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The Other Job · She-Ra Short Story ·
Organised by QuillScratch
Word limit 2000–8000
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Revolutionary Girl Adora
It was one afternoon in the woods that Adora found the ring and everything started to go wrong.

Not as if things had been going particularly right before that. Ever since the start of high school, it had been a long, slow slide for her and Catra both. High school brought new expectations, new responsibilities, new friends… for Adora, a creeping sense of discomfort and dissatisfaction, and for Catra a growing cynicism that threatened to drive a wedge into their seemingly unbreakable friendship.

That’s why it was ironic that they were there of all places that day, the little patch of woods that bordered Etheria Prep, the place where they had spent afternoons playing together as children. Adora used to dare Catra to try and walk across the stones in the shallow creek, and even though she hated getting wet, Catra would take the challenge and artfully leap from one small rock to the next, until Adora would start trying to distract her, and then both would wind up falling in, and come home soaked but also laughing, and—

That afternoon, Adora had been trying the old trick, but Catra just sullenly jammed her hands in her jacket pockets and walked along the banks. Adora wound up trying to jump from rock to rock on her own, until she tripped, splashing water everywhere and getting her boots soaked. At one time, Catra would have found that hilarious. Now she just seemed vaguely embarrassed about her friend’s antics.

“Come on,” Catra said. “Hordak had something he wanted to show us.”

Adora grimaced. Hordak was the leader of their little clique of outcasts, or the H.O.D.L., as Catra called them when she was in a better mood. It stood for Horde of Disaffected Losers, which was cuttingly accurate. But Adora had never been a fan of Hordak himself, the burnout senior who had been held back multiple grades. He wielded his age and experience like a club to control the rest of them, and Adora just couldn’t understand whatever it was that made Catra so desperate for his approval.

That’s when she tripped again, and landed face first in two inches of water. As she groaned and sat up, she saw Catra had just kept walking, her tail swishing behind her in annoyance. And that’s when Adora saw the glint of something shining in the creek.

“Hey,” Adora said, and Catra looked back over her shoulder. “What’s this?”

When she pulled it out of the creekbed and raised it in the air, it shone even brighter. It was a silver ring, oddly spotless and untarnished, despite laying in this creek for who-knows-how-long. Instead of a gem, the ring had a silver seal, shaped like a rose.

Catra’s ears immediately perked up in that way that Adora knew meant she was intrigued, even if she then immediately affected an air of nonchalance. “A ring?”

“Well, yeah, I know. But why is it here?”

Catra walked over, moving faster than before. “One of the Princesses dropped it?”

Adora rolled her eyes. “Don’t call them that. Just because they’re popular doesn’t mean they actually think they’re royalty.”

“Well they act like they’re better than everyone else. I’m telling you, those Student Council girls…”


Another voice could be heard filtering through the trees and drawing closer. It was someone complaining—and loudly.

“I can’t believe Glimmer sent us here on this wild goose chase. There’s no way it could be here. I am not going to dig through every pile of leaves in a two mile radius of the school, no matter what she says. Just because her mom is the principal, she thinks—”

The person suddenly pushed a bush aside and walked into view. She had an undercut, with her wavy blue hair pulled over to one side, and she wore the student uniform, with a student council armband. Following close after, a larger purple-haired girl tried to hide behind her.

“Netossa,” Catra hissed.

Her eyes immediately locked onto Adora and Catra. And then they shifted to focus on the ring still shining in Adora’s hand.

“Ah!” she shouted, pointing.

Catra stepped in front of Adora, baring her teeth. At a loss, Adora jerked the ring down and out of view. And then she slipped it on her finger, in some vague sense of wanting to keep it safe.

“If I were you, I’d get lost,” Catra said.

The girl behind Netossa—Spinnerella, Adora’s brain filled in—grabbed at her arm to hold her back, but Netossa shook her off. “Not likely, kitty cat. You have something that belongs to me.”

“Then what was it doing in the river?” Catra shot back.

“Do you want to do this the easy way or the hard way?”

“Take one guess.”

Adora blinked. She could see the trainwreck that was coming, but she couldn’t quite open her mouth to get a word in edgewise.

Netossa was already grinning. She raised one hand, palm inwards, to show the silver ring glimmering on her own finger. Then she pointed at Adora.

“I, Netossa, challenge you to a duel. Declare your second and draw your blade, or forfeit your claim to revolution!”

A moment of silence fell upon the creek.

“What?” Adora finally answered.

“I thought you were a student council nerd, not a theater kid.” Catra said, laughing. “Whatever, we accept. I will be her second.” She bowed low, a mocking smirk on her face.

Netossa seemed unfazed. In fact, her smile only deepened. “Then draw your blade,” she said. Behind her, Spinnerella backed away, wringing her hands.

Catra rolled her eyes. “What are you talking about—”

A flash of blue light danced across Netossa’s hands, and then she was holding a sword, its blade short but sharp. She darted forward, moving scarily fast, and Catra tumbled to the side with a screech.

But Netossa wasn’t aiming for her. She was headed straight for Adora. Before she could really recognize what was going on, Adora was dodging for her life. Netossa swung wildly, and one lucky strike of her first flurry cut right through the sleeve of Adora’s uniform. Whatever her weapon was, it was entirely real.

Adora lashed out in self-preservation, kicking Netossa’s ankle and causing her to drop to her knees. She scrambled back.

“What are you doing? Are you crazy?” Catra yelled.

Adora gasped for breath, trying to back away. “We don’t have to fight!” she said.

“Yes. We. Do.” Netossa said through gritted teeth.

She raised her blade again and stood before taking a step back, eyes narrowed as she watched Adora.

Adora looked around for something—anything—to defend herself with. A stick, a rock, anything. But she was standing in the middle of the creek still. And with a splash, Netossa was charging her again.

Adora raised her arms in defense, screwing her eyes shut.

And in a flash of golden light, Netossa’s blade slammed against something solid. Adora opened her eyes to see another sword in her own hands, a surprisingly light and thin saber with a curved hilt.

Netossa’s eyes widened, and she pulled her blade back to try and strike again. Adora parried it effortlessly. And the next strike too.


Adora frowned. “Um, yeah. I took fencing classes in middle school.” Without even thinking, she had adapted her footwork to achieve a stable position, even on the unsteady creekbed.

“Well it’s not going to save you!” With that, Netossa threw her whole body forward.

Adora had been trying to disarm the other girl, to safely put her in a position where she would yield. But she hadn’t expected Netossa to press the attack so hard. So while Netossa’s blade went flying off into the underbrush, Adora’s saber also sunk right into her chest, as if it encountered no resistance at all.

In the distance, the bells of the school’s clocktower had started to ring.

Netossa collapsed, all her weight on Adora. Adora gasped and lowered her to a seated position. Her sword was right through Netossa’s heart.

“No,” Adora whispered. In a flash, her sword disintegrated into golden light once again, leaving Netossa behind. She was crying uncontrollably, staring open-eyed into the distance. Adora looked up, and Spinnerella was gone, likely having run off into the forest. Catra was staring at the both of them, her eyes wide and round.

“I—I didn’t mean for this to happen,” Adora said. “Are you okay? Netossa? Netossa!”

She took hold of her shoulders and shook her roughly, but Netossa didn’t respond.

Catra walked over to take Adora’s hand, and dragged her to her feet. “Come on,” she hissed. “We have to go. Look, she’s fine. We have to leave her.”

Adora wanted to protest, to argue. But she didn’t have the words. So Catra dragged her off through the forest, back to school.

The rest of that day passed with an eerie normalcy. Catra dragged her back to class—a class that the two of them would often skip. But Catra knew her well enough to know that Adora actually liked class, enjoyed the routine, and that this was the best way to pretend that everything was okay. Neither one of them saw either of Netossa or Spinnerella for the rest of the day, and when Adora went back to her dorm room that night, to stare at the ceiling and replay the time in the forest in her head, it all seemed like an impossible hallucination.

Except she still wore the ring.

When she finally drifted off to sleep, her dreams were disjointed and jarring, haunted by some kind of blue robot who spoke in static. She awoke in a cold sweat, only to realize that she was going to be late to class.

The next morning passed normally too. Catra hadn’t shown up—but that was more usual than not. The only sign that anyone had noticed anything different at all was when Bow came over from the neighboring class to talk to her before lunch.

Bow was… well, he was in her grade, and possessed the exact kind of earnest dorkiness that allowed him to fit in with just about any group in the school. He was on the varsity archery team, but also spent most of his time volunteering with the Student Council. But even Adora’s group of delinquent friends tolerated him. He tutored Kyle in geometry, which honestly made a lot of sense for both of them. But still, they didn’t really know each other, and it was odd that he came over to invite her to lunch.

And even more odd when explained who she was to have lunch with.

So for the first time, Adora found herself visiting the school’s rooftop gardens, at the invitation of the Student Council President herself: Glimmer.

There were several tables set up in the small garden courtyard, and Adora recognized another couple of the members there, sitting off to the side—Mermista and Perfuma. Bow guided Adora past them, to the table where Glimmer sat. There was a single chair opposite Glimmer’s, and as Bow stood awkwardly to the side, Adora knew that this meant she had been brought here for a reason.

Seeing all the student council armbands, just like Netossa and Spinnerella, Adora couldn’t help but shiver.

“Adora! Come, sit,” Glimmer said, with an hint of steel under the polite tone. “So glad you could join us.”

Adora sat down, and watched as Glimmer poured her a cup of tea. “Yes. Of course.”

Glimmer gazed at her, slightly smiling until Adora clumsily tried to take a sip of tea.

“I heard about Netossa.”

Adora almost spit it out, but barely restrained herself. “R-right. Look, I don’t know what happened. She attacked me, a-and—”

Glimmer nodded slowly. “Netossa has always been kind of a loose cannon.”

“Is she okay?” Adora said.

A frown crossed Glimmer’s face. “Netossa… Netossa is going to be fine.”

Adora let out a sigh of relief.

“But this isn’t over,” Glimmer continued. “In fact, we’ve only just started.”

“I’m not sure what you mean,” Adora said, but then she noticed Glimmer rubbing something on one of her fingers. She was wearing a ring too—a silver ring, with a rose seal. Drawing in a sharp breath, Adora glanced around. Bow had the same ring, and Mermista over at the other table too. “Just what is going on?”

Glimmer sighed. “I really wouldn’t have involved you with this if I had any choice in the matter. But here we are. And if you’re already part of it, you deserve to hear the full story.”

Adora nodded.

“These rings are signets of the coming Revolution.”

“Revolution? Netossa mentioned that too.”

“Of course she did,” Glimmer muttered. “The short of it is… there’s a prophecy, see?”

“What, like a magic prophecy?”

“Yes, a magic prophecy.” Her eyes narrowed. “Which I know sounds crazy… just about as crazy as a magic sword.”


“And the prophecy is that the rose duelists will clash in battle, and the one who remains standing will dictate the course of the Revolution. It’s a chance to remake the entire world. And obviously, that’s a power that we don’t want to fall into the wrong hands.”

“Even if I were to believe you on this, what makes you think I want to be a part of it? I don’t want to fight anyone.”

“It’s a little late for that now, isn’t it? You’ve fought Netossa. You’re a duelist too, whether you like it or not.”

Adora’s mouth twisted in a grimace.

“And because you’re a part of it, I have something I need you to do.” Glimmer took a breath and her eyes flickered up to Bow. “Something that I think you’re more capable of handling than the rest of us. Do you know what the job of the student council is?”

Adora shrugged. “Plan the school dances and try to convince the principal to bring back Taco Tuesday?”

“No.” She frowned. “Well, yes. But the other job of the student council is to guard and protect the rose seals, such that when the final battles come, we can guarantee all of them are in safe hands. People we can trust to make a better world and not a worse one. And that’s why we had four of the six, and why we were looking for the fifth. The one that you now hold.”

“But then… there’s a sixth?”

“Yes. Yes, there is. And that’s the real problem, and this is why we need your help.”

“Where is it?”

“The correct question is not ‘where,’ but ‘who.’” Glimmer sighed. “And the answer to that question… is Hordak.”

Adora was the one to lead Bow to the H.O.D.L.’s hangout. Most of the school was all fancy architecture, arched ceilings and flying buttresses. But Adora knew well enough that even an expensive academy like Etheria Prep still had the forgotten spaces with the concrete walls and the loading docks, the modular steel buildings where they shoved the remedial classrooms. And her friends, the people who didn’t really belong, gravitated to the places that matched.

On the back side of the school’s gym, Kyle, Lonnie, and Rogelio were skateboarding, the latter two trying to goad Kyle into some stunt that he’d obviously bail on. The drama kid who had been hanging around recently was doing impressions for another group of losers. And of course, Catra was sitting on a low concrete wall, watching everything. Her smile disappeared when she saw that Bow was with Adora.

“What’s going on?” she said, voice low.

“I need to see Hordak,” Adora replied.

Catra narrowed her eyes, gazing coolly at Adora for a moment before nodding. She stood up, and casually walked towards one of the squat sheet-metal buildings—the one where shop class was held. Of course.

Adora followed, Bow nervously close behind her.

The inside was dimly lit, with huge metal lathes and drills crammed into the space. Adora could hear a low conversation, and then the sudden shocking sound of laughter—she knew it had to be Hordak, but hearing him laugh was odd and unfamiliar. As she and Catra rounded the corner, slipping past some kind of table saw, she saw him sitting on a workbench, leaning close to murmur something to a pigtail girl wearing a welding mask.

As Hordak saw them, he quickly stood, stepping away from her. “What is it?” When Bow also moved into view, his frown deepened into a scowl. “What is he doing here?”

“Glimmer sent me to talk to you,” Adora said.

Catra whipped her head around to glare at her too. “You didn’t mention that,” she hissed.

“It’s about…” Hordak immediately hid his hand behind his back, but Adora had already seen the ring on one finger. “Well, you know what it’s about.”

“I never took you for a Student Council dog,” he said.

Adora shook her head. “I’m not. I… I’m still trying to figure this out myself. But Glimmer told me everything.”

Hordak snorted. “I doubt that. Did she even tell you what you’re fighting for?”

“Revolution,” Adora said. “However the victor defines that. That’s what I want to ask. If you win, what will your new world look like?”

“A place of order,” Hordak said. “A place where those of us who have been excluded are the ones in control.”

A feeling of unease twisted in Adora’s stomach. “You mean you are in control,” she said.

“Who else is more capable?”

“That’s what I thought.” Adora took a deep breath. “I’ve heard enough of your rants about shitty teachers and authority figures to know that you wouldn’t be any better than the rest of them. And I don’t really understand what all this means and whether or not it’s true… But if Glimmer’s telling the truth, I can’t trust you with that power.”

“Adora, wait,” said Catra. “What are you saying?”

Adora grabbed her hand and squeezed it, looking at her with intensity. “I’ll explain later, but trust me here. I know you think we can’t cross him, but it’s us. You and me together against everything. No matter what.”

Catra met her eyes, and something unnameable flickered in them. “Got it.”

Hordak whispered something to the girl he was with and she backed away. “Then draw your sword,” he snarled at Adora. “I challenge you in the name of the Revolution, with Entrapta as my second.”

“I accept your challenge,” Adora announced, “with Catra as my second.” She held out her hand, and in a flash of light, the golden saber materialized, as if it were a part of her.

It wasn’t like she expected Hordak to fight with style or grace, but when he reached back and the black claymore materialized in his hands, she only had a moment to instinctively realize that there was no way she would be able to block that. She dove to the side, just in time to hear a horrible screech of metal on metal. When she looked up again, Hordak’s blade was sliding out of the remains of a doweling machine.

Thinking fast, she leapt up to stand on a workbench. Hordak swept at her legs, and she jumped back, perching on another. They moved like that through the metal shop, Hordak growing more and more frustrated as Adora danced out of reach. It was too risky to get close. He had her beat in both range and power. What she needed… was an opening.

She found it when Hordak’s strength flagged for a moment, when he went to pull his sword back out of the wreckage of one more workbench only to have it catch for a moment.

Adora seized the chance. She leapt towards him, and though he raised one arm to bat away her sword, she wasn’t aiming for him there. She tossed it point-first into the ground behind him, then twisted herself around his arm, using her full body weight to bring him to the ground. His sword remained stuck in a table as she kept him pinned just long enough to grab her own blade again. And then it was at his heart.

“Yield,” she said.

He looked up at her with pure hatred in his eyes.

“Yield and no one has to get hurt.”

Then he started laughing, the sound a low rumble in his chest. “She really didn’t tell you anything at all, did she?”


He jerked his head from side to side, and pushed himself up, not even wincing as the blade made contact with his skin. “Do it,” he spat.

And Adora plunged her blade down. In the distance, the bells of the clocktower rang out.

When she heard Catra gasp, she assumed it was because of the fight, from seeing Hordak slump into unconsciousness, no blood coming from the wound. But when she looked up, Catra was instead pointing across the room.

The girl in the welding mask—Entrapta—was clutching her chest. And as Adora watched, she crumbled into dust.

“Catra!” Adora called out, gasping for breath. As fast as she was, Catra had always been faster, and Adora had been chasing her across basically the whole campus before Catra finally whirled around, a frenzied look on her face.

“What the hell, Adora?” she snapped. “Why would you drag me into this? If you had lost… I would be the one dead right now.”

“I didn’t know!”

“Sure.” Catra stalked forward until she was practically snarling in Adora’s face. “And that’s worse. Because you didn’t even realize that those Princesses were using you, did you?”

“No, I just—”

“They send you to fight Hordak and no matter what happens, they win! There’s one less nobody around to challenge them. You fell for it! You always fall for it!”

“There must be a mistake. I’m going to talk to them, make them tell me everything.”

“Well you can do it alone. From here on out, you’re on your own.”


And she was gone, leaping from the building’s second floor window as if it were nothing. Adora was left standing in an empty hallway.

She turned, mind spinning as she wandered through the halls, trying to collect her thoughts. She had to find a lead…

Bow. Bow would tell her what was going on. Or at least, if he lied, she’d know. He was way too nice and honest to ever lie convincingly. She just needed to hear it from him before confronting Glimmer directly.

She found him in another deserted hall on the third floor, but he wasn’t alone. Adora lurked out of sight around the corner, trying to catch the snippets of the conversation he was having with Mermista, but all she could catch was Glimmer’s name and her own. And then, “Catra.”

Adora was debating how to confront them when she heard the quick intake of breath, far louder than it should have been. It was only when the bells started chiming again that she realized, and darted around the corner. Her blade flashed as it appeared in her hands.

Bow stood frozen in the hall, mid-step as he was walking away from Mermista. The tines of a trident sprouted from his chest, piercing through from the other side. And behind him stood Mermista, the weapon still in her grasp. She withdrew it, the trident sliding out as Bow fell to his knees.

“Oh,” she said, in the same tone of bored disdain she always had. “I really wish you hadn’t seen that.”

“You— but you’re on the same side!”

Mermista shook her head. “There’s only four of us left.” She paused. “Well, three now. The only side I’m on is my own.”

Adora kept her blade up, even though it wavered. “It doesn’t have to be like this. We don’t have to fight.”

“Don’t be so naive.” Mermista sniffed. “But you’re right. It doesn’t have to be like this, not if you’re strong enough to take out Hordak. I’ll catch you later, Adora. Give Glimmer my regards. And tell her she’s not the only one who visits the library.”

Adora stepped forward. “What?”

With a smirk, Mermista raised her trident again, spinning it around to slam the haft into a fire alarm on the wall. The glass shattered, and all the sirens went off in a blaring cacophony. Overhead, the sprinklers kicked in, and in the confusion, Mermista darted past Adora and down a staircase.

Glimmer was waiting in the rooftop garden for her. She didn’t even raise an eyebrow at Adora’s appearance, still soaked from the sprinklers.

“I took care of Hordak,” Adora said.

Glimmer nodded. “But Bow…” Her eyes darted to the side, at the other table, and Adora suddenly filled in a blank.

“Perfuma was here,” she said. “She was his second. You knew Bow was defeated too because she was the one who…”

Glimmer nodded.

“Which means you knew this is how the duels worked. And you sent me to face Hordak without telling me what danger you were putting me into—putting Catra into.”

Glimmer’s mouth formed a tight line. “All revolutions have a price.”

Adora’s chuckle was bitter. “But it’s particularly nice when it’s not a price you personally have to pay, huh? Catra was right. You were using me.”

“I told you what we were doing and why. And I stand by that. It’s important that this power not fall into the wrong hands.”

“And you’ve just proved that your hands are as dirty as the rest of us.”

Glimmer didn’t answer, but she didn’t meet Adora’s eyes, either. “It’s going to be okay, I promise. We’re going to fix it.”

“You should also know then that it wasn’t Hordak who defeated Bow. Or me either. It was Mermista.”

Glimmer’s eyes flashed. “What?”

“She betrayed you. And she said to say that you’re not the only one who visits the library, whatever that means.”

“No,” Glimmer whispered. She gritted her teeth. “She must have found the book too.”


“The reason I know these things is because I found a volume in the library. A book of prophecy, you might say. That’s why I took charge of the Student Council, and directed it to these new purposes. That’s why I know about the rings, and the duels, and the coming revolution.”

“Well I’m done,” Adora said. “Take your revolution, leave me and Catra out of it.”

Glimmer looked up, and there was pity in her eyes. “It’s too late for that now. I already told you: you’re part of this, until the end.”

Adora shook her head. “If I don’t accept a duel…” She moved to pull the ring off her finger, but found it stuck on tightly.

“All the challenge stuff is theatrics. You’ve already fought, and defeated someone else, too. And your second is your second.”

“Meaning you and I have to fight?”

“Eventually. But I’d be more worried about Mermista, if I were you.”

Adora cocked her head to the side. “She already ran away from me once. I figured she expects us to fight, and then to swoop in and defeat the winner while they’re off guard.”

“If she found the book, just like me, she knows something else,” Glimmer said. “She knows that there’s two ways to win a duel. The obvious one, to defeat the other challenger.”

“And the other?”

“To eliminate their second.”

Adora hurried through the halls of the school, trying desperately to think about where Catra would be. Mermista had a head start on her, but she didn’t know Catra like Adora did. The problem was that Catra was notoriously mercurial, just as likely to skip class and take a nap in the bleachers of the empty gym as she was to… skip class and take a nap in the art supply storage, or to skip class and take a nap in a literal tree.

She was a little predictable, sure, but the point was that there was no telling what corner she’d currently be curled up in.

But then Adora remembered exactly what day it was: Friday. Which meant the cafeteria was serving fish sticks, which was the one thing Catra absolutely would not miss. Adora picked up her pace, ignoring the stares as she ran through the halls and to the cafeteria.

Etheria Prep’s caf was just as ostentatious as one would expect, even if the food itself wasn’t anything to write home about. Above the main area with all the lunch tables sat a whole second floor, with a coffee shop and even more seating. When Adora arrived, it was the last lunch period, which meant it wasn’t quite as crowded as usual, but still plenty of students buzzed around, eating lunch and having conversations.

Adora glanced around, looking for a familiar pair of ears. Instead, her eyes were drawn to a figure standing at the upper balcony railing. Mermista. She was also scanning the crowd, and when Adora saw a smile creep across her face, she knew Mermista had found what she was looking for.

“Catra!” Adora yelled out, and shoved through a crowd to see her friend holding a tray, looking back in surprise.

“Adora? Wh—”

Adora tackled her, just as a trident impacted the place she had been standing.

“What the hell?” Catra said, wriggling underneath Adora and trying to push her off.

There was another thump, and the sounds of chaos as students around them dropped their lunches and fled a safe distance.

“Tch.” Mermista stood on one of the cafeteria tables. She raised her hand, and the trident appeared in it once again. “You’re not going to make this easy, are you?”

“Not likely,” Adora said, standing.

“What’s going on?” Catra hissed from behind her.

“You’re in danger,” Adora said. “You’re still my second, and she’s after you now, since you’re helpless.”

“Like hell I am.” Catra suddenly darted away, disappearing into the crowd that had formed a ring around Adora and Mermista.


And then Mermista attacked, diving in with her trident. Adora had to roll to the side, and then raised an arm to summon her own blade.

Gasps echoed, and the crowd backed away a few more steps. But their fear was competing with the desire to see what was happening, and the latter was winning.

Once again, Mermista attacked, but this time Adora raised her sword and parried it away. She took a step forward, trying to turn the moment to her advantage, but Mermista spun the haft around to block and shoved her back again.

Mermista had the advantage of range, and she was far more cautious than either Hordak or Netossa had been. So far, Adora had taken advantage of her enemies’ aggressiveness to strike a decisive blow, but Mermista provided her no such openings. In fact, she was making full use of her trident’s length to bait Adora into attacking before countering and retreating.

Adora fell back, panting from the exertion. “We don’t have to do this.”

“No, but, I’m pretty sure actually we do.”

“I mean, we all want the same thing. Don’t we?”

Mermista frowned, and made a halfhearted stab again with her trident, causing Adora to jump back. “Now you sound like Glimmer.”

“Maybe she has the right idea!”

Mermista paused. “Okay. Tell me though: Do you think in the end Glimmer is going to entrust the power of revolution to anyone but herself? Be honest.”

Adora grimaced.

“And here’s the part where you offer to work together with me to get rid of Glimmer, and then we’ll trust each other instead, but we both already know that I’m going to stab you in the back as soon as convenient. Cause I already did. I stab people in the back, I don’t get stabbed. So let’s just skip all this and let me stab you in the front instead. I’m thinking my odds are pretty good in this fight.”

She wasn’t wrong. Adora gritted her teeth. She was growing weak, and Mermista still looked entirely fine. But all she could do was fight. If she gave up, if she were defeated, then that’d mean Catra…

A sudden commotion from the second floor balcony up above drew Adora and Mermista’s attention.

“Hey Mermista!” a voice shouted from above. The crowd suddenly parted, and Catra walked forward, shoving someone up against the rails. It was Sea Hawk, that one loud kid with the ridiculous wispy moustache in their grade. She held a knife from the cafeteria to his throat. It looked ridiculous, but plenty sharp enough to work.


“I’m not so helpless after all. Tell me how it works, again? If your second dies, then…?”

Mermista went silent. She stared up. And then she doubled over laughing.

“You think… You think, he’s my second? You’ve got to be kidding.” She wiped at an eye with her sleeve, still giggling. “Catra, I’m playing to win. Give me a little credit.”

Catra had gone red in the face. “Fine then,” she growled, and heaved Sea Hawk over the railing. He shrieked, and grabbed at Catra, pulling her with him.

“No!” Mermista gasped.

Catra twisted in midair to keep Sea Hawk under her, and the cafeteria was deathly silent as he hit the tile floor with a wet thump.

The bells in the clock tower started ringing.

Catra looked down at the body beneath her. The knife that had been in her hands was buried in his back, and blood was seeping out onto the floor. “I thought he was supposed to just disappear or something? Or is that…”

“No,” Adora said.

Catra looked up, to see Adora with her sword piercing right through Mermista’s chest. Mermista stared down, her eyes wide in shock.

“She was telling the truth,” Adora said. “He wasn’t her second. Isn’t that right?” She stepped back, her blade sliding out noiselessly, and Mermista fell to her knees, face blank.

Catra looked down again, and then rubbed at a spot of blood staining her hands. “Which means…”

“You killed an innocent person.”

Catra stood, and as she took a step towards the horrified crowd, people backed even further away from her. She shook her head, blinking hard. And then she was gone again, running off.

Adora turned and walked the other direction.

She was tired, so tired. But she knew that Glimmer was waiting for her.

The rooftop garden was empty. But an iron gate there was swinging open, leading further across the roof of the building. Adora entered it, walking through a pathway of hedges and then up another set of stairs until she was on top of the highest part of the roof. The only thing taller was the clocktower itself, rising up on the other side of the small flat area at the school’s peak.

She wasn’t sure if she should have been surprised or not. The roof was a chessboard of alternating black and white squares, each several feet across. In the two closest and two furthest rows, statues loomed, each the size of a person. The statues closest to her were smooth black stone, and Adora knew them—Hordak was the king, her homeroom teacher Shadow Weaver the queen, even the helmeted and armored pawns seemed familiar.

The other side was equally recognizable, though so many of them were people who she had already seen die or vanish—or directly killed herself. But more than anything else, the queen’s side bishop wasn’t a statue at all. Glimmer stood there, waiting for her. And the faint sign of movement suddenly made Adora realize another one of the statues was also a real person. The white queen was Angella, the school’s principal, and for some reason that hit Adora like a punch to the gut. It made a kind of sense that Glimmer’s mother was her second, but…

Adora stood in front of the board for a long moment, her eyes closed, body sagging with exhaustion and the small wounds from her fight with Mermista, as well as the heavier psychic turmoil of the past few days. But when she opened her eyes again, she smiled. Something had clicked into place. When she strode forward onto the board, it was a new kind of determination, no hesitation or sign of weakness.

She ignored the spot she was clearly supposed to stand in—the black Knight on the queen’s side. Instead she just walked out onto the center of the board, calling her sword to hand and pointing it at Glimmer.

“Let’s fight,” she said.

Glimmer looked vaguely annoyed. “That’s not— Adora, there are rules for this sort of thing.”

“We both know the rules don’t matter. They’re just ways to make a fight to the death more ‘civilized.’ To make it a game. I’m sick of it.”

“Maybe sometimes it’s necessary to put rules on something ugly.”

Adora shook her head. “Sometimes it’s better to face it directly. Isn’t that always our argument? You see people as pawns, and are willing to sacrifice them for the sake of the game.”

“And you’re not willing to understand that sacrifices are sometimes necessary to win!” Glimmer glared. Then she blinked, touching her forehead.

Adora smiled. “Hey, Glimmer. Let’s fight.”


And Glimmer disappeared. Adora had just enough time to raise her sword up behind her to block Glimmer teleporting in to swing her sword at Adora’s back.

As soon as their swords met, Adora spun, preparing for an attack from the side, only to see Glimmer poofing in from the other side. She had to adjust into a roll, twisting her body to dodge Glimmer’s swing.

Glimmer kept up the offense, and Adora kept dodging and parrying, trying to stay in the middle of the chessboard. Adora knew that that position gave Glimmer more angles to attack from, but it also gave Adora plenty of opportunities to slip away. And Adora knew that she didn’t have a chance with Glimmer operating at her peak. She’d need to tire her out.

The poofs slowed down, from one every two seconds to every five, then every ten. Adora’s chance was coming. Glimmer was moving in a roughly clockwise pattern, presumably to make Adora turned around and dizzy, so when Adora saw Glimmer suddenly flinch as their blades met, she spun and was already attacking the spot where Glimmer would reappear.

…Only to hit air.

Glimmer was totally gone.

Adora panicked, whirling around, and when she could hear the sound of movement behind her, she spun again and— But Glimmer had reappeared not behind her, but above her, and she landed on Adora, sending her blade flying and pinning Adora to the ground.

Glimmer had Adora’s sword arm pinned under one knee, and her blade to Adora’s throat.

“Yield,” she said, grinning.

Adora smiled back. “Not bad. Who taught you that?”

“It’s an original creation.”

“Next time though I think I could just grab your leg in midair and throw you into the ground.”

Glimmer smirked. “Oh yeah? I think you’ll find that harder than you expect. You’re way worse at adjusting to things above you than you expect. You—” She stopped, rubbing her forehead again. “Adora, what’s going on?”

“I’ve got an idea. But you’re going to need to trust me. Just—”

With a sudden screech, Catra dove into glimmer, knocking her off Adora. Glimmer was up in a flash, standing with sword directed at Catra. Then she glanced in alarm at Adora, who was getting to her feet, and her blade wavered, not sure who to point at.

“Catra,” Adora said. “It’s okay.” She held her hands up to Glimmer palm out.

“You’re not the one who disappears if you’re defeated. I’m in this too! So draw your sword! Fight!”

Adora smiled, and shook her head.

Glimmer’s eyes met Adora’s for a long moment. Then Glimmer turned, looking up to Angella, who was still standing silently at the Queen’s position on the board. She let out a rueful laugh. And dropped her sword, the metal clattering off of the floor.

Catra stared.

“I yield,” Glimmer said.

She turned away, unwilling to look as behind her, Angella crumbled into dust.

On the other side of the chessboard, the bells of the clocktower were deafening as they rang.

Glimmer nodded at Adora, and then dropped to the floor as she passed out.

“What’s going on?” Catra demanded, but she could barely be heard over the ringing bells. They weren’t stopping either. A crack split across the belltower itself, and masonry started falling off of it.

“That’s it,” Adora said. “It’s done.”

She fiddled with the ring on her finger. This time, the silver seal easily slipped off, and Adora raised it up to look at it.

Catra moved closer, and the belltower collapsed inwards. There was a hole there now - a hole in space itself, and the ringing of the bells had been replaced by a rumbling of the universe itself shaking on its axis. “What now? You get to remake the world?”

“I guess.”

Catra’s eyes shone. “To what? A place where we can finally be recognized? A place where we can sort things out together?”

The hole was slowly expanding, and drawing closer. The edge of the roof ripped apart, flying off into the emptiness.

Adora looked at the seal one last time. “No,” she said, and tossed it away.

The silver ring sparkled as it fell into a void of nonexistence.

“What are you doing?” Catra cried out.

Adora looked at her, and smiled sadly. “I don’t think I want to remake this world. I want to go back to the real one.”

Catra was silent.

Adora reached out and as her hand touched the nothingness, parts of it fragmented and spun off into the void. Oddly, it didn’t hurt at all.

When Catra spoke again, her voice was dark with fury. “I gave you everything you wanted. I gave you victory, and the chance to have your little revolution. Why couldn’t you just take that, Adora?”

“Because you’ve never really understood me, Catra. I don’t want to fight. I never wanted to fight. I only do it because I have to protect the things that matter to me.”

“And that doesn’t include me?”

Adora turned to Catra. Everything had fallen away from the two of them now, and they stood alone in the void as the world collapsed around them.

“I want to protect you, too. But no matter what I try, I don’t know how. It seems like more than anything the person hurting you is—”

Adora groaned.

It wasn’t so much that her body hurt as much as her mind. She had to take a minute to rearrange the memories floating around, get them to make sense again. They had news of Horde activity in the Whispering Woods, and sent out a team to investigate, only to find that the Horde had already broken into the Crystal Castle. There was a fight, but then… Partway through, Adora had realized it was all to stall for time because Entrapta had done… something…

A scream suddenly caused her to jerk upright, looking around for the source.

“My limited edition laserdisc compilation of the first season of Rose Fate Duelists!” Scorpia cried out.

Entrapta was standing next to her at some kind of console. “Mmm, it appears that it functioned successfully! It created a template for the First Ones technology to generate a complicated system of illusions and implanted memories. Fascinating! The applications are endless! The First Ones could have conceivably had a whole industry of immersive experiential content.”

“No, it’s cracked!”

Entrapta waved a hand. “Yeah, we’ll need to be more careful next time.”

“There’s not going to be a next time,” Adora announced, standing up. The weight of the Sword of Protection felt solid and comforting in her hand.

Looking around she could see Netossa, Mermista, and Glimmer groaning behind her. In front of her was Hordak, still passed out, and Catra, who was also struggling to stand, a look of pure hatred in her eyes.

“Oh, right, what were we supposed to do if this happened?” Entrapta rubbed at her chin with one pigtail.

“Retreat!” Scorpia said.

“Retreat!” Entrapta cheerfully echoed, and then threw down some kind of device that spewed smoke everywhere.

By the time it had cleared, the entire Horde contingent had vanished.

“What… happened?” Glimmer said, rubbing her head. “Did I just—” She abruptly glared back at Mermista. “Did you stab Bow in the back?”

Mermista shrugged. “Seemed like a good idea at the time.”

“For the record,” Netossa said, coughing, “I would have won that fight if I had my nets.”

“We’re going to have a long talk about this later,” Glimmer said. She glanced over at Adora. “How did you figure out what was going on?”

Adora rubbed at the back of her head. “Just put a few odd things together, and also…”


Adora blushed. “Scorpia’s not the only one who watches a lot of anime.”
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#1 · 1
Utena, but with pon—She-ra. That's a different take, for sure.
#2 · 2
· · >>QuillScratch
I've never seen Revolutionary Girl Utena, so anything you take from that is going over my head. Ideally, it should be transparent, so someone like me can perfectly well understand the story without feeling like I'm missing out on context or seeing things that I can tell are obvious references but don't get. That's the danger of writing to a specific property when the event doesn't call for you to: Only some readers will be familiar with it, and it's better to write something that stands alone. And then it's not only a crossover but an AU as well. This could be pretty risky.

Catra's reaction sure made it seem like she knew what to expect when she accepted the duel, but both she and Adora sure didn't later. I can't tell whether they're just not familiar with the culture here or if Netossa is doing something out of the ordinary. I'm also left not knowing what the consequences are. Will Netossa be okay? If Spinerella has run into the woods, is that a serious infraction for missing classes? Are these duels sanctioned, so that Adora won't be held responsible?

Yeah, I assume a lot of this is context driven. Like I have no idea what this blue robot she's dreaming about might be. I'm just not going to understand much of this story. You've set up the "Horde" side as the sympathetic one, which is against character, but it probably fits with Utena that way? Without that knowledge, I don't understand the choices you're making.

Taco Tuesday. Ha, now Adora is Sonata Dusk. Unless Utena actually used that too?

Ah, the old anime standby of the delinquent-heavy classes that get shuffled out of the way. Pretty cliched, but I'm guessing it wasn't your choice. Well, of course it's a choice, but it's something you decided to preserve from the source material.

The inside was dimly lit

I realize you're trying to be atmospheric, and maybe this is directly taken from Utena, but it's cliched and just doesn't make sense from a practical standpoint. Any shop room would have to be well lit, or it would be too hard to see what you were doing, not to mention being dangerous.

a doweling machine

That's a little on the obscure side. I've never heard of one, in any case. The point is: it feels inconsistent for her to know what this is but have to mentally shrug and call something "some kind of table saw" just a bit earlier.

Another thing by wrapping these two properties together is that it feels like you're name-dropping for its own sake. Like it makes sense from a She-Ra mentality to have Hordak make Entrapta his second, but this story doesn't do anything with it. There's nothing about their relationship that matters. You toss her name in once, then she dies, and she never got any screen time or spoke one word. You could have made this an OC and it wouldn't have mattered. Don't include characters just to include them. Use them in a way that it matters that's the character you chose.

This may also be my lack of knowledge about the source material, but I don't know why Hordak's loss meant Entrapta's immediate death, whereas the same didn't happen with Netossa and Spinerella.

“I took care of Hordak,” Adora said.

Wait, but did she? Entrapta died instead. Or did they both die? That wasn't apparent, especially since there was no blood, and he didn't fade away like Entrapta did. I don't know whether that still means Hordak is out of the running or not. I'm confused. Or is Adora lying to her?

Now I'm wondering where Adora's ring came from. It was implied Netossa had lost it, but she still had hers. I'm also wondering why Mermista didn't have to declare her second. Does someone only have to do that the first time they get in a fight? Then you have a huge advantage in taking on a noob, since you know their second but they don't know yours.

Why would Glimmer bring Angella to the final fight? Adora had no idea who her second was, so it'd suit Glimmer more to keep that secret. It's not a requirement, as Adora doesn't have Catra there. Is Glimmer just acting out of a sense of fair play?

By the way, Mermista is another spot where the crossover feels odd. It makes sense from the She-Ra universe why people might assume Sea Hawk was her second, but within the context of the story, there is none. Catra just assumes, and I'm left scratching my head as to why she thought that. You're hoping I'll import the various She-Ra relationships, but you're not doing anything with them. But then you don't do them all the same way, as Adora and Catra have a very different relationship here. When they finally do have some conflict at the end, it feels forced. Catra hadn't ever discussed the aftermath with her, and she's suddenly passionate about it? Plus it was odd that there were never any consequences to Catra killing Sea Hawk.

I liked this as I was reading it, but it feels more like "let's drop some She-Ra characters into Utena roles" than "let's meld the two universes and see where they go." A lot of the She-Ra elements are there in name only. At least I thought so until the end and...

Well, the "it was all a dream" trope is a difficult one to pull off. When I get to the end, you don't want me saying, "So all that stuff I just spent an hour reading didn't matter?" The trick is to make it matter. Have there be lasting consequences to the stuff that never happened. As it is, you took what was a very serious story, then turned it into a joke and for a piece of Horde strategy that I don't even understand the purpose of.

So I appreciate your skill, author. This is the product of an experienced writer, but for me, it's missing something in the concept, it could use more of the She-Ra elements exported to the Utena setting rather than just the names and a vague sense of the personalities (Bow was a bright spot on that front). And it definitely runs the risk that it's inaccessible to people unfamiliar with Revolutionary Girl Utena.
#3 ·
This fic is pure, unadulterated anime. Whether that's a good thing or not will probably vary by reader, but I don't think I've ever read a story that so faithfully recreates the experience of anime for a reader: from varied, interesting fight sequences, to slow exposition of world rules that seem to constantly shift in service of the need for tension and drama, I can safely say that this is the second most anime writeoff entry I have ever read.

Even though I could vaguely recognise the title as a reference to an anime I haven't seen, I never felt like I was lost in the crossover - okay, I did, but in that "anime logic doesn't make sense" kinda way rather than feeling like I was missing a reference, which was Good, Actually. The constant twists and turns kept me on my toes as a reader, and the AU changes were absolutely fantastic. We don't get enough AUs in the writeoff, imo. We should have more.

I wanna criticise the ending for pulling a "it was just a dream" style twist, but actually:
a) it was signposted
b) it was well-written and cute
c) it made me laugh
d) adora is an anime nerd lmao

So I won't do that. Instead I'll just say that I think this fic could work just as well with a serious ending (despite being an affectionate parody? of anime tropes, it stands alone really well and could carry on strength of writing alone) as it could with the funny one, and I trust the author to have picked the one they like the most. Because when two things work just as well as each other, that's really the only decision that matters.

I liked this piece a lot: really well done, author. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go and have a small breakdown over trying to rank this round, because all of the stories were amazing and I don't know how to judge them aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
#4 ·
· · >>Pascoite
Actually popping in again, because I haven't really looked at other comments before making mine this round, but I wanna provide some balance and a different perspective here.

>>Pascoite talks about importing relationships wholesale from canon (e.g. Hordak and Entrapta, Mermista and Sea Hawk) as if that's a bad thing, but imo this is one of the strongest things about fanfiction. Even in an AU as distant as this one, fanfic allows us to know that our readers will make certain assumptions and connections, because we can assume a knowledge of canon (otherwise, why would you read the fic?) I think this piece does a fantastic job of delineating between the things which can't be assumed in context of a she-ra writeoff and things that can - the author knows to go ham on the anime exposition, not just because it suits the anime genre but also because the audience may be unfamiliar, but gracefully steps back from any and all she-ra exposition beyond "here's how to translate from canon to AU".

Every fanfic I have ever praised for pushing the boundaries of the medium and being generally amazing art has known this. Every single one uses assumed reader knowledge in incredible ways. It's the greatest strength of the medium! So while I can understand the criticism from a general writing improvement perspective, I did feel the need to drop in and gently disagree on that front - I think it's one of the things this fic did really well.
#5 ·
>>QuillScratch I didn't mean that importing relationships was a bad thing. It's that the story completely relies on it. Entrapta never does anything in the story. Before the dream reveal, her name only gets mentioned twice, and she never interacts with Hordak at all. Same with Sea Hawk. The story never gives me a reason to think Mermista even knows who he is, and given that so many other characters are acting in ways I wouldn't expect them to from She-Ra alone, then I can't assume Mermista and Sea Hawk are going to be the identical ones I know. Then like Entrapta and Hordak, Sea Hawk gets dispatched without an indication that he actually meant something to Mermista.

It's fine to let readers bring in their preconceived ideas from the show about what the characters are like and what relationships they have, but that can really only be done when you're operating solely in the She-Ra universe. When it's already been signaled to me that this world works differently and the relationships aren't the same (we've spent the whole story seeing Adora interacting with Catra and Glimmer in ways she never would in She-Ra), then it feels lazy to include Entrapta in such a superficial way without doing anything to demonstrate that we can take her relationship with Hordak as the standard one. I know why Hordak cares about her in She-Ra. I don't know why Hordak cares about her in this universe. They certainly haven't been through the same experiences.

It kind of depends on how much the author wants me to be affected by her death, so it may not be necessary to delve into their back story (though even a sentence or two would accomplish a lot), but at least show them palling around a bit before she's gone so I can see that there is a relationship there, instead of just taking his choice of her as second as implying there must have been one, even though there was never any other evidence of it. (He doesn't even seem to care she's gone.) It doesn't take much. Just drop in some nominal demonstration of their relationship, some little one- or two-sentence interaction that speaks for it, and then you're being clear about what the rules are.
#6 · 1
A couple of thoughts about the choices I made re: some of the relationship stuff...

1) The biggest concern I had from the top was simply fitting within 8000 words. I wound up totally fine, but at least half the time in writing I was very apprehensive about whether I'd go significantly over, so I cut back on stuff that might have elaborated more. This is the least legitimate excuse, but it's there. I think the ideal version of this fic would be longer and specifically aim to flesh out the characters more - but it's also complicated by the fact that I think one thing that works here is how fast it moves.

2) The ending and reveal that it's not an actual AU was from the start essential to my entire idea about the fic. This was borne out through a few different things - one of which is the hints that something was up, which are pretty unequally distributed (like the kind of throwaway mention of Lights Hope in a dream), but definitely come out in the fight with Glimmer, which hinges on Adora kind of finally putting things together and trying to somewhat communicate that to Glimmer. I'm not super satisfied with that, but that's the idea. But that also affects, like, the way I wrote some of the characters - most obviously that the characters who aren't 'real' characters who are experiencing the simulation don't get direct lines. Bow, Entrapta, Sea Hawk, Spinnerella, etc. all are mentioned as talking and they do stuff and exist, but more as projections of the experience that the other characters are having. Again, I'm not sure this is a -good- choice, given that the reader doesn't know this and instead they feel kind of weirdly flat, but it was a choice. But as it comes to the relationships itself, that was also... sort of a choice? It's meant to be a deliberate reflection of how the 'real' characters feel about stuff in the 'real' world - so Hordak has Entrapta as a second and hangs out with her which reflects him actually liking her a lot in the real world, even if he wouldn't, like, ever admit that. That's also why Catra would vaguely know that if Mermista had someone important to her, it'd be Sea Hawk, right?! Except no, not really - she likes Sea Hawk but I tend to see her as such the protagonist of her own story that she'd try to be two steps ahead and pick Frosta instead (which never came up, haha) because she wanted to win so much. Angella's presence is also weird in that way - both Adora and Glimmer have some things to work through since this is meant to be set post-her-death, but I couldn't quite figure out how to communicate that right.

So really I'm kind of unsatisfied with this at least in terms of how it measures up to my goals, but happy enough with the anime pastiche aspect. (It's funny that no one had actually seen Utena - especially since I used the aesthetic of Utena in a vague sense but none of its actual rules or setting or framework) I wish I could do it better but I'm not actually sure that I'm capable of writing it right. Hrm.