Hello, my darlings!

So, I actually have this semester off. I'm hoping that I'll be able to update and publish a lot more in the spring. You guys have been so patient and supportive and I cannot begin to describe to you how much every single one of you means to me. You guys are my heroes, and why I keep writing.

So this is a new little thing that's been sitting in my documents for...you know what, nevermind. Nobody wants to know how long this has just been sitting there.

BUT IT'S LANGST! WHO DOESN'T LOVE A GOOD LANGST!

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Spoilers: Um, the general premise of the show, and a little bit of season two, when Zarkon is chasing them all over the place. It's obviously an AU. This chapter doesn't have spoilers for any particular episode. This is supposed to be a multi-chapter fic, so if any other chapters have specific spoilers or warnings, I'll let you know.

Warnings: Just a lot of emotions.

Little dialogue key for you:

"Conversation between Paladins."

"Conversation from the Castle."

A Paladin to a lion

A lion to a Paladin

So without further ado, brace yourselves, and enjoy!


One for All


Zarkon had found them yet again, sending the exhausted, sleep-deprived Paladins reeling down the halls of the Castle at a dead run, hauling on their armor as they went and stumbling into their lions, stifling their yawns as they pulled their helmets on.

Countless fleets warped into existence around them, and all traces of sleepiness vanished as Voltron burst into being once more. But it didn't take longer than a few minutes for the tides of battle to drive the Castle and Voltron far apart.

Allura and Coran were shouting over the comms, frantically doing all they could to help, but the fleets of Galra warships seemed to have only one goal: keep Voltron as far away from the Castle as possible.

"Come on, Team!" Shiro shouted above the blaring alarms. "I need everything you got!"

"We're trying, Shiro!" Hunk yelled back.

Lance gritted his teeth, twisting Blue around and pouring more power into her thrusters as he tried to keep them away from the countless battle cruisers surrounding Voltron. Come on, Blue!

She growled in his mind, waves of determination to protect their team flowing across their bond.

There was a sudden bolt of alarm from Pidge, carried easily through the Paladin bond that tied them all together.

"Guys, I'm picking up on a surge of energy from the lower part of the flagship!" she said, concern audible in her voice.

"What kind of energy?" Shiro grunted as Voltron narrowly evaded a blast from an ion cannon.

"Not the good kind!" Pidge answered grimly. "The energy signature...well, it's almost a perfect match for Haggar's."

Lance groaned and let his head thump back against his seat. "I really hate her."

"Focus, Lance!" Shiro snapped as Voltron took a hit to the back.

Lance winced, grabbing the controls again. "Sorry."

"Pidge, can you tell what the energy is for?" Keith grunted as his lion grabbed a drone ship and sent it spiraling into another.

"No," she grumbled. "It's still building. It's not powering anything, either. It's a huge power source that's just hovering on the lowest level of the flagship."

Hunk whined. "That makes me very uneasy," he complained. "The last time she hit us with one of those, our wormhole spat us out in like, five different corners of the universe."

Lance snorted. "And you said I was bad at geometry."

"Focus, guys!" Shiro said again. "Let's worry about Haggar later. Right now, we just need to get back to the Castle so we can get out of here."

"Yes, sir!" four voices shouted in unison.

Conversation died out as they focused on the battle once more, Shiro's intentions flowing clearly through the Paladin bond, guiding them through the laser storm.

"Crap!" Pidge yelled suddenly. "That energy source just spiked, Shiro! We're out of time!"

"Alright," Shiro said grimly. "Come on, guys! We gotta get out of here before she lets that loose. Hunk, Lance, I need full thrusters straight ahead. We're just going to have to punch a hole to the Castle."

"Yes, sir!" Lance said grimly.

He and Blue reached out for Hunk and Yellow and they met them halfway and they poured everything they had into keeping their friends safe. Both Paladins and Lions worked in perfect tandem to get them away from whatever crazy scheme Haggar was trying this time.

Lance almost missed the flicker of violent purple/black light in the corner of his eye. Almost. But he saw it. He didn't have time for more than a gasp and desperate wrench at his controls, reversing Blue's thrusters and doing everything in his power to steer them clear.

But even as he moved, he knew it wouldn't be enough.

"Lance!" Shiro shouted, frustration clear in his voice. "I said full thrusters forward, not backw—"

All of the Paladins let out various sounds of shock as a massive jolt tore through Voltron.

Lance gave a short shriek, squeezing his eyes shut and bracing himself as the torrent of what looked like purple-edged black lightning crashed full into Blue. A split second passed with no pain, and Lance cracked his eyes open only to almost choke on his own tongue. The Druid's power had tightened into a noose, wrapped solidly around Blue's cockpit. Through their bond, he could feel the oily, tainted dark magic weaving itself into an inescapable web all around Blue's body.

"Well that's not ideal," he said, his voice sounding thin and shaky even to his own ears. "Bad. Actually, very bad. Exceptionally not good."

"What's not good?!" Shiro barked. "What's wrong?"

"I'm sorry, Shiro!" Lance said. "I tried to get us far enough away, but I couldn't. It's got me-ee!"

His voice lifted into a panicked yelp as the web contracted, making Blue yowl in pain. Bright red alerts sprang up on Lance's screens, warnings that Blue's outer layer was dangerously close to breaching. Her thrusters sputtered and died, and her body was jerked roughly towards the flagship.

"What do you mean it's got you?!" Hunk gasped.

"Lance," Pidge cut in, concern clear in her voice. "Why am I hearing alarms from your end?"

"It's trying to pull us in," Lance responded, hands shaking as they flew over his controls. "I'm trying to get loose, but it's damaged my thrusters. I can't get free!"

"My thrusters are still at full capacity!" Hunk said. "I can—"

"No!" Lance said firmly. "No, Hunk. That'll push Voltron even closer."

"Keith," Shiro said, his voice radiating urgency. "See the main line of power leading back to the ship? Can you cut through it with the sword?"

"I can try!" Keith said grimly.

With a little difficulty, Voltron twisted so Keith could bring the blade down on the gleaming purple beam. Lance felt his heart plummet as it just rebounded, almost coming loose from Red's grip.

"Oh, that's not good," he said weakly. Then he screamed when the net tightened, the creaking and groaning of bending metal audible even through his helmet.

Hunk was the only one close enough to see Blue's outer plating start to buckle and crack under the pressure.

"LANCE!" he screamed. "Oh gosh, okay, buddy calm down it's okay, we're gonna—"

"Hunk, what's—" Shiro started, but Lance cut him off with another panicked shriek as the dark magic spread, oozing around Blue like some sort of putrid liquid until it seeped down over Blue's eyes, successfully blinding Lance. Blue was screaming her own panic in his head, thrashing wildly but unable to move a single inch.

"HUNK WHAT'S HAPPENING?" Shiro roared.

"It's...It's the net!" the Yellow Paladin said frantically. "It's—oh, quiznak—it's crushing them!"

"Keith, cut through it!"

"I'm trying!"

Paladin! Blue cried. The darkness is still spreading. It is reaching for the others! She means to ensnare all of Voltron!

Horror froze Lance to his seat for the span of a heartbeat before he jerked back into action. He would not let this witch use him to hurt his family.

"No! No, stop!" he shouted down the comms, interrupting the others. "Stop! It's dragging Voltron closer and it's using me and Blue to do it! You need to separate back into Lions and leave me!"

"NO!" Pidge half-screamed, terrified fury zinging down the Paladin bond. "I am not losing another big brother!"

"Pidge is right, Lance," Shiro said. "I'm not allowing this."

"I'm not asking," Lance's voice was sterner than they'd ever heard it. Then it grew gentle. "I love you guys."

Then Lance reached out with his mind.

Get me free, Blue. We've gotta keep the others safe.

Together, my Paladin.

And the Blue Lion tore herself away from Voltron.

"LANCE!"

"NO!"

"What are you doing?!"

"Get back here, you idiot!"

The desperation in their voices wrenched at his heart, but there was no way he was taking them down with him.

It was better this way.

"It's okay," he said. "It's okay, guys, really. You need to go."

"No!" Pidge cried.

"We are not leaving you, Lance!" Hunk bellowed.

"Yes! Yes you are!" Lance shouted. "Go! Now! She hasn't realized that it's only me she's caught yet!"

"No!" Keith argued. "We leave all together or not at all!"

"Shiro!" Lance gasped. Surely he would understand. "Shiro, you have to get them out of here! Please, Shiro!"

"Lance," Shiro said helplessly, "I can't—"

"Please!" Lance begged. "Please, Shiro, you've…you've got to get out of here." Realizing that he wasn't getting through, Lance changed tactics. "You have to get the others out of here! Please, Shiro! You have to keep them safe! You promised Pidge you'd help her find her family!"

A dull thud sounded through the comms, making Lance think Shiro had just punched the wall of his cockpit.

"That was a low blow," the Black Paladin managed.

Lance gave a gasping laugh. "Did it work?"

"No!" Keith snapped. "No, no, no."

"Yep," Lance replied. "You've gotta go, guys."

"Paladins, you must hurry!" Allura cried over the comms. "If Zarkon captures Voltron—"

"Forget Voltron!" Pidge shouted. "Lance, we are not leaving you."

But Lance had found an ally. "Allura!" He gasped, letting out a choked snarl as the dark net tightened around him and his lion once more. "Allura, get them out of here!"

"We cannot allow Zarkon to capture all of the lions!" the Princess said, no room for negotiation in her voice. "If a single lion is captured, we can rescue them. We have done it before, we can do it again. What we cannot do is lose all of them at once! Now retreat, Paladins! This is an order!"

"NO!" Pidge, Hunk, and Keith's voices overlapped.

"We are not leaving him to them," Shiro said. His voice was quiet, but it rang with steel.

Lance hissed through his teeth. Blue, I need you to connect me to all the other lions.

Done.

Lions of Voltron, he said, I'm the Blue Paladin. And as I'm sure you've noticed, the two of us are very much stuck.

Not for long, snarled Red.

Lance sighed. And this is where I ask you to do something you really don't want to do. I need you to leave us.

No! Red roared.

Why would you ask us to do this? Green yowled. I agree with Red—our Paladins have lost enough brothers.

Yeah, they have. Lance agreed easily. But I'd really rather they live to miss me, if you get my drift.

You ask us to leave behind one of our own, Black rumbled, and Lance could feel her sorrow—but also her understanding.

Sacrifice one to save all the others, he said heavily.

Please do not ask this of us, Yellow whispered. Blue, please.

I am sorry, she said, pain radiating through her voice. But I am begging you—do not let me be the reason he gets his hands on you.

Please, Lance begged. He could hear the other Paladins on the comms, screaming his name. His prolonged silence was scaring them. Please. Protect your Paladins. They are my family. For the sake of your Paladins, you have to go.

Black gave a long, mournful keen. To protect the others, she said, I shall honor this request, Paladin. Be careful, my sister.

Lance closed his eyes in relief and sagged back against his chair. Thank you, Black.

Green whimpered, and the sound tore at his heart. Please come back to us soon, sister.

I shall do all in my power to do so, Blue promised.

Yellow cried. I will keep them safe, he vowed. And in your stead, Paladin, we shall make them smile.

And Lance laughed, even as tears filled his eyes. Thank you so much.

Red screamed. NO! No, I will NOT leave you!

Please, brother, Blue begged. Please. I need you to keep them safe.

No, he whispered. Blue, don't leave me. Paladin, please. Do not ask this of us. We have lost so much.

Lance clapped a hand over his mouth to stifle his sobs, but he knew the lions could still feel it. All of them reached out and their sorrow and grief washed through him.

I'm so sorry, Red, he said. But I need to know that you'll do everything you can to keep the others safe. Please.

I promise, he said, and Lance could feel his pain like a knife through the ribs.

I love you, brother, Blue murmured, and Red threw back his head and roared.

I love you, sister, he whispered, and then he twisted around on himself and shot for the Castle as fast as he could.

"What are you doing?!" Keith screamed at his lion as Lance tuned back into the chatter over the comms. "Turn around! Turn around!"

"No! Stop!" Hunk shouted as Yellow followed Red.

"No! Nonononononono!" Pidge howled as Green gave a mournful wail and fled after her brothers.

"Wha—" Shiro gasped. "Lance! What did you do?!"

"I'm sorry," Lance whispered. "I'm so sorry. I love you guys. Please be safe."

"No!" Shiro shouted as Black threw back her mighty head and roared, saluting the Blue Lion and her Paladin, wrapping them in her mind one last time before she too, turned and bore her own pilot back to safety, honoring the final wish of the Blue Paladin.

And Lance smiled, smiled as red lights flashed and a slew of injuries made themselves known. He kept smiling when Galra soldiers dragged him out of Blue's ruined cockpit, and he smirked when he heard the soldiers start cursing as Blue immediately put up her particle shield, and none of them could get through it. He smiled when he was forced to his knees in front of a throne. He was still smiling when they flung him into a tiny, freezing cold cell and slammed the door. And then, when he was alone, he cried.

Because they were safe, but he was alone.

But they were safe, so it didn't really matter.


And there's that!

I know it's pretty short, but there's two more chapters of this already done. I'm putting this on an every-other-week update schedule and am currently working on the fourth and final chapter now, so hopefully it should be done by the time I publish chapter three.

Let me know what you guys thought!