"What's this place?" Steven asked, walking alongside Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl. A branch Amethyst had pushed out of the way nearly hit him in the face and he stumbled backwards with an "oof," falling behind a few steps.
Amethyst shrugged. "I dunno, just some weird forest." A bug buzzed by her and she clapped it between her hands. "Pretty buggy, too!"
"It's not just some weird forest," Pearl said irritatedly, crossing her arms. "Steven, your mother came here to collect Earth plants to add to her garden. That's why we have a warp here."
"Really?" he said, running forward to catch up. "Cool!"
"It's also our best guess at where Peridot landed," Garnet added.
"Oh, right." Steven fell quiet, and for a while, the only noise was the sound of the four of them picking their way through the dense forest. As the sun began to set and the bugs increased, he started frowning.
"Hey, guys?" he said, swatting a few bugs away from his face. "Are we almost there? This place is really starting to... bug me! Huh? Huh?"
He grinned, looking around at the other three. They didn't respond, and his face fell back into a frown.
Garnet stopped walking. "Found it," she said.
"You did?" Pearl stopped walking as well and turned to her. "Where?"
"Uh, right there?" Amethyst pointed.
Up ahead was a clearing with a deep gouge in the ground, the round, teal capsule Peridot had escaped in lying in pieces strewn about amidst broken branches. There was no sign of Peridot herself, and as the Crystal Gems stepped out into the clearing, they looked around with grim expressions.
"So where is she?" Amethyst said, kicking a piece of capsule rubble.
"She probably wouldn't have stayed put for very long," Garnet said. "Not unless she was hurt."
"I'm surprised the capsule pod is in this condition." Pearl examined one of the larger pieces, her hand on her chin. "It really should have held up better. This is what it's designed to do, after all."
"I'm gonna look around," said Steven.
"Steven, I'm not sure that's a good idea." Pearl said, peering closely at a scrape in a tree that cut deep through the bark.
Garnet put a hand on his shoulder. "Be careful. We don't want you getting hurt."
"Don't worry, I'll be fine!" With that, Steven ran off and immediately tripped over a branch, landing flat on his face in the trench. "Oww! I got hurt!"
"Walk it off, Steven!"
"Amethyst!" Pearl shot a glare at her and kneeled down beside Steven. "Steven, are you alright?"
Steven pushed himself up to a sitting position and rubbed his nose. "Yeah, I'm fine. I just hit my face on a rock."
He looked down at the thing he had fallen on. It was nearly covered by dirt, so it was hard to tell what it was, other than "something hard and very painful to hit with your face." Steven brushed it off some, and gasped. "Guys?"
"What?" Pearl leaned forward. "What is it, Steven?"
Steven picked up the smooth green stone and held it up. "I think I found Peridot!"
Pearl recoiled. "You found –"
Garnet summoned her gauntlets with a flash of light, while Amethyst yanked her whip out of her gem. "Steven, drop it! She could regenerate at any moment!"
"Wait, wait wait wait!" Steven pointed to a crack running through the gem. "Her gem is cracked! She's hurt! What if she can't regenerate? What if she needs help? I know she's really mean and tried to hurt us, but I don't want to let her die!"
"Steven," Pearl said cautiously. "She is dangerous. You need to put that down and let us deal with her."
"She must have gotten really badly hurt when her capsule crashed..." Steven furrowed his brow. "Maybe, if we help her –" His eyes lit up and he grinned. "– she'll realize that we're not that bad after all!"
"Yeah," Amethyst said, still clutching her whip. "We're not that bad, but she is that bad! Steven, this is a horrible idea."
"Aw, c'mon, let's give her a chance!"
Garnet gritted her teeth. "You are so much like your mother," she said.
"But even Rose knew when to quit!" Amethyst exclaimed. "Come on, Steven, just bubble her! That's a good compromise, right? Just bubble her and we'll deal with her later!"
Steven looked back at Peridot's gem. "But..."
Abruptly, Garnet dispelled her gauntlets and straightened out of her fighting pose. Amethyst and Pearl looked at her in surprise. "Garnet?" Pearl said. "What are you doing?"
"How difficult was it to take down Peridot in the control room?" Garnet asked.
"Easy!" Amethyst said brightly, though her voice was strained. "Just tied her up and that was the end of it! Y'know, until she escaped to Earth."
"Garnet," Pearl said, "you aren't seriously considering –"
"Steven," Garnet said, turning her attention to him. "Do you have your healing powers back?"
"Uhh..." Steven frowned. "I haven't tried to heal anything, so I... I don't know!"
"Try to heal Peridot. If that doesn't work, we'll take her to the fountain." Garnet crossed her arms. "Then we bubble her before she can regenerate."
"I'm not sure about this." Pearl stood up to face Garnet and put her hands on her hips. "It's too risky! What if something goes wrong?"
"Separated from her technology, Peridot isn't very strong," she said. "The three of us can take her."
Steven stood up and hugged her tight. "Thank you, Garnet!"
"Uh, guys?" Amethyst said. "Have you forgotten about the times she and her friends tried to kill us? Like, twice? Why am I the voice of reason?" She dropped her whip and clutched her head. "I can't handle this responsibility! Aaaaaa–"
"Well, if we're lucky, we won't have to fight her," Pearl said.
"Because we'll be friends?" Steven said, looking up at Pearl with starry eyes.
"...no, because we'll bubble her away before she can regenerate. Garnet, I am really having doubts about letting Steven do this!"
"It'll be fine, look!" Steven quickly licked his hand and raised it up high. "Healing powers, go!"
He pressed his spit-covered palm to Peridot's gem. Nothing happened.
"Good try, Steven," Garnet said. "Let's go to the fountain."
Steven held Peridot's gem close to his chest as they stepped off the warp pad and walked to the fountain. It was strange, knowing that there was a whole person inside there, and even stranger knowing that this was a person who had tried to hurt him and his family. Still, Steven felt uncomfortable just letting her gem stay damaged, not when they could heal her.
"Alright, Steven," Garnet said when they reached the edge of the water. Steven looked up at the visage of his mother, the healing waters flowing from the statue's eyes. "Be quick."
"Okay." Steven dipped the gem into the water, holding it under for a few second before lifting it out again. He hadn't seen it happen, but the crack was gone. "It worked! Do we just –"
He yelped in surprise when the gem started glowing white. Instantly, Pearl raised her hand to her forehead to summon her spear. "She's regenerating! I knew this was a bad idea –"
In unison, Garnet summoned her gauntlets again and Amethyst summoned her whip. The gem pulled itself away Steven's hands and rose up into the air. Steven watched in alarm as a white humanoid shape unfurled, hair growing out from the head and the rest of her body thickening, filling out.
Her color returned, and Peridot fell back into the fountain with a shriek.
The four of them looked blankly at where she had fallen. Amethyst chuckled. "Man, this makes things easier!"
"Is she going to come up?" Steven asked.
"She must be too dense to swim," Pearl said. "She just sank!"
"...gems can breathe underwater, right?"
"Well, we don't need to breath, so –"
"She's coming back up," Garnet interrupted. "Prepare yourselves!"
Peridot broke the surface with an exasperated huff, climbing up over the edge of the fountain. Gritting her teeth, she held herself above the water with one hand and raised her other hand in the air, four of her fingers detaching themselves and forming a black octagonal screen. She frowned at it, poking it with her remaining finger, but it remained blank.
"No connection?" she said. "That's impossible, the capsule pod should be –"
Amethyst coughed. Peridot looked up and noticed the Crystal Gems staring at her for the first time. "The Crystal Gems?" she said in shock, her fingers returning to their original positions. "And the Steven? What are you doing here?"
"Steven, step back," Garnet ordered. Steven quickly obeyed, jumping to his feet and backing up until he was behind her. Pearl shifted her stance, readying her spear and Peridot blinked, her eyes widening.
"...I appear to be at a disadvantage," she said. "Perhaps we can come to an agreement?"
"Yeah, like what?" Amethyst growled.
"Uh, well..." Peridot nervously flicked her gaze from Garnet, to Amethyst, to Pearl, to Steven in the back. "I was just following orders, of course, so revenge would be pointless! Meaningless! I don't pose a threat, so maybe you could just... let me go?"
Garnet grabbed her arm and lifted her up in the air. Peridot yelped and kicked in the air, trying to get free. "Let me go! Let me go!"
Garnet obliged, dumping her on the ground in front of Amethyst. Amethyst wasted no time in tying her up with her whip, while Peridot squirmed futilely. "Let me go! When my superiors hear of this –"
"Yeah, you're not going back to your superiors any time soon."
Amethyst put a foot on her back. Pearl pointed her spear down at her and glanced over at Garnet. "What do we do with her now?"
"Take her back to the temple," Garnet said. "We can figure out what to do with her there."
Steven looked at the scene glumly. "Maybe this really was a bad idea."
"Maybe we should've just cracked her gem in half," Amethyst remarked.
Peridot stiffened. "Now, now!" she said, her voice shaking. "There's no need to take such drastic measures! I'll cooperate, I'll cooperate –"
"We're not going to kill her," Garnet said. "Steven, it's fine. She's not a threat anymore. If we hadn't healed her cracked gem, she could've become corrupted and changed into a monster, and we would've had to fight her anyway."
"What? What are you talking about? My gem is fine!"
"Yeah," said Steven. "We healed you!"
"That's impossible," Peridot said. "I would remember something cracking my gem! Are you telling me I almost died and I didn't even know it?"
Her eyes were wide and her voice was panicked. Steven looked at her. "Are you scared?" he asked.
"No!" she snapped. "I'm being held prisoner by a bunch of defectors from the Homeworld, and now I find out that I nearly died in that crash! There's nothing to be scared about!"
"It's okay," Steven said. "We're not going to hurt you!"
"Not if you don't try anything, we won't," Amethyst said, pressing her foot into Peridot's back. Peridot flinched.
Steven scrunched up his face. "Well, I'm not going to hurt you."
"That is not reassuring."
"...is that sarcasm?"
"Steven, stop talking to her," Pearl said sharply. "Let's just take her back with us and just..." She paused, averting her gaze and bringing her free hand to her face. "Lock her up somewhere until we know what to do with her!"
Garnet picked Peridot up and slung her over her shoulder. Peridot twisted in her grasp, but a glare from Amethyst made her stop. "I'm warning you –"
"What, didn't you say you would cooperate?" Amethyst said.
"I will, I will!" Peridot said quickly. "But when my superiors find out about this, there's going to be consequences! How about you let me go, and when I get back to Homeworld, I'll... neglect to mention this little incident!"
"Not happening," Garnet said. "Let's go."
Peridot opened her mouth, then closed it, fuming silently as Garnet carried her back to the warp pad. As Steven followed behind, he couldn't help but wonder if he had made a big mistake.