Trouble on Deion

Part Two

She awoke to the strange sensation of being carried. Startled, Allura opened her eyes and found herself looking up at the tunnel’s ceiling. She turned her head to see who or what was carrying her, half-expecting it to be Hunk or Lance. Instead it was two unfamiliar men, dressed all in brown and gray with heavy hoods covering their heads. They seemed not to notice her arousal. Allura then started to squirm, and they immediately set her down on her feet. A man who had been walking in front of them stopped and turned around to face her.

"Are you all right?" he asked.

Allura nodded.

"Who are you?"

"My name is Nled," he replied, "I’m the leader of the Minories."

"Minories?" Allura repeated, recognizing the name. Immediately she was relieved.

"Some of the others heard your yelling echoing off our walls," he explained to her, "You and your companion were both unconscious when we found you."

"Keith?" Allura asked, looking around for him. She spotted the Voltron captain being carried by two more men not far away.

"He’s quite a bit more worse off than you," Nled told her, "His suit must have lost its power long before yours did. We have to hurry and get him back to our caves so we can get him warmed up."

Allura nodded, and she and Nled moved to follow the others. As they moved farther into the caves, Allura noticed the air grew warmer.

"There are warm spots among these tunnels and caves," Nled explained to her, "We managed to find them and use them to build our homes. Some of them are surprisingly hot."

"How can that be, on such a cold planet?" she asked.

"The core of this planet is actually very hot," he told her, "The reason the surface is so cold is the fact that our sun is so small and quite distanced from our planet."

"Is that why you decided to come down here?" she asked, "Because it’s warmer than on the surface?"

Nled hesitated, scratching at his long beard.

"That’s one of the reasons," he answered her.

"And the other?" she asked.

Nled sighed.

"There was a disagreement among the miners," he admitted, "Some of us decided that it would be much more comfortable and cost-efficient to move our entire operation underground. That way we wouldn’t be hampered by the extreme temperatures on the surface, and we would be able to lengthen the day to mine even more. Eight hour days are very short. Down here, we mine fourteen hour days."

"So that means you’re able to mine more ore," Allura said.

Nled sighed.

"That would be true, if we had the right equipment," he said, "But Jbar will not give us the proper machinery to dig. We are forced to use hand tools. We barely mine enough ore to live off of."

Allura frowned.

"Why won’t Jbar help you?" she asked.

Nled shook his head wearily.

"He thinks we are traitors for abandoning the others," he replied, "He and I never got along. We got into a very heated argument. He wouldn’t accept our ideas. He is a very stubborn man, and most of the rest of our people follow him without question. But some, like me, understood that a life underground would be much more fruitful. They followed my family and I down here, and we built ourselves an underground community."

"It sounds like you went through a lot to live down here," she observed.

Nled nodded.

"I just wish I could give the others more," he said wistfully.

"I know the feeling," Allura said softly, thinking of her own people and the attacks they had to suffer from Lotor and Zarkon.

They emerged into a very large cavern that was obviously once an excavation site. It was well-lit and warmer than Allura had expected. Dozens of tunnels led to and from the large cave, and other Minories traveled in and out of them, giving Allura and the others only a short glance before getting on with their tasks.

Nled and his men led Allura through the cavern to one of the tunnels on the opposite end. Along the walls of the tunnel, steel doors were placed every twenty or so feet. After only a short distance they stopped at one of them. Once the two men carrying Keith stepped in, Allura followed. The room they entered was small and cozy, holding only a single bed sitting in one corner, a small table standing beside it, and a thick rug on the stone floor. This room was also quite warm, like the cavern had been. Allura actually found herself growing hot underneath all her clothing.

The two Minories set Keith down on the bed. By this time he was beginning to stir, though his eyes still remained closed. He also began shivering almost violently. Allura went over and sat down close beside him, removing her gloves and putting her hands to his face. It was still very cold.

"We must get him warmed up," Nled told her, "I will bring something back that will help. Until then do what you can."

With that, Nled and the two men left, closing the door behind them. Allura watched them go, then turned back to Keith. Even though the room was warm, he was still shivering. Allura wondered with fright if they were too late. Keith was still pretty cold. His lips were bright blue. She ran her hands over his face and chest, trying to warm him up, but it didn’t seem to do any good.

Then, with a start, Allura remembered Lance’s words, spoken only hours earlier.

"You know what else works at warming you up really fast? Kissing."

Allura stopped her hands and gazed down at Keith’s lips, which were trembling only inches away from hers. She wondered if she should. He’s asleep, she thought, he won’t even know. Still, she had never before kissed anyone. She was hesitant to even attempt it. But then Keith’s shivering claimed her attention, and she squared her shoulders in determination. If it would help him get warm, then she would do it.

With a quick glance at the door behind her, Allura adjusted her position and placed her palms on either side of his face to steady it. She gazed at his handsome features for a brief moment before she lowered her eyes to his blue lips. She inched her head closer, until she could feel his wispy breath on her face. Then she closed her eyes, and pressed her warm lips against his cold ones.

Allura sprang back as the door opened and Nled walked in. Blushing, Allura moved back a bit from Keith, embarrassed at what she had done and hoping Nled hadn’t caught her. It didn’t appear as if he had. The bearded leader of the Minories was carrying a small vial of deep blue liquid. He brought it over and handed it to Allura.

"This is Sthet," he told her, "It will warm him up quickly."

"Thank-you," she said, taking the vial.

With Nled’s help, Allura opened Keith’s mouth and poured the thick liquid down his throat. After a short moment, Keith coughed, but the liquid stayed down. Within seconds his shivering stopped.

"Wow," Allura spoke up, amazed, "That does work fast."

Nled grinned.

"Your friend should be just fine by morning," he told her, then asked, "Is he your husband?"

Allura blushed again and shook her head.

"Um, no," she told him, "We’re um, we’re just…"

Nled smiled and shook his head.

"No need to explain," he told her, "I’ll let the two of you rest now. You both need it. Some of my men and I will guide you back up to the surface in the morning."

"Don’t you even want to know how we got down here?" she asked.

Nled shrugged.

"I’m sure that’s your business," he replied without concern, "If you want to tell me, you will."

With that he turned and went to the door. He left without another word.

Allura turned back to Keith, who was starting to revive. She sat at the edge of the bed beside him and grasped one of his hands. It was still a little cool, but much better. His lips were also starting to regain their color. When he opened his eyes and looked up at her hazily, she smiled down at him.

"You scared me," she told him.

Keith smiled lazily and moved to get up. Allura helped him into a sitting position.

"Are you feeling all right?" she asked.

Keith rubbed his forehead, inadvertently wiping away some of the dried-up blood. He then tugged at his jacket collar.

"It’s a bit hot in here," he commented.

Allura helped him unzip and slip off his jacket, then did the same with the sweater until he only wore his long-sleeved undershirt. She then pulled off his boots and set them with the rest of his things. After that she proceeded to remove her own outer clothing as Keith looked around the room with tired eyes.

"Where are we?" he asked.

"We’re with the Minories," she told him, sitting back down beside him, "They heard me calling for help and rescued us. Their leader, Nled, said he’d take us back up to the others in the morning."

Keith didn’t acknowledge the information. He just rubbed his eyes wearily. Allura pulled a kerchief from her jacket and started to wipe the blood off his temple. Keith turned his head to look at her. Allura blushed when she caught him staring at her.

"There," she said, taking the cloth from his head, "I don’t think it’ll need stitches, but you’ll have to ask Dr. Gorma to be sure."

Keith did not reply. He just continued to stare down at her. Allura blushed and looked down, wondering why he was staring.

"You’re very beautiful," he suddenly spoke up in a low voice.

She looked up at him quickly, caught off-guard by the unexpected compliment. Her eyes were wide as she returned his gaze.

"What?" she asked breathlessly.

"Very beautiful," he repeated.

Keith then brought up his hand to caress her cheek softly, never taking his eyes off her face.

"So smooth," he said, letting his fingers inch across her skin, past the curve of her jaw and down along her neck.

Allura shivered as inexplicable feelings coursed through her. Keith’s touch on her skin was intoxicating. Allura felt her eyelids become heavy and her heart begin to beat quickly against her chest. As Keith’s face moved closer, Allura’s breathing quickened. She closed her eyes and let her mouth part slightly, knowing he was about to kiss her. She didn’t know why, but she couldn’t be happier.

Their lips met in a soft embrace. Allura’s heart skipped a beat but she barely noticed, as the feel of Keith’s lips covering hers captured her complete attention. A warm, fuzzy sensation coursed from her mouth through her entire body, heating up every square inch of her. Keith’s hand caressing her cheek and neck was also adding to the wonderful feelings flowing through her.

Keith’s mouth began to move over hers, and she tasted him even more. A small, high moan of pure pleasure escaped her throat. As her initial shock wore off, Allura began to return Keith’s kiss, mimicking his movements. She moved her hands up to his chest, feeling the hard muscles underneath the thin cloth. Keith’s free hand went to her waist and his kiss deepened. Allura’s breathing grew harder as she struggled to keep up with him.

A soft, throaty sound of disappointment escaped her mouth as Keith slowly pulled his lips from hers, and she opened her eyes slowly to look at him. His eyes remained closed and it almost seemed as if he had fallen asleep. Allura lifted one of her hands to caress his face, just as he had done to her. This seemed to revive him, and his eyes opened slightly. They focused on her lips only for a moment before he moved in again. Allura closed her eyes again and waited for his lips to touch hers once more.

Keith pressed his lips to hers, and the feeling started all over again. But this time Keith leaned toward her, urging her to the bed. She let herself be lowered down to the coarse blankets, her head falling against the pillow. Keith laid down next to her, one of his legs covering hers intimately. She slid her hands along his back, then guided them to his thick, unruly hair.

She let out another throaty moan as Keith’s kiss intensified once more.

* * *

Allura woke up with a happy smile on her face. She felt warm and cozy and fuzzy all over. Before she opened her eyes, she noticed that her pillow was moving slowly up and down beneath her head. She could also feel soft breaths ruffle her undone hair. Allura’s smile widened when she remembered who she was sleeping on.

She sat up slowly, reluctant to leave his warmth but knowing they still had a job to do. She ran her hands through her hair, knowing it must look a mess. She then straightened her undershirt, which had twisted around her torso during her sleep. Allura then turned and looked down at her sleeping companion.

Keith was still sound asleep, also wearing a contented look on his face. Allura couldn’t help but smile in pleasure. He looked so adorable and innocent while he slept. She reached out and ran her hand softly through his mussed hair, amazed at how soft it really was. She remembered running her hands through it the night before, after he had fallen asleep in her arms.

She bent down to kiss his forehead affectionately, then forced herself out of bed and onto her feet. She still wore her thermal pants, which was why her legs were so hot now. After Keith had suddenly fallen asleep the night before only minutes after they had started to become intimate, Allura had also succumbed to the exhaustion that had been building up inside her. Both she and Keith had slept the night with the heavy thermal pants over their long underwear. She wouldn’t be surprised if he too was hot.

Allura stretched her aching arms and legs and let out a short, happy groan. Right after she was done stretching, there was a light knock on the door.

"Come in!" she replied shortly.

The door opened, and Nled appeared. He carried with him two bowls of steaming liquid. He set them down on the table beside the bed.

"Did you have a good night?" he asked.

She smiled secretly and nodded.

"We slept very good," she told him.

He smiled.

"I’m not surprised," he said, "You were both quite exhausted. This soup should give you back some of your energy."

"Thank-you," she told him sincerely, "You’ve been a great help."

"I know what it’s like to almost freeze to death," he told her, "I once got turned around in one of those storms up above. It took the others hours to find me. By that time my power pack had worn out. I was just lucky they had some Sthet handy or else I might not be here."

He glanced over at Keith.

"As soon as you two are ready, my men and I will lead you back to the surface," he told them, "We have extra power packs you can use."

They both turned as Keith began to stir.

"I’ll leave you two to your breakfast," he told her, then turned and left.

Allura turned back to Keith, who was beginning to wake up. She walked over and sat down on the edge of the bed. Keith’s eyes opened groggily and he lifted a hand to rub them. He then looked up at her and propped himself up on one elbow.

"Where are we?" he asked, looking around the room in puzzlement.

"We’re in the Minories’ caves, remember?" she asked, "You almost froze to death. They found us and brought us here."

Keith pushed himself up and rubbed his temple, then turned to look at her again.

"Are you OK?" he asked.

She smiled.

"I’m fine," she assured him, "You’re the one with the concussion."

He moved to swing his legs over the bed so that he was sitting beside her. Allura grabbed one of the bowls of hot soup and handed it to him.

"Eat this," she told him, "It’ll make you feel better."

"Thanks," he said.

After taking a few sips, Keith licked his lips and sighed.

"We have to get back to the others," he told her.

"Nled said he’d take us back to the surface once we finished," she told him.

Keith nodded.

"Good," he said, "We have to catch up to Lotor before he gets that ship back to Planet Doom."

They ate their soup in silence. Allura stole glances at him, wondering when he was going to mention what happened the night before. But Keith just concentrated on finishing his soup, not even returning her glances. After a few minutes Allura was about to speak up, but Keith beat her to it.

"I’m sorry about last night," he told her.

Allura frowned.

"Sorry?" she asked, puzzled.

Keith nodded.

"You had to sleep on the floor," he said, without even looking up, "They should have given you a separate room."

Allura felt the blood rush from her face as she ran over his words in his head. His next words startled her even more.

"I think I remember waking up in that fissure," he told her, "And I remember the communicators didn’t work. But after that I have no idea what happened. Do you remember how long we were down there before help arrived?"

Allura faltered, her throat blocked up. He didn’t remember? she thought to herself in dismay, But how could that be?

"Allura?" he asked, looking at her for an explanation. Luckily she was facing away from him, or else he would be able to see the consternation on her face.

"Allura?" he repeated, "Are you all right?"

Allura shook her head to clear her thoughts, fighting hard against the wave of disappointment washing over her. She turned around to him and forced a smile on her face.

"Um, I don’t remember," she told him, "I fell asleep."

He nodded, keeping his eyes on her face for a moment longer before he turned away. Allura bit her lip and blinked her eyes quickly to keep the tears from forming. She set her bowl of soup aside, her appetite long gone. Had last night really happened? she asked herself, or did I just dream it up? But no, the emotions and feelings, both physical and emotional, she had felt the night before had been real, or else she wouldn’t remember them so vividly.

There was an abrupt knock at the door, and it swung open to once again reveal Nled’s bearded face. He walked in holding two power packs.

"Nice to see you awake," he said to Keith.

Keith smiled.

"Thank-you," he replied, "It seems I owe you and your men our lives."

Nled shook his head dismissively.

"I’d do it for anyone," he said, "Lucky for you your lady friend has a good set of lungs."

Nled then stepped forward and offered his hand.

"I’m sure you don’t remember me from last night," he said, "I’m Nled. I’m the unofficial leader of the Minories."

Keith grinned and stood to shake the man’s hand.

"I’m Captain Keith of the Voltron Force," he introduced himself.

Nled raised his eyebrows.

"Voltron Force?" he asked, "You’re the ones Jbar sent for to rescue the trapped miners."

Keith nodded.

"We managed to get them free and back to the surface, but then we, uh, happened to step over one of those fissures and ended up down here."

Nled nodded in understanding.

"Those things are everywhere," he said, "They’re pretty tough to find before it’s too late. You’re lucky the fall didn’t kill you both."

Nled set the power packs on the floor by their discarded suits.

"These are fully charged," he told them, "Once you two are all suited up, we’ll get going."

"Thank-you for your help," Keith told him.

Nled shrugged.

"Like I told Allura," he said, "I’ve been there."

Nled then turned and stepped out the door. As soon as he was gone, Allura stood up to go after him.

"I’ll be right back!" she told Keith, who watched her go in surprise.

Allura stepped out into the tunnel and hurried after Nled.

"Nled!" she called to him.

The leader of the Minories stopped at her voice and turned around to watch her hurry over to him.

"Is there something else I can help you with?" he asked.

Allura tried to choose her words carefully.

"Um, it’s Keith," she said, "He doesn’t seem to have any memory of last night."

Nled didn’t need to hear any more. He just chuckled and nodded his head.

"That’s to be expected," he said, "One of the side effects of Sthet is partial amnesia. He won’t remember anything that happened up to twelve hours after he drank it. That’s why he doesn’t remember last night."

Allura frowned deeply, doubly upset.

"The other side effect is also quite interesting," he continued, "Sthet warms the blood. It causes its users to be a bit more, ah, passionate than usual."

With a wink at her, he turned and continued to leave. Allura watched him go, her heart sinking into her stomach.

* * *

They left only fifteen minutes later. Nled led the way through the tunnels, Keith at his side. The two men were deep in conversation, and seemed to be getting along very well. Nled repeated the story of how he and the rest of the Minories ended up underground to Keith, who had previously only heard the surface dwellers’ side of the story. He found the Minories leader much friendlier and more amiable than his counterpart above.

Allura trailed behind the two men, more than a little dispirited. Keith seemed to have absolutely no recollection of their intimacy the night before, and that fact bothered her greatly. It was the first time she had ever been intimate with a man, let alone one she loved. Her hopes had skyrocketed at the prospect that Keith returned her feelings. But now that she knew he had only been acting in response to the drug, her hopes had been painfully torn apart.

They exited the warm caves the Minories inhabited and entered the cooler ones of snow and ice. Allura, Keith, Nled and their two companions had to activate the power packs on their protective gear to keep away the cold. Since the tunnels were darker, they also had to turn on their flashlights to see. Allura kept one hand to the icy wall to make sure she kept her balance over the uneven floor.

"We don’t use this tunnel much anymore," Nled told them, "This is the only one still useable that leads to the surface settlement. The rest have all been caved in."

"How far is the entrance to the settlement?" Keith asked.

"Only four or five miles," he replied, "You have plenty of power in your packs to get you there. There’s a small radar station nearby you can use to call for help."

Keith nodded, then turned to their guide.

"I’m curious," he said, "The last time an alien ship was found here, it was the Minories that found it because you tend to dig deeper than the others. I thought that would be the case here, but you seem to have no involvement in this."

"That was the case," Nled told him, "I was there when one of my men found the ship. But once Jbar was notified, he decided to have his own men take over the excavation site. He thought we would all be better off if the Minories stayed out of his way."

"Why is that?" Keith asked.

Nled sighed.

"Because before the Drules came along, Jbar was intending on selling the ship to whoever would pay," he replied with a shake of the head, "He didn’t want to have to make it split two ways."

"Can he do that?" Allura asked, picking up on the conversation.

Nled nodded.

"He is the Minister of Deion," he replied, "Not to mention he and the rest of the surface dwellers outnumber us five to one."

"But that’s not fair," she told him.

Nled shrugged helplessly.

"There’s nothing we can do," he said, "Both sides are a peaceful people. Neither of us want a fight. My people mine enough ore to get by, and we’re rather comfortable down here."

"Do you have any idea who Jbar was planning on making his deals with?" Keith asked.

Nled shook his head.

"All I know is that he has no love for Terrans," he replied, "He dislikes your seniority in the Alliance."

"Which is probably why he didn’t contact them until he was in trouble," Keith said with irritation lacing his words, "It’s no wonder Lotor got here so fast. I’m surprised the V’Ki haven’t tried to take it."

"Sometimes Jbar doesn’t think of the consequences," Nled admitted, "He’s a fairly strong leader when it comes to politics, but in instances that call for military knowledge, Jbar tends to be a bit narrow-minded. He thinks that Galaxy Garrison takes advantage of its military power with the Alliance."

Keith nodded.

"I gathered that last time I was here," he said, "Jbar didn’t seem to look too kindly on Garrison officers."

"A number of years ago he proposed the Garrison place a military outpost close-by to provide extra protection for the Denrar Galaxy," Nled explained, "He was turned down flat. Ever since he’s held a grudge."

"The Denrar Galaxy is so small," Keith said, "It wouldn’t be practical to place an outpost here. Deion is the only inhabitable planet, and not a likely target for enemy attacks."

"That’s what they told him," Nled agreed.

As soon as he spoke, Keith came to an abrupt halt and signaled the others to stop. Deeper into the tunnel, the muffled sound of voices could be heard. Moments later they saw the faded beams of moving flashlights playing over the glistening tunnel walls. Keith quietly unholstered his blaster and held it ready by his side. Allura did the same. As the flashlight beams drew closer, Keith and Allura raised their weapons.

"Hey!" one of the newcomers yelled, "Who’s there?"

As soon as they heard the familiar voice, Keith and Allura lowered their weapons. Moments later Lance, Hunk and Pidge appeared before them, all similarly bundled. Lance’s face showed relief when he saw them.

"There you are!" he exclaimed.

"We thought you two were done for," Pidge spoke up.

"We’re fine, thanks to Nled and his men," Keith told them.

"Good," Lance said, "We would have come to rescue you guys sooner, but by the time we eked out a plan, it was almost nighttime. We started out as soon as daylight hit."

Keith nodded.

"Did you bring the Lions?" he asked.

"Red Lion’s up there all warmed up and ready to go," Lance replied readily.


Keith turned to Nled.

"Looks like you two can make it the rest of the way on your own," Nled said.

"I really appreciate your hospitality," Keith told him sincerely, "And that fact that you saved our lives."

Nled smiled and shrugged.

"I’m sure it’s nothing you yourselves wouldn’t have done had the situation been reversed," he replied, "I just wish you good fortune in getting back that ship."

"Thank-you," Keith said, shaking the man’s hand.

Nled turned to Allura.

"Now you take good care of your friend," he told her, giving her a conspiratory wink.

Allura smiled nervously. She was just glad her cheeks were already red from the cold, or else they all would have seen her blush.

Nled then stepped back and gave them all a wave.

"Good journey," he told them.

Keith and Allura both raised a hand in good-bye and watched as Nled and his men left to return to their caves. Keith then turned to the others.

"Now," he said, determination marking his brown eyes, "Let’s go find Lotor."

* * *

The Prince of Doom stood with his arms crossed, shoulders squared and his feet standing wide apart as he stared up at the magnificent machine. Already his workers had thawed the ship inside and out, and it was determined that the ship’s power source was still intact. Not only that, but the ship had sustained little damage, which meant it was still capable of flying. Lotor couldn’t have been more pleased.

Hagar hovered in the far corner of the small docking bay of Lotor’s ship. Her face was displeased as she glared at the strange alien ship. Something about the craft sparked a note of fear in the evil witch, a fact that both disturbed her and awed her. But she knew that whatever had caused these feelings in her was not friendly. She watched warily as Lotor approached the ship.

"Be careful, your Highness," Hagar warned him, "That ship possesses a strange aura. It’s secrets are deeply hidden - it could be dangerous. Caution is advised."

Lotor grunted in contempt, not even sparing a glance at his witch.

"You worry too much," he told her, "If that obnoxious Garrison commander can fly it, then so can I."

Hagar remained silent as Lotor climbed up to the cockpit, stroking her Kitty calmly. Lotor would learn his lesson the hard way.

The evil Drulean prince smiled evilly as he sat himself in the cockpit of the craft. His tall, lean form fit snugly in the firm, somewhat uncomfortable seat. Ignoring the safety harnesses, Lotor ran his long, pale blue fingers over the dull yet impressive-looking console. He swept his eyes over the instruments, landing them on what he knew to be the weapons console. A sinister grin formed on his thin lips and he rubbed his hands together eagerly.

After scanning the devices before him for only a moment, Lotor found what must have been the switch to activate the ship’s power. He reached out and turned it on. A satisfying rumble echoed through the docking bay, accompanied by a few sudden shudders from the ships itself. Lotor frowned and grabbed onto the manual control sticks to keep himself steady. But the trembling of the ship lasted only a few moments, and soon it was still again. Lotor’s smile returned.

Although he should have been amazed that the ship was still working so well after being frozen for so long, Lotor cared only for the power it possessed. Thoughts of conquering Voltron and the Alliance, as well as overthrowing his own father, danced in his head as he reached out to shut the hatch over the cockpit. It closed and sealed with a muffled swoosh.

Lotor readjusted his position to get in better reach of the weapons controls. Since he had forgotten to order his men to open the docking bay doors, Lotor decided to just make his own. He had other ships. He eyed the weapons controls eagerly, then extended his hand to a nice big round switch right in the middle of the console. He pressed it…

…and was suddenly sent into violent convulsions as a surge of pure power invaded his body.

* * *

"He’s already got a twenty-hour head start," Keith said as they steered their Lions away from Deion’s atmosphere, "We’re going to have to use megathrusters to catch up to him before he reaches Doom. Pidge, do you have their bearing?"

"I’ve been tracking them ever since we found out they’d already left," Pidge spoke up, "Bearing mark 22.40.01."

"Let’s blow this ice stand," Lance cried, activating the megathrusters on Red Lion.

The others did the same, and soon they were well on their way to catching up with Prince Lotor.

"So what’s the plan, Skipper?" Hunk spoke up, "Just in case Lotor has that ship running by the time we catch up to him."

Keith sighed.

"If that’s the case," he replied, "Then we better hope the targeting system on the ship is malfunctioning."

Allura looked at him sharply.

"Is it that dangerous?" she asked.

Keith nodded reluctantly.

"A single blast can destroy an entire battleship," he told them.

"So you’re saying that if one of our Lions got hit, that’s it?" Lance asked, "Time to go to the little feline heaven in the sky?"

"If its power is anything like the last one, then yes," Keith said, "So if Lotor does have the ship working, which I hope he doesn’t, go to whatever lengths possible to stay out of its line of fire."

"Good thing these cats are agile," Lance said, seemingly unconcerned.

Allura, however, was worried.

"What kind of ship can possess that kind of power?" she asked.

Keith shook his head.

"No one knows who built these ships," Keith replied, "but they’re estimated to be about 3000 years old."

"Yikes," Lance said, "We were barely out in space back then. That’s way before the Drules or the V’Ki ever showed up."

"It’s a real mystery," Pidge said, "Whatever civilization existed back then that held that much power, those two ships are all that’s been found. And because none of our scientists can figure out exactly how they work and what language they use, nothing can be learned of the aliens."

"Too bad," Hunk said, "Maybe they woulda been on our side."

"Whoever’s side they were on," Lance said, "I bet they won."

"It would be nice if we could use their power to beat the Drules," Pidge said wishfully.

Keith shook his head.

"Those ships are too powerful for anyone to use," he said, "That’s why the Alliance decided to keep the first one in the storage vault. It would be way too dangerous to unleash their power, even if it is for a good cause."

"You’re always such a pessimist," Lance complained teasingly.

Keith ignored him.

A warning beacon on their consoles alerted them that they were nearing their target.

"All right everyone," Keith commanded, "De-activate megathrusters and stand-by on alert. If Lotor has that ship running, we’ll see it as soon as they see us."

The five pilots cut off their megathrusters and began to float gracefully through space. The three Drulean ships were now in view.

"Well," Lance spoke up, "So far, no super-ship."

Keith narrowed his eyes at the scene ahead. The enemy ships were unnaturally calm and still. He had expected some sort of defense.

"It might be a trap," he warned his team, "Don’t let your guards down."

"I’ve located the alien craft, Captain," Pidge spoke up, "It’s still aboard Lotor’s battle cruiser."

Keith breathed out slowly in relief.

"That’s one less headache," he muttered.

"Heads up!" Hunk warned, "We have a Robeast coming in from one of the other ships."

"Tail Laser Attack!" Keith commanded immediately.

The others complied, and the five lions fired their tail lasers at the huge Robeast. Hagar’s newest creation looked like a cross between a bloated crab and a cast iron pot.

"Whoa!" Lance exclaimed, "This guy looks like he’s ready to pop!"

The attack left the Robeast undamaged and incensed. It reached out to grab Green Lion with one of its claws, managing to latch onto its tail. Green Lion struggled to break free.

"Need a hand, little buddy?" Hunk asked.

Yellow Lion distracted the Robeast by wrapping its powerful jaws around one of the giant crab’s spindly legs. The Robeast turned its attention to Hunk, allowing Pidge to steer Green Lion free of its grasp.

"Green Lion’s tail is ruined," Pidge reported.

Yellow Lion yanked itself away as the Robeast lashed at it with its other appendages.

"This guy has arms and legs coming out of its wazoo," Hunk remarked, ducking to avoid the swipe of a claw. The numerous arms and legs of the Robeast prevented the Lions from getting close enough to make a strike.

"We don’t have time for this," Keith pronounced, "Let’s form Voltron!"

"Activate Interlock…Dynotherms connected…Infracells up…Megathrusters are go!"

"Let’s go Voltron Force!"

"Form feet and legs…Form arms and body…And I’ll form the head!"

As soon as Voltron was formed, the awkward-looking Robeast grabbed the head of Blue Lion with one of its claws.

"Looks like you need to be de-clawed, Princess," Lance remarked.

With a swipe of its arm, Voltron knocked the crab away, breaking its hold on Blue Lion. Unfazed, the Robeast came for more.

"We better hurry!" Pidge spoke up, "Lotor’s making his getaway!"

Sure enough, the three Drule ships were moving away from the battle scene. Keith clenched his teeth.

"We have to end this battle now," he said, "Form Crusher Ball!"

A ball and chain materialized in Voltron’s hand, and the red arm began to swing it over its head.

"Time to crack this crab’s shell!" Lance exclaimed gleefully.

Voltron swung its arm around as the Robeast came in retracting its pincers. With a lumbering motion, the Crusher Ball swung unceremoniously into the body of the machine, breaking off appendages in its wake. The result left a deep dent in the Robeast’s armor.

"One more swing should do it," Keith said.

While the Robeast was still dazed, Voltron made another even mightier swing to strike it once more with the gigantic spiked ball. This time the weapon crushed the Robeast completely, making it useless. Immediately Keith steered away from the battered machine and toward the retreating Drule ships.

"That was way too easy," Lance remarked as they left the destroyed Robeast behind.

"You’re right," Keith agreed, wondering what was up.

"Do you think it’s a trap?" Allura asked.

"Maybe he just sent that Robeast to wear us down a bit," Pidge suggested, "He could be waiting for us to get close enough to launch that ship on us."

"Is it moving?" Keith asked.

Pidge consulted his sensor readings on the Drule ship.

"Negative," he replied, "The alien craft is still stationary on Lotor’s ship."

Keith paused to consider the options.

"Something must be wrong," he finally decided, "It isn’t like Lotor to hold back. If he had that ship working, then he would have been out here by now."

"So we just go in and take what’s rightfully not his?" Lance asked eagerly.

Keith nodded.

"Let’s make a hole in Lotor’s ship," he said, "Form Blazing Sword."

As the Crusher Ball disappeared, the flaming blade took its place.

"Now to give Lotor a little air conditioning," Lance remarked with a smirk.

With a graceful swing, Voltron tore a long gash in Lotor’s battle ship, splitting it wide open. Some ships and other loose objects from inside the bleeding ship floated out, including the empty alien war craft.

"There’s the buried treasure," Lance announced.

"Grab it and let’s go," Keith said.

Cradling the smaller craft in Green Lion’s maw, Voltron propelled away from the Drule crafts, the five pilots still wary of a counterattack. It never came.

"Geez, are they all asleep in there or what?" Lance wondered aloud.

"This is spooky," Pidge agreed.

"Maybe they just gave up," Hunk suggested.

Lance let out a guffaw.

"Lotor?" he asked, "Mr. Pathetically Persistent in Getting Himself Whipped? I don’t think so."

"We can’t waste time figuring it out," Keith said impatiently, "Let’s get this ship somewhere safe."

"Where to, Cap’n?" Hunk asked.

"Rugaris Eleven," Keith replied, "That’s the nearest Alliance outpost. They’ll take it from there."

* * *

Lotor groaned as he struggled to open his heavy lids. His whole body ached so much he didn’t think he would be able to move an inch for fear of causing more pain. But stubbornness made him force himself into a sitting position. An unbidden groan escaped his lips as the pain seared through his entire being. His mouth was very dry and he felt extremely hot. That last thing he remembered was being inside the alien craft, just as he was about to blow his own docking bay doors open.

Lotor looked furiously around the room and spotted Hagar standing nearby, the ever-present Kitty in her arms. Hagar returned his glare with one of her own.

"What’s going on?" he demanded, "What happened?"

"What I warned you about, sire," she replied smugly, "The alien ship rejected you when you tried to use its weapons. You were seized by some strong, powerful force. You were almost killed."

"How long have I been out?" he asked.

"Three days."

"Then we should be back at Planet Doom by now."

Hagar shook her withered head. Lotor narrowed his eyes at her.

"Tell me, witch!" he demanded.

"Voltron attacked us," she told him, "Your battle ship was damaged beyond repair. Our escape to Planet Doom was stalled."

"And the alien ship?"

"Taken, sire."

Lotor’s nostrils flared in rage.

"Why didn’t you send out a Robeast to take care of them?" he demanded hotly.

"I did," she told him evenly, "But the Robeast was unfinished and therefore didn’t stand a chance. You yourself advised me not to bother finishing its construction since you were sure all we needed was the alien ship."

Lotor clenched his teeth tightly, red flashing before his eyes.

"I still hold you responsible," he warned her.

Hagar appeared unconcerned.

"Very well, Your Highness," she conceded, but then added with a loftier tone, "But who do you suppose your father will hold responsible?"

Knowing the truth, Lotor seethed, then grunted again in pain.

* * *

Princess Allura sighed heavily as she leaned her slight hands against the cool, slender railing surrounding her balcony. She had just returned with the others from delivering the strange alien ship to the Alliance outpost on Rugaris Eleven. Keith in particular had seemed relieved to see the powerful weapon safely delivered into the hands of the Alliance, who promised to deposit it with the other one right away. Both Allura and the Voltron commander had remained quiet on the trip back to Arus, leaving Lance, Hunk and Pidge to amuse themselves with idle conversation.

Allura closed her eyes as the soft evening wind nestled against her pale skin. It had been evening when they returned, and they were all exhausted. The Princess still hadn’t recovered from her fall into the fissure back on Deion. There were some bruises she would have for weeks to come. Fortunately, after being checked out by Dr. Gorma the moment they returned, Keith checked out just fine. He hadn’t needed stitches.

Allura heaved another weary sigh. No matter what she tried, she could not keep the image of the handsome Garrison commander out of her mind. When she closed her eyes, the sensations that had filled her with so much ecstasy the night before returned, reminding her of how glorious Keith’s hand had felt against her cheek, and how wondrous his lips had felt over hers. A smile played on her lips as the feelings came back. But then she remembered the realization the morning after, and the smile disappeared.

Allura opened her eyes. There was no way she would ever forget the closeness she had experienced with Keith, even though it was forever lost from his memory. It went without saying that Allura would not mention the experience to anyone, particularly Keith and her two guardians. Both Coran and particularly Nanny would become upset if they ever learned of what happened, regardless of the fact it hadn’t been Keith’s fault. As for Keith, nothing would be gained from his knowing except an added degree of awkwardness between them, and Allura didn’t want that. Now that she knew Keith had not been acting on his own feelings but as a result of the drug he had been given, Allura felt it would be best to just leave things be. Not that it wouldn’t be hard.

Allura lifted a hand to wrap it gently around her talisman, a gift from Keith himself. She brought it up and rested its cold surface against her warm cheek. And with another sigh, she closed her eyes and began remembering all over again.

* * *

The End. For comments, email me at cbjam@hotmail.com

Next: Fifth Interlude

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