It all started with a mission. Nothing to difficult. Just a scouting mission, at least, it was supposed to be. Lance lay sprawled on the couch, his armor half of so only his leg armor remained. Lance sipped leisurely from a glass, filled with a glowing purple liquid that tasted a little like strawberry licorice. Lance watch his other teammates, pidge was engrossed in something on her computer, she sat on the arm of the chair for God knows what reason. Hunk was slumped over in a chair, an ice pack covering a black eye. The three Paladins were taking a well deserved break after their latest battle with the galra. Lance was fully content to lay there and relax for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, fate (a.k.a. Allura) had other plans. Even as a paladin she could never rest. The lights turned blood red and the alarm blared in lance's ears. The Paladins groaned in unison and they all started slowly walking towards the control room where allura had decided they needed to be.
Allura stood on her platform scrolling through her holographic screens. Keith and shiro were already there in full paladin armor, Keith standing on the floor below her, shiro leaned against the back wall arms crossed.
When the Paladins came in, allura set aside her screens turned sternly towards the Paladins.
with one eyebrow raised she spoke. "Your late" her hands on her hips.
Lance felt a little aggravated. "Didn't we just get back from a mission?" Lance inquired irritated that she would call them here, after they had just gotten back from there more recent fight.
Hunk spoke up behind him, "yeah, princess, no offense, but we did kind of just get back from a really hard mission and we're all tired and-"
"And you're calling us here for another mission?" Pidge cut off hunk's nervous babbling with a huffy tone.
Allura nodded her head, looking more relaxed. Lance had noticed since she had become a paladin, she seemed more sympathetic to their break times.
"I know that and I apologize." Allura looked at Keith, "but we've just received a message. It doesn't have a source, but it has the coordinates to a nearby planet." Lance looked from Allura to Keith. We've? Lance wasn't sure he liked the sound of that. Ever since Keith had taken over the black lion, he and Allura had been spending a lot more time together lately. Lance didn't like it at all. Not that it was about keith, not at all, why would he be jealous of Allura, that's not it! He was obviously jealous of Keith, yeah! That's what it was, Keith got to spend a lot of time with the princess...and lance was jealous of that. It's not like he wanted to spend time with Keith, laughing...and talking. Not.at.all. No way. Why is this even up for discussion? He obviously didn't like Keith! BACK TO THE STORY NOW!!
It was Coran's turn to talk now, he stepped from out of nowhere, scaring pidge half to death, and stepping up to where Allura had brought up the mystery message.
"The coordinates are from a planet called kares. We don't know much about this planet except that it's mostly jungle and has a low inhabitants. What's interesting is that it has not been taken over by the galra, nor do we have any knowledge of the galra ever stepping foot on the planet!" Coran massaged his mustache as he talked, his eyes bright with that all too familiar sparkle whenever he talks about a new planet. Pidge got up and brushed herself off, resetting her glasses. Lance looked for pidge to say something, then to hunk and Keith. He shook his head, incredulous that none of them found any issue with this idea. Lance decided to speak up.
"So, we're just going to follow some mysterious message from someone we don't know, to a planet we don't know. And you all are ok with this?" He pointed out, exasperated.
Pidge put a hand to her chin thoughtfully. "I can't believe I'm saying this, but lance is right, this could be a trap set by the galra, or lotor for that matter. Are you sure this is wise?" Lance nodded his head.
"Yes thank you pidge-wait hey!!" The realization of what she said stung him abit. "What is that supposed to mean?"
Nobody answered him, instead Keith spoke.
"Allura and I've been I've over this already. The planet isn't under Galra rule. If the planet had been taken over, then it would have been very recently."
Allura nodded in agreement. "We scanned the area for signs of galra activity, nothing came up. Plus, it could be a cry for help, we could have the chance to crush an invasion before it even began."
Hunk nodded as if this made sense to him, Pidge did too, and lance had to admit, they had a point, even if lance didn't like to hear them agreeing and acting all chummy chummy together. Not that lance was jealous, which was still out of the question.
"If nobody has any more complaints then, we should get on with it. I think we should split up into teams, scout out the area." Keith looked around at everyone, silently challenging anyone to oppose him. After a pause, Keith continued as if satisfied. "Pidge and hunk, you will go together in your lions" pidge and hunk fist bumped each other. "I'll go with-"
"ME!!" The words slipped out of lance's mouth before he could stop himself. He could feel his face burning. He realized the entire team was looking at him. Hunk snickered, Coran nodded knowingly. Wtf was there deal, why were they all looking at him like they knew something he didn't. Lance wasn't volunteering because he was jealous and he wanted to go with Keith so he didn't spend anymore time with Allura. He and Keith just worked better together, I mean not together together "YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN" he found himself blurting out his last sentence. Which just made his whole situation much worse. He looked at Keith's face, his eyes were open with shock, his cheeks dusted with pink.
"Well...I guess I'll go with shiro then" Allura offered, looking between the two, a little awkwardly. Lance felt like sinking through the floor. What was wrong with him. He was usually able to keep a cool, laid back attitude around the group. Why the heck did he have to blurt out his words like that. And why had everyone looked at him like they understood something. It made him feel stupid.
"Ok we'll be there in a few Vargas, get to your lions and get ready." Keith said, still looking a little shocked by lance's outburst. Lance turned to head for reds hangar. He was almost at the door when he felt a hand on his shoulder. It was Keith, his dark Violet eyes filled with concern. "You ok?" Lance could feel his face grow red again. He could feel that natural defense building up in his chest.
"Yeah, I'm perfectly fine" his words came out harsher than he'd planned them to. Keith pulled back, looking a little hurt. They had been getting along better recently, ugh, just another thing for lance to screw up. Lance looked away from Keith, "whatever" lance sounded less harsh this time, a little bit of his guilt slipped into his tone. He turned his back on Keith, not wanting to see the look of disappointment on his face, and turned to head to his lion.
They arrived at the planet a few minutes later, just as Allura had said, or Vargas, those where similar..right? Lance, Already being in his lion, carefully guided red out of her hangar. Keith met him outside the castle in the black lion. Keith's face popped up on a little screen to his side. Lance admired how cool the background of the black lion complemented The red of Keith's suit. Lance had to admit Keith was a pretty cool leader. A bit rocky, but he tried. Plus, as his second in command (lance had named himself that after hearing the history of the Paladins) that was lance's job to even him out.
"I'm sending you the coordinates of wear to land" Keith told him. Just as a little message popped up from Keith.
"Got it, let's get this show on the road shall we?"
"Coran was right this place really is a jungle" lance said as he flicked a leaf out of his face, he thought it might be pointless to try and make small talk, but Keith nodded, as if agreeing with him.
"Did you see those spires coming in? Amazing" Keith answered, much to lance's surprise.
"They were, weren't they? I thought they looked like giant stalactites"
Keith laughed, making lance's stomach do a strange summersault. "Stalagmites, but yeah, I think that's what they are, well, without the cave part"
They walked on in silence. Listening to the strange alien bird calls in the trees, and enjoying the scenery. He caught Keith staring at him, and his cheeks flushed.
"What? Is there something on my face?" Lance asked, covering his mouth to hide any potential food between his teeth.
"Huh? N-no, I wasn't... I was just thinking" Keith looked just as embarrassed as he was. "This is nice, I mean, not fighting with you all the time, it's nice" oh god, Keith sounded so sincere. What was happening. When had they gone from rivals, to, whatever they were now. Could he call them friends?
"Well yeah, whatever I guess" he spluttered. Keith looked offended.
"What is that supposed to mean?"
Lance didn't know what Keith wanted him to say. It was so sincere and friendly, nothing like he was used to from Keith. It made him nervous, it made him mess up, lance didn't like messing up.
"I don't know mullet, what am I supposed to say to that!" He shot back at him defensively. Keith's smile slipped into a cold stare.
"Your impossible" Keith declared coldly.
"Your face is impossible!" Lance retorted
"Why do I even try!" Keith shot his hands up in exasperation and stomped ahead. Lance spent the rest of the walk looking at his feet. Why did he even volunteer to go with Keith, he should have known this would happen. Of course it was all his fault as always. It's not like he didn't want a good relationship with Keith. Keith was cool, the way he flew almost effortlessly through asteroid fields and took down enemy ships, especially now that he was the leader. And Keith could be funny when he opened up, and he had a really nice laugh. And the way his raven hair fell over over his Violet eyes, and stuck out at strange angles on the bottom, just to fall over his muscular shoulders. And how somehow his slender frame managed to absolutely rock the 80's biker look. Yes, lance thought, Keith would make a very good...ahem...friend.
Lance was so lost in thought he didn't see that Keith had stopped in his tracks. He ran right into Keith's back.
"Hey watch it mull-woah" he stopped when he saw what Keith was looking at.
In front of them, was an at least 14 feet wide horizontal trail of dead trees and burnt jungle life. Small fires still blazed in small patches.
"Looks like something crashed" Keith whispered.
"You think it's our unknown source?" Lance whispered back nervously.
"Not sure." Keith put a finger to his lips, telling lance to be quiet. Under normal circumstances lance would have shot back a clever come back and been offended that Keith would Have the nerve to shush him. But considering the situation, he thought maybe Keith had the right idea.
They followed the burn trail. Mostly Keith followed it, lance just followed Keith and hoped he knew what he was doing. They followed the trail for maybe a few minutes, it might have been hours, lance wasn't sure. Finally the trail opened up into a clearing. In the middle of the field lie a hunk of smoking metal. Lance had to cover his face when the smell Hit. The stench of charred plastic and blackened metal seared lance’s nostrils and burned his eyes. Keith activated his bayard, which elongated into a long jet-black broadsword. Lance peaked out from behind his braver comrade. When lance was sure nothing was going to jump out of the ruble, he stepped out from behind Keith,stalking up to the ship.
Keith pulled on his arm, warning him not to get to close, but lance continued, something was bothering him about the ship, he examined it carefully, running his hand along the material. A glint of red caught his eye. It was small, about the size of a half dollar, Painted on carefully, it looked like a rams skull surrounded by lightning.
"Hey Keith" he beckoned the paladin over from where he had been keeping watch.
"Yeah?" Keith walked over to him, looking over his shoulder.
"You ever seen a symbol like this anywhere?" He asked, pointing at the strange symbol. Keith's eyebrows knitted together. Keith looked at it for a while before shaking his head.
"No, never" but that only confirmed lance's unease. He stepped back from the ship. He wasn't very good with tech, not like pidge and hunk, but if he was right, this wasn’t good. "Lance? Are you ok? You look awful." Keith extended a hand to lance’s forehead, but the blue paladin flinched away.
"Keith, this-this isn't galra tech"
Keith looked shocked, “what?”
“This isn’t galra tech” lance repeated, more insistent this time.
It seemed to take a moment for keith to process lance's words. Lance was surprised when the other paladin’s astonished expression fell quickly into anger. "That's what this is about, seriously?" Keith snapped taking a step back.
Lance was shocked at Keith's reaction.
"What the heck is your problem?" Lance looked got up too. What was with him, why was he reacting like this. "Isn't this worrying to you?!?!" Lance exclaimed.
Keith turned on his heel and lance was shock at the pure frustration and outrage on Keith's face.
"Plenty of other alien races have ships lance" Keith snarled at him. He had a point, but lance was to infuriated to think of little things like that the the moment.
"This is different, look at it Keith, it looks way more advanced than galra tech, I'm sorry if you don't think so, but that's pretty worrying to me." Lance was so pissed off and hurt that Keith wouldn't take him seriously.
"Do you know how many races this could belong to? I can't believe I was actually-UGH!! But of course you were just being a drama queen as usual!" Keith yelled. The Red Paladin turned on his heel and stomped of to the edge of the clearing.
Lance would have answered him about the drama queen comment, but something keith had said had caught his attention. Keith had been...worried about him? Was that what he was so upset about. Did he think something was seriously wrong with him. I mean, it still hurt that Keith didn't take lance seriously, but...
"Keith?" He called out. Keith looked around at lance, he looked like he was going to shout something nasty back at lance, but something stopped him. A look of absolute terror fell across his face. Lance was puzzled why Keith would look at him like that, then he realized keith was looking at something behind him. Only then did he hear the crunching of leaves behind him, not until it was too late.
Lance looked behind him and the sight almost made lance do a hunk and puke.
Before him was just about the most gruesome creature he'd ever seen, something straight out of a horror movie.
It was human enough, wearing a uniform of grey armor, but it was about 8 feet tall, with an enormous body built of entirely muscle. From the neck up it looked like it's face had bubbled over, huge tumors the size of basketballs covered his neck and face. He had a huge rotting mouth filled with sharp teeth like needles. He had one large watery eye and one very small beady one. Chunks of his skin peeled of, Revealing muscle and bone.
Lance dropped his bayard in shock and covered his mouth in shock and disgust.
It let out a loud, blood curdling scream.
He heard Keith yell for lance to grab his bayard. And lance tried, he really did, but he couldn't, the weapon seemed to slip from his fingers like it was covered in oil.he trembled like a leaf, panic rose up from his chest, clasping around his throat. He could hear Keith calling his name. The creature came towards him grunting like an animal. He was going to die, he was going to get torn apart by this thing, tears welled up in his eyes, he didn't want to die like this, like a coward, not even brave enough to find his weapon. then He saw Keith appear in his vision, swiping at the beast, trying to divert its attention away from lance, but Keith's specialty was short range, he wouldn't be able to last long against this thing obviously overwhelming strength. If lance couldn't get to his bayard, Keith would--Keith might not--Lance finally got hold of his bayard, not even hesitating his shot, firing two times at the beast.
It fell with a mighty screech, tumbling over. And hitting the earth with a large thump! .
Lance shook violently, finally his stomach gave out and he threw up. Gagging and shaking. He felt Keith's hand on his back, a comforting hand rubbing his back gently. There earlier argument seemed to have dissipated. They stayed like that for a long time, lance hunched over, Keith's hand on lance's back. Finally lance stopped shaking, his stomach empty. He sat up, a bit woozy, swaying a little.
Keith steadied him.
"You ok?" Keith asked him in that cute worried tone he sometimes got. It was just a few words but it made him feel so much better. Lance nodded.
"You gonna "cradle me in you arms" again?" Lance teased laughing a little.
Keith sighed, he looked like a huge weight had been taken off his back
"Your ok" the red paladin confirmed. Keith stood and walked over to the fallen beast, poking it with his sword. "I think you got it" Keith seemed to only be partially talking to lance, and mainly for himself. When Keith decided it was probably dead, he started pushing on it
"Uh, Keith?" Lance said cautiously.
"Come help me turn this thing over" Keith gestured for lance to come over. Lance really did not want to touch the thing, But despite his distaste, he stood up and joined Keith in pushing the thing over. The two of them managed to push it onto its back, lance heaving with exhaustion. But Keith started inspecting the armor, he ran his hands along the grayish metal until he found what he was looking for. He let out a deep sigh. "Lance, come take a look at this"
Lance obliged, joined Keith to see where he was pointed. His heart sank at the sight of the familiar red circle and rams skull of the symbol for the other ship. "Still don't believe me, huh?" Lance said, lance didn't mean to sound so bitter, but let's face it, he was quite bitter. Keith but his lip and looked away.
"Listen- lance-I shouldn't have-you know" Keith stumbled over his words, waving his hands around. Keith sighed "You were right, I'm sorry." The red paladin wouldn't look lance in the eyes. "I should have trusted you."
"Yeah, you probably should have," lance let out a long sigh. "As much as I want to stay mad at you, I don't think I would have believed me either." Lance knew he still sounded bitter, but what he was saying was true, looking back on it, he knew he was only reacting on feeling alone. He hadn't really given a good reason to believe him. But Keith just shook his head.
"Don't make excuses for me lance, I over reacted and ended up saying things I don't mean."
Lance thought about that for a second.
"Even the drama Queen part?"lance inquired.
"Ok maybe except that," Keith said, chuckling a bit at the thought.
"Let's just agree that we're both idiots and leave it at that, huh" lance told the other paladin. Keith still didn't look quite satisfied with that conclusion. But he seemed to decided not to argue.
"As long as we both agree that, that thing was fucking terrifying" Keith said instead, causing lance to laugh out loud, though it stirred up the terrified queasiness left over from lance's former experience with the beast.
"You got that right samurai," lance stood up quickly, brushing of dirt, his hands still shook a little. "What'd'a say we head back to the others, shall we" lance was very eager to get away from the crashed ship and it's horrifying inhabitants. Keith nodded.
The two Paladins began their trek back towards the group, keeping their path mainly towards the red lion parked in the distance. The walk was silent, neither seemed to want to talk to the other. Lance knew whatever they talked about would eventually lead back to the creature, and lance wasn't sure he wanted to let out just how shaken up he was, especially to Keith. His reaction was to uncertain for lance. Keith would either reprimand him for worrying to much, or he might make that face he sometimes gave him. Where his dark eyebrows would knit together, and his lips would frown ever so slightly. And lance wasn't sure lance's heart could handle either outcome. They finally reached the village where lance and the other Paladins had parked there lions. Lance and Keith found hunk and Allura surrounded by tiny spider like aliens, with large punchers and long spindly arms. They all held up leaf trays, stacked with what looked like powdered jelly donuts, with the dough wrapped around like a ball of twine. Hunk took them from their leafy trays skittishly, smiling politely. As much as hunk enjoyed trying alien space cuisine, he seemed unnerved by this particular species uncanny similarities to one of his many earthly fears. Allura didn't seem fazed in the slightest by their appearance, maybe they didn't have spiders on altea. she stuffed her face happily, powdered sugar covered her face. Shiro chatted casually with what looked like the chief of this particular tribe. Pidge stood of to the side, a few aliens seemed to be trying to impress her, but the technology of these people was very primitive, there attempt at impressing seemed to amuse her a little. Hunk smiled when he saw them, pushing his way out of the crowd. "Your back!" Hunk exclaimed.
Shiro had walked over, followed by the leader. He turned towards Keith. "What took you so long, you two are the last ones back"
Keith opened his mouth to speak, "we were-"
"Lost" lance cut in swiftly. Keith looked at him with a startled gaze, And he could relate. Lance wasn't really sure why he had said it, but something deep down wouldn't let him tell the others. Lance knew he should have told the others. They had probably founds stuff too, It could have been the reason for there anonymous message.
Hunk's expression seemed to fall. "You guys didn't find anything either?"
"You guys didn't find anything?" Lance asked.
Shiro shook his head. "No, we where hoping you did"
Ok, so they hadn't found anything, But lance still couldn't bring himself to tell them, and that fact terrified him more than the creature had.
Allura had finally managed to pull herself away from the creatures, she and pidge had walked over to join them.
"The natives don't know anything about a message. There technology is primitive. I don't believe they would be capable of sending messages into space." She furrowed her brow. The lack of an answer seemed to trouble her. Lance knew she had been sure they would find some sort of problem to solve here, and the fact that no one seemed to find anything would disturb her greatly.
Guilt began to form in lance's throat. Cause the fact was, there was something, something bad, and if this was some sort of new threat. Anything that happened from here on out was all lance's fault. He looked at Keith, hoping Keith would say what lance couldn't. But Keith didn't say anything.
Shiro sighed. "Well, there doesn't seem to be anything here" he looked at Allura's disgruntled expression. "I'm sorry Allura"
Allura shook her head. "No, I'm alright, It's just a feeling I have. That there's something I'm missing."
Lance sighed. He really should say something. The blue paladin took a breathe.
"Guys, I should tell you-" lance was cut off by a gigantic tremor in the earth. Hunk screamed over the nose of earth shaking.
"Is that normal? Oh please tell me that's normal."
Lance could guess by the running and screaming aliens, that it wasn't.
"What the quiznak, is that a wormhole?!?" Pidge screamed. Lance looked to where she pointed and his heart crawled up into his throat.
Something was coming out of the wormhole. First a red back appeared, then a long metal tail , then a large red face with glowing yellow eyes, and finally its legs appeared, but lance knew what it was just from its tail.
The world seemed to turn into its side. Time slowed. Lance had to be dreaming. What he was seeing couldn't be true, could it? This was some sort of trick, or illusion. It was impossible because falling legs up out of the wormhole in the sky,
Was the red lion