"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 4
The Princess Is Coming!

Early dawn the following morning, marked the beginning of the Festival of Lions on Planet Arus.  And Princess Allura was ready for it.

She could hardly sleep the night before, and now, she was preparing to leave for Capri.

Keith had already done his morning exercises, showered, shaved, and got dressed.  He rousted Hunk, Lance and Pidge out of bed, with Hunk protesting the whole way.

There was a sense of nervousness about the Voltron Commander today.  He still wasn't completely sold on the idea of the Princess going out in public, with Lotor wondering around, who knows where.

But...Allura was determined to do this.

And he was equally determined to see to it that she was safe, and was prepared to put the brakes on the whole thing if he even smelled a Doom ship around, whether Allura liked it or not.



Allura had dressed in her pink jumpsuit, so that she would be comfortable while helping the children search for the hidden treasure that her Castle staff had hidden away in the nearby forest of Capri.

She walked into the dining hall, happy to see her friends were all up and eagerly ready to go.

Allura noticed the seriousness of the Voltron Commander's face, and as she took her seat next to him for breakfast.  She leaned over toward him to whisper in his ear.

"What's the matter with you?" she asked him, her eyebrows knit closely together with sudden aggravation.

"Nothing," Keith replied dryly.

"Then, why are you so stern looking?"
she asked again. "You have such a
sour face this morning.  This is
supposed to be a festive day! 
And you look like you just had a
disagreement with Lance or something."

"Because I'm trying to remain
focused, Princess." Keith replied,
again dryly. "One of us need to."

"And just what is that supposed to mean?"
Allura asked, knowing exactly what he
was referring to, and not liking the insinuation one bit.

"I think you're taking all of this too light-heartedly, Allura." Keith replied, once again, in a dry matter-of-fact tone. "You act as if there's not a care in the world.  Lotor's out there somewhere ...and I'm afraid that that somewhere is here on Arus!"

"Keith...you're seeing shadows in everything!" she whispered back to him. "Can't you just enjoy the day for what it is?"

"I will...when the day is over, and nothing's happened." Keith said back to her. "Then, I'll relax.  I would think you should have some measure of concern too, Princess."

"I do, Keith," she replied, her whispered voice now holding a distasteful tone. "I'm not stupid, you know!  I know Lotor's out there, somewhere.  But I'm not going to run from him and be fearful of spending time with my people!  I can't let him win that war!"

Keith sighed out loud and leaned back up straight...not wanting to continue the conversation. In his mind, he had a job to do today.  It was not a celebration day...not a festive day.  If she won't watch her own back...he'd have to do it for her.

Allura shook her head and sat up straight. "Well, if he's determined to be a stick-in-the-mud today, I won't let that ruin my enjoyment."

Coran entered the room and sat to Allura's right.  The group said a brief prayer before breakfast was served.

Hunk wolfed down his breakfast in near record time, while Pidge teased him about leaving crumbs on his plate.  Lance, who was still half-asleep, nibbled here and there, wishing he could return to bed.

Keith hardly touched his breakfast, his appetite somehow lost to him.  He was busy running the day over and over in his mind, preparing for any eventuality.

Allura turned to him as she took a sip of juice from her goblet. "Keith, what's the worst that could happen?"

Keith suddenly returned to reality when he heard her voice. "Huh?" he said, not completely aware of what she had said.

"Keith, you're not yourself today." Allura commented, placing the goblet back on the table and dabbing her lips with her napkin.

"I've got a lot to think about, Princess." Keith replied.

"Relax... you're too tense!" she said, reaching over and placing her hand onto his to pat it gently, before retracting it again.

Keith only sighed.  She really didn't understand how important this day was to him.  He had a bad feeling that just wouldn't go away.

Lotor was waiting for his chance...somewhere...and not knowing where he was gave Keith an uneasy feeling.

"Time to go!" the 19 year-old whiz kid of the team shouted.  Pidge was extremely anxious to get going and play around with some of the kids.

"Relax, Pidge!" Hunk shouted, still consuming food. "We'll get there in plenty of time!"

"No, Pidge is right." Coran spoke
up as he pushed himself away from
the table. "The villagers are expecting
your arrival at 9:00 am precisely.
We should not disappoint them."

"Yeah, and its 8:30 now!" Pidge replied. "We've got to get to the lions!"

Keith immediately rose to his feet. "Okay, Black, Blue, Yellow and Green Lions!  Prepare for liftoff in 15 minutes!"

Pidge and Hunk shouted agreements with their Commander.  Allura rose up from her chair and turned toward the door. "I'll meet all of you in Castle Control then!"

She was about to whiz away when Keith grabbed onto her arm. "Princess, may I see you for a moment?"

Allura regarded his grip, and knew he was serious. "Certainly," she replied, and followed him out the door of the dining hall.

When they were a safe distance away
from the others, Keith dashed in
front of her, stopping her in her tracks.
"Allura, I have to tell you once again...
I can't shake this feeling!  Can't you postpone
this thing until I have a chance to locate Lotor?"

"Keith, the children are depending on us!
I can't let them down.  I trust in you boys
with my life. We'll be alright." Allura replied.

Keith gently laid his hands on her shoulders.

"That's what I'm afraid for...your life!
It may be in danger.  I'm not superhuman you
know!  There may come a time when you
get hurt or captured that I won't be able
to help you.  I don't feel good about this, Allura.
Lotor's too clever.  He has people working for him all over the place...even here on Arus.
Are you sure this wise?"

Allura gave Keith a smile that nearly took his breath away. "I'm sure.  I must do something that will help my people feel that I'm truly thinking of their needs.  Flying around in Blue Lion for their protection doesn't seem to be the answer they're looking for.  They want me to be the people's Princess...intricately involved in their lives."

"If you're doing this for your image, then you're doing this for the wrong reasons." Keith snorted. "Being a princess means a lot more than bowing and scraping to what the people want.  You have to lead by example.  You have to be fearless, and wise...all at the same time."
Keith replied, giving her shoulders a gentle squeeze. "Its important to me that you're safe, Allura.  And I'm worried that this may compromise your safety."

Allura leaned forward and planted a
gentle kiss on Keith's cheek.  He closed
his eyes and for a brief moment, he caught
wind of the scent of her skin.

All he wanted to do was scoop her up in his
arms and run away with her...
take her somewhere where
Lotor would never find her again.

Someplace where she'd be safe always.  But his heart was too small of a place to hide her in.

Allura leaned back, and Keith opened his eyes once again, drinking in her beauty, both inside and out.  She had an enormous love for her people...and he envied her for that.

"I'm going to my chambers to get a few things.  I'll meet you and the others back at Castle Control." Allura said, shooting Keith a wink from her eye. But still seeing he was not totally convinced, she shot him a look.

"And Keith... I'm a big girl now.  Is it possible that you're overlooking the possibility that I can take care of myself too?"

Keith sighed. "You really don't understand, do you, Allura."

"What's to understand, Keith?" Allura said, her face suddenly pouting. "I understand that you're on the edge of treating me like a baby."

"Not at all, Princess," Keith said, suddenly becoming formal. "I'm concerned...and I'll leave it at that."

"Concerned why?" Allura asked, as if she was trying to get him to admit to her how he truly felt in his heart.

"Just concerned.  That's all I'll say for now." Keith said firmly. "You better get going. You only have about 10 minutes before we leave."

Allura looked at him.  He suddenly seemed so cold toward her.  She couldn't figure it out. She nodded quietly, stepped around him, and ran down the corridor.

Keith dropped his head down low, quietly reprimanding himself for the hundredth time...

"Why did you have to go and do that?  You made her feel like she's nothing more to you then a chore...a duty...and you know that's not true! She asked you to explain...and you chose to blow it off.  Come on, Keith!  You love her!  Lance knows it!  You know it!  Why can't you let Allura know it too?  Because you're afraid, is that it?  Afraid that anyone you love is going to go away from you...like your mom and dad?  Keith, get over it!  Don't let your past destroy your hopes for the future!  Relax...Allura's right.  Enjoy the day!"

He silently turned and walked back down the corridor toward the control room, plainly disgusted with himself for overacting as he did.

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


Minutes later, Allura charged into the Control Room, carrying a bag that was stuffed full of toys that she had wanted to pass out to the children when they had arrived to Capri.

"I'm ready!" she announced loudly.

"Me too!" Pidge replied anxiously. "Let get going!"

"Yeah!  All those kids are wait for us!" Hunk added.

Keith turned to Coran. "You and Lance keep a close eye on those monitors.  If you see anything that looks suspicious, I want to know about it...immediately."

"Understood, Commander." Coran replied.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah!" Lance mocked, waving his hand back and forth. "Get out of here already! Old Lance is on the job!"

Keith sighed again before turning to his other teammates. "Okay team, let's get to the lions!"

The command center rose up in the air,
revealing the hidden lion chutes that lead
to the shuttles below the Castle. 
Keith ran into number one, Pidge
ran into number three, Princess Allura
ran into number four, and Hunk ran
into number five.

Soon, they all arrived in the cockpits
of the robot lions. Keith was the last
to be loaded in. He grabbed his key
from his uniform and gave the word to
the rest.

"Insert Keys!" he shouted confidently.

Each pilot immediately inserted
the powerful key of life, activating
the robot lions with a mighty roar.

From deep within the forest around
the Castle, Green Lion left its den
and flew high into the air. Joining him
from the dessert sands was Yellow Lion,
emerging from his hidden cave.

Blue Lion awoke beneath the deep
waters of the moat, raising to the
surface and immediately breaking
the waves of the water to join with
up with Black Lion, who was already
waiting in mid-air high above the
Castle.

The four robot warriors gathered together in the air.

"Okay team, set course for the village of Capri. ETA...six minutes." Keith commanded.

As they all flew into formation, Keith, feeling guilty about his last personal talk with the Princess, spontaneously opened up a private channel to Allura.

"Allura," Keith began.

Seeing that it was a private COM link, Allura smiled to herself. "Allura here, Keith. What's up?" she said nonchalantly.

"About our talk in the corridor this morning..." he began.

"What of it?" she asked.

"I...I just wanted to clear something up that I may have unintentionally conveyed to you.  I want you to know that you're not just another duty for me to perform.  And I think in the last couple of days, I've unintentionally led you to believe that you are."

Allura smiled. "I know you don't think that, Keith."

"Yeah, but I wanted to tell you personally.
You're more then that to me, Allura.
You're the most kind and considerate
person I've ever met. And ...well...I just
wanted you to know that what you're doing
today deserves a hardy round of applause.
This is a kind and thoughtful gesture to
your people, and you should be commended, not
reprimanded. I'm sorry if I offended you, Princess."
Keith finished, and remained silent for her to speak.

"Keith," Allura replied. "I know you're only concerned for my welfare.  And for that, you are to be commended.  I sometimes take things to the limit...I know I do.  But, sometimes being a princess means that you must make sacrifices that bring you out of your comfort zones.  My people have suffered much at the hands of Zarkon and Lotor.  Many of them have died for the cause they believe in...the preservation of Planet Arus.  I have a duty, to uphold the traditions of my people, and make them feel safe and loved by their ruler.  That's what being a princess is all about.  And if I hope to someday be a wise queen, I'll need to practice these things now before my coronation."

Keith marveled at her wisdom that was well beyond her years.  She amazed him sometimes... and mesmerized him all of the time. "Thank you, Princess."

"For what?" she replied.

Keith sighed gently. "For being a friend,
and for shaking me out of my little world
that I can sometimes close myself off in."

"You're so silly, Keith!" Allura giggled.
"You're welcome.  And thank you for
being my knight in shining armor, and
rescuing me from the terrible evil that  seems to hover all around me!"


"You're welcome, Princess Allura!" Keith beamed, happy that he had gotten that settled. He then opened up a channel to everyone on the team. "Pidge, scan the area around the village. Make sure things are safe."

"Gottcha, chief!" Pidge replied.

Pidge scanned the entire area for doom ship signatures and for anyone who looked suspicious. "All clear, Commander!"

"Okay, let's head on in," Keith proclaimed. "Prepare to land in the clearing near the village."



From the ground, Jacqie, Angeline, Brian and Kentell stood, gathering all of the smaller children around them, everyone cheering at the approach of the robot lions.  The village people gathered around too, merrily joining in with cheers of their own.

"Check out those lions!" Kentell hooted. "They look even more awesome in real life then in the pictures I've seen!"

"Oh look!  There's Black Lion!  That means Commander Keith is here too!" Jacqie shouted gleefully.

"Rats," Angeline huffed. "No Red Lion...."

"Well, better luck next time!" Jacqie teased.

"Wow! Green Lion looks so cool!" Brian cheered. "He just gleams in the sky!"

Mayor Sonnet approached the children. "Well children, this is going to be a grand day to remember!"

Indeed it would be...more then any of them would realize.
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