"Where Have All The Children Gone?"

Story by Adele
Story Copyright 2002
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 2
A Coerced Blessing

Keith was in his quarters, not far from Allura's chambers.

He had been assigned the stateroom closest to her, so that in the event that the Princess's life were ever threatened...Keith would be but a heartbeat's time away from her.   He personally requested the room, deeming it necessary.  

Deep down inside, however...he deemed it more of a pleasure than a necessity.

Keith was busy working on the computer, typing out his weekly report to Galaxy Garrison, regarding Arus's security and Voltron's presence in this section of the quadrant.  He had stopped momentarily, giving his fingers a rest, when he heard a knock at his door.

Grumbling, he thought it might be Lance again, returning to pester him some more about his seemingly blossoming romance with the Princess.  Keith had no time for his antics now....and was certainly not going to reveal anything to anyone...including to himself, regarding his feelings for Allura. 

He was content in his relationship with her...just as it was.

Keith had to be careful about his feelings for her around the rest of the team.  He didn't want anyone to accuse him of playing favorites when it came to duties.

Allura, although a princess, was also a member of his team.  And he had to take great care in making sure his team duty assignments didn't appear to show favoritism to the Blue Lion pilot.

The knock came again, this time, more persistent.  He swung his chair around, and stormed to the door, having it in his mind to tell Lance where to go and instructions on how to get there, if need be.

When the door swished opened, Keith was stunned to find Coran and Princess Allura standing on the other side.  His face suddenly became serious.

"Princess...Coran...what brings you here so late?"

"Commander, forgive the intrusion," Coran said. "May we come in for a moment?"

"Sure," Keith replied, stepping aside to allow Allura to walk in first, followed closely behind by her advisor.

They stood in the middle of the room until Keith led them to a lounging area outside of his bedroom.  His quarters were always immaculate.  Every single thing had a place.  Allura marveled at how neat he was.  His military discipline even carried over into his personal life.

They all took a seat, making themselves comfortable.

"Can I offer you two anything?" Keith asked.

"No, Commander, but thank you."
Coran responded. "We are here on a
most serious matter, that I believe you
would find of interest."

Keith looked at Allura, her head was
low and she hadn't said a thing
since they had arrived.
"Well then, what can I do for you both?"

Coran looked at Allura. "Do you want me to tell him?"

Keith's eye's narrowed. "Tell me what?"

Allura remained silent accept to say, "No Coran.  You can tell him."

Keith became fidgety suddenly. "Okay, someone want to tell me what's going on?  Who's in trouble now?  Lance or Hunk?"

Coran turned to Keith. "Commander, the Princess has decided to enact a very old tradition amongst our people.  While King Alfor was still alive, he would, during the Festival of Lions, select one village each year at random, to visit for the day, conduct scavenger hunts,
and tell stories of the past to the children."

Keith sat back in his chair, crossing one leg over the other, and crossing his arms in front of his chest. "Sounds like fun.  What's the problem?" assuming that there was one, since Coran had dragged Allura to him at such a late hour.

"The problem is that the Princess wants to conduct the tradition now...during this festival season.  I am concerned for her safety, as I am sure you are." Coran replied. "With Lotor on the loose, it presents too much of an invitation for trouble."

Keith sat quietly, absorbing
the conversation in.  He then
looked to Allura.   "And you, Princess?
What do you say about all of this?"

Allura looked up at him for
the first time since she and
Coran had arrived. "I want to do
this, Keith.  Coran has it in his
mind that I'm at risk."

"You are." Keith said nonchalantly.

"Keith!" Allura shrieked angrily.
"I thought you'd side with me!"

"Princess, I can't lie to you and tell you that there would be no risk.  Coran is right to be concerned, and so should you be." Keith replied his commander hat firmly in place in the display of his attitude toward the suggestion. "You know that your actions do not go unnoticed. Lotor has operatives everywhere.  He'll know what you're planning and try his best to stop it if he canor worse, capture you if he can."

"But Keith, I'm sure that if you and one of the other boys were with me, I'd be okay." Allura said, attempting to win him over.

"Princess, it's a big risk." Keith responded. "You'd also be risking the lives of the villagers too, if something should happen."

"I'm not going to let Lotor dictate whether or not I should leave the Castle, and for what event!" Allura argued. "If I do that, he's already won!"

"Allura...that's hardly the point," Keith attempted to reason.

"It most certainly IS the point, Keith!" Allura replied harshly.  "My people perceive me as being a couped up, spoiled little royal, whose only main interest is in herself and her daily routine!  I don't spend nearly the time I should with my people!   My desire is to be among them...to comfort the dying...the hold the orphans...to surround the elderly with love.  Now tell me, Keith...how can I possibly do that, if I'm forbidden to leave the Castle?   I'm a trained Alliance pilot!   I have been certified...by you, Commander...in self-defense!  But if you still don't trust me, you can come with me, if you'd like!  Although, I'm sure that, knowing you as I do, you would never permit me to leave the Castle on foot, on my own, anyway!   But, the fact remains... if I'm allowed to fly patrol on my own, why is it so different for me to be on my own, for social occassions?  My people need a 'hands-on' princess!  Not one who's perceived to be afraid of her own shadow!   I'm NOT afraid, Keith!   Please... you must understand!   You and Coran can't keep me under lock and key, selectively...as you see fit!   What about what I see as fit?  Don't I have a say in this?   Both of you act as if my opinions don't matter at all!"

Keith paused, absorbing her last statement.  She was right.  If Lotor had instilled so much fear in the hearts of the Arusian citizens, then he most certainly had won the first battle of what was promising to be a very long war.

And more than that...he did understand what she meant by being seen or not seen, in terms of the peoples' perception of the Princess of Arus. 

The polls were showing a continued growth of discontent among the people of Arus.   The don't feel like the Princess is doing enough for them, personally.

Before Keith could think much more about it, Coran's voice echoed in the room...

"Princess," Coran interjected. "Commander Keith is right!  You may endanger the citizens as well as yourself!"

"Hold on a minute, Coran," Keith interrupted, suddenly rethinking his position. "Perhaps we're being too hasty.  Allura has a point here that I never thought of.  If Lotor thinks he's instilled fear into Planet Arus, especially its ruler, then he's all but won the war.   Perhaps this might make way to a return of normal routines on Arus.  The people need to see the Princess...in something else other then the Blue Lion.  They need to see her interacting with them, taking a
personal interest in their lives.  Their biggest complaint lately has been that they don't feel the Princess is in touch with the way they feel.   I think this might be good for everyone."

Coran listened to Keith's words.  Keith glanced at the Princess, and caught a very bright smile on her face.  Once again, Keith had come to her rescue...this time, in winning Coran over to the idea she had come up with.

Coran sighed. "Well, Commander.  If you feel this is a good thing, then I will agree with you. But she must be accompanied to the village!"

"I'll go with her myself." Keith replied. "We'll take the lions... just in case."

"Very well, Commander.   I then agree with Princess Allura's request to continue the long standing tradition of the Festival of Lions.  I will inform the village mayor and officials in the morning." Coran replied.

"Thank you, Keith..." Allura sighed a breath of relief.

"Don't thank me yet, Princess.  I'm not through with you!" Keith replied. "You have to promise me that you'll do everything I tell you to do...even if you don't agree with it."

"Oh, I promise, Keith!" she said, a hint of excitement in her voice.  "I will!"

Keith suddenly snorted.  "Why am I finding your quick compliance hard to believe?"

"No, Keith!  I promise...really!  Whatever you say...I'll do!" Allura smiled.

Keith's eyes narrowed as he looked intensely into her face.   She was putting on quite a display of obedience.  And he very much felt like a kid at a magic show...  he felt himself being suckered in by the illusion.

"The minute you disobey a direct order, the deal is off!  My first duty to Arus is taking care of you.  If I deem anything to be too dangerous, it won't happen.  Understand?" Keith firmly said.

"Yes, Keith.  Everything you say." Allura replied.

"Okay, now I don't mean to seem rude, but I have a report due to Galaxy Garrison, that I have to finish tonight.  And Lion Practice is at 06:00 hours...sharp.  That's in seven hours from now. So...I you both don't mind..." Keith said polietly.

"Thank you for your time, Commander." Coran replied as he rose to his feet. "Come Princess. I'll escort you to your room."

"Coran, I'll do that." Keith replied. "Go ahead and relax.  I'll see to it that the Princess gets to her chambers."

"Very good, Commander.  And thank you once again." Coran replied, as he turned to leave.

Keith extended his elbow to Allura. "Ready?" he asked.

Allura nodded, rising to her feet.  She rested her hand on the crook of his elbow, and together, they followed Coran into the corridor.  Coran made his way in the opposite direction, while Keith and the Princess headed toward her chambers.

Allura gave Keith's elbow a friendly squeeze. "Thank you again, Keith."

"I meant what I said back there, Allura!" Keith replied sternly. "Even though you and I are pursuing the idea of a relationship, I'm a soldier and you're a princess.  We have duties
that supersede our personal feelings.  They must...for all of Arus's sake."

"I agree." Allura replied. "You're right, of course."

They arrived at her chambers a
short while later.  Standing in front
of her door, Keith took Allura's
hands in his, and brought them up to his
lips, planting a gentle kiss on the
back of her hands.

"Good night, my Princess."

She bowed her head slightly.
"Good night, Keith."

The door opened, and she disappeared
behind it. Keith turned and walked back to his quarters, with unsettled thoughts in his head. 

What if he was wrong about agreeing to let her do this?

He'd have to think about it more tomorrow.  He had a report to finish tonight.
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