The docking bay of the ship was alive with sound, people talking and in some cases shouting to each other. They tried to keep up a friendly banter, but there was a tension coloring their every word, every move. It followed them as they worked on their ships, checking computer functions, and making sure no repairs were needed. Last minute adjustments were being made to weapon capabilities, ships being fueled in preparation for their arrival in Arus’ air space.
Every one around her was already suited up, ready to board the smaller ships at a moment’s notice. Allura felt a mix of feelings to see them, knowing that they could all be preparing to fly out to their deaths. And yet none of the three hundred soldiers aboard this ship had refused the vaccine. It had been the same with the two hundred that remained behind on the ships escorting Allura’s. Her people were willing to die to protect their home world from the Keraclon. They hadn’t hesitated when she explained the vaccine was untested, leaving them clueless on what if any side effects there would be. Or the fact that the scientists couldn’t even assure them that the vaccine would work to block out the Keraclon’s fear waves.
Never had Allura been more proud to be an Arusian than this day, her feelings bolstered by the bravery and determination of her people. It wasn’t just the soldiers who were taking the vaccine, the crew members had also insisted. Everyone from the crew of the communications room, to the command deck, and even the kitchen chef had wanted to be inoculated against the Keraclon’s mental attacks.
They had had to move swiftly to get everyone injected with this vaccine. They had had less than a day to get all preparations complete, and Allura could only be thankful that the soldiers kept their ships in working readiness at all times. Even so, they were pushing it when it came to time, and as of this moment they had less than twenty minutes before they would emerge from hyperspace. To what they did not know, but they were prepared for the worse.
Allura had been sure to keep in steady contact with Coran all through out the day. She received progress report after progress report, learning that a good number of people were willingly going along with the evacuation process. But there was a small number of people who insisted on staying on Arus, insisting they had no where to go, or not wanting to leave behind all their worldly belongings. They insisted without those items, they had nothing, would have nothing to build a new life for them should the unthinkable happen to Arus.
It left Allura frustrated. What good was money and possessions if you were dead? But no amount of persuading could change their minds. And right now, they didn’t have time to deal with forcibly removing those people from their homes.
Coran had explained to the soldiers of Arus about the vaccine. Nearly all had volunteered to be injected. Those that had refused were sent to deal with the evacuation process, there to keep peace among the panicking citizens and to escort them safely off planet. Hunk and Pidge, pilots of yellow and green lion, had been the first to volunteer to be injected with the vaccine. Allura hadn’t been surprised to hear that. Those two were as loyal to Arus as though they had lived on it’s lands all their lives. They would gladly die to protect her world, though Allura fervently hoped it wouldn’t come to that.
About an hour ago, the last transmission had come from Arus. Since then they hadn’t been able to receive or send out calls, some kind of interference blocking communication. It worried Allura, for it echoed what had happened to Doom. She hoped it was just the Keraclon’s ships blocking the air waves, Allura refusing to think tragedy had befallen her beloved planet.
She busied herself with checking over her lion though she knew it hadn’t suffered any permanent damage from her earlier run in with the Keraclon. At best it had scratch marks on the metal, and those could be smoothed out given time. Mainly she was running a system’s check, making sure everything was online, weapons ready to be used at a moment’s notice.
Or she was trying to. It was difficult to concentrate on what she was doing, when Lotor was standing by the front paws of her lion. He was glaring and agitated, immensely displeased with what he had discovered upon his awakening. He hadn’t taken the news of the Keraclon traveling to Arus well, but even worse had been his reaction to Allura being injected with an untested vaccine.
To say Lotor had hit the roof wasn’t an exaggeration of his anger. But he had been too late to stop her, Allura already injected and rubbing the sore spot where the bandage covered the needle’s prick. He feared for her, for her safety, and for what the vaccine would do to her. Lotor thought it too great a risk for Allura to take, though he was willing to let the Arusian soldiers inject themselves as many times as needed. She realized his concern was born out of love for her, that love making him fear losing her.
It was that same love and fear that had him speak harshly to her now, Lotor glaring as Allura hurried down the side of blue lion. “You can’t do it Allura. I won’t let you put yourself in danger like this…”
She tried not to glare back at him, though it took some effort. She had to remind herself he was scared for her and that was what made him speak like this. “You can’t do anything to stop me.”
His glare deepened, Lotor hobbling towards her on his crutch. She knew he meant to be intimidating, but it was anything but. It only served to remind her of how limited he was in his ability to do anything at this moment.
“Lotor…” She tried to point out the obvious. “You are on crutches, your one arm is in a sling…even if you were in any condition to fight, don’t you think my people would stop whatever you tried to do to me?”
“If they care at all about their princess, they would side with me!” Lotor retorted. “Allura…it’s too dangerous for you to go out there…this won’t be like back on the planet…it won’t just be a handful of Keraclon on foot…It will be a whole armada, hundreds of thousands of them, sending out fear.”
“The vaccine will take care of the fear.”
“You don’t know that for certain!” Lotor snapped.
“No, I don’t.” She agreed. “But I have to keep positive, to keep on hoping for the best….it’s go mad otherwise.”
“I think you’ve already gone mad!” He growled through gritted teeth.
“Why? Because I won’t sit back and let the others do the fighting for me?” Allura demanded. She had hit on the truth, Lotor did not want her to go out and fight when there were other capable soldiers readily available. “It’s not my way….and it’s not yours either.”
“It won’t be like with Doom.” He said instead. “The Keraclon won’t pull any punches. You won’t have anyone telling them to back off of you. And trust me when I say you will be a target. Everyone knows who pilots blue lion…they’ll want to take you down, knowing that to kill you, kills off the people’s sprit.”
“I realize that. But I’ve been training for months now. I can do this…” Allura insisted. Lotor shook his head no, earning a frown from the princess. “Would you have me run away? Have all of us run? Leave Arus to it’s fate…?”
“No!” His protest was immediate, a shudder going through Lotor. “I never want what happened to Doom to happen to Arus…to happen to any planet, ever again. I agree that running is not the right course of action. The Keraclon must be faced, must be stopped if at all possible….”
“But?” asked Allura, and Lotor’s face took on a helpless expression.
“But I don’t want to lose you.”
“Oh Lotor…” Her voice had gone as soft as his had, and Allura stepped towards him. He didn’t try to avoid her touch, Allura placing a hand on his cheek. She found herself caressing her fingers over his skin, staring into his eyes.
“Allura, please….don’t do this. Let anyone else fight this battle…but you…you must stay here. With me.”
She almost wished she could give in to his pleas, but she had a higher calling. One that prevented her from standing on the sidelines while other people fought for her. “I am a princess…” Allura began, still stroking his cheek. “But I’m also a pilot. And not just any pilot, but one of the five that is a part of Voltron. You knew that before you married me…”
“Allura..” It was a broken moan of her name. She knew by how he said it, that Lotor knew he had been defeated.
“I have to do this.” She continued. “I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t.” Thankfully he did not point out that she might not live at all, if the Keraclon had their way, if the vaccine did not work the way it was supposed to.
He was silent for a moment, and then his expression turned determined. “Then take me with you.”
“Lotor!” She wasn’t as shocked as she sounded, Allura knowing that Lotor wasn’t the type to run or hide from a fight either. “You can’t…your injuries…”
“To hell with my injuries!” Lotor snarled, but she was shaking her head no.
“In your condition, you’d only be a hindrance…” It was the wrong thing to say, Lotor’s anger flaring. “I mean…we need you to remain here. If something goes wrong with the battle, you…”
“I won’t leave without you.” He interrupted.
“You can’t remain here…you know that. The vaccine…”
“The Alliance can make do with the research your scientists sent them!” Lotor snapped. “For better or worse, I will remain here. If I cannot be with you in your lion, I can at least monitor the fighting from the command deck.” He tried to smile, but he was too angry for that kind of expression. “I’m not just some overbearing brute, I am also a strategist. If your people are willing to follow the advice of a Drule, then I will lend my aid that way.”
“Oh they will be willing.” Allura promised him. “They’d be a fool to turn down the help of a brilliant strategist.”
“I’d still rather be with you in your lion.” Lotor muttered.
“I know…But we have to make do with what we can do…” She kept quiet that she had planned a betrayal. She already had the commander of this ship ordered to make the jump to hyperspace should the fight go badly for the Arusians. Despite what Lotor said, she would not risk his life. Not when so much rode on his blood. The crew that remained behind on this ship, would fly to earth, to the Galaxy Alliance’s headquarters. There Lotor would submit to examination, and Allura could only hope that they would find the right vaccine this time around.
But she didn’t want to think of negative what ifs. Allura had to keep believing the vaccine she had injected herself with would prove just as good, if not better than the one inside Lotor.
“Allura…?” He had noticed the wavering of her voice when she had spoken. “What is it? What’s wrong?”
“It’s nothing.” She lied. “It’s just nerves…” She forced a smile. “I always get jittery just before a battle. Look, can you feel it? I’m shaking?” An alarm went off, a woman’s voice shouting over the speakers.
“We will be coming out of hyperspace in the next five minutes. I repeat, we will be coming out of hyperspace in the next five minutes. All essential personnel to your designated stations…”
“That’s our cue…” Allura whispered when the voice had finished it’s message.
“Take care of yourself Allura.” Lotor said gravely.
“I will.” Allura promised, and lowered her hand. Lotor began to turn away from her, and suddenly she was overcome with emotions. She stepped after him, and grabbed his good arm. With a forceful spin, he turned towards her, a question on his lips. She was already rising on tip toe, plastering herself against him as she stole a kiss. She heard the clatter of his crutch hit the floor, Lotor using his good arm to clutch at her body.
Allura noticed it had gotten quiet in the docking bay. She’d feel embarrassment later when she’d realize that nearly everyone had stopped what they were doing to stare at Lotor and her. But for now she just enjoyed the kiss. When she finally broke away from Lotor, her cheeks flushed from her emotions, he looked confused. His hand raised to his lips, fingering where her mouth had been.
“Allura….what was that….”
“For luck.” She finally said, feeling as though she might tear up. It was a daunting thing to think she might be going out to her death. And Lotor was the closest thing she had to experiencing love, even if it was all one sided on his part. But she had wanted to put aside the anger for once, and experience affection that wasn’t poisoned with her exasperation and upset.
“Luck…” repeated Lotor, bemused. “Allura…it…it wasn’t all bad between us…was it?” He stared searchingly into her eyes.
She thought about the last two years, but she also thought about the past week. He had made her upset countless times, and she had never been as angry with a person as she had been with Lotor. But she also realized this past day, he had become if not likable, than tolerable. It had been no hardship to stay with him when he was coping with his pain and anger. Allura thought that if he really did change as a result of what had happened to Doom, she might be able to like Lotor.
“No, Lotor…it wasn’t always.” With that answer, she began climbing up her lion. She didn’t turn to watch Lotor pick up his crutch, or begin the walk out of the docking bay. She might never let him leave if she had.
Instead she went inside her lion, strapping herself into the cockpit’s seat. The computer had run it’s checks, and everything had passed inspection. She pulled on her helmet, and let out deep breaths, trying to find her calming center. Within minutes, the alarms would start ringing, alerting everyone onboard the ships that they were emerging from hyperspace into a battle zone.
Allura recognized the insignias on the enemy ships, the armada indeed being that of the Keraclon. There were Arusian battle ships also flying about, and smaller fighter craft erratically speeding about. The one man and two men fighter ships made up both sides, and laser fire was heavy between them. The darkness of space was lit up with green and red lasers, photon beams blasting from the larger ships, and even a few bombs bursting apart as they hit metal.
The docking bay doors opened. Allura in her lion would be the first to emerge, with half a dozen ships flying in close behind as an escort. She tensed, her fingers on the console of the control panel. She continued to take deep, calming breaths, waiting to see if the fear would overtake her. The airwaves were silent, the jamming signal of the Keraclon preventing her from hearing what was going on. But she didn’t feel as frightened as she expected to, and no visions of Zarkon or some other demons appeared before her.
Shaking with nerves, she began to launch her lion out the docking bay doors. Was the vaccine actually working? Would they be able to do this? Elation filled her, and she let out a nervous laugh. The answer seemed to be yes, Allura letting out an excited whoop. Blue lion and it’s escort flew out, followed by wave after wave of fighter jets. They sped forward to engage the enemy, lending back up to the Arusians that were already fighting.
She looked around for the lions, but only saw green lion. Yellow lion was lost to her, apparently deep in the heart of the Keraclon armada. Allura knew Hunk could handle himself, and she set about to attacking any nearby Keraclon targets. The Keraclon ships took notice of blue lion’s arrival, over a hundred flying towards Allura and her escort.
She did not panic, instead allowing her fingers to speed over the control panel. She barely had time to think of what she was doing, reacting more on instinct than anything else. That instinct allowed her to quickly input her commands, blue lion shooting water beams and steel tipped claw missiles. She zigged and she zagged, avoiding ships. She also got separated from her escort in the process, seeing out the corner of her eye that some exploded apart from the Keraclon’s attack.
She felt the loss strongly, but she did not fear. Allura nearly smiled, repeating to herself that she did not fear. She couldn’t know the Keraclon were scrambling onboard their larger vessels. Whole groups of them gathering in their special chambers, working to amplify their powers. They would send out fear wave after fear wave, and though they weren’t completely successful, some of the fear got through. It showed in the ships that suddenly began veering off, Arusian pilots panicking at the last second.
Allura began to feel that panic too, but for the amount of Keraclon that was sending out fear waves, she wasn’t anymore scared than she had been on the planet when there had been just a handful of them. Allura knew then she could survive this fear, and if she fought well, and had the luck of the Gods on her side, she would survive this battle as well.
If possible, the fighting grew uglier yet. The Keraclon were enraged, angry that their usual tactics weren’t working on the Arusians. They began to use weapons that were normally reserved for decimating a planet, and one of the ships that had traveled with Allura to Doom was blown away in an instant. She screamed, fearing it had been the ship that Lotor was on. Allura didn’t have time to analyze the fear, or the relief she felt when she realized Lotor’s ship was still intact. She kept right on fighting, blue lion attacking one of the largest of the Keraclon ships.
She had blue lion sink it’s claws into the metal, tearing it apart like it was paper. Wires were revealed, Allura using her shoulder missiles to shoot directly into them. And then she was slicing open another part of the ship, the hull breaking apart to expose the aliens inside. The Keraclon had no way to breathe in space once their ship was torn apart. They died instantly, their bodies left to float in the middle of the ensuing carnage.
Smaller Keraclon ships pursued her, heavy fire on her rear. She evaded it as best she could. Her rear facing lasers fired back on the pursuing ships, Allura firing on the next of the largest ships. At one point she saw yellow lion, Hunk tearing apart ships with his claws. Both sides were doing damage to each other, but it was becoming apparent that the Arusian side was still losing. Too many of their ships had been destroyed, and they had already been outnumbered before the fight had begun. Allura fought not to despair, and give in to the fear the Keraclons were trying to force down all their throats.
Another hour of fighting, more Arusian ships than Keraclon exploding. Allura was so deep into the heart of the Keraclon’s armada, she could no longer see Lotor’s ship. It had remained on the outskirts of the battle, where it would be easy to escape. Had it done so, or was the commander waiting for a miracle? Allura didn’t think one was coming, but she never stopped fighting. She’d go to her death with honor, and take out as many of those alien bastards as she could.
It was on the third hour of fighting, when things looked their most bleak that help arrived. Galaxy Alliance ships, the men and women all trained by Garrison. They had used the research the Arusian scientists had forwarded to headquarters, making more of the vaccine. And injected it into as many willing and able bodied soldiers as they could find.
The amount of ships that came from the Alliance balanced out the two sides. With the Alliance lending back up, they might even outnumber the remaining number of Keraclon ships. Allura felt her hope restored, the fear being beaten back. Arus would be saved, the Keraclon would leave here defeated.