A Woman Grown

by Tamysan

Part Nine

"They're just sitting there!" Allura exclaimed.

Hunk clenched his fists. "We gotta do something!"

"Coran, we need to bring out the lions!" Lance said, punching his fist against his palm.

"Three lions against that Fleet and a roebeast?" Coran said. "They'll slaughter you, Lance. You know that only Voltron can – "

"Look!" Allura's eyes widened at the viewscreen. "Black Lion!"

They all looked in amazement and Lance grinned.

"Yeah, Keith!! I knew you wouldn't let us down!"

Lotor frowned. Something was wrong – very wrong. He felt as if a cloud of darkness hovered over him and threatened to suffocate him. He had only felt that way in his father's presence and it unnerved him considerably. Unconsciously he stood closer to Allura.

"Wait... " Coran frowned. "He's not attacking them."

"What?" Lance leaned over and punched the com. "Keith! Hey, what're you doing, man!! Wait for the –" Lance stopped short as he saw where he was headed.

"Holy moley!" Hunk stood openmouthed. "Them Doom ships – ain't firing at him neither!"

"That's it! We gotta go after him!!" Pidge spun and headed for the chambers when the viewscreen changed and a familar voice filled the room.

"Not so fast, my little bespectacled friend... " Pidge turned wide–eyed. It was Zarkon!

"What have you done with Keith!!" Lance exclaimed.

"Why... " Zarkon smirked. "He's – ah! Thank you, Haggar. You're always so prompt! Here is our intrepid Captain, right here."

Allura gasped in horror. Keith was with Zarkon!

"What in the HELL!" Hunk, yelled. "Keith, what you doin' with that Fish face!"

"Keith!!" Lance's eyes were wide with disbelief. They had served at the Academy and Keith had been the most loyal and trusted member of Galaxy Garrison Special Forces. Lance spun and looked at Lotor accusingly. "Your witch Haggar must have done something to him!"

Lotor grimaced. "This is as a surprise to me as it is to you... "

"Keith, what are you doing there?" Allura's eyes looked hurt.

Keith saw them all on the other side. They had been his friends, people he had served with once, but now they were all traitors, standing with the woman who was the most traitorous of all.

"Why don't you answer them, Fleet Commander Akira?" Zarkon grinned, enjoying the spectacle. Keith's spine stiffened. Oh, no. They were no longer his friends, they would get what they seemed to crave for, and he would help bring it to them.

"Serving the one who will be your Master... " Keith's smile was a cold one, but his eyes danced with madness even as a corner of his mind screamed in protest.

"Zarkon's no master of mine!" Pidge vehemently spat.

Zarkon laughed, quite amused with the boy.

"Keith, oh god, why are you doing this?" Allura's eyes were pleading, but Keith ignored that.

"I'm giving you what you want, Princess... " Keith smiked. "You gave yourself to the Prince of Doom like a common whore so why not go all the way?" He was satisfied to hear her gasp.

The mention of that brought Zarkon's attention to his son.

"Is this true, Lotor? Dare I believe that you actually had the balls to take her at last?" Lotor saw his father's eyes gleam with delight as he roved over Allura. He stepped in front of her, sheilding her from his gaze.

"Believe what you want Father. You will not have her – or Arus." His eyes widened slightly at the last. He had not even thought about Arus.

"Oh really?" Zarkon leaned back in his command chair. "I think that's highly doubtful at this point, isn't it? I have the Black Lion, thanks to our new Fleet Captain Akira here. You have four lions now – not enough to make that damned robot! I will give you one more chance, Lotor. Come to my flagship with the Princess and all will be forgiven."

"Forgiven?" Lotor spat derisively. "You've never forgiven anyone in your life, Father. There's nothing to stop you from killing me once I reached your ship. As for Allura, you'll not have her."

"Got some backbone, eh, boy?" Zarkon chuckled. "Well it's too late now! I hold all the cards!! Haggar, command the roebeast to take out that quaint little town by the castle – Leone, I believe it is."

"No!" Allura looked distraught as she stepped out from behind Lotor. Zarkon gave her a jaded look.

"Do you surrender your planet, Princess. I assure you, I haven't even begun my destruction yet." He glanced at her speculatively, eyeing her figure underneath her gown. "I can see why my son has been so obsessed with you. Of course when you serve me, you'll wear much less... " He smirked, watching his son's face glower. He knew Lotor wanted to kill him.

"Don't do it, Allura!" Hunk warned her.

"Yeah! Keith's under some kind of spell!" Pidge said.

"No." Lance shook his head. "He's gone crazy... "

"What?" Hunk glared at Lance.

"Look at him... " Lance grimaced. "And look at his uniform, it's changed."

"It's all – black... " Pidge pushed up his glasses.

"Well, Princess? What will it be?" Zarkon smirked.

Allura bit her lip. They were short one lion, Keith had obviously went to Zarkon's side. They could either go down fighting or she could surrender to this monster and they all would be his slaves.

~Father, oh how I wish I could call on you one more time... ~ She thought.

But only silence greeted her.

~You and Arus will have the Lions and you have your protectors too~ Her father's voice seemed to echo in her mind. She turned to Lotor, her eye wide.

"My father gave you his blessing... You're the protector of Arus now – and you can fly the Black Lion!"

Lotor looked shocked. "Allura, that's – impossible... "

"You heard him and you SAW him too! Please Lotor, just trust me!"

"Oh Princess... I'm waiting." Zarkon frowned. "You'll soon learn that I am not a patient man." Allura furiously whispered in Lotor's ear. He nodded, somehow, impossibly trusting her words, feeling that they were right somehow – just as right when they had made love to each other.

"No. We will never surrender to you!"Allura turned to Zarkon, her chin lifted defiantly.

Zarkon's eyes flashed in anger and he seemed to almost froth at the mouth. "Very well, Arun bitch! You and your people will pay for you defiance of me!" He glared at Lotor. "And you will pay for your treachery boy! It's obvious that Alfor's mark is upon you!"

"Better his than yours!" Lotor laughed as the others gawked at him. "You were never so much a father as you were a monster!" His voice then lowered to a deadly whisper. "You will die today, Father... "

"Strong words for one who is about to die!" Zarkon turned to Keith. "You! You know all the possible weaknesses in their defenses... "

"Yes, I do... " Keith smiled.

"Then take the Black Lion and find them for us... " Zarkon grinned maliciously.

Keith nodded and turned on his heels. Haggar followed close behind him.

Zarkon laughed as he turned back towards them. "Remember you brought this upon yourself, Princess... Zarkon out." He cut off the transmission.


"To the Lions – now!" Allura's voice was uncharacteristically strong – which surprised them all. Allura raced towards her chute, her nightgown trailing behind her. Pidge, Hunk and Lance ran to their chutes as well, wondering if Allura knew what she was doing.

Lotor ran after her, a little unsure. He watched her as she caught a bar in midair and then she was gone. He had very little time before HE had to reach up for a bar too. He grabbed it with a grunt, barking his shin against the platform. The next thing he knew, he saw Allura jump into a car in front of him and so he dropped down as well. He looked at her and saw that she now had the familar uniform on that he was accustomed to seeing. It was snug in the car with the two of them, so Lotor wrapped his hands around her waist.

And then they were somehow in her Lion. Expertly she started it up as he went to the jump seat and sat down. Everything in his body told him to help her but his heart told him to trust her. There was some sort of magic going on here, and it wasn't dark like Haggar's magic was either. Odd how he had tried to win his father's acceptance for years and had won another's.

"Hang on... " Allura said as the Lion roared to life. "Okay, guys, everyone there?"

"Read ya, Princess. Yellow is go."

"Green is a–ok!"

"Red Lion – all systems go." Lance's voice was hollow. If anyone was hurt by Keith's actions, it was Lance.

"Good, I think you guys know the drill... Let's go!" Lotor watched Allura work her controls like an expert and he realized that this was not the scared Princess he had encountered so many times before. This was a woman – a woman that he loved most dearly. If they died today, he at least would have the satisfaction of knowing her love just once. He only hoped that they would live to raise their unborn child. This was a terrible risk but he knew his father's wrath would be worse. He did not want to see his beloved on her knees in front of that monster.

The lions flew into the air – and into a firestorm. There was no way they could combat the Fleet and the roebeast all at once – not without Voltron.

"Coran! Those people from Leone... " Allura started to say.

"Evacuation proceedures are underway, Princess! Be careful!"

"I will. Ready the Castle into Starship mode. It may be needed... " She grimaced.



Keith was not comfortable in the cramped Lion with Witch Haggar, but she had insisted upon it since she could help him along. He started up the Lion and part of him knew that what he was doing was against all that he had once stood for, but the other part thirsted for revenge and retribution for the wrong that had been done to him and to Arus. They wanted Zarkon then Zarkon they would get.

"There they are... " Haggar cooed as she leaned against Keith's command chair. My, he certainly had the nicest, darkest hair. She had always favored dark haired men in her youth.

"Yes... " Keith's eyes narrowed.

"Lotor is within the Blue Lion... " Haggar cackled.

"I figured as much."

"I suggest you stay your hand, my dear Captain. "Revenge is a dish best served cold... "

"Don't worry." Keith smiled as he veered his Lion inbetween the Fleet ships. The lion's appearance had changed to that of dull black and instead of the crest of the Arun house, a Doom skull had appeared. The lion's controls seemed stiff to Keith, as if it resisted his direction. But he was an expert pilot, he would make it do what he wanted.

While the other lions fended off the Fleet attack, Allura in Blue Lion went straight in the direction where Black Lion went off to.

"Keith... " Allura begged over the com. "Please stop this."

Keith's knuckles turned white as he barked harshly. "Is that what you told Lotor, Allura? Oh no, you didn't ask him to stop did you? Yeah, I heard you, begging for it like a bitch in – "

"SHUT UP, Akira!" Lotor's voice thundered over the com.

"Oh, if it isn't Prince 'I can't keep it in my pants?' Keith said coolly.

"You will pay for every insult... " Lotor growled.

"Oh shut up... " Keith fired his missiles back behind him, towards Blue Lion. Allura dodged them but they hit some buildings just beyond.

"Princess, you okay?" Lance's voice came through the com.

"Yeah! Just keep fighting all you can!" Allura gunned her engines and still persistently followed Black Lion.

"Crap." Keith grimaced. "She's still on my tail."

"Your Princess is much better than she used to be. I guess bedding with Lotor was the best thing she did!" Haggar cackled at the look of jealousy on Keith's face.

"Why don't you zap them or something?" Keith's eyes narrowed. The castle was dead ahead – full of nifty little weaknesses – and he knew them all.

"Ah, ah, ah... " Haggar wagged her finger at Keith. "Remember Zarkon wants them alive. I'm just along for the ride and to see that you succeed. You'll be greatly rewarded I assure you... "

"Yeah, yeah... " Keith frowned. He felt a little bit of vertigo, which was unusual for him. Ah, there! He smiled. The north wall. There was a structural flaw within it discovered shortly last week. Although crews had been dispatched, the work was not yet completed. It would not keep the Castle from going into starship mode, but it was a vulnerable spot – if one knew where to shoot.

He fired and was gratified to see the wall start to crack.

"North wall of the Castle – structural breech. I suggest a team of your ships go to my coordinates immediately!" Keith said into the com.

"Very good, Akira... " Zarkon's voice came over his com. "Now go see what else you can find. Haggar, toss Blue Lion into the Lake for now. I want those two kept for me... "

"Yes Sire!" Haggar nodded. Blue Lion was practically sniffing the Black Lion's butt!

"Time to get little Princess' and Princes into the water... " Haggar singsonged as she lifted her staff. A sickly greenish bolt fanned out from Black Lion and hit the Blue Lion squarely in it's chest. It pushed the Blue Lion away and forced it into the lake onto it's platform. For a few moments nothing happened at all, but then the Lion shot out of the water at a breakneck speed and headed it straight to where Black Lion was rounding the castle.

"What?" Haggar looked surprised. "They couldn't break out of that!"

"The lions have magic in them, Haggar." Keith said matter of factly.

"They don't have magic greater than mine, pretty boy!" Haggar growled as Keith winced. He was feeling odd again. Haggar prepared to zap them again – not caring if Zarkon wanted them or not. They were getting on her nerves! Again a greenish glow of energy blazed out of the Black Lion, only now it encountered a blue ray that came from the Blue Lion.

Keith fought off a wave of dizziness and opened a com channel. He would not fail! He expected to see Zarkon's face but instead saw Alfor's.

"You have desecrated what is no longer yours... " His voice seemed to fill the small cabin. Haggar turned and her eyes narrowed. This was the magic that had always eluded her.

"You mean no longer YOURS, Alfor... " Haggar cackled. "We've won!"

"You've won nothing but ashes, foul witch. Begone from my sight!" A flash of white light came from the small viewscreen and hit Haggar squarely in the chest. She squealed and flailed but she could not fight against it. Suddenly she was plummeting out of the Lion in freefall but somehow she had disappeared from sight before she could hit the ground.

Keith blinked. He felt tired, sick and most of all confused.

"And you... " Alfor said sorrowfully. "You have taken what is not yours. You are the traitor of my people and my daughter. You belong to HIM now. Begone and let the one who has taken your place come now!"

Keith grunted as a force jerked him out of his seat. Suddenly he felt cold hard floor against his back as he lay sprawled out at Zarkon's feet. The king's eyes bugged out as he jerked Keith up by his collar to his feet.

"What – HAPPENED!!": Zarkon thundered.

"Alfor... " Keith moaned softly as Zarkon let him go.

"Damn him to the seven hells!" Zarkon yelled as he punched up his com. "Destroy the Castle now – obliterate it and those lions too! I don't care what it takes!" Zarkon was past caring now.

"Black Lion... " Keith murmured as he seemed to stare off into space. "Lotor flies it."

"WHAT!!" Zarkon stood up, his face devoid of all color.

The lights danced in Keith's eyes again. "Let me kill him – Sire... "

Zarkon sat down again and eyed Keith. He was a madman. Zarkon had seen enough madness in his lifetime to know. He wanted to kill Lotor? Hm, that was fine but he needed a formidable weapon – and the other lions needed to be controlled. Why not? It would make a pleasing spectacle even though he wouldn't see any blood spilled. Lotor – pilot of Black Lion? Zarkon started to laugh.

"Oh Alfor, you ARE a fool. My son's incompetence will be the end of you! Haggar!!"

The witch appeared out of nowhere, none the worse for wear except for some leaves on her dull brown habit. Keith had hoped she had bit the dust but no such luck.

"You rang, Sire?"

Zarkon smirked. "Captain Akira needs a weapon to combat the Black Lion. I think we should grant his request. I think you know what we'll need for that... "

"I think I do, Sire." Haggar nodded. "Just leave it to me... "

Part Ten

"Gods!" Lotor exclaimed as he found himself in the cockpit of Black Lion. One moment he had been with Allura and the next here. He barely had time to react when he clutched his head. It wasn't exactly pain but something else entirely.

~Knowledge is the key to power, son of my enemy... and so you shall have it... the battle is nigh. Be alert!~

Lotor blinked and looked at the cockpit controls. He smiled ever so slightly, for he knew exactly what to do and how to fly the lion. Filled with knowledge he hadn't known existed, it was a heady feeling indeed.

"Lotor?" Allura's voice came over the com.

"Y – yes!" Lotor found himself responding. "I'm here – in the Black Lion."

"Lotor? Oh geez... " Lance's voice was flat. Keith insane was one thing – Lotor in command of the Black Lion was another.

"Hey, stuff happens for a reason." Pidge interjected. "I don't like all the crap Lotor's pulled in the past – but well... "

"Oh Voltron Foooorce... " Haggar's voice interupted the conversation. "I hate to break in on your little 'chat', but we've got a planet to conquer!"

"You won't have Arus!" Allura exclaimed.

"Oh? Strong words for such a pretty princess! Well, just see what I have in store for you!" Haggar cackled loudly.

And then a huge blackish–grey lion with the insignia of Doom on it's crest came out of the flagship iteself.

"That's all you've got?" Lance snorted.

"Don't underestimate Haggar, fly–boy." Lotor hissed.

"That's right." Keith's voice, devoid of emotion, cut into the transmission. "You see, this isn't JUST a lion."

"Scramble away... " Lotor's eyes narrowed. "Regroup and we'll form Voltron!"

There was no arguement there as the five pilots flew a distance away and formed Voltron. Oddly enough, there was no urgency to stop them by the Doom forces – soon enough the pilots knew why.

The Doom lion started to grow – much like Haggar's usual robeasts – but as it grew, limbs extended – arms and legs, with the grey–black lion making up the chest portion and the head. By the time the process was finished in a second, there stood a Voltron that was at least two sizes larger than the original.

They heard Keith's dry laugh over their com system. "Hm, seems like my 'dynotherms are bigger than YOUR dynotherms!"

"It's not the size of your dynotherm, but how you use it." Lotor growled. "Form blazing sword!"

"Ha! You really think it'll be THAT easy?" Keith retorted as the larger Doom Voltron's hand shot out and a sickly green whip emerged and wrapped around Voltron's sword arms.

"Youch!" Lance grimaced "Dammit, it's trying to eat through the plating!"

"You got a hull breach, Lance! I'm redirecting shields!" Pidge quickly made his adjustments and although Lance for now was all right, that didn't help them use the blazing sword.

Lotor smirked. "Nice, but then you're no swordsman are you?" Switching to a more private channel, Lotor gave his instructions and suddenly Keith was faced with Voltron flying headlong into his mecha, the Blazing Sword aimed right for it's chest.

"No you don't!" Keith yelled and barely missed being impaled, although the Blazing Sword did hit the grey–Voltron 'shoulder'.

"Quit playing around!" Zarkon bellowed into the com at Keith.

"Yeah, yeah... " Keith grimaced and with a flick of the whip, the other Voltron was flung away from him. "Heh... " He smiled suddenly. He wanted Lotor to die personally, even though Allura's suffering was a close second.

"Use that little trick I showed you, Captain... " Haggar's voice echoed in his head.

"Leave me alone!" Keith shook his head as he faced the other Voltron. Immediately he punched in a code – one that Haggar had been able to quickly implant into his mind and a ray shot out of the eye beams. Nothing happened at first, but then –

'Disengaging" Lotor heard the computerized voice in his cockpit.

"Report!" He barked as he hit the master controls of the Black. Voltron was falling apart!

"Lotor, we're losing power! All the interlocks are breaking free!" Allura's voice was on edge.

"None of my controls are working... " Lotor grimacing. "Go into Lion mode!"

"Shit! It's not working either!" Lance cursed as he felt his ship slide off of the interlock.

"Damn that witch!" Hunk said. "If I ever get my hands on her – "

"You and what army!" Haggar's cackle filled all the cockpits. Another beam came from the grey–black Voltron, and the five parts of Voltron floated in the sickly green light.

"HAGGAR!" Lotor thundered. "Release them!"

"Oh ho!" Haggar smirked as she saw Lotor's face through the viewscreen of the flagship. "Didn't we change our tune? Yesterday they were your sworn enemy and now since you've bedded the princess..."

"Shut up! I'll fight Akira myself! Man to man!"

"Since when were you a man, my bumbling son?" Zarkon snorted.

"More a man than YOU, father... " Lotor hissed in anger.

"Hah! We'll see!" Zarkon started to laugh. "Collect the other ships, Haggar and bring the pilots to me. I want them to see the mistake they made in putting trust in my failure of an offspring."

"As you wish, Sire!" Haggar grinned. Now she was glad that the Voltron Force hadn't been killed off. After all, there would be some delectable male–slaves for her out of that bunch. As for the insipid Princess, Zarkon could have her as his plaything for awhile until he grew tired of her. Arus would be theirs at last, so it wouldn't matter!

"You have your wish, Lotor... " Zarkon grinned as he watched the four parts of Voltron collected and brought into the immense hold of the flagship, the sickly green glow – actually a spell – still surrounding the ships.

"You'll fight our Captain, man to man – for Arus and the Princess! Akira! Allow my former son to change into the Black Lion." Zarkon laughed again. He already knew the outcome!

"Sure... " Keith smirked. He had more firepower, strength than Lotor did, and add to that the knowledge that he knew just what the Black Lion could do and not do, added to his advantage. The ray was disengaged and allowed Lotor to change the disembodied head of Voltron into the Black Lion. Lotor knew that he would be facing a very lopsided fight, but he had to try – for Allura and their unborn child.

On to Parts 11-12