Author's Note: I was originally going to tell this story in a series of short stories, but I recently changed my mind and decided against it. I hope you prefer it this way, too.
I own nothing except the characters I've created.
Title Song: "The Call" by Backstreet Boys (DON'T JUDGE!)
Castle Control was quiet in the early mornings. The members of the Voltron Force, unbeknownst to the public, liked to sleep in. Except for Keith.
Keith had never been a heavy sleeper, not even in his study-heavy days at the Space Academy. He and his roommate, Jeff Aki, had been perfectly matched in that they had some inability to sleep late. Sometimes, on days like this, he liked to remember the days before the Voltron Force, back when being an early riser wasn't greeted with disdain by all of his friends.
Curiosity took ahold of him, and suddenly he let go of his continual restraint and logged onto the castle's main computer for personal use. It was something he rarely did, but the morning's wave of nostalgia took over. He wanted to check in on the Alliance. Specifically, the Academy. Their alma mater.
None of his friends were at the Garrison anymore. Hunk, Lance, and Pidge were on Arus with him. Chip was home on Balto, Sven was on Crydor. Jeff, Cliff, Crik, Ginger, Lisa, Rocky, and the rest of the Vehicle Team had long since been disbanded and had nothing left to do with the Alliance. Or did they? Were they just at arms' length, waiting for the day Wade was gone to return? It was possible. He wanted to know for sure.
The Academy website was still very much up and running, and as Keith waited for it to download, he took a sip of coffee. Black. The captain of the Voltron Force had no use for extraneous adornments like cream or sugar or, worse, sugar substitutes.
Once the homepage loaded, Keith read it aloud. "The Space Academy of the Galactic Alliance is pleased to announce the induction of its newest Space Marshal, Lenora M. Stensson..." His voice trailed off.
Lenora was the new Space Marshal?
Taking another sip of his coffee, Keith read the article further, clicking on appropriate links as instructed. He learned so much in a few short moments that he barely had time to process the information. Lenora Stensson was the successor chosen for Space Marshal Graham's position after his retirement. However, after the fiasco with the lions of the Voltron Lion Force, Wade stepped in, appointed himself as Sky Marshal, and sought to throw her into the Void. With the help of her fiancé, Commander Jonathan Hawkins, she stayed on the run long enough to wait out the end of Wade's reign.
"Too much information all at once," he remarked to himself.
"What? You reading the newspaper or something?" Lance called to him groggily, trying to shake the sleep out of his head. "Ooh, coffee. Did you start a pot of coffee?"
"Yeah, go get some. Then come back here. I want you to read this."
"Sure. Be right back."
Lance returned a moment later with his own coffee. Unlike Keith, he liked the addition of cream and sugar, and he sipped at his mug as he approached the computer screen. "Ooh, hackin' into the system. I like your style."
"It's the Academy website. Homepage. Read it."
Lance read silently and looked at the accompanying photo for a few moments. "Wow, my Sis looks good," he commented. "Really good. Hey, did I just read that she's engaged to Commander Hawkins?"
"Yes, I read that too."
"Wow. I'm shocked. Shocked. Do you think Sven knows?"
Keith shook his head. "Have you seen where Sven's made his home? I highly doubt they have internet access on Crydor, and I don't think news from Earth would have traveled that far." He paused thoughtfully. "Besides, I don't think I want to be around if Sven ever does find out. Even though he's with Romelle now and they have a family, I still think he'll go berserk."
Lance and Keith stood quietly for a moment, sipping their coffee and staring at the computer screen, each thinking about Sven and Lenora. They had loved each other fiercely during their time together at the Academy; Lance had often thought that his Norwegian roommate was crazy for devoting himself to one woman for life at such a young age. But Lenora was special, as evidenced by the article. Lance had always known so, even though he wasn't readily able to admit it.
Keith finally broke the silence. "I think we should send a message on behalf of Arus and the Voltron Force. You know, to congratulate Len on becoming the Space Marshal."
Lance looked down back into his coffee. How had he slugged down almost the entire mug already? "Sure. I'll tell Allura after she wakes up."
Lenora was convinced that there was no such thing as a proper hairstyle for this event. As a mature thirty-one-year-old woman, one who was about to take control of the entire Alliance, how was she supposed to look? She wanted to look confident, secure, and in command, yet still young. Or youngish, not like the old men who traditionally held the position. Scowling, she pulled her long chestnut-colored hair into a low side bun, securing it with a mass of black bobby pins.
"You look great. Now maybe you should put on your ceremonial uniform?"
Smiling, Lenora turned her head to the doorway. "Morgan! I am so glad you're here!" she cried out. "You don't know how much this means to me."
Raising an eyebrow at her, Morgan Feld - technically Rackens, since she was married - retorted sarcastically, "Did you really think I was gonna miss the biggest day of my best friend's life?" Then, noticing her error, added, "I mean, besides the day you and Jon get hitched, of course."
Lenora shook her head. "No, this is the biggest day of my life. You got it right the first time." She paused. "I never was the type of girl who valued my wedding day over all other days."
"Ha. What's funny is that you just referred to yourself as a girl."
"Shut up and help me get dressed."
Morgan helped Lenora into her ceremonial uniform, complete with the cape - which they both loathed - and felt sad for her friend. They had bonded as roommates when they were sixteen years old and in their first year at the Academy. Morgan knew that Lenora had never gotten over Sven after he left for Arus, and she didn't know if the soon-to-be Space Marshal loved her fiancé as much as she had the quiet Norwegian.
During their Academy years, Morgan herself had been in a dysfunctional on-and-off relationship Keith Kogane - and unfortunately carried a constant reminder of that on her back - but was able to move beyond it after their five friends were deployed to Arus. Lenora, she knew, would never move on. Sure, she would make it look good, with an incredibly handsome and unbelievably wealthy husband, as well as the title of Space Marshal, but she would always love Sven.
"There you go, Cinderella," she mused, slipping the high-heeled boots on Lenora's feet. "You're officially ready to knock their socks off."
Jeff Aki, much like his former roommate, rose early in the morning. It wasn't only because he was accustomed to waking early; he had been renting a room from David Rackens, whose wife left the house early to help Len - the Space Marshal, I've got to stop calling her Len - get ready for the induction ceremony. Unlike Keith, he was incredibly skeptic about what the changing of the guards meant.
He knew that Commander Hawkins hadn't purposely set out to charm Lenora as a sort of political pawn - the former commander had fallen under her spell a long time ago - but it still seemed a little suspicious to him. He and his former teammates knew that he'd been itching to resume the Explorer's mission. Being married to the Space Marshal, he would undoubtedly have influence on her decisions, and that made it all the more likely that their Voltron would fly again.
Somehow, he didn't like it.
Moving towards the phone, Jeff decided to make the call. He knew that he would see her at the induction ceremony, but he knew there was only one person he wanted to speak with about his reservations. Cliff and Crik, they wouldn't understand - they wanted Voltron to fly again so much, it clouded their judgment.
"Hello?" she answered after the third ring.
"Chris," he sputtered, "I need to see you before the induction."