Chapter 1: Prologue
The first thing to realize is that soulmates are just another thing the Horde can’t control, so they treat them like they don’t exist. None of their soldiers are ever told what soulmates are, how they work, nothing.
The second thing is that neither Catra nor Adora has much experience with music, and thus neither has really had much of an opportunity to sing.
The third thing is that, over the course of their Horde training, they’ve both taken so many injuries that they never thought to question it when cuts and bruises showed up that they didn’t remember getting. That’s just the way of things, can’t remember EVERY little scrape.
And then Adora leaves for the Rebellion, and everything changes. The Rebellion has MUSIC, they have light and laughter and SINGING, and Adora loves it SO MUCH that she starts learning to sing herself. And she has a truly lovely voice, which everyone in the Princess Alliance adores.
Small comfort to Catra, who can’t stop hearing Adora’s voice in her head, singing and happy and without her, and she has NO IDEA WHY. It’s like her brain is mocking her that Adora left her behind, that Adora never needed her, that she’s fine without her. And she gets angrier. And she starts making mistakes.
One of those mistakes comes to Shadow Weaver’s attention, and in the middle of an average day in Brightmoon, Adora suddenly drops to the ground screaming without any explanation.
Perfuma is the one who figures it out, and once Glimmer realizes the implications, she has an outright panic attack. She-Ra has a soulmate, and she is the ENEMY. Worse—She-Ra’s soulmate is being tortured, and there’s nothing they can do about it.
Seahawk calls bullshit and immediately commandeers a ship to take Glimmer, Bow, and Mermista on a daring raid of the Fright Zone, for what is perhaps the strangest rescue mission the Alliance has ever undertaken.
Chapter 2: Pain
The first thing that Catra thinks is how luxurious her prison cell is. It’s nicer than anything in the Fright Zone—even her barracks weren’t this nice. This large. This PLUSH.
She wonders if this is an attempt to catch her off guard. If so, they probably shouldn’t have left her alone for so long. (Also there’s a bird perched outside her window and it’s pissing her off that the window is locked because she wants to CATCH IT SO BAD.)
She wonders when the interrogation is going to start. And, for that matter, what they’ll be interrogating her for. It’s not like she knows anything important.
She hears an unfamiliar sound—someone is knocking on the door. “Catra?” Adora’s voice. Catra’s heart skips a beat. “May I come in?”
“It’s not like I can stop you,” Catra says. She leans back in her chair, crossing her arms behind her head. Taking command of the room.
“Hey, Adora,” she purrs as her old friend—the one who betrayed her—peeks her head in through a crack in the door. She needs to be in control immediately, or else she’s dead—wait, is Adora blushing?
“Just… needed to make sure you were okay,” Adora says. “I keep having these nightmares—”
“Look, She-Ra,” Catra interrupts, biting off each syllable as it leaves her mouth. “You’ve chosen your side. Stop pretending you care about me and just get on with the interrogation already.”
Adora’s eyes snap toward her, wide and brown and watery. “Interrogation?” she murmurs.
“Why else would you need me,” Catra grumbles. “Not like we’re—”
“They were torturing you!” Adora yells. “I couldn’t just—we—” She balls up her fists, and Catra realizes that she’s trying not to cry. “I had to get you out,” she whispers.
There’s a moment when all Catra can do is stare in shock at the girl before her, the girl who abandoned her, reduced to tears by the thought of her pain. Then… “Wait a sec,” Catra says. “How did you know they were hurting me?”
Adora collapses against the door with an audible thunk. “I… I…” She freezes, then pulls a knife from her belt and jabs the tip into her palm.
Catra feels the stab, and when she looks down, her palm is bleeding in the exact same place that Adora poked in her own. She looks up, sees Adora looking back at her, looks back down—and suddenly everything makes sense. Adora didn’t come back for her. She came to protect herself.
Catra tries very hard not to snarl.