She opens her eyes and all she can see is white and green. White walls, white floors, green lights, green eyes. She tries to remember. Her head is full of cotton. She is not alone.
Her mind is scattered. Everything comes in fragments, shattered pieces of things she can’t quite discern. It’s nonsense, it’s nothing, it leaves behind a phantom pain. Someone is in her brain. Something is controlling her. Something has her and she has to- she needs to...
Her name is Catra. That's something she knows. She focuses on what she knows.
Her name is Catra. She is. She is...
She remembers panic, seizing her chest like tendrils of fire, sprouting at her center and tearing her apart from the inside out, burning her alive.
She remembers a vague feeling of determination. Bodies against her fists, kicking and struggling. And regret pooling in her stomach like acid.
She remembers relief as she slid her palm across the green board.
She remembers “Don’t come back.”
And she remembers blue eyes, crystal blue. And a voice she knows like the back of her hand but that she can’t place.
But those aren’t her memories. Not anymore. Someone else is here. She is someone else.
Catra is. She is.
She is a servant. A servant of Horde Prime, ruler of the known universe, conqueror of worlds. She is a part of something greater now, her purpose is reached, it has been fulfilled. Her own head is not only her own. She is on a base in the sky, hovering above a planet that means nothing to her. A planet that is waiting to become dust. This is not unusual, this is how things are.
This is how things are. Catra is...
Catra is calm. All her aching. All the pain she almost remembers.
It’s gone, it’s gone, it’s gone.
She is empty, someone hollowed the feelings right out of her and left behind only faith. Faith in the will of Horde Prome, faith in his rule. She is clean. She is... She is. She is at peace.
Catra’s feet are moving. She’s taking careful steps, out of the shadows. Her feet are cold against the ground. She pulls her hood off her eyes as Lord Prime calls. She steps forward.
She sees blue eyes. Blue blue blue eyes. She feels a spike at her center, something is protesting something is-
But her voice comes clear. Loud and professional.
Catra isn’t supposed to be professional, not with her, not with-
Her vision goes brilliantly green and she straightens, hands falling to her sides.
The girl screams, throws herself at Catra, something desperate in her eyes. Longing. Catra can almost recognize it.
“What did you do to her?!”
Pain. She hears pain in her voice. Catra feels a pang at her center, panicked and frantic. Catra feels-
Catra feels nothing.
She approaches Horde Prime. Kneels before him, the floor cool against her skin.
Horde’s voice rings out across the room. Calming. Anchoring. Peaceful.
“I have made her anew. I saw her mind. So ensnared in rage, and grief, and pain, and I brought her to the light."
Catra leans against Prime’s hand. It's like ice against her cheek. She smiles, but it is a dead smile, no eyes, no feeling. Just upturned lips.
“Isn’t that right, Little Sister?”
Catra nods, all she can see is green. Someone is in her head.
“Catra!” Says the girl, says Adora, “you have to fight it!” And she sounds so very determined, so passionate. There’s a fire behind her eyes. Catra recognizes it. She wants to smile. But. She can’t. Her body is not hers anymore. She belongs to Prime.
“My place is with Horde Prime, Adora.” Catra’s voice is flat, “I don’t want to leave.”
She turns. “Tell her what I’ve done for you.” Says Lord Prime.
Catra walks towards Adora, slowly. “Prime has given me peace. Something you could never do.”
And then Catra is to her. Face inches from Adora’s. And she's swimming in blue. Adora's eyes are blue and something in her screams. But it is shoved down, hidden away. She mustn’t succumb to things like that.
She reaches out, takes Adora’s face in her hand. Adora twists her eyebrows in fear or anger or something. Catra can't read her like she used to. They used to be so-
“You broke my heart.” Her voice is dead. “But he has made it whole again. Don’t you see?” She leans closer. “This is for the best. I’m happy here. You could be happy too.”
Her hand slides down Adora’s face, to the side of her neck. Adora leans away from the touch. Catra smiles.
Adora is looking at her. Same fire in her eyes, same twist in her brows. A tear falls down her cheek.
Then Adora is looking past her. Right at Lord Prime.
“Let her go.” She bites. And Catra feels a hand on the back of her neck, and it's cold, shockingly cold. She goes stiff, a gasp escaping her lips.
Her ears flick, something thrashes inside her. Catra is... Catra is.
Horde Prime’s voice is as cold as his hands, “shall we make a deal, Adora? I will give her to you, if you want her. But first, you must do something for me. You will give me She-Ra.”
“Never,” Adora spits, tears still sitting at the corners of her eyes.
Horde Prime sighs, “very well,” he says. Then he snaps his finger and Adora shrieks. Catra wants to run to her. She shouldn't have come back. But she's Adora and she's always gotta play hero. Catra wants to get her out. She wants-
“You miscalculated.” Prime steps on a comm, and it crunches beneath his foot. Adora falls to her knees. “I see all. I know all. You thought yourself worthy to challenge me, but you are nothing but a false hero, the last of the first ones to fall at my hands. You have led your friends to destruction.”
He squeezes the back of Catra’s neck. And the green flashes away and for a moment the shroud in front of her eyes is gone, for a moment she can see clearly, she can feel. And Adora is here. Oh god, Adora. She tries to call out but then the moment is over and the green is back and Catra straightens again. Adora gasps.
“Go on then,” Horde Prime taunts, “fulfill your purpose. Bring out She-Ra and strike me down.” His voice is like acid. Catra is... Catra is.
“Ah, but you two must have a lot of catching up to do." He pats her head lightly, "I will leave you to it. Let me know when you’re ready to make a deal.”
Then Lord Prime steps away, so do the guards flanking Adora. She feels less secure without him beside her but knows she is never really alone.
Her eyes fall back on Adora. She bares her claws. Then lunges forward to punch her in the face. Her fist cracks against her. She swings again and Adora doges. Then she dodges and dodges and dodges. She grabs Catra’s hand. Pushes her body down.
“Catra listen to me.” She says in the urgent way that she seems to say everything. “I know you’re still in there, I’m not leaving without you.”
Catra laughs, hardly a breath, that shakes her shoulders.
“It’s gonna be okay.”
Catra twists her way out of Adora’s grip, bones cracking as she goes. Then she pushes Adora hard, as hard as she can.
“Everything is already okay,” she says, pulling Adora close to her chest, brushing her fingers against her collarbone. “We are with Prime now. There is no need for you to suffer, Adora. Come into the light with me.”
Her body is thrown down. It crashes against the white floor. She rolls and her neck hits the stairs with a crackle and pop of electricity. She laughs. And Adora approaches.
“Snap out of it, Catra. I don’t want to hurt you.”
She’s so noble, always so noble. Catra wants...
“But you have already hurt me.” She says, dead voiced. “Prime has set me free of that pain. The pain that you caused. He will set us all free. Forever. A world of peace without end.”
She crosses her arms over her chest. Then dives forward, slashing at Adora, who still fights defensively. But she lands a punch that sends Catra sailing back, back towards the edge of the platform, back towards the abyss below. She doesn’t fall, catches herself before she topples over, and Adora calls for her, throws out a hand.
Catra laughs. An empty sound. Everything is so empty. She takes a step back. Off the edge. And Adora leaps for her, grabs her arms and tugs her away. Pulls her close to her chest.
She claws at her back, straight through her jacket.
“Oh, Adora. How long will you drag this out?" her voice is accompanied by another, "You’ll destroy the ones you love in the process." The words feel foreign in her mouth. She cannot understand why. She is. She is...
Adora is crying again. Etherians are so emotional. She strikes her with her knee, grabs the front of her shirt, and drags her to the ledge.
“She was afraid in the end,” her voice says, “and she suffered.” Adora winces. “Perhaps I will make her my new vessel, though she would not last me long.”
Catra sees her own hand through green-tinted lenses. Sees Adora dangling.
“What do you think, Adora?”
Adora screams, shoves her forward and keeps shoving until Catra’s back slams against a screen and electricity spikes through her again, burning her skin and the hair on her arms. She laughs as the green flickers in and out and in and out. She's dizzy, her chest is heavy, and her body aches. Catra wants to reach out to Adora. She wants to stop fighting. Catra is. Catra wants.
“I am not giving up on you, Catra.”
“Then you are a fool. You cannot stop Horde Prime. He will reign triumphant over all the universe. It is destiny.”
Then there’s another spike of white heat, she cries out as it dances across her skin, burning streaks of flame into her body.
"No!" Adora drags her away as something behind them explodes. She tackles her, throws her body over Catra’s. Electricity spikes again and she groans as the green sputters out, away from her eyes.
And she sees Adora. Leaning over her, worry pressed into the lines of her face, the set of her mouth. She sees blonde hair, fallen from its place, resting on her forehead. She sees blue eyes. Blue blue blue.
Catra breathes heavily. She doesn’t know how long she’ll be out of it this time, fear grips at her like sticky hands.
“Adora.” She manages with difficulty. “You should’ve stayed away.” She holds herself with her arms, to keep herself together somehow. Adora has to get out of here. Adora has to get away. “Why did you come back here? We both know I don’t matter.”
Adora puts a hand on her cheek, and it’s soft and warm and it’s Adora.
“You matter to me.” She says with conviction. And Catra feels helpless. She’s got tears blurring the corners of her vision. Her mind is cloudy. She puts her hand on Adora’s wrist.
And then the green is back, bright and gruesome and sick. She slashes at Adora’s face. Stands up and walks towards the pit below them with purpose. But she doubles over halfway there, shots of electric energy shocking her back to her own mind. She grabs at the chip in the back of her neck, dazed and staggering forward still.
“Come on Catra.” Adora’s voice booms, Catra comes to a stop at the edge on the floor, “You’ve never listened to anyone in your life. Are you really gonna start now?”
And it’s so very Adora of her. So selfless and kind. Catra laughs, hopelessly. This is the end for her. It’s gotta be. Karma catches up to you one way or another. She guesses this is how it gets her. She looks back at Adora.
“You’re such an idiot.”
And Adora’s looking at her like she’s the sun. Her eyes are full of hope and desperation and tears. “Yeah," she laughs too, and she's smiling. Catra hasn't seen her smile in a long time. "I know.”
Catra’s vision goes green as the pain hits her again, shocks of electricity through her bloodstream, singing her nerves, burning her muscles. It hurts. It hurts so so bad.
She laughs. Because Adora came for her. It’s hitting her now, as the pain makes her brain go even fuzzier. Adora cares, Adora came back. She’s delirious with adrenaline and pain and fatigue and fear, fear that shakes her and rattles her bones, kicks the wind out of her lungs, fills her with nausea and panic like fire. But all she can think is Adora came for her. Adora cares. Adora Adora Adora.
“I’m going to take you home.”
Adora is crying, tears dripping for her crystal blue eyes, down her cheeks. She says it with all the determination she’s ever had, and it’s in the curve of her lips and the light behind her eyes. And Catra knows now that something breaks in that moment, something that she worked so very hard to build and maintain. Adora topples it in a second. Everything she’s feeling hits all over again. Catra is scared. Catra is shaking with fear and all she wants to do is go home. To go home with Adora. She holds her shoulders tight and meets Adora’s blue, blue eyes. Her vision flicks out again, going bright and green, and her muscles tense up as she fights it off. She feels tears, warm on her cheeks. Her voice is weak and shaking and hopeless.
"I promise." Adora reaches out a hand and Catra’s heart beats out of her chest. She wants to reach out. She wants to go home. She wants to go with Adora.
Adora. Who’s wearing that little smile she always saved just for Catra. Back at the Horde. Back when everything was different, so, so different. Catra misses it desperately. She thinks maybe it’s okay to admit that now. She hesitates for a beat, but only a beat. Then she extends her hand too.
Their fingers almost meet, almost brush, they’re hardly an inch apart.
But things are never that easy, never that simple. Not for Adora and definitely not for Catra. She straightens, bones cracking as she does, and her mouth begins to speak without her consent, with a voice that is not her own. Catra is...
“What a shame. Some creatures are destined only for destruction.”
Her body goes rigid as the pain kicks back in tenfold. She screams as her limbs go numb from strain, her muscles fail. She knows her consciousness is fading, feels it flickering out as darkness clouds the corners of her vision. She clings to it desperately but it all hurts so bad, it’s overwhelming, and all she wants to do is close her eyes and cry, curl up and sleep until this is over. Her knees buckle and she falls backwards off the platform and down down down into the blackness below.
She has time only to hear her name tear it’s way out of Adora’s throat before the darkness takes her and her mind goes black.