"A Christmas to Remember"
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Missing in Action
Princess Allura was now very concerned. Keith was long overdue, and dinner was being served. The time was five o'clock.
She sat nervously in the dining hall, awaiting the arrival of Coran and the other members of the Voltron Force.
Coran was the first to enter the room...
"Good evening, Your Majesty." He greeted the Princess regally. "I trust you are ready to receive your guests shortly?"
"Yes," she began. "But something troubles me. Keith has been gone all day, and hasn't checked in. That's just not like him to do something like that!"
Coran reflected on her concern. "Yes, that is very unusual behavior for the Commander to display. Have you attempted to make contact on his COM link?"
"Yes," Allura replied. "But I received no response, though..."
"Just couldn't resist calling him, could you?" Lance chuckled as he had entered the room, picking up only the last part of her statement. "You couldn't leave him alone, now could you?"
"Lance! It's not about that!" Allura replied curtly. "Keith hasn't checked in, and he's not home yet! I've tried calling him on this COM link, but there was no response. He should have at least responded, right?"
"Keith didn't call in?" Lance asked. " That's odd."
"Yes, it is...especially for Keith!" Allura said. "We should have at least heard something from him by now."
"Maybe he...got delayed, or something." Lance thought out loud.
"Not without calling in, Lance." Allura added. "Keith would have insisted on that from each of us. He certainly would not take such liberties against his own principles."
"I agree with Princess Allura... the Commander is overdue." Coran also added. "A search is in order."
Allura rose from the dining table. "Let's go look for him, Lance."
Coran rose as well. "Princess...you must remain here and see to your arriving guests!" the Castle advisor reminded her. "You can not go and look for him."
"I must go, Coran!" Allura said an elevated voice.
"Hunk, Lance and Pidge can search for him. It will be a difficult search, Allura. The weather is continuing to deteriorate, and that will make it more difficult to locate him."
"All the more reason why we should have four lions on the search instead of only three!" She replied. "I insist that I go too!"
"Princess! Your guests will be arriving shortly! You must be here to welcome them to the Castle!" Coran explained further.
"I'm sure you can welcome them, just as well as I can!" Allura argued back.
"You are the Princess!" Coran reminded. "You are the one they have come to see! Not me!"
Allura sighedsuddenly disgusted at hearing the mention of that dreaded title she bore 'princess'.
"Don't worry, Allura," Lance said. "We'll go look for him."
Allura turned to Lance. "Please...you must find him! The weather..."
"You can count on us, Princess!" Lance said, puffing out his chest as he crossed his right hand over his heart. "We'll bring him back in plenty of time for the party."
Lance immediately turned around and walked to the door. Hunk and Pidge were walking in together as Lance was walking out. The Red Lion pilot locked arms with Hunk on one side of him, and Pidge on the other side.
"Come on, guys!" Lance proclaimed. "We've got a search and rescue mission!"
"Who we looking for?" Hunk asked.
"Keith...he didn't come back to the Castle yet." Lance replied.
"Keith's out there?" Pidge exclaimed, referring to the bad weather outside. "Geez, that's not good!"
"Did you call him?" Hunk asked again.
"Yep...no answer." Lance replied to Hunk's question.
"That's even worse!" Pidge said in response. "He's usually a stickler about check-in procedures!"
"Come on!" Hunk shouted. "We've got to find him! He could be in trouble!"
Allura whirled around immediately with a gasp of concern. "Oh no... Keith!"
Lance elbowed Hunk in the side. "Nice job, ace!"
"Yeah," Pidge added in a whispered tone. "Now you went and got the Princess all upset!"
"I didn't!" Hunk shouted. "I was just... thinkingout loud!"
"Yeah, well stop it!" Lance cracked. "We'll have to evacuate the Castle from smoke inhalation!"
Pidge broke out laughing suddenly. Hunk, however, was not amused. "Oh ha-ha-ha, Lance! You're a very funny guy!"
"Let's get going!" Lance finally said, in a more serious tone.
The three Voltron pilots ran from the dining hall, leaving Allura and Coran alone.
Coran sat down once again.
Allura still on her feet, however, turning toward the door. For a moment, she thought of running after Lance, Pidge and Hunk, to join them in their search for the missing Voltron Commander.
Coran somehow knew what she was thinking... "Princess, please... do not tell me that you are thinking of going too!"
"Coran, I should be joining them!" Allura replied with a tone of urgency in her voice. "What if Hunk's right? What is Keith is in trouble? What if Lotor somehow managed to..."
"Princess Allura! Please! Have you taken leave of your senses? You are letting your
mind invent trouble! Did it ever occur to you, that Commander Keith may have just simply lost track of the time?" Coran asked her.
Allura's head instantly snapped around to stare at him. "You don't really believe that, do you, Coran?"
Hesitantly, Coran closed his eyes, shaking his head slowly. "No, I suppose that is out of character for him."
"Indeed, it is!" Allura replied. "Keith's in trouble! I can feel it!"
"Princess! You must stay here and attend to the affair that you have planned! Let Lance, Hunk and Pidge handle the search!" Coran said, suddenly rising from his chair once again, and walking over to where Allura stood. "It would be best if you remain here, Allura."
"How can I remain here, when Keith is out there all alone, maybe even hurt? I must go!" Allura replied. "Coran, don't you understand? We'll have a better chance of finding him if we added one more lion to the search!"
She started to walk off, when she suddenly felt the strong grip of her Castle Advisor's hand around her left wrist. She immediately chastised him for the restricting move
"Coran! Unhand me at once! What are you doing?" she shouted angrily at him.
"I am protecting you from endangering yourself, Princess." Coran replied flatly. "You know very well, that if the Commander were here, he would have insisted that you remain in the Castle!"
"But...Coran, I must..."
"No Princess," Coran said in a calm, but firm voice. "You must remain here and see to the children who will be in attendance this evening."
Allura thought to wretch herself free from Coran's grip, but chose not to. Instead, she reluctantly nodded her head, agreeing with her Castle Advisor...
"Very well, Coran," she retreated. "I'll...I'll remain in the Castle and attend the Christmas Party."
Coran released his grip of her, and she quickly pulled her arm to her body. The stately gentleman nodded his head.
"Forgive me, Princess." he said to her. "I mean no disrespect. I simply had to make you understand how foolish it was for you to even think of leaving now."
Allura only nodded her head, as she resumed her seat at the table. Coran also returned to his seat as well.
The servants brought the dinner food out as usual. Although the aroma was inviting, Allura had no appetite. All she could think about was the snowstorm and Keith somewhere out there...in the midst of it.