Keith was out on a solo mission. The Blade of Marmora was well on its way of becoming a humanitarian relief organisation, but that involved far more than just handing out provisions to the people of different planets. Respecting and learning about the alien cultures, ensuring that they weren’t intervening with the local economy and establishing a system that would provide long-term aid were just few of their tasks.
They were doing their best helping the planets they knew of, but space was vast and so was the sheer number of planets out there. Feeling responsible of the planets that they didn’t know of, but which needed help, one division had dedicated themselves to searching for planets that required their assistance. Moving forward from sector to sector, the Blade was now scouting near the Quantum Abyss. Because he had already been there before and knew the area better than most of the other Blades, Keith had offered to search this sector. It had been over a movement since he had last spoken to someone face to face. But that was simply the way it was out here in space.
Krolia had been there to see him off before this mission. His mother had given his shoulder a short, but warm squeeze, paired with a soft smile, which was only visible to those who knew her well. “Stay save.”, she had said, before she had turned around to get back to her duties. Some might think of it as a rather cold good-bye, but on one hand these missions had long since become routine and on the other the two years spent on the back of a space whale and the years following after that, were enough for them to grow closer. Mother and son didn’t need more words to express what they truly meant.
Missions like these made him realise yet again how empty could be. In front of him lay an expanse of velvety black covered in millions of stars. He liked the view, but over time gazing through the windshield of his pod to see noting else desolate darkness got – boring was the wrong word; rather taxing. It was times like these when he would wonder about his friends, his other family. After Allura’s death they had scattered. To say they met up occasionally, was an overstatement. Not that they didn’t try, but mostly the couldn’t find the time. Hunk and Shiro had their hands full with diplomatic missions on the Atlas, Pidge was swamped with scientific research at the Garrison and Coran was out there upholding and passing on the Altean culture. And Lance? He had seemed kind of subdued since Allura’s death. Keith understood that he needed time to grieve, but it had been seven deca-phoebs and the boy still didn’t make the impression, that he was over it. Over time she had become family to him as well and Keith had admired her, not only for her strength, but also for her kindness and diplomatic prowess. However something about Lance’s relationship with Allura bothered him and he didn’t dare to name what it was exactly. What was it that unnerved him about their past relationship? Was it that the boy seemed more dejected since her passing? That couldn’t be the only reason. After all, this feeling had started even when she was still alive. It worried him and filled him with a sense of guilt, he couldn’t explain. Seeing them together, not as friends or family, but as something more had filled him with something somber and heavy. Envy? Certainly not.
Sure he had wanted to be closer to the boy, close like they had become during the time, when Shiro was missing. Yet it seemed like after his first return from the Quantum Abyss, the rift between them had grown again. Why he didn’t know. He had assumed things would go back to the way they were after the situation with Lotor was wrapped up. Evidently they hadn’t. But Keith was used to this. To people distancing themselves from him. Whether it was back at the orphanage or at school. To people leaving intentionally or not. Those he wanted to keep close had always disappeared. Thus the team not meeting up as regularly, did not come as a big surprise. It was sad, but certainly not unexpected.
God. He was getting sentimental and his thoughts were all over the place. He needed to stay focused. Drifting of was probably a sign he should rest for a few vargas. Keith scanned his surroundings one last time for inhabitable planets. Not seeing anything, he then set the pod to autopilot. He had made sure that the pod would steer around the Quantum Abyss. At last he retreated to the back, where a single bunk bed was attached to the pod’s hull.
Normally Keith would wake greeted by the soft humming of the engine and the soft glow of the pod’s dashboard. Now the light was bright, flashing and accompanied by an earsplitting alarm. While jumping straight out of the bunk bed, he already went through all possible scenarios. Engine failure? An asteroid? Likely. A small group of Galra, that even after deca-phoebs didn’t want to recognize that the Galran Empire was no more? It had already happened before. Or space pirates? Maybe. When he finally made it to the pilot seat he checked the sensors. He was being pulled in. Even though the proximity alarm was going crazy, the sensors couldn’t detect any foreign space crafts. So why was he being pulled off course? He looked up only to be met with the only sight he didn’t expect. The bright glow of the Quantum Abyss, not as far in the distance as he wanted it to be. Too close for comfort really. But he HAD checked the route. Now he was checking the coordinates. A quickly calculated estimate told him: he was exactly where he should be and where the Abyss SHOULDN’T be. What did that mean? Does the Quantum Abyss expand? Does it move from its location? He was sure Pidge would have a field day examining this phenomenon more closely. After all the Quantum Abyss kind of was uncharted territory. Spending two years of his life there, evidently did not mean that he understood all of its quirks.
How had his pod come that close to it? The alarms should have been at it for a while and he usually was a light sleeper. The slightest noise would wake him. So why did he wake up only now? Patience yields focus. That’s what Shiro always told him. What mattered now was him focusing on getting out of here as fast as possible. He could worry about the how-did-I-end-up-here later. “Fuck”.
Contemplating had robbed him of more time, than he would’ve liked. Especially in the past Keith had been someone who would act first and think later. He must really be off his game if had hesitated this long, when right now every tick was counting. Making a U-turn he pushed the pod’s speed to the limit as soon as he faced open space. A dobosh passed.
Distance in space was a fickle thing. When there was nothing in your sight it was nearly impossible to tell if you were moving. Keith knew it couldn’t be long till he would’ve put enough distance between himself and the Abyss’ pull. He was fast enough. That is, he should have been fast enough. However that exactly was the problem. The typical laws of physics didn’t apply to the Quantum Abyss. Or maybe he underestimated its gravitation. Soon he saw an asteroid from the corner of his eye that soon was fully in his view. Proof he couldn’t dismiss. Cold dread began to run down his spine. He was at full speed and still getting pulled in. His mother had told him to stay safe. And what had he done. He had been inattentive and had endangered himself. Endangered the mission. A part of him felt eighteen all over again, when everyone would hold his temper over his head and tell him he was acting thoughtless. Irrational. Impulsive. No time to pity himself. Pushing those feelings down, he quickly checked the equipment on his suit. He could jump off the pod and save himself to an asteroid. Maybe he would be able to call for backup. NO. Not in his current situation. He would only put those coming to his rescue in danger. That was not an option. But how likely was it that he could catch a ride on another space whale? Highly unlikely. Still better than staying in the doomed pod. Keith would pick highly unlikely over imminent death without a second thought. He was opening the hatch to esca – his pod crashed against another asteroid, his head hit the hull violently and he was out like a light within the second.