"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 17
The Ancient Tunnels

Lance followed Princess Allura through the corridors of the Castle of Lions.  They silently crept through them, desperately trying to remain undetected by Lotor's Doom soldiers.

Allura led him directly to a large painting that stood proudly in the main hall.  She leaned up against him...

"This is it, Lance.  Beyond this are
the lion tunnels. They will lead
you to the outside world to the forest,
near Green Lion's den.  You'll be able
to get to your lions from there."
she instructed him.

She also handed him a piece of paper.  Lance unfolded it quickly and looked at it. 

Allura sighed, "It's not the greatest of drawings in the galaxy, but it shows you how to get to the crypt where my father is buried.  You can then retrieve the keys.  Check with Pidge...he'll
hopefully remember the way out."

"We'll figure it out." Lance whispered confidently,
shoving the diagram into his pocket.

Allura reached her hand behind the
giant the painting. "There is a
lever here.  Pull it, and the door
will open behind the painting.
You can enter from behind the
painting by squeezing by it."

"Gottcha!" Lance whispered. "I'll go and get Pidge and Hunk.  We'll be out of here in less then 10 minutes."

"Hurry Lance!  Keith was
only give an hour to decide
whether or not to join Lotor's
forces of evil.  Lotor will kill
the captive children if
he chooses not to!" Allura pleaded.
"And there's only about forty-five
minutes left to that hour!"

"I understand, Princess!  You can count on us!" Lance said, saluting her. "We'll be out of here in five minutes, then!"

Allura turned around, looking cautiously.  "I must go now.  The plan will be ruined if they catch me here.  Go, Lance!  Remember, our lives depend on the success of you three!"

"No pressure, huh, Princess?  But don't worry.  Hunk, Pidge and I won't let you and Keith down!" Lance chuckled, drawing a brief smile from Allura as she turnd to leave.

He dashed off in one direction, while Allura quickly headed toward her chambers in a very somber mood. 

Her castle had been taken by force, her planet now held captive, and now, the lives of the children were at stake.   It was all up to Lance, Hunk and Pidge.  Hopefully...hopefully, they would make it...otherwise, if they fail, all will be lost. 

And Allura knew, deep within her heart, that Keith would rather die, then allow himself to become Lotor's hand of evil. 

He'd rather...die.

She entered her chambers and let the door slide closed behind her.

Drained of all emotional strength, she leaned up against the door and allowed her body to slide down it to the floor.  She immediately released her emotions...sobbing uncontrollably.

There was nothing more she could do.

If Lance, Pidge and Hunk didn't make it to their lions in time, Keith would be forced make the choice to join Lotor in order to save the children.  \

And she would be forced to marry the scum of the universe.

She placed her head in her hands...and wept bitterly.

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

"You already got the keys?" Lance asked, a surprised look on his face.

"Right here!" Pidge replied, opening his hand to reveal the magic keys of the three robot lions.  "I crept to the Royal Crypt.  No one saw me."

"You took a big risk, Pidge!" Lance barked. "But... you did the right thing.  It bought us some extra time to get out of here!"

"Yeah, excellent job, Pidge!" Hunk replied. "Now, lets get going!  I want to bust a few of Lotor's walking, mechanical junk heaps!"

"Easy there, big guy!" Lance warned. "Let's first worry about getting through the tunnels." Lance looked to Pidge. "Think you can remember how to get to the outside?"

"Once I'm in there, I'm sure I'll remember!" Pidge replied.

"Why not just use the hand scanners, and scan for the opening?" Hunk replied. "All this sneaking around makes me nervous."

"Because, if we do that, the Castle's surveillance monitors will pick it up!" Pidge replied back. "Lotor can follow its signature and it'll lead him right to the tunnels...and to us!"

"Pidge's right!  We have to do this without the help of modern science!" Lance replied.

Lance led Hunk and Pidge back to the main hall and up to the large painting there.  He reached behind the painting and immediately found the lever that Allura had spoke of.  He pulled on it, and a door quickly opened up.

"Its here!" Lance whispered. "Squeeze through everyone!"

Pidge moved in first, followed by Hunk.  Lance was the last.  Once inside the tunnel, Lance pulled on a lever that was near the doorway, inside of the cave, closing off the entrance once again.

The three Voltron Force members turned on their mini utility lights, shining them on the path before them.

Pidge looked from left to right, attempting to get a clue of direction. "It's hard to figure out... harder than I thought... it was eight years ago that I did this and I..."

Suddenly, Pidge's speech ceased, as his eyes caught a glimpse of a set of wall sketches that he now recognized.  It was just as he had remembered seeing them before.  He found them fascinating then.

Right near the set of descending stairs before them, there were wall paintings of the five lions of Voltron.  He remembered them, because it was the first time he had seen the lions...
other then the pictures that then, Captain Keith Hunter, had provided his team to study
carefully.

And right under the picture of the Blue Lion ...was a tiny mouse hole. Pidge instantly recalled the mice friends of the Princess who live in the Castle.

He remembered the first time he saw them, and how he jokingly offered them a cheese sandwich, and how they had run over top of him when he fell to the ground after losing his footing.

It was thenthat they heard the tiny squeaking noises coming from just inside the mouse hole. Pidge dropped to his knees and called into the  tiny hole...

"Chitter!" He whispered, but the
echo sounded enormous. "Chitter...
it's me!  Pidge!  The Princess needs
your help! We all need your
help!"

Suddenly, a tiny nose appeared from
the mouse hole...followed by a
whole head...and then, a little body...

Chitter, who had himself now become Papa Mouse to his own mice children, carefully moved out of the hole in the wall.  Three other heads popped out of the hole as well... an older looking mouse, presumably Mama Mouse, and her two babies.

Lance squatted down to look at the baby mice. "Well, Chitter!" Lance chuckled. "Looks like you've got a family to fend for!"

Hunk nudged Pidge in the back. "Maybe they can show us how to get out of here?"

"Great idea, Hunk!" Lance replied. "Ask them, Pidge!"

Pidge looked at Chitter, and a frown suddenly appearing on his face as he began to speak to the tiny rodent friend of the Princess.

"Chitter!  Lotor's in the Castle
and has the Princess as his
prisoner!  We need to escape
the caves and get to our lions!
But we don't know exactly how
to get out. And time is running out!
Can you help us?" Pidge said.

The tiny mouse squeaked cheerfully and jumped up and down.  Then nodded, as if to say he understood what Pidge had asked of him.  Chitter quickly hopped up and down and then ran off to the left, heading down the flight of stairs.

"This way!  Down the staircase!" Pidge shouted.

"Are you sure, Pidge?" Lance asked. "We don't have time for mistakes!"

"Its no mistake!  I remember coming up these same stairs when I returned from the outside! I remember these sketches of the robot lions!  And look at this..." Pidge pointed to the mouse hole. "Chitter is heading in the direction I remember coming from when I first made my way back into the caverns...from the outside!"

"So then, this is the way!" Lance replied.

"Come on!" Pidge shouted, motioning the other men to follow Chitter's lead..

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

Keith had returned to his room, having been released from the infirmary.  He was in the middle of the floor, pacing back and forth, stopping every so often to look out the window for any signs of Green, Yellow or Red Lions.

Nothing as of yet, however... only the Skull tanks that were surrounding the Castle.  And soon things were about to go from bad to worse as he checked his watch.

Only thirty-five minutes left...

"Come on guys!" Keith sighed under his breath. "Don't fail us!"

He turned and bolted out of the door, down the hallway to Allura's chambers.  He stopped in front of it and hit the buzzer.

"Whoever you are...go away!  I'm not receiving visitors!" her voice rang out angrily from behind the door.

It sounded like she was sitting on the
floor up against the door.

Keith knocked gently and leaned
into the door. "It's me, Allura! 
It's Keith..."

He faintly heard her repeat his name, and then heard the sound of her scrambling to her feet. The door immediately opened and he entered her room immediately, walking past her, and hitting the door lock behind him.

He turned to the Princess...

"This isn't going to be easy to tell you," Keith started off. "I've decided that if the lions don't make it in time, for the sake of the children, I'm going to join up with Lotor."

"You can't!" Allura cried. "You just can't give in to that monster!"

"Allura, I don't want to.  Believe me.  But I'll have no choice." Keith replied, as he turned and walked toward her window.

He then turned to her and motioned for her to join him there.  She did, coming up along side of him.  He wrapped his arm around her shoulders and with his other hand, he pointed out her window.

"Do you see them?" he pointed. "All of those skull tanks?  They are right around the barrier field's perimeter.  If I join up with Lotor, I'll have access to the Control Room.  I can active the field, and as it comes alive and surrounds the Castle with its protective shielding, the Skull tanks will be destroyed."

"But Keith!  Lotor will know it was you who betrayed him..." Allura replied.

"I know...that's when he and I are going to face off...one on one." Keith said slowly. "While I'm engaged, you get to the room they're holding the children in.  Get the children and Coran, and as many servants as you can find, and all of you slip out into the lion tunnels.  At least you'll be safe.  Lotor doesn't know they're even there."

"Not without you!" Allura said firmly.
"We're not leaving without you! I'll
stand and fight with you! Coran can
lead the children
out..."

"No Princess, it's far too dangerous.
I want you to do as I say."
Keith replied.

"For once, I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to obey that order!" Allura protested. "You've always sheltered me from harm.  This is one time I must fight with you.  We're not just talking about some other planet.  This is my planet... my people... and this is my Castle!  I
intend to fight to my dying breath if I have to!"

"No Princess!  You have to survive for the sake of Arus!" Keith said, turning to her and cupping her shoulders with his hands. "I can't let you do this!"

"And I can't let you fight alone!" she replied back. "If you fight Lotor, I fight with you.  I didn't join the Voltron Force and spend months of endless hours of practice only for you to make sure that I'm safe!  That wasn't the deal when I joined the Force!  I knew this
wasn't going to be easy!  I knew it was going to require my full dedication!  And I'm just as much entitled to stand at the side of my commanding officer as Lance, Pidge or Hunk do! I'm not exempt, Keith!  Not even because I'm a Princess!  You can't refuse me, Keith!"

Keith turn his head...and sighed...

She was right.

"My nature is to protect you." he said quietly.
"You're being there could interfere with my
ability to defend myself."

"You don't need to look after me, Keith!
I'm standing with you... as an equal!
I don't want you to think about anything except us defeating Lotor!"

"That's a pretty tough order to carry out, Your Majesty." Keith said, raising one of his hands to her chin. "You're as precious to me as any treasure in any part of the galaxy.  To lose you senselessly, would destroy me from the inside out."

"And likewise me also, Keith," she added, lifting her own hand up to push back a lock of stubborn black hair from his face. "I can't do this without you...please...don't make me make it a command as your Princess."

Keith chuckled a bit.  He knew she would, if it came down to it. "What can I say that will make any difference?"

"Not a thing, Commander," Allura smiled back.

"Okay...then I obviously have no choice but to let you join the party." He said reluctantly.

"Correct as always, Commander Keith." Allura replied drolly.

"But let's get one thing straight...I insist that you let me handle the heavy hitters, got it?" Keith firmly said.

"Of course.  I'll do my best not to upstage you!" Allura joked.

The smile on Keith's face quickly disappeared. "Princess... this is serious.  Arus's survival depends on our next actions.  We may end up dying for her."

"I'm aware of that, Keith.  I've been aware of that since this war began countless years ago, when my father gave his life for Arus.  I can do no less.  I am the ruler.  If I'm to go down, I'm going down as a strong leader, not as one who runs from trouble." Allura replied. "I'm well trained, thanks to you and the boys, and I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself."

"I know you are...I wasn't suggesting that you weren't.  I was merely trying to remind you that you are the only surviving member of the Royal Family here on Arus, and to lose you would be a terrible tragedy for this world.  Not to mention a personal loss for me." Keith
replied.

"I'll be fine.  I'll be fighting with the best that the Alliance has ever produced.  I'm fighting along side of Commander Keith Hunter.  I can't think of anyone I'd rather fight with then you." Allura said. "And I promise to make you proud."

"Well," Keith sighed. "Hopefully, it won't come to that.  If Lance, Hunk and Pidge are successful in getting to their lions, we might be able to escape this thing without bloodshed."

Keith looked out the window once again. "I hope you guys make it... I don't want to have to have Allura by my side when I'm killed while defending her.  No matter what she says, she's still the most important thing to fight for.  I have to do whatever it takes to see to her safety. Even if that means... giving up my own life."
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