Chapter 2 - Waiting on the World to Change
It was quiet.
It had been quiet for the past week.
And Adora was about ready to tear down some walls over how the quiet made her skin crawl.
Because it was just… weird. Well, that was one way to put it.
It seemed like usually she and the others were jumping from one incident to another, putting out the fires of the Horde wherever they cropped up. And it was usually continuous. Maybe they'd have a few days reprieve but sooner rather than later another Horde scheme would become apparent and the cycle would start again.
Now it had been a week.
Since Adora left, she couldn't remember having so much time between battles and missions.
She scowled as she walked down the corridor, grateful that no one was around to see her and get anxious at her expression. Her appearance would just make people think that something was wrong, and technically there wasn't.
Well, except the fact that there had been no signs of the Horde for a whole freaking week!
Adora groaned as she finally reached her room and flopped on her bed, leaning her sword against its side. Her hands twitched, itching to take her sword and do some more drills, but she knew that if she went back out to the training field to practice, Bow would inevitably show up and give her those sad, pleading eyes while telling her to relax while they still could.
Stars, if they could weaponize those eyes, the Horde would never stand a chance.
Plus, he'd bring up the fact that she had already spent most of the morning there. Maybe she could go later this afternoon, but not until she gave the impression that she had relaxed enough.
Adora frowned harder and flipped over onto her back. Because thinking of Bow's sad eyes and the Horde brought forth a whole slew of other thoughts.
Even before this weird blank week, Catra hadn't been seen on the battlefield for almost a month. Normally, she made an appearance at least once a week, gloating over plans and drawing Adora away from the action. It worked every single time to Adora's dismay, but she couldn't help it! Still, she would never admit it out loud, but it always reassured Adora whenever she caught sight of those ears and tail or that manic grin. It was always a sign that Catra was still alive.
Catra not appearing either meant something had gone horribly wrong or she was plotting something big.
Adora didn't know which was worse.
But wait! She was trying to relax!
Adora snapped her eyes shut and wiggled to get herself more comfortable. Relax, relax, relax, re-
"What? What is it? Where?" Adora jumped up and grabbed her sword, instantly scanning around for a threat.
Her gaze eventually fell on Glimmer, who gave her a sheepish smile as she took her hand off the door. "Sorry…"
Adora sighed and lowered her sword. She supposed that she should be grateful that Glimmer at least used the door this time instead of teleporting straight into the room. "It's fine." She ran her hand through her hair. "I'm just a bit on edge."
"Aren't we all?" Glimmer grimaced. "It's been so… quiet."
"You've been worried?" Adora's eyebrows raised up. She hadn't been able to tell.
"Well, yeah." Glimmer pulled her down so they'd sit next to each other on the bed.
"You didn't seem like it." Adora wondered if this was why Glimmer and Bow had been so adamant about taking a break. The only problem was that Adora was terrible at relaxing.
Back at the Horde, there was never any time for what the people here would call relaxing. There had only been training, more training, even more training, hanging out with Catra -
She stopped that thought right there.
"Yeah, but there's no point in freaking out over it. We'll figure out what they're up to eventually. And then we'll stop them!" Glimmer assured her, punching up into the air with a grin.
It was nice to know that she wasn't alone in this fight at least.
"Guys! Guys! Guys!" Bow burst into the room. "Uh, you're not gonna believe this!"
"What?!" Glimmer popped up, teleporting to Bow's side and giving the corridor a suspicious look.
Wow, and Adora had thought that she was jumpy.
"What is it, Bow?" She gave him a smile as she stood up.
"Uh, well, you see…"
Adora and Glimmer both frowned at his hesitation.
"Scorpia and Entrapta are here!"
Adora froze for a moment.
This was it.
Finally, the other shoe had dropped.
Adora should not feel as happy as she did at this moment.
"Glimmer!" Adora called out as she grabbed her sword.
"Wait! They're - " But what Bow was saying got cut off as Glimmer teleported them to the front gate.
Adora leaped forward, sword at the ready, but then she stopped in confusion.
" - not attacking! They're here to negotiate a truce!"
And that wasn't even the weirdest part of this whole thing.
Quite frankly, Adora had been expecting an entire army, an attack similar to the Invasion of Bright Moon. Instead, it just appeared to be a single squad, her old squad in fact, with Entrapta and Scorpia at the head. Entrapta looked the same as always, but no one else wore their usual uniforms. Actually, Scorpia was the only one wearing something similar to one.
Scorpia was wearing a black uniform rather than Horde red. It had the same cut as her old uniform, but where the Horde's symbol would've been attached to her via her Force Captain badge there was a new badge instead. It was a simple thing, silver, showing a broken circle surrounding some sort of flower.
Actually, now that she looked, all of them were wearing that symbol, even Entrapta, though the rest of the squad were in what looked like… normal clothes. Clothes they would choose for themselves, neither red like the Horde nor black like Scorpia. But the gleam of the same badge came from Lonnie's belt, Kyle's leg, Rogelio's chest.
What really drew Adora's attention though, even as she took all of this in, was the white flag in Scorpia's claws.
"Hey ya!" Scorpia waved at them with a bright smile. "We're here to negotiate."
Adora could only stare at them all, completely gobsmacked. Bow and Glimmer looked equally shocked, even with Bow having been aware of the situation.
What in Etheria was going on?
Luckily, someone still had their wits about them.
"And why should I believe a member of the Horde?" Queen Angella touched down in front of Adora, her arms crossed and her expression stern.
"Probably because we're not part of the Horde any longer." Entrapta fiddled with her welding mask. "That at least should push the odds of successful negotiation into a favorable place."
Adora blinked. "You're what?"
"We defected!" Scorpia said, and stars, how could she be so cheery all the time? It was disconcerting.
The queen hummed a bit, studying the small group. There was only the small squad and though Scorpia and Entrapta could be a problem, Adora had no doubt that She-ra could take them, especially with everyone else's help. And if it turned out to be a trap, it wouldn't take much to summon the rest of their allies here. She wasn't quite sure what the queen's decision would be.
"Very well." Queen Angella turned to lead the way in. "You may enter."
Glimmer appeared at her side. "Mom, are you sure? They're - "
"I know, Glimmer, but you cannot win wars on fighting alone." Adora followed her gaze to where Scorpia and the others were high fiving each other. "And they do seem relatively sincere."
Glimmer grumbled, but the queen raised her hand.
"And this isn't the first former Horde soldier that's attempted to ally with us." Adora looked away at her knowing glance. "We'll at least hear them out."
Adora grimaced, giving these supposed former soldiers a searching glance.
There was still something off about this.
"We are currently calling ourselves the Defiant." Scorpia explained from her place at the negotiation table. "And this is our symbol, I came up with it myself. I'm a bit of an artist, you know." She beamed with pride.
"I chose the flower. I've been researching flora in my free time and thought it was appropriate." Entrapta chimed in.
"I see." The queen steepled her fingers as she looked between the two. The princesses were both seated at Bright Moon's planning table with the rest of the squad standing behind them while Adora, Glimmer, Bow, the queen, Netossa, and Spinnerella were at their usual spots. "Would you tell me what exactly you are doing? What is your purpose?"
"Oh, right." Scorpia straightened and became the most serious Adora had ever seen her. "The Defiant are made up of former Horde soldiers. We managed to lead a mass defection of a good chunk of soldiers, more than an entire battalion's worth."
"An - an entire battalion?" Queen Angella blinked rapidly at her. It was better than Adora's reaction as she just stared slack jawed at them.
The Horde's army wasn't as large as it might appear. They'd always used a lot of robots and technology to compensate against the rest of Etheria's sheer numbers, but they managed to use their smaller numbers effectively.
Somehow getting a whole battalion to defect and doing it successfully? That was just unreal.
"We've currently set up our base at Dryl, thanks to Entrapta's generosity." Scorpia gestured at her fellow princess. "We plan to fight against the Horde."
"Well, mostly," Entrapta cut in, "we're not going to make anyone fight if they don't want to. And while a lot of our number do wish to fight, many are going to take this opportunity to do literally anything else and we're going to let them."
"Yeah, exactly." Scorpia nodded her head in agreement. "Anyway, we plan on mostly doing our own thing, but we figured that it would be best to talk things over with you and make sure we weren't stepping on each others' toes as it were. Besides, common enemies and all that, right?"
Adora narrowed her eyes.
All of this sounded almost too good to be true.
Especially from these two.
She hated to say this but it was almost too smart for them to have thought all this up.
Scorpia was an excellent fighter, but she tended to be scatterbrained even on the battlefield and Sea Hawk once managed to fool her into thinking he was someone else by just changing his hairstyle. This whole plan seemed too complicated and thorough for her, though the sentiment certainly seemed on par.
Entrapta was smart, but she often got wrapped up in her projects and interests, forgetting about everything else. Or any potential consequences to her actions and projects. It had appeared that the Horde was like a land of dreams for her with their bountiful tech, so it didn't make too much sense for her to want to leave, as well as to bring others with her.
"And how did you leave in the first place?"
"Oh, that was easy. Catra just made it seem like we were all leaving to attack Bright Moon."
Adora didn't even realize that she had spoken until everyone turned to stare at her. She also belatedly realized that she was standing, but that didn't matter in the face of this revelation. "Are you saying that Catra planned all of this?"
It's true that this level of planning and preparation was within Catra's skill set, but Catra actually being behind this?
Sure, she'd never seemed to really believe in the Horde and its mission in the past, but Adora had thought that had changed. Catra had seemed so gung ho to fight on the Horde's behalf on the battlefield.
"Yep!" Scorpia replied anyway to Adora's question.
"Surprisingly, most people within the Horde do not like being part of the Horde." Entrapta supplied. "However, most make no efforts to actually leave due to the use of fear and the few previous examples of what would happen if you left and then were caught. The She-ra was the first to successfully leave without being recaptured in over a decade."
"However, Catra had the idea that if a ton of people left at once, and we made it look like they were leaving for a routine mission, it'd be a lot harder to stop." Scorpia squealed a bit, her arms waving in excitement. "Isn't she just amazing to think of something like this?"
"Catra found, screened, and gathered all the members of the Horde who genuinely wished to leave, and then she used her position to make it so we could leave." Entrapta gestured with her hands. "You may have noticed that she's been absent from the battlefield lately; she's been working on this so it could go off without a hitch."
Silence fell as the members of the Rebellion digested what they'd been told.
Adora knew that she was still having a hard time wrapping her head around it. Sure, the ingenuity behind it, the cautiousness of screening everyone she took with her, all of that sounded like Catra. But saving other people? Trying to get as many people out as possible?
Catra had never really cared about others, much less ensuring that they were safe. Why would she do this?
"Catra?" The queen said the name like she was testing it on her tongue. "Is she not the person who kidnapped Glimmer and Bow?"
"I helped with that, too! But it was Catra's idea."
Adora wondered if Scorpia was even capable of telling a lie.
"Then why isn't she here? If this was all her idea." Glimmer brought up, crossing her arms. "Why, is she too scared to face us?"
Now that Glimmer mentioned it, that was a good point. Surely Catra would love to gloat about pulling one over Hordak. Adora frowned and sat back down as she noticed Scorpia and Entrapta exchange a tense look.
Queen Angella noticed it, too. "Well, my daughter raises a good point. Where is this Catra if she is indeed your leader?"
They were silent again and exchanged another look. Finally, Scorpia spoke up. "Just as we were moving out to fulfill our plan, Lord Hordak summoned Catra into his chambers to meet with him."
Adora stiffened, taking a peek at the others to see them just as wary.
"At such a junction, it would have been more suspicious if she hadn't heeded his call. And we needed time to get a clean getaway." Entrapta continued, the tips of her hair coming up to fidget with each other. "It's been a week, but she still hasn't shown up."
A week. Everything aligned with this past, weird week.
"And you decided to come here without her?" Queen Angella raised an eyebrow.
"Proceeding with the plan and securing this alliance for the benefit of us all is more important." Scorpia looked down, her worry clear on her face. "Catra said to continue without her if she hadn't shown up in a week."
The worry that Adora had been feeling for her former friend bubbled up despite her best tries to suppress it.
A week without even Scorpia or Entrapta hearing from Catra? Last being seen in the company of Hordak? This did not bode well.
"Are you sure she didn't just betray you to Hordak and that's why she isn't back?" Glimmer asked as she leaned back in her seat, obviously not impressed.
Adora winced. She knew that Glimmer did not have the best impression of Catra, but that seemed a bit harsh.
Scorpia looked appalled. "Excuse you! Catra is an excellent friend! I'm sure she's making her way back to us at this very moment."
Entrapta nodded. "Catra has shown traits of incredible loyalty to those she considers her friends. She would never betray us."
Adora felt as though someone was stabbing her in the heart.
"Well, as long as you didn't betray her first," Scorpia tapped her chin. "If you hurt her first, she feels she's well within her right to retaliate."
"Yes, she does have some, what would you call them…" Entrapta thought for a moment. "Oh! Crippling abandonment issues!"
Yet another stab.
Adora wondered if they were doing this on purpose.
"Anyway, neither of us fall into that category, so I'm sure she'll show up." Scorpia concluded. "And I'm sure she'll be glad that we already have everything squared away when she does!" She gasped. "Maybe she'll even let me hug her!"
"I see…" The queen lowered her hands, ignoring Scorpia's final comment. Her face was scrunched up as she thought things over. "Well - "
"Your majesty." A guard interrupted her as she burst through the door. "There's an envoy from the Horde awaiting at the gate."
Every eye turned to Scorpia, Entrapta, and their entourage.
Entrapta blinked and rubbed her chin. "Well, this is an unpleasant coincidence."
"Not us!" Scorpia shouted, raising her claws in surrender.
Glimmer leapt up from her seat. "You were trying to - "
"My queen, I do not believe it has to do with the supposed defectors." The guard continued, cutting through the tension in the room and bring the attention back to herself. "They have asked for She-ra."
It was Adora's turn to blink. "Me?" She dumbly pointed at herself.
Queen Angella sighed. "We better go see what they want."
In mere moments, everyone had made their way back to the gates and Adora couldn't help but see the parallel for when Scorpia and the others arrived. Except in this case, most of the group were wearing the steel gray armor of a common Horde soldier and they were led by a familiar Force Captain dressed in red and standing at attention.
"Octavia." Adora identified her first, scowling.
"Adora." Octavia sneered, her expression stretching the scars over her right eye from when Catra "pranked" her when they were kids. "Though I guess it's traitor now. You had such potential." Her eyes raked over the others as well, raising an eyebrow at the sight of Scorpia and the others. "Oh, and the rest of the traitors are here as well. Guess that saves me time tracking you down."
"What do you want?" Queen Angella stepped in between the two groups, imperiously staring Octavia down.
Octavia chuckled. "Oh, nothing with you… for now. As for the traitors, I have a warning." And with that, she took her hands from behind her back and tossed something at them.
They tensed, expecting a grenade, a bomb - some sort of weapon. But as Adora registered what it was, she couldn't help the gasp that escaped her lips, mirrored by the ones from Entrapta and Scorpia.
Without even realizing what she was doing, Adora's sword lowered and she took a shaky step forward. And then another and another. Until she was standing in front of the item Octavia had thrown.
An all too familiar object.
"All traitors to the Horde will be found and punished for their betrayal to Lord Hordak."
Adora sheathed her sword on her back before crouching down to pick up it up with trembling hands.
She could still remember the first time she saw it, clean and gleaming with a polished gloss. It had always been worn with pride.
Now she could feel the grit of dirt on it and a red powdery substance came off on her hand.
"Your leader Catra is already dead."
Adora held Catra's head guard in her hands, tears gathering in her eyes as the full implication of what this meant hit her.
"And soon, you will be, too."
AN: As I said last time, this fic is actually going to mostly be from Adora's perspective, with probably a few cuts to Catra's POV about what happened at the Horde. At least until the end. We've already got the big points of Catra's redemption, the why and the what she's doing to achieve it, out of the way, so this is looking at the effects of her turning to redeem herself.
And don't worry too much about stuff. I can't help but feel that characters who have to die to be redeemed only do that because there's no way they could fully redeem themselves while alive. Those who live and continue to work to redeem themselves are a much more interesting story, so Catra will eventually return. I'm going to be taking some elements from my research into the original She-ra to provide more details for it. You'll probably figure out what's happening before the characters do.
Also, Catra wanted to call their forces the Avengers, since they would be getting revenge on the Horde either by fighting back against them or living well in their own lives, but Scorpia and Entrapta shot her down. The flower in their symbol is a gladiolus flower. I wanted a flower that meant to symbolize defiance, but gladiolus seems pretty close as it represents integrity, persistence, and strength of character. And the broken circle is meant to represent them breaking the cycle that they'd been forced into at the Horde.