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In the Cold

Chapter Text

The sound of sirens was overwhelming. The whole planet shook beneath Allura’s feet as she raced to the escape ships.

“Father, our only hope is to find Voltron!” she shouted over the sound of the Galra invasion.

“Allura, please, just keep running,” Alfor said, pulling his daughter along by her wrist. Allura pursed her lips. She was used to these reactions. People changing the subject, laughing, telling her to stop believing in childish fairy tales. But what else could Zarkon be looking for in his endless search of the galaxy?

The legends said that Voltron was an ancient Altean creation, denied to Zarkon when the Black Lion refused him. The Lions were instead given to the people of Earth, who suffered death from Zarkon’s jealousy. The Galran had lived for thousands of years, what else could keep him alive, but the desire for Voltron?

Coran stumbled and would have fallen if Allura had not thrown out a hand to steady him. They made it to a ship, just in time for a Galra drop ship to come burrowing through the bay walls. The doors opened and hundreds of Galran soldiers dismounted, shooting down Alteans without mercy.

“Coran, take Allura and run. Run to the farthest edges of the galaxy. She’s Altea’s only hope.” Alfor said.

“But what about you?” Coran grapsed Alfor’s shoulders desperately.

“I cannot leave my people.” Alfor looked back at the Alteans that were fighting their hardest. “Take her and go! That’s an order from your king!”

“Father, I won’t leave you!” Allura said.

“I know you won’t,” Alfor sighed and with a soft sad smile he reached, as if to cup his daughter’s cheek in his hand, then activated a tranquilizer that sent her swooning into Coran’s arms. “Go,” Alfor whispered.

Coran nodded, taking one last look at the man he loved, before carrying Allura into the ship. He secured the Princess in a seat and then activated the ship, bursting through the bay doors and into the chaos of the invasion.

Through some miracle Coran managed to pilot through the invaders and out into open space. He breathed a sigh of relief, and then looked sadly back at his planet.

When Allura awoke, she saw Coran in the pilot’s seat and endless stars before them.
“Father!” she cried, looking about the ship.

“Allura,” Coran left his seat and raced to the princess’s side. “Princess, please, don’t strain yourself. The tranquilizer is still in your system.”

“Coran he’s gone,” Allura fell into Coran’s hug and the two shared a sad embrace for a moment, before Allura straightened herself and wiped away her tears. “We must rescue him.”

“There’s no way we could take on all those galra ships with just the two of us and this tiny ship!” Coran said.

“They would have kept my father as a prisoner, he’s a high profile altean, so he wouldn’t be killed,” Allura continued. “If we can gather the forces, we should be able to rescue him.”

“We would need an army!” Coran said.

Suddenly an alarm began ringing from the ship’s console and the computer alerted the Alteans.

“Unidentified object in range, impact possible”.

Coran sat back down in the pilot’s seat. “Looks like we’ve entered an asteroid field.”

“The computer takes asteroids into account, it wouldn’t label it as an unknown object,” Allura said.

“The ship’s a bit rattled, go easy on her,” Coran said.

“Wait, Coran, stop! What is that?” Allura shouted, pointing beyond one of the many asteroids that twisted and turned through space before them.

“It just looks like some debris,” Coran squinted. “No…it’s pretty large for debris…maybe it’s a damaged galra cruiser?”

“Follow it,” Allura ordered, and Coran piloted the ship around the asteroids towards the black mass amidst them.

“No…” Coran breathed. “It couldn’t be…”

“It is!” Allura found a faint smile coming to her lips. “It’s Voltron. Part of Voltron.”
The two Alteans stared in awe at the enormous black lion that floated before them, almost as if asleep. Its paint was chipped here and there, battle-scarred, and its eyes were dark.

It only took them minutes to suit up and space walk over to the lion, but it took them a bit longer to figure out how to get into the lion.
“Is there some kind of door?” Coran asked over the com, pressing his hands to the side of the lion.

“I don’t know,” Allura said. She was at the front of the lion, staring into it's eyes. “It feels like… like its calling to me.”
Allura closed her eyes and put her hand on the lion’s nose. Her hand looked so small on the giant lion’s face. Suddenly the space around them lit up with a flash from the lion’s eyes. Allura was almost tossed backwards, as the black lion opened it's mighty jaws and roared. Somehow they could hear it, even in the vacuum of space.

“It’s telepathic!” Allura beamed. “Just like the stories say! It’s science and magic!”

“Look, we have our door!” Coran floated over to Allura and pointed towards the gaping mouth.

The inside of the lion was dark, lit only by the blue emergency lights. And it was cold, but getting warmer as they walked through it. There was only a hallway, and then a door to the pilot’s chamber. The door was sealed, and cold mist seeped out from under it. Suddenly there was a beep and the doors opened, blasting the Alteans with cold air. Allura shielded her face with an arm and when she lowered it she gasped at the sight of a pilot, still alive in the pilot’s chair.

“Are you alright?” Allura raced to his side. “Hello?”
The pilot groaned and fell to the side, Allura managed to catch him and they sank to the ground. She cradled him in her arms, his head on her lap. It was a young man with black hair, streaked by white, with a scar across his face. His eyelids flickered, then opened to reveal a pair of beautiful eyes. Allura felt her breath catch in her throat.

“Wh…who are you? Where am I?” Shiro breathed. “Where’s the rest of my team? What happened?”

“Calm yourself,” Allura hushed him, holding him tighter. “My name is Allura, I have you. It’s okay. It will all be okay now.”

Chapter Text

Shiro seemed to waste no time acclimating to his situation. In fact he wasted so little time that Allura began to worry for him.

"You've been asleep for thousands of years," she informed him. "It's okay to take a moment to... to mourn."

"There's no time." Shiro said, pressing buttons on the console. "I have to find the other Paladins, I have to make sure they're okay. They're just kids!"

"We'll find them, I promise," Allura said. "But there's no need to strain yourself."

"I'll have time for that later," Shiro said. "I'm responsible for them... I need to save them before I think about what happened."

Allura put a hand on Shiro's shoulder. Their eyes met and Shiro felt as if a fraction of the weight on his shoulders vanished.

"That's very noble of you." Allura said. She truly did admire his leadership. The Paladins of Voltron must be just as the legends said. Great warriors who would save them from the tyranny of the galra. "So, how do we find the other Paladins?"

"The Lions can find each other, they're all linked." Shiro said. "You and Coran can ride along with me, or follow me in the ship if you want. Black will lead us right to them." Shiro gave the wall an affectionate pat.

"I'll take the ship," Coran's voice came through in a buzz over the com. "I know the Princess wants to see the Lions in action."

"He's right," Allura blushed. "I have always dreamed of being a Paladin of Voltron."

"Black seems to like you, so that's all I need to know." Shiro smiled. "You'd probably make a great Paladin."

"You don't really know that," Allura chuckled.

"I trust my Lion," Shiro said. "And she trusts you. Now come on, let's go find the others."

Without a Teludav in either ship, it took some time to traverse space. They finally made it to a public warp, that sent them far from their original position to the planet that Shiro once called home.

"I can't believe I haven't seen Earth in a thousand years," Shiro said. "It feels like I was just there. I was just there..."

Allura looked at Shiro sadly. When Shiro noticed, he straightened up and wiped the grief from his face. "Black says that the Blue Lion is somewhere on Earth. Makes sense, Lance was always the most homesick. Altea was beautiful and space had tons of amazing sights, but nothing could beat his family and his home."

"What was Altea like back then?" Allura asked curiously.

"Amazing," Shiro grinned. "We'd never seen anything like it. Aliens on our doorstep, giving us the power to fight evil and bringing us to this beautiful planet, where everything was so advanced and peaceful... it was just amazing."

"Princess, I'm getting readings of thousands of Galra ships!" Coran shouted. "Earth is... overwhelmed by Galra forces!"

"What?" Shiro stood and looked out the Lion's eyes. The blue marble he'd once known was gone. Earth was covered in a smog and even from this far away, Shiro could see the purple scars across Earth's face. "No..."

"Can we get past them?" Allura asked.

"It could be tricky... near impossible really..." Coran said.

"Just stick close, Coran," Shiro said.

"What are you planning?" Allura asked.

"Something stupid," Allura could see beads of sweat forming on Shiro's forehead. "I'm going to push through... you should go back to your ship and retreat to a safe distance."

"No," Allura said. "I'm staying with you."

"Princess! Your father asked me to keep you safe!" Coran shouted, worry tingeing his voice.

"There's nowhere safer than a Lion of Voltron!" Allura said triumphantly. "And Shiro will need backup once we land. I'm going with him."

"Then I'm coming too!" Coran said. "Oh Quiznak, we're all going to die. I'm so sorry Alfor!"

"Let's do this," Shiro said.

Kli'kor had manned the incoming post at Earth for five years now. It was a boring job, no one wanted to come to Earth. It had practically no valuable resources, besides slave labor and there were plenty of slaves in the galaxy anyway. He hadn't seen an incoming ship in months, so it was a given that a giant Black Lion and an Altean ship rocketing through the sky, past the guard towers, was a bit of a surprise.

"This is Watchtower Alpha!" Kli'kor gasped into the com. "I just saw... I just saw a giant cat fly by!"

"You on the nunville again?" Gryp chuckled back. "I told you not to drink that Altean swill."

"No really! I think it was that thing... that... that Voltan thing! The one everyone's always saying Zarkon is after!"

"Look, I know you're bored, but can't you just go bother some humans like the rest of us?" Gryp said. "Call me when there's a real emergency."

Kli'kor cursed. If no one was going to believe him, then he'd just activate the alarm and send out the drone ships. They'd make short work of that Lion.

"Shiro, we have attack ships coming up fast," Allura said.

Shiro didn't answer, he just pulled back on the controls and put the Lion into an upward spiral. The Lion flipped right over the drones and came up behind them, blasting them with a laser from it's mouth. Some of the ships managed to escape, turning back to attack from the sides. Shiro moved again, and a blade materialized in the Lion's jaws. Shiro hacked away at one of the ships, pouncing off another and cleaving the watchtower in half with a single swipe of the jaw-blade.

"Ha! One for Coran!" Allura heard over the com, as Coran blasted a ship.

"Alright, stay close now. I'm going down. We're going to lose them in those caves down there," Shiro said.

"Roger that, Paladin!" Coran said.

Allura held tight to the pilot's seat, as the Black Lion went into a nosedive. The drones struggled to keep up and Coran almost lost them at times too, as they rocketed towards the ground. Shiro and Coran pulled up at the last second, unlike several of the drones, which smashed into terra firma with an explosion. Then Shiro made a sharp turn and barreled into the caves. Allura breathed a sigh of relief, when she saw that Coran had managed to follow them.

The Black Lion made contact with the ground, running on metal paws that cracked the rock beneath them. It's eyes shone through the darkness and they went on this way for minutes, before the path became too narrow for either ship.

"Looks like we'll have to go on foot from here," Coran said.

"Agreed, let's prepare for the worst," Shiro said. "We don't know if the Galra even know the Blue Lion is here, but we have to assume they do. Let's arm ourselves and be careful."

As the three met up, Allura noticed Shiro lower one of his arms. Suddenly it began to glow with a purple light that illuminated the cave. Shiro held it before him like a weapon.

"Looks like the ship didn't have any weapons on it," Coran sighed. "Suppose I'll have to rely on the girls!" He kissed both of his biceps and posed like a superhero.

"Makes sense. The ship was meant for a quick escape, it's not a Military Vessel." Allura sighed.

"Umm... here..." Shiro passed something to Allura. "I don't know if it will work for you, but..."

Allura looked at the object in her hands. A black and white handle that looked just like the armor Shiro wore.

"It's a Bayard. It's meant for the Black Paladin, but I usually go with my arm instead anyway," Shiro said. "I don't want you to be unarmed."

"How does it work?" Allura asked. A sudden flash of light answered her question and she gasped, as the Bayard transformed itself into a whip.

"Princess!" Coran said in awe.

"Good, so it works." Shiro smiled. "I figured, since the Black Lion responded to you, maybe the Bayard would too."

"I'm honored," Allura said, giving the whip an experimental flick. "Thank you, Paladin."

"Of course, Princess," Shiro said. "Now, let's go look for Lance."

Chapter Text

Shiro led the way down the tunnels, and as he did Coran stayed close to Allura. "There's carvings on the walls of lions, we won't have to go far to find Blue," he said. He helped Allura and Coran over a rock wall and then took the lead again. The cave was barely lit by his arm, but the carvings were visible as they walked. Allura marveled at them, as they went along.

"I cannot believe the leader of Voltron is right in front of me!" Allura said. "All I've dreamed of, here in a single day."

"Your father would be proud of you for what you've done to help them." Coran replied. He looked sadly at his feet, as they walked and Allura put a hand on his arm.

"We will, save him." She said. "Coran the Magnificent, the Princess of Altea and the Paladins of Voltron, there's no one that can stand in our way."

Coran smiled at the young woman he had come to think of as a daughter. He had served Alfor and his family for years, through the death of Allura's mother, through his relationship with Alfor, through Allura's growth and now this. He would do anything to keep this young woman safe and now here she was, comforting him. He was proud of her and so, so worried for her.

"This way," Shiro gestured for them to follow, as he squeezed through a tight passageway. "It should be right throug-" Shiro's voice was cut off, as the ground gave way under his feet and he tumbled down a steep rock face.

"Shiro!" Allura jumped after him, followed by Coran. They slid down, screaming and found themselves in a stream, far below where they had been walking. Shiro groaned and rubbed at his neck and Coran was testing his joints, to make sure nothing was broken, when Allura cried out. The men looked up to see her staring at a Blue Lion, laying out on the ground, as if asleep.

"Lance!" Shiro shouted, running for the Lion. Coran and Allura weren't far behind, but Shiro was still the first one at the door to the pilot's chamber. "Lance!"

The cold mist was still dissipating, as Shiro lifted Lance from the floor. Shiro had said that the other Paladins were children, but seeing a mere teenager in Paladin's armor, was different than hearing about it. Allura felt a surge of pity for the child, that was about to wake up and realize, that life had gone on without him.

"Ugh..." Lance groaned. "My head is killing me... Hunk... you got any painkillers?"

"Lance, Lance wake up," Shiro lifted Lance's head in his hands.

"Shiro?" Lance's eyes opened slowly.

"Can you stand?" Shiro asked.

"I mean, I'd rather not," Lance said. "Rather have five more minutes, but you are the fearless leader."

Shiro helped Lance to his feet, the Blue Paladin was unsteady. "Did we win?"

"..." Shiro sighed. "No, we didn't win."

"Where's Keith? ... Where's Jade?" Lance asked, fear in his eyes. "Shiro, are they okay? They were the closest to the blast!"

"I'm sorry... I don't know," Shiro said. "But the two of us survived, it's likely the Lions protected everyone else too."

"What about Hunk? And Pidge! God Shiro, Pidge could be dead or all alone out there, she's only fifteen!" Lance surged away from Shiro and into the pilot's seat. "We have to find them!"

"Lance," Shiro turned the seat towards him and knelt down to look Lance in the eyes. "We have to talk... something's... something's happened."

Chapter Text

"So... what happened to your ears?" Lance asked.

"What about my ears?" Allura asked.

"Well, back in my time, Alteans had round ears like us," Lance traced the top of his ear with a finger. "Was there like an accident or..."

"Hmph." Allura said.

"Alright team, our best shot is splitting up. We have two Lions and a ship and five more Lions to find." Shiro called the four occupants of the Altean ship to order.

"Are we sure splitting up is our best option?" Lance asked. "I mean, we were already split up once. Won't splitting up again just make it easier for the Galra to pick us off?"

"It might, but time is of the essence here," Shiro said. "And besides, they haven't seen a Lion in thousands of years, so we have the element of surprise."

"Yeah... A thousand years..." Lance chuckled nervously. He folded his arms over his chest, each hand gripping an arm tight.

"Coran and I can take our ship and you two can take your Lions," Allura said.

"Always happy to help!" Coran twisted the end of his mustache. "Just let me plug the location into the computer and we'll be on our way."

"Lance, you'll go for the Yellow Lion, I'll take the Green and Coran and Allura can find the Red, White and Grey. They're unsurprisingly, still together."

"You sure you wanna send some newbies to find Keith, Jade and Stella-Bo??" Lance asked. "They're a lot to handle, especially together."

"I think they can take it," Shiro sighed. "Besides, Hunk and Pidge might... panic. They should see some familiar faces. Keith and Jade's been trained for the worst, so they won't be a problem. Also they'll have each other."

"Right," Lance glowered down at the floor.

"Then it's settled." Shiro said. "We should go now."

Allura and Coran went to their seats and Lance went to leave, but before he could Shiro grabbed his shoulder.

"Lance... Are you going to be okay?" he asked.

"You know me, I'm always okay. I'm not just okay, I'm fine ." Lance said, drawing out the "i" in fine.

"You tend to shove this kind of stuff deep inside until it bubbles out later," Shiro said. "A thousand years... You never got to go back and see your fam-"

"I'm fine Shiro!" Lance pushed Shiro's hand off his shoulder. "Can we just get going?"

Shiro gave Lance a tense nod and they left the ship.

Chapter Text

In Lance's opinion, the worst thing about space was how quiet it was.

When you were driving down the road on Earth, you could always hear something; birds, engines, horns, music and more. Flying a Lion? Your only ambient sound was the soft beeping of the computers.

Lance sighed and took his hands off the controls for a moment to stretch, with a soft grunt. "Hey, Blue, how about we kick it with the road trip mix?"

Lance felt the warm growl in his head, that came when his Lion touched his mind and then the computer screen in front of him flashed to a playlist. Upbeat music filled the cockpit and Lance could feel a little of the tension fading away. He tapped his fingers against his leg, shifted in his seat and looked out the window.

"Blue... You're pretty old right?" he asked.

There was a low growl in reply.

"So, you've probably... I mean I know there were some Paladins before us and you had to watch them... die and then move on right?" Lance said. "Like you keep going and everyone you've ever known just... doesn't."

Lance felt a comforting purr in his mind, it filled his body with a telepathic calm. It had taken a long time for Lance and the other Paladins, to forge such a strong mental bond with their Lions and it was times like these, that he felt most grateful for it. As long as he had Blue, he'd always be okay.

But that didn't change the fact that he'd woken up from a several thousand year nap, to the news that he'd never see his family again.

"Well, I still have some family left in this timeline," Lance pushed the controls and sent his Lion rocketing off towards the coordinates blinking away on his computer screen. Lance smiles solomnly, but almost happily, " This is 'Operation: Rescue Hunk & Yellow!', after all!"

A few hours passed, before Lance found himself at the Yellow Lion's location.

"Thilin? Never heard of this planet." Lance read the computer screen with a frown. "Let's take 'er down Blue."

As Blue landed, paws crunching on the dirt of the planet, Lance noticed a group of natives rushing towards him, before he'd even come to a complete stop. Lance put his helmet on and disembarked from his Lion.

"I come in peace," he said with a grin. He'd always wanted to use that line.

The aliens blinked two sets of black eyes and babbled away in a language, that took Lance's translator a moment to work out.

"Step away from the God, heretic!" they seemed to be yelling.

"Step away from the what what now?" Lance asked. Before he knew what was happening, aliens were holding him at spearpoint, pushing him away from his Lion.

"This is not good," Lance gulped.