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Freckles and Constellations

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"Freckles, and constellations
All those cute conversations
The moon is bright, giving us light
I really wanna kiss you and I think I might
Filling up our imaginations

Starry eyes and galaxy minds
We'll be dancing on the clouds tonight
I'll be yours to keep just take a leap
Cause this spaceship has a passenger seat..."

- 'Freckles and Constellations' by Dodie Clark

 

-LANCE-

Warnings flashed across the windows in boxes of brilliant red, contrasting sharply against the black void of space beyond; the wise-cracking sharpshooter was in way over his head.
“Uh, guys-?” he began.
His eyes darted wildly across the array of buttons, switches, and levers protruding from the panel before him, sweat slipping down his forehead. 
Quiznack!
Then the cargo ship buckled and tossed, engines finally giving out and combusting in a ball of fire and light, propelling it into the atmosphere of a nearby planet-
And then the ship began to plummet.

 


 

-LOTOR-

Pale golden eyes flickered over the monitors.
A similar set of warnings were being projected over the windscreen again and again, blocking his peripheral vision with a haze of red.
WARNING- WARNING- WARNING-

“What the-?!”

Then it happened. 
The unstable tanks of energy stored in the back of the ship exploded, taking the engine and hold with it!
The prince’s seatbelt snapped and head slammed into the screen in front of him from the force; he was out cold.

The ship drifted through space. It passed stars, nebulas and galaxies in a matter of hours, eventually getting caught in the gravity of a nearby planet. It was dragged through the atmosphere, speed increasing wildly as it hurtled towards the ground…

 


 

-NEUTRAL-

The two ships crashed around the same time, sending terrified creatures scurrying from the undergrowth and birds screaming from the trees.
They were over a mile away from each other, both firmly embedded into the dirt. 
Twin plumes of smoke trailed into the sky, and the two pilots remained slumped in their seats.


 

-LOTOR-

Lotor was slowly roused from sleep by a faint tingling sensation and a quiet hum of noise. He groaned and shifted in his seat, eyelids flickering. A cough. Another. A round of spluttering and wheezing, lungs protesting as he drew in ragged breaths of foul-tasting air, another bout of hacking coughs quickly following.
His eyes flew open, a trembling hand going to his chest.
It was burning, acrid air, a thick smoke that clogged his lungs and clouded his vision..!!

Breathe. 

Breathe. 

Breathe.

His helmet weighed down on him like an anvil and his armour was a suffocatingly skin-tight fit.
He clawed feebly at his visor, fingertips tracing the fine web of cracks that ran through it, muscles protesting at the simple action.
“S’gotta- S’gotta be coming in ‘thru the cracks…”

He was most likely heavily oxygen-deprived and who knew how long he’d been unconscious and breathing in the fumes leaking from the ship. This was definitely not good.
Clumsily, he slipped off of the seat. The man begged his brain to THINK, claws scraping against metal as he crawled out of the cockpit. 

“Not much… N’ much further…”

Lotor rested his head on the floor, his breathing growing fainter and fainter.
The world swam around him. It was beginning to blur. He knew if he stayed there, if he closed his eyes, he might never leave.

 

-CREAK.

The ship’s walls began to shudder.
They shrieked and groaned, sending clouds of dust and flakes of metal dancing through the air.
He flinched, closing his eyes as the grating faded into mere echoes. When he opened his eyes again, he saw the faintest sliver of light reflected in the floor. 

An exit!

Excruciatingly slowly, he dragged himself along the corridor, a hundred meaningless vows in return for his life rattling around in his head, and oh the light was getting brighter and brighter-!
Second stretched into minutes. Minutes into hours. Into days. Into years.

 

His fingers quivered but he kept going, coaxing his screaming muscles into moving just another inch, begging his burning lungs to hold on for just a moment longer, drowning in the roar of the sea that pounded in between his ears.

So close. So quiznacking close.

The thought leant him a final burst of energy and he lugged his stiffening body around the corner, blinking away the dark patches swarming his vision-!
Light. Lots of it.
More and more of it in a sweeping curtain of white and gold streaming through the gaping hole in the ship.

 

He didn’t know how he did it but he did; he pulled himself through and into the blinding light, collapsing onto soft vegetation and throwing his helmet to the ground. The prince took in deep, greedy gulps of air.
Thank the stars. 

He grinned and rolled onto his back. 
The alien gazed up into the sky with slitted eyes, admiring the soft puffs and rolls of cloud, staring at the shift from the gorgeous lavender so similar to his own skin to a pinkish tone, and then finally a soft creamy yellow. The sky became clearer and clearer as the spots slowly faded, his surroundings becoming more defined by each second. Three suns beat down on him and he soon began to sweat, though he daren’t remove his armour- not that he could, of course, with his muscles still protesting loudly… 

I’m alive.

 

The blond’s attention was swiftly brought back to his surroundings by a chorus of large cracks; the fire from the ship was slowly beginning to eat into the nearby flora, and was weakening both trees and their branches.

Another crack, above him, followed by strained snapping noises.
His ears twitched.
Slowly, carefully, he looked up.
One long, slender branch hung suspended above his head by the slimmest collection of fibres he’d ever seen…!
Lotor yanked at his aching limbs, grimacing at the waves of pain coursing through him.

Well, quiznack, this will be fun.

 

The branch crashed down just as he threw himself clear.
For a moment he just lay there, panting and out of breath, terrified out of his mind. 
He allowed himself that moment, that one singular moment to feel the fear.
Then he pulled himself together.

“Breathe, Lotor. You are Galra. You are powerful. Unstoppable. Nothing can touch you.”

His breath was shaky, his fingers trembling at the thought of the familiar lie. 

Lock it in the crate, leave the crate in the vault, lock it away and deal with it later. Survival first.”


 

-LANCE-

He was drifting. Slowly drifting.

Laid on his back with the sea swirling around him, leaving icy kisses on his skin.

It curled and rolled and splashed around him, sweeping him safely along the water…

 

“Rest. Rest now.”

Why wouldn’t he? He had nowhere to be. Nothing to do.

He frowned suddenly, feeling a flicker of… something… in his chest. The man ignored it.

 

“Everything is fine.”

Of course it was. Why wouldn’t it be...? He was home. In his element. Safe. 

The flicker became a nudge, an unsettling feeling pushing at him, calling for attention. 

He tried to let it slide. He really did.

 

“It’s time to sleep.”

The voice was soothing, lulling.

Like the endless whispers of the sea.

He closed his eyes, took a breath, let the water wash his fears away…

But the nudge was done being patient.

 

Lance gasped as pain tore into him, dull burning pain rippling through his body.

He tried to sit up, a terrified scream caught in his throat, but the swirling liquid beneath him had turned to acid.

 

He choked as the smell of burning flesh clawed its way down his throat… A horrible chorus of sizzling, spitting, and crackling drifted around him as his flesh began to burn-!

And then all he could hear was screaming.

Hoarse shrieks and moans of pain. His spine was crawling, his skin was melting, his ears were ringing…!!

And then as the line between nightmares and reality began to blur, he realised the screaming was his own.

Slowly, slowly, his eyes fluttered open.

 

Lance’s head was pounding. His ears were ringing. His vision was swimming. 
The paladin attempted to get to his feet but his sense of balance was gone. He swayed, and crashed to the floor.
Limbs… So… Heavy… 

He tried to pull himself up but his eyes fluttered closed again.
Where am I?
He could see light through the smoke.
He tried calling out, but his voice stuck in his throat and all he did was take in a lungful of some kind of pungent gases. He coughed and spluttered, stomach heaving. 
He was dying. He just knew he’d go out like this- Alone. Injured. Scared out of his mind.

“H-Hunk…” He wheezed, hoping his best friend might hear his final cry for help. 
“Mi hermano…” 
He didn't hear so much as a whisper of static over the radio. 

I can’t leave them.
The paladin pulled his torso up, resting on his elbows, shaking with breathless sobs.
He thought of them- of his team, his adopted Space Family. The Paladins and the Alteans.
Shiro, his rolemodel. Their fearless leader.
Allura, the stunning and intelligent princess, his friend.
Keith… His rival. His reckless and impulsive, emo, sometimes-friend.
Pidge… His little brother- sister- sibling. Master hacker and great fun to hang out with...
And finally, Hunk. His best friend. His rock. His ice-cream and venting buddy, his disney-movies bingewatching pal, his sunshine and daisies friend who would BREAK if Lance died.

I can’t give up.
His lungs burned and he cried in pain as he took another breath of dark smoke.

He reached for his bayard, hands shaking.

I have to live.

 He activated the weapon.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 2

-LANCE-

Lance activated the weapon, the familiar weight of his gun settling in his hands.
Slowly, he drew in a breath.
Then he fired, the weapon adapting to his needs. The bolt of energy tore through the wall beside him and the already weak walls of the cargo ship, creating a Lance-sized hole to whatever lay beyond. Light filtered through and for the first time that day, the blue paladin felt a flicker of hope.

Lance got to his knees.
You can do this... He thought, dragging himself towards the hole. 
He made slow, steady progress, muscles burning and thoughts slowly fogging.
Come on.
Just a few more yards.

Later, looking back on this event, Lance would never be quite sure how he’d done it. How he’d pulled himself through a mess of smoking metal panels and the sparking wires that hung down in his face. He’d wonder how he’d tolerated that awful scent of burning plastic and smouldering skin.
But he had.
And he did.

Lance collapsed onto the grass outside as his ship continued to burn, thanking his lucky stars that he’d survived.
“Dios, that was crazy.” He murmured.
He lay there, staring at the sky with a broad smile on his face... And then it crumpled. 
The paladin took in hesitant, shaky breaths through his screaming lungs which soon turned into deep lungfuls as he sobbed.
“C-come on... Pull yourself together...” he tried, wiping his eyes with his hand, “You’re being pathetic... You’re not even injured! Allura’s been through worse and you don’t see her crying! Shiro went through so much worse too and I’ve never seen so much as a tear track on his face! If Keith was here, he’d be out and setting up some kind of camp by now, would probably have food already cooking on a fire, might even have managed to make a shelter-!”

And just like that, it slowly started to rain.
His anger vanished just as quickly as it came and he went quiet, the tears mingling with the raindrops.
He closed his eyes.
“But it’s me. 

He heard the sizzling of the water on the burning ship, felt the drops filter through his hair, run down his face and wash away the ash.
He tasted blood and sweat and the sweet salt of his tears and smiled sadly.
“But it’s me.”

And there he stayed, staring up at the sky.

 

-LOTOR-

As the rain began to fall Lotor decided it was time to move.
He got up slowly, testing his aching limbs. He didn’t collapse which was good.
The alien was a little lightheaded but he tested his balance and again, didn’t collapse. 
He decided to take it easy until he was sure he had recovered.

He took one hesitant step forward, then another.
Nothing.
He smiled, letting out a short sigh of relief.
Now. Down to business.

 

-LANCE-

Lance eventually sat up with a short sigh.
“I can’t stay here all day…”
Perhaps he should look around, get his bearings…
Yeah, that seemed like a good idea.

He leant back on his hands, took one glance at the ravaged ship and let out a long, exaggerated groan.
“Well I guess flying outta this place is out of the question…” He grumbled, scratching the back of his neck.
“Now what about those surroundings…?”

The man took a sweeping glance around him and his jaw fell. He’d literally, in all of his travels as a paladin, never seen a planet quite like this. Lush forests in a gradient of vibrant greens, shimmering gold and rich purples surrounded him and rust-coloured grass lay beneath his feet.

He bet the other paladins would love this planet too.
Pidge would want to know why the leaves came in such brilliant metallic colours, Hunk would be testing the local fruits in a variety of foods, Keith would be out exploring, Allura and Coran would be trying to befriend the natives, Shiro would be scouting out the area and… Lance… Well, he’d…
Well…
Lance wasn’t really sure what he’d be doing.
Probably tagging along with one of the others- nothing really helpful, just trying to make himself feel needed. Not that they’d thank him of course- they’d probably just pass him onto the next one of their group who walked past.

Alright.
Think.
What would Shiro do? 
Lance frowned in thought.
Probably something boring but necessary- scout the area, get supplies, build a shelter, radio home…

He shrugged. It was worth a shot.
So the blue paladin got to his feet, only too thankful the armour wasn’t damaged (he didn’t fancy his chances without it if some of the local wildlife was less than friendly), and headed into the forest.

 

//Twenty dobashes later//

 

-LOTOR-

The fire had finally died out, the surrounding flora too full of water to spread far.
Lotor examined his ship from afar. He had no supplies on board- it was a small, quick little thing designed for short travels. He had built it with the assistance of some of his more trusted allies from the same material as Voltron- a legendary metal extracted from a meteor, supposedly able to cross realities and split the threads of time. As much as he very disliked trusting such far-fetched ideas with very little evidence or sources to back it up, he had no choice in the matter.
He needed that legend to be true.

He folded his arms, scanning the vessel and noting each little spot of damage. The side was folding in, the metal crumpled like a ball of paper-
Burns and scrapes littered every available surface… It wasn’t looking good.

Instinctively, he jumped back into a defensive position as the ship gave another almighty screech and a panel of metal came crashing down, clanging noisily as it hit the floor.
After a few moments, heart thumping like a rabbit’s, he relaxed. 
Breathe. It’s just the ship.
Breathe.

The alien began to evaluate the various pieces of the ship, wondering what would be worth salvaging and whether he’d be able to retrieve it.
He ran his claws through his thick white hair, sweeping it back and over his shoulders.
Carefully, he agonised over the decision of whether the raw energy he’d collected- the quintessence- would be possible to retrieve.
The raw quintessence is probably unretrievable. Too unpredictable. Raw energy like that could just as soon fry me as save me.
The fact that it was the most superior power source in all the galaxies only made him desire it more. It had nearly killed him getting what little he had, and he hated to let it slip through his fingers like this... Besides, who knew what it would to to its surroundings? To the animals and plants? To this planet? 

He was almost curious. It was his morbid fascination with such things that had lead him down this path in the first place, his desire to know where things came from and how, WHY they worked. That fascination had come in very handy over the years as he gained knowledge few other galra of his status would’ve bothered to learn- psychology tips and tricks to subtly gain favour, handy little fencing strategies that gave him an advantage when he was against galra bigger or stronger than him, the ability to recognise some wild plants that had saved him on too many occasions whether as a medicine and/or food... All sorts. Life was a lottery and the right piece of knowledge on the right day was the winning ticket.

He paced around the smoking structure, a good ten feet away.
The alien had no plans to re-enter the ship any time soon. He had no idea how stable it was- it was risky to even be standing this close. However, he had no means of communication to contact his generals apart from what lay inside.
He also needed shelter. He was in a small glade which had been widened by his disastrous crash, and all around was forest; he should be able to make some kind of shack/cover from that.
His most pressing issue was probably sustenance. He had no clue where the nearest river was and most of the surrounding area seemed pretty flat, so it wasn’t like he could just walk downhill in the hopes of finding water... And without water, he was going to have a tough time finding food unless he was prepared to start taste-testing the local fauna and flora.
The alien was in for a tough time, it seemed.

“Time to make a decision.” He said under his breath, carefully weighing up his options.

Then he heard the scream.
The first of a seemingly endless series of high-pitched, croaking wails that sent a sensation through him not unlike when Narti’s cat had scraped its claws down the metal of the ship one time.

 

“I guess my choice has been made for me then.” He murmured, unsheathing his sword from a holder strapped to his back.

 

-LANCE-

Lance found himself staring up into the gaping maw of the beast towering over him, gulping audibly as his eyes travelled along the rows of rotting black teeth. Its breath was foul. Lance didn’t want to imagine what its last meal had been and didn’t have to- fleshy remains still clung to some of the more jagged teeth.

The blue paladin glared up at the monster defiantly, drawing in great shuddering breaths.
He tried to move his arms, his legs, but the thing was just too heavy. Too strong. Lance tried a harsh, jerking motion but the thing merely readjusted its grip, leaning in closer and closer until Lance could feel its breath on his face.
So. This is the way I die.

A hysterical laugh bubbled up through his lips and the creature growled threateningly.
Through the gaps between the blackened teeth, a tide of drool crept. Lance turned his face away, eyes screwed tightly shut, features twisted in disgust as the fluid dribbled down onto his face.
The saliva spread a tingling sensation where it landed, numbing the flesh. Then it began to burn.
He screamed. He screamed again and again, sending birds from the trees with a swish of branches and a flurry of falling leaves.
Acidic saliva? What fun. He thought through his agony, sarcasm tinged with deliriousness. 
First nearly being gassed to death in my own ship, now I’ll be melted by drool.

Slowly, the saliva trickled down his neck and began to bite through the neck of the thin black under layer he wore under his armour, then pooled over the armour itself, creating horrible, noxious fumes as it melted the unusual material.

“H-

Hun-“

He tried, voice cracking.
His whole body was tingling now- a softer kind of sensation, a soothing one. 
Like his brain was trying to ignore the pain, like the fluid was a balm, was the gentle lapping of water and not a wildfire.

Stay- Awake!
...Must stay awake...

“Hunk...” He breathed croakily. He gasped, suddenly, as the creature leaned a little more heavily on him.
“S-“ 

How do I always end up in these situations?

Chapter Text

-LOTOR-

Lotor heard screaming.
High-pitched, horrible croaking wails that sent a sensation through him not unlike when Narti’s cat had once scraped its claws down the metal walls of his ship.
The continuous grating noises had set the team on edge for days; they begged Narti to de-claw it- lock it up- anything!- but the alien was insistent on her cat being untampered with.
Eventually the cat had desisted but he could never quite remove the echoes of the sound from his mind.
“I guess my choice has been made for me then.” He murmured, unsheathing his sword from a holder strapped to his back.

He proceeded cautiously into the forest, following the noise.
Then he halted.
What am I doing? I need to get away from the noise! It could be anything- the dying wails of prey, a yowling mongrel, or worst of all, a predator with a false call to lure in sympathetic travellers. 

The alien couldn’t help feel a twist of regret for whatever was making that wretched noise, however- it was clearly suffering horribly.
The predator must be in a playful mood today, if the screams truly did come from dying prey; it wasn’t trying to complete the job quickly at all.

Lotor glanced down at his sword.
Perhaps… Perhaps it wouldn’t be too unusual to hang around the area, size it up. It could potentially make a meal which I’ll need to survive here until I can contact the girls... And if it’s too dangerous to attack, it might still be worth waiting to see it it leaves scraps of the prey that I can scavenge.
A repulsive notion, sure, but it might be the difference between life and death for him.
He wasn’t about to let a free meal in a strange environment pass.

He kept the sword out, fingers wrapped loosely around the handle, gently passing it back and forth between his hands. He had trained relentlessly to become ambidextrous and it had certainly paid off over the centuries.
He hoped it would pay off today, too.

The alien slipped into the trees. His eyes lingered on the trunks here and there, keeping an eye out for stray hairs caught on the rough material or deep gouges- claw marks- in the bark.
So far he’d found none, so hopefully the creature hadn’t come through here...
He was careful not to tread too heavily on the swirling patchwork of purple leaves scattered across the ground, and even more careful not to be distracted by the beauty of his surroundings.
Soldiers don’t have time for sightseeing.

Even so, he found his eyes drawn to the vibrant leaves, watching them tumble and dance through the air. Each one as finely detailed as the last with a crazed mess of spiralling gold veins on its underside, and a dusting of silver down the stem.

The world around him was alive, bursting with colour and movement and sound. It made his heart race to see the birds fly above so freely, feel the thunder of racing beasts shake the ground from a distance, hear the calls of the primates in the trees. Sunlight shone through the leaves, bathing the wood in a haze of gold. Lotor took a giddy breath, savouring the feeling of oxygen rushing into lungs-!
And then the prey screamed again.
He faltered, smile freezing on his countenance.
Just like Agrava.
At the mere thought of the planet- Agrava- the illusion shattered, the colour slowly leeched from the world around him. Such splendid colours became faded, brilliant hues reimagined in washes of grey.

He shook himself.
Once. Twice.
He rolled his shoulders, slapped himself- hard- and took a long, deep breath.
It wasn’t like anyone was here to see such pitiful weakness.
Pull. Yourself. Together… I must be high on oxygen. That minor deprivation of it has affected my brain! That’s all this can be.

Lotor slowly gathered up the pieces of his good sense, cradling them gently in his arms. Carefully, gently, he restored them to their proper places in his mind, envisioning them as a barrier between his mind and such stupid admiration for the world around him, those ebullient feelings that threatened to bubble up inside him. 
Agrava…
He hadn’t dared to let the once-beautiful planet cross his mind in decapheebs. The memories were simply too painful. 

The lavender-skinned beauty sighed, and affixed a serene smile to his face. Then he continued on into the forest, deeper and deeper until the canopy grew so thick no light could enter, and all that was left was the gloom.

.

.

.

It wasn’t long before he encountered the creature. 
The beast was huge with thick black fur that gleamed shades of blue and green in the dim light of the forest. It almost resembled some kind of dog, or a lion- perhaps a bear? It was such a confusing jumble of attributes that one singular species couldn’t be pinned down..
Muscles rippled beneath layers of fur as it dragged its prey back and forth across the ground, the prey’s limbs twisting at unnatural angles. 

Broken. Definitely broken. 
Lotor noted as he observed the creature from afar, silently pacing around the perimeter.

The predator finally finished toying with its victim, pinning it down and finally, finally, Lotor got a glimpse of the thing it had been tormenting.
His heart stopped in his chest.
A paladin.

But- Surely not? Surely that wasn't-
His eyes flickered over the limp form of the human, settling on the image emblazoned on the chestplate. 
Even half-melted and buried under layers of mud he could still make it out- V. V for Voltron.

The beast opened its jaw wide, displaying row after row of twisted, deformed teeth-!
And with a snarl of a curse, the galran prince charged into battle.