My Better Halfby Dr. Kat
"Keith! Keith, are you all right?" Allura searched through what was left of Black Lion. She stepped around the decapitated head of Voltron. The blood-red haze from the battle stung her eyes terribly; she could barely see.
There, she saw an arm! "Keith! Keith! Oh...no! NO!!" All dead.
They were all dead, all except for her.
The Castle of Lions was in ruins, just like Castle Doom. She had seen them both destroyed by those mindless guardians. All their combined defenses. All of them destroyed. And then, Voltron itself.
She could still remember the truce between Arus and Doom. King Zarkon seemed to forget entirely his disputes with her. In the middle of this horrid war, it was the closest they had ever come to peace. She remembered the last time she saw him, as he boarded a fighter ship to personally join the battle. He actually thanked her for her help. Then, he was gone, later to be destroyed, just like the others.
And still the ships came, firing on all buildings and everything living. She couldn't stop her tears as she sank to her knees in defeat. They were coming closer now. Soon she would join her friends, her enemies, her prince.
She remembered the news of his death in the cold cell. Not even the dark prince could stop these mechanical monsters. She could still envision him staring at her as he slowly froze to death. She could hear his voice: "Allura! I'll nnnever ssee you again..."
He reached out a shaking hand to her. She just couldn't reach it...
"Lotor!" The princess bolted upright in her bed. All was quiet. There were no bombs, no battles. Only the sound of the night wind.
"First, I fall down the stairs. Then, my son levitates me and drops me from twenty feet in the air. I won't be able to sit down for a week...no, a month!"
Hagar followed at a distance as the king walked, rather painfully, to his chambers. "I should have let him perish in the pit! I should have banished him! But, NOOO!! I had to take him BACK! There would have been no HEIR, and my empire would have FAILED if I didn't. At least he's acting a little better; although I don't know now, with that elf thing. And why the hell am I talking to myself? Hagar!"
"Sire?" Hagar sped up to reach the king's side.
"Tell me again about this curse."
"Well, it's pulling away the Drule part of your son and replacing it with his elven side. There's not much more I can say, except I don't know how long it will take or how to stop it."
"So, I married an elf. I wonder why she never told me?" Zarkon paused.
"I could try to contact the dark spirits to break the curse, but they do not usually deal with elves..."
"Perhaps because she thought I would try to convince her to use her magic powers in my conquests."
Hagar thought he was finished and tried again. "Maybe my books..."
"She never was fond of political power or the empire. She just liked the woods and the sea. Oh well, it was a welcome change." Zarkon again paused while Hagar wondered if he would ever stop reminiscing.
"Is there anything you can do? If that boy becomes an elf, I severely doubt the Drule council will accept him as heir to the Denubian empire." He winced at the pain in his lower back. "I'm also not too thrilled about taking another flying lesson."
"I'll try, sire," she replied.
Zarkon's guards took their places by the door as the monarch entered his chambers. Before the door could close, he turned back. "Hagar, one more small thing."
"When Lotor, uh...bzzrrapped the wall, did the smoking remains include..."
"Unfortunately not. Cossack got away just in time."
"Damn! Okay, Hagar, just make sure you continue your work and the doctors continue their work, and TELL me what happens."
"Of course, sire." With that, the door closed, and the witch proceeded to the prince's chambers.
She was almost at his door when it suddenly opened, and a half-dressed female slave tore out of the room, almost running into the witch in her flight. Hagar looked after the slave as she disappeared wondering what on Doom could be going on. Why would Prince Lotor let his slave just run out like that?
She entered the bedchamber to find the prince, also half-dressed, laying on his bed, holding his head in his hands. He was shaking badly.
"Prince Lotor?" Hagar asked.
The prince quickly rubbed his hands across his eyes before looking up. Hagar was shocked. Was he crying?
Chapter Three"Do you mind telling me what that was all about?" Hagar asked the prince.
"I was just standing in my room," he tried to explain, "Just standing there, when I saw her face. Allura just...popped into my mind."
"Well, that's certainly not the first time this has happened."
"But, it wasn't just her, you know. Not just a picture. There was scenery, too. It looked like a war scene. She was all bruised and cut. She was so sad..."
"You were dreaming," Hagar reassured him.
"No! I was awake! Allura was dreaming!" Lotor stopped to take a few breaths, trying to settle his nerves. "I saw her dream."
"What does that have to do with that slave girl I saw run out the door?"
Lotor groaned and shook his head. "I was trying to forget. I thought it would help ease my mind a little to...you know. I chose this fresh new girl, never been tried. Such a pretty shy thing. I started...and then..." Lotor grabbed his head. It looked to the witch as if he were in pain. "I HEARD HER!" he shrieked.
"I heard her thoughts..." He again began to shake. "She was...thinking of what the other slaves had told her about me, of how I loved them...of how not to make me angry and..."
"So?" replied the witch.
"But, that's not all. I could hear her feelings as well."
"She was...nervous, thrilled, anxious. But also terrified! Scared out of her wits!"
"Didn't you know people are terrified of you, sire?"
"But, I could FEEL it! I could feel her...her terror as if it were my own. It just flooded my mind. Growing and growing...I couldn't push it away!
"So, I pushed her away. But that only made it worse. She was sure I would kill her, I could hear her saying it to herself. Each passing second, just more and more! I couldn't control it! I finally screamed 'GET OUT!!' I couldn't handle..." Lotor quickly pressed his hands to his eyes to cover his emotions.
"It...it finally died down, after she left. After she got far enough away. This is crazy! This is driving me CRAZY!!"
They both stopped walking, about halfway to the infirmary. Hagar was dumbfounded, watching the prince attempt to regain control over himself. He could actually sense the emotions of others as if they were his own feelings. What else would this curse do to him?
"I never knew..." he started again. But, he seemed at a loss to describe it. "It's so complicated! All that fear...I wonder if Allura feels that way when I'm near her." His hands went to his eyes again at the thought.
Hagar attempted to change the subject. "Well, your cold sounds much better," she said.
"Yeah, it's gone. That's not all, either." Lotor held out his palms to the witch. There were no burn marks to be seen. Lotor sighed, looking at his hands. "Why is this happening to me? I keep hoping I'll just wake up."
"Don't worry, sire. Surely either the doctors or I will find a way to lift this curse."
"Maybe I should just move my stuff into the infirmary. I practically live there anymore."
They both began to walk again, only to run smack dab into the dumbest Drule on Doom.
"Ahhh! Stop!" Lotor cried in pain as he sensed the fear of the Drule. Fortunately, the man calmed down, sparing the prince's tattered nerves.
"Sorry, your Highness. Hagar. I didn't see you."
"Try using your eyes the next time!" she snapped back at him. He quickly hurried away down the corridor.
Hagar scowled, then resumed walking.
"Why are you so angry at that Drule, Hagar?" Lotor asked.
Hagar looked surprised. "What do you mean, sire?"
"Well, he seems to believe you are mad at him for some reason," Lotor explained, "He also thinks I'm mad at him, but I don't know why. I could sense..."
"Sire, don't you know who that was?"
"Should I?" Lotor asked, confused.
"Sire...that was Cossack!"
Chapter FourZarkon finally finished the most important work of the evening. Everything was just piling up; the military inspections, the tax collections, the reports and complaints, and so on. His head was throbbing, not to mention his backside. Rgghh! He had too much already to worry about without that damn kid getting into more trouble. I mean, he was what...twenty? Twenty-one? Lotor should know better by now.
The king ordered his advisors out of his room. After the slaves prepared his meal, he sent them away as well. He needed some time alone, away from the duties and paperwork. He remembered, years ago, the times he used to visit his wife. She was so happy and carefree. She made all his problems go away with a glance. He could really use that now.
But she was an elf. And so was Lotor.
Twenty-two...? Zarkon poked at the food with his knife. Why? Why only one child? At least it was a son, but why? Out of all the slaves and all the times with his wife, he had only sired one child. If only he had another son, even a daughter. Maybe he could remarry. He had thought about Merla earlier, but who was he kidding? He'd never make her conceive. He was just too old. Too old...
"Great, now I feel miserable," he mumbled. He pushed the food away from him, no longer hungry. "Well, look on the bright side, Zarkon," he told himself, "at least Eko-Parm isn't attacking."
At least he did have something left over from his wife to make him feel a little better. It was a birthday gift to him from...how many years ago? Oh, man! He couldn't be that old! He opened a small wooden case and removed the recorder. She used to play so beautifully. She just couldn't resist trying to teach the wicked savage ruler the mysterious soothing power of music. Of course, he had been a horrible pupil, but he did learn a few of her songs. Even now, through the occasional squeaks and misfingerings, the recorder did not fail to evoke its magic.
Hagar heard a soft melody emanating from the king's chambers. She stood outside, listening as the monarch played, knowing he hated for anyone to hear it. He wasn't that bad at it at all, the witch thought to herself with a chuckle. Ah well, her news was too pressing to stay outside. She summoned a guard to alert the king.
As the guard touched the signal panel, she heard the music instantly stop and the case snap closed. "What do you want?' Zarkon's gruff voice declared.
"Your majesty," the guard answered, "Witch Hagar requests an audience with you."
"Hagar?" The door opened, and the king stepped out. "What is it?"
"We have a problem," she told him.
A knock was heard on the doors to the princess' room. "Who is it?"
"Allura, hey! It's me!"
"Keith!" The door opened, and the princess appeared. She wore an old yellow pantsuit, her hair in one long ponytail. "I'm just finishing up some studying. Coran thought I should learn more of Denubian history and politics."
"Uh, yeah, but isn't that outfit kind of casual?" Keith stammered out.
"What do you mean?"
"Our date? This afternoon? The one I took weeks to convince Nanny to allow?"
"Oh no! I'm sorry, Keith, I totally forgot!"
"That's okay. I can wait, and you can change quickly, and we'll..."
"Keith," she stopped him in mid sentence, "Keith, I...I can't go out."
"You can't?" Keith was taken aback. She had told him more than once that she was looking forward to this date. "But, why not?"
"Well, Keith," she started, then paused. How am I going to tell him this, she wondered. "I think you're a great guy and a wonderful friend. You've always been there for me."
"But?" He already guessed that this was a breakup.
"But, I'm confused right now. I just don't feel like it's right to...I just don't..."
"...have any strong feelings for me?"
"I just don't." She felt like a monster, especially considering her real reason. "I'm sorry, Keith. You're still my best friend."
"Well, gee, um..." Keith couldn't figure out what to say. He should tell her it was all right, but his heart felt as if it dropped like a stone to his feet.
"I'm sorry. I truly am. I wish I could say that I loved you, but I don't. I guess it was just a crush or something."
OUCH! thought Keith. "Well, I guess I'd better be going." He turned to leave, his feet feeling like cement blocks. "I'll see you at practice tomorrow morning."
"Okay. Bye Keith."
"Prince Lotor didn't even remember that it was because of Cossack that those burns were on his hands. Later, he forgot the whole ordeal entirely! He doesn't even know who I am half the time!"
"Lotor has forgotten who Cossack is?" Zarkon questioned, "Something must be wrong!"
"It's not looking up, sire," Hagar agreed, "The only good thing is that he's finally gained control of that mind reading power of his." Hagar and King Zarkon entered the infirmary doors. A picture of chaos opened up before them. Doctors and assistants were running all over the place. One reached for a tranquilizer, another for a set of restraints.
"What's going on in here?" the king questioned, grabbing the nearest assistant by the arm.
"Your majesty!" she declared in surprise.
"I'll repeat; what's going on?"
"Sire, the prince is completely out of control!"
"Tell me something I don't know. What do you mean?"
"He's lost so much of his memory that he doesn't even know what Planet Doom is anymore. He's been ranting and raving for the past hour, screaming for us to release him. He acts as if he's being held prisoner."
"Perhaps I can help restrain him," Hagar suggested. She rushed ahead as Zarkon followed, still listening to the assistant's explanation.
"He just won't listen to anyone! And that new magic power of his isn't helping. He has broken all the restraining devices we have tried and tosses the doctors away with his mind like toys. We cannot get a sedative into his system to calm him..."
"LET ME GO!!!" Zarkon heard his son yell.
"Your Highness, please! Calm down!" one of the doctors pleaded.
"Who are you? Why are you keeping me here? Just let me go! Please let me go!" The syringe the doctor was holding went flying across the room.
"Sire!" Hagar tried, "Prince Lotor! Remember me? Come on, look at me and think!" Lotor was backed up against the far wall staring at all these unfamiliar faces.
"GO AWAY!" he shouted.
"Come on! Think!"
"I don't know you!"
"Please, Prince Lo...oh to hell with it!" Hagar decided it was time to replace her pleas with some good old fashioned magic.
But Lotor was prepared for this. Hagar thought a simple binding spell would do the trick, but it was easily dissipated by the elven magic. As the spells and counterspells got stronger and stronger, it soon became a match of power between the witch and the Prince of Doom. King Zarkon watched as witch-green light clashed with the elf-blue. Hagar showed strain as the blue light began to consume the green. Hagar couldn't defeat him?
"Lotor!" Zarkon suddenly found himself yell, "Stop this at once!"
Recognition flashed in the prince's eyes, and he turned his head.
"Father?" Lotor asked, temporarily losing concentration. That was just the break Hagar needed. With one quick burst of energy, she finally overpowered the prince. His body slumped to the floor, as the doctors raced to inject the tranquilizers.
Lance, Hunk, and Pidge were busy repairing a control panel on Yellow Lion, when Keith lumbered in. "Hey! Lover boy's back!" exclaimed Lance.
"So, how was your date?" asked Hunk.
"There wasn't any date, okay?"
"I smell reJECTION!" Lance declared.
"Shut up, Lance!"
"Oooo!! A bit down in the dumps, are we?"
"Tough luck, Keith," added Hunk.
"'Tough luck?' Is that all you can say?" asked an exasperated Keith.
"Gee, sorry, Keith," Hunk apologized, "I didn't mean to hurt your feelings."
"Just like Allura didn't mean to hurt mine, either." Keith plopped into the nearest chair. "I thought we had something. Even her father thought so! I mean, what's wrong with me! Why doesn't she like me anymore?"
"Nothing's wrong with you, Keith," replied Hunk.
"She still likes you," chimed in Lance, "She just doesn't LIKE you."
"But why? Why suddenly change her mind?"
"Women!" Lance snorted, "Go figure!"
"No way, Lance," Hunk scolded, "Allura's a great person! She wouldn't want anyone to feel hurt. She probably broke up now so as not to hurt you further down the line."
"Maybe. I don't know."
"Hey, Keith! Come on, cheer up!" Lance gave Keith a friendly punch to the shoulder. "The night's still young. Let's say we four bachelors hit the town!"
"Sounds great to me!" exclaimed Pidge.
"What about it, Keith?"
"Well...all right." Keith stood up. He began to feel a little better.
Maybe it wouldn't be so bad after all.
"Okay, we're outta here! But, uh Keith, I would suggest you change your pants before we go," Lance said with a chuckle.
"What do you mean?" Keith asked looking down and finding nothing wrong.
"Not on the front, great leader. I forgot to warn you earlier. I spilled axle grease on that chair you sat in."
"Whoohohohoo!!" Hunk and Pidge roared with laughter at the viscous black spot decorating the back of Keith's red pants.
Allura sat in the chair at her desk, looking in the mirror and brushing her hair. Her face stared back at her; golden hair, blue eyes, cream-colored skin. But her face, though familiar, showed concern. She knew something was wrong, but she didn't know what. Whatever it was, it had been nagging her all day. She looked again in the mirror, only to see another familiar face; white hair, golden eyes, azure skin.
"Help me!" the face pleaded.
"Lotor?" The princess shook her head and blinked, then looked back. But, the image of the prince was gone.
It was very late evening, according to Doom standard time. All throughout the day and now the night, the doctors struggled to keep the prince under control. They finally inserted an IV line to continuously pump sedative into Lotor's body. Still, he bordered on the edge of consciousness and would moan occasionally, fighting weakly against the magic bonds.
Meanwhile, the king felt as if his brain was about to explode from the lack of sleep. Hagar felt even worse; the efforts to restrain the prince severely draining her. She certainly wouldn't be able to stop him again if he was allowed to come out of his drugged state.
The doctors were still perplexed about the entire situation. Something was altering the structure of each cell, down to the very DNA of the prince. They couldn't figure out the mechanism behind this mutagen. It acted sort of like a virus, then again, it didn't.
Was it a chemical? They couldn't even begin to formulate an antidote without knowing what it was. Witch Hagar insisted it was magic, but in what form? Energy? Chemical? Plant extract? What?
"You know, come to think of it Hagar," commented the king, "if he hadn't lost all sense of reason, that kid would make a hell of a robeast with those powers."
"I can't disagree with you, sire," Hagar replied in a fatigued tone.
"I just wish I knew more of what I was dealing with!" one of the doctors suddenly proclaimed in frustration.
Hagar growled in silent turmoil. It was against her better judgement, but: "Well, Doctor..."
"Well, Doctor Jannick, I suppose I could let you...have access to my lab work."
The Voltron boys finally arrived back at the castle shortly after sunrise.
"Man! Nanny's gonna be so mad at us!" Pidge said with a laugh.
"Ah, who cares? We needed a little break! So, what was the best?"
"That stupid new horror movie!" declared Pidge.
"The lovely dishes at the pub!" Lance gave a wolf whistle.
"Leave it to you to think of that one, Hunk!"
"I like the new theater. They did a great job of blending it into the surrounding old buildings."
"I liked the popcorn, too!"
"You made your point, Hunk."
"Uh oh! Watch out, team," Keith warned, "Nanny's on the warpath."
"Hi, Nanny!" the boys said in unison.
"Und just vhere have you been?" she asked in a shaky voice. Keith noticed that her face was very pale.
"Well," started Lance, "you see, it was like this..."
"I don't vant to hear it! I don't..." Nanny suddenly burst into tears.
"Nanny! Nanny, what's wrong?"
"We were just in town. We didn't..."
"It's not zat! It's not zat!" she managed through her sniffles, "Just come in und talk to Coran."
They headed towards the control center. There sat Coran staring at one of the computer consoles. His face shared the worried look of Nanny's. He finally turned around. "Voltron force! You're back!"
"What's wrong?" asked Keith.
"It must have happened around midnight," Coran mumbled.
"What? Is Zarkon attacking?"
"What's wrong?" the boys asked in one voice. Coran took a deep breath. "Allura's gone," he told them, "and so is Blue Lion."
Just a few minutes away from the Doom sensors' perimeter, Allura prompted Blue Lion's directional thrusters one last time, before cutting all power. She should be invisible to detection now. She headed for a section of wasteland just beyond the pit of skulls. Hopefully, the rocks and chasms would give the lion enough cover. She opened the lion's emergency parachute to slow her descent; she couldn't dare risk anything else. As Blue Lion made a rather rocky landing, she kept asking herself what in the world she was doing here, knowing that the answer lay at the castle in the distance.
About half a mile from Blue Lion's landing site, two figures met in the darkness of Doom afternoon. One wore a green cape, the other a strange hunting garb. The hooded cape hid a mass of black and gray hair, the triangular felt hat lay on top of reddish locks.
"So, this is the place?" the red-haired asked.
"Yes," replied the woman in green.
"Lifeless. Sunless. Ominous."
"It's perfect! You sure the inhabitants won't pry?"
"No, I'm not," the black-haired woman said, "But think of it this way: there's so much wasteland here. Why should they mind if you use just a few square miles?"
"You have a point," the red-haired replied, "and if they do mind, I can deal with them."On to Part 3