This was actually supposed to be a plot bandaid of sorts, for the episode in which Sven is mortally wounded by Haggar. That bit made sense to me; Sven was clearly a threat to her at the time and she had a vested interest in eliminating him, and therefore eliminating Voltron, at least temporarily. It was what she was doing at the time Sven showed up (assuming my memory is to be trusted) that threw me: namely, kidnapping Lance.
Does this strike anyone else as odd?
By the time Sven showed up, Haggar had Lance pretty much helpless. She could very easily have killed him -- and I guess that's what she could have planned to do once he was immobilized -- but why go to all that trouble? It would have made much more sense for her to kill him quickly and with a minimum of theatrics once he was alone; not only would this lessen the likelihood that one or more of the others would intervene (and no matter how powerful Haggar may be, I highly doubt she'd be capable of fending off four adversaries at once while simultaneously subduing a fifth), but it would have made a lot more sense strategically: No Lance->No Red Lion->No Voltron (and no lava bath for the robeast du jour)->A Much Shorter Series. Simple and straightforward, and you don't need to waste time or energy on things like magical nets.
Unless of course she had something else in mind...
Twilight on Arus, like most everything else on that world, is like something out of a fairytale. The whole world seems to take on an almost magical cast, as the cooling air becomes heavy with the scents of night-blooming flowers and purple shadows flow in gentle rivers across the land, called into being as the dying sunlight bleeds across the sky in roseate streaks. It's really quite lovely, if you like that sort of thing.
I myself prefer twilight on Doom, with its deep black shadows and blood-red sunsets, but to each their own.
Of course, I'm not here for the sunset. King Zarcon has grown impatient of late; Arus' continued ability to resist his might is a constant source of vexation for him. To that end, he has dispatched me to this godforsaken fairytale world to infiltrate the Castle of Lions in order that I might find some hidden weakness, some heretofore unseen crack in Arus' magical defenses, that we might exploit to our gain. Quite frankly, I have my doubts about this whole operation, but far be it from me to argue with him, especially given his current mood. For no one on Doom can claim to be absolutely essential, and while I have served my King faithfully for years, I have no illusions regarding my indispensability.
Luckily for me, though, the Princess of Arus has chosen to make my job easier by holding yet another dance.
To be perfectly honest, I have no idea what this particular celebration is for, and I suppose it's irrelevant. All that matters is that I now have a means of infiltrating the castle in a way that will not invite suspicion and only involves a minimum of exertion on my part. After all, it takes relatively little effort to cast a glamour over myself, hiding my weathered countenance behind a pretty, youthful façade that would fool all but the strongest mages and Seers. With luck, I should be able to perform my reconnaissance quickly and return to Doom before the night is over, to comfortably pass the rest of the night in my sanctum.
That is, if I can resist the temptation of you.
You know, I really should have killed you that day. That was my objective, after all - the elimination of one or more members of the Voltron Force, thus the elimination of Voltron and the disintegration of your team. My plan was simple: to lure one of you away long enough for me to do the deed and then leave the body for the rest to find. And you made it so EASY, straying from the protective embrace of your friends with nary a second thought. Such an odd child you are at times, such a bizarre amalgam of recklessness and paranoia - I wonder at times how you can balance the two. It was my good fortune that your recklessness was ascendant that day. It was my misfortune that my greed was as well.
And that's what it amounted to, after all - simple greed on my part. I've always had a fondness for pretty baubles, especially those with the sort of potential you possess. Truly a credit to your race... if they still existed, of course. It never ceases to amaze me how blind your compatriots are to your true nature, though perhaps I shouldn't be surprised - you seem quite content to let them take you at face value. Or is it that you've blinded yourself as well? Ironic, that.
I wonder what your teammates would say if they knew what your 'intuition' really was...
Ah, but I'm forgetting myself again. Just like I did then, really - so delighted with my prize, so eager to claim my new plaything, that I managed to forget the rest of your team. And if the hapless fool who so gallantly swooped in to rescue you lacked your raw talent, your malleability, he made up for it in skill. That one left me no choice - I had to strike him down lest I be struck down myself. Not that he would have been of use to me anyway, of course. Nor was he of much use to your team, apparently, if the ensuing battle was any indication.
I suppose it was fitting that you were ultimately the one to destroy my robeast, the two of you locked in some parody of a lovers' embrace as you plunged into that sea of molten lava. No doubt your teammates saw your act as some form of poetic justice, retribution for the fate of your fallen comrade. Perhaps the more perceptive of them saw an act of atonement on your part - an apology of sorts for depriving your team of their friend and partner.
Was I the only one who saw it as the suicide attempt it was?
Oh, I'm sure you'd deny it to your dying day, if asked. And I'm sure your trusting young friends would even believe your glib reassurances. But I know you better than they do, little one. Perhaps even better than you know yourself, cliché that that is. I know how much failure truly enrages you, for instance - sometimes I think your standards are almost higher than those of your precious captain. And I know that the one thing you simply cannot endure is watching another suffer, especially in your stead. And therein lies your downfall... and my eventual triumph.
It still eats at you even now, doesn't it? It should have been you lying broken and dying on that pavement. Should have been you sent away for healing only to be waylaid by our slavers. Should have been you succumbing to madness in the slave pits on Doom. Of course, you never would have reached the dungeons - I would have had you brought directly to me first, as I should have on the day your pitiful band was brought in on your way to Arus. Had I but known... But that's not important now. Foolish to waste time dwelling on lost opportunities when the dance hasn't even truly begun, now, isn't it?
And so here I am, dressed in finery the likes of which I haven't worn in decades, presenting my magically forged invitation to the guard without so much as a raised eyebrow. Clearly, you had no input regarding the security arrangements this evening. I wonder if you know I'm here? I wouldn't put it past you, although I would hope that my carefully woven illusions would be enough to fool even you for a little while. Granted, it would only take "a little while" for me to do what I need to and then disappear... but why bother, when I can parade openly through the halls of your domicile with little more than a simpering smile and a flirtatious wink at the guard?
The ballroom is nowhere near as ostentatious as I would have thought, although it's quite obvious that your Princess spared no expense in decorating it. I'm rather impressed, really, at her restraint - I would have thought she'd swathe the whole place in pink ribbons. I can just barely see her near the center of the room, surrounded by a buzzing swarm of her grateful subjects, her ever-faithful advisor on her arm and her ever-vigilant captain hovering nearby... although he looks rather less than enthusiastic about it. I catch brief glimpses of your other teammates as well: the youngest at the buffet, the older talking animatedly to a vaguely pretty young girl.
So where are you?
It's some time before I finally spot you, hovering on the fringes of the crowd, managing to look simultaneously bored and wary as you absently toy with the collar of your uniform jacket. How strange it is to see you in such regalia - incongruous, but not unpleasantly so. It's actually quite becoming on you... though the effect is somewhat mitigated by your incessant fidgeting. Really, child, you could at least LOOK happy to be here.
Although I suppose that's part of your allure.
It would appear that some of the ladies in the room - and at least a few of the men - would agree with that assessment. I find myself watching with amusement as you wend your way along the periphery of the room, fending off your admirers with a sparkling smile here, a careless wave there, your eyes never straying far from your Princess - or, more probably, your captain. Honestly, I fail to understand your fascination with the man. He's pretty, yes - undeniably so. Strong, clever, courageous, fierce in battle - a perfect Storybook Hero in every way. Yet he possesses none of your hidden fires, not an iota of the power that sleeps within you, just waiting for the spark that will set it free...
And if he were truly worthy of you, he'd never let you out of his sight.
But I'm forgetting myself yet again, and such a lapse is dangerous in the lion's lair. Already I can see you shaking your head as if to clear it - sensing me? Very, very good - truly a force to be reckoned with, given the proper cultivation.
How easy it would be to take you now... to weave a Binding around you and spirit you off to Castle Doom before the others could so much as breathe...
No. Not yet. Not until you're properly broken.
And you do need to be broken, if I'm to get any use out of you at all. Broken and rebuilt, in the image I choose for you. All your defenses carefully stripped away one by one until the core of you is laid bare to me and the magicks that seethe within you can no longer be denied.
Does that frighten you, little one? I imagine it must - for all your vaunted wildness, you really do have an unshakeable need for control. How terrifying it must be for you to dance so close to the razor's edge, knowing that if you relax your guard for even a moment, it could all come crashing down around your ears. Or do you know that? Is that the illusion you allow yourself - that you really are the dull, headblind creature you pretend to be? Does the truthseer deceive himself that thoroughly?
Or can it be that for all you need your illusions, you crave their surrender even more?
We really are a lot alike, you know. I know what it is to have everything you have ever known ripped away from you, to be cast adrift as your carefully ordered world crumbles to dust and you are left with nothing to sustain you, no one to protect you from chaos' whims. And so you struggle slowly, painfully, to build anew lest you drown in your own despair. And gradually you become strong enough to impose some semblance of order on your universe. Not that the universe notices, of course - why should it? But it's easier to pretend that it does, to pretend that you have even a modicum of control over the world around you. Because to surrender that illusion is to succumb to madness.
But oh, how seductive that surrender can be...
And I suspect you know that better than most.
Empathy is a terrible curse, is it not? I think you are perhaps the only one of your pathetic band to realize this. How unbearable it must be for you, constantly inundated by the hopes and needs and fears of those you love, every wound they incur acting as another dagger to your own heart. Little wonder you fight so hard to protect you and yours, really - any physical wounds you suffer are no doubt insignificant in comparison to the crush of their misery. You'd do anything to protect them, wouldn't you? You'd endure all manner of torture, even death, if there was the slightest chance it would spare them even the smallest pain...
Perhaps you'd even give yourself to me.
Oh, not now, not just yet. You're far too strong, too willful - if I was to take you now, you'd almost certainly resist me out of spite, at least until your captain and the rest of your team charged to your rescue. And they undoubtedly would - probably immediately after your capture. And then the dance would truly be over; you would finally be entirely beyond my reach. They would realize the threat - if not the salvation - that I present to you, and not even your Princess would be so foolish as to risk losing you again.
But if I strike at them first...
If I strike at them first, they'll be off-balance, preoccupied, too caught up in their own suffering to understand what's happening. And you... you'll be suffering right along with them, won't you? Poor, poor child - your love for them makes you a fearsome opponent, but it also weakens you greatly, gives you a vulnerability that you can ill afford. Hurt even one of them and I hurt you as well. Break them and I can shatter you completely. And it would never occur to you to cast them off and save yourself.
I wonder where I should start? The Princess? No doubt Lotor would object to that, though it might be amusing to watch him squirm for a bit. Perhaps the youngest, the one who yearns to grow up in the worst way? I'm sure that could be arranged somehow. Maybe the oldest; his hunger for respect will almost certainly be his undoing one day, anyway, so why not help things along?
Or should I begin with the stalwart captain with whom you're so besotted?
Ah, well. I suppose it really doesn't matter in the long run. Inevitably, they will fall to me, one after the other. And just as inevitably, you will come to me, begging from the bleeding depths of your soul for an end to your suffering. And that end will come, child, I promise you... in time.
And we'll have all the time in the world.
But for tonight, I'm content to savor the dance.
Voltron and all characters therein property of World Event Productions
Hyakuju Oh Go-Lion and all characters therein property of Toei Animation
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