Ship after ship exploded in the Arusian sky as the Black Lion weaved its way through the invading ships. Suddenly, the proximity alarm went off. As the Drule fighter headed straight for the Black Lion, Allura braced herself for the impact.

An explosion rocked the lion as the proximity alarm fell silent. Glancing at her monitors, Allura searched for the source of her rescue. She heaved a sigh of relief as she watched the Polluxian fleet engage the Drule forces.

“Princess Allura, are you all right?” a familiar voice asked.

“Sven, thank heaven!” the princess cried with relief. “Remind me to thank you and my cousin when this over.”

He laughed. “We’ll see about that, Princess. How about the Blue joining you up there?”

The princess managed a brief smile. “I would love the company.”

A few moments later, the Blue Lion emerged from the castle’s lake. Although the odds were better now, there were still too many Drule fighters and the bigger ships were still hanging back.

‘What are they waiting for?’ the princess wondered, taking out another ship.

“Coran,” she called, “how are the castle defenses? When will the others arrive?”

The castle advisor checked the monitors. “The castle defenses are at 80%. A GG squadron will be here in five minutes with Hunk and Pidge.”

“What about Keith and Lance? We could use them,” Sven asked, dodging an aggressive volley from a Doom fighter.

“Soon,” Coran replied. He gripped his chair as a blast shook the castle.

“It had better be very soon,” Allura muttered, attacking the group of ships that had became interested in the Castle of Lions.

* * * * *

Hunk let out a low whistle as their ship entered the Arusian atmosphere. “They’re holding out against this with only two lions?”

“Remind me never to make the princess mad,” Pidge commented, watching the Black Lion destroy two ships within seconds of each other while dodging the blasts of a third Drule fighter.

The Yellow Lion pilot nodded. “Definitely. So, little buddy, ready to join this little party?”

“Let’s go,” the younger man said with a grin. “Castle Control, this is Pidge. I think you’re expecting us.”

“Yes, we are,” Coran replied, the relief evident in his voice. “As soon as you land, come to the Control Room. I think I have something of yours.”

* * * * *

“Somebody up there loves us,” Sven commented as the Green and Yellow Lions joined the battle.

“Hey, Princess, Sven, leave some for us,” Hunk called.

“Believe me, there’s plenty to go around,” Allura replied, wiping sweat out of her eyes.

“Your Highness,” Coran began, “Keith and Lance should be here in about ten minutes.”

“Thanks, Coran,” the princess replied. “How’s the castle?”

The castle advisor’s answer was cut off by a blast hitting the castle.

“Hunk, supplement the castle defenses,” Allura ordered. “Pidge, stay up here for now. But, if Hunk gets into trouble, help him out.”

“Roger that,” Hunk stated, as the Yellow Lion destroyed its current target and headed to the castle.

“Sure thing, Princess,” Pidge replied.

As she engaged what seemed to be the millionth ship, she prayed that Lance and Keith would hurry. Her eyes flickered back to the large ships hanging back from the main portion of the battle. ‘What are you up to, Lotor?’ she wondered.

“Coran, see what you can do about strengthening the castle defenses,” Allura ordered. “What are they at right now?”

“The shields are at 73%,” he responded. “Weaponry is at 67%.”

“They need to be higher,” she stated. “I have a feeling that Lotor has a few surprises left for us.”

“You know, Princess, I think that you could give Keith some competition for his job,” Pidge stated.

“Keith can have his job,” she muttered. “He'd just better get here.”

* * * * *

Lance studied Keith’s face as he read the current situation on Arus. The captain’s face was completely impassive as he studied the monitor. However, the clenching and the unclenching of his fist betrayed his worry.

“We never should have left,” Keith muttered, “at least without training replacements.”

Lance shrugged. “We tried, but the brass thought that they knew best.”

“And now Arus is paying for it,” Keith added, a muscle in his jaw twitching.

Lance moved to look at the steady stream of information coming from the embattled planet. “How are they holding up?”

“Pidge and Hunk have arrived, meaning that they have four lions airborne,” Keith began. “Romelle sent the majority of the Polluxian fleet and the GG squadron that brought Hunk and Pidge has engaged.”

“The odds are looking better.”

Keith shook his head. “But not all of the Drule force is fighting. Most of the larger ships are hanging back, which means that Lotor has a few surprises left. The castle is holding on okay. Allura has Hunk backing up the castle defenses. However, the Black and Blue Lions have some damage.”

Lance saw the fierce expression on Keith’s face. “How serious?”

“The Blue has mainly superficial damage.”

“And the Black?”

Keith’s fist tightened. “A good portion of the shields and some of bigger weaponry.”

“We should be there any minute now,” Lance reassured his friend.

Keith looked from the monitor to his friend, his dark eyes smoldering. “We should have never left.”

As he turned back to the screen, Keith offered a silent prayer to his friends on Arus. ‘Just hold on. Please, hold on.’

* * * * *

Coran smiled briefly with relief as Keith and Lance entered the Control Room. He handed Lance the key to the Red Lion and activated the tunnels. The captain moved to the monitors, updating himself on the situation.

“I need a channel to the princess,” he told Coran.

The castle advisor nodded and went directly to the task. Within seconds, he was staring at the princess. She was wiping sweat out of her eyes and targeting an approaching ship. As soon as it was hit, she was targeting the next one.

“Princess, we’re here,” he told her.

“Keith?” She saw his face and smiled briefly. However, she quickly turned her attention back to the battle. “Where’s Lance?”

“On his way to the Red Lion,” he replied.


“Incoming at 3 o’clock.”

“I see him.” The fighter exploded a second later but the princess was unable to dodge some of the debris.

“Your reaction time is slowing.”

“Tell me something I don’t know, Captain,” she spat as she redirected more of the lion’s power to the faltering shields.

Keith ran a hand through his hair. “Return to the castle.”

“Now is not a good time to be down a lion, Keith,” she replied. “Pidge, exchange assignments with Hunk. Lance, assist Sven.”

The other pilots executed her orders within moments.

“Polluxian fleet,” she continued, “we have the fighters down to a manageable number. Try engaging the bigger ships. They’ve been spectators long enough. Keith, how are the castle defenses?”

“Shields are at 71% and weaponry is at 63%,” he answered.

“Coran, I thought we were going to get those numbers higher,” Allura muttered. “Polluxian fleet, back down. Repeat: back down. Do not engage. Focus on the fighters.”

“How long do you need, Coran, to get those numbers up?” the princess demanded.

The advisor shook his head. “We have all our techs on it, Your Highness.”

“Keith, can you fly the Green Lion?”

“I’d rather fly the Black.”

The princess sighed. “Okay, team, we’re going to play musical lions. I’m returning to the castle. Keith will take the Black Lion and resume command. Hunk, once Keith is in the air, you take Pidge’s place. Pidge, you’ll return to the castle. We need your help boosting the defenses, if you’ll loan me your lion.”

“You bet, Princess.”

“You know, Cap, she’s making a pretty good leader. And she hasn’t screamed at me yet.”

“Lance, incoming at 5 o’clock!” the princess cried.

Keith smiled. “You were saying,” he prompted.

“Ha ha,” the Red Lion’s pilot replied.

“We’ve got your back covered, Princess,” Sven stated, as the Blue and Red Lions drew the fighters away.

“Polluxian fleet and Galaxy Garrison forces, help cover the Black Lion and the castle,” Keith ordered. “See you soon, Princess.”

* * * * *

Allura exited the Black Lion as she took her helmet off. Keith stood, waiting for her. However, his eyes grew darker as he noticed the new bruise on her face and the bright red spot on her left shoulder.

“You’re hurt,” he stated as she handed him the key to the lion.

“It can wait, Keith,” she told him. “They’re waiting for you up there.”

“We’ll discuss this later, Princess,” he said, taking the key.

“I’m sure we will, Captain.”

He gave her good shoulder a gentle squeeze. “Just don’t worry me anymore than you have to,” he asked softly.

She gave him a cheeky grin. “We’ll see, Keith.”

With a slight smile, he headed to the Black Lion. She watched him enter and left the platform so he could take off. A few minutes later, the Green Lion entered the hangar. Putting her helmet back on, she took the key from Pidge. Wishing each other good luck, they went to their respective tasks.