Ok but listen
One of the Paladins, probably Hunk, got off earth with his wallet in his pocket.
He doesn’t think a thing of it; earth cash is worthless in space
A few weeks into life flying through the galaxy in a castle ship finds him sitting around feeling really comfortable and realizing he needs a simple task done. Maybe he left the oven on. Maybe he forgot the Thing he was working on in another room and needed it in this room. Maybe he was thirsty and wanted a drink.
Point is, he didn’t wanna get up
So he kinda side eyes Lance
“Hey Lance, do the thing for me.”
“Dude no. Do it yourself.”
A lightbulb pops up in Hunks mind: “I’ll pay you” he says
Lance perks up: “how much we talkin’?”
Consideration: “five dollars”
Negotiation: “make it ten.”
Refutation: “dude I bet I could get Keith to do it for three.”
Keith shrugs. Hunk translates that to “I probably wouldn’t actually, but I want to see where this goes” or possibly “I heard my name and this is probably an appropriate acknowledgement of that, but I haven’t actually been paying attention.”
Surrender: “fine. Five.” Lance goes and does the task, and comes back, “pay up, Hunk.”
Hunk roots through his wallet.
“You got change for a ten?”
“Well… Tens are all I’ve got… So… I guess I’ll give you one and you’ll owe me a five-dollar-favor?”
“Yeah sure. Sounds fair enough.”
Lance leaves the room, satisfied, just in time for hunk to break out laughing. Hard enough that the rest of team Voltron is Concerned (is this an existential crisis? Hmmm. No, not yet). Breathless, hysterical. In subsides after a time.
“You… Realize earth money is worthless in space, right?” Keith asks
Hunk starts laughing again, but nods. He just gave Lance a worthless piece of paper with a number on it in return for two favors. And it’s Priceless
(If we’re being honest, the favors were actually worth like, maybe two dollars each, but who cares? A favor is a favor, and earth cash is utterly useless anywhere but planet earth, what else is he gonna spend it on?)
But wait this definitely continues. Lance keeps doing tasks for worthless money.
Eventually Lance tries bribing Hunk back. And y'know what? Hunk was running low on cash, and it’d be good to have some in reserve, just in case he’s feeling especially lazy and wants to bribe Lance. So Hunk accepts. He gets ten dollars back (he managed to wrangle it so that it was ten dollars for a six-dollar-task especially well-done, so the ten is all his)
And it’s funny, it’s kinda fun, and it works. Lance does tasks for money, hunk does tasks for money to give to Lance to do tasks (you probably see where this is going)
Suddenly one day, the other Paladins realize how well it’s working and yknow what? They. Want. In.
Hunk started it all out with oh, about thirty dollars; a ten, a twenty, and about 63 cents. Lance had four ones. Pidge brings in two tens, three fives, and seven quarters. Keith adds about 5 dollars in loose change that he won’t admit to why he has.
Shiro didn’t have anything to add bc he spent the last year as a space prisoner, and Allura and Coran aren’t from earth and don’t use the same currency
It starts tame. Lance was bartering for a task to be worth a full ten. Keith pops up and says he’ll do it for five. Lance says fuck that, he’ll do it for four. Keith says $2.50, Lance says $2, Keith deliberates for a minute but says $1.25, Lance gets on his knees and begs to do it for $1. Keith surrenders the bid. Lance fistpumps and almost shouts about winning (who am I kidding. He definitely shouted) he sprints out of the room to do the task.
Keith high-fives Hunk. Hunk returns it, with a sense of foreboding
(Keith doesn’t really participate, except to bait Lance into doing a task cheap)
Shiro did not have any money to start. He rectifies this by quickly earning Hunks twenty and one of Pidge’s tens. Keith bribes him with three pounds of loose change for something else, something secret. He accepts the bribe. He now has $35. He spends it wisely. Responsibly. And definitely does not use the twenty to convince Lance to shut up for one 24 hour period. (He actually doesn’t! They decide that one dollar for one hour of silence is a perfectly acceptable wage. He buys 20 hours of silence. The other 4 are wasted to sleep. It’s kind of hilarious watching Lance try to charade his way through the day. After that, that’s usually what the twenty gets spent on)
Pidge does a fairly similar thing to Hunk, but quickly becomes known for being a ruthless haggler. She will get what she wants out of this five dollar bill or else. The Paladins fear her. But they obey.
Allura and Coran don’t really get it. But them not getting it has very different results. Allura simply does not participate
Coran… Thinks that Earth Money looks cool, and starts collecting it.
“Hey Coran, I’ll give you a ten if you do this task”
“Hmmm no, I already have one of those… Ooh! Do you have one of the small brown circular ones? I don’t have any of those yet!”
One day he gets ahold of the ever coveted twenty
That day is… Eventful.
All five Paladins crowd around Coran, offering to do anything for that twenty dollar bill. Literally anything.
Hunk breaks first, surprisingly.
This all started with a worthless ten dollar bill and a subtle prank on Lance. After all, earth money is worthless in space.
In some ass-backward way, his spending-money-because-what-the-hell-it’s-already-worthless has… Made a booming economy, right here in the castle.
A booming economy of about $75.38
Objectively, that total number is not enough to buy a robot. But here Pidge is, offering to build Coran a robot, not even for the seventy-five, but for one single twenty
The money was worthless, but now it is not because he started using it because it was worthless. Causality is confusing and terrifying. Hunk considers having that existential crisis. The money was worthless and now it is not, because he assigned it worth
He wanders off and flops down beside Allura. Her shoulders are shaking slightly. She is laughing.
He turns to the Paladins.
Keith is egging Lance on again, so far Lance has offered to not speak again for a week, no two weeks now. It seems Keith is aiming for one full month of silence.
Pidge is upping the numbers of promised bells and whistles for the bot. So far Hunk is starting to wonder, if Pidge even builds it, if it will replace Coran outright.
Shiro seems to have accepted that he will not win the twenty, so now he is managing the others offers: “no Pidge, the bot may not automatically fire death lasers, we don’t want any accidents. Make it manual control.” “Lance, three weeks of not saying anything at all is a bit excessive. Be reasonable, three weeks no speaking except from a word bank the rest of us choose of no more than 100 words (and except on missions)”
Meanwhile Coran doesn’t really care for a cool robot so much nor for Lance’s silence. He does rather like this “twenty dollar bill” though, because it completes his collection
Keith gets Lance to agree to one full month of silence, except for no more than 100 words from a word bank the others will decide on for $20.
Keith whips out a twenty dollar bill that he’d had in his back pocket all this time and slaps it into Lance’s hand.
Everyone loses their shit.
(Lance’s word bank includes a few useful words like “me,” “you,” everyone in the castle’s names, “space,” “fuck,” “please,” and “thanks” as well as a few out-there but useful ones, like “apologies,” “affirmative,” “negation,” “assemble,” “post,” “prior,” “cerulean,” “vermillion,” “chartreuse” “midnight,” “golden,” “rainbow,” (bc you know, lion colors) and the like. The rest were fairly nonsense, and a few of which were memes; “smorgasbord,” “brouhaha,” “Simba,” (actually, most names from the lion king) “Pepe,” “loss,” “Beyoncé,” and so on.
One memorable day (more like meme-orable day tbh) they got the quote “post smorgasbord, me, you [gesturing at all other paladins], assemble rainbow Simba. Fuck Space Voldemort’s vulnerability”
Translated roughly; “hey guys, after breakfast lets form Voltron and hit Zarkon where it hurts!”
They never do completely stop calling Voltron Rainbow Simba. Like you think it dies down, then suddenly it’s back, like it never left.
Also “yeah man! Fuck space Voldemort’s vulnerability!”)
It’s one of Keith’s favorite things he’s ever done