Bonds of Love
By Lynne (aka KittyLynne)
Disclaimer: Voltron and its characters are the property of World Events Productions. I am not writing this story for profit. The original characters, prose and plots created for this fiction are my creative property and should not be reproduced in any form without my written permission.
Author's summary and warnings: This is an updated version of my very first fanfiction effort, a story I wrote and posted several years ago on the KAEX mailing list. It revolves around developing the relationship between Keith and Princess Allura, and exploring the origin of the psychic connection between them, their teammates, and the lions that make up Voltron. This fanfiction was written and posted before the existence of Voltron: The Third Dimension, and does not tie in with that series in regards to plot or characterizations. Prologue rating: K+. Overall rating: M for language and adult situations.
Prologue: A Bond is Forged
The first gathering was held at the Tree of Life, the branches of which stretched high and wide over the largest rainforest found on the world known as Arus.
The guardians of the planet- five huge lions, with heads held regally erect and the wisdom of the ages lurking in their countenances- presided over a close-knit group of humans that stood in a half circle at the foot of the tree's gnarled, massive trunk. The sun shone down through the leafy bower, highlighting the lions' glossy coats of black, blue, green, red and yellow, and the jungle-shadowed contours of their superb feline musculatures. The expression on each of the humans' upturned faces reflected awe and reverence at the impressive sight.
The largest of the five was the Black Lion, who sat in front of the others as befitted his place as leader of the pride. Though his face was set in stern lines, his golden gaze was kindly as it rested upon the clan that the Lions had nurtured, instructed and loved as if they had been their own children.
The Guardians had been there when men had first appeared on Arus; their presence dated at least as far back as Arusians had been recording their history. The Five Great Ones had presided over the evolution of the ancestors and their descendants, guiding and enabling them to succeed in their efforts to colonize the planet. In turn, the humans had offered the lions their abject devotion, constant companionship, and times filled with laughter, innocence, discovery, enlightenment and joy. It was considered a more than even exchange by all, and one that had maintained the peace on Arus for hundreds of years.
But those tranquil times had now gone. An insidious evil had risen and darkened the door to paradise. The children of Arus were in danger of being exterminated from the ranks of the universe, and thus were in dire need of the strongest protection their noble Guardians could provide for them. It was time to forge the final and deepest bond, a connection that would ensure the survival of the Arusian race and that the secrets of Arus were kept well out of the grasp of malevolent and vicious beings.
At Black Lion's nod, five of the humans stepped forth from the crowd and dropped to their knees. The four men were of noble bearing, and the lone woman was clearly of noble birth; the jeweled circlet she wore proclaimed her royal status even though she humbly knelt in the grass with the others.
One by one, and with solemn ceremony, the Lions bestowed amulets representing the protectors of Arus and their elements- Air, Water, Life, Fire and Earth- upon the five humans.
Arielle, the Arusian queen, bowed her head as her sapphire amulet was placed around her neck. Her throat felt swelled with emotion, but she swallowed fiercely and blinked away the tears stinging her eyes. This was a time for showing hope and resolve for the future, not sorrow for what was lost to the past. She would lead her people to victory by embracing this precious gift and all that it offered with every part of her mind, body and soul.
Black magic and betrayal had put an end to an idyllic reign, had torn the fabric of Arusian society asunder and driven the clans of Wolf, Tiger and Hawk to seek refuge on other worlds. The Lion clan was all that remained on the planet, the last bastion of defense against a takeover by those who reveled in unadulterated evil. If the world known as Arus was going to survive, they must unite and fight this enemy as one.
Touching her amulet, the Queen studied the faces of each guardian, seeing the great goodness that dwelt within them. But there was more to them, so much more, and she could feel it! Her hand closed around the stone as warmth flowed outward from her heart to her every extremity, flooding her entire being with the joy and power of abiding love. In response, her amulet gave off a laser blue sunburst of light, the rays enveloping her in an aura that gave her the sensation of floating in the midst of a refreshingly cool and calm lake.
A quick glance around told her that her companions' amulets were also aglow, each with a hue to match the lion who had given it. She wondered if they were feeling the sensation of the patron elements of each stone, but was diverted from the thought as a gasp went through the assembled clan.
The outlines of the lions' corporeal forms had begun to flicker and fade as they dissolved into the beams of light. The rays brightened and spread outward, bathing the gathered humans in a myriad of colors as the lions concentrated on breaching the gap between two species of beings. At the psychic urging of their protectors, each person present allowed his or her mind to expand and encompass the connection.
As the merging increased the humans' innate power, the essences of the Lions were slowly absorbed by their chosen human vessels. There was no sadness in this act, for the melding enabled the Lions to learn all that they had previously not known about the struggles and emotions that were so wondrously unique to humanity. As the knowledge was passed on, and with it understanding, the bond between lion and warrior was permanently sealed.
Since the beginnings of this world, the Guardians had known that they would one day willingly make this sacrifice to keep their people safe and secure. It wasn't a decision that had been made in haste, for along with the sacrifice came a conundrum- what would become of the humans after the transformation? There was no guarantee, no possible way to ascertain if the Arusians would be able to band together and use their new knowledge to defeat the enemies that were clawing at the fabric of their lives. If that power was withheld or lost to those present for any reason, it was certain that the children of Arus would not prevail.
Weapons, technology, battle skills and courage were going to be needed, but were not enough to protect those that they most loved. So far, the mystical energy supplied by the individual Lions had been enough to keep the planet from falling to chaos and oblivion, but that barrier would not hold up against the one who hunted for enslavement or worse. Joining with the humans now was to give them the best chance to save this world. And so the ceremony now taking place had been conceived, a rite of passage that would be destined to become a sacred ritual for a lifetime and beyond.
The power of the elements and the Lions' great spirits would continue to live on within these five human warriors, and in future generations of lion warriors to come.
Several decades later...
Death and destruction rained down upon the ruins of the Castle of Lions. The King and Queen were dead and gone, leaving their only child huddled within the confines of the bombed out structure. The Princess of Arus clung tightly to the only semblance of family that remained to her; her appointed guardian and faithful advisor, Coran. The older man had just valiantly fought off a couple of enemy paratroopers to ensure his Princess' survival, even though the heartbreaking sounds of the people being carried away or massacred outside made them both wonder if there would be any subjects left for her to govern.
Optimism had sustained them in the month since the communication from Galaxy Alliance had arrived, offering highly trained pilots to find and fly Arus' famed and mighty secret weapon. Their building hopes were subsequently dashed to pieces when a second transmission came in from Command Central, stating the group of pilots that had been sent had radioed in a distress call and disappeared without a trace. A scouting report had come in after that, saying an Alliance ship had been shot down, and spotted in the midst of crash landing on the planet. Unfortunately, he and the Princess were forced to vacate the briefing room before it had been determined if the crash had any survivors.
Though it caused him anguish to relinquish the few remaining soldiers that they had to their probable demises, Coran had not hesitated to leave them behind to provide cover fire for their leader. He knew that every single one of those men understood the symbolism of Allura's position, and that as long as their beloved Princess was still alive, so were the chances that their world could survive too. They had willingly taken vows to make the ultimate sacrifice so that she could continue to bring hope to others still hiding in the connecting caves leading to outside Arusia. This was of paramount importance now, especially in the face of no forthcoming help from the Alliance.
Falling debris caused by another round of attacks had forced him and his charge to take cover in a place just outside the relative security of the castle's main control room. They had squeezed together under a massive stone bench, praying for a miracle. The prayer had been answered in the form of a sudden and inexplicable cease fire...but the deafening silence was of no comfort, for they had no way of knowing whether the skull ships had left or if the robot troops they contained were making preparations to raid the castle on foot.
The sounds of heavy doors banging shut and the loud echo of footsteps in the castle entry made Coran get to his feet as quickly as he could. Leaning heavily on his cane, he stood at the ready, listening to the echoing of human voices drawing near, remaining wary of the intruders. After all, Zarkon had been known to employ humanoid mercenaries...
Thankfully, it soon became clear to him that wasn't to be the case. The accents of the unknown visitors were distinctly Terran, and he could sense no evil intent in their demeanors. If anything, they sounded shocked and angered by the devastation of their surroundings, and concerned by the lack of an Arusian presence in the castle.
Hope welled once more in the Royal Advisor's battered but undaunted heart. Bidding the young Princess to keep herself hidden, he crept out of hiding and limped to the shadowed back of a large stone pillar to investigate without being seen.
He peered cautiously down upon the men standing in the entry chamber. There were five, and their garments and appearances, along with the words that they exchanged, completely convinced him that these were the missing pilots sent by the Alliance. After offering a swift, silent prayer of thanks that they had escaped the enemy and landed in one piece, he took a second look at them.
Closer inspection had him amending his designation of 'men'. Four that were probably in their mid to late teens, plus one small, bespectacled boy who appeared to be of ten or twelve years of age. How could that little one have had any experience in dealing with endless sieges and tyranny? Coran sighed in disappointment, then reminded himself that age and size was of no consequence in finding the secret of Voltron. What mattered was courage, compassion and the strength of one's heart. The fact that these pilots had survived a direct attack from a Skull ship in such good condition boded well for future successes. Now that they were here, Arus still had a chance.
After straightening his greatcoat and raking back the flop of his hair from his face, Coran descended the stairway to welcome the newcomers.
Crown Princess Allura was filled with impatience and curiosity at hearing the barely repressed excitement in her guardian's voice as he greeted their visitors. It had been a long, long time since he'd sounded like that. She started forward, but a sudden fit of shyness made her falter. Concealing herself behind the pillar Coran had just left behind, she carefully observed the group gathered at the bottom of the steep staircase.
Four young men and one boy, all with spears in hand, were standing at attention in front of her guardian. They had obviously been through an ordeal, but maintained the ramrod straight bearing of trained military men. A torch held aloft by Coran revealed strong and good looking faces lurking beneath smudges of dirt and what looked like dried blood.
For the first time in what felt like forever, Allura smiled. Even from here, she could sense their kindness and good intentions. There was no doubt in her mind that these must be the missing pilots from the Alliance.
Her guardian was calling for her, confirming that belief. She stepped out of the shadows, now most eager to greet those whom she hoped would turn out to be the saviors of what remained of her terrorized people and their poor planet.
Captain Keith Powell was elated to have found the Princess of Arus and her Royal Advisor alive. As long as some semblance of order and government could be maintained, they would have a good starting point to be going on with. He turned a confident smile to Sven, his comrade and best friend, but the stunned look on the Norweigian's upturned face and the sharp, indrawn breaths of the others had him quickly looking around to see what had them so enthralled.
The vision of unsurpassed beauty poised at the top of the staircase caused his own jaw to drop. A formally dressed young woman of about seventeen years of age stood in the flickering torchlight, which revealed the lines of a breathtaking figure, the luxuriant golden hair tumbling about smooth shoulders, and a warm and friendly expression.
Keith swallowed convulsively as a fathomless blue-eyed gaze made contact with his. As she made a graceful descent of the staircase, he pressed his lips together and tried to regain his scattered composure, but found it to be an impossible feat. He couldn't look away from her or resist returning the smile that reached like an outstretched hand to him as she introduced herself.
He listened intently as she spoke of her peoples' suffering and long ordeal at the hands of Planet Doom. Her tears, when they came, cut him to the quick. It was clear that she was trying hard to keep them from escaping, but a few slipped free to run down her pale cheeks nonetheless. Her expression was sad but determined as she spoke fervently of her wish to find the secret of Voltron and help defend her planet. It was clear to Keith that this was no helpless and pampered royal. This amazing young woman had been to hell and back, had defied the enemy and kept going in a situation where many men would have surrendered. She was a fighter.
In that moment, he resolved that he would do anything and everything in his power to help Princess Allura and her subjects.
Heart pounding a mile a minute, he laid aside his weapon and went down on one knee before her. She shyly offered her hand and he took it in his, kissing it and vowing fealty to her and her planet without hesitancy or any reservation in his mind.
Allura looked deeply into dark brown eyes before the handsome young pilot averted his head to kiss her hand. The absolute determination and certainty she saw in them sent a thrill zinging through her, even as the strength of the hand gripping hers and the feather-light touch of his lips raised goose bumps of pleasure on her arms.
In that moment she realized she trusted and liked this young man very much.
"What is your name, please?" She asked, surprised that she could sound so calm when her heart was doing cartwheels and back flips.
Keith found himself loath to let go of the Princess' hand as her voice swirled over and around him like sun-warmed honey.
"I'm Keith, and I'm the Commander." He replied, a bit huskily. Somehow, the formality of giving a surname didn't seem important while he was looking into those large and sparkling baby blues. "My life in your service, Your Highness."
Her smile was like a beam of sunshine in the dark, cold room. "On behalf of the citizens of this planet, I thank you and welcome you to Arus, Keith."
She nodded at him as he stood, and then at the other pilots, who then came forward one by one to kneel and kiss her hand.
As they did so, Keith moved to the background to observe the ritual and the beautiful, courageous woman that he was sure-although he didn't know how or why - that he had been born to meet and protect.
~I won't leave you, Princess.~ He swore silently. ~You can count on me.~
To be continued...