A/N: Final Word Count: 19.6K

HALLLLLLELUJAH!

HALLLLLLLLLLELUJAH!

HALLELUJAH! HALLELUJAH!

HALLEEE-LUUU-JAHHHHHHHH!

YES FOLKS, IT IS I, AND NO YOU ARE NOT SEEING THINGS OR DIED AND GONE TO HEAVEN!... well... okay I don't 100% know about that last part, depends on how the wifi situation is up there these days... huh...

Lol, hows it going guys! Monokub here! And you thought it was going to take me forever to post this ^^ Haha! Well you'll be happy to know it's only been a few days since my last post according to my calander! Haha, yes, a few days... and weeks... and months... and a year- Okay so it was a long time what do you want from me XP?

Lol, I am deeply, DEEPLY sorry for everyone who waited for forever, honestly idk what happened... well actually I do, it was mostly school. First school, then dealing with covid (which i never got, hooray ^^), then elections, then holidays, etc. and etc. I have no excuse other than possibly being possessed by a demon, would probably explain the way time flew by regardless, but with that said, i am very, VERY sorry for this long delay, and as a way of reprimand, i hope this extra special near-20k posting more than makes up for it ^^.

I had some other things to say too, but I think i'll save that for afterwards. as a reminder, it's been a year, and not going to lie... not my best work X/ the first 3-4 k of this i had done over a year ago... and the remaining 15-16k i just did within the last week and a half. a good start, especially the last 6-8 k i just did today :D a good sign i might be getting my writing mojo back soon! But as such, likely lost some of the skill i used to have in completing this episode, so quality might not be my best work. Hoping to get that back soon. If it is good, then great, if not, i apologize X(

So with that all said, let's get on to the part you all came here for, and enjoy the fanfic!

...

...

...

"What... are those thi-"

"Look out!"

*wham!*

Cat-like reflexes weren't an attribute to Catra's feline features, they just came with the territory. It was a pretty good thing they did, too, because any slower before the pink-haired princess realized what was happening and she would've been flattened by the metallic steel ball that was just flung at her.

Grabbing her friend and ducking them out of the way, the two narrowly avoided the collision course of the metallic silver that crashed into the ground behind them, rebounding off the twisted steel of the ground as it bounced away to another wall. There, the two watched as it casually rolled its way back to the tail of the mechanized centipede-like creation as a new sphere protruded an additional pair of mandibles like the previous head that was flung to them.

And it was just a taste of what Catra knew to expect as she glared back to the towering figure past her smug friend.

"What is that thing?" Glimmer finally managed to ask as Catra helped her up to her feet.

"Some annoying droid that can connect to the other ones to get bigger." She replied, steadying her grip for the assault that would eventually rush to her. "They're more annoying when they're separated than together, though. They keep bouncing back whenever you hit them and they can bounce into each other to ram into you twice as hard."

"I thought you would appreciate the design, Catra~" Adora teased as she admired the reflection of herself in the head of the silver beasts' metallic alloy. "I made it with you in mind. Something you could hit over and over again and it would keep bouncing back to you." She eyed the magicat curiously with a small brow in her direction. "Least something that would want to come back to you..." Her verbal comments did nothing to irritate the magicat any less as the feline continued to burn with hatred for her old friend.

"Any advice on how to fight it?" Glimmer asked as she charged her fists with her magic at the ready.

"Yeah- Hit it hard if it launches at you and then bolt out of the way before it rebounds." It wasn't the most sound advice that Catra could give, but it was the amount she could afford to share knowing her enemies weren't going to wait around all day for thoroughly detailed step-by-step instructions on how to beat that thing.

With a small slap to the metallic beast's head, Adora sneered at the two princesses below her, relishing the sound of the centipede-like creation snapping its mandibles aggressively as it rose its head higher into the air.

With the power of her shadows, a grasp on them being something she had yet to fully regain since her separation from Aroda's usage, her twin swords on hand, a giant robotic centipede, a fellow Force Captain who was part scorpion at that, and a new gift she had discovered she was recently blessed with, for once, Adora felt confident in how her battle would play out against the likes of She-Ra. And she was going to prove to her who the real her was after weeks upon weeks of endless nightmares.

And it all started with the first step as she kicked off from the railing of the bridge.

*swish!*

Annnnnd disappeared into a cloud of pink sparkles, leaving four confused heads to stare in wonder at her recent disappearance.

"Uhhh," Scorpia muttered scratching her head, taking a quick peek of their surroundings to see if she was truly gone, "where did she go?"

...

*swish*

"H- uh? Waah-!"

*fwish!*

Within an entanglement of sticks and leaves as Adora reappeared over a bundle of trees, the otherwise fearless Force Captain let out a small shriek as she fell into the waiting arms of dozens upon dozens of tree branches and leaves. The array of twigs and leaves that brushed against her faces as she fell did little else than annoy her as she fell through the many arms, eventually catching her grip halfway down a small ladder of branches as she finally stopped.

Her whole head felt dizzy for a moment as she surveyed her surroundings. Given where she was now to the Horde base that was within the center of the clearing that she was on the edge of, she figured she must've covered a good hundred feet with that little sporadic leap through time and space. And while the act in itself might'be been a rather surprising and entertaining display, there was only one realization Adora could come to as she spat out a wad of inch-long twigs and leaves from her mouth.

"I officially hate teleporting..." She moaned. Not to say she wouldn't gladly take the power she copied all over again, but with what little practice she's had to be able to master this newfound power, she found herself teleporting everywhere except where she wanted to go.

Like to her targets that were just ten feet below her!

The entire battle against her former friend had taken many downs since she appeared at the Horde base a good distance from Elberon. From discovering that her old friend was now bent on ending every fraction of Adora's life to going berserk at the mere sight of her, not a single thing had gone Adora's way since the start of the mission. Save for successfully capturing the town after its recent liberation, everything had been blowing up in Adora's face from start to finish.

Literally.

Catra had no interest in taking her friend alive, no commitment to what little friendship they once had. All she wanted to do was to end Adora's life with the claws of her own two hands, and drown out what little life Adora had left within her. At one point, it almost came down to that very situation.

Continuing to take the Force Captain off guard with her sudden aggression, the magicat managed to ensnare Adora's leg with her sword-turned lasso before she could reach the switch that summoned the army of silver bots at her side. Reeling her in like cattle, powerless against She-Ra's full strength and anger, Adora was helpless as Catra began to strangle her with a single claw, raising the other one to scratch out what little life remained within the helpless Force Captain.

If it wasn't for Glimmer's saving grace as she stopped the enraged warrior from going through with it, fearing she would lose her connection to She-Ra in the process, Adora might not be here right now to rant about her teleportation issues. At the same time, she also wouldn't have discovered this newfound ability that could turn the tide of the war.

She could absorb and copy the magic of people she touched. Unaware of the girl's own presence as her vision was fading from Catra's suffocation, she inadvertently grabbed Glimmer's wrist and began to siphon off a portion of her power with it. While not everything, like Glimmer's ability to conjure up blasts of energy with her sparkly magic, she managed to acquire the unique ability to teleport to and fro from one location to the next.

Obviously, this didn't mean she had anywhere near the amount of control she would have preferred over her new ability. Quite the contrary, she had little to no control over her new powers as she ended up teleporting from one location to the next, crashing into several obstacles, walls included, as she distanced herself from her adversary. Like a toddler learning how to walk, it took her several minutes to figure out how to walk several steps ahead of herself without teleporting in the process.

At least she eventually managed to get a handle on her powers long enough to summon the very droids that could turn this whole situation around. Now she just needed to figure out a way to teleport back to where the action was.

And possibly get the bird nest that was nestled atop her scalp out of her hair...

...

*crash!*

The metallic beast continued to thrash about as it assaulted the fearless magicat, Catra grumbling to herself as she focused on her oversized friend as Glimmer teleported out of the way of another full-bodied slam from the elongated behemoth. Like the ones she fought in the woods, the irritating centipede was using every trick at its disposal and then some as it constantly kept Glimmer and Catra on their toes.

Flinging several portions of itself at the two battlers, attacking directly with its head or its tail, and keeping the two from getting any further from this section of the base as it kept cutting them off with its massive length, and it was proving to be one of the most formidable droids the Rebellion had yet to face. There wasn't a single opportunity for Catra or Glimmer to get the edge over the massive insectoid, either.

Several times Catra attempted to strike the head of the massive creature, hoping to chip away at the various droids that made it whole, and every time her attempts were in vain. Attempting to charge the creature up close resulted in it pulling back far enough before the agile cat could reach it. Trying to approach the body of the beast itself lead to the beast easily shaking the magicat off as it left her little room for her to get a grip on the mighty leviathan. And any time Glimmer appeared to have its attention distracted long enough for Catra to approach ended with the beast bashing her with the butt of its tail.

With the additional input Glimmer could weigh in on the fight against the creature, Catra came to realize their situation was far more severe than she originally anticipated. On top of the thirty individual droids that made up the one large droid, it also lead to that many pairs of eyes that she had to deal with as well. In addition to each individual droid working as a whole in unison, it also meant each individual droid was scanning its environment at a constant rate, meaning it could keep track of every individual thing within its radius.

There was zero opportunity for the two heroes of the Rebellion to get the drop on the creature, and that was provided it gave them enough leeway to catch their breath in the first place.

"Nnngghhh!" Growling under her breath as the creature attempted to charge her again, Catra prepared herself as she transformed her sword into a durable spiked mace, one that could match the size that composed the centipede of itself and all the weight that was hidden underneath it. Gripping it firmly between her claws, she eagerly smashed the side of the creature's head away with a resounding crash, smashing it again as it tried to center itself back to her.

As amusing as it was to get a couple of good hits in, she would find her amusement lasting only for so long. Following the second bash against its noggin, a strike that didn't appear to faze it anymore than the previous attacks, the giant centipede swiped its head quickly back in her direction, sending the magicat flying through the air as she crashed into the metallic wall on the other side of the section they were in.

"Geh-!" Catra winced a bit with a startled gasp as the air was pushed out of her, unable to stop herself from falling as she landed on her front, clutching her stomach a little bit in pain. That was like taking a wrecking ball straight to the stomach it hurt so bad, an experience she prayed she'd never have to witness ever again as her joints felt a little numb from the impact.

*Wsssssss-!*

Given the small hiss-like roar of steam that emanated from the creature as it rose above her, chances were she wouldn't have to.

"Catra!" Glimmer cried out as she picked herself from the ground from the most recent impact. With the small window of time she had between the droid's wind-up to slamming down upon Catra, the new Queen of Bright Moon swiftly teleported to her friends side, and teleported away the instant she grabbed Catra's shoulder.

*swish*

*WHAM!*

The two could practically feel the wind of the massive weight coming down upon them by the time she teleported again to safety.

Throughout the entire battle, the two silent spectators known as Flutterina and Swift Wind watched with worry, safely hidden behind the hole of the torn-away wall, as She-Ra and the Queen struggled to bring down the mighty droid. Even with the magic of a powerful spellcaster and the strength of She-Ra, the two were still finding themselves on the defensive as the centipede fought against them with seeming ease.

Like Adora had anticipated, the bot was working wonders against Catra as the magicat struggled to keep her guard up and defend herself all at the same time. Sure, she was used to counterattacks from her training with Light Hope, the advanced A.I. always training Catra to be prepared for any individuality and circumstance. But she's never dealt with an enemy like this before where they reacted so fluidly against her physical attacks, especially against this many at the same time!

"Shouldn't you try to help her?" Flutterina kept her worried eyes on the battlefield as she asked.

"I promised Catra I'd keep you safe." He nervously replied, silently gulping as the situation escalated. Of course he wanted to jump into the foray and do something to help his dear friend, yet what could he do that wouldn't get in the way? Keeping Flutterina guarded like Catrta instructed aside, he found little in the way he could assist the two. The droids' metal alloy was near invulnerable to most attacks, and even if they did have a means to break it apart, there wasn't any way they could get it to hold still long enough to destroy all the droids at once.

Besides, he wasn't entirely convinced things were out of control. It was Catra they were talking about after all. Whenever something looked bleak to her, she always found a way to turn the battle around. It was hard to find a warrior more determined than her to win a fight, even if the reasons behind it were a little off at times. Watching as his friend teleported back into existence a ways away from the conjoined centipede, practically near the two viewers at that. They probably would've noticed their presence if they weren't so focused on the menacing droid at hand.

The ground was still trembling as they reappeared on the other side of the sector, buying themselves a moment's rest as the beast turned its long body to its tail end towards them. "How are we supposed to stop that thing?"

"Egh, those round spots on its head it uses to bounce off of everything," Catra wiped off a small scrape from her chin as she got up, "that's the only weak spot they have. The rest is too durable to smash." Of the many things in Catra's life she found easier to say than do, she found this detail to be up within the top five moments of when she truly meant it.

"But how are we supposed to destroy it without it moving around so much?"

"Working on it, hang on." Catra pondered her options as she returned her sword to its original state. It more than proved its resilience when she bashed it away with her mace earlier, so how was she expecting to find some way to destroy the whole thing? It took her combined might with Swift Wind's sacred bond to destroy just five of these things before.

What was she supposed to do against thirty of these things at the exact same time?

Glancing around the environment, trying to find something to use to their advantage, Glimmer's eyes set upon one of the few defensive turrets spread across the edges of the Horde base, grinning as a thought popped into her mind. "Hang on, I have an idea!" Without warning or clue as to what that idea could be, the pink-haired princess began to glow as she prepared to jump from her friend's location to the point of interest atop the rightmost wall's corner.

"An idea?" Catra wondered as she looked into the direction her friend was facing before she left, curious as to what plan the Queen of Bright Moon could have against a foe she had never dealt with before. When her eyes came upon what could be her most likely target, a small twinge of worry crossed her mind. "Wait, Glimmer-!" But it was too late. By the time she opened her mouth to speak, Glimmer had teleported across the field of the base to the wall's corner, missing the disappointing warning Catra had for her.

Reappearing at her intended target, Glimmer grinned as she checked the controls. Like many of the bases they've raided in the past on their missions, the control schemes and equipment were fairly standard and easy to get a grasp on. Even if the design of it was a little bit strange compared to most of the other turrets she's seen, this one looking more like a tank that could be operated from above, it was still verily simple in concept and easy to figure out.

It was almost poetic in a way as the princess smirked at the sight of the towering centipede that finally managed to turn around to face Catra. What better way to destroy a droid than by using their own technology against them? She might not know how durable these things were, but anything blasted with a turret was sure to do some damage. With her target appearing none the wiser, she drew the creature's attention over to her as she pinched her finger and thumb between her lips.

*Tweeeeeeeeeet~!*

"HEY! BUGSY!" She shouted over, growing all the more excited as the creature turned its elongated form around to her in curiosity. Without any need for hesitation or concern, the young Glimmer fired the turret, and watched as she rained a storm of fiery energy-filled vengeance upon the insectoid-!

*POMPF!*

... Or... possibly several pounds of colorful confetti that was stuffed inside of the turret's barrel without her knowing. "... That... wasn't supposed to happen..."

This was the exact warning Catra tried to give her before she teleported to the defenses. She recognized the rugged tank in an instant from the party she attended with Bow mere hours ago. She could never forget how much her heart jumped the first time they set one off, or how awesome they were to fill them for a celebration in her own honor.

Unfortunately, it didn't look like the Horde themselves were anymore aware of this detail as they stole the armored tanks back along with the village they abducted. A small part of Catra wished they had noticed the detail in the hopes that Glimmer's plan could've worked. She would've found the situation a little more humorous if the agitated centipede didn't seem more hostile at the attempted assault.

Pulling back it's large upper half, Glimmer barely had the time to let out a split-second shriek before she teleported again, dodging the immense droid as it crashed its upper half against the turret and the entire corner of the wall under it's massive strength. Glimmer's heart was still racing from how close the massive droid came to crushing her as she reappeared on the other side of the sector across the undamaged bridge.

Nor had she felt a sense of worry over what they could possibly do to stop a towering creature such as this when it managed to shrug off most of Catra's physical strength and Glimmer's energy blasts. And it was still the least of her concerns when her two seconds of relief came to an abrupt end.

"Haaaah!"

*clang*

With all that had happened, Glimmer had almost forgotten that Scorpia was still here as she blocked the overhead swing that came down upon her from Scorpia's own two claws, blocking the attack just a foot away from her face as she defended herself with her father's staff. If it wasn't for the fact the centipede wouldn't bother her if she was this close to a fellow Horde soldier, she would've found the situation more unbearable to deal with as she struggled to stand her ground.

Sadly, the same could not be said for the same magicat who didn't have to deal with anyone else to deal with as the centipede turned back.

"Tch, great..." She hissed a little as the centipede attacked.

Like many times before, the centipede charged for her as crashed through the metal bridge, throwing back its head as threw several of the metallic droids from itself at the formidable She-Ra. Reacting quickly, the swift warrior dodged out of the way as she kept herself on the move to her right, running around the sector as she knew the droids would attempt to ricochet off the surroundings to strike her. It forced the girl to stay on the move at all times, preventing her from catching her own breath as the droids and the centipede gave chase.

In its efforts to cut her off, the centipede lashed its tail in her direction, something Catra caught onto as she nimbly slid under the massive steel chain of droids, her smooth sandal-like boots giving her a good distance as she did. What she didn't account for, though, was the intended target as no sooner did she dodge the overhead swipe did the tail end of the centipede slam down ahead of her, cutting her off from her escape as the tail overlapped several portions of itself and forming a wall-like blockade of several of the rolly-pollies stacked atop of one another.

Gritting her teeth as she heard the sound of the rolling droids behind her, Catra manifested a shield out of her sword as she braced herself for the charging rolling droids. As expected as the shield took the brunt of the attack, each of the droids bounced and struck against her instrument with enough to be mistaken as a wrecking ball, Catra doing her best to shrug off the individual strikes as she bashed the droids back with her weapon.

Upon deflecting the fourth orb that bounced against her shield, she found herself caught off guard as the head of the large centipede dove straight at her from above. With little option left, the magicat was forced to brace herself as she turned the sword into a gold-plated gauntlet over her right claw, and grabbed the mandibles of the dreaded creature as she stopped it just inches above her head.

There, Catra grumbled as she bit against her own teeth, struggling to maintain her own ground as she was slowly forced to one knee. For such a disjointed creature, the centipede definitely knew how to apply a sense of force against someone as strong as She-Ra as it continued to lower her to the ground, the sound of the metal creaking under Catra's feet ringing within her twitching ears.

If it was just dealing with the centipede and possibly Scorpia afterwards, then Catra was confident in her chances. Despite the towering droid that continued to lower her to the ground, she knew she could come up with something to dismantle the bucket of bolts for good. Sadly, fate wouldn't be so kind to her as she had nearly forgotten a missing individual up till now.

*swish*

"Hey, Catra." A certain smirk-filled ex-friend that belonged to one by the name of Adora, the very one who reappeared out of thin air in a small burst of pink magic.

There was little time to react as her ex-friend appeared above her, grinning at her predicament with both swords in hand. With nothing more to defend herself with since her hands were full, the magicat was forced to duck under the lunging centipede's from, diving out of the way of the creature's strike while using the droids themselves to block off Adora's strike.

This did little more than annoy the girl as Catra rolled away from the machine's underside, distancing herself a few yards away as she redrew her sword once more. She barely caught wind of Adora's movement before blocking the dual-bladed strike from Adora's lunge, the Force Captain pressing into the magicat's blade as hard as she could, inching the girl back a good foot.

During the same time, the same amount of distress was being fought on Glimmer's end of the arena as she continued to bat away Scorpia's claws, avoiding the stinger that already made several attempts on her throughout the battle. Strangely, however, while Scorpia appeared to be fighting at her fullest, there was something off about it compared to the previous time Glimmer fought her.

If it wasn't for the look in her eyes, Glimmer never would've anticipated the question that soon came.

"What did you mean about the portal earlier?" Scorpia asked quietly as if purposely avoiding Adora's ears.

"What do you think I meant?" There was almost mockery in Glimmer's tone as she attempted to push back against the scorpion princess's strength, unable to process whether Scorpia was being deliberate or insincere. "I meant what I said earlier! Adora didn't try to close the portal herself, she tried to let everything be destroyed!"

"What...?" Scorpia glanced back at her friend for a brief second as she attempted to strike Catra from the side with her twinblades.

She had to be lying, of course she had to! This was one of the Rebellion's own after all! They were the people they were constantly at war with, the people that kept taking away Adora's happiness and made things worse for her young friend in the process. There was no way anything out of Glimmer's mouth could possibly be true!

Besides, how could she take her word over Adora's anyway? This was her friend she was talking about, one of her best friends. Adora's always been the one trying to help people, the one who always stood between those being picked on and those causing the trouble. She would never let such a thing like that happen! She's sweet, considerate, she couldn't possibly take Glimmer's words over Adora's! Even if-!

...Even if Adora's been a bit different as of late. S-Sure there was a reasonable explanation in there...

The older princess shook her head as she shoved such thoughts from her mind. "Y-You're... You're lying!" With a gruff in her tone, the princess pushed back the newly made queen with a brief rush of anger. "Adora would never do such a thing!"

"Oh yeah? Then how did she do it?" Glimmer challenged, maintaining her footing as she kept from being pushed back further.

"Do what?"

"Close the portal! Did she tell you how she heroically stopped the portal from the inside? Or make up some excuse about how Catra beat her to stopping the portal first?"

"... She..." The shift in Scorpia's tone strangely caught the Queen off guard for a moment, noticing the pained look in her eye. "She hasn't..." Glimmer was the new Queen of Bright Moon. She knew she couldn't be trusted, she wouldn't even dream of trusting the Rebellion Leader's words right now over her friend's.

So why... Why was it causing a small twinge of doubt in her mind?

She... hasn't told her? A part of Glimmer felt sorry for the fellow enemy. Another part of her wanted to tell her everything about Adora, about what she really attempted to do within the distorted reality. And yet, as much as she wanted to, she was more concerned over her other friend, one who was still contending with an overgrown insectoid and a commander with a surprising and unsettling new ability.

Whether her grip was slipping or the cloud of confusion was distracting her from the situation, Glimmer found Scorpia's grip loosening for less than a second. It was all the time the girl needed to find an opening.

With a single teleport, the flash alone being more than enough to catch the Force Captain off her guard, Glimmer reappeared behind her, channeling all the magic she could in her hands as she blasted her aside, causing her to drop the staff in the process. It was nowhere near enough to keep the older girl off her feet for long, rolling to her side before jumping back to her feet, but it was at least enough to get her staff back firmly in her hands. Now she just needed to figure out a way to delay Scorpia long enough to assist Catra in her endeavor.

An endeavor that she slowly seemed to be losing a handle on as she contended with the giant centipede-like machine and the Horde Commander who relished the new advantage she had after the first few minutes of their recent encounter.

"What happened to all that excitement you had earlier?" Adora lightly taunted as she grinned. There was a small streak of sparks as Catra pushed herself away from the magically charged commander with their swords.

"Ghhhhh...!" Catra hissed with a brief pant. The swords themselves were starting to prove a bit more troublesome than she initially anticipated. While they were nowhere near as harmful as they could've been, the electricity from the swords continued to surge through Catra's body without pause, and despite being incapable of damaging the young She-Ra, it proved to be a minor annoyance as she felt a slight numbness whenever they clashed. It almost matched Adora's strength to her own.

If it wasn't for Adora's continued hinderance by her own powers, there would hardly be any amusement in this situation.

Like now, for instance, when the blonde warrior attempted to swipe across the air at Catra from the side. Where she stood one moment, she found herself several yards away with a finishing stroke. Blinking to herself for a mere moment, the dual wielder rolled her eyes in a small huff as she teleported again from above, this time connecting her blades with hers. And even that enjoyment was starting to wane as she noticed Adora gaining more and more control of her powers.

"You know you keep going back and forth between everything being "my fault" and being "your fault" that I'm starting to wonder who's REALLY at fault for all this~?" Adora taunted as she recalled their previous bout within the portal's world itself.

"SHUT U-Ngh!"

*Clang!*

She couldn't get two simple words in edgewise before she already found herself falling for Adora's bait. With a few simple strokes to her anger, the magicat lashed out in fury with her sword as she attempted to strike swiftly with her sword. Unfortunately, still struggling to grow accustomed to Adora's new ability, she wasn't prepared for her to just-as-quickly teleport from her present location, nor the elongated centipede's head to collide fiercely into her sword.

She found herself incapable of pushing back as her feet skid across the ground, the massive beast pushing with all its force as it pushed Catra closer to the metallic walls behind her. Noticing the closing gap between her and her target, she quickly mustered up as much strength as she could as she briefly reformed the sword into a bracelet along her left wrist, freeing her hands enough to grab the mandibles from the creature's head. With a solid push, the feline bashed the creature's front directly into the floor beneath them, long enough for Catra to quickly climb atop its back as she reformed her sword.

Just as an unwanted commander made her reappearance just ahead, smirking as she kept pace with Catra just several orbs ahead running backwards. All the while, the centipede's body slowly ramped up higher and higher as the rest of its body came to a brief halt following the front's collision.

"And then I remember why you left to begin with and realize it's not even a question at this point." It was with the following sneer accompanied by Catra's audible growling that Adora knew would seal her fate.

With a mighty kick from the most recent foothold, Catra shot straight towards Adora with a burst of speed, wishing beyond anything to wipe that smug look off her face one and for all. She had anger in her veins, a desire in her mind, and a weapon at the ready as she prepared to cleave Adora in two. Out of all of this, there was one simple detail she didn't have that would cost her the battle.

Anticipation.

Without so much as a passing grin, the Force Captain disappeared from her sight, an was immediately met with the other end of the metallic centipede. Throughout her anger-fueled ordeal with her ex-friend, she had almost forgotten the balls were made up of separate metallic droids that didn't need to act upon the front of the centipede's head. Both ends could act on their own without the need for a front or a back. As if that wasn't enough, there wasn't even a need for it to be whole in the first place.

Which she learned the hard way as the centipede disconnected its two halves before she could land her footing.

*WHAM!*

"Ahh!" Catra let out a small yelp in pain as she was slammed.

With nothing else to brace herself against, already caught off guard with the previous Centipede head's appearance, she found herself incapable of protecting herself from the strike that came directly under her. No sooner did the centipede disconnect itself did the two halves briefly form their own set of mandibles, acting as the heads the two sides once had on the other end.

Without any means to defend herself from the impending strike, Catra was helpless as the new halves reeled themselves in briefly before slamming against the warrior's stomach with all their might. The initial launch threw her at least another good ten feet in the air from the fifteen feet she started on the centipede's back, and it would prove to be the least of her concerns after what followed.

Reconnecting within seconds of launching the now-defenseless cat, the centipede reformed in whole as it once was, taking every moment to use the defenseless state to its advantage. With a solid thrust towards the air, the magicat was powerless as it shot itself over the young teen before wrapping her within its coils.

"Nghhh! There was a tightening pain across Catra's chest as she felt the crushing force of the several metallic droids close in together. It was like being crushed together by four wrecking balls simultaneously with half the size, the force being more than enough to crush the average person like a twig within seconds. It was taking all the strength She-Ra had to offer just to push back enough from an untimely end, her arms pinned tightly to her side as Adora intended.

It also proved to be the final push for a certain companion to care more for his friend's safety than following her direct orders.

"CATRA"! Swift Wind and Glimmer shouted in worry, the latter being drawn to the sight of the flung magicat, and it would prove to be both their downfalls.

The majestic pegasus couldn't help himself as he burst from his spot. Flutterina nearly got caught up in the small gust he left off as he flew to Catra's rescue from the broken wall's opening, willing and able to do anything he needed to rescue one of his dear friends. He could live with Catra being angry at him for however long she wanted to afterwards, but he refused to risk his close friend's life just for the sake of their bond.

In any given situation, his speed and his flight would give him just the boost he needed for a hasty rescue. He could easily fly on in, swoop down and save his friend, then continue the mission as a duo like the two were destined to be. There was just a complication he wasn't prepared for: Adora was already on top of him.

Literally.

"I was wondering when you'd show." She commented as she appeared above him in a miraculous burst of pink, the very same Glimmer had been known for when teleporting. Without any hesitation, before the noble steed could so much as blink, she enshrouded her arms in pure shadow before launching them out, entangling them both in a cloud of darkness that slowly pinned the colorful wings to the side.

"W-Whoooa!" Despite the added strength that came with being Catra's self-proclaimed "Greatest of Steeds", there was nothing he could do against the dreadful shadows in her icy grip. By the time Adora had let up on them, he already dropped several feet from the air, low enough for another several orbs to coil around him, binding him just as it did his close friend seconds beforehand.

"Swifty!" Catra yelled with anger and worry. It took several seconds for the horse to regain all semblance of self, and by that time, it was already too late. No matter how free his front and back hooves were, with his wings pinned to his side, there was no amount of force he could muster that would break him free of his bonds.

And all throughout his struggle, Adora landed gracefully to the surface as she grinned back to the two captured individuals. She didn't know as much about Catra's capabilities or the power of their "Sacred Bond", sneering at the thought that they actually had one, but she didn't leave anything up to chance. She made sure the centipede kept the two of them several yards apart as it lowered both of them to the ground at her level.

It was at the same time that this transpired that Glimmer and Scorpia were caught by the sight of Catra flailing in the air, unable to keep their eyes off the feat until the centipede had ensnared Catra in it's grasp. By the time Swift Wind attempted to mount his own rescue did Glimmer finally snap out of her trance-like state.

Only one thing stood between her and rescuing her troubled friend from the Centipede's clutches- the fact that Scorpia snapped out of it one second sooner.

Seeing the distracted look in Glimmer's eyes, Scorpia took full advantage of her opening as she dashed past her. There was a mere blur of movement that Glimmer caught of Scorpia before the princess had the drop on the newly-made queen.

Reaching ahead of her, the strong Force Captain pinned the staff just above Glimmer's chest as she pressed the young Queen back into her, holding her in place. What use Glimmer could've made with her hands in order to escape was put on hold as not even a second had passed before she caught Scorpia's stinger in her grip, only a solid foot away as she struggled to keep it at pay.

"Ngh..." Glimmer gritted her teeth as she tried to push the stinger away with all her might, the rod pressed against her chest making it a little hard to breathe and still being the least of her worries. She couldn't teleport herself to help Catra without dragging Scorpia along with her, and likely stinging her in the process, and there wasn't enough distance between her and the tail to blast it away without hurting herself in the face as well.

Catra was completely on her own on this one, with nobody capable of helping her.

Even those who were the only ones free at this point.

Ca-!" Adora shot her head in the direction of the voice in curiosity, seeing nothing more than a broken down wall to greet her with nothing else around here. She stared at the opening for a food good seconds before turning her attention back towards Catra, figuring the sound must've been from Glimmer or Swift Wind again, if it wasn't just her mind playing tricks on her.

It was only thanks to this saving grace that Flutterina continued to breathe nervously to herself as her heart skipped a beat. She gave it a full ten seconds before feeling her heart beat back to her, taking a silent breath before looking back into the base's interior where the situation continued to worsen.

"Mmmh..." She moaned to herself in fear as she took out the datapad she still had on hand. "Come on, come on, someone pick up." She-Ra, one of the greatest heroes of Etheria and the Rebellion, was in trouble. The Queen of Bright Moon was in trouble. And her majestic steed was in trouble, all while anyone else who could help was being held in a cell buried in the ground, leaving Flutterina all on her own with a datapad that she didn't know how to function.

"There has to be something..." She needed a plan. Something, anything, to turn the situation around in just a few short minutes. She needed to find someone else to help, anyone that was in contact with these datapads the Rebellion and Horde were known for lugging around. Maybe she could call a nearby princess? Reinforcements? Anyone would be a huge help right now, and all of it was hindered by the simple fact that she DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO CONTACT ANYONE WITH THESE THINGS!

Then again, who was she kidding? With another groan, she gazed at her surroundings as she tried to formulate a plan. Even if she did manage to get into contact with someone, it would take too long for them to get here anyway! But it raised the question of what she was supposed to do if calling for backup was a no-go. She didn't know where any of the weaponry was located and nothing short of a full-fledged Horde Tank would stand a chance against that giant metallic bug, much less Adora. If only she had a piece of tech around her, she could figure out someth-

Flutterina blinked as the realization dawned on her. "Wait a minute..."

"-connect this wire over here like this, and throw this switch, and viola! You have yourself a personalized miniature EMP!"

"Ooooh!" The several kids watched with interest as Flutterina blinked at the small makeshift device.

"Does it really work?" She asked, watching as the archer disconnected the wires from his data pad.

"Well, for one this size, you could get it to work on something within a few yards of yourself." He stated, reconfiguring his data pad as he put the tools away. "If you want to take out a whole bunch of bots, you'll need to find a bigger power source to hook up the data pad to. Just make sure you don't need it though cause otherwise you'll short out your own electronics with it."

"That's it!" Her wings perked up a little along with her expression as she looked around. The solution to her problems were already in her hands! All she needed was to find the missing component to her solution, something that could draw enough power for her plan to work. It wasn't until she saw the reflection from behind her in the blank screen that she found all the pieces she was looking for, smiling as she guard tower continued to stand tall as she rushed inside.

Now all she needed was to hope she was fast enough before Adora lost her nerves.

The very same Adora who grinned as she took in the scenery around herself. "How often do we wind up here, Catra?" She casually asked, twirling one of her taser swords briefly before sheathing it in her left. "You know, the whole "me over here trying to unite Etheria", you and your friends "ruining things at every turn"? Because it's been getting very annoying recently."

"Tch, the feelings mutual..." Catra scoffed, grumbling as she continued to struggle herself free.

"No, really, it's gotten very annoying for me. Anytime I try to get people to join the Horde, you have to get involved in a way that ruins it for everyone involved, especially me!" Just the memories of those instances brought spite to Adora's mind. The countless outposts she's lost, the numerous towns that have turned back on their agreed alliances. And all because Catra got such enjoyment out of her misery!

"Oh, what? Kidnapping an entire town is your new recruiting allies to your side?" There was a smug grin on Catra's face that sickened the blonde warrior as she turned a little. "Pffft, that's rich. Hey, while you're at it, how about next time you set fires to their homes before stealing everything they have? I'm sure they'll love ya then-"

"I could care less about this stupid town or what it has to offer!" Adora snapped back as she stood straight into Catra's face. "I'm finished with going for the minor victories, and letting you ruin everything!"

"Oh, right, because I'm the center of alllll your problems." Catra rolled her eyes once again, much to Swift Wind's nervousness.

"Ehhh Catra?" He muttered softly. "Maybe we shouldn't be antagonizing the girl with the swords right n-" His warning was cut off as he noticed a small gesture with Catra's hand pinned behind her, a simple gesture urging him to follow or come closer, and giving him all the info he needed to know.

She was stalling her. For as long as she could pique Adora's attention, she wanted him to get closer so the two could set off the only thing that could save them right now; their Sacred Bond. As long as Adora was focused on Catra, the mighty steed could struggle to free one of his wings, being the only thing long enough to reach her from this distance, and preform the miracle that would empower them both enough to break free of the mighty insect, and hopefully destroy it.

The question became a matter of what would happen first- if Swift Wind would manage to wiggle his wings free, or if Adora's anger would reach it's breaking point. Given how resentful the Force Captain already was of her ex-friend, he prayed it wouldn't be the latter.

"You are the cause for all my problems!" Adora continued to yell. "Everytime I do something, you have to be there to ruin it. Everytime I gain a new ally, you have to be the one to take them away from me. No matter how large or how minor I obtain something, you have to be the one to break it away from me, and I've had it!"

"Oh yeah? And what's your big strategy now? Actually winning for a change?" There was no end to the spite rising in Adora's heart, her mind becoming more clouded and darker as Catra continued to pull on her strings. At this rate, any single thing that originated from Catra's mouth could easily set her off. "Face it, Adora. If you actually ever did your job for a change, then MAYBE you would be someone that even Hordak appreciated!"

That did it.

With her back to her, Catra watched as the shadows began to swirl around Adora a little, her fists clenching tightly to both her sides as the red mystical veins along her left arm began to bright. As if reacting to her emotions, the veins gave off very minuscule sparks of red, growing brighter and brighter with each passing second.

She couldn't keep her mouth shut. No matter what she did, Catra just had to antagonize her every time. She couldn't let her be happy. She couldn't let her win for a change when it really mattered. She didn't care what she had, she would steal everything from Adora if it brought so much as a smile to her face. And now, she couldn't even give her the peace of silence as she continued to flip her lip with every other sentence.

And it was with that sudden revelation that everything came to a halt. The air of anger that swirled around Adora went off. Her powers weren't reacting to her, the veins returned to their normal glow, and her shadows dissipated, all as Adora seemingly let go of her anger. "You're right." Catra blinked, her ears twitching at the two words she clearly misheard. "You're right for once. I haven't been doing my job around here." The Force Captain glanced at the taser blade clutched in her right hand.

...

It was at the same time this was going on that Flutterina finally reached the top of the Guard Tower's interior, panting a little out of breath. Not that she could blame a tower that only stood about 40 feet tall, but you'd think they'd have some sort of elevator in these places for an emergency like this.

At least the tower itself was empty. If there was any silver lining to her present situation, it's that the tower, like much of the base, was barren of Horde soldiers. The last she'd need to deal with was an entire room waiting for her as she ran inside, interrupting her work as she tried to find any sort of loose panel with access to the wires of the facility.

Thankfully, as she had hoped, there was a terminal station with several monitors and stands next to them, all along with wall-sized windows to every corner of the base for the view. If they were connected to the entire base as a whole, then she could draw all the power she needed for an emp blast strong enough to bring the whole machine down, or at least do something to it to help her save She-Ra and Swift Wind.

"Okay, just like Bow said..." Flutterina mulled to herself as she came across an access panel. Getting ahead of herself, she quickly picked around the edges of the datapad until she could finally get it open, getting everything ready as she felt her hands along the console's panel for an opening. "Just find the orange wire, connect it to blue, and hit the switch!"

For a brief moment she felt excitement as she pulled apart the panel at the prospect of saving her hero, She-Ra, with her own two hands. As soon as she found the right wire she needed, she was going to be the one saving the Rebellion's greatest ally for a change, and prove herself at the same time!

It wasn't until she pulled away the panel that she blinked, groaning to herself as she squeezed her head a little in frustration. "WHY IS EVERY WIRE ORANGE?!"

...

"Everything I've done, everything I'm doing... it's been nice... too nice..." Just the grip of her own sword was enough to affirm how soft she's been to everything. She should've been gripping it tighter, rougher, so it would never slip out of her hands. "I keep leaving myself open to betrayal... I kept letting people push me around... And I never argued with what I was told... Even when I didn't agree with it." It was with this statement that she pushed beyond her tightened grip, squeezing it firmly in her hand as she shot a look back to her mortal enemy. "And now... I'm done."

Fiercely, Adora grabbed the collar of Catra's outfit, pulling her as close as she could so she could see the fire in Adora's eyes. "I don't care what I have to do, and I don't care what it takes. I am going to crush every kingdom between me and Bright Moon that gets in my way, along with their stupid princesses. And when I finally unite Etheria and crush the Rebellion, then you will see who the real villain is, Catra!" There was a brief silence that fell over several individuals as they took in Adora's words.

For Catra, it was due to the inability to recognize the person who just said that to her. That anger, that spite, everything that was uttered just now? It was like nothing compared to the person she once knew. Sure, she egged her on and she still wanted her dead, but just hearing all that from Adora's mouth? And without any known magical parasite messing with her mind at this moment?

It was like she was someone she had never met before. And the red eyes were not helping.

And it wasn't just her ears that were bothered by the declaration, either. From the floor above the ramp, at the side of the walls interior, Scorpia looked back to her unaware friend with unease.

Did she just hear all of that right? Did Adora actually say something like what Hordak or Shadow Weaver would say? She knew the Horde's methods weren't always the best, but with someone like Adora around, she never had to worry about that sort of thing. She was compassionate, she was patient. She cared for everyone around her and preferred to make friends than enemies.

It wasn't enough to loosen her grip as she continued in her attempts to sting the young Queen, but for a moment, if she had closed her eyes right now, she could've sworn to herself.

The person standing down there wasn't Adora. And it almost frightened her for a single second.

Yet even with this, Catra refused to show any sign of fear in turn or relent. With a twitch of her left ear, it sounded like Swift Wind almost freed one of his wings from the Centipede's grasp. She just needed to keep Adora's attention for another minute longer, then she was sure she could get out.

With another unfazed chuckle, Catra continued to smirk to the tempered commander as she shook her head. "Pffft, yeah, and we'll see how many people stick by you to the end at that point." She snarled, enjoying the sight of Adora's fuming as the grip on her outfit's collar tightened. "Keep living in your fantasy world as a hero and maybe Shadow Weaver won't be the only one you lose by the time it's all over!" Adora stepped back as her eyes returned to their regular hue momentarily. Catra paused.

...

"Mmmh... which is it...?" Flutterina mumbled to herself as she continued to search the interior of the large computer's console.

57 Wires, not a single one orange, and only a dozen of them left to go through. She couldn't afford to make a mistake as she searched for the wire connected to the base's entire computer system. If she ended up using the wrong wire there would be no second chances. With the datapad in hand, she only had one chance to activate it, and if she used a wire that caused an emp blast no further than the outside of this room, the pad would be inoperable again for a second use.

Somewhat fortunately, sorting through the various wires were proving a little easier than she initially expected. Most of the wires ran from one end of the console to the opposite side of the computer that had absolutely nothing to do with the console's configuration or keyboard that she needed it to.

Of course, the further in she got, being about a foot and a half way into the machine with her arms, the less wires she had to work with and the more stress she had to experience. Rifling through another handful of them, she found at least seven remaining wires that were likely the ones she needed. Every good piece of news involving the wires made every wire she had remaining more stressful as she found it harder and harder to tell which wires were connected to the power grid.

And she was running out of time.

"Mmmh... No wonder everyone hates the Horde, they can't even make their wiring simple!"

...

That bile that was once rising upon Adora moments before, the one she had let go upon her grand revelation slowly returned, her expression hardening as her eyes narrowed. Catra just couldn't keep her own thoughts to her just once. She couldn't give her the solace of peace that she yearned for after finishing a sentence. She just had to keep rambling on, taking this way and that, all because she had to do the one thing Adora knew about her by this point: Take.

"... I never lost them." Adora stated firmly, tightening the grip in her taser sword as the electricity danced across the blade. "Everything I've ever had... everything I've ever cared about... were taken. By you. Even after you left, you still couldn't help but take everything I had just to make your life easier, could you?"

At this, the electricity dancing across the blade surged, reaching its maximum intensity as Adora's anger finally peaked. "I'm not letting you take a single thing from me again, Catra. Not now,", with a pulse of her power, she raised the sword well above her head, tightening it's grip even further as the shadows squeezed around its grip, "not EVER! And with all the force she could bring, she brought the blade down full swing atop of Catra's head.

It was with the resounding shout that Glimmer's attention was caught by the Horde commander as her eyes widened in terror. "CATRA!" She still couldn't do anything on her end as Scorpia still kept her pinned to herself, the Force Captain refusing to let up as she attempted to sting the princess to knock her out for good.

Neither was Swift Wind in any condition to come to Catra's aid, either. The most he managed to wiggle out of the robot's grip was nothing short of an inch, with still a whole half of a wing to get free. Even with all his strength, struggling as much as he could at this moment, there was nothing he could do to get to She-Ra faster to perform their Sacred Bond, the one ace up their sleeve that could save the day.

Catra herself felt everything around her come to a grinding halt as time seemingly slowed down around her. She didn't have any tricks up her sleeve, she couldn't use her sword in any way as long as it was pinned under her at her side, and she didn't have any surprises she was waiting to spring at the last minute. It almost felt like she was as her heart skipped a beat, knowing for the first time in her life, there was nothing she could do.

Adora had actually won. She had planned for everything this time and even came with a surprising new power even she was unaware of. And now, she was going to enjoy the fruits of her labor at long last as she prepared to take Catra's life herself, ending She-Ra and the Rebellion's greatest ally all at the same time.

And with nothing left to do, Catra just closed her eyes tightly, waiting for the end to be brought upon her.

"-I suffered for what you did like you always dreamed of-"

*Swiff*

"..."

"..."

She could feel it just inches from her head as the heat of the electricity rose from the blade. Was this just time going even slower for her as her end came even closer? She's never come so close to death like this, at least not without knowing or having a surprise trick in her bag to get her out of the situation, so there was no telling how fast or slow time would go right now. All she knew was that she could only wait for the end to come...

And waited.

And waited...

And was still waiting.

Okay this is taking way too long... Catra thought to herself as she decided to take a chance and look. Slowly opening one eye, she wondered if time had truly come to a stand still for a moment, or if something else had occurred in its place. Much to her surprise, and her disbelief, the thing that had stopped Adora's sudden execution was... nothing.

There wasn't anyone blocking the blade or grabbing her arm. Her sword didn't lose any power, not that it would matter in the present situation. There wasn't some magical force field over Catra protecting her, there wasn't some spell over Adora that made her suddenly freeze in place, there wasn't anything. There was just Catra stuck there blinking a bit, a sword directly over her head just inches from her face. And on the other end of that?

Adora, who appeared to be gritting her teeth as her hand shook a little.

"Adora?" Scorpia muttered, wondering what was stalling her friend as she was. She kept going off and on about how she wanted to put a stop to Catra's interference for days on end, especially since the portal incident a few weeks back. Yet now that she finally had the opportunity to, what was keeping her back? Nobody had the answer to this sudden mystery.

Not even Adora herself. She just grunted a bit to herself as if she was struggling to go through with it. She finally had a chance to get rid of She-Ra, to get rid of Catra! She could end the Horde's greatest threat with a single stroke, she could rid herself of the headache and nightmares that have been plaguing her increasingly with each passing day! So now that she finally had the opportunity to do it at long last, WHY COULDN'T SHE GO THROUGH WITH IT?!

She couldn't describe the feeling that was making her stop, either. She felt like the moment she came within several inches of Catra's head, her heart suddenly stopped, and would continue to stop each time she attempted to perform the same act of violence without end. She didn't feel sick, she wasn't under any orders to bring She-Ra in alive, not that Hordak was in the position to give her said orders anyway, and she knew deep down, that if she could and finally did go through with this, she would earn the respect she deserved.

She would show Hordak that she was wrong about her at long last, that she was truly the Horde soldier she had always aspired to be and that she was always trying to show him. She would earn the admiration and respect she's suffered through so much for, and all it took would be finishing off Catra once and for all. And most importantly, it would bring her continuous struggle against her former friend to a final end.

So why?

Why on Etheria did her hands freeze like this?

"Nnngggh..." Adora grumbled as she narrowed her eyes to the point of closing them, her body tightening with each beat of her heart. It was almost like her mind and her hand were disconnected from each other she had so little control over it right now. Times like this she almost wished she had a disembodied magical parasite infesting her mind.

At least then, someone could tell her what's going on or what she's feeling.

After another ten seconds of internal grumbling, the Force Captain finally scoffed, pulling her sword away as she scowled. "Forget it."

Huh? Catra was beyond words as she was plagued by confusion. She had to admit, if Adora was up to a trick of some sort, she had absolutely no idea what Adora was planning.

"You're more valuable to us alive, anyways." She stated as she turned her back to her once more. "Scorpia, hurry up with her Royal Majesty, this place is getting on my nerves." There was so much Catra found confusing about Adora's sudden turnaround, both, figuratively and literally, but with her back turned as it was, she focused her direct attention back to her winged friend as she gestured to herself one more time.

Now that the looming threat of Adora's sword seemed to be past them, he redoubled his efforts in loosening his wings, doing everything he could to free it in time to reach Catra's hand. There was never going to be another chance like this with Adora's back turned to them and they couldn't afford to squander their last remaining opportunity.

Sadly, they also never had one.

"Oh yeah, that reminds me..." Retrieving Catra's lost attention once more, the magicat watched as Adora rose her free hand to as high as her shoulder, and gave it a single, authoritative, snap.

*Click*

*Skreeeeeee-!*

"Aghhhh!" Catra cried out along with Swift Wind, squeezing her eyes from the pain. Whatever minor annoyance they were in previously, whatever grip the giant metallic bug had over them moments ago, was nothing compared to the crushing force that now squeezed against them from all sides. The metallic creature almost groaned as it grinded it's metallic spheres closer to one another, putting the two heroes between a crushing force unlike anything they've ever experienced.

"What? Did you honestly think I didn't notice?" Adora shot back with a sly smirk. "I know all of your tricks, Catra, like when you're purposely drawing out a distraction." The cat in question let out a small hiss under her grumbling, opening one of her closed eyes to see Adora's sneer. "I meant what I said earlier about crushing everything that stands in my way. Besides, it'll be easier to drag you back with a broken limb or two..." She paused turning a glance to her winged companion. "I don't really know about your pony sidekick though..."

"Ghhhh... He's not a pony! His name is Swifty!" Catra hissed again.

"Actually, it's- eghhh... It's Swift Wind!" The horse corrected.

"NOT NOW!"

...

"Mmmmh..." Flutterina sweated a little as she looked at her options. There were only two wires left. Two. Entire. Wires. Everything that came to saving Catra and Swift Wind from the metallic Centipede that was currently crushing them hinged on getting the right wire at this very moment, so while there was a 50% chance of getting the wire right, there was also a 50% chance on getting the wire wrong.

It felt like she was in the middle of defusing a bomb to herself as she examined both the wires closely. There was no indication which wire could be the correct wire as the ends of both wires were fed through a small hole connected to the console, making it easy to pull them out, but making it impossible for her to tell what wire was connected to the computer's power grid and what wire was connected to anything else.

Maybe they were both the right wires? Maybe neither of them were the right wires? Maybe this wasn't even a suitable power source and she was wasting her time to begin with? All of this hinged on the single chance that this plan would even work in the first place!

And, as if to add on to the pressures, she saw the situation unfolding outside as the robot began to crush She-Ra and Swift Wind. If there was any chance of saving the two at this point, it was on the hope that this plan could and would work at all, and the hope that she wouldn't be known as the one who let She-Ra get beaten all because she picked the WRONG CHOICE WHEN HER ENTIRE CHANCE OF RESCUING THEM ALL HINGED ON A SINGLE ORANGE WIRE!

Still, as stressful as it was, she shook her head as she came to a decision. Against her judgement of rushing things, if there was any chance on saving She-Ra, it would have to be now. So, with a deep breath, she steadied her heart as she tossed the right wire aside and went with the left one. Tearing away the rubber insulation, the young rescuer silently prayed to herself as she attached the wires as she was shown previously, setting up the datapad to set off the EMP, provided she chose correctly.

With a final deep breath, she closed her eyes as she steadied her finger for the final time. "Please let this work..."

*click*

"... No..." She muttered with fear in her heart. Nothing happened. There wasn't even a beep. She panicked as she scanned over the device on all sides, unable to comprehend what she had done. She chose wro-

*BZZZZZZZZZZ-*

"Ahhh-!" Flutterina crawled back as the datapad practically leapt from her hands.

In a sudden display that caught her completely off guard, the entire room began to surge with electricity from the console as the lights began to flicker in rapid succession throughout the building. From the wire connected to the computer's interior, Flutterina watched with wonder as the streaks of lightning danced across the floor, ceiling, and walls alike as if it was an electrical pulse that was spreading from and to the datapad itself.

The EMP was working!

...

The effects of the datapad's accomplishment wasn't just stationed within the interior of the Guard Tower's station. All across the entire base, the Horde outpost began to run amok with power fluctuating back and forth with electricity. All around the facility, sensors and light posts were flickering back and forth as they began to be drained of power one by one. From the outside to the inside, the energy of the outpost was being siphoned as it slowly gathered inward to the very guard tower were it started from.

All around her, Adora was struck with confusion as she, Scorpia, and Glimmer saw the chaos unfolding around them, the three of them perplexed by the sudden random event striking at the outpost. "What's going on?" Adora yelled as she scanned around the facility. Was there another attack taking place she wasn't expecting? Or was the entire fight a diversion for this exact scenario to play out?

Looking around herself, Scorpia's eyes were drawn beyond the walls to the other part of the facility, her head giving her just enough height to see past the barriers. "Uhhh Adora?" She called out, worried by the sight. The containment field, the temporary prison for the people of Elberon, began to waver off and on with increasing ferocity. Whatever was assaulting the base just now was causing the barrier to dwindle in power, and each wave causing the prison to erode with every passing second. "Something's going on with the prison..."

"What?" Adora yelled back, unable to hear through the rumble of the facility.

"I said the prison-"

*swish*

"Huh?"

*swish!*

*CRASH!*

"Scorpia!" Adora shouted as the scene unfolded.

This distraction. The electricity dancing around everything and the two Force Captains wondering aimlessly as they watched the strangeness unfold around them. Then the moment Scorpia turned from looking to the prison to looking at her best friend. All of this, was exactly what Glimmer needed to free herself from her predicament.

With the stinging girl's attention drawn away from her in its entirety, she finally managed to afford the time she needed to pull off a successful teleport. With the loss of her grip on the staff, Scorpia was unprepared as she let her guard down for Glimmer to give a single, solitary, push away of her stinger, finally giving her the space she needed to push away the staff pinning them together.

After managing to push the staff just out of her claws, Glimmer finally had the mere inches she needed to teleport herself without the unexpected company. From the surprise of the princess's disappearance combined with the electrical storm currently running through the base, the Princess of the Black Garnet was ill-prepared to defend herself as Glimmer reappeared behind her, blasting her with a wave of her pink energy, and throwing her over the rail of the bridge into the crates on the other end.

With her freedom and father's staff reclaimed, Glimmer turned her attention back to the commander a level below her. She was prepared to take on the soldier herself as Catra continued to struggle from the centipede's tightening grip. Hopefully, if she was quick enough, she could beat Adora in time to save Catra from being crushed.

Fortunately for her, she wouldn't have to.

As the electronics around the facility continued to be siphoned, the datapad on Flutterina's end began to brighten little by little with a light-blue glow as it hummed. The pink-haired girl watched with a slight curiosity as the datapad began to rattle with its building light, starting first as a light stutter, quickly evolving into a rapid nonstop tapping that began to shake with the rest of the room. Already knowing what was about to befall the base, the young girl hurried herself out of the room as the datapad practically levitated with energy, vacating the tower as fast as her legs could carry her.

And just two feet out the doors, all at once, it was finally unleashed.

*BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM*

*Sksksksksksksksksk-!*

It was like a bright singular wave of energy as a ring of blue spread across the entirety of the base, even reaching up to the trees at the edge of the clearing and then some. All throughout the base, everything electronic, from simple radio equipment to the outside turrets began to short circuit. Sparks and streaks of lightning danced across every mechanical surface, even Adora's own swords which ceased to power, began to shut down.

But most of all, the metal behemoth that had been the bane of Catra and Swift Wind's struggles till now was also affected.

The creature hissed as bolts and steam grinded against each other as it short out. While not outright disabling the creature, the centipede began to whir and shake violently as its motor functions struggled to maintain their current grip on the heroic leg of the creature twisted back and forth without end as the robot began to squeeze and expanded without end. The head and tail of the creature waved back and forth out of its own control, as if struggling and failing to detach itself from the spheres that connected it.

It was nauseating to detail what the creature truly felt at this moment, feeling half its functions disabling while the other half remained enabled, and continuing to switch back and forth from this status in a perpetual loop. The fact the creature managed to maintain its functionality to this extent proved wonders for what the mechanical engineerings of the Horde's scientists were capable of, but none of that mattered right now. What truly mattered was that the creature had lost its once-formidable grip and, most importantly, gave the two teh opening they finally needed.

"Swifty, now!" Catra shouted directly as she gave a final push. Grumbling, the pair struggled with all their might as they gave it the final shove, pushing away the creatures body on all sides as they loosened their arms and wings respectively.

With its functionality less than even a fourth of what it was previously capable of, the centipede was helpless to resist as Catra and Swift Wind finally managed to push away the creature's coil with ease. Reaching for each other without hesitation the two gathered their power to perform the miracle they needed most, one that was finally unleashed as Catra's fingers grabbed onto the shoulder blade of Swift Wind's right wing.

Their Sacred Bond.

*SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIM*

A glorious bright erupted from where the two were once captive that enveloped everything within the same reach of the mighty construct. It almost reminded Adora that day of the Battle for Bright Moon, more spherical in shape and just as powerful as the wave that once was. It radiated with the same aura that haunted her several times since then in her nightmares, reminding her of the constant point in that war that turned the tide in Catra's favor. And here was no different- save for

Within seconds of the erupting light's birth, Adora watched as a gallant steed shot forth into the sky high above them, shining with the same majestic power they once donned earlier that day against the lesser centipede-like droids. Sword in hand, Catra grasped the mane of Swift Wind's hair, hanging onto it as he shot forth like a rocket, one that was speeding off towards the sky in the direction of the sun. This alone proved enough to temporarily blind the force captain as she shielded her eyes, the illumination of their aura combined with the sunlight filling her entire view with white temporarily.

It left little in the way for the dynamic duo as Catra looked back to the ground, seeing the centipede machination completely incapacitated and Adora blinded from her view of them. With the coast being as clear as it was, she gave a firm tug to Swift Wind's mane once again, the horse nodding in approval, as it turned in a full one-eighty, shooting straight towards the towering creation for a final attack.

Gathering as much energy as she could with his help, rising her feet to the horses back, Catra leaped from the great white body as she shot towards the very head of the creature. "Haaaaaah!" Bellowing a thunderous warcry, the magicat rose her sword above herself in two, aiming directly between the creature's mandibles, the weak point of the dreaded mech, as its head threw back, barely able to focus on Catra's assault as she finally landed atop the metallic being. And finally, with a firm thrust of her blade, she impaled her sword straight into the droid's head.

*creeeeeeesh!*

Like the EMP that gave them their opportunity of freedom, the creature's head erupted with a surge of electricity as it was breaking apart from the inside out. Unlike the EMP, however, there was the added spice of Catra's own magic at play here. Even if she still didn't have the expertise of her magic on her own, with Swift Wind's added power, she managed to inject a massive wave of She-Ra's power within the destructive droid, one that surged all throughout the body, and to every connecting sphere.

Cracks began to erupt one after the other among the various spheres, the energy cracking apart the metal armor from within, leaving behind small streaks of light to erupt from each individual crack. More than enough power was poured into the elongated being, and the satisfaction at the sight of her accomplishment was more than enough to convince Catra not to stick around any longer. With another graceful leap into the air, she landed onto Swift Wind's back as he passed over again, and watched as the fruits of her labor would finally pay off.

With the creature's destruction.

*boom-boom-boom-boom-!*

"Noooo!" Adora shouted angrily. Her vision returned just in time to see the destruction of one of the Horde's greatest creations, almost as if time itself was mocking her with a glimpse at this painful destruction. Like dominos being toppled over, she watched as every segment of the droid burst apart in an array of light, destroying the construct at long last.

Nothing remained of the creature that had any value to Adora or Catra as they examined the remains of the destroyed creature. The metals were nearly melted from the extreme heat of the ensuing blasts, and what few parts did remain of the centipede's many spheres would barely put together a single piece of the 30 orbs that made the droid so fearsome to begin with. Everything was gone, and nothing remained but ash.

Except for an old Force Captain Catra still had a score to settle with.

Regathering the energy shared between the two, Catra centered the energy she had remaining into her blade as it began to glow with it's own aura of power. What would've taken a short time to pull off on her own was done in nearly a single second with Swift Wind's assistance, the noble steed sharing the energy that their bond blessed them with. Raising her sword towards the sky for a final time, still atop her friend as they flew in Adora's direction, and with a single swipe of her magnificent sword, she swiped.

The commander gritted her teeth as the magicat unleashed her energy, firing a solid stream of wave-like energy towards the young girl with all her might. Normally, the sight of the massive yellowish wave of energy would send shivers down most peoples' spine. On the other hand, for Adora, she just found it as a new inconvenience at best.

"Is that supposed to scare me?" Adora commented with a smug grin. Did Catra truly forget about her new ability to begin with? Now that she had a sample of Glimmer's powers, she could easily teleport herself out of the way. It didn't matter if her lack of control landed her 20 feet in the air or the other side of the world. Anywhere would've been better than-

*zzzzt*

"Huh?" Adora flinched as she looked down at her arm. The red veins that normally glowed over her suit, the ones that were illuminated right up to this point, were shrunk to the size of an inch long along her arm.

Trying to gather the power she needed to teleport again, she saw nothing more than a simple spark of red electric streaks bouncing off her arm before fizzling out of existence. It was only then that Adora had realized her mistake: she carried the same amount of magical energies as the princess she copied them from, including the number of teleports Glimmer was previously limited to.

*CRASH!*

"Ngh!" Adora let out a small squeal as she was thrown through one of the interior walls from the resulting explosion. With little choice in the matter and barely any time left, Adora was forced to defend herself with her own two hands. Gathering what remaining power she could, she encircled herself in a thin brief dome of shadows, barricading herself from the majority of the blast's impact.

There was barely an inch separating her from the direct impact of the explosive waves as it collided against her magic. It was unknown how devastating the blast would've been if she hadn't shielded herself, or if she would've survived at all with most of her limbs attached, but with the combined might of the exoskin and the protection her shadows managed to enforce, she staved of the worst of it.

The pain was an entirely separate matter, but was a debate for another time as she groggily picked herself up from the dusty outside ground.

Compared to the rest of her body, strangely, it was her left arm that hurt the most as she grasped it, specifically along her wrist. Apparently exerting herself was meeting with similar results as she did when she was possessed by Aroda, the strain of her magic putting a hamper on her body. In this case, with the veins barely visible over her left arm, she felt a strange stinging sensation all along her wrist, either from the great exertion, or from the massive blast she experienced seconds prior.

Whichever the case mattered little to the Force Captain as she gazed at the sky once more, seeing Catra still flying a little above the base. Both girls narrowed their eyes in anger at one another as Scorpia made her way to Adora's side, being almost completely ignored as Scorpia checked on each other.

The events of today would never be over, nor forgotten by either girl as the paths before them were made clear. For Catra, it was revenge for what Adora put her through and for what she did within the portal world. For Adora, she would no longer put up with everything Catra had taken from her, and would ensure that the next time they met, that she was the one who had it all taken from her.

Nevertheless, there was little either of the two could do as the dust began to clear. With little choice in the matter, Adora resigned herself to a hasty retreat with Scorpia trailing behind her. Catra would've been more than willing to give chase to the former friend if she wasn't tired already from the arduous battle she just experienced. Tip that off with the sound of the villagers from the in-ground prison, and seeing Flutterina panting along the ground as she exited the guard tower, the source of the EMP explosion, and she knew there were bigger priorities at stake here.

Besides, from the sound of the prison area, she already heard a familiar voice calling out as he began climbing his way out of the cell, helping the other villagers as they followed in suit behind him. "Alright, take my hand... I got you... there we go..." It was the sound of his voice that got Glimmer truly excited as she teleported to the prison area.

"Bow!" She called out overjoyed, relieved to see one of her closest friends were safe from harm. The very archer was just as relieved as he turned around after helping another villager out of the pit.

"Glimmer!" He called out as the two rushed up to each other in a hug. Catra would have to admit, not openly of course, that she was just as relieved to see everyone okay, including her close friends. Even if it wasn't openly, she knew Swift Wind could tell what she was feeling as she gave a small grin to him, patting his head a bit for a job well done.

It might not have been easy, but everything had turned out okay.

...

"Thank you so much." The Village Leader's voice was pleasant to hear after all this time. Within the last several hours, Catra found herself saving the village for a third time in a single day, fought off Adora, and destroyed a new and destructive type of Horde robot that almost crushed her and her steed. With the Horde threat removed from the village, hopefully for good this time, and the three friends reunited once more, they managed to help the villagers out of the prison's pit, and finally saved everyone. "We couldn't have gotten out without you! We really don't know how to thank you!"

"Aww, you know," Catra sneered, rubbing her knuckles against her chest, "no thanks are necessary. I'm used to it."

*thunk*

"Ow!" The magicat yelped as the others chuckled, rubbing her arm a little from Glimmer's "accidental" nudge of her elbow.

"I think what Catra meant to say was, it was Flutterina you should really be thanking." Glimmer corrected, graciously pulling Flutterina to her side for all to see. "It was her idea that pulled us all out of that mess. I don't think we would've made it without her help." There was a brief, awkward, smile from the young girl as she scratched her cheek, lowering her head a little in embarrassment.

"I know you think I'm just a kid, but I'm ready to join the Rebellion." She stated almost pleadingly. "I wanna fight the Horde, and keep my people safe, like She-Ra... If... it's alright?" Now Catra was the one to blush a little, a flash of red streaking her face as she looked around to her friends. They gave her a confident smile and a nod, already voicing their opinion on the matter. They just wanted to give Catra the final say-so.

"Are you kidding me?" Catra started off, already to Glimmer and Bow's regret. "You ignored my orders about getting involved, rushed into danger without any sort of backup, messed with Horde technology without any idea of what it did or how to use it, and disabled all the tech in the area without any concern of what we could salvage?!" Needless to say, Flutterina lowered her head in disappointment at this.

Despite being the reason they were all saved, it's also true that she risked herself in the process and destroyed any valuable equipment within the Horde base they could've used. If she was a member of the Rebellion, she'd be forced to get up close and in person on nearly every mission like this, and they couldn't afford to risk every victory on a chance like this. All of these details would've made her a danger to herself and everyone else wherever they went!

...It was also needless to say, it sounded perfect to someone like Catra as she patted her head, grabbing her attention. "I'd take you along even if everyone else was against it!" Immediately, this brought Flutterina to a warm tearful smile as she quickly hugged her hero, earning bouts of chuckles and laughs from those around her. To think she was actually going to join the Rebellion and fight with She-Ra, THE She-Ra, against the forces of the Horde for the foreseeable future! "Besides, I still need a new sidekick after Swift Wind was fired."

"Wh-Wait! I'm still fired?!" Swift Wind stammered in disbelief.

"Of course you are! I already told you you were at the party, remember?"

"I thought you were just joking about that! I mean I still helped rescue you so don't I get points for that?"

"Well maybe if you called me the "coolest" the first day we met, we wouldn't be having this discussion!"

"I couldn't even talk then, I was just a normal horse!"

"And whose fault is that?!"

"Hahahaha!" Bouts of laughter erupted from the villagers and friends alike, including the newest addition to the group, Flutterina. All in all, everyone came out on top today from an arduous rescue mission that nearly resulted in Catra's demise, and perhaps the rest of the Rebellion if anything happened to Glimmer. And while there was no new tech for them in store, and barely a day's worth of stuff to salvage, they came on top of it with a new addition to the team, and a valuable ally they knew they were going to cherish.

Everything was wholesome by the end of it as everyone smiled, inside and out... even if... Catra still had a slight frown to her person as she looked away a bit...

...

...

The pier overlooking the docks forty feet below did little to assuage Adora's irritation as she looked around. Knees curled up in front of her, a solemn look over her expression with a hint of anger in her eyes.

Normally, this would be the spot she would go to to get all manner of thoughts of a day's mission out of her head. Whether she was dealing with personal matters, a tiring assignment, Hordak expressing his... "disappointment" in her failures, and so forth. This would be the single spot she knew she could relax, one where she saw everything that reminded her of what she was fighting for and why she was doing everything.

But now? It did little more than to remind her of the constant headache that continued to flash in her mind, ever since she failed to finish off Catra earlier that day.

"You got exactly what you set out to do. You took away someone I cared about-"

"Hey, Adora!" Scorpia could be heard calling out from behind, reaching her friend with a typical, casual, smile. Waiting for her friend to respond to her, she sat along the edge of the towering pier to her right as Adora turned her head away. "Are you okay? You've been quiet ever since we got back. Is it about the mission?"

"I don't want to talk about it." Adora stated firmly, unable to bring herself to speak with a more pleasant tone.

"Hey, don't worry about all that Catra stuff, alright? We did a great job on the mission and we almost won." Nothing Scorpia said soothed Adora's internal anger, even when she tried patting her on the back. "And hey, you have a fancy new power now, remember?" She reminded, pointing out to the glowing red veins along Adora's left arm again.

Okay. She could admit that. The fact she could absorb the princess's magic was a startling new twist she hadn't expected, or the fact she could copy an ability of it at the same time. Thankfully, it took little more than a simple recharge from the Black Garnet to re-energize her magic. In addition to having her shadows back to full capacity, it came with the deeply-appreciated bonus of retaining her teleportation magic as well. Adora did have to admit, out of everything that happened, it was one of the only two good things that happened today.

And it still didn't get her out of her sour mood. There was only one concern that truly irked her.

"She was right in front of me..." Adora commented, squeezing her hand in front of her face. "I had Catra right where I wanted her. I had the perfect chance to finish her off and put an end to the Rebellion and I didn't!" It almost felt like a bad dream in a sense. She almost wished it was a bad dream so she would have an excuse for everything that happened within the last few hours!

Seeing the look of anguish over her friend's face, Scorpia did her best to provide whatever comfort she could as she leant an ear. "Well... Why did you?" She blatantly asked. "I mean, sure, she was your former friend and everything, and you told me she was more valuable to us alive, which I agree with entirely, but then why did you-"

"I DON'T KNOW!" Adora shouted, jumping to her feet. She squeezed her fists angrily, keeping control on her own power as her eyes briefly flashed red. "I don't know, alright?! I just don't! I hate her for all she's done to me, I've wanted to make her pay for everything she's done to me, and then-"

"And, for your sake, I hope it was worth it."

"-And then she tells me some stupid lie about how she finally learned how I feel, and then... Ughhh! I don't know how to describe it!" It was the most confusing feeling she's ever experienced in the recent days as she rubbed the bridge between her eyes.

Why was it bothering her so much?! What exactly did those words do to her to make her stall her so much?!

For the first time in months, ever since the incident at the beacon, she's felt... different, somehow, compared to the norm. Usually everything regarding Catra was with nothing but vile and hate along with it, memories of what she realized after all these years of wasting a friendship with her. There was no way to describe the pain it made her feel, even to this day. It almost haunted her, just as constantly as the nightmares she's suffered since the portal incident.

And now? Now of all days when she came closer to defeating Catra and her irritating friends out of all the times she's ever fought them, what gets to happen? She suddenly finds herself physically incapable of finishing off Catra for good, all because she said a few stupid words to her that made no sense to her that kept flashing every time she thought about ending her!

Did she cast some unknown spell on her or something? She's never fought Catra at She-Ra's full strength. Maybe there was some underlining incantation or something that caused her to lose like this? Or maybe the taser swords she had to get fixed malfunctioned and numbed her without her knowing. Whatever explanation she could come up with was MORE PROBABLE THAN ANYTHING SHE CARED TO THINK OF RIGHT NOW!

Out of all of this, out of all the ways the answer could've come to her, she had to rely on Scorpia to give her the one suggestion that made her heart stop in its tracks.

"Maybe you just forgave her?" Adora froze upon hearing this with nothing more than a blink, processing the words on a continual loop for nearly ten seconds as she looked at her trembling hands.

"I... Forgive her?" It almost revolted her to hear such a suggestion. Then again, what other answer could there be, no matter how sickeningly?

"Well... yeah. Just think about it," Scorpia went on with a casual smile, unaware of Adora's boiling rage as she stood up, "all you've been doing was to try to get Catra to understand how you feel, and now you finally do, so maybe you forgive her a little for everything." She took Adora's silence as a clam as she stretched a claw over to her shoulder in comfort. "I mean, I know you wouldn't let that interfere with Horde business, and i have your back either way, but-"

*WHAP!*

It was with a startling slap against her claw when Adora finally turned around, her eyes flashing red again as her anger rose with her magic a little. "I DON'T WANT TO FORGIVE HER!" She shouted angrily. "Don't you get it? Do you understand what me "forgiving her" would mean around here? It means allowing her to continue to do what she's doing all for her selfish reasons, let her go on like nothing in the past ever happened. It means I should just let her forget about everything she's done for me in the past, and let her achieve whatever reward she has in store in her future. And I'm just supposed to stand around and accept that? NO!"

"I-I didn't say you had to accept it, I just-"

"She needs to learn that her actions have consequences!" Adora continued to interrupt, taking a step forward as Scorpia stepped back. "She needs to know that life doesn't go happily just because she did one good thing with her life, in her world! We don't live in a world where she's rewarded after a lifetime of betrayal, and I refuse to accept we live in anything close like that! Do you understand? Because I am done repeating myself, and I will not hear you bring it up again! Are we clear?" There was barely a huff in Adora's tone as Scorpia's eyes wavered.

She looked like she just saw the most graphic or horrifying part of a horror movie, speechless beyond words at everything that Adora just said. Adora wasn't just repeating herself about how she wouldn't forgive Catra like everything else, it was almost like a declaration of every reason why she couldn't forgive Catra, why she couldn't get over her anger and rage.

Adora refused to accept this world was the forgiving sort, not after all she's been through.

As for Adora herself, she stormed off in anger as she neglected everything Scorpia just said, not even paying her a second thought as she Scorpia sighed to herself, sitting along the edge of the pier with a frown.

The Force Captain didn't fully intend to take her anger out on Scorpia like that, but as it stood, she also didn't care right now. To think of some drivel like that, some stupid reasoning for staying Adora's hand like that, that kept her from finishing off the greatest threat to the Horde's existence, was unthinkable. She didn't forgive Catra, she was positive about that. She couldn't forgive catra. She refused to forgive Catra. Because why?

Because it would mean she no longer hated her, and that was never going to happen. Even if she didn't have one right now, she knew. She definitely hated Catra beyond compare. She might not know why she was having these weird thoughts, and she was going to push them aside for the sake of the Horde. She would ensure by the end of all this, she had a single, solitary, reason for hating Catra again.

Even if she didn't know it yet.

"Oh, hey Scorpia?" Scorpia's heart began to lift up again as she heard Adora's voice, no doubt ready to apologize like she knew she would. Instead, she was greeted with a brief flash of red in the eyes again before they returned to their natural tranquil shade. "If Emily disturbs me in the middle of the night one more time, I'm sending her to get scrapped got it?" Either there was some hidden language within that line of dialogue Scorpia was unaware of, or there wasn't anything apologetic about it. "I'll be checking in on the prisoner if you need me."

Once again, Scorpia lowered her head as she took in all that happened today. Everything with the villagers, everything with Catra... and everything Glimmer told her during their fight.

Did she tell you how she heroically stopped the portal from the inside? Or make up some excuse about how Catra beat her to stopping the portal first?"

She would never take her word for it, especially compared to that of her best friend's. Adora might've been moody, to put it lightly, around here lately, but there was no way she was cruel or evil enough to want to destroy the entire universe, much less the world, in the process!

... And yet... did... Did Adora hate the world they lived in right now? Would something like that ever drive her to wanting to see this world gone in the first place? Whatever happened in the portal world was none of her business, she knew whatever Adora had gone through had to be overwhelming. But did it at least mean she couldn't question the bits and pieces that bothered her when Adora refused to tell her?

Or... Or did Adora not even remember herself?

"...?" Scorpia blinked as her train of thought was suddenly interrupted with a new line of thinking. "Wait... What prisoner?"

...

...

"Hmhmhm, Sacred Bond, saving the day~" The noble steed sang quietly as the group of friends traveled through the Whispering Woods.

How could he not be excited after everything that happened? Once again, the power of their Sacred Bond saved the day for the heroes, and everyone around here got a happy reunion. Sure, there was Flutterina's timely save, too, but it was the fact they could perform their Sacred Bond more frequently that truly excited him. It meant that, no matter how much Catra protests otherwise, that they truly had a special bond, one that Catra was more than willing to call a friendship over.

On top of this, there was a new addition to the Rebellion now by the name of Flutterina. The perkily pink-haired girl was more than excited about her status as she walked beside majestic beast alongside Glimmer and Bow. "I'm joining the Rebellion. Can you believe it?" She could squeal for the 80th time in excitement today!... If it didn't hurt Catra's ears again. It still gave her plenty of permission to let her eyes water in happiness. "Me. Flutterina. This is the most exciting day of my life!"

"Hey, you deserve it more than anybody if you ask me." Bow replied with an optimistic smile. "After all, if it wasn't for you, I don't think any of us would've made it out of that outpost in one piece."

"Plus now it looks like I might have a new flying buddy." Swift Wind added, lowering his head towards her. "How about it, Flutters? You? Me? Ten laps around Bright Moon first to see who wins?"

"Heh, I'll... think about it." She chuckled. Honestly, she didn't know what to say about the racing. Even if she did agree to it, there was likely an unfair advantage he had over her, what with being She-Ra's noble steed and everything. There was no telling how much extra power that came with it. "Besides, everyone should be thanking you, Bow. I wouldn't have been able to pull it off if you never taught me earlier."

"What I... taught you?" Bow asked curiously. With all the days events it was hard to keep track of specifically what she was referring to.

"Yeah, you know? With how to make an EMP? At the party?" She reminded.

"Oh, that? Hah, I'm surprised that ended up being what saved the day in the end. I wouldn't have thought that would work against a giant centipede like that."

"Well, to be fair it didn't. She-Ra and Swifty are the ones who destroyed it in the end-"

"Buuuuuut where credit is due, if it wasn't for Flutterina, we wouldn't have gotten the chance in the first place." Swift Wind happily interjected, supporting the girl. There was no way he was going to let her get down on herself anytime soon, even if he had to watch out for her from taking his sidekick position.

There was a heartful laugh as the three companions continued to relish in their victory, save for a certain one that Glimmer noticed to be silent about throughout the trek home. Looking back, she caught the familiar glum look of Catra's expression as she walked a few yards away from the group. While it wouldn't be anything out of the norm for her, it was a little depressing to see her frowning a little like this when they achieved a great victory. At the same time, she knew there were a few matters hanging over her mind, even one she needed to address.

With a casual teleport, the princess reappeared at Catra's side, the warrior giving her a casual glance before continuing on forward. "Catra? Are you okay?"

"Huh? Oh, yeah, I'm fine..." She replied, scratching the back of her head.

"... Do you want to talk about Adora-?"

"No." She stated firmly. It was already clear by that alone what was nagging at her.

"Look, Catra, I get it. She messed up a lot of things within the portal world, but-"

"No, you don't get it, none of you do." She hissed a little, doing her best to keep the conversation to themselves. "It wasn't just the portal world she messed up, Pinky. Or what happened with Angella."

"Then what are you so upset about? Catra, I don't remember the last time I've seen you so angry at someone else. You looked like you were really about to kill her, and you know what almost happened, don't you? What is it that you're so upset about?"

Oh, nothing, just the fact I'm the only one who has any memories of a former lifetime within the dreamworld. Man she wanted to say that so badly. She wanted to tell her everything that she experienced, that she was part of her family in a different timeline before the Horde was erased, how she had memories of growing up from childhood with Angella, Micah, and Glimmer, and how much it meant to her.

But what would be the point as of now? To her dismay upon the world returning to its former self, none of them remembered. None of them knew that Catra once had an alternate lifestyle within the portal world, or that she was once a part of Glimmer's family. The memory of those things were painful alone just for Catra to bare. What would be the point of telling Glimmer all of this now when she wouldn't understand in the first place? How would she even begin to explain herself?

At times, it felt like a curse. At others, she admitted she was blessed with a lifetime of memories that she could remember fondly. On the whole, there was no telling where she was or how she felt on the line of thinking. All she knew was that she cared a little too much about her friends to fill them in on a lifetime of memories, and regrets that they would never recall them.

Still, she knew where she was going with this. If she had crossed that line, she may have shattered her connection to She-Ra for good. It was something she was going to have to talk to Light Hope about, about finding some way to deal with her newfound anger for her former friend. But as it stood, she knew better than to continue with the line of thinking currently plaguing her mind.

With a bit of a small chuckle, Glimmer was rather surprised as Catra's glum look turned into a small grin. "Eh, I'll tell you about it later, okay? Now come on, we need to beat them there. I can't let the sidekicks get there before me." She teased, racing on ahead and apparently drawing in the rest of the gang in a small race.

Catra was definitely hiding something. That much Glimmer knew. And as much as she wished Catra would just tell her what was up, she knew it was pointless. This was the Catra they had gotten to know over the year, and the fact she assured her she would tell her "eventually" was more comforting than otherwise. In truth, she preferred these moments of Catra finding something to be happy about even if it was false. At least then it showed she cared enough about her friends still to go along with whatever they said.

Hopefully, it was the same optimism that would keep Catra from making a future decision that she would surely regret...

...

"Flutterina, on behalf of the Rebellion, welcome to Bright Moon." Glimmer officially and warmly greeted as she revealed the land behind her. It was amazing and adorable to see Flutterina's eyes widen as they did as she took in the scenery before her.

Everything about this place spoke in lengths of just how awe inspiring and beautiful it truly was. She knew Glimmer was an actual princess, a Queen as of now, but everything about this was like something out of a fairytale!

The landscape itself was more than enough to captivate the eye. The tranquil woods they just came out of, the luscious landscape that made its way towards the castle, and the flowing waters from the waterfall to the surrounding stream around the castle. Everything about this place was the very definition of beautiful. And that didn't even include the fact there was a gorgeous castle as well, one many had never laid eyes on before, and one few were even gifted enough to ever be given the chance to see.

And now, it was going to be a new home for the newest member of the Rebellion, Flutterina.

"Oh... my... GOSH!" She squeaked, unable to believe what she was seeing.

"If you think it looks good now, just wait until you see what's inside." Bow commented, getting the already-excitable girl even more excited for what's to come.

"And while we're at it, let me go over the pecking order with you..." Catra volunteered as she pulled Flutterina casually along by the shoulder.

"We don't have a pecking order!" Glimmer smirked as she walked along. She wouldn't WAIT to hear how this would go.

"Well maybe not an official one, buuuut it's one I've found to be quite useful in knowing who runs things around here."

"Oh gee, I can't imagine who's at the top of this list..."

"Well if it makes you feel any better, there's a list involving a meatshield I know you'll love the placement of~"

"Catra!"

"Heheheh!" This was awesome, beyond words of amazing to Flutterina. An entire castle filled with who knows what, a chance to work with one of her favorite heroes, and being able to be a new part of the Rebellion, one that would fight off the Horde at every given opportunity. Every fiber of her being was filled with excitement.

And she couldn't wait for her first mission...

...

"... Ngh..." Their head felt like it met face to face with a pickup truck as their consciousness slowly returned to them. "What happened...? They could barely remember as they became aware of their surroundings. Feeling the hard metallic floor against their skin as they pushed from the ground, the dizziness and nausea from waking up, it all felt so familiar to them. If they didn't know any better, they could've sworn they were back in-

"No." All sense of fear and panic returned to them in full as they realized the reality of their situation. They were in the Fright Zone. Not just the Fright Zone, the Horde's prison as well. The one place they remembered coldly from the last time they were imprisoned within this place along with their friends. It had to be a bad dream, a nightmare, or something! Anything would've been better than the steely walls they were seeing again.

"Well, well, well, look who finally woke up." Or the familiar voice that grabbed their attention. Their eyes were turned to the sight of the smirking Force Captain as she leaned on the rails along the prison's platform, crossing her arms with pride as she observed her "trophy" again. "I was beginning to think we hit you too hard earlier. Thank goodness that wasn't the case."

"Adora..." They muttered. Unlike before, they didn't show any sign of fear or concern for themselves as they stood firmly, marching up to the forcefield door as they never took their gaze off the girl.

"Yeah, yeah, save me the whole "duh, you'll never get away wit dis" speech. I've heard it a thousand times." She teased, casually making her way up to the prisoner with a datapad in her own hand.

"And it's true! When my friends realize I'm gone-"

"Gone?" Adora interrupted this as she grinned with wicked glee. She drew his attention to the small video being displayed as she revealed the footage that was currently being broadcasted over real time. "Why, whatever do you mean? You're with your friends right now..."

...

Someone had taken their place. Someone who assumed their form. Someone capable of putting on the display as a typical friend while working to undermine the Rebellion for as much pay as they could get out of it. It wasn't just going to be a matter of simple espionage, oh no. It was going to be the performance of a lifetime, and one that Double Trouble couldn't wait for the curtain to rise!

This would be the world's greatest act in the history of the Universe! And as he blinked within their newfound form, they grinned, knowing the exact words that Adora must've been uttering at this very moment:

"I always knew you'd fit in the Horde... Bow..."

...

...

...

A/N: Hehehehe...HAHAHAHAHAAAAAAA! Oh man you guys have nooooooo idea how long I've been holding that twist in all this time X) god i could not wait to unleash it, and man am i excited to see your reactions to it!

Yes: Flutterina is 100% real in this, and i'm excited in her future inclusions! You know it always bothered me with the Elberon episode: i think i expressed my grievance with whether or not the show suddenly got dark and Double Trouble killed and replaced Flutterina (and im too lazy to check for myself cause god its been forever XP), but with that said, I just recently realized another issue- if Flutterina wasn't real to begin with, how come no one in Elberon mentioned never seeing her before? Idky it always just bothered me.

Anyway! Needless to say, there is a lot of love and thanks i need to give to everyone who continued to support me. Special mention to both Star and Petie who kept up to date with me on a daily basis and helped me sort through a few things, and most of all, special thanks to all my fans who've supported my work and have kept the reviews coming in every now and then. Its your marvelous feedback and contributions that have kept this fic going guys X)

And especially MAAAAAAJOR thanks to everyone who supported me over . now that I'm back, hoping to keep the open for any and all welcoming support ^^. From those who supported $5 to those who supported so much as $1, every bit helped, and kept me from looking for a job and getting my work done.

And once again, i apologize if the quality of the fic is lacking. Especially towards the end, obviously i was getting a bit tired so might've skimmed/rushed the last thousand words or so, so sorry about that X/ Even right now im writing on fumes as its nearly 10 PM, but I refused to let this go another day longer without a posting. I think part of the issue stemmed from the same issue that caused my hiatus last time during the season 2 ep 2 thing, where i wasn't 100% sure of where my writing was going or if the idea i was writing for the episode was even good enough for the episode and whatnot. A part of me is actually hoping thats the case, cause the last time it happened, i wrote endlessly for the next 12 episode's worth of chapters ^^ On the downside, it means i'll likely be on another hiatus in the middle of episode 2 or 3 of season 5 XP lol.

At the same time, not sure if i'll be able to post frequently (or at least this weekend) as we might be babysitting my sister's kids over the weekend so going to be busy. Apologies, but now that i'm over the problem chapter, here's hoping i can keep up my writing streak ^^!

So, with that said, hope you all enjoyed! Leave a like, fave, follow, and review! If you wish to support more directly, please pledge as much as you'd like to my Pat-reon , which can be found simply by typing "Monokub Pat-reon (all one word, this stupid site won't even allow THAT on fanfiction) " on your fellow search browser, or looking at my instagram "Monokubkub" and following the direct link from there. Every dollar helps ^^

Hope you all have a fantastic day and hope to see you soon!