She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Fanfiction: Genetic Composite - 12. Scenic Beast Island
Disclaimer: I do not own She-Ra or its related characters. All is the property of Noelle Stevenson, Dream Works Animation, Netflix, NBCUniversal Television Distribution, Filmation, Larry DiTillo, and J. Michael Straczynski.
Chapter Twelve: Scenic Beast Island
“Fascinating…” Muttered Entrapta as she rose up on her hair to examine a thick green vine.
It was as wide as her wrist –ungloved wrist, her protective gloves added some girth- multiple shades of green in a regular and alternating patterns, more like stripes than tonal. She prodded the vine with a tendril of hair.
The vine sprang to life, the arrow shaped head of a snake uncoiling from one end and lashing out at the human that dared disturb it.
With a gasp, Entrapta slammed her welding mask down over her face only a mere heartbeat before the snake’s fangs could pierce her eye. The snake’s face smacked against the protective metal plating, breaking its fangs and abrating its nose. It hung from the tree, stunned and dazed.
Entrapta lifted her mask again. “The vine I was studying turned out to be a snake, excellent natural camouflage. Hostile response appears to be instinctive.” She announced. “Subject jumped to violence like a loaded spring before analyzing for a more effective strategy.”
“Are you okay up there?” Micah called from where he stood below her on the jungle floor.
That was right. He escaped with her. Entrapta almost forgot he was there. Wrapping a tendril of hair around the dazed but still alive snake’s neck, she pulled the creature out of the tree and held it away from herself for Micah to see. “Can you cook?” She called down to her fellow escapee. “If you can, then I caught breakfast! I only eat tiny food, though, so if you can cut it small, that’d be great!”
Tightening her hair, Entrapta snapped the snake’s neck to make sure it was dead before dropping it down to where Micah stood, looking up at her with mingled concern and exasperation. A common expression people seemed to have around her. Concern for her or concern for what she was doing, it didn’t matter, it all meant the same thing –their concern meant they doubted her, doubted her wisdom, or expertise, or if she knew what she was doing might be dangerous. Exasperation meant they had lost patience with her, she was bothering them, they were not actually friends. Just like Adora, Glimmer, and Bow. Just like Catra. Just like…
Hordak was the only one who never looked at her with concern or exasperation. Hordak never doubted her abilities, her intelligence, her talent, or her knowledge and skill in her chosen field. Hordak never seemed exasperated with her. Annoyed sometimes, sure. He was closed off and emotionally stinted while she was energetic and animated. All of Entrapta’s previous research informed her that two such personalities working in close quarters would annoy each other a little bit. She certainly found his pessimism and bursts of anger when an experiment failed to be annoying. But annoyance was not exasperation. Hordak was the only person who never looked at her with exasperation and concern.
When Hordak looked at her, it was with… surprise. She certainly had a habit of exceeding his expectations. From the first moment she fixed his power source, to when she started making progress on his portal, to when her response to the confessions of his… disability was to construct a new and better prosthetic aid for him. Hordak looked at her with pleasant surprise. Even admiration.
Hordak looked at Entrapta with admiration.
None of her other so called ‘friends’ looked at her like that.
Not even Micah, the latest in a long line of ‘single serving’ friends that would untimely discard her once she was no longer useful.
Using her hair, Entrapta lowered herself down to him. “Do you have a magic spell to make fire? Or should I do that for us too?”
“I can build a fire for us.” Micah assured her, sounding defensive, as if he felt she was calling him useless.
Entrapta shrugged. People often appeared insulted or frustrated with her when all she would do is ask a simple question or make a factual statement. She would never understand the finer nuances of interpersonal behavior. She studied it whenever she could. At Princess Prom, within the Alliance, even observing Horde soldiers in between hacking the planet and building the portal. Entrapta had logged countless hours of observation of interpersonal behaviors. None of her observations had helped her with her own interpersonal relationships.
The Alliance still abandoned her. Catra still betrayed her. Hordak never came to release her from prison. Now Micah was insulted for no perceivable reason. Entrapta lowered her welding mask back down over her face. She would never understand people.
Micah traced a sigil on the ground in front of him and a roaring fire sprang to life in the center of the circle.
Pushing her multiple failed experiments with friendship out of her mind, Entrapta bent down next to the circle. On all fours, face low to the ground. Were it not for her welding mask, her nose would be dangerously close to the flames. “Fascinating…” She muttered. “The characters inside this ring of the sigil are completely different from the characters in your static-freezing spell from earlier.” She reached into her overalls for her recorder, only to be reminded that it wasn’t there because she didn’t have it and didn’t know where it went. “The design in the center is different too.”
Micah, seeing that her face was so close to the flames she was almost crawling into the fire dropped the snake he’d just started skinning and rushed over to pick the Princess up off the ground. “Nope! Nope! Nope!” He chided as if he were disciplining baby Glimmer. “We do not sit that close to fire. Fire dangerous!”
Entrapta lifted her welding mask and glared up at him, now it was her turn to be insulted. “I know fire is dangerous.” She informed him. “Some of my earliest experiments were with combustibles. I understand thermodynamics, how fire behaves, and how radiating heat can still cause damage.” She snapped her welding mask back down over her face and held up her gloved hands. “That’s why a good scientist wears protection.”
Using a tendril of hair, she latched onto the first tree branch that was strong enough to hold her weight and hoisted herself up into the jungle canopy.
For all their many faults and failings, the Alliance never treated her like a child, Catra never implied that she was ignorant or didn’t know what she was doing, and Hordak… Hordak encouraged Entrapta’s innovations.
When he discovered that she theorized it was possible to ‘hack the planet’ he didn’t try and tell her it was impossible, or that she didn’t know what she was talking about, or that you couldn’t hack planets –they’re planets, not computers!- no. He just nodded and gave her the Black Garnet to get to work. When he discovered her in his Sanctum working on his power generators, yeah okay, he was mad at first, sure. Any scientist who’d just had their private lab violated would be. But the moment he saw what it was she actually didin his lab, he invited her back in. Showed her his researched, shared his equations and opened up a whole new realm of exploration and possibilities for her. Hordak showed Entrapta the stars!
Stars. Burning balls of gasses so hot their heat radiated out far enough to warm planets. Not Etheria. Etheria had no star. Their light and heat came from the Glow Moon. But other planets, out there in the other dimension, outside Despondos. Where Hordak came from. A place called ‘the Known Universe’.
Hordak never treated Entrapta like she was a child, or reckless, or ignorant. In many ways, Hordak was actually the perfect partner for her.
Lap partner. The perfect lab partner for her.
Perfect except for the fact that he left her here. On Beast Island. A Horde penal colony. He was leader of the Horde on Etheria. One word from him would have been all it took to get her freed and sent home. It wasn’t like it was hard. He gave orders every day. So, why had he… left her here…?
“Breakfast’s almost ready!” Micah called from the jungle floor below. “Snake meat is thin, so it cooks really fast.”
Entrapta’s hair lowered her back down. This time she did not get close to the magical fire, even if the fact that it was burning without need of fuel was fascinating. She sat down at what she imagined Micah would approve of as a ‘safe distance’ and lifted her welding mask to eat.
Micah turned around to give her her portion –which he had obediently cut into tiny pieces- but he paused when he saw her face. “Shoot! I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.”
“What?” Entrapta blinked at him. She reached a hand up to probe at the skin of her cheek. Her glove came away wet. She had been crying. “No. It- it wasn’t what you said. I just- I was just thinking about- my lab partner.”
She was thinking about a loved one. Someone she was separated from by the Horde. Just like he was separated from his wife and daughter. Micah passed her the tiny cuts of snake meat and sat down next to her.
“I think about Angella and Glimmer a lot.” He informed her. “Glimmer was just learning to walk when I was captured. Just this tiny little thing, waddling around on chubby legs and leaving a trail of glitter everywhere.” He smiled fondly at the memory. “Gosh, she must be so tall by now! Angella was like a tree, ya know. My sister thought it’d eventually bother me –having a wife that was taller than me- but then Casta and Angie never really got along all that well to begin with. I hope they’ve been doing alright without me…” He looked up at the jungle canopy, wistful.
Entrapta looked down at her food. Her research told her than this was the part where she would be expected to share some of her relationship with the person she was separated from. Micah had volunteered some of his feelings, he would expect her to reciprocate.
“I understand it can be hard to talk about them sometimes.” Micah said gently. “Especially if the hurt is still fresh. Your lab partner, was she… also taken by the Horde?”
She looked back up from her food, considered how she should answer. Finally. “The Horde thought he was a failure.” She announced. “The Horde discarded him, and expected him to die.” There was no need for King Micah of Brightmoon, leader of the First Rebellion against the Etherian Horde to know exactly which’Horde’ she was talking about. “But he wasn’t a failure. He was brilliant. When he and I worked together… It felt like we could open up worlds!”
She smiled into a bite of her meat, smiling at how her words were both filled with dramatic imagery and also accurate. Entrapta never seemed to have the gift for poetic imagery before. This was something new. New since meeting a grumpy alien who came from a world beyond Despondos.
“He sounds like a very fine fellow.” Micah said gently. “Is he still out there? Do you want to get back to him like I want to get back to my wife? Or… did the Horde… kill him when you were captured?”
Inexplicably, for reasons Entrapta didn’t understand, she shot to her feet. “Killed!”
“Sorry.” Said Micah quickly. “I just assumed. Since you said the Horde wanted him to die before. I thought they would finish the job when they captured you.”
The thought of Hordak being dead hadn’t even occurred to Entrapta.
She thought he was just leaving her to rot on Beast Island because she changed her mind at the last minute and decided they couldn’t open the portal. She thought he was mad because she had basically decided that he couldn’t go home. The idea that he might not have released her was because he wasn’t around anymore to release her never even entered her mind.
Did it make sense?
Could Hordak be dead?
She had no idea what happened after Catra shocked her. She was unconscious up until the moment she woke up in her cell. She still existed and the world was still here, so –clearly- the portal hadn’t been opened. Did that mean that the Princesses won? That they stopped Hordak and Catra. That they… killed Hordak? Was Hordak dead?
“He- he can’t be.” Entrapta slammed her welding mask down over her face as if the metal plating could shield her from her own feelings.
Hordak was also very frail. The exo-suit she made for him gave him the strength and mobility he was supposed to have as a healthy Horde clone. But it wasn’t perfect. Heck! It shorted out any time his heart rate got too high. It went into a mild tizzy just because he got worked up yelling at Adora. What would happen if it locked up in the middle of a fight?
He would get killed. That’s what!
Entrapta stifled a sob. It was starting to feel moist and muggy behind her welding mask and it had nothing to do with the jungle humidity.
“He’s not dead!” She shouted to the trees around them, voice high with defiance. “He can’t be…”
Micah stood, reaching an arm out to the Princess as if to hug her, but he paused, unsure if he should. Entrapta had been markedly cold to him to spite their escape together. For the most part, he kinda expected a level of frigidity from Queen Ensnarea’s daughter. But then, Entrapta seemed to have warm feelings for this young man –her lab partner- so, clearly, it was not all people she was cold to. Micah did not give the comfort he originally meant to.
She looked back at him, lifting her mask. Micah saw the fresh tears in her eyes. “Is that why he hasn’t gotten me out yet? He can’t get me off Beast Island because he’s- …not here anymore…”
This time, Micah did wrap his arms around her.
Entrapta sobbed into his chest. “He’s not here anymore.”
Then an entirely different idea occurred to her. He wasn’t here anymore! He wasn’t on Etheria! Maybe the reason he hadn’t ordered her release or come for her himself wasn’t because he was dead. Maybe he just went home! Out of Despondos. Back to Horde Prime. His ‘big brother’. She hoped he was happy. Happy, healthy, and alive.
She pushed away from Micah, feeling more optimistic. Hordak wasn’t dead. He just went home. That was his plan. He probably wasn’t even aware of what happened to her. It wasn’t because he didn’t care about her anymore or that he was mad because she changed her mind about the portal. It wasn’t because he was dead. It was because he just went home and didn’t know.
“It’s fine. I’m fine.” She informed him. “Friends leave me all the time.”
Micah felt like he was suddenly experiencing whiplash. Just a second ago, she was crying into his chest. Seemingly reeling from a realization that her beloved lab partner was most likely dead. Now she was fine. Dry eyed, and smiling. Saying ‘friends left her all the time’, as if he hadn’t died, he just went away somewhere. Micah hadn’t seen a case of self-delusion so bad since he was still living in Mysticore.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” He asked.
“Yup!” Entrapta wiped her eyes one more time to make sure they were dry. “If you’re done eating, we should get moving. There’s still so much of the island left to explore! We’re barely into the jungle. I do actually wanna see the Great Beast, and I’ve heard there are natives that are indigenous to this island before the Horde made a base here. I wanna meet them too! Maybe after that, we can go back to the compound. I’m still curious about the odd acoustics. Like I said, the building’s more like an amplifier than a building. It almost reminds me of-“
“What about escaping?” Micah cut her off.
She blinked at him, almost as if she didn’t understand the question. They were already out of prison. “Oh! You mean getting off the island!” Entrapta waved her hand dismissively. “You can go if you want to go. That’s fine.” She was used to her friends leaving her, and Micah wasn’t even really her friend.
Micah raised an eyebrow at her. “I can’t tell if you’re being flippant because you’re Queen Ensnarea’s daughter and she was always kinda…” he made a gesture with his hand that might have been rude if Entrapta had cared “…of if you’re being flippant because you just realized your lap partner friend most likely past away.”
“He’s not dead!” Entrapta snapped. “He just went home!”
“Okay.” Micah threw up his arms in surrender. If she wanted to delude herself into believing that her lab partner –that the Horde originally meant to die- wasn’t killed when they captured her, that was fine. Heck. He might even actually be alive. Micah wasn’t there when Princess Entrapta was captured. He didn’t see the raid. He didn’t know the story. For all either of them knew, the Princess’ gentleman lab partner was still alive and working on a plan to rescue her right now.
They might have said more. But at that exact moment, a herd of snorters came charging into their clearing.
Short, quadrupedal, pig-like creatures. Bluish-gray in color, with cloven hooves, white tusks, elongated snouts, and a razorback streak of fur that went from their head almost all the way down the length of their bodies to the tail. Entrapta had never seen one before, only heard about them. To spite the fact that their sudden appearance forced her and Micah to retreat up into the trees to avoid being gored, she thought they were cute. Baker made her a bite-sized cake that looked like a snorter once. She thought it was absolutely adorable!
The heard was five of the creatures. Two full-sized adults, and three smaller ones that had to be their offspring. One of the adults lead the stampede while the second adult brought up the rear, making sure none of the young fell behind. It prodded the little one’s in the tail to urge them to pick up the speed. That was the behavior of fleeing a predator.
“We need to get out of here too.” Micah whispered from where he was awkwardly positioned. Half-suspended by a hastily cast levitation spell, half-clinging desperately to the closest branch to him that might be able to support his bulk. Even being half starved for ten years, Micah was still larger than Entrapta, the trees did not support his weight the way they did hers.
No sooner had be said this, than the snorter’s predators melted out from the trees in pursuit of their prey.
Both Entrapta and Micah had been expecting another of Beast Island’s famous beasts. If not the Great Beast, then a flying tyrosour, or some other terrifying but little understood creature that called the island home. Instead, the party that melted out from the trees was just a group of humans.
Not Horde soldiers.
Natives by the looks of it. They wore fur loincloths around their waists to cover their most intimate parts, and hide boots to protect their feet. But apart from that, they were mostly naked. Amber-gold skin covered in tattoos, and dark hair plucked into sharp, rooster-comb mowhawks, the front tuft colored in different shades of red.
Excited, because she’d never encountered Beast Island natives before either, Entrapta jumped down from the trees –much to Micah’s frustrated horror.
“Entrapta! Entrapta, don’t-! Urgh!” He sounded very much like his daughter in that moment.
Entrapta ignored him. She landed right next to native’s hunting party, startling them. Before she even had time to think of what she was going to say, Entrapta found three stone spearheads pointed at her face.
“Uh, hi?” She ventured. She went cross-eyes, trying to get a better look at the spear almost a hair’s width from her nose. Chipped from stone, formed to be razor sharp on the edges, the taper ending in an almost needle point. It was fitted into a split in the wood of the spear and tied with sinew threads. A primitive design, certainly, but highly innovative given the materials they had to work with. Entrapta liked it. She wrapped her hair around the weapon and pulled it out of the shocked native’s grasp. “Ooh, wow! It’s so much lighter than I was expecting. What kind of stone is this? It’s gotta be dense and substantial enough to make a reliable blade and not break when it stabs something, but it’s so light it doesn’t throw off the balance of the shaft at all.” She smiled at the one she took the spear from. “Can I have this?”
The hunter’s expression shifted from shocked to irritated and mildly confused very quickly. Most people who were threatened with spears did not admire them and ask permission to take them. He grabbed hold of his weapon and tried to yank it back out of her hair. “No. It is mine!”
“Aw.” Entrapta was visibly disappointed.
Micah changed the symbol in the center of his levitation sigil and floated down to land gently next to the Princess. He looked at the natives, still holding their spears pointed at them. “You speak the common tongue.”
The three of them exchanged a look. As if silently agreeing between themselves that the newcomer was an idiot.
“We live on an island, not one of the moons.” Said the one Entrapta tried to take the spear from. Finally succeeding in pulling his spear away from the Princess’ hair, he thrust the point at Micah instead. “Now, you interrupted our hunt. We’ll take you back to the village instead.”
“Ooh! Are you cannibals?” It was wrong how excited Entrapta sounded when she asked that. “I’ve always been curious about prions found in the human brain and the effects eating them has on other people. That is, assuming you also eat the brain. Do you eat the brain, too?”
The three of them exchanged another look, as if silently agreeing that this woman was insane.
“No.” Said the first. “You are clearly Horde scouts. We’re taking you back to be questioned.”
“Horde scouts? We’re not Horde scouts!” Micah was more insulted by the idea that he looked anything like a member of the Horde than he was the prospect of being taken by the natives and interrogated and possibly tortured. “We hate the Horde! We just escaped their prison!”
“Wow.” Said a second. “How dumb do you think we are? No one escapes the Horde prison.”
“Well, it did take me a couple of days.” Entrapta admitted, shrugging with her hair instead of her shoulders.
The three exchanged another look, not quite sure how to interpret this insane woman. She didn’t seem like a Horde scout. She was too bonkers. Maybe shereally had escaped, and the man was sent out to retrieve her. That could make sense.
“Keep your hands where we could see them and start moving!” Ordered the native Entrapta tried to take the spear from.
They were lead through the jungle. Entrapta had to coil her hair tight to her body to avoid it getting caught on protruding branches or low hanging vines as the party delved deeper in the denser trees. Micah nearly tripped on a raised root more than once. Twice they were almost bitten by one of the same vine-camouflage snakes Entrapta had encountered earlier in the morning.
Everythign was so green and lush. The trees old, their branches dense. Beast Island was actually kinda pretty. Scenic. If it weren’t for all the dangerous beasts that roamed the island –and the Horde gulag- it might actually have been an attractive island getaway.
“Your village must be really far away.” Micah commented. “Why do you hunt so far away? Has the Horde damaged the environment to the point where game animals are scares?”
“More likely they’re taking us on a deliberately longer path to confuse our sense of direction.” Entrapta informed him. “This jungle is like a maze, not unlike my own Crypto Castle.”
“Quiet! Both of you!” Snapped the second native. He slid up close to the first. “J’Milla, are you sure it’s wise to take these outsiders back with us?”
The first native, the one Entrapta tried to take the spear from –J’Milla, apparently- made a face. “What woud you have me do, Korg? Leave them to wander the jungle? If they are Horde scouts, they would report back about us. If they are innocent as they claim, they die without aid.”
“We could kill them and not leave it up to chance.” The second, Korg, informed him.
J’Milla just shook his head. “I will not execute a stranger for no other reason than they are a stranger to me. That is what the Horde would do. We must be careful to make sure we do not become what it is we fight against.”
Korg only scoffed in reply.
“I’m King Micah.” Announced the sorcerer after hearing that the natives were ‘fighting against’ the Horde. He did not expect to find new allies for the Alliance while getting lost in the jungle. But if an opportunity presented itself, why waste it? The Alliance could always use new allies.
Similar to Entrapta, none of the natives reacted upon hearing his name. However, unlike Entrapta, their lack of reaction was not because they just didn’t care who he was. It was because they had never heard of ‘King Micah’ before and didn’t know who he was. They had never heard of the Sorcerer King from Brightmoon who fell ten years ago during the first Princess Alliance.
“We do not recognize the authority of kings.” Korg informed him.
“No, that’s not what I meant!” Micah had to quickly backpedal. “I mean, I was a leader of the Rebellion against the Horde before I was captured. If you’re fighting against the Horde we should be allies! Let us help you! I’m a sorcerer, and Princess Entrapta here is-” he paused, unsure of what powers the Queens and Princesses of Dryl actually had apart from hair that could be used as extra limbs, she said she had a lab so… “-is very smart.”
“I’m beginning to form a hypothesis as to where Glimmer got her talent for rousing speeches.” Entrapta muttered.
“That’s enough out of you two!” Korg snapped.
Their winding journey through the jungle seemed to finally be coming to a conclusion as the unmistakable sounds of human habitation drifted through the trees. People singing while at work, children laughing, the scrape of tools on wood, the sounds of a thriving village. And it was a thriving village they came into when they stepped out from the shadow of the trees.
A wide clearing. Micah and Entrapta would be lying if they didn’t admit they were expecting grass huts. But there weren’t any. Instead, the village buildings were just that –actual buildings. Made from wood planks cut from the jungle trees. The roofs were thatched in grass, but only the roofs. Everything else was solid wood construction. Almost like a village of cabins. Slits were cut into the planks of the walls of many buildings –presumably for airflow to keep things cool in the jungle heat. Entrapta once again had to admire the ingenuity, with limited materials to work with and a lack of technology for interior climate control, they still found ways to keep their homes cool. She very quickly decided that she liked these people. Their tech wasn’t very advanced, but they were engineers. Like her.
They were lead through the village.
As they passed, people looked up to gawk at them. You’d think the hunting parties never brought back prisoners before. Children paused in their games to gawk at them. Young people and adults looked up from their work. Their weaving, or flax grinding being ignored in front of them while they gawked, wide eyed, at the prisoners that J’Milla and Korg had brought home with them.
Entrapta and Micah were practically shoved into a darkened building.
It took a few moments for their eyes to adjust. The day was so bright outside, but the only light in here was what streamed in through the slits in the wooden walls. When their eyes did adjust, Entrapta and Micah stood in a wide room with an open floorplan that looked like it must serve as some kind of meeting place. There were cushions and pillows lining three of the four walls, in an almost horse shoe, curling around with the entrance as the focal point. Clearly, seating for spectators to watch or listen to whatever was happening in the middle of the room.
Both Micah and Entrapta got their knees knock out from under them by the shafts of spears. They knelt in the middle of the room.
J’Milla and Korg sat in front of them. While the third member of their hunting party loomed behind, spear at the ready in case the prisoners decided to make a break for it.
“Now,” began J’Milla, “you’re going to tell us the tale of your daring escape from the Horde, and after its done we’ll decide whether or not we believe you, or if you’re Horde scouts.”