Hordak shifted through the ruins of his lab, not cleaning- he’d get a subordinate to do that later maybe. Not looking for anything, not even thinking.
He just felt numb.
Entrapta was gone. Probably back to bright moon, since her own land was under his control.
Something didn't feel right.
Of course something didn’t feel right. She was gone. In the presence of pure, devastating heartbreak could he now admit to himself what he’d been avoiding all this time.
I love her.
It wasn’t even past tense. He still loved her- he hated himself for saying it, but he did. But she had betrayed him-
Something inside him stirred. Something was wrong.
He pushed some debris out of the way, and a pile of metal whirred and beeped at him. He stepped back, tense, then relaxed as Emily rose from the rubble.
“Oh. It’s you. She left you here too?”
Emily whirred. He didn’t speak Emily, but it didn’t sound like she was sad.
It hit him.
No. Entrapta wouldn’t have betrayed him. He knew this deep inside. That was the wrong thing. It made nov sense though. How else had the princesses gotten in. Why else was she gone!? All the evidence was there that proved Catra right.. but even in the face of evidence, he didn’t believe it.
Why would she leave Emily?
The door to his lab wooshed open, and one of his officers- Scorpia, entered.
“Sir, Catra told me to come and start clearing the mess out for you.”
His mind felt sluggish. Was this the heartbreak? Had he been injured when the portal was destroyed? Was it shock?
“No.” He said softly in a voice that didn’t sound like him. He straightened up and took a breath, “No.” he forced some ice into his voice. “ I’ll go through this myself to see if there’s anything of value left.”
“I understand sir… you’d like to do that alone?”
There was a long moment of silence when Scorpia said nothing. Was she waiting to be dismissed?
“Uh.. sir? I think I have information you should know.”
“Well, it’s complicated. You see-“
She didn’t finish. Someone ran in and gave a quick Salute.
“Kyle, what’s wrong?” Scorpia asked.
“Hordak sir! You’d best come quick! Another portal opened nearby, and there’s ships coming out of it”
Hordak turned slowly and looked at him, still confused as his mind took this in.
The portal had been open for just a moment. Entrapta was successful.
And now Prime was here.
He had succeeded. Horde Prime had sent him to the front lines. He wound up on this nowhere of a planet, built an empire, and sent a message out so he could be found. He had persevered past all obstacles. He had succeeded. He was worth something. He didn’t care.
Entrapta had always thought he was worth something, even when he was at his weakest.
He felt sick.
But he had to work past that for the moment. He was used to working through pain. He hurried with Scorpia and Kyle to one of the communications rooms, where Catra was already watching the scene - a massive portal in the sky, with -oddly- only a handful of ships coming out of it. There were four sentry ships, each one piloted by another clone- Hordares, they would have been. They all had different names based on their position.
Except Hordak. That had been a jibe when he was sent to the front lines. Higher generals were allowed special names. He had once been Hoard Alpha. After his imperfections had been discovered, he had been stripped of that title, and was called Hord-ak. Flaw of the Hoard.
In the center of the four ships was a larger ship. Horde Prime was there.
“We should attack, sir.” Catra said, “before they can organize.”
“We want them to organize.” Hordak said flatly, “those are allies.”
He turned on his heel and started walking away, “Catra, turn on the signal lights on landing pad A. Go, and greet the man you exits that larger ship- Hoard Prime. “
Hordak left the room, allowing Catra to follow.
“The respect you treat me with, you must show to Horde Prime ten-fold. He will not tolerate impudence or lies.”
He realized that if she was still here, he’d not have tolerated Entrapta’s ways either.
Catra. Entrapta.lies. His mind was struggling.
“Sir…” Catra ran to get alongside him, “Who is Hoard Prime”
“He is ...the Emperor of the known Galaxy.” Hordak figured it would be best to leave off the rest of the information.
“Is he your- I mean, our emperor?”
“Yes- he is, effectively, the emperor of the Fright Zone. Once the rest of his army comes over, we will take over the planet, and he will rule the planet.”
“He’s going to stay?”
“Unlikely - he will assign someone to rule in his place.”
“Someone like yourself, sir.”
He let her believe that. In truth, his place would be at his side. His top general once more.
And thinking of this- he still did not care.
“Where should I bring him, sir?” Catra asked.
“Provided he doesn’t wish to see anything specific, the throne-room. He will sit on my throne- do not stop him.”
He thought he saw a glint in her eyes, but she was normally very keen- very sly. Maybe it was nothing.
He went back to his seldom used private chambers. He put on the badge he had not worn since he had been stranded here, and worked his disheveled hair back into place. He cleaned himself up as best as he could, but he was much degraded since Prime had last seen him. There wasn’t much he could do about that.
It wasn’t until he was opening the doors to what was formally his throne room to greet Hoard Prime that his mind pulled itself out of shock or injury and warned him.
He walked In, straight backed and as confident as he could be. Later, he planned to “question” Catra until she told him what really happened. He’d question the whole crew. He’d find out what really happened, and get Entrapta back.
Maybe the princesses had taken her, and she was in the prisons of Bright Moon. He didn’t know what their prisons were like, but he imagined a cramped, damp, awful place. Horde Prime would take over, he’d get Entrapta out, and he’d convince Horde Prime to let him bring Entrapta with him- her scientific mind was invaluable.
He had a plan again. He had hope. The world made sense.
It was with the confidence of a man on a mission that he approached the throne and knelt on one knee. He glanced to the side and saw a small collection of officers- probably the only ones available at the time, stood to the left of him. On the right stood Prime’s personal guard, masked helmets covering their features. Catra stood closest to the stairs at attention.
“Ahh. Little brother.” Horde Prime purred, “It’s been so long.”
Hordak stood up, and faced him properly. His face was entirely covered in the same bluish skin Hordak had, but a tad greener. He was taller, his hair longer, his eyes black and glittering. He of course still had his nose.
This had not started well. If he was pleased, he’d have called him “Horde Alpha.”
“This world has not been kind to you,” he said after quickly looking him over.
Hordak ignored the comment. “Horde Prime, sir-“ he hated the sound of “sir” on his tongue, but it was practically reflex, “I am glad you received my signal. I welcome you to the Fright Zone, and offer you all of its resources.”
“Indeed. Though I am surprised that you’re not offering me the entire planet. I’d have thought a backwater place like this would be a simple task, even for you.”
Hordak tensed his jaw. This wasn’t how this was supposed to go. He had done well! He had proven himself.
“Nevertheless- come up. Let me see you more closely.”
Hordak took the stairs without hesitation. Showing fear would make this worse. For the most part, Prime was brief, not one to take his time to get to the point.
But he loved to, as the term went, play with his food.
He stopped a few steps down from Prime, and watched carefully as his eyes flicked to Hordak’s face, hair, then from his feet up, lingering on the gem on this armor.
I just compliment the… craftsmanship of this armor, Hordak.” He said softly- though not softly enough that his voice didn’t ring through the hall. “But it’s not your work - not your… style.”
“Whoever built this then? One of your… captains, perhaps?”
“No sir. The scientist who crafted the item isn’t with us anymore.”
“No? I’d have thought you would strive to keep such talent around you.”
Behind him, he heard Catra speak up, “Sir, the one who made the armor was a Princess named Entrapta.”
Hordaks blood froze. If Prime was displeased with him, he’d keep Entrapta away from him out of spite. He might even kill her for fun.
“A Princess,” he mused. He stood up and walked closer to him, eyeing the armor, “Why did she leave, Hordak? Were you not the prince she hoped you’d be?”
He clenched his fists, but said nothing.
“She’s the one responsible for the invasion I told you about, sir.” Catra responded in his place.
There was a long moment of silence. Hordak looked carefully at Prime's face, looking for a hint of what he would do now. He had employed someone who - as far as Prime knew, had betrayed him. He had kept someone close to him who according to all logic, had betrayed him.
Prime laughed. A long, loud, hollow laugh that made Hordak shiver.
“Hordak, you stupid, stupid fool,” he finally said when his laughter stopped, “I don’t expect much of you, but I expected more than this.”
“You’ve done well, all things considered, but you’re still a broken clone. Your body is more degraded than it was before if you need that much armor. I was going to put you out of your misery quickly and quietly this time...but this hilarious display of your ineptitude deserves suffering.” He started laughing again.
“And just what’s so funny!” Hordak snapped. He figured maybe the certainty of his demise made him brave.
“What’s funny is that I’ve seen this language before, and I can read it.” He leaned forward and tapped on the gem on Hordak’s armor, “your little traitor pet wrote ‘loved’ on your armor.”
Hordak’s heart skipped a beat just before Prime grabbed the gem, and in a solid, fluid movement ripped it from Hordak’s armor.
He wanted to reach out and grab it, moreso now that he knew what the writing meant, but the power glitched in his armor. His body grew weak as he fell under the weight of the sturdy machinery Entrapta had made. He looked up at Prime, hoping to see something other than disgust on his face.
All he saw was Prime crushing the gem in his hand.
He fell to the floor with a gasp of pain as the breath was knocked out of him.
“Pathetic.” Prime hissed as he sat back into his throne. He let Hordak lie on the ground, pinned down by his own armor, gasping for the breath that was knocked out of him.
“Now then.” He said in that soft, echoing voice, “What to do with you”
“Sir! If I can make a suggestion.”
It was Scorpia this time. He didn’t take her for one to enjoy giving out punishments, but here she was.
“The punishment Hordak often used himself was to send a person to Beast Island. There’s no way off, and it’s filled with horrific monsters. If he was sent to die In the same way…”
“Oh.. I do like the Irony. Very well.” He looked down at Hordak, “you shall be sent, then, to Beast Island to die. With luck, you’ll be eaten by something better than you are… but more likely you’ll decay into the dirt.”
“I’ll take care of this!” Catra said quickly, stepping forward.
“No.” Prime ordered. He beckoned to Catra, “I want a word with you...Catra?”
“I’ll deal with this.” Scorpia said, walking over to Hordak. She hoisted him up, grabbing him by the neck of his broken armor, dragged him out of the throne room, allowing him to see the now indifference face of Horde Prime, the shocked face of his captains, and Catra’s very pleased expression before she turned to walk up to Prime.