Disclaimer: The story of Voltron in all its incarnations is the property of World Events Productions. The Voltron comic books, on which this fic is specifically based, were created by Devil's Due comics.
Note: This fic is based on the Voltron comic #1, from the very beginning of the (unfinished) series. It was written because immediately after reading the comic two questions came to mind.
1. Would you willingly share a planet with a ghost with a tractor beam? Hell no. Then again, how would you ever leave? Amityville Horror 2462.
2. And I quote Zarkon: "Their king and his woman died in my throne room, on their knees, by my command." Not "their king and queen", but "the king and his woman". Jealous, much?
It was midnight in the Royal City on planet Arus. The stars twinkled in the distant sky, and the full moon painted the wreckage of the once-proud city with alternating silver and shadow, hiding the damage and creating a cityscape that might have escaped from one of the elders' fireside tales. Nothing broke the heavy silence except for the rain of grit that the wind threw unceasingly at the walls, the tinkling of shifting broken glass, and the creaking and moaning of decaying buildings, punctuated by the crash of the occasional delayed collapse. The sounds blended to create the counterpoint and melody of an ethereal music that seemed to belong to the night instead of disturbing the silence.
Huddled in blankets, deep in caves camouflaged with fallen masonry, children held their breath and imagined the footsteps and soft whispering voices of the gaisen in the sounds, and prayed to their parents and ancestors that they had been respectful and obedient enough that day to avoid the attentions of the soul-stealing monsters. Closer to the surface, the adults sat tensed and ready, knowing their enemy to be more solid and immediate than the fairy sprites their children feared. Clutching sticks and rocks and even the occasional sword or laser pistol with a single burst of charge they guarded the sleeping, their eyes scanning constantly across the skies and the wasted landscape for the telltale signs of movement in the rubble.
And if their eyes drifted every so often in the direction of the crypts that housed the long-dead kings and queens of Arus, what of it? The priests often claimed that the spirits of their rulers would protect them, and the frantic whispers of the word in the darkness- Voltron- never truly ceased, not even when all seemed to be lost under the guns of the Blues and the cruel whips of the slavers. Tonight, though, there was something new in the air, an unease that permeated every stone of the city and every breath of its inhabitants. Something was coming, and this time the Arusians would be ready.
Something was stirring inside the tombs. The honor guards could hear it moving. Every so often there was a quiet ground-rumbling echo that sounded suspiciously like a roar. Some even swore in the secret depths of their hearts that they could hear breathing, as impossible as that was through the solid sealed stone edifices that composed the resting places of the former monarchs.
The priests of Arus were not stupid men. They had chosen the honor guard for the Arusian City of the Dead very carefully. The priests were well aware of the phantoms that even the sanest human psyche could create in such a place in the dead of night, particularly during these times of strife. They had therefore accordingly chosen only the most stoic and unimaginative of the scattered survivors to hold the exalted post of Guardians of the Dead. The chosen men were brave, often cynical, and very thorough. At the first signs of the disturbance the entire countryside was scoured for signs of any type of incursion into the Royal Tombs. No entrance was ever found. The City remained as pristine and as empty of life as ever, despite the sounds.
No one remembered who had first jokingly remarked on the eyes, but it wasn't long before they could all feel their weight. They were watching in the darkness, weighing and measuring and- perhaps most importantly- waiting. Waiting for what, exactly, none of them could fathom. It was bad enough to admit they could feel the presence of something unseen; none would go so far as to assign motive to what couldn't rationally exist. During the safe light of day they scoffed and called themselves fools or worse, but when night descended the feeling returned, stronger every time.
Tonight the eyes were there, a presence in the darkness, making the hair rise on the backs of their necks in a preternatural warning left over from the dawn of time, but tonight the quality of the presence had changed. Whoever the watcher was, it no longer was searching and waiting. It had found what it was looking for, and there was a focus to the tension of the air, centered on the Great Crypt of Sacred Altarus. Whenever the guards wandered too close their hearts began to race and their throats tightened with unexplainable strain, nearly suffocating them. So they kept their distance, kept the holy fires burning as the priests had instructed, and kept their own watch. Whatever was happening down in the dark world of the dead, they would be ready and waiting when it broke the surface.
The Crypt of Altarus was dark, though not as dark as the Guardians of the Dead imagined it to be. Enclosed completely in sealed stone at the time of its construction, the tomb was made to withhold the never-ending assault of the world of life on the City of the Dead. Not even the persistence of the masons and the devotion of the priests could hold back the relentless march of time, however, and over the years the stones had slowly begun to pull apart, revealing small gaps that served as entrances into the enclosure. Things had moved into the rank darkness that the living above ground had never seen or imagined, things with eyes and carapaces and claws that glittered in the dancing lights moving through the rooms of the crypt.
The lights were never still. They swirled through the rooms, changing color and intensity and pattern in a constant flow of motion, moving through wall and sarcophagus alike. They illuminated the worn stone of the passageways and the dusty control panels of Altarus' resting place, danced through secret passages, and shone off the huge face of Green Lion in her hidden lair, giving the robot creature the fleeting impression of sentience. None of the living inhabitants of the tomb paid the lights any attention. The only indication that they truly existed was the gaze of one of Allura's robot mice, escaped from its cage and drawn into this most sacred and forbidden of spaces by the pulse of electricity and the sleeping rumble of Green, lost in dreams of cool forests and the thrill of flying through rushing air and wide open spaces. The mouse tilted its head to one side, sensing the agitation in the larger robot, before rushing through secret passageways long buried and forgotten back to the safety of its family and cage in the war-torn Castle of Lions.
The consciousness in the lights paid the small robot no mind. It was aware, as always of the other inhabitants of the City, both living and dead, but one small robot made no real difference to its plans. They were coming, and soon it would begin. His waiting was nearly over.
There was a stirring in the main chamber, but before the creature pulled itself together to drift in that direction it already sensed the gathering presence of the others, the spirits that haunted his every step through the many tombs and crypts of the City. Few, if any, of them recalled anything about their lives. They were here in this place for reasons they had long since forgotten, becoming over the relentless creeping of time merely wisps of memories, shreds of the whole beings they once had been. It was the fate that seemed to await all the dead that fought the pull of the Light, choosing instead to remain attached to their worldly domain for a thousand different reasons. Away from light and love and warmth, reason and thought and feeling dissolved, leaving behind a purposeless shell that faded further with each passing year, until only vague impressions remained of the power the personality must once have been. The strong held on the longest, but none seemed to outlast the cold drift of nothingness forever.
The creature, once called Alfor, a King of Arus, was still young to this world, and so he retained some of what he had once been. In life Alfor had been a relentless man in pursuit of his goals, willing to sacrifice whatever was necessary in order to achieve his desires. So he had remained in death. At the moment when the choosing came, when Zarkon raised his hand and ordered his death, he had clung to the mortal world, intent on protecting his people and his daughter from further deprivations. He remembered this with the potency of a curse. He knew others had died with him that day, but in the cold and dark he found he could no longer remember their names or faces. There was only Zarkon, and the betrayal of trust that still cut deep even years beyond the grave.
Once there had been something else, stronger emotions that at first Alfor clung to with all his fading strength. At first he remembered love and laughter, the warmth of the sun on a clear summer's day and the almost heartbreaking joy of holding his newborn child in his arms. He used the memories to fight off the chilling numbness of the grave and to shield himself from the truth of his fate. Then slowly he realized that he was fading, already drowning himself in the memories that would consume him far too quickly, and with a wrenching effort of will he pulled his attention back to the world he'd elected to protect. The wreckage and the scores of newly dead wrenched his soul and steeling himself, he released his memories into the past where they belonged. His place was here, now, and here he must stay. To resist the pull of the darkness, he wreathed himself in the only memories that he could still truly comprehend: the hiss of the laser, the splatter of blood dark across the gleaming iron floor, and the mocking laughter of the one who had once been so much more to him than a friend. Deep in the darkness hatred became his shield, and the need for revenge his succor. They warmed him in the cold, and gave him a purpose to light his way.
And, finally, they were coming, just as he had known they would.
Alfor pulled himself together completely for the first time in years. The lights coalesced, shaping themselves into the tall imposing figure of a bearded man. Piercing eyes turned upwards, staring into the depths of space, watching the battle unfold in Arus' airspace. This he hadn't anticipated; the battle meant that his enemies might become aware of his plans before they were set into motion. He wouldn't allow even a mention of Voltron to reach Zarkon's ears. Gathering himself, he reached through the tombs, pulling the energy of everything he could find into a whirlwind of power that retreated to churn around his glowing figure like a cyclone. He could feel the lives and fading presences of the dead snuffed out alike, but it didn't matter. Nothing mattered but that the five chosen young men land on Arus.
The crackling whirlwind shot forward from the tomb and caught the small craft shuttering in the pull of the planet's atmosphere. He could feel the emotions and lives of all on board, and these he added to the mix of power as he yanked. He could feel the pilot's panic and the mechanic's determination, but nothing could stop him now. His face lit with a cold smile as the ship crashed down into the hillside. When the bow pierced the tomb, letting in at long last the silvery light of the moon, even his presence was gone.
Alone in her bedroom, Allura gasped and came fully awake.
"Allura, it is time…"
The beloved voice, so familiar even echoing down the corridors of the great distances that separated them, lifted her heart and gave her hope. Her father was still here, and he would protect her, as always. With his love and belief behind her she could accomplish anything.
Hurrying into her clothes, she turned her mind to the task at hand. Tonight, finally, was the night. She refused to even entertain the thought that her father could be wrong.
Hidden in the darkness of the tomb Alfor was reduced from power loss once again to a mere feeling of presence, a temporary chill under the watchful gaze of Green. He watched the incursion of the living into the depths of the City, and his soul trilled with a silent song. They were here, and they Saw Green, as no one had seen her for a thousand years.
He felt the thrill of possibility flow in their blood as surely as he felt the cry for revenge in the souls of the shell-shocked natives at the door of the Crypt, and felt his spirit flare in response. This was what he had waited for, the reason he chose to remain all those years ago. With the hard work of these young men and his daughter, vengeance would soon be his. His people would bathe in the blood of the Drules, and rip apart their worlds to the very bedrock to avenge him.
He could hear the cries raising across the ravaged city, and knew he had been right. The time for waiting was over.