The Farther You Go

Summary: Pidge should have listened. She should have taken Ryner's advice and not let her curiosity get the best of her. Now, because of her mistake, she was in the hands of an insane alien, and with no chance at escape in sight.

BTHB Prompt: I Have You Now, My Pretty

Timeline: After Lotor became Emperor, season 5.

Disclaimer: Yup, I own Voltron. Definitely. Because writing fanfiction is much easier than publishing work that I own.

"Never venture to the far reaches of the universe," stated Ryner as she circled the room full of youthful rebels in training. Pidge watched the students copy the Olkari's words onto their parchment, some exchanging notes with ignorant chuckles. She had decided to observe the class to watch the training of new members of the Coalition, and to ensure that the youth knew what was necessary for the deadly missions they were destined to face in the near future. She gave a sharp glare to two boys who seemed to be ignoring their wise teacher, the both of them quickly cowering at the sight of the hawk-eyed Paladin.

"The Galra Empire covers the entire Laniakea Galaxy Supercluster," the Olkari continued. "With over 100,000 galaxies, it is absolutely colossal and a marvel that the Galra Empire have managed to take over and control it all. And yet-" She paused, "It is miniscule in comparison to the vastness of the entire universe."

With a wave of her hand, Ryner pulled up a lime green holographic map, covered in trillions upon trillions of miniscule dots representing galaxies. She used her finger to follow one of the tiny clusters down to a particular dot, so microscopic it was impossible to even tell what she was pointing at. "This map represents the entire observable universe, still only a small portion of the whole thing," she stated. "We reside down here, in this tiny corner unknown to the worlds afar. As great as our technology is today, the Galra Empire can only spread so far with their limited numbers and resources."

"The farther you get from the Galra Empire, the stranger the things you'll find will be." Pidge ignored the students for a moment to pay attention to the intriguing speech. "You will find living things that think differently from us. Beings that have entirely different sets of morals, or none at all. Aliens with unnatural intelligence, or that speak different languages, or that look unbelievably wrong in comparison to the creatures we see every farther you go, the stranger it gets." Ryner's eyes moved from the students to the Green Paladin, as if she were speaking directly to her.

"Do not go too far, young ones," she admonished, not averting her gaze. "You will find the lure of knowledge to be valuable, but does it cost your life? And by the time you've learned of the mistake you've made, you'll already be ensnared."

The HartReepar Galaxy was an eerie one, to say the least.

The entire collection of billions of stars was largely uninhabited. From the information the Blade of Marmora had given to her, Pidge knew that a single Galra outpost had been placed on the lower arm several deca-phoebes ago for scientific study, but the crew had mysteriously disappeared less than two quintants after their arrival. Apparently, to the Galra Empire it was some sort of Ghost Galaxy, rumored to be haunted by the spirits of the Paladins of old, an extra-dimensional cross section, and the like.

Such were ludicrous tall tales, in Pidge's opinion. She wanted to know the truth of the matter.

Ever since Lotor had become Emperor, things had changed. As the Rebels fought for freedom, Pidge had quickly taken up the chance to investigate HartReepar. The mystery of such a place haunted her, leaving her curiosity thirsting, desperate for the knowledge hidden within its doors.

The Green Lion landed on a particular planet of interest: Planet BrokenShell, considering the gray planet's cracked planetary crust. The strange orb had been emitting odd frequencies to the Green Lion that she could never quite decipher. Something about the call was unnatural, and hence it only made sense to investigate it. She needed to be quick about it though; the other Paladins had yet to figure out where she was, and would surely be furious that she had downright disobeyed Ryner's warnings.

The second her boots touched the ground the earth gave a hard shake. The planet was unstable, yet another reason to be quick about her entire vicinity was colored with a dull, shimmering gray, like pale flesh or dusty bones. The entire ground seemed to slither as the planet's tectonic plates came grinding against and sliding under the next, creating cracks that revealed splashing black goop that shot into the air. With every crackle of the ooze she was reminded of the snapping of bones.

Pidge shivered. The entire scene made her gut churn. Something about just didn't feel natural.

She took a careful step forward. Her eyes darted around the vast expanse warrily when the ground below her suddenly broke in half. Pidge screamed as she fell, her hands scrabbling for the edge but unable to grab onto a niche. Her jetpack smashed against the rock wall, and before she could grab her Bayard something sharp stabbed into her arm, knocking her grappling hook out of her hand and sending it into the deep, dark chasm. The grasp prevented her fall but left her gasping in pain as she was lifted into a cavern in the wall, where the only light was four, bright yellow eyes.

Pidge shrieked, but the sound was muffled when a long tail wound around her helmet, the pressure from the sinewy body causing the glass to crack. The rest of the coils tied themselves around her body after the dagger like teeth had removed themselves from her arm. She pulled and tugged, but struggled to release herself from the beast's powerful embrace.

"Sssssssee? Slick knew that you would come here." A large elongated head nearly as large as she was moved from the shadows and into view. The creature looked like he came straight from a horror movie, with two pairs of unblinking, slitted eyes and two sets of jaws full of needle like teeth stacked on top of each other. His scales were covered in slime that dripped from all his pores and began to stick to her armor. His body was snake-like, and enormous; she guessed that stretched out he would reach at least twice the length of her Lion. The beast's forked tongues rolled out of his mouth and vibrated as he scented the air.

"Who-who are you?" Pidge stammered, the crack continuing to spread into a giant web across her lense. Her body, even encased in the monster's mighty cage, trembled uncontrollably, and she bit her lip in a feeble attempt to keep from showing fear. The serpent looked slightly bothered by her fear, but put on a false grin.

"Ssssslick is The Collector," he explained, although the Green Paladin was left more confused than anything else. "He has been awaiting your arrival. He knew you would come! He knew what would ssspark your interest and draw his sssubject into his trap."

Pidge's eyes shot open. The frequency! That was what he was talking about. The serpent had known exactly what would lure her in. But how? And why? She had no quarrel with this beast. In fact, considering the HartReepar Galaxy was outside of the Galra Empire, it was quite plausible that he captor didn't even know that she was a Paladin of Voltron, or even didn't know what Voltron even was.

"Who's Slick?" She asked, fruitlessly trying to keep her breath steady. The beast studied her for a moment, his fangs dripping with bright green saliva.

"You are caught within his powerful sssqueeze." It took a moment for Pidge to realize that the serpent was talking about himself. He was The Collector, and that he was completely insane. "He collects the odd, the mysterious, the rare and draws them into his den for ssstudy." Slick popped off her helmet with his tail and began to examine her face. "He has only observed five of your kind in the thousands of deca-phoebes he has lived, so it is only logical that he takes one of your own for experimentation." Pidge shivered at the last word. " You are the sssmallest, and therefore the easiest for Sssslick to contain."

In spite of her terror, she couldn't hold back a retort. "Says who?" She growled. Slick did not seem in the least bit bothered by this. His tail grabbed her by the neck and lifted her out of the prison, before The Collector began to slither down the dark tunnels. As he moved she swung back and forth painfully. Her hands pushed at the coil holding her, but she did no more than cover her hands with wet slime.

The two entered a large chamber, at least 200 feet wide and smelling horribly of rot. The cavern was very dark, its only light coming from the glowing slime that stuck to the walls. And hanging from the slime, trapped in its sticky loops, were hundreds of aliens.

Pidge went cold. The image was horribly disturbing. A fourth of the trapped creatures were writhing, and she noticed that their skin was bulging and covered in unnatural fungal growth. Twice that number had green ooze dripping from their pores, and the rest were hanging limply, perhaps even dead. Every individual was emaciated, their rib cages visible beneath loose clothing, or no clothing at all, unless they lacked bones.

Slick's upper mouth snapped open and revealed two elongated fangs, and from them spat the viridescent substance. The slime stuck to the ceiling and hung down, at the very bottom being a sticky glob. The serpent wrapped a string of ooze around the struggling girl, leaving her suspended above ground and stuck to the clingy slime.

"Sssslick will play with you later," the monster stated. "Shshy, it is your turn." The Collector pulled another prisoner from the strands, who managed to withhold a terrified shriek. Pidge was filled with a cold, dark, sense of dread.

I need to get out of here, she decided as her fiendish captor slithered away. I don't want to be the subject of his inhumane experiments. I don't want my skin infected with harmful fungal growth, my body infested with slime, or to die slowly from starvation due to Slick's lack of care. I've just found my family; I can't die in the possession of this demented serpent!

But needing to escape and being capable of it are two very different things.


Slick returned in roughly three vargas, dragging the prisoner behind from his tail. Pidge gulped when she noticed that Shshy's teeth had been torn out of her mouth, leaving her jaw dripping with dark, crimson liquid. Her eyes had turned milky white, and it took little time to notice that she had died, probably from drowning in her own blood. Nevertheless, she was strung back up, leaving her body to rot.

"Ah," the serpent turned to the Paladin, his tail twitching excitedly. "Sssslick does not know your name. What is your name, ssso that he may address you properly?"

Pidge squirmed. The way Slick's four frog eyes blinked, the way the slits rotating in their sockets as they inspected her was nothing short of creepy. His pointed teeth were stained with red and green, blood and slime, and his tongues slid over them like a predator wetting its mouth over a juicy prey.

Pidge tried to speak, but found that no words came out. She was too terrified to form words. The monster tilted his head in a way that hinted that he was confused by her fear. Everyone else in the room left alive were looking at her with pity, and she was soon left with the cold feeling that she had done something very wrong.

"Pidge!" She corrected quickly, but it was not enough.

"Do you find Ssslick a menace, Little Pidge?" His eyes began to narrow in a way that clearly meant irritation, or something worse. "Do you find his lair a terror, when he was ssso kind as to give you a place in his home? Which of your parents taught you the manners to disrespect such a kindhearted caretaker in his own cavern?" He bared his teeth, the sharp ends glinting in the ominous green glow. "Ssslick does not care for disrespect from lesser beings," he growled. "Like many others before you, he will make sure that you are taught how to behave."

He's crazy. The tail wrapped around her ankles and yanked her down, ignorant of the hard impact of her back hitting the stone, or the crack that echoed through the cavernous chamber. He kidnaps me and brings me to a room full of dead and mutilated bodies, and he expects me to not be afraid? She paused, looking up at the looming form above her. He's a complete lunatic.

He lifted her up, this time beginning to toss her like a senseless ragdoll that couldn't feel her bones bend and her skin tear. "Sssslick will show Pidge what he does to those who avert their gaze."

He's trying to punish me for being afraid of him by scaring me more. She struggled to keep her thoughts flowing, it being the only way to keep her mind off of the coming doom. All right, makes perfect sense. Because a mad psycho can make logical decisions. All the eyes on her made her shut her own. I hope my friends figure out that something is wrong soon… Or else I'm stuck here, another starving, infected prisoner of a monstrous lunatic.

Please, I-I don't know how long I can last.

I should have listened to Ryner when she said that going too far was a death trap.

Slick led her through much smaller tunnels, small enough that his swaying tail left her hitting the wall almost constantly. Along the floor lay the cocooned corpses of captives that had displeased their master. Inch long maggots swarmed their bodies, burying deep into the rotten flesh as they devoured the remnants. It took all of her strength not to vomit all over The Collector's tail. Any little thing she did could send him completely over the edge.

Finally the serpent reached a room at the end of a long trail of twisting corridors. Once Pidge had entered the small opening (quite bruised and bleeding, if she could add), the cavern gave a low rumble, but Slick seemed to pay little notice to it. He carried her across the moss covered chamber until the two reached a five foot tall transparent chamber in the shape of a cube. Beneath it were several glowing pieces of metal, topped with six different burners.

Pidge froze up. It's a torture device, she realized as her skin turned white. He really meant it when he said that he was going to torture me.

The serpent dropped her to the floor, surrounding her before she could even think of trying to escape. "Ssslick like to know how much heat certain alien races can withstand," he explained. "Normally he uses specific injections to get the information he needs, but for special prisoners like you, Little Pidge, he takes a more violent approach." The tip of his tail lifted up her chin so that she was forced to look into his twisted googly eyes.

He opened the lid of the glass container, his tail winding around her small form, before he dropped her inside. She fell on her side with a wince, the hard impact leaving her with a sharp pain along her arm.

I must have broken it, she realized, pulling herself to her knees. She was careful with her movements so as to not injure her arm even more. Already it was splotched with purple, and a bump lied where the bone was pushing through. The sight made her gag.

Just another addition to the list of horrible things I've seen today, she thought, her head bombarded with gruesome images she would never be able to erase.

Slick closed the lid above her with a click that resounded through the cage. Pidge slammed her fist against the transparent wall, although the force caused her limp arm to swing too quickly. She recoiled with a cry. Pidge clutched her broken arm comfortingly, cautiously as to not press too hard and hurt herself further. As she pulled back, her foot slipped on the smoothe flooring and she fell. This time she screamed.

"Ssslick finds you humorous, Little Pidge." While she could clearly hear his words, his voice was slightly muffled from behind the barrier. His appearance was malformed by the wall as well, coming across as blurred, like splattered paint. "Ssslick will make sssure that you do not die from this experiment. Little Pidge is too much fun to kill off! Although…" His eyes flickered with something dark, "He can assure you that you will not escape unscathed."


The ground gave a slight jolt, causing Pidge to slide across her cage. This time Slick did look up, blinking with an air of unease. I didn't imagine it. She observed her captor as his tongues scented the air. The ground is growing more and more unstable, and he knows it.

"What's that?" She forced out, fighting through her pain. She knew better than to blurt out her questions in the face of the deranged serpent, a lesson she had learned very well, but her lust for curiosity mixed with her fear got the better of her. For a moment she worried that she had insulted the beast, but he seemed far from furious.

"It's nothing," he replied, much quieter than usual. He turned back to her, his eyes blank. "Sssslick has grown familiar with the cracks on BrokenShell's exterior." He must have shaken away his wariness, as he grinned. "As time passes, you will grow familiar to them, too."

Pidge wasn't so sure. I saw the look on his face, she mused, blinking as he slid over to a box in the wall that appeared to be the controls. These tremors aren't natural. Maybe the cracking planet is finally starting to break apart. The prospect sent a tremble down her spine. Maybe Slick will die, who knows? But so will the prisoners that are still alive, and myself…

The tap of Slick's appendage on the container reminded her of her predicament. "Cherish your old life, Slick's Pretty Pidge," the serpent advised with a chuckle. "After this, Slick will ensure that it is gone forever." He moved toward the controls, reaching toward the level with a malignant grin when-

The ceiling collapsed.

At first it was only a single large chunk of rock. Slick barely had time to even look up before a sharp edge slammed into his head, sharp enough to manage to break through his scaled skin and hard enough to crack open his skull. He fell backward onto the cold stone, uncovered just enough for Pidge to see his blank eyes, before he was fully submerged in falling rocks.

Pidge shrieked when a stone hit the lid of her cage. The barrier was strong enough to survive one hit, but not for white lines to spread out on the sight of the impact and for the glass to cave in slightly. A few more powerful hits and it would shatter, leaving her fully exposed and facing Slick's very same demise.

The ground beneath the compartment split in two. The cage rocked on uneven ground, sliding as the deep slice began to spread and spread. She leaped into the wall with all her might, desperate for escape, but she managed to create not even a scratch.

Another hit to the lid. This time shards of glass rained down on her, painful little spikes that nicked her skin and drew little trails of blood. One more impact and she would surely die. Just one more, and the Green Paladin of Voltron would be no more.

Something stabbed through the ceiling on the other side of the room, sharp metal that cut through the rocks like scissors on a sheet of paper. Another claw moved in, this one burying itself in the other side of the crack. The two sharp appendages began to pry at the opening, releasing rays of light into the dark abyss. A roar came from above, a roar easily recognisable to the pilot of the Green Lion.

Pidge couldn't believe it.

They had found her.

The Yellow Lion's head emerged from the rubble, the opened mouth and the bright blue light it emitted just barely visible from underneath the cascade of falling rocks. The enormous vehicle swung its snout around, searching for something.

Searching for her.

"I'm over here!" She called as loud as she could. "Hunk! I'm over here! Help!" The blue light was on her in a flash, so bright that she was forced to squint. A silhouette stood in the gaping mouth, tall and dangly, and wielding a long gun.

"Pidge!" Lance called. The gun fired at her glass cage, shattering the flank facing him. Pidge stepped to get out, when suddenly a large rock from above smashed through the container, knocked her to the ground and crushed her leg. She shrieked, arms flying back, as the ground beneath her tore open, and she was falling.

The world around the Green Paladin was as dark as night. It felt like she was entering an eternal abyss with no bottom, her body being dragged farther and farther from the sparkling light from above. Her wounded arm and leg left her unbalanced and constantly twisting in the dark, and as much as she flailed she could not right herself.

I'm going to die, she realized, tears flecked in the corners of her eyes. I'm going to hit the ground and my bones will shatter beyond repair. And even, by the most unlikely chance, if I did survive, I wouldn't be able to prevent some sort of permanent paralysis. I didn't listen, I went too far.

She shut her eyes, prepared for the pain sure to spread through her bones, right before she died.

I'm sorry.

Just before her body could smash onto the hard rock, the Yellow Lion's maw snapped around her body. She tumbled onto metal, her blood staining the floor, before she hit the side and stopped rolling. She began to pant heavily. The pain, the horror, the guilt, they were all too much to bear.

"Pidge!" Both Lance's voice and Hunk's over the speaker cried out at the same moment. A form, likely Lance but her vision was too dark to tell, grabbed her and lifted her into his arms.

"Woah, Pidge!" He exclaimed, examining her horribly twisted leg and bent arm. "Hold on! We're going to get you back to the Castle and get you healed up. Don't worry! We've got you, buddy!" He began to run up to the cockpit, where Hunk watched in absolute panic. "Hunk! Send a message to Allura! They need to come down and pick us up, quick!"

More words were said, but Pidge slipped out of consciousness before she could hear them.