

"Alright, I'm heading for the planet!  We need Blue Lion.  You three keep this thing occupied until we return!" Keith ordered.

"Roger that, Commander!" Pidge replied, sending a round of fire toward the Robeast.

Black Lion banked left and headed down to the planet surface.

Lance mused at the Robeast monster. "Hey there, big, bad and ugly!  Let's see you dodge this! Spinning laser blade attack!"

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

In a matter of minutes, Black Lion had reached the surface of Surbain, landing next to Blue Lion. "Okay, Sven! Get to the Blue Lion!" Keith shouted.

As Sven turned to leave, Keith looked down to the floor at Allura. "Princess," he said quietly.  "I want you to get to the Palace and take cover."

"No, Keith!" she pleaded.  "Let me stay here with you!"

Keith shook his head. "Its far too dangerous, Allura!  I want you to run for cover!"

"But, I can't leave you with that thing, alone!" she replied.

"Princess, there's nothing you can do for me except do as I ask!" he said insistently.  "I'd feel better if I knew you were safe in the Palace!"

"But Keith," she begged.  "I'm a member of this team too!"

Keith turned in his command chair to face her.  "Allura, please don't make this any harder than it has to be!  That thing is huge and fierce.  Voltron may not be able to best its strength. If we're destroyed, you must survive for the sake of Arus!"

"I don't want to survive without you!" she cried.  "I'm nothing without you, Keith!"

"You were a strong leader before you even met me, Allura.  And you'll continue to be a strong leader.  And one of the marks of a strong leader is knowing when to retreat for the good of everyone!  Your presence will interfere with my ability to protect you!"

"But it never has before!" she continued to protest.

"It always has!" he countered.  "I've never been in favor of you piloting Blue Lion!  But you're so pigheaded about it!"

Keith was lying to her, in an attempt to anger enough to make her want to leave.

"I believe in what I do!" she shouted defensively back at him.  Then her tone grew softer. "Don't you want me on the team any longer?"

Keith sighed. "Of course I do, Princess.  It's just very hard for me to watch you fight and take the risk of getting hurt, or worse, getting killed!"

"You take that risk everyday too!" she insisted.

"That's different! I'm trained to do this! This is my job!" Keith replied.

"Well, I'm trained too!" she replied back. "I was trained by the Alliance's best officer... Commander Keith Hunter! And I think I'm pretty good, too!"

"I didn't say you weren't good at what you do, Princess! I'm just saying that I don't want to see you get hurt! Now get out, Allura!  I have to get back up there!" Keith said.

"Let me go with you!" she pleaded again.  "I can't stay here while you're up there!  If you die, then I die with you!"

"No, Princess!  Get to the Palace!  That's an order, Allura!" he said firmly.

"But Keith..."

"For the last time...get going, Princess!" he shouted now, giving her a look that would have sent anyone else on his team running for cover.  But to her, it was a look of desperation... a look of protection toward her.

Reluctantly, Allura rose to her feet, and headed out of Black Lion's cockpit.

When Keith saw that she was safely on the Palace grounds, he gave the order to Sven.

"Let's get back up there!"

"I'm right behind you, Keit!" Sven confirmed.

Blue Lion roared out loud, following behind Black Lion.

As they ascended into the air, Allura sent out a silent prayer,

"Please Keith, return safely. 
All of you, return safely."

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