Bright, cascading lights — shimmering amber-golden, piercing, hypnotic — floating into his eyes—
Shiro groans aloud, scrunching up his face and dragging a palm over his helmet's visor. His skull rings with amplifying, thudding pain. He blinks out the haze and stupefaction, glimpsing Lance running ahead without his paladin armor, yelling and aiming to shoot one of Zarkon's soldiers with his bayard.
Across the lowermost level of the castleship, more of those dark figures herd their way towards them. Wisps of smoke and the rubble are piled underneath Shiro's feet, stretching from all corners of his vision.
His instincts kick in, as one of the Galra swings a glowing, axe-like weapon in his direction.
Shiro lurches himself sideways, rotating his prosthetic arm upwards and turning around to slam his opponent in the back of the neck, rendering them immediately unconscious.
"Lance, we can't let them find an exit—!"
He has no idea if Lance can hear him, not without the communications gear in Lance's armor. There must have not been enough time to reach the other bays for it, before this invasion. Shiro tries to concentrate back on the four other soldiers circling him, activating the Galra tech in his arm.
They raise their blasters, firing. Shiro's arm forms a purplish, semi-transparent shield, as he sprints towards the nearest of Zarkon's troops, grabbing on and electrocuting them within seconds.
"Can anyone hear me? We're under attack—!" Shiro yells into the comm.-link. "Allura! Coran—!"
A blast of heated, magnified energy strikes him from a blaster, right against his left shoulder. He cries out, rolling out of the way as a new blast hits the rubbled ground behind him. Shiro glances towards Lance again seemingly holding his own against two Galra better than him.
The wave of relief clouds his judgement, for a few seconds too long. One of three remaining enemies hits Shiro under the chin with their knee, momentarily stunning him. Warm blood gushes in Shiro's mouth, from his tongue cutting open against his molars. But before they can clench their hands to his throat, Shiro weakly lifts his arm, grasping firmly onto his enemy's ankle.
A crackle of purplish electricity. Zarkan's soldier falls down next to him, twitching violently and cooking like raw meat inside his own armor. Taking a deep breath, Shiro pushes himself upright.
He shoves the blaster out of his path, right on his face, as it fires into nothingness. Shiro focuses his strength and life-force on his prosthetic arm, as it begins to glow once more. A roar escapes him, as Shiro attacks the Galra, weaponizing his own body like a sword, hacking them down.
Panic and adrenaline and fear blazes within Shiro, heightening his senses.
Too much noise. The smoky, dark rubble vibrates. A hand snatches onto Shiro's injured shoulder, and he grunts loudly, thrusting them off and sending out a dangerously powerful current of electricity.
Lance's blue eyes widen, dulling.
By then, it's already done, and Shiro watches helplessly as if they're all in a slowed time-pocket — his fellow paladin arching backwards, flying mid-air across the dais and landing into a heap. Visible bolts of illuminated, purple-glow electricity sweep up and down over Lance's unresponsive form.
An echo-murmur drifts from Shiro's lips. He finally snaps out of his horrified trance, rushing to Lance and pulling him quickly into his arms. "Lance… Lance!" Shiro calls out hoarsely.
It's like all of his medic training abandons him, as soon as Shiro tosses aside his Black Paladin helmet and gets a decent look at the other boy. There's a burn-mark at the center of Lance's shirt, exposing his sternum and marring the first layer of that brown skin into darker, boiling-hot scarring.
Shiro calls out his name again, softer and more anxious, touching the side of Lance's face and patting it. No signs of breathing, not from his chest or his half-opened mouth. That's when he notices Lance's eyes still wide-open, his pupils shrunken. The oceanic-blue quality lifeless.
"No," Shiro mutters, feeling along for the vein in Lance's neck. Willing for any hint of a pulse.
The lights above them — shimmering amber-golden — dim into emergency shutdown mode. It takes another pause before Shiro's organic hand slides away, and he realizes the gravity of the situation.
Through another open-ended corridor, Shiro hears multiple footsteps. His determination outweighs his grief.
"Can anyone hear me?" he whispers hurriedly into the second comm.-link built into his suit, "This is Shiro. I'm taking Lance to the med-bay. We need some cover—Pidge? Hunk, you there? Are you there?"
No static inference through their links, no buzzing or trace of voices.
Shiro cradles Lance's body up against his front, gently draping him over his uninjured shoulder as he stands. The marching footsteps continue, but fade off, as Shiro heads for another level of the castleship.
With every step, he encounters more rubble and destruction. But no familiar or unfamiliar faces.
It doesn't… make sense… …
"Don't worry, Lance," Shiro breathes out, staring ahead grimly. "I got you. We're almost there."
The lights dim again as soon as they're inside the med-bay, and Shiro presses the authorized code to secure the doors. He tries to contact the others again, arranging the other boy supine and examining the med-tech. Above everything else, Shiro needs to scan the damage and get Lance's heart working again. Now.
He observes the monitor-readings, as they come in, and—
"OXYGEN LEVELS DOWN TO TWENTY SEVEN PERCENT. TOTAL SYSTEM FAILURE—" An auto-programmed warning issues from the ceiling, speaking in Altean, "—IN ONE VARGA, SEVENTY-NINE DOBOSHES—"
"Guys, where are you! What the hell is going in?!" Shiro barks into the comm.-link, perspiration trickling down his forehead and his neck. "I need some answers here! Lance and I are in the medbay; we need help—!"
Manual chest compressions aren't enough at this point. Shiro reaches for the keyboards synced up to the operating-tech, working on getting everything sterilized as fast as he can. He lets the med-tech take over for opening up Lance's chest and electro-inducing normal heart rhythm. Time is running out.
Suddenly, the entire med-bay rumbles and quakes — shimmering, amber-golden and his eyes were — making Shiro lose his footing and grip onto the sides of the operating table, clenching his teeth.
"OXYGEN LEVELS DOWN TO ELEVEN PERCENT. TOTAL SYSTEM FAILURE IN—"
The operating-tech whirs and powers down. "Don't do this, not now," Shiro groans out, tasting the blood in his dry mouth. He checks over the systems only to find they're running on next to nothing. How is this possible? When did the Galra track them through this nebula and barge through the defense-shields?
Shiro's head screams in pain and he hoists himself onto the table's edge, gazing over an empty-eyed Lance with his fluids suctioned and his rib-cage mechanically held open, his skin now a deathly ash color.
His heart needs to restart.
With his prosthetic hand, Shiro reaches down and lightly grasps around Lance's heart-organ, pumping it himself, timing it before summoning the volatile, purplish energy into his Galra-tech arm. "Wake up, buddy…" he says, low and pleading. "You gotta come back from this…"
"OXYGEN LEVELS DOWN TO—"
The energy vanishes, and Shiro's prosthetic arm goes limp. The room spins fiercely. Shiro gasps for air, reaching with his other hand into Lance's chest, squeezing his heart with his last bits of strength.
Blackness swallows him up — pollen flecks onto Shiro's eyelashes, shimmering and amber-golden —
He jolts back to consciousness, heaving up spittle and bile against a rebreather mask pushed against his mouth and nose. The stony, rock-plated floor of the underground catacombs against Shiro's back.
"Hey, Shiro's awake! Get over here!" Lance shouts, turning to glance over his armored shoulder.
Most of his helmet visor shimmers in the lack of light, coated in the same yellow, sticky-soft pollen. Shiro cough-chokes out his name, in time to watch Lance gaze around in worry, before passing out.
"You've been poisoned by the native flowers inside the catacombs we were exploring."
The castleship appears bright and clean, with no blast-marks or rubble or dead, gutted bodies. Shiro rubs at his eyelids drowsily, walking out of the healing pod with Allura's help. "Roughly translated by the local populace, it's known as The Fear," she adds, frowning. "The pollen itself holds debilitating properties meant to render you helpless inside your own body and kill you slowly."
"It's a defense mechanism against any predators," Coran supplies, beaming. "Quite feisty."
Not sharing his enthusiasm on the subject, Shiro drops his head, meeting Allura's eyes.
"So then … me having my helmet off…"
"It was a poor decision at the time," she says, wincing sympathetically when Shiro clings one-handed onto the top of her shoulder, blinking out dizziness. "Lance refused to leave your side, even at the risk of exposure to the pollen. You weren't able to breathe on your own, so we had to use what was available to us…"
Shiro's mouth thins.
"Where is he…?"
The double-doors whoosh open, as Lance jogs in, waving a hand high. "Hey, Allura! How's Shiro doing—?" He hesitates, cocking an eyebrow and smirking. "Well, well, if it isn't the guy who—"
Lance's sentence vanishes out of existence when an intensely staring Shiro moves in, wrapping his prosthetic arm tightly around Lance's middle and his organic one to the back of Lance's neck, hugging them together. This time, it's real, genuine relief immersing Shiro, blocking out Allura and Coran's questioning murmurs.
"I'm glad you're okay," he whispers, feeling Lance's tensed muscles slackening.
"M-me too," Lance replies nervously, also whispering. He pulls away, clear-eyed and undeniably wonderstruck by Shiro's grin. "… Is he okay?" Lance asks curiously, peering over to the other two.
Coran slaps Shiro's back, smiling widely. "He'll be fine."
"Oh, good—" Lance's mumble drifts into Shiro's ears, and there's nothing more incredible than seeing him like this.
He won't ever allow something like that to happen to Lance.
Voltron isn't mine. I can only do so much fluff and happiness before I need gut-wrenching angst. Don't get me wrong okay I love Shance but I also love PAIN. LOTS OF PAIN. I wanted this to get a reaction out of people, whether it was terror or the feels, so please let me know! Comments/thoughts are deeply appreciated! :)))