Glimmer was still shivering. Her blood continued to pump faster than it reasonably should and she wished she could just calm the fuck down but the memories that had been reawakened by setting foot in that place… They were haunting her even now. She was already looking forward to many sleepless, fearful hours.
Having Bow by her side helped. She had missed him so much when she was imprisoned by… by… him... for all those weeks. And by now she was getting the feeling that Bow was growing more comfortable around her again. Fuck, she had been so stupid. So pig-headed and stupid to anger her closest friends.
But he was here now. He was here and Adora was close by and they were leaving Horde Prime very far behind them and everything would be alright.
Only one thing felt out of place now.
Entrapta's clone was… a strange addition to their crew. Glimmer felt relieved to know that he was still out cold from Glimmer's own attack aimed at that metal thing on the back of his neck but it was a small comfort.
Glimmer felt uneasy looking at him and the way Entrapta watched over him like… like…
Like what, actually?
Something about the way Entrapta sat by his side and kept a close eye on his every twitch and quiet groan actually reminded Glimmer of how her mom had sat with her when Glimmer had been glitching after her brief imprisonment in the Fright Zone.
The memory felt bitter now.
Entrapta had already told them why she had dragged this unconscious clone aboard. She said this was Hordak. Why she had wanted to retrieve Hordak, Glimmer had no clue, but she really did not have the energy to make a fuss about that now.
It just left Glimmer wondering if and how she should tell Entrapta that the chance was about one in a million that this clone was the exact one the scientist thought he was. More than that, she wondered how to tell Entrapta that Hordak was gone. Glimmer was fairly certain she had watched Hordak be killed on that first night with Horde Prime, if not in body then at least in spirit.
“Do you really think that’s him?” Bow asked in a whisper, echoing Glimmer’s own thoughts.
She shrugged uncomfortably. “No way to tell, is there?”
Glimmer yelped in fright when Entrapta suddenly responded to her. She had thought she and Bow were being quiet enough to not be heard over the soft, ever-present hum of the spaceship’s engines, but either Entrapta had crazy good hearing or Glimmer had completely misjudged that one.
Entrapta kept her back turned to Glimmer and Bow as she spoke. “It’s Hordak. I’m certain of it.”
Her soft voice and solemn tone were so unlike the enthusiastic, careless, mad scientist that Glimmer knew. She almost felt as though this was another person altogether. Who knew Entrapta could be so soft spoken and gentle, no matter the situation?
Entrapta carefully lifted one of the unconscious clone’s hands and held it in her own. Not with her hair. With her hands . Another thing Glimmer had never imagined she would see Entrapta do.
Bow made a noise and Glimmer looked up at him. They shared a look for a moment and his black eyes were filled with concern as he turned back to look at Entrapta’s back. “How can you be sure?” he asked very gently. “I believe you, I really do, but it’s just… How? They all look exactly the same.”
“They don’t.” Entrapta shifted, making room for the others to look at the clone’s hand that she held up. She still kept her eyes on his slate blue-and-white form rather than looking at her companions. “There are subtle differences. Hordak has subtle differences from the others. That’s the whole point of Hordak. He… doesn’t fit in with the rest. So Prime threw him away.”
Was that the reason? Glimmer had witnessed the conversation when the two aliens had first been reunited and she did not think it was a memory she could ever shake. Horde Prime had said that Hordak had become an abomination, but that… Well, that made sense at the time. Hordak, with his blue hair and black face paint—it had been such a shock to Glimmer to find out that neither of those were natural—and his red eyes… He was simply different from the others. And he had been a warlord conquering a planet on his own accord, rather than a placid, silent and obedient clone aboard Horde Prime’s ship. Glimmer had assumed he had gone rogue or something. That he had been actively aberrant and tried to impress Horde Prime in a way the godlike figure did not approve of, and that that was why they clashed when they did. All Glimmer understood at the time was that the fabled Horde Prime that Shadow Weaver had warned her about was here now, that Hordak was trying to pass off Etheria as a gift and that Horde Prime did not appreciate that. He got angry. He got furious. And then he… killed … Hordak. To be reconditioned, he said. Glimmer was not sure what that meant but a glance at the other clones, looking as alike as their name suggested and moving as one, had clued her in a bit. She thought. Either way she had been certain that she had watched her nemesis, the terror that had plagued her planet and her people for so long, die a brutal and sudden death at the hands of his own leader.
That was what she took from that event. And after the fact she had spent as little time as possible going through it again and again in her head, though she had failed to push it aside completely. It had shaken her too much to ever push aside completely.
Still, in her limited and unwilling musings, she had not considered that Hordak had been cast aside before all this for bearing subtle differences to his kin, ones that could be spotted even now when he looked exactly like the others.
Horde Prime continued to become more and more monstrous and a chill passed through her. Shit… They had escaped him this time but a man like that—if he was even a man and not something… grander, more dangerous—would not let them get away so easily.
Glimmer fought down her rising panic. No. Not now. Don’t cry now, don’t scream. Whatever you do, just don’t crumble. You’re with Bow now. And Adora is here. And on Etheria… dad is waiting for you.
She took a long, deep breath. Exhaled slowly. She shivered, but she controlled herself.
While Glimmer had been fighting down her sudden terror, Bow had stepped closer to Entrapta and Glimmer followed. Better to focus on anything right now than to let her mind wander to dark and scary places.
Entrapta was holding up the clone’s slack hand for Bow to see and Glimmer looked from over the scientist’s shoulder. She was tracing a line over the back of that large hand with a single gloved finger.
“See that?” she said softly and Glimmer squinted. And… Oh. Was that-? Yes. A very faint scar ran diagonally over the clone’s hand. “Hordak got this in a lab accident while we were working together. There was a small explosion and a nearby cloning pod shattered and a shard of glass caught him on the back of his hand. It was only a minor injury, of course, but enough to leave a scar.”
She lowered his hand and leant closer to his head, indicating another faint line behind his left ear. “Imp fell asleep in Hordak’s cowl, when he still wore that silly cape of his,” she explained almost fondly, “and he had a nightmare. He woke up thrashing all of a sudden and accidentally scratched Hordak.” Glimmer had no idea who or what this Imp was but she was more astonished by the fact that Entrapta had spotted that tiny imperfection on the clone’s skin.
Turning attention back to his hand, Entrapta displayed his clawed fingertips. “Calluses,” she said. “Exactly like his. An engineer’s hand. And this scarring at the base of his claws is from when he shielded me from another lab accident. A larger explosion. I thought there was time to shut the machine off, prevent it from blowing up, but there wasn’t. Hordak grabbed me and pulled me away from the blast and shielded me. After the blast, we were on the floor and his claws had actually dug into the floor from the force of it all. They did get torn, though. It seemed painful but he never mentioned it.”
Glimmer found herself listening intently as Entrapta pointed out a few more nicks and scratches and a small burn on Hordak’s right palm. It was a good distraction for sure, but more than that, it was the first time Glimmer ever felt like she understood Entrapta.
She understood why she wanted to find Hordak so badly.
For Entrapta to know about all these barely visible scars, for her to be able to spot them and tell the story behind each of them…
Maybe Glimmer did not understand how or why but she understood that Entrapta and Hordak were very close, and in spite of everything, she felt relieved that two had been reunited even as she wondered—worried—again if this was truly Hordak at all, even if it was his body.
Bow had knelt down beside Entrapta at some point. He was radiating such calm as he sat there, Glimmer felt her muscles relax a little just looking at him. He looked at Entrapta with a sympathetic smile and a gentle expression. “That’s amazing, Entrapta,” he told the small woman softly. “But… There’s no way you spotted all these in the heat of the moment, is there? It all happened so fast and these scars are barely visible at all. It’s amazing how you knew it was him.”
Entrapta hummed softly, pulling Hordak’s left hand closer to herself, cradling it against her chest. “You’re right. But there are other things, too. He’s a bit smaller than the others, his clothes are noticeably looser on him”—hardly noticeable, Glimmer thought, but she thought she could see what Entrapta meant—”because he’s thinner, too. Though I think he gained some weight and musculature since I last saw him. Also the way his hair never wants to stay slicked back like a ‘proper’ clone.”
With a soft huff, an amused sound, Entrapta flicked some stark white hair from Hordak’s forehead with her own prehensile locks. Then she caressed his face for a moment before she drew her hair away again.
“I just recognised him, is all. I would recognise him anywhere.”
Glimmer glanced at Bow. If there were a hundred copies of him, could she find the real one with as much certainty? A warmth spread through her chest. Yes. She thought she could. Probably she could tell it was him just from the look in his eyes or from the way the corners of his mouth twitched before he burst into laughter at one of her jokes.
“I’m sorry,” she said to Entrapta as she turned to the princess again. “For knocking him unconscious, I mean. Do you think he’ll be OK?”
Entrapta shrugged. “That’s alright. It was a hostile situation. And… Well, his breathing is steadier than the last time I saw him unconscious. His pulse, too. You hit him on the cerebral port, right? I’m not sure how much damage that does, but I’m confident that he’ll be fine.”
Glimmer found herself smiling at this, but then she caught herself. Smiling because Hordak would probably be alright? What a strange day this was. What a strange, surreal day. More than that, though, she remembered yet again her first minutes aboard Horde Prime’s ship and the plain abuse she had witnessed and she knew that while Entrapta had been right about this being Hordak, she had also been wrong.
He was not alright. Live or die, he was not going to be alright, and Glimmer did not have the heart to tell Entrapta this.
And who knows, maybe she was wrong.
Maybe whatever strong connection between them had allowed for Entrapta to recognise Hordak against impossible odds would work the other way around, too. Maybe, miraculously, impossible as it seemed, he would recognise her as well.
After all, had they not infiltrated Horde Prime’s ship? Had they not rescued not only Catra, but also Hordak from that place? Had they not escaped that impenetrable fortress as well? Adora had brought Catra back from certain demise. It felt almost fitting.
It seemed to Glimmer that this might be but yet another miracle she would witness this day.
After everything that they had been through, she would welcome it.