A/N: Okay, so I saw an interesting, angsty post on Tumblr by cruelfeline that wondered if Hordak could feel himself hurting Entrapta when Horde Prime possessed his body. The initial idea then kinda wrapped into a vague idea I had about the Horde clone hive mind, so here's this lol.
TW for possession and disturbing imagery just in case.
Despite everything he'd been taught, he knew Horde Prime did not know all. He did not see all.
A blasphemous thought to hold, and yet, if Prime himself did not see it—did not know it by now—then what else could he not foresee? What else did he not know?
The clone had cradled other blasphemies once, too. A life outside of the hive mind. An army he dared to call his own. A name.
Memories of a time long past. A time where in his darkest heart of hearts, he had dared to wish that Prime would never find him.
And now time had caught up to him. Now the woman at the very center of his blasphemous thoughts was on her knees jeering at Horde Prime.
He clutched the crystal he'd scavenged the other day in his hand. It was the catalyst, the first spark of defiance. A treasure that he might call his own.
The hive mind was filled to the brim with love for Prime. None dared to question his rule, and so none ever suspected this single clone's treachery.
Not until he hesitated to silence the little rebel before him.
Thoughts that were not his own trawled along the edge of his mind.
What are you waiting for, brother?
Millions of thoughts grasped intangibly around him, as if his brothers wished to take the cannon from his arm themselves. Ghost hands crept along his scalp, over his face, his chest, urging him to get it over with.
She is not worthy of basking in Prime's light. Dispose of her already.
Not worthy of his light. They were right about one thing, at least.
Entrapta was a light all her own. She outshone everyone, even Prime himself.
Go on, brother.
Hurry before you anger Prime, brother.
Do it now, brother.
He turned his cannon onto Horde Prime and opened fire with a cry.
"I am not your brother."
Confusion and outrage blistered in the hive mind. The ghost feeling of hundreds of hands, once so reassuring, relinquished its awful hold over him.
"You made me in your image, but I am more than that!"
The clone carried Horde Prime by the jaw, dangling him over the edge of an endless precipice. "I gave myself a name. I made a life of my own! I made..."
He looked back at Entrapta. The woman who mocked Horde Prime to his face. The woman who coordinated a strategic counterattack against the chipped Etherians. The woman who snuck into his sanctum and dared to call his imperfections beautiful.
Yet another blasphemy before Prime's light. But could friendship truly be blasphemy? Could love?
If it was, he'd rather be a sinner than exalted by a god.
"I am Hordak, and I defy your will!"
His fingers went slack, and Horde Prime was no more.
It was over. Entrapta was safe.
Right as he turned to free her, everything vanished. The ship was gone. Entrapta was gone. There was nothing but a pure white void all around him. Hundreds of hushed voices echoed through the very air of this space.
Hordak whirled around. The noise ceased.
A large screen gleamed before him. It showed the image of where he'd been standing not too long ago. He walked to it, swiping a curious hand down the screen as if it would open for him. Its texture was like that of hot gelatin. No residue came off on his hand, but he wiped the unpleasant feeling off on his leg anyway.
He heard Entrapta laugh and say something. The sound rippled around the space, distorting and warping until it became unrecognizable noise.
And then his brother's laugh rang so distinct and clear, Hordak had to clap his hands over his ears.
"Ah, little brother. So it's true. You have been thoroughly corrupted."
A dark mass writhed behind him. Green lights hovered in the space where its eyes should be. Four very familiar eyes burned with rage and scorn.
Horde Prime. Horde Prime had seized control of his body.
"So be it!"
The mass rushed at him, through him to the screen.
His breath caught when the screen moved towards Entrapta. On her face was an expression he'd never seen. No matter how many times he'd growled at her or snapped at her to leave him be, she never seemed threatened by him. Never feared him.
Her look of abject terror etched itself into his mind, and he slammed a fist against the screen.
"No! Entrapta! Get away!" he yelled.
Horde Prime tugged her off her feet by her hair. Her scream tore something within him. He was hurting her.
Hordak could feel each individual strand thrashing against his own hand, trying to pry his grip open. Her hair was being too gentle with him. Too subdued. She was strong enough to push him, if necessary. His defect would make it all too easy. So why couldn't she do it?
"You have forced my hand. I will unleash the Heart, and so we shall die in cleansing flame together!" Prime's voice echoed around him.
He could feel his mouth twist up into a wicked grin, feel as his own hand tightened its grip around Entrapta's long hair.
It was so soft. Softer than he ever thought anything could be. He wished he could have told her that. But his mouth was no longer his own. Nor were his hands, his own mind.
Everything belonged to Prime. Everything was Prime.
Hordak threw himself against the screen, ramming into it over and over again. It did not waver.
The voice came from behind him.
He whirled back, teeth bared in a snarl. "You…. You were supposed to die!"
"And you forget your place!" The shadow pulsated like living smoke. "You have committed the ultimate blasphemy. Given yourself a name. Dared to live as if you are your own creature! But you are nothing. One of thousands of clones that all bear the image of Prime! Without me, you would not exist!"
Hordak screamed as he lunged at the shadow of Horde Prime. His singular vision was his downfall. He did not realize it hovered right above a glowing green pit.
His feet caught the edge in the nick of time, and he sucked in a stunned breath when he saw what laid below.
Countless thousands of clones were embedded into the walls of the circular pit. Many were mere half-bodies jutting out like weeds. They all raised their hands up, worshipping the dark mass far above them. Their ruler. Their brother. The all-knowing, all-powerful Prime.
It took Hordak a second to realize that they were all decrying his very existence. They called him worthless. Defective. Unworthy. Forsaken.
Hordak tried to take a step back, only to find he could not move. Several pale hands sprouted from the ground to restrain his legs. They would not let him go no matter how hard he hit or scratched at them. Such was the resolve of a clone-brother's devotion to Prime.
"Oh, little brother. Do you honestly think you could ever be equal to my own power? All because you came to care for some insignificant creature who pitied you? I would never let myself become so weak."
The green lights of its eyes narrowed at him.
Hordak dared to glare right back. "Let Entrapta go! She has not done anything to deserve this!"
"On the contrary, brother. I have read your thoughts. I understand in intimate detail how much you have let her affect you. How far she has led you astray from my light. For that, she must be made an example of."
He strained against the many hands stacking over each other to hold him down, struggling desperately to reach the screen. "Entrapta!"
"Do you know why you could never hope to match my power, brother?"
The other clones' cries ceased. All was silent and white save for the floating shadow enveloping itself around his wrists.
It leaned close to his ear, as if to impart some final secret. "It is because you would not be able to bear the weight of the hive mind."
Prime pulled him forward. The bodiless hands let him go.
Hordak fell into the pit.
The clones immediately went into a frenzy, clawing and tearing and dragging him down, down and away from the pure light above. The shared thoughts of his brothers he'd heard before was a mere drop in an ocean of suffering. Now all their prayers, feelings, everything they were bore down on him. It was like no gravity he'd ever felt before.
For every clone he managed to fend off, more came to tug him into the fold. And even through all this, he could hear Entrapta crying for him. Feel as her hair squirmed in his own hand. Prime would torture him in every possible way before the end. They would die here together, and the last thing he would ever hear would be his only friend in the universe crying his name.
"Entrapta!" he screamed, reaching a hand up to the edge of the pit.
And then, the hands were gone. The clones vanished. A gentle presence guided Hordak to the top, placing him far from the pit. When he looked back, it slowly closed in on itself.
That voice. She-Ra.
The screen showed the edge of a cliff. He no longer felt Entrapta's hair wriggling against his palm. Instead, there was the brush of grass, a warm breeze on his cheek.
Something glowed just beyond the crest of the cliff. It rose higher and higher until Hordak caught sight of She-Ra. A First Ones glyph shone on her chest, radiating power.
Prime's shadow hovered before the screen, flickering like a spark that refused to light. "Though all is reduced to rubble, Prime shall rise again. So it has been, and so it always shall be."
Hordak knew it was futile. He felt that familiar ache in his shoulders, in his legs. His defect. Horde Prime had not anticipated inhabiting a broken body.
Even so, he no longer had any other body to return to. The hive mind had closed off. All was silent again.
Ah, Hordak realized, shutting his eyes, resigned. This body belongs to Horde Prime now. She-Ra will kill me to assure her victory.
"No! I will not fall!" Prime sputtered above him in a panic. "The hive mind will open to me! I am their ruler! Their god!"
"You are nothing more than a coward looking to escape your fate. Rejoice, brother. For you and I will both die in cleansing flame together, is that not so?" Hordak said wearily.
He did not wish to die. Not now. Not until he knew Entrapta was safe.
But this was his fate. To ensure the peace of the universe, Horde Prime needed to die.
"No, you're wrong," She-Ra said. "It's time for you to go."
He pressed his forehead against the screen and shut his eyes. He was ready.
Her hands cupped his face. Warmth emitted from her palms, steady and hopeful.
Hordak's eyes snapped open. Suddenly, he could read her thoughts, and he knew she did not aim to destroy them both.
Prime's shadow spasmed against an unseen force ripping it away. It tried to grasp onto something, anything. It even reached out to Hordak with a smoking claw, so despondent in its desperation.
Hordak merely watched the mass purge from his body back into the nothingness from which it came.
The scenery changed in a flash of light. He stood in an empty field. Little more than grass and sharp crystals abound the place.
It did not look familiar to him. It seemed Horde Prime had yet to conquer this strange planet. Another dead end. His faulty portal had transported him somewhere even further away from Prime's light.
The portal itself crackled and sparked. It was unstable. The communication device he brought with him did not even emit a trackable signal.
He threw the device to the ground in his frustration. It shattered into several pieces along the dirt.
A sharp cry pierced the air. He stood up straighter, startled.
There, lying bundled on top of a rock, was a baby.
Hordak squinted and caught sight of a woman running in the distance. The mother? Had she abandoned her child here?
The bundle squirmed, hands outstretched, searching.
He glanced back at the woman's silhouette. For a moment, she stopped. Perhaps she would come to collect her child. Perhaps it had been a mistake.
Then the silhouette took off and vanished into the woods ahead.
Hordak turned back to the portal. He'd reconfigure the coordinates again and then—
The baby's cries grew louder. He paused.
He stomped over to where the baby laid. It shifted in its blankets. Were it not for his quick reflexes, it would've wiggled its way off the rock.
He held it to his chest and stared. The child stared back. Its cries settled into small whimpers then silence.
"You have been abandoned," he said, a pang in his chest. "Your creator did not want you."
Of course he knew that the child would not understand him. It was not a guarantee that it even knew his language.
The baby settled in his arms, pressing its small cheek to his thumb. He could not leave this child here. Not after its own mother left it to die.
"Lord Hordak!" Shadow Weaver's voice called out through the portal.
The portal's frame warped. Sprinting towards it would be his only chance. He clutched the child tighter in his hands and ran.
Hordak gasped and found himself face-to-face with that same child. She regarded him with such kindness in her eyes that it brought that ghost pang back.
"I remember you," he whispered. Her smile told him that she remembered him, too.
She-Ra helped him stand. No sooner than that, something small tackled him in a twirl of purple pigtails.
A laugh burst from his chest when he realized who it was. Entrapta was here. She was safe and alive and so warm. He could not ask for a better future.
"I'm so glad you're here! Oh, we have so much to talk about!" she said and hugged him once more. "I missed you!"
Hordak smiled back at her. "I've missed you, too, Entrapta."
Her hair reached up to caress his face. It was only then his smile fell.
He'd hurt her. It was not by his own will, but even so.
How could she stand to be near him after that? How could she trust he would not do so again?
The rest of her hair split off and wrapped gently around his hands. Not a single strand fought against him. Her hair willingly weaved around his open palms, his fingers.
"Stay with me. Please?"
Hordak shuddered. This felt too much like forgiveness. He was not worthy of it.
"Always," he whispered.
Without warning, Entrapta shot up and pressed her lips against his. The longer she ran her thumb up and down his jaw, the more scrambled his thoughts became.
Her eyes gleamed with pride when she pulled away. "You're free now. You can be whoever you wanna be, Hordak."
It was the best he could manage.
Entrapta laughed and pressed her forehead to his. He leaned into the touch. It was nice, knowing how soft a touch could really be. Knowing how much love could flow through a simple gesture.
Eventually, she wrapped her arms around his to lead him down the hill. "Oh, I'm so glad you're here!" she repeated. He could not help himself from laughing once more.
He made it back to her. Prime was gone. He was free, and he made it back to her.
Entrapta peered up at him with a smile. He returned it easily.
Hordak knew then what he would do with this newfound freedom. He would spend it by Entrapta's side. For as much as time would allow, he would spend it all with her.
A careful hand ran through her hair. He did not yet have the words to express how sorry he was for hurting her. How he should have fought harder against Prime's control.
He wanted to say so much to her. As soon as he started to speak, however, a strand of her hair pressed itself against his mouth. A gentle admonishment, one that was met with an amused smile.
Her hair curled itself around his fingers, guiding them down to cup her face. Hordak brushed away the small tears spilling down. It was not enough to repair all the damage he'd done. She must have known that.
Entrapta never cared about such matters. She never spoke about recompense, nor did she seem to desire it.
She seemed happy just to stay here like this, smiling at him even through her tears.
The warm breeze stirred leaves and stray bits of grass all around them. The planet was alive and thriving once more.
He took a deep breath in.
Entrapta was by his side. The sun felt good on his face.
He was Hordak, and he was finally free to live by his own will.
A/N: This was legit the fastest I've ever written something. I was struck by a sudden burst of inspiration, and I guess that's where it all led.
Please let me know if anyone's in-character or not. I'm very new to writing for this fandom.
Thank you for reading! Any comments are appreciated! Until next time!
*Crossposted to AO3 and Tumblr.