It was going to be her finest hour.
She had forseen a great victory in her upcoming struggles, a decisive blow to all her struggles that would end everything she had been forced to go through for all these years since she was formed.
But there was one problem.
It had already happened.
Ever since Padparadscha was formed, an orange sapphire on Homeworld, she had been on the run. She was not supposed to exist, and the powers that be, the Diamond rulers that controlled the galaxy, would surely destroy her if she were found.
It was not long before she found others like herself--
Others whose defects had made them castaways, destined to live deep within Homeworld’s catacombs lest they risk shattering.
The Rutile twins, two gems stuck together from forming; Fluorite, a fusion of six completely different gems; and Rhodonite, the union of a Pearl and a Ruby.
The five (ten) of them had been together for half an eon now, evading capture and taking every effort to survive in this world that hated them.
Together, they were the Off-Colors.
They survived, they hid, and they kept their existence a secret from the surface world.
It was a life of constant excitement and danger... but not the kind of life that had much deviation. All the escaping, the splitting up and regrouping and looking out for each other.. it was so typical it had become somewhat mundane. What day was it if it didn’t involve being chased to their dooms?
Padparadscha generally wore a smile.
What use was she, otherwise, if she could not be happy? She did not choose this life, and she did not choose her powers, but made sure that she would make the best of herself.
The circumstances they were in would soon change. She couldn’t predict how they would play out, and she couldn’t foresee when the outcome would arise but she didn’t need to. Playing the role of a Sapphire was not for her, because a Sapphire she was not.
What she did was utilize her own ground-given strengths.
Long ago, she had forseen a vision that had changed the Off-Colors’ lives forever.
It was clear as day--
Minding their own business, the Rulite twins, wandering around the Catacombs, would one day discover a lonely gem wandering around, lost and with no-one to help them--
No, wait, there would be two--
They would be brought down, risking bringing the patrol robots closer to them and attacking the Off-Colors at a vulnerable hour while they would be split up.
But no such thing would happen because of these brave gems.
One of them, small and pudgy, wearing a nervous grin, would greet Padparadscha with a tasteful joke.
“So, what’s been forming lately?” this gem would ask.
While this gem LOOKED quite obvious, her appearance would be quite deceitful in truth.
“Oh, I see a Red Spinel approaching us!” Padparadscha would say. “And she looks... just like a Ruby!”
Seeing herself in these visions was always... interesting.
The way she perceived time was... different from the rest of the Off-Colors. Being able to predict the past was powerful. She could see into people’s motivations, their secrets, understand the whole scope and context of an issue in a way no-one else could. But... she had trouble staying in the present. In fact, even at this moment she was not sure what was happening around her. Only what was going to have happened.
Red Spinel would not have been alone. She was together with Chrysocolla, a defective Peridot whose expression would be blank and mind would be blanker.
“The Rulites told me...” Red Spinel would try to speak but her voice would choke up the moment she began. “They told me we would be safe here. Me and Chrysocolla here.”
“Padparadscha. Orange Sapphire. Has the ability to see into the past,” Chrysocolla, looking off in another direction with an unfocused gaze, would say.
“She’s... always like that,” would say Red Spinel. “Chrysocolla is really good at describing things, but that’s about it. I actually thought maybe you could... help her?”
Rhodonite would laugh, just before darting her eyes around the Catacombs to make sure there was nobody around. “Help her? Chrysocolla is wonderful like she is.”
“Rhodonite. Unholy fusion. Deemed to be eradicated,” Chrysocolla would say.
“Eh... Well, she’s good at describing things, that’s for sure...”
“I foresee some unkind words coming out of Chrysocolla’s mouth,” Padparadscha would foresee herself foreseeing. “But her words will not be marred with disdain or contempt; she simply assesses her situations by remembering the information she was taught in her time as a... Diamond experiment. Oh my.”
“Diamond experiments. Defective gems are studied and examined for potential alternative uses. And then their Kindergarten is examined. Goal is to prevent future imperfections. Then shattered.”
Everyone in the room would gasp and shudder.
“Studied...” Rhodonite would promptly begin hyperventilating. Shattered...”
“How... Did.... You.... Escape...” Fluorite would eventually say after processing this for quite some time.
“Well, it was... me...” Red Spinel would tell the others. “It took them a while for them to realize I wasn’t a normal Ruby. I went through training and did bodyguard missions for an Achorite, but... our Ruby Fusions never worked when I was around, and I guess we found out why. it turned out that even if I looked the same, I was different. And so they took me to the experiment center, but... I slipped out with Chrysocolla here. They never noticed. I sure fooled them.” Her voice would be squeaky and her nervous laughter would be adorable.
A Ruby in all but name.
Red Spinel and Chrysocolla would join the Off-Colors, and as a new group of seven (twelve) they would venture further through the Catacombs without regard for the continued danger, the continued parel, and the continued disaster of a life that many would assume they would be having.
No. Their life would be simply the life they had.
It was one that Padparadscha would be proud of.
One night (or day; the darkness was the same around here and gems don’t sleep so who really cares) Padparadscha and Red Spinel would be far apart from the others, sitting by a fire to stay warm (not that warmth really mattered much for gems either).
They would be closer than usual, speaking to one another as if they were in a crowded restaurant, whatever the hell a restaurant is, even though they were alone.
“I... I just think it’s so cool,” Red Spinel would say.
“You can see so much stuff that you’re like, this super genius,” she would continue despite Padparadscha’s disconnected demeanor. “Who cares when you see it? I... I just wish I had a special power. All I’ve got is that I’m a Ruby who’s not a Ruby. Rubies aren’t even special as it is...”
“Nonsense,” Padparadscha would tell her. “Living in the past isn’t fun. It means you can’t live your own life. I try to smile and I try to give the others hope but how can I be happy when I can’t even see what’s going on around me?”
“Oh, Paddy,” she would say. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know you felt that way.”
“Don’t say something like that! Rubies are special, just like everyone else. Just like... all of us. Everyone has something to make them different. It doesn’t matter if there’s a thousand Padparadschas out there; I’m the only one-- Paddy? That’s...”
“I’m sorry if I was just being...”
“Yeah, I’m sorry too, for that outburst. I really think we’re going to be happy one day. I just wish I could... see it when it happens.”
“Me too. After we stop the Diamond experiments, maybe we--”
“Presumptuous? Oh, never. Actually... I think I’ll call you... Spinny.”
Red Spinel would gulp.
“Oh, you really don’t have to... call me by any special name.”
Their hands would touch.
“I’m glad you think that way,” Padparadscha would say. “The Diamond experiments come first. Then we will figure things out.”
“Wh...Wha?” but Red Spinel would decide to simply go with it.
There would be a glowing light--
“Oh! I foresee--”
And that’s where Padparadshca’s vision ended.
She wondered why that was...
Until she realized where she was.
On a spaceship, flying through the galaxy at warp speeds.
Where... where were they?
Who was the pink being in the captain’s chair?
And why was Rhodonite lying on the floor next to her?
This was all so much...
“Rhodonite?” she asked.
“What happened to Red Spinel and Chrysocolla?”
“The gems we found in the Catacombs just--”
She foresaw another vision.
Padparadscha and the others would meet a boy named Steven, a Rose Quartz with something special inside him. And they would meet Lars, a dashing and brave soldier that would bring them to great victory.
But their quest would be long. It would be difficult, and they would have to fight.
In training for that fateful day when they would have to fight, Rhodonite and Padparadscha would decide to experiment with fusion, to see what their powers would be like.
They would become Orange Sardonyx.
And she would be able to see the past not as a history of events... but as a branching pathway of causality and choices made.
She could still see that vision, so radiant and pure, the roots underneath a tree stretching out towards a bottomless nothingness.
That root, a world where they had stayed on Homeworld to meet those two gems, Red Spinel and Chrysocolla...
That meant that those gems might still be on Homeworld right now, alone and helpless in the Catacombs.
And they had left them behind.
It seemed that Rhodonite didn’t have the ability to comprehend what Orange Sardonyx had foreseen in the past. She stared with a confused expression, her head tilted to the side.
Padparadscha kept the smile on her face.
Still... she thought of Red Spinel, and a teardrop dripped from her eye. She quickly wiped it away.
It would be best for the crew if they never knew what had happened in a timeline that was never theirs to experience.
That would be her burden to bear.
“I foresee a great sadness coming over me,” she muttered to herself.