"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 28
Victory... At Last!


Lotor was shouting in anger at Hagar the Witch.

"You miserable old witch!" he screamed.  "You said that Voltron was finished!"

"He was, Sire!" Hagar hissed.  "I can't understand how he still functions!"

"As always, old witch, you can't seem to do ANYTHING right!" Lotor growled.

Hagar suddenly turned her globe toward the evil Prince. "It wasn't I, who allowed Keith Hunter to live!  You should have listened to me, and destroyed him while you had a chance! You were a fool to let him go! He's too resourceful!  This is YOUR fault, Lotor!  Not mine! If
you had killed Commander Keith, Voltron wouldn't be alive now, the Princess would still be here...and Arus would have been ours!"

"SILENCE!" Lotor screamed.  "DON'T DICTATE TO ME, HAGAR!"

Lotor whirled around and returned to his command seat on his cruiser, slamming himself into the chair.

As he began to angry drum his fingers on the armrest, an evil plan came to mind.  He sat up in his chair suddenly, looking at the hag.

"Hagar, the Mega-Robeast that Voltron managed to destroy...do you have another one?" he asked thoughtfully.

"I can make another one." She replied.

"How long would it take?" he asked calmly.

Hagar thought for a moment.
"I could have it ready in five
minutes, why?" Hagar asked.

Lotor rose to his feet. "Because, that
Mega-Robeast is what stole the power
from Voltron in the first place.  This time,
when Voltron falls back to Surbain, we'll
send out Doom ships to destroy the helpless
lions!  Then...Voltron will be permanently
out of business!"

"I see!" Hagar smiled a crooked smile. "Prince Lotor, you shall have your Robeast!"

"Hurry..." Lotor said, a smile
lingering on his face.

Hagar quickly hovered out of
the war room, leaving Lotor with a
vicious thought.  "When Voltron is
finished at last, I'll kill Keith
Hunter, proving to Allura once
and for all that her destiny is to be
mine!  Then Arus... and everything
she holds dear, will belong to me!"

A wicked laugh passed over Lotor's lips...

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

Hagar had arrived to her laboratory. She quickly hovered over to the counter full of test tubes. Picking one up, she glanced at it wickedly...

"Yes...you will do nicely!"

She hovered over to a platform created especially for her experiments.  She poured the contents of the tube on the floor.

As she looked at it, she smiled. "We'll my pet," she hissed at the tiny mechanical beast that was wiggling on the platform.  "You are going to make Lotor a very happy man...and me, a very powerful witch.  Once you have destroyed Voltron, I am sure to reign as Queen
of Planet Arus!"

She hovered backward, chuckling at the thought, as she raised her magic globe above her head.  "Now, my pet...arise to glory!"

The globe light up, sending out green streaks of energy heading toward the Robeast.  The thing seemed to shift shapes, and then grow at a tremendous rate. Hagar hit a release button on her test tube counter, which opened up the platform beneath the growing Robeast.

She quickly hovered over toward the floor, energy still pouring out of her globe at the growing beast.

"Now, go and destroy Voltron!" she shouted.

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

On the command deck, Lotor saw the hideous Mega-Robeast appear on his front monitor. The Robeast was taking a defensive position in front of the Doom fleet.  Lotor smiled as he ordered his navigator to bring up shields, preparing for the battle.

"I'm going to get you, Allura!" the evil thought rang in his head.  "Now Voltron!  Let's see if you can beat another Mega-Robeast!  Let's just see how many lives you really have!" he shouted.

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

"Keith," Pidge came in over the ultra-wave.
"I'm reading another one of Hagar's ugly
creations, dead ahead of us!"

Keith reached over and brought up his
monitor. "Magnifying image..."
he said calmly.

Then he saw ità another Robeast...looking
very similar to the one they had destroyed
earlier.

He swung around to Allura.  "Well, it looks as if your 'boyfriend' doesn't take rejection very well." he teased.

Allura smirked, not very amused at all by the comment.  "He is not my boyfriend!" she spit back. "He never was!"

Keith laughed out loud. "Easy there, Lioness!" he replied to the Princess.

"Keith, this is Lance.  I'm reading incredible energy over there."

"Me too," Pidge added.  "Keith...it's another Mega-Robeast!"

Hunk's voice was now on the COM.  "We can't face off with it again!  It about did Voltron in the last time!"

"How are we going to defeat it again, without draining all of energy?" Sven asked.

Keith thought for a moment.  If they used Blazing Sword again...no, that wasn't the way.

"Keith!" Lance shouted. "We better do something pretty quick!  Contact in two minutes!"

"I'm thinking..." Keith said calmly.  "I can't let Voltron go down again," he thought intensely. "The entire universe is depending on my next decision.  But....this thing was impenetrable the last time. What other alternatives do I have?"



"Keith..."




Keith looked up suddenly. "Is that you?" he asked aloud.

Allura stared at him. "Is that who?" she asked.  She was suddenly puzzled...was it...who?

Keith put his hand up to her, quieting her down for a moment.



"Keith..." the voice echoed once again.




The Voltron Commander sat up in his command chair. "King Alfor...is that you?" he shouted.

"My father?" Allura said hesitantly. "Where?" she asked.  "I don't hear him, Keith?"

"Allura...please," Keith shushed her, trying to home in on the voice he was hearing.



"Keith... I had built the lion ships to act as one.  Together as Voltron, you are a single entity. You must fight as one, not as five.  You must use all of your wisdom to defeat Hagar's evil. This enemy that you face is not impenetrable.  It can be defeated without sacrificing the strength of Voltron."


"But how, King Alfor?" Keith muttered aloud.

Allura was troubled.  She hadn't heard her father's voice, nor seen his image.  And yet, it was apparent that he was somehow speaking to Keith in a manner only he could here.  She only wished that she could hear it too.


"Keith, the dyno-therm crystals of Voltron contain a very special energy within them.  Within each robot lion, there is the energy of its element within the crystal it carries.  Blue Lion has the energy of a raging river.  Red Lion has the energy of a fiery volcano.  Green Lion has the energy of nature itself.  Yellow Lion harnesses the power deep within the earth's surface. And Black Lion contains the power of a lightning storm as its energy source.  By combining these elements together, you will find that the power to destroy this Robeast is within your grasp. You need not exhaust the power of Voltron through Blazing Sword.  All you need to do is call upon the elements of the robot lions, themselves.  Let the lions guide you to victory, young Keith. Trust in them...allow their strength to be your strength.  Farewell, Keith..."


Keith's eyes lit up, as he realized what King Alfor was trying to convey.

"That's it..." he said slowly. "Of course!  Why didn't I think of that!"

"What's it?" Allura asked curiously.  "What didn't you think of?"

"The way to defeat the Robeast!" he quickly said, then opened the COM to his team. "Everyone, listen up!  I need everyone to switch on your dyno-therm crystal energy, now!"

"What good will that do?" Lance huffed.  "The dyno-therms are a power source, not a weapon!"

Pidge suddenly picked up on what Keith was leading toward.  "Of course!" Pidge shouted. "We can use the energy of each of the lion elements!  That's an unlimited power source!"

"Right, Pidge!" Keith shouted.  "You can't take away the essence of the elements of Voltron! We can use these essences combined together, to form a destructive energy!"

"...and destroy Robeast once and for all!  I read you, Keith!" Pidge shouted.

"Now hold on!" Lance shouted over the COM.  "I'm not sure I know where we're going with this plan here!  You want to explain this to me one more time...in English this time?"

"Lance, the dyno-therms themselves are an exhaustable power source.  But the dyno-therm crystals within them are an inexhaustible power source!" Pidge explained.  "Basically, it's the heart and soul of each robot lion.  Its part of the, 'magic' that makes Voltron more
powerful then any force in the universe!  By using the element energy in the crystals, we have a weapon more destructive then anything in Voltron's arsenol!  And when those sources come together..."

"Yeah, but how is it an inexhaustible source?" Lance questioned.  "It's still energy!"

"Yes, its energy, but its individual lion energy using all the essences of the elements: water, fire, earth, nature and lightning!  Combine them together..." Pidge said.

"...you have a force mightier than anything Hagar's Robeast can through at us!" Keith shouted.

"Lion magic!" Hunk shouted.  "I get it now!"

"Something like that, Hunk." Pidge responded.  "Its the power infused in lions!"

Allura sat back and listened to them.  She remembered her father telling her about the power of the lion's element.

"Boys," she chimed in.  "Keith's right!  The lion elements are based on nature itself...the most powerful force known to mankind.  It makes sense!  We can do it!"

"Set systems to bypass the dyno-therms, and access the your crystals instead!" Keith again commanded.  "Hurry it up, everyone!  That Robeast is coming our way...fast!"

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

Many thousands of miles across the galaxy, in the Azure Quadrant on Planet Arus, Coran had suddenly thought to go and do something he had not done in many weeks...visit the Royal Crypt and the tomb of King Alfor.

He opened the crypt door slowly. As he entered the crypt reverently, he felt a strange feeling...


"...it is as if... I have been drawn here for some unexplained reason." Coran thought.



It had been lonely around the huge Castle of Lions.  All was quiet without the presence of Princess Allura and her four brave champions of the Voltron Force.

He hadn't slept soundly in weeks since the Princess had been forced to marry King Augusta, and then was spirited away from Arus, along with Voltron and its pilots.

Sub-space communications would take several more weeks to reach him from Surbain.  So, if the Princess had sent him a message, he couldn't expect it for at least, another week or so.

And... Coran was uneasy of the fact that Arus was totally unprotected without the presence of Voltron.

Still, he found many things to keep him occupied.  He had visited the nearby villages, spoken several times to his personal friend, Vice Marshall Graham from Earth.  He even had time to catch up on his reading.

But the silence of dinnertime was something he could not quite get used to.  The noise and antics that the boys provided during the dinner hour used to annoy him to no end.

Strangely enough... he found himself missing it somehow.

He walked up to King Alfor's tomb...

"Hello, my old friend and King," Coran began.  "It seems so quiet at the Castle these days. With Allura gone to live on Surbain, Arus is without a residing ruler...and I am without companionship."

Coran took a few paces forward, placing his hand on the sealed tomb of the late King Alfor.

"The last time I saw her, she was very sad.  I just can not seem to erase that vision from my mind. She did not want to leave Arus.  I suppose none of them did.  Oh yes...Voltron is gone too.  I can only pray that Zarkon and Lotor do not attack us now."

He sighed sadly has he continued.  "You need not worry about her, however, as I have charged Commander Keith to protect her, and to bring her back home to Arus, if he can.  I feel there is something between them...as if he were the one who we had always hoped would come along side of Allura.  The one who would protect her with his life.   Many times, I have thought about the prophesy... the one foretold, long ago.   I wonder... is it possible... that is being fulfilled in my lifetime?"

Raising his hand to scratch his head nervously, Coran chuckled at a thought going through his mind. "I know it does seem quite silly, Your Majesty, but in some strange way, I feel like my charge of her will soon be passed to Keith.  I can not shake the feeling...and I am not sure that I am ready emotionally to let Allura go."

Coran sighed once again.  "I wish I knew if the Princess was safe and happy. I miss her, dearly.  I miss them all.  And Princess Romelle only cries at Sven's absence.  She has called home to Pollux quite a few times, checking in with her brother, Prince Bandor.  He assures
her that everything is quite well on Pollux, and encourages her to remain here on Arus until Sven's return."

Coran bowed his head sorrowfully.  "But...will he ever return?  Will any of them?  And what of the Princess...she is married to a man she does not love, nor whom loves her.  And although I feel as if Keith were the man who would rule by her side in the future, I find myself doubting that...even now.  How can she be married to two men?  It is not possible.  Yet...the prophesy..."

He stepped forward once again, rubbing his hand on the dirt-laden tomb.

"If only I knew if they all were safe.  If only...I knew.  May they be safe, and may Commander Keith find great wisdom...wherever he is, to protect our Princess from demise."

Coran turned to leave, slowly making his way to the entrance of the crypt.  He stopped suddenly, turning his head one last time.

"If you can see them...wherever you are, I beg you to watch over them.  Farewell, my old friend.  I miss you dearly, too."

He reached up and wiped the tears that were brimming in his eyes, as they walked on.

The crypt door squeaked closed once again.

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

"Pidge!" Keith called, configuring his instruments. "I need more booster control up here!"

"It's coming, Commander!" Pidge replied over the COM.

Keith quickly worked on his control panel to rearrange dyno-therm crystal control of all the lions to his board.

"Robeast update..." Lance said.

Keith looked up at his monitor. "Go..." he acknowledged Lance.

"Well, seems that the thing got momentary memory loss.  It's just sitting out there, as if, it doesn't know what to do next!  I'm not reading a whole lot of energy buildup yet, either."

"Keep tracking it, Lance," Keith replied. "I want to be informed of it's every move, got it?"

"Okay.  I'll do a football, 'play by play' report!" Lance teased.

"Whatever... " Pidge replied.  "Just watch the monster!"

Allura sat quietly behind Keith.  She reached down into her pocket and pulled out her Lion claw.  She still had it with her from when she was forced to board Lotor's ship in exchange for Keith's life.

"Perhaps... my Lion claw can help too." She muttered softly.

Keith turned around and looked at him.  She was staring at it intensely.

He got up from his chair and walked over to where she was sitting.  Laying his hand gently on hers, she looked up to meet his gaze.  He was smiling.

"Princess...I don't need to remind you that there's a real possibility that we might not come out of this alive.  We're playing with a lot of power here.  No telling how it will react." Keith said quietly.

Allura nodded. "I realize that, Keith." she replied.  "But, I also realize that Voltron is our protector.  And I know you boys know how to use him.  I have faith that we will survive to see Arus."

Keith sighed unconfidently.  "I wish I had your confidence in this.  But...matter what happens here...

"I know that you love me." She smiled gently, bringing her free hand up to softly touch his cheek.

"I do, Princess." He smiled back, bringing his hand to meet hers on his cheek.

"I'm so sorry that I've gotten all of you into this.  If Lotor hadn't had such an unhealthy desire for me...none of you would have to be involved in the protection of Arus, in the way that you are." Allura sighed, placing blame on herself for the predicament they found themselves facing.

She turned her gaze away from his.

"Allura..." Keith whispered.  "Never will I be sorry that I came back to Arus.  Never will I be sorry that I fell in love with you..."

He reached down, and with his finger, he touched her chin, forcing her gaze back to his. "And never will I be sorry that I made a vow to protect you and Planet Arus. What we do...we do willingly...not out of duty alone, but for love and friendship.  Allura, your safety is more important than anything else in the universe.  All of us understand that.  And still...we choose to be right here, right now... defending your honor, and the honor of Planet Arus."

The tears began to fall from her eyes rapidly, as she absorbed the brave words in this man's voice. "Oh Keith..." she wept.  "I...I can never repay any of you enough from all that you've done for Arus."

Keith leaned down and kissed her tenderly on the forehead.  She quivered at his touch.

When he had finished the kiss, he leaned backward once again.  "Consider your love and friendship to all of us payment in full, Allura."

She smiled as Keith used his thumbs to wipe the tears from her cheeks.

"We'll be alright. You'll see. By this time at the end of the week, we'll be back home on Arus." he said, trying to reassure her, and himself.

All she could do was nod in agreement.

Keith rose to his feet once again, and walked back to his command chair.  One last gaze toward his beautiful Princess...

Then, as if changing hats, Keith's demeanor suddenly turned from comforter and friend, to military leader.

"Okay team," he commanded firmly. "Pidge, are we set?"

"Set and ready to go, Commander!" Pidge responded confidently.

"This is Lance.  Keith, I'm beginning to read a power buildup in our ugly friend over there. I think it's preparing to attack."

"Stand by everyone..." Keith said, switching the control knob on his panel into the on position. Keith held his breath as the mighty power of the lions rushed through his systems in Black Lion's command center.

Voltron shook suddenly, jolting everyone, as the rush of energy ran through Voltron.

The lions suddenly began to glow...at first, it was only a dull hue, but suddenly, it built into a bright light, surrounding all of Voltron.

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

On his commander cruiser, Lotor and Hagar watched with interest, as Voltron ignited in brilliant light.

"What is that fool doing?" he raised his voice aloud, referring to Keith.  "Where is that light coming from?"

"I don't know, Sire." Hagar said, flustered suddenly.

"Are they destroying themselves and Voltron in an effort to destroy us?" Lotor said, concern now echoing in his voice.

"Again, Sire. I don't know!" Hagar shouted nervously.  "It looks like they mean to destroy us!"

"And themselves too?" Lotor shouted.

"It would appear so!" Hagar replied.  "And if Voltron explodes, the force will rip us apart instantly! We must flee for our lives!"

"Run away? Are you serious?" Lotor howled with anger. "And abandon my claim of the Princess and her planet?  NEVER, OLD WITCH!"

"But Sire...if we don't leave now, Voltron will destroy us!  We must leave!  When Voltron explodes, the blast will destroy Surbain as well! S o there will be nothing left... not even us!" Hagar shouted.  "You must take the fleet and escape, my Prince!"

Lotor thought for a moment, as beads of sweat appeared on his forehead.

"Very well..." he said reluctantly.  "Set a new course... for Planet Arus!  With no Voltron to protect them, Arus will still be mine for the taking!"

The Doom navigator replied to the order given.  "It shall be so."

The Doom helmsman also replied...  "On your mark, Sire."

Lotor looked one last time at Voltron...a sigh escaping his lips with a signal word...

"Allura..."

Without looking at them, Lotor gave the command to move the fleet away, abandoning Planet Surbain...but leaving the Robeast behind.

The fleet moved into hyper-drive, leaving Surbain to its apparent fate of destruction.

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

"Keith!" Pidge came in over the COM. "Lotor's fleet...its moving away!"

"Retreating?" Sven asked.

"Must be." Keith said. "Can't worry about that right now!  We've got to get rid of this Robeast!  Get ready to form Blazing Sword.  We'll use that to redirect the energy of the crystals and fire at the Robeast!"

Sven brought up the unpleasant thought that was in the back of everyone's mind.  "You do realize dat we could be destroyed as a result of dis."

Everyone paused, and the COM became silent.

In Black Lion, Keith sighed, then spoke to his team.  "It's true, but it's a risk that we're going to have to take.  We didn't become Space Explorers because we felt it was going to be a safe job.  We knew the risks when we came here eight years ago.  And we know the risks now.
And just as before, we know who were fighting for..."

"FOR ARUS AND THE GALAXY ALLIANCE!" they all shouted bravely through the COM.

Keith sat back in his chair. He tilted his head upward. "Princess," he called out.  "Are you all right with this?"

"Keith, Voltron has always been Arus's protector, and the defender of justice.  I trust my life to Voltron.  I know he will serve us well...whatever the outcome." She replied bravely.

"You can jetison out of the cockpit in the escape pod, if you'd like.  Just say the word, Princess." Keith suggested to her.

She shook her head.  "No Keith.  I'm staying here...with my friends."

He smiled, honored by her dedication to her friends, and her noble stature.  It warmed his heart.

He tilted his head down to the control panel.  "Form Blazing Sword!" he commanded.

Green and Red Lion's came together as the hands of Voltron, once again connecting to form the sword.  Voltron held it triumphantly above his head.  The Robeast approached slowly toward Voltron.  The energy was still glowing around Voltron.

"Get ready team..." Keith prepared, his hand on the button awaiting the right moment to strike.  "Steady now...steady..."

The Robeast's approach ceased.  Lance saw on his monitor the rapid buildup of energy from the Mega-Robeast.  "Keith!" he shouted through the COM.  "It's getting ready to fire!"

"Then we'll just have to beat it to the punch!" Keith shouted.  "For Arus and the Galaxy Alliance!  Blazing Sword...crystal fire!" Keith immediately let his hand swing down abruptly on top of the button, circulating the energy in Voltron's lion dyno-therm crystals, and sending it toward the awaiting sword.

Green Lion held the Blazing Sword in its mouth.  The lion moved down, pointing the sword straight at the Robeast adversary.  Voltron's outer  haul ignited in a multiple array of glowing colors: red, green, black, blue and yellow, all surrounded by a hue of brilliant white light.

Inside Voltron, the pilot cockpits erupted in violent shaking, as the mighty power built up and was preparing to discharge.  Assorted shouted and shrieks were being relayed over the open COM.

Keith held fast, watching the power build up on his status board...waiting for the proper time to launch the power at the Robeast...

"O n l y    s e c o n d s    a w a y    n o w    t e a m...." Keith screamed through the COM violently shaking inside of Black Lion.  "5...4...3...2...1... ...i g n i t e    B l a z i n g
E n e r g y   S w o r d !!"

With the power build up complete, the sword erupted in a brilliant white hue. All of the white-light energy that had been surrounding Voltron, suddenly rushed to the Blazing Sword.

"T h i s    i s    i t    t e a m... h o l d    o n    t i g h t!!" Keith
shouted, his voice shaky and unsteady.

Blazing Sword, suddenly filled with all of the energy of all of the lion elements in the dyno-therm crystals, ignited in a flash of fire.  A tremendous beam of white power streaked out of the tip, and immediately headed toward the Robeast at an amazing speed.

The beam of pure power directly impacted the confused Robeast.  The result was a pure power explosion that totally disintegrated the evil robot monster.

The force of the explosion sent shock waves of energy hurling in every direction of space. The shock waves connected with Voltron, sending him spiraling out of control toward the planet below.

"Keith!" Lance shouted.  "I...can't...move!"

"The G-Forces have us pinned, Commander!" Pidge called out.  "If we can't...stop Voltron from tumbling toward Surbain...we're dead!  And so...are hundreds of... unsuspecting people on the ground!"

With all of his will and might, Keith stretched his body against the G-Forces that were keeping him pinned, attempting to reach the control levers that would allow him to pilot Voltron into a controlled landing on Surbain.

"I've...got...to...reach...them!" he gritted his teeth forcefully, grunting for more strength, as his front monitor continued to show Voltron spinning helplessly out of control.

"Got...to...make...it..." he growled out loud.  "I...can...almost...reach...it!"

"Hurry Keith!" Hunk shouted.  "Impact on Surbain in 30 seconds!"

As Keith struggled to even get a fingertip on the levers, he heard a faint sound behind him. His mind focused in on it...

"Keith, I love you." The strained, small voice of the Princess said just above a whisper.  "I know you can do it!"

That one simple phrase, 'I love you', gave Keith the determination he needed to find the strength inside of himself.  He finally had something to live for...someone to protect. He had to try harder, for Allura's sake.

As the ground quickly approached beneath them, Keith felt it in himself to thrust his body one last time upward toward the controls.  It would be the last shot he would have at it.

"Fifteen seconds to impact!" Hunk called out.

"We're not going to make it, are we?" Lance's voice strained to say.

"Oh...yes...we are!" Keith shouted, almost screamed through the COM, as he used every last ounce of strength and muscle in his body to push himself up once again.

He suddenly was able to reach the control levers with his fingertips, and used their strength to finally latch on firmly to it with his hands.

"I got it!" he shouted excitedly. "Hold on!"

Keith allowed his body to drop back in to the command chair, his hands firmly gripped on to the levers.  As he fell backward, the levers pulled back with him, bringing Voltron to an arching position.

The mighty robot defender swooped up back into the sky, having suddenly been released from the G-Force that had him helplessly spiraling out of control.  Voltron narrowly missed slamming into the village just below the impact zone.

Keith sighed as he slumped back in his chair, now listening to the assorted hoots and cheers coming over the COM, directed at him...

"Way to go, Keith!" shouted Hunk

"I knew you could do it!" Sven added.

"That was awesome!" said Pidge.

Of course, Lance's comment was full of happy sarcasm.  "Gee Keith, that was pretty good. But I probably would have shaved it a hair closer...if that were me, that is!"

Keith chuckled at his second's replied.  "Oh sure, Lance.  I'm sure you would have!" he said with as much sarcasm as he could muster.

As himself, he was simply relieved that Voltron was under control and that they were all alive. Keith quickly looked behind him to check on the Princess.  She was simply smiling her usual smile at him...the same smile that had captured his heart so many years ago.

"You were wonderful, Keith!" Allura beamed with pride for her Commander. "Nice job!"

"Thanks, Princess," Keith replied with a wink, but then a more serious tone, he quickly added,  "Are you okay?"

"Fine," she winked back.  "Just fine."

"Well, with Lotor gone, and this planet safe at last, there seems to be nothing keeping us from returning to Arus."  Keith said to both Princess Allura and the rest of the team.

More cheers could suddenly be heard across the COM.

"Let's get back to the Palace to bid our host a fond farewell!" Keith said.

Voltron's afterburners kicked on, as he headed down to the planet, toward the Palace.

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


All seemed to be well at last...

But Doom, in every sense of the word, was heading toward Arus...and would be there soon.

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