Of all the current Paladins of Voltron, the Green Paladin is what would their enemies consider as the weakest link. She is the smallest and least proficient when it comes to combat. She might have her moments of glory – from going face-to-face with Galran sentries to executing a one-woman rescue of her friends – and a mind more brilliant and sharper than any known being in her generation, but the fact that she’s the easiest picking among them is not something has gone unnoticed. Her fellow Paladins are more or less protective of her – taking in hits that will harm her the most and keeping an eye out for her at all times – yet at the same time, acknowledged her capabilities and expertise in fields best left to her hands.
Just like the Green Lion, she delved in the abundance of knowledge and adventures around her, though she shared little of calmness that one of the smallest Lions exhibits. She’s snarky and stubborn at best. Someone whose tongue will not shy away from what her mind has to say. A daring Paladin who will manipulate the odds to her favor and destroy those who dare get in her way in a controlled pace.
But what if that control snaps?
The doors slid open with a hiss and four heads snapped to attention. Heavy footsteps thumped on the metal floor and a scraping sound followed close behind. Frenzied movements and frantic voices echoed from the cells as the two Galran higher-ups passed by. An empty cell opened and a limp figure was shoved inside.
“Insolent Paladin.” A Galran general spat as he kicked the wounded human. The action triggered a collective enraged reaction from the other prisoners. The Blue Paladin coughed weakly, small droplets of blood splatting on the floor. “The next time you try to pull a stunt; I will cut that tongue of yours.”
Lance wheezed harshly. Every breathe felt a knife embedded on his lungs. “Go…to hell…purple quiznaking bat.”
“That’s enough.” A Galran commander, whom they identified to be in control of the star system they’re currently in, said. “He will have his turn next time, then you can do what you want with him until one of them spills the locations of the Lions.”
“Tch!” The general stepped back and activated the bars of the cell. The dark energy crackled to life into an electrified net. He regarded the Blue Paladin with a sneer. “You are lucky, Earthling, but your friend next in line will not be.”
The Galran swept his eyes on the other Paladins who were glaring at him. His eyes landed on a particular cell and a fanged grin crept on his lips. The figure met his gaze with a searing glare. “Perhaps the Green Paladin will pay your due tomorrow?”
“Don’t…you dare…” Lance tried to push himself up only to crashed back down on the cold, hard floor. “I’ll kill you…”
The general laughed. His voice like nails on a blackboard. “Oh, he will. Yes, yes, he will.” He grinned widely at him. Insanity lighting his cold eyes. “I’ll break him slowly. Here. Right in front of all of you. It will be fun.”
“You goddamn coward!” Keith yelled from his cell. Eyes alight in fury and fists clenched. “Open this and face me!”
The general dismissed him. “You will have your turn, half-breed, but for tomorrow, we will have a wonderful show.” He turned to his heel and marched out of the holding room. His companion following right behind him.
“No way in fucking hell I’m going to let you get Pidge!” Keith growled. “Do you hear me? Not a goddamn chance!”
A pained groan caught his attention and he poked his head carefully through the electrified bars of his cell. He peered to the adjacent cell on his right; Shiro doing the same at the opposite side. The Black Paladin’s flesh arm outstretched and barely grasping the shoulder of the younger Paladin. Lance was slumped on the wall between his and Shiro’s cell; the injuries and bruises visible for them to see in the dim, purple light of the Galra ship. Lance hissed when he tried to move his right leg to stand.
“It’s best if you stay down.” Shiro coaxed as he gently pushed the Blue Paladin back down. “You’re in no shape to stand.”
“M’gave them a fight.” Lance murmured. His speech slurring as he caught his breath. “Costed my ankle.”
Shiro squeezed his shoulder lightly. “That you did.” He nodded. “Good job, Lance. You deserve a rest.”
“Pidge?” Lance blurted. Even in his pain-induced state, his brotherly instincts managed to kick in strong.
Shiro barely glanced at the youngest Paladin who was watching them with a distraught look from her cell. “She’ll be fine. We’ll make sure they will not get their hands on her.”
“Yeah, buddy.” Hunk voiced out from the cell across them. “We won’t let them near her.”
If Pidge was against any of their statements (which she was always quick and loud to express), she didn’t show. She simply sat still on her cell. Her knees and arms drawn close to her chest and amber eyes still transfixed at Lance as the older Paladin groaned in pain.
“They called her a ‘he’.” Lance drawled amusingly. His voice coming in as delirious now. “Pidge, you mad gal!” He chortled. “They’ll never see it coming. Like BOOM! KAPLOOEY!” He moved his hands in a demonstration of an explosion before wincing at the sudden movement.
“Lance.” Keith called out softly. “You need to sleep. You want to protect Pidge too, yeah?”
“Ya’ got that right, Mullet!”
“Then, rest.” Keith urged, ignoring the other Paladin’s half-hearted insult. “You’ll feel better if you do.”
“Sounds nice.” Lance conceded as he turned to Keith with unfocused eyes. “Make sure Pidgey sleeps too. She likes to be up for a loooooong time. Ya’ll better give her a piggyback ride and fluff her pillows too. She likes ‘em a lot. Fluffy, fluffy, extra fluffy pillows!”
A scoff escaped from the Green Paladin. “You’re delirious. Go to sleep, McClain.”
“Love ya’ too, Pidgeon!”
Pidge’s response was too soft to be heard but herself. Lance said no more, finally succumbing to sleep after a day of fending off the Galra. Shiro kept himself as close as possible to the Blue Paladin – keeping a critical eye on his condition. Keith paced inside his cell, too angry to rest but worried enough to not wake up the injured Paladin. Hunk slinked at the opposite side of wall between him and Pidge and reached out to squeeze her arm comfortingly.
“I’m fine…” She promised. One hand resting on his. “We will be fine.”
The sliding of the heavy doors jolted them awake and armored boots marched their way toward the Green Paladin’s cell. The electrified bars shutting down as hands roughly gripped the youngest Paladin’s arms and hauled her up to her feet.
“Rise and shine, little Paladin.” The general grinned manically as his nails dug against the rips of her body suit. Pidge gave a sharp, pained cry and cold fury ran in the other Paladins’ veins. Her name spilling off their mouths at her distress.
“We will have so much fun.” The general said as he dragged her out of the room. The doors cutting off the shouts of her friends as it closed behind them and into the cold, dark corridor. Pidge tried to break free but the general only tightened his grip. They stopped at the doors of a room adjacent to the prison and the general hurled her inside the room, sending her skidding to the chilly floor.
“You’ll stay here.” The general said. “I’m sure that you, the pilot of the Green Lion, is smart enough to figure out how things will work out from here on out.”
He smiled wickedly. “Enjoy the show while they still last, Green Paladin.”
Pidge stood up shakily as she tried to calm her pounding heart. Blood dripped from where the general’s nails embedded themselves on her exposed skin and she winced as she ghosted her fingers on the wounds. Her eyes prodding questioningly at the empty room; its walls devoid of any contraptions except of the heavily shut door. It was eerily silent, save for her sharp breathing and pounding heart.
She started walking the perimeter of room, watchful of any traps installed within. Her fingers ghosting against the walls, searching for any panel to open and hack in. She tried not to think of the general’s words but the dread the accompanied it was something she couldn’t shake off.
I’ll break him slowly. Here. Right in front of all of you. It will be fun.
She jumped when a loud PING! resounded in the room. A rectangular portion of the wall beside her shimmered into a transparent glass. For a moment, it reminded her of the movies from Earth – where higher-ups and villains watched their prisoners interrogated from the other side of the room with an one-way window…
I’m sure that you, the pilot of the Green Lion, is smart enough to figure out how things will work out from here on out.
Her blood went cold as the lights flickered red from the other side of the window. A bare room with only a chaining table standing upright in the middle appeared into view. Strapped on the table was the Yellow Paladin.
No, no, no! Pidge recoiled back in horror. The doors from the other room slid open and the same general stepped in. A druid right at his heels. She watched Hunk struggled against his bonds as the two walked in front of him. The two spoke briefly before the druid reached out an open palm to Hunk’s direction. The general looked at the window. He knew she was watching and grinned, fangs glinting against the red light.
Enjoy the show while they still last, Green Paladin.
Pidge covered her mouth as purple quintessence illuminated the room and the shock of impact to the flesh vibrated beneath her armor shoes. The screams, oh God, Hunk’s screams were amplified in the room and filled her ears.
Pidge threw herself to the window; the glass not even rattling at the force. “STOP!” Desperation singling out from voice. “Please stop! Stop hurting him!”
She slammed her fists against the glass because this shouldn’t be happening. Hunk is the kindest person she knows, because he has the biggest heart and the most loyal of all of them! He shouldn’t be hurting. Hunk should never be hurting because of her!
She screamed and punched and rammed herself to the window. Her screams and sobs reaching deaf ears and cruel hearts. Her knuckles turning bone-white and bleeding red and bruises spotting the skin beneath the body suit and armor. Her knees collapsing on the ground as her blood stained the tears pooling underneath her trembling form.
The screams continued for the next quintants. The second was Shiro whom they have deactivated his Galra arm prior locking them up and has to be sedated for precaution. He immediately asked for her after he finally come off from the forced sleep he was in. He fought back, fought back from the screaming threatening to rip from his throat until he could no longer hold it in.
The third was Keith whom they too sedated and chained twice for good measure. He was the one who put up the most difficult fight and bit into his tongue to keep the pain in. He wouldn’t give them the satisfaction of seeing the pain, of hearing the pain he was in. He would never give anything out even if his blood was dribbling from mouth or his limbs numbed and aching from the too-tight shackles they restrained him in.
The last was Lance and the general was more than happy to make him suffer more. He struggled against the bonds and threw insults and spats along the way. He promised he will kill them, painfully and slowly, if something happened to her. To the youngest Paladin whom their dysfunctional, space family has grown fond of like a gremlin of a little sister. His screams hurted her the most because he reminded her too much of Matt, her long-lost brother, and she cannot, wouldn’t think him living in the same situation.
It just simply, utterly hurts.
The cycle renewed and continued and Pidge could only watch helplessly and cry from her room lit in purple. Her form curled tightly and still in a corner as the general came in everyday with a cruel sneer in his face. All the fight within her bones gone as her friends’ screams filled her head. Their pain consuming her entire being as she desperately covered her ears to block the sounds out even in times of silence. She has started to lose all hope of Allura and Coran finding them and of the Lions responding and coming to their rescue. The Galra warship is always on the move - all to shake off unwanted ships off their trail.
She curled tighter in the corner and dug her nails against her scalp as she covered her ears. The screams of the Blue Paladin rattling against her bones as purple light peeked through her eyelids. The taste of metal blooming against her tongue as her gritting teeth pierced her tongue and tears streaked against her cheeks. Her entire being crying and pleading the same prayer over and over again.
Please…I beg of you. Save them.
The door slid open and footsteps marched toward her. A clawed hand grabbed her face and lifted it up from the tear-stained nest of arms and knees. The general dug his nails on her skin and the Green Paladin gave out a rasping whimper.
“Poor, pitiful thing. Seeing your friends get hurt has broken you, hasn’t it? I bet they think you’re dead and gone. So much for the Paladins of Voltron.” He jeered. A cruel smirk curling in his lips. “Now, why don’t you tell me where the Lions are? Perhaps, I would let you see them. Maybe even spare your short lives.”
Pidge struggled to look at him with clouded eyes. She will see them? After many, long days, she will get to see them again - not strapped against a table, not writhing in searing pain as quintessence burned through their entire being? Those words were too tempting, too real to be true. She yearned for her friends and missed their antics that she has taken for granted in her one-track mind of searching for her missing father and her brother. She longed to hear Lance’s lame jokes and puns, to taste Hunk’s alien-turned-to-Earth-tasting cooking, to enjoy the quiet yet comforting company of Keith, and to feel Shiro’s hand ruffling her hair as he praised her.
Yet it was there, being offered to her openly. All she has to do is to say yes.
“What do you say, Green Paladin?” His eyes glittering in the dimly lit room. “Will you save them?”
“I…” Her eyes peered at the window – her only access to the horrendous room that bear witness to the horrors that the Galra have brought to her friends. To her family. Just like what they did to Shiro. Just like what they might be doing to her father and her brother. Just like they did to everyone, both innocent and brave to fight back against their oppressive rule.
A voice hissed in the deepest recesses of her mind. A voice so familiar, yet the unmistakable anger was foreign from her memory.
Nothing but foul lies! The voice spat. They ripped your father and your brother away from you, gripping them in an iron fist and away from your reach! They stole a part of you – a part of your identity! Those wretched beings who wallow in power and glory in the agony of the innocent and dare to call themselves the strongest!
Pidge gasped as memories, memories of ten thousand years, of the bloodshed in the eyes of the original Green Paladin. She saw buildings exploding as purple lasers rained down the sky, families torn apart as parents lost their children in deadly stampedes and children watching their parents lost their lives in front of them. She saw planets being destroyed, star systems fading from maps, and futures lost in all eternity.
She felt Trigel’s grief. Her agony and the torment she experienced until her final moments. Her sorrows and regrets of not being able to foresee all of it. She is the most knowledgeable of them all. The Paladin of the Green Lion. The Shield of Voltron. Yet she has failed to protect them all.
She felt the Green Lion’s doubt of the Black Paladin. Her anger at his betrayal to her pride, at her brother and leader’s trust of the Galran emperor even ten thousand years later. Her despair at the loss of her beloved Paladin and the anguish of not being able to guide her Paladin well as her Lion. The left arm of Voltron and its Shield. She has failed them all.
But not anymore.
Not this time.
Not her new Paladin.
Not her new Pride.
Pidge felt her Lion’s desire to protect. To finally become the Shield she was crafted to be. To protect her brothers and sisters and their Paladins. To protect her Paladin. To protect her pride.
As Pidge opened her eyes and stood in front of her Lion in the mindscape, she could hear, feel her calling out to her. Her unwavering desire to find her father and her brother. The feeling of belongingness in the family of misfits she has found. Her anger of those goddamn Galra hurting her friends, for trying to tear them apart like some yesterday’s plaything.
She could feel all of it, every thought, every feeling, every desire, mingling with her Lion’s and hers to Pidge’s. She could see it now, see herself reflected in the Green Lion’s eyes.
They hurted those you love and they will continue to do so until life is gone from their eyes. Green whispered. Will you let them take your new family, our pride, away from you?
The mere thought of it stoked the last embers of anger inside her. A storm awakening within her veins as Nature’s wrath imprinted itself in her very core. She grabbed the general’s wrist and bared her teeth. “No. I will not save them from you.” She growled. Her hand tightening around his wrist and a maniacal smile curling at her lips and her eyes glowed in poison green. His bones cracked under his skin and the general yowled in pain.
“You save yourself from us.”
Hunk tried to curb the painful pounding in his head by reminiscing about Earth and the things he missed about it, but even remembering was a difficult task. His mind, normally organized and filled with recipes he wanted for his teammates to taste, was cluttered with thoughts – of how long they’ve been in there and how long will they have to stay, of his friends, of Pidge. The youngest Paladin is an endearing savage whose mind he could relate to but not surpass. She reminded him of his nieces back home, if not less independent and sharp-tongued. Whether he made it obvious or not just as much as Shiro does, he wanted to protect the younger girl.
Yet, he failed her.
And it was not just him. He could see it in the vicious outbursts of Lance whenever that general comes in, in the restless pacing of Keith in his cell, and in the tight clench of Shiro’s jaw. All them were drilled, tortured, without any reservations. They never offered alternatives, not freedom, not even assuring that the Green Paladin is still breathing. They never mentioned her, never mentioned what they have done to her. It was like they decided to leave it at there to add to their persecution.
He wouldn’t forgive them. He will never forgive them.
He buried his head in his arms as he listened grimly to Lance’s pained groans. Even in his delirious and fevered state, his brotherly concern for the youngest Paladin still seeps its way through. Shiro was trying his best alleviate the younger Paladin’s pain and comfort him. Keith would stop once and a while in his restless pacing to pick in and around his cell for any means of escape. Hunk could only console Lance by his words and body language. The distance of his cell has become the obstacle that keeps him away from comforting his longest best friend.
The doors slid open and the Galran commander stepped inside. He surveyed each of the remaining Paladins with a stony face. His eyes fell on Lance who was heaving in his fevered sleep.
“That one will soon be dead.” He said matter-of-factly, like he was not talking about another living creature. “The Galra has no need for the weak.”
“You, fucking bastard!” Keith snarled. “What did you to Pidge? What are you planning to do to Lance?”
The commander looked at Keith as if seeing him for the first time. “You are acting more like Galra right now, half-breed. Good. You will make a good soldier for the emperor. As for him,” He pointed at Lance. “It will be better to exterminate the weak as they have no place, no use for the empire. It will do you good to not become like him.”
“Answer his question!” Hunk shouted. “What did you do to Pidge?”
The commander dutifully clasped his hands behind his back. “That is not of your concern. Your duty from now on is to serve the emperor. You will grow strong for him, fight in the arena, and become a source of entertainment for the Galra. Otherwise,” He flexed his hand in a clawing manner. “I believe you all have been acquainted many times with our resident druid.”
“If you think that’s enough to make us disclose the Lions’ location,” Shiro glowered. “Think again.”
“You will be persuaded.” The commander said. “That is, if you want to see your friend, the Green Paladin, again.”
The Paladins stilled. The statement (or threat as it sounded to Hunk) suddenly weighing them down. Hunk didn’t like the implication of that. He could mean a lot of things – alive, breathing, or …he dared not to continue that line of thought. He didn’t like it one bit. She’s alive. His guts said so and he will only listen to it.
The commander bore his gaze down on them. “Perhaps we can find a middle ground.” He proposed. “The locations of the Lions in exchange for the Green Paladin. I will even let the Blue Paladin live his final days.”
“Lance will not die!” Keith said firmly as he gritted his teeth. “We’ll get out of here and find Pidge ourselves. We will not take any offer from you or anyone in Zarkon’s side.”
“And how do think you will accomplish that, pup?” His tone challenging as he walked toward Keith’s cell and leered at him. “You cannot even break into my ship without the Green Paladin’s expertise, let alone escape unscathed. Without him, you are weak. Just as he is weak by himself.”
Keith glowered at him. His fists clenched at his sides and his stance guarded. He was about to retort when a choking laugh sounded from the cell besides his.
“Bahahahaha! That’s so funny.” Lance slurred, apparently have awoken from Keith’s shouts. “Did ya’ say him? Him? ‘Cause you’re soooooo wrong. Just like that purple-y dude!”
The general narrowed his eyes at him. “Wrong? What do you mean?”
Shiro tried to hush him down but Lance, who’s still running high in fever, ignored him. The Blue Paladin snorted loudly. “Are ya’ an idiot? Like a BIG ONE? Pidgey’s not he! She’s a she!”
“Lance!” Hunk was panicking. Pidge can totally kick a Galra’s butt for a record-breaking time of three seconds without any negotiations prior (it was Lance’s idea to record each Paladin’s time before and after dealing against a Galra) but with how they got them in a very tight leash…he’s afraid for her. Now that they know she’s a girl, he didn’t know what they will try to do with her.
“And ya’ know what?” Lance wasn’t done yet. He has tried to stand up but wobbled like a slinky moving down the stairs. Shiro has to grab his arm to prevent him from falling face-first. “She’s not weak! She can like…uhhh…what was that word Hunk? Ah! Murder you from where ya’ stand. She’s a gremlin, alright!”
The commander scoffed. “How very enlightening. Pray tell, how do you think she will accomplish that?”
“She will devour ya’.” Lance grinned but despite his delirious state, it came out as menacing. “Like a hungry, very hungry, and angry lioness.”
They all jumped back. Lance threw his head and laughed, apparently finding their reactions funny. “Ya’ guys are soooo jumpy!” He chortled. “It’s just a kitty! Small and cute kitty. Smart and fierce kitty!”
The commander glared at him. “There is no such animal within my ship.”
The commander paused abruptly when something hit against the far wall of the room. He narrowed his eyes at a large dent printed on the metal wall. It was vaguely humanoid, as if someone was thrown at it with such powerful force.
“What was that?” Hunk whispered. His eyes wide as he stared at the misshapen wall.
The sounds were getting louder and more powerful. The humanoid dent deforming at each impact.
BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!
Lance whooped. His unfocused eyes alighted with glee. “Kitty’s coming! Blue told me so!” He waved his arms wildly. “Come, little kitty! Lance loves green kitties!”
“Quiet, human!“ The Galran hissed.
Then, the alarms blared. Red lights flared as the alarms screeched at their ears in urgency. It was like a switch that was flipped that all of them looked up to the flashing contraptions mounted on the walls. Shouts and footsteps erupted from the hallways at the other side of the doors.
The commander pulled out what they assumed to be a communicator and tapped on its sleek surface. A holographic screen blinked out as a Galra soldier answered his call. The bridge of the ship appearing behind him in a flurry of frantic movements and glaring, red light.
“What is the situation? Did those Alteans find us?”
“No, sir!” The soldier answered quickly. “We detected an intruder inside the ship. We have sent the sentries on their way but we lost connection to them upon contact with the target.”
The commander grimaced. His grip on the communicator tightened in aggravation. “Send more sentries! Bring me my soldiers! Do you think the Emperor will let this slide?”
The soldier flinched visibly. “B-But, Sir! The intruder is-“
“If I do not tolerate such simple mistakes, neither does he!” He snarled. “Where is that wretched brat that dared step foot in my ship?”
The soldier peered briefly at the screen at his right before turning back with a frantic expression. “He’s in the sector you’re in, sir. Just a couple of blocks awa-“ His eyes went wide. “H-He’s moving your direction! The guards are-bBzzZzzt!”
The connection cut off as something heavy pounded against the opposite wall where the doors are affixed. There was yelling just outside and the telltale sounds of fighting as laser guns fired and the armored bodies dropping lifelessly on the ground. The deafening clash of metal against metal reverberated against the walls. The lights above flickered once or twice as if something was interfering with them.
“What’s happening?” Keith asked as he looked wildly at them for answers. “Hey, you!” He called for the commander. “What’s happening outside?”
Leave it to Keith to ask the enemy for answers at a time like this, Hunk thought grimly.
The commander clicked his tongue in irritation. He dropped the communicator with a loud CLUNK! and stomped on it. His hand going over his back as he pulled out a crooked sword from its sheath. “Be quiet, half-breed! I have no time to deal with lesser species like you.”
Keith opened his mouth to retaliate but another hit went against the thick wall – this time, more powerful and nearer than the previous. The battle has gotten closer to them now, just at the other side of the doors.
Despite the assurance that someone else was trying to take down same enemy, it all felt wrong. Something felt off about it. Hunk was not liking that feeling of uncertainty right now and it was not just him. For the first time since they got captured, Yellow made her presence known in his mind and she shared the same sentiment with her Paladin – uncertainty, sorrow, and fear. Hunk leaned firmly against the wall as a particularly powerful impact shook the whole room and the fighting died down abruptly. There was a few tics of tense silence that hang over them.
Then, they heard it again. An inhuman sound vibrating against the walls. A roar.
The doors caved in and shot to the other side of the room as a force threw it off its hinges, barely missing the commander in centimeters. The smell of blood and burning rubber and metal assaulting their noses as smoke filtered through the room. Galran sentries, or what was left of them, spilled into the prison. Their pieces scattering amongst the bodies of the fleshed Galra. A low growl rumbled as a lone figure stepped inside.
They all stared at the Green Paladin, at least, Keith thinks it is her. He could recognize that forest green accent anywhere and the unruly nest of honey-colored hair everywhere. She’s in her full Paladin uniform, still excluding her helmet and bayard, but different. The silver color now dominated with forest green as bluish light pulsed along the nooks of her uniform. Her new armor was lither in design; the breastplate running down her spine and splitting out like ribs around her hips. A long tail protruded from the end of the armor behind her. Her normally, round-ended armor shoes were clawed just like the fingertips of her black gloves.
The Green Lion armor-clad Paladin stalked forward. Her clawed shoes crushing down on her fallen foes like delicate grass. She surveyed the area, tail flicking side-by-side, before her gaze landed down on the Galran general. She hissed at him. Her canines sharper and longer than a normal human’s.
“You should not be here!” The commander exclaimed, finally breaking out of his brief shock. “How did you get in here? That one-track mind of a general should have you under lock-and-key!”
Pidge didn’t seem to have any patience to listen to him as glowing, green claws extended Wolverine-style from the tips of her wrist guards. The commander tried to fell into a battle stance but before he could even raise his sword an inch up, the Green Paladin was already on him. She slashed sideward and the commander howled in pain as he stumbled back, clutching his face. Blood streaming down between his fingers and splattering on the ground. When he removed his hand, Hunk has to cover his mouth as bile crawled up his throat. Three gashes ran angrily from the Galran’s forehead down to his chin. It was so deep that they could see glimpses of his skull where the purple skin was torn apart. Green fluid oozed along the edges of the wounds and has started to snake along the rest of his skin.
The commander snarled. His face contorting into something grotesque. “Why, you little-AAGHH!”
Pidge reappeared before him and kicked him at the stomach. The Galran was sent hurtling to the dented wall with a sickening THUD! that Keith swore he heard his bones break at the impact. It was so powerful that the dent was pushed inward. The commander fell down like a sack of rice; blood dribbling down from his mouth. Pidge stalked forward and lifted him off the ground with one clawed around his neck. His body hanging limp as he choked. Incoherent words stumbling from his mouth as he seemingly tried to struggle free from her gasp. His veins now pulsing a revolting shade of green.
Pidge snarled at him. Pure, cold fury etched in every fiber of her being. She pulled her free hand back and before any of them could turn away, thrusted it forward. The claws piercing their way through the armor like air. Her whole hand, claws and glove, protruding from the other side. Blood and flesh scrapped away as she pulled back and hurled him across the room like a useless, crumpled piece of paper.
Somewhere from his left, Hunk crumpled to floor and vomited. Keith couldn’t see Shiro and Lance well but with the lack of delirious, offhand comments, Lance might’ve fallen back to sleep. Keith could only stare, stare at the blood pooling underneath the Galran commander, at his insides spilling out to the ground, at the Green Paladin looming over the corpse without any remorse on her face. The Galran’s blood dripping from her right hand. He could hear, feel Red’s paralyzing terror through their reestablished bond. Not for his safety from the Galra. But from her. From them.
He tensed up as she turned away from the dead body and surveyed the rest of them. Their eyes locked for a fleeting moment and Keith knew that the person before them is not Pidge.
Not the same curious, daring, and savage as fuck fourteen-year old.
It is the Green Lion.
Hunk yelped as the Green Paladin bore her gaze down him and walked forward toward his cell. She looked balefully at the electrified bars and fixed her gaze to the control panel embedded securely at the wall next to the Hunk’s cell. Her claws retracting before punching through it. Sparks flew harmlessly against her fist as the control panel sizzled and smoke. The prison bars shut down and Pidge turned her attention back to Hunk.
Hunk stumbled backward and fell as Pidge stalked forward. Her honey-colored eyes glowing in eerie green and the pupils slitted like that of a snake’s. A low growl rumbling from her throat and she crouched down on his eye level. The Yellow Paladin knew with a start that this is not the Pidge they knew, that before him is an apex predator that would not hesitate and show mercy. All his instincts are telling him to run, run as far away as he can or else he would be devoured.
“P-Pidge? Hey…it’s me, Hunk.” Hunk stammered, trying to look as small as possible. “I’m your f-friend…please don’t eat me…” He was sure his last statement came out like a high-pitched whine. Their faces inches away from each other that he could feel her breathing against his neck. Hunk squeaked and shut his eyes tightly, waiting for the killing blow.
When it didn’t come, he opened his eyes slowly to see Pidge backing away and out of his cell. Her attention now turned to the other Paladins who were stumbling out of their cells – Shiro and Keith supporting the feverish Lance by his arms and waist at both sides. When Pidge stepped back in their view just outside Hunk’s cell, they visibly stiffened. Their expressions mixed with confusion, disbelief, and fear. Keith moved quickly in front of Shiro and Lance. An arm swept in front of them protectively. His shoulders tensed as his eyes looked up from the graveyard of sentries and Galras alike before them and locked gaze with the Green Paladin. This prompted an unimpressed snarl from Pidge and Hunk has to run in between of them to block the girl from lunging at the Red Paladin.
“Chill, Pidge! No killing us.”
Her tail lashed out furiously yet, she made no move. A threatening growl resounding from the Green Paladin.
“I…uhhh…” Hunk glanced at the three behind him for support. He admitted that standing before a what? Lion-transformed? Berserk mode? We-don’t-know-what-is-it version of his friend is really frightening and normal Pidge is already terrifying enough as it is. “We’re your friends. Friends don’t hurt each other.”
Pidge tilted her head, as if processing his words. “Friends…” She repeated. Her voice seemingly overlaid with another. Whose? He doesn’t know. “Friends…must protect the Paladins.” She affirmed, nodded slowly. Understanding and recognition bubbling in the surface. “Must protect the pride.”
“Yeah, that’s right.” Hunk agreed. His shoulders relaxing at finally calming the raging Green Paladin.
“Blue Paladin…?” She murmured. Worry seeping through her words. For a moment, he saw Pidge from the Lion-clad warrior before him. “Lance…?”
“KITTY!” Lance suddenly piped in, prompting them to flinch. His glazed eyes lighting up as his features crinkled in delight. “Pidgey Kitty!” He giggled as he reached out his free arm as if to coax not-really Pidge toward him.
Pidge, whose attention now drawn away from the Yellow Paladin, crept cautiously toward the Blue Paladin. Keith was about to stop her but Hunk placed a hand on his shoulder to reassure him. When it comes down to it, Hunk doubt Keith would easily hurt Pidge. The guy’s secretly has a soft spot for the girl. Shiro seemed to be letting her approach but his tight grip on the Blue Paladin says otherwise. If Pidge showed any sign of attacking, he is ready to pull both of them away from danger.
Pidge stopped in front of them in a half-crouch as she sniffed curiously at Lance’s extended hand. The tip of her nose lightly brushing his fingers. Recognition flickered on her face and she purred, lightly butting her head against his open palm.
In any other day, they would find this amusing and unbelievable. There has been an ongoing joke among the residents of the Castle of Lions of how among the Paladins, Pidge acts like a cat the most. She is small enough to climb through vents and light on her feet to appear in any room undetected. The youngest Paladin has the habit of sleeping in places that only a person her size can fit and her witty and sassy attitude, her I-don’t-give-a-flying-fuck personality can really put anyone multiple-times her size on their toes. At the same time, she secretly enjoys being cuddled and praised and she has the most number of pet names (courtesy of Lance).
Lance was ecstatic at getting her to open up as he lifted his hand to scratch the top of her head. She leaned in to his touch. Her tail slowing down to lazy swish as her shoulders relaxed and her purrs grew louder, apparently overjoyed to reunite with her pride and find them alive, if not injured.
It didn’t last long, however, as Keith reminded them grimly that they’re still in enemy territory. “We need to get out of here right now.” He said. “Without this warship’s head-of-command, they’re in total disarray. We better take advantage of it.”
“Let’s get to our helmets and bayards first.” Shiro said. “If we encountered any Galra on the way, we’ll have a better chance and get in contact with the Castle of Lions as well.” He turned to Hunk. “Hunk, do you think you can get your holomap going?”
Hunk tried to switch on his wrist guard to no avail. The Galra made sure to cut them any means of escaping beforehand. “It’s no good.” He replied. “I think they installed some sort of virus in our suits’ transmission and navigation systems. Pidge could fix this in a jiffy but…” He trailed off as he cocked his head at the direction of the Green Paladin.
The youngest perked up at the sound of her name and slinked away from Lance’s reach, who mourned the loss of Pidgey Kitty’s affection, before bounding toward the doors. She chirped at them and disappeared into the hallway. Having no other choice, they followed her past the flickering lights and to the Galra-strewn corridors.