The good news comes to him before the bad news finished echoing in the still air of his throne chamber.
They've lost a warship and six dozens of fighters. Two hundred twenty five trained officers and who knows how many scores of advanced drones. It wouldn't mean anything, a fullcycle or two ago, he’s had enough ships to spare - a loss of one is something his officers wouldn't even bother him with. Death or Victory, nothing else mattered. Vrepit sa. But not anymore.
Now, the lost ships are a precious resource in the war against Voltron.
It isn’t a good feeling, ten thousand years of uncontested rule brough short and threatened by a group of Earthling pups and a child Queen of Altea.
His empire is not threatened, not yet, but his conquest has been stopped and that is a frustrating thing. After a certain amount of time one gets used to the way things work and any hitch in the cogs is nearly painful to witness.
But, ten thousand years of life comes with its own boon - one learns to learn . From their mistakes, from their enemies, their own conceit. One learns patience, oh, so, so well.
He’s been too sure of himself, too focused on one focal point. He needs to change that, swap the mindset of the conqueror resting on his spoils back into the mindset of a fighter.
But no matter, the good news, for once, outweighs the bad.
In the chaos that is the skirmish on the deck of the warship, his soldiers have managed to apprehend one of the Paladins.
“Oh?” Zarkon looks at the messenger with interest. “And which one, pray tell?”
The Red? Fury incarnated, if still untrained, still undisciplined.
Black? His property returned to him - either the Lion or the Champion.
Both would be fine, both would please him. He did have such memorable interactions with both: one of them broken beyond repair and the other full of fire to bursting.
Maybe the Yellow - a memento of Alfor, his once friend...
“My Lord Zarkon, it’s the Blue Paladin,” the officer’s voice is full of wary pride, his eyes respectfully lowered. “He’s with the Druids ever since the capture, sir.”
Zarkon find himself standing before his brain fully dissects that information. Slipping out of his outer robe for mobility’s sake, stepping down from the dais with a wave to his attendants that he is not to be disturbed. They fall into a line of bows and quiet confirmations, well trained and ever so loyal.
Zarkon pays them no mind.
The Paladin isn’t much to look at, but he expected that. Earthlings rarely seem to be. No bigger than the kitlings of his own people, thin and bare at that. But, like with many races across the galaxies, their size doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things.
Still, this one throws him off - just a bit, a speck of a second, he expected… more . Taller than his chest plate, at least. Longer limbs, longer hair, skin tinted white and frosted blue at the edges...
Ah, is he being sentimental?
The Paladin looks worse for wear with his face bruised, his armour lying in a dented heap in the corner of the cell, black undersuit in tatters, barely covering the expanse of dusky skin and trembling limbs. He has to be in pain, of course, with said limbs stretched wide on the rack - it’s tilted backwards, so the pull won’t dislocate joints just yet, but the restraints are tight and the skin underneath them is already torn.
The cell is dark, even for Galra eyes, because Druids don’t need light, and the Paladin blinks slowly, eyes wide, twisting his head around as much as the restrains and the position allow him. Can’t Earthlings see in the dark? Such curious eyes they have, though, with the white all round.
A shade of curiosity washes over Zarkon and he steps closer, watches the Earthling flinch at the sound of his steps, listening to its breath, harsh and loud in the enclosed space. He reaches out and pries one of the eyes open with his claws.
The Paladin stills, as if suddenly all his joints locked against his will. His skin is damp, there is a trail of dry blood running alongside his temple and cheek, another one around the ear.
The eyeball is glossy with wetness and soft looking. Twitching around frantically, a black spec of a pupil wide and bottomless. The longer he looks into it, the wetter it becomes, until water starts to drip down on the purple mark on the boy’s cheek and the sounds he is making grow more urgent. The other eye is closed tightly all the time.
The ring of colour around the pupil is pale and blue, and that stops Zarkon from putting a claw through it. At least this, then?
He takes back his hand and the eye closes shut, the lid over it almost thin enough to see through, shivering with the pressure put on it. What flimsy protection.
“Majesty.” Hagar melts away from the shadows and he doesn't miss the boy tilting his head towards her voice. “We have been interrogating the Paladin…”
Zarkon points his gaze at the Paladin’s lower face - or rather, the metal covering the lower part of his face. The sounds coming from under it are muffled and strained.
But that explains the blood dripping from the boy’s ears, at least.
“Lord Zarkon,” another shadow crawls closer. “Making this one talk is not hard, but it uses empty words to obscure its thoughts and distract the interrogators.”
So the gag is there, because the Earthling is getting on their nerves? Amusing.
Also, annoying in some minor way. They’ve already rooted through the Paladin’s mind - clawed at his brain and split his defenses, opened him up like a treasure chest, rough and careless, and starved for knowledge - with no order from him.
“And did you extract any useful information from it, yet?”
The answer is in the silence that falls around him. He could’ve told them this outcome if they’d asked beforehand.
“Majesty, this one is quite useless to us,” Haggar speaks up. “There’s nothing in its head that would guide your troops. It won’t disclose the location of the Blue Lion either.”
Zarkon allows himself to make a sound that in other life could be called a chuckle. “Of course it won’t,” his hand falls flat against the Earthling’s face. “It’s a Paladin of Voltron, witch, they do not betray one another. You can try to break it, but…”
He stops. The boy is pulling at the bindings, trapped limbs straining to free themselves. His eyes are open now, staring through the darkness towards them, sharp and fiery, and blue. Is he listening? Can he understand their words without the influence of the Castle or his Lion? That would mean that his Quintessence is fully awake now, that he can connect to the energies of the Universe…
And it shouldn't surprise him, should it? It is a Blue, after all, and the Blue ones are always ahead of the game when it came to this.
Zarkon looks to the Druids, seeing eagerness in the way their hands twist, fingers clenching on thin air. Useless, huh? They’d like him to believe so, certainly.
The breath against his palm is quick, hot and moist.
“That’s quite as well, Hagar,” he says simply, feeling their heartbeats jump at his indulgent tone. He will not be played by them. He is indulgent when it comes to astarenen , but they are there for him, not the other way around. “I’m willing to find use for him.” He let his hand fall down, claws tracing the pulsing rhythm on the boy’s neck, then across two thin collarbones, to clench at the black fabric covering his torso. “The former Paladin of Blue was quite… open, after all.”
He pulls. The Earthling follows for as long as the restraints allow it, then it makes a high-pitched noise when its bones start to creak - until the fabric gives. The suit tears down the front and Zarkon carelessly throws it aside. The expanse of uncovered skin is almost Altean-dusky, it raises and falls gently over the Earthling’s chest, gaining sharper angles around the flat stomach and narrow hips. It’s bruised over the ribs, a big dark splotch of red covers one protruding hipbone - but the rest is bare and smooth and almost pristine.
There is little hair on it, so different from his own species. So alike…
“Earthlings seem soft, don’t they?” He says to no one in particular and his thoughts stray to the Champion.
Was he so soft, too, before ending up on the Arena? Are they like Galra, split into casts, with the softest ones alike their kahrasz ? Is the Champion vereste , a fighter born and breed, thirsty for blood and glory?
“These ones can’t bear,” one of the Druids chimes in, as if following his thoughts on the matter. Or maybe just his hand that presses absentmindedly against the Earthling’s stomach. “There’s no organs on the inside that would support new life.”
“Hm?” Zarkon hums in thought. “That matters not.” He knows when he is being dissuaded.
The Paladin keeps making noise, louder the lower his hand travels, chest rising and falling in quick succession. Why would they want this one? Another monster? Some new experiment they didn't have the chance to perform on the Champion?
Blue eyes stare at him from the darkness and he considers briefly letting them - just to see what happens.
But, the Quintessence of Blue calls to him - clear now that he is touching that thin skin. Soothing and calm, just as he remembers, it crawls slowly up his forearm and into his chest. He imagines that he can just press harder, push his claws through that flimsy layer of flesh and reach for it somewhere in the warm cage of the Earthling’s ribs. But he doesn't, because he isn’t a spoiled child anymore.
He needs the Paladin alive, least the Blue Lion feels their connection broken and searches for a new pilot.
And there is another reason, more prosaic, carnal even.
The Paladin isn’t hard on the eyes, after all - as far as his species goes. The Champion and the Yellow one are closer to his personal tastes, true, but… the Blue of before was also slender and smooth. Taller, older, more self-assured, powerful in his own way. But still .
Zarkon lets his hand ghost over the boy’s chest, counts his ribs, brushes down his side; he weights one of his thighs and the swell of a buttock, finding both satisfactory. The Earthling is smooth all over, it would seem, and not as fragile as he expected. Even its lean muscles seem more pronounced and appealing the longer and harder it strains for freedom.
Intrigued, he reaches lower, forcing his hand between the thighs trembling to close, further in, fingers hooked lightly, searching for that warm, moist place he remembers so well… But it isn’t there. He maps the area with a thoughtful hum, tuning out the whimpers from behind the gag and the increased creaking of the rack.
No, nothing. Well - nothing he expected to find. At least not as he expected it.
The thing he finds instead is small and dry, and when he experimentally pushes a fingertip against it, it clenches tight enough to barr him entrance.
“Hm, so Earthlings are not equipped,” he muses, trying to keep his disappointment to himself. He presses once more and enjoys the shudder running up the slender frame.
“Even if they aren’t, Majesty,” a shadow answers, “it’s easy to fix.”
Ah yes, of course, sometimes he forgets how much power rests in his hands.
“Very well. See that the Blue Paladin becomes more accommodating .” The Druids bow as he leaves the cell and then still when he stalls in the doorway. “But take care he remains whole,” a warning. “I have no use for a mindless drone slobbering at my feet.”
The Quintessence is so easy to push into imbalance and that is the last thing he desires.
The worst part is that Lance can still hear them.
He doesn't know how - never questioned this a strange ability to understand the goddamn aliens’ words, but not their writing. Not until he got royally screwed by that small detail when he was on board of a rapidly disintegrating Galran warship and all the exit signs were written in their goddamn runes! That’s what got him lost, that got him caught, what got him… here .
Stretched out on a steel table, naked and shivering, and open to examinations.To having every inch of its skin touched and measured, and explored, as the Druids with cold, sharp fingers argue about their findings right over his head like he is not even there.
“The Earthlings have no orifice for childbearing, it seems. None of the sample size so far has had it.”
Sample size? Are they speaking - Kerberos? Are they speaking Shiro or do they have more humans… what are they fucking talking about?!
“Strange species. Well, we could give it one.”
Lance freezes, his brain trying to throw off the understanding of the words. It would be better to be deaf, to be stupid in that moment.
“The body is too small, it won't support it. Who knows what organs it needs to live?”
“Bones can be broken and restructured to make space.”
He feels sick to his stomach. If there’s anything left in it after… how long has it been since he ate anything?
He would throw up. He wants to throw up, because at least maybe that would break this conversation and maybe he would be able to faint or something, because this… this… oh god … this is even worse than when they were trying to crack his head open like an egg… when they tried to make him betray his team… when the Galran was touching him…
Where is the team? Why haven’t they saved him yet? It’s been so long now… the time starts to melt together the longer he stays tied to the table, thirsty and hungry, and in pain… his whole body hurts now, from the position and the forced immobility, and from being poked and prodded, and fucking electrocuted… his left wrist is probably dislocated by now, but the numbness replaces the pain and he can’t tell anymore…
“Maybe remake the front? It’s not going to breed anyone, so there’s no need to keep it.”
It takes him a moment to realise that the high-pitched noise he hears comes out of his own throat. A whine worthy of a scared animal, but that is kind of where he is heading mentally now… if he could talk, he would tell them all to go and fuck themselves - but that’s what got him the fucking thing on his face and he hates it…
He hates it the most. The thick slab of rubbery metal between his teeth, embracing his lower jaw, immobilising it completely. It’s hard to swallow with his lips pried open and very soon the inside of the mask grows wet from saliva and completely gross. But, most of all, talking always served as a distraction with him, it helped Lance think, focus, make light of the situation he was in, no matter how bad it was...
And now he can’t do it anymore, there’s nothing to distract himself with - it’s cold and dark, and every time someone touches him the sensation seems magnified. His brain catches every whisper around and amplifies it until it starts to echo between his ears… he can not escape this…
“It may not walk afterwards.”
“It won’t have to.”
It this. It that. It, it, it!
How is he an ‘it’ all of a sudden? God , his head hurts…
“It’s just too small! Even the frailest of kahrasz have ways of taking well endowed mates, while the Earthlings...!”
What did he just hear?
“Wait, maybe that’s… “ The voices came and went out of focus. “ Kahrasz have ways …”
What… ways to what ? How taking ? What mate ?!
“...can borrow some of them… Ah, the Paladin is restless again. Water it, so it stops making so much noise.”
A shadow detaches itself from the darkness around, a pair of bright yellow spots appears over his head. Voice at the same time pleased and detached whispers while a thin tube is being pushed into the corner of his mouth, past the gag and his teeth, down his throat. He chokes, but it doesn't stop. “Flesh can be trained, especially young flesh. Earthlings so far seem malleable . Look at the Champion, how he took our magic and grew strong with it.”
“The Champion grew disobedient.”
“This is the Blue one, it will shape to the mould. They always do.”
The waiting is always the hardest part, even for one as ancient as him - it’s worst when his target is so close, almost in his reach, but still only barely.
The Paladins haven’t been spotted since the warship fiasco, haven’t attacked his base yet, demanding their teammate back. But he knows they will at some point and soon, because he knows how it is to be a Paladin and in that he has one more advantage over them. He knows where to hit to weaken them. And he knows how to hit to make them shatter.
He is patient, he can wait for them to come.
Another kind of restlessness, however, is getting harder to ignore. It starts in his loins and crawls its way up to his chest until he can swear that he feels it on his tongue. The Quintessence of the Blue calls to him stronger with every day he allows himself to think of how close he has it, how easy it would be to just reach out and take it…
He’s being sentimental, probably, but there are things one learns to appreciate with every passing century. One of them is the fact that the Universe is full of useless, interchangeable beings that needs to be culled for their own good - there is so very little variety. At some point Eternity becomes quite joyless. There was a time in his life when it wasn't so, and every memory of that time is treasured.
The touch of the Earthling’s skin reminded him of that, the warm smoothness of its flesh, the calming waves of the Quintessence Zarkon always appreciated - even as he recognised it for the weakness it is. He is still the Black Paladin and it’s impossible to escape the pull of the force that binds Voltron together.
It never became easier, living without it, never in ten thousands years.
And now there is a chance to have it again, once more - once he retrieves the rest of the Lions and the children that pilot them, once he takes back his rightful place at the helm of the weapon.
But that requires patience - a resource that is slowly depleting as the Druids take their sweet time with the Blue Paladin. Their loyalty is unquestionable, but their thirst for knowledge is bottomless and they’re used to discarding their less successful ideas with no remorse, so the Emperor keeps an eye on his prize.
And what an educational experience it has been so far.
The Paladin tries to keep his composure at first, of course, and Zarkon isn’t about to refuse admitting him a degree of bravery. But he suspects that the boy’s mind is still weak from the interrogation, not to mention that a fledgeling this young lacks the will necessary to detach himself from reality of what is being done to him. That composure crumbles when the astarenen finally settle on the plan and start more invasive procedures with objects designed to measure and stimulate, to check how far they can push until the flesh gives - to stop just ahead of that point and see how it can be adjusted. This Paladin doesn't much like to have things in him , it seems. What a pity.
Zarkon never paid much attention to how mateless kahrasz dealt with their needs, but the process he witnesses is quite fascinating. Who would have thought that bored breeders are so creative in finding ways to make lonely nights bearable?
An array of inventions appears and disappears across the Paladin’s cell, some more worthwhile than the others. The Druids are invested in performing their task to the best of their abilities and the boy is left with nothing, but to bear their ministrations. Soon needles bite into his veins, watering tubes remain lodged in his throat and the devices pushed into him grow in diameter and fancy.
It becomes something of a habit, these last few cycles, whenever the Emperor’s need raises its head, to pull up a screen and look inside of the dark cell. To see what the wilful Earthling is experiencing now.
Only once the process halts - otherwise there is no rest, only short breaks for the tools to be swapped - and that’s when the Paladin somehow manages to pull his hands out of the cuffs for a brief moment before being subdued again. Both wrists are dislocated and bloody, and Zarkon is told that the daft thing broke bones in his palms to fit them through.
He orders for softer restraints and more care to be taken with the Earthling. The Paladin might have been just desperate enough to break his bones, but it also might have been a reaction to pain. Druids had long time mastered the art of keeping their experiments alive against all laws of nature, but never much cared for the quality of that existence. Zarkon isn’t in the habit of torturing his property like some Malrusian savage. He never had to deal with unwilling lovers and has no interest in an insane one now. Pain sours the taste of Blue Quintessence, makes it downright unpalatable. The whole affair is already traumatic enough for the poor creature, so why not make it a bit easier on it?
A new needle joins the others, this one fine and made of precious metal for the precious substance that fills it. Raw Quintessence slowly drips into the Paladin’s bloodstream, healing all the self-inflicted wounds, sustaining his body in place of nourishment, pulling the struggling mind into a new plane of awareness where pain and stress brought on by intrusions fades away.
The boy’s eyelids turn heavy, his eyes lose focus and he grows pliant in the restraints, resting limply on the padded surface with the machine working between his legs in shallow thrusting motions, rocking him gently back and forth to the rhythm of muffled moans. It’s strange to see a Paladin of Voltron in such disheveled state, but also quite exhilarating - to witness young flesh subdued so and made only to feel.
It’s been awhile since Zarkon felt his body reacting to an image alone. His thoughts keep going back to the little ting between the Paladin’s thighs, to the way it shied from his touch and tightened impossibly against his fingers - he imagines how it will feel around his cock and on some days it’s enough to make him impatient .
The day comes soon, but not soon enough.
The way to that particular bed chamber is one he almost forgot, to be honest, since he stopped keeping the harem some few thousands fullcycles ago. An idea that appealed to him once - when he was still young and drunk on power - slowly lost its pull when his lovers kept aging while he stayed the same. It is not a life for a virile young kahrasz to live, especially that he could not give them children and doesn't need anyone trying to push their way into his rule. He still had trysts and still took lovers from time to time, there are many beautiful creatures across the galaxies and not all of his conquests ends up in blood, but as the time passed, they became rarer and rarer.
This is the first time in almost a century when he’s eager to enter the lavish room at the end of his private quarters.
He could have done it in that cell, but this isn’t just some cheap khrrak to subdue.
The Blue of before liked their comforts, always surrounded with soft fabrics and airy fragrances, so gentle outside of battle that it was a wonder how ruthless they could be when it came to keeping the team safe. All four of their hands were gentle and tender, and Zarkon almost feels the ghosts of them resting on his shoulders as he steps through the door.
He can’t recreate that other room from memory, but it is just so, this is his kingdom, made for his comfort, the Paladin has to adjust - above what he’s already been made to, that is.
The light is scarce inside, barely a glow from the panels on the walls - for all his newfound power, his eyes are still organic and his people can’t stand the excessive brightness well.
Alfor used to call them all dour and depressing, the bright, caring fool that he was, but it is more for comfort. Their home planet is away from the nearest star, they never needed much light to go by.
The smell of the room is the first thing that signals change - filtered air carries a sweeter note, musk completely unlike anything he’s used to. The Emperor follows his nose all the way to the sleeping area, a raised section of the floor, comfortable with artistically strewn plush bedding. Let it not be said that he isn’t willing to provide utmost comfort for his mates.
He finds the Earthling in the centre of it, soft cushions surrounding it from all sides. Zarkon’s breath catches slightly when he recognises the way the body is arranged. Ah, it would seem that the Druids took more than one idea from kahrasz. He did order more considerate restraints, but didn’t exactly have this in mind - and a pity, that. Though where did they find a harness that small? Was it made to measure?
That thought, for reasons unknown, ignites a low flame in him and has warmth spreading through his veins. It almost feels like a mark on the Earthling - some primitive part of his mind finds pleasure in that notion. As if he’s an animal-brained vereste . As if the Paladin hasn’t already been marked in a way more invasive and permanent than a simple length of fabric and metal is able to accomplish.
However, he can admit freely that the Earthling looks rather appealing in the getup. It accents the slim built, the muscles of the shoulders, pushes the arms close to the sides, tucked neatly to the lean torso. The strap around the waist pulls in tighter to accommodate the wrists, creating an illusion of the hips being a bit wider than they are. Is it an intended effect to imitate kahrasz more closely? If so, the task has been accomplished. His own people are always the most attractive to him and so every common element with them makes the Paladin more desirable.
There’s nothing to be done about his small, ugly ears, though. Maybe adornments to mask their shape? Maybe a surgical procedure?
But that is a thought for another day. For now he allows his eyes to drink their fill, as the Paladin lies in front of him, pliant and unmoving. His eyes are half open and cloudy, his breathing slow and steady, the body inviting with the thighs falling open just so slightly, teasing with the shadows obscuring most of the view. The last dregs of the Quintessence in his bloodstream are slow to wash out, it seems, keeping him docile.
Zarkon takes his time removing his armour, there is no need to rush this, he already knows how this night will play out. He dips into the pool located in the other end of the chamber, allowing the warm liquid to loosen his muscles, slowly washing the dust of the day from his fur. Usually, there are attendants to do it for him, but he doesn't wish them to witness this sight - he feels secretive, almost, to have the young Paladin for his eyes only. Maybe later, when the Earthling settles down into being owned and he settles into ownership, maybe then he will be able to share the image with others.
Not just yet, though.
He returns to the bed relaxed and refreshed, skin prickling with sensation of the fur raising as it dries. The Paladin is just about starting to stir from his half-dream as the Emperor crawls across the mattresses to lean over him.
Once more he is hit with the notion of how small the Earthling is and how frail it looks - especially now, out of the armour, skin on display and nothing to hide.
The Champion is all muscle and barely concealed power, but this one is made more for running, for finding gaps in the enemy formations and slipping through them, quick and unnoticed. Are more of its people such? If so, that Earth is a planet Zarkon very much wishes to see for himself.
He brushes his hands down the Paladin’s chest first and watches the skin ripple with a shiver at the barely there touch - just fingertips, the claws safely hidden, - feeling the tiniest hair raising. Then, a harder touch, a bit of a press, skimming over the straps of the harness, feeling how the skin pulls over the muscle, how taut it stretches and how it bunches under his ministrations. He leans closer to look at the two dusky spots on the Earthling’s chest, flat and uninteresting at first, but firming curiously when his breath touched them.
They give him a brief pause. Is the Paladin a bearer? Is he kahrasz ? Is there a chance of him carrying young that he has to be equipped with the way to feed them? But the Druids assured that there is no organs inside that would make this so - and the scar in the centre of the flat stomach confirms that Earthlings are of the life-birthing stock.
And the thing between the Paladin’s things - soft flesh resting in a nest of dark curls, small and helpless, and are all of its species carrying their members out like that? Seems unseemly. Zarkon is intrigued.
He spreads the slender legs apart and settles between them, slow and careful, hands trailing up from the knees into the points where hips come together and the skin is thin as Altean silk, blood vessels right underneath it, close enough that he can feel the boy’s pulse.
He raises his eyes and meets the blue gaze head on.
There is fear in it, of course there is. Confusion, distaste, and fear so deep it threatens to suffocate everything else. But there is also anger, and that brings relief. So, the fight haven’t been purged from the Paladin’s veins just yet, good. Zarkon is not enticed by the thought of fucking a senseless doll, no matter how pretty.
“You’re awake, then,” he states simply, voice low, hands still resting in the crooks of the Paladin’s thighs. Hm, if he puts them a bit higher, he will be able to encircle the boy’s waist with his palms. “Good.”
The Paladin’s eyes widen in momentary confusion, blue of the irises deep in the low light - did he expect to be taunted? Most probably. Young ones are so predictable.
“You will have to excuse me any misstep, I have never had a lover less than enthusiastic to join me in my bed. However, I expect to see some enthusiasm from you by the time the cycle is over.”
The boy doesn't think so, apparently, if the way he erupts into a flurry of movement is any proof. Zarkon lets him struggle, sitting back on his haunches, holding thin knees from hitting him in the sides, but not much above that. The restraints are made for kahrasz , after all, able to withstand more power than one runt has to offer. The boy will tire out soon enough, in the meanwhile giving him an enticing show of tense muscles and youthful vigour, skin quickly turning damp with sweat and reddened across the neck, chest, and high on the cheekbones.
The gag is doing its work; the sounds that the Earthling directs at him are muffled and distorted, visibly frustrating it even more.
The Emperor wants to chuckle at the stilted attempts to curse him, but doesn't. He simply runs his hands up the heaving sides when the Paladin finally realises that the harness will hold - and, even more so, that the harder he pulls, the harder it pulls back.
“Are you quite done?” He inquires over the sounds of loud panting breaths and low growls. Mercifully, he adjusts the belts across Paladin’s ribs, loosening them in a few places when the boy’s face turns red from strain of simply trying to breathe. He leaves the one around his waist tight, though. “This is for unclaimed kahrasz , to keep them from hurting themselves and others in their madness.” He can’t stop feeling, touching, watching the Paladin squirm away from his hands. “It’s made to be soft, to keep them safe. You may want to start getting used to it.”
The glower he gets for his trouble is quite impressive, even if the boy is still panting and his pulse races.
“Were my Druids considerate while they’ve been working on your body?”
That hits something, because the Paladin flinches and his glare wavers. He pushes back into the bedding, trying to pull his knees together, fear replacing anger at the long last, head to the side, unintentionally baring the long line of a slender neck.
It is almost charming, how the Earthling thinks that this will be it. That Zarkon is someone to be endured .
“You can’t hide from me, little one.”
A twitch, narrowing of dark eyebrows.
“Here, it’s hardly necessary anymore.”
Blue eyes open wide, surprise written in their depths as the clasp on the back of the Paladin’s head snaps open and the gag is pulled out of his mouth. Zarkon is careful as he does it, taking notice of the way the lips underneath are reddened and swollen, the teeth white and small.
Before the Paladin has a chance to move his tongue, Zarkon pushes two fingers into his mouth and pries it open to see the teeth closer. Only four are in any sense useful, passably sharp, the rest is blunt and undersized. The tongue, however, when he presses a finger against it, is blessedly soft, slick, and nimble. Promising.
“Fuc- ghh! ”
He pushes the fingers down the tight throat until the Paladin chokes. When the teeth close over his digits, it is enough to push the thumb into the hollow of the joint to unlock the jaw.
Blue eyes are looking at him now, fixed on his face, narrowed in anger, but also - some sort of fearful expectation. Is he expecting pain?
“I can afford you some kindness, little one, if you wish for it.” Zarkon removes his fingers after a short while, wiping the slick saliva on the skin around the Paladin’s pert nipple. “There’s little point in hurting the things I own.”
The boy flinches, first at the false endearment, then at the casual admittance of power Zarkon has over him, then at the unexpected touch. Predictably, once nothing obstructs his speech, he uses that chance to reassert himself.
“You don't... own me!” The words out of the bruised mouth are raspy and slurred, but full of rage the likes of which the Emperor didn’t expect. The Blue spirit burns bright, even as it’s carrier’s breath shudders when a point of a claw toys with his nipple.
Good, nothing else would cut it.
“I have a different opinion,” Zarkon whispers back, calm and unimpressed, eyes never leaving the Paladin’s. “And soon enough you will come to share it, I think.”
He knows that game, knew it oh so well.
“You know what will happen, there hasn’t been a Blue Paladin born yet less than intelligent.”
The backhanded compliment startles the boy briefly, but very quick his lips twist in a somewhat shaky smirk. “Is this where you… tell me… I can make it easier on… myself if I… don’t struggle?”
Zarkon chuckles, surprised. “You came to the conclusion yourself, so I see no need to waste time on empty promises. But no, “ he pulls at he trapped nub, watching the boy clench his teeth in an attempt not to react, “this won’t be easy. Whatever you do, you will suffer, because you’re what you are. Not physically, of course,” a soft caress to soothe the pain, “that has been taken care of, little one.”
“Don’t… don’t call me…”
The Earthling pulls at the bindings trapping his wrists in place and the strap around his waist tightens even more, until his breath turns laboured again. Yet, he doesn't stop glaring, though now with his teeth bared.
It’s amusing, more than anything, to watch him struggle so. Somewhat charming, too. But, all in all, useless.
“But you are, fledgeling, all are young compared to me.”
“Maybe it’s high time… to shuffle off… this mortal coil…!”
Ah, so that’s the reason for the gag.
Unexpectedly, he rears back and falls forward, slamming his hands down on both sides of the Paladin’s head, a growl building up from the bottom of his chest, fur raised threateningly and the muscles of his shoulders tensing. All to make him bigger, more threatening, to hear that thin squeal out of his prey’s lips, see the terror finally shattering the flimsy shields behind their eyes. A primitive display he shouldn’t bother with - but oh, worth it for the sole reaction.
“I know you’re afraid,” his gravelly voice carries in the still air between them, the Paladin shrinking away from it like a frightened mouse, but with nowhere to go. “I know your Quintessence, child, I know it as if it is my own. You have nothing to hide from me, nothing at all .”
The boy opens his lips, but no voice comes through. His breath hitches slightly when clawed hand tangles in the dark wisps of hair, brushing them back, gripping tight.
“You hope that they will come for you and save you from my grasp. You have faith in your companion's, isn’t it so, Blue Paladin?” A beat, a moment to let the words sink in. “And you are right, they will come .”
He lowers his head down to the Earthling’s neck, breathes in the scent of skin, sweat and fear, a bit musky - a bit like the water falling from the sky he’s seen on some planets. A long lick along the trembling column has his mouth watering, the taste warm on his tongue, the skin soft and shivering.
“... stop… ”
“They will come for you, at least try to,” he whispers into the small hollow under the ridiculous ear, fingers tight on the Earthling’s hair to keep its head in place. “They won't be able not to, I know of the bond that ties you together, I know of its pull. I am counting on it.”
The realisation has the Paladin’s blood turning to ice.
“Voltron will return to its rightful owner and that Champion of yours will be back in my grasp.” He chuckles, the taste of victory and skin merging together on his tongue and why not, the Blue Paladin is his key to regaining all he’s lost. “Hm, maybe this time I will keep him closer than before.”
The double meaning is clear, and the boy isn’t stupid - the Paladins of Blue never are - and he gasps in denial. “No… Shiro… Shiro won’t…!” But it’s hard to protest when it’s hard to draw breath. And Zarkon doesn't make it easier by pushing his arm under the slim back and pulling up, bringing the Paladin closer, to feel his warmth against himself. The harness re-strings itself, pulls in different directions, and the Paladin’s legs fall apart wider.
“Shiro?” The Emperor muses, pleased with the way the boy shivers at the feel of coarse fur on his skin and tries to escape the sensation. “A plain name, but strangely fitting. Does it have a meaning on that planet of yours?” A thought occurs to him. “Do you have a name, little one?”
The Earthling clenches his jaws and turns away, ignoring the question, eyes only thin slits of helpless rage - painted darker blue and glossed over with emotion. “Shiro won’t… ever let you…!”
“Of course he will.” He lets the Paladin down before the harness suffocates him and only holds his hips up, presses into the cradle of warmth between his thighs. “He will beg to take your place, to spare you, won’t he?”
They all will, is the unspoken part. And they both know it. The Earthling growls some sort of a curse, but the claws holding his head pull and his neck bends back.
“He will be a prize, indeed.” It’s so easy to toy with the young ones, so easy to pull at the ties binding them together until they start to creak. “A change of pace after you get used to the treatment, I think.”
He gentles his touch on the boy’s head, more cradling it now than holding it down, leans in for another whiff of that alluring scent and something deep in his almost chest stirrs in recognition, almost purrs in delight. The Blue is always the same, he thinks, in every incarnation, the underlying feel of the soul tastes the same. And he will always find pleasure in it, of course he will, he is the head of Voltron, the will of the weapon, and his Quintessence is bound with the others - but never as strong as the Blue is. Blue is everywhere, always, a gentle current in the backs of their minds and a flavour of home under their tongues. Blue is pushing them forward when there is nothing else left.
That’s why he had to kill the Blue Paladin in the first place. With the hope gone, there was precious little to hold Voltron together.
And now fate smiles at him once more.
Gives him the power to soothe the darkness inside of him, locked in a soft, smooth vessel that opens under him like a moonflower.
“I will… not…” the voice shivers now, the lower he drags his tongue. The nipple in his mouth tastes like the skin around it and strangely, he expected it to taste of milk. But this is not kahrasz , of course, of course. “Over my… dead… body!”
“No, not at all,” he whispers into the space between the boy’s breasts, a perfect little dip to fit his nose in and scent him. “You will get used to it in time. With how soft you are no one will hurt you unnecessarily, and when I finally give you away it will be to a good master. Nothing, but pleasure awaits you from now on.”
A new scent hangs in the air, salt and water. Tears? So soon?
“I won’t…” The Paladin is stubborn, but it's all a show only. The pulse against Zarkon’s tongue tells a different story. “ Sonuva- stop it!”
“I’m not trying to scare you, this is just your future, nothing else,” he says reasonably, hoping his sincerity gets across. “You’ve been quite made for it.”
And finally, he lets the hand from around the Paladin’s waist slip free and brings it to front, between his legs, up into the place that enticed him so. The Paladin’s spine turns into a steel rod, his chest heaving once more, as clawed fingers slip under his sack and - oh, there it is. Still small, but now when he presses on, two of his fingers slip in with no trouble. The heat is immense on the inside and the slippery wetness eases the movement until his knuckles met skin.
“Here,“ Zarkon’s throat is tight form the sheer anticipation as he slowly fingers the modified opening, enjoying the way its walls tighten and ripple around his digits on every thrust. “It has been reshaped, altered to measure. You will take me with ease and many others after me.” He pushes in, sharply, and the Paladin arches back with a tearful whimper. “Always warm and wet, and eager. ”
“...stop it! Stop… motherf u-God, stop!! ”
“Hm, god? What a smart pet, I quite like it.”
“No, you bas ta-aah… !”
“You can see for yourself.”
The quickest way to end the stubborn protests is a living proof. This time without broken bones. Detaching one of the wrist cuffs from the rest of the harness, pulling the captive limb between the Paladin’s own legs, pressing thin fingers against the tight orifice. One finger going back in, accompanied by the trembling human one, and the Earthling gasps for breath, head shaking against the reality of the experience, face at once red and pale.
Just for that, another finger joins the two, and the strain is still non-existent. “So inviting, you will accomodate me splendidly.”
The next noise is a strangled mewl and the trembling hand moves slightly, seemingly against the owner’s will, tracing the changes with wary fingertips, terrified, but unable to stop.
And in that moment, he does look like a young kahrasz discovering themselves for the first time. The similarity is striking and Zarkon almost growls as his flesh fills out with blood, uncurling from the protective sheath. In the low light he can pretend it’s one of his own. He can pretend it’s the one form his memory. The Quintessence calls to him and he answers with a call of his own, thought neither as gentle nor as considerate.
Whatever the Paladin has to say about his modifications is lost in a shriek of startled pain as fangs close on his shoulder, tearing into his flesh. Blood swells in the punctures, surprisingly sweet, a bit metallic, much lighter than Zarkon is used to. He laps it up and his tongue tingles, as if from electric current, as the Earthling keeps forcefully steady - least thrashing makes the wounds bigger. One part that isn't still are the Paladin’s lips - he spews all kinds of insults and words that Zarkon assumes are intended to be insulting, and it’s vaguely amusing, especially when the boy seems to change languages between some of them, snapping the words at a rapid-fire speed until they all blend into one another.
Zarkon doesn’t stop fingering him for even a moment and that’s where the sparse breaks in the otherwise continuous monologue, the little hitches of breath, the unwilling shudders come from. He explores, tugging the boy’s hand along, pushes a third finger in, and finally, there is a slight resistance of the muscle.
Hic cock is well on its way to becoming a painful hindrance, dark purple with blood and twitching every time the Paladin gasps in that high-pitched way, every time his opening tightens. He draws back from the wound, watches it bleed sluggishly for a few moments, bestial satisfaction burning in his chest, only to disperse when he moves his attention to the boy’s face - and he stays there, enthralled almost by the red flush, skin glistening, open lips bruised and soft looking.
It he looks down from the right angle, it looks like the boy is pleasuring himself. His small member fills out nicely, grows in size - so they're not that different, after all - to lay limply against the slim hipbone. The Paladin whimpers when his fingers brush over a certain place inside of him, and so the Emperor does it again - the sound repeats.
“So you are equipped in some measure,” he muses, “or is it something that the Druids gave you?”
“Fuck… you!” The Earthling growls. “You son of a h! mangy bitch… Ngh!”
Zarkon raises his eyebrows at the latest insult and without a word reaches for the gag lying between the pillows by his hip. He’s only vaguely offended, after all what can words do to him? But the principle of things stands.
Also, the hopelessness looks good on the Paladin - even though he’s not keen on the idea. By the time he realises it, his teeth are already forced apart and the strap around his head clicks closed with an air of finality, and the blue eyes look at Zarkon with open panic. Panic that only grows when he moves back, sitting down between the slender spread legs and his cock is fully visible now. The boy shakes his head at the sight, Zarkon imagines that he calculates the sizes of their respective parts and comes to the conclusion that there’s no wait they can fit.
“Don’t worry,” he says, reaching up to hook his fingers under the straps on the Paladin’s chest, pulling him up. “As I said, you will take me.”
He pulls the boy up into a sitting position and then closer, maneuvers him into his knees and then closer still, slipping one hand to support his supple behind, spreading the cheeks so that the head of his cock can fit in between them. Right at the quivering opening, but not pressing in. Just there .
The Paladin whimpers and closes his eyes, expecting to be breached in a moment’s time, bracing for it until his shoulders shake with strain. But that doesn't happen for a while. Zarkon uses his other hand to grip the short strands of the back of the boy’s neck - dark and damp with sweat, and still much smoother than his own fur - to simply hold him in place.
“In your own time,” he murmurs into the small, flat ear.
He’s being cruel, he’s willing to admit, but anything that can prolong the inevitable is welcome. The boy’s thighs start to shake soon after, though he’s fighting gravitation with admirable dedication, his muscles lock and heat up with strain. He breaths fast, struggling to stay upright in an uncomfortable position, eyes closed and teeth tight on the gag, and Zarkon simply watches.
He’s patient, although the feeling of soft body shivering in his grasp and the heat nipping at the tip of his cock are almost enough to render him breathless. Then, finally, the quick gasps start to hitch at every inhale and the tears freely flow down the flushed cheeks, he pulls the boy’s head to his chest, resting his wet forehead just under his collarbone. It’s a calming gesture - and it unbalances the already precarious position the Earthling is in.
His own breath comes in quicker when the first slip happens. Not much, just enough for the head of his cock to break past the barrier of tense muscle, to feel the wetness inside.
The Paladin sobs against his chest, turning his head from side to side.
“I’m hardly forcing you down,” Zarkon answers the unspoken plea, voice calm and smooth, even though he wants for nothing more than to grasp those slim hips and slam them down, to push his way up until he can’t go any further.
Instead, he bows his head and licks at the bitemark, gathering the new blood. Paladin shivers at the pain and - his whole body starts to tremble as the head of the thick cock finally pops in.
“Why are you crying?” Zarkon asks when the sobs reach his ears and his fur grows damp with tears. “You are not in pain. You were made to take it.” He flattens his hand against the small of the Earthling's back and caresses it in slow, long strokes, fingers dipping briefly between the cheeks, teasing at the edge of the orifice hugging his flesh like a vice…
And that’s when the boy’s legs give out and with a strangled moan he goes down.
It’s quick - and seems to take forever. It forces the air out of both of their lungs, and by the time the Earthling sits on Zarkon’s lap, they’re both groaning.
The heat inside of the slim body is exquisite, the pressure bearing on his cock as the Paladin arches and shutters almost enough to drive him crazy. He grasps the bony hips to still them and the boy whimpers, almost folding in half, forehead slapping against the hard chest in front of him. Zarkon wants to stay like that - for as long as he can. Possibly for the rest of the cycle. He can feel their energies connect, clash, boil against one another. The Blue can’t resist, it’s not made to, and the Black pushes through it, enters the other’s bloodstream, and Zarkon knows that the boy can feel it as well as him. The Earthling moans against him, pulls at the bindings trapping it in blind panic - then comes.
Just from having him in - and isn't that a stroke to his ego? - the body made responsive enough to make it possible. Zarkon approves, because with the orgasm the muscles of the boy’s lower abdomen seize as he spills his seed between their stomachs, startlingly white.
He has to hold the Paladin up as he slumps against his chest, his fingers reflexively stroking the creature, gentling it down from the height, savouring the taste of the storm brewing over their heads and in the air between them. Yes, this, almost too good, almost enough to make him come on its own.
Almost, but not quite .
He chuckles over the Paladin’s head, a low breathy sound.
“I told you,” he whispers. “ Splendidly .”
He takes him freely after that, on his back first, just to make sure that the Paladin sees him and understands the situation he’s in. It’s important to make things clear from the get go when ownership is concerned. That mistake had cost him the Champion, he suspects.
He pushes into the wet heat, slick fluids dripping down the Earthling’s things and his sack, and the smell of musk and salty sweat thickens until he has to breath through his lips to keep his head. He doubts that, for all his newfound openness , the Paladin will be able to stand to be ravished in the manner Zarkon’s instincts try to push him towards.
When he comes for the first time, the Paladin whines and turns away from him, looks like he’d like to claw out of his skin, and it is pitiful of course, but there’s little time to think about it. The boy is hard, even though he doesn't want to acknowledge it, but when he’s flipped on his front, his hips tremble against the bedding - the wish to move, to rub against the soft fabrics has to be overwhelming, but the humiliation it would bring is even greater. Zarkon understands the general idea behind the notion, but finds it tedious all the same.
As if he would allow the Earthling to come any way other than on his cock.
Or his fingers.
He hoists the slim hips up and sheathes himself again, listening to the loud moans and the slick sound his flesh makes as it pushes through the liquids filling the pink orifice. He watches it stretch around him, swollen and a bit bruised, but still tight and welcoming, watches it hug every ridge on his cock as he slides in and out of it at a leisurely pace. The thing inside that provides the Earthling pleasure is easy to find after a few experimental thrusts and easy to exploit from there on - the boy comes around him with a startled whimper and he fucks him through it, steadily, until the poor creature is shaking and moaning, trapped hands clawing at the closest flesh - the boy’s own thighs, blunt nails leaving marks in their wake.
Zarkon, displeased with his property damaged in such callous way, decides to test waters. He detaches both of the wrists from the waist strap, leaving them free. The straps above the elbows still hold tight, but this much mobility is more than what the Paladin had been allowed in cycles. He doesn't hold the boy back, doesn’t stop moving, watches.
The awareness is slow to come, the Earthling moves its hands against the surface of the bed, pushes itself up on bent elbows, drowsily looks around. Zarkon uses the momentary consternation to thrust harder - the boy loses balance and falls back flat on his face with a prolonged groan. The long line of his back is enticing within its own right, but when the dusky skin covering it ripples with tension and shines with sweat, it’s a sight worth of the Emperor’s bed. He pushes in, presses close, leans down to cover the smaller figure with his body, to trap it underneath him but not too tight - leaving a chance for escape. Always leaving a chance.
But the Paladin doesn't take it. He strains against the flesh filling him up, moaning weakly into the pillows, face wet with tears and saliva, and pushes his hands between his legs - with a choked wail of a breaking will, he comes again.
Zarkon once more pushes him through it, soaking up the Quintessence that spills out of the Paladin’s every pore, cool and soothing the simmering lava filling his chest. Soaking up the wet, sobbing whimpers that turn out his own low growls.
He imagines briefly how it will be when he finally has the rest of the Paladins in his hands.
The Red, he will have first, it is decided. The untamed flame that burns bright in every incarnation of the Red needs to be tamed by a firm hand.
“I will have you both, yet,” he whispers to the gasping youth. “Red and Blue, as it should be.” He watches as the blue eyes clear, as the fear replaces confusion with no anger this time to buffer it. “He can also be adjusted until he’s as pliant and eager as you are.”
The blue fire raises, but only for a moment, exhaustion pulls the Paladin down, his flesh is overstimulated and every touch causes a shudder to go through it. He sobs and hides his face, and Zarkon knows that he’d won.
He comes once more before the boy collapses into a heap and stops reacting to being fucked. Poor thing is too exhausted to hold its head up, too exhausted to even make noise. The gag comes off once more, and this time the Paladin drools helplessly onto a pillow under his head, jaws too numb to close his lips. His thighs are twitching involuntarily, his abuse dopening spills seed and slick, completely loose now.
Zarkon once more loosens the straps of the harness and the Paladin almost starts sobbing again, this time in relief when his lungs fill out properly. He doesn't speak when a clawed hand brushes through his sweaty hair, when he’s being gathered and lifted, and then dropped into the warm water and rinsed off.
Zarkon can almost see the Quintessence bleeding from the slender body into the clear water - sees the way the boy almost melts with the sensation. It’s a small kindness he can afford to give him after everything he’s taken so far., the element of the Blue soothes him to some degree - and he wonders if the fledgeling even knows about it. Are these new Paladins aware of the extent of their powers? Of the ways they can make each other’s stronger? Doesn’t seem like it.
What a pity, really, to have them so untrained, fumbling their way through something that should be sacred and revered.
He can teach them, however, once they’re his. He can teach them as he just taught the Blue.
He gets into the water and sits down, pulling the unresisting body on his lap, back onto his cock, and listens to it moan and enjoys the warmth engulfing him, the small shivers that rub him gently, the way the Paladin’s head rests on his shoulder and his hot breath stirs the fur on the side of his throat. A kahrasz would bite him - sink their teeth into his throat and tear out a jawful of flesh. The Earthling just whines weakly when Zarkon pushes a hand against its navel - and he can almost feel it, if he presses in the right place. He can almost feel himself inside the boy and finds it impossibly arousing.
“Do you have a name, little one?” He repeats the question.
The Paladin hisses something in return, a soft sound disappearing in the thick purple fur - another plain, but strangely fitting name.
Yes, not bad at all.