Disclaimer: Voltron is the property of World Events Productions. This, however, takes place far in the future and is therefore so AU that it hardly counts.
The young man stood poised on the escape hatch of Green Lion, his eyes raking across the horizon in search of the faint distress call that had brought him out of the nice warm control room at dawn. The scars on the hills this far from the castle and the surrounding city were still visible through the advancing greenery. Ragged patches of dark raw earth and gray stone extended through the young trees like skeletal arms reaching for something lost and forgotten by the passage of time.
Sighing, one hand raking absently through disheveled blonde hair, the man dropped back down into the cockpit and opened the com link. With any luck there would be nothing to pick up. Maybe the call had just cut in to the control room communications link from somewhere else in deep space. The scientists kept talking about the odd electromagnetic readings they'd been picking up from Arusian airspace recently, so it wasn't yet entirely impossible that he could still be back in bed before the sunrise faded into true morning.
Flipping through the most frequented channels, he encountered nothing but radio silence. That was normal for this time of the morning, when everyone sane was still safely tucked in to bed. It wasn't until he reached the end of the frequency, the channel that hadn't been used on a regular basis since all the communications disruptions associated with the Doom War, that he picked up the message again.
The transmission was filled with static, though it was clearer out here than it had been back at the castle. He could almost pick out the deep baritone voice through the blasts of white noise now, even if he couldn't make out individual words. Frowning, he turned on his mike.
"This is Lt. Scott Michaels, pilot of Green Lion from Planet Arus. I'm not picking up your transmission clearly. Acknowledge?"
There was a moment's pause, the static blasting from the speakers coming in intermittent bursts.
"…Green… … Arus… … … how… "
Scott growled to himself and punched the console. "Damn it, I could almost get that!" One hand fiddled with the tuning dials as he tried again. "Again, this is Green Lion. You were almost audible that time. Whatever you're doing, try again. Acknowledge."
With a final loud burst the static faded down to soft background noise, the sound almost lulling in its regularity. After another pause, the voice came through, clearer this time.
"Green Lion? How? … Ships, I saw the ships… They're right above you! Look out!"
"Ships?" Blue eyes went wide as Scott started frantically scanning the readouts on Green Lion's radar screen. "What ships? There's nothing out there but grass, trees, and sky."
A sudden burst of sound from the com unit drew his attention again. "Watch out! They're swarming everywhere. We've got to hold them for another five minutes. Just five more minutes, Pi-…"
Whatever else the voice was going to tell him was lost in the static. Swearing, Scott pushed the escape hatch back open and glanced warily up at the sky.
There was nothing there. Not so much as a birdcall broke through the early morning silence. The only change since his last look out at the sky line was the fog rising up from the ground, obscuring nearly everything but the raw broken stone of the mangled hills that still pointed accusingly up at the sky, but fog was normal out here at this time of year. Raking fingers through his hair again in agitation he pulled his personal transmitter out of his pocket and keyed castle control.
"Castle Control, this is Green Lion reporting in. Acknowledge."
Nothing. Not so much as a blink that would indicate the connection was made.
"Control? Jen, can you here me?"
There was no answer but the silence, pressing in on him from all sides. Thinking that he would almost be grateful to hear another burst of static, Scott clenched one fist around the transmitter and turned to step back through the hatch.
The voice, so soft it was nearly inaudible, made Scott's skin crawl. It sounded like it was coming from right underneath him, lost somewhere in the fog.
"I'm sorry?" he called back, muscles tensing to dive back into the safety of the cockpit if necessary.
"Pidge, is that you? I saw the ships. I saw you crash. I thought…" The voice trailed off into that oppressive silence.
Scott glanced to the sky again, then peered over the edge into the eddying swirls of fog. "What ships? There's nothing up there but blue sky and sunshine." He glanced around and smiled wryly. "Well, somewhere above this mess, anyway. Are you looking for someone?"
There was another pause before the voice answered, in a tone so quiet and so full of pain it took Scott's breath away. "Yes." Just a single word, but one that seemed to hold all the guilt and anguish in the universe.
Scott paused, unwilling to intrude on something he couldn't understand, but he could only take the silence for so long. "Is there something I can do to help? I can call Castle Control. They'll send people out to help look. Is it someone from the area? A child? Have they been gone long?"
The soft laugh that followed held no humor. "It was right here," the voice continued as if Scott hadn't spoken. "Right here, so long ago. The crash was here, and I've been looking ever since. So long, so long. We just needed to hold them off for another two minutes, and then Keith and Lance would be back. The trap would spring closed. Just two more minutes, that was all. Two minutes, and it's been so long."
There was a soft clatter of metal on metal as the transmitter dropped to the cockpit floor from Scott's fist, but he didn't notice the sudden sound. All his attention was focused on the voice below. Those names, he knew those names. Somewhere, another minute and he'd remember…
"Pidge, where are you?"
That did it. Scott's eyes widened as history lessons half remembered sank home. The Doom War… the pilots who'd brought back Voltron…
But that was so long ago…
"So long," the voice whispered, as though in agreement.
"But that was nearly 500 years ago," Scott whispered back.
There was a pause while the fog swirled and eddied. Scott could just see a figure standing beneath him, a big man standing on ground that was broken and steaming, his ancient uniform shredded. Then the fog closed in again, leaving Scott with nothing but the impression of two deep-set eyes that had seen all the pain in the world.
"Has it already been that long?"
The voice was a little stronger now. Scott nodded, then forced himself to answer when he realized whoever was underneath him couldn't see him through the mist. "Yes."
There was something else out there now, hidden in the fog. Something large, swooping across the sky. He could hear faint cries that couldn't have been produced by any natural throat. They sounded as if they were echoing down through a large tube. Or through time, he thought faintly. Like maybe 500 years. Hadn't he learnt something about a witch and the monsters she created? But those were legends, myths, they weren't real. It was ships that brought about the end of the battle. Ships that brought down Green Lion. Ships that ended the war, 500 hundred years ago. Today.
"No." The whisper tore itself from Scott's throat around the rising hysteria. "No, that's ridiculous. This isn't real."
"Oh," the voice beneath him replied with that humorless laugh, "you're wrong. This is the only thing that's real."
Scott ignored him, one hand grasping blindly through the fog that was obscuring everything for the edge of the cockpit door. He could feel searing heat now, radiating from everywhere around him as if ghostly fires were tearing through the valley, obscuring everything but the smoke. The smoke was closing in on him from all sides, taking his breath away, distorting his vision and filling his lungs.
"This is real," the voice whispered, sounding too close. Scott held up his hands in a warding gesture left over from the superstitions of childhood as he gasped for air, eyes straining to make out the thing screaming overhead through the rocket blasts and the gunfire and the screams…
The screams… They were behind him, all around him. They were him. He could hear his own voice, ripping out of his throat and echoing down through the spiraling tunnel of the past, and he couldn't stop.
"Five hundred years ago he gave his life to buy that two minutes, and I couldn't stop him. I couldn't get there fast enough to stop him. Nothing I could do was enough." The voice was closer now, on top of him, whispering in his ear, and there was a bone-chilling cold cutting through the searing heat of the flames. "Five hundred years of looking, but now it's over. I've found you."
The laugh came again, this time filled with genuine delight as phantom fingers brushed down his face in a lingering caress. "Hunk?" The cry tore itself out of Scott's raw throat as he stopped screaming, the name rushing down to him from somewhere else, bringing memories of laughter and love that seemed so far removed from the smoke and fire and twisted pain that racked every inch of his body. "Hunk?"
A shuddering sigh came as the fingers made one last pass, and Scott reached out one shaking hand to catch them. "Hunk, don't go."
"I have to. You're safe now. They'll take care of you." The voice sounded more distant now, the echo more pronounced. "I love you, Pidge. I always loved you. I'm so sorry."
Everything was fading now. The smoke and the shrieking of the battle overhead were fading down to a pinpoint of awareness. The last thing Scott heard was his own voice screaming before everything faded away into blackness.
The fog had lifted when Scott woke. The sun was just lifting over the tops of the trees, touching the recovering countryside with a golden caress and softening the raw lines of the exposed rock with shadows. Shaking his head, he pulled himself up and stared blankly up at the lightening blue of the morning sky.
There was something, something he should remember, but no matter how hard he searched he came away empty.
"Green Lion? Scott, can you read me?"
With one last look at the valley Scott stepped into the cockpit and pulled the hatch door shut behind him. A smile crossed his face as he keyed on the visual link with castle control. "Good morning sunshine," he called out in a singsong voice, his smile broadening at the worry on Jen's face.
"Scott, I've been trying to reach you for 10 minutes! Why weren't you answering me?"
Scott shook his head and glanced back over his shoulder. Something just out of reach…
Shaking his head he turned back to the monitor. "It was nothing. Just interference from those storms everyone's been so obsessed with, probably. There's nothing out here to see."
"Good." Jen paused a minute while she searched his face. "Are you sure you're all right? Maybe you should come back and get some more sleep."
"What, and miss the celebrations? Nah, I feel better than I have for ages anyway." He was surprised to note that he really did. It was like a piece of himself that had been missing had finally come back home. "I'll be back before anyone even has time to miss me."
Jen rolled her eyes. "Right. Take your time then."
Scott stuck his tongue out at her. "Very funny. Green Lion out."
He flipped on the outside visuals as he started Green's engines, taking one last look around. The locals claimed these hills were haunted. There were all kind of strange stories about things people had supposedly seem at this time of year, but it looked clear enough today. In fact, it looked almost perfect. It was almost like home.
Shaking his head and wondering where that thought had come from, Scott launched Green Lion back into the air, eager to get back. Today was a holiday, after all. Five hundred years since Arus gained her freedom and defeated Doom. And from somewhere he had the impression that today he wouldn't be celebrating alone.