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Out of the Frying Pan

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Catra zigzags, dodging a pair of unfolding nets with ease. She hops the third arrow only for it to strike the ground and explode into goo, splattering the fur of her tail. She spins. "WHAT."

"Sorry!" squeaks the archer. "They're really similar in weight to the nets!"

Catra stalks toward the woman, who attempts to hunker down in the face of that blazing glower despite being easily two heads taller. The seriousness is only slightly marred by her tail's compulsive twitching. "THAT'S THE BEST EXCUSE YOU'VE GOT FOR COVERING ME IN SLIME? WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN WHEN YOU'RE FACING AN ACTUAL HORDE SOLDIER WHO SHOULD BE TIED UP AND IS NOW SLIGHTLY STICKY INSTEAD?"

"It, um, could make them so mad they can't think straight."

"Really?!" Catra snarls, doing an amazing job of looming over someone taller, then laughs and claps her on the shoulder. "That's a great idea. Won't matter much to anybody armored, though, not like they'll feel it, or have to clean it off... but I have on good authority that the ventilation on the helmets isn't worth much. Bow! Can you make a skunk arrow? But one that we can get off our own people so I don't have to smell it all day?"

"That'd be tough," Bow calls back. "I can pass it on to Cordia, see if she has any ideas. Something short term that you just wait out would be a lot easier."

"But long term would be so demoralizing!"

"Uh," says someone else. "If the vents are bad, could something clog them?"

Catra's eyes sparkle and it's clear she's completely forgotten there's still goo all through the fur of her tail. "YES."

"They wouldn't choke?" Perfuma whispers to Adora, running her fingers anxiously through her long hair.

"No," Adora says with certainty. She's less comfortable with how she feels about that fact. "The helmets are clunky to get on and off, but releasing the seal is easy."

"Good." Perfuma smiles with relief, then looks abashed. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't… They're trying to kill you, and I know you're putting yourself into such danger."

Adora takes a moment, and then she admits slowly, "...No, I don't want them to die either. I don't know who's evil and who's just there because they don't know there's anywhere else to go or any other way to be. If I hadn't run into Glimmer and Bow, I'd still be there, and if Catra hadn't run into me that morning…" It's scary to know that if they hadn't met up then that Catra probably would've died a Horde soldier, because even if Adora knows Catra would've left in the end, she'd have so little time before Shadow Weaver or someone else got fed up with her. "I was trying so hard for a while to think that everyone but me had known. It was easier to believe they wanted to be there. But they don't. I don't know if anyone wants to be there at all."

She must not have done a very good job of keeping her voice under control because Perfuma hugs her. "I wish I could do more," Perfuma says.

"Don't! You're - fixing the trees is so important. It's invaluable. She-Ra can defend what's still here, she can keep it from getting worse, but she can't get back what was lost. You'll be in the stories this time, Perfuma Healed the Wastelands and Brought the Forest Back. And if…" Adora swallows. "...I hope the Whispering Woods can grow right to their walls, and every time someone has second thoughts they only have to take a step to leave. I hope one day all that'll be left for She-Ra to fight are people who chose it."

Something heavy drops onto her shoulders and then Adora feels a wet goopiness down her side. "I," Catra announces as she wipes her tail on Adora's clothing, "hope that the next day we storm the place, gut Shadow Weaver, stick Hordak's head on a pike, and turn it into a temple to training people not to wait around on princesses. No offense."

Adora drops backward, trying to pin Catra to the ground, but she wiggles loose before Adora can get enough force.

"Too slow!" She darts away.

"Get back here!" Adora shouts, giving chase.