Disclaimer: I do not own Voltron or any of its characters.I didn't want to own Nanny anyway.
Beta: Not on this one. Errors are mine and I'm sure there are a few, so please ignore.
Rating/Setting: Rating is T. Setting is DotU but is definitely AU – see challenge info below.
Response to Cheetoy's KAEX Challenge "A Royal Twist." "What if Keith was the surviving Arusian Royal Prince and Allura was an Earth born hometown girl turned GA Starpilot? How will the prim and proper Prince deal with falling for a strong-willed GA pilot of no royal line? Sadly, Nanny and Coran insist on a Princess for our dear Kogane... But how shall they deal with the Drule Prince(ss)? Can they find their Happy Ever After?"
Author's Notes: I am known to the KAEX twitter group to be a "plotter." I have never published a story where I didn't have the whole thing already written. I have read too many stories on FFN that I have loved only to find that it wasn't finished. *sighs and sniffs* However, this story will probably be on-going but you will find very familiar threads to DotU. Some things are alike, and obviously from the 'twist,' some things are very different. Anyway, I hope you enjoy my take on the challenge. And with this story being a 'long' one, don't expect multiple submissions for this. : -) Anyway, I just wanted to get the challenge started… I already have 7 chapters, but don't expect them as fast as my other posts! Thanks for reading!
Keith Kogane, Crown Prince of Arus, looked with frustration at the communications console that was hidden in the caverns underneath the partially destroyed Castle of Lions. "I don't understand why the Galaxy Alliance hasn't contacted us. It's been weeks."
Coran looked at Keith with understanding but his thoughts were tempered with the realities of intergalactic politics. "My Prince, you know our system can only pick up transmissions from inside our solar system. We were lucky that Tyrian trader was willing to let us piggy-back a transmission through his com system to the Alliance. I'm sure that the Alliance is trying to figure out the best way to assist us."
"Right. Like they assisted us over the last eight years since Doom attacked us."
Coran sighed deeply as he watched the angry young man stride from the room. Keith had a lot to be angry about. If only Alfor and Eleanor hadn't been murdered things would have been different. Alfor had been a gifted leader and strategist and Eleanor his equal in diplomacy. Coran thought back to the events that led to Keith being the sole survivor of the monarchy at the castle.
Voltron had been separated into the five mecha Lions during the reign of Queen Arianna, Alfor's mother. The Queen and the people of Voltron had hidden the Lions and the keys that controlled them. Thankfully, Zarkon and Haggar had not seemed to care that the Lions existed. As long as they were unassembled, they posed no threat. Queen Arianna had passed the knowledge of the keys and Lions to King Alfor who constructed the docking platforms for the Lions. The Lions had been transported to their respective locations as everyone feared that using the Lions would bring the wrath of Doom to their planet.
During his reign, King Alfor had fought the Drules with conventional weapons and fleets of starships. However, it wasn't enough to keep Zarkon from raiding the planet for slaves. It was eight years ago that King Alfor had decided that enough was enough. It was time to use Voltron. However, there were spies in the castle and word was sent to Zarkon. The castle and surrounding area were attacked laying waste to the countryside. Alfor and Eleanor were heading to an escape ship when they were captured by the castle spies. The only reason Keith wasn't captured was due to his rebelliousness. As a young boy of twelve who was to turn thirteen in just a few months, he was asserting himself. Ordered to attend to his royal studies, he had instead gone horseback riding. Local villagers took him into hiding in the caves of the nearby mountains when they fled their homes. It was only after the battle that Keith had managed to sneak away from the caves to return to the castle.
Nothing prepared the boy to see his parents laid out on metal tables, pale and lifeless. Zarkon had personally killed both the king and queen with a sword and watched them bleed out before leaving the castle. Coran knew this because he had been hiding in the castle, nursing a serious leg wound himself. There had been nothing he could do to help the king and queen. But Coran had vowed to the lifeless bodies of his monarchs that he would find the young prince and safeguard him until a time came that Voltron could rise again and free Arus.
Coran had been more of a 'man-at-arms' than a diplomat at that time. But the needs of the people and those of the young prince had caused him to hone his skills of diplomacy. At times, his fiery temper still got the best of him but he was much more controlled than he had been in his younger days. He smiled thinking about it and how Keith would probably not believe some of the exploits he had gotten into. Although he had personally trained Keith in hand-to-hand as well as with the sword and blaster, Keith saw him as an older man who was staid and proper. Perhaps it was best leaving the young hot-head to think that way.
Looking back at the console, Coran wished a signal would come. It wouldn't be long before Keith would want to take one of the Lions out on his own. The boy – young man, Coran corrected himself – knew the location of the Lion keys and the tubes that led to them. In fact, the prince had spent time just sitting in each of the Lions. At first, Coran thought it was unhealthy and might lead Keith into taking one of the big cats out for a spin – something that could get him killed or captured. However, as Keith spent time in the Lions, he became more confident and less impetuous. The prince had said that he 'felt' as if the Lions were speaking to him. Remembering that King Alfor had said that Voltron was created from ancient magic, who was he to say that some of that magic didn't still linger. And if it did indeed linger, could it be speaking to Keith?
As Coran turned to leave the chamber a quiet chime sounded from the console. Rushing to the station, Coran entered the sequence to activate the communications array in orbit. "This is the Castle of Lions, come in please."
"Castle of Lions, this is Commander Sven Holgersson of the Galaxy Alliance. Our ship has been damaged and we need to land."
"I'm sending you coordinates now, Commander. I'm sorry, but we have no way to assist your landing."
Sounds of sparks and muttered curses came over the com as the Commander responded. "We'll make do. We're used to that."
Coran moved to the station that housed monitors from the few remaining cameras outside the castle. He turned them all to the direction he expected the ship to come from. What he saw amazed him as the giant stone statue at the end of Lake Bridge sent out some kind of tractor beam to guide the ship into a clearing.
"They're finally here."
The voice had come from behind Coran and he spun to see who had entered the chamber. His eyes opened wide as he beheld the translucent form of King Alfor. "Your Majesty!"
Raising a hand, the king said, "I am only an apparition with no substance. I am here to help my son in the trials he will soon face to free Arus."
Moving to the com system, Coran said, "Let me call for him now!"
"No, my friend, it is not yet time."
Coran turned from the computer to look at his old friend. "I… I don't understand. You said-"
"I said I was here to help Keith. However, it is not yet time for me to make my presence known to him."
"Then why are you here now?"
A slight smile came to the king's lips. "I needed to let you know that you can trust these young pilots from the Alliance. They have the best interests of Arus in their hearts."
Coran nodded and asked, "Are you saying-"
"Yes, Coran. It's time for Voltron to return." King Alfor faded into the ether.
Coran took a few stumbling steps forward and stretched out his hand. "Wait! I have questions!"
But Alfor was gone.
The diplomat hung his head. He couldn't tell Keith; obviously the king didn't want him to know yet. Turning his eyes to the cameras, he saw that the Alliance soldiers were exiting the shuttle. This was something he could share and he headed quickly from the room.
Commander Sven Holgersson cursed under his breath as he toggled switches on the shuttle flight console. He glanced over to his co-pilot and saw that Lieutenant Lance McClain was looking equally concerned.
Lance muttered, "The Garrison said this planet was backwater, but they can't help us land?" He looked over to Sven before continuing his efforts to keep the shuttle on track. "How is Voltron supposed to even be on a planet like this? If they can't even help us land, how are supposed to have something as high-tech as Voltron?"
From the seat behind Lance came the voice of the only female pilot on the team. "Give it chance, Lance. You saw the film and read the reports about how this planet was devastated by Doom eight years ago. I'm impressed that they're still around."
"Yeah, Lance." Hunk spoke up. "We're not here to appraise their military. We're here to resurrect Voltron and use him to defeat Doom."
"I get ya, but-" Lance began to say but then stopped as a tractor beam locked onto them and began guiding their shaky descent to the planet surface. "What the heck? I didn't think they had this kind of technology?"
Sven pulled back on the steering yoke and gritted out, "I don't care where it came from, I'm just glad that it's working."
Moments later they had landed and were standing at the shuttle door looking out into the nearby forest. "Well, I'm not surprised that no one is here to meet us. Let's head toward the castle and see if we can get some answers there." Looking at his team, they all agreed. Pidge had been the quietest, but he hadn't voiced any negative comments and Sven took that as a positive. Once everyone was armed with a blaster, they disembarked the shuttle and headed toward the heavily damaged stone castle.
"What do you mean? The Alliance contacted you? Why didn't you call me back?" Keith asked all this as he ran from the caverns beneath the castle toward the main entryway to the Castle of Lions.
"But Prince, there wasn't time. It wasn't a casual communication. Their shuttle is damaged and they needed to land. However, I came to get you immediately after I spoke to them." Coran hesitated to speak as he and Keith came to a stop just inside the castle near the entryway. There just wasn't a good way to say that the Galaxy pilots were trustworthy without revealing that King Alfor had shown himself. No, he needed to wait.
Muttering under his breath, Keith said, "Where are they?"
Suddenly, a creak sounded from the heavy metal doors still in place after the Drule attack. They functioned, but there were no longer the well-oiled system that they were years before. Lack of maintenance and rust had taken their toll. But then, when you didn't have a lot of security, a creaking heavy door wasn't such a bad thing.
Voices floated up to the advisor and the prince.
"I hope all the doors around here aren't like that." Hunk said wryly. "I like to work out, but man, that door was heavy."
"Yeah, well, we're just happy to have you with us big guy." Allura smiled at him. Then she turned her attention to the castle around her. "While she was military and could hold her own with the guys, she was still a girl at heart who had dreamed of being a Princess one day. Her hopes of finding Prince Charming had long since gone the way of most childish dreams after a number of men broke her heart. She wouldn't describe herself as cynical, but more like deliberate in her evaluation of men and relationships. This castle though, brought back memories and dreams that she had thought were gone. After all, she was twenty-two and a fascination of castles and fairy tales should be in her past.
The Alliance team looked up to the stairway just inside the entry chamber. The stone stairway was massive in scope and though some parts had fallen away due to the attack years ago, it still maintained its majesty. Two men stood at the top. One older man and one younger with the younger man being around the age of most of the Alliance team.
"Are you the man we spoke to earlier on the com system?" Sven called out as he stepped closer to the stairs.
"I am, Commander Holgersson. My name is Coran and-" He stopped speaking as Keith grabbed his arm to stop him from descending further.
Keith's voice was low and his eyes remained focused on the five people below. "Coran, are you sure about this? Can we trust them?"
Taking a moment to gather his thoughts, he said, "Yes. I believe we can trust them. I can't explain why to you right now. But if you have ever believed in me and in my decisions, you will trust me now." His eyes were clear and conveyed the confidence he felt in his words.
Keith looked away from the off-worlders below. Studying the man who had been his mentor, his trainer, his friend, and (dare he say it?) his father for the last eight years, Keith dropped his arm and nodded.
Coran looked back to the team below and saw them evaluating the exchange that had just occurred. I pray you are right old friend, he thought as he continued down the steps with Keith right behind him. "As I was saying, I am Coran. You can call me a royal advisor or diplomat if you like." Reaching the bottom of the steps he looked over the team.
"Royal advisor?" Sven's tone was puzzled. "We were told and read that the royal house of Kogane was wiped out eight years ago and only a smattering of governing officials survived the attack."
From the corner of his eye, Coran could see Keith's hands clench into fists at the blunt statement regarding the death of his parents. When Keith didn't lash out, Coran was surprised. It seemed that the young prince was maturing more quickly than he thought. However, he didn't want the situation to dissolve by further comments from the commander. "Most of the royal court was indeed murdered by the Drules and King Zarkon in that battle. However, Prince Keith Kogane was away from the castle at the time. We didn't want Doom to return as our defenses were blown away, so we have kept a low profile since that day." Stepping to the side, Coran said, "This is the Crown Prince of Arus, Keith Kogane."
All eyes of the team turned to look at the young man before them. "If I may ask, how old are you, Prince Keith?" Sven asked.
"You may ask. I'm twenty. If can ask the same of you?" Keith inquired with curiosity. He had noticed that they were not much older than he was.
"I'm twenty-three." Then he gestured to each pilot as he introduced them. "This is my second in command, Lieutenant Lance McClain, who is twenty-two. This is Lieutenant Allura Altaire, twenty-two; Sergeant Hunk Garrett, twenty-five; and Sergeant Pidge Stoker, fourteen."
Inclining his head, Keith said, "Thank you for the introductions. If you would like to come with us to a less exposed chamber, we can talk about your mission and the needs of Arus." Seeing the commander give an affirmative nod, Keith turned to Coran. "Coran, if you will, please lead the way."
Coran could barely keep his jaw from dropping open. He had seen glimpses of Alfor's diplomacy and skill from Keith before, but never in such a situation as this. What was the Prince up to? Or did he truly trust Coran's judgment in this? He would have to wait to find out his answers as he heard Keith answering questions about the castle's structural integrity and defenses. Perhaps both he and Keith would find the answers they needed when they questioned the Alliance pilots. He prayed that they were the deliverance that Arus needed. Arus and Keith both.