Shell 01

It started off with one of those rare late night attacks, the castle of lion’s alarm bells ringing, calling attention to the monster that ran rampant in a nearby town. It arrived in a flash of light, streaming towards the surface of Arus as though it was a falling star. But no star had ever made the ground shake in quite this manner, the people of the town awakening with fright, perhaps hoping it would prove to be nothing more than an earthquake.

Their wishes would go ungranted, for as the light faded, the monster uncurled it’s body, it’s wide and numerous claws lashing out, easily destroying the stone walls of the buildings that surrounded it. The homes collapsed inwards, crushing to death innocent people, and more would die, rushing out of their homes to stare in shock at the monster. It was no ordinary creature, but a robeast sent from Doom, crab like in appearance, with dark blue skin on it’s metal hide, and vicious fangs lining it’s open mouth. It’s yellow eyes gleamed, emitting a blinding flash that immobilized the fleeing towns people.

It was all caught on film, the security cameras that lined the various towns near the castle diligently recording the events unfolding. Coran was the first to arrive in the command center of the castle, his room located a convenient few feet in distance. And still he was panting, having hurriedly gotten dressed, rushing into the room with Allura hot on his heels. She could hear him muttering under his breath, “Must see what’s going on…”, the voice shouting over the alarm bells nearly drowning him out.

“Coran!” She said, but he didn’t turn to her, his fingers flying over the console’s keyboard. The view screens began to light up, showing off the cities, and all were safe save one. They both gasped together to see the flames, to see the fire burning out of control, and the people screaming for their lives. Some shouted for help, calling for Voltron to come save them, and others bemoaned the fact that they had ever left the safety of the caves for this town.

Allura was disheartened to hear them speak like that, but she covered well, speaking words that were underlined with the urgency she felt for this latest crisis. “It’s from Doom, isn’t it?” Coran nodded, but she barely noticed, too busy staring at the screen. The crab like robeast turned towards one of the cameras, and it’s mouth opened, flames being emitted from it’s jaw.

The fire ball blasted into the camera, causing the screen to go blank, but they could still hear the sounds. The robeast roaring, an enraged scream, it’s claws stamping on the ground, and the falling rubble as more homes were destroyed.

“Alert the force!” His voice had ordered, Coran staring grimly at the screen. He needn’t have bothered, there was no way the Voltron Force could have slept through the alarms, although Keith had been quick to discover that Hunk had tried. They could see Keith on the screen, barging into Hunk’s room, pulling the larger man out of his bed. They couldn’t hear Hunk’s angry retort to Keith, the alarms were too loud, but the big man reluctantly moved.

Together they split up, working to fetch the remaining members of the Voltron Force. Allura stood next to Coran, impatient for her teammates to arrive, startled when Coran broke their mutual silence. “Princess…” His voice was grave, the man looking even more serious than usual. “Your father trusted me…”

“That’s true.” She said, looking at him.

“He charged me to protect this castle. Today will be the ultimate test!” He made fists out of his hands, Coran bringing the right one to rest over his heart. Allura smiled at him, knowing how seriously he took his vows to her father.

“It’s a test for all of us Coran” Allura told him, just as footsteps reached the doorway of the command center. “And I know my father is watching.” She was already clasping her hands in reverence, her head bowed slightly as she gave thought to her long departed father.

“Princess!” Pidge’s voice, the pilot of green lion rushing into the room, the other three members of Voltron force right behind the youth.

“The city’s on fire!?” Lance exclaimed, red lion’s pilot looking horrified.

“Come on!” The leader of the Voltron Force said, the four boys stopping before Allura and Coran. “We got to go out there and stop this beast before he does anymore damage!”

“All right!” Allura agreed, and the four boys immediately pumped their fists enthusiastically into the air. They made excited sounds of agreement, their shouts pumping them up for the upcoming battle, and trying to chase away any sleep they might have felt. Allura joined them in their yelling, the five of them now running towards the chutes that would lead to their lions.

She lunged for the swing in blue lion’s chute, her hands clenching the metal bar as tight as can be as it began dropping with her weight. As she fell, she was serious, wondering how they would fare against Doom this time. Allura knew that she and the members of her team were inexperienced when it came to night fights, too often did planet Doom choose to attack during the day. She had always wondered why, knowing the Drules had superior eyesight when it came to the dark, and yet they often did not press this advantage.

Of course Keith had tried to get them ready for the eventual night battles, insisting on early morning drills that had them waking at three in the morning. Dark enough for them to be unable to see more than a few feet ahead of them, they had held clumsy practices over the forest that surrounded the castle. Allura hoped it would be enough now for them to win the fight against tonight’s robeast. Or at least divert it from the town long enough to delay it until the sun rose, and then with the light of day upon them they could fight more surely.

Her thoughts were frantic as the swing lowered her towards an opening hatch, the shutters pulling apart in a spiral pattern. The swing clicked to a stop, Allura releasing her knuckle whitening grip to drop down through the hatch, and into the cruiser that was waiting below it. Strapping her seat belt into place, the cruiser was already moving, driving her through the tunnel that would lead to blue lion.

It was a short trip, covering the distance of the castle moat, the cruiser reaching the end of the tunnel. Another hatched opened, rails being lowered to snap to the back of her seat. Allura was calm, having gone through this a million times before, her seat rising out of the cruiser. Up the rails it ascended, her ultimate destination to land in the cock pit of blue lion. She knew similar experiences were occurring all over Arus, the other four members of Voltron being taken to their lion’s lairs.

“Insert Key!” Keith was already in black lion, and giving commands. Allura hurried to oblige him, pulling off the key that was Velcrod to the breast of her uniform. She placed it in it’s round panel, the key popping out of the disc, then turning as it entered the lock. Immediately blue lion came alive, the control panel humming as lights flared, signaling it’s readiness for her commands to be inputted.

“Let’s go Voltron Force!” Keith shouted, and the other boys’ voices echoed his statements. She charged blue lion, it’s body hunching down on it’s back paws, preparing itself for a might leap. The jump had her lion surging through the water, an effortless glide as she moved through the currents of the moat. The water splashed all around her as blue lion’s head broke through to the surface, the leap propelling it straight up into the air.

Already on her view screen, the other members of her team showed, their expressions ranging from nervous to excited. She heard the roars of the lions, the other three joining her and black lion in the sky. Little words were spoken, the team flying towards the town, and even over the canopy of the forest, they could see the flames, the fire surrounding the robeast.

The robeast was not idle, continuing to destroy the town, knocking building after building apart with it’s claws. Keith’s face was stoic, the boy all too calm as he surveyed the damage done to the town.

“Hey!” Lance broke into the silence, his voice nervous but excited. “Look’s what’s coming!”

Allura looked, and she was only able to see them because they were currently lit up by the lasers they were firing on the lions. Star cutters, the ships leaving no doubt that this was an attack by Doom.

“I got them in my sights…” Keith announced, black lion firing gold lasers from it’s eyes. A star cutter exploded, it’s fire illuminating the sky briefly. Pidge’s voice shouted out, the boy firing green lion’s tail beam, destroying another star cutter. Red lion flew right through the flaming remains of the enemies’ ships, beams shooting out of it’s eyes. Hunk followed up with a cannon shot straight from yellow lion’s mouth, taking out the remaining two star cutters.

“So much for those guys!” Yellow lion’s pilot laughed, voice almost gloating at their easy victory.

“Settle down Hunk. We still have the main event..” Keith said, sounding terse as he guided black lion towards the robeast. “All right! It’s my jaws against those claws!” Black lion charged the robeast, speeding forward to land on one of the front claws of the monster. He dug in the lion’s claws, trying to get a good grip on the steel hide as Keith readied his lion to take a bite out of the monster.

But the robeast screamed, and violently shook it’s claw, Allura letting out a horrified gasp as Keith was flung backwards into a building. The stone broke apart against his lion’s body, black lion stumbling forward to lay limp on the ground.

“Keith!” Allura cried, watching as rubble fell on top of the lion. Her voice seemed to rouse him, Keith working the controls desperately, trying to force black lion to stand. A second later, he collapsed again, and this time she heard Lance’s worried voice over the air waves.

“This is Lance to black lion. Are you all right Keith?!”

No answer came, and Allura realized a few short feet from black lion’s paws were terrified townspeople. They stood trapped between the rubble and the downed lion, and Allura called out a command. “Lance you’re with me. We have to get to those people!”

“All right princess…” Lance readily agreed. “Hunk, Pidge….you distract the robeast for us.”

“Right!” agreed Hunk.

Blue lion and red lion began diving towards the trapped townspeople, the other two lions beginning to fly complex patterns around the crab robeast’s head. Allura began to feel hope that they were going to pull off this rescue, when the robeast turned. The monster looked right at her lion, it’s eyes narrowing an instant before it screamed. It’s flaming breath came out, and she darted to avoid it, becoming separated from red lion in the process.

The burning rubble strung remains towards the trapped people, Allura screaming. Lance yelled over her, his voice frantic. “Keith! You’ve got to get up buddy!”

“I’m here Lance…” His voice was rife with pain, but somehow Black Lion stood, shielding the trapped townspeople from the burning wreckage.

“Can you lift off?” Allura asked, trying not to betray how worried she was as she spoke to him.

“I think so…at least…I got her moving now..” The lion took a shaky step, and then another, leaping into the pitch black sky.

“All right!” Cheered Pidge, the four lions clustering close to black lion as they soared higher into the sky. “That thing has special powers…I’m sure of it.” At Pidge’s words, black lion began to turn to face the creature once more, the other four lions echoing it’s movements.

“But what kind of powers?” A worried Hunk asked, and Allura shrugged.

“Well, whatever they are, we have to keep it away from the castle.”

“Look!” Hunk exclaimed, his fingers moving across the console. “There’s some people trapped down there.” His image was replaced with the trapped townspeople, the men and women looking absolutely terrified to be caught between the claws of the robeast.

“You’re right.” Keith began, but Lance cut him off with a suggestion.

“Time for Voltron!”

“No Lance!” protested Allura. “We can’t! The battle would endanger those people.”

“They’re not exactly safe now.” Grumbled Lance, watching helplessly as the enraged robeast destroyed another building. “I know! Maybe we can use the lions to lure it away from them!”

“Good thinking!” praised Keith.

“It’s risky…” Allura said, unable to keep the frown off her face.

“Yeah.” Agreed Keith. “We’ll need to go in the sunburst formation.”

“All right team…” Allura sighed, unable to hide how unenthusiastic she was at the prospect. “Let’s do it.”

They moved into position, each lion carrying a blade in their mouth. Black lion and red lion flew side by side, with the three remaining lions flying over their backs. Together, they charged towards the robeast, and only when they were within reach of ti’s claws, did they split up.

“Fly close!” ordered Keith, maneuvering black lion away from the robeast’s claws. “Get it to follow you!” They tried to do just that, but the robeast remained rooted on the spot, just watching them. “I’m gonna try it again!” He announced, and though the robeast made a passing swipe at black lion with it’s claw, it did not rise to the bait. “He won’t chase me!” An astounded Keith exclaimed.

“I’m gonna try running by!” announced Pidge, landing green lion on the ground a few feet away from the robeast. The lion broke into a fast trot, charging past one of the claws of the robeast. The monster screamed, and moved faster than they could track, it’s one claw stabbing downwards, right into the middle of green lion’s back. Pidge screamed as electricity crackled all over his lion’s body, the blade falling out of his ship’s jaw.

“Pidge!” Keith screamed as the robeast lifted it’s claw, green lion thoroughly impaled on the tip. Allura gasped, and she heard Hunk growl. It was startling to hear the big man lose his temper, the pilot of yellow lion all but screaming.

“That does it!” Diving forward, yellow lion charged the robreast, Hunk shouting out taunts. “Here I come rocreep.” He dodged one set of claws, only to be stabbed by another, the tip penetrating yellow lion’s chest. Once again electricity shot out around the lion and it’s pilot, Hunk screaming over the air waves. Pidge had fallen silent, passing out from the pain.

“It’s got Hunk and Pidge!” Keith stated the obvious, but Allura was too worried to be annoyed with him.

“We’ve got to save them!” She announced. The three remaining lions charged the robeast, and it opened it’s mouth. This time instead of just fire, a purple cloud shot out, the substance some kind of thick smoke. She dodged both the fire and the cloud, but it smashed into the other two lions. Blue lion didn’t escape unscathed, the currents of the air warping her flight pattern, making her spiral out of control.

Allura screamed, pulling desperate on the steering mechanism, seeing the surface of Arus looming closer and closer. Her lion crashed face first into the ground, and she bounced in place, cracking her helmet covered head against the console. Mercifully she didn’t lose consciousness, though her head pounded with pain. She groaned, and pushed upright from the dashboard, her hands already on the console, fingers working to see what commands the lion could still obey.

The buttons blinked on and off, nothing seemed to be responding to the commands she inputted, Allura making a fist. She slammed it on the dashboard, and that seemed to trigger something, Allura hearing the static of the radio. “Keith!” She cried out, staring at the dead view screen. “Lance! Pidge! Hunk! Can anyone hear me?!”

All she got was Hunk’s screams, the man somehow retaining consciousness. Keith and Lance were silent, Allura recalling that vicious looking cloud that had covered them. “They’re trapped! And Keith and Lance are buried under that cloud and rubble.” Allura gasped as she realized something horrible. “I’m…I’m all alone…”

The robeast roared out it’s victory, green lion and yellow lion still impaled on it’s claws. Allura didn’t know what to do, her hands hitting the console, trying to activate the controls. Suddenly she heard a rumble, the ground shaking. She looked up and saw the robeast on her monitor, it’s legs starting to propel it forward. “It’s…It’s moving!” She exclaimed, watching as it carried green lion and yellow lion with it. “Looks like…it’s going to explode!”

To her horror, something burst out of the back of the robeast, it’s skin being shed like a shell. A shell that still kept the two lions impaled, the new robeast free to move about unhindered by that burden. She watched as it crawled down backwards off it’s former skin, roaring all the while. “What’s it doing?” She stared in amazement as it began digging into the ground, claws upheaving the dirt at a rapid pace.

“Enjoying the show princess?” A voice she had never wanted to hear sound so smug and victorious, came over her airwaves, Allura stiffening at the sound of it. “I made sure to save you a ring side seat for the festivities.”

“Lotor!” She hissed out his name, eyes narrowing into a glare, though she had no one to direct her gaze at.

“Is that any way to greet your future husband?” His voice asked, the prince sounding amused.

“You will never be my husband!” She snapped back, and he laughed.

“Oh? Don’t be too sure. The Voltron force has been defeated. All five lions are down, and my robeast…”

“Actually it’s MY robeast…” A screechy voice interrupted, Allura recognizing the high pitch tones as that of Haggar the witch.

“Whatever.” Lotor grumbled, and continued with his gloating. “The robeast is moving on to it’s next objective. Do you know what that is?”

“The castle of lions…” Allura whispered, and Lotor laughed once more.

“Yes. With it destroyed, you’ll have no one and nowhere to turn to….no one expect me, the handsome prince.” He was so smug in his satisfaction, Allura wishing she could lash out at him. But she was helpless, her lion refusing to respond to her commands, and it was too dark to know just where Lotor’s flag ship was.

“You’re as conceited as ever.” Allura muttered, surprised when he did not take offense to her words.

“Is it conceit when we both know it’s true?” Lotor asked. “Come Allura, surely even you can admit that I am attractive. I’ve had many women tell me I am handsome, breathtaking even.”

“No doubt at the threat of your sword.” Allura grumbled, though inwardly she knew he spoke the truth. He was handsome, even if he wasn’t attractive in the way of a human man. She conjured a picture of him now, picturing his pale blue skin, a light azure color that spoke of mixed blood. She wondered just who or what Zarkon had mated with to produce such a pretty son, Allura knowing Lotor did not resemble Zarkon in the slightest. From his different colored skin, to his full main of flowing white hair, even his eyes were a more brilliant shade of yellow, gold where Zarkon’s was a dark, sickly color.

“We’ll have plenty of time to work on getting you to admit what your eyes see when you look at me.” Lotor began, and Allura cut him off with an angry retort.

“I see a monster, horrible and cruel to others, and not worth my time at all!”

“Well, Allura…” A hint of anger was in his voice, Lotor all but growling at her. “You’ll just have to make time. Because you see…I’m about to get everything I ever wanted. Starting with you and Arus…”

“We’ll find a way to stop you!” She was bold and defiant, though inwardly Allura was just scared.

“Oh? Really?” Even Lotor sounded disbelieving of her bold statement, the prince snorting in disgust. “Two of the lions have been impaled. Even if you get them off the robeast’ claws, they are in no condition to fight. As for the others…”

“Merely buried…” Allura said, praying that was correct. “They’ll come to and fight their way free of the rubble and that cloud.”

“That’s no ordinary cloud…” She could practically hear his glee, imagining the smirk that would twist his face into one of gloating. “That cloud is a corrosive entity. It’s poisonous texture is slowly eating it’s way through the lion’s shells. It won’t stop once it gets inside, it’ll eat apart the pilots’ flesh as well. A process I am told is very, very painful.”

“No!” Allura exclaimed, horrified anew.

“Of course…I could stop all this.” His tone was casual, Lotor trying not to sound too eager. “For a price.”

“And what price is that?!” She demanded angrily.

“I think you already know.” Lotor’s tone turned seductive, his voice a low throaty purr. “You. Your hand joined with mine in marriage, Arus acting as your dowry.”

“No…”

“Don’t be so quick to turn me down. You know I’ll take what I want in the end…but this way your friends still live. Do think about it carefully princess.” Lotor laughed, and she could hear voices in the background, the witch giving commands to the robeast. “Ah…it’s reached the castle…the lower levels…”

“Nanny!” Allura cried out, recognizing the screams she could hear over the airwaves.

“Oh..it’s found someone you know. How…convenient.”

“Stop this!” Allura screamed, just as Haggar let out an over excited cackle.

“I’ve finally done it! I’ve created the ultimate robeast! No one can deny my power now! Not even Zarkon!”

“Stop this?” Lotor spoke over Haggar, acting as though the witch hadn’t spoken. “Oh but you know my terms…” Nanny screamed sounded again, the woman sounded out of breath as she tried to avoid the robeast’s claws. “You better hurry. That chubby little maid can’t outrun Haggar’s robeast for much longer!”

“What am I going to do..” Allura whispered under her breath, and realized with a start that Hunk had finally stopped screaming. The pilot of yellow lion had finally passed out, the mercy of sleep rendering him oblivious to the pain and torment that was occurring around him.

“Well Allura? Time is fast and running out for those friends of yours.”

“All right.” Allura said, bowing her head.

“What was that? I couldn’t quite hear you.”

“All right, damn you! All right! I give in. I accept your….marriage proposal.” She all but screamed out her words, slamming her fists on the console in helpless rage.

“A wise decision Allura. And one you won’t regret.” Lotor told her, purring out the words. “Prepare to land at the castle. Haggar, call back your robeast.”

“But it’s just getting good.” The witch protested. “He’s almost got that woman in his claws!”

“Do it now Haggar!” shouted Lotor, voice sounding annoyed. The witch grumbled, but conceded to his wishes, her voice giving out commands to the robeast. Allura slumped in her seat, feeling the first tears drip down her face, and plop onto the dashboard. Arus had finally fallen, and with it, the hope of the galaxy was now forever lost.


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