Lance expected diplomatic missions to be a little more fun. Maybe a parade in Voltron’s honor was too high an expectation, but a feast would have been perfectly reasonable.
“Is a party or something too much to ask? I mean we’re Voltron, defenders of the universe! You’d think people would want to celebrate that is all I’m saying.” Lance said, crossing his arms and slumping down into the couch cushions.
“I don’t know if we’re defenders of the universe yet,” said Hunk. “I mean we’ve really only saved a couple of planets, right? The Balmera and Arus, though I guess the castle being on Arus is the only reason it was really in danger at all… So, one planet? If you’d call the Balmera a planet, since it’s, you know, alive and all. And there’s thousands of planets the Galra have taken over.”
“Hunk is right Lance,” said Allura “We’ve hardly proven ourselves. We need to appeal to the leaders of these planets, not throw parties.”
Shiro interjected, “So far Voltron is only known because of what the old paladins did 10,000 years ago. To most of these people it’s just a legend, and we can’t ride on those coattails. We have to show the universe what this team is capable of.”
“Okay but that doesn’t mean we can’t throw a party,” Lance grumbled “It would be a lot more fun than meeting all these stuffy leaders at least.”
“Lance, last time we threw a party you got blown up,” said Keith.
Lance sat up, throwing his arms wide. “That’s not MY fault, Sendak sent in some Rover-clone…”
“Hey! Don’t bring Rover into this!” Pidge yelled.
“GUYS,” Shiro sounded less than pleased “We’ll be meeting the leaders of Uriin in just a couple vargas, will you can it until we get through this? I’d like the whole team to be present but I’ll leave you here if I have to.”
Shiro’s Disappointed Parent Voice was enough to get the three paladins to settle. Lance crossed his arms and slumped again. Hunk gave him a reassuring pat on the shoulder, but it did little to ease the blue paladin’s disappointment. At least he’d still be going to visit another alien planet, who knows maybe the Uriinians were a partying type of people.
Coran cleared his throat “Our last communication with the Uriin was worrying to say the least. They’ve had multiple skirmishes with Galran scouting vessels, the last being only 9 quintents ago, so we’ll need to be on our toes. Thankfully the Uriinian’s data has indicated that the scouting vessels have not made it close enough to activate their long-range scanners on the home planet. So long as it stays that way, Zarkon won’t even know we’re visiting. Regardless, best be ready for anything.”
Allura spoke “The planet of Uriin has a strong military that could help us immensely in our fight against Zarkon, so it’s imperative that we put our best foot forward.”
“We’ll do our best Princess,” Shiro said, giving her a reassuring smile.
The Uriinians looked a little like deer: they had antlers that extended above their heads and in some cases, additional antlers that fell in front of their ears like hair. They were for the most part humanoid in appearance, but with deer-ears and inky eyes. Their leader greeted the paladins warmly when they disembarked the castle, putting her hands on their shoulders and lightly pressing her forehead to theirs as best she could, given that she had to be almost eight feet tall.
“Welcome Voltron paladins. I am Kuagi, Chancellor of the Uriinian Council. I hope your journey was bloodless and swift.”
“It is wonderful to meet you Chancellor, I am Princess Allura of Altea. This is Coran, my advisor, and Shiro, leader of the paladins…”
At this point, Lance started tuning things out. He heard his name mentioned and he gave a winning smile, but for the most part he just started looking at the horns of the Chancellor’s entourage. One had horns more like a ram, and the other had horns like an antelope and fringe horns shaped like ringlets. Neither Uriinian was quite as tall as Kuagi, but they were still at least seven feet. Eventually the introductions were over and the paladins were lead inside to a circular room where more Uriinians were standing in seemingly random locations, but as the group was lead to the middle, it became clear that the shortest of the council members were seated around the center, the tallest to the fringes. Kuagi was among the tallest there, but she went to stand on a circle marking the centermost point of the room. She turned to face the group, her two entourage already having gone to stand in their respective spots, and said something. Everyone in the room sat down on their knees, and the Alteans and paladins followed suit, sitting in a semicircle in front of Kuagi.
Everyone, that was, but Lance, who had still been zoned out and missed the cue. Hunk, who had sat down beside him, gave him a quick tug on the belt that shocked Lance into action, and he scrambled to get down into the sitting position the others were in. Shiro gave him a stern glance from where he sat to the right of Allura, which made Lance flush with embarrassment. Allura however acted as if nothing had happened, and thankfully the Chancellor seemed to not pay him any mind.
His blunder did not go unnoticed by the council members however, and a soft giggle sounded from one of the shortest Uriinians seated behind the Chancellor. Lance looked over to the source and blushed even more, though not entirely out of embarrassment this time. She had the antelope and ringlet antlers as well, with a line of iridescent dots that went from her ears, under her eyes, and across the bridge of her nose. She gave Lance a shy smile, her deer-like ears fluttering slightly, and went back to paying attention to Kuagi.
Lance grinned goofily, and stared at her a little longer before looking back at the group. Allura, Shiro, and Coran were all engaged in boring discussion with the Chancellor, but from the other side of the semi-circle Pidge and Keith were glaring at Lance. Pidge gave him a subtle eye-roll and Keith tried his best to send knives flying from his eyes while still managing to look mostly bored.
Hunk leaned over to Lance, keeping his voice low so it couldn’t be heard over the diplomacy happening to their right. “Dude, it wasn’t that long ago that you got tied to a tree and your lion stolen by Nyma.”
Lance whispered back, “But Nyma was just some stranger, this is a potential ally. She’s not going to steal Blue from me.”
“I’m just saying, I don’t think it’s the best idea. I can feel it in my gut man, and need I remind you that my gut was right last time.”
“You probably just had too much food goo for breakfast, Hunk. Don’t use your stomach pains against me. I’m just trying to spread a little Lance around.”
“Please don’t say that.”
“What do you mean? It’s like ‘spread a little love around’, nothing wrong with that.”
“You made your name sound like a disease dude.”
“I’m not a disease, Hunk. I’m a romantic.”
Shiro caught Lance’s eye again and gave him another stern look. Lance and Hunk sat up a little straighter, both embarrassed at being caught. Thankfully the Chancellor seemed to either not notice or not care, and the diplomacy went along just as scheduled. Lance zoned in and out of the conversation, not really finding anything very interesting. He decided to instead spend the rest of his time looking at the Uriinians, noting their facial markings and different styles and colors of antlers. Every once in a while he shifted uncomfortably, not used to the pinching feeling in his legs from sitting on them for so long. A few times while doing this the short Uriinian would look back over at him, and after a few bashful looks his direction Lance sent a wink back. He could hear Hunk sigh but he didn’t bother looking back at him, hoping to prolong the eye contact with the cute Uriinian a little longer. He had to get her name.
Chancellor Kuagi clapped her hands together, causing Lance to look back at her. “Well,” she addressed the rest of the room, “It is only fair for the rest of the council to interact with the members of Voltron before any other arrangements are made. We will meet tomorrow at dawn to vote on our decision.” With that said she stood and the rest of the room followed. Some robots entered from a few doors carrying plates of food and drink and the room dissolved into chatter.
Allura addressed them before they could start chasing down the robots. “I’m confident that we’ve secured an alliance here, but I still need you all to be respectful and polite. Do try to have fun however, breaks like these are few and far between.”
Hunk clapped Lance on the back as Pidge beelined for the nearest robot and Keith went to shadow Shiro. “Looks like you got that party after all, huh Lance.” Hunk plucked an hors d'oeuvre from a plate as it skated between them.
“I just hope those drinks don’t taste anything like nunvill.” Lance said, grabbing an hors d’oeuvre as well, which looked like an oversized purple macaroni filled with something yellow. He stuffed it into his mouth in one bite, which of course was when he looked across the room and made eye-contact with that Uriinian again. She was talking to Coran, who appeared to be in stitches from whatever she just said. She looked like she excused herself and started walking over to Hunk and Lance.
Hunk elbowed Lance in the ribs, “Dude,” He gestured to his own mouth, reminding Lance that his was still stuffed with the macaroni thing. Hunk was a pal like that, still acting as a prime wing-man even if he didn’t approve of his friend’s flirting. Lance swallowed, which instantly felt like a bad decision, maybe one or two chews would have been good. He had little time to recover before the Uriinian reached them both.
She may have been one of the shortest Uriinians there, but she was still several inches taller than Lance and Hunk. She bowed her head slightly before speaking. “It is an honor to meet the paladins of Voltron. I confess I believed the tale of Voltron to be a myth, but I am glad to be wrong. My name is Spekii.”
Lance’s jaw may or may not have dropped a little, so Hunk spoke first. “I’m Hunk, I pilot the yellow lion. This is my friend—“
“The name’s Lance.” He gave her a winning smile, ignoring the frown Hunk gave him.
“The blue paladin I presume, it seems you wear the colors of your lions.” Spekii gave Lance a small smile. “Do the colors hold any other kind of significance?”
“Nah, but blue really bring out my eyes…” Lance said, giving Spekii another wink. Her ears fluttered again and Lance could swear her iridescent spots turned a little pink.
“Wellllll, I think Pidge is trying to tear apart that robot over there,” Hunk pointed off a little ways and Spekii’s eyes followed to the green paladin who was starting to attract a throng of onlookers as she attempted to pry off some of a robot’s paneling. “So I should… probably go stop her… yeah I’ll just go over there and do that then…” Hunk’s voice trailed off as he started backing away. Spekii looked back to Lance, who hadn’t bothered to look in Pidge’s direction in favor of looking at the pretty alien girl in front of him.
“Does the green paladin have something against robotic assistance?” Spekii said, her brow furrowing slightly.
Lance hardly registered Shiro running toward Pidge, giving her audience a sheepish grin as Hunk rescued the robot from her grasp.
“Who, Pidge? No way she’s like, the founder of the robot fan club. She’d probably become a robot if she could.”
A plate of fizzy purple drinks floated between Lance and Spekii, both of whom reached for the same glass. Lance jumped a little and flushed as his hand brushed against hers. She had a similar reaction, her dots turning pink again and her ears fluttering rapidly as they withdrew their hands. The robot holding the tray stopped, its digital eyes blinking at the two expectantly.
“Oh, uh…” Lance grabbed two of the drinks, which seemed to appease the robot who stopped staring at them and floated toward the next group of people. He looked down at the two drinks, and back to Spekii, who’s dots were still a subtle pink and her eyes shyly cast away. Lance was a little disappointed that her ears weren’t fluttering anymore, but instead were held flat against her skull as if with effort. “Here.” He held out one of the drinks to her, and she returned his gaze and she took the offered glass. He smiled when he noticed her ears twitch a little again, and the two of them both visibly relaxed.
For once, Lance was lost for words, so he decided to take a sip of the bubbling drink and Spekii did the same.
“Hey, this is really good! What’s this made of?” Lance asked, beaming as he inspected the glass.
“Oh, it is fermented hanu fruit.”
“Fermented?” Lance grinned at her conspiratorially, “Don’t tell Shiro.”
“Oh, I apologize, are such drinks frowned upon by your people? The fermentation is for preservation purposes; it is not a strong drink. It would be impolite of us to inebriate our guests.”
”Nonono, Shiro’s just a bit of a stick in the mud sometimes. This stuff is great though! The only ‘nice’ drinks we have on the ship taste like… well they taste really bad.”
“Well, if you would like I could accompany you to the market this evening and we could order a case of the hanu drink to be delivered to your castle-ship.”
Lance’s mouth was a little agape again, and Spekii’s dots flushed and ears twitched.
“I mean, your fellow paladins are invited too of course, if uh… if that is what you wish.”
At mention of the other paladins Lance instinctively looked around the room. Shiro and Hunk were still working crowd control with Pidge, who looked less than happy about the robot being taken away from her. Coran and Allura were speaking amicably with two of the taller Uriinians. And Keith…
Keith was staring at Lance, or rather, glaring at Lance even more intensely than he had before. Lance’s eyes narrowed, the word “jealousy” coming to mind. It wasn’t Lance’s fault if the cute alien girls were only interested in him. Lance looked back to Spekii and smiled warmly at her.
“Oh, I don’t think that will be necessary. It’s just a drink order, I’m sure the two of us can handle that on our own.”
Spekii beamed at him, and Lance felt like his legs turned into jelly. She opened her mouth to speak, but her words were drowned out by an alarm that rang out the hall. Yellow lights flashed, and a voice sounded over an intercom.
“Council members, retreat to your designated shelters, Galra ships have broken past the first defenses and are on course for the planet. Again, council members must leave for their…”
Lance and Spekii shared a wide-eyed look before they went off in opposite directions. Lance rushed over to Shiro and the others, who were all exiting the room the same way they came. Allura yelled over cacophony. “Paladins, get to your Lions! The Galran ships likely already have our location. We need to move off planet to intercept their ships and keep the fighting away from the planet.”
Allura and Coran took their stations on the bridge and the paladins got to their lions. Pidge and Keith flew out first and headed up to break through the atmosphere while Shiro, Hunk, and Lance flew alongside the castle.
“I’m going to use my cloak and see if I can get a closer look at the incoming ships.” Pidge informed the team through their com link.
“Understood. Keith, follow but keep your distance. Don’t engage unless the Galra detect the green lion,” Shiro said.
“Coran and I will stay back to take out any stragglers that get too close to Uriin,” said Allura.
Lance, Hunk, and Shiro flew further in the direction Pidge and Keith had gone.
Lance sighed. That had to have been the shortest party he’d ever been to. It was what, like five minutes, seven maybe? After at least an hour of boring political stuff. Would he ever catch a break?
“Hey, do you think we’ll have time to go back down to the planet after we finish this? I kinda had plans for the evening…” Lance said as the three of them were catching up to Keith.
“Lance, we should focus on the present, we don’t know what kind of force we’ll be dealing with here. Let’s be sure there’s a planet to return to,” said Shiro.
“Coran said it was only some scouting vessels before, one probably just got past their perimeter. It’ll be a piece of cake.”
“Uh, guys?” Pidge’s voice came back over the com. “I think the Galra sent an invasion force. There’s at least ten warships here, looks like three of them are prison ships.” Lance saw his map update with coordinates for each vessel. “I think they’re mostly empty, probably meant to be filled up with Uriinians, but we should keep them intact just in case they have some prisoners aboard.”
“Oh, ten warships Pidge? Ten? At least ten? What was it, Lance, that you were just saying, about this being a ‘piece of cake’?” Lance winced a little at Hunk’s words.
“Really Lance? You just had to jinx us didn’t you.”
“Settle down guys, we can handle this. Let’s regroup, I have a feeling we’ll need to form Voltron for this fight.” Shiro, ever the voice of reason. Lance and the others reached Keith, and Pidge decloaked beside them.
“Uh oh… uh guys? I think---” Keith started, but before he could finish, Lance saw the telltale flash of an ion cannon in the distance. The blast came straight for them, Lance barely swerved out of the way in time. Allura’s video feed came on his Lion’s dashboard.
“You need to engage now! We were able to absorb the attack with the particle barrier, but we cannot afford to let anything past us! Uriin’s defenses have been sabotaged. We’re all that’s standing between this planet and the Galra.”
“Okay everyone, form Voltron!” The lions flew in formation as an ion cannon charged from another battlecruiser. This blast, however, was stopped with Voltron’s shield.
“We need to draw their fire away,” Shiro said as they flew to the starboard side of the fleet of ships. “Hunk, let’s use the shoulder cannon.”
It was enough to take out one of the smaller ships, but the prison ships were still heading toward the planet while the rest engaged the paladins. Voltron weaved through another volley of ion blasts and hit the closest warship, ripping off the cannon and blasting holes into the hull.
The battle map on Lance’s dashboard filled with red symbols as the fleet sent out its fighters.
“We need to stop those prison ships from getting to the planet,” Keith said as he formed Voltron’s sword.
“I’m not detecting any life signs aboard the ships, looks like it’s filled with sentries. Just, don’t hack them to pieces, I can salvage data from the ship’s computers,” said Pidge.
“Let’s cut these suckers off.” Lance said, smirking as Voltron literally cut one of the ships in half. Despite the battle, Pidge still groaned at the pun.
“Allura, a bunch of fighters are headed your way. Can the castle defenses handle it until we take out these cannons?” Shiro said.
“Yes, Uriin was able to mobilize part of their fleet, they’ll engage the fighters here with me.”
“Glad to hear it. Let’s take out the rest of these battlecruisers.”
Taking out the last of the ships was exhilarating, but after the last fighter exploded at the mercy of Voltron’s sword, Lance started getting a twisted feeling in his gut.
“Oh man, guys I think I’m gunna be sick…” Hunk said over the coms.
“I’m not feeling so great either big guy, that fight must have really taken it out of me…”
“Wait, is everyone feeling kind of queasy? I thought it was just me.” Pidge added. Shiro and Keith groaned in a way to confirm that all the paladins were feeling under the weather.
“Is something wrong? I’m getting some strange readings from Voltron.” Lance could barely hear Allura’s voice, a ringing in his ears drowning her out.
Then, suddenly, the Voltron lions broke apart.