"Hagar, we need more force in taking over those Dkarkins; you tell that ignorant whelp of mine that!" King Zarkon switched off the viewscreen with a slam of his fist. Zarkon, who recently glowed over the title of "king" now that the galaxy was in his grasp, was red with rage from the recent incidents with Lotor. He wasn't doing enough to keep all these new planets under control. His ship just kept hanging around that stupid planet.
What was Lotor doing there? Zarkon didn't have a clue. He could barely keep in contact with the bastard. Damn him to Hell! He hadn't even seen his son's face for two, maybe three months. Was he really that busy or just ticked off at his old man yet again? Zarkon knew he would have to have a heart to heart (better yet a blaster to head) with that metallic fool!
Coran sat in front of his communication screen, replaying in his mind the message sent to him by Galaxy Garrison. The image of the Alliance ambassador came into view on his screen: "Well, ambassador, what is this about a 'forbidden practice?'"
"I'm only telling you what I read in my memo, Minister Coran. There were reports of a doctor, a Dr. Zanabett, who was practicing illegal forms of medicine."
"GOOD HEAVENS!!" Coran hadn't heard of such a scandal in the medical profession for many years. Even then, it was only in history books that he read. "Are you sure?"
"Again, it's just what I read in the memo. The Voltron force is to report to Planet Crainon, that was where our spies last spotted the doctor. She seems to have disappeared off the map after that."
"Why do you need the Voltron force? Why not just send the Garrison police?"
"There were reports of a certain Doom flagship nearby when she vanished."
"Oh come on, Coran! I mean, chasing after lost doctors? What'll they have us doing next? Hauling cargo?"
"Lance, this is serious! You all know the dangers of genetics. Hagar herself proves it time and time again with those monsters she creates. Just think of what could happen if the doctor and the witch joined forces."
"They could create a monster, the likes of which we haven't seen since the Mutation Era," Allura answered.
"All right, team," Keith piped in, "Plot a course for Crainon. Coran, we're on it!"
"Good luck, Voltron force."
The five lions landed in a line on Crainon's surface. "Another desert planet," mumbled Pidge, "Why would anyone ever want to come to a hell hole like this?"
"Well," explained Hunk, as he exited Yellow Lion, "if someone wanted peace and quiet in which to create a weapon of mass destruction, what better place than the ol' barren wasteland, eh?"
On foot, the five approached the old building in front of them; the only structure picked up by their scanners for the entire planet.
"Any life signs yet, Pidge?" Keith asked. Pidge performed another sweep of the area with his portable scanner.
"Nope. Not even a bug."
"Damn, it's hot!"
"Well, I guess it wouldn't hurt to take a look anyway." Keith turned to the team. "Okay, Hunk, Pidge, check out the building. We'll have a look around outside."
Keith, Lance and Allura broke off in different directions in order to cover the ground efficiently. Allura started towards a nearby sand dune behind the building. Suddenly, her scanner gave an odd register. It was just a blip, then nothing. Allura paused for a moment to check if her scanner was on the wrong setting. Then, it blipped again. "That's odd," she mumbled as she resumed walking.
"What's odd?" asked Keith over his communicator.
"My scanner's picking up something...I don't know. It keeps fading in and out of..." She stopped speaking as her foot hit something half buried in the sand. "Voltron force! Come quickly!" she yelled. She knelt down in the sand and strove to uncover the thing. It seemed to be made of metal and was rounded at the top. Soon, the others arrived and joined in her efforts, pulling the thing out of the sand.
The sun was sinking behind the sand dunes as the Voltron force surveyed their recent find. "What the hell is this thing?" declared Lance. It appeared to be a capsule of some sort. It was oval-shaped and metallic. Hunk set it upright. The capsule was a little larger than him and seemed to have a transparent front. The view through the front revealed an expanse of murky red fluid.
The princess was the first to attempt a better look. She pressed her face against the front of the capsule, striving to see anything inside. There, when she looked hard enough was a shadowy outline.
"Keith!" she shouted, "There's something in there! No...someONE, I think. It looks like a person!" She tried to make more sense of the figure inside. "It looks...male, but I can't tell anything else."
Keith turned to Pidge, who was busy scanning the capsule. "Is he alive in there?" he asked.
"I'm not sure," replied Pidge, "The capsule's giving off too much interference. Hey! There's a computer on the side!" Pidge studied the built-in monitor on the side of the capsule. "Damn! The controls are frozen! I can't gain access."
"Can you tell anything?"
"Well, the program's still intact. Nothing seems to have been damaged. There's a timer of some sort in the corner. It says one hour, five minutes, and three seconds. There's a readout of the creature's conditions as 'STABLE' and a bunch of medical jargon. Here's something." Pidge read one of the statements displayed by the computer: "'Stage Five of genetic reconstruction IN PROGRESS.'"
"Zanabett!" Allura proclaimed.
"Well, now we know she's been here recently," Hunk affirmed, "This and all that equipment we found in the old building proves it."
"It must be a genetic monster she's been working on!" Pidge reasoned.
"Well, in that case, there's only one thing to do," Lance said as he pulled out his blaster.
"Wait, Lance!" Allura protested, "We can't just destroy him! It might be a helpless creature..."
"Or a veritable demon!"
"Back off, Lance," Keith added to Allura's concern, "The princess is right. We cannot kill him without knowing who or what he is."
"Stupid jaworms! We need to decontaminate before re-scanning, I tell that Prince Lotor every time!" Hagar watched as the slimy things squirmed their way across the ship's bridge. "Queequeg!" she snapped, "Don't you know any better?"
"Sorry, Hagar. I didn't see them on me."
"How can you not see ALL of these things on you?" she asked, spreading her arms out to indicate the tiny army of jaworms that was currently making itself right at home in the flagship. She didn't have time for this insolence! They were already late for their rendezvous with Planet Crainon.
Lafitte, who had just docked her craft in the flagship, entered the bridge. "Witch Hagar, I have some grave...what are all these things?!" She looked down to find a jaworm squished under her foot.
"Queequeg's new little friends," Hagar replied. "You have some grave...?"
"Grave news," Lafitte continued, "Some people are down on the surface of the planet."
"And, it's the Voltron force."
Lafitte swallowed, reluctant to tell the worst of it: "And...uh, they, uh found the capsule."
"OH HELLFIRE!! NIGHTCURSES!! SATAN'S HOOVES!!" along with more strings of witch profanity. Hagar finally paused in her declaration when another person entered the bridge.
"What is wrong?" the person asked.
"Our enemies have found the capsule," Hagar groaned, "QUEEQUEG!!! Why didn't YOU report the same thing from our scanners?"
"Uh..." Queequeg began.
"They FOUND it?" the person asked in disbelief, "How could they have found it? We buried it deep."
"It must have been uncovered in a sandstorm," Lafitte told them.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, after I saw the lions on the scanners, I listened for any communications. I heard some conversations. The princess said that she hit her foot against the capsule, so it must have been exposed."
"What else did you hear?" asked the person. Lafitte told them all the conversations she heard among the Voltron force members.
"Hells!" Hagar declared, "Now what? They've probably ruined the capsule already!"
"Don't worry about that," assured the person, "If the capsule is intact, like that one boy said, then everything should be fine. The real problem is, how do we get it back? We have less than one HOUR! There's no way!"
Hagar thought a minute, her eyes straying to a passing jaworm, then smiled evilly. "Never underestimate the powers of black magic," she replied.
A large shadow fell over the Voltron force. "Man, it's getting dark...WHOA!!!" Lance looked up to find an ominous sight flying above them.
It looked like a giant worm with sharp pointed teeth. The creature's enormous jaws opened, and a thick laser beam struck a short distance away from them.
"A ROBEAST!" Pidge yelled.
"Oh SHIT!!" Lance blared out, "Lotor gets us out of our lions, then attacks! The capsule was just a DECOY!!!"
"Get to the lions!" shouted Keith.
"But the capsule!"
"We have to leave it, princess. We must!"
Allura still stood by the capsule. "But we can't leave him here to die. We won't!"
"Well, what do you suggest we do, then!?" Lance screamed at her as he forcefully yanked her away.
But, she still resisted. "I'm not leaving that creature!" she said firmly.
"We don't have time for this, don't you see, princess?"
A second blast from the worm monster destroyed the building. Realization finally set in for Allura. They couldn't stay, or they would die. They couldn't even risk attempting to transport the capsule in their current position. She felt horrible, but the princess had to leave. As she activated Blue Lion, she figured they could at least protect the creature.
"Guys," she announced over the intercom, "Let's try to divert the robeast's fire away from the planet. At least that will give the creature in the capsule a chance."
"Sounds good to me," replied Keith, "Okay, team, you heard Allura. Plot a course for space and prepare to form Voltron."
Meanwhile, hidden on the far side of the planet, the flagship sat watching the ordeal. "The lions are airborne," Queequeg observed, "and leaving the planet, the worm in pursuit."
"Excellent. Lafitte, prepare to enter the planet's atmosphere," Hagar ordered.
After the sun set, the barren surface of Crainon became cool and still. This was soon interrupted by the disturbance of a landing spacecraft, which sent sprays of sand and pebbles into the night air. The hatch opened, and four figures quickly descended the ramp. The unknown person raced ahead with a sense of purpose and found her target. "Get a light over here!" she barked to the others.
A floodlight from the ship soon illuminated the lone capsule in the desert. The doctor checked and rechecked the entire apparatus. "Good, it's intact. Nine seconds to go." As the clock ticked away the last few seconds, the figures gathered around the capsule in silent anticipation.
A clank was heard as the locks detached. A faint red solution streamed from the sides, finally erupting into a flood when the lid swung open, revealing the thing inside. Its entire body was dripping wet. Its mane was very long from the effects of time and the nutrient-rich liquid which had supported it through the transformation. Hair fell across the creature's face in thick white streaks. First, there was silence, then the sound of a deep breath. Yet, the creature's breathing was forced, and a gurgling sound was heard in its lungs. The reddish liquid poured from its mouth and nose. He soon collapsed to the ground in a fit of coughing as Lafitte and Queequeg strove to aid the creature.
The liquid finally began to clear, and he felt air enter his lungs. He opened his eyes, but all was still a blur. A few small groans escaped the being's lips as Queequeg and Lafitte moved him carefully to a sitting position. Then, the being could recognize the witch in front of him, her features becoming sharper in his vision. "Ha...Haga..." he tried to say, but he was cut off by more coughing fits.
Dr. Zanabett approached her creation with a trained eye. Hagar looked over the being with astonishment. "Well," Hagar declared to the doctor, "we certainly make a good team, don't we?"
"Yes, indeed," Zanabett agreed, surveying her creation with pride and satisfaction. She pulled the hair away from his face for a better look. Everything went according to plan. The being's genetic reconstruction was perfect, almost flawless.
"Incredible," whispered Lafitte as she stared at the strong muscled and smooth flesh. Queequeg was noticeably irritated by her ogling.
The being slowly gained control over his body. He raised his arm to his field of vision. He stared at it in utter amazement, watching every finger move independently at his command. His gaze went to his legs, then up to his chest. His left hand reached to touch his face, his fingertips grazing the smooth new skin, feeling the hair of his eyebrow and the point of his ear. His eyes widened in delight, yet were still fearful.
"Hagar," he managed to say, "is it...is it real?"
Hagar was prepared for this and produced a mirror from her robes. "See for yourself, sire," she said with a grin. There, reflected in the witch's mirror was the angelic face he'd not truly known for over five years, but now...
"It is. It is!" Lotor smiled.
Send comments to Kat