"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  haracters are the copyright of Adele.   Please do not use them without asking for permission.  Thank you.

Enjoy!


Chapter 26
Lightning Is the Key


"Leave me alone, Lotor!" Allura screamed

"No, my Princess!  You are mine! Face it!" Lotor shouted, reaching out to grab her.

"NO!" she screamed again. "Help me, Keith! 
Keith...where are you?"

"He can't hear you!" Lotor scoffed. 
"He's dead!  I've killed him!"

"No! Keith!  Keith where are you?
Keith..."



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

Allura jumped awake screaming
at the top her voice.

"Keith!  Where's Keith?" she cried.

An attendant ran up to her.  King Augusta
was also there, attempting to calm her down.
"What's wrong with her?" the King asked.

"She's delusional, Your Majesty.  It's a side
affect from the sun poisoning." the attendant
replied.

The King rose to his feet and shook Allura by the shoulders.  "Princess Allura, Princess Allura...can you hear me?" he said with a concerned tone in his voice.

"Keith!  Where's Keith!  Keith...help me!" she continued to cry out.

The King turned to the attendant.  "Where's the Voltron Commander?"

"He's being looked after, Sire.  He suffered injury as well." the attendant again replied.

"KEITH!  WHERE ARE YOU?" Allura began screaming hysterically, her eyes wide open with fear.  "KEITH! HELP ME, KEITH!"

"Go and bring him here, immediately!" the King shouted.

"At once, Your Majesty!" the attendant said, as he turned to run out the door.

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

In another ward, Sven, Lance, Pidge and Hunk sat with their Commander, as another medical attendant used laser treatment to repair Keith's broken ribs.  The pain had all but subsided now.

"There, how does that feel?" the attendant asked Keith.

Keith stood up, and took a few steps. "Good!" he exclaimed. "They feel much better!"

"You'll have to take it easy for a few days, but you should be fine now." The attendant said. "Good as new!"

"Thank you." Keith said, reaching over and shaking the man's hand.

Suddenly, another attendant broke into the room in a panic.

Lance stood to his feet.  "What's wrong?"

The other attendant stood at the door, trying to catch his breath.  "Commander Keith..." he started to say.

"Yes...what is it?" Keith said, drawing his attention over to where the man stood.

Between breaths, he tried to speak. "P r i n c e s s  A l l u r a," was all he could get out.

Hunk immediately grabbed the poor guy and began shaking him. "What about her?" he shouted.

Lance came to Hunk's side, grabbing his arms, forcing him to release the attendant.

Startled, the attendant gave a blank looking stare at the Yellow Lion pilot.

Keith came up to him, with Sven and Pidge quickly behind him.

"What's going on?" Keith asked the attendant...a tone of urgency in his voice.  "Where's the Princess?"

The attendant turned to Keith.  "She's...she's screaming uncontrollably...down the hall!  The King has sent me here to get you, Commander!  You must come at once!"

Keith panicked. "Come on guys!" he shouted, then ran past the man toward the door.  "Where down the hall is she?" Keith shouted.

"She's... She's in the medical lab...down the hall!  Second door on the left at the end...she's calling...for you Commander.  Delirious..." he tried to say.

"Let's go!" Keith motioned.

They all jogged down the hallway.



As they approached the lab, they could hear Allura screaming at the top of her voice.  She was calling for Keith.

The Force burst into the room, and King Augusta suddenly looked relieved.

"She's been this way for several minutes!  I don't think she is aware of her surroundings." the King said.

The Force rushed to Allura's side, and Keith sat on the bed, grabbing her by the shoulders.

"KEITH!  WHERE ARE YOU?" she continued to scream hysterically.

"Allura, Allura!" Keith said, gently shaking her.  "It's me!  It's Keith!  Listen to my voice! Whatever is going on, it's not real.  I'm here!  Listen to me, Allura!"

"Keith?" she cried, her screaming subsiding suddenly upon hearing his voice. "Keith, are you here?"

"Yes, Allura," he reassured her.  "I'm here
with Sven, Lance, Hunk and Pidge.  We're
all here for you, Princess."

"Keith?" she repeated again.

Keith leaned into her, taking her in his
arms, whispering in her ear.  "I'm here, Allura.
It's all right!  Do you understand what I'm
saying?"

Suddenly, she began to heave her breaths.

"Keith!" Hunk shouted. "I think she's coming around!"

Keith sat back, holding onto her hands, watching her blink several times.

"Allura?" he asked quietly. "Can you hear me?"

She suddenly collapsed forward, and everyone rushed to her side. 

"Princess!" everyone shouted.

Slowly, she lifted her head up, and saw her friends gathered around her. "Where...where am I?" she asked, confused.

"Don't you remember what happened?" Hunk asked.

"I...I remember being outside, feeling very sick..." she replied.

"You had been sun poisoned, Princess." Keith said to her. "If Lance and Pidge didn't find us when they did..."

"Lance, Pidge...you're...you're all right!" she said suddenly. "Sven, Hunk!  Oh...I'm so glad to see all of you!  I thought I'd lost you all!  Lotor, he...he killed you, Keith!"

"No, Allura, " Keith interrupted.  "You were having a bad dream.  Nothing's happened to us."

"In fact, we've figured out how to recharge the lions!" Pidge added.

Allura sat up and blinked again.  "You have?  How?" she asked.

"Red Lion is out in the baking sun," Pidge began. "Keith came up with a great idea!"

"What is it?" she asked Keith.

"We only need one lion ship to be fully charged in order to form Voltron.  Pidge said he can configure the rest of the lions to equally share the energy." Keith said.

"Will it work?" she asked.

"Sure it will!" Pidge exclaimed.

"Then, there is a chance to save Voltron!" she said joyfully.

"It's a chance..." Keith smiled.  "Feel up to riding with me again?"

"Uh, Keith, shouldn't we leave the Princess here where she'll be safe?" Lance asked.

"No, she'll be save where we can see her." Keith calmly said.  "I'm not making that mistake twice!"

"I feel fine!" Allura said, jumping out of bed.  "When do we get started?"

"Nightfall." Sven said.  "We can only hope dat Lotor stays away until after den."

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

The skies over Surbain had turned stormy as nightfall approached.

Keith was looking out the window in the lounge.  Lance was pacing behind him.  Pidge was in the situation room, monitoring Lotor's fleet that hovered above the planet.

After their unsuccessful attempt at capturing the Princess, they returned to their cruiser, and have been strangely quiet since then.

Everyone waited for Keith to give the word to move out...

But Keith wasn't ready to give the word...
not just yet.  He turned to Lance, Sven
and Hunk.

"I don't know, guys," Keith said, quietly.
"There's a nasty storm brewing.  I don't
like the looks of it."  He then turned back
to look out of the window once again.

"Yeah," Hunk said, rubbing his chin
thoughtfully.  "King Augusta said
that his planet's storms tend to be
pretty bad...a lot of lightning
and stuff."

Keith whirled around and looked at Hunk. "What did you say?"

Hunk looked puzzled. "I said, Augusta said the storms around here get bad."

"...with a lot of lightning!" Keith repeated.  "You said...with a lot of lightning!"

"Yeah," Hunk replied with a puzzled look on his face. "So?"

"Black Lion!" Lance shouted, the revelation hitting him suddenly.  "If we can arrange for Black Lion to get struck by lightning, one good bolt should be enough to supercharge its batteries!"

"Den, we'd have two lions fully charged instead of jist one!" Sven added.

"Quick!  Find Pidge!" Keith pointed to Lance.

"On it!" Lance shouted, running out the door.

He nearly ran right into Allura, who was coming to join her friends.

"Oh!" Lance apologized.  "Sorry, Princess!" he said while dodging around her.

Lance continued down the hallway in a rush, while Keith, Sven and Hunk were found in the room.

The thunder could be heard in the distance.

"Oh no," Allura sighed. "A thunderstorm is approaching.  Augusta told me that these type of storms are very dangerous here on Surbain!"

"That's great!" Keith said with a smile.

"That's great?" she questioned, throwing him a puzzled look.

"Yeah, Princess!" Hunk said confidently.  "Black Lion could benefit from this!"

Suddenly, it was like a light came on in Allura's head, and she looked back to Keith with a smile on her face as well,

"Black Lion's element is lightning...from the energy of a raging storm!"

"That's right, Princess." Keith confirmed.  "If Pidge can rig up something that could attract one of those beauties to hit Black Lion..."

"We're back in business again with two lions filled with energy!" Allura squealed.

"...and if Black Lion is full charged too, that's more energy to form Voltron!" Hunk added.

"Den we could give dat evil villain, Lotor, a run for hiz money!" Sven also added.

Allura ran over to Keith and jumped into his arms.  He wrapped his arms around her, embracing her, as both of them laughed happily.

Sven and Hunk smiled at the sight.

Sven especially was happy for his friend, Keith.  He knew it had been a long road of discovery for him...and a long road of courage to finally admit what he truly felt for the Princess of Arus.

Much like himself with the Princess of Pollux...whom Sven was longing to see at this very moment.

But he smiled anyway, celebrating Keith's happiness.

Pidge and Lance ran into the room, and Keith and Allura separated.  Keith immediately resumed his military stance, and quickly moved toward Pidge.

"Well, what do you think?" Keith asked Pidge.

"I have just the thing...right here, Commander!" Pidge announced proudly, as he held up a large twig-like stick. "This is a ionized rod.  It's capable of attracting and then magnifying lightning energy.  All we have to do is attach it to Black Lion, and get out of the way!  The rod will attract the closest lightning strike to it andà VWA-LA!  Instant recharge for Black Lion!"

"Great work, Pidge!" Keith said, patting the young genius on the shoulder.  Then he turned to the window.  "One of us has to go out there in the freezing cold and attach it to Black Lion before the storm gets here."

"I'll do it!" Pidge volunteered. "I've already located Black Lion today...I know where he is. And since I'm most qualified to set this up, that makes me most logical to go."

"I want someone to go with you." Keith added.  "In case something goes wrong, you'll have a buddy to go and get help."  Keith looked at his men.  "Hunk, I want you to go with Pidge. The rest of us will make plans to move out."

"In the...thunderstorm?" Hunk gulped fearfully.  "Why me, Keith?"

Lance came along side of his large friend.  "You aren't afraid...are you, Hunk?"

Hunk shout Lance a puzzled look.  "So...what if I am?"

"You wouldn't want the Princess to think you're a chicken, would you?" Lance added.

Hunk's eyes suddenly came alive with fire.  "Who you calling chicken?" he snarled.  Suddenly inspired, Hunk jumped to his feet, and looked Keith square in the eyes.

"Okay, count me in!" he said, then waving to Pidge for him to follow.  "Come on, little buddy...that storm will be rolling in soon.  We don't have much time!"

"Right!" Pidge agreed, winking his eye at Lance, and then, the two men ran out of the room.

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

Zooming along the land with their jetpacks, and staying low to the ground, Hunk and Pidge hurried to the crash site of Black Lion, hoping to get things set up before the storm hit.  They were dressed in their uniforms, which provided a good deal of protection from the cold temperatures of the planet surface. And their Lion helmets and face-shields provided protection to their faces.

Pidge used his mini computer to track the progress of the storm... speed, direction and wind velocity.

"Hunk," he said through the COM.  "We've got to hurry!  It's going to be close!  My mini computer tells me that that storm is heading in fast!"

Hunk looked up into the sky with a wave of fear coming over him as he saw the massive bolts of lightning flying in the direction they were headed.

"I don't need a stupid computer to tell me something my eyes already see!" Hunk said, his voice a bit nerved.

Pidge laughed. "Aw, come on, Hunk! You're supposed to be the strong man of this group! And you're afraid of a thunderstorm?"

"It's not the thunder that bothers me, Pidge-O," Hunk replied.  "It's the lightning!  I have a healthy fear of being turned into a crispy critter, ya know?"

Pidge continued to laugh, until he looked up suddenly and saw their target... "Hunk!" Pidge shouted.  "We're here!"

"Thank God..." Hunk sighed quietly.  "Come on, let's attach this thing and get out of here fast...before that storm runs into us!"

"But before we return to the Palace, we're going to make a quick stop at Red Lion.  I want to check its infra-cells to see if they're fully charged." Pidge informed Hunk.

"Geez, Pidge!" Hunk shouted. "You're going to get us killed if you fool around too much out here!"

"Hunk...I have to do this! We have to make sure that Red Lion is fully charged!  We can't just assume one day in the hot baking sun is going to do it!  I have to be sure!" Pidge replied. "Just follow me.  I need help setting this thing up.  I have to insert it into Black Lion's mega-thruster tube."

The lightning began to flash more fiercely as they landed on the top of Black Lion.

Hunk took off his utility belt from his waist, and began to open up the mega-thruster tube hatch.

The thunderclaps were growing louder.

Nervously unscrewing the hatch, Hunk kept groaning to himself...and Pidge heard it his complaining, and smiled.

Something about, 'just wait till I get my hands on that Commander of ours', sort of thing.

Finally, with one more twist, the hatch was off.  Pidge hurriedly inserted the rod into the tube. As he was securing it into place, a message was coming over the COM.

"Hey guys..."

It was Keith's voice.

"You better get out of there!  The radar is showing that storm is nearly on top of your position!"

"Just a few...more...seconds, Commander," Pidge struggled. "I...almost...got it!"

"Hurry, Pidge!" Allura's voice rang into the COM.

"Working on it...Allura.  There!  Got it!" Pidge shouted.

He then extended the rod upward toward the sky.  Satisfied with the installation, he turned to Hunk, who was nervously scanning the skies with his eyes, as the lightning rained down around them.

"Shall we go?" he asked Hunk sarcastically. "Or did you want to hang around to enjoy the view?"

"Are you kidding?" Hunk turned to his friend.  "I was ready to leave before we even got here!"

"Come on, then!" Pidge called out, activating this jetpack, while Hunk, in turn, did the same.

The two Force members flew like the wind away from Black Lion.  Pidge opened a channel to the Palace.

"This is Pidge... come in Keith."

"Status report, Pidge." Keith's voice bellowed through the COM.

"Mission accomplished, Commander. The rod has been inserted into the mega-thruster tube, and is awaiting a bolt. Keep monitoring it from there.  Hunk and I are going to fly by Red Lion on the way back to home base."

"What for?" Keith asked. "It's too dangerous out there to go joy riding, you know!"

"I've already tried to tell him that, Keith!" Hunk chimed in on the COM.  "But he won't listen to me!  You give him the order to return!"

"Keith, I want to see if Red Lion was fully charged or not." Pidge said.  "I'll only need a few minutes, and then we'll be home.  It's only five minutes away from the Palace anyway.  And we're ahead of the storm."

The COM became quiet for a moment.  Then Keith's voice came on once again. "All right, Pidge. Permission granted. But I'm giving you only fifteen minutes to get there, check it out, and get back here. Got it?"

"Got it!" Pidge replied.

"I mean it, Pidge, not another minute more, you hear me?" Keith commanded.

"I read.  Fifteen minutes.  We'll be there!" Pidge acknowledged, and terminated the link. He then turned to Hunk. "Okay, we have fifteen minutes to do this and get home!"

Hunk huffed out loud.  "Might as well be fifteen years, the way I see it!"

"Stop your whining and just follow me!" Pidge chuckled. "You're such a baby!"

"Me?  A baby?" Hunk challenged. "Just who are you calling a baby, squirt?"

Pidge broke into a round of giggles. "Come on, let's just get this over with."

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

Keith and Lance were watching the radar, while Sven tracked the progression of their two friends out in the storm.

Allura stood behind Keith, leaning over his shoulder, watching the radar too.

Lance pointed to it, "There!  See that?" he said. "That bolt was a close hit!" referring to Black Lion.

"Yeah, I hope this works," Keith muttered.  Then he turned to Sven.  "How are Hunk and Pidge?"

"Moving fast toward Red Lion." Sven replied.  "But dat storm iz moving in very fast too. You might want to alter your orders to dem.  It lookz like it may outrun dem, if dey stop at Red Lion."

Keith called up the wide-angle radar.  His heart skipped a beat as he saw the storm accelerating with powerful intensity.

"Yeah, you're right, Sven.  This doesn't look good." Keith said slowly.

Allura leaned in toward Keith. "Call them back, quickly!" she said, a hint of urgency in her voice.

Keith reached over to activate the COM link....

"Pidge...Hunk!  Can you read me?  Come in!"

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

Meanwhile, Hunk and Pidge arrived at Red Lion.

Landing on the ground, Hunk ran over to the cockpit door and pulled it open.  Pidge scooted up inside of it, and with his mini computer in hand, he ran for the control console.

Pidge sat down in the cockpit seat, and attached his computer to the console, configuring his computer to read the status of energy in the infra-cells.

Hunk came running up behind him suddenly. "Hey, Pidge-O!" he shouted.  "That storm is moving in faster than we're moving!  We've got to leave, now!"

"Hold on, Hunk!" Pidge hushed him with his hand.  "I'm just waiting for a readout . It'll take just a minute or two."

"By the looks of it, we don't have a minute or two!" Hunk shouted.  "We've got to get out...now!"

A sudden bolt of electrical energy struck close by Red Lion, sending a surge of energy through the air, strong enough to create electrical impulses.

The instruments inside of Red Lion ignited with a glow similar to that of a Christmas tree. A loud clap of thunder then followed it.

Hunk impulsively brought his hands to his ears, forgetting that it would have done no good since he had the helmet on.

"Whoa!" Pidge said.  "That was close!"

"I'm feeling tingly, and it's not just a feeling, Pidge!  I'm really feeling tingles from the lightning!" Hunk shivered.  "We better get out of here, before that storm..."

Their helmet COM came on, interrupting Hunk in mid-sentence.


"Pidge...Hunk!  Can you read me?  Come in!"


"Here, Commander!" Pidge answered as he was reading the data from his computer.  "And I have good news!  Red Lion's batteries are nearly one hundred percent recharged, enough to..."

"Never mind that now!" Keith interrupted.  "You and Hunk get back here on the double! We're tracking that storm, and it's almost on top of your position!"

"But Keith, I just need another minute!" Pidge protested.

"Negative, Pidge," Keith replied firmly.  "Get back here now!  That's an order!"

Pidge groaned, but obeyed Keith's command. He disconnected his computer from Red Lion's console.

"Roger that, Keith.  We're heading back." Pidge groaned in a disappointing tone.

"Move it you two!  And I mean, pronto!" Keith replied, disconnecting the COM link.

Hunk ran for the door, with Pidge right behind him. "Come on!  You heard the boss!  He said to move it...pronto!" Hunk shouted.

Hunk opened the door to the cockpit, and jumped back suddenly, as lightning was raining down all around them, more fiercely than it had before.

Pidge poked his head out of the door to look things over.  He started shaking his head...

Hunk saw him, "Pidge..." he said slowly as he looked outside. "We ain't leave, are we?"

Pidge opened the COM.  "Keith, Keith...come in!"

"I told you guys to move out!" Keith's voice rang over the COM. "Aren't you on your way yet?"

"No...and it doesn't look like we are, either.  It looks pretty bad out here, Commander.  I'm afraid that if we attempt to fly out of here, it'll be like flying in a duck-shooting gallery.  Only we'll be moving targets!" Pidge said, matter-of-factly.  "The lightning will pick us off instantly."

"Stand by, Pidge!" Keith replied.

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

Back in the Palace, Keith slammed his fist onto the counter.

"Great!" he shouted, muting the COM so that Hunk and Pidge couldn't hear.  "Just perfect!"

"Now what?" Allura said, leaning into Keith.  "We can't just leave them out there!"

Keith shook his head.  "They've got no choice now, Princess.  They're going to have to ride out the storm in Red Lion... and hope for the best."

Lance solidly objected.   "They can't do that!  They could get killed out there!"

Keith swung his chair around, leaning angrily into Lance's face.  "If you've got a better idea, now's the time to speak up!"

Lance's face soured as he sat back in his chair. Deep down, he knew Keith was right.

Instead, Lance huffed at Keith.  "No...I guess I don't have a better idea."

"That's what I thought!" Keith said, pulling back from the argument and resuming a calmer posture.  He removed the mute.  "Pidge, Hunk... listen to me!  The storm is too intense!  Don't try to leave the lion ship. Lock yourselves in and get down on the floor in the middle of the lion.  Whatever you do, don't get up, and don't get out of that ship until you hear from me again! Got it?"

"Got it. Keith!" Pidge replied through the COM.

"Okay, batten down the hatches...out." Keith said as he terminated the link.  He sighed out loud, turning to the rest of his team.  "Let's just hope they'll be okay."

The stray thought then came to his mind...and he closed his eyes for a brief moment as the dwelled on the sudden thought...  "And say your prayers."

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

Hunk slammed the door shut, and ran to join Pidge in the middle of the floor.

"Get down!" Hunk shouted, as he fell to the floor.  "And cover your head!"

Pidge followed suit, lining up with Hunk.  Together, both of them sat quietly, listening to the enormous sounds of thunder and feeling the electrical impulses that were traveling through the air and through the Red Lion.

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

The alert siren sounded in the Palace, and some Palace guards came charging into the Situation Room.

"We're sorry to interrupt, but you are ordered to report to the safety chambers beneath the Palace!  By order of King Augusta!" the first guard said.

Keith turned to them,  "We have people still out there!  We can't leave!"

"You must!" the second guard ordered.  "If you do not come of your own free will, then you will be placed under house arrest!"

Keith frowned.  Then he turned
to his team. "Guess we don't have
a choice."

Allura's hands come together...
her face, now perplexed with worry.

"Guess not," Lance said solemnly.
"We better do as they say."

"But, Pidge and Hunk..." Allura shouted.
"We can't just..."

"We can't help dem now, Princess." Sven replied, rising to his feet, shutting off the computers. "We have to do as dey are doing.  Find safety fast!"

Keith rose up and grabbed Allura's hand, then turned to Lance and Sven.  "Come on, let's get going." he said.

The four of them followed the Palace guards down the corridor to a steel door.  Beyond the door was a set of stairs that seemed to lead into darkness.

The Palace guards grabbed the lanterns that were sitting near the door, lighting them.  One of the guards turned and handed one each off to Keith and Sven.  The guards also took one each, then proceeded to lead the Force down the winding staircase.

Allura gripped Keith's hand tightly, her mind suddenly conjuring up a childhood memory of monsters in the dark.  Keith smiled to himself, then leaned over to her and whispered in her ear.

"Don't worry, Princess," he reassured her.  "I'm sure there's nothing to worry about down there."

Allura shot him a glance, and his confident smile quieted her fears, and she relaxed her grip on his hand.

They continued down into the darkness...

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

All around them, the extreme thunder and lightning came down on Pidge and Hunk, as they huddled for safety together on the floor in Red Lion.

Hunk had shoved his fingers inside of his helmet, attempting to block out some of the frightening sound.

Pidge too, attempted to cover his ears from the loud claps of thunder.

"Well Pidge," Hunk shuttered as he curled up his knees to his chest while lying on the floor. "This could be it, little buddy!"

"Don't give up yet, Hunk!" Pidge shouted, attempting to be heard over the thunderous noise.

"Sure hope the others are okay!" Hunk shouted back.

The two huddled closer to each otherà.for comfort of companionship, if for nothing else.

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

"Princess Allura!" King Augusta shouted as he ran up to her, taking her free hand in his. "I'm so relieved to see you are well!"

"Yes, I'm fine, thank you." she replied, giving him a strange look.  "I feel much better."

"As if you really care," Lance thought quietly.  "Why don't you ask how Voltron's doing, while your at it, you pompus, no good..."

The sound of a loud clap of thunder penetrated the confines of the underground caverns, disrupting Lance's bitter thought.

Allura shrieked suddenly, being caught off guard by the noise.  Keith too startled a bit, but maintained composure.

She impulsively buried her head in his chest for safety... and he welcomed it, protectively covering her head with his hand, while the other hand he placed gently around her small waist.

"It's going to be all right, Princess." he said quietly, holding her close.

She reached her hands up to ears, covering them, to protect them from any more unsettling noises.  King Augusta bent over to smile at her.

"Princess, you will be fine down here." the King said with a smile.  "Why don't you come and sit over here with me.  I promise you will be safe there."

Allura shook her head, "I am quite content where I am, thank you." she replied nervously, still huddling close to Keith.

"Your guards told us on the way down here that these storms are somewhat common.  Is that correct, Your Majesty?" Keith asked, trying to draw the King's attention away from Allura.

"Uh...yes Commander," Augusta said, standing up straight to look Keith in the eyes. "It is true that these storms are normal for this planet. And they can be deadly, too."

"Deadly?" Lance asked, thinking of Pidge and Hunk out in the storm alone, with only the protection of Red Lion around them.

"Yes, Lieutenant Commander.  You see, our planet scientists have discovered that although the deadliest storms are infrequent, they are common." Augusta explained.  "These types of storms can destroy whole villages..."

"...like tornadoes, back on Earth," Keith added, as he looked over to Sven.  "Their path of destruction, depending on the force of the storm, can level a town or city to dust."

"Hunk and Pidge..." Sven gasped.  "They're in danger out dare, den!"

Augusta sighed. "I can only hope that your friends have found safety, impenetrable to the lightning strikes.  Otherwise, they stand very little chance of survival, I'm afraid."

Allura's eyes began to tear as she listened to Augusta.  Keith felt her shoulders quiver against his body.  He moved his hand from her head to her chin, bringing her head up to meet his gaze.

"Don't Allura," Keith said, trying to reassure her, while wiping the tears from her cheeks. "They'll make it.  After the storm passes, Sven, Lance and I will go find him."

"You are taking me with you, aren't you?" she asked.  "You aren't going to leave me here, are you Keith?"

"I know that I said I wouldn't leave you behind anymore, but, until I know what we're dealing with, I'd prefer you stay here in the Palace, where you'll be safe." Keith replied.  "I can't risk you getting hurt again."

"But...you said above, that I'd be better off with you, where you could see me." she protested.

"I know what I said!  But it makes more sense for you to remain safely here until Lotor's out of the way." Keith said.

"But Keith...if I were piloting Blue Lion, I'd have to come with you, danger or no." she argued.  "If that was the case in this situation, what makes it any different, danger-wise, if I come with you three now?"

"Because you're not piloting Blue Lion!  And because...well, because I said so!" Keith raised his voice, suddenly a bit flustered at her continued insistence.

Lance chuckled, "Nice come back, Keith.  Is that all you could think of?"

Keith whirled around, throwing Lance a foul look.  "I don't need your help, Lance!" he said with an agitated look on his face.

"Okay, okay...just trying to come to defense of the beautiful Princess.  You don't have to bite my head off!" Lance replied with a smile.

"Well, Keith?" Allura asked again.

Suddenly, another enormous crack of thunder shot through the air, sending Allura once again practically jumping into Keith's arms.  He seized the opportunity of distraction, conveniently forgetting to answer Allura's question.

"It shouldn't last much longer." King Augusta said.

"When dis ends, we have to find Hunk and Pidge right away!" Sven said.

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

The lightning raged on all around the still Black Lion...the ionic rod waving in the wind of the storm.

Suddenly, as Pidge had hoped, a bolt struck the rod, then another...and still another.

Black Lion was alive with electrical energy, charged from the lightning bolts.  Its eyes momentarily lit up brightly, as the infra-cells charged up.

A bright glow surrounded Black Lion as it continued to be pelted, bolt after bolt.

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

At the same moment, Red Lion was also struck hard by a lucky lightning bolt.

The lion shook with the force of an earthquake.

Inside, Hunk and Pidge remained absolutely still, as flat to the floor of the lion as possible, while just above their heads, electrical bolts zoomed back and forth between the walls.

"Keep your head down, Hunk!" Pidge shouted the warning.

"You don't have to tell me twice!" Hunk shouted back, suddenly feeling sick to his stomach, as Red Lion was shaken around by the power being generated by the lightning bolts.  Hunk found himself saying a heart-felt prayer...

"Please...get us out of this!"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Nearly forty minutes after the storm began, it finally began to subside, the frequency of the thunder growing less and less.

Beneath the Palace, Keith, Princess Allura, Lance, and Sven huddled together with Augusta and his guards, servants and attendants.

Augusta breathed a sigh,  "I think its beginning to subside." he then turned to one of his guards.  "Go up and check to see what's happening."

"At once, Your Majesty." the guard replied as he bowed before his King, crossing his right arm in front of his chest.  The guard immediately rose up and ran for the stairs.

Allura was sitting beside Keith.  His attention, however, was not on her.

He was worried about Hunk and Pidge.

They all sat in silence, waiting for the guard to return...

From the top of the stairway to the Palace, the guard let out a shout of all clear.

Augusta rose to his feet, as did everyone else. "Come." he simply said, signaling to his people to move upstairs with him.

As Augusta left, Keith began giving orders immediately.  "Sven, you get back on the computer and check the progress of that storm...make sure it's gone.  I'm not letting anyone leave this Palace unless I know it's safe to do so."

"We've got to find Hunk and Pidge!" Lance shouted angrily. "We don't have time for this, Keith!"

"Lance, if we go out there with stray lightning bolts flying around over our heads, what good is it going to do Hunk and Pidge, if we kill ourselves trying to rescue them?" Keith said sharply. "You've got to be patient, and do things the right way!"

"The right way?" Lance barked back.  "Keith, the right way means that they're out there hurt, suffering probably..."

"We don't know dat for sure, Lance!" Sven interrupted.  "You're assuming some-ting dat we aren't sure about yet!"

"Are you willing to take that chance?"
Lance shouted.  "I'm not!"

"Lance, no one is going out there
until I know it's safe to do so! 
End of conversation!" Keith shouted.

"I agree wit Keit." Sven added as he
turned to look at Keith.

"You're both crazy!   You don't care!
You don't!" Lance shouted,
shaking a threatening fist toward
his other two friends.

"I do!" Keith shouted, stepping forward and grabbing onto Lance's arm.  "But I'm not willing to risk more of us out there!"

Lance shoved Keith's hand away from him.  "Leave me alone!" Lance hissed angrily. "If you don't have the nerve to got out there and find them, then I will...without your help!"

"Lance, I said no!" Keith ordered.

"Who's going to stop me?" Lance snorted, turning to walk away.

Keith moved up behind him and grabbed him by the arm. "Lance, stop!"

Lance turned and took a swing at Keith.  He ducked, escaping the punch, but instead, delivered a karate sweep to Lance's legs, sending him sprawling to the ground.

"Had enough, yet?" Keith shouted, his fists clenched.

Lance rose to his feet, angrier then ever.  "No way!  You may take me, but not without getting your can kicked in first!"

Allura suddenly jumped between the two of them, her hands to either side of her.  "Lance, Keith!  Stop this nonsense right this instant!"

Keith dropped his defense, letting his hands unclench.  Lance also stood down.

"You boys are suppose to be friends! 
This is ridiculous...fighting like two s
choolyard bullies!  While you're here
bickering over things that don't matter,
Hunk and Pidge are still out there!"

She immediately whirled to Lance.
"And you! You're suppose to be his
second in command!" she said, thumbing
toward Keith, behind her.  "You're
should know better than to question
orders given!  How dare you put on
such a display of lacking discipline!"

Allura turned around in anger, her silk gown swinging around with
her. "You should both be ashamed of yourselves!"  With that, she marched up the stairway for the Palace.

Lance hung his head in shame. Keith stood there, not really sure what would take place next. Sven also stood silently.

"Keith...I..." Lance began to stumble through an apology.  "I was out of line, Commander." Lance sighed.  "I submit myself to your discipline."

Keith walked over to Lance, putting an arm around his shoulder.  "Forget it." Keith smiled. "I know you're worried about Hunk and Pidge.  So am I.  I just don't want to take a chance of losing anyone else out there."

Lance nodded in agreement. "Yeah, I know. And you're right, Keith.  I shouldn't have questioned you.  Sorry, buddy."

Lance extended a hand toward Keith.  "Truce?" he winked.

Keith hastily through his hand out toward Lance's, clasping his hand tightly in friendship.

Keith smiled, "Come on, let's join the Princess upstairs."

"You bet, pal!" Lance agreed, patting Keith on the back.

Sven smiled.  His friend Lance was a hothead, no doubt about it, but eventually knew his place.  Together, the three men climbed the staircase.

Allura was already in the Situation Room, rebooting the computer.  Frustrated, she decided that she was going to check the status of the storm herself, not wishing to wait for the bickering duo to decide it was time to do some work.

As the computer came online, she saw that the storm was moving away at a fast pace.  She immediately opened the COM link to Hunk and Pidge.

"Hunk, Pidge!  Do you read?  This is Allura...come in Hunk... come in Pidge!"

The COM remained silent for a moment, and Allura's heart beat anxiously.

She was about to call out again, when suddenly...

"Princess!  Wow, are we glad to hear your voice!" Pidge replied over the COM.

"Pidge!" Allura shouted.  "Are you okay?  Where's Hunk?"

"He's right here, and he's fine!  We both are!  It was a wild ride, though!" Pidge's voice rang out.

Keith, Lance and Sven entered the room, suddenly hearing Pidge's voice over the COM. They ran to the control board where Allura was sitting.

Keith leaned toward the speaker.  "Pidge!" Keith shouted.  "Are you and Hunk all right?"

"Yeah, Commander, we're both fine!" Pidge responded. "Just a bit shaken up, that's all."

Then, the group heard Hunk's voice for the first time.  "That was a nasty storm!  Hey Keith, don't you ever make me do that again!  I almost had to change my underwear!"

Keith, Lance and Sven broke out in a round of loud laughter, while Allura politely covered her mouth, as she too, broke out laughing over Hunk's comment.

Regaining control, Keith leaned once again back into the speaker.  "Stay there, Lance and I are coming."

"Gottcha, Commander!" Pidge replied.  "I'll finish the readings on Red Lion." Then the thought came to Pidge's mind.  "Hey guys, did Black Lion get electrified?"

Keith shrugged his shoulders.  "Don't know...we were forced to take shelter during the storm. We'll just have to check the infra-cells."

Sven noted the time.  "We'd better hurry, Keit," Sven commented.  "It will be sunrise soon, and then, we'll have to abandon da mission again."

"We're not abandoning the mission, Sven." Keith said determinably.  "We're going to end this...today!"

"Yeah!" Pidge's voice rang over the COM. "Besides, I'm homesick for Arus!"

"Me too!" Hunk also said over the COM. "Let's give Lotor a swift kick in the butt, and send him packing, so we can leave for home!"

Allura smiled quietly...she too, was homesick for the beauty of her home planet.

"Well then," she said suddenly.  "Looks as if we have a lot of work to do in a short period of time. We'd better get to it."

"Right, Princess!" Keith agreed. "You guys wait in Red Lion.  Lance and I are on the way!"

Keith terminated the transmission and turned to Lance.  "Let's go!" he commanded.

Lance nodded, and started to bolt for the door.  Keith looked at Sven.  "Take care of the Princess, will you?"

Sven smiled.  "Of course, Keit.  I would let not-ting happen to her."

"Good." He smiled, then turned to Allura.  "I won't be long."

"Be careful, Keith." her eyes pleading with him.

He reached up his hand and gently caressed her cheek once before he turned to join Lance at the doorway.

Allura stood as she watched them leave the room.  Sven came up along side of her.

"Don't worry, Princess," Sven reassured her.  "Dey will be alright."

Allura sighed. "I know.  I just can't wait to return to Arus.  I want to resume a normal life."

Sven giggled.  "Princess, your life will never be da same again."

Allura shot him a questioning look. "What do you mean, Sven?" she asked

"Now that you and Keit know da truth about da love dat you bote share, it'z going to be hard for tings to ever be da same again." Sven pointed out.

"Yes... I suppose you're right, Sven." she sighed.  "I must confess, I'm a bit worried about telling Coran."

"I tink you'll find dat Coran already has figured it out for himself." Sven winked.  "He'z pretty smart, you know."

Allura walked over toward the window and stared out of it.  "He really does love me, doesn't he, Sven?" she said, mostly talking to herself.

Sven moved up along side of the Allura.  "Princess, hiz love for you stretches beyond da furthest reaches of da universe.  He will always love you.  And never, since I've known him, haz he ever been zo dedicated to anyone before now. "

Allura covered her heart with her hands. "Yes, I could sense that about him." she smiled.

"He loves you, never doubt dat, Princess." Sven said, before clearing his throat.  "Now, we'd better get some work done here, or we'll never get back to Arus!"

Sven turned to walk back to the computer control panel.

The Princess lingered by the window for a few more moments, staring into the darkness of night. She smiled with a gentle sigh...

"Keith," she thought.  "My heart is with you.  Return safely to me."

She quietly continued to stare out of the window, waiting for her 'prince' to return...
Back
Home