"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 8
Trapped


Yellow and Green Lions had flown to seek out the ship...and found nothing for the efforts.

They returned to find Keith still searching the area, using his scanners to find the other scattered and frightened children that had taken cover after hearing the commotion.

After gather nearly all that they had located, Keith instructed Hunk to lead them out of the forest and back to the banquet hall with the waiting adults, all frightened to know the fate of the children.

Keith and Pidge stayed behind, looking for any other missing kids.  They approached the cave opening, and found it sealed blocked by debris.

Keith stood in front of it, looking up and shaking his head. "We can't get in this way." he surmised out loud to Pidge. "Can you tell if anyone's in there?"

Pidge sighed. "I'm picking up life signs inside the cave, Keith," he said, scanning for vitals. "The Princess is probably in there..."

Keith turned and sternly blasted Pidge. "The point is that she might not have been in this situation at all, if you had done what I ordered you to do!"

Pidge nodded his head slowly. "I know, Keith. I'm sorry..."

"Sorry..." Keith sighed with disgust. "You're sorry for letting your guard down, and I'm sorry I let her talk me into letting her do this!  I knew something like this might happen, but she wouldn't listen to me!"

Pidge suddenly swung his scanner around to the bushes off to the right of them.  He then whispered to Keith. "There's someone over there..."

Keith pointed his blaster toward the area, and slowly made his way over toward the bushes.  He stood ready, using his blaster to part the bushes slightly to look on the other side of them. That's when he saw her...

"Jacqie?" Keith said quietly, so as not to startle the girl further.

She was huddled in a ball, her legs up to her chin and her head tucked low.  She was obviously shaking...scared stiff.

Keith holstered his blaster and knelt to the ground. "Jacqie...its me!  Its Keith...come on honey... you're alright now!"

He reached his hand in and grabbed hold of her arm.  She twisted, crying out hysterically suddenly, and flailing her body around.

"NO!" she screamed wildly. "LET ME GO!  DON'T HURT ME, PLEASE!"

"Hey...hey!  I'm here to help you!  It's okay, Jacqie!  Calm down!" Keith called out to her, grabbing onto her and pulling her into his arms. "Its me, Jacqie!  It's Keith!"

The girl was shaking badly as she buried her head into Keith's chest, trying all she could to hide herself there.   She wrapped her arms around his midsection with an almost tourniquet-like grip.

Keith placed his one hand on Jacqie's head, in an effort to show her protection. "It's going to be okay now." Keith tried to reassure the girl.  "Just relax and take a few deep breaths.  We've gottcha!"

The girl was shaking almost uncontrollably now, heaving tearful gasps.  Whatever she saw, scared the daylights out of her.  The horrors of war didn't spare anyone...not even children.

"Pidge!  Come over here!" Keith shouted, while covering Jacqie's ear with his hand. "Give me a hand with her!"

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

"We're never going to get past that." Kentell said angrily, seeing that the mouth of the cave was blocked off.


"Pidge!  Come over here!  Give me a hand with her!"



Allura paused, silencing the boys at once. "Keith" she whispered quietly. "That's Keith's voice!" she said with a more elevated voice.

The boys quickly realized she was referring to the Voltron Commander.

Allura quickly ran up to he wall of rock that had falling over the entrance of the cave, and began calling out of it.

"KEITH!  KEITH... CAN YOU HEAR ME?"

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

On the other side of the cave, Keith, who had been comforting Jacqie, immediately froze, recognizing the sound of Allura's voice.  It was coming from behind the rocks that were blocking the cave entrance, cutting her off from him.

He separated from Jacqie quickly, handing her off to Pidge, and then ran to the entrance.

"PRINCESS!" he shouted through the rocks. "Are you alright?"

"Yes...we're fine for now!" she cried back.

Keith dashed back and forth, looking for any way to get her out of there.  The only thing he could find was a tiny opening...only large enough for a hand to fit through.  Keith called through the hole.

"Princess...over here!"

Allura moved toward the small opening, with the two boys right behind her.  She crouched down low and peeked into it.  Her heart skipped a beat as she caught a glimpse of Keith's face.

"Keith!  Thank goodness!" she breathed a sigh of relief.

"How many children are there with you, Allura?" Keith asked.

"Thirteen in total." She replied, her voice remaining even, not wanting to upset Keith any further then he already was.

"We're going to get you out of there somehow!" Keith encouraged. "Just hang on!"

"Keith...you were right!  Lotor was responsible for this!" she said, now with a tone of fear surfacing in her voice as she repeated the evil Prince's name.

"I know.  We think we've chased him offat least for now.  But he'll be back.  We've got to get you and the children out somehow." He replied.

"Keith, we're missing a young girl!" Allura suddenly said.

"Don't worry, Princess.  She's out here with Pidge and me." Keith reassured.

"Jacqie?" Allura asked, suddenly catching the attention of the two teenage boys behind her.

They quickly ran up to her. "Jacqie!" Kentell shouted. "She's okay?"

"Yes," Keith shouted to the boy. "She's fine.  Just a bit shaken up."

"As are we all." Allura added.

Keith looked up the enormous wall of rock, sizing up the situation instantly. "Listen, Allura...we can't get you out of here this way.  The rock is unstable here.  If we use the lions to dig you and the kids out, it might bring the rest of the cave down on top of all of you."

"Then what can we do?" Allura asked.

"There has to be an exit somewhere else...and we'll find it.  We'll stay in touch, using our COM links." Keith replied.

Allura looked down to her wrist, and suddenly gasped. "Oh no!"

"What is it, Princess?" Keith shouted through to her.

"My wrist COM... it's... its broken!" Allura replied, as she removed it from her wrist and looked at it. "It's crushed!  It must have broken somehow while some of the debris was falling around us!  I had used my hands to protect my head!  How will you get us out now, if we
can't keep in touch?"

"Allura, don't worry," Keith soothed. "We'll to get you out.  Here..." Keith paused in mid sentence, while removing his wrist COM and handed it through the whole in the wall to the Princess. "Use mine to stay in contact with us."

She accepted the wrist COM from Keith, and immediately placed it on her hand.  She
then reached her hand out of the cave to Keith. "I'll go to the children now.  Do what you can to get us out.  We'll be fine until you do."

Keith grabbed onto her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze of reassurance, resisting the urge to kiss her hand, but instead, releasing it. "Stay in contact...every fifteen minutes...understand?"

"Yes, Keith." she repeated. "Every fifteen minutes.  Got it."

Allura rose back to her feet, and turned to the boys. "Let's return to the group."

Keith stood outside of the cave, gently placing his hand on the mounds of rock and rubble that had blocked his way to the Princess.  He knew in his heart that he had to find a way to get her out somehow... before Lotor found a way to get in.

He turned back to Pidge, who was comforting Jacqie. Keith walked up to them both, addressing Jacqie. "It sounds like all of your friends are safe inside the cave."

Tears were streaming down Jacqie's face. "Commander Keith...you...you've just got to get them out of there!"

Keith sighed gently. "Don't worry, Jacqie.  We will.  We'll do what we can."

"That man....it was Prince Lotor!  He was after Princess Allura!  I know he's going to hurt her! You've got to save our Princess, please, Commander Keith!"

Keith placed his hand on her shoulder. "I'll take care of it.  For now, I want you to return with Pidge to the banquet hall with the rest of the villagers.  Okay?"

She nodded her head, the tears now falling like rain down her cheeks.  Keith lightly patted the young girl's head and gave a nod to Pidge to get her to safety.

Keith then shouted behind as Pidge was leaving with the girl. "Oh, hey Pidge!  Lend me your wrist COM, will you?"

"Sure thing," Pidge replied, taking it off of his wrist and tossing it to Keith. "Keep it.  I'll get the another one from Green Lion."

Keith took off his helmet. "Here, take  this with you." Keith said to Pidge, as he handed him the lion helmet.

"Got it." Pidge replied, tucking it under his arm.  "I'll put it in Black Lion."

Pidge then turned back to the girl to leave the area.

"Pidge..." Keith called out again.  "One more thing..."

Pidge hesitated for a moment, then looked behind once again. "Yeah, Keith?" he answered.

Keith's facial expressions softened. "It wasn't your fault, Pidge.  Regardless what I said earlier, it wasn't your fault.  Remember that."

"Yeah." Pidge said quietly before turning away once again.  "I...I guess not."

Keith then turned back to the mouth of the cave. "I'll get you out, Allura.  Don't worry," he whispered silently before activating the COM link to her "Princess...this is Keith... do you read?"

"Allura here...its not fifteen minutes yet, Keith."

Keith smiled. "Funny, Princess.  Listen, are all of the children safe?"

"Yes Keith... but they're all very frightened.  Have you figured out how to get us out of here yet?"

"Not yet, but I'm going to have Hunk do an aerial scan for any other surprises in store for us...and also to see if there is another way out of there." Keith replied.

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

From inside of the cave, Kentell noticed that part of the ceiling was crumbling down bit by bit. He immediately ran up to the Princess.

"Princess Allura!" Kentell shouted. "Princess! The ceiling is giving way!"

She quickly updated Keith. "We have a new problem!"

Keith's voice rang out through the COM. "What's happening, Allura?"

"The ceiling is crumbling in!  I'm not sure how long it will hold up!  We had better think of something fast!" Allura warned.

"I'll notify Hunk!  You get those children together and keep moving forward!  Don't stop, just keep moving!" Keith replied.

"Acknowledged!  Allura out!"

Allura quickly turned to the children. "Okay, now I want everyone to listen to me very carefully, okay?  We're all going to play a game.  The rules are simple...be as quiet as you can be, and move as fast as you can forward.  Brian will walk ahead of all of you with the flashlight. I need everyone to play the game with me!  Okay?  Let's go!"

The ceiling began coming down even more as Allura gathered the children together and began moving them forward. "Hurry children!  Move quickly and quietly!"

Allura turned around and saw a small child, no more then six, standing right under the falling debris field from the crumbling ceiling. 

She turned to Angeline. "I'll get the little girl.  Keep these children moving!"

Angeline did as she was instructed, prodding the kids along.  Allura ran back and scooped the small girl into her hands, and started to move quickly out of the areabut not quickly enough.

A large batch of debris came crashing down from the ceiling.  Allura saw it coming and attempted to run out of its path, but instead, lost her footing.  The small girl let out a scream, followed by one from the Princess.  Allura dropped to her knees and covered the child with
her body...attempting to shield her from harm.

The rocks fell on top of Allura, but she remained firm, tensing her body to the debris.  Rayna turned and saw Allura on the ground, and she shouted to Kentell. "The Princess!  She's fallen!"

Kentell and Brian quickly ran to her aid.  Allura shouted at the boys.

"Get back!" she shouted, wincing in pain. 

One of the rocks had tumbled onto her leg, pinning it to the floor.  Allura was trapped.  Kentell grabbed the girl from beneath Allura's body, and practically through her to Rayna.

"Get her out of there!" Kentell shouted, passing off the child to Rayna.

"Get back!  Please... get back!" Princess shouted.

More rocks were tumbling around her, and she knew it would only be a matter of moments before the rest of it came down as well.

Brian and Kentell lifted the rock that had Allura's leg pinned.  She was able to move it, but not able to walk.

"Leave me!" she shouted. "Save yourselves!"

"Not... without...you!" Kentell struggled, signaling Brian to take one side of the Princess while he took the other side.

Together, both boys picked the Princess up off of the ground and carried her quickly to safety... just as the ceiling came crashing in.

The children screamed as dust and debris spread all over the area, causing it to become difficult to breathe.

Allura looked at her rescuers sternly. "That was a very foolish thing to do!  You could have gotten yourselves killed!" she scolded.  But then her voice softened. "But, thank you.  You saved my life."

"We couldn't leave you there, Princess." Kentell replied.  He then looked down at her right leg.  There was blood showing through her pant leg. "Can you walk, Princess?"

"I can try..." she said, as the boys placed her on the ground, and she gingerly applied weight to her injured right leg.  She winced in pain and retracted the leg immediately. "I'm afraid not!" she cried  out. "Oh, this isn't good!"

The boys placed Allura up on a nearby rock that was on the floor.  Once she had positioned herself, she opened the COM link to Keith once again.

"Keith...come in Keith!" she said, the pain evident in her voice.

"Keith here...Allura, we think we may have found a way out.  You need to walk toward..."

"That's just it, Keith...I can't walk...anywhere!  I've been injured and I think I've broken my leg!" Allura said, gritting her teeth as the pain began to build.

There was a momentary pause before Keith's voice could be heard once again. "Hurt?  How? What happened, Allura?"

"The ceiling...it gave way and I got trapped under falling rocks.  Kentell and Brian...two of the older boys got me out.  But I can't apply any pressure to my leg."

"Okay, stay where you are...I'm coming in after you!" Keith replied.

"Be careful, Keith!  Lotor is bound to still be around somewhere!" she warned.

"I'll be careful.  You stay off of that leg!  I'll be there as soon as I can. Keith out."

Allura turned off the wrist COM, and let her hand drop away from it.  She sent a silent prayer toward heaven for Keith's protection.  She could feel in her soul that Lotor was near, and still in pursuit of her.

Would he ever give up chasing her?

"Princess," Kentell said, suddenly interrupting her thoughts.

Allura regained her composure and looked up at the brown-haired young man standing before her. "What is it, Kentell?"

"We'll be alright, Princess.  Commander Keith will get us out of here.  I know he will." Kentell replied with a tone of confidence in his voice. "You'll see...Commander Keith will come shortly!"

"I know, Kentell," Allura sighed. "I'm more worried that he'll run into Lotor out there."

"Lotor is nothing compared to Keith!" Angeline said, perking up suddenly. "No one can beat Commander Keith!"

"I hope you're right," she replied.  Then, she tried to refocus the fears that were present in all of them to something else. "Well, since we're all in here together, perhaps we should get to know each other."

The kids suddenly all began to perk up.  Allura smiled, gathering a small red-haired child in her arms that was sniffling next to her. 

"And what is your name?" she asked, taking her arms, as she began wiping the tiny tears from the little girl's cheeks.

The girl gasped silently as she answered. "My name is Marie, Princess Allura."

Allura smiled as she rocked the small girl back in forth in her lap.

"Marie, you say?  Why that's my maid's name!  She's very nice...but I'll just bet not as nice as you are!"

The little girl looked at the Princess. "You...you mean it?"

"Of course I do!" Allura replied with a bright smile for the girl. "How old are you, Marie?"

"I'm...six years old." The little girl said, letting out another sniff.

"I remember when I was six years old." Allura said, trying to refocus the little girl's thoughts onto something other than fear.
"I made friends with a mouse
family that lived in my father's castle.
We had such fun together. They would
steal cheese for me from the pantry!"

The girl suddenly forgot her tears
and giggled a bit. Allura then turned
to the others, asking their names as well.
One by one, each of the other eight small children replied, giving their names.

"And you?" she pointed to the older kids. "What are your names?"

"I'm Rayna, Princess."

Angeline curtseyed as she gave Allura her name.

Then Allura looked at the two older boys. "And how about you two...or shall I just call you both heroes?" Allura let out a giggle that she stifled in her hand.

Brian puffed up with pride "A hero?  Me?" he said.

"Of course!  And Commander Keith and the rest of the Voltron Force will want to thank you both personally for your bravery!" Allura said with a wink. "But first, I'm afraid we'll need to know your names before we can bestow such an honor on you two!"

"I'm Brian!" the young man puffed up.

"And you?" Allura said, pointing to the young man that bore a striking resemblance to what Keith would have looked like as a younger boy.

"My name is Kentell, Princess.  I'm glad that you're okay." He said humbly, bowing before her. "I'll be here for you, Princess.  Don't worry about Lotor!  He can't hurt you while I'm around!"

Allura smiled. "I see!" she said, seeing clearly now how much of this boy's attitude reminded her of Keith.

He was maybe five feet, and perhaps six inches tall.  He had brown hair, and his bravery went
beyond his age.

Allura decided to keep the resemblance to herself.  Kentell dropped down to one knee, and said, "I'll fight for your honor, Princess!"

The Princess couldn't help but hear the faint sound of giggling coming from the young boy's friends.  She decided how to reward such bravery.

"Young man, stand before me," She announced.

The young man rose to his feet and stood before her.  Allura looked over to the other children. "Can someone find me a rather large stick?  There must be one in here somewhere!"

The children scattered, combing the area, looking for the very thing the Princess had need of. "I found it!" one very excited young boy shouted, running over to where Allura was sitting. "I found it!"

The boy showed her the stick he had found.  It was rather thick, a quarter of an inch or better in width, and several inches long. 

Allura smiled as she took in her hands. "That's perfect!"

She then lifted Marie out of her lap and attempted to stand, but found was unable to, letting out a holler from the pain that seared through her leg.  Kentell grabbed for her, helping her back onto the rock she had been sitting on.

"I've got an idea," Allura winced in pain. "Kentell, kneel before me."

Kentell did as he was instructed and knelt down before the Princess.  "Now, bow your head, Kentell and swear" Allura instructed. "Do you, Kentell, promise to defend these children, placing their safety above your own for the sake of Arus?"

"I do, Your Highness." Kentell replied.

His friends suddenly stopped the giggling and observed the ceremony.

She took the stick that the children had found for her, and held it before her face. "By the authority granted to me as Princess of Arus, I...Allura Adrianna DeVille, now dub thee...Sir Kentell of Arus... Honorary Lion Knight!"

Allura brought the stick down and gently touched both of his shoulders.  Then she very prestigiously announced him by his new title "May I now introduce to you...Sir Kentell of Arus!"

The children erupted in a thunderous round of applause, quickly surrounding the young man. Even his friends now seemed to hold a certain air of respect for him now that he had the new title.

Little Marie tugged at Allura's sleeve. "What's an 'Honorary Lion Knight', mean?"

"It means that Sir Kentell has been recognized for his bravery to the crown, that's me...and for his selfless acts of courage in defense of my kingdom.  It's a very important title!"

Kentell beamed with pride as he hugged as many small children as possible. 

Allura smiled, but then spoke in a serious tone. "Sir Kentell, your mission is take care of these children, and offer them protection until Commander Keith arrives."

Kentell proudly pushed out his chest. "And to protect you too, Princess!"

Allura giggled slightly. "If you'd like!"

Kentell smiled, and chuckled back at her before asking "Princess, can you tell us the stories about the Lion Knights from long ago?"

The children let out several hoots and shouts in agreement with their new leader.  Allura frowned at first. "Oh, I don't know.  Maybe we should wait until we get out of here"

Her suggestion was met with a host of non-approving groans and whining noises.  She finally put her hands up "Okay!  You win!  Everyone gather around!"

Shouts of hurries erupted as the children found spots on the ground to sit, waiting to hear the stories from the Princess of the brave Lion Knights of Arus's past.
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