The second his lover hit the ground, Shiro clawed his way into a run to him. Lance's body dropped hard over the marble and his limbs lost all tension as he let himself just fall.
“Lance!” screaming his name, Shiro slid to his knees at his prince's body.
Gathering the limp boy into his arms, Shiro leaned his head down to press his forehead to Lance’s. His sweet, kind lover--and Shiro had just watched him drop several feet. Pressing a hand to his neck, Shiro was relieved to find a pulse.
Antok approached then, his head bowed as he presented himself respectfully to his Kon.
Clutching Lance close to him, Shiro looked up to Antok.
He’d clearly helped Lance get this far. Kollivan had sent men to the farthest reaches of the palace to find Lance. The only way Lance could have gotten this far is if Antok had defied any Galra to stand in their way.
Was that honorable?
Or was that treason?
Shiro was sure even as a Kon, he knew the difference in himself. Was he about to do something that was honorable or treasonous?
“You will never leave him.” Shiro commanded as he tucked Lance’s head under his chin. His mind made up--it didn’t matter what Antok’s actions had been to the Galra nation--they were loyal, a trait Shiro could use at that moment.
Antok slid to a knee as he gave a nod to the order. “My Kon.” His fist raised over his chest.
Sitting back on the marble, Shiro’s bleeding lover deathly still in his arms--Shiro didn’t feel much like a Kon at that moment.
He felt helpless, cold, and alone.
But Anotk still bowed his head to Shiro in respect.
“He’s all I have left.” Shiro murmured low. “And I can’t stay with him.” Shiro’s gaze flickered to Antok. “You will never leave his side.”
“Your Majesty,” Antok.
“Ever,” Shiro raised his voice. “Not ever.”
Taking a knee before Shiro, Antok bowed his head. “I swear, I will protect him until my very last breath.”
“From all sides,” Shiro directed.
“I will keep him safe from all sides, from any threat,” Anotk parroted.
“No order will ever supersede his safety,” Shiro pressed.
“I will head no order over his safety.” Antok continued.
“You will never leave him.” Shiro nodded reiterating for the third time.
“I will forever remain at his side.” Antok looked up then to Shiro.
Shiro closed his eyes for a moment before he nodded. Reaching out over his still, sweet soulmate, Shiroclasped Antok’s shoulder.
Antok’s arm struck out, clasping Shiro’s in return.
“You have done well,” Shiro commended.
“You are my Kon,” Antok said. “From the moment I pulled your injured body from that Altean ship--I knew. You are our ruler.”
The weight of that--a nation rest over his shoulders--and Shiro physically felt his shoulders drop from the knowledge of it. And the only thing he could do was clutch his lover closer. Shiro gasped for breath.
His chest hurt, as if that massive black claymore of his had been thrust through him.
“My Kon,” Anotk repeated, his hand squeezing Shiro’s shoulder tighter.
Shiro looked down to his small fragile altean prince. “He’s the most valuable thing I have.”
He didn’t receive an answer from Antok.
“I would break worlds for him.” Shiro looked around the room. Was he that desperate? Was he really looking for a way out? He’d always charged full steam ahead--and now he just wanted to take Lance and run? He didn’t run. He was a Kon now.
Antok looked down as well.
“I can’t return with him,” Shiro finally voiced what they both had been speculating.
Antok gave a slight nod.
“Kollivan will demand his death.”
Antok nodded again. “He’s not a lenient man.”
“No.” Shiro huffed. “He’s the best at being ruthless.” He closed his eyes. He needed Kollivan’s support. If he was going to rebuild a civilization he needed a man like that’s support.
Pushing up, Shiro tightened his hold on Lance. But he needed Lance too.
His bones ached for him. His chest felt hollow over the prospect of losing him.
Hesitant, Antok shifted up to stand as well.
Shiro looked out the open bay doors as he hefted Lance closer. The blast of warships against the rising Castle’s shields shimmered like lightning across the sky. The shields would fall soon, Shiro could see it in the way each tile flickered and waivered for a moment.
Pressing a kiss to Lance's soft hair, Shiro shifted his weight to pass Lance off to Antok.
It startled the man when Shiro held his most prized possession out to him.
Antok had to sheathe his jagged Galran blade before carefully he took up Lance’s weight, securing a hold under his neck before he secured Lance against his chest.
He was lingering, Shiro knew it even as he brushed his hand up over Lance’s face and his fingers combed through his soft hair.
“He needs a healing pod.” Shiro’s voice was thick.
Antok gave a nod, but didn’t move away.
“This ship was made for emergencies,” Shior said. “Get him upstairs to one of them.”
Antok seemed to consider but didn’t comment.
“I’ll stop the war ships.” Shiro murmured. He still stayed close, still let his hand rest on Lance’s face.
The massive ship shuddered again as another volley of fire hit the quickly disintegrating shields.
“He’s not the only Altean on this ship…” Antok shifted to glance upwards.
Shiro knew it too. If he saved Lance--he sentenced himself to chasing across the universe to get Allura back under his Claymores blade.
“I’ll stop them long enough.” Shiro straightened.
Antok still glanced up above them but gave a nod. “I can’t control the ship.”
“No,” Shiro shook his head. “But Allura can and she’ll warp if I give her the chance.”
Antok didn’t look too sure.
“I’ll make it her only option.” Shiro straightened his shoulders.
Antok didn’t look convinced but he didn’t argue.
“Get all of them out of here.” Shiro’s voice was beginning to sound hoarse. “Force her into a warp if you have to.”
“And once we’ve broken into a new galaxy?” Anotk questioned.
Shiro ran a hand over Lance’s forehead again. “He’s all that matters.”
Outside the shimmer of the shields flashing out gave Shiro pause.
“Go,” he leaned down for one last kiss to Lance’s still lips before he pushed Antok away. “Get him into hibernation.”
With a parting look over his shoulder, Antok gave one last nod before he stole across the chamber and through the doors leading farther into the castle.
Shiro strode across the chamber in the opposite direction as a flash of red swept through the faltering shields.
The flurry of wind accompanied the descent as the Red Lion, eyes ablaze climbed its way into the Castle of Lions and Shiro advanced on it.
“We’re leaving.” Shiro gave the short order as he climbed in behind Keith in the cockpit.
“What?” Keith snapped back at Shiro as his head whipped around to look behind his cockpit chair.
Advancing, Shiro leaned over the chair as he made up his mind. He may be paying for this decision for a very long time, but there was no way he would let the rest of the Galran council get their hands around Lance’s neck.
Shiro reached over Keith to the communications unit to announce. “Red Lion to Star fleet, this is your Kon.”
Flicking a few controls, Shiro ensured the connection was a broadcast so if there was any dissent Shiro didn’t hear it.
“Cease fire on the Castle of Lions.”
Keith stared at him, but the Red Lion had still moved, prowling around to launch from the bay doors.
Mai outside loomed closer than ever, the distant buzz of lights came for Daibazaal. No doubt their home moon planet was just humming as fighters launched and warships jettisoned to join the battle every citizen could see hanging over them all. Mai’s and Daibazaal’s orbits were close in the last few nights and the Castle’s ascent was starting to break through the atmosphere.
“Shiro,” Keith finally spoke.
Taking his hand from the controls, Shiro watched the cease fire ripple from the warships around him. The red flashes of laser cannons trickled to a stop all around as the red lion stood at the open bay doors.
“Shiro,” Keith’s tone was biting this time as he stalled the Red Lion from leaping out into open space again. “You don’t owe me answers, but Kolivan will demand them.”
Glancing down to Keith, Shiro gave a nod. “Get us back to our flag ship.”
There was a pause where Keith just looked to Shiro for a small moment, before he let out a breath and reached forward. “Alright.”
As the Red Lion shot forward and leapt into the space the Castle’s shields shimmered again and Keith slipped through them.
“Thank you,” Shiro’s hand at the head of the cockpit chair tightened.
“For obeying your orders?” Keith didn’t look up.
“For helping him,” Shiro shifted his gaze to look over Keith’s head.
He didn’t acknowledge for a long moment before Keith gave another huff. “He told you?”
“No.” Shiro shook his head. “But he didn’t get there on his own.”
Keith didn’t say anything more as he looked ahead and pushed Red faster.
As Shiro stepped up to the bridge of his massive war ship, he pulled the black mantled cloak back over his shoulders.
“Kon!” Kolivan’s voice rang out over the intercoms system even as Shiro stood at the head of the ship.
Shiro directed his orders to the men at the controls at his feet. “Withdraw our fighters,”
The Galra all looked from one to another before nodding and setting to pulling the swarm of fighter ships back to their hive.
“Shiro!” Kollivan’s snarl of his name nearly shook the room over the sound system again.
Next to Shiro, Keith stepped up. He'd changed from his flight suit as well. The stately red armor he wore complemented Shiro’s black cloak hanging from his shoulders.
“SHIRO!” Kolivan boomed again.
Nodding to a scared looking attendant, Shiro asked. “Start an open comms link.”
With a few fast keystrokes, the attendant had a communications link established.
“All units will stand down.” Shiro commanded. “And return to your battlements.”
Next to him, Keith let out a careful, slow breath.
“What is the meaning of this surrender Shiro?!” Kollivans' voice still cut through.
“They’ve sealed the Black Lion in that ship,” Shiro didn’t spare a glance to the video link Kollivan tried to open. He nodded to an attendant to shut it down. “If that ship falls we lose Voltron.”
Shiro would lose everything if that ship crashed back to Altea.
“That ship will doom us all if it leaves here.” Kolivan growled out the words this time.
Shiro only set his chin. “We will pursue them in due time,” This wasn’t the look Shiro needed right now, to be bickering with his council. “Kolivan, you will withdraw your forces.” He growled the words as well making his own threat of what would happen otherwise known.
The snarled huff was the only sign off Kolivan gave before he ended the link.
Glancing his direction, Shiro saw the furrowed brow of his companion.
Shiro spoke under his breath. “They’ll leave.”
With a flick of his magenta gaze, Keith turned a critical expression on his Kon. “So we can chase them across lightyears?”
Still speaking under his breath so the comms system wouldn’t pick up his voice, Shiro answered. “I’d rather run after them, than let Kollivan burn them all at the stake.”
“It’s what Allura deserves,” Even under his breath the hiss could be heard cracking throughout the room.
Shiro gave a nod. “It is.” He agreed. “But Lance doesn’t.”
“And you think time will soften Kolivan’s lust for revenge?” Keith still held a critical gaze on Shiro.
“I think if he gets ahold of Lance now, and I stop him from slitting Lance’s throat--” Shiro paused.
“You think he’ll challenge you?” Keith picked up.
Always too keen for his own good, Shiro thought as he answered. “We can’t fight a civil war now.”
“Does Lance know you’re sacrificing this?” Keith snarled.
Shiro tipped his head to Keith. “What I’m giving now will be nothing compared to what I’ll lose if Kolivan burns Lance right there as a traitor.”
“He is a traitor.” Keith squared his shoulders.
Shiro didn’t answer for a moment before he tipped his chin. “He’s my mate.”
Keith looked away. The frustrated crease of his brow only worsened as his hands fisted at his sides.
“I made a promise to him.” Shiro murmured low.
“I can’t come through on everything I promised him.” Shiro admitted for the first time. “I can’t let Voltron stay in the hands of Allura.”
Shiro finally shifted away from the vast empire before him, the great mantle on his shoulders shifted as he admitted. “But I promised him one thing.”
Keith looked up, the curiosity in his face this time as he listened to Shiro's hushed words.
“I promised him exile over death.”
Shiro could hear Keith's sharp inhale. “You’re letting her go?” his voice was so quiet Shiro barely caught it.
His shoulders went slack as Shiro stayed silent.
“Do you have any idea what that mad woman could do to us?” Keith hissed. “What her family has done?”
“I’m well aware,” Shiro snapped in a snarl.
“You started this crusade ruthless,” Keith bit out.
“And I’m still--” Shior snarled back.
“Then why did you just write a pass for murders!” Ketith cut him off.
“We will go after them.” Shiro snapped. “I will retrieve Lance and the Black Lion. And he will be held accountable for what he’s done.”
“And you’re just gonna let Allura go?” Keith shook his head.
Shiro huffed. “Lance asked me for a chance for the Alteans to start again.” His eyes narrowed. “So they get a chance right now. If they stay out of my way, I will leave them be.”
“You used to be a man that was cruel to your enemies.” Keith shook his head.
“I will be far cruel enough to anyone that stands in our way.”
“My Kon,” An attendant called from the front controls of the ship.
His glare leveled at Keith for another second before he turned.
“The Castle of Lions has lowered their shields.” the attendant informed as they stepped forward.
“All fighters have been ordered to pull back?” Shiro double checked.
“We’re at 80% recovery of all our fighters.” the attended confirmed.
“Good.” Shiro nodded.
“We could strike them now,” Keith stepped up.
“Plummeting to the planet when they’ve nearly broken the atmosphere would kill everyone on board.” Shiro shifted to watch the white ship before them continuing to rise. “My guess is Antok dropped them in order to get the ship to warp."
“Antok?” Keith’s head whipped to look at the ship. “He’s aboard that ship.”
“I wasn’t leaving without assurances.” Shiro held back the growl in his voice. “He’s been instructed to get Lance into Warp, and I told him to do it however he had to.”
“Sire,” An attendant at the helm cut in.
Shiro’s gaze snapped up.
“There’s--” the attendant looked nervous as she observed.
Shiro didn’t need to be told what was happening he could see himself. The white panels of the ship before them slid away at the few artillery guns rolled out. And every laser gun pointed in the same direction.
Shiro’s gaze cut across the deck as he strode forward following the pointed guns to--
The sudden realization broke through Shiro just as the sky lit up with laser fire.
“Bring that ship dow--”Shiro didn’t even have the words out before the blasts slammed into Mai’s volatile atmosphere
It was a moment that every second slowed down as Shiro watched the craters of the blast slice through Mai’s thick milky atmosphere--and immediately the planet lit with explosions.
“All ships to warp,” Shiro slammed his hand on the comms link.
“All ships to warp!” Echoed from Kolivan and then Sendak as well, rippling through the Galra forces.
The explosion snared and burst into the next chain reaction as the planet was consumed.
Shiro watched in horror as the moon disintegrated before his eyes and then came the wave rippling through the atmosphere.
The white gleam of the Castle of Lions suddenly flashed out of the sky--launching into warp.
“Warp ready!” The attendants at the front helm called back to Shiro.
He never saw the final moments of his home--or of Altea.
“Warp now!” Shiro snarled.
He already knew--but the cries from the communications link still silenced the warship. Even Keith next to Shiro was wide eyed as they shot through space, falling out they warped into pure darkness lightyears away.
That’s when the communications went silent.
Not a breath could be heard among them as war ships flashed out of warp all around them.
“Open radar,” Shiro commanded.
The hologram flashed before them and about a dozen ships trickled into pinging signals around them. That was less than half the ships Shiro had deployed.
His jaw grit as he swallowed. “Open up a link to Daibazaal.” Leaning over the platform railing, Shior watched the empty black space before him. “Open a video link.”
He wasn’t sure what he’d see. But it was Shiro’s responsibility to see the damage.
“Sire,” An attendant spoke up after a moment.
Shiro looked down to the Galran still in shock at his feet.
“There is no--” the Galran attendant stopped their voice cracking. Swallowing they finished. “There’s no signal. The communications link can’t pick up any trace to anchor.”
His chest felt tight as Shiro processed the news.
A video link flashed open. “Shiro,” His name was a snarl out of Kollivan’s maw.
When Shiro didn't answer Kolivan went on. “Our forces in the Altean capital are unable to be reached.”
Shiro suspected it was the same case as their home planet.
His insides felt--white hot with rage as it all flooded through him. He gazed out at the blackness of space. The vast openness of space had been the Galran home for a generation--and now it was possibly the only home.
“Kolivan,” Shiro's voice was low and as he pushed himself up from the railing, his shoulders squared as he steadied his feet under himself.
“Kon,” Kollivan echoed, though there seemed to be a hint of a question in his tone.
Would Shiro rise to that status now?
“Clear out four warships, essential personnel only,” Shiro ordered as he watched the empty space all around him still. “Search for any survivors, and return with a report on the status of Daibazall and Altea.”
Shiro finally pulled in breath as he pulled himself up to his full height.
“Kon,” Kollivan’s tone held a touch more conviction as he raised his fist to his chest.
“And then arm a star cruiser skiff.” Shiro continued.
Shiro’s gaze flashed to his commander. “They’re to be sent after the Altean Castle of Lions.”
“Sire,” Kollivan tipped his head and the video link ended.
The helm of the ship held a deathly quiet as the comms link ended. They'd all heard the screams those last few seconds, and Shiro was certain it would haunt all of their dreams for the rest of their lives.
“Does he still deserve your mercy?” Keith murmured.
Shiro turned to Keith.
“Will you let him go still?” Keith asked.
Shiro shook his head. “I never--” He’d never intended to ever let Lance go, to ever let him run form Shiro. And the hollow pull now in his chest felt--agonizing.
“She was given a chance to leave.” Shiro raised his chin.
“You were certain she’d leave.” Keith whispered.
Shiro turned to his friend. No, that hadn’t been entirely it. “Lance begged me,” Shiro admitted under his breath. “Because he said his sister had never committed the crimes of her father.” Shiro’s teeth grit. “I thought he was right--I thought Allura didn’t have it in her to commit--”
What did he even call the slaughter of his entire race, of the slaughter of her own race?
“I will hunt her down for this. And I will remove her head myself this time.” Shiro promised.
“My Kon,” Keith raised his fist to his chest again.