After Mystacor, the Gems join Adora, Bow, and Glimmer, and trek to the Crystal Castle
|The crystalline structure glistened in the moonlight. The helicopter, which Amethyst had transformed herself into, touched down, as did Lapis and Peridot. Stevonnie, Bow, Glimmer, Garnet, and Amethyst looked at the structure almost with a reverence. Adora stepped forward, with Pearl following close behind, and entered the underground passageway. They were so glad that that the flying alicorn, Swift Wind, was not joining them on this quest. Glimmer shouted, "screw Swift Wind...he is so annoying. I'm glad he stayed back in Bright Moon. He's more trouble than he is worth." Adora was not a fan of this sentiment, as she appreciated Swift Wind, but Bow agreed with Glimmer, while the Gems had no idea what they were talking about.
They all made their way into the castle’s main chamber. Creepily, Light Hope was waiting, almost like she was expecting them to come. It was almost like she had a sort of future vision, although she had not expected a samurai warrior, otherwise known as Samurai Jack, to come to the castle in the past. A mechanical voice broke the eerie and almost deafening silence.
"Hello, Adora. What brings you here today?"
She explained how that a diary Angella of Bright Moon had given her friends contained an illustration of the Crystal Castle. To provide direct evidence of her claim, she turned to the page showing Rose, Pearl, and Maura, the previous She-Ra, so that Light Hope could see it for herself. Unfortunately for her, Light Hope was underwhelmed.
"A book means nothing...is that the reason you disturbed me today?"
Adora was perturbed. This was not the response she expected. If learning about herself, and Pearl, hadn't been so important, she never would have made the journey from Mystacor to the Crystal Castle. As such, she continued to persist in hopes that Light Hope would come around, realizing the importance of her inquiry.
"I am here today because the Pearl drawn in that book is with us."
Since Light Hope's salty attitude and dismissiveness was getting them nowhere, Pearl decided to act. She stepped forward into the light and bowed before Light Hope in a manner of respect, thinking it was befitting of her. She announced herself like a servant to a member of royalty.
She chuckled awkwardly at Pearl's formality. It was a level of respect Adora never gave her. As a result, she was glad that Pearl was giving her such respect, treating her as something other than just a holographic projection created by the first settlers of the planet, the First Ones. Still, her overall attitude did not change, unfortunately.
The mechanical voice rang across the room. The words were cold and calculating, with no emotion, like most computer-generated voices.
"My memory banks recall you visited this location before. You were with a woman who called herself Rose, and with Maura, the previous She-Ra. Why have you come here today?"
Pearl was surprised by the question, as she did not think Light Hope would ask her anything. Nevertheless, she attempted to answer it to the best of her ability. She did so in hopes that Adora would learn more about her past, meaning that her answer was more about helping someone else rather than assisting herself.
"Well, ma'am, I came here by accident. I didn't recall this place or planet. It's so different from the last time I was here."
Light Hope apologized for the circumstances they were under. Still, she stated that what Pearl and those with her had witnessed was not at all related to Adora. She saw Pearl as basically irrelevant and not important, a non-entity, even though she was anything but that. She turned herself to Adora and demanded answers for why she had entered the Crystal Castle.
"So why did you really come here? This is a sacred place and I don't want to get involved in petty issues such as this. You need to..."
She stopped. It seemed like she was going to mouth the word "leave" but the whole word didn't come out. Almost like she was possessed, Light Hope's eyes turned blood red, a bit like Adora's when she was corrupted, and she shouted one word: "DIE!"
Bow was unsure what was happening, even though he suspected that Entrapta might be involved. While Peridot did not know, like Bow did, the whole background of Entrapta and the history of her previous role in the Rebellion, and now the Horde, she had a theory about what had happened.
"She is hacked somehow. She wasn't supposed to say that."
Pearl looked in terror as huge red eyed spiders entered the room, surrounding them all. There seemed to be no chance to escape. They seemed trapped, doomed to be poofed, shattered, or killed outright, depending on what kind of beings they were. Contemplating this, she shrieked with shock.
"Never mind that, we need to get out of here!"
Garnet was also very concerned. But she thought of it in a different way. As a person with stronger leadership skills than Pearl, she could prepare not only herself but her fellow comrades around her for battle. She tried to be as inspiring as she could.
"Everyone team up! We can do this!"
All of them took what Garnet had told them to heart. In preparation for the fight, Stevonnie stood alongside Garnet, while Bow, Glimmer, and Amethyst stood together. Peridot had an idea fulfilling not only her desire to measure up to the other Gems but was a bit unique. In order for this to work, she needed Lapis to be on board with this plan in its entirety.
"Lapis, I know this isn't the best time, but I really think we need to fuse to defeat these awful monsters...otherwise they will shatter us and kill our magical friends!"
Lapis smiled. After her previous fusion with Stevonnie in Mystacor, she was ready. The horrid fusion with Jasper, for a few months under the ocean, was in the past, not something to worry about. She had grown and matured since then. She was not the same person who had fused with Jasper. As the spiders closed in, their fusion, Amazonite, emerged. They were ready to fight...together.
With Amazonite and Stevonnie smashing apart the spiders, Amethyst, Bow, and Glimmer holding the other spiders at bay, they could hear Pearl reassuring Adora. The friendship between both of them was strengthening, although it had not reached a climax.
"Remember your training...you are strong, Adora, I know it...you can take them down."
They both lunged at the spiders together, working in tandem. With all of them fighting, the spiders, despite their strength, were no match for them. Using their powers, they were able to bust out of the Crystal Castle. The structure was so weakened that they escaped just before it began showing signs of collapse. Amethyst turned into a helicopter with everyone but Amazonite getting in, who flew alongside. They could see the Crystal Castle caving in on itself. What did this mean for Adora? And more importantly, who hacked Light Hope...and why? Those were questions that neither Adora nor those more knowledgeable with technology like Pearl, Peridot (within the fusion with Lapis) or Bow could answer.
The helicopter touched down and Amazonite flew down to a nearby clearing in the Whispering Woods. Everyone tried to collect themselves over what had happened. No one expected the structure to topple. Had the Horde planned this whole thing in an effort to trap them there? Or did they have other plans? Adora was the most concerned of all, not surprisingly, about this development.
"I have never seen that before...the look in her eyes looked like corruption...but it also was different somehow...it was unfamiliar."
Bow didn't know how to follow up a comment like that! However, the battle had been tiresome, sapping all their energy. Like before, Glimmer had a suggestion. They would go to a place they could recharge, in a different way than their relaxation in the hot springs and cloud beach of Mystacor. They had been there before, but it was time to return!
"How about we go to Plumeria...and meet Perfuma?"
Stevonnie, who had talked to Perfuma in Bright Moon, when they were un-fused as Steven and Connie, loved this idea. She embodied many of the characteristics that the Crystal Gems tried to display on a daily basis. After all, she had ensured that Angella was merciful on the Gems rather than doing something worse, like imprisoning them in the castle's spare room within an energy field of some kind, although that would not involve death.
"Sounds great!...let's go!"
As they entered Plumeria, they heard a squeal of excitement. A woman, wearing a pink flower crown, and a pink sundress with a green long-sleeved shawl, pink sandals, and pinkish coverings at the bottom of her legs, stood before them. It was Perfuma, with her light blonde hair, reaching to her waste, full of pink flowers, blowing in the breeze. She was so excited to see them. She easily recognized Adora, Glimmer, and Bow, but was not as familiar with Garnet, Amethyst, Pearl, Stevonnie, or even Amazonite. Still, she greeted them with open arms. Her confident voice boomed.
"Welcome to Plumeria, a simple kingdom with noble, gentle, peaceful, and optimistic people. It is centered by the wonderful Heart Blossom, the source of all my wonderful magical powers...to grow and control plant life!"
While she was not sure why they had visited, she was always glad to have visitors, especially those who wanted to turn the darkness of the world into light. Stevonnie and the Gems were especially interested in this wonderful mostly agricultural kingdom, with its residents, who had big families, living, within yurts, tents, and other structures, making use of trees within their dwellings, places where people had lived for thousands of years. There were majestic trees and beautiful flowers dotting the landscape. However, this peacefulness and wonder was ignored by Adora, who addressed Perfuma with deep sorrow and confusion.
"We came...because the Crystal Castle collapsed in on itself...and we...I really don't know what to do now...how am I supposed to be She-Ra when my teacher is buried underneath rubble?"
She began to cry, almost like Lapis's outpouring of sadness and emotion in Mystacor, after which Stevonnie tried to calm her down when she lamented about the painfulness of fusion, recalling her abusive fusion with Jasper. As tears ran down her cheeks, Adora tightly gripped Pearl's hand for support, seeing her as a friend to rely in these dark times. Perfuma reassured Adora she would do anything "for the She-Ra," and noticed that Adora was holding the hand of Pearl.
"Who is your new friend, that looks like a ballerina? I vaguely remember her from the war council in Bright Moon but I never got a proper introduction."
Pearl blushed, with bluish marks on her face, as she was a bit embarrassed. Still, she was more than happy to tell Perfuma about herself. It was the chance she had been waiting for to make friends with the beings of Etheria. So, she jumped at the opportunity like an excited rabbit.
"I am Pearl, a gem of many skills...dedicated to guarding the Earth and all its living creatures from harm as member of the Crystal Gems!"
Perfuma persisted, asking why she seemed so chummy with Adora and...why they were still holding hands. Pearl was not expecting such a question. She froze up, not knowing what to tell Performa. So, she awkwardly hesitated with an "um" and "well." Luckily for her, she was saved by Adora's directness, who got right to the point.
"I'm done with everyone trying to figure out my relationships. She's my friend...and I'm never letting go! We will stay on this planet...together!"
Not only were Amethyst and the Gem fusions (Stevonnie, Amazonite, and Garnet) shocked by this display, but so were Glimmer and Bow. They never would have expected Adora to blurt out something like that, or for her to be so protective of someone she just met. They asked themselves what really happened when Pearl and Adora were in Bright Moon some days back. Sure, Bow and Peridot were in the same room, but Pearl had erected a bubble of silence around both herself and Adora so neither Bow nor Peridot could hear what they talked to each other about, at the time. Everyone else was still unsure what this all meant.
While Glimmer was in a state of social confusion, Bow was, like always, more than willing to support Adora's decision. After all, they respected Entrapta's decision to join the Horde even though they profoundly disagreed with it and tried to convince her to change her mind, so she could come back to the Rebellion and leave the Horde in the dust. As Bow tried to comfort Adora, what he told her echoed not only the sentiment of his dads, when they found out he was a rebellion fighter, and his apology to her the last time he was in Plumeria. He spoke for himself and for Glimmer.
"I thought we were being supportive...but we were really being terrible! Neither of us knew you had felt that way, but we'll try to be better friends. We like you no matter what and think you are an awesome person!"
A smile spread across Adora's face. She was so glad she had supportive friends who were trying to encourage her, friends who would be with her no matter what, no matter what path she took. Perhaps she had been a little harsh and too defensive. Sometimes her emotions snapped over inconsequential questions or speech since she was constantly stressed from the burden put on her. She was expected to be the savior of Etheria, generally speaking, especially when she was She-Ra. Even so, she would not abandon her friends, the Rebellion, or Etheria and return to the Horde. It was a lot of pressure to be She-Ra, but going back to the Fright Zone meant a return to abuse, manipulation, and violence, something she was free of as a member of the Rebellion, apart from occasional skirmishes with the forces of the Horde.
Perfuma understood where Adora was coming from, but, unlike her, she tried to approach problems in a much more positive manner. She was glad to meet Pearl, Adora's new friend. She stretched out her arms and hugged tightly.
"It's so nice to properly meet you Pearl! Adora has chosen her friends well...you are so lovely! I could sense that from our encounter in Bright Moon but now I am completely certain."
She paused, with happiness radiating throughout her body. She wanted it to be like the last time Adora, Bow, and Glimmer had been there, without the Horde killing the plant life of course. That meant they would all have a big party together! She spoke to the rest of those in Plumeria in hopes of drumming up support for her idea, getting the citizenry to help her out.
"Gather around everyone! Let us welcome these guests to our wonderful home...with a huge celebration and feast. Bring out the windchimes, ready the drum circles, and prepare for dancing! We are going to have a great time!"
While Adora and Pearl told Perfuma that this wasn't necessary, she insisted on it. So, to be agreeable, they played along. Everyone else was happy and glad to enjoy a party. They felt it would be a way to wind down, so they didn't have to think about the destruction of the Crystal Castle earlier that day, almost killing or poofing them.
Elsewhere on Etheria, others were plotting and scheming to tear the Rebellion down and shroud the planet in darkness. One of those places was the Fright Zone. Hordak cracked his fingers and snickered. His beady red eyes looked at the huge screens in front of him. Displayed was information about their hacking of Black Garnet runestone and the recent shattering of the Crystal Castle. He asked Entrapta, who sat nearby, about the progress of their plan. Entrapta, who had an almost slavish dedication to "science" no matter how much it hurt the planet, excitedly answered him with an evil look in her magneta-colored eyes as her prehensile lilac hair quickly tapped on the keyboard.
"Progress is going great! Our hack of Light Hope was a success...and the crumpling of that crystalline structure means it will be so much easier to get First One's tech for our machines. The Rebellion will think it's gone and done for, allowing us to go in without a trace. Now, if we could hack into all the runestones, perhaps we could even track the Princesses...this...I must say...is all so exciting!"
Hordak praised her on the progress so far, even though she was a princess, since she was not only an inventor but a tech genius. He saw her as essential, part of his bigger plan to crush the Rebellion. Adora becoming a Force Captain was one of his original methods to crush the rebels and rout the Princess Alliance and making Catra a Force Captain was a replacement pan. This hadn't worked out how he had hoped. Catra had been clumsy, losing the Battle of Bright Moon, allowing the Whispering Woods to regrow, allowing a Horde-controlled fortress to fall into the hands of the Rebellion, not disabling the Salineas Sea Gate, and many other blunders, including getting herself captured. Entrapta was, on the other hand, much more reliable for Hordak and his schemes.
While the Gems and the Best Friend Squad, as they fashioned themselves, did not know the extent of Entrapta's involvement, they had a sense that something was wrong. But they did not worry about that for the time being. Instead, they took a break and enjoyed themselves. Stevonnie showed off her killer dance moves, as did Garnet, while Amazonite flew from tree to tree with delight. Glimmer, Bow, and Amethyst enjoyed the food, while Pearl and Adora sat off to the side, laughing at each other's jokes, teasing each other, as they had done before.
As the sun went down, they had nowhere else to go. Some villagers offered their lodging, but they did not want to impose too much, so they only accepted bedding materials and slept alongside Perfuma near the base of the tree which contained the Heart Blossom. Everyone, including the Gems, seemed to be asleep, with Lapis and Peridot unfusing for the night because they felt too tired to stay fused together while they slept. But there were two people who were not asleep: Adora and Pearl. They stayed up as the light from the night sky shined on the ground. They walked through the Whispering Woods, thanks to Pearl's gem serving as a sort-of-flashlight, together and reached a rock outcropping that overlooked a lake. This lake was something the Horde had overlooked when they came through the Woods before, partly because they didn't know the terrain as well as those who lived there. Adora held Pearl's hands tightly and declared something that surprised her, who saw them as friends and nothing more.
"I really admire you, Pearl, your elegance, knack for organization and order, and your inspirational talk. Bow and Glimmer are nice and all, but you are really a friend I wish I had known sooner. I wish you could stay here forever."
Pearl was flattered but was cautious. They had only recently met and because of this, they did not know each other that well yet. That was the word of warning that she gave Adora, while remaining supportive and blushing at her praise.
"I'm glad that you like those qualities and see me as a true friend...but we barely know each other...Garnet says love is something that grows over time, not something that can just happen instantly or quickly. The same is the case for friendship."
While Adora was a bit dismayed, she was glad that Pearl reciprocated her feelings, just by acknowledging them. She moved over to Pearl and proceeded to hug her, excited that they saw each other eye-to-eye on this connection. She cried a little, when telling Pearl what she felt at that time.
"You are so interesting and fascinating...and I want to get to know you better...I want us to be the best of friends!"
Pearl hugged her back, as she knew that Adora was a kindred soul who would do nothing to hurt her. She was different than Steven or Rose/Pink Diamond in that she was more relatable in a lot of ways. How could she not like Adora? She was a swordfighter, liked strategizing and organizing, and could transform into a warrior that was eight feet tall. She then stopped hugging and proceeded to hold Adora's hand, with Adora doing the same. They stood together, upright, on the rock overlooking the lake, shouting out for all to hear: "Pearl and Adora together...we are Peadora united!" Afterwards, they chuckled with other about this and made their way back to Plumeria and fell asleep with the others, who were fast asleep.
After everyone woke up, they were greeted by Pearl and Adora, who seemed unnecessarily cheery to everyone else who did not know they had an intimate heart-to-heart talk the previous night. Everyone readied their things and walked out of the Kingdom of Plumeria, waving goodbye to the hospitable citizens and Perfuma, promising to return. On their way back to Bright Moon, they encountered a few Horde robots, obviously created by Entrapta. None of these robots seemed to have offensive capabilities but rather were outfitted with digging and grabbing implements. The reason for this was not known, but they discreetly followed them through the woods. They could see where these robots were heading. They were moving to the ruins of the Crystal Castle. These robots were after one thing in particular: First One's tech. Through the clearing, they could see a legion of Horde soldiers commanded by Catra, awaiting the arrival of Horde robots so they could cart away the tech, then use it to crush the Rebellion. They didn't expect any trouble, although they were sadly mistaken.
Adora and Pearl brought everyone together, telling them they had a plan. They would surround the robots and Horde soldiers from all sides of the clearing, engaging in an ambush. Adora was proud of this plan. She saw it as a way to get back at the Horde and Catra herself.
"The Horde needs to be shown who's in charge in these woods. Catra needs to be put back in her place, to slink back to the Fright Zone in defeat. If we let them take any First One's tech then...the Rebellion is over."
Peridot, since she was unfused with Lapis at the time, had developed listening devices to place on Catra so they could learn what the Horde was up to. These devices would be placed on her after they knocked her out cold, at least that was the plan. While Adora would go after Catra, the others would take care of the robots and Horde soldiers, knocking them out of commission. As the plan was being explained, Lapis walked over to Peridot, asking if they could re-fuse. She happily agreed, they held hands tightly and Amazonite was reformed. With that, Pearl announced their ambush with the words "are you ready?," with everyone else nodding in agreement.
Energy blasts came from everywhere, with Horde soldiers knocked unconscious, their weapons firing here, there, and everywhere, with no order or reason. Soldiers were lifted and thrown in the air, away from the clearing. Many ran away in fear. It was utter chaos. Catra was surprised no one seemed to be going after her. She commanded the robots to continue onward.
"Keep digging for that First One tech. This little distraction isn't going to stop us!"
Her hope was dashed quickly. The robots fell left and right, not only from Bow's arrows, Amethyst's electrified whip, Pearl's energy blasts from her spears, and Glimmer's blasts of light energy, but from the slashing and bashing by the Gem fusions, Garnet, Stevonnie, and Amazonite. Only one robot remained. Catra looked behind her to see Adora, who announced herself in a cold, calculating, and creepy way she had often used toward Adora time and time again, while adding her own thoughts.
"Hey Catra. You are old news to me. I don't care about you anymore. Enjoy your sleepy time. Tell Hordak he's lost."
Catra prepared herself to react, but...it was too late. Adora's sword, transformed into a hammer, hit Catra on the head and knocked her out cold before she could get to say a word. Adora had a new friend now, Pearl, and she didn't need Catra anymore. She was the enemy like the rest of the Horde. It was time to forget her and move on with her life. Bow soon ran over to attach the small listening devices to Catra's left and right ears, beginning the secret surveillance on the Horde. The devices were so small they couldn't be felt or even detected, easily nestling in the skin. Their range was very wide, planet-wide to be exact, and were programmed to connect with Bow's tracker pad, so they could listen to Catra, and by extension, the Horde itself.
Everyone surrounded the last remaining robot, tying it down. Bow stepped forward and spoke into the camera perched atop the robot's shell. He knew Entrapta was watching from the other side, seeing all of this unfold, so he addressed his message directly to her.
"Entrapta, someday you'll regret all this and realize the destruction you have caused to this planet...what you are doing is wrong...it's not for science, as you may think, it's for evil. I hope you change your mind."
Entrapta indeed was watching on the other side and saw the monitor go dark. All her robots had gone offline and they had not retrieved First One's tech. The mission had been an utter failure. She still had one trick up her sleeve. While it seemed too cruel, she decided to do it anyway. Bow's words had not moved her because she was so happy in the Fright Zone. It seemed like home to her.
Back in the Crystal Castle ruins, Bow noticed that the one remaining robot was blinking in the eye like it was going to explode. He alerted the others, and Garnet easily picked it up and threw it into the air, away from the clearing, where it blew up into a thousand pieces. Now, the question remained...what would they do with Catra? Of all people, Bow had a plan.
"Why don't we bring her back to the Fright Zone? Maybe we could even put her in her bed and she might forget this whole thing ever happened."
While it was risky, that did not mean it couldn't be done. Everyone else stayed behind...to wait. Amethyst transformed herself into a Horde soldier, while Bow, Glimmer and Adora took up uniforms as her escorts. Surprisingly, security was light and with little trouble they were able to walk through the Fright Zone and place her in her bed, just as she was waking up. Using her teleportation powers, Glimmer was able to teleport all four of them outside the Fright Zone, allowing them to get out undetected. It was so quick that it didn't even register on Entrapta's systems.
They regrouped at the ruins of the Crystal Castle. Debating what to do, Amazonite came up with idea. When she was unfused as Lapis in Bright Moon, Mermista and Frosta had praised her abilities, although their own magical powers were impressive. She suggested that they visit both of these princesses, wherever they lived on Etheria. Glimmer explained that would be tough because the Kingdom of Snows, where Frosta resided, and the Kingdom of Salineas, where Mermista resided, were nowhere near each other, requiring some mode of transportation. Even so, she thought that this idea had merit, especially since Mermista or Frosta could help them with their ultimate plan, as could the other princesses, in bringing the war to the Horde.
Thanks to the ability of the Gems to shapeshift there was no need to use someone like Sea Hawk. They could easily change into a form of transportation at will. Adora and Pearl, the planners and strategists of the group, heartily agreed. As Amethyst transformed herself into a motorboat, something she had not done before, carrying Pearl, Garnet, and Adora, while Amazonite carried Stevonnie, Glimmer, and Bow, with her fusion able to carry more people than she would otherwise be able to. They were off to the Kingdom of Salineas and hoped they would hear what the Horde was up to soon...