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Homecoming

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Reality was fragments of sound and pain.

Nothing new, really, but this at least felt different.

He could feel his mother's energy, her corrupted alchemy and magic with the sour bitterness of char and ash surrounding it, all around him, and through the haze he managed to ascertain that he was being controlled. As was Sincline, where he sat in the pilot seat. One of two...

It wasn't enough. He simply didn't have the strength to push Honerva from his mind, his entire being, completely, but enough to stay the ship they'd created together from destroying Allura. For the moment, at least, but if Honerva had led them here it meant the colony was at her disposal, under her control...

The rage that hit him was white-hot and blinding, the twin points of searing pain from its fire lancing his temples like blades heated over an open flame. Or perhaps that was simply the witch who called himself his mother...

No time!

He hated being so seperated from his own cognizance that such commands to himself were necessary, but it helped. He knew he was correct, though. Even these few ticks were not something Honerva would concede easily. But he could handle the aftermath of that later, when Voltron was safely away from here...if he lived.

With no way to communicate with Allura in any tangible sense, all he could do was scream the word Run! as fervently as he could in his mind, praying to whatever meager connection between the two of them that had been unearthed on Oriande that she would hear the intent if not the word itself. A long shot, but it was all he could do. Honerva had known he'd broken her hold since the beginning and the pain in his head was so acute he couldn't believe he still retained any form of consciousness.

Perhaps she wanted him to see it, as a punishment for his seething words on departure. Perhaps she was simply that cruel. But it didn't matter. Though it was quite literally killing him, he had to do this. Had to make it count. Sincline responded to his quintessence, and to Allura's, far more than it ever would to Honerva's, but his time was still painfully limited.

The cliffs were close. Purposely, he was certain, but there wasn't time to dwell. While he still had contol of Sincline, and what he knew to be his own mind, he turned the ship that he and Allura had spent the happiest phoebes of his ridiculously long life building together toward the ledge.

Murmuring apologies to her as the ship went over, he listened to the screech and groan of metal and quintessence as Sincline, shields and particle barriers deliberately retracted, met rock and the power of gravity. Though they'd designed it specifically to withstand damage, it had already been weakened by the battle with Voltron and the distorted swaths of time in the Rift. He simply had to pray it would be enough to destroy it - or at least to hinder Honerva's plans so that the Paladins could escape.

He wasn't expecting survival. There was no reason whatsoever that he should still be alive, and he was grateful to die doing something at least partially good rather than simply rotting in the confines of the Rift. But the pain was immense, and as his and Allura's ship finally broke enough on a jagged edge of stone for a shard of metal to pierce his side just over his ribs, Lotor was ready for it to end.

It didn't. He should have known he wouldn't be so lucky, and yet...in his heart of hearts he had no true desire to die. But die he would, here at the bottom of this chasm in his destroyed ship, if help wasn't obtained. Not that he had any reason to expect such a thing, and yet -

Help me. It was a plea, pathetic and juvenile, all the evidence necessary that Zarkon had always been correct in his lifelong assertions that his son was weak. But who would care, especially now? With his vision hazy from impending unconsciousness, Lotor laughed and wondered at why he'd done so.

A voice sounding eerily similar to Dayak's came to him. He realized he was probably hallucinating, this close to death, or perhaps it was Honerva attempting to trick him. But he supposed it didn't matter...

You must climb. Soon it will be over and you may rest, but first you must climb.

It sounded so obvious as to be laughable, but strangely enough Lotor felt no urge to laugh. Instead, the voice was comforting, soothing his battered and broken body as well as his mind. He was never without suspicion, but Lotor was certain this was not Honerva. No, this was something far greater than she could ever dream of being. He could feel it in a part of himself he wasn't able to name.

And so, though it hurt and his blood left a distinctive trail of his path along the rocks, he climbed. He knew it should not have been possible - his wound was serious, and he had an arm that was likely broken - but with soothing instructions as to where to move his limbs and gentle waves of what felt like the empowering form of quintessence - the pure kind - he ascended the cliff face.

By all laws of physics he should have fallen any number of times, and yet he did not. There were periods of the climb for which he retained no memory whatsoever, and yet somehow every time he came to he was further up the cliffside, the familiar and soothing voice assuring him all the while.

When he dragged his body up over the final ledge, a feeling of immense pride and praise washed over him and as much as he wanted to simply pass out, he turned to lie on his back, to look up at the sky of this planet. A massive Lion's face stared back at him, but it seemed to be regarding him in the way a mother would its child than anything.

He whimpered a bit when the massive jaws opened, and silently thanked Honerva for allowing this to be his death vision. Or perhaps Keith? He couldn't be sure...

Rest, now. Safe.

Still reminiscent of Dayak in tone and timbre, but more soothing than he'd ever heard his governess. As the darkness closed around him he was comforted by visions of the Paladins and their lions safe on some distant planet, Allura being the focus more than any of the others. Visions of Honerva frustrated and unable to pursue. It was as though they were being fed to his mind directly, these images, rather than mere hallucinations...

As he lost consciousness completely, the message of "safe" repeated enough, and with accompanying waves of warmth and calm, to let him believe it if only for a little while.