VOLTRON:

COUNTERPART

Part Two

Allura crept on soft feet towards the monument in the deep dark catacombs underneath the Castle of Lions. The only sound was of her breathing as she approached her father’s tomb and stood before it. She had been planning on visiting later that day, but had decided to make her visit earlier because of pressing factors.

Allura, still in her flight suit, looked up at her father’s monument and stared for a moment, searching for the right words.

"Father," she began in a soft voice, "I know…I know this is supposed to be a special day. But Lotor and Hagar have brought the wyverns back. We do have a plan to fight them, but I’m still worried someone might get hurt. The wyverns are much tougher now. I just wonder if our plan is enough. I seek your advice, father."

A ghostly form materialized in front of the monument, and the translucent image of Allura’s father appeared before her. He smiled down at her lovingly.

"Allura," he told her, "You have grown to become such a strong, beautiful woman. You have put so much heart and soul into your people and your planet. You are more than capable of ruling Arus. You no longer need my advice."

Allura blushed despite herself at the praise.

"I wish I were as confident as you are," she admitted.

Alfor smiled gently at his daughter.

"You are too hard on yourself, my daughter," he said, "I have complete faith in your abilities. And, like you, I have faith in the Voltron Force. You will defeat the wyverns. You have not failed in the past, and I do not believe you will do so now."

Allura smiled.

"Thank-you, father."

"Your mother and I are very proud of you, Allura," Alfor told her, "We always have been and always will be. In a way, you have given more to Arus than I ever did. It brings me joy to see you ruling your people with such love in the face of such hateful enemies. You truly have become an adult."

There were tears in both the eyes of the father and the daughter. Allura reached up to wipe hers away, wishing for everything she could reach out and embrace her father.

The communicator on the Allura’s belt then began to beep insistently. Allura picked it up and activated it.

"Yes?" she asked.

"Princess," Keith told her, "sorry to interrupt, but the wyverns are coming back."

"I’ll be right there," she promised.

She replaced the device and turned back to her father.

"Go," he told her, "defeat the wyverns. You take my love and my blessing with you."

"Thank-you," Allura told him heartfully, "Thank-you, father."

With one last sad smile at her father, Allura backed away and turned to leave the crypt. Once she was gone, Alfor sighed, then disappeared.

* * *

The Voltron Lions were able to intercept the wyverns in time to keep them from entering Arus’ atmosphere. This time, Lance didn’t break ahead to start an offensive all by himself. Instead the five Lions stuck together, just as the four wyverns stayed together. The two sides of mighty robot ships came together with an explosion of sparks and laser fire. The wyverns proved to be much tougher than before, and didn’t even flinch at the onslaught.

The five Lions let loose a barrage of fire at the four wyverns, using their Tail Lasers and Missile Launchers. The four wyverns stayed very close together, almost touching, as they took the attack without even trying to evade. When the Lions ceased their firing, the wyverns weren’t even scratched.

"Man, I thought we’d at least dent them a little," Hunk spoke up.

"Hagar did a good job improving them," Pidge said.

"And we’ll have a good time demolishing them," Lance said.

The four wyverns then made their attack. A concentrated beam shot from each wyvern’s mouth directly at the group of Lions, striking them harder than they expected. The Lions were pushed back, breaking their formation and causing more than a few nicks and scratches.

"That’s only if they don’t demolish us first," Pidge said after they recovered their Lions.

"Have faith in the Lions, guys," Allura told them.

"Regroup, team," Keith commanded, "Time to set our plan into motion."

"Now the fun begins," Lance said enthusiastically.

The five Lions gathered together and formed a line facing the four wyverns. They remained there for a brief moment, facing off, when Black Lion suddenly broke off from the others and sped straight towards the leftmost wyvern. When the Black Lion struck full-force, the impact forced the wyvern to break off from the others. Digging his Lion claws into the wyvern’s chest, Keith forced the wyvern to retain the contact as Black Lion slowly distanced itself from the others.

As soon as he got far enough away, Black Lion let go of the wyvern, then fired eye beams at the larger beast. The wyvern retaliated and fired back, chasing Black Lion as it started to flee. Black Lion ducked out of the line of fire as it was being chased, leading the wyvern farther and farther away from the others.

Before the other three wyverns could make a move to go after their fourth member, Lance let out an enthusiastic yell as he propelled his Red Lion directly into the rightmost wyvern, separating it from the others as Black Lion had done to the other. Using the same maneuvers, Red Lion dragged the struggling wyvern away from its comrades and let go before he was vaporized. The wyvern then went after Red Lion, firing its lasers and flying away from its allies.

"Your turn, Hunk!" Lance spoke up as he maneuvered his Lion.

"I’m on it!" Hunk replied.

Hunk in his Yellow Lion copied the actions of Keith and Lance and separated the third wyvern from the last, encouraging it to follow him in a direction different than those Keith and Lance had taken.

While he was busy with that, Allura and Pidge concentrated their combined efforts on the remaining wyvern to keep it from going after its buddies. They fired their lasers at it. The wyvern responded and began to counterattack, sending forth a burst of fire in their direction that struck both Blue and Green Lion and sent them reeling back. While they were doing aerial backflips, the wyvern swooped in and slashed at them with sharp steel claws, making rips in the Lions’ outer shell. Both Pidge and Allura grunted in the effort to regain control of their ships.

"Boy, I hope the others get back soon," Pidge said, "We can’t beat this thing without Voltron."

* * *

Keith watched the wyvern on his monitor, being sure to keep just barely out of reach of his pursuer. The wyvern slowly gained on him and swung at the Black Lion’s hind legs with its claw. Keith veered out of the way, straight towards the Arusian moon. The wyvern followed him, and the chase resumed just above the brown surface of the barren sphere.

Keith headed straight for one of the moon’s small mountains. Without slowing down he ploughed straight into the side of the rock, burrowing through to the other side and emerging moments later. The wyvern followed him in, but was unable to fly through as smoothly. Its wings got stuck in the rock since the tunnel Black Lion had made was much too narrow for the larger beast. The wyvern struggled in the middle of the rock to break free.

Hovering above, Keith regarded his struggling foe for only a moment before steering his Lion back in the direction he’d come. Kicking in his boosters, Keith hurried back to join the others.

* * *

Lance had a grin on his face as he wove in and out of the wyvern’s reach, teasing it and making it become impatient to catch him. Goading it all the way, Lance led the wyvern toward a nearby asteroid cluster and began weaving in and around the large floating rocks. The wyvern followed, matching the Lion’s agility.

"Come get me, pointy-face!" Lance shouted.

The wyvern squawked and kept right on Red Lion’s rear end. Even though the wyvern was close and getting closer, Lance just chuckled.

"That’s right, birdy," Lance said, "Just a little closer."

Lance veered around one of the bumpy boulders, the wyvern close on his heels, and kicked on his boosters as he came around the other side. The wyvern did the same, picking up speed. Lance ducked under a medium-sized asteroid, still gaining speed. The wyvern followed, going faster and getting closer. Red Lion then did a backwards loop, and the wyvern followed blindly.

Grinning slyly, Lance suddenly activated his reverse thrusters and made a sharp turn, neatly avoiding the huge asteroid he had been about to crash into. The wyvern wasn’t so lucky, being unprepared for the sudden obstacle. The wyvern collided head-on with the hard surface, knocking it senseless.

"Looks like Hagar didn’t make any improvements on your brain, big birdy," Lance chuckled.

He then turned his Lion around and sped back to the others.

* * *

Like the others, Hunk managed to keep his Yellow Lion just barely out of the wyvern’s grasp. He led the wyvern towards the surface of the planet, being sure to take it far from inhabited areas. They reached the Arusian desert and skimmed over the sandy surface. Dust flew into the eyes of both the Lion and the wyvern, but Hunk was prepared. Yellow Lion was, after all, the Lion of earth.

"All right buddy," Hunk said aloud, "Come get me!"

Yellow Lion suddenly flew into the sandy surface, disappearing under the loose dirt. The wyvern followed him into the sand. As soon as it did, Yellow Lion surfaced and faced the half-buried wyvern. Immediately Yellow Lion opened its maw and sprayed sand over the wyvern, burying it completely.

"Ha!" Hunk laughed at the buried beast, "Dig yourself outta that!"

With that, Hunk wasted no more time rushing back to the others.

* * *

Keith was the first to return. He could see the fourth wyvern had the advantage over both Blue and Green Lions. The wyvern had Green Lion by its left hind leg and Blue Lion by the tail. Allura was firing her Tail Laser in an attempt to break free of the wyvern’s grasp, but to no avail. The newly improved ancient beast was virtually impervious to anything the two Lions threw at it.

As Keith watched, the wyvern brought the two Lions crashing together. He could hear Allura and Pidge’s grunts through their com-link. Keith frowned as the wyvern moved to repeat the action. Thrusting his Lion forward, Keith aimed directly for the wyvern and landed on its back in between its wings. Digging his claws into the joints where the wings connected to the beast’s back, Black Lion then wrapped its jaw around the wyvern’s neck and bit down hard. The wyvern shrieked and released its two victims to deal with the new threat.

"You OK, you two?" Keith asked.

"We’re fine, Keith," Allura said.

"Just peachy," Pidge grunted.

The wyvern extended its neck to turn and try to snap at Black Lion’s head with its maw. The wyvern began to writhe under the Lion’s grip, but Black Lion held strong. Then the wyvern raised its tail and used it to slash across Black Lion’s back. The Lion’s claws disengaged, but its hold on the wyvern’s neck remained. The beast’s tail then wrapped around Black Lion’s body and pulled hard. Black Lion was ripped apart from the wyvern and tossed aside roughly. Keith quickly recovered from the spin and turned his Lion back around to face the wyvern, which was moving in for another attack.

"Need any help, guys?" Lance spoke up as Red Lion joined them.

"Yeah," Pidge said, "We could use Yellow Lion."

"Oh, you wound me."

"Someone call me?" Hunk asked as Yellow Lion returned.

"All right, Team," Keith spoke up, "We have to form Voltron and take care of this wyvern before the others come back."

"No problem," Hunk said.

As the remaining wyvern took chase, the five Lions converged in preparation to form the giant robot.

"Activate interlock!" Keith commanded, punching in buttons on his console, "Dynotherms connected! Infracells up, and megathrusters are…go!"

The five Lions began the transformation, managing to keep out of reach of the wyvern. The four smaller Lions retracted their legs while Black Lion stretched its hind legs out.

"Form feet and legs," Keith continued, keeping one eye on his control panel and the other on the wyvern, "Form arms and body. And I’ll form the head!"

The five Lions came together once more to form Voltron. The wyvern did not cease its attack, even though it now faced a more powerful foe. Voltron turned to meet the attacking wyvern and tossed it aside as it moved to strike with its claws.

"Not so tough now, are ya!" Lance said smugly.

The wyvern didn’t give up, and turned to make another charge.

"Form Electro Saber!" Keith commanded.

The two wings in Voltron’s back parted as the giant robot reached back to grab them with both arms. Voltron then brought the two halves together to form a long Saber with blades on both of its ends. As the wyvern approached, Voltron moved to intercept and struck the beast across the chest, creating a deep scar.

"It’s about time we made a scratch in this guy," Allura said.

As the wyvern doubled over at the injury, Voltron swung the Saber at its back, severing one of the wings. The wyvern squawked and attempted to retreat. Just then Pidge noticed something on his sensors.

"We better hurry, guys," he spoke up, "The other wyverns are coming back."

Sure enough, the three other wyverns had managed to find their way back to their injured comrade and were moments from reaching them.

"Get back here, bird-brain," Lance cajoled the damaged beast.

Voltron caught up to the fleeing wyvern and caught it by its remaining wing with its free hand. Voltron then swung its other arm and speared the wyvern in its back. The end of the Saber protruded from its stomach. Screeching, the wyvern lasted only a few more moments before it exploded around the Saber. Voltron pulled back, and the five pilots watched as it disintegrated.

"Look!" Hunk spoke up, "The other wyverns are blowing up, too!"

Sure enough, as soon as the first wyvern was destroyed, the others soon followed on their own. As soon as the atmosphere was totally wyvern-free, Allura breathed a heavy sigh of relief.

"We did it!" she said, a big smile on her face, "Voltron beat them again!"

"’Course we did it," Lance said pridefully, "Did you ever have any doubts, Princess?"

Allura just grinned at him.

"All right, guys," Keith said, "Let’s go back to Arus. If we don’t finish the Princess’ birthday celebration, Nanny will get hysterical."

* * *

Lotor grabbed his wine goblet and flung it at the wall. The glass shattered into a dozen small pieces, sending dark red liquid flowing down the wall to make a puddle on the floor. Lotor wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and turned his reddening eyes on his witch.

"I thought you said those wyverns were indestructible!" he accused.

"How was I supposed to know the Voltron Force knew their secrets," Hagar appealed.

Lotor made a disgusted sound and looked around for something else to throw.

* * *

Allura couldn’t be happier. Once the wyverns had been destroyed, and the Voltron Force had returned to Arus, Nanny and Coran had both insisted upon continuing with the ceremony. The people who had been seeking shelter in the Castle re-converged outside while the Voltron Force changed clothes back into their formal wear. Then, late that afternoon, Allura was able to finish her speech and continue with the celebration.

Allura felt so exuberant after Voltron’s victory against the wyverns that she wasn’t the least bit nervous as she faced all those people. Once her short speech was over and the party officially started, her people cheered for her and voiced their support and admiration of their ruler. Allura beamed through the whole thing. Lance winked at her once, which only made her smile wider.

After the initial ceremony, the festivities moved to the lawns of the Castle where Allura, the Force, Castle personnel and citizens gathered to take part in the grand meal that was prepared, including a gigantic portion of special Arusian Frayberry Creme Dessert that was traditional of birthdays. Allura made a point to mingle with her people, the other members of the Voltron Force taking turns escorting her.

Each of the men and women she greeted complimented her on her stunning appearance. The white gown she wore had been specially made for her birthday and fit her slender form perfectly. Allura was also very pleased when appraising comments were made on the amulet Keith had given her. It matched the sparkle in her eyes perfectly, and people couldn’t help but notice it. Allura felt proud of their reaction to Keith’s gift.

Allura slid her arm through Coran’s crooked elbow, watching Lance’s retreating back as he swooped in towards a group of lovely maidens gathered at one of the punch tables. Allura couldn’t help but grin at her friend’s tenacity. As she and Coran walked and talked, Allura stole glances at her other friends. She found Hunk immediately by the dessert table, no doubt taking seconds, thirds, maybe even fourths. Pidge was nearby, talking to a group of young children. From the way he was gesturing with his hands, Allura guessed he was telling them all about their fight with the wyverns. The children all listened in rapture.

Allura then began a search for the Voltron Captain, but the crowd kept her from sighting him. Coran turned to her, and Allura ceded her search to return his look and cast him a smile that he returned. Coran then lowered his gaze to her neck, lingering on the chain before raising his eyes back up to her face.

"I’ve never seen that particular ornament before," he noted, "It looks Terran."

Allura smiled and raised a hand to finger the amulet.

"It is," she said, "It’s a birthday present, from Keith."

"From Keith?" Coran asked, eyebrows raised, "My, how awfully kind of him. It is very beautiful. And it looks wonderful on you."

"It is very lovely," Allura agreed, stealing a glance down at the sparkling disc.

When she looked back up at Coran, he was looking at her with a strange glint in his eyes. But the look passed only a second later and he resumed his grinning expression.

"It’s getting dark out," he told her, "We’ll have to call it a night soon."

Allura sighed. She didn’t want to leave. Coran saw her expression and chuckled.

"Don’t worry, Princess," he told her, "There will be more holidays to celebrate."

Allura’s smile returned.

"I know," she said, "I just wish it never had to end."

Coran smiled and led her back in the direction of the Castle. By then the people were beginning to disperse. When Coran and Allura reached the dessert tables, Hunk was seated on a chair nearby, his jacket buttons undone and his belly sticking out. He looked very full, but happy. Pidge sat on the ground next to him, yawning.

"Not a bad little party, Princess," Lance said, walking up behind them with a half-full glass of wine in one hand, "We should do this more often."

Allura looked around. One person was missing.

"Where’s Keith?" she asked, "I haven’t seen him since the party started."

"He left to go get Sith," Lance told her, "He should be around, I think."

"I saw them heading towards the punch table just a minute ago," Pidge spoke up helpfully.

Allura looked and spotted him. Keith was standing by the punch table, facing sideways to her. He was carrying Sith in his arms. The little boy who revered Keith was gulping down a glass of red berry juice thirstily. Allura knew Keith had to have a big heart to care so much about the son of his worst enemy. She knew Keith had been visiting Sith at least once a week since befriending the little boy, and she admired him for it.

Keith turned in their direction and caught her eye. As soon as their eyes met, they both smiled at one another. Sith looked in the direction Keith was facing, noticed Allura, and started waving. Allura shot the little boy a smile and returned the wave. Keith then raised his free hand to her in a single wave, then turned and headed in the direction of the village Sith now lived in. Allura watched him go until she no longer could, then turned back to the others.

"Well, Princess," Lance spoke up, eyeing her with amusement, "Do you feel like an adult?"

They all looked at her, and Allura mentally shook her head at Lance’s question, which was most likely meant to embarrass her. Instead of blushing, Allura straightened her shoulders regally, raised her head and looked at him with an upturned nose.

"As a matter of fact, I do," she told him, then added, "Now, isn’t it about time for you to grow up?"

Pidge and Hunk laughed, and Lance rolled his eyes. Coran just shook his head at them and grinned tolerably.

* * *

Allura wrapped her arms around her to ward off the chill as she gazed down from her balcony, watching as Keith made his way back across the bridge to the Castle. He had been gone for quite a while, returning Sith to the orphanage. In that time, the festivities had ended, clean up had commenced, and Allura and the others had retired to the Castle for the night. They were all exhausted not only from the battles earlier that day, but the birthday party as well.

Allura had received many fine gifts for her 20th birthday, but none compared to the one she still wore around her neck. Allura reached up and ran her fingers over the symbol on the amulet as she kept her eyes fixed on Keith’s lithe form. He had his jacket slung over his shoulder and his free hand buried in his pocket. He looked both relaxed and weary at the same time. But his pace never slowed despite his being tired.

Allura knew that if Keith so much as glanced in her direction, he would catch sight of her watching him, but she didn’t move from her position on her balcony. With her heart thudding against her chest, part of her wanted him to look up and see her, and another part of her wanted to remain invisible to him. Though she was by now nervous, Allura never took her eyes off him as he neared the Castle entrance.

Whether by fortune or not, Keith never looked up at her and kept his gaze straight forward. When he disappeared inside, Allura sighed and leaned against the railing, moving her gaze up to the starlit sky. Then she smiled, remembering the look on Keith’s face when he’d given her the amulet. She still didn’t understand what it meant, but she knew it was special. And as Allura gazed up into space, she promised to herself that she would always wear Keith’s amulet to the end of her days, and would never leave her chambers without it.

* * *

The End. Any comments or questions? Email me at cbjam@hotmail.com

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