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Echoes Leading to You

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The Rebellion has successfuly protected another territory, and for once since Prime's invasion, there's a rare lull in the fighting. 

Scorpia looks up at that brightly lit sky, taking a deep breath of the crisp night air. Push down doubts and insecurities...che-

 

' But of course you ruined it....You're Scorpia. That's just what you do! How can you  possibly be this useless?!  '

 

Scorpia's easy smile falters a bit. Her daily routine has proven more challenging ever since she lied to Catra.. Scorpia lost count of how many papers she threw away before leaving that note to Catra. Maybe her words had been too harsh. Catra hadn't been thinking clearly...She was tired and didn't know what she- Catra knew what she was saying. As much as Scorpia wanted to give her wildcat the benefit of the doubt, those words, and the sting that still remains, are clear as day. Other people would be able to cut friends out. Not her. She's loyal, maybe to a fault, but it's who she is. Wherever you're at, wildcat, I hope you're safe and happier. I guess I couldn't break down your walls after all.

 

Perfuma exits her tent, mind preoccupied with thoughts of her people, as well as Bow, Glimmer, Entrapta, and Adora. She feels that knot of unease form in her shoulders. Nothing a little night time meditation can't cure! She walks out to the quiet clearing, noticing that towering form of the Scorpion Princess. A rare falter in that easy smile makes Perfuma stop.  "Scorpia, mind if I join you?" 

 

Scorpia's head turns, caught off guard by the voice. "Oh, Perfuma," she says, an uneasy smile gracing her features. "Sure you can." 

 

"You wouldn't believe we're in the middle of a war with a sky like this." Perfuma sighs contentedly as she takes a seat next to Scorpia. They sit there, looking up at the stars in silence. "I didn't spend much time with She-R-, I mean, Adora, before they all left," she says, tone regretful. "I know you said you were here to learn how to be a better friend and mentioned Catra..."

 

'We are not friends!' 

 

Scorpia pauses, putting her pincers together nervously. "Wildc- Catra and I aren't friends...and I wasn't as close to Kyle, Rogelio or Lonnie." She knows they care. Lonnie had even said she was one of them before letting her and Glimmer walk through the Fright Zone unhindered. 

 

Perfuma notices the defensive gesture. I know she said Catra wasn't being a good friend to her but I didn't think it'd mean that was enough to end the friendship. "Sometimes it helps to talk about it...Whatever happened, that is," she says quietly, offering a slight encouraging smile.

 

"I know...it's just-" Scorpia takes a deep breath. "I did so much for Catra. Everything she asked me to, except destroying Emily to get the recordings. But it was never enough for her."

 

Perfuma rests her palm on Scorpia's pincer. "You know that friends would actually show their appreciation for making an effort, whether you suceeded or not, right?"

 

Scorpia's head turns toward Perfuma, contemplating her words. "I mean Catra did thank me...once, but afterward, because of all the pressure, she was just...mean."

 

"No one deserves to be treated that way, Scorpia. Not everyone is like that." Perfuma smiles softly up at her. "Someone like you who gives so much should also be given more in return. Every relationship is about giving *and* taking. Not just one or the other." Perfuma squeezes Scorpia's pincer in soothing encouragement. 

 

"You know, I think you're right, Perfuma." Scorpia returns Perfuma's smile with a warm one of her own. "I really needed that. Thanks."

 

A small giggle bubbles from Perfuma's lips and the two of them stargaze until those stars disappear in the daylight.

 

Catra's every waking moment is marked by that constant whisper of their voices, while every night is filled with those horrendous flashes. Beckoning Catra back to that dreaded, acrid, pool, those pods lining it, a testament to her imprisonment. 

 

"Little sister...Return to the Light"

 

Hearing Prime's voice wakes her, sending a scream that threatens to rip her apart. Trying to make sense of the blurred world, she searches wildly for something to cool that aching burn permanently seared in her throat. There are bottles of water, along with unknown foods beside the bed. She downs two bottles, barely pausing between gulps. A small sigh leaves her at the cooling relief it brings. Sitting in this room by herself brings those buried feelings of lonliness crawling up her skin. There's no Scorpia. No Lonnie. No Kyle. No Rogelio. There is Adora...Sparkles and Arrow Boy. Catra pushes the thought down as soon as it appears, knowing she doesn't deserve to be around people she's wronged and almost killed. I should be treated like the war criminal I am, not a guest. Taking a few angry bites of some of the food, she leans her head against the wall, listening to that subtle whirling of the engine. It's almost enough to drown them out, but it isn't. 

 

Those suffocating voices steal every calm breath until she's panting with the effort of fighting their influence. Catra stares at her hands, willing her claws to extend, then retract. Finding a rhythm in the repetitiveness, she matches her uneven breathing to it. Extend. Breathe in. Retract. Breathe out. Despite the slow progression, it's a start to regaining one piece of control back from him. 

 

'Catra's...She's sleeping...just...not well'  Adora's words revolve around Glimmer's mind as she gets closer to the brig. The way her friend's brow has been furrowed for so long she's unsure if that crease will ever disappear. Glimmer knows there isn't much she or Bow can do for either of them. While Adora appears to be getting slightly better, Catra's recovery is questionable. Her hands trembled while making the tea. Only when the warm scent of chamomile and lavender wafted around her, did her hands cease their shaking and she felt calmer. Maybe it can have the same effect on Catra. Upon reaching the brig door, Glimmer's knuckles lightly knock on the metal, not wanting to startle her. 

 

At the sound of a tentative knock on the door, she coughs, wincing when the burning in her throat reignites. "What?" The way it comes out in a growl is more due to her own frustrations, rather than whoever is here. As if they could tell the difference.

 

Glimmer's eyes widen in shock, caught off guard by the response sounding so harsh and weak all at once. "Horde- The nickname automatically begins falling out before she catches herself. Glimmer clears her throat, inhaling that comforting aroma from the cup she holds. "Catra," she murmurs, tone free of any past hostility. "Mind letting me in so I can give you something?"

 

Why is she asking me as if I'm in charge? "It's not like I own the ship, Sparkles," she answers gruffly. Catra notes how gravely her voice sounds. On instinct, she attempts to wrap her tail around herself like before. Anything that might soothe the ache in her body and heart. The movement is a small twitch, nothing more. A growl of irritation wells up in her chest.

 

Glimmer represses the reaction to jump at the growl. "Right, sorry." Setting the cup down on a table with a clatter, she looks at Catra's slumped form. Tension radiates off of that increasingly frail body, framed by muscles pulled taut, as though in anticipation of a fight. 

 

Catra's ear scarcely twitches at the sound. What used to be a natural response, now feels unfamiliar It's like he still has ahold of me! A groan slips between her bared teeth.

 

"Catra?" Is she in pain?  Glimmer takes a step forward, arms at her sides. "What I brought is supposed to ease you into sleep." She waits for a reply, only to be met with silence. 

 

Catra's head lifts at those words. "Dreamless sleep?" The question is a whisper on her lips, one she dares not place too much hope in.

 

"No, b-" Seeing Catra's head drop hits like a stone on Glimmer's ribs while her heart beats hollowly against it. "But when we're back on Etheria, I'm sure we can craft a substance to fix that." 

 

"Sure," she scoffs, laughing dryly at the idea. Why am I surprised at that?! Nothing ever makes things better, not for her. 

 

Glimmer's fists clench at her sides. If I just had my magic, maybe I wouldn't feel so useless. "I-I know it's not much, but the tea should help," she adds calmly.  

 

 

She's powerless to prevent the sudden hitch in her breath. The way her heart rate elevates so fast it's dizzying. Her pulse roars in protest as a memory surfaces.  

 

Scorpia stands there, a cup balanced between her claws. 

 

Catra rests a hand on her forehead as she talks out loud." If I can pull this off, everything, everything will have been worth it." She turns back to Scorpia, focused on her mission. "Find me those recordings so I can finish this."

 

"Yes!" Scorpia replies with an enthusiastic smile. "Yes, I'll find them, I-I promise." She pauses, gaze passing from the cup in her hands, to Catra. "D-did you want any of the...tea?"

 

Catra frowns and stares at her.

 

"You know what, it's-it's not a big deal."

 

Snatching the drink from her claws, Catra downs the warm tea with a sigh, enjoying that momentary peace.  "What are you still doing here?"

 

Glimmer is frozen in place, her eyes catching the subtle bristling of Catra's tail. "Catra...you know we're here if you want to talk to us. Or Adora, if that's easier."

 

At Adora's name all Catra sees are those naively determined, hopeful eyes. Hearing the words Adora spoke in Prime's throne room. 'I am not leaving without you. It's gonna be okay.' How did she repay that show of kindness? Gouging her leg. That wasn't the worst injury though. Catra's claws still remember ripping into Adora's back. 'I am NOT giving up on you, Catra. Rage rises like lava in her veins. At Prime. At Glimmer. At Bow. At Adora. The most rage she saves is at herself for being so weak. Like always, she unleashes it in her words. "Well, I don't!"

 

Glimmer closes her eyes with a sigh. She backs out of the brig, gaze lingering on Catra until the door obscures her from view. For the third time since she was whisked away from Etheria, Glimmer wishes her teleportation powers were usable. That earlier confidence deflates as she retreats back to her own room.

 

Bow notices the sound of Glimmer's door shut loudly behind her. Guess it didn't go well. He ponders various things he could do to lift Catra's spirits. Upbeat, he strides forward, making his way toward the brig door. He smiles confidently as he knocks.

 

When she no longer hears footsteps, Catra takes a few more bites of food, forcing it down with huge gulps of water. Now that she feels full, Catra's attention returns to her tail. Move. Nothing. Come on... A shadow of movement. Was that real?  Redoubling her efforts, she draws a deep breath in only to have a rap on the door knock it right out. "I already told you, Sparkles-

 

"It's...," Bow hesitates, rubbing a hand on the back of his head. "It's Bow," he says with a nervous laugh. "So, I thought you might-"

 

Catra's hiss punctures the air. "Leave me alone!" She drags her claws along the sheet, not caring how much damage it does. Better the sheets than him... Instead of fading footfalls, everything is quiet. Gradually rising from the cot causes another growl of agitation to bubble up. The closer she gets to the less she's able to supress it. Even the wafting aroma of lavender and chamomile do little to quell the sound. Searching for the source, her eyes lock on that cup. Bringing her to that moment of what transpired after she lit into Scorpia about being useless.

 

"What?!" Catra looks at the silent Force Captain with eyes narrowed.

 

"You're a bad friend," replies Scorpia, her expression reflecting hurt and sadness before she leaves.

 

Everyone should leave...They're only worried because Adora cares. Unsure if her voice will break if she speaks, Catra grabs the cup, throwing it at the door with such force it shatters on impact.

 

Bow muffles a yelp with his hand, laying his forehead against the door. How can I help someone who doesn't want to be helped, despite how clear it is they're hurting?! He forces himself to turn away from the brig, sparing a few glances behind him before going to his room. 

 

Isolated once more, her traitorous mind summons the worst mistakes, starting from when Adora left. Triggering that wound of rejection and abandonment, slicing so deep into her scarred heart, she can barely breathe from the agony. Catra's heartbeat becomes as sporadic as her breathing. So many sensations crash into her relentlessly that her control slips from her grasp. It's too much, too fast. That tidal wave comprised of her own thoughts, feelings, and emotion buries her until she's drowning in it. When was the last time I didn't feel like this?  Dread forms at the answer. When I was connected to...the hive. Revulsion coils low in her stomach, twisting and curling her insides. Catra's throat which felt dry as a desert moments before is being overrun by saliva. Hastily, her feet find the floor as another stomach cramp causes her to sink where she stands. For once, those voices are silent. It allows a small measure of peace while using her claws to support those rebelious limbs as she crawls along the floor toward the bathroom. 

 

Ever since the rescue operation, Entrapta has been quietly keeping a log of Catra's condition. Last time Adora was sick, Bow mentioned her needing sleep. Remembering that, she's made sure to maintain distance during the recovery process and observation period. Walking with her assistant, she puts a finger to her lips as they approach the brig. "Catra, sick log, day..." she looks to Wrong Hordak for an answer. He holds up six fingers, then makes a zero with his other hand. "Day 60," Entrapta adds, sending a thankful smile his way. "According to Bow and Glimmer's input, food has been left, but rarely is consumed. Catra seems to be experiencing disrupted sleep cycles. However, Glimmer mentioned creating something to resolve the issue. Adora says- A thud, followed by a series of loud bangs and a cracking sound causes Entrapta to jump, nearing the doorway with heightened concern and interest.

 

Catra hardly registers the protest of the material when it cracks under her grip. A small sheen of sweat forms from the exertion while her body trembles violently as her stomach rids itself of what little food she's consumed. It sets a fire in her throat no amount of water can extinguish. 

 

"It does not have to be this way, poor child...You could be free of this pain again."  

 

Catra's eyes widen in horror as she looks up in alarm, seeing her own pale skin and wild heterochromatic eyes staring back. He's not here. She draws in a shaky breath, brushing her hair away from her face. 

 

Entrapta opens the door, noticing the holes in the floor. She looks over at Wrong Hordak, putting her hands out flat, so he knows to stay. Before Catra woke up, Adora mentioned it might not be a good idea for those two to interact at first, given the events on Prime's ship. Hearing Catra's distress, Wrong Hordak calls out. "What can I do to ease your suffering, little Sister?"

 

Adora is walking through the halls, somewhat aimlessly, eventually ending up near Catra's room. Her brows raise in surprise when she notices the door is open. Hope balloons in her chest. She's almost in front of the door, until two words cut like a knife, deflating that earlier elation. Little sister. A title which chills her blood before it heats to dangerous levels.  

 

Ears twitching at the title, those muscles tense as her body body goes ramrod straight while she inhales small hissing breaths. Catra's legs shake with such intensity, only that clawed iron grip on the sink prevents her from collapsing. Despite her effort, Catra can feel herself teetering over the edge, vision tunneling and blurring. 

 

Adora flies to the door. "Entrapta," she says hurriedly , looking from her to Wrong Hordak. "Why- why don't you both look at some schematics Bow's drawn up for his arrows?" It's less of a question and more of a demand. Hearing that title can't mean anything positive.

 

"Oh, Adora!" Entrapta exclaims excitedly, lowering her voice to a whisper when she realizes the volume might be disruptive. "I was just taking a few observations for-" She pauses at the edge in Adora's eyes and the forced smile accompanying that suggestion. "Wrong Hordak let's go see Bow." Entrapta wraps one of her ponytails around his waist and he lets himself get pulled from the room.

 

Adora sighs when they leave. She dare not discuss the issue yet, keenly aware of how advanced Catra's hearing is. She nears the bathroom, seeing Catra wobble before starting to collapse. Just like the dream... Running to her side, Adora's knees hit the floor, arms encircling that frail body before it reaches the ground. "I've got you, Catra." 

 

Catra braces herself for an impact that never happens. Instead, she's hovering, weightless. Her ears twitch at the sound of her name from a familiar voice, one that isn't Prime. "Flashes," she groans, whimpering at the pinpricks of pain raking along her temples.

 

Staggering to her feet, being careful not to jostle Catra's form too much, she nearly misses the word. Flashes?  She doesn't know what it could mean, just that it isn't good. "I'm not letting go," Adora murmurs comfortingly while she makes slow strides back to the cot. She's...paler than usual. Those dark circles stand out stark against the sickly palor. Another nightmare? The flashes? Or because of what Wrong Hordak said?  

Catra seems easier to carry than normal. Although Adora's recovered from the side effects of She-Ra's healing, lifting her shouldn't feel this different, enough to be noticable. Concern creases her brow at the implication. Mouth pulling into a grimace, she takes stock of the mostly uneaten food and copious bottles of water around the room. With delicate hands, Adora lowers Catra back onto the bed, tacticle in her retreat until it's disrupted by something crunching beneath her foot. She breathes a sigh of relief when Catra doesn't stir, and makes her way back to the hull. 

 

 

"Adora, you need to stop pacing," murmurs Bow, as he watches from the captains chair, hand tucked under his chin in concern. She's been doing that nonstop since waking up.

 

You'll put permanent marks in the ship if you keep it up," adds Glimmer, her teasing tone offset by the concerned look she sends Bow.

 

"When I moved her last...her body was lighter." she mutters, mostly to herself while continuing to pace. "You guys brought food to her and tried talking to her right?" Adora's voice rises as quickly as the churning anxiety in her chest. 

 

"I tried to, but.." Bow trails off, his expression darkening when he clenches his fist. 

 

'So, I thought you might-'

 

'Leave me alone!'  

 

"She didn't want to see me." Catra had screamed at him through the door. Despite her request, he stood there, only moving when something broke against it.

 

"Glimmer?" Adora's anxious gaze locks on hers, hands open to accept anything she has to give. 

 

"Catra...she let me in," she begins, lips forming into a thin line. "That was a start, but she wouldn't look at me..." Glimmer's gaze passes from Adora to Bow. "I-I left her that tea you both tried, since it could help her sleep."

 

'Catra...you know we're here if you want to talk to us. Or Adora, if that's easier.'

 

'Well, I don't! '

"I think that's what she threw at the door," she elaborates, giving Bow an apologetic smile. 

 

"I'm so sorry, Glimmer. Bow" Adora says softly as she looks at the pair. "Thanks for trying. I'll think of a plan." Adora clears her throat "Entrapta, any changes in your log?" 

 

"Not since...well..this morning," she replies with an awkward laugh, twirling those two hair strands together. "Sorry...again."

 

Adora bites back a groan, hand moving to her temples to calm the pounding ache there. Two steps forward and one step back. "I know Wrong Hordak was only trying to help," she says forcing air into her lungs. "Just don't let him call her that." Adora looks off to the doorway that leads to the brig. "Brother is fine...A bit weird," she admits, an awkward laugh spewing from her mouth. "But better than the...other one."

 

"Why would he call her that when sister would be more appropriate and correct?" Entrapta brings out her notepad, pen at the ready for Adora's response. 

 

Gaze hardening at the question, her head turns sharply at the question. "Because that's," she pauses, as the memory of Prime's voice surfaces. Clenching her knuckles to avoid hitting the ship, her knuckles turn white from the show of restraint. "That's what Prime called her." The phrase comes out much harsher than she intends it. 

 

 Entrapta has rarely seen Adora angry. Frustrated yes, but nothing this intense. She nods in understanding, not wanting to push the issue, or exacerbate that anger further. "I'll definitely let him know about the name thing, I promise."

 

The tension that built so quickly within her fades at Entrapta's words. Once she feels calmer, Adora goes back to her room, making a mental note of how many spare clothes she has. Catra probably needs a new set. So Adora waits and paces, walking past the brig door and opening it on multiple trips. One more walk around the permiter and then I'll go to the bridge. After passing the brig and finding no change, Adora returns to where the rest of her friends are. 

 

Glimmer is the first to speak, giving voice to the question on everyone's mind. "How's Catra?" She steps toward her friend, noting how nervous she appears to be. 

 

"Good, I think." Adora responds, rubbing her hands together anxiously. "I ju- I keep checking on her," she continues, lowering them to her sides. "But she's been sleeping for a while." On instinct, her gaze drifts in the direction of the brig. Adora's hands clasp together as she holds them in front of her chest. "Do you think I should check on her again?" 

 

Adora being concerned about Catra is as understandable as it is, well, adorable. Bow knows from his previous interaction with Catra, hovering over her might be the last thing she wants. "Adora, you should let her rest," he advises calmly. 

 

"Right. Right," she agrees, clasping her hands tight while the other two look on in worry. After a breath, she shrugs with her palms out. "But what if she needs something?"

 

Glimmer scowls at Adora in disapproval, while Bow stays silent beside her.

 

Disregarding that look in Glimmer's eyes, Adora turns on her heel. "I'm j-I'm just gonna go check on her," she says, pointing toward the door. 

 

Glimmer takes a few strides forward, blocking Adora's path, giving her a stern glare. After what happened last time? No! She needs rest. 

 

Adora holds her hands up in a placating gesture. "No, no no," she concedes, starting to turn around, eyes are focused on the look Glimmer's sending into her back. "You're right. You're right." Adora takes a few more steps away from the door with a smile. "Letting her rest," she finishes with a breathy, nervous laugh. Glimmer tries to lighten the mood, speaking energetically about surviving Prime, getting She-Ra back, and planning a celebratory meal. When Glimmer drags Wrong Hordak off, Adora knows Bow will be too busy steering Darla to stop her. "I'm gonna go check on Catra again!" Adora hurriedly runs after Glimmer and Wrong Hordak, ignoring Bow as he calls after her.

 

Prime looks at the screen, seeing the visual of that elusive ancient ship. A sinister smile spreads across his lips. In saving your Catra, you are leading your friends to destruction, Adora. Prime spreads his arms wide, laughing triumphantly. Imagine the look on their faces when they reach precious Etheria. 

 

Catra isn't sure how many times Adora has repeatedly opened the door to her room before walking away. Normally, she'd yell at her to leave if that burning in her throat hadn't made her voice hoarse. The disturbance has ironically woken her from numerous nightmares, while simultaneously bringing his voice to the forefront of her mind. She tosses and turns, beads of sweat falling down her face.

 

"Little sister."  Horde Prime stares down as Catra is once again standing in front of the acrid pool. "Catra," he taunts, watching while she sinks lower and lower, falling prey to that toxic current. 

 

Catra covers her ears, pressing down to bury Horde Prime in voice and memory until she's panting from the effort. Hissing hydraulics break what little concentration she's managed and her eyes pop open at the light. In her alarm, she bolts straight up, a scream bursting forth before it can be silenced. 

 

Once the door lifts, Adora's expecting Catra to be asleep, same as before. Instead, she's startled by a terrified scream. "Hey," she holds her hands up passively after recovering from her momentary surprise. "Hey, it's just me." Adora walks over with a gentle smile of encouragement, resting one leg on the cot with her hands together in front of her. 

 

Catra looks up at Adora, watching as those slate blue eyes shine with hopeful concern. That annoying, idiotic hopeful expression...It's one she's become increasingly familiar with in her dreams. After Catra's taken a gulp of air to get her breathing under control, the realization of being caught in a moment of percieved weakness finally registers. Looking down at the bed, she groans, sighing as she turns over. 

 

I don't want her to turn away...Adora's hand tentatively reaches out, intending to turn her back around, but thinks better of it. Knowing forceful physical touches is what Prime would do, she clenches her fist, lowering it back down. I'm not him and I don't want to remind her of him either. Her eyes stare ahead for a moment, debating on whether to ask. "Are you," she starts, turning toward Catra, brows knit in concern. "Still getting the flashes?" 

 

This is precisely why she hadn't moved all the other times Adora disrupted her sleep. An interrogation is the last thing she wants. Now it's happening and she's on the defensive again. "Yes, I keep having this horrible vision of a blond girl," her neck lowers and her eyes drift in their direction. A certain, heroic, save the day, blond girl..."Who thinks she's better than everyone," she pauses to partially sit up, looking pointedly at Adora. "Barging into my room all day." Catra's gaze stays narrowed on her former friend. "Oh, wait," she expresses, letting her head fall back onto the pillow.

 

Adora's eyes widen at the barging comment.That only happened one time...Adora looks foward with a sigh. I was just trying to help, but maybe that's not the kind she needs?  Understanding causes a smile to light her features. "We'll find a way to remove the chip," she declares, tone exuding confidence. "If you'd just let Entrapta take a look at it," her brows raise in confusion as Catra grabs a pillow. "I bet she could-"

 

Once Entrapta's mentioned, it brings irritation and self hatred brimming to the surface. To block Adora, and maybe the world out, she snatches that small pillow, pressing it to her face. "I don't want to see anyone," she mutters, leaning toward Adora on the last word to emphasize her point. "Okay?" 

 

Adora's arm goes out in a defensive gesture, surprised at Catra's hostility.

 

"Not you, not Arrow Boy, or Sparkles and definitely not Entrapta," she concludes. 

 

Frown deepening with each name, Adora's hand pulls the pillow from Catra's face. I don't understand where this is coming from.

 

Unwilling to look into Adora's slate blue gaze, fearing the judgement she'll find there, Catra turns away. 

 

"So, you're just going to hide in here forever?" That's an unrealistic solution and we both know it. "You'll have to face them sometime."

 

Now that Catra doesn't have anything to block Adora's voice she catches every word, ear twitching at the last statement. "No, I don't." All I'm good for is causing pain..."Just- drop me off on the closest planet." Catra lets her pride guide her words. "I'll make my own way," she adds hurriedly, despising how fear shakes through the statement.

 

 

She's not making any sense! "What?" Adora shrugs, tension rising with her ongoing aggravation. "So Prime can capture you again?" The inquiry rings with hurt and disbelief. Catra wouldn't really put herself in danger, would she? 

 

Catra is at her most vulnerable and Adora's suggestion that she's weak or stupid enough to be captured sends a wave of indignation to wash away the earlier fear. "I can take care of myself!"

 

An exasperated sigh hits the air as Adora's eyes narrow in anger. That part of her that punches her feelings out rears its head, but she knows it isn't a solution right now. Adora grips the mattress tight.

 

Catra can tell from the way Adora sighs that she's getting angry. Good. Better for her to be mad at me after everything, rather than give sympathy I don't deserve. Hearing a grunt of effort, Catra's eyes find Adora, who's lifting her mattress. What is she-?

 

Wordlessly she tugs the mattress sharply upward, flipping it. Her fists return to her sides. Hearing Catra's yelp causes her to internally cringe, but it's a small comfort knowing the cry is one of surprise, not pain. Catra's being too stubborn and prideful for her own good! 

 

Catra's world gets turned upside down in a single motion, resulting in a yelp of surprise. She looks over at Adora, frowning as she approaches.

 

"I promised I'd take you home and that's exactly what I'm gonna do," she states, expression determined and resolve unwavering. I won't betray another promise. 

 

Seeing the fierceness in those eyes, Catra backs up, gaze narrowing in anger. She feels cornered, and it's not a sensation she's ever comfortable with. You shouldn't be doing all this for me anyway!

 

"Why are you acting like this?!" Pushing all of us away isn't going to fix anything! Adora's gaze softens slightly. "We saved your life!"

 

I never asked to be saved, because I was never worth saving! Those words act like a match to the flame of Catra's emotions. "I told you not to come back!" The phrase is almost a growl and she rises to meet Adora head on. "But you just love feeling like a hero," Catra practically spits the title with disdain, as Adora backs up a little. "Don't you?" That's the only reason you'd risk an entire war to save a traitor, isn't it?

 

This has nothing to do with me being a hero! Righteous fury causes her voice to rise, all traces of calm gone, as she points back toward Prime's ship. "You'd rather I left you there to die?!"  chose to save you! 

 

Although Catra understands how much Adora does care, that isn't what will stop them from getting close. I'd rather hurt her now, than risk her life again...Whatever she has to say to ensure Adora's safe from her, she'll say, even if it causes pain for them both. Catra musters all her self loathing, hurling it like a weapon from one phrase into the next. "WHAT DO YOU CARE?! I know you all hate me!"

 

Adora can do nothing to combat the wounds those accusations leave in their wake, cutting deep into her soul. "I never hated you!" Anguish seeps into the exclamation, as she stares into those mismatched eyes. How could I hate someone I was so desperate to have back with me for so long?!

 

As soon as the admission is out, so is Catra's fury fueled flame. Adora...never hated me? I hurt the Etherian's she protects. I hurt her friends. I hurt her. Yet she still- Backing up a few steps, she plops down on the mattress, unable to face Adora after that. "Then you're even dumber than I thought," she concludes, tone softening. How can you not hate me, when I don't even like myself?  Catra stares at the floor. "Just..leave me alone."

 

Adora looks away, then sighs in defeat. "I'm such an idiot." For thinking we were actually making progress. "I thought things would be different this time." Between you and I...Adora's fists unclench, arms held open as if wanting to hold Catra there, if she'd let her. "But clearly, nothing has changed," she concludes angrily, stomping out her frustrations and dissappointment upon exiting the brig.

 

Catra watches that retreating back, as the footsteps get further away. She sighs, tail curling around her on instinct. There's no joy in the accomplishment, overshadowed by her own guilt and self loathing. Left with nothing but her memories, all she can think of is how much hurt those choices caused. How much it cost her and almost cost Adora. When she closes her eyes, her mind pulls her back to that moment with Double Trouble. 

 

"You try so hard to play the big, bad villain, but your heart's never been in it. Has it?" 

 

Every altercation with Adora, forced or not, could have been stopped at any moment. Yet, each wound she inflicted was half hearted at best. Given enough effort, Adora's She-Ra form could have been brought down by her claws alone. Prime proved that in his false reality. There had been multiple opportunities to end the Rebellion and She-Ra permanently. 

 

"People have hurt you, haven't they?" 

 

She wanted to make Adora hurt the way she did, at first. Make her realize the depth of that damage caused by her departure. How lonely she was. How excruciating the mere memory of Adora became as time passed. How agonizing it was to be cast aside, as though she never existed. Only when she was right in front of her, flashing those claws and hurtful words, did Adora ever acknowledge Catra's existence.

 

"Did you ever stop to think maybe they're not the problem? It's you."

 

Her own words rush to the forefront of her mind. "All I do is hurt people." I'm so tired of hurting her...That all consuming ache in her chest is a gaping emptiness nothing can fill. Catra's not sure how long she sits there, fighting a war within what she wants, and what she deserves. Her only respite occuring when his voice cuts into the silence.

 

"Rejoin the Light. Then you will not need to suffer like this, Catra"

 

Hands clutching at her skull, they press into her head in a feeble attempt to banish him in name and memory. She whimpers when more flashes appear, along with the pull of the Hive.

 

Glimmer's found it's best to let Adora vent out her frustrations, even at the expense of innocent cargo.

 

Adora's pacing again, letting out a groan. "Catra is driving me crazy."  When Glimmer doesn't say anything she continues. "I thought we actually had a chance at fixing things this time," Adora extends her arm. "But after everything we've been through, she's still," her foot connects with the box for emphasis and so she can kick her feelings out. "A stubborn brat." 

 

Glimmer pulls out a pouch of food. "This is Catra we're talking about," she advises, glancing over at Adora. "Did you think she was going to just instantly become a totally different person?" Glimmer walks over to Adora with an unknown pouch of food in her hands. Plus, we don't know what she's been through. It must be hard for her right now. 

 

Hands on her hips, Adora looks up, taking a deep breath. "No, I just-" she sighs, meeting Glimmer's gaze. "I thought she'd at least try." Adora's face softens from aggravation to sadness as she grabs a square piece of gelatin. "We all risked our lives to save her," I almost lost her. Tossing it into the air, the rant continues. "And she can't even say thank you?" Adora holds her hands out in exasperation. "Can you believe that?!" She scoffs, anger returning in full force when throwing the gellatinous substance.

 

Wrong Hordak has been quietly observing the exchange, fascinated by the myriad of emotions the one named Adora is displaying. Horde Prime never allowed such displays of emotion...He's brought out of his thoughts by an object splattering him in the face, obscuring his vision. "I believe in Horde Prime," he says with a bow.

 

Glimmer goes to a different room, gathering ingredients for the meal. 

 

Adora shifts her weight from one foot to the other, glancing over at Wrong Hordak, who still has gellatin dripping down his face. "So..." she trails off, hand rubbing the back of her neck. "Sorry about throwing that at you. I just-" A heavy sigh rushes from her.

 

"It is alright, Brother. I merely wish to serve. I did not mean to cause offense to your companion."

 

Companion? Adora blinks at the term. "Oh." Eyes widening in understanding, heat rises to Adora's face.  "Catra's not...she's not my-" Adora stills, lost for words. "I mean we were enemies and now...we're...not?"

 

Wrong Hordak tilts his head in confusion. "Horde Prime called her 'your' Catra...Is she not?"

 

Adora's fist clenches at the bitter memory, pausing to take a deep breath. Wrong Hordak isn't Prime. I need to remember that.  "Could you..tell me," she starts, biting her lip nervously. "What Prime did to her?" Adora rings her hands as she feels that anxiety coiling in her stomach. "How he chipped her?" 

 

"Of course, Brother!" Hordak's confusion vanishes, eyes conveying clarity and eagerness. This is something he knows well and remembers. "What you speak of is the reconditioning process."

 

"Reconditioning process?" Adora repeats, brow scrunching in worry. "And what happens during that?"

 

"First, we are expected to submerge ourselves in the purification pool."

 

Adora's mind flashes to the eerie glowing green water, sparking with electricity. Catra already didn't like water before... A lump rises in her throat, making it difficult to speak. "And...if they don't go willingly?"

 

"Those of us who are present assist in the process, should there be any resistance," he answers, a small frown forming at the corner of his mouth. 

 

"As clones, you don't need oxygen, right?" Adora feels her chest tightening, afraid of what this answer could mean. 

 

"You are correct, Brother! We are able to conquer planets in Horde Prime's name regardless of the atmosphere," he replies with an encouraging nod. 

 

"For someone that needs air though..." She trails off, the muscles in her neck and shoulders tensing. 

 

"A systematic breathing device would be required, such as a tube the oxygen would flow through." Wrong Hordak pauses, closing his eyes as though recalling something. "That is what Horde Prime did for Catra."

 

Adora's jaw clenches so hard, her teeth grind together and she struggles to speak past the sudden tightness enclosing her windpipe. "After that?"

 

"Clones have a port," Wrong Hordak pauses, turning and pointing to the one on the back of his own neck. "Seeing as she is different, installing the chip was a difficult process."

 

"Difficult how?"  She can feel that nervousness heightening to a frantic degree, merging with the anxiety clawing at her insides. 

 

"It involves more pain during the application procedure." Wrong Hordak clarifies. "As Horde Prime says, all beings must suffer to become pure. It is considered a vital part of the reconditioning."

 

"What is the chip for besides control?" Adora murmurs, nearly choking on the bile snaking it's way up.

 

"Horde Prime uses them to go through memories. Though, for the person reliving the experience, it is an unpleasant process," he responds, the hint of a grimace on his face.

 

Other than the illusion I saw...That's what he meant? An image of Prime controlled Catra takes shape. 'And she suffers now...'

Catra's screams reverberate like a tide in conflict with Adora's heartbeat. The earlier hunger is dragged under those violently churning waves in her stomach. Like a distant voice on the wind, she hears Wrong Hordak's voice explaining something important, but can't comprehend their meaning. Bile scorches her throat while blood rushes down at such a rapid pace it leaves her lightheaded. 

 

"You appear to be unwell," he observes, seeing the change in Adora's complexion. "Would this nourishment help?" Wrong Hordak holds up a small vial of green liquid.

 

The bile in her throat threatens to escape as she looks at the sloshing fluid contained there.

 

Seeing the tight lipped expression on Adora's face, Wrong Hordak puts the vial away. 

 

Just then, Glimmer returns holding a few ingredients. Once her stomach settles, Adora is capable of talking. "What's he doing here again?" 

 

Glimmer looks over at Wrong Hordak. "He's helping me make dinner," she answers, moving to stand beside him. 

 

"True nourishment comes from the favor of Horde Prime," states Wrong Hordak exuberantly. "Also from nutrient-rich amniotic fluid," he adds, pulling out a tiny vial filled with green liquid.

 

Glimmer backs up as that small green vial is brought into view. "Yeah, well we're not eating that." Glimmer looks down at the ingredients in her arms. "I think these rations were Mara's. "Does space food expire?" Glimmer's hand moves the packet closer to Adora so she can read it. "What does this one say?"

 

Adora recollects herself, translating the packet in Glimmer's hands. "Dehydrated protein slaw." She twists her face into a smile, even though food is the last thing on her mind at this point. "Yum?" 

 

"Guys, you'd better get in here."

 

Adora and Glimmer rush to the main cabin. "What's going on?"

 

Bow pulls up a screen, showing three different Horde ships. "Sensors picked up Horde ships on our tail. They're coming straight for us."

 

Glimmer recalls Catra's earlier conversation with her during their capture. 'A ship left Etheria's atmosphere a few days ago. Prime cannot track it.'

She looks at the screen in disbelief. "It's gotta be a coincidence. Prime can't track this ship." 

 

Bow navigates Darla into the astroid field as there is a collective sigh of relief in the room. 

 

Catra turns her tail in various directions, relieved to find the movements are less robotic and more animated. Concentrating on the hum of the engine, she turns her ears in various directions. Though they're slower in responding than normal, they do eventually move the way she's used to. The floor sways violently as she's thrown against the wall, grunting in pain at the impact. Holding her head, she gasps when a series of flashes appear. Prime's decaying spire on an empty world. An army of bots marching. Etheria surrounded by Horde ships. Catra's breaths grow more ragged with each flash, but the whispers drive her over the edge until she's left gasping for air. She shudders, shaking her head as her ear twitches involuntarily. What did I- A loud crash sends her body flying onto the opposite side of the brig and Catra yelps in suprise.  

 

"We have taken damage. Hull integrity at 60 percent." Darla's voice echoes in the room. 

 

Entrapta taps a button on the control console with her hair, as a monitor comes to life. "Horde ships coming right for us!"

 

No! Catra was finally safe. We all were! Panic makes Adora's voice go sharp. "How did they find us?!"

 

Entrapta thinks for a moment, watching the chase. "Prime may not be able to track Darla, but something on board is sending up a trace signal. That must be what they're following!"

 

"Those flashes Catra's been getting, the signal's coming from her chip, isn't it?" Adora approaches Entrapta, grabbing her hand. "Once again, Catra is ruining our lives!"

 

Where is she taking her?! Bow can't move from the captain's chair, but calls out to them. "Entrapta hasn't fixed the shields yet!"

 

Although she knows that's important, all her focus is on stopping them from being located. The shields are a future problem for now. "Then try not to hit anything," she growls, pulling Entrapta with her into the hallway.

Adora didn't mean to say Catra was literally ruining their lives. She's aware it's only because of Prime's chip. They were words said out of anger, fueled by her frustrations at Catra not appearing to want to change. From the moment she was recovered enough from She-Ra's healing, Adora had considered cutting the chip out, but the idea of causing Catra even more harm made her sick every time she considered it. Similar to how she's feeling now after what she learned from Wrong Hordak. Bringing Entrapta along will upset Catra, but we have no other choice.

 

"What is she doing in here?!" Catra retreats back toward the wall. "I told you, I want to be alone!" I never wanted to see HER again!

 

Seeing the cot overturned, Entrapta's hair wraps around the frame, then the bed, setting it right again. 

 

Adora stands, arms folded. "Entrapta's going to remove your chip."

 

In preparation and anticipation, Entrapta lowers the mask over her face.

 

Of all the things for Adora to say, that's the last thing Catra expects. Her heart thunders wildly against her rib cage. "You're going to let her operate on me," she asks, voice rising in nervous exasperation. "She'll kill me!"

 

Entrapta raises her mask, regarding Catra with confusion. "Why would I wanna hurt you?" A slight pause while pondering the possible reasons. The memory of being shocked by Catra comes to mind. "Oh," she says, hair raising to resemble fingers. "You mean because you sent me to Beast Island, stole my work and used it to rip a hole in the fabric of space and time?"

 

Catra looks away in shame as Entrapta lists her mistakes, hands touching the wall for support. 

 

"I get it." Entrapta closes her mask, hair flying out in all directions with various tools in them. "HOLD STILL!"  

 

In response to all the sharp objects and buzzing, Catra's ears flatten against her skull, tail bristling. "Stay away from me!"

 

I tried being gentle before but now I can't afford to be! Adora marches toward her. "Catra, Horde Prime is tracking that chip," 

 

Why doesn't Adora ever listen?! Catra tries to avoid Adora by circling around the small space. 

 

"He's coming for us right now," she says angrily, gaze comprised of fear, and determination. If you don't do this, any hope to save ourselves and Etheria is gone.

 

That feeling of being trapped grows steadily, until she's backed into one corner. Don't get any closer! Catra doesn't want to use her claws on Adora, but maybe the threat will be enough to gain some distance. Ensuring they aren't fully extended, Catra swipes at Adora with a grunt. 

 

Adora catches the intended swipe. Pinning Catra by her wrist to the wall. "So grow up and let us remove it, or we're all dead," she states, while her eyes bore into Catra's. And every step we took to save you will have meant nothing. Adora releases her hold.

 

Catra can't tear her gaze away from those intense slate blue eyes. Breathing out a sigh, she slides down the wall. 

 

"We're doing this," she says, tone resonating with anger and finality. "Then if  you think hiding from the people you hurt will make you feel better," Adora continues, despising how her voice shakes. "We'll drop you off and you'll never have to see us again," she states, her words sounding more broken than angry. I don't want you to go, but I won't hold you captive here...Adora pauses for a breath, sighing dejectedly. The anger in her gaze softens to sadness  when she forces herself to finish the statement. "You'll never have to see me again." Adora turns away from Catra, resigning herself to the reality that she may lose her after all. 

 

The sight of Adora turning away from her hurts, but never seeing her is like losing her over and over. She sighs, releasing that earlier hostility, choosing to grab Adora's wrist.  "Adora, wait-" she pleads Don't go.

 

Adora glances back at Catra, seeing her head bowed. I'm doing what she wants so why is she stopping me now?

 

Memories of all the times Adora reached out for her, no matter how much she refused run through Catra's thoughts. Maybe it's my turn now, but will Adora reject it like I did? Catra slides her hold down to Adora's hand. "Please." Another piece of that wall between them fissures when she reaches out

 

Adora's eyes widen in shock, as a subtle blush makes it's way up her face. After all this time...Catra's grabbing my hand? Her mind can hardly believe it, but the warmth against her palm is undeniable. 

 

 

Catra raises her head, fearful of the answer Adora will give. "Stay," she expresses, voice filled with quiet hope. 

 

"I'm here," she answers voice and gaze softening. Taking Catra's hands in hers, a warm smile spreads across her face. That fissured piece falls away, brought down by their joined hands.

 

A smile which holds the power to brighten and burn Catra. Despite that, she clings to the touch, needing any amount of strength for the task she's set herself to do.

 

"Experiment number 982." Entrapa makes her way over to the pair, sitting behind Catra while she speaks into her recorder. "Removal of embedded Horde chip." This is an exciting challenge! It's an experiment Entrapta's happy to complete especially if it will help Catra. 

 

Adora rests her fist in front of her mouth, removing it when she sees the fear in Catra's eyes. The corners of her mouth turn up in a slow, quiet show of encouragement directed at Catra.

 

"Let's begin." Entrapta lowers her mask, touching the pliers to one of the purple wires inside.

 

Catra gasps as another flash appears. Etheria surrounded by Horde ships. A valley. The face of a chipped Etherian is what elicits a gasp from her. "Wait," she says looking behind her at Entrapta. "Not yet."

 

Adora moves forward. "Catra, we don't have time," she advises, desperation creeping into her tone. 

 

"I can help you, okay?" she counters exasperated. Catra pauses for a beat, hunching in on herself. "When Horde Prime was...using me," Catra's voice trembles. "I felt--"

 

Witnessing the way Catra holds a fist close to her chest, and that hesitation makes Adora's heart twist.Reliving this on top of whatever else he put her through can't be easy.

 

It's like, um-" Catra shrugs the tension off her shoulders, struggling to find a way to describe what she's been seeing. 

 

Adora's frown deepens, looking on with sympathetic eyes. Needing to do more than just stand there, she approaches Catra. 

 

Gulping a bit of air in, Catra's eyes stare at her clenched fist. "It's like all his clones are-are connected to some kind of hive mind," she says, glancing up when she hears Adora's footsteps. "...and I was part of it."

 

She reaches out, grasping Catra's shoulder. Is it Prime? Adora wants to ask, but that question is too difficult to get out. "Those flashes you're getting?"

 

"It's him." Catra's confirmation is barely audible, her shoulders drooping, as terror sinks it's claws in.

 

Adora's eyes widen, her worst fears confirmed. Even when he's not here, Prime's still hurting Catra!

 

"He's still in there." Catra's voice quakes with fear. I wasn't strong enough to get rid of him.

 

Surprise gives way to solace. I wish I could take this pain from her. Adora's brows crease with worry when she feels Catra's shoulder tremble beneath her palm. 

 

"He can-he can see me." Her hand rubs the chip as an idea forms. The Hive mind connection isn't one sided so..."But maybe I can see him, too. I can find out what he's planning."

 

 

Horrified at the possibility of Prime controlling Catra again, Adora's head shakes. "No, you can't risk letting him back into your head."

 

"Adora," she warns, eyes resolute. "You have to let me try." I can't let her take any more risks for me..."Otherwise you're going to do something stupid and get yourself killed." I want to protect her, too. "Just..." Catra pauses, fear thrumming in her chest, as she places her hand over Adora's, giving it a slight squeeze.  "Just stay with me while I do it, okay?" 

 

Adora gives a reassuring smile, nodding up at Entrapta, who stands up. 

 

Catra takes a deep breath as her eyes shut. Opening that connection feels like a snake gradually slithering into her thoughts as those whispers return. "I can feel him." Prime's ship materializes. That slithering presence burns through their shared connection. "He's.." Prime appears on his throne, fists clenched, scowling. "He's angry," she chokes out in fear. The hatred feels like fire, hot enough to scorch everything in it's path. Catra groans, struggling to stay in control. 

 

A small gasp seeps out in response to Catra's pain, and Adora's hand automatically extends give her support, should she need it.  

 

At the noise, Catra's eyes open, seeing those slate blue eyes muddled with distress. Refocusing her efforts, she breathes deeply, closing her eyes once more. "He wants revenge." Another image of numerous spires descending on a planet flashes in her mind's eye. She swallows past the dryness in her throat. "He wants to make you hurt," Catra advises, voice cracking on the last word. "He's..." Catra pauses, trying to make sense of the building before her. It must be where he's hitting next. "He's attacking Etheria." Whispers reach her. 

 

Adora's gaze narrows, hanging on every movement and word. 

 

"No." she shakes her head as more images of various Etherian's unfold before her. "No, no no, not attacking. Something new is happening. Those whispers become more discernable. 

 

Prepare them for Horde Prime's arrival. 

 

None can escape Prime's Light.

 

He will conquer all. 

 

"There's so much noise," she expresses, voice small.

 

It's as though Adora's glimpsing an invisible  battle, powerless to intervene on Catra's behalf. You're not alone. Noticing the white knuckled grip, wracked by subtle tremors, she places both of Catra's hands in hers again.

 

Vaguely, the form of Frosta takes shape, enshrouded by a wall of ice that fists pound on. 

 

How will this false hero fight every Etherian she sought to protect once they are under my control?

 

"He's chipping them," she announces, tone growing sharp. "H-He's going to chip them all." Catra's eyes pop open in terror as sweat beads down her brow. "Horde Prime is taking control of Etheria!"

 

Images of all the innocent people of Etheria staring back at her with those eerie green eyes run through Adora's mind. "No," she says, shaking her head in denial, as trepidation creeps into her voice. I won't let him do this! Adora's gaze intesifies with resolve. "He...He can't!

 

"It's already happening," counters Catra, fixing a terrified gaze on Adora.

 

Adora's eyes widen in horror. All those innocent people.

 

If anyone can defeat Prime, it's Adora. "You've gotta stop him!" A boom makes Catra's ears ring, causing her to yelp in ruprise. 

 

Adora grunts from the impact , grabbing onto Catra and holding her close. 

 

Catra feels those strong arms around her, returning the embrace as the ship shakes around them. 

 

Bow tries his best to navigate past the Horde ship's lasers, groaning when Darla's hit. 

 

The hull has sustained multiple fractures, reports Darla, an alarm blaring in the background.

 

"We will be unable to withstand another full-on strike," announces Darla.

 

Adora and Catra withdraw from one another with a groan, as Adora's brow knits in contemplation.

 

Catra senses a change when she looks at those eyes. "Adora, please..." she implores, blinking once as her ears move down.

 

Adora's gaze meets hers, waiting. 

 

Catra finally gives voice to what she's wanted since the rescue on Prime's ship. "I...I want to go home," she admits, blinking once more. 

 

There's no misunderstanding between them now. Catra is trusting me to fix this. "We will," she declares, giving Catra a small smile. Pulling Catra into a comforting embrace. "I'm getting us out of here." I won't let her down. Contemplating the plight their friends are facing, Adora's gaze narrows, blood heating in anger. "Etheria needs us." Disentangling from Catra's warmth, Adora continues. "And I won't let him hurt anyone else," she declares resolutely, turning to walk away from Catra.

 

Catra doesn't know what to think when Adora breaks the embrace. "Where are you going?" 

 

With every step taken, that anger heats her blood another degree. Fingers splayed out, eyes closed, Adora latches onto the feeling, letting it build with those recollections of Catra being hurt and almost killed by Prime. "To send Horde Prime a message," she answers, thrusting her hand forward and summoning the sword to her hand. "For the honor of Grayskull!"

 

That power rises from within as warrior and ancient converge to form the perfect storm. Energy surges like liquid lightning in her veins, pulsing with rage filled retribution. 

 

Catra looks on in stunned silence, seeing the golden light of the transformation for the first time. She-Ra is a storm given form. Muscles defined like mountains. Almost unearthly in appearance. As mighty as she is majestic. Underneath that magic is Adora...When those eyes flash and Adora smirks, her face lined with a golden mask, does Catra's mouth fall open. A blush heats her skin as she gapes, awestruck.

 

Adora marches out to the bay door, mind clearer than it's ever been. Multiple Horde ships lie in wait as the door opens. Launching herself from the ship with a thunderous roar, she propells toward the first victims of her blade. 

 

Entrapta speaks into her recorder, examining the chip. "Chip appears to be fused with the subject's nervous system." Her hair wipes sweat beading on her brow. "Leeching energy in a parasitic exchange. Extraction is going to be a delicate process," she observes, pulling at a wire with her pliers. "Careful now..."

 

Catra keeps her eyes trained on the floor, attempting to block out the buzzing electricity which reminds her of that green pool. Knowing she'll be free of his control is what allows her to stay there. I'll never be controlled like some part of his machine again! A sudden shock brings a yelp from her as the ship shakes.

 

"Sorry!" Entrapta looks at Catra apologetically.

 

"Just get it off," she demands angrily, facing forward so Entrapta can finish removing the chip. 

 

Landing on the nearest ship with a thud, her eyes lock onto the Prime bot. "Tell Horde Prime this is from me," she growls, sword sweeping upward carving into the ship. Her feet leave its surface before the explosion transpires.

 

Glimmer directs bow through the astroid field , as a comet moving among the astroids catches her eye, followed by more Horde ships. "Wait, is that-?" The figure is unmistakeable. It's She-Ra. A giggle bubbles from Glimmer as she watches.

 

When her feet touch onto another astroid, her eyes glare up at the two ships as they move past, then turn. Two ships fire simultaneously, but she stands her ground, catching the blasts with her sword. Widening her stance, She-Ra flings the blast back at one ship with a yell, which explodes on impact. Jumping to another astroid, she frowns up at another ship as it fires. A grunt pushes past gritted teeth when she pushes off another astroid before the blast can hit it's mark. Dodging various blasts using those astroids as stepping stones, she launches herself into the air, blade raised behind her head. A furious cry bursts forth and glass shatters at her feet when she lands on the ship. Embedding the blade into the bot's chest, she imagines it's Prime, shouting as she arcs it upward, slicing the bot in two. She looks behind her for more ships, finding none. A sudden blast from below diverts her attention, narrowly missing. She glares at the bot, raising her sword high. With an enraged shout, She-Ra slices her blade downward, sending a wave of energy toward that ship, splitting it in half. Looking back toward Darla, she confirms they're unharmed. 

 

Glimmer's spirits lift at the spectacle and she raises her fists in excitement. "Yeah!"

 

Bow, who can't see what's happening feels nervousness tug at him. "What is going on out there?"

 

Circling the sword tip, She-Ra forms a magical platform, hopping from the glowing disc onto Darla. Charging a blast, she raises the blade outward. With a yell, She-Ra releases that magical energy like a cracking whip, causing the remaining ships to explode.

 

Entrapta delicately picks at the chip. "Almost," she says, squinting in concentration. "Almost..."  The last wires loosen as Entrapta's pliers pull the chip off, disconnecting the chip from Catra. 

 

Catra rubs her neck, as relief pours in when she can't feel the chip anymore. 

 

"I did it!" Entrapta looks at the removed chip excitedly. "With the chip removed from its power source," she pauses, dropping teh chip into a tube. "It won't be able to signal anymore. 

 

Catra looks from the chip in the vial, up to Entrapta, expression uncertain. 

 

"Okay, gotta go check on Darla now," she says, starting to walk toward the door. 

 

Catra's eyes stare at the cot for a moment. She helped me...Even after I sent her to Beast Island. Catra raises her head, arm stretched out toward Entrapta's retreating form.  "Entrapta, wait, " she calls out shakily.

 

Experiment 982 officially a success! I'm glad I was able to help. Now Darla needs me. Heeding Catra's call, Entrapta turns around to look at her.

 

Feeling Entrapta's gaze on her, Catra's eyes shift to either side before settling back on Entrapta as tears gather. "Thank you," she expresses quietly, pausing to  avert her gaze for a second. "And, I'm sorry."

 

Entrapta gives Catra a small smile as she walks back toward her. I remember her not liking to be touched, but Catra was okay the last time my hair touched her so..."I forgive you," she answers, patting Catra's hair with hers.

 

Catra blinks in stunned silence, as another knot of guilt untangles itself from her chest. She directs a sincere smile toward Entrapta.

 

Entrapta examines Darla, concluding she'll just need some time to reboot now that the shields are fixed. Adora Entrapta and Bow lay near each other, Bow and Adora expressing relief that She-Ra is finally back. Their conversation is interrupted by the hiss of a door opening. 

 

"Brothers," Wrong Hordak greets them, holding a tray of dumplings.

 

"Who wants dinner?" Glimmer walks beside him with a tray of her own. 

 

Bow sits up, taking one from the tray. "Glimmer. You made these?" His voice squeaks in barely contained disbelief. She's never cooked before, and Angella wasn't exactly known for it...

 

"Wrong Hordak helped," she answers, gesturing toward him as he smiles. "Everyone, eat, eat." Glimmer laughs, seeing Entrapta and Adora exchange cherrful looks. "I used to make these with my mom. She wasn't that good of a cook either, so I figured it would be hard to mess up. " Everyone takes one from the tray. 

 

Bow takes a bite. "Okay, hold up," he says, holding up his hands, then his  gaze travels to his right where Glimmer sits. "Glimmer, this is amazing!"

 

"Wait, you made these in the oven, from dehydrated protein slaw?" Adora talks between a mouthful. "This is so good!" 

 

Entrapta nods her head. "Oh, wow, this is delicious," she agrees, smiling at the group.

 

Catra can hear snippets of conversation through the door, opening it before she can back out.

 

Adora's eyes lock on Catra's in astonishment. I didn't expect her to be here so soon after.

 

Her hand encircles her other arm when all those eyes go to hers. Catra's footsteps are tentative and hesitant, with her ears down. She drops to one knee before hugging them both to her chest. Adora's accepted me, but is it too late to be accepted by the rest of them?

 

Bow and Glimmer look to each other, a silent discussion passing between them. They scoot over, making a space specifically for Catra.

 

Ears perking up in surprise, a slight blush rushes up Catra's face. They're...letting me in? Those ears move down again as she approaches, slowly sitting down, knees tucked to her chest. 

 

Glimmer smiles, offering a dumpling to her. 

 

Catra pauses, looking at the food, then up at Adora. 

 

Adora's expression shifts from surprise to a radiant smile. I told  you it was gonna be okay, Catra. 

 

That smile spreads a warmth through Catra's chest, like a light illuminating her darkest nightmares, and allaying her greatest fears. She takes a small bite, hearing the fragmented conversations.

 

"How is it? It smells good right?" Glimmer questions the group.

 

Entrapta looks at the dumpling with a smile. "Does this come in smaller sizes? It's hard for me to eat if it's too-"

 

"It was coming right at us. Then Glimmer was like, 'Oh no. Bow, stop.' And then I was like, 'Okay, I'll stop.' And then I pulled up, then we missed it.

 

Adora takes another bite. "This is almost better than-"

 

Wanting to join in the conversation, Wrong Hordak speaks up. "I put amniotic fluid in there." The group goes silent, directing wide eyed stares at him. "That was a joke."

 

 

Everything will be under my control. Starting with our new Princess on Etheria...