"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 16
What To Do Now?

Keith saw her face...she was crying.

"Allura?" He called out, attempting to reach her.  He could see she was crying, and he swore he heard her calling his name tearfully, but...

Her lips were not moving...

"Allura?" he repeated. "What's going on?"

"Keith!" Allura's voice cried.  "Oh Keith...please..."

"Allura?" he asked again. "What is it, Princess?"

"Keith...please...wake up!"

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

Keith turned his head slightly from side to side, moaning gently. 

Lance grabbed onto Allura's arm. "It's working!" Lance shouted. "Keep trying, Allura!"

Allura took one of her hands and wiped the tears from her face, the other hand still holding onto Keith's hand as he lay in the bed.

"Keith...please...open your eyes!  Keith...you must open your eyes!" Allura repeated.

The Voltron Commander rolled his head on the pillow back and forth and finally, opened his eyes, slightly at first, then a bit wider to focus.  A weary smile crossed his lips.

"Allura?" he said weakly. "Wh...where am I?  Wh...what...happened to..."

Allura smiled. "Easy, Keith.  You're in the Castle infirmary.  You suffered a sharp blow to your head.  Don't you remember?"

Keith raised his free hand up and began rubbing his forehead.

"I do now..." Keith replied, squinting his eyes a bit.  "My brain's a bit scrambled, though."

Lance poked his head into Keith's line of sight. "Hey there, buddy?  How's the noggin?"

"Hurts...thanks for asking." Keith groaned with a somewhat course tone. Then it all came rushing back to him like a flood of water from a burst dam.

"Lotor...the Castle... tell me it was just a dream!  He's not really here, is he?"

Allura sighed. "Oh Keith, I'm
afraid you didn't dream that. 
Lotor and his cruel minions
have taken control of the
Castle of Lions.  You were
struck on the head with a blaster rifle."

"Yeah...I remember that,"
Keith replied, grimacing while
slipping his hand under his neck
as he rested on the pillow.
"How did you get here?" he said to Allura.

"Lotor is speaking to Zarkon from our Control Room.  He allowed me to come to see you." Allura replied sadly.

"How nice of him," Keith commented drolly. "He's a real gentleman..."

"What are we going to do now?" Lance asked angrily, throwing his hands into the air.  "Lotor's got the Castle!  It's just a matter of time before he gets the lions too!"

"Not if we don't turn over the keys to him!" Keith said in a raised tone of voice. "The only two lions he knows about are Black Lion on the monument perch, and Blue Lion in the mote. He doesn't know where Green, Yellow or Red Lions are!"

"He will soon enough!" Lance snorted. "He's promised to start destroying villages and towns if we don't surrender the lion ships!"

Keith raised his hand toward Lance's face. "Calm down, will you!  I can't think with you screaming at me!  Now, listen to me..both you you....we have to think very carefully and come up with a plan of action!"

"How?  What plan of action?" Lance shouted.

"If we can find a way to get to our lions...and draw Lotor out of the Castle..." Keith thought out loud.

"And just how are we going to do that?" Lance snorted. "You heard what he said!  We do anything funny, the Princess is going to get it worse from him!"

Keith looked at Allura. "Do you remember where the hidden passages are in the Castle that lead to the underground caverns...the ones that lead to the outside world?"

"Why yes... I used to travel them at night to escape the Castle guards when I was a little girl." Allura replied. "My parents wouldn't let me out to play unless I was under guard.  So I used the tunnels whenever I wanted to get away on my own.  Why do you ask?"

"Those were the same tunnels that Pidge used too, when we first arrived a long time ago," Keith added. "And they lead outside of the Castle!  If we can somehow get to them, without being detected, we can escape..."

"Are you kidding me?" Lance fumed. "That bump you took is affecting your brain!  No way are we going to make it that far!  Lotor will find us and blow us away for sure!"

"Got any better ideas?" Keith shouted angrily, tiring of Lance's complaining. "Now's the time, genius!"

Lance clamed up instantly. 

Keith growled at his second. "What's that?  I didn't hear you!  What...nothing to say?  Then stop complaining, hothead, and just do what you're told!"

"Boys, please!  Now is not the time to argue!" Allura insisted sternly.

"Tell Commander Perfect that!" Lance blasted off. "I'm not the one chewing his butt out, and after I stuck my neck out to bring him in here too!  Some thanks!"

Keith frowned at the condescending comment, but then his facial expression lightened up, realizing he probably deserved it.  That was not one of his better reprimands.

"Lance, I'm sorry..." Keith apologized. "I stepped over the line."

Lance snorted...now in a playful manner. "I'm hurt!  How can you even insinuate that I'm a hothead?  What evidence do you have that will support this accusation?"

Keith chuckled a bit, and Lance smiled at his friend, gently patting him on the shoulder. Allura only shook her head, wondering if she would ever get used to the way that they treated each other.

"So, how do we lure old blue butt out of the Castle?" Lance asked.

"To address your last question...I'm not sure how to draw Lotor out of the Castle... not just yet." Keith sighed.

"Well, come on!  You're the super-human with all of the answers!  I'm disappointed in you!" Lance teased. "You're slipping, Keith!"

"Sorry," Keith replied, playing along for a moment. "I just woke up a few minutes ago.  I am entitled to a bit of consideration."

"Yeah, yeah...whatever," Lance snorted again.

"Boys, I really hate to break up this 'men's only' club, but we have to pull our heads together and figure out a way to retake the Castle!" Allura insisted.

"Allura's right, " Keith replied with a more serious tone.

"You have to be careful there, buddy," Lance said. "Lotor has it out for you!"

"Yeah, I know... I'm not one of his favorite people." Keith sighed. "But that's too bad for him.  Let's think of something..."


"Allura!"


Keith froze, closing his eyes immediately at the sound of Lotor's voice.  Lance picked up on what he was doing, and ran with it.  He leaned in and whispered to the Princess...

"He's still out, got it?" referring to Keith.

Allura winked her eye at Lance, acknowledging him.

Lotor called for her again, this time approaching from behind.

"I called you, woman! You are to answer!" Lotor shouted again, this time close to ear.

"Lay off, Lotor!" Lance shouted back. "She's concerned about Keith!"

Lotor looked down, regarding the Voltron Commander. "Still out, eh?  Well, be thankful he's still alive.  I could have wiped him out of existence with a nod of my head!"

"You're a monster!" Allura hissed angrily, turning to face him. "You did this to him!"

"And next time I'll have him executed, if you don't do exactly as I say, Princess!" Lotor shouted back.

Allura coiled back a bit, suddenly fearful that he might carry out his threat to Keith's life. Lotor smiled at her, "That's better, Princess.  You see, you can be persuaded to do the right thing."

"The only right thing is to see you dead..." Lance mumbled.

Lotor's eyes glanced to his left. "You don't approve of my taking over Arus?"

"I don't approve of anything that robs innocent people of the right to live life the way they want...free!" Lance replied angrily.

"Lance, Lance!  The people are free...I'll leave plenty of time for rest... but they are my slaves, and shall do my bidding by day.  By night, they can do as they please.  Late at night, that is!" Lotor smiled.  "And you four of the Voltron Force shall have the pleasure of training my robot warriors to fly the robot lions."

"Then, you won't destroy them?" Allura asked.

"No.  I've decided that Voltron can still be of some use to me as my slave!  He will help me plunder the galaxy!" Lotor replied, raising his hands into the air in a triumphal manner.

"Voltron can never be evil!"
Allura said. "You're wasting your time,
Lotor.  The spirits of the lions will
only interact with us.  They can
never be made to do your bidding."

"I suggest that whatever power you
hold over these lion spirits of Arus,
you had better convince to be cooperative.
Otherwise, I will destroy the robot lions!"
Lotor hissed.

Allura's face frowned angrily at him.
"The lions will never be evil!"

"They will as long as I am master of Arus... and get used to it, Princess...I will be master for a long, long time to come!  And you shall reign with me, Allura...as my Queen!" Lotor said, suddenly grabbing onto her arm.

"I would rather die then be your Queen!" Allura shouted back, flinching as he held her arm. "Unhand me, beast!"

"You heard the lady!  Unhand her!"
Lance shouted as well, shoving
Lotor backward.

Lotor regained his balance
quickly and swung his metallic arm at
Lance, connecting with his face,
and sending him sprawling to the
ground. "Let that be a lesson to
you...never do that again!"

"Oh, I'm real scared!" Lance bellowed, now rubbing his chin. "You're nothing, metal-head!"

"You and your miserable comrades are the reason I am this metal-head!  I was handsome oncebut then Voltron destroyed all of that!  I should have never allowed them to put me back together!  I'd rather be dead then look like this!" Lotor screamed, releasing the Princess
and turning to walk toward a nearby mirror that was hanging in the infirmary. "You can never understand what it feels like...being trapped in a metal prison for life.  How can you?"

Lotor reached his hand up to his face and gently stroked the shiny metal. "You're still whole...you can never understand what it is to be half a man..."

Allura suddenly felt a wave of compassion upon Lotor... not really sure why it was there.  She stepped away from Keith's bedside, and took a few steps closer to her nemesis.

Keith, fully conscious and very angry, opened one of his eyes, slightly, to see what was going on.

"Be careful, Allura," Keith thought, hoping she'd catch the thought too. "He's bating you..."

Allura turned her head toward the bed and slightly nodded her head.  Keith carefully watched her, knowing she did read what he thought.

"Lotor, I admit we can't understand what it is that you are feeling.  But we can help you...if you'll let us." Allura said quietly.

She cautiously moved in closer to him. "Lotor, let us help you.  You don't have to be evil."

Lotor stared into the mirror, and saw her reflection coming up behind him.  He closed his eyes for a moment, taking in a deep breath of air.

"If only I could, Allura." he sighed aloud. "There's no hope for me.  Evil is all that I know. I know of no other way."

"But you can learn another way, Lotor.  Let us show you a better way; a way that is free from evil, and full of peace and joy."
Allura responded, carefully remaining
behind him.

"You'd...you'd really help me?" v
Lotor softly whispered. "You'd help
an enemy?"

"No, but we'd help a friend..."

Lotor turned around to the bed and
saw Keith sitting up in the bed.
Lotor smirked at the Voltron
Commander. "Friend... I don't even know
what the word means..."

"You can... we can help you, Lotor."
Allura replied. "You can start
hereright now! Make the decision
to turn away from evil for good.
Join us, Lotor!"

"Join you?  I'm supposed to have conquered you!" Lotor said in a raised voice.  He turned and looked at Allura, her eyes pleading for him to make the right decision.

"If I were good...would you then marry me, Allura?" Lotor asked.

Allura backed up a few paces. "No, Lotor.  Love is not based on an act.  It's a feeling shared by two who desire to make each other happy.  It's not what you get out of it, but you give. That's what love is."

"And...you do not have such a feeling for me, is that it?" Lotor said, the corners of his mouth turning downward.

Allura sighed. "No Lotor.  I don't have those feelings for you.  I'm sorry."

Lotor instead shook his head. "Then tell me why I should trust you!  I... have exactly what I've wanted for years!  I have Castle Arus in my grasp...and I have you!  In time, you will learn to love and respect me!"

"No, Lotor!  Time will not grant something that I am totally against in my heart!  I don't love you!  Let me go...please...and leave Planet Arus!" Allura replied.

"NEVER!" Lotor shouted at her suddenly, and she immediately retreated. "I will NEVER surrender that which is mine!"

"Arus is not yours!" Keith shouted back, as Allura retreated into his arms for protection.

Lotor suddenly saw the affection that Allura had for the Voltron Commander.

"She didn't seek solace from Lance...she sought it from Keith!" Lotor thought to himself.

"So...you can't love me, but you can love him?" Lotor hissed. "So be it, Princess!  But you shall never know what it is like to live in freedom!  I am going to destroy this place...and if I have to, I'll destroy this budding romance between the both of you!  You think you can have her, Keith?  Well, we'll see who ends up with her, and who ends up in the grave!"

"I'm not afraid of you, Lotor!"
Keith replied confidently. "I'll do
what I must to protect her and
Planet Arus! If you know me as
well as you think you do, you must
know that!"

"I'll have her, Keith!  Mark it well
that Allura will be my bride!  And I'll
take her, if I have to kill you to do it!"
Lotor shouted, stepping forward toward
Keith in a threatening manner.

Keith jumped up from his bed, and
pushed Allura toward Lance, who now
was also standing on his feet.
Keith stared straight at the evil Prince. "Like I said...I'm not afraid of you, Lotor!"

"You will be!" Lotor hissed.

"If you're so tough, why not approach me now...get it over with!" Keith snarled.

"Keith...no!" Allura cried, only to be subdued by Lance, as he squeezed tightly on her shoulders.  She turned her eyes to him quickly, and saw something there that told her to keep her place.

Lotor was now standing toe to toe with Keith.  Each man was staring the other down.  Keith remained firm, not flinching.  Lotor growled like a tiger, his foul breath filling Keith's nostrils.

Lotor easily towered over Keith, but still, the brave Voltron Commander stood his ground, unmoved by the threat before him.

"Well, Lotor!" Keith hissed. "I'm waiting!"

Lotor's eyes suddenly shifted, and he suddenly drew his laser sword that was at his side.  He brought the shiny sword up between himself and his archenemy.  Still Keith made no movement.

Suddenly, Lotor smiledand then lowered his sword. "You're a brave man, Keith Hunter.  I could have sliced you to bits, and you would have taken it."

Keith made no replied, only to continue to stare Lotor directly in the eyes.

Lotor turned to walked away. "You know, Keith, I could use a man like you to run my armies.  Think of the power that would be yours!  You'd not just be a commander, but a general....you'd command thousands instead of only four.  Your name would go down in history, Keith!  Think of the glory that would be yours!"

"You're crazy..." Keith replied quietly.

"Am I?" Lotor said as he turned back to look at him. "You could have any woman you choose...they'd all flock to your side!"

"Sorry...not interested!" Keith spat out. "Why would I want to side with a twisted snake like you?"

"Because Keith, the black heart deep inside of you finds my offer...fascinating." Lotor replied.

"Not so fascinating, that I'd sell out Arus and all that is good to you!  Kill me if you can, but I'll not side with Doom...not matter what you do to me!" Keith shouted. "I won't betray the Princess's trust in me!"

"And what of the children, Keith?" Lotor asked carelessly. "Are their little lives of little interest to you?"

Keith's eyes widened. "What are you talking about?"

"I mean that they are mine to free...or destroy.  I am now giving their lives to you.  If you join me I'll set them free.  If you refuse me... I'll destroy them!" Lotor said, waving his hand in the air.

"You can't do that!" Keith shouted suddenly, stepping forward. "They're only children!"

"Children grow up to be adults...and I have always found adults to be very troublesome." Lotor said.  He then walked right up to Keith, standing directly in front of him.  His breath was fanning Keith's face. "Surely, you didn't think that I could let those children grow up to be my enemies, did you?"

Keith remained still, not sure what to do next. 

Allura gasped, "Lotor!  Please, let the children go!  I'm begging you to not hurt them!"

"Princess, that is not my affair now.  Commander Keith holds their fate in his hands.  It is his decision that will either save or destroy them now." Lotor replied calmly.

"That's not true!" Allura cried. "You're in charge of that!"

"Be silent, wife!" Lotor shouted.

"I am not your wife!  I'll never be your wife!" Allura screamed. "And you must let the children go!"

"No...this is much more fun!" Lotor laughed. "I'll give Keith one hour to decide their fate."

Lotor turned and left the room.

Lance and Princess walked up to the stunned Voltron Commander.  He shook his head, exhaling loudly.  Allura laid her hand on his shoulder for support.

Keith looked to them both. "We've got just one hour to carry out a plan to lure Lotor away from the Castle, and get to the lions... or I'll be forced to be his general."

"Keith!  You can't give in to his demands!" Lance shouted.

"What other choice do I have?  If I say no, he'll kill all of those innocent children!  I can't do that!  That's why we have to get this done quickly!" Keith replied.  He then turned to Allura and placed his hands on her shoulders. "I'm afraid your task in this is going to be most difficult of all."

"I understand, Commander." she replied. "Tell me what I must do."

"I want you to have a sudden change in heart regarding Lotor.  Pretend to be swayed over by him.  Get him to think that you've fallen for him.  Do whatever it takes to win his trust!  Then,
somehow, lure him outside the Castle walls." Keith advised.

"Are you crazy?" Lance shouted. "You're telling her to pretend to love him?"

"She has to, Lance.  And I want you, Pidge and Hunk to sneak out through the tunnels to the outside, and get to your lions as fast as you can!" Keith replied.

"But the keys are back with King Alfor in his coffin!" Lance informed.

"There's a way to the crypt from the tunnels," Allura replied. "I'll give you the directions. Get the keys and get to the lions!"

"Well, I guess this wacky plan will have to do." Lance sighed.

"We've nothing else to go with," Keith said. "If we don't succeed, I'll have to be the next General of Doom in order to save those kids.  And the Princess will be forced to be Lotor's bride.  Arus will be enslaved, and the entire galaxy will be at the mercy of Lotor!  We can't let it go any further then Arus!  If we die, then we die in defense of Allura's kingdom and the rest of the galaxy.  Its what we came here for in the first place."

Lance nodded solemnly.  He knew Keith was right.

Keith turned to Allura. "You must be brave, Princess.  This is one time I can't come to your rescue.  You must be strong, for all future generations of Planet Arus."

"I know," she sighed. "I'll be brave.  I promise."

"Okay, lets get going!" Lance said as he turned to Allura. "Show me where the tunnels are! We don't have much time!"

Allura turned to leave, but before she could, Keith's hand was on her arm.  She turned to look into his eyes.

"Be careful, Allura." Keith begged.

"I will," she smiled. "You do the same."

Keith looked up to Lance. "You see to it that she's safe when you corner Lotor outside.  One of you guys, see to her protection."

"Got it." Lance winked. "What are you going to do?"

"I'll handle things from in here. You just do your part, and I'll do mine." Keith replied.

Lance turned to leave, but stopped when he noticed that Allura was not following him. "Princess?  Aren't you coming?"

"In a minute, Lance." Allura replied, her voice sounding very downcast suddenly. "Would you wait outside for a moment please?"

"Yeah, sure...just hurry it up." Lance quietly replied.

After he had stepped outside of the room, Allura turned to Keith, her eyes suddenly tearing. Keith looked at her. "Princess, are you crying?"

She nodded her head to him.

"Why?" he asked.

"What...what if this doesn't work, Keith?" she asked.  "What's going to happen to you?"

"It's got to work, Allura.  No choice there," Keith replied. "You just do what you need to do, and don't worry about me"

Allura interrupted him suddenly "But its okay that you worry about me, right?" she asked, suddenly piercing his soul with her angry blue eyes.  "Don't you see?  What if you're killed? What if something happens to you?  I couldn't bear it if you were..."

"Nothing's going to happen to me, Allura!  You must believe that, if we're ever going to stand a chance of getting out of this.  Each of us has a job to do, and you must carry it out to the best of your ability.  It's going to take everything we know to get us out of this.  I need you to be strong...you can't fall apart, Princess.  Not now...I need my Blue Lion pilot!" Keith replied; his commander hat firmly in place in his gritty attitude.

"You misinterpret my intentions, Commander," Allura replied, suddenly very formal. "I was not breaking down.  I was demonstrating my concern for you...that's all."

Keith's eyebrows knitted together. "My apologies, Princess.  I did misinterpret you.  I thought you were afraid and were about to fall apart on me.  I hope you can forgive me."

"Its okay to be afraid...so long as it doesn't overcome you." She said gently.

"I know." Keith sighed. "I'm concerned too."

Their eyes met.  They gazed deeply at each other...as if ...there were the last time they'd ever have a chance to do so, ever again.

Allura suddenly charged into his arms, and he welcomed her by surrounding her with his embrace.

"Oh, Keith!" she sobbed.  "I am frightened!  I'm frightned at the thought of what Lotor will do to you...and to those poor, innocent children!"

"Princess...I'll be fine.  We all will be." He said softly.

"I know...its just...I sometimes can't see past my own fears.  I'm not always as strong as I think I should be." Allura wept.

"You're a strong leader, Allura...a lot stronger then you give yourself credit for.  Believe in yourself...believe in us." Keith replied.

Allura pulled away from him and looked into his eyes.  The tears on her cheeks were like large raindrops.   Keith reached up his hands and cupped the sides of the face, using his thumbs to wipe the tears from her face.

"Believe in... us... Keith?" Allura replied, only slightly weeping now.

"Us... as in... you and me." Keith confirmed, leaning forward and gently pressing a tender kiss on her forehead.

He pulled away and gave her a warm smile, which she returned to him with one of her own.

Keith sighed. "You'd better get going, Allura.  Lance is waiting, and we don't have much time."

Allura nodded and broke off their embrace, then, turned and ran for the door, and finally exited the room.

Keith began preparing his next plan of attack,
should the others fail in theirs.  He was hoping
he wouldn't have to use it...

Someone could get killed.


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