Part 2b: The New Evil

The black and purple plumes of smoke mysteriously did not spread and thin out, but continued to encircle Ruben and the pyre. Ruben was amazed that he was not being suffocated by the smoke. Instead, as the black smoke surrounded him and the purple smoked began to glow as it seemingly seeped through his pores into his body, he felt invigorated, and stronger than he had ever felt in his entire life.

Then, two large pillars of purple smoke began to form. Ruben stood in shock as two figures began to form from the pillars. One was Lotor! And at his side, the witch Hagar also appeared!

“Ruben…for so long I had hoped that when we met again I would still be alive.” the spirit of Lotor said.

“Do not fear us. We are here in this place not to take you with us, but rather to give you something to take with you.”

Hagar began to speak: “For many years, King Zarkon, as well as his son Lotor made it their life mission to conquer all of the known universe. Arus and its surrounding planets would have been the final jewel in their crown. But alas, all their efforts were in vain, thanks to the mighty Voltron. When at first we could not defeat him with might, I began to study the dark arts of sorcery and the books of death, trying to find a curse that would eliminate Voltron from existence. But even that could not completely destroy the mighty warrior, for within him exists the powers of the core elements of life, light, and justice. My curse merely split Voltron into the five robot lions that formed him. After this, the lions fell back to planet Arus, and came to rest in various portions of the planet. When we thought Voltron was out of the way, we once again pressed our assault on Arus. But then those wretched space explorers found their way to Arus, and unlocked the secrets to reactivating Voltron. Over time, my sorcery grew stronger, but the mystic powers that surround Voltron seemed to become stronger as well. I realized that what took generations to create would also take generations to destroy. I began to study the books of immortality, not so that I myself would live forever, but to find a way for my life essence and the powers and knowledge I had gained to be passed on for generations to come and be built upon.

Lotor spoke again: “Her studies and the spell she cast upon herself created the substance we now know as Hagarium. When that fool Maahox discovered it, he had no idea of its full potential. He was too afraid to use it on himself, so he brought me back from the dead and used me as one of his lab rats. He learned about much of its power, but he was too obsessed with destroying Voltron to learn everything it is capable of…as was I.”

Hagar spoke again: “Lotor’s mind and soul have now joined this ‘Hagarium collective’, if you will. We now pass this collective on to you, young Ruben. Take my advice, do not mindlessly rush after revenge. Learn the power of Hagarium. Build your strategy and your forces. The power you now possess will bring not only Voltron, but the entire universe to its knees once you learn to control it.”

Lotor added one more bit of advice: “There are others that have experienced the power of Hagarium first hand…seek them out. As you learn to control your power, it will draw you to them.”

“We leave you now. Go and finish the job that we could not. Destroy Voltron, and then claim the universe as your prize!”

Ruben watched as the spirits of Lotor and Hagar faded away, then stood in deep thought as the remainder of Lotor’s body and the funeral pyre are consumed by the flame.

…While on planet Arus, another young man tosses and turns in a tormented sleep as he feels the heat of those very same flames…

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Part 2a: Farewell, Lotor

The crew of the Stellar Queen, at the command of General Shrike, worked quickly to assemble an honor guard and funeral detail to assist Ruben in conducting a proper funeral for his former mentor. While a million thoughts ran through his mind, he was startled by the commander of the funeral detail.

“Ruben, sir, do you have any specific requests as to how this service is carried out?”

“It has long been a Drule tradition that any Drule lord dies in battle – provided there is enough of him left to carry out a funeral – his body is to be burned with honor on a funeral pyre. It is believed that when this is done, those he has left behind can breathe in his fighting spirit, and have the strength to carry on in their own battles.”

“Very well, sir. All should be ready within the hour.”

An hour passed, and as promised, all was in readiness. A team of six pallbearers swaddled Lotor’s body and placed it on a makeshift gurney. The funeral detail and honor guard stood at attention as the pallbearers carried the body to a funeral pyre built from any nearby flammable materials the crew could find as well as some wood stored onboard the Stellar Queen. The pallbearers placed Lotor’s body on top of the pyre and stepped away as General Shrike stepped forward to speak.

“On this day, we commit to the afterlife a man whose name alone struck fear in the souls of countless millions of people, as he set out to conquer their planets and steal their spoils. In many cases, it seemed that we ourselves were in a race to see how many planets we could pillage before Lotor could reach them. As this race led us in different directions, it appears that he finally came to one solar system he could not conquer, and finally fell to his greatest adversary. We will capitalize on this in due time, but let us take this moment to pay respect to Lotor.”

Shrike stepped back into his previous position in the funeral detail. Then Ruben picked up the torch that would soon set his former mentor and father-figure aflame and stepped forward. He began to speak softly, as if to speak to Lotor privately before the proceedings continued.

“Lotor, my lord, I promise you that as long as there is a breath of life within me, I will not stop until I have my revenge on Voltron.”

Ruben then turned and faced the funeral detail.

“Great spirits of the afterlife, into your custody and your judgment we commit the soul of Lotor.” Ruben turned and faced the body of Lotor again. “Lotor, may your fighting spirit rise from these flames, and indwell all those in witness this day.”

Ruben lowered his head and fought back tears as he threw the torch onto the funeral pyre. As it began to catch fire, the honor guard fired a 21-gun salute.

Suddenly, the entire funeral pyre exploded into flame, and as black smoke surrounded the immediate area, a stream of purple smoke began to rise and swirl over Ruben’s head. Everyone in the funeral detail gasped and ducked their heads as they had never seen anything like this before.

“Everyone back to the ship at once!” Shrike barked. As the crew fled the scene and began to board the Queen, another officer looked back at the smoke and flame and yelled to Shrike, “What about Ruben?”

“If he is fool enough to just stand there and be consumed by all that smoke, then let him perish!”

Prologue: Part 1

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Prologue: Part 1

In the farthest regions of the Great Dark Nebula, the stillness of space is disturbed by a vessel never before seen in this galaxy. Exceptionally large, its outer shell retains some of the beauty of its glory days as a luxury space liner; but a closer look reveals frighteningly ugly details of the flying fortress/warship it has become. Large lazer cannons designed to retract into the deceptively sleek outer shell of the ship adorn the sides, while the entire bottom portion, which once contained the cabins that housed the passengers on their journeys, has been converted into hangars that house an armada of space fighters, and barracks for the flight crew. The main decks have become the headquarters of a crew that started out as a meager crew of space pirates, that has grown into a villainous army whose conquests are rivaled only by the glory days of King Zarkon and the Drule Empire.

This is the STELLAR QUEEN, and its commanding officer, General Satanus Shrike, has made himself an appointment to propose an alliance with his sole rival.

"General Shrike, we are approaching Planet Doom," calls the Queen's helmsman.

"Very well. Maintain course and speed," Shrike replies.

A call from the Queens's science lab comes over the bridge's intercom: "General, our sensors indicate that this planet contains traces of that strange element we found in the nearby quazar."

"I see. So what has come of your research of this element?"

"It seems to be a rare form of dark energy, very similar to the anti-matter that now powers our main engine. I belive it will be a compatible substitute, which is fortunate, seeing as it has become quite a tedious process to create more anti-matter ourselves."

General Shrike ponders over their new discovery. "Interesting...yet another spoil we can plunder from that fool Zarkon when our 'alliance' has prospered to my satisfaction."

The helmsman speaks up again: "We are now just outside of Doom's orbit, general."

"Good. Open a hailing frequency to Castle Doom."

"Hailing frequency is open, sir, but there is no sign of Castle Doom. In fact, the entire planet appears to be nothing but wasteland now."

"Impossible...Who could have destroyed the mighty Castle Doom? Put the visual on the main screen."

As the crew manning the controls switches the visuals of the planet surface to the main screen, the helmsman adds, "It doesn't appear as if the castle was destroyed at all. It looks like it has been...uprooted."

"And Zarkon?"

"we are only detecting two persons on the entire planet surface, sir. Neither of them are King Zarkon, and one of them is dead."

Shrike is intrigued. "Zoom in."

A closer look reveals a dead body that is familiar to the General, and at his side, a young man weeping, like a son weeping for his dead father.

Shrike can hardly believe what he is seeing. "That is Zarkon's son, Lotor. Who could have done this? Who could have taken down Zarkon, his son, and possibly the entire Drule Empire? Helm, take us down at once...I must know more."

The crew brings the Stellar Queen into Planet Doom's orbit, bringing it to a stop over the former location of Castle Doom, and drops both of her starboard anchors into the planet's soil.

Shrike calls the Queen's flight deck: "Prepare my cruiser, I'm going down to the surface."

The flight crew commander replies, "How many will accompany you sir?"

"I'm going alone...surely one boy and a dead Drule lord are no threat."

Shrike flies his space cruiser to the surface to survey the scene, still in disbelief over what he has observed. As he lands, the young man weeping over Lotor's lifeless body jumps to his feet, placing right hand over the holster of the lazer blaster that has been his only defense in the days of his self-proposed exile.

"Who are you? What are you doing here?" The young man shouts. He is ready to give his life to merely prevent anyone from further desecrating the body of his late mentor.

"I mean no harm." Shrike pulls back his uniform coat to reveal that he is unarmed. "My name is General Satanus Shrike, and this is my flagship, the Stellar Queen. My original purpose for coming here was to propose an alliance with King Zarkon and the Drules. My army has easily plundered much of the nearby universe for years, but as the Galaxy Alliance has grown stronger, they have become a considerable thorn in my flesh. I was certain that with our combined forces, we could eliminate the Alliance, then fight over the spoils if we must. You must tell me boy, who could have possibly laid waste to everything that Zarkon had built, and left his son to die?"

The young man clenched his fists, trying to stifle the rage that courses through his body everytime one name runs across his mind...

"Voltron."

Shrike's curiosity is roused even further. In all his conquests, Voltron is a name he has not yet heard.

"And who is this Voltron you speak of?"

"Voltron, the mighty defender of the universe," the young man says mockingly. "For years, my lord and my mentor, Lotor, along with his father Zarkon and the mighty Drule Empire conquered numerous planets and plundered..."

Shrike interrupts, "Yes, yes, I'm very familiar with Zarkon's conquests...tell me about Voltron."

Voltron is a legendary robotic warrior from the planet Arus composed of five robot lions. They are piloted by a team of space explorers from Earth. Each lion is formidable in its own right, but when combined into the mighty Voltron, they are phenomenally stronger. Zarkon's had his sorceror, Hagar, take the strongest of his slave gladiators and turn them into monsterous creatures he called Robeasts, and tried relentlessly to destroy Voltron and claim Arus as his own. But time after time, Voltron prevailed. I was once one of Zarkon's slaves, but after hearing of my origins as a scientist, I found favor with Lotor and he took me under his wing. But in one of the final Drule battles, my lord was..." The young man struggles with emotion as he tries to say the word... "killed, along with Hagar, and the original Castle Doom was destroyed. After that, I fled, thinking there was no more hope for us. But when I heard Lotor had been brought back from the dead and the castle had been rebuilt, I made plans to return and offer my help to Lotor once more. By the time I arrived though...I was too late."

Shrike is more intrigued than ever. "How pray tell was he brought back from the dead?"

"The only thing I heard from anyone is the word 'haggarium'. I could only imagine that it has something to do with that sorceror."

"This HAS to be that strange dark energy we discovered," Shrike thought to himself. "Perhaps there is more to this 'haggarium' than we currently know."

Shrike returns his attention to the young man who has shared this amazing story with him. "Tell me, young man...What is your name?"

"Ruben...Ruben Dread."

"Ruben, you fascinating young man, would you be interested in joining me? My ship is in need of an Executive officer, and your knowledge would be extremely beneficial. Perhaps together, we can destroy Voltron and eliminate the Galaxy Alliance once and for all."

Ruben stared up into space, deep in thought. In just a few fateful moments he has gone from his world seemingly being pulled out from under him to suddenly being given an opportunity to build a new world for himself. A world of fame and power. A world under his control. And most importantly for him, a world without Voltron.

Finally Ruben said, "I will join you. Do whatever you want with the Alliance...i'm only interested in Voltron...and revenge!"

"Fair enough," Shrike tells him. "Give me a moment to contact my ship. The least I can do for you is provide the means to give Lotor a proper burial.