The Voiceless Cry

Summary: Shiro had always been one to be hopeful for a promising future. Surely his time in the Galra prison couldn't have been pointless suffering. He had escaped for a reason, and he was determined to pursue that reason until he found it or died trying. He never expected to fail, and to strip Pidge of her voice doing so.

BTHB Prompt: Rendered Mute

Timeline: Takes place during Tears of the Balmera as an AU.

Disclaimer: If I owned Voltron: Legendary Defender, it wouldn't be a very long show, at least for some of the cast.

Shiro had always had mixed feelings about his experiences.

His time in the Galra prison, experimented upon like a rat and forced to combat and kill for entertainment had left him with enormous mental scars. He still woke up screaming at night, still broke out into severe flashbacks whenever something reminded even slightly of the pitiless yellow eyes watching his every motion, the monotonous footsteps of the sentries patrolling the halls, the needles that injected unfamiliar violet liquids into his bloodstream. His mind had blocked out the worst of it, but it was still a part of him, a shadow in the back of his skull pulling the strings on every one of his movements. Even though he had escaped the Galra prison, he still wore its shackles.

And yet, had he not experienced the torture, the isolation, the mental trauma that he still felt gripping his skin every night… Voltron would not have escaped Galra hands.

For that, he was grateful. No living being deserved to walk through his torment, but he accepted his pains since they meant freedom for the Galra controlled universe. If one person had to suffer to save everyone else, then he was glad that it was him, He could bear the weight of his trials, maybe even with pride, if that was what was necessary to take down a tyrannical regime. And he had four wonderful, brave individuals to stand beside him.

Never before had he considered that he had shoved them into this situation.

Pidge had just wanted to find her family. Unlike him, she was just a kid, and had never wanted to be the one with the weight of the world on her shoulders. She didn't want the scars that fighting a universal war would bring.

And now, she was his and Lance's only hope.

Shiro looked up at Sendak, who was furiously pacing around the room as he awaited a response from his lieutenant. Neither Haxus nor Pidge had responded for the past several doboshes, and it had become a worry for both the commander and the Paladin.

"Haxus, report!" The Galran hissed again. He was becoming impatient, his furred ears trembling and his foot tapping angrily. Shiro hoped that Pidge had managed to dispatch her opponent and open the particle barrier, else there was no way the three could escape and Lance could get to a healing pod. Their survival and the survival of the entire universe relied on her success. She had to succeed.

The room was silent as the two listened for an answer.

"You may commence liftoff."

Shiro's heart sunk. No! He tried to stagger to his feet, to do anything, but he was much too weak. Just as his worst fears were realized, Sendak barked a laugh. The commander strutted over to the control panel and the Castle of Lions shook as it began to rise into the air. The shake knocked him to the side and Lance skidded across the floor with a groan.

The Lions were in Galra possession.

Pidge was probably dead.

He had failed.

Shiro hung his head. Had all his pains been for nothing? Was he destined to die in a lonely cell, right after he had finally managed to escape? And had he brought two teenagers down with him? Kids with so much left in them, dead or going to be.

He only looked up at the sound of the clink of footsteps down the hall: Sendak's lieutenant. He had been correct, as Haxus turned the corner, wearing an arrogant grin… and carrying something. Strung over his shoulder was none other than Pidge, beaten and bloodied but still alive. She glared at Sendak as she passed by, before the lieutenant threw her to the ground with a hard thump that made Shiro's ears sting.

"I thought I'd ordered you to kill the Paladin?" Sendak glowered at his underling with an air of arrogance. "I do not appreciate it when my orders are disobeyed, Haxus." The soldier in question looked no more than slightly surprised by his leader's sharp response.

"This child is a hubristic nuisance," Haxus replied, giving Pidge a firm kick to the stomach. "Death is mercy for him. He needs to be taught a lesson from his superiors." The lieutenant glared down at the disguised girl, who mustered the guts to give him a glare in return.

"Don't hurt he-him!" Shiro quickly corrected himself. Caught in the heat of the moment he had nearly forgotten to keep Pidge's identity private. Had he lost his level-headedness and let his fear take over, Sam's daughter could have been put in terrible jeopardy.

Sendak glanced at Shiro for a millisecond where the Black Paladin worried that he had been too obvious, but then the commander turned back to his fellow Galra. "Fine. Keep him alive. But in the end he'll be just one more mouth to feed. Put the Paladins in the Altean cells. Let's go."

The commander moved toward the already bound Paladins, while Haxus's focus focus was on his prize. Shiro watched as he reached for her hand, prepared to grab her and take her with him, but Pidge had other plans.

"Don't touch me!" She shouted. She spun around and kicked up at his chest, sending him falling back. In spite of all the bruises covering her body, she didn't look weakened or in pain in the slightest. The girl jumped to her feet and bowled her fists, her only weapons since her Bayard had been confiscated.

Pidge. Haxus was already back in an upward stance, and Sendak had left the other Paladins to face her. As quick and clever as she was, Shiro knew that she couldn't take on both Galra at once. If she made the wrong move she was only going to make it harder for herself. The Galra despised resistance.

"You little-" Haxus grumbled under his breath. He ground his teeth together while he pulled out his transparent purple sword and aimed it at her. Sendak pushed forward on the other side. His gauntlet swung back and forth, its claws flexing readily. Pidge was surrounded with not a single weapon on hand.

"Did your friend tell you what happens to prisoners that disobey?" Sendak gestured to Shiro with his living arm. Pidge said nothing, an act that caused him to smile. "Prisoners that disobey are nothing to the Galra Empire apart from our belongings. We make sure to bend them to our will, and we make sure that they are severely punished for their misdeeds. They are broken, every part of them, until they are fully ours to command. Resist, and see where that gets you."

Shiro gave Pidge a meaningful glance. I know how you feel, he thought, almost as if she could hear his warning. You don't want to let them win, I get it. But please, I can't lose you. Please. She saw his look, but she only gave him a brisk shake of the head. She wasn't going to listen.

"That's good," she hissed, taking a step toward the commander, "because I'll never be your prisoner!"

Pidge dashed toward the wall, leaping up and grabbing a shard of metal that had stuck itself inside during the explosion. She had a weapon. She aimed the sharpest end toward her two attackers, baring her teeth defensively.

"What a shame," Haxus derided. "You are so young, child. Too young for what's about to befall you. It is best if you prepare for the worst." The soldier rushed forward, slamming his sword down on her location, but she quickly managed to dodge out of the way. This left her in front of Sendak, who's clawed gauntlet grabbed her torso and threw her against the wall. Pidge regained footing fast, and was back at her attacks.

What are you doing? Shiro watched the fight play out before him with fear in his eyes. Trying to escape is one thing, thinking about it is another. Please, resist the urge!

With a cry, Pidge leaped forward and slashed her makeshift blade across Sendak's face.

Time slowed in Shiro's eyes. He saw the metal slice across the commander's jaw, tearing through the skin deep enough that the Galran's large fangs could be seen in the gap. The blade tore off the prosthetic eye as well, leaving an empty gash in its place. Blood splattered all over the attacking Paladin and dribbled down Sendak's sinewy neck, matting his fur in crusted crimson.

Sendak roared, covering his wound with a purple hand. He staggered back, nearly tripping over shards of fallen castle wall. Pidge moved in to strike the final blow, but was intercepted by a furious looking Haxus. She slammed against the wall, which managed to break off her enfeebled helmet, and then she collapsed to the floor weakly.

"Pidge," Shiro breathed. She was struggling to get to her feet now; the impact must have left her too weak to stand. She clutched her chest in comfort, letting out the softest of whines.

Sendak finally removed his hands from his face, revealing a bloodied opening on his upper lip. He turned to Pidge and spar the blood that had dripped into his mouth out in front of her, although her only response was a feeble grunt of disgust. His mechanical claw wrapped around her chest and lifted her into the air, before he proceeded to throw a few punches into her face with his other hand. With every hit Shiro almost seemed to feel Pidge pain, like he was in her body, gasping with every strike to the head.

The commander held the girl in front of Haxus, and then passed him a strange device that Shiro couldn't quite recall the purpose of. Something about it felt familiar, probably an object he'd seen during his time in the Galra prison, but he could not remember what it was. All he did know was that whatever its use, it wasn't good.

And it was going to be used on Pidge.

"What's that?" She slurred, blinking her one eye that wasn't swollen from the assaults. She looked nervous, with the way her eyebrows were creased upward and how she bit her lip. The object seemed to be made of two pieces connected together so that they could open and close like scissors, with an electrical strand on each end, as if they were meant to cut something off.

Shiro's brain clicked.

"No!" He yelled, forcing himself to his feet, but his pain had him falling back down again. The Galra paid little attention to him: Haxus was already holding Pidge's jaw as he examined it, and Sendak was keeping her held in place tightly. "Please don't do this to her! She's just a kid! She can't-"

Pidge's look of horror mixed with betrayal made him realize what he had just blurted.

Sendak grew a smile. "Her, you say?" His claws squeezed her, forcing a grunt from her mouth. "How interesting. I didn't think that she was a female." He blinked at the girl in his hand. "No matter. I intend to have her punished, Champion, and this is how I wish to go about it." He nodded to his lieutenant, who began to pry her mouth open with one hand and hold the device upright in the other. Pidge gasped in dismay as she began to squirm, but nothing could prevent the sparkling energy from getting closer and closer to her mouth.

Haxus snapped the object onto her tongue, which disintegrated within a single one of her cries.

No! Sendak let go of Pidge and dropped her. Her hands were instantly clutching her neck as she tried to speak but couldn't. Her eyes were beginning to wet with tears, accompanied by a miserable whimper. She didn't deserve this! She's so young! No!

"How could you do this to her?" Shiro demanded, his eyes fixated on the Galra. "You-you monsters!" Pidge let out another sob, filling his chest full of anger even more. But even deeper than anger was an underlying feeling, a sense of guilt because he had dragged her into this, his close friend's daughter, and stripped her of her speech.

"It was her own choice that brought her to this," Haxus ridiculed, patting her head. "Had she not so thoughtlessly scarred Zarkon's First in Command, she would not have been rendered mute." Pidge pulled away from him, only for him to pull her back by the hair. "And had you not opposed the Empire, then you wouldn't have had to spend the rest of your days as prisoners."

Sendak waved his hand, ordering a group of sentries to surround each of the Paladins. Pidge was no problem; she did not even budge as she was lifted into the air, her eyes locked onto the floor. Lance required no more than one of the robots to drag him out of the room. Shiro gave a slight bit of resistance with his anguished glares, but considering what had happened to Pidge, he did not want to make the wrong move and pay the price for it.

It's my fault, he thought, watching the small girl's form sadly. She was put in a bad situation because of 're all going to pay, I just hope that she doesn't have to pay the most.

The room they were locked in was very small. It seemed more like an uncomfortable bedroom than an actual prison cell, with a twin sized bed in the back and a desk covered in paper on the left wall. Knowing that the Alteans were a much less violent species, Shiro guessed that this was either a chamber that Sendak had chosen to use to lock them in, or that the Alteans were kind enough to keep their prisoners in less gloomy prisons. Whatever the case, the Paladins were locked inside, and with no means of escape in sight.

Pidge leaned against his shoulder. Her fluffy hair was up and in his face, smelling distinctly of cinnamon that was faint but noticeable. Tears were running down her honey eyes, and every so often she would sniffle, but other than that she was quiet. She looked smaller than ever, curled up against his side, her arms hugging her legs tenderly in a fruitless attempt at comfort.

Lance was lying on the bed. His breathing had become more ragged, and his body had begun to twitch. Pidge kept looking at him with grieved eyes, like she wanted to go over but was still unsure. Shiro guessed that the boy was having a nightmare, and a horrible one at that. The Blue Paladin was without a doubt entranced in his false reality, and not breaking loose.

Shiro pulled Pidge closer to his side. If only I could have done something, he imagined. If only I had gotten up and knocked Haxus out of the way before he could have knocked Pidge down. Then she could have finished Sendak off, leaving Haxus to fight on his own, and Pidge still speaking her mind. He buried his head in her hair, the warm scent wafting up her nose.

We're going to Central Command, he said to himself. Lance could die on our trip there. I'll probably be sent back to the arena and experimented on as the Galra please. And if Sendak really meant what he said, then Pidge is faced with a terrible life of slavery, or worse. He hugged her. I thought there was something left for us, a chance at a promising and righteous future. In reality, Voltron is in the hands of the Galra, and the three of us are being carried to our dooms. If only-


Both Shiro and Pidge looked up to see Lance, whose eyes were beginning to open and whose hands had stopped twitching. He tried to pull himself up, but dropped down onto the bed sheets again, too weak for even such a simple task. His eyes moved to Pidge, causing him to sigh in relief.

"I just had the worst dream," he slurred with a grimace. "Sendak won and he decided to do something bad to you." He gave her a large grin. "I'm glad you're okay, man."

But then Lance noticed that the other Paladins did not look so happy, and that they lacked their armor. His eyes widened. "N-no," he breathed. "D-don't tell me that they… they…"

"They won, Lance," Shiro finished for him. "Haxus managed to defeat Pidge and lift the ship out of the atmosphere. The Galra have the Voltron Lions, and we're their prisoners." Pidge shut her eyes tightly, blinking back another wave of merciless tears.

"But nothing happened to Pidge, right?" Lance asked almost desperately. "Sendak didn't hurt him or do anything? He wasn't tortured and beaten or something like that? Right, Pidgeon?" He gave her a hopeful smile, a look like he was reassuring himself more than the poor girl. She turned away from him, burying her head in the crook of Shiro's arm. "Hey, why aren't you speak-"

"She's mute, Lance!" Shiro blurted. Normally quite self controlled, tears were flowering in the corners of his eyes, and sweat was rolling down his forehead continuously. Lance looked flustered for a moment, probably due to the unfamiliar pronoun his leader used, but as he began to understand the full extent of the Black Paladin's words his confusion turned into pure terror.

"Shiro, don't joke like that!" Lance exclaimed, his body trembling uncontrollably. "You're worrying me! It's making me uncomfortable. For a moment I actually thought that you were telling me the truth!" His eyes were locked on Pidge, and he began to bite his lip nervously.

"It is the truth!" Shiro shouted. "Sendak and Haxus removed her tongue for talking back! And now they're going to send us to Central Command and make her pay the price even more!" Pidge let out a despondent moan, muffled by the fabric of Shiro's flight suit.

Lance dragged himself upward, but his bleeding hands slipped on the bed sheets and he tumbled onto the floor. Even when the fall resounded with a snap, he kept moving, forcing himself nearer and nearer to the voiceless prisoner. His crimson hands grasped her shoulders and embraced her in a bloodstained, anguished hug.

"No, Pidge," he sobbed, smothering his head with her chestnut hair. The sight became more and more difficult for Shiro to observe. Two teenagers, not even that far into their lives and already stripped of their fantastic destiny, now fated to be experimented upon, tortured, and enslaved just like he was. He had always wore the title of a man who suffered for the good of the cosmos, never intending for his agony to be meaningless, and for two kids to be facing the same thing.

Pidge was never going to speak again. Her sharp tongue and keen remarks had been pulled from her mouth and thrown into the incinerator. She would never speak her mind vocally, would never spill her emotions out with so much passion like she did so often. Of all the horrors of the Galra that Shiro remembered, this one stung him the most.

And Lance had one foot in the grave. Even now as Shiro watched him, he saw bright red, wet burns covering his swollen hands and half closed eyelids. The boy's breathing was slow and shaky, like his lungs found it an agony to pull in the sufficient amount of oxygen. A few gashes on his arms appeared to be infected, no longer bleeding but pink, irritated, open wounds. He should have gotten a healing pod hours ago.

With a shudder, the Blue Paladin fell limp, his body falling onto the cold floor.

Shiro heard no sound. All he saw was Pidge grab the fellow teenager, her mouth unable to speak any words but surely she was sobbing. She held her friend to her chest, her hands digging into his arms as she threw her head back and howled.

Shiro only stared, blank eyed as the horrible story unfolded before him.

The door swung open within moments of the death. Sendak and Haxus entered, bearing sadistic grins and speaking words that Shiro could not hear. He saw Pidge scream as she was ripped from Lance's body, kicking and fighting but to no avail. His willpower begged him to get up and fight, but for some reason he could not move. By the time he had finally pulled himself to his feet, the door had shut, leaving him completely alone.

What had he done? I

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