Disclaimer: I do not own Robotech, Macross, or Voltron. I just enjoying writing. Now if I did own this franchises, I wouldn't touch Voltron: Legendary Defender. Congrats to Dreamworks and Netflix for their success. Robotech and Macross… A bit of a touch up to clean up a few aspects, but really, I wouldn't do a whole lot. Well… Except maybe restart Robotech, but only so I can mend the different series together more successfully. But since I don't, which sucks because of a certain company that shall remain nameless (even though everyone will likely know who I mean), so I won't be able to fix those minor annoyances.

Second Hand Lion

XXXX

Rick walked into the shrine of the Blue Lion expecting several things.

The one he hoped for the most, proved to be the that came true.

The Blue Lion's eyes and lights had come to life as the Lion dropped its shield, lowered itself, mouth opening and ramp extending, granting him access to the interior once more.

The old ace had walked in, hands going over the familiar contours of the jaw, teeth, the inner cheeks, and the bulkhead. All the way to the cockpit, Rick had felt a rush of emotions. Emotions, that as he sat down in the pilot's seat, burst forth as he remembered the good times.

"Hey buddy," Rick finally speaks after what felt like an eternity, "Nice to see you again."

The Lion's gentle and warm growl in the back of his mind causes him to smile. The Blue Lion welcoming its previous Paladin back after nearly two centuries of separation. Rick could almost feel the attachment as the two had some fun times back in the day.

Fighting the AUL, the AUN, and the coup faction followed then by the Zentraedi. The two had fought in a lot of places together. Even taking on the Invid and the Masters. The two had fought them all.

Except the Haydonnites.

Rick had been too badly needed as a commander. Something he hated, but agreed to do. He and Blue parted well, but it was bittersweet for them both.

Now, two centuries later, Rick sits in the seat he once warmed for hours on end.

Rick allows himself to feel safe once more. Protected by Blue's tough and enduring armor. For all the protection that Veritechs and Battlefortresses had, Rick had at times lived in Blue.

His old Kilroy scrawl is still on the inner bulkhead hatch cover to Blue's internal bay.

Now...

Securing his helmet as he taps the outdated digital player. The Road of the Gypsy begins to softly fill the cockpit as Rick taps the corrects interfaces and takes hold of the control sticks. Taking breaths as he adjusts in his old seat that feels like a familiar, well worn pair of boots to him.

"One last charge, eh buddy?" Rick smiles, remembering the good old days.

Roy in Black, Ben in Yellow, Johnny in Green, and Max in Red.

Together, they had formed Voltron and defended Earth and her colonies. The Zentraedi, Meltraedi, Masters, Invid, and the Mardook hadn't known what hit them. They had fought the wars and won.

Three-hundred and some odd long years

But it had taken a toll on them.

Ben had died in battle, leaving a wife and six children behind. Max had seared his lungs, never to fly again. Roy had disappeared after a crucial battle, leaving Black behind. Then Johnny had nearly lost his eyesight when he had been so badly wounded, that it spooked him so greatly that he lost his nerve.

Rick had taken over command of Black, Max had taken Blue, Miriya had stepped forward and flown Red, and then Roy's old friend, Jack, had taken over Green.

They had actually been nigh unstoppable then. Fighting threats throughout their galaxy. Acting as peacekeepers, diplomats, and rescuers. They had done it all.

Then that final battle.

With General Thomas Riley Edwards...

Max and Ben, his two closest friends. Miriya had been pregnant again at the time and the battle had left her with wounds that complicated the end of the pregnancy. She nearly died giving birth to her final child. Her body so badly crippled, she would never be a soldier, let alone a pilot, again.

Jack and Rick had been left and Jack insisted they could recover. Already Jack had been looking for replacements, but Rick convinced him it was the end for them. Their days as the Voltron Force was over.

Rick returned Black Lion to the Castle of Lions, paying his respects to the sleeping last survivors of the creators of Voltron, their cryopods refusing to activate and let them out for reasons they could never figure out. Getting Black had been a pain, but putting the Lion back had been easy. Black went willingly. They all had.

Back to rest.

And await their next pilots.

Rick realizes he has tears in his eyes, running down his cheeks.

"I could be so sentimental," Rick chuckles weakly, "But I wouldn't change for anything."

Rick remembered the final moments. Aboard Pioneer. The SDF-3 being shoved by a kamikaze away from the Icarus.

Then he woke up in a medical pod, at least the equivalent of two decades younger, maybe more, wearing a medical suit, and on Earth.

The pod was too badly damaged. He could get nothing from it. Even its markings were gone, scorched somehow away.

But he got plenty from the Galaxy Garrison.

The replacement for the United Earth Forces.

What they knew and that Earth was a remote bomb away from disappearing into a Black Hole.

Not anymore.

"Keith, be strong," Rick finished guiding Blue Lion to the harness that would FTL Fold them to the Haydonnites insurance package once in orbit, "Kroila forgive me for leaving you and Keith."

Rick and Blue soon had the harness in place and were heading for the stars.

XXXX

Blue Lion could detect its Paladin's intent. But in that intent, is hope to survive and return. A lightly burning hope, barely glowing embers of ashes, but alight all the same.

Blue would do all she could to bring her Paladin home once more.

She wanted him to return to his family once more.

XXXX

Rick observes Earth from orbit once more. The shining blue orb that is Earth, with the browns and greens of the land masses. The white capped mountains and the white and grey clouds. The white frozen north and south. The sight of great cities from orbit, especially on the night side when the lights could be seen so clearly that one could make a map just looking at them.

Earth had recovered greatly since the Robotech Wars. Since all of the wars. All those years and enough to fill his 400 plus years enough that he didn't want to see another.

Perhaps that was a reason they were so mortal. To never live long enough to create such conflicts. Or remain in them.

"Let's go Blue," Rick turns determined to protect it all, "Let's protect our home one more time."

The Blue Lion roars as Rick engages the dual space travel harness to jump them inside the perimeter of the shield protecting the station with the Neutron-S Bomb.

If they are lucky, they would actually appear inside the station and can start trashing it before the Haydonnites even get an alert that something is happening. Otherwise, they would have to slug it out the hard way and with the timer on. Plenty of time for the Haydonnites to detonate the bomb or send relief.

This is going to be close.

XXXX

The Haydonnites had sent a detail to make some adjustments, do a little bit of upkeep, and generally maintain their station.

It's placement close to the Sol System's star can be damaging, even for their technology. But it allows them to keep the Humans from trying anything. They had no means anymore to approach. Voltron was long gone, a threat they realized they hadn't a means to fight directly, but with the loss of its pilots, that hadn't been a factor.

All will go as planned.

Three Haydonnites were working on several interior sections near the outer wall's inside. They were the first to notice something happening. It was also the last thing they ever knew, because the three were vaporized when they realized a Fold was happening in a place that should be impossible and yet it also impossibly had streaks around it, like the energy was being shot at them.

They were obliterated a moment later as the entire section, including the meters thick wall, were made the problem of subspace.

XXXX

With a roar, Blue Lion launches forward.

Explosions tear through the station as the large mecha bites and claws its way through bulkheads, walls, pipes, and other obstructions. Cabling is ripped out or shredded as energy conduits explode. Energy cells detonate as fuel systems catch fire as decompression rips through multiple breached areas, tearing equipment and fixtures from their mountings as emergency hatches fail and more explosions fill the station.

It's unrelenting chaos.

Precisely what the Haydonnites hate the most.

XXXX

In the Control Room, the Haydonnites there scramble to understand what is happening.

But their sensors are failing faster than they can read them. Power surges also cause arcing feedback that blow consoles and destroy a pair of the work crew.

The main alignment of the station suddenly and violently tilts, tossing the gravity of the station to one side of the station. The protective shield suddenly losing power and solar energy begins leaking it, scorching and burning sections of the station. Several weapon satellites and emplacements are destroyed outright by the burst of tendrils from Sol.

A main support beam falls and severs another Haydonnite in half as they finally are able to get a handle on the destruction and begin recharging the shield. It will take time, but they can get it back up before significant damage is taken. Emergency bulkheads seal and lock, preventing more catastrophic decompression as other standby systems kick in and fuel and power are re-routed from the damaged and affected areas.

"What was that?" the leader of the crew looks about the devastation and briefly spares a look at the loss of three of his fellows for acknowledgement purposes only.

"Unknown energy detonation-" a second began before it was interrupted.

"INTRUDER DETECTED!" a third Haydonnite shouts as it brings up Blue Lion standing angrily before the sensor recording it, growling at the Haydonnites.

"Blue Lion?" the leader asks in surprise, a moment before the ancient mecha suddenly mounts its heavy external equipment and fires a burst of sonic waves that washes over the sensor, cutting the feed and causing another round of explosions.

"Areas 93 to 104 have been breached!" another Haydonnite shouts, "We had six workers in the affected areas, plus other platforms killed from the starting point to there and elsewhere due to damage caused, we've lost 42 members of our detail."

"That's nearly 37 percent of our number on the station!" the second in command declares in surprise, "We need to contact Haydon Prime immediately."

"We cannot," the communications operator reports, "That last attack severed our connections and destroyed the primary and secondary power to the main communications hub. Tertiary is unharmed, but the main connection for it ran through the already devastated sections."

Another series of blasts shake the station.

"It must be trying to protect Earth!" the second in command declares, a moment before an arc of electricity bursts out behind it and the Haydonnite is zapped by so much energy as to explode from an overloaded power grid.

"Obviously," the leader ignores the loss, "Prepare the detonation sequence. We will destroy the Sol System. Launch a buoy pod with all data before the detonation, so the Collective will know what happened."

"At on-" the Haydonnites are surprised by weapon operator's head exploding as a yellow streak reached it.

"What?!" Haydonnites turn to see Rick there, rifle in hand as he starts firing into them, "Return fire!"

XXXX

Taking the moment that the Haydonnites had started to get things back under control, Rick had left Blue Lion. The moment they had gotten sensors back on, they would naturally worry about the angry lion mecha more than they would about a lone infiltrator. Blue's Sonic Cannon had ensured that Rick had a way in through all the chaos tore the station apart internally.

Two Haydonnite workers and three soldier types had appeared before Rick within moments of Blue's attack.

They were trying to bring control to the chaos around them. Therefore, Rick's first shots had destroyed two of the soldiers, while a grenade exploded the third and one of the workers. The second worker had spun around, using a plasma torch to try and cut Rick in half.

All it got, was a knife blade sharpened to less than a molecule to its neck that violently severed it before Rick kicked the body into a burst of arcing electricity.

The old soldier didn't stick around for the explosion that was his handiwork.

It's time to strap our boots on

This the perfect day to die

Wipe the blood out of our eyes

With Soldiers playing through his helmet, Rick maneuvered through the shuddering station. At times, he and Blue were in the same area and the Lion never failed to open the path. Rick's rifle making sure no report of his infiltration was made.

In this life there is no surrender

There's nothing left for us to do

Find the strength to see this through

Rick spots a pair of Haydonnite mecha approaching to go and engage Blue. He reacts quickly, placing explosives and then detonating them as the two pass underneath a large support beam. Neither have time to react the beam falls, ripping conduit free and passing more volts than he has time to care for through the beam and into the two mecha.

We are the ones that will never be broken

Rick leaps out of his hiding spot, grabbing a Haydonnite soldier from being. His knife plunges a moment later into the machine's neck joint and with a violent twist, severs the neck. The Haydonnite goes limp as it is killed.

With our final breath

We will fight to the death

Using the momentum of his surprise attack to turn the dead Haydonnite around, Rick uses it as a metal shield to stop incoming fire as he hurls a grenade at the three Haydonnite soldiers firing at him.

We are soldiers

The explosion tears the three apart as the hyper advanced explosive filler fires advanced Robotech alloys into the three. Their weapons, as much as their bodies, are shredded. Small explosions tear into the small corridor, sending shrapnel everywhere.

We are soldiers!

Rick moves on. Dodging around enemies. Sniping others. Stealth attacks. Grenades. He moves steadily forward. The Haydonnites unaware and confusion setting in as contact is lost and destruction reigns.

WE ARE SOLDIERS!

A Haydonnite worker takes a pistol shot to its face as Rick knifes another in its face. The remaining workers are surprised as Rick rapidly engages them, dropping them before they can call for help or alert the Command Room to his presence.

I stand here right beside you

Tonight we are fighting for our lives

Let me hear your battle cry!

The surprised Haydonnites finally get a whiff of Rick's presence. He charges into a small knot of them. Unable to get around them or take them out quietly, he instead charges them, rifle barking and a EMP grenade detonating at their feet.

YOUR

Rick slams into a Haydonnite soldier, slamming it into the wall panel behind it before pushing off as one of its own grenades detonates from the shot Rick put into it.

BATTLE

Another soldier wraps its arms around Rick, attempting to twist him in half, but Rick only spins his rifle and fires a single shot through what amounts to its chin that exits out the back of the head with most of its processors.

CRY!

The next Haydonnite is kicked up into one of the lights above it. A following soldier gets Rick's knife to its chest that's connect to a wire that is thrown into the previous Haydonnite. As those two explode, Rick deploys his rifle's bayonet and the thermal enhance metal blade easily spears another Haydonnite as Rick pulls the trigger to send a bullet into another's power core, destabilizing it and causing it to explode and prepper the remaining Haydonnites with shrapnel.

We are the ones that will never be broken

Rick tosses his bayoneted opponent into two of the remaining Haydonnites and use the bayonet to severe half the head off another.

With our final breath

A worker surprises Rick with another cutting tool, but Rick's old Voltron Force armor takes the glancing blow as Rick spins and bayonets the back of the Haydonnite with such force as to punch the machine's back in before tossing the dead hunk of metal into the scrap heap that he's creating.

We will fight to the death

Rick tosses an explosive bundle as he jumps out of the small room and the timer is set for a quick detonation that explodes everything remaining in the room and adding to the carnage that Blue is already causing.

We are soldiers!

Rick wipes out a four soldier patrol with a single grenade.

We are soldiers!

Rick reveals his forearm mounted blade that slices two workers in half and is swung around to slice through a soldier as Rick follows through on his attack to spin and ram it into 'face' of a Haydonnite mecha before cutting downward and out to create a space for the explosive charge that rips the machine's forward area to pieces, dropping it as Rick guns down another worker trying to alert the Command Room.

We are the ones that will not go unspoken

Rick manages to force his way into the Command Room, destroying the two guards outside the entryway in an exchange of bullets and beams. Despite being hit several times, his trusty VF armor takes the blows solidly. Pushing up and eliminating a fast approaching patrol with grenades, Rick bursts into the Command Room.

Not go unspoken

There, he witness one of the Haydonnites get caught in arcing energy and explode. Pieces of the machine ending up everywhere in the room.

No, we will not sleep

The leader of the Haydonnites on the station was nonplus about the loss.

We are not sheep!

"Obviously," the clear leader states, before giving orders, "Prepare the detonation sequence. We will destroy the Sol System. Launch a buoy pod with all data before the detonation, so the Collective will know what happened."

We are soldiers!

Rick easily sees which Haydonnite receives the order and he swings his rifle to bear and pulls the trigger tightly.

We are soldiers!

"At on-" the air allows anyone to see the yellow streak of the bullet as it travels from the thermal bloom burst of flame at the rifle muzzle all the way to the Haydonnite's head and explodes it like an oversized metal fruit.

Yeah!

"What?!" the Haydonnites turn to see Rick as he fans his rifle into them, the leader shouting as three Haydonnites fall for the last time, "Return fire!"

We stand shoulder to shoulder

'Rick six o'clock!' The exchange is chaotic for Rick as he's outnumbered and reinforcements arrive behind him.

We stand shoulder to shoulder

'Rick watch your left!' Rick lets the Haydonnite run itself on his bayonet.

We stand shoulder to shoulder

'Rick detonate that charge!' The entry to the Command Room explodes as Rick thumbs the trigger for the explosives he had slammed onto the inside frame when he first entered.

YOU CAN'T ERASE US

Haydonnites fire at Ben as he pops up to fire a brust.

YOU'LL JUST HAVE TO FACE US

Johnny spins out of cover to surprise a Haydonnite trying to snipe Rick.

We stand shoulder to shoulder

Roy kicks out at a Haydonnite that jumps away from Rick before the blonde turns to face another.

We stand shoulder to shoulder

Max and Miriya tag team several Haydonnites, dancing in between them as the Haydonnites end up shooting one another by mistake.

We stand shoulder to shoulder

Jack provides cover fire from an elevated position on one of the large block systems.

We stand shoulder to shoulder

The Voltron Force doesn't let up as they fight the battle.

YOU CAN NEVER ERASE US!

With battle cries the VF pilots overwhelm the Haydonnites together.

YOU'LL JUST HAVE TO FACE US!

Face us

Face us

Despite the volume of fire directed at him, Rick manages to weave through the worst of it. His shoulder wound from the Galra sniper bothers him, but as he fires the underslung shotgun, he is unaffected. Even as Haydonnites fire finds him, his armor simply shrugs it off or dissipates it through the layered protection.

We are the ones that will never be broken

A blue bolt of light tears into the command room followed by a defiant roar.

Never be broken!

XXXX

Blue had just smashed an enemy mecha into a wall and finished it off. Timing and aiming precisely, the ancient Altean Mecha managed to give its Paladin some breathing space. That would give them the advantage and add to the scale of danger plaguing the Haydonnites.

With our final breath

Another mecha challenges the Lion, grappling onto Blue's back.

We will fight to the death!

Blue's answer is to jump up and leave the Haydonnite mecha permanently indented in the ceiling. Dead metal for all eternity.

We are soldiers!

Two more slide in front of Blue. That's a big mistake. The one on the left and closer is bit in half, while the other is rammed into the bulkhead behind it with enough force for Blue to partially breach the next compartment, crushing a pair of workers trying to restore communications in the process.

We are soldiers!

Blue's tail whips about and sends a sneaking mecha into a nearby conduit. The smashed conduit fries the mecha and then explodes them both. The explosions traveling to a fuel line that detonates so spectacularly, that the entire station shifts a second time and gravity is almost unimaginably increased.

We are the ones that will not go unspoken!

XXXX

"We're losing our positioning!" one of the command room workers shouts over the din of battle as the station lists again and starts to slowly creep toward Sol, "At this rate, we could be sucked into the star by its sheer gravitational presence!"

Not go unspoken!

"That would detonate the bomb if we-" the speaking Haydonnite flies across the Command Room with its body and head turned into so much scattered debris from a grenade hit.

No, we will not sleep

We are not sheep

We are soldiers, we are soldiers!

"Not on my watch," Rick declares, even as the leader of the work group manages to hit the controls and activates the detonation sequence.

YEAH!

"Too late," the leader declares before it destroys the console, "Far too late."

WE ARE SOLDIERS!

The lone human can see console go up in debris, smoke, and electrical discharge even has he slams an armored boot down on the neck of another Haydonnite.

WE ARE SOLDIERS!

Another Haydonnite strikes Rick across his faceplate, a crack barely forming before Rick kicks out and flips the machine's rifle upwards before reaching forward and pulling the trigger and causing the Haydonnite's own faceplate to be scattered all on the ceiling above with bits of its robotic brain.

WE ARE SOLDIERS!

"Give up! It is too late!" the leader declares, but Rick only tosses a pair of EMP grenades into the remaining Haydonnites before leaving to shut the bomb off the tried and proven method with Final Countdown starting up in his helmet.

"I said, 'Not on my watch,'" Rick declares as he sees how much time he has.

We're leaving together,

But still it's farewell.

"Not this time," Rick says as he turns to leave the Command Room, filled with all the ghosts of the officers he had once lead to defend and then liberate Earth.

And maybe we'll come back

To Earth, who can tell?

The passageways are filled to the brim with the fallen Robotech Defenders as Rick races on.

XXXX

Lieutenant M. Iverson stares at his monitor in complete surprise. His duties were varied and many as he was being considered for promotion soon. Plus he was a hard working officer who worked an extra shift if he had too to get things done right the first time.

Right now, he has the task to monitor the Infernal.

This duty marked him as one of those who knows the entire truth. The humiliating defeat by the manipulation and subterfuge of the Haydonnites.

And like many who know the truth, he is filled with raw anger. A boiling, seething mass of contained fury. Held in place by the knowledge of what would happen if he didn't hold it in. Knowing that it would be the end of Humanity and the Sol System and a lot of other people and systems too.

The Infernal is the Haydonnite station. That's likely not its real name, if it has anything more than a formal designation or reference. Who knows how those machines think? Nobody is even sure if they were actually a real race once. Not that it matters now.

Not with Infernal in position to wipe them all out.

But now, as the officer watches, Infernal had violently spewed debris and shifted its central axis all of a sudden. Its shields then started flickering and failing in numerous positions, granting Galaxy Garrison their first real look at the station, ever. Then as Iverson watches, the weapon satellites started disappearing, likely from the Sun's energy, as he also detected what he assumed to be outer fixings being torn off the station itself.

He checked his systems. Three times. Infernal was still in distress and there is an increasing amount of debris being spat out of the station itself coupled with the damage the Sun was doing.

"Commander!" Iverson shouts as he turns to his superior officer, "Infernal appears to have suffered a violent internal explosion!"

"An explosion?!" the Commander and a woman next to him both shout, "How bad?" the commander calls down to Iverson.

"Real bad," Iverson magnifies the return resolution as best he can and throws it up on the main screen, "Infernal appears to be undergoing a series of massive blasts internally resulting in additional areas being destroyed by decompression explosions. They're ripping the station apart from the inside out. Scattering debris and the shields of the station are fluctuating on and off at times as well, allowing the Sun to burn the station on occasion and destroy Haydonnite satellites around it."

"How did that happen?" the woman inquires as she is in awe by the fact that the most dangerous thing to Earth is tearing itself apart before her eyes.

"Hell if I know," Iverson responds gruffly as he struggles to get a good lock on everything, "The shields are stabilizing now, yet they are also failing in general, so I can get some readings, but, wait..." Iverson spots something strange and has to get creative with his computer settings, "Looks like something De-Folded right into the station's outer wall and I mean that literally."

"Define literally," the Commander orders as he checks to see if they can't take advantage and if this is a real situation or the Haydonnites testing their reaction and seeing if they will show their true hand.

"As in the De-Fold Point was the same space being occupied by the outer wall of the station, resulting in whatever was Folding to come out inside the outer wall section that's been torn apart by it and made the problem of some other dimension," Iverson replies, "Never seen a scan like this. Something entirely new. Wait! I got an unknown signal rampaging throughout the station, ripping Infernal apart from the inside! I can't get a lock to ID it though!"

"Keep trying!" the Commander shouts, "Madame Secretary-General, might I suggest your personal view box. It's about to get hectic in here."

"Very well," the leader of Earth acknowledges, looking up at the main screen and wondering, like everyone in the room, what on Earth is happening?

XXXX

"Blue!" Rick shouts as he guns down a soldier before him, "The Haydonnites have activated the bomb! RV with me at-"

Rick is intercepted by four soldiers and three mecha. The shoot out is intense.

Pieces of Rick's armor are shot away by the heavy weapons of the group. He avoids any direct hits, but he's taking a bruising. At the same time, the crack in his helmet faceplate grows, fracturing his HUD slightly, but not enough to be useless.

Rick responds by EMPing two of the soldiers and a mecha, the former dying and the latter collapsing as it cycles to get its systems rebooted.

The remaining two mecha begin pumping shots at Rick, trying to kill him outright, while the soldiers use their superior mobility to try and corral Rick in place for that.

But Rick manages to trap shoot one of the soldiers, sending it careening into a fuel transfer valve that doesn't take the impact well.

"Oh great!" Rick mutters as fuel fills the gravity disturbed air, "Talk about fighting in a saw mill!"

The other soldier gets into position and fires on Rick. This time, his battle damaged armor doesn't hold out. A shot breaks through and Rick cries out in pain as he's speared through by a beam.

"Bastard!" Rick fires back, but the soldier evades and prepares to finish Rick off as the two mecha stop attacking for the moment.

"Your defiance ends here," the Haydonnite states as Rick is slow in moving.

Suddenly, Blue's left front paw crushes the Haydonnite without warning. Her Ice Beam then freezes the two Haydonnite mecha in place. Turning her head around, Blue lashes out and scoops Rick up with her mouth.

The first Haydonnite mecha reboots its systems at last. It quickly identifies the parting Blue Lion. Quickly it raises its weapons, unknowing of the fuel vapor in the air, and fires.

XXXX

"Now that wasn't very bright," Rick states at the explosion behind Blue, "Always check your surroundings before firing."

Blue snorts, recalling the number of times it took for Rick to take that lesson to heart.

"I wasn't that bad!" Rick replies to Blue, only to get the feeling of being stared at by her, "Okay. I was just a step behind Ben and Max and only because I was more experienced."

Blue shakes her head.

"At least I wasn't as bad as Red was!" Rick protests and Blue has to admit, she has to give him that.

Instead of continuing the argument, Rick checks his wounds. He isn't too bad off. Unless he counts that soldier's final shot.

"Through and through," Rick grunts, biting back the pain, as he applies gel to seal the wound off, "Can't do much more. We got to hurry Blue."

Blue roars in acknowledgement and decides the quickest way to where they need to be, is a straight line, bored by her weapons.

XXXX

The work group leader reactivates, having only caught so much of the EMP release. Pulling itself back up, it is able to see that some workers have restored communications. Immediately, the leader opens a connection to Haydon Prime.

As the leader waits, it doesn't notice the sensor alarms, muted by explosions, going nuts.

The shield is about to collapse and the station has drifted close enough, that once that happens, the destruction that would be wrought on the compromised station would be final.

What it does notice is that the Galaxy Garrison has sent three ships. United Earth Forces' Shimakaze-class Battlecruisers. The Humans had hidden Protoculture and Robotechnology. They will most assuredly pay for it.

Just as the connection occurs, the shield flares, drawing the leader's immediate attention, and resulting in the station is now being pummeled by Sol directly. The entire station shakes and burns as the many holes throughout the station and its damaged walls allow internal sections to suddenly burst aflame. Sections of the station begin to rip away. Burning up or dissolving before the power of Sol.

The communications are instantly lost and the leader immediately sees where Rick and Blue are.

Without a word, the construct leaves the Command Room. Fortunately for it, it was in time. As the entire room bursts into flame from solar rays penetrating right into the Command Room thanks to the hole Blue had drilled earlier.

XXXX

The captain of the leading Battlecruiser decides not to look a gift horse in the mouth.

"Open fire, all weapons!" he shouts and the three ships begin to bombard the dying station with everything they got, including the Light Reflex Cannons mounted in place of the old Synchro-Cannons.

"This is it sir," the XO smiles widely, "Infernal's last day. Earth will be safe from now on."

"Don't count on that yet XO," the Captain warns, "Who knows what those damn machines have been up to."

"Yes sir, my apologies," the XO acknowledges being out of line.

"Still," the Captain overlooks it as not being important at the moment, "What do you think is going on?"

The XO shrugs, "I haven't a clue Captain. For I know, it could be Admiral Hunter riding some Lion shaped Mecha."

XXXX

"This would be a lot easier if the station wasn't burning up and being shot up at the same time!" Rick declares as he pulls another control rod out of alignment.

An explosion from a Reflex Cannon shot sends debris flying all over the place and vaporizes one of the defending Haydonnite mecha that had been firing on him.

"And if the defenses were offline too," Rick mutters, knowing he's not being fast enough.

It's just too big for him alone. But he has to do something.

That's when Rick arrives at a small control station. Unlike the manual controls for the control rods' manipulator arms, this is a workstation to do all that automatically. It's use includes maintenance, arming, disarming, assembly, disassembly, and so on, such as showing that telemetry data is being sent out.

"No way," Rick silently breathes as he backtracks the data, four centuries of living had taught him well, and can't believe what he sees, "It's not Haydon Prime, but I'm not about to argue against their control station for all of these things."

Tapping commands, the Haydonnites should never had allowed the UEEF to learn their language, Rick finds that the station has charged, but inactive Fold Drives. They just need to be given coordinates and switched to Active Mode. Which once done, would allow Rick to turn the station into one giant bomb to end the Haydonnites' control measures in one go.

"Blue! On me!" Rick calls out as he instead adds more time to the timer and locks the system.

The crushed worker gives mute testimony why all the functions are accessible. It had been doing its job when the attack started. Now Rick locks the system with a new code only he knows.

Blue is right next to him a moment later, chomping a Haydonnite mecha in three pieces with its powerful jaws.

Then it spits the piece in its mouth at a group of soldiers, crushing them and allowing Rick to board again.

Just as a beam from one of the Battlecruisers burns a hole into the chamber, letting Sol's power flood right in.

"Let's go Blue!" Rick shouts as the Lion dashes through a hatchway before the bulkhead slams shut.

Rick immediately sends out a signal to the ships. Then realizes something, based on the damage reports. So he revises his signal.

XXXX

"Second transmission sir," the Comms officer reports, "Belay previous order. Continue fire, restricted to reducing weight by shedding outside areas. Do not compromise integrity."

"What's that supposed to mean?" the XO shares a look with his CO.

"Hell if I know," the man replies.

"I got something!" Sensors reports, "It's Fold Drives!"

"Of course!" the Captain realizes the plan at once, "Shedding the weight will make for a faster and longer Fold Jump. Whoever is inside, must have located an area it can dump the station and its Neutron-S Bomb safely."

"Or operationally," the Electronic Warfare officer speaks up, "We're now detecting telemetry data being sent out on a different wavelength. It's possible that our guy traced the source and is planning to send the bomb back to the Haydonnites."

"All ships, shift fire!" the Captain orders, "We need to reduce the weight to send that thing back to the lowest pit of hell it came from!"

XXXX

Rick hears Never Say Die by King Cobrastart up. He's surprised his player has lasted this long. Hopefully, it will stay with him the rest of the way.

I can do anything when I choose,

Got everything, but I got nothing to lose

Tearing into the Fold Drive chamber, Rick is surprised to find that the Haydonnites have been particularly devious.

Go anywhere from heaven to hell,

I might find the devil, you can never tell!

"Another bomb attached to a missile," Rick then realizes after looking hard at the missile, "That's one of ours! Those bastards!"

There's a thousand hills and valleys,

A million dams and streams

An ocean of eternity, between my hopes and dreams!

An UEF Neutron-S Missile sits before Rick. Armed and ready to be used. If the Haydonnites couldn't destroy the Sol System in one go, they could still get Earth. Clever, but Rick figures the Haydonnites never did know about the Senior Level Backup Codes that were installed for such a situation as this.

Never say die, Iron Eagle!

Nothing's forever, now or ever!

Metaphorically speaking.

Never say die, Iron Eagle!

Never look back, Never Say Die!

"If I can arm it, I see it has its own Fold Drive," Rick smirks as the data feed reveals, with a bit of tinkering, the primary marshaling point for the Haydonnite Fleet, "I wonder how many ships I can get?"

Don't try and bring my soul to the ground,

My spirit remembers old mountain magic sounds

Rick leaves Blue as soon as he confirms his codes work and the Fold Drives go active.

Against all odds, I'll come out on top,

'Cause I never learned, the meaning of what meant stop!

"Got to launch it out so it can Fold without destroying the station and itself," Rick hears the last of the Haydonnites and their mecha enter the Fold Chamber, "Blue!"

There are walls and there are bridges

But no problems when you're free

The Lion roars, already on it. Covering Rick with a freeze attack that destroys a number of Haydonnites before the Lion rushes those only frozen. Then it's a melee thereafter as Blue fights the Haydonnites off.

An adventure past the horizon, always beckons me!

Rick begins overriding the Haydonnites' systems. He inputs the coordinates, starts unlocking the missile, and begins the firing sequence. As Rick works to get everything done, the Haydonnite leader zooms up behind Rick and stabs him with a shard of bracing long enough to pass through Rick and pin him to the console he had been working at.

XXXX

Never Say Die, Iron Eagle!

His eyes widen at the sudden pain.

Nothing's forever, now or ever!

Good. He should know his efforts are futile. All will be as the Awareness commands it.

Never say die, Iron Eagle!

The leader floats around the intruder. Noting the Human male's handy work and that his sabotage to the main Neutron-S Bomb was sufficient that the local star will destroy it without harm to the system. Now with this, a reprogram command and the missile will do all the work instead.

Never look back, Never Say Die!

"We salvaged this missile from near Earth," the leader states as it begins to reprogram the missile, "We suspect it was one of your General Reinhardt's missiles and it was lost to him before he could use it."

Turning to the human to see his faceplate had cracked when it had driven the Human's head into a console as well. The lone red sensor eye it has, seems to be glowing with satisfaction and smugness at the thought of its inevitable victory. Now as it watches, the faceplate breaks in half, revealing the face of the attacker. This defiant fool who thought he was-

"Richard Hunter?!" the leader says in surprise before suddenly, it flies back with a blue beam piecing it front to back.

"I hate... being... called... Richard!" Rick growls as he holds the pistol he found in Blue all those years ago and kept close.

There are walls and there are bridges

But no problems when you're free

An adventure past the horizon, always beckons me!

"An... Altean... pistol?!" the leader manages, a fluctuating red eye almost able to show its shock and surprise as realization sets in, "Even... now... You... resist... Alfor."

Never Say Die, Iron Eagle!

"Glad to know... its been put... to good use... before," another shot makes sure that Rick can reset his commands as the Haydonnite had been too kind to make Rick's targeting so much the easier, "Because... this may... very well... be its... last... moments... of existence."

Nothing's forever, Now or Ever!

Rick finishes his input and the missile slides into position. The Fold Drive is attached and the booster activates. Sliding down the launch rail, the missile leaves in a plume of ion smoke and arcing energy from the electromagnetic launch.

Never Say Die, Iron Eagle!

"One... final... command," Rick inputs and the system boots up and acknowledges its orders, as unaware of what is happening as the trillions across hundreds of worlds, held prisoner by the Haydonnites, "Blue... Go... Mission... Accomplished... Escape now... my... friend..."

Never look back, Never Say Die!

Rick passes out from lack of blood and the exhaustion and toll of his wounds. Pinned to the console, he has no means of escape. It's over.

Almost Heaven

West Virginia

Blue Ridge Mountains

Shenandoah River

Even as Country Roads, Take Me Home begins its gentle wade through his helmet.

Life is old there

Older than the trees

Younger than the mountains

Blowin like a Breeze

Blue breaks away from its enemies. Not caring about the impossibility of it. Blue manages to scope Rick up one last time.

Country Roads, Take me Home

To the place, I belong!

West Virginia, Mountain Mama

Take me home, country roads!

Explosions chain their way through into the Fold Chamber. The station won't survive no matter what. But at least it, and its bomb, will be far removed from the Sol System and any other system with life in it.

All my memories, gather 'round her

Miner's Lady, stranger to blue water

Blue flies through the detonating station. Dodging remaining defenses and defenders. Their single minded programming to destroy Blue at this point. But the Lion will not go so easily. Or at all.

Dark and dusty, painted on the sky

Misty taste of moonshine

Teardrop in my eye

Especially not with her Paladin's life hanging by a thread!

Country Roads, Take me Home

To the place, I belong!

West Virginia, Mountain Mama

Take me home, country roads!

XXXX

Adrift… Floating. He is there. But then a hand takes his.

I hear her voice

In the mornin' hour she calls me

'It's not your time Rick,' a voice he longed to hear tells him, 'Your son, he will need you more than you realize in the future.'

The radio reminds me

Of my home far away

"I'm so tired though…" Rick responds, "I've been beat too hard this time. I don't think I have the strength."

And drivin' down the road

I get the feeling

'You do Rick,' the voice gently whispers into his ear, 'You always do. Not because of some gift or sense, but because, you always find it inside of yourself when you need it most. That has always been your strength.'

I should have been home yesterday

'It's what we always saw in you. It's what they saw in you,' a gentle kiss to his temple, 'What I saw in you.'

YES-TER-DAY!

"You're… right…" Rick admits, not only wanting to live, but the work isn't done and Keith and Kroila... "I cannot stop. Not here, not now, not until we've won!"

Country Roads, Take me Home

To the place, I belong!

West Virginia, Mountain Mama

Take me home, country roads!

'Then you will find your rest,' Minmay smiles as she drifts away, 'We'll always be there for you Rick! Take care and know that I love you!'

Country Roads, Take me Home

To the place, I belong!

West Virginia, Mountain Mama

Take me home, country roads!

"I love you too Minmay," Rick watches her go, "I always had, I always have, and I always will. BLUE!"

Take me home, country roads

XXXX

Eventually, Blue gets back to its harness. Amazingly, it is unharmed and undamaged. Slipping into it and docking easily enough, Blue Hyper Folds away just before the station Folds itself.

Take me home, country roads

XXXX

"Launched Neutron-S Missile detected!" Sensors reports sending panic across the bridge, before seeing something even more unexpected happen, "Wait! What the hell?!"

"What is it!?" the Captain is standing at hearing that news, even as the three ships withdraw before Sol destroys them as well.

"It just Folded out!" Sensors reports, turning to his commanding officer, "Powerful signature as well. Had to be out of the system. Real far no less."

"There goes Infernal!" someone shouts and everyone watches as a streak goes one way and Infernal Folds conventionally away.

"I wonder where they went?" the XO wonders aloud.

"Hopefully right back in the face of the Haydonnites!" the Captain declares, "Earth's safe now! We can use Robotechnology again! And most of all, WE ARE FREE!"

The roaring cheers of the crews from all three ships are joined by those in the control and sensor relays observing the same thing.

XXXX

On Haydon Prime, far removed from where it was last known to be, the reports are grim.

"The bulk of our fleet was decimated when the station appeared amongst our marshaling point," one of the Collective reports, "Over 89 percent of our entire fleet is gone."

"How that echoes what we did to the UEEF at Space Station Liberty," another Collective replies, "More importantly, the missile detonated at a critical juncture and caused all of our Neutron-S stations to receive a code to deactivate and destroy themselves. I suspect that our attacker was responsible for that one."

"How?" a third Collective inquires, "That should be impossible?"

"Should, but happened," a fourth member adds, "We underestimated Humanity."

"No," the Awareness speaks, "The Will of King Alfor spoke and Admiral Hunter had answered."

"Admiral Hunter!? How did he manage to return to Earth without us knowing?!" a fifth Collective member exclaims in surprise.

"He was always a clever one," a sixth member of the Collective states, "He was also always careful and attentive. How else would the Humans have otherwise known of the Neutron-S Missiles' power."

"Doesn't change how he slipped by us!" the fifth one retorts immediately.

"When did he return to Earth? How did he return for that matter?" the third Collective immediately asks those questions.

"Unknown," the Awareness replies, "We are weakened. The Galra will soon notice the wreckage of our station and fleet. We must relocate immediately."

"Understood," the Collective responds as one.

There was nothing else to do.

Unless they wanted to, as the Humans are fond of saying, bend over and kiss their asses goodbye.

XXXX

"So who did this to you?" the Intel officer inquires to the almost dead leader of the work group, it's lone single red sensor eye fading and looking almost like blood being drained from it, "You got worked over good, didn't you? About time too, I say."

Strapped to a maintenance bed, the leader of the work group had been spotted amongst debris tossed out by the station's Fold. How it survived was purely academic at this point. Since it wasn't actually going to survive. The two holes in its chest area that bore clean through, giving that mute testimony.

"You... of Galaxy Garrison... are no... threat to us," the leader states weakly, knowing it will soon be no more, "But... with Admiral... Richard... Hunter... you are... our... end..."

And like that, with a final flicker of its lone red eye, the leader knows no more.

"It's offline sir," the lead tech reports, checking the Haydonnite, "Those two shots fried and destroyed critical support functions. We were lucky it lasted as long as it did to get it to say anything."

The Intel Officer, though, is ignoring the man. Instead, he is focusing on what the Haydonnite had said. Something that should be impossible. Admiral Hunter wasn't even living under his own name anymore. It was something Kogane now and being a firefighter on Earth.

So how did...

"Impossible," the Intel officer breaths quietly as he knows the machine wouldn't have mentioned the legendary admiral unless the man had managed to pull it off, "But shouldn't he be in retirement now?"

Turning to his aide, "CRITIC Stamp that and get it to Earth, NOW!"

The woman had never compiled and sent off a report that fast before. No one ever had for that matter.

XXXX

Several days later…

XXXX

Keith K. Hunter finds it hard to stand.

Thankfully, someone named Roy is helping him. Holding him. Helping him stand after receiving his father's flag.

The young boy can barely understand what is happening. That his father is gone. That the whole world gives him their eternal gratitude for the death of his father.

The young child just wants his father back. Wants him to come up to him and say it was a mistake. Instead, he knows the truth. His father isn't coming back.

He's fallen in the line of duty.

But not as the fireman that he was lead to believe. The fireman who ran into a burning building when others told him not too and barely escape with a young girl and her kitty in his arms. The fireman who had laughed every time he saw Keith wearing his uniform or dressing up as a firefighter for events and holidays. The father who would always smile after Keith had a little tussle or outright fight with other kids and also…

Showed an interest in flying. A love for flying that surpassed his love for his father's career. Then being shown that his father can fly and fly really well, even promising to help him one day truly master flying.

No.

That's not how his father died.

He died differently. So very differently. As someone who Keith had never known.

As the supreme commander of Earth's former military forces. The United Earth Forces. A military defeated when his father's flagship had vanished into the ether of space due to the machinations of the machine race, the Haydonnites.

His father had returned suddenly one day. Inside of a medical pod, clinging to life and looking younger than he should have been. The Galaxy Garrison had saved him and revived him, healed him. Then they had set him up on a small farm, but the man could not sit idly by and so joined a local fire department.

To do something when he should have done more.

Now…

To save Humanity from the threat that had forced its surrender over two centuries ago. A threat that demanded Humans obey it and order all knowledge that had made Earth strong, destroy. Then it demanded a change in the history books.

They had to comply back then.

Now... Thanks to his father... Thanks to his daddy...

"Come on Keith," Roy picks the sobbing boy up, barely holding back his own tears as he couldn't tell the boy that as his father's older brother, he felt just as much anguish and sorrow, and carries him back to their ride to take them home, "It's going to be a longer day each day for a long time to come."

Even as Roy and Keith leave, soldiers and firefighters creating a path through the crowd as police wrestle with reporters to keep them at bay, the speeches given are already being replayed. Extolling the virtue of Humanity's greatest leader. Dedicating his memory as larger than life, yet humble in being.

"Admiral Hunter embodied the Human Will of Duty and Sacrifice! But he also encouraged bravery and hope through his ever presence, even when removed from battlefields far from him! We should never forget that he was a simple Air Racer with a love for Circus Stunt Flying that went on to be easily one of Humanity's greatest Heroes, Champions, and Leaders who Lead by Example! Laying his life on the line even after his mysterious return as a common Firefighter. Rescuing those that could not escape. Showing leadership in the most argious situations! His record speaks highly of his courage and determination to never say die! To never give up hope! To his very end! He was the greatest Human ever born… and he will be the most solely missed by friends, family, and all of the Human race!"

From his humble beginnings and civilian life, to his last heroic moments. The shackles that had hidden him are now broken. That Humanity will now venture once more, powerfully, back into the Stars.

"His lone sacrifice has severed the chains that have bound us for two-hundred years. Giving us the gift of life, to continue to exist without fear of being struck down. No angry false gods now threaten us. We are now the navigators of our own destiny. His life, for our future. It's hard to believe that we are now free just like that."

That they are Free once more.

"He was a friend, ally, husband, lover, and father. He has a son that he left behind. A small boy not even ten years of age. Never knowing until now, who is father was. A choice so agonizing, I dare not even imagine it. Then that fateful choice of choosing between his own life and that of his son's life, he choose his son over himself. As any father would proudly do, choose their boy over themselves.

Rick Hunter to everyone he met, Dick Kogane after his return. Either name, the same man. Making tough choices and fretting over his son's future. Remembering when he was not there for Earth and all of her colonies. Lost in memories, endlessly worrying and recalling and feeling the weight of the world upon him.

Yet.

Where others would have given up, his small ray of hope, his little boy, made him once more prove that he is a man of great character. For Earth and the Human race, he willfully gave his life, because among us all, was that small child he called his son and that the only way for him to go forward through life, was to ensure Humanity as a whole would survive. It was a one way mission and he knew it, but accepted it as the veteran soldier he was. Knowing not only his son, but his friends, colleagues, and the many people he had met and touched in their hearts, would also not see him again.

For them as well as Humanity and his son, his life was theirs to give so readily. No matter how much it would hurt to part from them."

But a number of speeches acknowledge what the speakers thought to be agonizing decisions. Such as leaving Keith behind in order to keep the boy and Humanity safe. Discussing how the heroic man, was a father intent on protecting his child. A greater virtue than anything else and his greatest feat to ever done.

"Earth will be a great starfaring race once more! I promise all of Humanity! We will reconnect with our lost colonies, our lost allies, and once more carve our destiny out among the stars! We will not be held prisoners in our homes ever again!

Today, the Galaxy Garrison will begin the process of rebuilding our military might! But it is up to us to rebuild our culture to what it once was!

Rebuild everything that was taken from us!

Humanity now is free to again go forward!

The Haydonnites delivered an unrecoverable blow will not stop us from once more setting foot in the stars beyond!

Our ancestors went through incredible conflicts, but always emerged alive. Earth was taken from them once, but they fought successfully to take it back. Now we must do the same in reverse! To take back our shattered skies and spread our wings across the cosmos once again!

For we have survived!

And we will thrive as Free People!"

As Humanity reels from the truth of its past and the knowledge that one of its finest military leaders paid the ultimate price, as a dark skin, brown haired woman is recovered from an old ruined base. Asleep for more than two and half centuries, they wonder if she is able to be revived.

But with the knowledge there is a greater danger out in space, Humanity is once more united.

After all.

A great man gave his life to ensure it.

"I want my daddy back, Mr. Roy," Keith cries once in the vehicle, "Why can't I have him back?"

"I know Keith," Roy rubs at his own face to stop the tears, "I know."

Both know he is lost to them. Forever.

XXXX

Blue Lion merely goes back to rest. The eyes and lights switching off. It shield rises up. It's shrine aglow with only the soft blue light cast by it.

Illuminating the remains of the Haydonnite console, covered in dried blood stains, ditched to the side with the Galra remains.

XXXX

Coran Hieronymus Wimbleton Smythe cocks an eyebrow when he opens one of the supposed to be empty storage areas.

Used to carry scientific research instruments and other such knick knacks, the storage area is, instead, filled with boxes and crates of a military nature.

"What do we have here, I wonder?" Coran asks aloud as he pulls one of the crates out and then steps over to one of the tables stored in Red Lion, "Huh. Where do you come from and what are you for that matter?"

Setting the small, rectangular crate slightly larger than a box with a seal on it and writing he's never seen before, and places it on the table. Strangely, the crate is light, though not particularly so, and with a gentle shake, reveals it is partially full or empty, depending on your opinion. Opening the top of it yields that it is actually closer to being more empty than he thought.

"From the amount of dust," the fact it had dust on it told it had not been in the Castle of Lions when it was sealed by King Alfor, which was a given, since he found it and the other crates like it with more crates besides, in areas they weren't supposed to be, "I say someone was visiting the Castle well before the Paladins and Blue Lion had arrived," as he swipes his finger along the edges, "and they were doing so only so many deca-phoebs ago."

"Hey Coran," the Altean male turns to Lance's voice as the young Human teen enters the storage area, "I was ho-LY CROW?!" the Cuban boy shouts as soon as he sees the crate next to Coran and the open storage area full of similar crates.

"Yes, quite surprising isn't it," Coran puts the crate's lid down next to it, "Seems like we had guests while Princess Allura and I slept back in the Castle. Very strange they didn't try to wake us up," before a thought hits him, "Or that we didn't wake up once someone was inside."

"Coran!" Lance shouts, running up to the crate and rifling through the contents.

"Lance, be careful!" Coran warns the boy, "We don't know what these are! For all we know-"

"I don't care if this is more than three centuries old, but tonight is Salsa Night!" Lance holds up a strange, airtight sealed bag before rubbing it with his face.

"Uh… Lance?" Coran blinks, at a loss to the Red Paladin's actions.

"Oh yeah!" Lance shouts suddenly, holding the green and tan bags he had pulled out to his chest, "Where's the intercom in here Coran! We need to let the others know about this!"

"First sensible thing you've said in the last few ticks," Coran states before walking over and activating the intercom and paging everyone in the other Lions.

XXXX

"And dad was praising Galaxy Garrison's chefs!" Pidge declares as she eats her beef stroganoff, "Oh maaaaannnn," she draws out with a pleasure filled look on her face, "I'll never doubt our Cooking Staff again if they are half as good!"

"You said it!" Lance is enjoying the chips he found.

The label said they went bad 340 years ago, but considering they were during the heyday of Robotechnology, they still tasted, looked like, and were tested to be positively perfectly normal chips.

And the salsa is also still good.

"You do realize…" Allura finds herself at a loss of words… again since the discovery of these new... food... stuffs, "That some of these ingredients are banned Chemical Weapon components right?"

"Maybe for you guys, but not back home," Hunk states he enjoys his bean burritos, spicy chicken, and chilli conchita, "Back home these are food ingredients. Sure they can be used to make ad hoc and halfway decent chilli bombs that are little more than skin, eye, throat, and lung irritants, but nothing really more," the Yellow Paladin admits before snagging some chips and enjoying some salsa himself, "Man those old UEF Cooks can outdo the Galaxy Garrison Cooks."

"This is incredibly good!" Romelle opinions as well as she digs into Spaghetti and Meatballs with Three Cheese Mix with Garlic Bread and a fresh mix salad, "This is so much better than what we've been eating, no offense Hunk, the flavors and texature~" the Altean girl moans in pleasure.

"None taken," Hunk smiles, "I'm just so glad I was able to improve the meals a little. Seems like they were specially made for it. I'm always so overfilled with happiness when people enjoy my cooking."

"You said it!" Kroila is tearing into her Four Cheese and Meat Lasagna while the Cosmic Wolf is tearing into some steak slices that had been put down for him to eat, once they were sure there wouldn't be an allergic reaction, "I'd forgotten what Earth food tasted like and honestly, that is a mistake I intend to correct for the foreseeable future!"

The wolf agreed with a happy bark.

"Shiro!" turning to the former Black Paladin, "Can you… talk… some… uh…" the Blue Paladin trails off at seeing what had become of Shiro.

"I can't believe I'm eating a real Salisbury Steak this far from Earth," Shiro states as he cuts with deliberate care, small pieces of his meat and takes each one, like a man possessed that had found the greatest pleasure in life and if the moan he makes when each sliced piece enters his mouth and he begins to chew is any indication, he probably did.

"Oh-kay…" Coran states as he eyes the Paladins of Voltron, minus a stunned Allura, and and gently begins to step away before the final, Black Paladin speaks up.

"Relax Coran," Keith causes the Altean male to jump in surprise, "This is Earth food and how it ended up in the Castle in the first place, is going to be the mystery we're likely never going to solve."

No one had to say why the mystery would never be solved.

"Yeah, no kidding," Lance states as he looks to his dark haired friend, "I mean these crates," the Cuban pats the Food and Ration Crates next to him, "Have the markings of the UNDF, UEF, and UEEF, as well as these strange crates with lion symbols that are written as belonging to the Voltron Force, weird that."

"Voltron Force?!" Allura shouts as she walks over to the crates and begins trying to find the right ones, "Which ones are they? I cannot read this language."

"It's Earth Standard, also known as English," Keith supplies as he wipes his lips with a napkin, enjoying his own Chinese meal, "I swear, this has a strange, but welcoming flavor taste, like father used to put in his Chinese dishes."

"Yes, yes," Allura still tries to find the right crate, completely ignoring Keith and what he was talking about.

"Right here," the Green Paladin taps the crate that they had drawn their food from, the original crate that Coran had pulled out, "We decided on this crate, the Voltron Force one."

"I see," Allura turns to the crate and can see it is definitely color coded compared to the others, "It's covered in the colors of the Lions and even has Lion symbols, but that tells me nothing."

Allura angrily shakes the crate causing something to come loose and slide away, even as the five Paladins, lone Galran, and the youngest Altean leap up to take the crate away from the princess and put it back down safely, calmly, and with such deliberate care, one would thinking they would handling an injured person.

"What's this?" Coran speaks up as he picks up the small item, "Huh, people?"

"Oh let me see!" Pidge jumps up and is about to grab it with her dirty fingers, when Shiro's normal hand catches her by the back of her shirt and yanks her away.

"Not with those food stained covered fingers," Shiro states immediately and sounding like a father and commander scolding their daughter/trooper, "We can't be reckless with anything we find. Galaxy Garrison is going to want a full report on this after all and everything we can bring back, so that means, no eating all of the food either," groans leave all four of the younger Paladins, "and I hate it too guys, but them the brakes as Instructor Fokker likes to put it."

Hunk, meanwhile looks over Coran's shoulder, "Speaking of Instructor Fokker, are we sure one of us didn't bring this picture, because he's in it."

"Can't be your Instructor Fokker," Coran counters, "Black Lion is right behind him. Along with all of the Lions… Wait, isn't that the symbol on the Voltron Force crate?"

Having cleaned his hands and deposited his tray and utensils, Shiro steps over and has a look at the picture.

"That's the seal alright and the Lions," the Black Paladin frowns, "But that's Earth as well. Any Human would recognize the Statue of Liberty easily enough. So that's New York, a major city on Earth."

"A major city?" Coran raises an eyebrow at that statement.

"It used to be Earth's capital," Hunk supplies to the Alteans, "Because the UN Building was already there, it became de facto capital of the First United Government in 2001 or over six centuries ago for us."

"This photo looks to be of Pre-First Robotech vintage," Pidge adjusts her glasses, "It looks like it was taken probably around 2030 or thereabouts, given I can see a Ford FS280CE in military colors and those weren't made until 2028 with a production run of only four years."

"How do you know that?" Lance asks in surprise of Pidge's knowledge.

"My brother was able to locate an old FS380EX and restore it back to its former glory," the Green Paladin states as she shifts at the thought of her brother's truck, still sitting back at Holt Residence, "He gave me the keys as a joke before he left for space."

"Don't worry Katie," Shiro pulls the smaller Paladin into a gentle one arm hug, "We'll find him, alive and well, once we get to Earth so you can call him. I promise."

Keith, observing, says nothing, as he stands, but as he walks to toss his trash and put his tray away, "So do we have any idea if it is Instructor Fokker in that picture? I know that the UNDF salvaged technology to let a person live past their normal life span, but wouldn't he still be a famous person if he was around back then?"

"PFSH!?" Lance does a spit take, soaking Hunk, before rounding on Keith.

"Don't you know anything Mullet Head!?" Lance points an accusing finger at Keith, "There happened to be an ace named Roy Fokker who died during Space War One! He was a legendary Fighter pilot! He fought in the Unification War, the Global Civil War, almost died in the First Robotech War, and then did die, as I said previously, in Space War One!" Lance then took on a haughty tone, "He was also the adopted older brother and great teacher of none other than Admiral Rick Hunter himself!"

At that declaration, two things happened at once.

Shiro stiffened in shock. His gaze had been going over the people in the photo, recognizing Brigadier Benjamin Dixon, Fleet Admiral Maximillian Sterling, Colonel Jonathan Wolff, the Instructor Roy Fokker look alike, and finally, the fifth man in the picture.

The second thing was that Keith dropped his tray. When it hit the floor, his scrapes, trash, utensils, and cup went flying. Like Shiro, Keith had stiffen up in shock, being as straight and level as an ironing board. His breathing also started coming in small bursts, which immediately worried everyone.

"Hey, Keith…" Hunk moves closer, "Are… you alright man?"

"Keith?" Krolia steps over to her son and gently lays a hand on his shoulder to give him a gentle shake.

"Uh…" Lance blinks before coughing into his hand with his eyes closed and then turning to look over at Shiro, "Admiral Hunter fan?"

Shiro though, closed his own eyes before reopening them.

Nope. Still there. Looking far younger than the photo he last saw of him at Keith's shack.

"No Lance," Shiro responds, "The Kogane name was an alias cooked up by the Garrison," Shiro swallows hard as he turns to everyone present, "Dick Kogane was, the whole time, Admiral Rick Hunter himself, the Supreme Commander of the United Earth Forces and de facto leader of Humanity and the Sentinels Alliance during the Edwards' Coup and Third Robotech War."

The quiet in the Red Lion's bay is as absolute as it is still. The Alteans, are quiet. Not expecting one of the Paladins to be the son of an admiral. And from the sound of it, quite the famous one too.

Krolia stood stock still, her purple eyes wide at what she just heard. The man she loved, who she thought merely a rescuer, had, in fact, been a military officer of great status and renown. How? He looked so young. For his race, he shouldn't have been so hide and yet, he also lived so simply and worked so honestly and yet… His earnest self always told her, there was more to him, but how… How… HOW?!

For the three other Paladins, there is shock. Followed by surprise. Then Hunk reaches out and pats Keith on the shoulder, followed by Pidge throwing herself into Keith's back and wrapping her arms around his waist. Lance then steps over and hangs an arm around Keith's shoulders and pulls him in a little.

"Sorry man," Lance speaks honestly from the heart, "I know I wasn't supposed to know, but… Yeah. He did great, but… I bet that doesn't change the fact he's not alive."

"Keith," Pidge buries her head into his back, "I'm sorry! I didn't realize how much searching for my father and brother or just talking about them..." the Green Paladin trails off, "I'M SORRY!" she shouts into his back.

"He died a hero, I get that," Hunk adds in, "But I think I would rather trade having my father than having a hero that was my father. Just like you do, right?"

Taking a deep breath and honestly touched by his fellow Paladins' support, Keith smiles to Lance and Hunk while patting Pidge's hands, "Thanks guys. I miss him. I always do. All I had for the longest time of my mother is a knife and all I have left of my father is a few things and the memories."

Then snaking an arm around Krolia and gently pulling her in for an awkward, but happy one arm hug, "But I at least have my mother again, that counts."

The Cosmic Wolf then nudges Keith with a small whine.

"And you too buddy," Keith smiles as he gently scratches the wolf behind his ears, "A boy can't be a boy without his wolf now, can he?" Keith's light hearted joke causes a happy yip to come from the wolf.

Even Romelle steps over to give Keith a hug, knowing the pain of losing one's family.

"Will you be alright?" the Altean girl asks as she stares up into Keith's eyes.

"I will be fine," Keith takes a deep breath, "It just hurts. A lot."

"I know," Romelle responds as she steps back.

"What happened, Shiro?" Allura inquires as she is joined by Coran as both lean in close to the Black Paladin to hear the answer to the princess' question.

With a heavy sigh, Shiro begins, "Two centuries ago, a machine race called the Haydonnites separated Admiral Hunter and his battlegroup from the rest of the old UEF," Shiro then narrates everything and that is everything.

From the beginning with SDF-1 Macross' crash landing on Earth in the year 1999 to the last act of the famed Sheltering Wing of Humanity only ten years ago. The entire history that the Haydonnites had forced Humanity to forget that covered over 400 years of its history. That only pieces and scraps are left. Despite Galaxy Garrison and the United Earth Republic Government's best efforts to reconstruct the past.

"I see," Allura closes her eyes, feeling a dread wash over her as she tries to center herself, "You nearly lost your home and race just as Coran and I have."

"Despicable!" Coran declares angrily, "At least Zarkon had the courage to face us head on! To fight to either win or lose! His pride would not allow for anything less."

"Victory or Death," Krolia states plainly, "That is the Galra Empire's way and had been the Galra way for thousands of deca-phoebs prior to Zarkon as well."

"It kind of reminds me of how Lotor layered so much to hide his intent and actions," Romelle shudders and instinctively leans into Shiro who is next to her.

"Hmm?" Allura then remembers something, "Wait," she reaches into one of her armor's pockets and pulls out something she found, "I found this in my room during the evacuation from the Castle," it is a sealed message of some kind, "I didn't know what it was, so I never opened it."

"It's an envelope and with Standard on it," Shiro takes the letter gently with a thanks to Allura and opens it. He reads through it carefully, but releases a shocked gasp, "This is from Admiral Hunter! It's also dated only six years after his death in destruction of the Infernal!"

"WHAT?!" all of the young Paladins are hanging onto Shiro, Keith especially so, with Krolia also joining in and almost toppling Shiro, to see the letter.

"It explains everything," Hunk speed reads through it.

"The Admiral has a lead on the whereabouts of SDF-3!" Pidge notices.

"The cryostasis pods were malfunctioning, no wonder why you didn't wake up!" Lance explains to the Alteans.

"My parents!" Keith blurts out as a picture of his parents had been added to the letter.

"That's Keith's mother twenty deca-phoebs ago!?" Hunk blurts out at seeing Krolia in a red tank top, a white sweater tied at her waist, brown cargo pants and black boots.

"And you can't tell with the armor, but she's smoking hot!" Lance blurts out himself.

"LANCE!" Keith roars as he suddenly dives on the Red Paladin.

"She looks almost Human dressed like that," Pidge blinks at the picture, "She's really pretty in it too. I can also even see some of Keith in her and they both look good in red."

"And in my arms, is Keith," Krolia smiles softly at the picture, "I'd recognize that bundle from anywhere. I recall that moment," Krolia smiles in remembrance, "You're father and I took it to celebrate the fact that both of us had made it through the difficult journey of pregnancy and childbirth, since we couldn't go for help. I had just finally stepped back outside for the first time in over two standard Earth months," Krolia let out a girlish giggle at the memory, "Your father was caring, but also knew my limits and never once seemed to test them unless he had to put his foot down."

"It also explains about the Voltron Force and…" Romelle had managed to sneak in as Lance tried to keep from being strangled by Keith.

Peeking over Shiro's shoulders to see what stopped them and to see Earth-bound Krolia for themselves, the Alteans see a picture of what they assume to be Keith's father standing proudly, like he had just gotten his first born, next to Blue Lion and then looking like a veteran soldier, who had fought in a great many battles, next to Black Lion in a second picture.

"Admiral Hunter was a Paladin of the Blue and Black Lions," Hunk breathes out at last.

"WHAT?!" the two wrestling Paladins are suddenly back, next to Shiro and the others to see.

"That…" Coran trails off, but admits it is a full circle kind of thing.

Seeing her lover, her husband!, standing in two different military uniforms and next to both the Blue and Black Lions and looking so remarkably different, Krolia feels her mind want to just stop and shut down.

Only years of heavy mental training keeps her from doing so.

"There's an audio log in the equipment that was left behind," Shiro notes in the letter, "As well as something for Keith."

"It has my full name," Keith notes, "Keith Krovic Hunter."

"Krovic is definitely a Galra name," Coran adds as everyone begins to try and sort things out. They have to be ready for this meeting. They can't sit around and dawdle, "It's written in Old Galra as well and using that as a template, we can guess it uses the old naming conventions as well," Coran explains, "So Kro appears to be derived from your mother Keith, Krolia, while the Vic is taken from your father's name of Rick," suddenly it clicks in Coran's head, "Kro? As in House Kro? It can't be! That's one of the Galra's best espionage houses. More to the point, they were some of Zarkon's closest allies 10,000 years ago. So why haven't we come across them... yet?"

Coran trails off as he and the others turn to Krolia.

"House Kro was a founding member of the Blades of Mamora," Krolia explains with a shrug, like it was no big deal, "How else do you think we lasted this long?"

"You know, that totally makes sense now," Hunk states at hearing that, "Zarkon would have had them doing things if they were so important, so that probably drove a wedge between them and they managed to, you know, keep the Blades a secret long enough for them to get started and all that."

"Pretty much," Krolia confirms.

Seeing Coran's face and even Allura's look, Romelle wonders alloud for the umptenth time, "Are all Ancient Alteans like this?"

"We only know two," Pidge responds with the same answer for the umptenth time.

"But this is…" Lance indicates the pictures and letter, "Where's that audio log?"

Allura snaps back to and quickly says she needs to go back to Blue Lion as she left it there.

The others nod, but instead of having Allura take the long way via spacewalk, the Cosmic Wolf gives her a quick jump over to Blue Lion, despite how she doesn't really take well to the animal.

Still gets nervous just being in the same room, but at least not as bad as it was when they started this road trip.

But once both are back, the audio log is played and they soon learn what Rick Hunter had done and been doing up until the log was made.

XXXX

Far removed, a pair of yellow eyes trace the movements of Sendak's fleet. The unaware Galra not realizing just how close death is. Though, currently, it is caged by its own volition.

Next to White Lion, Rick Hunter looks up at the blue sky opposite the orange-colored Particle Barrier.

His sudden return had surprised Admiral Sanda, forcing her to concede command to him.

He didn't give her a chance to argue the point anyways. He was the veteran commander with an understanding of what they were up against. She was a novice in intergalactic warfare.

The small fleet of ships they had, were either parked on Mars, at the last, previously hidden Mars base, or here at the Mojave Base.

Sanda had hell trying to park so many ships without dedicated equipment and stations for them. But she got the job done and in the biggest hurry one could have imagined. Though it had meant taking from materials earmarked for IGF-Atlas, it was an acceptable exchange as more resources had been brought by the ships and they've been able to raid for vital supplies.

"Admiral Hunter," speaking of the woman, "Sir, Ambassador Hunter reports success," Admiral Sanda salutes her superior who acknowledges the woman, "The Sentinel Alliance is reforming even as we speak."

Rick nods, "Good to hear."

"Also, Space Stations Defiance and Resolute report that the Second Fleet will complete builder's trials in fourth months and final outfitting and training should take another year, perhaps a year and half before the Outer Fleet is ready to return to Sol."

Rick makes a confirmation sound as he turns back to the sky.

"And Sendak, thinking everything we have is right before him, doesn't realize he's broken the rule of an old Earth saying."

"Sir?" the woman looks as confused as she feels.

"Never put all your eggs into one basket."

"I prefer a different saying sir."

"And that is?" Rick turns to his fellow admiral.

"It isn't want you know that gets you, it's what you don't know."

Rick smiles with a slight laugh at that.

"Remind me to be careful at poker night with you."

"Of course sir."

XXXX

A/N:

Geez!

I've been having this one in my files for almost three months now.

Well… Closer to four perhaps.

But you get the point.

This is a Robotech/Voltron: Legendary Defender crossover. It was supposed to, originally, end with Blue Lion's final scene. But I couldn't help myself and it expanded as you see it.

Furthermore, the original expansion was supposed to take place before the Paladins arrived at the Mamora's HQ in Season 2. But after Season 7, well, I decided to move the whole thing to before the Paladin's returned to Earth, but after the initial start of their journey. This should be evident by Krolia still being with the group.

This story is a one shot. I do plan a different and much longer story. But I need to catch up on other works first. So that one isn't even on my radar, yet.

Enjoy!