Chapter 3 - You're Gonna Miss Me (When I'm Gone)
Adora didn't notice when Octavia and her squad left with her cackling at them all.
Adora didn't notice when Glimmer and Bow helped her up and led her back into the castle.
Adora didn't notice as the negotiations started up once more, the former Horde soldiers a lot more subdued, especially Scorpia and Entrapta.
All she noticed was the head guard in her hands, Catra's blood dried on it in streaks and splatters.
Catra was dead.
She was -
The thought just wasn't computing.
It had never seriously occurred to Adora that Catra could die.
Logically, of course, she knew it was a possibility. Everyone died eventually. Catra was no exception.
However, Catra was a survivor. No matter what, she pushed through everything and survived. She survived their childhood, which Adora had realized was a lot worse than she originally thought. She survived on her own after Adora left. She survived as she climbed up the ranks, and she managed to survive every battle that she took part in.
It was why, even as Adora worried over her whenever she hadn't seen her in some time, she had never really thought that she could be dead.
Adora could feel her breath become labored and her eyes burn. She couldn't break down, not now, not over -
The tone familiar, but this wasn't the voice she usually heard that declaration from.
"Seriously, if someone had told me back in the Horde that Shadow Weaver's protegè could be so pathetic, I would have laughed in their face."
"And to think, you're practically crying over Catra of all people? Are you serious - "
"Shut up!" Adora snapped. "Don't talk about her like that." She wrenched her head up to glare at the speaker.
Lonnie looked way too satisfied with herself.
Adora now didn't notice how everyone stopped and stared at the two.
"What? About Catra?" Lonnie snorted. "I'm pretty sure I can say whatever I want about her."
Adora's grip tightened on the head guard. "Shut up." She growled.
"Uh, Lonnie…" It sounded like Kyle tried to step in, but someone shushed him. Adora barely even registered it, her focus only on the head guard in her hands and Lonnie's face staring her down.
"Or what? You gonna cry on me?" Lonnie crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow. "Look at you. How the mighty have fallen."
Adora's hands trembled again.
"Your time with the princesses has made you soft. You can't even stick up for someone who was your supposed best friend! Back at the Horde, you would've already put me in my place."
Adora grit her teeth.
"And Catra would say the exact same thing if she were - "
The numbness and despair of moments before were gone. All that was left was unbelievable rage.
How dare she say something like that!
"I said," Adora leapt up, her right hand letting go of the head guard and winding back, "shut up!" She punched Lonnie in the face.
Or she would have if Lonnie hadn't caught her punch. Adora blinked in shock, eyes darting between her fist in Lonnie's hand and Lonnie's face which smoothed out from a sneer into a triumphant smirk.
"There you are. Done moping?" Lonnie pushed Adora away, settling her hands on her hips. "Because we've got work to do."
"Wait…" Slowly, the dots connected. "You did that on purpose?!" Adora screeched.
"No, duh. You were kinda useless while you were in shock. We need you actually here if we're going to move forward with anything." She leaned back and tapped her chin. "Especially if we want to figure out this Catra situation."
Adora stared at her. "Lonnie, what do you mean figure this out? Catra is - she's - I mean, Catra's - " Adora tripped over her words. She couldn't bring herself to say it out loud.
A lump formed in her throat just at the thought of it, threatening to choke her.
"Pfft. You actually believe that?" Lonnie rolled her eyes before stopping and studying Adora's distraught face. "Oh, wow. You actually believe that. I thought you were just reacting to the thought of it, but you actually believe that." She seemed almost astonished. "I never realized you were that gullible."
Adora narrowed her eyes, but luckily, Glimmer spoke before she could. "What do you mean by that?" Glimmer asked, placing her hand on Adora's shoulder in support.
"Are you kidding me?" Lonnie looked around the room. "What's the number one thing that the Horde taught us?"
There was a short confused pause. All of the former Horde members glanced at each other, trying to see if someone actually knew the answer.
"Power helps you get what you want?" Adora guessed.
"It is highly unwise to trust anything Shadow Weaver says?" Entrapta offered.
"Oh! If your rations are moving, don't eat them!" Scorpia raised her claw as if waiting to be called upon.
"Everyone's always going to blame me when things go wrong?" Kyle looked away and rubbed his arm.
Rogelio just shrugged.
"Okay, very valid points all around." Lonnie pinched the bridge of her nose. "But what I was looking for was, 'Don't count your corpses before they're dead on the ground.'"
There was a collective 'oh' of realization as her words sank in, but Adora was still trying to see how this was connected.
Beside her, she faintly heard Bow whisper to Glimmer, "That's the kind of stuff they teach in the Horde?!"
Oh, if only he knew…
Actually, it was probably better that he didn't know, Adora didn't want to be responsible for scarring Bow for life.
Meanwhile, Lonnie must have noticed her continued confusion. "Ugh," she sounded tired, "this whole thing was for you. Obviously, they wanted to demotivate you by flaunting the death of your old best friend in your face."
Adora flushed at her words. She couldn't deny how… dull everything had been, how gray and bleak and uninteresting everything had been when she heard the news. All she had been able to focus on was Catra and all the what ifs and could've beens there had been and how she hadn't been able to save her. She'd probably still be like that if Lonnie hadn't purposely antagonized her. Even now, she could feel the cold numbness that came at the thought of Catra's fate creeping at the edges of her being, but this conversation gave her something else to focus on.
"So it raises the question." Lonnie's eyes passed over everyone, as if asking each of them in turn. "Wouldn't it have been a lot more effective if they'd thrown her actual body at her?"
Complete silence. Adore finally looked around herself and noticed the horror on each person from Bright Moon's face, but the former Horde members…
They all looked thoughtful.
"Hmmm." Scorpia hummed. "She does have a point. They are mean enough to try something like that."
"And Catra has proven before that the She-ra's state of mind can have an effect on how powerful she is." Entrapta tapped her chin with her hair. "Plus, she had her suspicions that a situation like this was part of why Hordak kept her close."
"Exactly!" Lonnie pointed. "Now, this isn't a guarantee that Catra's alive, but it makes a strong case for it."
"It's worth looking into, at least." Entrapta nodded, before flipping her mask down and wiggling her fingers. "Someone get me my mobile computer!"
Adora frowned at her, even though she was glad that the attention was off of her as everyone gathered around Entrapta instead. Could she really afford to be so nonchalant at this junction of the negotiations? They were still on pretty thin ice.
"You really weren't listening earlier were you…" Glimmer leaned in, a slight frown of her own on her face.
"What? I was totally listening!" Adora protested quietly, despite knowing that she really had not been in the best of states earlier.
"We've come to an agreement. We're willing to work with each other to fight the Horde." Bow told her. "And they also wanted help with locating some families or something?" He tilted his head to the side. "Don't know why they'd need that, but it wasn't too big of a deal."
"Ah." Adora colored. She really should have been able to pull herself together without Lonnie's assistance, especially when so many important things were going on.
There was a crash in the distance followed by Lonnie and Rogelio running out. Obviously, someone had made the mistake of sending Kyle to get the equipment.
Adora's gaze traced their path before settling on the queen as she took her leave along with Netossa and Spinnerella. She still felt somewhat surprised that Queen Angella had agreed to the alliance, but part of her was glad that she was offering them a chance. After all, she had given Adora a break, so it was only fair that she extended it to the others as well.
It only highlighted once more for Adora how different things were here compared to the Horde.
Once Lonnie and Rogelio helped Kyle get Entrapta's computer, it didn't take her long to set things up. "Alright, let's get cracking!" Entrapta cracked her hands and it was almost like her hair formed hands as well that cracked each other at the same time, then immediately got to work, pulling up text boxes on the three screens her mobile computer had and typing rapidly.
"Uh, so what are you doing?" Bow asked, leaning over and studying the screens.
"Well, first I figured we'd see what's going on in the Fright Zone. I'm activating one of the drones they use for security sweeps. I set up subroutines so I could access them whenever I want." Entrapta flipped her mask up and grinned. "And we are in!"
Camera footage popped up on one of her screens and she blinked in surprise. Everyone still in the room blinked along with her.
"Oh, my." Scorpia lifted her claw up to her mouth.
Adora stared at the screen.
Half of the Fright Zone was smoking ruins. As the drone swept over the land, Adora took note of the areas that had been targeted. The Fright Zone was not in the best condition even on its best days, but now it looked like two thirds of the hangers had been completely destroyed along with their contents. Not only that but it looked like the factories for producing weapons and vehicles had taken a huge hit too. Not anything that couldn't eventually be rebuilt and fixed, but enough to effectively cripple the Horde temporarily.
"Well, that explains why it took a whole week for them to come after you." Lonnie muttered, crossing her arms.
"Yeah, but what could have caused… all of this?" Glimmer gestured at the widespread destruction. "Are you trying to tell me Catra did all this?"
"Ah!" Entrapta tapped her fist on her hand. "I was wondering why Catra borrowed those bombs!"
Adora turned her gaze towards Entrapta and she knew she wasn't the only one.
"You… let Catra borrow some bombs?" Bow asked. "That could do all this?"
"To be fair, this was ages ago before we even started planning our daring escape." Entrapta waved his concerns off. "I think she said something about blowing up the Sea Gate at the time."
Adora got the feeling that Entrapta wasn't registering how terrified all of the Rebellion members were about that, but she shook it off as there were more important things to discover.
"But what about Catra? What happened to her?" Adora hoped that she didn't sound as desperate as she felt.
"Hmmm. I just have to find an access port and go through the backlogs of security footage to last week…" Entrapta succeeded with each task as she outlined her plan. The security video on her screen reversed with a push of a button. "Now, there are no security cameras in Hordak's chamber, but maybe if I can get the right angle through a window - "
"There!" Adora pointed at a screen, where it showed Catra bursting out of a window and onto a balcony.
"That would be it." Entrapta pressed play.
Adora gripped the back of Entrapta's seat. Maybe now they'd get some answers.
Catra bit back a groan as she burst through the window, automatically rolling as she landed on the balcony Hordak used to survey the Fright Zone so she ended up crouching on her feet to continue facing Hordak. Her hand fluttered to her side briefly.
She didn't think she'd broken a rib, but something had gotten bruised. Luckily, it wasn't enough to deter her from this fight. The scratches from the broken glass and bruises from their previous exchanges were also easily ignored. So instead, Catra glared at Hordak.
He didn't even look phased as he calmly stepped through the broken window.
She knew Entrapta loved the stuff, but First One tech was just unfair. Between the Sword of Protection and Hordak's armor, it always seemed to end up biting her in the butt.
Catra fully extended her claws and threw herself back into the fray.
But every scratch was deflected, every punch was caught. Hordak was infuriatingly placid about the entire thing.
She knew he was probably too strong for her to defeat on her own, and that wasn't the point of this particular battle anyway, but if she could wipe that smug look off his face, then she'd consider this a victory.
And as she used her momentum to swing herself around his punch to kick him in the face, she smirked. Now she had him.
Hordak growled, his expression finally changing, and grabbed her by the leg to hit her right in the face, the full might of his armor behind the punch.
Catra fell halfway across the balcony. She blinked her eyes rapidly, trying to keep blood from flowing into her eyes. She hissed as she brought her hand up to her head, not even noticing the clatter of her head guard falling to the floor.
Stars, her head hurt. It was hard to think, but she distantly wondered if her skull itself was broken. The blood and her pounding brain certainly gave her that impression.
"Give up yet?"
Catra scowled. "I'm just getting warmed up!" She growled as she stood back up again.
No matter what happened, she always stood back up.
And if she wanted to get out of here, if she wanted to see her friends again, if she wanted to live, she had to keep fighting.
So she did.
But she knew she couldn't keep this up forever.
Her wounds were accumulating, and she was getting tired. Her head wound especially was hindering her movements as it slowed her thoughts and blood dripped into her eyes.
It was inevitable that she would slip up.
She didn't see the blade emerge from Hordak's armor until it plunged into her side.
Catra gasped, stumbling back.
She had never heard him laugh before.
And she didn't like it now that she had.
Catra clutched her side, trying her best to stem the flow of blood as she slowly back up to put some distance between them. Even still, she glared up at Hordak.
"This is the end." Hordak took his time as he stepped up to her, assured in his victory. "Prepare for your punishment."
Catra snorted, and she tasted blood. "I don't think so." However, she paused as her feet came to the edge of the platform. She glanced down, the wind whipping her now freed hair around.
"You don't have a choice." He told her, seeming too pleased with himself. "You'll be the example for all who turn against me, and your little minions will soon follow."
Catra stared him down, and whatever he saw in her eyes made him stop in his tracks.
She smiled, her grin full of teeth.
"There's always a choice."
And then she took one final step back.
Adora gasped, wide eyed.
No way. No way Catra had just -
She held onto Catra's head guard even tighter than before.
Adora felt both Bow and Glimmer grab her arms tightly, and she leaned into their embrace. She needed it.
Part of her felt stupid to have even hoped for a moment that Catra could have survived, that she was alright.
Even Lonnie looked morose and she'd never really liked Catra. She crossed her arms over her chest and looked down. "Well, I guess that settles that…"
"Indeed." Entrapta tilted her head slightly as she studied the final image on the screen.
Adora looked down and she could feel the tears building once more. Her lips trembled. Catra…
"No wonder it's taking her a while to catch up."
Adora frowned over at Entrapta. What was she talking about?
"Oh, she looked like she was pretty hurt..." Scorpia fretted. "I hope she treated those…"
"Uh, what?" Bow was the one who asked what they were all thinking.
"Well, those kind of injuries probably aren't helping her as she tries to come back. And she does have a tendency to downplay her wounds as she prefers trying to take care of them herself without bothering anyone." Scorpia pouted at the screen. "I just hope she took care of them properly."
"Catra can be sensible when it comes to her own survival, so she probably treated them." Entrapta's hair gave Scorpia a comforting pat, even as she gave a thoughtful hum and steepled her fingers. "Still, we should most likely make efforts to look for her. It appears she could use some help."
"What are you…" Adora looked between the two. "Did you even watch the video?"
Scorpia and Entrapta exchanged a look, and then Entrapta raised an eyebrow. "Did you?"
"Those wounds were pretty bad!" Adora burst out, and she felt a burning in her eyes once more as tears welled up. "And even if it weren't for them, she fell from one of the highest buildings in the Fright Zone! There's no way she could - "
"She survived." Scorpia said, and there was no trace of doubt in her voice or face. "Catra always finds a way to survive, so there's no doubt about it."
"Before she fell, Catra had what I have categorized as her 'plotting face.'" Entrapta turned away to start packing her mobile computer back up. "And despite having a clear idea of where she fell, the Horde still didn't seem to find a body, so obviously she got away."
Adora gasped a bit.
She'd been so wrapped up in what she had seen that she hadn't even thought of what they'd already discussed before. She hadn't thought of the situation like that at all, or recognized the expression on Catra's face. Had… had she forgotten so much of Catra's stubborn nature?
Scorpia and Entrapta had such faith in Catra, they were so sure she was alive.
Had she ever had such faith in her?
As Scorpia and Entrapta chatted away, discussing where they could start the search, Adora held Catra's head guard close.
As quick as it had been dashed, hope tentatively began to bloom once more.
Maybe for once she would actually have faith in her former friend.
AN: So I know we haven't seen too much of her, but Lonnie seems like the type of person to cut right through someone's BS. I could be way off, but given how she's been just with Catra, I could see her being the person to kick someone back up when they're moping and not helping the situation.
Catra's not as dead as the last chapter's cliffhanger may have made it seem. Like I said, I don't really like redemption via death. If you want redemption, you have to want it and work for it. Though it may be a while in canon from what's been spilled about upcoming episodes. I guess we'll see how effective Catra is as a villain.
And it was while writing this that I realized that if anyone does turn from the Horde, whether it's Catra, Scorpia, Entrapta, or really anyone else, it would be pretty hypocritical of Bright Moon to not accept them like they have been trying to do with Adora. They may make exceptions for Scorpia and Entrapta as they're princesses, but like, the reason they started trusting Adora was because they saw how she never really knew anything better, and that speaks for pretty much all members of the Horde. I guess we'll see what happens if it does go that way.