"What the Future Holds"

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 Previte.  Please do not use them without asking for permission.  Thank you.  Enjoy!

It All Begins...Again.

Keith and Lance spent the entire night tracking Allura's flight in Blue Lion, while formulating a plan that would ensure the Princess's safety.  By dawn, all was as ready as it could be.  Allura was expected back from watch within a couple of hours.  The time was 5:42am.

Then, it started over again like it had before. Both Keith and Lance noticed it.  It appeared to be following the same pattern it had before.  The cloud was visible on the long-range scanners. 
Coran entered the room, unannounced, just as before.  "Good morning, gentleman." He said.  "I trust you both had a pleasant rest."

"Sorry to interrupt you, Coran," Keith said, pointing to his monitor.  "We've just picked up a cloud formation on the long range scanners.  It seems to be slowly heading in our direction."

"Show it to me."  Coran said as he walked over to the console.  The blip appeared to be moving slowly toward Arus.  "Perhaps we should have Allura check it out on her patrol." Coran suggested.

"NO!"  Keith shouted suddenly, startling Lance, who was still standing beside him.  Coran looked at Keith, taken back by his outburst.  It was just another example of the Commander's abrupt change in behavior in the last 24 hours.

The Princess had stopped by Coran's stateroom to speak to him before she left on patrol.  She expressed concern that something was bothering him.  Coran was also starting to become concerned. 

Keith caught an eye gesture from Lance, a sort of 'cool it, will you' look, and he quickly regained composure.  "Uh, what I mean is...I think we should monitor it for a couple of hours to see what it does.  If it appears to continue on its path, then we can send the remaining lions up there to investigate.  I don't think Allura would be a good choice right now since first of all, she's been out all night on patrol and secondly, has no backup to assist her.  I would feel a lot better if she were not the one to investigate this thing."

"Intuition?"  Coran questionedstill puzzled by Keith's behavior.

"You could call it that."  Lance replied.  He and Keith looked at each other, then turned back to Coran. 

"Very well.  We'll track it for a few hours and see what heading it takes."  Coran agreed.
"I am going to do some morning checks and shall return shortly."

"We've got things here, Coran."  Lance said.  "You can count on us to hold down the fort."

When Coran had left the room, Keith turned to Lance. 

"Okay, this is it!  What happens from here will mean the difference between life and death for Allura!  Do we have everything set?" Keith asked, nervously tapping his hands on his knees.

"I think so, Keith."  Lance replied.  "I can't think of anything that we're missing.  Let's just do what we have to do."

"Alright then."  Keith said, turning back to his console, monitoring Allura's Blue Lion.

The time was now 6:10am.

It was a remarkable sunshiny day at the Castle of Lions   just as it had been before.  Allura had now finished her patrol and was returning to base.  She was looking forward to a time of well-deserved sleep.  She was exhausted, and had been looking forward to the moment of touchdown in the mote surrounding the Castle, where Blue Lion was to sleep as well.  It was near 10:30am.

Meanwhile, back in the Castle, Hunk and Pidge were just getting up.  They both ran out the doors of their quarters with a mad dash to the kitchen.  As they both turned the corner, suddenly...CRASH! 

Allura was plowed over by Pidge, and then Hunk added to the pile.  "Get off me!"  Cried Pidge.  "You're crushing me and the Princess!" 

"Sorry, Pidge, " shouted Hunk, as he struggled to get up from on top of him.  "You too, Princess!"

Allura was on the floor, under the pile, after being slammed into the corner of the wall.  Rubbing her back, and obviously annoyed, she stood up quickly and started to reprimand the two careless breakfast dashers:

"You two are going to kill someone someday!"  Allura barked back. "Why can't you be more careful?  Honestly, I think you two sometimes behave worse than children!"

Pidge and Hunk stood up, made their apologizes, and continued on their way.  Allura headed for her quarters, and her warm bed.  The two mad dashers past by the control room on their way to the kitchen.  As they continued past, Keith looked up from the console in front of him and turned around quickly.  Coran, who was also standing next to Keith, havimg returned from his morning rounds, turned as well to see what the noise was about. 

Lance, also turned around and looked. 

Lance was feeling a little weird seeing the events unfold, because the way he remembered it, that was Hunk and himself making the dash down the hall.  It was a little scary to realize that in just a couple of hours, the future would catch up with them at last, where they had lost the Princess tragically.  If all worked out according to the plan that he and Keith thought out, it shouldn't happen at all.  At least, that's what they both were hoping for.

Coran left the room doing more morning checks.  Keith called Lance over to his console.

"This is happening just the way it did before."  Keith said with a whisper.  Cocking his head toward the door, he checked for any sign of Coran.  When he found there was none, he asked, "I want to check to make sure Allura is okay.  Can you watch things here for a short moment?"

"Sure" Lance said as he took his place where Keith was sitting.  "Don't be long.  I can only stall for time for so long.  If Coran comes back and finds you gone, he's gonna ask questions!"

Keith nodded his head and jogged out of the room, heading down the hallway.  When he reached Allura's chambers, he stopped in front of the door.  The last time he was here, he placed his hand on the door in remembrance of the beautiful Princess who once had dwelled here.  He held his breath and buzzed the doorbell.  Keith waited nervously for her answer.

There was no response. 

Keith's heart started to pound again in his chest; the same way it did when he entered this room before.  He wasn't sure if he should enter in to make sure she was okay.  And yet he also knew that he couldn't leave unless he did.

Keith took a deep breath, remembering he had also done that just before he entered her room in the other time line.  The door swished open quietly. The room was dark.  He took out his hand held mini utility flashlight and turned it on.  He started to methodically scan the room, first to the bed where Allura was supposed to be.

He approached quietly, in hopes that he wouldn't wake her and startle her by his presence in her room.  He held the light off to the side, so that it would not be directly on her face. He gazed at her carefully.  She appeared to be breathing.   Her chest was moving up and down beneath the covers. 

He didn't trust his eyes. He placed his hand in front of her face, to make sure he could feel warm air coming out of her nose.  He did.  Keith sighed silently in relief.  Next, he swung the light around the room, making sure all was as it should be.  Everything was as he had remembered seeing it before.  Right down to the roses.

Keith felt a chill run through his body...

He turned the light back to Allura.  Keith looked at her for a moment.  She was resting comfortably on her back.  Suddenly, he shivered again, as his mind took him back to when he saw her in the coffin.  The way she was laying in the bed, face pointing up toward the ceiling, and her arms in front of her, reminded him so much of that picture in his mind.  Would he ever shake this awful vision?  Keith shook his head to try to erase the image, and again focused on her in the here and now.  She was beautiful, just sleeping there.  She must have been really tired, because she hadn't stirred at all yet. 

"Princess." Keith thought as he gazed at her. "If it takes every last breath I have, I'm going to see to it that you're safe."  He reached out his hand and gently pushed her loose blonde hair away from her closed eyes.  Then, just as gently, stroked her forehead with his index finger.  "Don't worry, Allura."  Keith whispered quietly.  "I'm not letting you out of my sight."

Keith turned to leave the room.  As he reached the door, he turned to look at her one last time.  He suddenly felt paranoid  like he was missing something...  something that might cause her harm.  He scanned the room one more time, just to be sure.

"Keith, get a hold of yourself..." He thought.  "Nothing's in here!" 

He spent the next minute scanning the room anyway and reassuring himself that he had checked everything.  He went to the bed one more time to check on Allura.  All appeared to be okay.  He decided that he needed to get back to the control room and monitor the cloud. 

The next several hours were going to be critical, and because he had very little sleep behind him, he needed to make sure everything was ready to intercept the cloud without Allura or her Blue Lion.  She must remain safe, at all costs, even at the cost of his life.  It was what he promised himself he would do before he left to come back in time.  He wasn't about to mess it up this time.

Keith took one last look at Allura, sleeping peacefully.  He ever so lightly touched her cheek with his finger, outlining the curve of her face.  He hesitated, then, impulsively bent over and lightly placed a kiss on her forehead.  Suddenly, she stirred, and rolled over.  He pulled his head up quickly, thinking he might be caught red handed, but she returned to sleep once again, oblivious to him being in the room.  He then turned and quickly walked out of the room, deciding not to press his luck, letting the door slip closed behind him.  He looked down at his digital watch. 

The time was now almost 11:00am.

"Uh-oh!" Keith thought suddenly.  "Coran's back, and I'm not!"

As Keith was returning to the control room, he overheard an exchanging conversation between Coran and Lance concerning the cloud...

"If this continues on its present course," Keith heard Coran say, "It could be in Arusian airspace within the hour.  We need to take precautions so that it will not come any closer." 

"Let's monitor it for a little while longer, to see what it's going to do."  Lance suggested, trying to stall for time. 

Then, Lance saw Keith walk into the room.  He was relieved; knowing Keith would help him to convince Coran to wait.  But Coran pushed the issue further, also recognizing Keith had returned to the control room.  

"No, I think we need to send the lions up to investigate. Wouldn't you agree, Commander Keith?"  Coran turned to address the Voltron commander, now caught off guard by the question.

Keith was faced with a difficult decision. 

If he said no, then Coran would know by his behavior that something was up. It would be out of character for him not to want to investigate. 

If he said yes, it might put everything in jeopardy, since it was still nearly an hour off the time when they originally took off.  Keith paused, and turned, taking a few steps away from Lance and Coran.  He looked up toward the ceiling, debating his next move in this mental chess game... 

"Checkmate..." He mumbled to himself finally. 

Keith abruptly turned around, his arms crossed over his chest:  "You're right Coran. We need to deploy the lions."

"Keith?"  Lance's voice raised nervously, taking a step forward  "Shouldn't we reconsider here and hold off from jumping to rash conclusions?"  Lance had no idea what Keith was doing.  This was not at all what they had planned. 

"No Lance, we need to investigate it, but first, I want to get Pidge in here to do a complete diagnostic from the ground.  We need to know what we're up against before we can decided on how to fight it." Keith calmly replied  deciding to play a new game now... poker.

"A wise suggestion, Commander."  Coran said.  "I'll call Pidge on his COM and tell him and Hunk to report to us immediately."

Coran turned to walk to the other side of the room.  Then Lance quickly walked up to Keith.  "What do you think you're doing, Keith?  You're gonna blow this!"

"No...I'm not!"  Keith said in a hushed, yet stern voice.  "We can't let on that we know something's going down!  We need to do everything we normally would do, as if we had no idea what was happening!' 

"I hope you know what you're doing!"  Lance fired back, quietly.  "You're taking an awful risk with the time line, here!"

"That's why Pidge is doing the diagnostic now!  It'll buy us some time."  Keith replied, again crossing his arms in front of him.

"I've summoned Pidge."  Coran said as he made his way back to Lance and Keith.  "He'll be here momentarily."

"Wrong!  I'm here now!"  Pidge shouted, as he trotted into the room.  Hunk followed closely behind.  "What do we got, Commander?"

"I want you to takes some readings on this cloud thing that seems to be making its way toward Arus.  I need to know what we're dealing with before we get up there.  I don't want any surprises."  Keith responded.

"You've got it, Commander!  I'm on it!"  Pidge said.

Pidge jumped into the chair in front of the console, and started firing up the diagnostic programs.  No one could work a computer like Pidge.  He and the computer were best friends practically. Pidge was a genius by Earth's standards.  As a native of the now extinct Planet Balto, (a planet known for its genius people, destroyed in one of Lotor's earlier raids years ago), Pidge was welcomed into the alliance with eager and open arms.   So was his brother, Chip, who serves on the Voltron Vehicle team, Earth Unit. 

Not even Coran could best his ability. 

Pidge's hands danced across the keyboard with speed and accuracy.  Numbers and symbols raced across the screen as Pidge completed the diagnostic.  The young computer master suddenly swung around in the chair to face Keith and the others.

"It's made up primarily of laison, and has magnetic properties to it.  The cloud vapor itself is a combination of H2O and Carbon ionized gases. It looks man-made, not natural."  Pidge reported.

"Lotor" Hunk said in a lowered and angered voice. "He's up to no good again!"

"It would seem so..." Keith replied to Hunk.  Then he turned his attention back to Pidge.  "But why laison and magnets?  What's Lotor's plan?  Tearing apart Arus?" 

"Well Commander, if I had to guess, I would say that based on the composition of magnetic power this thing seems to have, it might be used to attract and hold metal...like one of the robot lions."  Pidge thought aloud. "If Lotor could capture a lion or two, that's it for Voltron."

"Figures..." Hunk chimed in.  "Doesn't this guy have anything better to do?"

"Guess not.  Another thing, Keith: the composition figures are too strong.  It wouldn't just capture one of the lions, it would tear it apart.  Maybe his plan is to destroy some of the lions.  That would leave Arus...and the galaxy, defenseless without Voltron." Pidge added.

"Its much more than that, I'm afraid.  He could be mounting an attack to lure the Princess for capture."  Coran interrupted, rubbing his chin with his hand thoughtfully.  "He's trying to distract us all long enough, so that he can somehow spirit her away."

"Yes," Keith added, his eyes becoming angry.  "That's it!  That's how he does it!" 

"No telling what the Princess's life would be like, if she fell into Lotor's clutches."  Coran bowed his head.  "I shutter at the mere thought of such a thing occurring."

"Or worse, if it backfires, couldn't it possibly kill her?"  Hunk asked the group. "I mean if her lion is one of the one's Lotor tries to drag into it?"

Keith looked at Hunk like he'd been struck in the face.  "That's NOT going to happen Hunk!"  He said in a defensive voice.  Now, Keith had to think.  It was obvious that the plan that he and Lance thought up was not going to work.  He had to think of something elsefast. 

"I'm going take the Blue Lion!"  Keith said suddenly.

"What?"  Lance grunted.  "You're flying Blue Lion?  Who's gonna take Black Lion?"

"The Princess can...if we need her to come up.  I don't want her on this mission unless we absolutely need her.  She's been out all night on patrol and isn't able to think fast on her feet." Keith then turned to Coran.  "Have her on standby.  If we need her up there, I'll signal you to get her.  Tell her to take Black Lion."

"Ah yes...an interesting plan, Commander.  This way, Lotor will still go after Blue Lion, believing it is the Princess inside: a clever decoy."  Coran said,  "But a dangerous one."

"A stupid decoy, you mean" Lance huffed to himself.

"That's my hope, anyway."  Keith finished.  He turned to the team.  "Okay, let's get ready to launch."

"Keith, can I see you a second?"  Lance said, waving him aside from the group.

"Sure.  What's up?"  Keith said to Lance, both men walking away from the others.

"Are you sure this is what we need to do?  What happens if that thing sucks you in?  You'd be killed too!  Remember, its got magnetic properties, and it'll do the same thing to you as it did to Princess!  Wouldn't it just be better to use the power of Black Lion and leave Blue Lion parked?"

"If we do that, and if we do need Allura, that thing may attack her anyway, especially after Lotor figures out that he's been tricked!  The Black Lion's extra power will give Allura an advantage.  She'll stand a better chance of survival in Black Lion."  Keith responded.  "Now, let's go!  We're wasting time!"

"Hold on, Keith!"  Lance grabbed onto Keith's arm, restraining him from walking away just yet.  "Without Black Lion, you stand a better chance of getting killed!  And besides, Allura's a princess, not a military commander.  Black Lion needs to be piloted by the commander...and in case you forgot, you're the commander!"  Lance tried to counter Keith's strategy.  "You can't do it!  There has to be another way!"

"Lance, I have no choice, here.  It has to be this way.  If we need Black Lion, and need to form Voltron, I can command from Blue Lion, and the Princess can carry out my commands.  She been trained and certified to operate the Black Lion controls!"  He tried to reassure Lance's doubts. "Trust me, okay?"

Lance put his head down, saying nothing more.  He just shook his head, bewildered that his friend, in his opinion, was acting carelessly in this operation. "What do we do if one of us gets into trouble up there?"  Lance thought to himself.  "Black Lion should go up now!  We're gonna need the Princess eventually, anyway!  There's going to be trouble!  I can feel it!  Keith...why aren't you listening?  You're not thinking rationally!"

Keith patted Lance on the back, as if he could hear Lance's objectionable thoughts.  He turned back to the group.  "Okay, let's get up there and do it!"

"RIGHT!" shouted Pidge and Hunk.  Lance made no response.  He still didn't completely agree with Keith's suggestion regarding Black Lion, but followed the team anyway. 

"Launch lions!"  Keith shouted.

"Guess today's a good day to die."  Lance's final thought on the matter rang in his head, as he walked reluctantly toward his lion's chute. He still had the feeling of impending doom, and right now he was almost wishing Allura would walk into the room and demand to go with them

"Come on, Lance!  Get the lead out!"  Keith shouted for Lance's attention. 

"Yeah, yeah...I'm coming!" Lance grunted back...dragging his feet about leaving, still hoping Princess would show up.

Coran watched the team go down the lion chutes.  He agreed with Keith's idea to protect the Princess, but after thinking further on the matter, he too, was not totally sure that this plan of leaving Black Lion behind would work.  Black Lion had far more power then Blue Lion. 

Coran walked over and sat down at the control panel.  As he looked at the cloud, he had a strange feeling, as if he had been here before.  He couldn't place his finger on it.  No matter, his task at hand now was to monitor the Voltron Force in case Allura had to go out as backup. 

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