She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Fanfiction: Genetic Composite - 19. Many Meetings
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 Nineteen: Many Meetings
“Hi. I’m Hordak.”
Entrapta blinked at the child that had fallen in with Adora and Bow. It looked like it might have been the clone she was making for Hordak. Bioluminescent eyes, pointy-ears, sharp fangs, and taloned fingers. Except she set the timer on the cloning tank to let the subject out once it reached full maturity –physical adulthood- and this was most definitely a child. Resembling a physical age of only ten years. This was not the intended result of the experiment. She stared at the small Hordak, at a bit of a loss as to how to proceed.
“Unbelievable!” Scorpia was shouting at Adora and Bow. “Dak is a baby! How could you bring them here? Don’t you know Beast Island is dangerous? I thought you were the good guys!”
Adora and Bow just stared at her. Not quite sure how to reply to that. In their own experience with the hybrid, Dak was more like Frosta. Yeah, they looked young and child-like. But were intelligent –if a little inexperienced- and had powers of their own, and were perfectly capable of handling themself in a fight. Dak might be a child, but they weren’t a helpless child.
Dak, for their part, jumped on Scorpia happily. Wrapping both their arms and their hair around her. “Sc’pya!” A pause. “I mean ‘Scorpia’. I can speak right, now.”
Scorpia had to do some quick fumbling to get her arms under the child to support them in their catapult hug. The former-Force Captain looked markedly less intimidating with a small child hanging off her.
“I did have some concerns.” Bow admitted.
“Dak wanted to come with us.” Adora reminded everyone in the room. “They orchestrated our escape from Dryl.”
Entrapta, whom had done nothing but stare at the hybrid since they fell through the ceiling, opened her mouth to speak.
But was cut off when the command room door burst open.
Micah, Sea Hawk, J’Milla, Korg, and Tondy all burst into the room at the same time. Weapons drawn. Spears and sword in hand in the case of the Jungle Tribe and Sea Hawk. Magic at the ready in the case of Micah.
“We heard a crash!” Announced Micah.
“Is it another Beast attack?” Demanded J’Milla.
“Intruders!” Observed Korg.
“More Horde!” Assumed Tondy. He charged at Bow, the closes one to him. Spear thrusting out with the practiced motion of one who had ever swung the weapon in a training circle, never in active combat.
Bow dodged the lunge easily enough.
But, seeing one of their friends being attacked triggered something primal in Dak. With an almost feral growl, they leapt out of Scorpia’s arms and pounced on the other child.
They looked identical in age and were almost the same in height. But Dak was used to tracking and following prey, not subduing something that fought back. Tondy was warrior trained and knew how to defend himself, but had never encountered a creature like Dak before. Something that stood erect like a person, but had the fangs and talons of a beast, and hair that moved like a tail. The two children tangled together to the accompanied sounds of animalistic snarling, and Jungle Tribe curses.
Imp screeched at the tussling pair. This was why he wanted master’s heir to train with the other Horde soldiers at Dryl. So that they would know how to handle themselves in a fight!
“Dak, no!” Bow shouted and jumped in to try and pull the hybrid out of the tussle.
J’Milla also rushed forward to rescue his own child from the fray. “What manner of creature is that!?”
“Not a creature.” Dak muttered, now with both Bow’s strong arms wrapped around their mid-section, holding them back.
The Jungle Tribe trio just looked between each other. The creature spoke!
Fluttering down from the air, Imp settled on Bow’s shoulder to inspect Dak and make sure master’s heir was uninjured.
Sea Hawk and King Micah just stood there, starring gape-mouthed at the hybrid child.
“Um…” Began the sea captain. “Are my eyes mistaken? Or does that kid look kinda a lot like-“
“That is Hordak’s child!” Micah all but shouted. Eyes wide with horror. Mouth pursing shut in a thin line of disgust. He didn’t know which idea horrified him more: the thought that the vile leader of the Evil Horde had forced himself on a partner to produce said offspring, or a partner had willingly chosen to produce a child with the monstrous, despotic, colonizing dictator of the Evil Horde. If he were frowning any harder, the corners of Micah’s mouth would have been hanging off his chin.
There was a beat of silence.
Then, “What?” Entrapta blinked. “No, it’s not.” It was Hordak’s clone.
“I’m Hordak!” Dak snapped, glaring at Micah. For some reason, they took an instant dislike to the older man. Perhaps because Micah was radiating nothing but abject horror at the idea of the hybrid’s very existence.
“What?” The sorcerer was momentarily confused. “No, you’re not. I’ve met Hordak. He’s…” Micah hesitated, trying to think of a way to describe the shadow-lurking, imperialist, despot that was age-appropriate for the children in the room “…tall.”
Well, he wasn’t wrong.
When Adora was transformed, She-ra was eight feet tall and on an eye-level with Hordak. Discounting legendary, magical, prophesized, sword maidens; Hordak was probably one of the tallest beings on the planet. Meanwhile, Dak was about average for a child at their level of physical development.
Sea Hawk cleared his throat. “Uh, Bow, what are you and She-Ra doing with a kid that’s claiming to be Hordak and looks enough like him that it might actually be true?”
Not that the sea captain actually believed his pre-adolescent who barely came up to his first rib actually was Hordak. But absurd things did seem to just sort of happen around She-Ra, so he wasn’t going to dismiss the possibility outright, just strongly doubt the probability. He as sure there was a much more rational explanation.
“Wait, did you say ‘She-Ra’!?” Asked Korg.
“She-ra?” Echoed King Micah. He’d heard the legends of the Hero and Savior She-Ra.
The sorcerer and all three members of the Jungle Tribe looked from Sea Hawk to the tall, glowing, golden haired, white-clad, sword carrying, amazon next to Bow. Now they were staring gape-mouthed for an entirely different reason.
“Huh, ya know, I think this is the first time anyone’s even noticed She-Ra second and the other weird thing first.” She commented.
“Little Dak kinda stole the show.” Bow smiled, still holding the hybrid in what could only be described as a ‘restraining hug’.
Adora turned her attention to Sea Hawk and the rest of the new arrivals. “Yeah, I’m She-Ra, and- Holy Hell! You’re King Micah!”
Now it was her turn to gape as she recognized Glimmer’s dad. He looked almost exactly she same as when she saw him in the alternate reality created by the portal. Maybe not quite as ‘polished’. He needed a hairbrush and a shave. Maybe some new cloths while they were at it. But it was definitely, definitely him. He was alive! Wow!
Standing next to her, still holding Dak, Bow gasped. “You’re alive!?” A pause and an eyebrow raise. “You don’t look much like your mural.”
“I have a mural?” He blinked.
“Oh, yeah.” Nodded Sea Hawk. “It’s on one of the walls in the Birhgtmoon palace. I saw it when we all got together to plan Glimmer and Bow’s rescue from the Fright Zone.”
“Glimmer’s in the Fright Zone!?” Micah was horrified.
“Was. Glimmer was in the Fright Zone.” Bow was quick to assure the older man that his daughter was safe. “She and I were captured by-” a hesitant glance at Scorpia “-some Horde soldiers who violated the conflict ban at Princess Prom. But Adora –that is, She-Ra- and the Alliance staged a rescue and saved us.”
“The Alliance?” Micah asked, equal parts hopeful for a continued Princess Alliance after his absence, and relived that his daughter and only child was rescued by them and was safe. “You’re members of the Alliance.”
Scorpia cast a nervous glance at Entrapta. One of them had left the Princess Alliance and committed crimes-against-nature against the very planet itself. While the other one had never been a member of the Alliance at all.
But Entrapta wasn’t looking at her. The other woman’s attention was fixed on the hybrid still held in Bow’s arms. Little Dak. The clone she made for Lord Hordak. All her attention was held by them. Like she wasn’t even paying attention to what everyone else was talking about.
Micah smiled at them. Almost beaming. “Are you here to rescue me?”
Before either She-ra or Bow could answer, Dak cut them off, answering first.
“I’m here to rescue Mother!” They announced.
Upon hearing that, Micah experienced another stab of revolting horror. This child’s mother, the woman Hordak had… paired with to conceive his child was a prisoner on Beast Island. Hordak had exiled and imprisoned his own… um… ‘wife’ was too strong a word, ‘lover’ implied more feeling than the sorcerer believed the warlord was capable of, uh… ‘mistress’ felt disrespectful to the poor anonymous woman… The mother of his child, Micah finally decided on. Hordak had exiled and imprisoned the mother of his child. The monster was even more evil than the sorcerer originally thought!
Now that child was old enough to come looking for Mommy, and they teamed up with their father’s enemies to save her. Micah decided he kind of respected this little creature. They might bear an uncomfortable level of resemblance to their father, but they were openly defying said father and conspiring with the Alliance. Might even be a lasting ally and force for good in Etheria in the future!
“Who’s your mother?” The sorcerer asked. “When we took the prison, I freed all the prisoners and sent them back home. Everyone’s already left now. But if you know her name or what territory she’s from, I can help you find her.”
Raising one bare and hairless brow ridge, the hybrid looked confused. They struggled out of Bow’s hold and pointed to Entrapta. Then said, in a tone that implied that Micah was stupid. “She’s standing right there.”
A little slow, Micah’s eyes followed the extended finger to Entrapta. Confusion contorting his features. Confusion and betrayal. “What!?”
He spent days traipsing across the island with this woman. They allied with the Jungle Tribe together. They liberated the prison together. He thought she was one of them. A member of the Alliance. She was a Princess for cripes sake! Was she lying to him the whole time? Manipulating him for her own nefarious ends? Using him to help her take over the prison to use its ancient First Ones tech to take revenge on her treacherous paramour? The child looked to be about ten. How old was Entrapta ten years ago? Sixteen? Seventeen? Old enough for a predator of non-existent moral fiber to take and… take.
Micah was caught between hating the woman for lying to and manipulating him, and pitying her for how she herself must have been used and manipulated by the Villain of Etheria.
The Princess, for her part, looked taken aback. Startled, actually. As if she herself didn’t quite understand.
There was a beat of silence.
“Maybe we should explain?” Suggested Bow, ever the voice of reason unconventional situations like these. “Dak, do you still have the recorder?”
Nodding, the child reached a hand into the pocket of their overalls and pulled out one of Entrapta’s recorders.
“Ethrian-Horde Cloning Project, Day 3 -2? No, 3.” Entrapta’s nasal voice began to play. “The fetus is developed beyond what I believe to be the final stage of gestation in an average pregnancy. The clone now resembles an infant seven months out of the womb. Fascinating! At this level of rapid growth, I hypothesize that it will enter puberty by the end of the week. Full adulthood by the end of the month! Hordak will have a new body sooner than I originally projected!”
Micah looked confused. A ‘new body’? Why would the vampire-looking monster leader of the Evil Horde need a new body? Weren’t vampires supposed to be immortal?
“Ethrian-Horde Cloning Project, Day 4. Yup, definitely Day 4. The clone is entering its pre-adolescents now. I have never been very good at guessing people’s ages, almost as bad as I am at forming connections with other people. But based purely on physical appearance, I would place the clone’s physical age at between eight to ten years. At this rate, Hordak might have his new body before the end of the month! I hope he likes it.” A longing sigh. “He’s always so concerned with perfection and success. He’s so brilliant, but he allows himself to be handicapped by frustration. He’s too focused on results and not the process. I wonder if Hordak would think differently if he wasn’t so concerned with proving himself to his Brother. It almost reminds me of myself back when my moth- back when my predecessor was alive. Striving so hard to earn the approval of someone who doesn’t see you as an individual, but an extension of themselves.” Another sigh. “I just want him to be happy.”
With a squawk to draw everyone’s attention, Imp opened his mouth to repeat the pertinent word and make sure everyone understood.
Master did not breed with the Princess. Master did not breed with anyone. Master did not breed. Full stop.
The Jungle Tribe didn’t know what a ‘clone’ was, so they didn’t understand the significance of the distinction.
Micah, on the other hand, just looked more confused. If the child was a clone then that meant they were made intentionally. On the recording in Entrapta’s own voice she not only admitted to creating them, but also ‘wanting Hordak to be happy’. How was that even possible? Why? What had Lord Hordak ever done to deserve happiness?
There was another beat of silence as those that already knew Dak’s origin story waited on the reactions of the newly initiated.
“Clearly, someone let the subject out of the tank early.” Entrapta was the first to break the silence. “The clone was supposed to have achieved full physical maturity by the time it was released. It was also supposed to remain non-conscious until after the neural-cognitive transfer could be completed. Clearly, none of those things happened. The subject is too young, and has formed its own identity apart from its originally designed purpose.”
She had such a cold, professional, and clinical tone when explaining this. Just like little Dak were no different than any of her other experiments.
No… that wasn’t right… Entrapta became so excited and animated when she talked about her experiments. All of her experiments. Be they robot, First Ones disc, hacking the planet, or ripping a hole open between worlds. Entrapta was animated, enthusiastic, and passionate about her experiments. The fact that she was so… composed while explaining this one was… different.
Dak blinked at her. Even only ever hearing her voice in recordings, they noticed something was different with the tone of that explanation. “Mother…?”
Entrapta didn’t so much shrink away, but she did visibly cringe at the word.
She cleared her throat, noticeably uncomfortable.
“That-” she began, unsure. “That’s not accurate. The word ‘mother’ has several definitions, but I don’t fit any of them. I did not birth the subject from my own body. Neither have I been active in raising the subject.”
Dak frowned, ears drooping. They looked visibly disappointed. Scratch that. Sad. Dak looked downright sad. “Not a ‘subject’.” They muttered. “I’m Hordak.”
The little hybrid looked so crestfallen.
Micah’s heart dropped for them. Yeah, they might have been made from Hordak, and made for Hordak. But they were still just a child. A child who had just been rejected by their ‘mother’.
Bow’s arms were back around Dak in moments. This time, the hug wasn’t restraining, it was comforting. “Entrapta, Dak came all the way here to rescue you.”
Now everyone was looking at Entrapta. Like they wanted something from her. Like they were expecting something from her. Like she owed them. But she never asked to be rescued, and she never meant for the clone to either ever experience ‘childhood’ or even be conscious on its own. She intended the clone to just be Hordak. Her Hordak. Not its own ‘Hordak’.
And besides, she couldn’t be a mother. Her own mothe- Her own predecessor had not trained her in the maternal craft. She didn’t know how. The idea that that was what was now going to be expected of her made Entrapta extremely uncomfortable.
“I’m sorry, I’m not-” She began, unsure of the right words. “I can’t be- I-” She snapped her welding mask down over her face. “I have to go.”
Pushing past Scorpia and between the Jungle Tribe, mask firmly in place hiding her expression, Entrapta fled the room.
“Mother-?” Dak called after her, sounding like they might sob, but no ears fell from their glowing eyes. Instead, the hybrid closed the nictitating membrane of a second set of eyelids.
Bow hugged them tighter.
Scorpia crossed the space between them and wrapped her arms around both Dak and Bow. “Aw, honey, I’m sure she didn’t mean it. She’s just a little surprised. That’s all.”
Blinking their nictitating eyelids, Dak looked up at Scorpia. She took care of them, and worried about them, and raised them more than Entrapta did. By definition, Scorpia was more of a mother to Dak than the tech-Princess. “Imp was right.” They muttered into the chest plate of her exoskeleton. “I shouldn’t have left Dryl.”
In reply to this, the little deamon just squawked in agreement.
“You hush.” Scorpia hissed at the winged troll. Now was not the time for an ‘I told you so’.
“Tell ya what, kiddo,” began Micah. His paternal instincts kicking in to comfort the child in distress. “I think there’s still some cupcake batter left. I’ll even let you lick the spoon.”
Hesitating, Dak looked to Scorpia first to see if this new adult was someone she would trust with them, like Baker and the Dryl staff. Then to Bow to make sure licking a spoon was actually a good thing.
“Go ahead.” Bow offered a gentle smile. “Cake batter is amazing.”
Micah offered Dak his hand. The hybrid took it hesitantly. Imp fluttered over to perch on the child’s shoulder. Like heck was going to leave master’s heir alone and unsupervised with the rebel King of Brightmoon.
Tondy went with them. He liked the first batch of cupcakes and was looking forward to more.
Sea Hawk and the other two Jungle Tribe warriors filed out after them.
The moment the door was shut behind them, Bow and Scorpia turned to each other and demanded of each other, in perfect unison, “What the heck was that!? Why are you asking me!?”
“I don’t understand.” Bow admitted. “Even if Entrapta didn’t think about Dak as a ‘child’ before, she’s always so excited about her experiments. What the hack is this?”
“Why did you even bring Dak here in the first place?” Scorpia demanded. “They are not even a month old yet, don’t know a thing about the world, and could get hurt! What is wrong with you!? I was going to bring Entrapta back to Dryl where they would both be safe!”
“Dak wanted to come with us!” Adora cut in. She reverted back from She-ra. There were no enemies here, only confrontational former-enemies and confused allies. She did not need She-ra’s power. “We were imprisoned in Dryl when they broke us out under the condition that we take them to Beast Island to rescue Entrapta. It was their idea!”
“Eh…” Bow wordlessly vocalized a disagreement. “Actually… you kinda suggested it first, Adora.”
“You manipulated them is what you did!” Scorpia snapped, angry and defensive on the kid’s behalf. “What if Dak got hurt? You’re as bad as Catra!”
The comparison made Adora flush with horror. “I am not!”
Adora might have played on the wants and fears of a child she –at the time- perceived to be Hordak’s heir and loyal to the Horde, in order to free herself and her teammate from a dungeon and enemy territory. But she was not as bad as Catra. She would never destroy the world, everyone on it, and the very fabric of existence out of spite. But, no one remembered the portal being opened. No one knew what happened inside the portal. No one really grasp- no one understood just how bad Catra truly was –wholly and fully bad- the way Adora did. Adora was not as bad a Catra.
Sensing a confrontation coming on, Bow jumped between the two women.
“Okay, okay.” He tried to sooth. “Let’s all just calm down for a second. We’re all worried about Dak and we’re all happy Entrapta is safe. So, instead of pointing fingers and throwing around blame, let’s talk about how to help them.”
Together, both women took a deep breath and let it slowly. Forcing themselves to calm down.
Adora cast her eyes around the room they were in, actually taking in their surroundings for the first time. They were in a command room of some kind. That she already noted when she burst through the roof. But now that she was acutally looking, like, really looking, she realized exactly what kind of command room it was.
“This is First Ones tech!” She exclaimed.
“What!? Really!” Gasped Bow.
“Huh? Oh. Yeah.” Scorpia seemed decidedly less impressed. “Entrapta’s been fiddling with the stuff since I got here. She see’s that it’s still got power but can’t get it to turn on.”
Placing one hand to a console in the center of the room, Adora muttered one word. “Eternia.”
The whole room lit up. No longer dimly lit like a Horde building. Now the control room was illuminated by warm light. Crystals in the walls and ceiling, previously unseen in the poor lighting, glowing brightly. Lines of First Ones language criss-crossing over the walls and down to the floor. The lettered looping and intersecting with one another to form designs that looked more like pictures than writing. The consoles flared to life, as did the monitors and screens.
And, as with all First Ones outposts and ruins they had encountered, there was a hologram.
Not Light Hope, but of Light Hope. Like the first hologram of her Adora ever encountered. The one that kept asking ‘What is your query?’. This one materialized in front of the main screen to announce, “Administrator Detected.”
Scorpia cast a glare at the younger woman. She never liked Adora. Mostly, because Catra was fixated on her and only gave Scorpia attention when she wanted something from her. Catra wasn’t part of the equation anymore, but Scorpia was finding that she still kinda didn’t like Adora. She was a little too perfect, and not ‘perfect’ in a good way. ‘Perfect’ in a way that undermined others. Like, Entrapta had spent days studying these consoles and this tech and couldn’t get it to work. The Adora just burst on the scene, says one word and suddenly –boom!- fully functioning First Ones outpost. She was an extremely frustrating person to be around.
“What even is Eternia?” Scorpia demanded.
Adora shrugged. “It’s just a password. But it sure does unlock a lot of things.”
“Ya know, I’m surprised you never asked Light Hope what it was.” Bow admitted. “Since it does unlock so many things, I feel like knowing what it is, is a fact worth knowing.”
“Alright.” Adora shrugged. Then, addressing the hologram asked, “What is Eternia?”
“Scanning for Eternia.” Answered the hologram.
On the main monitor screen, a spinning status wheel appeared. The trio watched with circle itself for several revolutions before it disappeared and was replaced by a message typed in First One language that flashed on the screen instead.
“It says ‘No Signal’.” Adora had to translate for them.
“Eternia undetected.” Confirmed the hologram.
“But what is Eternia?” Adora pressed.
“Scanning for Eternia.” Repeated the hologram.
The same spinning status wheel appeared again on the main screen. Then blinked out again to be replaced with the same message in First Ones writing. The one Adora told them said ‘No Signal’.
“Eternia undetected.” Repeated the hologram.
Adora heaved a growl that petered out into a sight of exasperation. Confound these holograms. It was almost like they delighted in frustrating her to no end. “Maybe ‘Eternia’ isn’t anything. Maybe its literally just a password. Ya know, like using your birthday, or just ‘password’.”
“That can’t be right.” Bow shook his head. He was pulling out his tracker pad now. The compound was definitely giving off First Ones signals. Like it was trying to communicate with something. “If ‘Eternia’ wasn’t a thing, they wouldn’t try and scan for it.” He pulled up some memory files on his tracker pad and scrolled through until he found the one he was looking for. “Maybe it’s a –what did my dads call it?- a constellation. Like Serenia. They even sound the same. Serenia. Eternia.”
“But Etheria doesn’t have any stars.” Adora reminded him.
“What are you two even talking about!?” Scorpia snarled, feeling confused and left out of the conversation.
Bow and Adora glanced at each other.
“This isn’t what we came here for.” Bow reminded her.
Adora sobered. They came here to rescue Entrapta. To atone for leaving her behind in the Fright Zone, and also to ask her about Imp’s strange and concerning prophesy about an Emperor from the other side of the portal. Adora had closed the portal –actually, Angella had closed the portal- and one needed a Runesword to open it again. So, she wasn’t sure if she actually believed that more Horde could come through to attack Etheria. But as She-Ra, she couldn’t ignore a warning like that. As the one who built the portal, Entrapta was the person to ask.
“I’ll go find Entrapta.” She volunteered.
Sheathing her sword over her back, Adora left the room.
True to his word, there was vanilla cakebatter still left in the mixing bowl, and a mixing spoon when Micah lead the child-Hordak to the Mess’ kitchen.
Tondy followed them into the kitchen, glaring at the hybrid the whole time. He did not trust the creature from the moment they busted in through the compound ceiling. They were shaped like a person, two arms, two legs, five fingers, standing upright. But when they moved, they moved like an animal, like a predator. Jumping fast and snarling loud. Lashing out with talons and fangs like any other beast on the island.
Dak glanced back at the other child, his hackles rising in a silent snarl. They didn’t trust Tondy either.
When Adora and party first burst through the ceiling and the young Jungle warrior assumed they were enemies, Bow was the first one he went for. Of the grown-ups that they had met so far in their short life, Bow was one of Dak’s two favorites. Anyone who threatened him could not be trusted.
Micah looked between the two children.
“I don’t think there’s enough left for two of you.” He admitted. “I might have to make more…”
Back to the pair, he began opening up cabinets and pulled back out the flour, sugar, vanilla extract, bird eggs, all the things he would need to make more cakebatter.
Looking Dak up and down, Tondy demanded, “What are you?”
“I’m Hordak.” Answered the other child.
“You said that already.” Tondy snapped. “What does that even mean?”
There was a pause as Dak hesitated. People had been calling them ‘Hordak’ for as long as they were able to form conscious thought. ‘This is not the best time to play Peek-a-Boo, Little Hordak.’ ‘Lord Hordak, come here for a moment.’ The name carried a lot of weight and meaning for the people around them. But Dak didn’t actually understand why.
“I don’t know.” They admitted.
Hearing that admission, Micah turned from the cakebatter to look at the hybrid. The recording said they were a clone. A clone was a being artificially made. Like a homunculus, but made by science instead of magic or alchemy. But Micah didn’t consider that something created artificially could also be grown artificially. Would not have the same experiences as a being of the same physical age. Would not have the same knowledge, education, or understandings as another being of the same physical age.
“How old are you?” Micah asked.
Micah watched the child count on their taloned fingers. He grew concerned when the hybrid passed their tenth finger and began again on their first hand.
“Nineteen.” The child finally answered.
The bottom dropped out of Micah’s stomach and he felt his bile rise. Entrapta was only eight years old nineteen years ago. The clone’s math had to be wrong. “You can’t be nineteen years old!”
Dak looked at him like he was stupid or something. “Nineteen days.”
Oh. That made so much more sense. Micah was visibly relieved. That was also about the same amount of time Entrapta had been on Beast Island. She might have been the one to create the clone, but she never got the chance to meet them. That certainly explained her adverse reaction to being called their ‘mother’. Parents generally got nine months to be used to the idea of being called ‘mother’ or ‘father’. To suddenly having a child drop in out of the blue and call you their parents had to be shocking. Micah understood her reaction.
“You can’t be nineteen days old.” Tondy snapped. “You’re my age!”
Growing up in an insulated community, on a remote island, the boy wouldn’t have a concept of clones or artificially created beings. He wouldn’t understand what Dak actually was.
Then the lights flickered for a moment. The florescent bulbs the Horde installed in the compound blinking out, only to be replaced almost immediately by warmly glowing crystals in the walls and ceilings. Illuminating lines on the walls. Intersecting in patterns and designed, not at all unlike the sigils Micah used in his magic. They were not magic sigils. They looked almost like a language. But a language none of them could read.
It looked like Entrapta was right, Micah noted, this building was definitely not originally a Horde base.
Tondy lifted his spear when the lights flickered.
Dak jumped up on the counter, knees bent, talons out, hair coiling up behind them.
Imp hissed and fluttered closer to the hybrid, keeping a close eye on his charge.
“It’s okay, calm down.” Micah tried to sooth all of them. Gosh, trying to keep two excitable young people and a deamon android calm was much, much more difficult than one toddler aged Princess. Then again, Glimmer had just been a baby and was still mesmerized by simple slight of hand tricks. Dak and Tondy were on the cusp of becoming teenagers and far less easy to please. “Entrapta probably just figured out how to turn out all the old tech in this place. She’s been trying to figure it out since we took the prison.”
At that, Dak perked up, looking much more interested than they did about the cakebatter. “I’m good at tech!” They announced. “Back in Dryl, I could take apart and put back together the robots in Mother’s Locked Room.”
“You must be very clever then.” Micah said in that same tone all adults used when humoring a child.
Except, the hybrid really did have to be very clever. Very clever and highly intelligent. If they really were only nineteen days old. In the space of less than twenty days they had gone from the functional level of a new born, to being able to speak and communicate at almost the same level as any other ten-year-old. Such a feat really was incredible and on its own meant the child was definitely a genius. Add on top of that they also –claimed- to be proficient with tech, then their intelligence must be off the charts.
“Maybe after Entrapta’s calmed down a bit, you and she can study some First Ones tech together.”
Dak nodded. “I’d like that.”
The compound didn’t have ventilation, but Entrapta still wanted the comfort of a dark enclosed space around her. She found the narrowest corridor she could, pressed her back against the wall, and had Emily stand in front of her to box her in. Sinking to her knees, welding mask still over her face, she drew her legs up to her chest.
‘Mother’. What a rude thing to call a person. Mothers were not nice people. Mothers were demanding and strict, overbearing and controlling. Mothers held expectations and when you couldn’t meet those expectations they reprimanded you harshly.
‘You’re such a thoughtless girl, Entrapta, you never think!’ Queen Ensnarea’s voice echoed through her mind.
The worst part was, moth- her Queen was right. She was thoughtless. She didn’t think of this as a possibility for the clone. Entrapta meant it to emerge from the tank as an adult. An adult. Even if it was allowed to gain consciousness and develop its own personality and identity independent from Hordak’s, she still always imagined it as an adult. A fully formed being capable of taking care of itself and not looking to its creator for care, or affection, or… parenting. This was not the intended result of the experiment!
Usually, an experiment yielding unintended results was a point of excitement for her. If an experiment goes wrong, that means there’s more to learn and learning was fun!
But the idea of learning to be a mother… did not sound fun to Entrapta. She did not want to be that kind of person. She did not want to be… that.
Mask firmly over her face, she was only peripherally aware when the lights changed. The hanging lights the Horde had drilled into the ceiling blinking out as their power flow was interrupted, and different lights entirely flaring to life as the compound was awoken from its slumber.
“Guess Adora and her sword was the key to getting this place working too…” She muttered to no one in particular.
Next to her, Emily gave a sad little trill. Her creator had been so happy when Scorpia arrived to rescue her –even though it turned out she didn’t need a rescue- then Adora showed up with that other experiment and now Entrapta was sadder than Emily had ever seen her.
The reprogrammed Horde bot wished she could comfort the organic woman, but aside from sticking close to her and –literally-being there for her, Emily didn’t know what else she could do.
They didn’t know how long they sat there in that narrow corridor. Commiserating in silence.
Long enough for Adora to come find them.
She had reverted back from her She-Ra form and was just normal Adora again.
“Hey… Entrapta…” She knelt down next to the older woman, unsure of what she was supposed to say. Adora had never been good at offering comfort. When she tried to console Glimmer through the loss of her mother, it backfired and the other woman lashed out at her. Adora had no idea how Entrapta would react to her clumsy brand of friendly comfort. “Can I sit with you?”
Lifting her head, Entrapta fixed the younger woman with the glowing lenses of her mask. “I can’t stop you.”
“That’s not actually permission.” Adora reminded her. “But I’d like to talk. If you’re willing.”
Entrapta just gave a non-committal shrug. She didn’t care. In that exact moment, she was so wrapped up in her own miserable feelings.
“So, you and Hordak, huh…” Adora began, musing out loud. “Maybe it’s because I grew up around him and he’s sort of an authority figure to me, but… he is not even on the list to be on the list of possibly romantic partners.”
“Romantic partners!?” Entrapta threw her mask up with a tendril of hair and stared wide-eyes at the younger woman. “No! No. We were Lab Partners.”
Shifting her position, Adora also rested her back against the wall. “Can I tell you something about just before the moment Catra opened the portal?”
Entrapta blinked. Catra was the one who opened the portal? Not Hordak? She thought it was Hordak. After all, all he wanted was to go home. The portal didn’t even have to function perfectly, just stay open so that he could send a distress signal through to his Brother. But it was Catra? Why would she want to open the portal so much? She wanted so much she betrayed Entrapta, tazered her in the back, and shipped her off to a gulag for having second thoughts and wanting to be cautious. Why? For spite?
Adora knew that Entrapta’s silence was not actually permission to proceed, but she had never really been good with awkward silences either. So, she pressed on anyway. “Before Catra pulled the switch, she tried to get Hordak to do it. But he refused. He had the machine, he had me, he had the sword. All the pieces he needed to get it to work but he still couldn’t do it. In that moment, all he could think about was where you were. Why you weren’t there with him. The moment of his greatest victory, and he didn’t want it if he couldn’t share it with you. That sounds pretty ‘romantic’ to me.”
With a snort, Entrapta snapped her welding mask back down over her face. “That sounds made-up. Hordak would never be so irrational.”
“People are irrational when it comes to love.” The younger woman informed her. Then, for reasons unknown, the image of Catra making eye-contact and smirking as she pulled the lever flashed through her mind.
“Adora,” Entrapta began in her ‘I’m being patient’ voice. “I am just barely learning how to have friends. I can’t have a ‘romantic partner’. Hordak and I were just lab partners and good friends.”
“Uh-huh.” Adora gave the older woman a knowing smile, carried wisdom beyond her years. “Such good-non-romantic-friends that you tried building a brand new body for him and mixed in your own DNA with it to forever leave your mark on him so that he’d never forget you.”
“That’s not why I did it!” Entrapta insisted. She lifted her mask again, with her hand his time. “I mixed in my own DNA to fill in the gaps in the sequence and fix the corrupted genes in his DNA. So that the body could be healthy and function the way it was supposed to.”
“You do realize that by mixing your own DNA with Hordak’s the body you created wasn’t a clone of him, but a child from the two of you.” Adora pointed out.
“I- That-” Cheeks turning red, Entrapta floundered. “That was not the intended purpose of the experiment!”
Unintended results seemed to be a running them on Etheria. Adora never intended to become She-Ra when she randomly picked up a sword that had been discarded and lost in the Whispering Woods. Glimmer and Bow never intended to find the legendary Hero of Etheria when they took a lost Horde soldier prisoner. None of them ever meant for Bow and Glimmer to be captured when they decided to recruit for the Alliance at Princess Prom. The Alliance never intended to leave Entrapta behind in the Fright Zone. No one had intended the results that came from any of those actions. Yet, they happened all the same.
“The subject wants me to be their mother, Adora.” Entrapta reminded her. “I can’t be a mother. I can’t take care of anything. I can barely even take care of myself.”
She recalled a time when one of their portal tests was malfunctioning and she had the bright idea to run towards it to see what was wrong. She didn’t realize how close the machine was to actually exploding. Not until Hordak had already grabbed her and was pulling her out of the way, placing his own body between her and the blast.
If she couldn’t even keep herself safe in the lab, how could she keep a child safe?
Should she even have a child in the lab? Was a science lab a dangerous place for a child? There were chemicals in the lab. And heavy machines. And tools with sharp edges. My gosh! There was so much a child could hurt themselves on! How did anyone survive to adulthood!?
Drawing her knees up, Adora focused her eyes on the opposite wall, not looking at Entrapta when she spoke. “Ya know, I never had a mother.” She announced. “I mean, I had Shadow Weaver, but she wasn’t really a ‘mother’. More like a… ‘custodian’. Yeah, she favored me –or whatever- but she also took care of all of us kids in the Fright Zone. Me, Catra, Lonnie, Rogelio, and Kyle.”
She glanced to the side to see if her words had any effect of the older woman.
But Entrapta’s mask was over her face, hiding her expression.
“Ever since I learned that I’m not really from Etheria, I’ve been wondering about my real parents.” She continued, hoping she was getting through. “If I had the opportunity to meet my mother, I think I’d do just like little Dak did. I’d run away from the castle I was left in, befriend the first pair of strangers I met, and break into who knows where, and rescue her if I needed to –just to meet her.”
Her mask was still over her face, but Entrapta still felt the need to look away. “Sometimes, growing up with a mother is worse.”
Growing up with Shadow Weaver as the closest thing to a ‘mother’, Adora had to admit that was a possibility. Nothing was ever as good as it was in fantasies.
“But, you can connect with Dak in a way no one else can.” She informed Entrapta. “They’re only two weeks old and already are fascinated by machines and tech. Ya know, Bow and I watched them peel Imp’s skin off and open his head up to fix some wires.”
Lifting her welding mask, Entrapta blinked at Adora. Impressed. “Imp is a highly advanced artificial intelligence!”
Adroa just shrugged. “Dak fixed him up just fine. You two have a lot more in common than you think.” A pause. “They might not be the Hordak you’re used to, but they could also be a competent lab partner. Not in the same way the older Hordak was your ‘lab partner’-” she raised her fingers in air quotes “-but still a helpful and fulfilling coworker. Or an apprentice.”
Entrapta looked thoughtful.
Taking that as a good sign, Adora stood offering her hand to help Entrapta up. “Let’s head back to the command center.”
Nodding, Entrapta rose up on her hair. She did not take Adora’s hand. But she did follow the younger woman back to the lab.
Adora froze when they stepped off the lift together. Actually seeing the door from the outside. More specifically, the mural around the door. First Ones writing around it. Very intricate and complicated. The interlocking sigils coming together to almost form an illustration. A circle on either side of the door. One surrounded by multiple smaller circles, almost like moons orbiting a planet.
“That’s… not what I expected.” She admitted.
“Do you know what it says?” Entrapta asked, suddenly excited. Talking about First Ones, their language, their technology, their everything, was much, much easier than talking about her own feelings or the prospect of being a ‘mother’.
“Of Runeswrod’s heavy hearts,
“Like fabric, torn and tattered,
“Two worlds ripped apart,
“A true bond cannot be shattered.”
“So, Eternia is another planet.” Entrapta smiled, happy to be learning new things. “And it’s connected to Etheria somehow! That’s it! That’s what this fortress does! It amplifies the connection between the two words! It’s supposed to connect Eternia directly to the Runestone network!”
Entrapta cackled with glee.
By this point, Adora didn’t have the energy to react. At least they knew what Eternia was now. It was a planet. But that didn’t really matter all that much after all. Not so long as Etheria was stranded here in Despondos. “Please don’t hack the planet again.”