"Ah, my poor baby!" Nanny cried as she watched the blue lion enter the hanger. The condition of the blue and red lions did very little to alleviate her worries. Keith and the others landed their lions and exited them. Pidge and Hunk immediately assembled crews for the repairs.
"Young lady," Nanny said as Allura emerged from her lion, "what were you thinking!"
"Nanny, please, not now," the princess asked.
Ignoring her request, the older woman wrapped the young ruler in a bear hug, followed by the usually reserved Coran. Allura was stunned for a moment, but then she embraced her guardians fiercely. After a few moments, the three separated.
"I'm sorry you were worried," Allura said quietly.
Coran placed a hand on her shoulder. "You have to do what you think is right for you and for Arus. We have tried to understand and stand by your decisions."
Allura studied Coran and then Nanny. Both were sincere about Coran's statement. "Thank you."
"Just remember to be gentle on old hearts," he replied with a smile.
"Ah, it's nice to have you home, Your Highness," Nanny stated, giving her charge another quick hug. "I must go see to the kitchens."
Lance and Keith emerged from the green lion with the bound sergeant. No one spoke as Lance led Dr. Hamilton out of the room. Coran glanced at the princess but he found the expression in her eyes unreadable.
"So, it was a trap?" he asked, directing the question at the captain.
Keith nodded. "Cedric, Lozev, please help Lance escort Sergeant Hamilton to the holding cell. I will contact Galaxy Garrison shortly."
"A Doom fleet attacked during your absence," Coran stated. "The ships provided by the Galaxy Garrison intercepted the majority of the Doom force before it entered our atmosphere. The castle defenses handled the others. The damage was very minimal, Your Highness."
The princess glared at him. "Arus was attacked and you didn't inform us!"
"You and the force were otherwise engaged, and the precautions paid off," he replied calmly.
She opened her mouth several times to vent but seemed to stop herself each time. She took a deep breath and glared at her advisor and guardian once more. Apparently in control of herself once more, she addressed the older man.
"We will discuss this matter later with the captain," she said, her tone indicating it was an order. "However, there are the lions to attend to, and I believe Keith has some contacts to make."
She turned and walked over to Pidge and Hunk, who were examining the damaged leg joint of her lion. Keith shook his head and glanced over at Coran, who was beginning to wear an amused expression.
"I think you're in trouble," the captain remarked.
Coran's smile broadened. "I know I am."
The two men fell in step together as they made their way to the Control Room.
* * * * *
Rubbing her wrists, Catherine walked the entire expanse of the holding cell. It was located in a newer part of the castle, judging by its appearance. Realizing that there wasn't a real possibility of escape, she sat down on the narrow cot.
Lance motioned for the other guards to leave. Leaning against a nearby wall, he watched her. She studied everything around her that was not in his direction.
"Why?" he finally demanded.
She sighed. "I really don't have an answer for you, Lance."
"I don't believe that," he retorted. "There had to be some reason."
"My mother worked on Doom as a free servant. One night, in a drunken haze, Zarkon forced himself upon her and I was conceived. Realizing my skills and future potential, my mother arranged for me to go to Earth to pursue my studies.
"My mother shortly disappeared after that. I never got in touch with her again. Realizing the Alliance's view on Doom, I hid as much of my background as I could."
"You managed that quite well," Lance said, his tone acid.
Catherine flinched. "I wasn't contacted until a few months ago. I still don't know how they found me."
"But Zarkon! Catherine, how could you work for a monster like that!"
"He's my father!"
"He raped your mother and quite possibly responsible for her disappearance," Lance said. "That's not father material, in my opinion. As a part of Galaxy Garrison, you had to have known what he is capable of.
"Think about your mission was," he continued. "Do you know what Zarkon would have done to Arus and the princess? Do you know what that would have meant to the Alliance?"
Catherine nodded, still staring off into space. "Unfortunately, I do."
"Then, why, Catherine?"
"He's all the family I have left," she said softly. "I wanted to make him proud."
Lance just stared at her before finally moving away from the wall. He stopped just short of the bars. He had wanted to know why she had risked the lives of the people he loved for a man he hated passionately. He had received her answer, but it left him dissatisfied.
"Be grateful that you are being turned over to GG," he told her, his voice ice cold. "The princess could make a strong case to try you under Arusian law, and you don't want to know what the penalty for your treachery would be."
Without another glance back, Lance left the room.
* * * * *
"It's a shame about Hamilton," the young man on the vid screen stated. "Her files give a remarkable record."
He sighed, placing the file out of view. "I have informed my commanders back at GG. We are authorized to receive Hamilton in three of your local hours."
"Duly noted," Keith replied, making a note of the current time. "Thanks, Eric."
"No problem, buddy. I still owe you for helping me graduate high enough for an officer's commission. I wished this little reunion could have been under better circumstances."
Keith nodded. "You can pay me back by saying hi to Alise and the kids for me."
"Will do," Eric replied with a smile. "Keep Lance out of trouble."
Keith turned and glanced at Coran. The castle advisor nodded his agreement to the arrangements. He would have spoken up if he had felt otherwise.
"Hunk, Pidge, and the technicians are working on the blue and red lions at the moment," Keith stated. "They should be back in shape by later this evening."
"Good," Coran replied. "I'll make arrangements for the transfer."
"Thanks, Coran," Keith said.
With a final glance over his shoulder, Keith left the Control Room. He needed to be alone for a while.