Lance was thrust back over the bridge’s controls, the slightly raised platform cutting into his side.
“Move the castle back,” Shiro's voice was the flattest Lance had ever heard it.
Lance groaned as he placed his hands over the smooth floor, trying to think of anything he could say then. Around him were men in black uniforms. Keith and Pidge stood at either side of Shiro and— on her knees, hunched over and still bleeding, Allura was nearly crumpled on the floor. Gagged and hands bound before her— there wasn’t anything she could do.
There wasn’t anything Lance could do even as he watched her. So close to a crown--and she’d been reduced to this.
“I hate you,” Is all that came to mind. He shook his head. “And I’ll never do as you ask.”
“You will,” Shiro said assured. “Now move the castle back.”
Allura raised her head up then, looking at Lance.
From Lance’s hunched position, he could barely make out the way his sister shook her head to him.
“Lance,” Shiro said as he loomed over him.
Lance stayed silent for a moment. Before he looked up to Shiro. “I hope you rot in hell.”
Shiro’s impassive face didn’t change before he tilted his head back to the side. “Keith,”
Keith tapped the control button at the side of Allura’s muzzle, and it flashed back and away from her mouth.
“Move it,” Shiro repeated to Lance.
Lance just stared up from where he was sprawled on the floor of the ship’s bridge.
“He can’t,” Allura suddenly spoke. “He’s not the heir, he can’t move anything, he’s useless.”
This time Shiro actually looked back at her. His expression widened Lance’s eyes. He was disgusted, like he had to answer to a cockroach. His eyes flashed to Keith, and he gave a small nod.
Keith’s strike across Allura’s face made Lance wince.
“Don’t say stupid things,” Shiro sighed, as if dealing with Lance’s sister was the most downright exasperating thing.
The creak of Shiro’s armor told him that he was looking back down at Lance. “Darling—“ His voice was flat and collected—and completely devoid of any kindness. “Move the castle back to the palace. There are things still to be dealt with.”
Lance swallowed as he considered. “I can’t.” His eyes flicked up. He pulled his face in to the most serene state of —innocence, and hurt and just a bit of fear as he looked up to Shiro. “Allura is right, I can’t. I’m not the heir. I don’t know how.”
There was a chance they didn’t know. There was a chance Lance could survive and if he could survive he could get his sister out of this—
Lance kept going, “I was never my father’s favorite, he never told me how. I can’t move anything. I have no idea what you expect me to do.”
The tilt of Shiro’s head down to him in that moment, sparked real fear in Lance. He shook his head just slightly as if he was in disbelief--at how stupid Lance was being. If there was ever a moment Lance could point out irritation, it was then as Shiro looked at him.
“I just said—don’t say stupid things,” His voice was thick like he thought it a crime to have to repeat himself. He nearly rolled his eyes as he turned and strode back to where Pidge and Keith stood over Allura.
He didn’t give Lance another second before that Galra hand closed around Allura’s neck as he lifted her into the air.
The gasping sound of his sister losing breath had Lance’s eyes going wide.
“Lance,” Shiro spoke again.
Lance didn’t answer. His sister's eyes were on him and even as she gasped she shook her head again to him.
Each death Lance had seen from his lover flashed in his mind. All of them had been devoid of emotion, like he was just performing a routine chore. This was--there was nothing on his lovers face, just irritation at Lance, just the look of a man who cared so little about the life of those under him…
That’s when Lance saw it though, the runes and intricate marks alighted across Shiro’s hand slowly moving from his forearm down to his finger tips.
He— Lance had seen that hand slice a gladiator bot in half—he’d seen it sear off the flesh of men, he’d— he couldn’t—
Shiro still steadily looked at Lance as his fingertips sparked—
“I’ll do it!” Lance gasped, lunging on the floor.
“Please,” Lance stayed on his knees, his eyes frantic over Shiro’s face. “I’ll do what you ask.”
Shiro didn’t say anything as the bright runes faded and he unceremoniously opened his hand— and let Allura’s limp body drop to the floor.
Lance winced as she landed, hearing the pained groan she gave as she crumpled over the metal floor. But he still looked up to Shiro.
Shiro approached in a steady gate.
“Well?” He said as he stepped over Lance.
Swallowing, Lance gave a nod, before he turned and pushed himself up to his feet. His legs and body ached, his face ached, but he still trudged up, before stepping up on to the platform, his hands out at either of the two controls.
The brilliant teal in the room lit across the controls and the holograms appeared before Lance.
Frowning, Lance carefully held out his hands, before instructing the ship to descend .
The tension in the room seemed to dissipate as men around Lance took up stations at the other controls, all taking over once the ship was given direction.
Lance could feel the heat as Shiro stepped up to the platform.
Lance’s narrow shoulders were held tight to himself, as he looked over one to Shiro. He tried--he tried not to look scared. But he felt it. His limbs trembled and the best he could do was try to look expressionless. Any mask he’d crafted before just wouldn’t raise to his lips. Was that what true fear was?
Shiro’s gaze was on him as he approached, steady, unreadable.
“I did as you asked,” Lance murmured. Hopeful, that Shiro’s expressionless face wasn’t there to inflict pain on Lance, to raise that hand to his face again.
Shiro reached out to Lance then standing on the platform, just the slightest bit taller than him for possibly the first time.
Shiro smiled before taking Lance’s chin. Lance shivered at the cold touch of his metal fingers. Shiro noticed but only gripped lance more firmly and pressing in a small kiss to the peak of Lance’s eye marking.
“Good boy,” Shiro whispered to him before he turned away and led back around to the Black Paladin’s Station at the helm of the ship.
Lance landed with a groan, forced onto his knees, his hands had been restrained behind his backs, he was positioned next to his sister on the throne room floor. Over them both, guards stood as well. Keith stepped up, and in Lance’s peripherals he could see Antok.
There wasn’t much hope even if Lance could muster the strength to stand.
The massive room was flooded with people and all of them eagerly cheered as Shiro ascended up the room.
“Kon! Kon! Kon!” Was chanted through out, as the people around all celebrated.
Lance felt blood running down from a wound he wasn’t sure he remembered getting. He felt like he was out of breath as he tipped his head.
At his side, Allura was nearly slumped over the ground. Her messy silver hair was strewn around her. Her eyes closed, her head was bowed to the floor before her.
With out any thing else to look at, Lance turned his eyes forward to the floor as well.
It was nearly joyously that Shiro took the steps to the throne. And as he turned, even still in battle stained armor and sweaty hair his eye sparked around the room.
Lance felt like he would crumble to dust at that moment, like he would flow away in the tears trekking across his face continuously— and before him…
The man who had betrayed him, the man he was inseparably bonded to, the man Land would never be able to live without — smiled.
The druids helped Shiro pull on the cloak, the same one he’d bonded Lance in just months before, now settling over his shoulders in a arrangement of dark metals and gold.
The room broke out into thunderous cheers and applause around them as a thin black metal laurel was rest on his head.
As the druids around him fell away, as if presenting their new king, Shiro stood at the head of the room. Before his hand, fisted, and crossed over his heart.
“Vespet Sa!” His voice boomed into a powerful Alpha tone in the room.
“Vespet Sa!” Was cantered back to him, so loud Lance nearly doubled.
He gasped for air over his knees. Tears streamed freely down his face as they speckled the floor below him.
There was nothing—there was nothing he could do.
“Bow,” Was suddenly spoken very close to his ear.
Lance startled, jerked his head back. “What?” He managed through his broken throat.
“Bow.” Keith repeated. His eyes were very narrow on Lance as he looked at him.
Lance had—he’d never bowed to anyone but His father in his entire life.
Keith gave a rumbling grow in this throat. It was laced with more alpha tones. If Lance had been unbonded—he’s sure he would have obeyed at that moment.
“I’ll help you then,” Keith snarled before his hand was at the back of Lance’s neck — and without ceremony Lance was forced forward completely, his head pressed painfully to the floor.
Lance grit his teeth and groaned as he tried to push Keith off of him. Thrusting back away from the floor.
But to no avail, in Keith’s hand, clawing it into the back of Lance’s neck he slammed his head back down to the floor.
Lance let out a gasp as he struggled to see around him. His vision was starred and swirling as it sunk in he’d just gotten his head bashed against the throne room floor.
“Remember this,” Keith said close to his ear again.
Lance felt like breathing was so hard at that moment.
“This is how you will greet your new King.”
The room around Lance numbed out to him. He felt like on his knees he was teetering. Around him people smirked at him. He could feel the sweaty tangle of his hair, the blood drying across his face was starting to crust and twinge at his skin. Behind him, Lance was aware when Keith stepped off to the side and the towering form of Antok stepped up.
Lance blinked slow as a woman mocked him. Her dark marks streaked down her cheeks like most of the others in the room. Not a single one was Altean. And Lance never felt so alone.
"They won't be allowed to hurt you," Antok spoke from behind his ever present helmet.
Lance wondered if he was supposed to find comfort in the words. But all he saw around him were faces sneering and mocking him.
His hands tightly bound behind his back, Lance didn’t have much he could do. So he let his head, fall forward, his rugged breath all he could manage as he let his eyes squeeze shut.
His sister next to him, had yet to even move.
As a set of black armored guards approached her, is when Lance lifted his head. They reached down to her, grabbing her roughly at the arms.
"No," Lance’s hoarse voice managed to squeak out. "No, don’t take her..." he knew his voice carried no weight but he still tried to lean into her. "Don’t."
A black gloved hand landed on Lance’s shoulder.
It startled him, but more importantly held Lance back. Lance’s tongue moved in his dry mouth as he tried to form words again, but Keith's hand squeezed at his shoulder.
There wasn’t anything he could do.
As his sister was hoisted up and pulled away Lance had no options but to watch.
"She will not be harmed," Antok spoke close to Lance.
Lance’s face hurt, his eyes felt puffy and red and every muscle in him screamed to finally be able to just collapse across the floor. But he couldn’t and instead his head just slumped forward, his eyes closing as he tried to block out the ringing defeat around him.
He must have blacked out, or his mind numbed to everything around him because he was only vaguely aware of the massive figure towering over him.
The rustle of clothing and armor didn’t stir Lance till a gentle metal hand was tipping up his chin and Shiro leaned down to press his lips over Lance’s.
Realizing all at once, Lances eye went wide before he jerked away, gasping for air as he pulled as far from Shiro as he could.
Shiro didn’t seem surprised or even to mind as he straightened, his hand still at Lance's face. Metal fingers stroked down his cheek to the bond mark. His thumb grazed over it, not enough to activate it just—to admire it.
Around them, the room had cleared. The windows of the throne room had all been thrown open and Mai and Varr over head lit up the room. The moons light cast across the dark marble floors. It felt empty, hollow even as Lance lifted his eyes around him. The throne once graced in deep blues and gold—was now cold black marble.
Lance wasn’t sure at what point he was hit in the mouth. But as he breathed he realized his lip was swelling, probably split at some point.
Keith approached, his boots echoing across the smooth marble as he walked up to them.
Shiro didn’t look up, and neither did Lance, still casting his eyes down and away.
"Will you kill him?" Keith’s voice was level, but in the deserted cavern of marble and stone it sounded thunderous.
Lance’s breath caught. He had been so sure, his eyes flicked over to Shiro.
The mans face was unreadable as his cool metal thumb softly caressed over Lances bond mark again.
Sharply he looked up to keith and in a calm tone stated. "If anyone touches him—I will tear out their eyes, and then their ears and then their vocal cords and let them wander around like that, until I’m sure the message is clear.”
Keith gave a snort as he looked to Shiro before back down to Lance.
Lance met his gaze, though couldn’t find anything to say.
"Have him cleaned up," Shiro’s voice was rough, a bit hoarse himself it seemed.
Lance looked up, sidelong through his lashes at him.
"He’s to be returned to my chambers." Shiro looked to the servant, instead of down at lance as he spoke.
Before Lance could react Antok was behind him, hoisting him up to his feet.
There wasn’t any way for Lance to fight back so he simply let it happen. What Lance guessed were the servants stepped up. And Lance nearly gasped. He hadn’t been looking at their faces until then. At any of their faces he realized. The markings—at one point in time they may have been Altean, but no longer. They were dark markings streaking across both of their faces, on one they even extended up over their eyelids, the strips ending across their forehead.
Antok was there as well, resting his hand on Lance’s shoulder as Keith let him go. It was a gentler reminder, Lance had his own personal guard still.
He was shuffled off towards the doors without incident.
Lance had never seen these caverns. They were rooms reserved for—well the king. And the deep warm springs cut from the marble of the palace’s bedrock was something he’d only ever imagined.
Lance didn’t have much time to marvel though as the two servants quickly went about their work. He was stripped of what was left of the blue and gold Paladin’s armor and even farther as the flight suit was peeled away from his sweaty and bloody skin.
It was Antok that finally stopped their fretting over him as he said something hushed in a language Lance didn’t understand. Lance was pushed forward to stumble into one of the warm pools. He managed to catch himself before he completely fell in. Around him there were pillars carved in elegant swirls in imitations of water, but the floor was the harsh cracked bedrock still, even the edges were rough hewn stone, a clash of natures fierceness and the splendor created from it.
Lance still eyed his captors as he waded out, the water sloshed over his hips and across his navel. He turned carefully, hoping the teal tinted low light of the room hadn’t caught over his marks—especially across his spine.
He’d shown Shiro. He’d shown him willingly, time and time again. But if there was any chance—Lance couldn’t let them know.
Though if Honerva—Lance couldn’t trust what she’d said. The woman had to be insane. There was no way...
Lance bit his lip as he looked down at the crystal clear water.
There was a shift that brought Lances gaze back up.
Antok sat on an outcropping of rough hewn rocks before his hands lifted, and for the first time he reached up to pull the helmet off.
Lance took another step back into the water, not sure what to expect.
Though as Antok’s head rose and he looked across the water at Lance.
"We wont harm you, Your Highness." Antok’s voice was still just as steady as ever. Though without the echo of the helmet, Lance felt like it wasn’t from the man he’d always known.
Lance’s eyes were still wide though as he gazed — at a Galra.
He'd connected it with his father. The dots made sense. A war focused society that had been banished from their midst, would of course always be at Altea’s doorstep, screams of war and injustice now— now they all rang true. Lance’s father hadn’t been the first to cast probably countless Varrian’s into space, to force them to change into tall, lumbering creatures that could survive without a homeland.
"I don't think you need to call me that anymore." Lance spoke, doing his best not to shiver.
It surprised him, how little... He was completely nude in the water — yet he felt more comfortable, if by even a fraction, than when he had been fully armored and on his knees as people around him jeered and mocked him.
“You still will not be harmed.”Antok gave a nod as he blinked slow, the white stripes in his deep purple skin nearly startling Lance.
Lance couldn’t believe that.
Even if Shiro did care about him — Lance was the last son of the man they’d just murdered and stole a kingdom from. There wasn’t much of a way he could simply be kept as a pet with as much power as Lance could possibly have.
“Wash,” Antok urged, as he gestured to the tray of soaps and oils at a nearby edge.
Lance glanced at it but didn’t comment and didn’t take a step in the bright blue spring water to get closer.
“How did you even get here?” Lance cocked his head.
Antok was quiet for a long moment.
“How did you get into this Palace? How was it even possible to have you be assigned my personal guard?” Lance shook his head.
Antok’s ears—moved. Large, nearly like a bat, they lifted just a bit as Antok watched Lance.
“Shiro owes me his life. The crew of Mamora found him and his comrades half dead. If they had not sent out a call in Galran as his comrades we would have never come for them--and neither would any Altean, despite the plethora of distress messages.”
Lance felt his breath leave him. ///His comrades?/// The sound of the water sloshing with the gentle flow was suddenly very loud in Lance’s ears.
Lance’s gaze lifted over Antok’s form. He looked relaxed though Lance couldn’t tell. He’d never seen Antok anything but relaxed in all honesty. Even when he was offering to take Lance captive he’d always done so with a calm and controlled demeanor.
Lifting his chin, Lance finally breathed out slow.
Right. Trust nothing.
Even if it was the stories Lance had thought Shiro given to him were out of trust...
“That’s not an answer.” Lance finally managed. “Shiro’s trust in you —that couldn’t have been enough to get you here.”
Antok gave a sad smile at that moment. "There wasn’t much stopping me from being your guard, no one asked a thing from me, despite us expecting more. I’m afraid Alfor’s arrogance affected his service quite negatively. " Antok’s gaze shifted and his head tipped to the helmet.
Lance looked away.
It was ironic. It was laughably ironic. Now was when he felt vulnerable and helpless. No one had even asked Antok to take off his helmet. And they had all been so assured in their grand palace.
How easy was it to topple an empire?
Lance frowned, he was so—why had it all happened.
"Wash, your highness," Antok stood from the edge of the pool before he trailed out of the room, shutting the grating doors behind him.
"Don’t call me that," Lance whispered to the now empty room.
His hands were already up to his face as he felt the first few of many tears start to spill. He turned away from the door as his breath caught and he tried desperately to scrub the the streaming sobs away.
He didn’t feel like a prince.
After everything—he felt nothing like a prince. For all of his fine cloths and his lush things—he hadn’t been able to do anything.
He wasn’t given long alone. The same tall and slender servants slipped back through the door less than an hour later. Lance tried to tell them he washed, but they simply washed him again, a bit rough as they managed to get him up to what ever standards Lance wasn’t aware of.
He was given a robe to pull on as he exited the cavernous baths.
He was flanked then by two guards, armor deep black obsidian as well as Antok, stepping up from behind him, his helmet pulled black over his face, leaving Lance again to only contemplate on his blank, emotionless expression.
“This way, your Highness,” the servants led the way, their speech was thickly accented, dark marks were streaked across their faces. They looked like gashes in Lance’s opinion.
It wasn’t till they passed the halls leading to the west wings of the palace that Lance opened his mouth. Though they just hung there for a moment as his sense caught up to him. They weren’t returning to the Black Paladin’s quarters.
The massive doors to the King’s chambers swung open before Lance to reveal Honerva and a small group of what looked to be other Varrians and Galra in the room.
Lance was urged forward again, and without another option he stepped into the room.
“I trust you’ve been well taken care of, Your Highness.” Honerva spoke.
Lance winced at the mention of his title again, looking away.
That’s when he felt it, as he breathed in, he was hit with the dark small of cloves and the soft sound of boots approaching from behind him. The guards shifted out of the way as the towering man shadowed over Lance from behind.
“I trust Antok with my life,” Shiro’s voice was level though it thundered through Lance nonetheless. “He’d never allow for Lance to be hurt.”
The shift of clothing was Lance’s first indication before a gloved hand was sliding against his hip—it was cold though. And Lance knew underneath that soft glove was the hard metal of Shiro’s Galra arm.
He held Lance steady as the larger man leaned in and gave a vicious, biting kiss over Lance’s bond mark.
Lance cracked his eye as his breath escaped him and he finally looked up.
When Shiro broke the kiss and straightened, Lance jerked his head to the side, though not looking behind himself completely to see Shiro.
“Where is my father?” Lance asked. “Please,” He tried to placate.
He heard the sneer from Honerva first, and Lances gaze jerked to her. His eyes widening . If it was up to her—her distaste for Alfor was apparent enough.
“His body was taken to the kings tombs,” Shiro answered,
His hand hadn’t left Lance, now skirting up his side through the thin material of the wispy robe.
“He’ll be entombed there as the last King of Altea,” Shiro still spoke soft to Lance.
“A burial he doesn’t deserve,” Honerva hissed.
Lance looked up.
“Honerva,” Shiro growled the lingerings of an Alpha tone leaking through.
The woman only raised her head indignantly.
“The last king?” Lace repeated as he shifted his head again. He didn’t move otherwise, not sure if he was even allowed to.
They were no longer Altea then?
There was a shift from Honerva before them, before she stepped forward. “This is time enough to talk about your new place in the Empire.”