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Whispers of the Unheard

Chapter Text

There's always room for growth.

There's always a door open somewhere for someone to go through.

Whether they go through it or not, is up to them.

Sometimes, you will need someone to open it for you

Or you to open it for someone else.

Even you will need help finding them to begin with.

In any case,

Doors are everywhere as kind, cruel or neutral entrances,

or exits.

Or anything really.

How did I get on the topic of doors anyway?

I just turned the knob.

and was expected to push...

Instead I had to pull.

Diga Arch-Fire


 

 

He had pushed for courage when he'd become enveloped in fear. But her eyes. Those eyes he stared at, in the hopes he could talk her down.
But he was in her grasp, feeling the light from her hand but shivering all the same. But her words, the words he never wanted to hear.

"It's time to come out...Pink!"

She'd dug her fingernails around his gem and then he felt it.
He wanted to scream but the twister of his fear, his anxiety blocked his throat. His body pushed against it and in the moments before pure darkness, was the cold light of her eyes.

Is this death? Was this what it was? It could have happened sooner at the Trial. Seeing Blue and Yellow, his fellow Diamonds, bickering over his fate.
It could have happened even earlier with his body rapidly aging, with the Gems arguing about what they should do.
It could have happened many times.

Why?

Why can't he control his own fate?

Why can't he stop it hurting so badly? He hated seeing others hurt. But...

He was hurting immensely. From everything. A suffering transferred to him.

No. His mom didn't mean to. He knew this. But...

Rose....Pink.

He felt his aura fade.

It hurt so much as he felt hollow inside.

A ringing sound echoed in his ears. He heard someone call his name?

Rose?....Pink?

No.

Connie.

He opened his eyes, but....half of his vision was obscured. He clung onto her voice. Words could barely escape his mouth as is but Connie was there. He wasn't alone.
But the pain was unbearable. It was like his veins were on fire. His mental pathways were like striking lighting bolts into water. Every thought was a cut to his mind as his body was in a state of shock, as he tried to decipher what was going on around him. He then saw his gem in White Diamonds grasp. It had started to glow as she let go of it. In those moments, he saw the light of Pink, then the light of Rose....then

Him.
Part of his vision returned, but it made no sense. It wasn't until the Pink Steven turned to face him that he was realized what it was.
An overwhelming urge overcame him and he desperately tried to drag himself there, but he had no energy to follow through, but thankfully Connie was there to be that energy.
But it was like a silent whisper urged him to go to the entity. He felt his strength coming from there.

He wasn't paying attention as White pondered, confused as to where Pink had gone to.

"She's gone..." The entity muttered.

White urged him to speak up and repeat himself.

"SHE'S GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONE."

The scream was akin to the overwhelming aura of Blue Diamond, but far more agonizing and terrifying as the roar caused physical damage around them.
Fear took its hold, as Steven somehow knew, where exactly that was coming from in a weird way. It was then the silent whispers returned.
He was nothing more than a single pale rose akin the beauty of the pink starlight before him, as the entity went back to staring right back at Steven. He felt Connie cling on to him harder as she reeled from the destructive tones of the most surreal, yet nearly paralyzing, sights before her.

He started walking towards them once more, as he raised his hand. The whispers were calling out to him. They were not words to be spoken but a need to be sustained. Steven tried once more with what little strength he had, but everything was so overwhelming, so horrible and so weak that he squeaked out a single word.

"Help."

Connie picked him up. Her voice was a pure light in his ears that eased the pain. Slightly.
"Hold on."

White Diamonds fury filled the room, her aura echoing as Pink Steven continued his trek. They froze as White Diamond ordered him to stop, as she fired her beams of light from her eyes attack him. Steven's eyes widened, frightened and his thoughts chanted rapid no's constantly.
Only for Pink Steven to be perfectly fine as he shielded himself.

White tried once more....then combined the might of the other Diamonds, the Gems and her Pearl to try to take him down.
Steven couldn't believe what he was seeing. His heart ached, being the organ that was currently in the greatest scale of pain and the whispers were from himself, channeling them in a wordless prayer to give the last of himself a chance.

Pink Steven only pushed the lights back in a perfect deflection, so powerful it knocked over the ones he cared about over and the only thing in his mind was telling himself to stop hurting then.
The close he got to him, there was a feeling that started to flow back into him. Happiness? Joy? Despite the expressionless face he made, Steven knew the one thing that could help him.
Connie carefully handed him, as Steven himself reached out to Pink Steven and....

He could see himself from...himself. His heart could have fallen out of his chest with the tidal wave of emotions. A new feeling, no a familiar feeling. A feeling not unlike that of what love the Gems had provided for him and that of which his own father gave him. Now, he could give to himself as he embraced the warmth around and started laughing....as soon the entity donned the biggest grin himself and chuckled alongside him, as they twirled around and danced with such joy. Steven could have sworn he heard another voice, but that was discarded as his world went white, riding the emotional high and letting the pain flutter away as now he knew exactly how he felt about himself.

He saw Connie run up to him, calling out to ensure her jam bud was okay. Wordless calls for him in his heart, uncertain about its meaning.
Although, maybe he knew. It had to be certain. He no doubt that had always been himself anymore. That was the only thing that mattered to him at that very moment, burying all else with ease.

----

He'd been busy in the weeks afterwards. Helping uncorrupted gems find their own meaning in the world again. Steven could do that easily. He needed no voice or pull that would tell him otherwise. Doubts erasure would be, if something else wasn't going on the back of his mind.
He tried to meet all the gems he could help, often to the point of exhaustion where the others would ask him to just rest easy, but he was always so full of enthusiasm. Every new day was better than the last.

Then it started to snow again. Had it been that long already?
Still there was a lot of joy to be had in the depths of the snow. Despite the cold, Steven hung out with Lapis and Peridot as Steven demonstrated on how to make snow men.

"They look remotely nothing like human males." Peridot commented as Steven made a small one. It was the usual tower of three large snow balls varying in size. He put stones and twigs on the top one to make a face.

Steven giggled. Gems discovering something new about Earth life and learning about it was only one of many things Steven absolutely loved helping out with.

"It doesn't have to be exactly like it." Steven said as he patted his snow mans back.

"Remind me why humans creating mock life is fun?" Lapis queried.

It wasn't mock life, but expressing ones creative side with simply building one is joyful. But perhaps there was another way they could do it.
Steven then started to creating another one, however, he molded this one differently.

"We know they're not real." He told her. He then kept looking back at Peridot repeatedly, who grew suspicious, especially when Steven didn't realize his tongue was sticking out as he tried to shape the snow in weirder detail.
"Doesn't mean we can't pretend."

It looked misshapen, but the way the head was formed got Peridot curious about it as she looked it over, squinting and humming to herself.

"What is this thing supposed to be?" She asked him.

Steven spread his hands out wide and smiled, presenting a familiar triangular headed form before him.

"It's a Snowadot!" He called out with glee.

The green gem pouted and rubbed her chin, then shook her head.

"No no, you got it all wrong, here...let me fix up a few things." She said. She found a few more stones and twigs nearby and started to alter the snow form like mad.

It grew bigger until it was twice as large as her, although, admittedly, a bit goofy looking. Its arm pointed upwards, with the twigs for a thumb and index finger on the hand, directed up as well.

The stones formed a large smile and Peridot had carved the stars on her legs, then looked at the face again and realized it needed her new, awesome visor but the snow was too unable to get into the shape she desired. She grew frustrated quickly and muttered to herself as she tried multiple times, each time with failure.

Steven had to think, he then looked at Lapis, then looked at a nearby pond that frozen over. He clicked and had an idea.

"Hey Lapis, you reckon you can crack the ice over there?" He asked her.

Lapis was apathetic to it but was happy to do it for Stevens sake as she smiled.

"Sure." She answered.

She went over to the pond and stared at, then used her powers to crack a portion off then bring it over.
Peridot grew giddy as she took it and use a rock to put it in near perfect shape and carefully rest it on the front of it.

"There! There is your TRUE SNOWIDOT! The coldest, most brilliant homage to the almighty Peridot!" The gem announced, believing it to made in honour of her previous heroics.

Lapis was exasperated, but Steven was proud of the small gem for giving it a go. He then looked at Lapis and hoped she'd make one for herself.

Steven knew Lapis would hold long voids between her words. Sentences formed between thoughts. Trauma can change people, but it cannot destroy them completely.
After everything that happened, after he had witnessed truths birth on the visage of what he would come to know as the power that had within him all along, that supported his connections and his passions. A power that was his and his alone.

In between helping others, he hadn't talked much about the experience. Maybe to Connie, who was the only one to witness it. It was thanks to her, that he knew it was real and that it all actually happened. But for Lapis?

There was much to be said, recalling the first time he met her and healed her. It reminded him of the agony inflicted because he was broken and torn apart. Amethyst's gem cracking...
Why couldn't he find the proper words to describe this type of brokenness? Was it unique to gems? Can humans experience this as well?

No words attached to a unique experience.

"Did you ever get to see a Snow Quartz?" Lapis asked Peridot out of the blue. Literally.

Peridot rose an eyebrow, peering back into her memories.

"Oh the Scribe Gems from White Diamonds Court? I've heard of them, but never seen one." Peridot answered, before she took a deep breath and proceeded to open fire.

"Snow Quartzes are considered some of the wisest gems. They write down the words of the Diamonds in stone, not literally but they're basically book keepers always searching for information. Whether its new worlds to colonize or to categorize the smallest creatures. They're normally surrounded by Labradorites, who help sniff out trails when they're on the hunt for something that deeply interests them."

They sounded kinda cool. Steven wondered if he could ever meet one.

"I saw one once." Lapis revealed.
"I wonder, if I remember, to shape out what it looked like."

Lapis gathered snow balls in small shapes and within minutes, Steven could see the forms likeness. With big shoulder pads that reminded him of bird heads.

Another Quartz gem, big and bulky like most Quartz gems he knew. This one was tall, tall enough for Lapis to fly up and mold the head. Lapis used more ice shards, this time for the eyes and the gem located on its forehead. The hair, from what Steven could make out, dropped down and was quite wavy. Not as expressive as most gems he knew, whom, to his realization, tend to have considerable poofy hair styles. Not that this was an issue, just an observation. (but he did love all the styles)

Lapis then found the darkest stone she could find as her lips. Akin to White but....

"Wow, awesome." Steven commented, with stars in his eyes meant for things he found amazing.
"I never saw any on Homeworld though."

Not that he saw many of Whites court there besides the ones he saw when he arrived....

"Astute observation!" Peridot stated.
"There's many gems you may not have met, and while the gems you've helped out here aren't necessarily all Homeworld has to offer, seeing one is considered something you see once in a life time...."

Steven listened in as Peridot continued to talk about this unseen gem, sitting before her as she showed her proud and triumphant gestures, explaining how Snow Quartzes barely see each other, since they're meant to scout out new worlds to possibly colonize and are meant to spread out as far and wide as they can, often one is allocated to a world at each given time, similar to a Diamond and document their findings to the Diamond Authority.

"What about the Lapradorites you mentioned? See one of those?" Steven wondered.

Lapis nodded.

"Hmmm....I think the one I saw briefly had one by her side. They're similar to...Pumpkin but they're like...what are those other four legged things called?" She said.

Lions?

"Oooo ooo...those things, yeah yeah...the ones that sniff too! But they sniff each others butts! I don't understand that. Their slobber is less than stellar." Peridot complained.

Ohh...thats what she meant. It got Steven even more excited.

"You mean dogs?" He exclaimed. Then his eyes widened and glistened greatly.
"I love dogs!"

Steven sometimes forgot Lion didn't always have the obedience like a dog did.

"Yeah, but anyway they're a four legged gem that don't speak...I found that the weirdest thing. Imagine just not talking. Gives me the creeps." Peridot said.

Imagine just not talking.

"A DOG GEM OH EM GEE Oh now I really want to see them too!" Steven stated.

Steven returned home later that evening with a big grin on his face. A Snow Quartz. A Labradorite. Adventurers. Adventure Gems. Ah that must have been the life. A wanderer, on the open road, always on the hunt for something new. Didn't matter what it was. One day he'll travel. But for now it was his sworn duty to help others. But at some point, the wonder turned to engaged curiosity...as his dreams were filled with snowflakes.

Snowflakes that fell on light, light that fell on himself. Snow was cold, but this was warm. Oddly warm.


 

Meanwhile, on the outskirts of Beach City, a white cloaked figured appeared. She was almost as white as the snow that surrounded her, almost...milky skinned too. A white gem gleamed on her forehead
Her cloak had fluffy trimmings and curved spiked shoulder pads that the cloak had covered entirely, as her white heels dug into the snow. Alongside her was a wolf like creature, with dark grey fur with glowing patches of blue with flecks of gold and purple eyes.
"Beach City." The figure spoke, her voice akin to icy crystals clashing in echo, soft yet brittle as they emerged from her black lips.
"I feel so much life from here. Its mystery known to itself. We will keep our distance Labradorite...as we always do. There's someone here...someone here White wanted me to see. To study."

She reached out with her hand where, oddly enough for a gem, she had long white fingernails extended as she splayed her hand over the city view, as if she wanted to pick it up and place it into the palm of her hand.

"Humans have always been...the oddest organic I'd ever had the pleasure to observe. Each incredibly unique. Each with their own individualistic natures and paradoxes. My sisters would be jealous of how much knowledge has been locked away here, only for me to uncover it all. So much history to absorb. I have to, Dori." She said as she rested her hand on her chest.
"But this place has a powerful aura...I am forever tempted to get closer...."

Her Labradorite growled, alerting her attention to some humans were coming nearby. She gasped as she fled behind a tree, her protective gem guardian doing the same.
"They're nearly adventurous as we are. " She whispered.

The humans giggled. A male and female, wrapped in bulky cloth. They could get cold really easy as most organics did, but they were the best at fixing that issue.

"They're the most adaptive to their surroundings....its fascinating. But..."

The pull was there. Drawing on in to find out more. She needed to find out more. But how? Not from a distance. She can't let people see her.
Shapeshifting would be her tool to hide in some situations but that wasn't the problem. The pull again, the power causing trouble she couldn't explain.
"Gem life resides here too, according to the reports." She said.
"Blending in with the other life forms, learning their trade...."

The humans sat down nearby and got closer to one another and started the act known as kissing. A reaction of love...something she'd become absolutely obsessed with.
Her previous studies were in tune with the subject, if not it had become something she studied the most. The way that humans acted with one another and the one that trumped her realities and discoveries. There were other less pleasant subjects on the humans emotional spectrum that she hardly understood. It would be a lie to say that she was only here at White Diamonds behest, no. But to let White know that and risk being shattered?

She would have to keep her mouth shut and continue to observe them....and the one with the pink gem in their stomach especially.

"Let us leave Dori, we have much work to do."

Chapter Text

Seeing him emaciated like that struck major chords in her heart.
His earlier sacrifices were nothing like seeing him there, pale, sweat and in fear and pain and....dying.

She was seeing him slowly dying in front of her. No Steven branded optimism meant he was shed of hope.
Not to mention the Pink version of him on how emotionless and uncaring it was to its surroundings. A fiery pulse of anxiety spread from her aching heart. She had faith he could do this, but not without her help. He was still there, but had the faintest of heartbeats. It like when Yellow had almost killed him before and she'd hoped perhaps he'd reach out to her like he normally would in these situations. But he opened his eyes, she could see the rawest part of his soul laid to bare. It didn't matter to her what he'd become, she would take care of him no matter what, on no uncertain terms and even if she had to tell him a million times. His first instinct was to find his gem.

White Diamond let go of it as it moved and glowed. It displayed the form she remembered in Stevonnies dream, then the form she thought back to the picture in Stevens house. Then Steven himself. She had hoped of his smiles and his passions, defending others and helping them with his powers with a huge grin on his face to show he was ready for it, would shine through.

But hearing Pink Stevens roared terrified her and the power it displayed was like a side of Steven she's never seen before. She was terribly wrong.

Connie had read about heroes who could be calm, being that eye in the storm. This was Steven's power in its rawest form. While Connie was his sword arm, this was the purest shield arm of Steven, unrestrained by morals and compassion. Deleted of all that made Steven him and his very core. But she could detect the slightest anger in his fury. Seeing Steven writing in agony could be that he feel what this form feels and might be horrified to let this side of himself being seen. She's seen him angry before, but not like this.

She was determined to help. She was the only who could. She picked him up, knowing exactly what needed to happen. It didn't matter to her how it could, but the two Stevens had a one track mind to get to each other again. Connie would be the one to carry him there.

White grew frustrated with Pink Stevens refusal to let her help him be...what she believed to be his true self. Evidence surrounded her that the way she saw the ward of self, as to be like her, cleansed of color and impurities. This was Steven not being himself to begin with at all, so who knows how that could turn out. Then the beams of light from the other gems almost blinded her, then she felt the ground shake from the Diamonds falling over, as well as the other gems.

Her heart skipped a beat as Steven pleaded for his Pink self to stop hurting others. More credence to the fact that this was simply his form taking what she can recall, a heroic safe mode.
There was a struggle to get him there, but that was the burden she wanted to hold. No, not a burden. A pain they could share. It was the least she could do.
The Pink Stevens focus went to her in a split second, giving a shiver down her spine. She gave him to the form before her, feelings warm fingers on the back of her hand and stood back, seeing a small smile on Steven's face and prayed for the best.

It was an anxious moment, confusing her as to what would happen in this regard as the world seemed to freeze for an eternity before she saw Steven embracing, well, himself and started to laugh. Another freeze as Pink Steven said nothing and stared at her again. Like he recognized who she was. Time moved forward with the huge grin that he formed. A wordless thank you?

He then danced and twirled around with himself, with laughter filling the tense void, as Connie could feel the aura around her, giving her sense of joy and relief as they were surrounded by light and as they fused.

But she had to make sure of one thing.

She had to make sure he was indeed himself.

"I've always been me."


 

Since then, it was hard to get back to life they had before. Between catching up with school and helping healed gems, there was a lot to be done with little down time.
Her parents of course, were a little wary of what stories she had to tell about her experiences on Homeworld. She didn't lie, but she did avoid some key points that they didn't have to know about. Like, Steven almost dying...

Why this affected her the most of all the times death was on their doorsteps. She didn't understand it. They got back together again and Steven was more okay than ever before and most importantly the faith and love in himself became apparent in the way he cried tears of jubilation instead of tears of pain and sadness...but...her stomach would wrench at the thought of his struggles.

She couldn't prevent much, simply because she was human, a pet in the eyes of the elite gems. No real power. Even Bismuths new sword wasn't enough. She was in way over her head. But it didn't stop her from trying.

One day, in the snowy outskirts of Beach City, she had set herself up to train alone with the new sword Bismuth had made for her. It was slight less heavy than Rose's sword, but that might have been because Connie's upper body strength had improved in recent months. An image of a bulky Connie amused her, but she needed to be ready for any new threats that could pose to them. Not that there had been much. The renewed gems had much to learn. Some wanted to return to Homeworld, some...helped out in Beach City itself, but it took a while for most to grasp simple concepts like the economy and human gestures. Some even turned up at her school, wanting to learn more. She hung out with a few, helping tutor them. It was....kind of nice being the one they could depend on. Being a teacher, instead of the student.

For someone who previously didn't want to be alone, there were those precious moments in between where being on her own allowed her to clarify her own thoughts and feelings and to continue her own developments and pursuits. Of course, she wouldn't mind others being there, but she understood more of the message of her being her own self, being free.
Other parts continued to bother her. She'd be worried about the future of course, but that wasn't it. Something that constantly pecked at her mind.

She ignored it, citing that if it's not a thought she could explain, she could bide her time until the thoughts arranged themselves into something legible.

It wasn't until she heard the whispers nearby.

She stopped for the moment, only hearing the subtle cold winds surrounding her. She found this area a great place to train despite the cold since it was relatively flat, not to mention the abandoned building nearby where she would go and change into her training clothes. Pearl mentioned to her once that it's good to listen to the peace and quiet and in an area where it's deathly still , one could properly hear ones heartbeat. Or in gem terms, listening to themselves.

Hearing so many voices distracted her from her own and that to hear her own again, she needed this seclusion. Gems did occasionally, from what she understood.
But these..whispers...they weren't in her voice. They were something else.

"Hello? Who's there?" She asked. She could hear feet pattering in the snow nearby as she readied herself, cling her sword with both hands in front of her.

Someone had to be watching her. She had her ears honed in, allowing her track movements nearby. Unless these were the voices that Pearl talked about.
No, that's a gems version. Connie was human. This was more important to understand.

Her training her senses became intrinsic to her development. Especially if she has to fight again one day. She can't imagine anything worse than fighting the Diamonds.
Pearl once noted that human senses of touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing were a bit different to gems for obvious reasons, but for things like touch, had considerable contrasts given the biology of both species. Like the wind could chill to the bone if it was powerful enough. Minute details that could perhaps be more felt to humans than gems could even begin to fathom.
She could have left the area to go home as it become clear that shadows were following her, as she felt too uncomfortable, but...
The whispers pleaded her not to.

It was then she heard growls. Oh no...wolves? Since when were there wolves around here? They echoed around her as shadows spun around her. Fear struck her briefly before she gritted her teeth and prepared herself for the worst.

"You want to come eat me? Come on then! I'll taste bad, I promise you!" Connie called out.

It was then she could see a dark grey creature pounce before her. It looked like a wolf but...
It had unusual blue glowing patches and purple eyes. Connie readied her blade but. She could see a small gem on its chest.

"Is that, another gem monster?" She wondered.

Most had already been cured, then maybe they expected to miss a few in the meantime, but...

The two had a stand off for some time, without budging. The whispers returned. Connie had flashbacks to the weird noises she heard in White Diamonds ship.
It was then it walked closer to her. It didn't seem hostile at this point as the growls disappeared. If anything else, it seemed interested in her.
Connie took a deep breath as it sniffed her sword, then it sniffed Connie. It really was just like...some weird dog thing.
It was odd. Wolves from her understanding would give the chance to hunt the prey and a moment of weakness would strike them. But this one had a bit of a curious streak in it, getting her scent for an odd purpose.

She went to go touch it, to feel its fur. It reminded her of Lions mane....but then...

 

LABRADORITE!

A chilling voice that echoed in her mind.

The gem jerked in motion, rising its head and tail in unison to the voice.

She then saw a white cloaked figure with a cowl appear behind from one of the trees and made their way to the wolf. As soon as they approached it, they took out their hand to pat it.

"Silly girl, I thought I told you not to go wandering off like that. You're going to scare people!" She said.

Her voice was soothing however, this tall, snow and ice brimming being. She then looked at Connie who could then see her curved white hair pouring out from the sides of her hood onto the chest of her, seemingly, possibly warmer cloak. Connie couldn't see most of her face as half it was was covered by the cowl, but the lower half showed off her black lips...reminding her so much of White Diamond.

Connie loosened herself and felt her anxiety fading as she thought she was going mad with this. But at the same time, grew enamored with their appearance.
They looked at Connie and grinned.

"I am sorry, Dori has a habit of going off on her own when she tracks something that interests her." She said to her.

Connie looked at the wolf...or possibly wolf gem as it sat next to the tall, striking being. Experiences told Connie who she really was, once she connected the obvious pieces. She smiled to ease the awkwardness between them.

"It's okay, I kind of panicked myself. Not everyday you that you meet a friendly wolf...or...gem..." Connie stated.

The other gem rested her hand on her chest, albeit surprised.
"Astute observation for a human." She replied.
"But yes, Labradorite is my beloved companion, despite orders for her to remain hidden you see...."

She then patted Dori repeatedly, who continued to stare at Connie with a blank expression. It instantly reminded her of Pink Steven, including the unknown whispers.

"I see you're well versed into our kind. I suppose I could share a bit about myself." She said, before she removed her cowl.

Her gem was situated on her forehead, though, unusual in shape with only two facets. Her hair wasn't overly poofy like she was used to seeing. It was a whitish blonde. Her iris was a milky white that radiated a calmness to them and her nose had an elegant point.

"My name is Snow Quartz."

The young human grinned.

"Nice to meet you Snow Quartz. My name is Connie. Have you come to see how the gems here are doing?" She asked.



This human was very switched on. She must have been involved with the various affairs on Earth and on Homeworld in the reports she had received. One report stressed each human had individual names. While her name was Connie, she had to get the image out of her head that there were variants of her species called that.
For all the humans she had studied thus far, she could see why Labradorite had an interest in this one. The sword she carried was definitely of gem origin.

Snow Quartz put her fingers to her mouth, noting confusion on her end as she stifled through her mind for a proper answer.
"Oh...well, yes and no." She answered.

Well done Snowy.

"I mean, I guess. How much do you know about our kind?"

The two sat down on a log nearby as they chatted about recent events. She needed more information from this human, but she knew, in all fairness, and from what trade she had learned from other species, she didn't expect to get something for nothing. She could feed Connie what she asked for, in return for the expression of the world before her.
Snow revealed her purpose, was indeed to study and retain data for Homeworld. About life on numerous planets, about numerous scientific research and how that was that she was created for.

Connie was amazed and if anything else, noted her jealousy that a gem like her existed. Someone who just wanted to discover and find out all that is new, exotic, fresh and exquisite. She compared her to walking recorder crossed with an encyclopedia. The more Snow thought about it, it did sound like she was.
But then Connie explained her what had happened here and despite all the phenomenon, had much more of an understanding of gem kind than Snow even expected her to.

"You surprise me." Snow commented.
"This entire place surprises me. I was going to do work from afar, but this has been an enlightening experience. A new road for Gem kind."

A new road indeed.

"Humans also benefit." Connie continued.
"Recent events have been a catalyst for our species to start treating each other better. Maybe you should meet the Crystal Gems! I'm sure they'll want to meet you!"

Her eyes widened.
The Crystal Gems? The ones from the rebellion? The reports only talked about ceasefire on the planet, but made no mention of the group that supposedly shattered Pink Diamond. But they did say Pink was found alive and still on the Earth colony, which was a relief. Only one point was made in the last points.
Pink Diamond was to be called Steven. No exceptions.

Odd as it may be, Connies suggestion seemed harmless. But speaking to their leader could open doors for her.

"THE Crystal Gems? I uhhh, well, I suppose. They're not gonna try and shatter me on sight, are they?" Snow queried. She's had a few planets under her belt were local life wasn't quite as friendly, but in her eyes these Gems were barbaric and ruthless. So the reports said.

But a laugh escaped Connies lips.

"Of course not! At least, I don't think so. I mean, you have nothing to worry about. They're my friends." She said.

Friends? Oh dear. Connie was a smart girl. She'd rather much hang around with her personally than other Gem kind. She was used to interacting with newer species than her own. Besides Labradorite obviously.

"I'll honor you to it Connie. But first. Dori, you need to lay low. Keep your invisibility on until I say otherwise. Remember the last group of humans we bumped into? They went off screaming before I had the chance to explain myself." Snow told her pal.

Dori whimpered, before she looked at Connie and seemingly vanished. She wouldn't listen occasionally unless in was battle. She often liked to do her own thing in their downtime. There had been....previous incidents prior the screaming men in the river.


 

Beach City was a calm yet bustling place. Snow kept her cowl on and made sure Dori didn't go too far. She knew where Dori was due to the gems nature. She often instigated a clicking noise that would reveal Dori's location, or at least her gems location. But Snow found that there were lots of gems here. More than Snow was comfortable with. They walked down the streets, with Snow wary of the world around her. She was so close but so far, with so many gems and humans interacting with one another. It was...peculiar as she made mental notes, describing the scenery.

I didn't think adaption like this would be possible. The war ended not long ago, surely there has to be some hurdles in all of this.
Hundreds of worlds that I've been to, their strife... I could never understand...but the peace here is almost serene. A warmth compared to the brightest stars. Current temperatures notwithstanding.

This... Connie, fearless as she may be, attracted Dori for a reason.

I'm sensing it too.


 

A van drove by them and parked beside them. The door opened, revealing a human male with an odd mane.
"Connie, going my way?" He asked.
The human smiled warmly at her. She knew this one, another friend?
Connie nodded at him.
"Oh hi Mr. Universe. Yeah I am, mind giving us a lift?" She asked.

This, Mr. Universe looked at Snow, who was wary of this type of kindness.
"Who's this?" He questioned.

Oh dear.

"This is another gem who wants to see the others. Her name is Snow Quartz." Connie said.

Snow had to put her hand over the girls mouth to keep her silent.

"Connie, shh please. Just call me Snow. It's fine....uhhh nice to meet you." She said.

The girl shivered from the gems cold hand. She jerked it back and tried to smile through the nerves. Mr. Universe basically was left scratching his head, as shrugged and told them to get on. Snow then clicked her tongue as the van shook briefly. Dori didn't know the meaning of subtle unfortunately.

Connie sat in the front as Snow and Dori got in the back as they drove off. She noted the primitive vehicles design, albeit noting that its of average human design.
"So...uh...Snow...." Said Mr. Universe, to break the ice.
"Come from Homeworld I take it?"

Does everyone here have this much advanced knowledge and structure? She'd kill to take at look their archives. This place had much more history than she originally believed. No wonder they thought this place was special.

"Yes Mr. Universe. I am here on a mission of my own. I mean no harm to the people here." She answered.
She's had to get that point across on many occasions. Not all were successful however.

"Please call me Greg." He told her.
"But it's nice to meet a new gem that won't attack us for a change. Heh...hasn't happened in a long time...well, not since..well, you know..."

Hostile gems. Hmm....maybe that's what made everyone angry to begin with. Gems treating them badly? A idea surely heretical, one putting into their minds of the sorrows of other creatures. Snow Quartzes have fallen into melancholy of their work before but have been not able to do anything about it. It wasn't the first time this Snow Quartz had the idea in her head...each time no action was lifted. But now...

"Oh...ummm well thanks?" She replied to the comment, unsure of how she should have responded.


 

They arrived at their destination as they approached the strange building or rock formation. Greg spoke with Connie before they proceeded, but Snow was so entranced by the aspects of this place, appearing as a large monument of sorts. The report did speak of this as some kind of temple. It fascinated greatly.
She felt Dori nuzzle her hand briefly as Connie went to her other side. It snapped her out of her trance as they went inside.

Connie knocked on the door, as Snow stood behind her. They waited briefly, before the door was opened. Before them was a short, purple gem. Snow knew this one was an Amethyst as her eye locked in with the gem on her chest.

"Oh hey Concon, Stevens in the bathroom, he should be out...shortly...." The Amethyst told her as her voice trailed, noticing Snow behind her.
"Who's that?"

The human did her usual, warmhearted introductions.

"Hi Amethyst this is Snow! Snow this is Amethyst. I recommended her to meet you guys." Connie told her.

The Amethyst dragged Connie inside, before she approached Snow, eyeing her up and down as she stood still outside the building. She didn't move as the gem sniffed her out. Reminded her of Dori in a way, except more vocal.

"Snow huh? You're not selling anything are you? Rules are no door-to-door salesmen, hawkers or....creepy white gems with their faces covered are allowed here."
Amethyst warned her.

Snow raised her hand in front of her mouth.
"Oh...sorry if I'm intruding." She said. Last thing she wanted to do was antagonize them.
"Do I have to book an appointment or...."

Connie shook her head and furrowed her brows at Amethyst.
"She's only joking. Is it okay if she comes inside? She only wants to talk." The human asked her.

The purple gem rolled her eyes and blew her hair out of her face as she crossed her arms.
"Pfft...what ever....I'm not gonna take responsibility if this place goes on the market...I'll let Pearl and Garnet deal with that." She said.

Connie and Snow exchanged glances, with Connie giving a slight nod to allow her in.


 

As Amethyst walked away, Connie and Snow sat down on the couch nearby. Dori was nearby, behaving thankfully.
Snow was upright and kept her hands in her lap. She was nervous, being in the presence of the infamous Crystal Gems. The place looked like it was more for humans than it was for gems however.
She heard a few bangs, seeing Amethyst banging on a nearby door.

"Hey, Connies here with some weird gem lady. They're out here if you wanna see them, I'll be in my room if stuff turns south." She said.

"Oooo oooo okay, hang on, just...ow..." A young voice called out.

Amethyst laughed.
"Relax, put on your pants slowly man, they're not going anywhere..." She said as he put her hands behind her head, giggling herself before she disappeared behind her door.

The aura here was strong, that was of no doubt as Snow tapped her leg with her index finger. Was this the leader she was going to meet?
Shortly after out came a young human boy that she didn't recognize.

"Oh hey Connie, hi...new....lady...person...." He said.

Connie was so excited to bring Snow to him as she pulled her off the couch and greeted him.
"Snow I want you to meet Steven! Steven this is Snow!" She said so enthusiastically.

Steven...no...wait....Pink Diamond? Snow freaked out as she didn't what to expect. This was Pink Diamond herself now?
"Oh my, I'm so sorry I didn't recognize you my Diamond! Please forgive me! I'm the Snow Quartz allocated to this planet!" She stammered as she gave him the diamond salute and went on her knees. Last thing she wanted to do was outright disrespect a superior.

"Word gets around fast doesn't it?" Steven said with a giggle. He then put his hand on her shoulder.
"Relax, just call me Steven. You don't need to do any of that fancy Diamond stuff around me."

Snow had to re jumble her thoughts around. Relax? Around a superior? It'd be hard. She took a deep breath and removed her cowl.
It was then his eyes changed to stars as he eyes widened.
"Wait, did you say Snow Quartz? The adventuring gem?" He said as he looked around her face.

Did...never mind...they did say to try and keep an open mind. She had to humor him.

"Yes." She answered as she stood back up.

He got unusually giddy for what ever reason, though it was an honour to be appreciated. White Diamond never mentioned she would be observing Pink though. How unorthodox. In the road to era 3, the path that had to be paved would be full of redesigns and alterations in a sense. Was this it?

He looked around, as if looking for something.
"Where's the other gem? They say you have another gem protecting you?" He asked her.

Dori? Snow laughed with anxious undertones. Her own sword arm that she could barely control.

"My Labradorite? Oh she's aro- oh no..." She said, noticing Steven being nudged slightly.

He became wary of something unknown touching him, but laughed as it began to tickle him.
"Hey....stop..." Steven cried out in the middle of his laughs.

Snow placed her hand on her face. Typical Dori.

"You can uncloak yourself now." She ordered.

Soon, the wolf gem became visible in a blur as Steven suddenly gasped.

"DOGGY GEM! This is great!" He exclaimed.

Though Snow was stunned how Dori wagged her tail as Steven patted her and was on the receiving end of her licks. But then she looked at Connie, who was standing there with a intriguing smile on her face. One she had observed on humans faces before. It got her pondering as to Connies intentions with him. But if anything else, Snow was a bit more at ease here, more than any other place she had visited. She piqued interest on how it got to this point, where so many other places had failed.

"Where most Diamonds would instill their subordinates with fear and punishing torts, he is a leader that conjures an unusual camaraderie with others. Rare but with a bit of naivete from previous observations." She commented.

"It's less leading, more of letting him do his thing. Works most of the time." Connie joked.

As was once described of Pink Diamond herself. That much was getting clearer to her by the moment.

"I see, well then...Dori that's enough." Snow ordered.
"Make yourself scarce."

Dori whined for the moment, before shimmering her form away, much to Steven's dismay.
"I have business to discuss, if you don't mind."


 

It was odd talking to him like this. Steven seemed to understand her motives for being here and was exuberant in letting her observe them, although he held more regards for stories regarding her times on other worlds. In fact he was pleading at one point to tell him at least one story. One amazing story that would blow their minds? Not literally...but they would have the right idea of it. Although some stories could be literally mind blowing. She would have to avoid those. Humans were fragile after all.

"Oh very well, I suppose I have time for one story..." She said, as Steven and Connie sat on the couch, eager to listen to her.
What story could be more important for them to know? To get a message across to them?
"Let's see...oh, how about about I told the story of the shadows of the Lillim?"

Chapter Text

Garnet could only foresee so much, but when encountering beings much more powerful and unpredictable like White Diamond, it became increasingly hard to figure out what paths to take. 

Steven's power was the same. His strength was incredible for a reason. Him being a Diamond made more sense, as her visions got worse as he matured and became more independent and aware. She was proud of him, but also scared for him at the same time. Sapphire had taken Rose's...no Pink's lie worse than Ruby and like the time Pearl lied to her, it always took to Steven as the more sensible one to handle the situation. There was always this path that she could see, but never the directions to get there. It was only by Steven's own wisdom that she could create the future she wanted.

It was Stevens decision to come to Homeworld. It was his decision to find a solution to a problem that needed fixing, despite how tall the order was. It was his decision to fuse with her to form Sunstone and Obsidian, she just had to be the one who took his lead and finally give directions to the visions he saw. It became clear that he was indeed becoming like his mother...but he acknowledged that he would need help to get his goals accomplished. When it came to fighting off White Diamond however, it all became static, the only thing she saw in all scenarios was Steven in serious pain...and she could do nothing but be swallowed in darkness.

Then it was Steven who saved them yet again. She wasn't surprised, but then became uncomfortable in trying to see where the directions Steven took to get there. He and Connie were fine, happy and laughing as they embraced the Gems once they had come out of the darkness, saying that White had controlled them all with her power.

Nothing brought Garnet more worry than imagining the idea she was the one who caused Steven that pain. Yes of course they won, but there were still so many problems that needed to be solved in the meantime. She still didn't trust the Diamonds. But she trusted Steven to do the right thing, because he was the only one with the power to do so, beyond all odds, he was their best chance. Still is.

She wanted to talk to Pearl and Amethyst about this. About what happened between Steven and White Diamond. She'd talk to Steven but it didn't feel right. He was busy tending to everyone else, especially other gems and he was in so much gratitude to the Diamonds that they could even aid them. There were impossibilities that were made possible by Steven alone. Like the way his mother used to.

But she did see Steven and Connie speaking to someone in his house. Who this person was she would find out and draw out their worth, deciding if they were a threat or not. Even if she doesn't say she is.


 

"So I had to seal the Lillim away in special crystals, as one can not defeat them conventionally...." Snow Quartz finished off.

It left Connie and Steven in awe.

"Woah...so the Lillim are really that powerful?" Steven commented, really tuned in.

"The crystals sound like the same process the way that gems can be bubbled. What of the crystals properties?" Connie wondered.

It was then they heard the warp pad, as a tall gem came into the room. Snow did a few clicks to detect the gems status, although surprised this one had two, meaning she had to be a fusion. She...wasn't very emotive, which...Snow felt some hostility in her aura.

"Hey Garnet!" Said Steven. "This is..."

"Snow Quartz, I know." The gem noted with a dull tone.

This Garnet was indeed imposing. Snow felt like she shouldn't be here. Although, only if Steven dismissed her that is. 

"I promise not to be overly intrusive with my work here." Snow assured her.

Garnet wasn't convinced.

"You already have." She said.

How could she get her to understand? She's...hmmm...she's curious about this one. Knowledgeable and able knowing of her kind. She radiates both hot and cold at the same time, most likely because of her fusions components. The only gems she knew was like that were Rubies and Sapphires respectively. She had spoken to someone of Blue Diamonds court a while ago about a lost Sapphire and a rogue Ruby that had awry. Was this the one?

Snow approached her slowly.

"Well, I can do work in exchange. I am willing to share what I know or help out here if need be." She offered. Sincerely. She's done this before.

Garnet didn't budge.
"We have enough help." She replied.

It was then Steven ran past her, unexpectedly.

"Oh come on Garnet, she tells cool stories. She's been everywhere! She even has a dog!" He said enthusiastically.

An adjustment of her visor meant irritation.

"We have a cat and a Lion who also live here. You know the two...three don't mix." She told him.

A cat and a Lion? What had she wandered into. It made her worried about Dori's reaction. She was cautious about this.

"Pllllllease?" Steven pleaded. Snow expected him to make the rules, not the other way around. Did this....Garnet hold true power over him? This didn't seem right.

Snow pressed her hands together and smiled, hoping the words of her Diamond would be enough to convince her to stay around. Garnet sighed.

"I never said she couldn't. I'm just warning you now of what dangers could lie ahead. We have enough our hands in dealing with our own problems, without a Homeworld Gem, especially one from White's Court to be interfering." She stated.

It appeared as if previous events had lead them to wield battle scars and deep issues caused by White Diamond herself, from her knowledge. Even if she didn't say it.
Snow had a lot of experience in dealing with words left unsaid, hearts and gems that wanted to say so much, but leave it pent up from within themselves, ready to strike at any unfortunate soul that allows the heat to burst through the cracks. Some gems have been broke like that from White's usual tormented methods.

"You seem rich in history Garnet! I'd love to talk to you first. You know, get to know each other better...." Snow offered. 

"If that's okay."

Garnet turned around and went into her room into the temple without saying another word.  She had to be hurting somewhere, where she'd have to find out. Snow wasn't discouraged, however. She'd have plenty of others to talk to. Maybe one day Garnet will talk.

"I tried."

But the history in here was too valuable to ignore. She looked at Steven and Connie as she clamped her hands together with a tight composure.

"Maybe you can try Pearl. She'll open up. Maybe." Steven suggested, albeit sounding uncertain himself.

A Pearl?

"Your Pearl?" Snow repeated.

The boy laughed.

"The Crystal Gems Pearl. She's super smart. I'm sure she'll talk to you!" He explained.

A Pearl of all things. Well, if there is anything you want gossip out of, it's a higher ups official Pearl. They were incredibly loyal and obedient to their master gem. It had to be his Pearl if he worded it like that. She'd agreed once she thought about it, they would indeed hold a lot history it being witnesses to a whole court of data.

"She should be home soon. She's just got out for a bit...so...." Steven continued, donning a mischievous grin.

"Do we have time for another story?"

He was indeed a joyful spirit as he and Connie sat back down, eager to hear more tales. The more she sensed them, she could see their auras merging with one another, which was odd, considering she was a human and he...was exceptionally unique. Whispers to her indicated he was much more than he was letting on. His appearance as a human, a shapeshifted gem...no...something more. The reports did note if one was to confront Pink that they were not to expect her to be who she once was. Snow was given expectations of what not to expect...so she wasn't prepared for what she could, given their distinct contrasts yet blending personalities.

She might as well ask, but she needed to without offending them.

"Sure, but let me ask you something Steven. I'm told you're....special among gemkind...not because you're a Diamond mind you. Care to explain? If that's not crossing the line."

It was a story he was more than happy to share. He was the son of a human father and a gem mother, in this case Pink Diamond or sometimes Rose Quartz. This stunned Snow, as he and Connie gave a run time of events that occurred in the meantime. A hybrid? A production of one species with their own? It'd been unheard of, incredibly important for the understanding of their own species as a whole. A critical chronicle of utmost dire importance. A shame she didn't get to speak with Pink about the whole process, but given the nature of their kind, shapeshifting the necessary organs to do so was...simple yet complex. There was no guarantee that was going to work to begin with.

Organics only ever had a limited lifespan. Some range from only a few days to hundreds of years. Humans generally can push 80 Earth years if not more depending on their health and lifestyles. But Connie was human. Why did she have aura where humans didn't? They then mentioned that since he's half human, he can fuse with other humans, like Connie.

Fusion with humans? New and incredibly important power. One case had been heard, but if from what they were saying was true, this could be that case. Fusion with other species was considered impossible due to their physical composition. Snow wondered, if that was the reason why Connie had an aura. The effects of fusion radiating a power to her on it's own. They weren't doing that willingly, but exposure to strong gems has been tested before and over a period of time, the only thing noted over the test trial period was that some species lasted longer...as in they literally lived longer but no other extraordinary additions.

"Did you want to see our fusion? They're really cool." Steven offered.

Fusion between two of the same species was normal dependent on the situation. Fusion between two separate gems was generally forbidden. But this? Snow's eyes gleamed as she she donned a grin from ear to ear.

"Oh yes. If you don't mind. This is definitely worth a look, if you're happy to show me, I won't say no!" She said.

Steven and Connie looked at each other and nodded, as they got off the couch and went into the middle of the room. Snow stood back and watched with anticipation.

The two slapped their hands together and in a flash of light, out popped a tall human, where she could see Stevens gem in clear view.

"Heya Snowy!" They said to her with a thumbs up.

"I'm Stevonnie! Pleasure to meet ya!"

This was so unfounded yet, pleasant. Their aura was strong that it was shining off of her. Despite the inequality of their components, they were fairly stable in size, shape and power. Snow couldn't help but feel enamored by their appearance, even though most would look on in disgust of such an act. She walked up to them and examined the gem as well as their entire form. She didn't touch them but her eyes did the tracking.

So they had Garnet and Stevonnie. Two separate yet similar fusions in response to...something that made them work so well.

"I've not met many fusions outside of some same gem fusions like Rubies or Topazes." Snow commented.

"Mostly used out of necessity and more firepower. Yet, there is a strength here like none other, the unheard pull of...an unknown cog in the chain."

Stevonnie grinned.

"Garnet explains it best, but it requires a deep trust and friendship of the two together. Not to mention good ol' fashioned love in the mixture." They explained.

Snow's eyes widened. Love?

It...it would make sense. Love is an incredible involved subject to Snow that she's never been able to figure out fully. There are some cornerstones pieces of knowledge she has obtained, but not enough to say she gets it in full.  But it was clear to Snow that Garnets gems may have this love implemented. Not to mention Stevonnie themselves. Their love may have an effect on their form too, a combination of the best characteristics of the two, almost like Stevonnie was their child.

But they were human children, far too young to be in that stage of their lives. Or at least on Connie's side of the problem. It was Steven she was puzzled about.

Human children start a stage of their lives where they're in a slow metamorphosis to evolve to their adult forms and in this stage it is when their hormones start to cause all sorts of...well, changes to their projection. 

"I see." Snow commented.

"It does bring to light of not only gem potential, but human potential as well. I'm not sure why this was not documented sooner."

But it does bring a lot of questions into the possibilities. Maybe other species could do this? Who knows. But Snow would rather not force this on either kind for the sake of science. It'd be forbidden for sure.

"Have you never fused before? Sorry if that's a personal question." Stevonnie wondered.

She smiled however, not bothered at all.

"Snow Quartzes barely interact with one another. We're spread so thinly on the myriad of worlds we're sent to. We're paired with our Labradorites and we're sent on our way." She replied to them.

Stevonnie then looked around.

"Hey has any of you attempted to fuse with them? I mean, think about it. If its just the two of you, you're sure to strike up such a close friendship, you can't tell me that there haven't been situations where fusion could have solved a problem that was too hard to fix on your own?" They queried.

There had been but fusion wasn't exactly on top of their lists to consider when it got too rough.

"Not....that I'm aware of. We generally don't have that instinct to push us that far I'm afraid. But it could be something to consider in the near future...it's just never been noted in the history of our type of gems." Snow said. It could be a case but since she barely converses with her own type she'd never have the chance to find out.

"Steven and Connie did this unknowingly." Stevonnie revealed.

"It...just sort of happened naturally."

A natural fusion. A blend of the powers that be that brought them together in an instinct without even really trying. 

"They were dancing and then pow, I'm here."

Dancing...

Dancing had implications. She'd have to read up more on this.

"Interesting. I guess that's a start." Snow said.


 

The two split up shortly after to listen to more of Shadows of the Lillim. They were indeed a dubious race that were like parasites that had the ability to infect their hosts and take over their minds. Reminded her of White's true power, but a lot worse. It could infect all species. Connie mentioned the special crystals that they were sealed in.

"Oh those are a developed technology. Where we create bubbles for gems, we utilize foreign non-gem energies into Sealed Cores. If we're going to fight non-gems then we need to take into consideration on how strong life forms can be. The Sealed Cores were the only things that could lock them away." Snow explained.

"So the Lillim are a source of darkness, the opposite of gems which are a source of light. That's incredible. Like out of a fairytale." Steven noted, in awe.

So it would seem.

"Except they're very real and they're very dangerous. I'm glad to be on a planet that decides to talk instead of fight." Snow said as she felt relaxed.

It was then the door opened nearby, revealing a tall thin gem before her. 

"Steven I'm...oh my...Steven...uh...who's your new friend? And hi Connie as well." She asked.

Even if the talking could be quite...difficult.

Steven introduced her as Pearl. This Pearl was drastically different in design to some she had normally seen. Not as...fancy, but more Earth like in style. She must have been here a very long time to hold such influence on her being.

"A Snow Quartz...never thought I'd get to finally meet one. Welcome." Pearl said, a bit wary.

 

Chapter Text

Who knew in such a short time frame, that all reality could unwind due a young halfbreed and his ambitions?

You would think that having thousands of years under ones belt, it wouldn't cave to those with microscopic life experiences. 

All Pearl could think was this what Rose..what Pink wanted. Her head took forever to wrap around that very asinine concept. To develop and grow and be able to change.
It was in recent times she had begun to see the benefits, to explore the inner desires of the self throughout time. She even hated to admit that Greg meeting Rose and loving her and creating Steven was the true beginning of the great changes to gem kind as a whole.

For what seemed an eternity of holding secrets for her, being her sole confidant, became unraveled in an instant her son started poking around. The curse of humanity, leading them to stick their noses where they don't belong. It was amazing how they didn't die off a long time ago. But Pearl knew her place. She obeyed her liege without question.

As Steven grew however, she could eventually see what Rose was talking about. Steven could connect people better than any normal gem could. He taught both sides about each other, taught them many lessons they themselves would never even begin to know they needed. He surprised them time and time again with amazing feats they never thought possible.

It was inevitable that he would discover the truth. The aforementioned curse would take hold of him and lead him in directions most gems would fear. Only because they thought he was too vulnerable and immature to see the dangers. Pearl was prepared to wait until he got to adult hood to allow him to make reasonable decisions. But again, he was half of his mother and it evolved to the stage where it was time to let him know.

Then they went to Homeworld. A lot happened, but she noted his maturity, his incredibly powerful stance that he was only one in that position to try and convince White Diamond to cure the corruption. They won in the end, but not without Pearl feeling more much guilty about it all than she had ever been.


 

So now seeing a Snow Quartz in her presence, telling Steven stories that he so craves. She knew exactly what a Snow Quartz was capable of and that her Labradorite had to be close by.

Once Snow finished off her story, one about the infamous Lillim incident, Connie had to leave, as it was late as is. Steven took her outside, offering to walk her home.

In the meanwhile, Snow became fascinated with her, wondering if she could have a chat.

"Please Pearl I know you're a wealth of information. Unless Steven does not wish you to reveal secrets." Snow told her, trying to keep protocol.

For someone to just talk to her like this, was different. A Snow Quartz hungered for data, data Pearl would love to her own hands on.

"But he did say you're....in his word, super smart. You're different from most Pearls I've met. I'm curious."

Maybe this was the sole reason she didn't like Snow Quartzes. They were considered the most aberrant of gems; they were allowed to sate their inquisitive minds and not get shattered for it. 

"There's a lot that's happened over the years. Homeworld knows the truth now so the other Diamonds would leave us alone in peace. But it seems they just can't help themselves can they?" Pearl said with disdain.

The frosty gem frowned.

"No...that's not.... I'm ordered to observe and help, nothing more." Snow iterated.

"You're a Pearl, you of all people should know about oaths and loyalty...."

Was she questioning or worse, mocking her actions?

"If you're here to to criticize us then leave. You know nothing of Earth and our history! How the war changed our kind...how it changed us! We're no longer bound by Homeworld's  regulations and while Steven thinks change will come, it won't come as quickly as he expects it too....even....'

Even if the changes were considerably life altering, especially when it came to the Diamonds, Pearl wasn't going keep her hopes up. She knew Garnet felt the same way.

The paler gem crossed her arms, then smiled.

"I'm sorry if I've offended you, I'm not here to do any of that. Information is my trade."


Snow had to put Pearl at ease. Her anger was justifiable in accounts to the amount of surface level trauma she was showing.

"This world has its beauty and its fury like any other world. But this one is special enough for the Diamond Authority to mark as special to them. I mean, I can see why. Pink Diamond's become a small human child...but then when I spoke to her....him and his friend Connie, I was confused by his existence. But then they broke it down for me..." She explained.

It then had Pearl awaiting her answer, as if a final call was to made about it.

"It was still perplexing, but at the same time amazing. Who could have thought cross breeding was possible?"

Pearl rose an eyebrow, noticing concern.

"That's gonna become practice now isn't it?" She queried, sounding a bit off about the idea.

Snow shook her head.

"No. I think the way that Pink Diamond had done it may have been unique to her. I can't speak for other gems if they decide to go down that path." Snow answered.

Not to mention how the mentality of their kind were more interested in self-preservation.

"But enough about that. You were Pink Diamonds Pearl yes? I know it would be unkind of me to ask your history with her. We can talk about anything you like and I'll be happy to answer anything....within reason and protocol."

It was interesting to see Pearl surprised at Snows offer that she had stammered over to what even ask her to begin with.

"Do you expect to me to tell you absolutely everything in exchange?" Pearl questioned.

No. Not...in this sense. She's seen how ripping the truth out without trust gained hurt people more than it saved.

"No." Snow replied.

"I'm happy for now to just....talk."


 

They walked along the beach with each other in the brisk breeze. The sunset crept through the blooming pink clouds and streamed onto the calm ocean, spilling onto the beach with the waves. The sands of the worlds she'd traveled to varied in texture and colour. Some were home to beautiful and terrifying life forms that lorded over them. 

Turns out though, Pearl and Snow had a lot in common. Shared knowledge about Homeworld and other planets. They laughed over what was once considered normal and now considered silly and strange. Both admitted that just being around organics that they discovered so much more. Each step into the sand was a revelation that they existed together with those who would have the same sensations with everyone else who's stood in the same spot before. They all had this space together.

"It's amazing how you understand both gems and humans, as well as anything fleshbound. You're the general antithesis to what we've been made to believe." Pearl commented.

It does seem that way, once Snow looked at it closely.

"I've only met one of your kind...but you're, dare I say, more human in manner than most gems I've encountered from Homeworld. Snow Quartz development was quite controversial from what I can recall."

That's....a funny way of portraying her.

"I'm impressed of your perspective of humans and life in general had been warped within a such a small amount of time. Not in a bad way I mean." Snow said.

But she wasn't wrong about the development side of things. There had been trial and error with Snow Quartzes and an incident forced their hands in a certain way. But Pearl needn't worry about that.

"We have Steven to thank for that. Even before then was his father. The one who had enchanted Rose and...well, created Steven as a result...it's hard to realize the Curse of Humanities influence occasionally." Pearl continued.

"Curse of Humanity?" Snow repeated.

Pearl then laughed, then looked into her hands as they stopped walking.

"Oh it's just a vacuous term I heard once. You should know this from seeing it all the time, but....I never said it around anyone else. It's been a debate for a while now. Are humans a good or bad influence on us? Being on this planet as long as I have, I have seen humanity evolve into this....obnoxious race. But then there's the few who stand out among the rest, those who have the power to change your mind. Because we're...we're stubborn and locked into this mental stasis....that we needed one of their youngest and one of our youngest to call it out to us. How in the galaxy do we have carried so long without it? Do we still need it? Where will it take us?" Pearl continued.

It was a term Snow had heard before. By another Snow Quartz. A well defined Snow Quartz. Ignoring that for the moment, they sat down in the sand as Snow felt the grains between her fingers and watched the waves as they washed over the shore. 

"From my experiences, it's not exclusive to humans. Apprehension is not foreign. It's always been the development all those who can walk and talk and think for themselves. We've seen all types come and go. We're used to believing that we're the best the Galaxy has to offer. We'll wait for a hundred, a thousand or ten thousand years for results to shine through. In that time, we lose so much more and we don't even know we're losing it." Snow told her.

The expression Pearl showed was a mixture of stunned and puzzled. 

"We lose the best of what we ignore and push away. Has there ever been a time you've ever derided any of Steven's needs or expectations because you think it's a silly human thing?" 

The Crystal Gem was left to ponder in her own thoughts.

"I've never fully understood humans as a whole. We're taught the basics and the run through of the hows and whys. His father did most of the necessary parent teaches their young training. But...time spun so fast for me to begin to nail down much how had forced me to run into dead ends, only for Steven to...just pull us in the right direction. And maybe not all of the directions were right...but..." Pearl said, contemplating her feelings on the matter as she dug her fingers into the sands.

"I'm guilty of all that could have been handled much better. We're meant to be the better gem...set an example. At the end of the day, I still ended up in servitude because it was easier to be in that position than anything else I had ever tried." 

The Pearls aura turned cold as she started to well up in tears, dragging her hand through her hair. The humans had sayings. 'Old habits die hard.' Snow had to be taught that it was meant to be an ironic statement.

"I'm not made to be a leader. I always directed that to Garnet when Rose went...I'm not a pioneer of anything extraordinary. That was not what I was meant to do."

Instinct vs logic. The nature of one who has been there and is used to doing what they're told to. Snow could understand how hard that was to break.

"We're all created with some kind of small, yet significant reason as to why we're here. It's not always going to be the way we want ourselves to be seen. I'd bet most gems will go through that and hold onto what ever they can because it is theirs to have. But we're not allowed to divert from the norm. We're not allowed to break from who we're supposed to be." Snow explained.

"But you know, I've seen humans go through that same exact path. People condoned to be rulers or slaves. It's not unique to us. They will often fall into a hole that was made for them, because, that's whats expected of them. Follow or be followed. Doesn't necessarily have to a hierarchy to define. As Gems, we understand that we cannot be anyone else, no matter how much we may want ourselves to be the next Hessonite or the next Emerald...."

"Or the next Diamond..." Pearl continued.

Snow laughed. She preferred to be infected with humanity.

"But you know, being here...reading into the history of the Crystal Gems and for all recent events that had transpired, Pink Diamond had definitely aspired to explore everything because gem kind can be better. She could have planned this from the beginning...."

That statement made Pearl giggle as she wiped away a tear.

"Pink, heh... never thought things through properly. That's where her son gets it from I'm sure." She joked.

"She planned things to be fun and enjoyable for others because she adored life, no matter how much it cost her. In the end, she was willing to...give everything of herself to become a part of that which so wanted so much...to contribute to, in her words 'taking life and leaving a miracle behind.'"

Reports did say Pink was, in strange terms not often put into writing by some, but kind of a goofball. 

"But I won't deny she set the stage in an attempt to connect gemkind to other species, to get them to see their beauty and worth."

It was then when Pearl explained the time she had introduced Pink Diamond to earth life due to her desire and enthusiasm to talk with the newly created Amethysts.  Something Snow Quartzes would warn against doing. Where was the allocated Quartz?

"That does sound like a catalyst to me...." Snow commented. 

"Knowing her for such a long time, you'd have better insights than most."

She detected Pearl feeling uncomfortable with that notion as she sighed.

"You would assume a Pearl knows everything about her Diamond. I wish that were the truth." She said, forlorn.

Snow then smiled. The current climate would have tipped the previous on its end, exposing much to the surface but yet, still hiding away the secrets of the unheard.

"What about Steven?" The Quartz questioned.

"You've practically would have known him from the beginning as his caretaker. Surely you know what he's like...what he was like."

Mentioning Steven brought warmth back to Pearl's aura as her mind turned to a fondness she had in her head.

"It's been a bag of mixed feelings and mistakes. Mostly positive and some happy accidents." Pearl said. Snow would have hoped as such.

"You have to keep reminding yourself he's not a full gem. It took all of us a while to realize this...and some...of your previous words come to mind. We've had to guide each other through the worst, even then we're not even close to fully understanding it all."

As a Snow Quartz, Snow knew that very much...it was their gems ambition to learn as much as they can and to share it. It was time to connect to Pearl's heart.

"The journey is more important than the destination. A human taught me that once." Snow admitted.

"Discovery is part of that journey. Whether it means facing your fears or acknowledging that you're wrong once in a while, is within that growing path. It doesn't matter how long we live for, we're all in that together. Growing. Always."

Silence, besides the crashing waves.

"Pearl?"

She looked at the Crystal Gem who was staring at her with huge eyes, tears and pursed mouth, shaking as if she wanted to say something so badly.

"Are you okay..... woah!!!"

It wasn't out of the question that repressed emotions could be unhealthy, but the way Pearl started bawling her eyes out, wrapping her arms around her and crying into her chest was the least warranted of actions one she could have chosen, but Snow decided to let happen. Not to mention the small blush she felt creeping on cheeks.

"That was so beautiful! Where have you been all our lives?" She wept.

Snow reciprocated the hug and gave out a pleasant smile, though thoughts were beginning to build about another issue. One she'd need to find out about.

"Constant collection and distribution, dearest Pearl. All I can do, is hunt for answers to unheard questions."


 

One thing Snow didn't understand, which Pearl brought up, was Earths Snow Quartz. Once a colony had been finalized and the planet ran out of resources, they abandoned said planet and moved on. When reading up about Earth, the colony was abandoned but the world itself still had plenty of resources to use. Which meant the Snow Quartz that was allocated to it would have remained put.

She'd traveled the Earth before, but once in the footsteps of her mentor during the Gem War. She would have had to be in the command of Pink Diamond at the time at behest of White Diamonds orders. Was she destroyed? Corrupted? Perhaps. But the alarms had been sounded so she would have had been evacuated when the Diamonds unleashed their final attack on it.

Snow stayed up with Pearl all night, discussing their findings and laughing. She'd reached out to Pearl successfully. There was much Pearl could offer and much she could offer for Pearl. It was clear Pearl loved Pink Diamond, but became disenchanted over time, seeing her son becoming much more than anyone had anticipated. It was obvious that Steven influences were widespread with all the stories Pearl could muster. It wasn't until the sun rose the next day that lead Pearl to cry out they had just went on for hours, losing track of time when in the cusp of just good ol' gem talk.

The two parted ways as Pearl returned to the temple. Snow had more researching to do, with Pearl recommending visiting the local library, even if it didn't compare to what they had talked about, if Snow was still hungry, then she could read instead to sate her appetite.

So she did just that, although growing concerned over the overlapping thoughts from before as she walked back into town. She put her cowl back on to hide and could sense Dori near her.

"The Pearl put some ideas into my head Dori." She said to her companion, was walking invisibly beside her.

"This was the planet Milky Quartz was allocated to, from what I can remember from long ago. If I could find out what happened, it should allow me more insight of what really went on."

The Labradorite nuzzled her hand in comfort. She knew Snow was far more interested in finding out about Steven and Connie than going down that road. It's got nothing to do with her mission, but...

"That Curse of Humanity...it bites hard...a gnawing insatiable parasite...no...Milky...that can't be true."


 

She'd arrived at the library, although she was subjected to stares and comments but otherwise was left alone, despite there being several gems being there as well. The place was small compared to archives she'd visited once before, but she liked how humble it was and the silence that allowed you to hear flicks of pages and subtle sounds of writing as pens waved around paper. She browsed around, both fiction and non-fiction. Both equal in value. She wondered if there was anything of interest to her. She then saw one book that caught her eye and went to reach it, only to feel a bump from a green arm.

"Hey watch it!" She cried out.

Upon a briefly glance, she recognized this gem as a Peridot.

"My apologies." Snow stated in embarrassment.

The Peridot was left stunned at Snow, who was wondering why she staring at her like that. The green gem was left shaking and gasping extremely slowly as she raised her hand to point at Snow's forehead. To her horror, Snow's cowl had accidentally fallen off, who then felt her cheeks go warm again.

"You-you-you-you.....you're a S-Snow Quartz???" Peridot stammered in hushed tones.

Snow put a finger to her lips as she was frightened she'd be noticed.

"Shhh...keep it down."

I wonder if Milky ever found out about the term, fangirling...

Chapter Text

Clods. The lot of them.

But it felt nice to help out once in a while. Cleaning up the mess that was dealing with confused, lost widdle gems included Peridot having to contribute to their education. The smartest gem should be the one who helped saved the Earth from the Diamonds...in her way.

But seeing this...this Snow Quartz was an honour! Peridot was left writhing on the floor, almost foaming at the mouth. The Snow Quartz in context was displaying a face of concern.

"Are...are you okay?" The Snow Quartz asked.

No she couldn't look like a fool here...no no. The overwhelmed gem quickly got herself back together as she took the book and handed it over to the Quartz. Grief, was she so nervous.

A Recon Gem, almost like her! But they were notorious for going on famous expeditions and being the scribe of their kind and Peridot was in the presence of one!

"Here....y-you can have it! I...I can get another book..." She stammered, feeling flushed.

The Snow Quartz smiled.

"It's okay, we can read it together." She told her.

OH STARS..well, if she was going to....but then she had an idea..

"I've....I've got a Book Club session on later...I'm meant to...read them a story....do you mind....do you mind if you read it to the club. I'm sure they'll be very excited to meet you!" She asked.


In...front of a group of people or gems? Oh...no...

Snow didn't like crowds. She wasn't made for this. She could deal with one or one...but...how many did this Peridot expect? But the look in her eyes, she was so hopeful, those star filled twinkles were so hard to ignore, how could she say no. Peridots were intelligent gems in their own right.

Turns out, Peridot had made a book club, for both humans and gems alike. They had booked in one of the conference rooms attached to the building recently. It wasn't a big room, but it had a stage as she could see a Lapis helping set up red folding chairs. 

"Lapis! You will not believe who I just found!" Peridot said with glee as she ran towards the blue gem.

A Lapis Lazuli. Terraformers. She looked at Snow with widened eyes...another stunned by her presence.

"Uhhh....hi." She mumbled.

Snow waved to her with a warm smile.

"Hello!"

Peridot started to get a bit erratic as she danced in one spot, overly excited with the whole prospect of Snow willing to read a story to them. The White gem helped Lapis with setting up the chairs in a large circle. They chatted for the moment, until Snow heard Peridot ask Lapis whether or not this was the Quartz she had seen once before. Lapis said no, which made Snow freeze for the moment, contemplating her words for that moment. She needed to know.

"Hang on, you met a different Snow Quartz?" She queried.

Lapis nodded.

"I'd...seen them, not met her...in fact she appeared more frightening in appearance." Lapis stated.

Milky. Milky had straighter hair, but had this stare that put warrior Quartzes in their place with a single glance.

"Do you know where she is? Or where you saw her?" Snow pushed.

A thought deep enough, as Lapis paused to allow her memories to channel through her. 

"A while ago now....but, I'd seen her...deep underground or something...I couldn't tell...I was using a piece of old surveillance tech." Lapis said.

Underground? Why would she be underground? Maybe in the depths of an old abandoned Kindergarten? Who knows. 

"I don't mean to prod...it's important I speak to her. If, possible, can you show me where you last saw her?" Snow asked again. She felt bad for asking for a lot and nothing in return.

The blue gem shrugged, unbothered by it. But Snow could sense something within this gem that had so much unheard. Silence in the lack of spoken text and vibes. She'd say much more, if Peridot weren't in the room. She asked Peridot to get the refreshments for the humans that would be joining them shortly and that she had the bags behind the stage. The green gem complied with a salute, as she wandered off.

Lapis sat down on one of the chairs, with Snow sitting next to her. She wanted to say something so badly. Snow could get more from broken songs and splintered words than soundless cries from ones heart.

"You've been allocated here I imagine?" Lapis questioned.

Snow nodded. But recently, most conversations had become apparent to much more than she had been told to explore.

"Odd...more than one on the same world. Must be serious. I only saw the other one....not far from here." 

Not...far? Underneath the Earths surface? What was Milky doing?

"That would be Milky, my mentor." Snow told her.

"She's one of the older Snow Quartzes. Already been around many planets a few thousand years before me."

Snow peered back in the depths of her earlier memories, walking alongside Milky, in the middle of an ancient forest, where the tree branches would cradle the sky above in the canopies that could be high as mountains. A happiness belonging to her beamed in her smile. She only had her bulky Quartz frame to stand for her, being the body all Snow Quartzes would have, uniform befitting their kind as wandering scribes. But she loved the cloak and cowl that Milky had that when Snow departed for her first solo mission, Milky gave it to her, for humans hold the sentimentality of luck in them, which Milky once believed as nothing but a misappropriation of the drive to the success that they were made for.

"It does sound like you've been places. Were you meant to be a terraformer for Earth originally?" Snow wondered.

Lapis shirked as she looked away, uncomfortable with talking about it.

"Ehhhh....yeahhh....a lots happened...I don't...I don't really want to talk about it...no offense....I barely know you." Lapis said.

A sharp rebuttal. But Lapis instead grabbed a nearby globe from a nearby table and presented it to Snow, pointing somewhere near their location.

"But...if you're really concerned about this...Milky, I scanned this location. It's just outside of Beach City...."

Snow rose an eyebrow.

"How come you never told anyone about this?" She queried, noting the oddity.

Lapis looked away, ashamed.

"Look, I didn't know...I know what you gems do, I assumed she was there simply because she doing her work. Nothing more." Lapis answered.

Hmmm...made sense. Snow wasn't angry, but she shook her head, only now noticing that she must have been projecting her body language with anger...no...worry with fury attached.

"Apologies if I've overstepped boundaries." Snow told her.

Lapis smiled. Even if she wasn't willing to talk, she bounced back quickly.

"Its fine. It's nothing compared to Peridot's ranting. She's been...a bit obsessed with one thing lately, besides doing work here." She revealed.

Peridot was a handful, that much Snow could agree with.

"What's that?" Snow wondered.

It was then Lapis popped the globe away, then mischievous looked to see if Peridot was coming back, or anyone else for that matter. She then covered her mouth, muttering to Snow with a minor grin.

"I might not be able to tell you about myself and...well, if you need anything for Recon, it seems Peridot has a habit of writing her own fiction." She informed her.

"Not...not just any fiction...but she's been pairing people up again..."

Pairing them up? If that meant what Snow thought that meant. Peridots weren't known for allocating pairs in that sense or ordering fusions for that matter.

"I keep telling her someone is going to find her papers one day like I did."

Why was Lapis telling her this?

"Uh....I guess...well, that I can write that off as an odd thing for a gem to do in general." Snow noted.

Lapis noted. She then smiled as Peridot finally came back with a multitude with bags. But then Snow realized what Lapis just did. She expected Snow to give her information in exchange for information about something else.

"You're expecting something from me, aren't you?"


 

Snow helped them make the final preparations as Peridot returned with a multitude of bags of food and drinks. She was concerned as the gem carried six bags as she could barely walk around to the table. The White gem expressed concern with widened and baring her teeth, debating on whether she should help her or not. But, Peridot managed. Lapis just kept donning her subtle cheeky grin for what ever reason. It made Snow nervous yet prepared for the worst. Or she could have been overthinking it, like always.

It was then Peridot ordered Snow to hide behind the stage curtain, then slapped a name tag on her chest and to await command for her to reveal herself, handing her the book. It would have to be the same type of dramatics Peridot appeared to enjoy, with the hint of love for theatrics. She'd really go and find Milky if she could, but...these gems and these humans...she couldn't ignore them. Not all were hostile, at least she'd been met with civility. Plus her mission was a typical Snow Quartz mission...albeit one that a tad bit altered on the conventional basis.

She waited behind the stage as she heard shuffling and chatter as she gripped the book tightly in her hand, then biting her lip due the amount of anxiety this was giving her. The book itself was lengthy and whether or not people had time to listen to the whole thing was another thing entirely. Still, it wasn't entirely unpleasant. She didn't have to actually look at everyone for most of the time, which was a slight nudge of comfort on her part.

The room filled with shushes, then went quiet as she heard Peridot begin to talk. Snow swallowed, uncertain of what would occur.

"Hey welcome to our weekly reading session! Today we have an extremely special guest. She's come allllll the way from Homeworld to be here so you better respect her!" The green gem roared.

Oh no... she could hear a slight muttering in the crowd.

"Here she is!"

A recon gem is not meant to be seen or discovered. She envied Dori's invisibility powers at this point. She took a deep breath as she made her....somewhat grand entrance.

"Snoooow Quaaaartz!"

The room was filled with ooos and aaas from the group. She recognized a few people who clapped and smiled at her reveal. Steven, Connie, Pearl and Amethyst mostly. Some were new, like the tall blond human boy with glasses, his name tag said Ronaldo, with his mouth agape and eyes wider than the planet, and a few other gems and humans. She knew one was a Jasper who was stunned, though her aura indicated she didn't really want to be here, especially every time she made glances with Lapis on the other side of the room, but had to be brought back to her sense by Amethyst.

Peridot escorted Snow to the middle of the room as Snow could barely move on her own with all these eyes on her. Steven, Connie and Pearl were joyous to see her there, the others... debatable. Amethyst just ate the food more than anyone else. A gem consuming local delicacies interested her. Kind of.

"Oh my...uhh...hi. Uhh....you can just call me Snow..." She said, feeling her face warm up.

How much torment could one gem get?

"Snow's gonna be reading today's book with us. It know it's gonna be lengthy, but trust me. You'll love this one...take it away Snowy!" Peridot assured.

It was then Snow took a look at the cover properly. It was blue and had a picture of a mythological dragon on it.

"Uh....yes thank you Peridot." Snow said, trying so hard to break through the nerve.

"Ahem...so....this is my first time reading this..if you have read it, please...keep the spoilers to yourselves..."

---

The book was generally about a young woman who finds out she has mysterious powers similar to Dragons, except she fears Dragons and has to cope within a world, literally fighting her fears at the same time. She works with a criminal gang and finds the one person who discovers her secret and attempts to help guide her through her phobia.
The irony was not lost on her. But the way she captivated the people around with her words alone and that occasionally raised her voice for the drama in each characters tone and emphasized on hand gestures, expressions and body movement, acting out as some of the characters in the story and speaking the words to people in the room. She'd approached Connie at one point, who was completely lost in the flavor as the main character had encountered a dragon and had begun to describe some the feelings she had.

"Yes, the sweat..., the tight throat, the flush of heat, the heavy breathing, the inescapable fate of my nightmares!" Snow said dramatically.

Wouldn't be much different from what Snow was experiencing earlier. Though she felt herself drop so well in entertaining them that she began to enjoy acting it out to them. Fearless heart in the heat of the moment.

She ended on note where the one person who finds out her secret. The room groaned in disappointment, as Peridot told them that they had run out of time. Snow was more worried she'd been boring them to death, but their manner was more positive than anything else.  Steven, Connie and Pearl fretted over the cool parts of the story, while Ronaldo was keen to chat with Snow Quartz himself, trying to work out the flaws in the story itself, before he ended up being dragged away by Jasper and Amethyst. 

"See yas all next week!" Peridot called out.

Wait...they had to do it again?

She helped Peridot and Lapis clean up the mess, as Peridot fawned over Snow's performance.

"Hah...you really had them roped in!" 

She did didn't she?

"Did you see them holding hands Lapis during the scene where Petra and Bryn fight the dragon together?"

Who? She didn't see anyone holding hands.

Lapis donned a small grin.

"Yes Peridot I saw them holding hands. You really churned that intensity up Snow. You do have a powerful voice after all." The blue gem complemented.

Though the Quartz was perplexed as to who they were referring to. Peridot ended up giggling and snickering.

"Garnet said I wouldn't have been able to do it, but I proved her wrong!" She stated, throwing her fist up in the air for the sign of triumph.

It was then another aura in the corner of the room began to shine through. How Snow didn't detect this ages ago confounded her.

"I never said it wasn't." Said a familiar voice

It was Garnet.

"Yes you did." Peridot argued.

"You said, and I quote 'that ships already sailed.' and I proved you wrong!"

Garnet's aura wasn't hostile however. She seemed pretty stable this time around.

"I never said that." Garnet told her.

"I said the ship will already be sailing...as in, you don't need to rudder it for them. Leave them to their own devices and they'll get there naturally without us intruding on them. Besides, they'll come for help if they see they're struggling."

Peridot groaned and rolled her eyes, telling Lapis to finish up so they could leave. Peridot told Snow she could keep the book but to use her library card in order to consider it borrowed. What ever that meant.

Snow then sat on the stage to run through her plans ahead in regards to finding out where Milky went off to. Outside Beach City was pretty vague and Lapis being secretive about it made her more concerned. Meanwhile Garnet approached her, making Snow feel complicated feelings.

"Mind if I sit next to you?" The fusion asked.

"Uh sure." Snow answered, uncertain on how to go about this. Or even begin to understand what their argument was even about. So many questions, unable to even decide on which one to use first.

 

 

Chapter Text

They won with the faith they had in each other. Garnet was not only impressed with Stevens growing strength, but the growth of all the gems and Connie.

Life hadn't been the same since, but it was in a good way.  For one, she was glad the dilemma had been sorted with the Diamonds and the war that they had fought for millennia had ended, leading to tears of joy and relief with Pearl, who had been on the fence about fighting their fallen comrades, with them finally being cured of their corruption.

As with the others, she'd been on missions with certain gems that were still trying to find their place in this new world they found themselves in and the humans that were going to having to deal with the fact that some were going to stay and Garnet worried on whether they were going to be treated right. 

It was gonna take time to get it right. She wouldn't have expected such major changes to happen over night as the differences between gems and humans were like night and day. It will need a lot of hard work to get it balanced enough but Garnet was content to help with those changes. It would be what Rose would have wanted. Rose? Pink?

It didn't matter. She would continue to fight for the planet that was her home.

But seeing the Snow Quartz for the first time triggered a multitude of visions. She seemed friendly, far friendlier on first contact from than anyone from Homeworld. She sensed this one was made in contrast to most they were used to encountering. Pearl even mentioned on how wise she was, with the thing that stood out the most was her human based perspectives temporarily that almost made Pearl forget she was a Gem!

To Garnet, it made no sense on how a Gem could connect to others so easily. Steven's was easy to figure out, given his status. 

The worst part was the vision Garnet had included an entirely different Snow Quartz. This was not the one. Meaning, the one on this world was still here, somewhere.
Garnet hid in the shadows as Snow read the story, enamoring the audience around her, seeing all the expressions to Snow's incredibly worded structure and emphasis and characterization. This Snow was not the same. So she had to find out more from her.

Even from sitting next to her on the stage, in this quiet room, Snow had humanoid like vibes from her manner. From what Garnet knew about these types of Quartzes, there was a power they possessed to adapt to their given worlds surroundings. But in this case, it was their nature that became human.

"You must be liking Earth so far." Garnet queried.

Snow smiled warmly.

"I'm enjoying it. So much potential from meeting the people. I'm excited to learn more." She said with a gleam in her eyes.

She sounded like Rose almost. The bastion of words she used were too similar for Garnet to feel comfortable with.

Snow then blushed as she covered her face.

"I'd love to learn from you. I mean, you're one of the most famous fusions out there from recollection...and from what the records state."

Famous fusion? She didn't need her ego boosted like that, as if its an appeal to her to open up.

"I'm not famous. I'm a controversy to Homeworld. A symbol of the love they only can be envious of." Garnet said. She was more than content to be herself, if it proved to point to those around her. It left Snow flustered and stammering.

"Um I sorry. I mean, well, you're talked about I mean." Snow said.

She knew she was a conversation.

"I'm hoping to garner insights of this wondrous environment. It's rare to see two distinct species act so well. Especially with Steven and his friend Connie."

That grew ire from Garnet's instincts. If Snow did anything to hurt them...

"You leave them alone." Garnet warned, her voice cool but tense.

"They've gone through enough, than to let a high ranking Gem to butt their noses in their business again."

Garnet felt their unspoken pain and while on the surface they were calm, there were issues the two had yet to sort out, especially with what happened on homeworld.

Snow frowned, resting her hand on her chest.

"I understand you're close with them. I can respect that." She said to the fusion.

"You also have a job to do as their Guardian and family member. I'm not going to jeopardize the hard work you all have done in recent times. I'm beyond that."

She admitted again, that Snow was good with her words, trying to convince Garnet that she was on her side. But her visions compromised her belief in this...Recon Gem. The darkness that followed. The voice was sincere and not filled with any malice or in-depth context.  Garnet wanted to trust her...but the darkness kept coming back. This time with Steven and Connie in the middle of it.

"Reality is a complicated place." Snow said. 

"My mentor, Milky, said our gem development was behest of Pink Diamonds suggestion and was a joint effort of all four Diamonds. Yellow Diamond could see the soldier in us, Blue Diamond saw the practicality in our knowledge and even White Diamond saw us a perfect Quartz that was able to multitask. But over time, there were problems. Pinks influence of Independence caused some of us to go rogue, choosing to defend the planets we adapted to. Which at first, it was suggested that they scrap the production and shatter us, but Blue vetoed and developed the Labradorites to keep us in line. If we strayed too far from the path, they were commanded to intimidate us and even destabilize our forms."

It was like they were slaves too. Some desired to break free. It explained why they were spread so thinly. To prevent a revolt.

"So the Labradorites...are higher than you." Garnet questioned via an assumption. Though she wasn't one to ask too many questions, since she knew so little.

Snow chuckled.

"No no...it does seem like it. They're just part of the contingency plan. For example, if we ever tried to attempt to fight off our own kind, Dori here would...attempt to kill me."

That...horrified Garnet. To allow such a thing to occur would be immoral.

"After...Pink's supposed shattering, it became more important to keep gems in line. We not only would return to Homeworld in a bubble, but we would be instantly shattered."

The Labradorite with Snow lingered nearby. It made Garnet more concerned for the gem in question, even if circumstances had changed.

"You must desire for that freedom." Said Garnet. 

"And envision a better life."

Gems going rogue wasn't new...but Rose/Pink wouldn't stand for a horrible policy like that to take place. 

"Sometimes." Snow admitted.

"But I don't need to fight. Not often. Our power is rooted in our words. Semblances in our phrases meant to calm others. Peace is preferred over conflict. I like it that way."

Just like Steven. To negotiate with their enemies has proven difficult but mostly successful. Garnet could admit it. Ruby was to err on that front but Sapphire saw the benefits.
This Snow Quartz however, lives and philosophically breathes optimism. No wonder why Pearl couldn't stop gushing about her. But Garnet couldn't help but think about what she saw. Whether or not this was the Quartz. Or another that may have been here. She wondered, if she should be honest with her about her sight and that it could either help or hinder with things to come. For all what she could see, was that this Snow Quartz did not have an ounce of hostility radiating from her.

We need to tell her Sapphire, Ruby thought.

I want to, said Sapphire.

The darkness was strong and maybe Snow's wisdom could account for what she saw. There was further pain and anxiety left in the wake of what ever future she could see...Steven, Connie...Stevonnie....a lab....and this...this Snow Quartz. Garnet couldn't grasp it. Unless from what Snow was saying, that rogue Snow Quartzes existed and one was on the planet, unbeknownst to everyone. Buried there for goodness knows how long.

Last thing Garnet would want, was bringing harm to these maturing children. Not after everything they've been through.

"Snow..." Garnet said, breaking their moments silence.

"I haven't told anyone this, but there is a bleak future ahead of us. Full of darkness that my sight can't peer past through. One with Steven, Connie and another Snow Quartz. But you are not the Snow Quartz. I can't explain it, but..."

It was then Snow froze up. Her eyes became distant and her face blank as she gripped the side of the stage tightly. She knew something. Definitely.

"Snow I need to know if you are here to hurt us. You can trust me with the truth."

There was so much that must have been going on in her mind with that revelation. The Labradorite wasn't hostile however. So Snow had to be here on a peaceful mission from Homeworld, if there was such a thing. But for the protection of the planet she had to know.

"I...I have been having my own ideas. But nothing that would hurt the planet." Snow said.

"I...I have come to the belief, the original Snow Quartz, the one I mentioned earlier, Milky, was still here. She should have evacuated when the Diamonds attacked Earth, although evidence has come up of her returning to the planet, going against orders. Why she would do this, I aim to find out."

In a way, Garnet was relieved that this one was definitely not the one she saw then. 

"But the darkness you mentioned, I'm much more worried that. I know of one race, that uses the darkness as their veil and can often blind the light of our gems...one we have fought before. The Lillim."

The Lillim? Garnet had heard of them once before, back when Sapphire was part of Blue Diamonds court. Several gems had chatted about a mysterious race on a planet that only just been cleared for colonization and it took them ages to try and rid of the race but it took the might and sacrifice of many gems to do it. It sent Snow into a panic as she got up and dug her fingers into her scalp.

"Oh no...they must...they must've...." She stammered, fearful. "How did they...."

Garnet rested her hand on Snow's shoulder.

"Relax...tell me what you know..."

For someone previously calm about it, it took this to change Snow's once charming manner into a fit of fear. If it had her worried, then they needed to do something about it.
Snow explained how she and Milky once fought the Lillim on their planet. Snow could have made up a heroic story, but with her telling to Garnet, it evolved into a more horrific tale of survival and wit, as well everything they knew on how to fight those who could not be reason with, especially when it came to infecting others. It sounded like corruption, but on a more abnormal and abstract level. And Corrupted Gems were like this in general. Garnet told Snow what she had seen and when it came to mentioning the lab, it had Snow confused and worried.

"It might be where she's set up her post." Snow suggested.
"I need to see her. I have a general idea of where she could be thanks to Lapis, but...I need to go..."

Garnet lowered her head. Something this dangerous...she'd advise against going alone.
"You'll need our help." Garnet stated
"Who knows what we'll face."


 

Snow was stunned as to how Garnet quickly came around to help out. She didn't expect to see her routing the others to investigate this issue. She called in an official mission for them all. It took a while to prepare as the Fusion informed the remaining Gems of their next vital quest. She endeavored to have Steven and Connie join, since her visions called for them to be part of it. She didn't want to risk them getting hurt but at the same time, Garnet mentioned she couldn't see anything past the darkness. So it could mean anything at all.

But Snow took in the opportunity, not only to find Milky's location, but to see the Crystal Gems in action. 

They rendezvoused back to the Temple, where they discussed their plan. Snow had to explain the specifics of the Lillim and their powers. They had the chalk board there as Snow drew a picture of the race, which basically looked like a blob of nothing.

"We're looking for puddles?" Amethyst wondered.

Snow shook her head.

"No...Lillim are formless...they could appear as puddles if they felt like it." She said.

"But they can also hide themselves very well. Hiding around corners or crevices, ready to strike. Which I may remind everyone to be on guard whilst in the lab. The Lillim will intend to infect your gem. Once the darkness infects you, it may only take a few minutes until it overwhelms you...in that case, you no longer are a normal Gem. You become a Lillim Gem."

The group gulped in response. Snow had seen many fellow gems fall victim to such a fate, forcing her to shatter them. They weren't recognized as fellow gems by that point so Labradorites wouldn't attack their partners.

"You said they're a parasite that constantly feed on light? As natural projectors, you're the perfect source of their sustenance? " Connie questioned.

A reason Snow only had in theory, but yes. She was glad they learned from her story.

"Indeed. They can sense the aura of a gem and will stop at nothing at hunting one down. One weakness they do have however...they don't like too much light. Ironic right?" Snow said. 

"Any light really. It burns them. Their consumption of a Gems light allows them to get a balanced diet of it, then they take control of the Gem entirely. That gems original personality is gone."

Another gulp. Snow wanted to warn them now, for she did not want them to suffer for anything that was generally hers to deal with.

"Is there anyway to cure the infection?" Steven wondered, curious and in his own way, concerned.

If there was, Snow would love to know about.

"Lillim Gems cannot be cured. It's always resulted us in having to the shatter the gems." She revealed, a sadness aching in her chest.


 

They were to plan their mission for tomorrow, as Steven slept on the couch, with Connie sleeping in his bed and the remaining Gems remained in preparation in their rooms. The group was nonchalant about how critical and dangerous this was going to be. It made Snow paranoid, as she stood out on the balcony and looked out into the ocean and the stars that reflected in them.

While it was calm and refreshing, it would be what Snow needed to embrace...since had not hoped to encounter the Lillim again. It drew on bad memories of the fights on their planet, the fact that she was forced to kill gems that weren't identified as proper gems anymore, it was like their identities had been stripped away and left as shattered shards all over the battlefield. She clung on to the railing, wrapping her fingers around it and hung to it tightly. Milky had to be safe, surely. She was considered the best of them, always getting results...

But as now the tips recover from the scaling, it left Snow in deeper regret than she believed.

"Worried about tomorrow?" 

It was the young human Connie, dressed in her pajamas as she stood next to Snow. Her aura was strong.

"Yes..." Snow told her.

"The intel I have collected...I'm hoping everyone is ready for a fight."

Connie smiled as she held an air of confidence around her.

"Of course we. We're the Crystal Gems! We'll be as ready as we'll ever be!" She claimed.

It should have brought warmth to Snow, but...she forced a positive expression.

She was small. She was fragile. But she had guts. They had accepted her as one of their own, even though she wasn't a gem. But her aura, her radiant, blooming aura could have fooled Snow, if she hadn't clicked to detect if she had gem on her persons. Several times even.

The effects of her fusions with Steven worried Snow, as to how Connie had a similar aura to his. She was keen to study this organics cellular composition and structure, after repeated effects of merging two biologically similar constructs, moreso on Steven's side than Connie's. It prompted Snow to remind herself to ask the other gems with their opinion on this.

But seeing Garnet and knowing how her fusion works, made Snow believe that there was something deep down within Connie and Steven's relationship that she couldn't help but ask. 

"Connie walk with me..." Snow requested.

Like with Pearl, Snow walked alongside the girl up the beach as they continued to chat. Humans needed to know if they could have the others confidence in them, the trust in keeping secrets from others. Seeing her interactions with Steven, reminded her humans do this on a natural basis, especially for the survival of their species.

"I have learned a lot from humanity." Snow told her.

"But the topic I am most...fundamentally confused about is love."

Connie blinked twice, trying to reap in and understand where Snow was getting at.

"Uhhh about...how two people show affection to one another?" Connie wondered.

Technically speaking, yes.

"What about it?"

Personally, Snow's never experienced it first hand. Or she has and she just didn't know about it. But if what Garnet said about herself was correct, with the words repeating themselves in her mind repeatedly, then it created interesting context from the whole fusion process. It spoke volumes about the nature of the reality that gems and humans were getting themselves into and into the basis of a mortal's interpretation. She dared not to tread the topic too much with Garnet, who was highly defensive of the idea, but if anyone could open up more about the complex nature of fusions, it was those who walked the line plenty of times before.

Fusion was a hot topic, as Garnet noted in the controversial climate. Two of the same gem would fuse to become stronger, but two different gems became a far more interesting story. Ruby and Sapphire, were her whole make up, bonded through experiences, for that Snow could presume. So then it came to Stevonnie, perhaps a similar set of default protocols made their fusion work, even if it was beyond what either race could explain. But if Snow could find the main crux of it, it would explain a lot more to her. She felt like she was going into personal territory but...thats why Snow loved intimate conversations with people one on one. She could take them in, no matter how distant they were and read nearly everything about them like an open book, then she could close the book...and reserve its knowledge with herself.

"Well, I am...going to be keeping this in strictest confidence. On my honor, I will not tell another soul." She told her.

"But...are you in love with Steven?"

 

 

Chapter Text

Such a personal question, that Connie was left surprised and dumbfounded on how blunt that came across.

A part of her got angrier than the time she had that huge dispute with Steven, but she reminded herself of the times she was home, staring at the roof while in bed, thinking over and over of her own feelings. Oh she had tossed and turned on the occasional sleepless night. Even looking back now, especially the time they had a picnic together, she had the gall to attempt to kiss him to make him feel better...had her headache not stuffed things up.

It was a literal blessing in disguise...as time went on she told herself on how stupid that attempt was. Okay, she'll admit that someone as magical and kind and Steven did stir in a preemptive crush within her, a molded fire in her belly that inflamed her every time she thought about him (which she had mistaken for a stomach ache one point) but as far as Connie understood at the time, she hungered for something more in her life and she had it right in front of her.

The occasional incident did worry Connie, especially after the time he told her about his confrontation with Jasper in space...and all that entailed. It opened his eyes to the true danger, not to mention opening Connie's eyes as well. Well, even more so than after her cured her sight. That he was a kid like her and expectations to nailed down on him like he was an adult. 

It allowed her to feel more connected to him, with Connie knowing the same exact, breath choking pressures. Their fusion as Stevonnie was proof of their similarities and their...must she say it, affection towards one another.

As she stared out into the ocean, reminded of their dance together by the ways, recalling that first instance of being engulfed in pure light and suddenly finding herself as Garnet put it, an experience, it couldn't have made her happier to finally be a part of which she desired for a long while. Fusion was the least of her predictions but the feel of the magic in and around her took some getting used to, but she wouldn't have had any other way.

Stevonnie was what they had shared and it was theirs and theirs alone. A part of what Connie had created with Steven, like they were their child, but watching that child be the best parts of them. 

She's had many conversations with Garnet about this when Steven would be elsewhere. Garnet loved what Connie brought out of Steven and supported their friendship on the highest amount of respect...and would tell of stories on how Greg and Rose went through similar motions to get where they had been before Steven was born. However, Garnet urged Connie to be patient and careful around Steven as needs more time to suss out his own feelings and how with conversations with Amethyst noted that Steven repressed a great of his true feelings within himself and how she was sick to death of him holding out, hypocritical to how wants others to express their deepest emotions.

Pearl on the other hand, encompassed the traits Connie admired the most and aspired to achieve. Loyalty, strength and skill, not to mention bravery and a strong will. She had pledged herself to Steven, transformed her feelings into something useful and while she couldn't love him the way she originally wanted, she gained the necessary abilities to be more than what she was......

Then...a part of her broke as Steven did not want her to do this. Shards of her emotions, stabbing her in her stomach as he called for her to stop. He wanted them to be jam buds, equals on the battlefield. Words she had not anticipated. The shards became her sustenance however, allowing her to realize that this was their balance and their team work allowed them to ebb and flow with one another. This was what Stevonnie was.

Even then, this was a part of Steven she had never known that she wanted to see. Standing up not for himself, but for her own mental well being. With renewed resolve, he taught her so much with such a short time frame. Even with their uplifting ups and depressive downs, their friendship remained resolute, as hard as Diamond.

But Steven's growth, especially when dealing with some of the most powerful beings in existence, opened up his power even more. Sure, there were times where he'd still do stupid things that make her scared for him, he'd manage to pull through. Their talk at Kevin's party...he'd taken it to heart. Then she had so many feelings flowed through her on Homeworld, but they didn't matter, since she could see in Steven's eyes that while he wasn't scared, he was outright miserable since it was like the hard work he put in to try to get things right fell flat. His slouch, his solemn expression...seeing him look like Pink Diamond...it wasn't Steven. He was locked away within himself, unable to act like Steven should.

She knew how that felt, although his pain was worse. Under immense pressure to perform well and to behave the way that 'she' should have behaved. Taking him to the dance floor was the only way to make a lost cause worth something. Stevonnie was not intended and it did sour the mood and crunch Steven's plan big time. It was...an equally stupid thing to do. A Steven grade silly thing. He didn't blame her for it, didn't get angry with her for fusing...he was already down in the dumps, predicatively blaming himself for losing control.

Connie knew within her heart, that she needed to remind him that he's not only human...in part, but he needs to be himself to succeed. If that means picking him up again time after time, so be it. If he allows her, then...

"Uh....well....that's...that's a...I...umm...oh my..." Connie said, feeling her cheeks burn red hot as she turned away, rubbing the back of her neck.

"It's okay, you don't have to answer." Snow told her.

"I'm inspired by Garnet's situation...connecting the dots and collectively gaining data, I'm still trying to decrypt the feeling of love and its power to affect others."

Snow was an odd gem. Seeing how she was here to observe made Connie wonder on how much she knew about humanity.

Stories about cross species relationships would dip into the topic of how drastically contrasting some species could be. Even same species have the same difficulty, the more Connie thought about it.

"Well, you could say there's not just one type of love you can have." Connie told her.

"There's a familial love, one has with members of their family. A strong bond either by birthright or even by acceptance of others into your own."

A tilt of the head and a curled finger resting against Snow's lips as her eyes shot straight forward meant she was trying to suss out what Connie meant.

"Platonic love is pure friendship. Two or more people can join in with having fun with another and simply enjoying ones company. It makes you feel good inside, being with them."

One that Connie fought for and won huge in her opinion.

"Then...the one I assume you're after is romantic love. That's...the most muddled...and hard to explain."

One she's tried to figure out for a while now. If her feelings had gone so deep as to fully admit it. But she liked what she had with Steven now and didn't wish to ruin their already established friendship. He was a lover not a fighter overall and perhaps he understood and cherished love more than most people she knew....it made her wonder if she underestimated his true feelings. 

"But the Ancient Greeks, a old group of historical humans believed in seven types of love. We'll find you a copy of how they interpret the many meanings when we go to the library next."

The look on Snow's face almost made Connie laugh as she mentioned it, clasping her hands together and grinning all the while. A pure joy, radiating from her persons.

"Oh Connie they sound...divine. Human nature confounds me to this day. Gem kind could really benefit with such wisdom, however. Romantic love...I'm guessing that's responsible for the desire to kiss another's face?" Snow said, appearing abstract.

Connie couldn't help but giggle at the thought of it. The relationship between Ruby and Sapphire would be the perfect representation of what Snow was attempting to decode, but then Snow's face fell, as she frowned, putting her hand on her heart.

"I'm sorry if that sounded odd to you. I've asked so many people so far...some have attacked me for even asking questions about it. I've seen a lot of hurt in my travels and in stories I've read, that love is a power understated and with it's purity it can bring out the best...and the worst in people. Gems know of loves existence, but in a way our culture sees it much differently to other species."

That...was horrible to envision.

"Sometimes you can't help but love people in a certain way." Connie told her as she put her hand on Snow's back.

"And sometimes...people can voice their own feelings on how a person should love another. The comments aren't always nice...and it can lead to a lot of anguish because people will be horrible and force their opinion on you on what love should entail....in between who to love and what love is supposed to be."

She's heard conversations with her parents in the sense, once originally worried on her relationship with Steven was going to end up. They weren't terrible just...they were just being cautious, Connie could get that...but if she was to grow up and be independent, she needed to make her own opinion heard and find out these things for herself.

It was then Connie shivered, almost forgetting she was in her pajamas as the chill of the night almost got to her. It was then Snow picked her up all of a sudden and sat down, crossing her legs then placing Connie in her lap, wrapped her cloak around her to keep her warm. Connie blushed with the unexpected, but welcome gesture.

"Thanks." Connie said, smiling from ear to ear as she could see her breath escaping her mouth.

Snow was equally happy.

"My pleasure."


 

The two talked into the night, about love. But Connie could smell an unusual fragrance coming from the cloak that surrounded her as they spoke. It wasn't unpleasant, but it was floral in nature. She wondered how a gem could smell so...calming? Or maybe it was just the cloak. It was comfy, soft and warmer than she had expected. It was a type of relaxation she hadn't felt for a long time. It was then Connie's eyelids became heavy with fatigue, staring out in to the sky above them as the stars became blurry. Her mental state was in limbo, like she was in limbo between reality and a dream. She focused on a single star in the distance, clinging on it's faint, yet welcoming light. The world became pinker as she tried to focus her sight on staying awake as automatic response to her desire to continue talking, fighting off sleep like it was a dark prison for her. Until that was all she could see. The prison become her vision, locked away for unknown crimes. Connie wasn't clear on what she did wrong, dreading in this unawakened cage.

A light burst into existence, turning into Steven who was in his Pink Diamond costume and his back to her.

She whispered his name and tried to reach out to him, only for him to turn around with an angry expression on his face...and his iris was pink and his pupil in the shape of a Diamond. His lips moved but all she heard was static. Her heart pained as she'd never seen him this...no...she had...and it was equally terrifying, a manner in renegade to what shew knew.

"Steven, I...I don't...know what you're trying to tell me..." She muttered weakly, unable to understand what he was saying to her. 

The static soon turned into a high pitched noise that aggravated her as Steven motioned his hands around. She tried blocking her ears, but only made the noise into a low, demonic growl. She grew fearful as Steven grew angrier, approaching her and grabbing her by her pajamas, as her heartbeat quickened and got louder, almost in sync with the growls. But as his words became clearer, just barely, shadows began to appear around them. He dropped her down as he pulled out his shield. Connie could have sworn she told him to run, as the shadows just jumped on top of him. The static then returned as he was overrun by shapeless creatures. Connie tried to reach for him again, only for her to be pulled away as he was consumed.

Silence.

She woke up in a sweat and looked at her surroundings. She was still in Steven's bed as she felt the soft blanket underneath her fingers. Her eyes were drawn to the window next to her, as a blizzard roared on outside. The room remained void in the quiet, with the only noises she really heard were of the howling winds outside and the subtle breathes of Steven laying down on the couch near her.

A knot grew in her stomach as she pressed her hand against it, as she slipped out of the bed momentarily, peering over the edge to see Steven splayed out on the couch as he slept peacefully, though with half the blanket falling off him with a single leg poking out. A smile escaped her as she allowed sight to relax her and to regain lucidity after her odd dream. But she then heard the warp pad go off, causing her a minor bit of panic as she jumped out of bed, but only peered an eye out to see Pearl with Snow, as well as Labradorite beside her. Curious, she honed her ears to their conversation.

"I've never really thought about it's effects on humans." Said Pearl, as she and Snow gathered around in the kitchen.

"Fusion is a natural process...I had my reservations on the first time they fused. With enough training and development, we believed they worked so well together that we never considered side effects."

They must have been talking about Stevonnie.

"Since Steven and Connie have enjoyed it so much...it doesn't surprise me." Snow commented.

"Everyone has an aura. Except the Aura Diamonds give off are much stronger and more noticeable from a distance. You could call a normal version a regulated light essence...or what the humans call a soul. The very fabric of our being."

Was...was there something wrong with her?

"Souls huh? I wonder if Steven....hmm...I don't think Pink..or Rose really thought the whole...giving birth to Steven issue through. Besides sacrificing herself for his existence, which was what she wanted, we were left in the dark about what Steven really is. I mean, yes he's a hybrid but it left us wondering how we were going to deal with him." Pearl continued.

"Over time we gradually...just fell in love with him..."

Familial love...but from  what Steven had told her on past occasions, the gems weren't able to completely grasp their own as well as Steven's emotional desires, leading to him, someone who had to figure it all out at his age instead of doing kid things and learning with other people, to "deal with superpowered children"" who were much, much older than him. Connie deep down understood she still needed to figure herself out overall and her own true feelings and fears into the foretold puberty stages with hormones and whatnot, but was glad Greg and herself could be there when it would be too much.

"So many conflicting feelings but...as is our own core nature we had to fight against, it became easier to accept Steven for who he was...not what he was."

Gems were static and ironically unchanging. But it made Connie feel happy for Pearl to admit that and within that moment of discovery to what Connie believed, was that was what humanity should attain as a goal. 

"Connie mentioned this as a series of emotional love spectra. From the current social status quo, Fusion is triggered by a type of love or intense desire that links auras or souls. These souls have recognized each other over time, no matter how foreign they are. Steven has a bit of both, leading to impart the criteria for the trigger on her part and his. It forces her cellular structure to reform to adjust to Steven's, thanks to his unique hybrid nature. While yes it doesn't matter what he is, my main worry is for what it means for others affected by him." Snow explained.

Gems have auras. Humans have souls. Steven has...both...as befitting his nature of course. But Snow stating its effect on other people like Connie herself could mean much more they never even considered thinking about.

"Whether or not its something that could be gem related or specifically unique to him because he holds a diamond I don't know. There's been no pool of data to test from, but if in the matter that Diamonds hold the seeds of our creation, could also mean that like his mother, his very essence could fundamentally change someone biologically. Your own observations matter in this point that could prove that this might be the case with Connie and that, it might just be an extremely slow change if she's lucky, she will experience mutations through out her life."

Odd. Connie didn't feel funny and her mother still subjects to health checks and blood tests every so often. After Steven cured her sight and after her mother found out, her mum said she had to see another optometrist to get a second opinion so people wouldn't freak out. Pearl then started to bite her fingers due to her anxiety.

"You told me about Lion and Steven's friend Lars and how they were brought back to life through tears. If the love between Steven and Connie sees them fuse in tense situations where their emotions would be running high, it would be a fair paced transition. Not quite developing right away...I'd be worried once she hits human puberty."

Oh...oh no. This made Connie paranoid. She couldn't just stop being Steven's friend obviously. But they would have to halt fusing for a while, not until they would be adults, since Gems are what they are by default so then...perhaps the mutations could stop entirely or be agonizingly slow that she would be long dead before...no, she shouldn't think that. Lars scenario didn't seem all bad. It was mostly a visual mutation...as well as the slight magical abilities that he inherited. Don't get her started on Lion...

"Poor Connie...I...I don't know..." Pearl stammered as she turned to Connie, who had her back turned to them as she quickly shift and laid on her side.

"We fused with Steven not because of his gem, but through the bonds we all shared with him over time....and its true that love was part of that."

It wasn't that the gems were ignorant of love, absolutely far from it, as with Pearls love for Rose, Garnets existence and even Steven's existence. Amethyst was another story entirely.

Part of it was figuring out how their actions could affect the love they had for each other and making sure they worked together as a team. A family.

"But she's still growing and I had not once thought about the effect on the human genome her exposure could be. But...we're not radioactive! You don't think...she'll get sick do you?" Pearl voiced with ongoing worry.

"I don't know, honestly." Snow sighed.

"It will be entirely dependent on Stevens magical potential with the Pink Diamond Gem. As part human, he'll one at point, maybe go through the same issue. Quicker than Connie...it remains to be seen. But promise me Pearl..."

Connie turned to see Snow grabbing onto Pearls hands and her eyes steeled with warm, serious intent.

"Whether or not the changes are going to be good or bad...you'll need to be with her every step of the way and not make her feel like she's all alone in this." Snow urged Pearl, who was stunned at her request.

"I...I uhh...sure I suppose. Do you think I should tell her? Or better yet, should I tell Steven? I'm just as wary of telling him as I would be telling her. If I tell him, he'll freak out...I think."  Pearl said as she pondered the very thought.

Beside the fact Connie could hear everything, she'll have to have sort out her own feelings on the problem. No one knows whats going to happen however, so everyone else is in the dark as she. Hiding it from Steven...has its positives and negatives but he'll have to find out. As Pearl began to freak out herself, Snow had to do something to calm her down.

"You know Steven best. You'll know when the time is right. But...this is just an opinion of mine of course. I didn't mean to cause this. It was an assumption built out of an observation....that's all." Snow told her.

Pearl shook her head.

"No..no, you're not to blame...nor did you do anything wrong." Pearl assured her. 

"It's uhh...good to get these things....dealt with before they could potentially get worse. I'm not the best at dealing with humans, I'll freely admit."

Snow smiled as she let Pearl go.

"None of you were well equipped for Steven's hybrid nature. For all we know, Connie could end up being adjusted into some kind of gemless gem...if that's what the nature of the power is of course.'' Snow told her.

A hybrid herself. That would be something. Now she was really curious of what Steven would think of that. His reaction could vary between happy that he's not alone or sad because he'd be worried that he'd hurt her in some way. She was confident in letting him know that she could pick him on the type of zero intentions to hurt someone if it could be helped. His passive nature wouldn't allow him. 

To Connie herself, she could imagine the pros and cons of inheriting something like that. When she said she wanted to be a part of his universe...she didn't mean to go that far as to help him. It was all meant to metaphorical not this literal transformation into being what he is. In a way, that could help him but he was already comfortable with who he was now. After everything he was subjected to, he had no quarrels with his existence. He could be free to be who he wanted himself and he couldn't be happier with it.

Her own journey could be similar although, without a gem herself it'd be hard to say what would become of her own being as she grew up. Could she really steer clear of becoming Stevonnie again if the cause would force their hand to fuse again and again, magically changing her overall and becoming like Lion and Lars? What would her parents think? She promised not to lie to them anymore but to where her health was at risk would give her mother a heart attack and stop Connie from hanging out with him again.

It was then there was a knock on the door, albeit very soft, followed by the door opening. It was Greg who was covered in snow. He looked at the beds and saw Steven sleeping on the couch as Connie quickly closed her eyes again. His footsteps were soft as she heard Steven groaning with annoyance and shuffled underneath his blankets.

"Sorry, the weather out there is getting pretty bad...oh hi Snow..." He said, surprised to see the white gem there.

"Oh you were the man with the van right?"

Connie continued to listen in as Greg introduced himself as Steven's father, which, not to Connie's surprise, grilled him with all these questions about Steven's creation, but then stopped when she realized on how personal that sounded. They chatted about the current scenario, with Greg warning against further travel.

"I checked with the weather forecast. Tomorrows weather is going to be a lot worse. Outside? It's just getting started. I was gonna hang ten here for the night, but it might be too packed I see." Said Greg. 

Pearl smiled, then frowned.

"It's a shame, those two were really looking forward to exploring tomorrow. I'll go get the spare sleeping bags...."

It was a shame...really...but Connie now struggled to fall asleep, with the one thing on her mind was how her body was going to develop. But she allowed her eyes to close, until she was left back to dream....

Chapter Text

Snow wanted to go out there, on her own, so badly that she would have left the confines of the beach house, had it not been for Greg.

He was in part, responsible for Steven's creation, yet. He was so, human. As he should be. A wonderful example of a human being.

After Pearl had retrieved the sleeping bag for him, she retreated back to her room, leaving Snow a tad concerned that their conversation would lead them somewhere dark. A lot of Snow's statements were pure theories after all. Organic life is meant to change and evolve over time. Seeing Connie with a trait that was meant only for gems did strike a few chords and maybe they were over stating the those theories as potential fact yet to be seen or proved. 

She sat cross legged in front of the fire as Greg was leaning next to her, halfway in his sleeping bag as they stared at the flames. He was an older human, one with years worth of experiences within him. So many questions dangled in her mind, yet she couldn't snatch any of them to read out.

"Apologies if my earlier words were too forthcoming." She said.

Greg just smiled.

"It's okay..." He said.

"You remind me of Rose...in a weird way."

Perplexed, Snow gave Greg a confused expression, trying to get what he meant.

"In what way?" Snow wondered.

"In a good way I hope."

It was then Greg grew nervous, as he rubbed the back of his head.

"Yeah it's....its your fascination with humanity. You both have that in common." He told her.

Rose Quartz aka Pink Diamond. All the records, documents and her chat with Pearl. All towards this...brilliant yet tearjerking story that trickled down to Steven himself.

"Uh. Yes. Snow Quartzes were made in a joint effort between all four Diamonds, including Pink." She explained.

Greg continued to look at the fire as he bit his lip.

"I guess you know the whole fiasco then." He said.

Indeed she did...well, half of it. Most of what she had been told already.

"Yes I do. You loved Rose a lot, I'll wager." Snow stated with the obvious result in the room.

"Yeah." Greg replied.

"I asked Connie about...this romantic love and she found it hard to answer. Maybe you'll be able to answer the question for me then." Said Snow.

Greg was left with a dumbfounded look, then he smirked.

"Hehe....Connie's kinda young. I mean, not saying she hasn't gone through a lot, just that she's got a while until she's wrapped her head around it. Unless she has and refuses to say it. Not all humans go through the same experiences and not all are gonna be willing to talk about something so personal like that." He informed her.

Words left unsaid. They spoke the truth in the silence moreso than that in the open.

"So a lot of them say." Snow said.

She only really wanted to know the power of love itself and that whether or not the romantic type was the strongest. She could look for that book Connie mentioned but she'd have to do it in the morning.

"That's fine. I'll go and do some more research. I'd hoped to hear verbal experiences from different people."

It made Greg curious as to her motives behind it.

"What is it, the Diamonds wanting to know what our secret weapon is?" He joked.

Snow laughed. Although she'd never heard herself laugh like that before. She had to press her hand against her face to avoid waking up the kids.

"I guess not." Greg continued, although he was smiling too.

Maybe he was being serious? Did she miss that?

"Oh you were serious? I uhh...ahem i uh..." She stammered.

Greg chuckled, almost mimicking hers.

"Its okay, I'm far from interested in gem affairs, sounds like a typical old story, aliens come to Earth, fall in love with a human being...well...I guess that part can happen." Greg noted with the obvious.

"You can have your own take on love. You won't really know what it is until you experience it for yourself." 

For her...to feel romantic love for herself? She'd doubt it...though her ability to adapt didn't mention anything about this.

"I'll try and explain as best I can..how can I put it, its usually consenting parties that want to explore with each other in ways meant for them, to make each other happy, through good times and bad. Then...both of you agree to have kids if you really wanted....that's optional but accepted in many communities."

Greg and Rose made each other happy. Steven and Connie make each other happy. Ruby and Sapphire make each other happy. Fusion as a concept made certain gems happy...or angry. As with kids, she knew that having kids wasn't supposed to kill one of the parents. But death of loved ones could make for a touchy subject, but Snow had to understand.

"I know it's going to cross boundaries but...after the death of her...do you still love her?" She queried, preparing for the onslaught.

Greg nodded.

"Yeah, every day. It doesn't mean the end of the world, even if it feels like it." He replied.

The pain of losing someone you loved to the point where it equaled the destruction of an entire planet. Now she understood the terminology of "meaning the world to you." if their influence and place in your world as the world itself. Inspiring. But she had felt that anguish before.

"I've lost Snow Quartz sisters...we know the risk of our work, but the grief still churns me when I think of the shattered ones. The price of ones love can be equal the price of equitable torment." Snow explained. 

"Exactly." Greg conferred.

"Its not always romantic, but the way we care about others....its about making the best we can, protecting, helping or...even healing them when they need it. But it's also when to let go when its become apparent we can no longer help them. It's....it's also a horrible feeling and you're left feeling hopeless and/or useless in that situation and it's not always going to be in your control. That part is what even humans have a hard time accepting."

Snow had once again pressed her hand against her chest.

"Your experience holds weight sir, as the strife remains indignant to our hearts. But love powers through like a shining light, battering through the edges of the darkness with its warmth...." She summarized, recalling lost words...then noticed Gregs gaped mouth and widened eyes looking at her. She tilted her head, curious.

"Uhh sir why are you looking at me like that???

He shook his head, getting out of his trance as he beamed, his eyes glistening with something indescribable.

"What is it with you gems and your amazing lyrical statements?" He questioned.

Lyrical, as in a song?

"I'm sorry, I'm completely lost." Snow stated, trying to grasp why Greg was so happy all of a sudden.

He looked back at Steven and Connie then back to Snow.

"Well if they're calling off the mission tomorrow, we can make some music, I've got my guitar out in the van. We'll have Steven and Connie join us too..."  He suggested.

Make music? Snow stood up as she shuffled many thoughts into her head. Songs....only songs she knew were of....

"Sleep sir. I'll...think about this for now." Snow said as she walked off to the door, realizing how late it was.

"Call me Greg." He said as she walked out.


 

He didn't understand where he went wrong with that suggestion. Like it brought her pain. Greg laid down and zipped up the sleeping bag as he laid in front of the fire, putting his hands behind his back and occasionally looking behind him to see the still sleeping Steven and Connie. 

Gem life still confused him but it had been stable to the best of it being called stable. He's had a few gems help him out with the car wash and they were content to stay warm inside the garage, despite it not being exactly something of a creature comfort. Still, teaching them how to fit in took him a while. They weren't without mishap but it wasn't of much concern to Greg...only concern to his hip pocket.

This..Snow Quartz...she gave off unusual vibes. Her questions on love perturbed him and he hasn't given Steven the talk yet, though with his relationship with Connie growing continuously, he'll know the right time and the right signs to pull him aside. Or maybe he should before it was too late.

His head turned to the giant wolf in front of him as he almost screamed on how it suddenly appeared, but forced himself to cover his mouth. The wolf wasn't hostile, as Gregs eyes were drawn to the gem on its chest. 

"Nice doggy..." Greg muttered. 

It stared at Greg for the moment, before making itself home on his lap, which confused the human. Greg reached his hand out to pat it, only for it to stare at him again, forcing him to retract his hand back in response. He let it go, as Greg forced himself to fall asleep.


 

His dreams were never overly complex. Occasionally they took dips in memory lane, others were just your usual odd visual, hardly anything to explain. He knows Steven experiences dream differently due to his nature, which made Greg constantly thinking about his mental state...and as a result, his own dreams would warp down into the zone where he fears losing his son in horrible, horrible ways. He trusts Steven to do the right thing and in past occasions really wished he could be there in times where he needed that literal, down to Earth contact. Not to say that past instances where Steven entrusted him with his youth orientated questions, but in the unspoken words that not even the gems could muster.

At this instance, he saw the wolf gem standing at the end of a road. It was dark, looking like a dirt road on the country side with fog everywhere, prompted with the crickets chirping around him.

The wolf nudged its head, prompting Greg to follow it. Greg was unsure of it, but followed it anyway. All he saw was dots of lights in the trees, all staring at him. The road started going uphill, until it lead to something similar to brooding hill. He saw two figures underneath the glowing light of the moon. One he could make out as Snow...the other...

"Rose..." Greg murmured.

The wolf lead him behind a bush, looking at the two as they stood on the cliffs edge.

"Please Snowflake...you and Milky can stay here..." Said Rose.

Snow shook her head.

"She doesn't want to." Snow told her.

"She says she wants to reconcile with the other Snow Quartzes on Homeworld to make a case to save our stones."

This had to be a memory of Snow's. It just had to.

"Our kinds production line hasn't always been a clean one. Numerous incidents have forced their hands more than once. Now this? A total recall of our gems could mean we'll get shattered, even if some of us weren't even involved with the war at all."

Also must have been after the original Diamond attack that corrupted nearly all of the gems. Rose only told him so much as well.

"They can stay here too." Rose pleaded.

"I looked up to Snows, seeing them as the ideal gem to hold ourselves to. True independence should be allowed...we're all sentient beings."

Greg then saw Snow fall on her butt, as she gripped the grass, and heard her sob.

"We all looked up to Pink Diamond..didn't we? We knew what she was like. We just wanted to serve...but our design...our design is to adapt...we change everything about ourselves to gain an advantage...even if it meant defending our bending beliefs..."

Rose sat down next to her and put her hand on her shoulder.

"I'm only here, not fighting you,  because you're like us...free thinking and fighting for those who want freedom. But that's not our design. Homeworld may come back for us...best thing we can do...is lie to them to buy you all time...tell them that there's nothing here anymore. So Milky and I can protect this planet..." 

A part of their design. Greg could only grasp fragments of gem culture and from what he knew from hanging with the Crystal Gems, is their rigid caste system. 

"And to save the rest of your kind from further trouble..." Rose reworded.

"It's not ideal,  you don't have to. If Homeworld decide to come back, then let them. We'll fight them off if we have to. This planet is worth putting it under our defense." Rose assured her.

Greg couldn't fathom it, but it may have given them a few thousand years, at best.

"I know it is selfish...but defiance of our orders means the Labradorites we're assigned with may end up doing it all in our place anyway. Their loyalties to Homeworld are bonded with stronger oaths than their links with us." Snow explained.

It was then Greg looked at the Wolf next to him. Must have been what it was...but it seemed like Rose wasn't aware of this as her eyes widened.

"What? Since when did they reprogram them? I've never even heard of them doing that!" Rose said with surprise.

Snow sighed. While Greg grew anxious.

"You know how some Snow Quartzes rebelled against Homeworld in the past? It was Blue Diamonds idea to keep us at arms length as opposed to outright shattering us with the some of the newly developed Labradorites." She said.

Greg never really saw Rose grow this angry before. Well, there were small instances, but the fury written in her face almost scared him. He listened as Snows explanation. on how Labdradorites were meant to destroy Snow Quartzes if they dared to lift a finger against one of their own and that they were solely developed from Blue Diamonds Court, drawing inspiration from Pink Diamonds designs of a gem that could be used to shapeshift on a regular basis. While Snow Quartzes were mentally supposed to adapt to certain worlds, Labradorites were to physically adapt... With one exception.

"So you see why we'd be useless in battle...mine would betray me in an instant."

The revelation turned Rose's state from angry to vengefully upset.

"I'm so sorry Snowflake, I didn't know..." Cried the larger Quartz.

"I'm sure Dori wouldn't want to do it either. She's always been the best friend to you as well."

A concept like that would get Rose angry over such a manipulation and violation of trust...for someone who loved life, knowing that this was a practice tipped her over the edge.

Snow forced a smile under her current state of duress as she hugged Rose.

"I'll be fine Rose. I know this planet will be in good hands and I promise to come back. To see you and the developed life that has grown here..." Snow told her.

Looked like she fulfilled that promise and had hoped to see Rose again...only to see Steven in her place...must have given Snow quite the shock.

The two let go of each other as Rose wiped a tear from Snow's face, then laughed.

"I'll hold you to it. Maybe both you and Milky some day..." Rose said as she got up then lent her hand to Snow to help her off the ground. Snow grinned as she took her hand and shot up.

"Before you go though, may I see Dori one last time?"

Snow laughed as she whistled. To the side Greg saw a brown gem approach her partner and sit down next to her. This...didn't look like the one sitting next to him. It's form was a lot different. It was like a crawling worm creature with similar colours of blue and brown, but still had the gem on its chest and round purple eyes. Snow told Rose that the current form is based on the critters from another planet she had visited prior to this one...that maybe one day Dori would take the form of one of Earths beautiful creatures...that they might sing songs of triumph some day.

"Say goodbye to Rose now..." Snow told her.

Greg continued to examine them as Rose bowed before the gem and patted her, then placed her hand on her gem.

"Goodbye Dori you cutie." Rose said, her eyes twinkling.

"Please be good to Snowflake. I wish for you to be free of your old oath and protect this Snow Quartz." She said.

Snow laughed as she rubbed Dori's head.

"She's a good girl. As long as I'm a good one too."


 

Gregs eyes opened in a flash, as he stared at the roof. He sat up, seeing Labradorite sitting right in front of him, continuously staring at him. Did Dori know about his relationship with Rose? Her powers were similar to ones Steven would describe, one that could influence dreams. What would he even do with what he saw? Dori got up and left the house on her own accord. 

Greg went back to sleep, hoping for less weird dreams.

 

Chapter Text

The following day was miserable. Amethyst had plans...not really besides their mission, but she wouldn't have preferred to sit inside all day. But Greg and Connie were here, so that was better than a punch in the face on her suggestion. The weather worsened, she could have stayed in her room, however she reserved to watch the others jamming their tunes all day.

One thing she didn't quite get was their fascination with the Snow Quartz. High and mighty and they all seemed to fawn over her like she was some big deal, being considered an expert in the human repertoire as Pearl puts it. If she could make comparisons, she looked too much like White Diamond, creepy eyes and creepy...everything. But Amethyst couldn't be bothered to point out all the perculiar points of the gem and just laid on the couch as Steven and Greg tuned their guitars, with Connie preparing some of the paperwork.

"Ehh...she probably got impatient and went on her own." Amethyst suggested.

The idea of Snow going on her own worried Steven.

"Awww...I was looking forward to travelling with her." He said, crestfallen.

They didn't need her anyway.

"Snow Quartzes are credited as being...lone wolves...so to speak." Pearl said as she sat down at the table with Garnet.

How unusual.

"Don't Quartzes usually go in groups?" Amethyst wondered.

Amethysts were strong warriors, more often than not found with other Quartz type gems. Hearing about one that preferred to be on her reminded her of Rose...and herself.

"This one didn't." Garnet commented.

"Usually tied to their Labradorites, but they're not allowed to speak." 

Labradorites...an odd gem. A pet more like it...how they allowed themselves to become that was beyond Amethysts understanding.

"Wasn't the whole point of our previous charade to stop that from happening?" Amethyst pointed out.

Pearl and Garnet exchanged looks. The purple gem hated it when they did that. She loved them dearly, but they held more knowledge about prewar than Amethyst could ever hope to. Pearl looked at her with a saddened expression.

"Both gem lines have had a checkered history." She explained.

"This one still serves Homeworld and finds Earth fascinating, only that the other Quartz she mentioned hadn't been heard from in a while...I don't know what her true motive is, but she doesn't have a speck of malice in her. She's still shackled down to her fate."

They've had nice and mean gems come and go, as well as the newer gems she hung with, the older Crystal Gems that remained on Earth were more fun than this one was. Amethyst wanted people to think for themselves, not to continue to be enslaved by Homeworlds boring, gem crunching rules.

Most of the day went by as they played the music as to what they had created, in between putting marshmellows by the fire and generally hanging out for the day. It was on those rare occasions that the whole family would hang on, if it wasn't for one thing Amethyst had in mind. Her deal with Peridot and Laps. After the book club meeting, they joked about progress, but they would continue to find ideas about how...well...

She planned to meet up with the pair afterwards, using the warp pad to head to the Ancient Sky Arena. At least the weather wasn't as bad, being in the whimsical skies. As he climbed up the steps, she could see Peridot and Lapis peering around the corner, as if peeking on someone.

"What is she doing? How are we going to plot if she's here!" Peridot whined, gripping on the sides of the corner wall.

"I hear singing." Lapis stated.

Singing? Despite the gems saying they were happy to hang around to sing all day, Snow went off on her own accord. How rude and selfish. Taking what Pearl said into account however.

"What's crackin' mah morps? Just tell her to find her own singing peak. Plenty of other places she can belt out a tune." Amethyst said, entering their conversation.

Peridot then glared at Amethyst, raising her finger to her lips.

"Shh....silence...hearing a Snow Quartz sing is a rare opportunity not to miss!" She muttered to her in urgency.

Great. They'll have to wait until she's done. She pulled out a camcorder for this random occasion, if they found this priceless enough.


Snow stood at the edge of the Sky Arena with Dori sitting by her side, trying to absorb its history. The war held much pain and anguish and much deliberation. She would have gone to seek out Milky's hide out, but doubt clouded her mind. She wondered if that was Dori's doing, knowing her powers could be influential if they had to be. 

 

Born in a waking world, who's light will begin to seep.

In any which way the darkness dies, remembrance of souls to keep.

Born in a breaking world, who's light will begin to sleep.

Those unsung voices, no longer theirs to keep.

 

I could have been better

I could have known better

Than to sit around

In joint thrones left in want

I could have listened better

I could have said better

Running in circles

In empty thrones in font

 

Death in a sinking world, who's darkness begins to grow

In the way, word's we're unable to throw

Death in a risen world. who's darkness begins to show.

We can no longer hear ourselves, lost in the snow....

 

I could have left it better

I could have spent it better.

Snowsongs life is not at rest

No longer left in time

I could have lived it better

I could have sung it better.

Aura's recollection in dispute

Or else their voices would be mine.

 

Or else their voices would be mine.

Or else their voices would be mine.

Words left unsaid, unheard.

Kept in whispers left behind

Or else their voices would be mine.

Or else their voices would be mine.

Instead my voice is left behind.

 

 


 

"What's a Snowsong?" Amethyst wondered, unaware of the message the song brought.

Peridot rubbed her chin, deep in thought.

"Not sure...she could be talking about other Snow Quartzes. I know of an event, that they had gone to a Dark Planet, where a whole bunch of them...were shattered. I wonder if she's recalling the war there."

Another war? Amethyst had enough of those to deal with. Well, not right now. But this sobbing display did move her a little. Part of her wanted to comfort her in response. Or better yet, get a grip of what the hell she was singing about. Much to Peridots dismay and Lapis' apathy, the smaller Quartz approached her, wary of the Labradorite with her, who looked behind and...to Amethyst, it looked like a glare that alerted Snow to her presence.

"Amethyst? Oh...hi...nice to see you." Snow told her with a grin.

One thing Amethyst learned from Steven, it was clearly seeing when one was over burdened with unreleased frustrations.

"Nice song..." She complimented.

"Why didn't you share it with the others?"

The tall gem frowned, peering out to the clouds before them.

"Their song would be less...depressing than mine. Their warmness...their auras worth protecting." Snow told her.

It left Amethyst weirded out as to what she really meant.

"Bah...I'm sure they'll appreciate it. A lot of the time they're writing for the other gems to teach them. A lots happened in the last few months alone." She said.

They found themselves talking all the while, strangely bonding over human things, of all topics. How Amethyst fell into this trap, she had no idea. They talked about human junk and food, as Amethyst encouraged Snow to at least try eating, which lead to Snow tell her that's shes always wanted to try cooking, but never needed to do so.

It eventually rolled into her Labradorite as Snow described Dori's purpose as her partner. It was only pity at first, until Snow told her that she naturally shapeshifted to the environment, which she found totally cool. Then it bounced into her desire to grasp the concepts of love, which Amethyst could not help but giggle at initially. She needn't know the amount of sappiness involved.

"But you sure you're okay?" Amethyst questioned.

Snow laughed softly.

"I'll be okay. That was a Snowsong was written by a fellow Snow Quartz. My mentor Milky....written in the depths of the outcome of the Lillim Wars. Snowsongs are like a Poetic Edda...if that's human terminology you're familiar with."

Lillim Wars? Peri was right. But what in the world was a Poetic Edda? 

"I hope to write my own song one day. A little more lighthearted if I say so myself."

Definitely needed to be more lighthearted. It got Amethyst to thinking of something. She told Snow she'd be right back, puzzling the light gem. It turned out she'd dragged Peridot and Lapis to Snow in order to help with their plan. Snow's understanding or at least, desire to understand human nature through those she'd spoken to and observed. She got the gems wisdom, but if the four of them...

"Wait, what are we doing?" Snow asked, puzzled.

Lapis rolled her eyes, but she then gave off a minor smile.

"Okay guys, new game plan. The Book Club gave us a yes or no...I mean, I think they do that on a regular basis." Amethyst continued.

"Yeah they do." Lapis concurred.

Poor Snow was left in the dark as what these gems were on about. Amethyst let them in on their dirty little secret, grabbing her hands and grinning all the while.

"You swear not to tell anymore...especially Garnet and Pearl?" Amethyst pleaded.

Snow blinked twice, stunned at this mystery.

"Uhh...I guess? Is this an official oath or..." Snow muttered, still doing her best to sort it out. Amethyst groaned, throwing her hands up in the air with disdain.

"Yes or no Snowy." The purple gem reiterated. She needed her help or else...well, there wasn't much else to say.

The white gem bit her lip.

"Uh. Yes. I'll help." Snow complied.

Yes. Good. Another one in on their mischief. She rubbed her hands in glee, before standing up straight and clearing her throat.

"Welcome to the 'Lets get Steven and Connie together for real' Club. Or LEGS AND CONT FORC for short." Peridot said with excitement.

They would need a better name than that, honestly.

 

Chapter Text

Snow's interest in the events got even high with this offer; this invitation to explore. The original idea was Amethysts, then she dragged the other two along the line, with Peridot citing that she's an expert on this stuff and Lapis just fell into the mold for what ever reason transpired.

But to help develop the love between them, was not what Snow had planned for at all. Sure, she wanted to understand its complexities and its true power, but to instigate it? She wasn't keen. She'd help to an extent, with her knowledge on human culture and its alluring detail too impossible to ignore. 

Turns out they'd tried a multitude of plots that went no where. It aggravated Peridot to no end, but Amethyst wasn't about to give up.

"I know those two well enough that they're just too shy to admit their feelings." Amethyst told her.

Shyness..a trait to those unwilling to share what they know with others, lest the risk of others thinking less of them or worse. 

"With the amount of examples and things that I've researched, we've come to the conclusion that...much to my own horror, we barely know anything about humans." Peridot revealed. "But you, gracious, glorious Snow Quartz, your intel could be what we need to finally get somewhere..."

Love was still pending in her mental encyclopedia, as Peridot dragged in a chalk board, drawing in multiple diagrams on it, as Snow scanned the imagery.
She wanted to say that she was in the dark as much as they were and didn't want to push matters not related to her level of comprehension...but the book Connie mentioned could help them.

"I know of a book that may aid us." Snow told them, as she rubbed her knuckles under her chin.

"A book that tells us the different types of love. So first we need to unravel the mysteries of love first, before we can proceed."

Eyes widened from Peridot as she whacked the palm of her hand with her fist.

"Of course!" Said the bold gem. "Humans write lots of....things on primitive paper! Lapis and I should find this book immediately!"

This exasperated Snow to no end, but she too, would love to read it.

"Storms pretty bad down there at the moment." Amethyst warned.

"I dunno if the library would be open."

Lapis groaned on how her wings would freeze in an instant and she might as well just become a snow man. Peridot lamented leaving her precious circular metal flyer in the library for what ever reason.

"I could escort you underneath my cloak...Dori could help us out too." Snow told them.


 

Why she agreed and why she put forth the idea was not in the same plausible sense she would normally portray, but Snow relented and had to go with the flow. They walked through Beach City as Snow followed Dori's trail through the thick snow, hearing the hollowing winds as she tried to cover the gems under the cloak. Amethyst transformed into a wolf like Labradorite while Peridot and Lapis were on each side of Snow Quartz, complaining and shivering that this was the worst idea they ever had.

"Got anymore songs?" Lapis asked.

Snow blushed, what a random question. The blue gem had an interesting personality.

"Well, one written by Snow-Throat, a well accomplished scribe." Snow told them.

"Less gloomy than Milky's."

The world around her turned white, the sky with its geometric shapes.

Give me the honesty, the sanctity, the beauty...

The glory, the clarity, the simplicity and complexity

What a way to say how our hearts always yearnnnn for more

I'll give you transparency, implicitly, joyfully, carefully...

Under the stars that shine so brightly...

Who are we, to say we are, always there, constantly.

Bashfully, we accept, we are key....

-

Snow-Throat...fought them, shouting at them...shouting at us to leave. We were overrun..

She was no where to be found.


 

"Snow?"

Amethysts words caught her off guard as they stood in front of the library doors. Peridot opened them promptly as she and Lapis left and fled inside. 

"Everything alright?"

Snow snapped out of her trance and smiled.

"Oh yes. We're here." Snow told her, placing her hands together.

Dori made herself scarce as they all entered, with Peridot ready to roam the aisles for this book.

"So...do you know what the book was called?" The green gem asked eagerly.

Snow only recalled mentioning the Ancient Greeks...but that was all. She gave Peridot what she knew, before she pulled Lapis away to find out more. Peri was a bit annoyed, but she was very determined to find the book. It left Amethyst amused as Snow smiled.

"Milky...Snow-Throat. Fellow Snow Quartzes I imagine?" Amethyst questioned.

Oh the memories fluttered in her mind like warm, gushing water from a hot spring. Days gone by, having a laugh or a song in a literal hot spring from time to time. She nodded to confirm.

"Oh yes. Milky was the leader and oldest of our facet." Snow told her.

"Snow-Throat was a bard...she loved to sing."

And sing she did. Fighting the Lillim wasn't an easy job, but Snow-Throat always did her best to cheer people up. Amethyst was amazed.

"A bard huh? So tell me...they had all you split up, but then had you all fightin' a war together? Were they worried about what would come out of there?" She asked.

If only Amethyst knew.

"The Lillim were incredibly dangerous. Homeworld entrusted us to destroy them so they could colonize. We succeeded, but not without cost." Snow explained, solemn in tone.

It was then she heard Dori growling nearby. She could sense something, acknowledging Amethyst that she was going to check the perimeter outside the Library and left before Amethyst could say anything. It was fine...hopefully.

Going back out into the cold allowed Dori to sniff anything suspicious. Snow was suddenly knocked back by a mysterious force, almost blindsighting her. Opening her eyes revealed that the world had gone dark. The snow stopped, but all there was, was the silence in the void.

"Snow....flake..." She heard muttering on the dead winds.

Was...was that Milky?

"Milky where are you?" She called out.

Static filled the air, deafening her. Until she felt Dori bite her hand, snapping her out of it. White light returned...and the library behind her did too.

"She's here Dori." Said Snow.

She was deeply torn whether she should investigate or wait for the weather to better up. Instinct told for the former but logic was for the latter. Amethyst had come out to see what all the fuss is about.

"Hey Snowy." Said Amethyst.

She wondered if the Crystal Gems had suspicions about it all. Garnet saw something...that was enough to get Snow worried about it all the while as she continued to mull it in her head over and over again, like a rapid drum beat.

"Did your dog smell something out here?"

The static sounded very...familiar somehow.

"She did." Snow answered.

Darkness...static...it could only mean one thing.

"The Lillim are near. How...how did they..."

The pair jumped as they heard a door open, with Peridot brandishing a teal book in her hands.

"Hey Snow Quartz! I hope this is the one you wanted!" She exclaimed, then noticed the fearful expression on her face as she peered into the distance with tears in her eyes.

Amethyst shrugged, tugging on Snow's cloak.

"Ehhh something about the Lillim...should we be worried?" The purple gem wondered.

Snow bit her lip.

"I need to go...now..." She cried.

"Go where?" Said Amethyst, who was concerned for her fellow Quartz.

The static was obvious...the darkness was obvious. But they had captured them all on their home planet. How did they get to Earth? How? Snow had to protect everyone...all Snow could recall was the screaming and screeching. Dori pulled out her out again as she rubbed herself against her partner as Snow ran her fingers through Dori's fur. No she had....if Milky were here, she'd know what to do. If Snow had to get answers, she'd need to find out where Milky was hiding. But at the same time, did not want to abandon the gems here. All of them were at risk...

"I need to find Milky...she's still here...and she needs my help." Snow told them. 

What could she remember about Milky. Snow remembered she had multiple Earth outposts. But where they were...it'd been a long time since she'd been to Earth. She'd hoped to recall where but the details were extremely fuzzy. Growls filled the air as Dori went on the defense again. Amethyst recognised the same shadows that had been crawling around them, suspecting that she'd seen them like they couldn't be seen directly, as if they were in the corner of her eyes.

"What's going on Snowy? Why are they here?" Amethyst said, preparing her whips.

It was impossible to fathom as to why the Lillim were out here in broad daylight. Unless...they had already started to infect people...and maybe gems.

"Oh....no...we need to head back as soon as possible. We need to leave now!" Snow ordered in a panic.

The snowstorm however got even worse, the world around them darkening in a mere instance. Snow covered Peridot and Lapis in her cloak as Amethyst shapeshifted in a wolf herself and ran behind Dori as they fled for the direction of the Beach House.

This was only going to get worse.

-

This was how it started.

They'd fill you with their paranoia, to get you scared out of your wits. One by one, they'd patiently...and slowly draw people apart and wait until their victims were alone.

Chapter Text

Steven couldn't help but feel off in a sense, but couldn't explain or put it into exact detail. Was it the cold weather? Or the strange noises he'd been hearing over the last few nights?

Integration was hard work, but worth it. Pearl and Garnet helped him out, detailing each gems original purpose. He spent the time asking them on what they'd like to do or where they'd like to be. But as the weather changed, it become more important to find them homes. Luckily enough, they were able to find them places to stay. Whether they fitted in well in certain environments like caves, mountains or forests and teaching them on understanding human culture and nuance. Steven pledged his services to make sure everyone was happy and healthy. But it'd been too long since they had a party. A day to grasp for themselves and to celebrate recent achievements, no matter how small or large they were. If there was much to learn from his mother, was that they should encourage progress with a dance or song.

Days like this, hanging with his family, he lived for. Where he could just enjoy being there, being with his dad, Connie, Pearl, Garnet and...

Amethyst barged into the house with Dori and shook the snow off their backs, much to the annoyance of Pearl who copped slops of it on her and told them off. Next came in Snow with Peridot and Lapis who then slammed the door shut. They looked exhausted, but the one who disturbed him the most was Snow, who looked like she hadn't slept for an eternity, with hollow eyes and a gaped mouth as she stared at the floorboards. Amethyst shapeshifted back to her normal form, as the rest of the group just stared at her.

Steven wondered, as he looked at everyone in the room, if Snow knew that all eyes were on her. He approached her, with her eyes tracking him as he did so, almost creeping him out.

"They're here." Snow told him.

"The Lillim...they're on Earth...."

The story of the infectious Dark monsters...they were true?

"Milky...I heard her voice...but...I need to know where she is. She'll know what to do."

Steven moved as Garnet approached her.

"We can't. Not in this weather." The fusion explained.

"Snow, it'll be okay...."

Snow remained silent all the while. He'd never seen her this scared before. But a face like hers...Steven was reminded of Pearls reactions to the past. Snow was stuck in it. He lead her to sit down, her eyes drilled to the floor, remaining still as Dori brushed herself against her partners hand. It must have been horrible enough to twist her emotions like this. Pearl sat on the chair next to her, holding her hand.

"I'm sorry to bring this down on you all like that." Snow said, as her eyes were just staring in the middle of the table, unable to look anyone in the eye. Steven watched as she forced a smile and formed fists with both hands, then slammed them on her legs.

"I am my own Snow Quartz. A sturdy curator...that has fears for her livelihood and of the people she has discovered. It would be awful to break down...it wouldn't matter if it was down to the last of our line, our legacy is to preserve and share our knowledge to the day of our own shattering, but to tell you what I know...will lead my mind into places it never wanted to revisit. Milky was the best of us. I must learn from her example."

This Milky sounded dear to Snow. Steven took another seat as he sat next to her other side, having an idea to help cheer her up, plus help find out a way to find her gem friend.

"You know her better than any of us. You know what she was like. Is there anything that she taught you that kind of stuck with you?" Steven asked her.

A finger popped to the lips as Snow wrestled her mind with this question.

"Milky taught us much. Snow Quartzes often fall into the trap of adapting too much into the wrong concept, so Milky would always keep recording her thoughts and often leaving them into what we call a Thought Marker. It's usually undetected to the naked eye, but when played, it projects a unique spectrum of light and sound that can only be activated using a gems own light source." Snow explained.

Peridot, being Peridot, barged in, knowing exactly what she was talking about.

"Ooo yes. Developed by White Diamonds Court several thousand years ago! I've seen a few around, but could never properly activate them. They could be only be activated by the gem who created it, for obvious security measures. But you might be able to." The Green gem revealed.

This widened Snow's eyes.

"Oh? Where did you see it?" She pleaded.

Peridot rubbed her hands and giggled.

"I'll be right back!" She said, before she ran off to the Warp Pad and disappeared.

While Steven didn't want Snow to feel awful as she did, the story about the Lillim did spook him slightly. Seeing them for real, was a wonder if it would strike fear in him instantly. So many times he'd underestimated the danger that certain forces brought. While he came out mostly unscathed (most of the time), it took a while, until the original incident in space with the ship hand to nail down the severity of it all.

Ignorant at the sliver of his life, the bulk contained the insight required to set it right. It was a guessing game after that, throwing in what he knew and what he knew in his heart was right. That seeing Snow like this was akin to seeing Pearl's state post-gem war.

"Oh stars, I'm so embarrassed..." She said, leaning over and shoving her face into her hand.

"I thought I was over it."

Steven and Pearl looked at one another.

"It's not uncommon to feel that way." Pearl said, smiling at him as she rested her hand on Snow's shoulder.

"I mean, traumatized by war...and telling yourself that it's all in the past. But the past creeps up on you...and it can hurt."

That much Steven could agree with. Pearl could relate to that better than anybody.

"I know." Snow acknowledged halfheartedly.

"I need to face such fears one step at a time. But not when the cause of that fear is so readily present. If you understood the consequences of that, you'd be better prepared."

Peridot soon returned, excitedly porting in from the Warp Pad, holding a black, pearlescent sphere in her hand as he scurried back to Snow.

"Here it is!" She announced.

She handed the sphere to Snow who cradled it in her hands, scanning the device promptly. Steven wasn't sure what to expect, but for Snow's sake he hoped she would get some kind of closure. But she kinda just stared at it for a few moments, not attempting to open it until Peridot opened her mouth, forcing Pearl to shush her, waiting for the white gem to unravel its mysteries. Steven patiently waited until Snow was ready to do it. 

"Here goes." Said Snow. She lifted the sphere up slightly. The gem on her forehead started to glow, as a beam of light shot forth, encapsulating the sphere entirely.

The sphere then levitated from Snow's hands and moved into the middle of the room, with Amethyst and Connie, who'd been silently watching from afar, jumping onto the couch as the Sphere moved its pieces around until it turned bright. The light moved and shifted before a form came before them. Another gem with Snow's figure came into place, her hair short, straight with a cut fringe. Her gem was located on her chest and had huge black pointed shoulders that were just short of looking like spikes, other than those features, she looked identical to their Snow Quartz. White eyes and black lips.

"Snow Quartz Facet-1MKZ Cut-7LT. Report Code SF-1R. Earth is a beautiful planet. Shame about its future. But I've been ordered to observe its potential in the development of the new Kindergartens for Pink Diamonds first colony! How exciting! I've set up my lab to scan out the areas just brimming with materials to construct some of the finest gem the empire has ever seen! I've got one area in my sights for potential incubation's. My previous successes with White Diamonds colonies have placed their faith in me to oversee development with future Snow Quartzes. I will not fail them. 7LT, reporting out."

The sphere closed, before Snow got up to retrieve it.

"I remember her. Though I only saw her a handful of times, transmitting data to the Moon Base via comm lines." Pearl revealed.

"Me too, throughout the colonization process." Lapis said.

Snow grinned warmly as she hugged the sphere.

"Milky used to talk about how she thought of us as her children. It was amusing, but made us swear not to call her mother." She said, fondly.

Mother...that was cute. Milky already understood the concept of moms and dads. She must have met humans like his mom did.

"You loved her didn't you?" Steven wondered with a hopeful expression, his eyes gleaming on how much fun they must have had together.

Snow sighed.

"We all did. I know Pinks influence on our gem line did sprout us on the borderline quite a bit. But our job often let us into seclusion, to do our own thing out of the Diamonds eyes as long as we were consistent with our work." She explained.

A kinda free Gem. How remarkable. They were themselves out of earshot, for which Steven would think a lot of the other gems would love to have if given the chance.
Knowing what his mom was like, it wouldn't have surprised Steven to think that it was she who let them do their own thing...be themselves and to be who they desire to be. He was a hard earned believer.

"Wow...you'd have to be real sneaky like to make sure you didn't get caught." Steven commented.

The tall Quartz chuckled.

"Many close calls, I'm sure." She said, she then frowned.

"The Lillim Wars happened a few hundred years after the Rebellion. Many gems, not only our own but other lines suffered horrible fates. The planet itself was brimming with resources in great abundance and the Diamonds weren't going to let it out of their hands that easily. It was a colony belonging to Blue Diamond who needed us to scan the planet to find ways to get rid of the organics that were there. The Lillim were not organic but we were meant to find out what they were and their weaknesses. Milky lead the charge and a large contingency contributed by our Diamond constituents. It....."

Steven could sense the overwhelming urge to cry coming from her. The story she told before was heroic, but it may have been a part of it, one of the only good parts to a depressing tale.

"You worry Earth is gonna fall down the same rabbit hole?" Greg wondered.

Snow shook her head.

"I refuse to let it fall the same way. We won against them once, we can do so again!" She called out.


 

In Steven's mind, Snow wanted to be strong for others, like himself. He appreciated that, but he wanted to let her voice her fears, that it was okay to feel that way. The way she'd talked about the Lillim to them, it became clear to him that her urgency reminded him of how Lapis used to be. If they were a Diamond level threat, then they would have to deal with them one way or another. 

He had to cheer her up, get her relaxed and to get to know her better than the stories she told. He held the desire to find out what Snow really enjoyed in life. He sat on the couch with Connie, as they both talked about it. Maybe they should, for this one night, have fun with music and dancing. Connie had agreed with him as he got up and huddled with the other gems, as Snow spoke with Peridot and Lapis.

"A party? Well, I don't know if we have the room...not to mention the resources." Pearl said, a bit apprehensive on the idea.

It didn't matter to him. Although Amethyst had a grin from ear to ear.

"Hey I still have party stuff in my room somewhere." She exclaimed.

Steven looked at Garnet for her opinion and insight on the matter. She looked around the room at each individual, then gave Steven the thumbs up.

"It'd be good to let loose. It's been a while since we had thrown one down." The Fusion told him.

The young halfgem couldn't contain his excitement as he hugged her.

"Thanks Garnet!" He exclaimed with glee.

He wanted to to invite everyone, then almost forgot about Bismuth, who hadn't even met Snow yet. More and more ideas poured into his head. With this many people, they needed somewhere large enough, somewhere where they had everything they needed...then, on cue, the Gem Door opened.

Rose's Room. Perfect.

He took Amethyst with him as they prepared everything they needed. Of course Pearl would be worried about about using that particular room for a party, as she looked on with an anxious expression, but Garnet assured her that it was just as good as anything else they needed. 

"Hang tight, we'll be right back."

They spent the next....goodness knows amount of time shaping the pink, fluffy room into a giant, lit up, square shaped dance floor. Amethyst had her laptop on a large, black stage with gigantic speakers as per her request to Steven who pulled all stops to get this where he wanted it to be. Amethyst enjoyed it immensely shapeshifting into Sour Cream briefly to humor Steven as he laughed, knowing he was the perfect DJ for the job if they could hire him.

"I always wanted to try deejaying." Amethyst commented.

"With all the wooping and beeping..."


 

Once they were organised and ready, Steven called Pearl over, telling her to get everyone in there. He watched on as Connie took hold of Snow's hand and took her inside.

Steven went back on inside, observing everyone who was there, including Bismuth and Biggs, as well as Lion and Cat Steven. Dori had gone in ahead of Snow and just started at Lion. For what ever reason. But he was desperately clinging on to the look on Snow's face as she entered as she held hands with Connie, who had to make sure she was alright.
There was that vibe that Snow didn't like big crowds and was glad Connie was there to help her out. If Steven could praise Connie more than he needed to, he knew she had a power to encourage people to be themselves. Seeing Snow read the dragon story at the Book Club session and her passion for stories lead Steven to get the idea she was much more than she made herself out to be. 

Even if Steven dreamed about darkness and static, he felt the way to shake off the shackles of the pressures everyone felt, was to allow them peace through laughter and dancing. It was last minute but with all the lights and the music and the beauty and colour of the world he created for them, the pink, fluffy backdrop of warmth and soft clouds. It made him feel good to help out like that. He created a few chairs, allowing a few of the gems to sit, even his dad, even if they weren't dancing. He went to go sit next to Greg, who was feeling a bit awkward.

"I bet mom let you in here lots of times." Steven assumed.

Greg scratched his head.

"Not really." He said.

"I had no business being in her personal space. Unless she asked me specifically. She said these rooms were made to allow each gem their own room to breath...metaphorically speaking." 

But he's let others in here on the rare occasion. Although not all experiences were pleasant, he's had enough of those to warrant enough control to keep it tame. Sort of.

"I...did make a copy of her...in her one time. I knew she wasn't real. But it felt...real enough." Steven revealed, which stunned his dad.

"What? How did you do that?" Greg wondered.

Steven smiled, blushing slightly.

"The room lets me create what ever I want. To a limited extent." He informed.

Greg gave off sweat as Steven felt him becoming a bit uncomfortable. He wondered if summoning her here would help him. Or hurt him. Knowing his reaction to when Amethyst shapeshifted into her, on how much that pained him to see her do that.

"I know you're not a fan of all this magic gem stuff. If you ever want me to create her again, I'd be more than happy to." Steven told him.

He then noticed Greg's eyes were on something else. Steven followed his trail, seeing Snow Quartz and Connie on the other side of the dance floor on a different set of chairs. 

"No it's okay. Appreciate the offer Steven." Greg replied. His stare was vacant but oddly fixated on Snow for a while too.

"When you're older, you'll know when to hold on to certain things...then learn when to let them go."

It reminded him of another lesson his dad told him, but Steven didn't realize he'd been staring at Connie in the meantime.

"What happens when you get a mixed bag of feelings... Not certain if you should...do anything with them at all. Not if to let them go, but to...try and understand them?" Steven asked him. Muddled feelings came and went for a variety of large and small issues. Sorting through the most complicated required a large amount of mental effort. Others did require him to ask for advice.

"I don't blame you for having that kind of problem, kiddo. You're at an age where you're gonna develop somewhere between the minor and the surreal emotions. And they're most likely always going to be about people. People you once had positive or negative relations with. You would have experienced this already. But it will come to a point where, unfortunately it gets worse and you're gonna have problems making practical decisions, ones with logical outcomes verses those you feel so strongly for that your choices will fall into a chaotic trap." Greg answered.

Sounded like...being a child.

"I'm sure that's a common issue even now." Steven said.

Greg sighed.

"Uhhh how can I put it...adults are just big kids with larger responsibilities...they're just older and...seeing the world with an aged mind. Days go past faster because you've seen it all before. New and exciting experiences are few and far in between. What you've faced in a few years, would be leagues away from what anyone else has gone through, even me, in the longer time that they've been alive. But it doesn't mean they are valued less in that circumstance...it just means you bring to the table what someone else can't. And vice versa." He said.

Hence the importance of working together as a team made them much stronger.

"However there will be a time where it might just be the two of you working out the same problem together because neither of you have gone through it before. You might ask for help, but you will find yourself in a position where it can only be solved by yourselves."

Hence why Steven would go to different people for different advice.

"I used to worry about getting it wrong. But that's part of...growing up...right?" Steven continued to question.

Greg smiled, looking at Steven as he ruffled his hair.

"Absolutely. I mean, getting it right is half the battle. You'll figure out what's going to work and what's not by simply trying. I'm sure the gems have the same issues. They just might not admit it." His dad said.

But that didn't answer his previous question.

"So...what if its a feeling you're trying to understand? Do I have to work that out on my own or can I ask for help?" Steven said.

Greg appeared deep in thought, staring at all the others across the floor. The music bounced and was heavy in bass, sending the vibrations through the floor.

"Of course you can ask. I had that issue with your mother." Greg stated.

"Working out your feelings at your age, the edge of puberty is...or can be felt as a huge undertaking. I'm not sure with your part gem nature mixed in with your human biology if there's gonna be unforeseeable developments. I mean, uh...well, I can only guide with what humans go through. Whether or not that's gonna apply to you remains to be seen."

It made Steven worry about if he's going to go through the same thing as everyone else. Especially Connie. Trying to look older for her didn't work. So he had to let nature take it's course, acknowledging the future's not always gonna be swayed with Garnet's future vision. By saying what he had to say now, felt like he had to validate his own correlated problems with him. Yes he is himself. But what will become of that self as time goes by? It's not going to always obey to what his desires were, like this room did.

It's happened before. A lot.

"But you can ask. Never be afraid to, Steven. I have...an idea of what this is all about. Connie right?"

Steven gulped, his mouth forcing itself shut as he felt his cheeks heat up like a stove as sweat poured down his forehead.

Greg just smiled. He didn't laugh or balk at the sight.

"Kinda..." Steven croaked. He...did he....was it that obvious?

Greg edged his seat closer to his son as he wrapped his arm around him and leaned over.

"You're in touch with your emotions...a fact everybody knows." He muttered.

"But people can see if you're not yourself. In moments where you've fallen so deep that words often don't make sense. You love playing Cupid yet, for one who embraces it, you trip over the moment you find yourself in it, your wings no longer in sync, so to speak."

Nothing wrong with that. His relationship with Connie was stable as is and they could feel comfortable around one another. But recently, his mind had been playing tricks on him. He sunk in his chair slightly.

"Steven...you'll know when the time is right to act on it. Just...be natural. You just be you. Connie will appreciate it. She's also human. Humans can get unspoken hints, unlike gems."

That thought amused him though of how true that was, but then he noticed his dad looking at Snow again, who was standing and chatting with Bismuth and Biggs.

"You're right Dad. I'll let her know...when we both know. I think?" Steven stated, although he thought he sounded confident...until that last part. His dad didn't respond, as his stare returned blank but with his mouth slightly agape, his eyes watching Snow's every move. 

"For now...we're gonna dance. You should dance too."

Greg froze, then gave off a nervous laugh.

"I uhhh...I'll pass..." His dad said, not feeling up to it.

It annoyed Steven slightly, then he recalled his words, as he motioned towards Snow.

"You said it yourself." He pointed out.

"You learn when to hold onto certain things...and when to let them go."

Greg blinked, stunned from being smacked in the face with his own words.

"I get how you'll always love mom. Nothing will take that away from you." Steven continued as he took his dads words to heart.

"But don't lock everything away for her sake. You have time to form new experiences."

Greg, then looked away, despondent. Steven only wanted the best for the man who helped him become who he was today and if that was ignite a passionate spark in his heart again then so be it. It took to Steven practically dragging him on the dance floor to get him to even move his feet. He cried to Steven to stop pulling him so hard as they approached Connie and Snow who were still speaking to Jasper and Biggs. Steven then looked at Connie, as they gave each other a fist bump.

"Oh hi Steven!" Connie said excitedly.

"You ready to get this party started?"

Indeed he was, though he had to make sure his dad did what he was told.

"I'm always ready." Steven said, ever so boldly.

"Is Snow?"

Connie then giggled, with Steven whispering into her ear as Connie blushed and nodded.

"Oh Steven of course...but she said she's never danced in front of people before. Only watching human dance in videos." Connie told him.

That reminded Steven of the first time they fused. Connie had grown so much since then and he trusted her to take what ever lead was required.

"Perhaps we might need to give her a demonstration?" Steven said with a smirk.

Steven wholly agreed to this. They had to take this slow as Steven approached DJ Ammy on the stage and told her on choosing a series of upbeat trance and house songs that allowed them to dance freely and feel the sound under their feet, then put on something slow straight after, to allow for...well, she knew. Amethyst winked at him as she tapped away on the laptop. The lights flashed around them as the song changed.

Steven then jumped back on the dance floor as he danced away with Connie, doing their own thing. They were soon joined by the others...except Snow and Greg. He loved seeing everyone enjoying themselves, but really wanted to jam with the two who really needed to let themselves go wild. He listened in to their subtle conversation as Connie asked Steven on what they should do.

"Give them a minute to sort themselves out." He suggested. Adults could be weird, but they were really just older children as his dad said.

Connie relented to Steven's suggestion, with Steven getting that she and Snow had a unique bond and would relate to Snow better than he could. Or if they broke each others shell, they'd allow themselves to shine. They both deserved it. He saw them just stand there for a moment, then they muttered to each other, as Steven witnessed their lips moving. A slight laugh gave Steven hope, as they then appeared bashful towards one another...until...

Dori had taken Snow's cloak off her as Peridot took her hand and pushed her onto the dance floor as Lion pushed Greg on there as well, with Steven using the room to create a tux for his dad. The room was still as they could see Snow's whole body. The usual Quartz soldier bulk with black, pointed shoulders, standard uniform with a black belt around her waist, black sleeve gloves not unlike garnets and faded grey legs that fell into boots. Her face blushed a furious blue as she didn't know what to do with herself. Steven was tempted to go and dance, until she took a stand as she stomped her foot, her face scrunched up as she fought with herself.

"A fear extended to means of only losing transgressions, means a battle worth fighting." Snow to said to herself before closing her eyes and embracing the music into her aura.

Amethyst donned a massive grim as the song changed, as a circle was formed around Snow as she started to move on her own. She rose her arms, swirling them up as the song faded in. Her hands glided her against body in a slow fashion, before she spread her arms as the bass dropped, pumping her body and her waist. It went from smooth and graceful to quick, using all her limbs and clicking her fingers to the songs beat. Steven felt hands on shoulders, noticing Pearl's head as she muttered into his ear.

"Your dad is enjoying the show." She said, nudging towards him in the crowd, his jaw practically on the floor, amazed at Snow's movements. Steven couldn't help but feel giddy about.

Garnet joined her shortly after. If anyone could move their hips, it definitely was her. They mimicked movements in sync, before their dancing was like they were swimming against a hidden tide, gliding around one another. The crowd cheered on as Steven saw the most beautiful smile and laugh that Snow had ever given. Even seeing Garnet there being with her to give her that much needed breath of confidence. They twirled around as Lapis and Peridot came in as well, holding hands with one another. Then Connie took Steven, with the look on her face was like that which she had given to him on Homeworld, where it became that beacon in a very dark place.

They went to his dad, who stood there like a lost soul. It was then Connie quickly changed to collect Greg who still hadn't felt comfortable. In Steven's mind, his dad couldn't deny dancing forever. Steven went to go dance with Pearl, as they watched her take him towards Snow, changing partners so quickly that Greg didn't even grasp on what was going on until he saw Connie with Garnet and he found himself in Snow's glowing presence as Connie winked at him. 

"Hello again." Greg said to her.

"Ah...sir..I mean, Greg..." She responded, happy to see him there.

"If I can guess, they planned this." 

Greg just laughed, although with a hint of anxiety in his tone.

"They mean well....uh...I'm too old for this." He complained.

Snow's movements made him go silent again, pumping it like the cool kids. Greg struggled to keep up, but it didn't look like he cared. The music faded, as the keys of a piano came from the speakers, with a near halt to their rhythym.

"Now this...wait, what?"

The whole bunch of them exchanged partners, as Steven and Connie held each others and started to waltz around the room. Bismuth and Biggs started to do it as well, then it was Peridot and Lapis, then Pearl and Garnet.

"Please tell me you know how to do this. I'd hate to embarrass you." Greg stated.

Snow looked at the couples swirling around her.

"I'm a quick learner." Snow told him.

Steven had his eye on them both as they clasped hands. He couldn't have been happier for his dad to at least allow somebody to make him...feel good.


 

"Steven..." Connie interrupted.

He looked at her, before they almost tripped. Connie rolled her eyes as she caught him. They laughed it up, as they quickly got back into it. Though, staring into Connie's eyes for that brief moment, instilled his heart with a heavy weight, as he subconsciously wished her in a dress as she suddenly poofed into a turquoise gown, much to her surprise.

"Uhh...tada?" Steven said, trying to gather his words together lightly.

Connie just laughed.

"It's perfect." She said with a blush on her face. Steven didn't realise he started to frown until she pointed it out.

"What's wrong?"

His mind wandered back into the dreams again. The dreams he didn't tell another, single soul about. Funny thing, dreaming. This room was the embodiment of lucid dreaming, but much nicer to dream about the things he wanted, instead of the visions of the dormant chaos that would follow. Not to say he couldn't control his powers, but the dreams would come to him to warn of danger and at one point he thought he was his mothers way of trying to talk to him, not unlike Lapis when she was attached to the mirror.

But now, he couldn't stand the static that screech into his ears, seeing Connie on the beach but being unable to understand a word she was saying. He wondered if he should talk to someone about it and what it meant. He took consideration to his family, but the only one he'd relate to would be Garnet...but he hadn't yet to rack up the nerve. And tell Connie, strong, beautiful Connie in front of him, constantly fretting over his well being when he didn't want her to shoulder such an abstract creation. 

He created all of this as a distraction to his own thoughts. He wanted to think about it and confront it, but how could he, if he had no clue as to what it was trying to get across. Talking to his dad didn't help, although now he knows his son has feelings for his best friend now. Steven was no good at being subtle when he was forced to. Oh well. But it did allow Steven to see how his dad looked at Snow, seeing them with one another, seeing both of his newest friend and best dad together gave Steven the idea for him to start making new friends. Gem or not, he needed someone to at least talk to. Adult stuff could be complex and Steven could get why he wouldn't talk to him about certain things. If he had someone he could relate to, he could finally open up and accept life again.

Love was a powerful force. It was knowing how to use it was the most difficult part.

"I know everyone needed a break from it all. I mean, we've been working hard over the last few months...but with Snow telling us about this...threat....I had to make sure everyone was going to be okay...sounds like the Lillim aren't gonna be like anything else we've faced." He said.

Connie marshalled her thoughts.

"Are you really worried about it?" She asked.

Steven nodded.

"Kinda. I think..." He murmured.

Perhaps he should be honest. She'll understand.

"My powers are trying to connect to something out there. But all they reach is darkness....and a load of white noise."

Connie looked to side, parceling ideas around in her head.

"Really? You...you too?" She said in response, as if relieved that she wasn't the only one feeling that way.

He was a bit surprised to hear that as well.

"I...I mean, I've been having odd dreams as well. Almost the same even." Connie told him.

Strange. It wasn't just him then. He'd have to talk to Snow about it. Whether or not the Lillim had the ability to infiltrate their minds...now that was a scary thought. Her face turned serious as she stared him down.

"That means we'll need to be extra careful. We don't know exactly how powerful they are but going from Snow's telling, they just might be."

Steven nodded in agreement. Deep down, he couldn't shake off this feeling that something horrible was about to happen. He wanted to relax and he could feign it. But then he noticed Connie down in the dumps too, seeing how she appeared like she was leagues away in her own mind.

"You're really scared aren't you?" Steven asked.

A sigh escaped her, as she tried to smile for him.

"A little. I just keep...thinking that we'll be fine. But there's always that wiggle room for doubt." She said.


 

The rest of the night went smoothly. Steven wouldn't have minded to do it again sometime. He would have thought his mother, a real party gem, would have done the same thing back in the day. At least this one didn't end in disaster.

He waited until everyone was out before they cleaned up, with Connie's dress and Gregs tux vanishing as they left. Steven was the last one out, as he could see darkness outside, with the blizzards howling all the while. Tomorrow should be a better day.

He hoped.

Chapter Text

The weather finally looked peaceful for the first time in several days. It was time they went to go find Milky.

They pooled all their resources into nailing down her location. It may not have been exact, but they organised a trip to somewhere just outside of Beach City. Snow lead them in the front as she rode Dori, with Steven and Connie riding on Lion not too far behind her. Amethyst trailed behind as he had shapeshifted in a wolf herself. The remainder took refuge with Gregs' van, with Pearl who sat on the passengers side and Garnet whom had been sitting on top of it. Meanwhile Peridot and Lapis hung out the back. 

These were the Crystal Gems, ones she had so much about on Homeworld. Opinions and theories varied on the overall conflict and she was just as perplexed as everyone as events spiralled so quickly into an inevitable end. Or a new beginning as policies shifted and changed before their very eyes as Era 3 was announced.

Gem societal perfection had been drilled into them since their very creation...and seeing these...ragtag group of rebels being to alter the perceptions of their strong and powerful leaders by virtue of words alone, thanks to one of their own, it perturbed Snow to no end as to how they could do it. It was when White Diamond had personally asked her to observe them was when Snow began to feel honored to even have the opportunity to do so. 

Being here with such a supportive team made Snow curious as to how they worked so well together. Pink Diamond moreso, now that she was...something else entirely. An evolution of species intermingling in such an unforeseen way. Then meeting Greg, Steven's father, helped put some of the more bizarre pieces together, that the Steven form was not a facsimile, but going through the conventional human reproductive cycle. Even when questioning it made Greg feel a bit on edge and reluctant to reveal certain details. No matter, Snow would find out eventually.

Snow's ultimate to desire to root out the truth often required to pull out words that were never spoken or heard before. Realities that would make more sense on the hinge of explanations and keywords to analyze and coalesce into printed studies.

For now Snow was contented to see the blue skies once more, pulling themselves into the countryside to scan for Milky's hidden lab. She felt the winds dance with her hair, the auras of the world flourishing around her. Such is life in bloom beyond the dead chills. But her paranoia drove her thoughts into overdrive, wanting to protect those around her, the precious gems that had begun to their way into the crux of her heart.

They went off the main road as Snow scanned around for any indication to the entrance of Milky's lab. It'd been too long since she'd come here she couldn't even remember where it was. Time passed, warping the land and reshaping it. Dori sniffed around for any trace of Milky's aura. It was then they came upon a large mountain, as Dori skidded to a halt and nudged her nose towards the mountain itself. Calling every one to stop as she raised her hand and forming it into a fist, Snow then checked their perimeters as they set up camp nearby. Greg parked his van into open area near a forest of trees, while Dori and her went to find the entrance. It took them a while until they founded a gem marking on the rock wall that Snow recognized. She placed her hand against it, revealing an opening into the side of the mountain itself. She retreated back to the camp to let them know that they had found it.

"We need to have a plan once we're inside." Garnet suggested.

Snow couldn't agree more. They all stood in a circle, plotting their next move.

"Snow, can tell us a bit about what we're gonna see in there?"

It'd been forever since she had. A tiny set up, if anything else.

"I can recall the general scape of it. Snow Quartzes do have several minor outposts scattered, but this would be considered her Outpost Major where from the information we would gather we would send back to Homeworld, but we would also do our own research. They may spend several hundred, if not a few thousand, years here until the world could no longer be utilized for processing more gems." Snow answered.

Peridot was left scratching her head.

"This place was placed off limits ever since the Cluster project started." She said.

"Why would she have stayed here after everyone else was recalled?"

 Milky wasn't one to absolutely disobey orders. They both returned to Homeworld and then the Lillim Wars occurred. After that, Snow never saw her again.

"She could have preferred it here as part of retirement?" Steven suggested.

"Do Gems even retire?" Greg wondered.

Gem were either relocated or they were given another purpose in the grand scheme of things. Homeworld lost track of her. Snow lost track of her.

"Did the Diamonds suspect she may have returned? That's possible." Pearl said.

Could be. If it were true, the Diamonds told her nothing about it.

"There wasn't a ceremony when we returned. Without Pink Diamond they kinda stopped celebrating achievements. Milky loved attending the balls." Snow continued, almost envious of her superiors favor with the Diamonds themselves.

"She used to talk about getting her own Pearl as well. She fought the hardest out of all of us and she used to joke about what she would do with her Pearl. Nothing overly horrible mind you."

A lot of gems desired their own custom Pearl so they could brag about it to others.

"Being a Snow Quartz sounds like a lonely job. Maybe she wanted the company?" Steven theorized. Part of that was true in a way. But they had their Labradorites for that.

"I mean besides the cute dog gems. But you said they don't speak."

Potentially. That's if, coming to the conclusion that she still was here. But going from what little evidence they could muster, it was the only place she could really think of. That if they could at least know if she is here, then they can talk about fighting off the oncoming Lillim invasion and if not? They would fight it alone. Snow prayed, despite the circumstances and uncertainty swimming in circles, that she was somewhere. Somewhere safe. She wondered if her real mission was to find Milky on the dilemma that she never reported back and that they seek answers, especially when it comes to their line being rogue.

"I'm not sure on what we'll face or how large the facility really is. If...in the...." Snow said, before her trauma kicked in. 

"In the...in the unlikelihood that we encounter Lillim in there I would to explain how to avoid them and...if in the unfortunate scenario that you find yourself fighting them..."


 

One: If you see Lillim in the area, hide until they are gone. Refrain from moving if possible and withhold using any light sources so they can't see you. They're scanning for anything with a gem or an active aura. So keep your emotional state as stable as it can. 

Two: If the Lillim sees you, remain still and calm. Chances are they could ignore you and think you're nothing more than still furniture. Wait until they have left the area until you can move again.

Three: If you engage in combat for self-defensive reasons...you can temporarily blind or push they back if you shine light on them. Too much light for them makes them vulnerable. You can, if you hold a Sealed Core, seal them in them inside. Flee at the first opportunity you get otherwise.

Four: If a Lillim infects you and your gem, you do have a chance to purge them. They can hold onto you to absorb your light like a leech, but won't begin to infect until they've touched your gem. You may need to destroy your body and retreat into your gem to give yourself time to fight it from within. Outsider forces can help push it out with the help of a gems light to give them an edge. The Lillim in this can be destroyed this way...however.

Five: If you fail to purge it and you get infected and succumb to it fully, you become a Lillim Gem, and become part if its hivemind. By this stage, only shattering the gem, will destroy it in its entirety. 

---

She hoped it would never get that far, but they were the ground rules that were set by Milky herself on the Lillim's original planet. It took a few sisters in sacrifice but if it meant that gem kind would be safer with these rules then so be it. Greg of course, was both confused and terrified and resolved himself to keep out of their way and stay at the van. It was fine, they needed someone on the outside just in case it went south. She then turned her attention to Steven who had raised his hand.

"Question." He said.

"Connie isn't a gem. Lion isn't one either. What would happen to them if...well, it wouldn't because we won't let it, but..."

Oh...of course. Connie had an aura but no gem to show for it. Her developments were unknown, but she would still urge the same caution in either case. Lion? Lion was large enough.

"We'd rather not find out, so my advice will still stand." Snow explained to him. She could see both Steven and Connie exchange slight glances. 

"If you're too scared you don't have to come. Anyone who doesn't want to join me can remain here with Greg. I will have Dori keep her telepathic range on. Don't worry she's not going to purposefully read all your minds. She will let us know who's in danger the most and will sort out an escape route if it gets worse."

Steven went to Lion and looked at him sternly.

"Lion, we need you stay here with my Dad. He can come after us as back up." He suggested.

Brilliant, then they would have all their bases covered. Lion didn't seem bothered one way or the other as he scratched himself.

"Thank you Steven and thank you Lion." Snow said.

--

It was imperative that they do this and do this right. If they were considerably lucky, nothing bad will happen at all. But Snow piled it up all in her head, lost in the debate of logic and instinct. Yes Milky had vested interest in the Lillim as whole, but why were they on Earth now? How did they get on Earth? The static, the random patches of darkness. She wanted Milky to be in there and for her to explain everything to them. A storm rose up in the face of doubt, unable to avoid getting hurt.

She lead them inside. She wasn't their leader, but her being able to caution them like this was just doing it right. The entrance was a long hall way, dark, grey and filled with potted plants and ferns along the walls. It was Milky's preferred aesthetic to decorate with the local flora, though some of them she did recognize from the Lillims planet.

"Some Snow Quartz mark their individuality with subtle reflections like these plants. The more kinds of plants indicated the worlds you already had been to." Snow explained.

"Did you ever get to do this?" Steven queried.

Snow grinned.

"Plenty of times. Collecting seeds or samples for our research allows us to reproduce them on any climate." She said.

That perplexed Pearl.

"In what way would that be useful? We don't need plants, while some were indeed beautiful and worthy of preserving, I don't imagine Homeworld ordering any of this." She called out.

No. They didn't. At least, three out of four didn't.

"Pink Diamond suggested it. Or her Rose Quartzes did. I bonded with a few of them before the War. They weren't too dissimilar but like our Diamond co-creator, they encouraged it. When...well, when IT happened, a lot of the surviving RQs were bubbled by Blue Diamond. I was glad Milky made the case where none of us had any hand in the rebellion...but I had a vague suspicion Milky could have persuaded her to preserve them as a reminded of Pinks legacy. While we were made by all four Diamonds, Rose Quartzes were entirely in Pink Diamonds domain." Snow explained.

"Blue Diamond was always sensitive about the topic." Said Garnet.

So the reports said.

"Oh that reminds me." Peridot called out.

"You should see our crops then! Lapis and I are expert farmers!"

The thought amused Snow. Lapis Lazuli gems were terraformers, extractors of moisture yet Peridots were technicians than full on fighters. She looked at the excited green gem behind and smiled.

"Maybe when this is all over, I'd love to take a look!"


 

A pair of hexagonal sliding doors met them at the end of the hall way. The next room they found themselves was pretty open, but with plenty of tables and plenty of platforms, liquid filled tubes and interactive computers were everywhere. The amount of studies Milky must have been doing were numerous. There were enclosed environments behind windows and even aquariums with earth fish. Peridot was practically foaming at the mouth.

"This place feels like a zoo enclosure." Connie stated.

"Only without the lizards." Steven added.

Snow felt right at home. It looked like a standard Snow Quartz preferred style. Despite the word Snow in the title, they weren't all frosty. Sure, some of them could have ice like powers, but they all had interests. She approached a console nearby, tapping away at the keyboard to look into any intel she could find. Lots of files and reports did come up, mostly research, but she then found files on Beach City. Including a list of its inhabitants...those who lived and died there in alphabetical order. But that was the only list she could find that stood out to her and the reports look like they were updated a few months ago. She could see the names, the genders...the species, even the Crystal Gems were listed.

What was she doing?

"Find anything good?" Steven asked her.

"Looks like Milky has been here...over the last few hundred years." Snow revealed.

"This database was updated about six months ago and a lot of the files look like they were updated on a daily basis. I would assume Milky would go out in the day, run through her observations then come back for data entry updates." 

Peridot came around, requesting to see if she could have a check too. She shuffled through the names, seeing hers there as well.

"How in the...I do not recall shoving anyone off a roof!" She roared.

"That was Greg." Garnet reminded her.

Peridot remained silent, then she was even more angry.

"Okay maybe....maybe I did. But still...it doesn't explain how she saw me. I would know if anyone was spying on me!" She claimed.

Milky had her ways.

"Was she using any of this data for any reason?" Pearl wondered.

Snow crossed her arms. It seemed like regular processed data to her when you look at the bigger picture. They would document populations of various species and perhaps mark some of them for observation. This was the whole city however including gems.

"Sending it to Homeworld I'd say." Snow told her.

She heard Garnet grunt in frustration.

"I can't believe this. They knew the whole time...were they just toying with is? What were they hoping to achieve?" She said.

 Snow felt bad. They weren't meant to observe like this. Unless Homeworld kept an eye on them.

"I only came to Earth to check on the Clusters progress on Yellow Diamonds behalf and I heard nothing about this. Say, didn't you say Milky worked for White Diamond?" Peridot pointed out.

Yes, but they could be commanded by any Diamond. Unless...

"She did...we all generally used to have all our commands from White Diamond personally, but either Blue or Yellow have normally dished out orders since the incident. We barely had contact with White Diamond at all." Snow explained.

"May have sent her on this super secret mission to Earth...I'll bet my next burrito on it." Amethyst said, bringing a new idea to the table.

One Snow had considered, but didn't want to believe it. The evidence was there in front of them. This console would only be a list of the data she collected. She suspected Milky would have a more personal, disconnected terminal elsewhere in the complex. She brought up a map, only to see that it was much bigger than she realized. It stretched up and down, down in the Earth as the model projected its enormous size, almost labyrinth in construct. Though a part of it caught Peridots eye.

"That....does that say Omega Kindergarten???" She questioned with shock, pointing towards the bottom half of the facility.

"Then you have the Alpha Kindergarten. Was Milky making gems?" Pearl wondered, looking at the top half.

Amethyst voiced her enthusiasm...or lack thereof with a small, sarcastic woohoo and sarcastically voicing a fake approval for more gem warriors like her.

"Amethyst be serious." Pearl chastised, obviously not detecting her sarcasm.

The private chambers were on the lower levels. These unknown Kindergartens were unusual, being smaller in size so they weren't there for mass production of gems. The files here don't give her any indication of which gems were created. Being the observation area, this would prove strategic and easy for Milky to file her work for the day then go to elsewhere, maybe to check on the Kindergartens terminals. There wasn't any other console that had the collective data of the whole premise. 

But...

What really churned Snow with that knowledge was that why did Milky have private kindergartens? It made no sense! No Snow Quartz should even be involved in the development of gems at all besides giving information, not creating it. Pearl looked distressed at the very thought of it.

Milky what were you doing? Snow would give anything to find out what she was really up to. She heard Steven in pain as she turned around as he'd fallen to the floor, writhing in agony.

"Steven what's wrong?" Connie asked as he knelt down by his side.

"I don't know...it's just that...make it stop!" He cried out.

The other gems went by his side to comfort him as he had teared up from the pain. Snow looked at Dori who approached him, sniffing out his gem first, before relaying back to Snow.

"We need to get him out, now!" Pearl roared.

Snow sighed. Yes...unfortunately. Maybe fortunate, since he'd be better out there.

"I recognize this!" Peridot proclaimed.

"It was just like what happened with the Cluster!"

Snow knelt down before Dori and rested her hand on the gem on her chest as Dori transferred her thoughts to Snow, giving her visions. All she heard was darkness and static again, but a vision of Steven being grabbed by the hands of the shadows and swallowing him whole. The visions were fractured, but from what she could see were lots of hands reaching out to grab hold of anything in their path. Her eyes went back to Steven, who then began to calm down and almost pass out.

Taking a break, Snow decided to tell them what she saw. Steven leaned against Connie as Amethyst was by his other side. He was left panting and confused about what just happened.

"They're here. They're definitely here."

"You need to get out, I'll take it from here."

Her eyes locked with Stevens, who was recovering slowly. He shook his head.

"No. You can't do this alone." He said, his voice weak. 

Garnet then took Snow aside, as Pearl and herself needed to explain a few things in private.

"Thing is...Steven has strong empathetic powers." Garnet told her.

"What ever is down there is enough to cause him pain." Pearl continued.

They too agreed to leave him out, although his protest says otherwise. They hadn't even seen a single Lillim yet their psychic projections were incredibly wide and powerful on their own. A wave or a pulse, that attempted to reach out to potential victims. She looked back Steven whom was being lifted on his feet thanks to Connie and Amethyst.

"I can talk to them....but they won't listen." Steven breathed out.

Seeing him in this state did little to ease anyone's minds. She refused to let any of them fall to the madness succumbed like those before her. Milky definitely had a lot to answer if she had any part in this. From experience, Lillim cannot be negotiated with. Period. Lillim Gems were even harder when they weren't themselves. Snow had to find out how to approach this.

"They're are several sections we can try and access. I mean, we can go straight to her private chambers...if that's where she might be." Peridot suggested.

Upon that suggestion, Snow scurried over to the elevator at the back of the room. She tapped the keypad to check on access, but much to her dismay, it was locked. Think Snow, think...what could you do?

"We can try accessing the Security Room." Snow suggested.

"There should be an override that allows us to unlock any door in the facility without needing Milky's authorization...."

It was located at the far side of the mountain complex. There were a few paths that lead them right through it. But for now, they had only had the paths that lead them to the Security Room and both Kindergartens.

"I say we should split up into three groups. Just in case." Garnet said.

Snow was a bit overwrought with the idea. She wanted them to be together, but if they needed to be quiet, splitting up would attract less attention, with hopefully her warnings stuck in her minds. With the Lillim in the facility, they could be anywhere, waiting to strike. But how to split the group up efficiently. But first she needed to get Steven and Connie out, but he wasn't having a bar of it.

"I want to help! I'll be fine...just..." Steven said as he got his breath back.

Pearl told Snow he was a really strong kid, but she would always worry when he got hurt. With the multiple routes they needed to cover, she would have to pick the safest one for him. All the rooms were connected in one way or another, either through stairs, more elevators or vents. The shortest route was from here to the room directly, however, if she knew Milky well enough, she would have interesting ways to secure the facility, especially if she was indeed growing gems here as well.

"Hmm...I'm going to agree with Garnet. One group heads to the Security Room, two groups go through the Kindergartens that will lead through to the alternate entrances. Garnet, you know your Gems specialties, I nominate you to decide who goes with who." Snow stated.

Garnet would have to understand the capabilities of the Gems. Which one worked in sync with whom.

"I understand. Steven and Connie will go the direct route. Peridot and Lapis can take the Omega Kindergarten. Pearl, Amethyst and I can go to the Alpha Kindergarten." The fusion ordered.

Sounded logical to Snow.

"Noted. I will guide Steven and Connie, while Dori can go with Peridot and Lapis. Are you okay with that?" Snow asked.

The Labradorite went to the green and blue gems and sat with them, as Lapis patted her back. She would be able to get any messages from Dori no matter how far they were apart. As for the other three gems, she would have faith in their abilities to achieve what was necessary. 

"Sounds good." Said Garnet. "Anyone have any objections? Otherwise lets move it!" 


 

 

Chapter Text

Connie wanted to feel confident with both Steven and Snow by her side. But in all honesty, as Steven succumbed to pain, it worried her a little. She had her sword and he; his shield. Though the way Snow made the Lillim sound gave her minor anxiety and drenched herself in doubt. She had to be strong for him in case it happened again.

They were simply parasites, taking and taking until there was nothing left but a raw shell of ones self. She did not want to imagine him being infected at all and Connie would pull all stops to prevent that from happening.

They diverted at a fork in their path, seeing a tall pillar in the middle of a dark, grey room. Catwalks stretched to the pillar, which held two elevators, where as she peered over it, one could see only pure darkness below. There were two other pillars on each side of the the room, each with different coloured lights. White, Yellow, Blue and Pink. The catwalk did also surround the central pillar and stretched to another hexagonal door. The room had a shine to it, despite the lack of brighter lights. Peridot, Lapis and Dori went to the left elevator. The two former pulled up peace signs with their fingers after they entered and as the doors slided to a close. Connie watched as the elevator descended into the abyss. Next was Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl who went into the right elevator. 

"Please be safe." Pearl pleaded to them.

Connie nodded.

"You too." Said Steven.

There was a bit of tension in the air as the three waved to them before the doors closed and they rose up. It left only the three of them standing in the silence. Connie was almost wracked with nerves, but she fought through and gave off an air of determination as they all nodded to each other in acknowledgement, moving to the doors on the other side of the room.

They both followed Snow in there, which took them into another long hallway with many plants in square shaped holes that were practically overgrown with red flowers with notable long stamens. Connie noted them as Rhododendrons. Steven was captivated by them, although Snow was wary of them for what ever reason, her eyes whisked away, like her mind been taken elsewhere.

"They're really pretty." Steven said.

"They are. But they've been left untamed for so long. I'm sure Milky wouldn't have let them overgrow like this." Snow commented.

It smelled nice, if not a bit overpowering. Oddly enough, Connie felt a chill in the air, as if an opening appeared nearby. But her ears honed in on the whispers, but they were so fast in pace and low in volume that Connie could not hear what they were saying. Neither Steven or Snow Quartz noticed as they continued onward, unabated.

There was another door at the end of this hallway. They went through it, only to see another room filled with samples and more tubes. But these...cases meant for study, held gems in them. Shattered Gems. Steven shuddered, as Connie grabbed his hand. 

"I don't...why...Milky..." Snow murmured.

She went over to a nearby console and tapped away as holographic screens projected for its base.

"These are...failed experiments?" 

The two kids wandered to one of the tubes that had quite a few shards in there. How traumatizing would it be to see something akin a corpse or a skeleton to a normal gem. Steven looked distraught.

"These poor gems...what happened to them?" He wondered.

The whispers returned to Connie's mind as her eyes became fixated on the shards themselves. Was it their whispers? What were they trying to say?

"The data here brings more bad news. They're early prototype gems from the Alpha Kindergarten. But this doesn't make any sense. These shards are...Snow Quartz gems? Was Milky trying to make more?" Snow stated. She filtered through more tabs.

"They had to be...destroyed due to malnutrition during formation. That's what would happen in an enclosed space like this. There's simply not enough resources to supply a bulk amount of gems in an area this size."

Destroyed due to malnutrition? Connie could only think of one human equivalent that she read about...this was just as horrifying. The whispers got louder, as well as the sound of her heartbeat. The thumps were more like somebody knocking her head repeatedly. She took a deep breath, then looked at Steven, who's eyes, to her terrifying sight, were suddenly pink, each a with diamond iris. Steven noticed her stare.

"Something wrong Connie?" He asked, like he didn't even realize what was going on. This had to be the Lillims doing. It was their way of messing with her, like just what Snow had warned them about. Connie didn't want them to worry.

"Nothing, just...looking." Connie continued, as she felt her cheeks blush. Steven blinked, then his eyes turned back to normal. It was definitely the Lilim messing with her.

Snow stopped what she was doing as she came around, checking the pair out. Steven looked okay, but...

The tall gem brought herself down to Connie's level to check on her too. Steven grew worried too. Woops.

"Are you feeling okay?" Said Steven. He was still himself at least. That's the best Connie could hope for.

Connie scrunched her eyes, taking another deep breath.

"It's..disturbing, it's like..imagine the gems seeing this. They'd be mortified...right?" Said Connie.

Snow sighed as she placed her hand on her shoulder. The whole experience would be explained through the Lillim's doing, but to feel it, was anxiety-inducing.

"Like how a human gives birth, gem production also has a lot of elements involved. Milky was looking for specific traits in a gem. It doesn't state what it was, but a prototype would indicate it was simply a test. Whether or not a consciousness existed in the gem, it had to be trial and error either way." Snow explained.

This was life they were talking about though. A thought of being born and then being determined that you're too weak or you didn't meet expectations sounded horrible. 

"How do you feel about this Steven?" Connie wondered.

He may have been raised as human, but previous events had forced them to take heed in the consequences when it came to messing around with their gems. She'd wanted to talk to Steven...or she wanted Steven to tell her how it was. She was there with him and she witnessed everything. On how White Diamond drilled into him and forced him to doubt himself. They won, but that certainly had to take a mental toll on him. He did take comfort in knowing his true identity, but for the moment, his mind almost broke under the pressure of immense doubt. Especially with with how the other gems were under White's power and Steven could do nothing but bring out words to get White to see his way. It was only when words failed him and the pure luck they had when his gem defended itself, that wrought Steven with the kind of agony that came with being torn apart like that. The way White Diamond discarded his body; only caring about the gem she carried like a trophy. Connie's heart skipped a beat with the one thought she fought to deny; that he was dead. She rested her ear on his chest and noted his heart beat was low but it was there. He clung on to dear life as Connie cried for him to awaken.

"Are you alright?"

Steven looked to the floor, before looking at the shards again.

"I dunno...I just hope there was no one in there." Said Steven. His face fell at the thought.

Snow stood up as she examined the shards cautiously as she crossed her arms.

"If there was, they would have been in a lot of pain. They...were put out of their misery and saved an eternity of anguish." Said Snow.

Such creations were more like out of the horror stories she'd heard about...or the occasional horror movie Connie would see her Dad watching before he noticed that she was there and had to turn the TV off or change the channel.

It was then Connie began to suspect that Milky not have been the good gem Snow made her out to be. Snow didn't realize this yet. She was just trying to put the pieces together and to root for her innocence...or even general explanation for something so heinous and potentially illegal, if Homeworld even allowed for it.

"There are several of these rooms scattered around. Each an example of Milky's work. I know it's not actually what we're supposed to be doing, but each little bit will make a story. Come, on lets move."

 

Chapter Text

Anytime Steven had wandered into a Kindergarten, whether it was an accident or by someone guiding him, they always had this negative connotation with them. As what Pink Diamond had stated; they take life and leave nothing behind. It didn't feel different at first as Steven found out that it was just of the process of being made. While he was never given the specific details on how gems were made other than injectors going into the ground for gem formation, they were always seen as a bad thing on the Crystal Gems side, while everyone else was just okay with it.

Pearl's reaction to Amethyst bringing him to the Prime Kindergarten was one of disdain, under the pretense that he simply wasn't ready to see the wider scope of gem reality.

Sure, going to space and seeing how violent things could get opened up his eyes. However, it started a trail of deadly secrets that Steven had be lead to believe were out there, lost in the web of lies and silence. His father noted his age and inexperience could get him in trouble and it did. Steven could freely admit that. But nowadays, he'd still learn about gem culture in ways Connie described that of when she went to school.

He'd see kids like Onion and others like the teens and the cool kids leading regular, human lives. Occasionally he did envy that. Acceptance melted in as he progressed and noted how far deep he was in their little war. Steven, of course, loathed to hurt people but the power of his words made him more of what Connie called a diplomat. In that, it was better to communicate and be constructive, than to lose control and use ones powers to be destructive. In the end, what saved them, was a force of power Steven didn't anticipate and a rebuttal so simple. 

Snow was like that. Or at least, she appeared to be. Her words meant everything to everyone and people just...listened. How magical must it be; for those to take you seriously.

For all her human knowledge, it came to him on how much she knew about humanity and how she learned on how they are. There was something so human-esque about her that he wanted to question, but wasn't sure on how to approach it.

The three had left the room and into another room with a long catwalk that sat above the abyss. In the middle was a crossroads that went forward, left and right. Snow wanted them to move forward, but a chill up Steven's spine prompted him to shiver.

"Man, does it have to be that cold down here?" Steven questioned.

Connie shivered too.

"Is there a freezer down here or something?"

Snow stopped in her tracks as they walked across the crossroads. She checked all directions, before she turned to them.

"The ventilation needs to travel far, although I suspect...." Said Snow, until her eyes snapped to attention to a series of creaks and gushing noises. Steven heard whispers that devolved into a high pitched noise that forced him to block his ears. He closed his eyes for the moment, until he heard scuffling noises, as someone was running towards them. The noises stopped as they could see someone in the distance. They took one look at them and bolted. Steven was fearful at first, but then came a thin being from the leftmost path, white skin with short, dark violet hair, a pointed nose underneath a purple visor and similarly coloured clothes. He then noticed the black gem on her chest.

"Oh...thank goodness I found you!" She cried. The gem looked distraught as she approached Snow.

"Calm down. What is your name?" Snow said, being the stable, if not, the only adult in the room.

"Black Pearl." She revealed as she bowed.

So this was a still functional facility. What was another Pearl doing here?

"I serve Milky Quartz. She's told me all about you Snow. Come on, I'll take you into the next room, you're trying to find the Security Room right?"


 

Black Pearl appeared paranoid. He wondered if this was a shared trait and if their Pearl knew of her. She lead them down the rightmost path, then on right again into another Sample Room. This one was...oddly enough, filled with human junk. A wheelbarrow, different sets of clothes... a tv...all sat on round platforms.

"What is going on here Pearl?" Said Snow.

The poor Pearl looked flabbergasted as she kept checking behind her, as she locked the doors behind them as if she felt like she was being followed. She then looked at Steven and Connie every few seconds.

"Where is Milky?"

She gritted her teeth, nervous about being grilled for answers, before she covered her face with her hands. Steven immediately recognized this behavior.

"You can talk to me." He said, before he pulled up his shirt to show his gem.

"Not sure if I have like a Diamond Override...will that work?"

Black Pearl immediately fell into the Diamond Salute, much to Stevens consternation over the gesture.

"I am so sorry, I knew that Pink Diamond was this planet. Please forgive me My Diamond! I didn't recognize you." She stammered.

As beleaguered as Steven felt over it, he needed her stable.

"It's okay. just...tell us what you can." Said Steven.

The gem cleared her throat.

"Yes...of course. Well, My Clarity was doing experiments with the Sealed Cores from the Lillim Planet and somehow....they got loose." She explained.

The look on Snow's face changed from stern to furious. He'd never seen her this angry before.

"Oh for goodness sake. Why in the Galaxies name would Milky meddle in that? She knows exactly how dangerous the Lillim are. What prompted her to run with the experiments?" The tall gem wondered, as she was unable to grasp a real reason.

Black Pearl rubbed her forehead. Then looked at Steven.

"A cure?" The dark gem squeaked out, then cleared her throat and tried to be confident in front of him. She stood up straight and put her hands behind her back.

"A cure. A Purification Purge was only one way to clear a gem of an infection without destroying a gem entirely...but it always had steep results."

Steven looked at Snow, wondering what Black Pearl meant. Snow crossed her arms and tapped her checked with an index finger.

"What's that?" Asked Steven. 

Snow frowned. It didn't seem good by that expression alone.

"I mentioned the purging process earlier. The Purification Purge is similar. It requires mass quantities of light poured in to root out the infection however, it can also....purge the gem from within." She said with lethargy.

"Technically kills the very personality, the very persona of a gem, but their power remains."

Steven gulped as he grasped his gem from above his shirt. It...sounded like.

"Just like how mom created me." He said.

The Black Pearl seemed stunned, but perplexed by that revelation, but didn't say much else about it.

"What about the Kindergartens?" Snow continued.

Black Pearl scratched her left cheek. Her eyes were drawn to the floor.

"I'm sure Homeworld didn't authorize this." 

The idea stuck in Steven's head for the longest time, somehow with seeing himself come out of his own gem erased doubts as to his identity. But the thought of his mother that did this willingly this to create him...was she infected maybe?

"Yes it was." BP said in just. "It was a project that our Diamond gave My Clarity."

Homeworld must have really hated the Earth if Yellow Diamond had the means to destroy it through the Cluster, while White Diamond had a more devious way to do it.

It was then Snow lost her patience as she grabbed Black Pearl by the neck and slammed her against the wall. Steven could then feel...a darkness nearby that cause his fear to increase immensely.

"White Diamond sent me here to observe the humans and the planet! That order should have been rescinded the moment the war against the Earth had ceased! How long ago did the Outbreak start? Tell me Pearl!" Snow roared. Steven and Connie stood back in fear of Snow's wrath. 

"I...we didn't know!" Said Black Pearl as she strained against Snow's strength.

Whispers filled the room as Steven looked around for the source. This time he heard growling noises alongside them. He ran up to Snow and grabbed a hold of her leg.

"Please...stop...they're nearby!" He called out, almost in tears.

Snow's eyes widened, as she looked around as well. She dropped Black Pearl, who became paranoid with a sweat drop on her face. Snow turned to grab the two children and coddled them under her cloak and hid behind the nearby console. She slid her back down and sat, then drew the pair closer and rested their heads on her chest before she pulled the cloak over them. Steven felt his heart beating a million times a minute as he clung onto both Connie and Snow. It hurt his head as the growls grew closer to their location. He tried so hard to be quiet, if he hadn't been shaking so hard from the fear. He opened one eye to see Connie doing the same as she held on so tightly. He took out his right hand and grabbed her just as sweaty palm. He held it tight.

He almost gasped as they heard the door open. The room's temperature dropped immensely. Thump...thump...thump. Footsteps. Heavy footsteps. The faded light conjured a shadow on the wall, revealing a monstrous figure before them. Bulky and musclebound; surrounded in a thick black smoke. The growls almost deafened him as he felt the bellows from underneath as the ground vibrated. It looked around the room as the footsteps sounds went up and down in volume.

Pink...Diamond...

A voice whispered out to him. It knew he was there. He wanted to panic, but he felt a squeeze from Connie's hand to bring him back to reality.

But reality shifted as quickly as it returned. Within a blink of an eye, Connie stood right in front of him, wearing a turquoise dress. 

Steven... she whispered, but her voice held several inflections and echoes.

The world became a smoky violet and blue as he remained still, as he stared at his feet.

"Connie....what...what's wrong with you?" He muttered, still terrified out of his mind as he didn't want to look. He lifted his head to see that her eyes went jet black that shot a spear of fright through his chest.

She disappeared in a cloud of black fog, but not before she gave off widest and the disturbed grin she'd ever given.

"CONNIE!"

The static and the high pitched ping noise returned at an increasing volume as Steven felt like he had lost it entirely. A flash of light lead him back to Snow cuddling him still as he tried to claw his breath back. Tears fell from his face. He did not want to see that again, for as long as he lived. Connie appeared just as terrified, but still clung on to Steven's hand as she had begun to cry as well. The temperature soon returned to normal as the whispers faded entirely. It was gone.

"I'm sorry Steven...Connie." Said Snow. She had a pained expression.

"This is what I feared. I never should have dragged you two in here." 

No. They had to fight back. They survived this encounter. They could do so. He was afraid of Connie being here, but she would object to being split up like that. It wasn't that he didn't believe in her, but he didn't want anything to happen to her if he could help it, even if it included her having black eyes and everything, he needed to stand by her side. He wiped away his tears and stood up.

"No...it'll be okay." Steven assured her. He picked Connie off the ground as he gave her a glance to reaffirm their stance. She returned the courage in her heart, to give him conviction like he had given her. They checked on Snow who was on the verge of bawling her eyes out. Her hands were scrunched on the ground. But the pair of them lent out their hands. She was astonished by their kind gesture. They picked her off the ground and back onto her feet.

"Your resolve is inspiring. Thank you." She said as wiped the tears off her face.

Steven was adamant to get to the bottom of this. He knew this was the Lillims doing and that what he saw wasn't real. Just..it was too painful.

"You guys alright?" Said Black Pearl as she ran over.

He'd almost forgotten about her.


 

They plotted their next move in the little time they had. Snow apologized to Black Pearl for roughhousing her, who didn't take it personally. She was happy to explain the situation, after all.

"That was the same Lillim Gem that I was fleeing from." BP confirmed.

Snow went back into interrogation mode.

"Just take it from the top Black, so we get a better understanding." She asked.

 

Chapter Text

Pearl would constantly fret over Steven's well being and she wouldn't settle for the chance where he'd be in immediate danger. It's not like she didn't trust Snow, but events had made Pearl wary of Steven's progression on the whole. Humans were weird on their state of process and development. In the thousands of years they'd spent protecting them and the Earth...it was clear they still had a lot to learn.

She'd gone with Garnet and Amethyst to this so called, Alpha Kindergarten...or what ever that meant. She wanted to find out more of this mysterious place and what kind of gems grew here.

"Have you heard of any secretive Kindergartens like this before?" Amethyst asked.

"Not to my knowledge." Pearl answered.

"They wouldn't let any other gem, let alone anyone that wasn't a Diamond, create their own private Kindergartens. Each facet had to be recorded for each colony that belonged to their respective Diamond. How this Milky Quartz got away with creating not one, but two? I have no idea...but she was obviously up to no good."

There was something missing from the picture, Pearl was sure. As they had left the Elevator, they were met with a large underground valley. Made of dirt and donned with gem holes on the rock walls and a steel catwalk with barriers that sat in the middle and seemed to stretch long enough. The area held a chill to it and it had the occasional console that must have been for the differed group sections, most likely to note down who and what had been in them. Light poured from special lamps that gave off an artificial light that was meant to help with gem development.

She'd checked the various types and identification numbers as she typed away. More Quartzes.

"She was totally the rebellious type." Commented Amethyst.

"Imagine creating your own private army."

Every gem had belonged to the Diamonds. But the codes and numbers didn't match up to standards Homeworld used. The word prototype was used over and over.

"Snow did say they lost a lot of gems on the Lillim's planet." Said Garnet.

"Yes, but gems are supposed to come out as they are. Not this...test type gem." Pearl noted, then she noticed Amethyst's scowl.

"Uhhh....I mean, well, as you know we're designed for a specific purpose and are meant to be for that purpose when we pop out. I can't imagine creating a gem who's only purpose is to be a test subject."

It would be a short-lived life, if that. They'd be shattered once their purpose had been fulfilled.

"A Gems potential, wasted and left as an afterthought. Cruel and unnecessary." Said Garnet.

Amethyst herself jumped to each of the holes that were of varying sizes. She rubbed her hand the surface, like she tried to imagine the type of gem that came out of it. It made Pearl wonder what happened to them all. Each of the consoles were the same for each bracket, with the only difference being the gem ids between them. The dates were after the Gem War, so this area was well off after the Diamonds attacked the planet, but production continued afterwards. Yet, nobody, absolutely nobody knew.

There was another room at the eventual end that appeared to be a processing room. More grey and white walls and floors and tall spiked flowers that grew out of the square holes in the walls. Pearl identified them as gladiolus flowers. She walked over to a nearby terminal to get a pinpoint on where they were. The Alpha Kindergarten was created as a circle around the whole complex in four quadrants with processing rooms in between them. The outer most doors leading to a path lead them up to a specific room, where they would stay until ordered out for their duties. It was common for freshly popped out gems to go out on their first set of orders, but for this. It looked like Milky had waited for something. That's if they weren't destroyed before they could see the first real light.

But the text indicated well over a thousand gems were grown on this level...and only two hundred and eighty two of them were deemed success. A dark feeling overcame her, with the visions of shattered gems scattered all around, prompted her to freeze.

"Man...I thought I had it bad." Said Amethyst.

"You indeed were lucky." Said Garnet, who agreed.

"If this was White Diamond's special project, she would have...well...you know the rest."

The thought of being killed as soon as you didn't meet their standards...it was horrible.

That they were once considered defective in all senses of the word. Amethyst, who popped out too late, Garnet, considered a 'tainted' fusion and Pearl herself, with her line of thinking way out of line with Pearls like herself. 

She felt a chill nearby, which was odd. She rarely felt chills. But as she turned to Garnet, she could see her look of concern.

"We better move." Said Garnet.

"I don't think we're alone here."


Their next destination was the aforementioned specific room, aka the Waiting Room that was on the left most door. This room was filled with tables and chairs and more of the white gladiolus flowers that decorated the walls. The area had been abandoned entirely but was oddly neat and clean. The three checked the room around them, to find anything of value or of note. Amethyst transformed into her owl form and flew around, only to find a small, black ball on top of one of the shelves. She picked it up and handed it to Pearl.

It was a Thought Marker.

"Someone left us a present!" Amethyst commented, as she went back to her default form.

Well, not for them obviously. Pearl projected light from her gem onto the sphere, as it lit up and floated in the air. A Snow Quartz appeared, although it was neither their Snow or Milky. This one's gem was on the back of her left forearm and her hair was quite bushy. It wasn't locked to be opened by a specific gem either, it seemed.

"This is A2-X2C. I don't know if anyone will find this but...this place is creeping me out. I met with A1-J5D who was from the first Quadrant, told me to be quiet or else...she'll punish us. I don't...I don't feel stable. Something isn't right here. Gems are disappearing left and right. A3-T9T smuggled in this Thought Marker, who knows where she got it from. But uh...she suspects the higher ups have been brewing something down below. But it doesn't make any sense. They keep talking about the rumours of the other Kindergarten and the dark experiments down there yet when I talk with J5D she tells me it doesn't exist. My orders are to remain in my given Quadrants Waiting Room, but I've been here for twenty years and not a single order has been issued. I've been waiting patiently...although I did create my own space here. None of the higher ups have noticed. Listen, if you're from the outside, wanting to look in because you were a fool to enter, I have a secret room through my old hole. Look for it, you'll see further notes. I'm trying to find out whats going here. T9T has been feeding me plenty of info because she's been sneakin' around. Good luck out there to anyone who finds this message..."

Because I'll be long gone.....

Pearl blinked before the Marker stopped playing. She swore she heard a whisper at the end there, but Garnet and Amethyst didn't seem bothered by it. It must have been here imagination.

"They had no idea what was going on either. They are just as in the dark." Said Garnet.

They moved on to the next Quadrant as specified by X2C via another series of doors that lead them to the Second Waiting Room, then through their processing room, where Pearl found out where her hole was. The second quadrant looked nearly identical to the first, but the chill was much worse than the first one. They found her hole much further down he curve on the right hand side. Amethyst was the first to jump in, then Garnet, then Pearl.

They could see the gem writing on the back of it, noting that there were no secrets there. Subtle.

Amethyst pushed against it that revealed a hidden panel and small cave within.

There was a table and etched on the curved walls were diagrams, pictures and paragraphs of text. Some of the were mainly about the other kindergartens and some were like HOPE/DELTA with Pearl having no idea what it meant. On the table was a small, yellow coloured gemstone. Amethyst picked it up and examined it. It started to glow in her hand and Amethyst dropped it, then it stopped glowing.

"What the..." She said, freaked out.

Pearl rolled her eyes.

"Please don't touch it....I'm getting really bad vibes from that thing. I don't think it's a live gem either." Pearl scolded.

Garnet had her eyes on it too.

"Hmmm. it might be one of the prototypes. Look at the inscription on the table." She said as she pointed towards it.

Pearl's eyes were instantly drawn. The word Lemon - A2-X2D was under it.

"The one made after X2C." Said Amethyst.

The gems inactive status concerned her. It'd been sitting here all this time? What was going on?

"A Lemon Quartz gem? Why would one be here among the Snow ones?" Pearl wondered.

Garnet turned to look at some of the writing on the walls as she adjusted her visor.

"Maybe someone went potty on it." Amethyst joked.

Not minding Amethyst's immaturity for the moment, she too turned to look at the texts. They stated that Lemon was taken away by Moonstones after she spoke out of line. Then was found by T9T. X2C and her tried to get her out of the gem, but she never did.

"Oh no..." Pearl said, distraught over the idea of never coming out of her gem again. Amethyst peered over to see what Pearl had discovered.

"Moonstones?" The purple gem questioned.

"Moonstones work as Peacekeepers from White's Court." Garnet explained.

"They have an ability to generate a calmness with people. As if deception didn't matter and only keeping quiet did."

Pearl remembered them. They often had massive coats and soft, fake smiles like White herself did. They were also noisy when they could be.

"X2C seemed to have the theory that Moonstones were given charge to wipe a gems slate clean."

If it was what Pearl thought it meant to be...she's heard of Gems being purged plenty of times. More than what she wanted to hear, to her dismay. But this poor Gem. It was useless without it running with a personality. Unless White Diamond had intended to control it for herself, like she did with them and and the other Diamonds. It prompted her to think back to White Diamonds ship and how they never really figured out what had happened between Steven and White while they were controlled.

She never bothered to check. They were just so overwhelmed that the war had finally finished and that their struggle had been worth the while, but...

"It lacks autonomy." Said Pearl.

"No thoughts, no feelings. Just...pure power."

Homeworld had millions of constructs made with existing gems. It was nothing new. But even they had a type of persona behind them. It was more like a simple core of energy. Nothing more.

"What do we do now?" Amethyst asked.

Pearl took one look at the gem and stared it for a long time. She didn't want to leave it alone, even if it lacked a true soul. She wanted to shatter it, but pity prevented her from doing so. She picked it up and simply popped it into her own gem.

"I want to study this for myself." She told the pair.

"I also don't want to leave it in this awful place. What if the Lillim found it?"

Garnet appeared uncomfortable with the idea, but obliged under Pearl's logic. They left the hiding place be for now so they could continue on. 

 

Chapter Text

The vibes down here were pretty dark. This looked like something designed out of era two. A design befitting technicians like Peridot herself, if not for the reddish tint that brought concern. 

From the map, there was a four Quadrant round layout of the Kindergarten, separated by processing rooms and filled with the noise the ventilation made that pumped all the way down. Dori lead the charge as Peridot and Lapis followed her nose.  Though the green gem couldn't help but examine the dirt and wanted to analyse its properties and quality of the holes.

"We're gonna be here all day if you're going to examine every single of one of them." Lapis complained.

She went from checking the materia and elements, but it was made clear these had nothing out of the ordinary. General Quartz layout and required deposits. So why did none of this feel right to her?

She checked all the consoles. The gems here were labelled 01 onward, which was coded for this specific quadrant for the Kindergarten as a whole. While large, it was a considerably small Kindergarten, if not one of the smallest she'd ever seen.

"It's important to note done every bit of detail. Nothing seems odd however. It has all the signs of what should have been a successful production line. But where did all the Quartzes go? I wonder." Peridot explained. She'd assume they would have gone to do their created duties and wondered what those specific duties were. The three made it to the processing room as Peridot filtered the data on a nearby terminal. Lapis kept looking around, as if something distracted her.

"All these flowers..." The blue gem muttered.

Peridot didn't realize what she was talking about until she checked around as well. Dark, crimson roses were spread around the walls.

"They really loved them, didn't they?" Said Peridot.

She'd checked the terminal for the amount of data she could pull. It appeared that these batches were meant for each of the Diamonds originally. O1 was Whites, O2 was Yellows, O3 was Blues and 04s were Pinks.

Though an extra patch was created as Peridot continued to rummage through as many files as she could. She opened it up to see something else that was flagged.

A D1 file. The data was linked to all the others, yet, the D1 file intrigued her. It looked like what ever they were doing down here was part of some larger construct. But what was D2?

"Was there a third Kindergarten the maps didn't show?" She wondered. The maps didn't show anything about any other Kindergarten that was there, although she could see the words HOPE/DELTA etched on, like it was a hasty add on.

She then felt a nudge from Dori, who started to growl behind them.

"What is it?" Peridot queried. She looked at Lapis who holding herself and shivering.

"You can't feel that?" Lapis wondered. Peridot grew worried. They heard footsteps as Dori took them both behind a nearby barrier that was towrds the farside walls as two individuals entered. They could see a tall orange gem entered with a skinny, dark red gem with a black limb enhancers on her hands and feet and black bushy hair. She couldn't recognize the uniform however.

"Jasper..." Peridot muttered, surprised. She was half tempted to bolt and talk to her, before Lapis pulled her back in haste...not to mention that Dori bit her hand to stop her as well.

"Shhh...I want to hear what they're saying." Said Lapis as they peered from behind the barrier.

Why would Jasper be here? Of all places?

"I got you the stuff you asked for, Pyrope." Said Jasper.

"Now, you gonna honour your end of the deal?"

What deal could Jasper possibly ask for? Considering the situation at the moment, Jasper remained distant and AWOL unless it was for the obligatory Book Club meeting. Even then, she would prefer to be on her lonesome. Even Steven had trouble in reaching out to her. What had she been doing this entire time?

This was a Pyrope, presumably a Pyrope Garnet as well. Possibly an era 2. But Peridot couldn't see her gem anywhere, until she turned around, revealing it to be on of her left shoulder.

"I assure your prize is on its way. As you know these things Jasper." Said the Pyrope. Her voice was low, but it had the right power of authority.

"As the humans would say, patience is a virtue."

Jasper grumbled as she crossed her arms in annoyance.

"What do you even need this stuff for anyway?" She asked.

Pyrope gave off a devious smirk as she wandered over to the same console they had been fiddling with earlier.

"The Outpost Minors you visited as well as the Thought Markers you collected are all from the same Gem that used to run this Facility...Milky Quartz."  Pyrope revealed to her.

"She's been compiling absolutely indispensable dossiers. Whether she knows it or not."

Peridot did know Snow Quartzes were mostly careful with covering their tracks. Or else the Crystal Gems would have found them a long time ago.

"Yeah yeah, I don't need to know the story for the fourth time." Complained Jasper.

"Milky comes back, goes insane...Get to the point."

Jasper was impatient as ever. But hearing that Milky had turned...insane?

"My, my querulous gem." Pyrope responded, dismayed by Jaspers behavior.

"The Dossiers were generally about the individuals of Beach City. Specifically the Crystal Gems."

Peridot looked at Lapis who was generally concerned about that statement. Peridot grew paranoid at being under the eyes of a powerful figure. Again.

"She did this after the Lillim Wars. She was not under orders to observe...nor was she even given any clearance to create these Kindergartens. The Markers seemed to prove another project of hers. Something known as the Delta Kindergarten." Pyrope continued.

A Delta Kindergarten? Nothing on the maps showed this, but the id number of one of them didn't match with the rest. Not to mention that HOPE/DELTA Statement, that was her only clue.

"You said the Alpha Kindergarten was the first stage, filled with failures...but the Omega was filled with many more quality Quartz soldiers. Why would she even need to create more?" Jasper queried.

Especially with the Cluster brewing underneath the Earth. Not many people were even made aware of that.

"Her general craziness got to the better of her." Said Pyrope.

"No one encounters Lillim and comes out sane. No one."

It got Jasper frustrated as he picked up a flower and examined it thoroughly.

"I fought in a pointless war. You don't come out sane from that either." She roared as she scrunched the flower in her hand.

"Yes that whole Diamond Dilemma was swept under the rug quite quickly." Said Pyrope as she held her chin on the back of her hand.

"However...that's exactly why I am here."

How much did Homeworld know about what they did there? Did they see any of her heroics?

"I worked under Milky for a time, being able to communicate with many of the Stealth Class Gems under her command. Two of the subjects Milky had been focusing on, on my suggestion, were two people. Steven Universe, aka Rose Quartz aka Pink Diamond...."

Oh no...

"And his friend Connie Maheswaran."

Why her?

"What? Isn't that one...Ro...I mean Pin...I meant that...she...he....fused with?" Jasper stammered with disbelief.

Pyrope nodded in acknowledgement.

"Indeed." Said the Red Gem. 

"How much do you know about human biology?"

Jasper grunted as she stood up and punched a hole in a nearby wall in frustration.

"Useless, weak....must I say the words aloud?" Replied Jasper.

To this day Peridot only knew so little from Steven himself. Pyrope simply chuckled.

"Yes...but....Connie...going from what records we've gathered, has been developing. Please understand Jasper, humans change and evolve over time. Like most organics, they can take, hundreds, thousands if not millions of years to evolve through countless circumstances, whether its for survival or due to the environment they lived in. The most recent and common iteration are of the Homo sapien variety. Follow me...I want to show you something...one of the Sample Rooms."

Jasper couldn't care less but Peridot was ultimately fascinated by the topic. Lapis still felt the odd chill as she shivered. Dori rubbed against her, using her fur to give her warmth. For what ever good that could do. She'd worry about Lapis, but the prized Lazuli's pride wouldn't let her.

They followed the gems out of the Processing Room and up into the supposed sample room, still red in hue. They hid behind Dori who took them behind a table, although they could see this room was massive and filled with pictures of humans and a large photo of Beach City. The tables were filled with numerous bits and pieces of human junk that Peridot wouldn't mind making a meepmorp out of.

Pyrope lead Jasper to the largest console in the room, which had a huge projection of imagery they could scan through. She tapped her through and brought up two projections. One of Steven and one of Connie.

"This has all the citizens of Beach City, but these two files have the largest collection of particulars and features, which I would say Milky would have been inputting most of it from their endeavors." Pyrope continued.

"Humans have a genetic structure they like to call, DNA. DNA is...akin to a gems...well, making. Our gems, whether its a Quartz or a Ruby or even a Diamond for that matter, have different compositions. It makes up what we are, like DNA does for humanity. Now you brought up the topic of fusion earlier..."

Pyrope continued to type away as Peridot was being floored with only learning this now. Well, she learned how to grow organic life. But she had yet to realize the complexities of humans themselves until now. Back then she thought each human was like a type of gem. It took her a while to learn that was not the case at all. She blamed Steven's existence for that.

"Milky discovered a lot. Through my sources, we were able to obtain Connie's DNA from the local Hospital. Who'd thought, that getting her blood from there was so easy? Milky said that Connie's mother worked there and had her do blood tests all the time. Steven's DNA was harder to get, since he'd barely ever go into a hospital...let alone get any blood tests."

Milky clearly knew a lot more about humans and their goings on, far more than even the Crystal Gems knew.

"Whats that got to do with Fusion?" Jasper grumbled.

Pyrope sighed with annoyance.

"I'm getting to that." She said. The imagery of Steven and Connie drew close, as Pink Diamond and Rose Quartz appeared next to them.

"Pink Diamond was definitely the most...creative of all the Diamonds. Despite the amount of heresy and the stain it would place on herself and the Diamond Authority, not to mention to total cessation of her own life, the precedence in which she helped create Steven to begin with was wonderfully unique. The start of a new species of what was called, Homo Magia."

The amount of praise with that, was more than what Peridot was comfortable with. And she'd heard far worse, especially when it came to Cluster Gems. Jasper was left puzzled by that logic.

"My Diamond truly died then...but not in the way everyone thought...and here...I was hurting her. Why is it so hard to wrap my head around it?" Jasper called out.

Peridot would love to hear the answer for that too.

"To think, that abomination was all that was left of her."

She served Pink Diamond once upon a time as memories of Jaspers cruel corruption flooded back to Peridot. Her Diamond was right in front of her and they could do nothing at the time to tell her that. They found out too late. Shame, all Peridot could feel was pity. She looked at Lapis, who couldn't even stare straight.

"Our Diamond certainly did have an abstract way of thinking." Said Pyrope, though it sounded more like an insult from what she insinuated.

"In what ever the case may be, her son....her creation has paved the way...a new way for gemkind to evolve for themselves...as well as it gives insights into humanities potential as well. Homo magia starts with him."

No...not this...she was planning to create more Stevens? More gem hybrids like him?

"Ehhhh I don't like this." Said Jasper. Peridot had to agree.

"You don't have to...." Pyrope told her outright.

"But you have to admit, Steven's unique composition of human DNA and a gems light allows us insight into the depths of how that not only affects himself, but how he can affect others...."

Pink and Rose disappeared from the projection as Steven's and Connies merged to become Stevonnie. Jasper made a minor growl, reminded of how she lost to them once.

"I was disgusted by that pathetic display...." She noted.

Peridots projections on fusion were at first, a bit aligned in the way Homeworld would view them. Simply war machines when an army wasn't enough and they really wanted to bring in the firepower. But after hanging with Garnet, she found it out that it was so much more, that it opened her eyes slightly.

"Ignorant Gems of course would be! But...Milky...and me were outright mystified by it. I mean, the properties of the two would make it possible once you ran with the calculations." Said Pyrope.

She projected the DNA strands on both sides of Stevonnie. One labled as Stevens, as Peridot had seen DNA strands before, but just didn't get the deeper meanings behind them. The other was Connie's. Steven's was unique as it held the colours of blue and light pink as an indicator of his half-gem nature. Connie's looked blue to begin with, but held flecks of pink in them.

"Human technology is too primitive to detect this, but...every time Steven and Connie fused, a little bit of him was left behind in her. Making her slightly stronger and could potentially gain abilities humans would only dream of. The mutations were minor however and it would require either a few hundred or a few thousand years of fusion at best, unless she decides to merge with a full gem...its all theory really...not enough evidence to say for sure, but going off human genome patterns..."

"SHUT UP ALREADY! I...I don't...ugh...why are you EVEN TELLING ME THIS?" Jasper yelled. 

She was a brute meant for battle, not for knowledge.

Pyrope was taken aback, jarred from her outburst.

"My...well, if you want me to be thorough..." She said. "But I just wanted you to-"

"I'm not going any where until I get my payment. Understand?" Threatened Jasper.

Pyrope shut it all down as she adjusted herself.

"Your payment is in progress as I said. I do have another job that might be satiate your thirst for a while. I'll throw in a little extra. How does that sound?" Offered Pyrope.

Jasper appeared to mull over it for the moment, before she grumbled in her own begrudged way.

"Yeah. Okay...what is it?"


 

Peridot heard it all as Pyrope ordered Jasper to find a way to get into Milky's Private Chamber, suggesting that the way they were headed was not the only way to get in there. They listened as Pyrope showed a series of vents that wormed their way around the facility. A much quicker route. Apparently Milky's data on Steven and Connie indicated that Milky had plans for them, in which made Lapis concerned for their friends. Pyrope and Jasper went their separate ways, to which Peridot leaped at the chance to see the details for herself as she sprinted towards the large console nearby. The information Pyrope found held twisted motivations. 

"What if they find them?" Said Lapis.

"I don't trust this Pyrope anymore than I trust Jasper."

Neither did Peridot. They had to make sure that Jasper couldn't get close to them either.

"I think we should follow her." Said Peridot, then she looked at Lapis who had mixed reservations.

"If...you don't mind."

Lapis forced a smile as she stood up straight with confidence.

"I agree. We can't let her touch Steven. Let's go Dori!" She said.

Peridot grinned, as the three went on their way.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Connie couldn't get over the fact on how big this place was. So many rooms to filter through in order to get to the one room they had to get to. But the Lillim made it difficult to progress as every noise she heard almost made her jump. 

Black Pearl seemed nice enough however as she lead them through the many hallways that connected the rooms, claiming that while it may take the longest, it was indeed the safest route. They remained quiet, though paranoia would flow through Connie's veins, scared for both Steven and herself. They knew they had to remain silent for the sake of not attracting the Lillim to their location. But there'd be the odd patch of temperature and peculiar noise thrown around for good measure. Just to keep them on their toes.

They were lead into yet another sample room. This one filled with instruments. Human instruments left encased in glass shelving. Three of the four were bewildered.

"I know Milky loved music...but this is kind of...obsessive?" Said Snow.

Guitars, violins, cellos, xylophones. You name it. This place was more like a museum than it was...what ever it was supposed to originally be. Steven being Steven, was amazed as he pressed his cheeks against one of the cases and placed his hands beside his head, looking at a black electric guitar.

"So cool." He muttered.

"I mean, my preference is acoustic, but this does look pretty awesome."

Not to mention far too modern. Looked brand new, like someone had only placed it in there just yesterday.

"I don't find these too important. Let's keep going." Said Black Pearl.

Connie watched Steven's face fall as he had dragged himself away from the guitars. She didn't blame him. Some of the other instruments looked ancient and well preserved too.

They left the room without much fuss, although Connie could have sworn to have heard faint music as they left. Connie looked at the others, who didn't seem to notice. Why was she the only one who was affected by this?

It was was the soft shrilling of the violin that she knew and loved. She didn't recognize the song. But it was sad enough that she didn't even see herself crying until she noticed a single drop on the floor. She stared at it for a while, then looked up. 

They were gone.

She looked around as her heart raced fast enough. She ran forward as she didn't realize how much time had passed...but barely any time had passed at all. Where did they go?

"Guys?" She said weakly. Connie felt herself shrink.

Silence. Though the noise of the ducts seemed to be louder than before.

It had to be the work of the Lillim again. She was sure of it. To break out of this illusion before it was too late.

"If you're doing this to mess with me it won't work!" She yelled as her echoes reflected her words.

She pulled out her sword and looked around and continued to walk on her lonesome. This had to pass. She was sure of it. But it was like the path lasted forever. She couldn't give up however. But the further she walked, the path seemed to stretch towards the horizon. Until she almost tripped and found herself hanging off the side of the catwalk.

Whispers filled her ears again, until she saw...Steven? No. It was same one she saw before. The Steven with the Diamond eyes.

His face was neutral and it reminded her of Pink Steven. This made no sense. He pulled her back up to the catwalk.

"Thanks." She commented. Connie felt awkward as he stood there in front of her, with no emotion written on his face. Just those...diamond eyes she'd found herself falling into.

"Are you...one of the Lillim?"

Diamond Steven shook his head and said nothing. He then turned around to walk away. 

"Wait! You can't just leave me here!" 


 

"Connie?" 

Next thing Connie knew was Steven standing right in front of her. His eyes were their normal colour and full of distress. 

"Uh...yes?" She replied to him. She was a bit dismayed over what we saw.

Steven turned his head to see Black Pearl and Snow talking with one another.

"Are you feeling okay? This is the second time you've spaced out." He commented.

He was worried the first time but didn't say anything out of respect. The next moment was crucial for her. She didn't even know how long she had been standing there. She looked at her hands, which were shaking like mad.

"I'm...fine." She lied.

Steven furrowed his brow. He wasn't going to fall for it again.

"We were walking and you suddenly weren't behind us. You've just been standing there for five minutes. As your friend, I was okay with the first minute, then the second minute...by the third minute you were muttering to yourself...." He revealed.

"The Lillim's been messing with the human? Oh geez...we need to keep moving then!  You'll have to drag yourselves along otherwise." Black Pearl suggested.

Snow frowned. She feared this would happen. 

"No...they need a break. Somewhere we can hide for a bit...." She suggested. 

Black Pearl rolled her eyes. Snow felt her patience with Black Pearl's abnormal attitude wear thin.

"And let the Lillim find us? No...the best thing we need to do is go forward. Not until we reach the Security Room!" She called out.

Snow grumbled in annoyance. She had to put her foot down.

"No...we're giving them a rest. Or do you want to face them alone?" The Quartz threatened.

Black Pearl backpedaled in fear and bowed before Snow.

"I'm so sorry My Clarity. If you feel it is just to give them a break then by all means.."

Break them...

Connie had to do a double take. She did not just hear that murmur.


 

Steven took her hand, ensuring she was grounded in reality at all times. What she saw...and who she saw. It was like it tried to tell her something. She doesn't know how Steven puts up with all these psychic ghost escapades. They confused her just as much as it confused him half the time. The next room was unusually empty compared to the last few they had visited. They both sat down while Snow looked at the perimeter to make sure they weren't being followed or tracked. Steven had Connie sit down against at a wall, as she stared at the roof for the moment, then Steven sat next to her.

She had a knot in her stomach that she couldn't shake off. A lot stronger than the ones she would have when they danced together. That was bearable however; this one was a lot more twisted and painful. There was a struggle to look him in the eyes, after knowing twice that the vision of the Diamond Steven could come back at any moment.

"What is it Connie, please talk to me." He urged.

She wanted to say so much but her throat was clogged with anxiety. How could she explain the things she's seen and heard? Her eyes went down to the floor as she sat with her arms wrapped around her knees.

"I...I don't know. I don't get it..." Said Connie.

"Don't get what?" Steven asked.

What could she say? That she had gone insane? That she had become a liability?

"The...things I've been seeing...I'm out of my mind just...thinking about it." She continued.

Connie told Steven what had been placed in front of her. She'd debated in telling him about the Pink Diamond Eyed version with him, then thought better than to try that. She trusted Steven completely. But that wasn't the problem.

"Do you think I'm crazy?" Connie questioned. 

Her body heat rose as Steven hugged her. Her eyes widened at the gesture.

"No...of course not. It's those Lillim that are making you look crazy." He said. He always the one with the answers that made you feel a bit better.

"The Lillim try to divide people to make them weaker." Snow explained as she came to sit with them. Black Pearl stood in the corner on her own and waited.

"Different witness reports often project ways that can aim to make gems brittle...to make them soft enough to allow the infection through. Imagine pouring liquid through cracks in concrete. It's slow but patient."

But Connie wasn't a gem. Was she weaker because she was human? She wasn't weak on purpose. It was why she had to train with Pearl to be stronger! To be strong for Steven and to be strong for Stevonnie. Maybe they should bring out Stevonnie? To protect each other?

"I'm willing hold to those burdens as you do now." Steven said with a smile as if he read her mind.

Yes. This is what they needed. They were there for each other, thinking about the things that hurt them in order to move on. Just like Garnet taught them to. They pressed foreheads together as Connie felt her mind melt into a puddle.


 

There was both freedom and protection as Stevonnie. United strengths of their components. Compassion, determination, logic, hope and love. A pure Knight of the Crystal Gems.

The noises around them had faded somewhat, with the power of their minds much more forceful against the powers of darkness. Snow grinned as Black Pearl was left stunned by her first sight of their fusion. She said nothing, but approached Snow with the intent of getting them to move again.

"Well, shall we carry on now?" Black Pearl asked. She was an eager gem.

She took them around the catwalks again as Stevonnie carried confidence with themselves. They continued to talk about the next room they were about to visit. Black Pearl mentioned a Sapphire that had once roamed the halls, known as Black Star Sapphire. She once served in Whites Court as well, being assigned to Milky's team on Earth. It appeared like Milky got all this treatment like a higher clarity would as Snow had outlined her importance prior. They didn't know how important she was.

Black Star's chambers were up ahead, though Stevonnie was wary of what they could face in there as they sensed the darkness around them. Black Pearl mentioned that they won't find much, that any of the prophecies that she predicted were often given to Milky to analyze and to determine their next move.

This room had darker shades of grey and plenty of black. The flower obsession was provident, with the walls themselves holding white lillies.

"What ever happened to Black Star?" Asked Snow.

Stevonnie was busy staring at one of the large lillies. It was beautiful, as they focused on the very sight of it.

"She went missing prior to the outbreak." Black Pearl replied.

"I never got to see any of her predictions. Though, one of the other reasons I was hoping to get to Milky's Private Chambers was to see if she'd predicted any of this and a way that we could solve it."

Snow sighed. A Sapphire would have been useful in this situation. If the Lillim Outbreak could have been stopped before it started.

"I was busy in my own chamber until I was attacked by the Lillim Gem. I had no contact from Milky in some time."

Stevonnie stood up straight as they heard the whispers yet again and scanned the room. For that brief moment, they saw another version of themselves with the Pink Diamond Eyes...akin to the Steven version they had seen before. They stood before a nearby wall, face void of any emotion. Memories of encountering White Diamond flooded back to them.

It's okay. Connie thought in their mental conduit.

It's trying to help us.

They approached the figure as it stood there, but it faded away as soon as they got to it. They were confused about it for the moment, though they did see something on the wall itself. They ran their hand over it, as what appeared to be gem language started to glow blue on it. Stevonnie turned to the others.

"Hey...uhh...can anyone translate this for us?" Stevonnie questioned.

Snow squinted at it for the moment, before she walked over to look at it herself.

"HOPE/DELTA." She read.

That was ominous.

"See? I knew she knew more than what she was letting on." Black Pearl pointed out.

But what does it even mean?

"The Lillim are after something. Something specific. Black Star was afraid of them getting a hold of it. So she wrote the message down so someone could find it." Said Snow.

Prophecies and their stereotypical vagueness.

 

Chapter Text

Amethyst had no interest in the backstories here. Although the prospective details about the Kindergartens intrigued her, but also saddened to think of what could have happened if she was made here instead. All those precious gems...lost in flaws and imperfections dictated by their creators.

Garnet and Pearl were seemingly in control of the situation, but it didn't help Amethyst feel any better from the occasional noise that filtered through. The Kindergartens appeared small than the one she was created in. But the sight of the Lemon Quartz scared her slightly. Amethyst couldn't imagine going blank like that.

It brought back the memory of being in White Diamonds ship, specifically looking at Yellow and Blue who had been mind controlled by her. Then she felt herself disappear and return to a conscious state to find White Diamond supposedly beaten and proven wrong.

Steven did something, but Steven failed to elaborate what he did. Part of her was annoyed by that fact and that whether or not anyone had asked him on what really went on between them. She'd ask Connie, but Amethyst assumed she'd tell her to ask Steven instead. Garnet and Pearl never bothered to poke him on the matter either. It made Amethyst wonder if they knew how to poke and prod at Steven until he decided to spill. It wasn't the surface level aspect of his feelings either. The one time he did mention how he felt...especially after the revelations on his mother, he relented...before retreating and reflecting the question to her.

Amethyst loved Steven. That wasn't up for debate. She hated how he hardly cared about his own emotions at times and when he did mention it on the occasion he exploded, like he'd always bottle them up and he'd lash out at people. It took a while for Amethyst to develop her own understanding of him at his core and that he wasn't Rose or Pink. He was indeed himself. Growing up with humans allowed her to grasp her own mindset on them, far faster and easier than either Garnet or Pearl, who were short-sighted on that front. She could have thanked Jasper for allowing that connection to blossom, the way that the both of them believed that they constantly failed the expectations that were improperly forced on them. Smoky Quartz was born from their equal parts of sorrow, pain and love.

He had shielded himself, however. Metaphorically speaking. She hardly believed it was just words that had been spoken that day. Something he did alongside something that he said that could have toppled the almighty White Diamond to her knees. Even from listening from White in that brief moment had Amethyst completely confused about her estranged nature and if could admit it now, was kind of glad she was made on Earth instead of being with the weirdos on Homeworld.

She promised him that she wasn't going to fall apart on him. Amethyst had to make sure he didn't fall apart on her.

Even before the chaos at the Ball erupted before them, the sight of Steven just being miserable told her volumes about how he was. The expectations that were thrust upon him. He didn't need that. She was thankful for Connie to pull him out of that rut, despite the whole pull that ended up with all of them poofed. It proved her right yet again, that only the values on Earth mattered to them. It was Homeworld that had been...incredibly alien.

His comment on her being the most mature Crystal Gem didn't sit right with her originally. His words continued to stick with her.


 

They found another file room...though like the other two, it looked like this one was either broken into or...it had graffiti on the doors. Pearl translated it as  "keep out".

"Of course we gotta go in." Amethyst said with a healthy mix of enthusiasm and sarcasm.

The doors wouldn't open automatically, as Garnet brought on her gauntlets and forced them to slide open for her. They went inside and were met with an odd scene.

The room was dark, save for a few candles. Amethyst went in first as she stood to look around. There were pictures. Pictures of the Crystal Gems. Pictures of Rose...pictures of all of them....

"It's hard to determine if fate could be fought." Said a mysterious voice.

Amethyst turned around to see....herself. No Pearl, no Garnet. She turned around again to see them as stone statues behind her, riddled with violet flowers.

"Who are you? And what have you done with them?" Amethyst cried.

The fake Amethyst walked past Amethyst and stared at the statues.

"At some point, we're all subject to darkness. It's the matter of when. A Sapphire can't tell us this. They only see darkness too." She said, as she put her hand on Garnet's statue.

What...what was she talking about?

"I don't care about what you say, I need you to bring them back...now!" She balked.

The figure wasn't even bothered by Amethyst's threats. She turned to the gem, her eyes black as Amethyst nearly jumped.

"You do not want to fall apart. You let others fall apart for you....so you can feel more whole than they." The replica continued.

Amethyst's temper was tested.

"That's not true. Last thing I want...is people breaking around me." She claimed. She felt wrenched, tagged and thrown. She knew what this was and she let it get to her.

"Who are you to say what I feel or what I want. You're not even real. You're a Lillim trying to get inside of my head!"

The figure gave off a subtle grin as she started to walk around Amethyst with her hands behind her back.

"You gems are nothing without humanities curse to guide you. They've infected you...before we even did. Look at you...a gem who's taken to them...fused with their hearts even. The one you call Steven...he's a danger to humanity and to gem kind." Said the figure.

Amethyst attacked her instantly as she brought out her whip to whack her one, only to break Garnet's and Pearl's statues in clean halves, as the petals of the purple flowers flew everywhere, like a spiralled tornado. She shook the tears off her face, until she saw that Garnets and Pearl bodies were on the floor, but they were unmoving as they had widened eyes and appeared to be looking at one another.

"There's a darkness too powerful to be countered. By that time...you'll see this world burn because of him."

Their bodies disappeared slowly. They weren't poofed, but their light forms faded in black pixels, only for their gems to remain.

"Why are you telling me this?" Amethyst questioned. No way would she let anyone call up Steven in such a nonsensical, idiotic way. There was nothing wrong with him at all. He's different, but he would never want to cause this world trouble. Not intentionally of course. Even if he did, he'd be the first one to rectify his mistakes.

The form turned into Steven before her eyes, though the main difference was that his eyes were pure black. He stood in front of her, with his hands in his pockets, using his voice.

"You know his hidden pains. The foretold Boy with a Billion Burdens. Pearl...Garnet...so focused on their pasts and their futures. They don't even care about the present. Unlike you."

Amethyst growled at him. This was wrong. So wrong. But his image stirred up stupid feelings that shouldn't exist.

"They do care. They also have to deal with their own problems. It's like we're living creatures with minds of our owns or something!" The purple gem pointed out.

The Lillim Steven laughed; harder and louder.

"Why does Steven continue to deal with their problems while ignoring his own then? Amethyst, you call to him to tell him how to express himself. Is that the best thing for him? To tell people how he really feels?"

Lillim Steven glitched in and out of her mind in ways that she couldn't even identify, though some had him in various states of anger and played them like some kind of projected recording as it mimicked his actions one by one.

 It's lucky something has some information that I don't have to get out of them! 

 I'm a little tired... of you guys telling me how I feel! 

She's GOOOOOOONEEEE

That last one she'd never even seen or heard of before, but it was enough to knock her off her feet. She looked at her hands and saw her own tears drop on them. She grew even more angrier to the point of boiled rage.

"You LEAVE HIM OUT OF THIS, YOU DON'T KNOW HIM LIKE WE DO! IF I FIND YOU EVEN REMOTELY TOUCHING HIM I WILL END YOU MYSELF!" Amethyst roared. 

The figure then gltiched into Rose Quartz, as Amethyst was forced to shuffle back as she got uncomfortably close and started to use her voice.

"But my Amethyst, my dear sweet Amethyst. You don't want to hurt me..." She said, so sickly sweet.

That tipped her over the edge as Amethyst used a spin dash against the wannabe, only for the attack to go straight through her. Amethyst tried multiple times, until she split herself into Pink Diamond on her left and Steven on her right.

"Who cares about what I feel? How you feel is bound to be much more interesting." Said the Lillim Rose.

NO. NOT THAT.

"How do you feel Amethyst?" Asked the Lillim Steven.

PISSED OFF.

"I'm glad you're free." Said the Lillim Pink Diamond.

The three started chatting around her as she knelt over and placed her heads on her hands. She didn't want to hear this. She didn't need to hear this.

"Zero plus Zero Equals Zero right?" Said Lillim Smoky Quartz.

No...not their fusion!

"GET OUT OF MY HEAD!"


 

The sound of screeches and screams filled the air as Amethyst saw nothingness around her, then beams of yellow light that shot them away. It then became lighter, as she heard the muffled voices of Garnet and Pearl, fighting off the black smoke that encapsulated her vision. Their grunts and shouts meant they were battling an unseen foe. It wasn't long until Pearl grabbed her hand pulled her too her feet. As usual, Pearl freaked out and placed her hands on her shoulders, her face filled with widened distress.

"Oh my Amethyst are you okay?" Pearl asked in a frantic tone.

Garnet stood next to her and unsummoned her gauntlets.

"The door opened and you took a direct hit from the blast." She explained.

Amethyst took a look at her surroundings. The room was empty, save for the purple flowers. She put her hand on her gem, to make sure she was still there.

"I...I dunno..." Amethyst croaked out.

Seeing them there did ground her back in reality somewhat. Garnet explained there was a darkness that tried to infect her gem. The Lillim had latched on to her, with her none the wiser. They fought them off as Pearl took advantage of the Lemon Quartz's gem to use as projected light. She didn't want to, but something told her it was going to be useful for their own protection where their own gems wouldn't be able to. She could see Garnet staring at her, as if she wanted to examine her closely. She felt okay physically. Mentally though?

"It was like it was trying to break me from the inside. It was horrible."

It was frightening on how they could get into her head like that as if they drilled through her memories and experiences and her attachments to the people she cared deeply for. It wanted her to hurt Steven the most however. Again with the burdens that were not of his own making. Things that were not his fault. Things out of his control. Things out of their control.

It seemed adamant in wanting to see Steven fall apart on her. Like it simply loathed Steven's existence and wanted him dead. It preferred to go about it in the most complex of ways.

She refused to believe anything it said and what it implied. So why did the words cut her deeper than she allowed them to?

"Snow warned us about this." Garnet commented further.

"We just need to be extra careful."

Extra careful? 

"CAREFUL??? I JUST...OPENED THE DOOR GARNET...NO WARNING, NO NOTHING! BOOM THEN IT JUST GOES ON ABOUT...about..." Amethyst screamed, until she burst into tears.

Pearl was taken aback by her reaction, as she had raised and crossed her arms from her loud response.

"Amethyst...it spoke to you?" She iterated, shocked.

Oh it spoke to her alright.

"It...it....it wanted me to hurt Steven." Amethyst spoke, trying so hard to not cry.

Garnet and Pearl exchanged glances.

"Don't tell me it knows who he is?" Pearl wondered, deathly afraid.

Garnet knelt down before Amethyst and stared at her. Amethyst knew what this stare meant.

"Tell us what it told you. We need to know everything."

Yes. They did. Or else Garnet would shake it out of her or Pearl would continue to scream at her...at the least.


 

Amethyst tried to drum down the nearest description of what she heard. Which made Pearl even more paranoid as she bit the tips of her fingers and while Garnet sat down cross legged on the floor with the occasional nod to let Amethyst know she was busy in the absorption of her words. At the end of it, Pearl calmed down to an extent as she tried to make sense of what the Lillim said. Garnet saw nothing like usual. Amethyst wanted to be angry, but if Garnet couldn't see anything, then it was out of her hands too.

They made it clear that the Lillim wanted nothing more than to sow discord among them. The last thing she wanted was them to be pulled into the abyss with her. She felt Pearl hug her as she cried. This should not have hurt as hard as it did, even with the Lillim involved and telling them all sorts of crap. Why would Steven be a threat? Because he was a Diamond? Pffff. He'd talked them to death if he could. Or he'd befriend them most likely.

Amethyst didn't want him to deal with them at all.

 

Chapter Text

Snow had met plenty of humans during her life on Earth. While she was practically supposed to observe from a distance, Snow fell into a habit of meeting new and interesting people.

Specifically those of alternate beliefs. She'd wandered into a temple of sorts, known as a church and sat in the middle set of pews on the right side, where she was behind a fair few people. No one noticed that she wasn't human as they all had their heads down. She did the same. Having never been in a Church before, she could hear the chatter and sermon of a man in robes at the front as he talked about his God and all kinds of fascinating terms. Her mind would not come to the belief that humans could be taught such things as a leader who lived in their skies and never dared to show himself. Sounded like the Diamonds, really.

Snow liked the atmosphere though. The people listened and were silent. The candles everywhere held an interesting glow. Primitive constructs were beautiful in their own unique way as she was busy in noting down the environment she found herself in.

She spoke with the man after his sermon, wondering if she could learn more about this faction of humans. He handed her a black book which she was excited to read but had to ask him a question about the nature of humans. Good, bad...more of the places they could be when they died. Not all humans were completely innocent and not all humans were completely bad.

"Not everyone who goes to Heaven, is exempt from Hell."

The nature of the book was filled with confusing analogues and paraphrases and some even contradicted earlier chapters. She knew what Heaven was and what Hell was now, however. Her research in the matter lead her to find many more books on the topic, garnering the means of sin and the love of God.

Whether or not Gem kind would gain much out of it either. It'd be relevant to what ever the Humans believed in. The simple notion of all an powerful creator was lost on Snow, though creation itself was neither here or there. But it did bring a source of comfort to the people who attended. They took to such beliefs for what ever reason.

Gem kind believed in the power of the Diamonds and their all-knowing, all-sparkling light. They made the rules. They made them. That is the tale of their creation.

Heaven seemed like a source of purity and general goodness and Hell was a source of corruptibility and boiling evils. The differences of light and darkness were very known to them.

Some of it made sense from a humans perspective...based on their own sets of morals and boundaries they'd set for themselves. Not too dissimilar from Homeworlds policies.

Since the Rebellion and the cessation of the war, it became clearer to change these policies as they seemed to hurt themselves more than they helped. The light itself could shine from the Heavens...or from the belly of hell where darkness slept. The Lillim were images of Hellspawn come to corrupt the innocent.


 

As Snow walked alongside Stevonnie, she walked alongside a Diamond. Part of a Diamond. Child of a Diamond. Like Gods Son in the scriptures. Subjected to the sins of everyone else only to wiped away on songs of sacrifice.

It made her wonder, that could God himself be corrupted? Diamonds were not Gods but they were the closest equivalent that existed.

The Prophecy of Black Star could be another Gem like Edda in the tales yet to be told. They were getting closer now. Only a few more rooms to go. She'd hoped the others were doing okay, even if they did have a ways to go.

"I'm wondering, you've been to Homeworld recently." Said Stevonnie, cutting the silence.

"How have things been there lately?"

Changes on the mend with constant discussion and debate over how to change gem lives for the better.

"Much deliberation over their rules and ruminations. Some Gems are taking it harder than others." Snow explained.

"Why? I'd hope with how we convinced White that they all would have embraced it." Stevonnie assumed.

If only that were the simplest truth.

"Every Gem has their role in the Empire. They've stood in that ground for millennia because they know what they are for and some do take pride in their positions. Many fear they will lose all that in the wake of the Diamonds change of heart. It's on the contrary. Many will still keep their roles. Others who did not want to partake are simply allowed to leave." Snow told them.

Stevonnie scratched their chin.

"Leave? They're not saying they're gonna send em all the Earth to live with us?" They wondered.

Snow laughed. Far too idealistic yet, not too far-fetched.

"No, no....it was discussed in a series of forums that they're looking to resurrect dead colonies. Despite all the resources disappearing, they're finding ways to bring them back. Maybe for other free gems to live there." Snow stated.

That was of Blue Diamonds suggestion of course. It would require a lot of effort and may even take thousands of years. 

"But as normal with these sorts of ideas, we can see a lot of arguments in for and against this sort of dilemma. Be glad you don't delve into the more complicated aspect of Gem Politics."

She wouldn't expect Steven to put his foot down in opposition. He was part of them. Their discussions would go unimpeded without him there, though his contribution could be worthwhile. His perspective and fresh look on the reality before them, as well as potentially fantastic ideas they'd never even heard of could be valuable. But their stance was clear. For the moment.

"Okay this room is locked with a code." Black Pearl announced.

"Oh...this is one of the musical locks. Requires a tune to unlock it."

Stevonnie furrowed a brow in confusion.

"A song?" They murmured.

Snow laughed. This was so typical of Milky.

"A Snowsong, no doubt." She told them.

"Which means what ever is behind there is not for prying eyes."

She made a few clicks. No aura or impending darkness was shown. The map didn't detail the rooms contents either. So it was a complete mystery to them.

"I remember Milky talking about it. I don't recall the exact details, but the only words I heard her say was it was about a type of white flower with a bit of yellow in the middle. I looked it up. It said Zinnia but that meant nothing." Black Pearl stated.

A flower of an interesting meaning. She loved her sisters so much that a Snowsong granted them to voice their individualistic natures and feelings with words alone. Words left unheard by everyone else but themselves. It was the only part of themselves they could claim and the core legacy of each Snow Quartz that had been shattered. Milky had several songs made up from past recollection, but Snow did her hardest to try and remember them all. For if she were to be shattered, no one would be left to call on those legacies.

Flowers were simply organic memories left behind. Snow Quartzes would need to learn their meaning and their origins, as Milky had taught her in the past. Simply because if left in frozen wastelands and pastures, they would not learn about life in colour.

"Stevonnie..." Said Snow as she sat down with her legs under her feet while in front of the door. She patted the spot next to her and ushered her to have a seat too.

"Humans can leave powerful histories behind with their deeds. Good, bad...someone will remember. Remembrance is a powerful tool. It speaks of our experiences. But it will not speak for who we are. But for what we leave behind. However we can use it, to project ourselves forward. There will be times will you choose to voice it as you will and times where you will need to leave it behind. You may not forget it, but you will not let it pull you back."

The Fused one was left with their mouth agape of her words. Her kind did that often, unfortunately.

The flower in question Snow understood well enough. They had them planted on the Lillim Homeworld after the war. There was another song she created at the makeshift gravesite of all the Quartz that were forced to be shattered.

Once, we were here...over beyond the stars.

We fought them in fear, cold, dark and shrouded 

There were many of us, in the battle of the world to call home.

But the shadows we jest, it all became crowded.

 

Smash, crash, shattered in blasts!

Come we must move on, we need to, have to win!

Sacrifice here and there, to them it means nothing.

For every one lost, is one given to sin.

 

Every flying petal, is one of our shards

Called on in sorrow, the call to the dark.

We never gave up, not for one little moment...

Till they called the war over, we had to embark...


 

She didn't want those memories of the war to surface, but surface they did. She didn't even notice the door had opened until Stevonnie tapped on her shoulder.

The three of them entered, seeing a room she hadn't expected to see. Images of former Snow Quartzes lost to them in time, alongside huge lists of identification numbers. It looked like nearly that all were created in the meantime. Huge x marks were next to each as a reminder of those who had indeed been shattered. It was odd, because this wasn't tech based. All of the boards on all the walls were engraved in bronze manually, alongside the dozens of Zinnia flowers that surrounded them.

"So many lost..." Black Pearl commented.

"Too many lost."

It wouldn't just be those who died in the war. Those who had rebelled against the Diamonds in the past and those who would refuse to do their duties because of their affiliation with the organic planet they grew fond of. 

"It's amazing how the Diamonds kept on trying with our line." Snow commented.

"I'd wager that would be also Blue Diamonds doing?" Stevonnie assumed.

Snow smiled. Once you get to know Blue better, she saw potential in all gems. Just...don't get on her bad side.

"I would assume so. She'd preserve as much as she needed us to do things others couldn't." Snow said.

"What was your cut then?" Black Pearl asked.

Snow perked up, trying to remember her designation.

"Oh that...um. Well, that's...that's a great question..."

Her mind dipped into her memories. Deeper still was that she had no need for the ID until now. The Diamonds promptly just called her Snow Quartz, but none of the additional code was added. Did..

Did she even get one? Black Pearls expression looked suspicious.

"It'd have to be on here." Stevonnie suggested.

"One of the earlier ones?"

Snow froze in place. Why couldn't she remember her number in the chain? She was..before...no...she was after.

"Milky praised our individual natures. Each of us had a proper name, as opposed to having specific numbers. But each of them here did...so why..." Snow stumbled.

"People do forget sometimes." Said Stevonnie, it an attempt to assure her. But going from the look on their face, even they were wary.

Snow was left wrestling with her mind. Why was it now, of all times, she'd forget her own ID. Every gem would have one and they'd never forget it. It was then Black Pearl brought out her weapon from her gem; a rapier, then charged towards Snow in a sudden and unexpected bout of hostility.

"You're one of them aren't you?" Black Pearl sneered. 

Stevonnie was stunned at the gems anger.

"You're a Lillim Gem! Luring us in here so you can corrupt us!"

Certainly not true! Definitely not true! Snow stood her ground.

"I am not a Lillim Gem!" She roared, her voice shaking the room slightly as she pulled out her weapon, a black and white doubled sided axe, out of her forehead to defend herself. She wondered how Dori would feel about that.

Black Pearl aimed her blade at Snow's forehead.

"This is a list of EVERY Snow Quartz. You see? It says THEY'RE ALL DEAD!" The Pearl roared back.

Stevonnie pulled out their blade and aimed it towards Black Pearl.

"Hey back off! Snow is on our side. I don't know why she's not listed on here either. But one thing I do know...is that she is not a Lillim Gem!" The fusion said with steadfast confidence. 

Black Pearl looked offended.

"You better do as the Diamond says." Snow told her.

The dark gem started to shake with rage.

"But...My Diamond, how can...how you not see? Milky was astute with her notes! She would not have forgotten a single Snow Quartz gem if she could help it!" Black Pearl pointed out.

Unless. Milky did it on purpose. Milky left her name out. For one reason or another. The list didn't seem to include Milky's name either. Every other Quartz here was marked dead..and within her own instinct, she knew Milky wasn't dead. 

"My name is Stevonnie and I will ask nicely. Put....the weapon....down." They said, their tone low but filled with threatened breaths. They remained in a stance with their legs wide and form that was left unmoved. Like a true warrior of courage.

Black Pearl stood back and withdrew her weapon. She grumbled something under her breath. 

"Of course...My Stevonnie." Black Pearl said out of obligation.

Snow stared at the fusion as they looked back at them.

"I was also going to suggest, maybe there's another room filled with names. Or maybe this was just a memorial room. For old times sake." Said Stevonnie.

They had a point. Well Snow didn't know the exact number, of course Milky would be sentimental about it. 

"Possibly. A Snowsong to enter wouldn't be out of line with her either. Come on, if we're done shouting, we should be close to there now." Said Snow as she unsummoned her weapon.

They left together as Black Pearl followed. It could have been nothing, but not once was Snow ever asked for her code. Usually, a Snow Quartz is summoned at random or at behest of their kind being contacted and one at random was always chosen. She had her own comm line and with number but not a code she would have recieved since the start of her incubation. But for what ever reason, she simply could not recall it. Snow hoped once they met up with Milky, she'd be able to answer that. 

It was then the screeches and the static returned to haunt them once more. 

 

 

Chapter Text

Lapis felt disturbed about the revelations about Steven and Connie. She cared for them, more than she'd admit to herself. She didn't properly understand humans as a whole, but she would be frugal as not let Jasper even look at the two.

Even if things were at best, 'tolerable' between them after everything had transpired, it'd be huge stretch to say whether she'd ever trust her again.

Peridot being Peridot, wanted to follow Jaspers path. Lapis relented but she had to push on as well. But following Jasper meant it could be only a matter of time until she'd reach the Security Room before they did. They had to find a quicker path.

"Have you been studying humans?" Lapis questioned, out of a curiosity that burst from reading so many books that a lot of the time she ended up question human logic more than she had liked to. Or even knew she was questioning to begin with. 

Peridot shrugged. Her interest was born like Lapis's own...purely due to Steven.

"Ehhh organic life is born, then grows, changes and dies. The normal cycle of their lives." She answered with her usual tone of apathy and adjacent hand gestures.

Not what Lapis aimed for.

"Ugh, you know what I mean..."' Lapis pointed out.

Peridot rose an eyebrow.

"No...I do not. Please explain." Peridot said, continued in her kerfuffle of not reading into things properly.

Lapis rested her hand on her face and gave a subtle grunt under her breath.

"It's just that....I know those two have been working hard. Humans have far greater limits than we do. And I know suffering when I see it." She said, speaking from experience.

Peridots expression deemed her confused by the prospect of Lapis' words. Though she wasn't entirely ignorant on feelings overall and there was nothing wrong with being blunt at times, Lapis understood that Peridot did indeed try hard to grasp the more negative feelings of others.

"Lapis....wasn't the whole idea of our plan to get them to feel better?" She said, rerouting the original plot into context.

No. She still didn't get it.

"I'd spoken with Amethyst recently. She told me that Steven has a tendency to hold things back in on himself. We can be very vocal with how we feel and as a Crystal Gem we can still voice those feelings clearly because with the freedoms we have now, we no longer have the fear to use them." Lapis conferred to her.

Peridot crossed her arms and pondered Lazuli's words.

"But humans themselves only have their very small lives and they live day to day, working in with the balances of their humility verses how they express themselves in their emotions."

She'd learned that from Greg. One chat on a cloudy day had them chatting at his car wash as he explained as how humans had survived long with their contrasting culture.

"Steven's a half gem. Even the other three don't even understand his situation fully. He's had to either be the human people expect him to be or the gem we had expected him or a merge of the two. There's a imbalance of himself in the mixture."

It left Peridot curious as to what Lapis meant, as she purveyed through her words like an Analyst would.

"Steven is a Diamond. Diamonds have always been our leaders. While our leaders aren't flawless as we're lead to believe, they still have a place in the natural order. Steven's actions in helping everyone else is just how a leader should be. Taking into consideration the needs of others. Or at least going from what he claimed." She said.

Lapis sighed. She's known they had that conversation with Greg as well, comparing that of human leaders of today's standards and what they should be representing. Not all this..oppressive and overbearing ego business. Heh...don't get her started on egos.

"But not the needs for himself." She stated.

"He's got a tremendous amount of strength to carry everyone on his shoulders. Yes he is a Diamond. But Amethyst said he is also Steven. His sacrifices would weigh heavier on him far more than anyone. He isn't his original gem as we've come to know him."

Peridot was skeptical over Lapis' insight in the human psyche, going from her body language. They learned a lot from the humans, far more than once thinking of them as complete imbeciles. Amethyst would take them to Vidalia, or to try and get them to eat like her. 

"We started this idea because of Amethyst. He was less about having fun and more of trying to do his duties. That day building the snow people...I don't know how Amethyst convinced him to take a day off."

He indeed did work hard. He said he didn't mind doing it, but with the amount of effort Steven took with her, with Peridot...with all of the Crystal Gems, he's had to do that on grander scale, visiting every other gem on the planet to make sure they were coping okay. That was in his very being to be like that, with Pearl mentioning that it's just like him to be that considerate and didn't believe that he was pushing himself too hard, unlike Amethyst.

"A Diamond's schedule is always full." Peridot stated.


They came across an empty room, although Lapis did hear a lot of noises nearby. They were about to enter another catwalk until they saw shadowy smoke nearby. Lapis went into a near panic as they bolted back into the room and closed the door. The noises got louder. Lapis didn't realize until she heard Peridot groan that she had her pressed up against the wall. Lapis blushed and moved away, leaving Peridot dismayed. The green gem shook her head as Lapis raised her finger to her lips to shut up, as the static increased. The sound of heavy footsteps echoed nearby. The Lillim were about to head in their direction.

Lapis would have lead them to the other exit they had just come out of, but as they wandered in that direction they found that the door refused to open. Peridot tried to find the panel so she could force the door to open, but the static made it hard to move, let alone concentrate. Lapis popped one eye open to see Dori at the nearby wall as she scratched at it with her paw. Lapis dragged herself over to see where she was getting at. She knocked it a few times, revealing it to be hollow. She ran her hand over it, only for a panel to shift open. She shoved Dori inside first, then crawled over to Peridot, whom tried her hardest to hack the door. Lapis just grabbed her leg with her water wings and yanked her from the door. Peridot was about to scream until Lapis covered it with spare wing. Peridot opened her eyes to see Lapis who pointed to the open panel, who then threw Peridot in there.

With all three inside, Lapis quickly closed the panel door. She heard the door open nearby, with the howling gust and screeches that forced her to drop down with the others. The room they were in now was incredibly dark. They waited and remained still, albeit fearful of the monster back in the normal room. Lapis was left holding onto to Peridot and Dori all the while until the footsteps turned around and went in the other direction.

It was left to them eventually, to realize they had found themselves in some kind of shaft. Lapis looked at Dori and patted her, thanking her for saving them.

"Oh you have some use after all." Said Peridot.

Lapis rolled her eyes.

"Well, we can't go that way anymore if that monsters there. I wonder where this shaft goes." She queried.

Crawling through the ducts...wondrous and claustrophobic as it was, she hated being on her hands and knees. Dori and Peridot lead the way, but Lapis was incredibly uncomfortable. Though they did come to an opening to some...odd circular room. Peridot projected light from her gem and they found the walls riddled with gem texts and odd drawings that Peridot almost squealed in fear at, but only let off an 'eep'

The drawings and the texts were black and white only and they were barely legible, but...

-

When the world of warm is covered in the realm of cold...

When the brightest heart accepts the darkest mind..

Only the Curse of Hope and the Sight of Stone....

Can clear the Cosmos of Despair of it's bind.

-

 

 

"It...looks poetic enough in it's words. Is it a Snowsong?" Lapis wondered.

Peridot shook her head.

"Eh...I can't tell. Haven't studied Snowsongs that much." She said.

Peridot scanned the room with her projected light, seeing the petals of white daisy flowers scattered about. They weren't wrong about the insanity that occurred. Dori herself sat before the text and had been staring it for a while. Imagery appeared near some of the words as Lapis dragged Peridot's head with her hands to examine it closely.

"Ow...ask next time." Peridot whined.

The Curse of Hope appeared to have a light blue diamond shaped gem next to it and the Sight of Stone was a Quartz gem that had bluegreen dots in it. It left them puzzled.

"Blue Diamond? No...the gem is too light a blue..." She continued.

"I'd say it's a shade of Turquoise." Lapis stated.

Lapis looked back at Dori, who looked like she was busy absorbing the words herself. Lapis would give anything to figure out what she was thinking of right now.

"Sapphires aren't normally that...vague." She said.

"Well, according to the ones I know of, anyway."

She then noticed Peridot's gem flowing brightly for an unknown reason as Peridot barely reacted to it until Lapis pointed her finger at it. Peridot then gasped and noticed that Lapis' gem started to glow too. Dori howled as her gem did the same. The world changed form like someone had started to paint over it with dark brown and blue paint.
From what Lapis knew, was that Labradorites with their strange power sets, had an unusual way took into the past with an odd psychic power that allowed them to create scenes from the past based on visual cues and old gem scents. Even if gems were made of light, they still had a sense of smell like no other gem. Other powers from memory included fusion destabilization from Yellow's recommendation, to the usual weapon summonings. She learned that from the old Snow Quartz she met years ago. How they managed to meet was anyone's guess.

A figure appeared in the middle of the room once they were surrounded by Dori's ability. It appeared painted, but it had the size and shape of a noble Sapphire. She had grey hair with a white torso and black skirt. Her gem was located on her right cheek. She had her hands together, then fell to her knees.

"I'm sorry Milky." She said as she started to cry.

"But I got Medusa out like you said. Like what my future vision predicted...but there was too much darkness ahead of that I don't know where she'll go next."

Medusa?

"Pyrope will try and find me. I need to stay here....need to stay here until the darkness passes. I don't know when it will...but if I'm patient I know it will...but...I can't explain the next parts to you...so I will try and sort out the future vision as I go..."

This was like a Thought Marker, except more...colourful.

"I couldn't take your other project out however. It needed more time incubating. We took a big risk in it's creation but with Medusa out there she's bound to go back at some point to find it...hopefully save it from Pyrope's grasp. I always said I didn't trust that Garnet and neither did our mutual friend. Pyrope took all the Thought Markers away, saying that only Snow Quartzes can use it, but your faithful Labradorite's recording this and will leave its residue here in case you come back...or even Medusa's Labradorite. Or any Labradorite, really. Those gems hold so much loyalty...I envy them."

Medusa must have been another Snow Quartz.

"But our other friend. The organic one. You know...she who said this was absolutely necessary for the future. She's not a Sapphire, let alone a gem at all! But her knowledge in gem creation and alteration is far beyond any of our understanding! Not sure where she's come from and how she's managed to grow our project in the Delta Kindergarten. But it's location is kept secret from Pyrope. She has no idea where it is. Not even the Lillim will be able to touch it. I'd like to know how she can see beyond the darkness, like how she empowered me to see beyond it once. Until then...I will leave this fate...and the knowledge of the Darkest Gem in my mind until the day of my shattering."

A Labradorite appeared in the sight as well, although it was not Dori, since the gems position was where her left eye would be if she had one.

"Thank you Luna...you really are the Moon of Comfort."

The vision disappeared as Lapis and Peridot were left reeling from her words.

They looked around. It was obvious the Sapphire believed the darkness had passed, it seems. Or something far worse occurred. 

"That was a Black Star Sapphire from White's Court." Peridot revealed, notably a bit afraid and jittery.

Lapis was more interested in this Medusa character and why she was so important. She was a Snow Quartz too, from the sounds of what she was saying. Something she'd had touch base with their Snow Quartz but for now, they had something dire on their hands. Pyrope was clearly up to no good...as well as Black Stars Prophecy...and the organic being she mentioned. Could have been a human....maybe. It was hard to say.

"But I don't know of any organic species that's been an ally with us in the past. We're all about ravaging the planets and not really caring who's there to begin with." Peridot pointed out.

Lapis wondered on what ever happened to Milky's Labradorite. If Milky was here, surely here Labradorite would be as well. She patted Dori and smiled at her, thanking her for the critical yet perplexing info.

Their next move was just as important. Now they know for sure that the Pyrope Garnet was up to some dirty business they needed to make a decision on whether to take her down but risk Jaspers wrath or continue on the long trail to the Security Room. 

She looked at Peridot whom was still analyzing the texts.

"Peridot.' Said Lapis.

She was a bit unnerved by Jasper and hoped not to fight her again, despite her supposed new leaf that she had turned after all that had happened, but she was determined to find the Pyrope before she got to the Security Room. She was after Steven and Connie as well who were heading straight there too. It was obvious that it was a trap. They had no way of contacting the others in this location to halt their progress nor warn them however. She became very worried.

"We need to stop her. The Prophecy, Black Stars words...the fact that's she needs Steven and Connie..."

Peridot rubbed her chin, the nodded.

"I'm thinking the same thing. Black Star clearly doesn't want Pyrope to fulfill the Prophecy. What ever she needs Steven and Connie for, is surely not gonna be pleasant." Peridot concurred.

Finally, one thing they could agree on.

 

Chapter Text

The darkness was Garnet's biggest foe. She wanted things to happen in the future that she wanted to shape for herself and help pave the way for better futures for others. It would only take a human to rewrite the way she would think and feel about this, given the numerous unpredictable outcomes that had happened as of late.

It wasn't all darkness, but seeing Amethyst lying there as she copped smokes full of Lillim-gas was something she simply couldn't see. It wouldn't let her. It wouldn't let her see the futures she wanted to see either and it frustrated her greatly.

Using the light from their gems, Pearl and Garnet, despite the amount of noise it created, fought off the infection before it could fully immerse itself with Amethyst's gem. Poor tiny Quartz. Always had to get the full brunt of it. Ruby understood the sacrifices meant for soldiers of their like and could empathize with Amethyst on that front, but Sapphire hated when Ruby thought so little of herself, so she could see the similarities in Amethyst too.

Amethyst however, just looked...completely whacked by the experience as she went through the motions. She had to calm down before she could get out coherent sentences into the mix.

The fact that the Lillim had an insane desire for them to hurt Steven, meant that he was in incredible danger. Snow Quartz was honourable to a fault, eager to talk her way instead of being violent, not unlike Steven. Rose would be proud. Rose after Pink Diamond that is. However, Garnet already knew that violence was absolutely necessary when it came to the Lillim.

"What do we do?" Pearl asked, while in a state of distress as she comforted the purple gem.

"That thing almost infected Amethyst! Who knows what it'll do to Steven..."

Garnet refused to let happen. That was the surefire outcome she wanted. It would mean long term sacrifices, but it would be worth it. So,  for the millionth time, she attempted to look into Steven's future. More darkness, but then began to peer at it even more, even to get more detail even if she couldn't even see a lot. There was still so much noise, clutter...screams. She didn't want to give up. She had to see evidence, anything that will give her a part of the future to go with. It wasn't long until Pearl noticed her gritting her teeth.

"Garnet what are you doing?" Pearl asked.

Amethyst's eyes widened.

"You're using future vision again? You're...gonna...no Garnet. Please don't look." Amethyst cried out.

Garnet forced herself to push on as she leaned against the wall. The futures she could see...all the same. She had to keep trying.


 

She wandered into the abyss herself, finding herself trapped in its shapeless cage. She made the roads of light to follow, but they all lead to clouds darker than the storms at sea during the night, with thunder that crashed and lighting that flashed in its chaotic intensity. The rivers overflowed and the dams that held them were destroyed. This power...this level of power countered every bit of her own to prevent her from seeing through the fog.

So she decided to walk through it. If it was a future she had to face, she had to do it head on.

There were so many whispers that echoed around her. Cries and shrills of the people she cared about. She then saw shadows, silhouettes of tiny people that patted about. Giggles of a voice she knew so well. They changed and warped in pitch and tones that overlaid constantly.

You cannot save him.

Garnet instantly snapped out of the vision upon the voices warning to her. 

"Garnet!" Pearl called out.

She'd leaned against the wall, sliding down it. Her head hurt as she took off her visor and rubbed her forehead.

Please don't do that again. Ruby voiced.

I'm sorry. Sapphire replied.

She took it upon herself to stand up once more as she pushed herself back on her feet and put her visor back on. She turned to the others.

"What did you see?" Amethyst asked.

Even without being infected, it was easier to see the influence the Lillim had with their immense psychic power to try and break the mentalities of those around them. She could understand why Amethyst didn't come out that easily. Goodness knows the reaction Pearl would have.

"They want him. I don't know why, but we need to regroup with them as soon as possible!" Garnet said.

"Stick together or...DUCK!"

The door they had sealed shut suddenly burst open as they heard the screeches and screams of the Lillim that burst into the room. Garnet could make out a solid form. It had to be a Lillim Gem.

"Pearl, use the gem!" She ordered.

Pearl nodded as she brought out the Lemon Quartz and shone its brilliant light on it. The Lillim Gem was pushed back as the three made a run for it. She lead the other two down the catwalk, but couldn't get the voices out of her head. She then saw an image of Steven standing there at an intersection. But he looked odd. He was not with Connie and not with Snow. He was busy staring at the floor.

They got closer to him as he looked up. His eyes were not his usual. They were Pink Diamonds. He faded away  like water ripples as Garnet tried her hardest to not freak out in front of the others. The Lillim were messing with her now. Although he was not part of them. His energy contrasted with theirs. 

"Which way?" Amethyst asked.

Garnet looked in all three directions. Then saw the same Steven vision on the left most direction. For what ever reason, while his face was lifeless, there was no panic on his end of the road. She turned around to see the Lillim Gem not too far behind them. She grabbed Amethyst and Pearl then dragged them in that direction.

Again, he rippled away as they ran down there. The further they went down there, they came across another intersection. This time, the Steven was on her right as he ran down there. They did come across another room. Empty, yet again. He was there too as he looked up, seeing a panel on the roof. She understood as ran over there and used her gauntlet to punch the panel up. She threw Pearl and Amethyst up there then moved the panel back as soon as all three of them were up there.

The space was cramped and dark, but it was enough to tide the time until the whispers faded.


She wrapped both her arms around Pearl and Amethyst and brought them into huddle together as she tried to sought through over what she had seen. She needed Steven there, in front of them so they knew he was safe. She could sense the other gems fear that rippled through them. This was her fault. It was her suggestion to split up anyway. She didn't know that the path she sent the two kids on were either easier or harder. For all she foresaw, she'd give anything to see that he was okay.

But the Steven with the Pink Diamond eyes that she saw. She felt more at ease...like he was trying to help them.

"Garnet..." Said Amethyst.

She did take Amethyst seriously. But she didn't take her pain seriously. It was like everything that had been thrown at them, was meant to bring them down. Mentally. They wanted them to feel this way. Garnet wouldn't allow it. She had to keep everyone together. Even herself.

"They say we cannot save him." She admitted.

Pearl's hand went straight to her mouth as her eyes went wide, as tears started to stream down her face. Amethyst did the same, but couldn't look at anything else but the ground.

"This is my fault. But...we can't let them beat us like this. This is what they want." Garnet said with confidence.

It was then the Steven appeared to them from the shaft nearby. This time, all of them could see him.

"Steven?" Pearl gasped.

Garnet shook her head. His face was emotionless at he stared at them and did not say word.

"He saved us. I need to know who you are." Garnet stated.

He turned around and walked away, back into the shaft. It was small, but for what ever reason, what ever Garnet saw within this...vision was not a future of darkness, but the complete opposite. Blinding light and a sense of calmness that surrounded him. He wasn't real...but it was like he had beckoned them to follow him.

Garnet got up to do so, much to the confusion of Pearl and Amethyst.

"I'm not...I'm not sure I trust something that pretends to be our Steven." Pearl pointed out.

The fusion looked behind her to look at Pearl. Amethyst was already behind Garnet.

"We have no choice." Garnet said.

"But something tells me we're not going to regret seeing where he lead us."

Pearl frowned and looked to her side.

"I trust you Garnet." She said.

Garnet nodded.

"I trust you too Pearl...and Amethyst. We'll find Steven and the others...then we're leaving."

 

Chapter Text

They were so close to the Security Room now. Stevonnie couldn't wait to get this over and done with.

It was bad enough having to endure the things they had seen already. But even Snow Quartz struggled to keep her normal, if not wisdom-armoured manner. She remained quiet, as did Black Pearl.

Were it the sudden burst of Black Pearl willing to poof Snow? Or the fact that she would have done so against someone who would be completely dedicated the service of the Diamonds, that raising a finger against them would warrant a Labradorite to attack her? Was that why Snow had her go with Peridot and Lapis? No, Snow was a good hearted gem. She was coping with the Lillim in the same way they were. By their very nature, Lillim would bring them down further than anything else.  Though Black Pearl changed her tune quickly as they came across a tall door and she became very excited as she clasped her hands and smiled with glee.

"Ah finally! We're here!" She said.

She wandered over to the panel next to it and tapped in a few keys.

"Oh finally we can put an end to this chaos!"

The doors opened, revealing a huge amount of monitors that scattered absolutely everywhere. Each monitor was a blue baseless holographic screen projected by four sharp metal corners.The room had the well known chill with the hum of tech and swirl of fans that filled out the sounds. All the light had come off the screens that showed off the many rooms of the facility. Black Pearl's change of attitude puzzled them, but she skipped over to the large console in the middle and did her own configurations. Until Snow came around to examine Black Pearl's actions.

"We need to concentrate on getting to the Private Chambers." She reminded her.

"Find the Locks Program, it should get us what we need."

Black Pearl nodded. Meanwhile Stevonnie had their attention to all of the monitors, going from one to the other, to see if there was anything there. They'd hoped to find the others, but with numerous screening, she could only see peopleless rooms as well as the many cameras that had scanned the Kindergartens. Where were the other gems then? The other doors on both sides of the room, looked like they were the alternate entrances they had talked about earlier. Stevonnie wanted to wait for them before they were to proceed.

Though one room did have someone in it. Someone Stevonnie recognized.

"Jasper?" They muttered.

"What's she doing here?"

Jasper kept to herself most of the time if she hadn't been persuaded to come to the Book Club Sessions by Amethyst. But for what ever reason, she was there as well. Stevonnie grew worried for her safety and whether or not she knew what was really going on here.

"Okay unlocked..." Said Black Pearl.

"Hmmm...thats odd."

So where was everyone else?

"What is?" Asked Snow.

"I'm aware that Milky had the odd secret project but...nothing in the layout suggests any hidden rooms mapped about." Black Pearl continued.

Stevonnie zoned out as the two talked about it. Their voices faded into the background as she continued to screen the rooms. There was one figure wrapped in red. They looked at the camera and all Stevonnie could see was black. It was then all of the monitor began to show static, which made Stevonnie jump and bumped into one of the monitors, causing it hook on to a piece of their jacket and tear a bit of the fabric off of it as it briefly hung on to them, before falling off them entirely and shattering on the floor. Each of the displays vanished, one by one as they lost reception.

"Stevonnie what is it?" Asked Snow.

"You alright?"

The visuals returned, as if the reception was brought back to normal. Black Pearl scolded them for being careless. 

What ever it was, made Stevonnie incredibly uncomfortable, but they nodded towards Snow anyway. But going back to Black Pearls words made them think of something. 

"What if the Private Chambers held the secrets? Maybe hidden doorways or what ever..." They suggested.

Snow and Black Pearl exchanged glances.

"Milky never liked Warp Pads." Black Pearl stated.

"Too much of a security risk, but I wonder..."


 

The entrance to the Private Chambers were now open, as the three exited the Security Room, to see another elevator that had popped up in front of them. Stevonnie was wary to enter, but for what ever reason Black Pearl was ecstatic, which left Snow slightly exasperated by her cheerful mood. The three entered promptly as they allowed themselves to go down.

It gave Stevonnie time to think about it all. Even Snow Quartz looked like she was busy in her own zone of contemplation. Black Pearl just stood behind them, acting like a Homeworld Pearl as she stood there, with a grin on her face and her hands neatly in front of her.

"I didn't see the other gems on the monitors." Stevonnie told Snow.

The Quartz rose an eyebrow as she looked at them.

"Are you worried about the others?" She asked.

Stevonnie sighed. 

"Kinda." They said. Kinda to them meant a lot.

They wouldn't give into doubt. The Crystal Gems were capable warriors and Stevonnie theoretically should have nothing to fear. The Elevator stopped suddenly, as the lights inside flickered as it shook to a halt, almost toppling everyone over. Black Pearl grumbled as she wandered over to the series of buttons on the side of the doors and rapidly tapped them.

"Oh come on...stupid thing..." She complained.

"Hang on, I'll go outside and check for faults. I know this one elevator was incredibly faulty to begin with...Milky was too lazy to get it repaired....I wonder how she coped." 

She jumped up to grab the handles near the top panel and punched the lid open as she jumped outside of the elevator to do some repairs.

In the mean time Snow sat down and ushered Stevonnie to sit next to her as the two crossed their legs. Stevonnie stared at the gem who stared back, then nodded her head and closed her eyes. Stevonnie did the same.

The darkness soon faded as the realm turned white, then faded into a light pink. Pansies decorated themselves around them, in colours of light blue, lavender, blue white and pink that surrounded gigantic white stone figures of Snow and Stevonnie that looked like their eyes were closed. There was an instance of calm that surrounded them; a faculty of peaceful thoughts and freedom. Why Snow Quartz had transported them was beyond Stevonnie's understanding.

"It's okay." Said Snow as she appeared in front of them. She was sitting down the same way she was before.

"I'm just tapping into your local aura so we can speak in private."

Stevonnie was amazed at the beauty of this place.

"But I also wanted to make sure of something. That we both weren't infected. Or else this place would be riddled in darkness." 

Thank goodness for that. Not that Stevonnie didn't believe that they were infected, knowing that how the Lillim worked made them even more paranoid about the concept.

"But from what I can gather about what we've seen so far, I wanted to believe so badly that Milky had good intentions. But now, I'm torn."

It was hard to understand what Milky was trying to achieve in the first place. The Outpost was created as an observation point, not a weird museum of sorts. Though it was cool to see of the stuff they collected, none of it felt right. 

"What would have Milky done with the Sealed Cores you told us about?" Stevonnie questioned.

Snow sighed.

"That's the thing. The only real way to defeat the Lillim was to seal them. But we have no Sealed Cores...no spare or any that were created after the war had ended." She explained.

Milky was the only one who had them? Or at best, distributed them among the Quartz soldiers?

"You don't know where she got them from?" Stevonnie continued.

Snow blinked as she looked at the blue white flowers around her statue.

"No. I'd assumed they were another piece of Gem technology. But she'd kept them to herself." Said Snow.

Milky had the true counter to their problem, yet she selfishly kept the weapons to herself. So how did she get her hands on them?

Snow explained the perils of being on the Lillim's home planet. The Sealed Cores were indeed equally distributed to all the combat ready Snow Quartzes. Small, yellow crystals at their purest form. Snow claimed it was her fault that she never bothered to ask her about them. It wasn't.

"The Lillim had been defeated. There would be no need for them anymore." Stevonnie assumed.

The despair that twisted Snow's face almost tore Stevonnie apart. In the metaphorical sense.

"Foolish." Snow cried out.

"Foolish of us to think like that. But...no...that's not the problem."

War was ugly this way. Steven would believe that there always could've been more that they could have done. For all the people he'd been forced to hurt, he'd give anything to take it back. If he'd known better, the issues would have gotten solved in much less time. But Connie forced him to think from another perspective. Would it have been better know to begin with, even to take into consideration of all the hurt that could have been avoided, or to let them pass because it was meant to happen. He'd could get stuck in the same type of loop as Snow. They certainly could have done more. But would that make the outcome better or worse? He'd have to think about his own pain, know that it's there and move on. He knew that already. But he hadn't been the same since White Diamond and within their small fractions of time spent together afterwards, he'd voice this to Connie in secret; too many what if scenarios that piled up in his psyche as well as the nightmares that plagued him on some nights. He never told any of the gems about this.

He'd shared Connie's burdens because the weight of their pain could be balanced easier as Stevonnie. Her pain was his pain and vice versa. They'd share it evenly.

"The Security detail I checked while Black Pearl was unlocking access to the chambers had some troubling records of Milky last records were of her...being inactive." Snow continued, concerned.

Stevonnie wondered if that meant being poofed.

"I'm sure we'll find something in her chambers." Stevonnie assured her.

Snow nodded in confidence.

"I'll have no doubt about that. Not to mention Black Pearl said Milky had secret pro- WOAHHHH!"

All of the sudden they were jerked out of their mental space as the elevator suddenly moved with a screeching grind. They moved too fast. They were falling.

"PEARL!" Snow screamed.

No reply. 

Snow jumped out of the open panel to see that Black Pearl had not only vanished, but a swarm of Lillim were on their way that nearly overwhelmed Snow entirely. In her panic, Snow closed the panel quickly as she stared at the stunned Stevonnie. Snow took one look at them and wrapped her self around them. Stevonnie wanted to created a shield or a bubble but the screeches and the static made it incredibly hard to concentrate in doing so. Within themselves, Steven and Connie took what was left of their concentration to stick together as Snow held them close. They couldn't die here and they couldn't die now. They couldn't use any of their floating abilities or anything! What was going on?

"BRACE FOR IMPACT!" Yelled Snow.

The noises faded into the sweet music of silence.

 

Chapter Text

At the first strained breath, Connie regained a portion of consciousness as she heard herself take the second, then third deep breaths. Then came the chill that followed a flush. There was no light as she batted her eyes open. She honed her ears to the hollow but subtle gusts of wind. But her jagged breathing was the loudest noise. It became cramped quickly, as she tried to make sense of where she was. Next was the slight, prickles on the different parts of her body. They become more painful the more aware she had become.

The deep breaths were still the audible focus. They quickened as Connie realized she was trapped under debris. She tried to push it all off as her mind became fully conscious.

"Steven..." She croaked.
"Snow?"

No answer. No Black Pearl either. She caught her breath in a cut off gasp as she pushed more debris off, just as a spear of pain struck through her like lightning. The little bit of heaven that came from above, was the fallen light that flickered with the broken globe. It allowed her to look at her hand, as the shock had her shaking heavily. Warm tears fell down her cheeks as she struggle to sit up.

She could see the cracks and holes in the walls of the now broken elevator, then she noticed its two doors slightly ajar. Checking her surroundings, Steven was not there. They must have unfused during the crash. Snow was gone too, until Connie noticed a small white gemstone behind her. She picked it up and examined it properly. Oddly enough one side was pure white, the other, held blue green dot patterned flecks. Flashes of Snow's panicked face went by her so quickly, but then she was distracted by her blade in the corner. With what strength Miss Maheswaran could gather, she pushed herself up on her feet and slid herself across. She got her hold of her weapon and clung on to it tightly and used it to hold herself with just enough balance to be less than upright. Better that than to behold the sluggish feeling she would have, if she were to be scampering on the ground instead.

She remembered to take deep breaths and only focused on those alone as she pushed herself through the opening and into a long hallway, with a long blue floor and black walls adorned with lights and a black and turquoise diamond shaped patterns. No flowers either. Her legs wobbled as her nerves felt like they were on fire, forcing her to lean against the wall after about a few minutes of staggering about. Something got caught in her throat in the meanwhile that forced her to cough and splatter. Connie could see the blood on the floor right after as her eyes rolled to it. What ever impact they had, her organs had been hit pretty badly as she felt her anxiety play with her heart and stomach...not to mentioned the quicker paced breathing she'd developed. No....she couldn't die here. She had to find Steven.

Connie then pulled herself up off the wall and wobbled her way down once more. Echoes of the wind filled the hallway as she pushed herself to move on. Her pain was irrelevant as all her willpower was used to continue herself forward. Where was Steven? Who knew? Snow had yet to regenerate from her earlier poofing, which Connie surmised as the impact being so great her body couldn't take the great force. Unless she shielded the two when they were fused from a possible fatal fall.

She wished Steven were here. She wanted his healing powers...and his smile and his words that would take the pain away. But she felt so weak as she bled from different cuts to her body....and as she looked into her reflection on her sword. Her face was a mess as blood dripped from her mouth, as well as a massive gash on forehead. The bags under her eyes were heavy and she was white as a sheet, like she'd seen a ghost, but it felt more like all the blood in her body had already been drained.

But the ghost stood there, taking the sight of the Pink Diamond Eyed Steven to get her to almost freak out. It was just like that dream again.

"What...you gonna stand there and watch me die?" She cried out in frustration.

He failed to move at all, instead, preferring to stand there and stare. While she dragged herself, wobbling knees and all, to him instead. Connie approached him and put all her weight into the sword to where she plunged it through the ground. Her glare was immense, despite her feeling incredibly frail and pathetic.

But...she became lost in them. The inhumanness, the vacancy and the outright creepiness of his dull expression. He raised his hand to her own, as she flashed back to when Pink Steven touched her hand as Connie handed the human Steven to him. She was left speechless by this bizarre feeling. PDE Steven grabbed her hand out of nowhere and forced her hand open, seeing Snow's gemstone within her palm. He looked at it for a good few minutes, before his stare went back to Connie. She didn't know what to do or what to expect.

But parts of her eavesdropping back at the Beach House had her listening into Pearls and Snow's conversation about her mutations due to fusing with Steven. An aura of sorts she gained from the experiences they had together. That they would find out from direct contact at some point should the mutations become more noticeable. Not that Connie felt any different from the overall repeated motions but for all she knew they developed over time and Connie just didn't notice. She looked at Steven again, who's diamond eyes became purple, instead of Pink. She grasped both Snow's gem and the hilt of her blade as she jumped back.
"...You're my aura...aren't you?" She muttered.

Steven didn't budge, but as Connie looked down, then looked back up again, Steven was gone and in his place, was the sight of herself in a turquoise dress. With teal diamond eyes.
She gasped, then looked at Snow's gem in her hand.
"Please help...I need help....please Snow...I need to find Steven...please..."

Her emotions exploded from within. Connie burst into tears as she dropped to her knees and let go of her sword as she clung onto Snow's gem like she depended on it.

"You cannot hope to achieve if you allow yourself to fall in despair...." A voice said, dull in tone.
She opened her eyes to see herself on the beach during sunset. The only person she saw was...her diamond eyed self.

"You tried so hard to reach out to him when he himself was overburdened. Hope is your only way out of despair."

You can't live off of it, however. Connie was more practical than that.

"Despair is an illusion of hopelessness and can be nothing more than a heavyweight in your Heart."

Which is why she couldn't allow for this travesty to slow her down...but being injured this badly wouldn't help.

"Love is a Shield. Hope is a Sword. Let them be your guiding light out of the darkness of despair."

The vision faded away back into reality, pixel by wave of pixels. Connie was still in a lot of pain that washed over her like a gigantic wave.


 

Time no longer mattered as every minute spent felt like an hour as she hauled herself down as far as she could. Love and Hope were indeed motivators...but it wasn't enough to drive away her pain. Only her own willpower called for her.

The Curse of Humanity is also its blessing.

Whispers coated her mind in a white softness. A less harsh and sharp reality that she had come to know in this forsaken place.

She looked at her sword. It was a bit damaged. Nothing Bismuth couldn't fix. She held on to it tightly as she prevented herself from screaming in agony, like shards of glass that were dug deep into her body. It was broken bones and ruptured organs that were her enemy.

It's too dangerous for gemkind. Because they don't know how to use it properly. They've never had to. No Heart to drive them.

She rammed her sword into the ground again. She shook violently as she tried so hard not to scream as a hiss escaped in between her clamped teeth. This time her sword almost broke...if not for the surge of a light blue glow surrounding it. It was practically beaming with energy. Connie's eyes widened as she quickly pulled back her hand. The glow disappeared as the sword returned back to normal, but not before Connie looked at herself in disbelief.

In any other circumstances, Connie would be amazed. But the flurry of horrible pain and anxiety fled between her stomach and her heart again. Why hadn't she passed on yet?

Her only known answer was a simple refusal to die. 

She clung on to the sword as an Earthquake shook the room violently as horrible, deep and hellish screams reverberated and echoed down the hallway. She's heard this before. But where? His sunken eyes haunted her. He was dying and she knew it. She was dying...and she was alone. He was alone.

Another earthquake sent her toppling against the nearby wall with a nasty crunch. She dropped her blade again as she bit down so hard on her knuckles that they bled worse than the cuts made there before it.

"This is a Curse indeed...I can't let it win...." Connie gasped through her winces.

"But how can a curse be a bles....blessing at the sam....ahhhckck."

More blood poured out of her mouth and on to the floor. Her legs weren't listening to her anymore as her quivered breath became the only winds in her ears and as her vision blurred in and out. She looked at the light above and tried to reach for it. She saw her hand eclipse it as it became shadow. Images of her parents, her friends...the gems fled before her eyes. She then looked at Snow's gem again. Using her last ounce of logic and reason, she imagined Snow telling her that she had become delirious as she dumped herself into the comfort of false happiness and security.

"Love confuses everyone." Connie stammered as she spoke to it, remembering their discussion on the beach.

"It...it can hurt more. It's not just a shield. It's a spear. It's a whip...it's a gut punch....when twisted the right way."

Her own immense, whirlpool ocean of feelings for Steven wrenched her more than the physical pain. All she could think about was him in her last moments. How she wanted to say so much but priorities forced her mouth shut. She wanted one last dance, one last jam bud session, one last fusion...

One last...and first kiss.

Out of all the thoughts that were knocked around inside her rattled head, the only stable one she had was the want to kiss him, badly...but deep down, after the first attempt, she always wanted to leave it him to initiate it and that if...if he ever wanted to. He could take it. It was there. Yes, their previous disputes put a damper on matters and part of her was just so happy to have someone like him in her life that nothing came of it. She took a deep breath as her Aura expanded, like she had fallen into water for that brief moment...she felt like she was floating as her tears drifted away from her face. She smiled and like for a while, the pain drifted away as well. 

Look at you, Incarnation of Hope. It's why you've been chosen. Your Aura has grown strong. But the Sword needs its Shield as the Shield needs its Sword.

She saw something swim towards her. Something bright and pink. Was...was that who she thought it was?

Her aura disappeared as she returned back to painful reality. But the being was walking towards her now. It was Steven....no...yes...Pink Steven and his big, blank stare. The Lillim had to be at her again. She unintentionally dropped Snow's gem with the dizziness being too much to bare right now.

The world is the cruelest ruler to the nicest person.

"This...is.... is cruelty...." She muttered, before her eyes began to feel really heavy. She felt something touch her as she fell in and out of consciousness again. A warmth surrounded her as she suddenly felt lighter than she'd ever been. It felt so nice...so cosy that she didn't want to leave. She looked up to see Pink Steven's face near her. She felt her cheeks blush. She blamed this on the adrenaline that kept her alive so far that she was in such a daze. But it was like the serotonin became alive again from just being held by him. She touched his face and splayed her fingers on his cheek as she cradled it on the palm of her hand. The warmth continued to seep through her as she sat up and rested her forehead against his.

He did not act at first, instead, he stood there and stared at her while she smiled and whimpered softly. She then wrapped her arms around him, then felt her mind fade into the puddle again. She did not mind.

"I'm here..." Pink Steven echoed.

Chapter Text

Pearl had seen a lot of things in her life. Going from the top to the bottom to somewhere in between was a strange feeling. She'd known Knighthood from serving her liege and was privy to all sorts of secrets. It became painful on occasion to with hold such critical information where it could have been useful. But as the one who had to deal with such powerful restraint almost broke her entirely. 

She'd worried about Steven the most, but he would always be on the look out for the well-being of Amethyst and Garnet, who were just as important. And of course, Peridot and Lapis out of obligations. Pearl became attached to them too, somehow. Maybe not like a leech to blood but something similar.

As tense as some of the situations they found themselves in were, it was always up to Steven to pull them together. Like a real leader would. Their saving grace was Garnet right now, like the old times. Pearl still preferred him there though, just to keep an eye on him. Crawling through vents, shafts...and what ever else you can call, small, tight places, rubbed her the wrong way. It took them a while as they followed this false Steven. It was just as exhilarating as watching gem gestation through scanners. Up, down, left right...

It wasn't long until they reached an unusual room. It was filled with numerous wires that connected to a large, round silver table that had an arch on it. The table's platform had a huge, shiny black surface and in grey text that curved around the mechanical silver edge was the word "Apophyllite" in gem language. They were all curious about it, but confused at it at the same time. They heard noises nearby as they prepared to attack, only to notice that it was Peridot, Lapis and Dori who emerged from a grounded vent. It took them a moment to realize what just occurred, until Pearl broke the ice.

"Oh...well, funny meeting you here." She said as her eyes were still widened with surprise.

"See Lapis I knew this would bring us here...I think..." Peridot claimed.

A look on the blue gems face indicated otherwise, but they let it slide.

"This place looks like a secret meeting room. Though, out of all gems that I've seen come out of Kindergartens, I've never seen an Apophyllite."

Neither did Pearl, although she theorized it could have just been the name of the machine construct in front of them. She then only noticed that the False Steven had disappeared. Pearl didn't like it mocking her Steven, so in a way she was glad he was gone.

No one knew what was going on, although they had begun to talk about what they'd seen so far, although no one could agree on who should go first. Garnet selected Peridot to share their knowledge first.

She explained the appearance of Jasper, of all gems and a mysterious Garnet known as Pyrope. She furthered explained how this Pyrope was after Steven and Connie and detailed their unique biology and had considerable interest in them. Then found out about the Black Star Prophecy. Lapis worded the Prophecy to her, which made Garnet shift uncomfortably with their words. Pearl focused on the prophecy, among other quarries.

"The Curse of Hope." Pearl muttered.

"The Sight of Stone." Garnet said.

"Why is Jasper helping her out?" Amethyst wondered. Things had gone so well between them too. 

But most importantly, where were Steven, Connie and Snow now? They couldn't reach them from here and there didn't seem to be any indicators that they were even remotely close to the Security Room. How would they know anyway?

"Do we know who this Pyrope is?" Pearl wondered.

Peridot nodded as she explained that the Black Star Sapphire left a message on Milky's Labradorite Luna, whom Dori had helped visualize for them. Pyrope knew a lot about Steven and Connie's situation, even after talking about it with Snow not long ago. Especially given their talk about Connies very organic structure on the way to an unusual journey. The fact that they were being very closely observed made matters worse.

Garnet sighed. She had a feeling Garnet suspected the same thing. It didn't seem like it was going to be an issue when it first started and maybe it wasn't going to have side effects to begin with, though they could never admit that they would have no clue about the nature of hybrid species and their effects on other people.  Garnet really supported Steven and Connie for reasons that were exclusively between the fusions. There was a refusal on her end that allowed her to show distress, with her feeling like her future vision and it's value were getting much worse.

They also confirmed the purposes of the Alpha and Omega Kindergartens. Alpha was simply a testing ground for new Quartzes, but ended up wasting most of it on so called prototype gems that had power, but had no personality. Omega produced Snow Quartz gems for the Diamond Authority.

"But then...Black Star mentioned a Medusa? I'm guessing that's another Snow Quartz." Said Lapis.

She's heard of Medusa Quartzes on the metaphorical grapevine, but Pearl couldn't envision them.

"The Ancient Greek book that we found out the Library incorrectly assumes Medusa was a woman with snakes for hair. Pff...couldn't be more wrong..." Peridot claimed.

Lapis slapped her own face.

"Oh no not this again." She whined, before she covered Peridot's mouth, who violently protested.

"Peridot believes this gem may have the ability to turn people to stone. That might be the Stone the Prophecy was talking about." 

It was hard to make sense of it all. All Pearl could surmise was that Black Star's Prophecy held the question over Steven and Connie's uniqueness, this...Curse of Hope and potentially  this Medusa Quartz alongside this Pyrope who had Jasper roped along for the ride. Meanwhile Milky Quartz and her crew were no where to be found, except that they were trying to stop this Prophecy from occurring.

An Earthquake shook the room for a few seconds as each of them clung on to something to prevent themselves from falling over. Pearl clung on to Garnet, while Peridot fell on the floor as she held her head in her hands, while Lapis and Amethyst did the sensible thing and held on to something far more stable.

"Oh noooo the Cluster!" Peridot cried, then she became confused.

"Wait yes! No..wait...yes, no that can't be it..."

Pearl would imagine the Cluster acting up like this, but she a had sneaking suspicion that it wasn't. It went back to normal, as Pearl let go of Garnet as everyone stood up.

"We're gonna end up no where..." Amethyst complained.

"We need to find out where Steven and Connie are and get them out. Who knows what that Pyrope is gonna do to them."

She was right though. Pearl deeply feared over their safety and wanted to prioritize on getting them out. Peridot was busy looking at the device at the middle of the room and wanted to tinker with it, meanwhile Garnet just continued to look troubled. It was when you had been around Garnet as long as Pearl and Amethyst have that you knew the subtle, microscopic differences between her stoic face and her angry one.

"You okay Garnet?" Pearl questioned.

"The Darkness continues to push me back." Garnet replied in solemn.

"If only I could meet up with the Black Star Sapphire to find out what she knows. She may have found a way to peer through it somehow."

It worried Pearl if Garnet didn't feel up to certain tasks due to her powers failing at the most crucial moment. Last thing she wanted was her falling apart on her again. Then she turned back to the device as Pearl contemplated on its design. It looked recent, nothing like most of the artifacts they'd retrieved or the ruins they'd raided in the past. The words around the table indicated the name, but nothing of its purpose, though a small portion of it reminded her of the console they once used on the moon base.

"Peridot." Pearl asked the jittery gem. She was only other technical expert in the room.

"I might be able to project some of the contents with this. Is there anyway to get it partially activate?"

Peridot cleared her throat and adjusted herself as she tried to shake off her nerves.

"Maybe..." She said.

The thin gem groaned.

"You either know how or you don't." Pearl stated. She wished she wasn't so...

"I said maybe because I know the architecture is from constructed by Berryite, a type of hardware building Bismuth. They're small but are meant to be for wiring and some software engineering. The texture is quite smooth but I can't see their typical hidden panel here anywhere. Although going from the round design it could be meant for someone to raise the holo tile on top. Let's see..." Peridot rambled. She placed her hands on the base and moved them around for the moment. The tech itself looked kind of new, if not for the odd spec of dust here and there. It may have only been in here for the last several months. Tops.

Within a few moments, two light blue rectangles rose up from the center as a loading screen popped up as well. Peridot quickly scanned all the text as her eyes went left to right. 
They then widened as a projection poured out of the middle and into a blue sphere made of separated squares and rectangles that had a pulse of light run through it every few seconds.

"Stars..." Peridot murmured.

"That's a..."

It loaded up for the moment then for what ever reason, it felt like it was it was watching all of them, then it poured a horizontal ray of red light that scanned all of their gems.

"Scanning gems for infection, please wait." The device said, monotone yet feminine.

Pearl had nothing to be nervous about, but she was nervous anyway.

"All clear. Welcome Crystal Gems. Welcome Labradorite 1G5L-6XS."

Pearl gulped. It knew???

Garnet slammed the device in haste. Pearl knew Garnet didn't want to mess around or waste time talking. They had to find Steven and Connie right away.

"Great you know who we are and what we want." Garnet said cooly.

How much it did know, Pearl held a great need for it.

"You're Apophyllite aren't you?" Peridot said.

This...thing was a gem construct of nothing she had ever seen before. Why was it here though? Stuck in between vents and not in any secure room. Blue lines of light were drawn on the clumps of large wires around them.

"Affirmative." She answered.

"The facility has been compromised. Delta Kindergarten remains sealed. Medusa Quartz remains inactive. Several Infected Gems detected in Alpha, Omega and Delta Struts. Unknown Lillim detected in Delta Strut. Gems detected in Delta Strut. Organics detected in Delta Strut. All remaining Gems located in Apophyllite Sphere."

Well that clarified some information. Organics could only mean Steven and Connie as far as Pearl knew. Everything was happening in Delta however, which made her increasingly frightful for their safety. By the look on everyone's faces, they knew this too.

"Well what are we waiting for? Lets go find them!" Urged Peridot in her usual state of impatience.

"Access to Delta Strut limited. South Entrance Elevator is unavailable. West Entrance Elevator locked. Authorized personnel only."

How convenient.

"Who do we have to beat to get inside then?" Amethyst asked as she punched a fist into her her hand.

"Currently registered active users: Pyrope Garnet, Black Pearl. Registered inactive users: Milky Quartz, Black Star Sapphire, Medusa Quartz, Labradorite "Luna". Temporary Guest Users: Jasper."

Again, this proved what Peridot and Lapis explained earlier. But for what ever reason, this Medusa Quartz was mentioned before, noting that she was inactive. Pearl covered her mouth as she fell into contemplative thoughts to try and decipher Apophyllites odd wording.

"Who is this Medusa Quartz?" Pearl asked.

"No file number detected.

Their best bet was Jasper then.

"Where is Jasper?" Lapis demanded.

"Scanning. Nearest Jasper is located in Delta Strut."

Darn. Pearl dipped further into dismay.

"Where are the organics?" She called out. She knew, but she'd hoped it would give her more information.

"Scanning. Organics detected in Delta Strut."

That didn't help.

"They could be fused right now." Garnet assured her.

Pearl hoped she was right. In dire situations such as these of course they would fuse. But the amount of distress could cause them to split up at any time. With everything happening all at once, anything could happen too. She didn't know what she we do if anything happened to them. She made a promise to Rose and by the stars she would never want to break it. She clung on to Garnet tightly and wrapped her arms around the larger gem and bawled her eyes out. She felt Garnets hand on her head and her other arm around her back.

"They'll be okay Pearl...we just need a way to get down there."

It was then Amethyst started to whack the machine, venting her anger towards it.

"Stupid, no good for nothing machine." The purple gem cried out as she kicked it.

Dori growled at Amethyst, who was then surprised at her sudden hostility and stepped back. 

"Woah easy girl."

Did Dori see something in the machine that they didn't? Either that or she didn't like the outburst. It was then she projected her light from her gem and sprayed it all over the room. Suddenly text began to appear on the thick wires over and over again on the lines that appeared before.

HOPE/DELTA

There it was again. Dori stopped showing off her light as she stood there. Peridot knelt before her and patted her.

"There she goes again. Trying to show us a message....Labradorite creation is so weird to begin with." She said.

"Their programming is generally one of the most difficult to process due to their shapeshifting nature. The materials required aren't the problem, but the nature of the formation must be set right to allow for such flexibility in their forms. As a result, it sacrifices intelligence for adaptability."

This one however was trying to tell them something to their best of their ability. The wording of the HOPE/DELTA had Pearl trying to connect the dots and Dori clearly understood more of what was going on than any of them. 

"I wonder if what the message is saying that something is in Delta that it needs us to find." Pearl theorized.

Peridot continued to tinker with the system to check its stats and particulars. 

"Yes, that would be obvious." The green gem pointed out as she typed away.

"Apophyllite, is there any other way to get inside the Delta Strut without the primary active gems being required?" She asked.

Pearl hadn't hoped for any other answer.

"Access to Security Detail limited. Link to Security Room required for alteration of access prerequisites. Apophyllite Blackbox necessary. Input Request Code for Blackbox Detachment."

A Blackbox? All eyes were on Peridot now, which made her incredibly nervous.

"Uhhh I guess we need to put her brain to good use. We need to take her to the Security Room to modify the access requirements. But I have no idea what the Request Code is." She said.

More red tape.

"Its' obvious isn't it?" Said Amethyst.

"Hope Delta."

The machine suddenly turned off on the purple gems words. Of course it was that. Pearl kicked herself for not realizing. The inner part of the machine opened up and a panel from below uplifted a rectangular construct out of it which had peculiar markings. Garnet picked it up, with it being the size of an ingot. The fusion stared at it briefly, before she looked at Pearl, then saw something behind it. It was the Diamond Eyed Steven again.

"Woah...that's...Steven?" Peridot cried out in disbelief.

Pearl shook her head. What she wouldn't give for a little sensibility right about now. 

"No. It's an illusion." She confirmed. It was offensive that it dared to use his form in the first place. 

"But it's helping us...and for what ever reason it likes to use Steven's form...in a very disturbing fashion."

He raised his hand and spread his fingers out. Upon that, the wires wriggled about and moved on command. It was another hidden walkway in the facility.  The others were hesitant, as it took a prompting from Amethyst to get them moving as Pearl trailed behind Garnet who remained her usual, stoic self. But she held vibes about the black box, with Garnet herself holding a certain, unheard opinion on it, like it unsettled her.


 

They walked through the twisted tunnels for some time, until the Diamond Eyed Steven walked over a panel and opened it without prompt. He didn't fall through it as he just hovered there and stood on nothing. He disappeared into pixels as Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl looked over the edge. It was clear as Amethyst dropped in first.

Eventually they all made it, then saw all the monitors. Cameras that had their eyes on the gigantic facility. Peridot went straight for the main console as she dragged Garnet with her. Meanwhile Pearl and the rest tried to scan the monitors for anything that would indicate or show them where Steven and the others were. She noticed Dori sniffing around, before she nudged Amethyst's hand with her nose.

"What is it girl?" Asked Amethyst.

Dori whined as she gently nibbled on Amethyst's hand to get her to follow. Amethyst wandered over to a broken monitor nearby as Dori pointed towards it. Pearl watched on as Amethyst picked up a piece of brown fabric. That would have been from Connie's jacket. That did not bode well with Pearl at all.

"They must have been here already." Pearl quoted as she looked at the brown and blue gem. A sense of a relief followed by a sense of fear roiled through her as Amethyst handed her the torn piece.

"A struggle took place..or a, slight accident..."

No cameras showed anything about them nor the Delta Strut. Only the Kindergartens and the other numerous rooms in the facility. She pressed her hands to her chest, as Amethyst noted her current distressed stance as she patted her on the back.

"We'll find them P." Amethyst assured her.

Pearl sighed as she turned towards the main console. Peridot rendered herself as she configured around with the device. Then noticed a large square hole on the side panel. Pearl watched as the green gem examined it.

"This looks like it'd fit something quite large." Peridot commented.

Eyes went to Garnet who still held the box in her hands.

"That'd have been to be the insert point for it then." Pearl said.

Garnet nodded as she walked towards the console and harshly slotted the Blackbox into it. She didn't care about being careful, she was most likely frustrated.

The system appeared to reboot as Apophyllites hologram projected itself on to it.

"Security Alteration in progress. Gem Scans required." It said.

Each of them agreed without question to scan their gems one by one.

"Peridot confirmed."

"Ruby confirmed. Sapphire Confirmed."

"Pearl confirmed."

"Amethyst confirmed."

"Lapis Lazuli confirmed."

Seemed normal so far.

"Labradorite confirmed. Reactivating previous authorization prompts."

She must have been here before with Snow it seems. If the Wolf Gem could talk...

"No infections detected. Please remove the Blackbox and proceed to the marked location."

They created a map of the facility in a blue light, then marked the location to where they were. A door opened to their left as Pearl peered down, noting another long hallway. Garnet then removed the Blackbox and handed it to her, much to Pearls surprise.

"Protect it for now." She said.

"I have a feeling we're not going to like what we find down there."

Garnet must have finally seen something if she was that worried. It made Pearl feel worse about it as she put it into the safety of her gem. With that, they proceeded to go to the Hallway as Garnet led the gems to the Western Elevator.

 

Chapter Text

Water. It felt they were floating in it again. They could breath but their movements were dictated by the amount of false currents that rippled around them. It was peaceful, but it was dark. Stevonnie couldn't remain in comfort of the darkness for too long. But they felt empty, a part of them missing in this instance. A crevice left unfilled where no small increment would be able to make it whole.

It wasn't about the hows and whys, but the line of being in there and not there was blurred. A half existence, half way through a door to find out you forgot why you're there. What was your purpose again? You expected an answer from the other side. The reason it beckoned you to come through held dead words and a pair of soulless eyes watched you from the shadows. Watching, waiting. It didn't judge. It simply observed and yet it moved when they moved.

They raised an arm and noticed how pink it had gotten. 

They raised both arms. That too was the same.

Images of that day in White Diamonds mecha flashed through their mind that made them feel odd emotions. Painful. Excruciating. Words, thoughts had become incomprehensible and lost sense in them in the ocean of panic.

"It's time to come out...Pink!"

She'd dug her fingernails around their gem and then they felt it.
They wanted to scream but the twister of their fear, their anxiety blocked their throat. Their body pushed against it and in the moments before pure darkness, was the cold light of her eyes.

Is this death? Was this what it was? It could have happened sooner at the Trial. Seeing Blue and Yellow, their fellow Diamonds, bickering over their fate.
It could have happened even earlier with their body rapidly aging, with the Gems arguing about what they should do.
It could have happened many times.

Why?

Why can't they control their own fate?

Why can't they stop it hurting so badly? They hated seeing others hurt. But...

They were hurting immensely. From everything. A suffering transferred to them.

No. Their mom didn't mean to. They knew this. But...

Rose....Pink....Steven....

They felt their aura fade.

It hurt so much as they felt hollow inside.

A ringing sound echoed in their ears. They heard someone call their name?

Rose?....Pink?.

No.

Steven.

They lost the vision shortly after and returned to the watery shadows. The next thing they noticed were the dark and stormy clouds in the distance. It struck fear in Stevonnie, but they felt compelled to endure it, for what ever reason. The static and the harsh noises echoed through this blackened, watery realm. The sounds were...different this time however. They could make out a muffled cry that called out over and over, intermingled with another cry. Stevonnie tried hard to hone in, but they didn't need to as the cries got louder.

GETOUTHELPMEGETOUTHELPMEGETOUTHELPMEGETOUTHELP...

 

They sounded like...

"STEVEN!"

They were met with a mighty thud on their back as the sight of the the grey ceiling came into vision, with the light almost blinding them. They got up off the floor and realized they were still in the hallway and left heaving deep breaths into themselves in their attempt to return to solid existence.

"This doesn't feel right." They said.

"I don't feel right..."

They found Connie's sword on the floor and picked it up and looked into their reflection. Stevonnie...but a pinker Stevonnie...with the cotton candy pink hair tied up with Connie's scrunchy. Her dads jacket remained, with her turquoise shirt cropped at the waist, showing off Steven's gem and her jeans that acted like three quarter pants, but the shoes had disappeared, like usual and continuing to hold Stevonnie's black eyes. They sighed and sheathed the blade. They had to make do with the situation at hand, having no choice but to carry forward. They still had Snow's gem on them...

"I'd give anything for your help about now." They said.

"You only knew Connie for a short while but you mean a lot to her. You mean a lot to Steven."

It was then a series of flowers appeared on the ground, popping out from themselves to down the hallway. It was the blue zinnias again. They knew they were trying to tell them something. So they followed.

They came across a door on the right hand side that was signed with the gem language, but the top of it had an odd white multifacted sphere. Stevonnie couldn't get in, until it scanned Snow's gem. It flashed green as the doors slid open for them. 

The room was dark but it was very similar to the sample rooms with the large water filled tubes and all. It was mostly white with odd equipment that would match most laboratories. Stevonnie saw a single Thought Marker on one of the back benches, whom the wall it had leaned against having multiple diagrams and so forth. Stevonnie felt guilty for using Snow's gem like this, but if the sphere above the door worked on an inactive gem, it would work on the Thought Marker.

Again, Stevonnie utilized the light source to pour it into the Marker. Not before long, the Marker floated there and out appeared a projection of Milky Quartz.


 

"TM MQ 4453 - This marks the beginning of our newest project. I'm not sure with Black Stars apparent predictions on the time frame that this will finish, but Diga's adamant it will be in time for the Invasion. I don't understand. The Lillim we shut away in the Sealed Cores all those years ago, that Diga helped us create, are sealed deeper down in the facility. The only people who will have access to Core Storage room are myself and Pyrope. The rest of the Snow Quartzes will be the inherent guardians of this place, protecting it from outer forces, especially the humans but they won't be able to get in either. So unless that there was another Queen on another planet, I have high doubts about this. But...still. I trust Black Star. She is one of Whites Diamonds more powerful Sapphires after all. She's the reason we're here.

I know Homeworld after Pink Diamonds demise had been acting irrational as of late. Diga pointed out that Blue Diamond and Yellow Diamond had us fight off the Lillim so Blue Diamond could colonize it, but the truth? She believes that they sent us off there to die. But I don't get it. It was a Rose Quartz that shattered her. Not a Snow Quartz! All our prior problems however, could have swayed them in that direction. Blue believes in preservation and not wanting to put good functioning gems to waste, so instead put us all on a suicide mission for the sake of a single colony! 

But I weep for my poor protege Snowflake. A brilliant Snow Quartz who sacrificed herself to save us. Her shattered, infected pieces lay here in this watery chassis before me. Diga claims we can try and put her back together and to try and maintain much of her personality as possible. Her faithful Labradorite sits here with me. Poor thing, misses her partner so much and barely moves. I'm not sure if we'll even be successful, but with Diga on our side and even though she's an organic, she's entirely confident that this will all work out."


 

The projection then disappeared as Stevonnie caught the marker. That was so much to take in. So much to consider. Heavy footsteps then rang in their ears as Stevonnie hid underneath a nearby desk. The sound of the doors opening had them to catch themselves mid gasp as they slapped their hand over their mouth. There was a tiny gap between the desk's wall base and the floor, seeing a pair of black legs with beige and black feet. They walked towards the back tube and started to tinker with it, they then punched the tube and broke it entirely as it sent glass and water everywhere.

Jasper...Stevonnie muttered.

"Stupid. First I gather the data, then she has me capture the human and that pink beast outside because SOMEHOW THE CRYSTAL GEMS HAVE GOTTEN INSIDE THE FACILITY AND NOW THEY'RE ROAMING AROUND...no doubt they'll come for me...but I'll be ready to tear them apart if they dare try." She cried out in frustration.

Greg and Lion must have been captured. Gosh, it all suddenly got worse. Jasper dug her fingers into her scalp and growled.

"Ugh...you'd think after being fooled a few times I would have learned my lesson. But now....I don't even know."

If anything else, Stevonnie felt pity. Steven, Amethyst and even Peridot tried to get her included into their activities. The Book Club Sessions were the furthest they'd ever gotten to her. Even then, she remained solitary.

"And...Pink Diamond. You were so close...yet...."

A hand rested on their stomach, as Stevonnie examined it closely.

"I don't even understand anymore."

She turned around to smash the desk they were under, which forced Stevonnie to roll out from under it as she did so. Such an act stunned Jasper as she slowly went to look at them with widened eyes. Stevonnie stood there as Jasper tried to grasp on what just happened and who exactly she was staring at.

"You..." She said with a low growl. 

There was a minor bout of panic that flowed through them as Stevonnie went on the defense. But as Jasper looked at them from top to bottom several times, it made her even more confused.

"You're that...how..."

Stevonnie made the decision to pry information out of Jasper...or else they'd have to fight her for it.

"Where are they?" Stevonnie called out. They were prepared to bring out the blade and shield if necessary. But Stevonnie wanted to wait until Jasper had the chance to explain herself.

"What?" Said Jasper.

If there was anyone who needed Snow's guidance, it was Jasper. They'd hoped to get her to open up about herself to the caring Quartz.

"Where...are....they?" Stevonnie called out once more, their face turning serious.

Jasper made an annoyed grunt. 

"I don't know. I'm just the gem that delivers...and she just takes them where ever she pleases. But she's....she's kept up with making broken promises, that's for sure." She said as her body language softened.

Stevonnie was still tense, but they relaxed a little as they were willing to listen to her reasons.

"What did you she promise you?" Stevonnie questioned.

It surprised Stevonnie to see Jasper blushing like she did, a type of awkwardness they'd come to know, but normally you'd see Jasper hyper aggressive. It still took some getting used to.

A bashful Jasper meant something else.

"She...she promised me that I'd see Pink Diamond again." She claimed.

What kind of cruel person promises that?

Jasper explained further on, even given the situation that had been explained to her by Amethyst, Jasper had a lot to think about regarding her actions. She'd been confused and left directionless for months, until they convinced her to join the Book Club. 

"She went on and on how she held the schematics to revive gems. I believed her, but part of me, especially after what...Ro-Pin....ughhh Steven said....my doubt was still my greatest weakness."

Being corrupted like Jasper had been brought on the flurry of vivid imagery thanks to Steven's gem. It looked horrible.

"You can still do some right." Stevonnie assured her.

Jasper shook her head in disagreement.

"It's not about being right or wrong here. It's about purpose. We were made to fight..and..."

A gem like Jasper built to become the perfect warrior, from the day she popped out of the Earth. But what would happen once the fighting was over?

"We were also created to love Pink Diamond." Jasper said, her voice low.

"She was the only one who deserved it."

Then she was 'shattered'.

"I was left standing there, feeling like a total failure. What's the point of being perfect when you're only good at one thing, then you fail at that too. Another Diamond takes you in, sees you for what you're worth. I felt...important...I felt needed."

One feeling was missing.

"But you didn't feel loved." Stevonnie continued.

Jasper remained silent as she looked to the floor. It would have explained a lot, considering Pink Diamonds actions towards her subjects were the best anyone who understood hope, could indeed, hope for.

"If you want to know what the Pyrope has me doing, she has me trying to find Milky's Thought Markers." Jasper revealed.

"We can't open them without a Snow Quartz gem though."

The key was in the Markers after all. Stevonnie showed Snow's gem in her hand to Jasper.

"Oh...how convenient you should be the one to hold it." Jasper commented sarcastically.

Stevonnie smiled.

"Come on Jasper. You don't need to serve Pyrope or anyone else anymore. You serve yourself now." They told her.

Another groan. How would Steven put it? Stevonnie then donned the cutest face they could muster in an attempt to use Steven's infamous charm to persuade the poor Quartz.

"Or...if you need to feel love, I could be your friend. After all I hold a Gem of a Diamond of Love. We all would love to be your friend if you're willing."

Jasper clenched her fist as she was tempted to strike. Stevonnie held no fear of any attack that would be against them, as it was easy to see that Jasper was too busy fighting herself. Her own, millennia worth of programming. She then sighed.

"Pyrope would have me dump the goods in a predetermined room in the upper levels. I'd never see where she'd take what I'd given her, only that she'd refer them as Faraday Rooms, in which I'd have to clue what they are, what they contained and their general location." Jasper explained.

"I wasn't lying when I said I didn't know where the others were. She had me capture the human and the animal...who did put up more of a fight than I imagined...then deliver them to her. So they could be anywhere...down here, another planet who knows. This place is more like a maze than a properly built gem establishment."

That didn't help. Maybe Pyrope didn't put that much faith in Jasper after all.

"But she was so sure these labs down here contained information about the project Milky was working on. I did find this Thought Marker in another room, if you wanted to give it a try."

Of course. They were glad Jasper had started to see the light. But Stevonnie couldn't help but think about Steven as their face fell briefly. They didn't have time to find small, insignificant balls. Steven was out there...possibly dying without his gem. They felt conflicted as they stared at Snow's gem. They took a deep breath.

"Sure. Let's do it!" They said as they forced out an air of confidence from their lips.

Jasper held the marker in her hand, as Stevonnie sprayed light from Snow's gem. Again, the feeling of taking advantage of her limbo state weighed heavily on them and they hoped they'd get the chance to regenerate very soon so Snow could do this on her own terms.


 

"TM MQ 5426 - Diga's helped me reform Snowflake by using the remainder of her shards mixed with in with a new gem creation that went awry. Its horrible but she says it was a blessing in disguise. Only problem is stablizing the gems form into something that wasn't going to go crazy or fall apart straight away. I've never done this before in all honesty. I'd rather Pyrope handle this but Diga tells me to keep it away from her. Does she worry that the Garnet will tell Homeworld on what we're really doing? I don't know. Pyrope's always been the odd one but she's a Kindergartner by design! She could prove useful. I bring the topic up constantly and Diga outright says no every time.

What surprised me was...Diga's contribution to it all. She's got this power about her she said she'll impart to Snowflake and warned me that she might not come out the same way but twice as stronger. She'll be able to preserve a large drive of her memories but not necessarily her personality. I love Snowflake with all my gem, but...what's the point of having the memories if the personality isn't there to back it up? But that's the case with Personality Purges. Not to mention the other Quartz gems who popped out stillborn from the Alpha Kindergarten. They contained power but no sentience by default.

I feel like I was out of my mind when I gave her...well, her own room to work in. She claims she's not a homo sapien, but a homo magia, a kind of offshoot relative. Maybe...for someone who's observed the humans for a while, I've never known anyone like Diga before. She told me I'm the only one allowed in her room to check on Snowflake's progress once we get the shards into her quarters. I don't know what technology or magic Diga uses to do this, but it must be known to them. Black Star trusts her. In fact, the Sapphire was the first one to mention that Diga was the one to pull out us out into the fold and help us out with our future. Black Pearl remained indifferent as usual.

But progress on our current, main project is doing well. The experiences with the other Kindergartens has given us a well inclined understanding of gem construction overall. I'm new to the construction process but I'm not sure why White Diamond of all people picked me to do this. What else did Black Star see?"


 

Stevonnie could immediately see by the strained looked on Jaspers face that she was not at all comfortable with this on the whole as she went to go sit down, as if trying to absorb what Milky was saying. Stevonnie did understand some of the terminology and it made them absolutely disturbed by the notation of it. But they'd never heard of any Homo Magia species before. So many questions, so little answers. They sat by Jasper whom just couldn't wrap her head around it.

"Jasper?" Said Stevonnie.

The Quartz ran her fingers over her scalp.

"What...what they did was wrong....resurrecting a dead gem..." She said.

"A Gem who gets shattered...stays shattered."

That surprised Stevonnie. Jasper would have known about the...cluster and the fused experiments too.

"Yet, you want Pink Diamond back...." They pointed out.

Jasper slammed the floor, sending off a minor shake in the ground.

"They get shattered because they're weak or they're a rebel. That's final for us." The gem continued.

"But..."

Stevonnie shifted as they heard whispers nearby. The Lillim were close.

"Jasper..." Stevonnie muttered.

"You know the darkness that lies down here. If left unchecked, it'll reek havoc on the surface. Milky was preparing for this and she helped create something to fight it. What she did was immoral, but I've heard tales of the Lillim from this Snow Quartz. They infect gems...then...nothing of that gem remains, only leaving behind a thoughtless monster. You don't want that."

Again...

Corruption was well known to Jasper, so she looked at the green patch on her left hand. She did not want to return to such a state. Stevonnie could sense her ire and the copious amounts of inflamed conflicts that raged within her and rested their hand on hers.

"You are a strong gem and I need your help to solve this and look..."

Stevonnie then took it and rested Jaspers hand on their gem. Jasper was shocked as her fingers ran around it, who then blushed in response to touching it.

"Your Diamond is right here. Safe as us. I know she's not what you expected but I'm a hundred percent sure she would want you to fight this. We want you to fight this."

In reality, yes...she would. But she was gone and only Steven remained...even if his human side wasn't with them, Stevonnie knew Steven would want this for Jasper too.

They noted Jaspers stare as she looked at Stevonnie. Her eyes widened as Stevonnie noted their own diamond designs as they looked into the reflection of Jaspers.

"You...you're right." Jasper admitted with her body relaxing, as if letting go of her hate.

"We have no time to be confused. Pyrope only told me two things. One, the Delta Kindergarten is to the north of here, but there isn't any current way to access it...and two, she has her own chambers in the south eastern parts of the Delta Strut. If...Steven was anywhere...alongside the other human and that beast thing, I have a suspicion that they're there."

Finally.  Though they had to debate on how they would even get to either of them.

"There are locked entrances that I've not be been able to get into without Pyrope being with me. I'd planned on smashing the doors, but they're too sturdy and tough. They didn't skimp on their security down here."

Which was why Jasper needed the Snow Quartz gem. Stevonnie looked it in her hand.

"She's apparently got other more important duti- WOAH."

Another hellish growl echoed as the room shook from its force. Jasper embraced Stevonnie, wrapping her arms and pushing their bodies together to protect them from oncoming objects that fell from above, then swirled themselves around as Jasper used her body as a shield while they laid on the floor and waited for the tremors to cease. They stopped after a moment, as Jasper lifted her head to look at the fusion. Suffice to say, Stevonnie was too stunned to move.

"You alright?" Jasper asked.

"My Diamond?"

It was a strange feeling to be called that. Steven's memories told Stevonnie that they'd preferred to be called their normal name by default, but given how fragile Jaspers mental state was, it was better for her to be what Jasper needed and depended on for a source of strength, if that's what made her comfortable and able to be functional to an extent. 

"I umm...I'm fine...if you could get off me. Please." They told her.

Jasper swallowed as she jumped off them, then bashfully gave her hand and remained quiet as Stevonnie took it and got on their feet.

"According to Pyrope, that's our...salvation as she calls it." Jasper commented with ire.

Nothing in existence would call something that comes out of hell, salvation. Quite the contrary. If they had to do anything, it had to be now. The pair ran outside as Jasper lead them towards Pyrope's Chambers.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Lapis couldn't have been the only one who felt it. She kept staring at Dori who felt the same way. 

Thanks to the construct, they were able to gain access to the Western Entrance down into the Delta Strut. All the gems were on edge and when she looked at Garnet, she could feel her paranoia as she continued to attempt to peer into the future, but as mentioned by Amethyst, all she could see was the darkness every single time.

She could feel it all around her. The shadowy presence of evil. Part of her was unaffected it by it, but the way it affected the others was worse than Blue Diamonds Aura. No. It was the Aura of the Lillim.

All Diamonds had their own special Aura. Snow Quartz said all gems have such a thing, but they're meant to emit it alongside their light forged mass, so one could still detect a gem if they weren't able to see it and if they had the right ability to do so. Steven had his own Aura, befitting a diamond such as himself. She could differentiate the different emotions the Diamonds gave off. Yellow's was an electric anger, Blue's was watery sadness and Steven's was flowery joy. White's was supposedly something that could suppress it all. Wouldn't that be nice?

She recalled discussing this topic with Steven a while ago, after a Book Club Session. They'd discussed a book about psychic powers...a young girl who had become a chosen Prophet and could sense the energies in people. It fascinated Steven if anything else.


 

"The Diamonds have Auras too." Steven told her.

Another  informative session had been completed with Lapis, Peridot, Connie and Steven himself who stayed behind to discuss one of the books they had read together. Lapis enjoyed it for the amount of angst it had provided. In fact, she was a fan of a lot of angsty stories that she shared with Peridot. Though Peridot would always point out the logical fallacies and plot holes and why every liked to scream at each other and cry. If only she knew.

"I guess that's the reason why I can jump around in peoples heads, like Amy does in the book."

 It forced Lapis to recall her time with Jasper as Malachite and her reaction to Steven being there, of all people. He just had to interfere. It had to be him and only him.

"Amy's power is to see into the future like a Sapphire can." Peridot noted.

"But so far it's all just a jumbled mess with the other character who shouldn't even have an Aura. I mean, a Gems projections of light aren't classified as special otherwise."

The book detailed her male friend who'd been taking it hard with numerous visions of his own, by none of his own doing. They'd hadn't gone far into the series, but Lapis was curious if at some point he'd turn insane. That amount of torture Lapis understood. So far, his resolve was strong. He cared for Amy greatly, but he didn't know or understand what he was seeing half the time.

"Heh...I can vouch for his side. It happens." Steven said, a bit too casually with the side of awkward laughter.

Which made Lapis wonder how much Steven had seen on his end so far. His power as a Diamond, mixed in with his human side, is...complex. Peridot explained to her about his jumbled genetics and that his magical prowess had some unforeseen complications.

"How do you cope with it all?" Lapis queried.

"I mean, if you see stuff like...he sees..."

Steven blinked twice before he turned back to the book, his face void of any known emotion.

"He's a hero." He answered, though the way he said it, tone that drifted, indicated much more hidden underneath the surface.

Being a hero couldn't be the only part of it. The more books Lapis went through, the more she understood. Heroism is a choice to challenge fate for the better where you can. Upon deconstruction For common sense to be ripped out of you and challenging your own memory, your own sense of self and the lies that the false reality crafted before you....being a hero wouldn't be the solution.

"He's got a great hold on his will power." Said Connie.

"Chell recommended this book to me a while back. She said she admired the characters tenacity."

Peridot rose an eyebrow.

"What? Chell actually spoke to you? I thought she had her voice modulator ripped out of her neck orifice." The green gem said.

Chell was one of the Library staff. Lapis liked her because she was so quiet all of the time and grew equally exasperated when ever Peridot was roaming around, looking for new books.

"No, she's just mute." Connie corrected.

"Sometimes she's hard to understand. But I'm currently learning sign language from her so we can talk properly."

Steven grinned.

"Yeah some of the gems I've been working with are like that too. We're both learning it so we can communicate better." He told them.

"WE'RE GETTING OFF TOPIC!" Peridot roared as she waved her hands about.

"Anyway, so Steven. You've confirmed something that yes, the Diamonds do have abilities unique to them and why most of Homeworld would be foolish to have to deal with the amount of power they wield to maintain their rule over them. Might means right."

Lapis grinned devilishly. 

"You mean, you were foolish when you got poofed by Yellow Diamond and taunted White Diamond only to get smacked?" She pointed out.

Peridot then blushed profusely.

"I uhhh...well, yeah I guess I am a fool." She choked out.

Connie laughed.

"A brave fool." She commented.

No doubt about that.

"Sometimes you gotta do foolish things in order to protect the people you care about." Said Steven as he looked fondly at Connie.

"Make sure it's not too foolish. Or else you could hurt more than you help."

That's true too, however some lines needed to be drawn.

"There's a difference between being brave and being an outright idiot." Said Lapis.

Connie nodded in agreement.

"Lapis is right. However, I do agree that stepping into the unknown is hard. As Amy is going through the same thing as the main character is, they need to work together so they don't lose sight of whats important." She said.

Lapis' eyes were drawn to Steven once more.

"They do get marginally close though." He said, his voice low in somber.

His own Aura was important to those around him however. As little as Lapis had understood at the time, the attack Blue made on them prior made her a tad curious on the subject, to which Peridot was more than happy to divulge what she knew and tag along in their little investigation. Steven would have been of a help, if he hadn't been so busy as of late.

Going from his vibe alone, his visuals and his stance that joined up with her own personal experiences, Lapis could tell Steven had been battling his inner turmoil. He'll smile, laugh and join in on the fun like he normally would, but she suspected that this was nothing more than a shield over his truer feelings. Connie, his closest associate, must have known. Lapis knew better than to pry, knowing how painful recollecting the past could be. 

Their little game to get them to pair up, as per the little game Peridot, Amethyst and herself had played, was merely an attempt to get Steven to feel...or at they very least, manage his life better. Emotional suppression was hard. Lapis knew that all too well. Private conversations with Connie had the girl mention that Steven had grown a lot, as humans need to develop physically and mentally over time...but she also expressed concern that Steven's own ambitions to deal with the gem migrants made him forget about the humans who needed him too.

Including his own humanity.

Despite the two getting off on the wrong foot, Connie became a wealth of knowledge in regards to the humans themselves and Lapis came to respect her on the whole. Even Greg helped out on occasion...and Amethyst introduced her to Vidalia, another creative human. So many that had their own unique personalities and that their growth was nothing short of amazing. It was through them she knew of the sadness and the joy that they too could feel. Through enough investigation and study, she knew.

Steven held his own vial of depression.

Lapis began not caring...only worrying about herself. Then it became the pain that came along with someone who had saved her life when they got hurt too. For Lapis, it became too much on the most stressful of situations. But Stevens words opened her eyes.

You could hurt more than you help.

Maybe not in the same context, but in a similar way. She fled, Peridot got hurt. It took her a while until Lapis even apologized for the incident.

Lapis was not a hero. She was someone who held the heroes bargain of love and trust and utilized them for good and bad. Even before she understood what fell into what category. 

She was selfish. She made selfish decisions. They hurt more than they helped in the end, after months of self-reflection forced her to change her tune.

"That's whats interesting about humans though." Lapis said.

"There is a lot of room to breath and think. To think of your actions. To be considered a hero, would be the actions that would be considered good. Am I right?"

Steven then smiled warmly, reaching her gem in a similar way to make her feel good too.

"Yes. You can know the difference of doing the right thing or the wrong thing when it comes down to it."


To Steven that could have been that simple. The reality that washed around them was more complex than that. A talk with Greg at his car wash a few days later adjusted that view to be less black and white. Saying not all decisions like that are always clear cut. The lines could be blurred and the amount of thinking that would have to go with an incredibly difficult choice would be taxing. 

In this awful place, where darkness ruled over the minds of others, the decisions of heart over head (in Gregs terms) would weigh heavily to the metaphorical hearts of gemkind. A lot of Lapis' choices were more emotional than logical. Peridot would love to believe she'd be the savior in that department. She's a mess still. Lapis still appreciated her all the while.

She followed the others out of the elevator. The hallway they found themselves had a blue floor and green walls. It felt peaceful enough for an area meant to project seriousness within it. Dori sniffed the ground and ran towards the north. She'd tracked a scent somewhere as the group followed down the hallways. 

They'd come across a door that Dori wanted to go into. Until a separate figure appeared, donned in purple, black and white and had the form of a pearl.

"Oh thank goodness I found someone...or some people." She cried.

The group was left confused by her.

"My name is Black Pearl. I serve Milky Quartz. You're the Crystal Gems right?"

She explained her situation on how there was an outbreak of the Lillim monsters on this floor and that she had been running away from them and trying to find a way to contain the outbreak. Milky's project was the only key to solve this. She knew of the gems due to Milky's outposts observing their activities but never interfering. Garnet looked like she wanted to beat her but kept her cool, while the others were apprehensive to it all.

"I'm desperate to get access to the Delta Kindergarten but I don't even know how to get there." 

A Pearl would have a lot of invaluable knowledge. But her wanting the same access as them did send a few flags their way. They ganged up on her as they subtly had Black Pearls back to the wall, as Amethyst leaned on side and Peridot on the other. Lapis and Pearl stood on each side of Garnet, who had been watching Dori who had her tail up, as she eyed Black Pearl with suspicion, who then caught on to their little game.

"Hey! I haven't done anything!" She called out.

"I'm just a poor, innocent Pearl trying to find her master."

Their Pearl had her hand on her hips as she rolled her eyes. It would take a Pearl to know a Pearl and this one just looked like she was up to no good.

"Far from it." Pearl said.

 "You'd have to be at Milky's beck and call and that means having eyes and information about Milky herself."

Pearl then brought out her spear. Lapis didn't believe Pearl would take it that seriously however.

"So talk, before we make you!"

Black Pearl panicked as she felt herself shrink. Lapis was amused at their Pearls browbeating.

"Not to mention having a full view of her spectrum. Plus the Labradorite already doesn't like you." Peridot noted in her usual analytical tone.

Black Pearl then grunted. Good. Relenting meant less time having to force it out of her.

"Alright fine. I don't know where Milky has gone to. I'd been trying to get into her Private Chambers, but her doors won't open and she's not responding." She said.

Milky's fled before she knew how far her idiocy has gone. But some of it just didn't add up.

"We know that you had your eye on Steven and Connie." Peridot told her.

"What was she planning to do with them?"

Black Pearl blinked twice and failed to answer.

"Wouldn't your first goal be in trying to attempt some kind of Quarantine? A warning for no one to enter?"

She gulped as Peridot continued to needle her down for anything to come out of her mouth.

"Were you given strict orders not to say anything about it?" Pearl questioned.

"ENOUGH!"

Vibrations rocked the hallway as everyone struggled to continue standing, as hellish roars and growls pilfered through open channels.

"Oh...she's done it..." Black Pearl muttered.

Garnet lost her patience as she picked Black Pearl up by her neck and summoned a gauntlet with her spare hand.

"Tell us everything. Now." Garnet said with calm venom.

Lapis was prepared to be her back up. But the sense of dread was thick in the air. The darkness lingered nearby. Black Pearl then laughed, as her eyes turned jet black. She withdrew herself into a ball and forced out dark energy as a force of wind that knocked all of them over, including Garnet who had lost her grip. When everyone came to, Black Pearl floated in the air as her laughing went from zero to maniac in a few seconds. Her dark power crackled like electricity, as purple glowing veins appeared on her face.

"Black Star believed they could counter it. But it's too late. My true master has awakened. They spent all this time planning too. But...they failed...and now...the purpose of my existence is clear!" Black Pearl announced with pride as she raised her hand into the air.

"Your...true master?" Lapis said with disbelief.

Lapis then noticed their Pearl falling over as her gem pulsed with light repeatedly. She writhed in agony as cried out and struggled against the sudden onset of pain. Amethyst's first reaction was to bring out her whip in an attempt to flay Black Pearl, who only summoned a black bubble around her and disappeared into the ground.

"Pearl what's wrong?" Garnet pleaded.

Lapis couldn't do much as is she stood there. She couldn't move...but just stared as the other gems took to Pearls side in their concern. The darkness remained. Maybe they were all heroic fools to come down here in the first place. But the amount of love the other gems had for her. Even Peridot was tending to them. What use would Lapis be anyway in this situation. She'd hurt more than she'd help.

"Garnet what do we do? Don't tell me that other Pearl infected her!" Amethyst queried.

No...it wasn't an infection. Or else they'd all be infected.

"I don't know. But the way we did it with you was we gave our light to you to pull it out. We can do the sam-"

"No..."

Lapis was taken aback as Pearl stopped moving, like the pain just disappeared. Pearl pushed the others away from her as she sat up. She opened up her eyes, revealing their pure lilac colour. Lapis could see deeper into them, as she looked at Lapis. It was like they held the surface of the ocean with their clarity. But no way the infection acted that quickly. But her eyes weren't like Black Pearls. Garnet adjusted her visor as all other eyes were on her. Dori approached Pearl, like she recognized the tone.

"Temporary acquisition of Crystal Gem's Pearl complete. Current gem platform stable. Apophyllite active." She said in a robotic way.

The whole group were prepared to fight her off, until Dori sat before her, unabated by the form she could see.

"What have you done with our Pearl?" Amethyst cried out.

That Blackbox? How could it...Pearl had it stored in her gem.

"Impossible." Said Peridot in her amazement.

"That Blackbox hijacked her gem?'

Lapis could feel the tension rising between Garnet and the Apophyllite as it they stared at one another. She stood up and not once took her eyes off of her. She flashed back to her memories of Malachite and wondered if Pearl was in there fighting...or she had given up. No...she had to be fighting.

"Pearl is subdued and inactive." Apophyllite continued.

All Lapis could think of is the Labradorites familiarity with her.

"What is your goal here?" Lapis asked among those who'd prefer to fight her instead.

Pearl's emotionless eyes were drawn to her now. Kind of creepy, even for Lapis.

"Temporary acquisition necessary." She said.

"Apophyllite: Gem Intelligence Software. Mobile platform required."

Lapis looked at Peridot who had her arms folded. A sign of her skepticism.

"GIS programs don't normally take over gems. I've only seen a few on Homeworld and I highly doubt they'd design one to run with a gem component."  She claimed.

Lapis left all the technological jargon to Peridot for her worry about. As did the others if Pearl didn't do it already. 

"Let it continue sheesh." Said Amethyst.

Of course.

"Access to Delta Kindergarten is via Milky Quartzes domain. Please follow this platform."

In all matters of seriousness and bizarre happenings, Lapis had this vibe about it all. She'd trust the GIS Program not to steer them off course. Answers would have been nice, but luckily for them, they had someone who knows where they were going. Even if it took a case of...what this was to get to this point.

Dori certainly trusted her more than she trusted Black Pearl. And look what happened with that. If anything else, Dori was the only one who could sense the minor nuances with everything down here. Black Star Sapphires prophecy, Luna the Labradorite. Signs were there laid for them.

Lapis wasn't all about destiny or magical journeys. She was content on doing the simple things, but now more so willing to defend if that lifestyle was being threatened. She wasn't built as a gem warrior but she had already learned so much on her own and with the others that it came naturally to her over time. But if there was anything she knew, was holding hyper caution. Seeing the aforementioned signs and being wary of what could come next. If she knew before hand, she could learn to placate her fears and be ready to fight. 

She knew the others were on edge due to Black Pearl. Her words troubled them as they took to discussing the scenario that just occurred. Black Pearl obviously was infected. That much was obvious. Who she truly served? Her new master? No one knew. But putting the pieces together would have them believe that it was something within the Lillim themselves.

She trailed behind the main trio as she walked with Peridot, who still seemed very disturbed by the whole thing.

"I don't get it. I've seen gem shards being used to empower tools. Raw gems with no main driver behind them except just being used as a source of light. Lillim possessing gems and consuming their light. Now this?" Peridot grumbled.

Apophyllite did lead them this far. Lapis could tell Amethyst and Garnet didn't like it either and she didn't blame them. 

"What if it's a trap? Another one?"

Lapis gave it some thought. Peridot did have a point, but...

"The Labradorite didn't like Black Pearl. It liked Apophyllite." Lapis pointed out.

Peridot appeared to be sussing it out in her as she rubbed her chin.

"Yes. An infected gem could be detected that way thanks to her senses. But that doesn't mean she has the power to stop the Lillim." Peridot continued.

"No...that would be the Curse of Hope and the Sight of Stone. Hope is located in Delta. Medusa holds the Sight of Stone." Garnet repeated.

Apophyllite lead them to a dead end of the hallway, which lead to Amethyst complaining that she was broken. Garnet urged patience as Lapis watched Pearl raise her hand against the wall and touched three places. Three panels lit up in a triangle formation, which lead to a fourth triangle in between to light up as Pearl rested her gem against it. It scanned it up and down, then boom. Hidden door.

It slid upwards as the gems entered the room. It was filled to the brim with pictures and schematics. Lapis noted a lot of photos...some with well known individuals. Otherwise the floor was white with pearlescent sparkles and each of the four walls were of a different colour. The farside wall was white, left was yellow, right was blue and the wall behind them was pink. Pearl pushed them all in and closed the door.

There was a singular chair at the back with a console in front of it. Peridot immediately ran over as Apophyllite as Pearl slowly made her way beside her as the green gem sat on the chair and began to type away Garnet and Amethyst were more taken aback by everything else.

"She was watching us alright." Garnet commented as she examined a picture of her wedding.

"Everything would have unfolded before Black Star Sapphire. She was indeed a powerful seer."

That was coming out of powerful seer herself which surprised Lapis. She'd come from Blue Diamonds court and had only seen her a few times and she'd guided Blue Diamond for eons.

"Can you see what Apophyllite will do?" Lapis questioned.

Garnet remained still for the moment as he touched her forehead with two fingers.

"Hmm...from what I can see, she isn't going to betray us. She will relinquish Pearl. That's all I can tell you." She replied.

Will or won't? She heard Peridot murmur as she typed away on the console. Then Pearl put her hand on a nearby panel. Then Peridot let off a loud groan.

"Oh stars, more roadblocks!" She complained.

"What is it?" Amethyst asked.

"Request for activation to Delta Kindergarten declined." Apophyllite announced.

Peridot bit her own finger in frustration.

"No need to shout it out to the cosmos!" She whined.

In a weird way, Lapis knew it wasn't going to be that easy.

"What do we need?" She asked. Yelling would get them no where.

"Quarantine in effect. Diamond level authority required." She responded.

Diamond level? Was the project that serious and necessary that only a Diamond could get access to it?

"Where is Steven when you need him?" Amethyst stated.

Lapis turned to see Garnet had started to look at another collection of images on the Pink wall behind them. Lapis wandered over, seeing pictures of Steven, Connie and Stevonnie of all fusions. Pictures of them playing, fighting or hanging around. Seeing Stevonnie in those images triggered words in her memory from what Pyrope was telling Jasper.

"Pyrope Garnet was under the belief Connie was...under a type of mutation from repeated fusions with Steven." Lapis explained.

Their Garnet pointed to a picture of Connie with repeated blue circles around her and then with Steven with pink circles, then Stevonnie with purple.

"Stevonnie was already an unknown by the point we met them." Garnet told her.

"Steven's makeup proved it was possible to do so, lending to opportunities, that if he so desired and built connections with others, he could fuse with them as well. But not once did we consider its effects on organic life forms."

Then there were two other photos. One of Steven's friend Lars and one of Lion. If Lapis recalled the story correctly, Lion was turned that way by Rose/Pink and Lars by Steven.

"Milky must have believed it too. I mean, this room is detailing not just Steven, but everyone he or Rose or Pink ever came in contact with while on Earth." Amethyst noted

Steven...Connie...Stevonnie...Lapis knew fusion well with Jasper and the amount of pressure it had on her...they were two separate gems but Malachite changed them both on a mental scale as opposed to a physical one. Her form or shape didn't change. She couldn't connect to the humans well enough to get her own grip on it. Although, Steven helped them make Pumpkin. Alongside Lars and Lion's states for different reasons, it could be the case where fusion or part Steven's powers or existence could be powerful to change. It did drop into Lapis' mind on the rare occasion, especially after seeing Steven fuse with the other Crystal Gems and especially after seeing Obsidian, made her curious enough as to what her own fusion with Steven would be like. It must have been nice, given the power of his fusions with the others...but the fact the bond they shared held more happiness than anything.

It was what Peridot had said. His Aura brought flowery joy...for the better.

"Apophyllite. Can do you another scan on Delta Strut? I need to know who and what is down here. I need numbers and I need status updates, pronto!" Peridot ordered.

Pearl had her hands on the console as she absorbed information on it. She closed her eyes as her gem pulsed several times, then a wave of harmless energy pushed out of it.

"Milky's Private Chambers. Contains registered Crystal Gems Peridot, Lapis, Garnet, Amethyst, Pearl and White Diamond Court registered Labradorite. Scanning outer perimeters. Detecting three organics and one Gem in the Southeastern Wards. Scanning. Organic One, unregistered non-humanoid, active Organic Two, unregistered human, active."

Must have been Greg and Lion. They were okay at least from the sounds of it.

"Organic Three. Unregistered Gem/Humanoid Hybrid. Gem One, Registered user Jasper."

It had to be Stevonnie for sure, or else...Lapis didn't want to think about it. One gem though. What happened to Snow Quartz?

Don't be a heroic fool, please. Lapis thought to herself.

"Nothing else? No idea where the Pyrope Garnet or the Black Pearl are?" Peridot asked once more.

"Scanning." Apophyllite replied.

"Scanning...error, data not found."

"What about Snow Quartz, Milky Quartz, Black Star Sapphire and another Labradorite?" Peridot continued.

"Scanning. Data not available." 

Not available? Peridot grew furious.

"Oh come on-"

Lapis wandered over as she rested her hands on Peridots shoulders to calm. Lapis knew Peridot hated when things didn't listen to her, especially with technology she didn't know or trust.

"It said Data not available and data not found. Two different things." Lapis pointed out.

It definitely knew something. More than what she was letting on. There was an strange sensation Lapis felt, especially since seeing the Apophyllite for the first in its original housing station.

"Its terminology for it not being to see something or know, the other means its...locked away..." Peridot continued....as she trailed off in realization. She then stared at Pearl.

"It's got locked information inside of it. I'm thinking if we have a Diamond with us, then we can access its root source. Imagine the amount of data we could find."

Well she did say Diamond level authority.

"Where's the Gem/Humanoid Hybrid?"

Silence....then.

"Unregistered Gem/Humanoid hybrid is located in Southeastern Section. Unlocking primary route doors. Caution, Delta Strut now in lockdown due to Quarantine protocols. Communications disabled. Sixty five percent of Southeastern Section has been breached. Warning: Lillim detected in Southeastern Section."

This did not bode well with them at all. They all turned to Garnet for a plan. She stood up and nodded her role in acknowledgement.

"We mustn't panic further." She said, her voice geared for radiating confidence.

"Our goal is to secure Steven and Connie, as well as getting a hold of Greg and Lion. Amethyst, Lapis I need you both with me. Dori and Peridot, remain here with Pearl...."

Peridot shook her head.

"No. You need me with you. You need a brilliant Peridot in order to get through some of the more difficult sections. I might be able to get the comms back online easier that way." Peridot pleaded.

Then who was...

"Someone has to look after Pearl...not doubting Dori's abilities. I actually need someone I can speak to on the other side if matters get troubling." Garnet said, taking the words out of Lapis' thoughts.

Oh boy.

"Suggestion. Relinquish Blackbox from current platform. Insert Blackbox into Peridot Platform." Apophyllite suggestion.

Lapis froze at the suggestion. Peridot was...going to let herself...

"Or that'll work too.' Peridot said upon the sudden, random statement. 

She wanted to object to the idea, worried that Peridot could fall into the problem. Lapis grew even more  suspicious of the programs motives. She'd have to keep an eye or else someone was gonna get it.

"Peridot..." Lapis muttered as she stood next to her and towered over in disapproval. She was met with a smile from the green gem, who more looked like she was going to have the time of her life.

"It'll be fine Lazuli." She said.

"Besides, It'll give me some time to think. Pearl needs to be with Amethyst and Garnet. You, me and Dori will be on the verge of a fantastic discovery as we delve deeper into the unknown."

More foolish heroism...Lapis thought.

If this was what Peridot really wanted, then Lapis had no right to object to the idea. She seemed entirely enthralled by the notion of absorbing knowledge, while losing all sense of self at the same time. It'd be like fusing, but worse.

"Apophyllite. Use my gem as you wish." Peridot said as straightforward as she could.

It was still a terrible idea. It meant risking her for some machine she had not long ago not exactly trusted. But the glint in her smile indicated she was not just looking forward to it, but she was entirely engulfed in the ordeal.

"Affirmative." Apophyllite responded.

"Disengaging."

They watched on as Pearl removed the Blackbox from her head and placed the box in Peridots hands, before Pearl fell over, only to be caught by Amethyst. Lapis noticed that Peridot was looking at it for a long while, like a present that she desperately desired to open. Lapis held her hand over her chest. She wanted to believe both Garnet and Peridot. Amethyst tended to Pearl as Garnet looked on with crossed arms and waited. Her face was its usual expression with Lapis waiting for her to say anything about this.

"Here goes..." Peridot announced as she raised the Blackbox against her glowing gem. She shoved it in there with a bit of a struggle, until her gem absorbed it completely. Standing ready, she had her fists in clasps, as if waiting for the moment to click on through. Peridot closed her eyes and remained still. A grunt escaped her, as Lapis could nothing but watch her be reprogrammed on the spot.

"Reallocation successful."

Pearl on the other hand returned back to normal, as Amethyst explained what just happened to her. Garnet then turned to Lapis, who was wary of her stance.

"I'll look after her. Please be careful while you're out there." Lapis assured her.

Garnet gave a brief nod.

"You too. Let's go."

 

Chapter Text

Being a father wasn't easy.

Greg respected peoples choices they made for themselves, but on the occasion, they did require some kind of intervention. That's how he took it to raising Steven, after being with Rose and having to be the balance of human expectations verses a gems expectations and sussing out the issues between the two. Matters of life, death and love had been discussed in exchange of each species knowledge of the cosmos. He wouldn't have started out that way with Steven on that count, but rather, utilizing skills he'd learned through life to help guide his precious son.

But it did become known to Greg throughout the years that there will be the times he will not know the solution and given Steven's makeup, he'd always fear for something out of the ordinary to occur to him and he would have no clue how to fix it. Luckily for Greg, that didn't come until Steven was older. It hurt him to let go of Steven...But as all things Greg had to suppress, he took it in stride. Besides, he could be there for Steven if absolutely necessary, as being part human would still be as equally important as being part gem. 

Though throughout the times, especially recent times, it was easier to see how it could go all wrong very quickly. Steven was much like his mother in his ambitions. Then not realizing the consequence. But he very much wanted to rectify the mistakes he created. For all it was worth, Greg would always love Steven and would be more than happy to share his 'old man' wisdom.

On his own, Greg would carry on with his life as he would need to. The odd thought came here and there as Greg would deal with his emotions on a private occasion, He didn't like to admit he'd cried himself to sleep. But he'd be fine the next day. He understood that it was important to vent once in a while, to release the pent up vibes from the times he's had to lock away the more painful moments in his life. The years could either be cruel or kind to him...in the end, he knew he'd be fine. He's had decades of experience to learn how to manage and no one could take those away from him.

But recently, even with his heart decked as it was from missing Rose, meeting Snow stirred something in him. Something he hadn't felt in a while.

From Connie's introduction to her in the van, to their talk in front of the fire place, to their dance in Rose's old room...it was clear that she'd been, funnily enough, the most human gem he'd ever met. If it weren't for the blatantly obvious signs like the gem on her forehead, he could have mistaken her for an extremely pale human. It was obvious through her wording and expression, that she was more animated in the human condition, than a gem. He could feel comfortable in expressing himself in front of her, despite only knowing her for such a short time. It was like she could be some kind of gem therapist. Goodness knows some of them needed to be talked to in that way. 

Thinking back to the dancing, he recalled her gyrating her hips and moving her arms and the rest of body in a way he'd seen in music videos....oh....not this feeling....

Oh Greg...how did you fall into that trap again?  He'd thought to himself.

Not unlike the trap he'd found himself, being captured n' all.


 

He'd awoken inside a dark prison. The roof was quite high above him and the room was built in a hexagonal fashion, with the grey walls and floor with no door in sight. Last thing he remembered was a striking pain on his head. 

Although a panel nearby opened as Greg could only glance at it for the moment, until he realized that it was a way out.

Though as he went through it, he only then realized into was going into a large room of dull, only with a mirror inside of it. The panel disappeared. Well that was pointless, only going from a small room to a bigger one. He heard clanks and grinds of machines as he looked up to see a whole bunch of wires and metal appendages from above. Next thing he knew, was that was hovering in the air with his hands behind his back. He saw himself in the mirror. He'd chalk it up to the third most compromising position he'd ever been in,

"Uhhh hello? Anyone there?" He called out, in hope of reaching out to literally anybody.

A square panel up from beneath him and out appeared an unfamiliar red gem.

"Oh...didn't expect someone to come so quickly. That's good prison service!"

The gem ignored him as she combined her detachable fingers together into a screen and used one remaining finger to swipe through numerous images and text. 

"I was just camping outside with my faithful companion. We-we weren't doing anything wrong. There were no signs to say this area was out of bounds. Ya might wanna put up some warnings."

"SILENCE!" They roared. 

Greg swallowed. Someone was antsy.

"Now...Greg Universe. I am Pyrope Garnet. I don't mean to be rude, in fact I'm here to thank you."

He noticed the red gem on her left shoulder, more so than her words perturbed him. She held a dark air about her that sent strains to his heart.

"Thank me?" He repeated, perplexed by her nature.

She nodded.

"You're the one she procured and utilized for her best creation. Only Pink Diamond could be the one who could make us question all of what we knew and understood about ourselves. The rest of the Diamond Authority were too close minded and sterile in their imaginations. You however, hold a power like none other and yet...your genome is left unchanged. Its staggering to think that someone as weak as you had called out to one of the most powerful gems in existence to help with her work." She continued.

Wow...this gem did her homework. But none of this was of any science experiment Rose and him worked on. He didn't even do well at biology.

"I'm just a man. Nothing more." He told her.

He wondered how much she knew. It was alarming to think that she had been studying him alongside Steven. but she was definitely wrong about...

"Steven is our son, made of a mutual decision based on love. None of this science stuff was considered between us." 

The gem laughed. He wouldn't expect a gem like her to understand. Probably had no one care for her like that. No one to teach her.

"Love? Milky Quartz considered that possibility. But I'm not here to talk about the past. I'm here to talk about the future you're going to help create!" She claimed with dark joy.

It was then a hellish growl sounded nearby as the mirror itself sounded like something was hitting it from the other side. It was any wonder it didn't break under the sheer force of what ever it was behind it. He realized where he was. He was in an interrogation room, like those he'd seen in cop shows. But the person on the other side was more of a less a real gun-ho person...or thing.

"Excuse my Master. They've been a bit grouchy since they awakened not long ago."

Her Master? Behind there? 

"Does your Master accept criticism?" Greg said, using snark to mask his displeasure.

But he thought deep about her wording. Which she really going to use him...for future Stevens? Greg was content with just the one kid.

Pyrope laughed again. Maybe not. Maybe she'll probe him. Either physically or mentally. Both were nasty, either way.

"Oh my Greg, I can see why she liked you." She said as she wiped a tear.

"Unfortunately progress isn't without pain and sacrifice. My Master needs sustenance."

Greg felt himself shrink. They were going to use him as food? But then he felt a jolt of electricity run through him, forcing him to scream in pain as he was scrambled by it. It ran for a few seconds before it stopped. He breathed in deeply, then gasped as the mirror started to vibrate again alongside the growls and screams that were muffled behind it.

"I think they enjoyed that." Pyrope noted.

Something as horrific as that was the opposite of joy.

"I've studied the limit of how much electric shock a human can take over a period of time. Too little is useless, too much can instantly kill you. Just the right amount of voltage is required for lengthy torments."

He felt it again as he tried so hard not to burst out in pain. His muscles froze involuntarily as he couldn't breath properly. It lasted a little longer this time. 


 

The mirror shook once more and the screams were louder than before. The room this joined in on the chaos. But this...this thing did not seem to like him being hurt like this. Those were screams of anguish. Greg felt tears on his cheeks. He almost...felt sorry for it. He looked at his reflection, which looked worse for wear. He didn't care about that. The more he stared at himself, he could hear whispers in his mind. Images of his times with Rose flashed right by him in microsecond instances, as well as memories with Steven. He closed his eyes, trying to shut the images out. He knew Pyrope was doing this on purpose as well as her Master. Snow talked about the Lillim's ability to torment others. This was what she had been talking about. She'd warned them...and no one took it seriously.

A more more shocks and the same moments occurred over and over again. There was only so much Greg could take. Until new, unseen visions floated in his mind. Reality ceased as he found himself in a dark void again. He'd fallen to the floor and looked around, seeing stars everywhere. It was like he was in space and once he could see the whitish dirt, then looked at the Earth nearby, that he realized he was on the moon.

"HE'S NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE!" He heard someone yell. A voice he knew.

"Rose?" Greg murmured. He turned his head multiple times to find the source.

"No he's not." They continued.

The next thing he knew, was that he was surrounded by three individuals. One was Rose, one was Steven and another...a taller, pink Gem with cotton candy hair. They stood around him in a triangle formation, with their eyes closed and their heads down.

"He's only human." Said Steven.

"Human he may be, but he's our Greg." Said Rose.

The other one kept quiet throughout it all. Greg had no idea what was going on anymore and just had to wing it. It was better than being electrocuted, to say the least. Or he was dead. He couldn't tell.

"He doesn't deserve this." Said Steven.

"No he doesn't." Said Rose.

Again, the taller pink one remained silent and still.

"Oh boy, well someone...anyone, can you explain to me whats going on here?" Greg asked, as sincere as he could.

"You can't give in. He can't give in."


 

He opened his eyes, seeing his reflection in the mirror once more. What was that all about? People just liked to play their games with him. Was...was the other figure Pink Diamond? He'd never even seen her, only a vague description from Steven. His own heartbeat rang in his ears, he then heard someone else coming in the room.

"He's passed out already?" Said the other gem who came into the room. She had hers on her collar and had the figure and voice of a Pearl.

"Unfortunately yes. I've got the other one on standby for the next test." Pyrope replied.

"Did you figure out what happened with the Diamond we had?"

A Diamond? Hmmm....they believed Greg had passed out. He could take this to his advantage to eavesdrop as he closed his eyes.

"Ugh I got ambushed by the Crystal Gems." Said the Pearl.

They weren't far from there and they were still alive, thank goodness.

"They're smarter than you give them credit for."

He heard Pyrope whine. 

"The Diamond wasn't with them?" She asked.

What Diamond? Greg wondered. He hoped in way that they weren't talking about Steven...but who else would it be?

"No. How...how did it get out?" The Pearl questioned.

"I'm not sure. After we pulled it out and had its data flash copied, I returned it to the Bubble Room. But somehow it still got out." Pyrope answered.

Now there was a random Diamond running around in the hallways? Surely that couldn't be a Diamond he'd met already.

"It's a Diamond. I'm sure it must have burst out due to its power. Remember the data from the Cluster?" The Pearl put forth.

They knew about that too, it appeared.

"Is it going to be a problem?"

There was another moment of pure silence as Greg tried to put the pieces together. Pulled it out...pulled it out of what?

"Must have been that idiot Jasper. I told her to wait." Pyrope responded with anger.

"She must be the most impatient Quartz I'd ever met. I had her looking for more Thought Markers. I'll have to take it off her hands at some stage. Delta Strut is in lockdown."

She was down here too? It was certainly a party he'd been forced into.

"I think we've spent way too much time with the resolute Snow Quartzes." The Pearl joked.

Greg's heart skipped a beat, as he thought about Snow.

"Speaking of Snow Quartzes, what about the one I told you about, the one who was running around with the Homo Magia?" 

There's that term again. Pyrope mentioned it before. More dread piled into his stomach and churned into a near unbearable case of anxiety as he stressed over Steven and Connie's safety.

"I think that could be who've been looking for. The one we need to be extra careful of."

They were after Snow as well. How much more complicated would they to make situation, would be the more appropriate question.

"Why didn't you bring her gem then after you cut the elevator wires earlier?" Pyrope wondered.

These two were casually sadistic. Not the type of people you'd wanna hang with. Or party with.

"I couldn't find it. I was too busy worrying about the-"

Another earthquake and a series of growls and screams. This time, one on a higher magnitude than before. Greg could hear the creaking noises from above, which he feared it could cut him loose to allow him to fall. He wanted to get out, but he'd prefer to get out alive.

"I've got the beast in the other room. He's a lot more resilient than the human." Pyrope mentioned.

Lion. Poor Lion was suffering the same torture.

"Milky's notes about it helped immensely. The restraints weren't the only device I had to reinforce. The muzzle itself was necessary to keep it from roaring. But it's become frantic and immune to any sedative we've given him." 

Why..why did they have to do this? To satisfy some unnamed evil overlord? There was so little Greg could do right now. He wasn't going to allow himself to wallow in despair.

"I can run some tests on his organic makeup. He was resurrected by Pink Diamond after all. He could be like the human girl. Exposure to a gems power like that could have him with gemlike attributes and therefore could be vulnerable to infection." The Pearl suggested.

No...

"Hah...you're not just a pretty Pearl." Complimented Pyrope.

"Very well. Do it. Another ally to the party could prove useful."


Greg was left on his own as the pair left him like that and turned the lights off. He tried to struggle against the grip the machine had on him but the shocks left him tired and weak. The only lights in the room right now were LED like dots that were on the machine itself. He looked forward as his mind tried to get a hold of what they had talked about.

His deepest fears were still on Steven and Connie and he did not want to face the Maheswarans wrath if anything bad happened to her. They could look after themselves now, especially with Stevens growing independence. Not that he wasn't before...but what did they want with him? His Diamond?

He didn't want to think about it but he couldn't help it. Signs went towards this Master of theirs wanting their hands on a Diamond. So Steven was their only logical choice. Would Steven be able to negotiate terms with them? Greg held onto that ideal but doubt clouded his mind. It was another magic gem scenario he really should have no part of. He started to cry on the impending realization that they may want to infect Steven and use his power. Steven wouldn't allow them. 

Pyrope did say the Diamond ran away however, so it gave Greg a slice of hope he'd been hungry for. He stared at the mirror, suspecting that the monster was hiding behind it still.

Greg oddly didn't fear it as much as he pitied it. What the gems had to gain by torturing him for its sake was beyond anything Greg would be able to grasp.

Whispers filled his mind as it returned to a similar hallucination as before. 

"You don't like this...do you..." Greg asked in his calm tone.

No reply, but surely, it had to be listening.

"I don't like it either. I wish I could help you...."

Steven would have a better job with his powers. All Greg had were his words and experiences.

"I don't know who or what you are. But I think...I think, you're someone who doesn't want to hurt anyone. So I don't believe you're evil. Just misguided."

He couldn't believe himself in saying that, but they were words Steven would say that others would find to be youthbound naivety. The room grew colder as the whispers got louder.

"You don't need to do the evil stuff they tell you to do. You're much as a prisoner in here as I am."

I mean, if it reacted to him being in pain, it was at best, an empathetic being...if he could stretch it far enough.

"They react to it better and they definitely have a creepy fascination with torture. Both you and I suffer for their desires. So...no matter how bad it gets, even if it kills me, you need to deny them that satisfaction-"

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Greg winced as the beasts sudden response almost deafened him as it rocked the room again. As Greg opened his eyes, he was back in space again. But this time, the ground he stood on was pure water. The view was beautiful, seeing the sparkling stars and distant, colourful galaxies that generated a feeling a general calmness in what ever magical place he'd found himself in. He looked down to see his reflection, only to see a younger version of himself with a full head of hair. He stumbled backwards as his rapid steps sent ripples all over in pure surprise.

"Greg."

He saw Rose in front of him, with a smile on her face as he looked at her. This couldn't be real. He refused to believe it.

"Rose..." He muttered.

Too scared to move, Rose instead approached him. This was wrong but yet...

"You'll get through this. You and I could not have anticipated this." She told him.

He eventually stood back and rubbed the back of his neck.

"You've always tried to be positive. I asked Steven to take care of the others. But I need you to still look out for him too."

The amount of pent up grief had begun to spill out of him. No not now! He lorded over his emotions with steel hard logic.

"You're not Rose, I know that. You're one of the Lillim aren't you?" He questioned with a scowl on his face.

Rose was offended, as coloured drained from her form until she was completely black and white.

"You're not easily fooled. I tried using this form to comfort you." She said, frowning.

Greg growled. He wouldn't accept such lies. But...this had to be the monster trying to communicate with him. The form glitched repeatedly, like a tv with bad reception, and changed forms between Steven, herself and what he'd gathered was Pink Diamond every few seconds, accompanied by the the static sounds that accompanied them. It disturbed him, but he had to remain steadfast.

"I know...there's not much I can do." They said, as Rose's and Steven's voices overlapped and changed constantly.

"I know there's not much, there's not much, you can do. But please stay here with me until...until the gems arrive."

Greg was curious as to what this thing even was. It was one of the Lillim yet, it held an interesting power. Pyrope and presumably Black Pearl had malicious intentions from the get go. But their Master was more reasonable to deal with. Unusual, given previous circumstances.

"Do you know what's going on around here?" Greg questioned. This was his only chance to get a hold of what nonsense had been surrounding them lately.

Rose nodded. Steven shook his head. Pink Diamond shrugged.

"I don't...I don't know. The Pyrope, the Pearl. They call, they call...this world their salvation, their biggest creation."

There was already evil on the horizon. 

"The last memories I had, the last memories we had were...Black Pearl, she, she, she..."

The entity repeated itself in loop and went all wonky and took different shapes with the shadows engrossing it, before it took Steven's form and fell on its knees, digging its fingers into its scalp and looking towards the sky.

"PLEASE STOP DON'T DO IT! NOT AGAIN STOP IT!" It screamed as the world decided to glitch violently along with it. Greg's heart broke as it saw the face of despair with Steven's form and voice. It was clear in its state if distress it had be taking mass amounts of punishment from these two gems alone. He rested his hands on its shoulders which stabilized it, for the moment.

"Woah its okay." He assured it as Greg sat on his legs.

The dimension calmed down, returning to its previous form. He didn't like it taking Steven's form like that as Greg let it go and stood back. Which made him think of the most absurd scenarios. Although to be considered absurd to begin, you'd have to line it up and make it like it was the most bizarre occurrence in this day and age. Goodness knows of all the adventure's he been dragged to be considered normal in comparison.

"Do you have a name?"

An awkward tension rose between them as the entity continued to remain in the Steven form, as it looked up to Greg with pleading eyes that made Greg incredibly uncomfortable.

"They had given me a name. A name I could use. Not that I want to use it." It said.

If it was Steven then by all means please Greg to choose a new one.

"What do you prefer to be called then?" Greg requested as he smiled. He might as well.

It put a finger to its lips and stuck its tongue out. It knew Steven's mannerisms quite well too.

"I don't know. It feels wrong to discard something that has value. But the value..."

It then transformed into Pink Diamond in a quick phase.

"The value strikes fear and terror. It shouldn't. But it will." It said in Rose's voice as it looked to the water on its right.

Couldn't be any worse. A names a name. Don't like it, change it. Greg knew that well.

"Try me." Greg dared. He was scared, but willing.

It turned back into Steven, then it did something weird. Or weirder than it already was.

"I need a form that doesn't exist. A name is important but this individual has a powerful name." It said as it rose a hand which clung on its shirt.

It then warped into someone Greg hadn't seen in a long time, with long hair and a black tshirt with a star in the middle and torn off sleeves, as well as a pair of torn jeans. It was like Greg was looking into a mirror of the past.

"I hope you don't mind." It said in Gregs younger voice.

Greg was speechless. Sure he missed being that age but sheesh. He was weirded out, but he'd take that over Steven, Rose or Pink.

"Uhhhh sure...I mean I can tell the difference between my son and someone who isn't my son but looks like him." Greg replied. Did that even make sense?

The Not Greg blinked twice.

"I mean, I don't think it'd matter what form you'd take. Only the one that feels natural to you. I'm not well versed on Gems in general, but I have been told that staying in something that's not your natural state isn't always good for you. I've seen it happen." 

Plenty of times.

It smiled.

"It'll be fine. I...I've never had a shape or form to call my own. I might still try to find the right one. This one will do for now." It said.

That perplexed Greg. Don't gems pop out of the ground, already knowing who they are and what they're supposed to do?

"Does it feel natural?" Greg questioned.

It shrugged.

"Yeah, I guess so. So you still want to know my name?" It said.

Oh yeah.

"Sure." Greg replied.

It nodded. Surely it wasn't going to be that bad...

"Well, they call me Black Diamond."

Oh...

 

 

Chapter Text

Working alongside a former enemy was considered normal by Stevens standards. 

Jasper remained silent as they paraded their way towards the Southeastern section. Memories from Steven went by them, recalling their fights and his fights, as well as Jaspers previous dip with corruption. Stevonnie didn't want to ask about the pain. No one really did. She kept to herself and no one tried to bother except maybe Steven, Amethyst and Peridot. 

They'd come across a locked door. Stevonnie tried to use Snow's gem to open it, but it declined access. They growled in annoyance as Jasper tried to ram it with her crash helmet. As expected, no dice. Jasper had sworn that door was accessible at one point, unless a type of lockdown was initiated. Great...just perfect.

"Isn't there another way around?" Stevonnie questioned.

Jasper shook her head.

"Ehh I don't know. There's only one other hallway near here that leads to another locked room and that's it." She said.

That made Stevonnie curious.

"Locked? As in, exclusive gem access locked?" They pointed out.

Jasper shrugged.

"Maybe. I'm not sure. If you want to give it a try then let's not waste any time here."

Stevonnie was actually proud of Jasper to point that she barely raised her voice with them by this point. By accepting or at least under the illusion that they were really Pink Diamond, it kept her in a sense of calm and was willing to help out and give suggestions. Stevonnie didn't like manipulating her like that, but Jaspers own mental state in recent times had always teetered on the edge between brutal outbursts and tolerable calm. Whether or not that it been due to her previous corruption or other underlying causes, it was certainly better than her attacking them outright. They let Jasper point the way as they turned back around and walked down to the hallway she spoke of, which wasn't far from there as they found it after going left and right a few times. Though going from the strain on her face as they walked, Stevonnie suspected she wanted to say something.

"What's on your mind?" Stevonnie asked.

"Nothing my Diamond. I'm fine." She replied sternly.

 They continued onwards as they came across the door, however, this was different from the other ones they'd encountered. It was made of a shiny metal alloy as opposed to the more futuristic material. There was an air about it that felt off, but strangely, there was nothing that suggested the Lillims influences were on the other side of it. They placed their hand on it and closed their eyes. Ultimately they felt nothing, then pulled out Snow's gem and put it under the scanner. The red light poured from the sphere above, as the light above the door turned green with approval. The door shifted open with a grind as they entered the room.

Inside was more of a human design than what Stevonnie had become accustomed to in gem facilities like these. The room was squared shaped with a larger pillar in the middle. There were shoddy cabinets and steel drawers on the left hand side and even a bed of all things on the right side, raised up and reachable by a set of stairs to the side. Computers, old white computers with their bulky monitors and dusty keyboards were laid around the pillar on top of old wooden desks and navy desk chairs behind each of them, with wires poking out from the back and rising up on the pillar itself and into spaces on the roof. The walls were a dirty white with simple lights.

There was a symbol of a dragon with some kind of aperture icon on top of it, on a black flag that hung on the front part of the pillar. They walked around and noticed that behind the pillar to the far back wall was another sample tube, but it was closed off and of a different design than the rest. It had the dragon symbol on it again. It was very human-esque indeed.

"This place looks..." Jasper worded.

"Primitive?" Stevonnie continued.

Indeed it did. Stevonnie took to sitting in front of the first computer and found the on switch on the right side and listened to the internal fans as they whirled to life. They could see the green text on screen. This old technology was before their time so it would take some getting used to. They could really use Peridot right now.

"Please enter password." It said.

Oh gosh, a password? Jasper walked around as she tried to suss out the room for herself.

"I take it this is human junk?" She asked.

"Yeah." Stevonnie replied.

"Very old by modern standards. See if you can find a password in one of these drawers...or anywhere really." 

They both searched the room thoroughly, but they found nothing but scrap paper for old schematics that made no sense to either of them. Jasper then eventually went to the closed off green tube, as Stevonnie went to the bed. The blankets looked dusty and were of a creamy white colour due to age and wear. But then they noticed a soft toy on top of it. A grey wolf?

They turned it around for a bit, examining it. It looked pretty old too, but then they noticed the slit on the bottom of it, held together by velcro. They ripped it open, revealing a white box inside. Stevonnie took the box out. It had a small lid which flipped open and revealed a small scrap of paper inside that said Hungarian Wolf. Which made no sense. They sat on the bed and held the paper under the light. What did this mean? Was this the password?

They hoped off and tried it. Denied.

"The only wolf I know of is was that story during our Book Club Session. Those human-beast things." Jasper noted.

"Had no idea humans could shape shift like that."

Of course! She'd seen the term Hungarian Wolf before. The girl who was afraid of dragons....no the prequel. Connie knew of this when she researched the names. She loved doing the odd wiki walk every now and again. What was the characters name again?

"Farkas!" Stevonnie exclaimed with realization.

They typed in the name and pressed the enter button.

"Authorization confirmed, welcome Diga Arch-Fire." It read on the screen.

The organic Milky talked about. This was...this was her room. 

"What do you know, those books were actually useful." Jasper commented.

Diga must have been a fan of the series then.

A human had been here all this time. Or rather, someone who was like a human. Didn't have to be, for all Stevonnie knew.

The text came up with a menu of options. Logs, Email Correspondence, Project Files, Project Status, Important Persons List and Notes, Verity Status, SoA Location, Lillith Notes. Where to begin?

Stevonnie entered into the logs section, which came with a huge packet of journals. Stevonnie didn't know where to start, so they picked one at random in the middle.


 

 

LOG RW-19B01-24-01

I tracked her coming here all these years ago. Who would think that this had taken thousands of years of planning. Still, the amount of trouble she goes through to try and destroy people like that astounds me. She can't be reasoned with and as with all previous incidents...the Doom-Driven Crisis, the Entropy Incident, the Sole Search Problem...she thinks she can dip into any realm she wants. And out of all the ones she decides to visit, she wrests her laurels in one of the more peaceful places to sow chaos and despair.

If it weren't for Petra and Zinnia, bless their hardened souls, I would not have found her. Who'd thought Petra would find little Zinnia finding one of the Portal Gateways on some random planet? As if Earth wasn't going to be the most obvious place to start. Zinnia is a go-getter, an ambitious example of the best the Homo Magia can offer.

Meeting Milky Quartz on the Lillim's most recently infected planet was pure fate. We had a chat about the situation and I was more than okay to help out as she gave me invaluable knowledge about her kind. Sentient Gems reminds me of the Phoenix Mage Society in a weird way. The more data she gave me, the more I was giving to them to help them win.

Years on, she's got a decent crew back on Earth. Herself, A Labradorite, a Black Star Sapphire, a Black Pearl and a Pyrope Garnet who helped out on the planet during the war. I don't trust that Pyrope though. It's those...science obsessed people than I often have qualms with so I'm just biased.

Sapphire-Class gems are apparently seers to gem kind. We're gonna need all the edge we can with our allies, so I had Petra empower her to strengthen her visions of the future. I knew Lilith was out there, being the idiot that she was. Black Star...well, she didn't bode well with what she saw. I'll have to come back at another time until I've gotten everything I needed from her. For now, I'll need to prepare Milky to help defend the planet from...when ever Lilith decides to invade.


 

Lilith. She had to the Lillims leader perhaps. Or at the very least their creator. But there was so much to take in. This...Diga had found out about the Lillim and tried to defend Earth against them. They tried for so long, so Stevonnie wondered where it went wrong?

They got out of the entry and went to the last entry they could see.


 

LOG RW-20C16-31-07

Well, this is all I can do for now. I have sown the last seeds for success. I have to leave this all here for now. I want to help further, but I can't have Lilith realizing I'm here. If she finds out about me, she'll flee the realm and we'll have to start all over again. Black Star's Prophecy has progressed as predicted. The Diamond Child will not be alone. Medusa Quartz...remains sealed inside the tube. But I worry about her regeneration. I've imparted a part of me into her so she'll be immune to infection, but she'll claim some of my more...necessary abilities, just slightly rewritten in a way...unless she starts singing dragons I'm not too concerned. Not to mention it'll help keep her light mass stable. I know Milky was paranoid about the whole thing but I sincerely believe Medusa will be fine. As long as she goes by her old nickname Snowflake, Lilith will not be able to find her.

The last thing however, was the final cornerstone of the project. I don't want to do it. But I need to. Black Star noted that Milky had gone insane from nearly being infected and tried to attack people on sight, leaving her Labradorite trying to contain her, due to the Labradorites current programming to attack Snow Quartzes that attack their fellow gems. I told her not to touch the Sealed Cores in the Southeastern Section and look what happens. Tragic, for sure but we can only keep so much contained in Quarantine. Medusa ended up attacking and poofing her. The poor gem. I'll need to get her out as soon as possible and find a way for her to get back to Homeworld, alongside her faithful Labradorite. But she'll need to have her memories altered to save her the trauma. Black Star said she would be back some day.

I'll keep the rightmost door locked, but Black Star stated someone in the future will need to gain entry in there, as it will be the only door that be be opened in the case of a lock down. It can only be opened from within my room. Old tech, but it'll work.

I've had a few of my Crusader Admins from Verity come in to help program a special Blackbox AI that will function as a Security System as part of it's current application suite...obviously not as grouchy as an AI I already know, but one that can act as a Gatekeeper to this place, so Medusa would be the only one who'd be able to enter. The Blackbox can work in this room if inserted and will give the codes needed to access the Southeastern Section from here. I felt...odd about Black Star's unusual request that she calls a GIS. (Gem Intelligence System). It's like an AI, but with more oomph and connectivity with others. One with guidance and range. That will help pacify Milky as well as protect any uninfected gems and life forms. I'll go with what Black Star suggests, as Petra suggested it too. It hurts to think about it and neither Black Star or Petra like the idea. But we need it.

I shouldn't feel like like this, though I'm completely saddened over the convergence over Apophyllites creation. The Black Pearl and the Pyrope had no idea. Those two had vanished completely into the Southeastern Section after it was locked. Milky and Pyrope were the only ones with access to that area, which was only ever used for storage and large sample studies. I fear the worst.

Oh well, it's only a matter of time. By the Divines, I pray the Diamond Child succeeds otherwise...as long as his Heart remains strong, he will endure.

 

Our plan in the Delta Kindergarten is our only Hope.


 

Jasper peered over from one side of the pillar, as well as Stevonnie from the other. That tube contained a Medusa Quartz. But like the previous log, there was still a lot to understand. Milky nearly got infected but was too severely traumatized they needed some kind of artificial intelligence to subdue her, as well as her Labradorite. Sheesh.

"Black Star must have seen Steven come in here." Stevonnie murmured.

"That Petra bolstered her future vision immensely." Jasper commented.

"Who ever these organics were...they're quite...strong."

Like wise. But they had a plan for this. But one thing troubled them.

"The log said Medusa was the only one who could enter. Yet you're here and it was Snow Quartz who let us in." Stevonnie pointed out.

Jasper grumbled.

"Pyrope changed it somehow. But I still don't get to visit most of the areas." She said.

The orange Quartz wandered over to the tube as Stevonnie continued to investigate. So much information at their fingertips. But as they tried to get into the other files, they showed up as being deleted. Hmmm...but they needed this Blackbox to enter through the door on their right, as Stevonnie stared at it for a good while. Then they noticed Jasper as they laid against the nearby cabinets on the left hand side of the room, with her arms crossed and disgruntled discontent written all over her face.

Jasper would be one who would have a million clashing thoughts in her head and decided on words that could be on either side of the spectrum. She was a loose canon that would be prone to friendly fire. One could pity her, but that would just piss her off even more if she found out.

"Speak freely Jasper, I'm an open forum." Stevonnie suggested.

Her face changed of that to surprise as she looked at Stevonnie, then squinted as she looked away and gave off a small pout. Stevonnie stood up and leaned next to her. Jasper had so much to say yet, refrained herself. Stevonnie kept making faces in an attempt to weasel the words out. Jasper looked incredibly perplexed yet weirded out by their odd display.

Jasper sighed, relenting.

"I was...I was gonna ask." She spoke, finally.

"How do you stay stable...as a fusion?"

That was the last thing Stevonnie would have expected her to say, although they should have expected it, given Jaspers own experiences with fusion.

"You...and that other Fusion...."

Garnet...

"You fuse to become stronger but you're able to maintain this..form for ages...and yet you're don't seem to be in disagreement or fighting off the other gem all the time. Is there something I'm missing?"

Stevonnie realized that Jasper couldn't understand permafusions. She only fused for power to dominate, as evidenced by Malachite and the monstrous fusion Steven saw at the Beta Kindergarten. But there was more to it, than a simple power high. Jasper was lonely.

"There needs to be balance between fusions in more ways than one." Stevonnie said, using Garnets advice.

"Trust...respect...love..."

Memories of Steven and Connie dancing together brought warm feelings to them, as they unintentionally grinned and hugged themselves in response. They then noticed Jaspers stares, who was giving off vibes of being a tad troubled by it. Stevonnie came to and cleared their throat.

"The status of your relationship matters. You bond with the one you want to fuse with and you need to understand each other...to be a good experience for the other person."

Jasper relaxed back a bit more as she turned her head from Stevonnie. Malachite hit her hard.

"I may not be...a complete fusion since one of the core components is missing, but I'm able to be me because of Connie's...connections with Steven."

Stevonnie froze as they remembered that the human Steven was still missing from them as they looked at their hands. They hoped he held on, but the Gem Steven seemed to be completely silent in the matter, which made Stevonnie begin to think hard about it. Part of Stevonnie felt that the human Steven was still alive there somewhere.

"Not complete?" Jasper questioned.

Even Stevonnie couldn't understand it. How the Gem part of Steven even fused with Connie to begin with. They lightly touched his gem as they tried to make sense of it themselves. They explained how Steven was half human and half gem and that his unique biology allows him to fuse with her normally. But on this basis...

"Hmm...I guess that makes sense. I'd never heard about any other gem fusing with anything that wasn't. I wasn't made to understand the exact science behind our making, only bits and pieces of what I should know. I used to believe that fusing with a different gem type was straight out wrong...but even as I tasted it myself, I could see why they would hate it." Jasper noted.

Stevonnie understood even Pink Diamond didn't even know this until she saw Garnet for the first time.

"A fusion could rival the Diamonds themselves. They'd feel threatened with the amount of power even a simple two gem fusion could be."

Although Yellow Diamond could still poof them with ease.

"But Connie is fully human...as she fused with a full gem...biologically, that should have been impossible."

Jasper looked confused.

"I don't understand...you say he's half human, half gem..so then how did he suddenly become full gem?" She questioned.

Painful memories fluttered back of White Diamond once again. Sorry Steven...

"I...Connie was there when Steven encountered White Diamond on Homeworld." Stevonnie continued.

Jasper was surprised again, but utterly....and strangely curious.

"Go on..." Jasper told them.

Stevonnie further explained on how White Diamond was insistent that Steven was Pink Diamond and pulled out his gem to prove it. Except it didn't come out the way she wanted. All that was left was a Steven with no gem and a Gem Steven that held absolutely no restraint when provoked hard enough. It had no personality either and it held a simple desire to refuse with Steven, no matter what collateral damage could be left behind in the process.

"A Diamond fighting a Diamond. I wish I could have seen that." Jasper admitted, more fascinated by the capabilities then the disturbing aspects of it all.

Stevonnie didn't even mention the fight between Yellow and Blue Diamond. They decided to leave that part out. 

Silence mellowed between them as they had more work to do on their end. Jasper walked up to the tube behind them and examined it.

"This...this is where Medusa was supposed to be." Jasper stated.

Stevonnie joined her as they looked at the monitor connected it. Stevonnie had a fiddle, in which the only things written on it were 'open panel'

They followed the prompt with a key press, which shifted the whole thing open. But what they found in the tube wasn't a gem. But a Thought Marker.

The glass shifted away, allowing them to access the Thought Marker itself, as Jasper took hold of it. She took a look at Stevonnie and nodded, whom then took out Snow's gem once more to reflect her light on it.

Out appeared...a gem that they hadn't seen before. A small one, with her gem on her left cheek and long black hair and dress as she held her hands together in front of her, in a prayer position.

"It's a Sapphire." Said Jasper.

"The Black Star Sapphire."

"It's you...Stevonnie and Jasper isn't it?"

The two looked at each other, completely and utterly dumbfounded.

"I know...I've been preparing for this. Listen, I don't have a lot of time. I'm going soon and I need to leave as little as I can so Pyrope doesn't find out, but enough of a trail to help out with you all wandering in the dark. She was the one who let the Lillim loose. It could have ever only been her. Not Milky. Milky did what she could and...with Diga and the Crusaders of Verity, we worked so hard to make sure our project could be completed. But Milky....was tricked. We all were. Project files were stolen from us. So we worked Medusa into our plan as a contingency measure. She needs to guide the Incarnation of Hope to the Delta Kindergarten.

I know she was supposed to be in here but I set her free. So she can go back to Homeworld, for her own safety."

Jasper ended up punching one of the nearby cabinets and distorting it so bad the drawers flew to the other side of the room, forcing Stevonnie to barely dodge them.

"Restrain yourself Jasper." Black Star said with the same tone as before.

Stevonnie was subtly amused.

"She will return to Earth to finish the job. Just make sure..she has a Labradorite with her. And Stevonnie...please...P- oh...more importantly, please let the gems in. There's a hidden door to your left that should be banging any time now...I must go. Good luck!"

The projection faded, leaving both of them scrambling and sorting through the new set of information. Stevonnie had heard that term as a whisper...Incarnation of Hope. Whispers echoed in the air as it chilled. The Lillim were nearby.

As if on cue, the pair of them heard banging nearby. Jasper ran over as she punched more cabinets out of the way and noticed another metal door behind them. She looked at it briefly as dents were left behind. Stevonnie came around to press the nearby button to shift the door open, as they noticed Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl as they fell through on top of each other.

"CLOSE THE DOOR! CLOSE THE DOOR!" Pearl yelled.

Stevonnie nodded as they shifted the door closed, with the screeching on the outside nearly becoming unbearable. All of them scrambled to put the cabinets in front of it, even if they were all broken.

They remained silent for the longest time, keeping low until the noises stopped. Stevonnie took a deep breath and breathed out with their mouth forming a small o.

It wasn't until they realized Jasper was in the room that the situation irked up again, as the three other gems went into a defensive stance around her. Jasper just grinned as she prepared her crash helmet.

Sigh.

Stevonnie stood in front of them with their arms spread out.

"Okay time out, time out." They called out.

Easing the tension with former enemies was also the last thing Stevonnie expected to do.

 

Chapter Text

So much darkness was laid out before them. The earlier vision scarred her, knowing that Steven was somewhere out there, with the potential for getting himself hurt.
She trusted him immensely as he'd always surprise her frequent occasions, so he had to be with them still. But the darkness clouded her judgement and made her increasingly concerned and often distracted by the implications.

Still, she had the Gems to lead and they were going to get to the bottom of this.

She was thankful for Peridot for taking in the reigns of the GIS as Amethyst and Pearl trailed behind her, running down the southern hallways. However they come across several Lillim along the way. They tried fighting them off, especially with the Lemon Quartz gem (despite Pearl loathing to use it(. But they were too strong in numbers, as they preferred to distort their surroundings to disorientate them all. 

Garnet used her future vision, seeing Stevonnie at the end of the paths they could take. She pulled the others along with her, streaming down at super speed while the Lillim attempted to catch up to them. They'd come across a steel door, then noticed it was locked. The three began to punch the door as the Lillim got closer. Eventually the miracle occurred as the door opened, only to be met with Jasper alongside Stevonnie.

They were prepared to fight until Stevonnie intervened. Garnet then noticed Stevonnie's odd colouring. She feared the worst, although Pearl began to freak out even more so. Stevonnie assured them that Jasper was there to help as they calmed the situation down, as Amethyst was more surprised at Jasper even being there in the first place.

"Stevonnie...what happened?" Pearl questioned, her eyes wide as she tried to process why Stevonnie looked like that. They frowned, as Garnet noted dark feelings of horror that crept up on her.

"I...I don't know. I'd gone down the elevator with Snow and Black Pearl earlier, defused on the way down. Steven was no where to be seen until...until..."

Pearl was biting her fingers at this point, but something told Garnet that Stevonnie didn't want to talk about it.

"It's complicated. I don't think Steven wants to tell you..."

Steven was holding his emotions in again. Garnet could see that and was going to wait patiently until he was ready to talk about it. Garnet grabbed their head with a gentle touch and looked into their eyes. So much trauma could be seen from within them. Something about Stevonnie...was off, however.

"You can either unfuse to let Steven tell his side, or you can stayed fused if he wants Stevonnie to do it instead. It's up to him." Garnet stated.

It would prove the the unusual situation of they did, but Stevonnie looked away, as if they were in shame.

"We wish we could...I..." They murmured as they started to cry.

"Was it something that happened to the both of you?" Pearl wondered.

Stevonnie kept their mouth shut as they broke down. Garnet could sense they'd wanted to do this for a while. She had them sit down on a chair, their legs closed as they slouched, while Jasper and Amethyst talked to one another. Garnet got to Stevonnie's level as Pearl rubbed their back. She noted that he fusion was oddly stable despite the negative impact of their emotions. She'd chalk it up to them learning how to balance it easier through practice in recent times. but deep down, it was much more problematic than that. 

"It's okay, you can tell us." Pearl assured them.

What ever it was, Garnet had the belief it had been more on Stevens side than it was Connie's. The colouring of their hair and skin would have to do with something that had changed on his end. Something about his form or his gem had changed the more Garnet examined them. They weren't in sync... but...Garnet did not see any split due to stress. In most scenarios Garnet would be impressed, but this...this lead to her being extremely worried.

"Something about this is wrong." She said.

"We can't force them to say anything until they're ready. Or...if Steven is ready."

Their bond was incredibly strong that Connie had been shouldering Steven's grief alongside her own, one side had definitely been coping worse than the other. It made Garnet left wondering about how this came about...this...Pink Stevonnie was nothing like they had shown before. She made the connections and had a few ideas, before Stevonnie revealed the horrific truth.

"I..Steven's...his gem...it was taken out of him...and..." Stevonnie stammered, fighting through their tears.

Steven's Gem had been removed. Pearl was beside herself and in more panic than before, before she resolved herself to be stronger for them in a more zen state of mind. Ruby and Sapphire weren't expecting that, of all truths. She let Stevonnie continue with the tale.

"Yeah...so, Connie had been...in an incredible amount of pain...like she was dying...until she saw him. It's...like a Pink Diamond coloured Steven. Somehow, that he fused with Connie and I'm here. It took me a while to see that while I remain, the Steven aspect of the fusion has remained completely mute on the topic...not to mention how...incomplete I feel." They said as they touched their gem.

"Don't ask me....how they removed it. I just...I don't even understand..."

This didn't make sense. Connie was a full human and part of the reason she was able to fuse with Steven to begin with was that his human half was able to make it happen. This Steven was a full gem, however. So there was already a barrier to begin with. Unless that Steven's gem broke boundaries in regards to possible futures, the fundamental gem programming rewritten in ways that developed over time since his birth. Garnet noticed Pearl as she fell into deeper thought, her hand cradling her chin. 

"It might be due to Connie's developing Aura." Pearl theorized.

That had be mentioned in previous talks, but Garnet didn't want to dig into anything deeper than she understood. 

"Snow Quartz did say that Connie had one like Stevens. Standard gems have incredibly, insignificant auras that won't have much effect, only that they're an afterthought, a result of our light and mass projections. But Diamonds have Auras...with a capital A. Steven inherited Pink Diamonds and that from repeated fusions, it started to affect Connie's biological structure. It wouldn't have had that much effect on her and that the changes would be minuscule at best. A little faster or stronger perhaps? But nothing out of the ordinary that could be seen straight away. Until Snow pointed it out."

Garnet had never even heard of such a thing. Although, from her years as a fusion, Steven was incredibly unique. Everyone knew that. Garnet took a side glance as Jasper. One who was evident enough to know how fusion could change its components and in the end, corrupted her until she was cured. Corrupted gems in general were unfortunate, lost souls. But their gem programming was sufficiently altered to affect normal gems if fused. It was the same thing.

"But what does that have to do with why Steven's gem wanted to fuse with her? What does it even mean..." Amethyst queried.

 That could be why. They simply did not know enough about Steven's gem to be able to explain it.

"Sounds like he got shattered." Jasper commented from the shadows.

Shattered...

"What little I learned from that green runt, was that shattered gems who try and form with one another turn into some monstrosity, hold a single hunger to become whole again...."

Garnet looked back to the gem experiments and the horrific forced fusions they'd come across. So, Jasper did learn a thing or two.

"So Steven's Gem was trying to find his human half. Instead, he found Connie and detected her Aura, which is identical to Stevens. Her biological status had mutated enough for his gem to mistake her for Steven and to fuse with her...I wonder if I got that right.,." Pearl stated, albeit horrified by the implications.

There was doubt that it was an accident. But Stevonnie noted they felt incomplete and their sadness could be correlated to a similar need to being whole. Steven and Connie had a deep love for each other that had extended to his gem...from what Garnet could logically guess, could be an undocumented reason. It was incredibly hard to say, especially if nothing like this had ever happened to a gem before.

"What I want to know then...is where is the rest of Steven?" Pearl questioned, fretting.

Hopefully not dead and in pieces. It became incredibly important for them to get to him before it was too late.

"I...I don't know. Jasper and I were investigating this room to find a way around to the Southeastern Section, where he could be. But it seems that Black Star Sapphire left a message behind. Something known as the Incarnation of Hope that would be lead to the Delta Kindergarten by Medusa Quartz." Stevonnie explained.

Black Star's Prophecy. It made little sense to them on the whole, but Garnet wouldn't doubt a fellow Sapphire's prediction, no matter how vague. The only thing they didn't know was what they meant by hope.

"Who is Medusa Quartz then?" Jasper called out, on the same train of thought.

"It was supposed to be here...and she's not so what's the point? And Incarnation of Hope? I'm not aware of anything of the sort!"

Garnet looked at Stevonnie, who ruffled the words in their head like everyone else. Then she realized...no one noticed that Snow wasn't with them until Garnet rescanned the room. She was supposed to be with them, but she trusted Stevonnie knew exactly what happened.

"I noticed Snow Quartz wasn't with you." She pointed out.

Pearl and Amethyst gasped, like they had forgotten her too. Stevonnie then pulled a gem out and had it in their hand.

"She got poofed trying to protect us." Stevonnie said with sadness.

The three other gems looked at Snow's gem closely. She had yet to reform, but Garnet noticed the gems odd design. Half pure white, half with green and blue dots. She used her future vision and noted that they will need her Labradorite for help. At least she was glad for it for working this time, albeit still aggravated that it wouldn't work for Steven. 

"But we can't get access to the Southeastern Section without the Blackbox GIS." Jasper groaned.

"Everywhere else is blocked off. Though the Snow Quartz gem has been able to get us in here."

This particular gem worked to open certain locked doors. This instantly became suspicious, but it wouldn't prove Garnets theory, not until they'd get inside the Delta Kindergarten. For now, all they could do is have Stevonnie utilise their Diamond to gain entry. It gave Garnet an idea.


They surmised their plan to return back to Milky's Chamber, although it wouldn't be easy, given that the Lillim roamed outside and were prepared to strike. They'd return Stevonnie back to the Chamber to gain access to the Delta Kindergarten and get the Blackbox off of Peridot to use for later. Use of her future vision became frantic however, because Garnet didn't know what to expect. From what little she could see, there was a part of it that didn't seem like it would go off without a hitch. 

Once they were in agreement, they through all their hands in, including a hesitant Jaspers. They looked at one another nodded before making their move. 

They got out of the room without fault, as Garnet took the lead in keeping an eye out for any Lillim in the area. There was a slight chill detected, going from the slight foggy smoke that came out of Stevonnie's mouth. She noticed the fusion had a constant tick where they would hover their hand over their gem briefly, like they had a sick stomach. Ruby and Sapphire knew that as a hollow feeling. Right now, Stevonnie was two/thirds of themselves and the only humanity it could vouch for was Connies. How desperate did the gem have to be in order to fuse back with itself? Like Jasper said, gem shards hold a desire to be made whole and as Garnet, as well as Ruby and Sapphire debated the complexities of it.

It's horrifying to think about. It alone, causes so much hurt. Ruby thought.

Because the thought of being shattered brings us fear. It's a phantom pain that comes from seeing others having being shattered before. Sapphire told her.

They all believed Steven was like a fusion unto himself. The concept of his gem being removed weighed heavily on them. Garnet could see a Pink Steven somewhere in the blacked creeks of her vision and would not be able to steer herself towards it. Not one person had all the answers to something as varied as this. So many possible futures paraded off into the shadows...

It had Garnet think back to the Era 3 ball on Homeworld. Steven seemed...so miserable when his plan for White Diamond to arrive. An outcome to that could have been worse than what actually occurred, but Connie. Connie pulled Steven out of his funk and had him relax. That was an aspect that Garnet did not see coming. Sapphire was limited at that time, but once Connie made that spontaneous decision, that future spiraled out of control.

Going back even further, Steven's whole fusion with Connie to begin with was not of anything Garnet could see over all. 

So...like Ruby, Connie had on many occasions pulled Steven in unexpected directions. A human, an ordinary every day human. Like Greg, held the power to change fate.

Humans hold something we don't. Sapphire voiced.

But Connie is just human, like I'm just a Ruby. We're fighters. The other gem noted.

Fighters of said fate.

But Garnet was the herald of that change, just as Stevonnie was. They would need to stumble around in the dark from time to time in order to succeed. Something clicked in Garnet's vision as she stared at Stevonnie while they stopped. Despair was on the horizon. She kissed Stevonnie's forehead to show them where to go, which confused the other fusion immensely.

Whispers echoed nearby as Garnet raised arm and clenched fist to get everyone to stop moving and be silent. They weren't too far off from the entrance to Milky's Chambers. However smoke entered from down the hallway closest to it. She pulled out her gauntlets and prepared everyone to fight. It was the same towering monstrosity from before, much to their dismay. Pearl slid in front of her as she brought out the Lemon Quartz gem and prepared to shine its light.

More Lillim appeared from beside them. Garnet tried to make out their forms as they were covered in films of fog and could only make their shining red eyes. She turned to see more sneaking up on them from behind, striking her briefly with surprise. How in the world they got behind them that quickly without them knowing was beyond them, irritating Garnet to no end. Pearl blasted the light and created a path as they charged through, only for Garnet to hear Amethyst crying for help. She turned to see one of the Lillim had got a hold of her leg as she tried to whip, but it was like attacking the air. Garnet growled and told the others to keep going and that she'd catch up to them as she ran up to Amethyst, only to be blocked off by huge whips of shadow. Garnet dodged and weaved its attacks, only for Amethyst to be dragged off into the shadows.

"GARNET HE-" Amethyst cried out before she was silenced by the tentacles that curled themselves over her mouth. 

The fusion was left blaming herself and continued fighting through. The constant flailing whips kept pushing her back instead of going forward to try and save Amethyst. She saw the light coming from the Lemon Quartz, as Pearl charged past.

"Garnet c- where's Amethyst?" Pearl questioned.

"She...they took her! Garnet remarked, her voice choking. She hated saying that and she hated breaking out like that.

Pearl was left beside herself as they kept fighting, back to back. Pearl had her spear cut through numerous tentacles as she tried holding the darkness back as much as they could with the inactive gem, while Garnet. The hallway itself was too small the maneuver so Sardonyx was out of the question. They pulled off numerous flips, tricks, punches and kicks constantly with haste poise and grace, to stave the Lillim off. Garnet knew they couldn't fight forever and Amethyst had to have been long gone. Future Vision demonstrated a singlet glint at the end of a very long and dark tunnel, giving Garnet little comfort.

It was until the Lemon Quartz gem was knocked out of Pearls hands by flick of a tentacle that the two were in deeper trouble than they had ever been in. It left their sight entirely. They stood back to back to back once more. The pain riddled in Garnet's chest was immense. Ruby and Sapphire clung onto each other with pure willpower as Pearls sobs threatened them to split. 

"I told Jasper to take care of Stevonnie." Pearl told her as she clung onto her spear the tightest she ever could.

"Stevonnie, obviously protested." Said Garnet.

Pearl nodded.

"I couldn't protect Steven or Amethyst...I'm sorry." Garnet told her.

The amount of guilt Garnet felt from not seeing what she wanted to see in her sights. She didn't stop trying but it always ended the same way. That glint: they had to fight for it.

"I'm sorry too." Pearl told her, as she swiped an oncoming tentacle in half.

It wasn't long, until the darkness blinded them.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

They'd gotten so far until they encountered the Lillim in the hallways. Garnets kiss indicated the exact location of Milky's Chamber, which confused Stevonnie until Amethyst had been captured by them. Stevonnie wanted to help so badly, their heart beating so fast as Pearl insisted to Jasper that Stevonnie was the most important person right now. In their haste, it was Jasper who had to drag a hysterical Stevonnie away as they screamed at the devoured Crystal Gems. The last thing they saw was Pearl diving into the smoke herself, with their voices muffling and disappearing into the ghastly shadows.

Once far enough, Stevonnie forced Jasper to stop dragging them so they could breath. They had to lean against the nearby wall to get their breath back, reeling from the chaos, but the amount of despair they felt from their sacrifice became too much. They looked at their hands and the reality before them, fulling preparing for the illusions before the inevitable split in their fusion. They closed their eyes then re opened them. Jasper was still there to their right. No distortions. At all. Where was Steven's voice where they needed it?

"We don't have time to mope around right now." Jasper called out.

"They're family to Steven! They're family to me!" Stevonnie roared as they slammed the wall and caused the walls and roof to shudder briefly from the force.

Jasper remained stoic as she placed her hands on their shoulders in an attempt to look into their eyes.

"This is what War is like my Diamond." She told them.

"Sacrifice is normal."

This wasn't normal. Nothing right now could be considered normal.

"Retreating to the Chamber is the only goal right now. I need you to focus."

For once...Jasper was right. There wasn't much they could do right now. Stevonnie could not afford the risk of getting infected now. Not when they were so close. Jasper let them go as they adjusted their jacket and retied their hair, then took a deep breath for good measure. They nodded, as they mapped out the location of the Chambers thanks to Garnet. They just hated the fact that they couldn't much else right now, frustrated with themselves and the reality they now faced.


Even with direction, all they came across was a dead end. Jasper growled with displeasure as if wondering if the vision showed was even accurate.  Stevonnie rested their hand on it, until the door shifted. In front of them was Dori, who wagged their tail as they saw Stevonnie. They entered promptly, seeing Peridot and Lapis inside as the former worked on a nearby console with an odd expression on her face, while Lapis sat on the edge, appearing stunned as she stared at Jasper with widened eyes.

"Oh great..." Jasper groaned.

Stevonnie should have expected Lapis stomping around to prove her point. But she didn't. She ignored Jasper, only with her face was she voicing her disapproval. She instead then looked at Stevonnie, who forgot they had a huge frown right now.

"We bumped into the others...they...were taken by the Lillim." They said, trying to keep themselves together as they were overwhelmed in shame, rubbing their arm, while their eyes were drawn to the floor

Lapis gasped.

"Oh no...I'm...."

"DIAMOND DETECTED"

Stevonnie froze as they looked at Peridot, who had the dullest expression and the clearest purple eyes.

"Uh...what...what happened to her?" They asked, pointing towards the green gem.

Lapis sighed, obliging to be the bearer of the unusually bad news/

"She's being possessed by something called Apophyllite. An old Blackbox GIS thing." She revealed.

That was the same thing that Diga and Black Star were talking about. A type of artificial intelligence construct.

"I see..." Stevonnie murmured. They felt all eyes on them and had to be strong for them. This was what Steven would want to do. Connie felt the practicality of moving forward, knowing there wasn't much they could do now regarding the other gems but felt they still had a chance to save them too. They crossed their arms as they tried to think. If only Steven could voice his opinion once in a while. But Connie was all they had.

"Is she going to be alright?"

Lapis looked at Peridot, who was just blank right now.

"She should be. The Apophyllite needed a puppet to speak through. Peridot volunteered and now Dori and I are just keeping an eye on her. Gotta make sure she doesn't try anything funny." She answered.

It made Stevonnie think of the things capabilities. Diga mentioned its creation as an artificial intelligence that was meant to take care of the facility on its own. They needed it as well, going from what both Diga and Black Star mentioned. A critical piece of the puzzle for them to utilise and gain access to the Southeastern Section. But one matter Stevonnie had to deal with first, one of utmost importance. They took a deep breath and stood firm, disallowing their grief to pull them back.

"Now...Garnet said you needed a Diamond to get access into the Delta Kindergarten?" They said, with a straight laced tone.

"Diamond Level authorization required." Said Apophyllite through the proxy of Peridot.

What for, they wondered.

"We'd heard of a Prophecy that a Black Star Sapphire saw. Something about the Curse of Hope and the Sight of Stone defeating the darkness or something...and that hope lied in the Delta Kindergarten, for what ever it actually meant. It's a weird piece of poetry." Lapis continued.

Incarnation of Hope. Curse of Hope. A lot of the terminology didn't make sense. But the word hope was spread a lot, according to Lapis. They could see they had found out about the whole ordeal too, which meant Black Star was trying to spread her message as far...and as vague as possible. 

"I told Apophyllite what we saw and what we found out. Tell her." Lapis ordered the GIS.

Peridot nodded and adjusted herself.

When the world of warm is covered in the realm of cold...

When the brightest heart accepts the darkest mind..

Only the Curse of Hope and the Sight of Stone....

Can clear the Cosmos of Despair of it's bind.

To put the pieces together like that would be interesting to consider. The Curse of Hope. Why would it lie in the Delta Kindergarten as a curse? And the Sight of Stone? 

"We guessed the Sight of Stone was someone known as Medusa Quartz." Lapis continued.

Where was she though? She wasn't in Diga's Quarters. So what purpose did Medusa have in leading hope into the Kindergarten if she wasn't there to help them out?
Their mind trailed on the possibilities of what the Cosmos of Despair was.

"Pyrope's been insistent on finding out what lies in there as well."  Said Jasper.

"What it ever it is, it better be worth it."

Stevonnie heard Lapis murmur.

"You're another spy of hers aren't you?" Lapis questioned with disdain.

Oh brother...Jasper gave off another low growl.

"No. Not anymore." Jasper said cooly.

Last thing anyone wanted right now, was those two to fight.

"Jasper's been helping me." Stevonnie told her. They wanted to get this over and done with so they could save everyone, so they really had to leave the belated bickering until later. They wandered over to the console and stood next to Peridot who had her hand hovered over a Diamond symbol.

"Please press highlighted button." Said Peridot. 

The answers lied behind that very door. It both excited and terrified Stevonnie in the fusion of a paradox. There was a hesitation for numerical reasons; with a lot of it had to do with the nature of the Prophecy. Still so many questions without any answers. But this Lillim invasion could be fought off with a weapon they held behind its unseen doors. Would it also help them save Steven and the other Crystal Gems? Greg and Lion too? The amount of pressure to succeed was immense. A cavalcade of problems could arise if they failed and Stevonnie only had themselves to blame. Pink Steven did nothing to subconsciously support them at this point as it was left purely on Connie's conscious to decide. Though they did feel Lapis' hand on their arm.

"Stevonnie, I didn't want to comment, but what's wrong?" Lapis asked.

Lapis had spoken with Stevonnie in the past. They had a fast friendship due to her already having bonds with both Steven and Connie. On the occasion the topic of fusion, Stevonnie wanted to be careful around her due to Lapis' history, but Lapis cleared it up with them pretty quickly that she didn't care that they had fused with each other or not and even voiced envy on their stability and comfort. Steven did mention at one point his curiosities on how his fusion with either Peridot or Lapis would be...or even a combination of those two alone. Like anything, Steven would never force it if they'd never done it before (although his insistence on Opal was because he'd never seen Gems fuse before), but he was indeed proud of the friendship the two had forged between each other and patiently waited for the day that the two would fuse. Stevonnie noticed the back wall, with the pictures of themselves, Steven and Connie on the pink wallpaper. Someone definitely was keeping an eye on them. Seeing the Pink Diamond insignia gave them conflicting emotions. 

"I feel like this something Steven should be doing...not me." They replied.

"Why don't you let him do it then?" Lapis proposed.

Stevonnie looked at their gem and tried to split themselves apart. There were no hallucinations or signs that the pair were even about to, no matter how hard they strained.

"Maybe you're addicted to the power." Jasper theorized as she looked at Lapis, who turned away.

If Garnet were here...

"No...that's not it." Stevonnie stated.

Whether or not it was the case, but it had to be something to do with the nature of fusing with a full gem. Everything Stevonnie, Steven and Connie knew about fusion came from the Crystal Gems, mostly Garnet. Stevonnie felt Dori's fur underneath their hand. It reminded Stevonnie of something far more important. They brought out Snow's gem.

"You hold her." They said as they knelt down before her. Dori gave a little whine as she sniffed then grabbed her partners gem with her mouth, while Stevonnie rubbed her head. They just wanted her to reform so they could apologies properly. However, Dori ended up swallowing the gem whole with Stevonnie grimacing at the notion.

"A Labradorite gem will hold small items in shapeshifted pouches with their the bodies via consumption through their vocal orifice." Said Peri-Apophyllite

Didn't make it any less gross. What if Snow decided to reform while she was inside? Unless the interior acted like a bubble of sorts. Stevonnie had no idea. The Wolf Gem then resumed to rubbing itself on Stevonnie's leg like she was trying to comfort them. It allowed them to contemplate their next action. If Pink Steven did not want to unfuse, then it could be the case where it had no issue with Stevonnie doing it. It was just Connie hesitating. They tried again as they placed their hand on the button, took a deep breath, then pushed it.

"Diamond Authorization confirmed. Warp Pad deployed!" Apophyllite announced.

Jasper jumped out of the way as the floor shifted with a circle forming, then two panels slid outwards as a Warp Pad was brought up from below. Which surprised them greatly. Black Pearl did mention Milky did not like Warp Pads. Interesting. They looked to all of the remaining gems, then looked at their gem. Fear ran through them, like a lightning strike. 

"We're ready when you are." Lapis declared.

"I'm in....only to make sure none of you are in way over your heads." Jasper announced.

There was a little bit of joy that poured on Stevonnie's heart on those words alone. A warmth they craved, though it was unknown whether or not that aspect was from Steven's side...an unconscious thought in an awakened foreign mind. Then they looked at Peridot, concerned on whether she was aware of what was going on.

"Are you coming Apophyllite...or Peridot....?" Stevonnie wondered.

"Apophyllite will observe and assist where necessary. Until then, original Peridot program will remain primary until change is required." They claimed. It wasn't good enough from their understanding, but it was perfect music to Stevonnie's ears. Peridot seemed pleased to see them as her eyes turned to normal, although wary of Jaspers presence until they gave her the run down. The hybrid stood firm in the middle of the Warp Pad, with Dori and Peridot on their right, Jasper behind them and Lapis on their left.

There was no turning back now. The moment of truth was ahead of them.


 

Going through the stream felt like eternity, as millions of words ran through Stevonnie and loads of them piled up and crashed on every corner. They weren't alone as Lapis, surprisingly of all gems, grabbed their hand and smiled. Lapis sensed Stevonnie's stress in a weird way, though the core of Stevonnie's belief had it tell them that she must have known what it was like to face ones fears and that facing them alone could be considered foolhardy. It was more than welcoming, like Steven had impacted her more than believed. Or maybe, that Lapis had once underestimated Connie...could have been anything really. With that Gem, it could mean anything...and remain a mystery.

The temperature in the room was a lot hotter than they anticipated. The room they were in was hexagonal like the rest, but in dark shades of teal. A door awaited them as Peridot walked forward first and pressed their hand against the light blue diamond symbol on the right hand side, which opened the door. The crew wandered inside, seeing some kind of observation room of the same blue-green colour schemes that over looked a glowing room from beyond the protective glass. Stevonnie ticked with her hand once more, before proceeding to look over to see what was out there.

There was giant internal cave structure, complete with stalactites that sparkled from above and bellow was a huge pit of lava that sat between solid ground and a unusual marked cave wall to the far back. Diamond shaped lines surrounded it, with smaller lined shapes that repeated several times. White, then Yellow, then Blue, then Pink...then Turquoise. The walls to the left and right poured lava into the heated pool of it.

Peridot's first action was to instantly go to the console before them and lit up a few holographic screens of interest. Stevonnie felt...something. It wasn't bad, or good...strange...powerful like she'd stepped into a room with a much higher amount of gravity, like a force became much heavier on their shoulders. Peridot did find out that they were actually about 170 kilometers in the Earths mantle....could have explained it.

"How odd." Peridot commented as she scryed through the screens.

"This Kindergarten only houses a singular gem...and its in that room in front of us. It says it's been in incubation for the past...no way that's impossible...that is a....like a million times more in cycles for it form like most gems."

Stevonnie gulped, for what it meant, for it be highly unusual to begin with. The heaviness could have been the power they sensed as well, though they couldn't possibly tell in a place like this. 

"I've never heard a gem taking that long to form." Jasper noted.

"Unless it was a really important one."

Really important...

"Let me to check it's elemental environment. Kimberlite with traces of boron. I know there are certain gems that do come from this....oh....oh..."

Looks like Peridot found paydirt. Literally. The stunned look on her face and the trails of sweat made her incredibly nervous, rubbing off on Stevonnie somewhat.

"I...I...I know what this is." 

From the way Peridot sounded, she was both afraid and in awe of what was forming down there, with the constant stammers, like she was trying so hard to reaffirm her disbelief.

"I-I mean, it's entirely possible that it's...it's not what I think it is...could be something else...lesse...yup...yup.."

Peridot kept murmuring to herself, like she was crossing off a checklist and trying to justify what her discovery meant. But for what ever reason Stevonnie found themselves looking at the formation constantly, being drawn to it. Their eyes honed in on the middle of the wall. This was Hope? Another gem?

"Either it is or it isn't....just say what it is." Jasper demanded, irritated by Peridots muttering.

Stevonnies hand hovered over their gem again as it pulsed with light. Visions of Pink Steven came to mind it looked like he was already down there, like he was waiting for the gem to come out.

Peridot hastily went through the files...before everything decided to shut down at that precise moment. She slammed the console with both her fists in frustration, as Stevonnie felt the air shift again.

"Oh great you broke it." Jasper complained.

The room got hotter and hotter which Stevonnie presumed was due to the lack of ventilation down here. They clung on their chest as it became harder to breath. They split between hearing the others arguing that eventually became muffled noise and the fight to keep their eyes open until eventually everything went dark.


 

The void again. The vast, ocean wide space of pure emptiness. A world with no worries, no fears or any sight of life in it. A place for pure thinking. Not for long.
Stevonnie opened their eyes and they were back in the room again. The lights were back on, but no Jasper, Peridot, Lapis or Dori in sight. They began to panic, thinking that they had been captured, until they heard the doors open behind them and by pure instinct, they decided to hide behind a nearby bench and peered over the front. Out came two individuals. One with white, wavy hair and one with light brown hair tied up. Both were considered tall but what they wore was considerably different. The white haired one had some kind of grey armor with a red cloak with a symbol Stevonnie recalled, the one from Diga's room. The one with the dragon and the aperture symbol on it. The shoulder pads were of dragons heads which Stevonnie thought was pretty awesome, akin to the many fantasy stories Connie had read.

The other was a skinny woman. Her dress hugged her figure and was blue with a black, flowery embedded pattern on a long dinner dress. Their beige skin indicated that they were most likely not gems...their eyes were glowing white and blue respectively. So they weren't human either. They looked over the balcony and onto the interior of the kindergarten.

"I hate how things shift and change over millions of years." Said the white haired woman. Her voice commanded authority and yet, it was soft, firm...not to mention sounding similar to another person they couldn't put their finger on. 

"They're hard to track down the line."

A tone that also held poise and grace and power. 

"I had Zinnia seed it. It's not her fault." Said the blue one. Her voice was a little softer, but she held less emotion.

Who were these two, Stevonnie wondered.

"No it's not. I'm just glad she was happy to contribute to our project..."

"I never said I was happy with it."

Out from the doors was a large woman with curly, voluminous pink hair and white dress. Rose Quartz...Mom-Diamond. The two turned around to greet her. What was Rose doing here, of all people? She stared at them with immense glares, namely at the blue one. What ever they've done to earn her ire, must have been pretty bad. 

"Petra, I only agreed to this because I've had Black Star Sapphire cry to me for help." Rose mentioned, oddly voicing her displeasure.

Woah....this was heavy.

"And Diga....I know you're trying to resolve this issue in a peaceful way. But are we sure need to resort to this? After everything we fought for...you think another one is required to fight the Lillim off?"

Rose knew about the whole ordeal? She never said it to anyone else? Garnet was right. She could keep secrets.

"Rose..." Diga said. Her smile was yinyang of warm and cold. Her eyes were like a Diamonds too. Similar motif with her drop-Diamond circlet and earrings, while Petra had a matching set, only with light blue glowing gems instead. Her armor was like it was like out of some RPG. While Petra remained expressionless, her eyes half lidded but riddled with their magical blue glow like a upside down and inverted sunset. 

"Lilith isn't peaceful. Far from it. I've seen her ruin many worlds and I'd hate to think what she'd do to this one. I've discussed it with my Crusaders and Petra and we know this is going to be the course of action required to fight her off. It's a future obscure to most here...that normal future vision just won't cut it."

There's that name again. Lilith.

"Did you really need to use my gem though? I still don't know how you figured out my true identity." Rose said.

Wait what?

"Scanning your gem was required for the base of it." Diga explained.

"Every gem has a different internal wavelength, based off of studies. A scan here and there made sure the gems properties were going to even function the way we want them to. Ones like yours hold countless potential.  With that and the cycles required, which is covered. Petra's excellent at time management if you catch my drift."

Scanning...her gem.This...had implications Stevonnie wasn't prepared for, not by a long shot. They felt Peridot's disbelief from earlier, run its course.

"Catch...your drift?" Rose repeated.

Diga rolled her eyes.

"Oh yeah, human saying." She said. So she was human? Stevonnie doubted it. Although she had to be close, or close enough.

Rose nodded, a bit concerned. Stevonnie could understand why, given the uncertain relationships between humans and gems in general.

"Well, okay if you say so." She said, her voice trailing.

This whole experience was so...disconnected. It was out of a sci-fi movie...

"The basis of your identity is irrelevant." Said Petra, her tone without warmth.

"Alterations are required for every few cycles to ensure its development is left unhindered. A name will be left on the winds of your gems memories that will call out to you. The Heart to claim and unite as one entity."

Stevonnie felt the same way about Rose's confused face right about now. What ever had her looking like that, was significant.

"Is there someone I should expect to meet?" Rose questioned.

Petra did a slow, single nod.

"Yes." She replied.

"A human being."

Was it Greg? This surprised Rose....and Stevonnie.

"A human? What does a human have to do with what's going on here? They don't have any powers that I know of." Rose stated.

That much was true. But that didn't have any less meaning to it.

"Not yet." Petra continued.

"In an era of change will be a minor slice of time, but it will be a great deal for those who will have your eyes."

No...it was Steven? Rose still didn't get it. Neither did Stevonnie. Although, if it meant what they thought it meant....

"Rose...understand the concept of mind, spirit and body. I'll try and put it in a way that even a Gem will understand." Said Diga, albeit in a condescending way.

"These three must be in sync to work properly. A body contains the vessel and is limited to a variety of vulnerabilities. AKA, your gems. A spirit contains an energy that connects the body with the mind with all sorts of blurred, hidden data. So the form you take is but a spirit projected from the body based on numerous factors and can form the cradle of your subconscious. A mind is but the driver, the active consciousness that is aware of their surroundings. Everything fed through the minds sensors is poured down through it, past the spirit and into the body and the body and mind can connect too... without always needing the spirit.'

Whether or not that was entirely accurate or not, it still puzzled poor Rose. And Stevonnie.

"There will be a point in time where the body is flesh, the spirit is a gem and a new mind is born from it. It will act as a Heart and an Aura, combined." Said Petra.

That had to be Steven, surely.

"But this case...has a body of flesh and a willing mind already intact. Its their spirit that needs to change. The body will fall.  However it's open to the greatest change. Hope lies with her. Her Heart needs to merge with the power of a powerful gem."

Her?

"Black Star told me about the Prophecy." Rose revealed.

"The Curse of Hope and the Sight of Stone will clear the Cosmos of Despair of its bind. Didn't realize it needed to go this far in order to fulfill it."

Rose knew about it too? What matter of craziness was this? She had more secrets than previously known. Steven had come to accept that, however. More so than ever, given the mysterious nature of their plans.

"It needs a heart of humanity. Humanity will become...more? And this gem...needs to fuse with a human being?"

The two nodded. They spent all this time preparing for this very moment.

"But she didn't give me anything else. But you have a name to this...Incarnation of Hope I assume?"

A more positive name to the twist than anticipated but sure.

"We do." Said Petra.

"Her name will be Connie. Connie Maheswaran."

Stevonnie froze at the mere mention of her name. No...it couldn't possibly be her. She was chosen? Out of all the potentials in the world and out of every human being in existence...this far in advance and centralized on a very specific individual. How? Why? It made no sense to them. Why did it have to be Connie? Why no one else? Where did this all come from? From Black Star's extraordinary future vision that stretched as far as it did. When was this? Had to be a few thousand years ago at least. Stevonnie really needed Steven right about now. They needed his voice...his humanity to just say something. Anything. They really were alone with no real explanation to any of this absolute drivel. 

"Connie needs to accept the Diamond when the time is right. She needs to be its Heart." Petra continued.

WHAT?

"She will not be alone in the endeavor. Love will see her through."

The world around Stevonnie broke into shards of teal and pink, into shadow once more.

 

 

Chapter Text

Stevonnie gasped as their eyes opened up in great haste. When their vision stopped being blurring, they could first see the bright lights on the dark blue roof above them, then Peridot's head came in from the right, looking pedantic.

"Oh...I thought we lost you for a minute there." Peridot called out. It must have been a reaction meant for Steven more than for Connie.

The power was switched back on for the room as they sat up. While the air was still a little heavy to breath, there was still oxygen at least and the temperature had become moderate, despite how far down they were. They ran fingers over their head and absentmindedly pulled their scrunchy out which let their hair fall to just above their shoulders. They retied it back up again, then leaned over to bury their head in their arched up knees.

They were meant to come here. All this time they were be meant to be here. It had been set up for her. From going from someone with no magical destiny to THIS? It was like inheriting a crown from a coronation. Who would have believed that such a simple task to find one person ended up dealing with this hidden mess, locked away down here, all this time. Like it knew that Snow would come back to this place and to bring all the Crystal Gems together. Dori rubbed her head against Stevonnie, who then looked up to pat her in return. They could see Jasper and Lapis sitting by them as well, a bit dismayed themselves.

"Are you in any pain?" Jasper asked. An odd, out of nature question for someone like her.

Other than an emotional gut punch, no.

"I'll be fine." They replied. How true that was overall was going to depend on the outcome of all of this. Fate, interwoven with coincidence.

Peridot nodded and donned a serious expression on her face. They must have found out what this was all for, as her face turned back to that of concern.

"Good..good...but I don't know if you'll like what I'm going to tell you."

Yup.

"The Data concludes that this is...a Diamond in incubation. Explains the materia and the timeframe that it's spent in there. But it's due to emerge any moment now. But the production is much to be desired."

They got up and followed Peridot to look back at the blueprints of the Diamonds design. A Diamond designed for Connie. Who would have believed such a thing to be possible?

"They had a scheduled scrubbing of data within the gem every so often. Like they wanted to stop a part of it from forming. They utilized a special non-intrusive way to do so, so instead of them having to dig it, therefore interrupting the incubation, they use tremendous strong pulses or wireless nodes to purge it."

Like a personality purge perhaps. From the vision, it appeared to be like where they had meant for Connie told wield the gem the same way that Steven holds his. The Heart to the Aura.

"The most unusual aspect is an unusual amount of organic matter that was put into it. By organic I mean actually cellular matter....from a human."

Stevonnie zoned out as Peridot went through the logistics and detail from the blueprints themselves until they became nothing but white noise. They stood beside the window, with their eyes looking out across the balcony. If this was what destiny had in store for Connie, why would they be a fool to deny it? She had read so much about heroes and magic and all that glory that came with it. A tune had rewritten, for her to be been hesitant to accept it.

What would Steven think?  Connie muttered at the back of their mind.


 

Stevonnie closed their eyes, imagining the realm of blue like the ocean that Garnet once took them to. Pink Steven was there, who remained silent and had his usual blank glance into the horizon, as both him and Connie stood behind Stevonnie with the absolute conflict baring in her heart. Within the darkness, held the shades of vulnerability unavailable anywhere else.

"I-I mean, they created this. This is for me, how am I supposed to be react? Excited? Terrified? Why is it that I've wanted something like this for ages yet so suddenly...." Said Connie as she pressed her heart with her right hand.

"It's because of how you saw it through my/our eyes." Said Pink Steven in his usual monotone factor, syncing it in with Stevonnie's voice who spoke in front of them.

Connie was surprised by that despite blank manner on his face, his statue like demeanor, he was willing to converse as he did. Gem magic and fusion were weird like that and it always surprised her.

"I uhh...well, I guess if you put it that way, He's been a part of the politics no kid his age should have to be dealing with. Humans have their own expectations and boundaries." Connie continued, with the use human analogies.

Just as human life had been. A reality forged for themselves after thousands of years of self-discovery, research and education spread through hundreds of generations.

"Being human and gem is not an easy life. A doorway to each other requires a lot of effort." He said.

"There was no choice. But you do. You who would choose stand with me/us as a human equal. Now you/we can both hold the Arch together. As truer equals."

He did have to cop a great deal of things no one from either side knew. Being the only one like himself must have been hard. Stevonnie hurled over in pain as they held their eyes and fell onto their knees. Connie went to reach for them until she heard them choking, holding their throat too, with the realm echoing her coughs and making them seem worse than they really were. Connie stepped back as Stevonnie hurled out hundreds of white butterflies from both their mouth and their eyes. She watched them spiral upwards to form screens around them from above that went in circles slowly. Going from Steven's cases of aging, fusing, shape-shifting, to being yelled at by the Diamonds, to crying at Lar's death. Then being yelled at Connie herself when Steven didn't take his capture seriously...and the bind he had himself afterwards, worried that Connie hated him. She imagined the painted on White Diamond eye drawings, staring down at them in judgement. Connie suspected, but she had failed to realize how deep, dark and unforgiving his own reality had been to him that Connie felt guilt. 

"He's kept so much inside." Connie murmured.

"Why doesn't he trust people with how he really feels? To protect them?"

After the mishap with Jasper and Malachite, Steven took to trying to push her away from him for that reason. That no one, absolutely no one, would understand.

"Because there is no one like me/us." Pink Steven told her.

The term they used...Homo Magia...it was like they were an entirely new species altogether. It was the known drama in many stories of half breeds not completely fitting in with anyone else, even the parts that made them whole. Stevonnie stood up normally again.

"But Stevonnie is ours." Connie said firmly as she scrunched her fingers into a fist, as Stevonnie spoke alongside her and mimicked her movements.

"Our discovery...ours and ours alone. Does that not amount a greater level of trust? With me?"

It had been the most strength they had together. Fighting off foes that would be considered more challenging than it would be on their own. Stevonnie was their blessing in disguise. Pink Steven rose his hand and spread it out, as all the white, glowing butterflies that floated above them flew towards it, spiraling towards his palm an into a shining, pink sphere.

"Connie." Spoke Pink Steven. His saying her name in a deep and uncanny way sent shivers down her spine. It sounded...mature.

"The amount of trust given to you is bigger than you think. I/we cannot forgive you for something that does not need to be forgiven for. If you don't truly know me. If you don't truly know us, then you need to look back on the all the times we spent together. I/we know you. It would not matter on how I/we feel. Because to me/us, what you feel is bound to be much more important/interesting."

He had a point. Steven always cared about what other people felt instead of himself. He'd have to understand. He'd let her explain without interruption and with that...they could move on and discuss matters further. Together.

Together as people like no one else in the world or in the whole galaxy.

"I'll decree I'm being selfish in not doing this just for him. But for me." Connie said.

"But that's okay. That's my choice alone. I will do this...whether or not I was made for it."

"Yes." Pink Steven replied.

"Steven will be and will remain as Steven. Just as Connie will be and will remain as Connie."


 

Stevonnie opened their eyes just as Peridot finished her rambling. It was a lot to take on, but Connie would not have to endure it on her own.

"It's meant for Connie." Stevonnie blurted out, revealing the truth to them, with their expectations for the other gems to react in a puzzled way completed in perfect sync.

"Well, it'd explain the organic component." Peridot noted, albeit finding the scenario a bit jarring.

"Why a human? Why this one?" Jasper wondered.

Stevonnie looked at Peridot as she examined them with a series of squints, hums and chin scratching. The pose of a scientist. Jasper had raised a good point, however. One that Stevonnie wrestled over constantly. The reason...it had to be her. 

"I'm not sure." Stevonnie answered, unclear as to what it needed from her. Her own internal conflicts did nothing to Pink Steven's stable behavior. One way or another, they needed to do it. Whether or not they liked it, if it had some of the most powerful beings in the universe needing Connie, then she would be a fool to ignore it. If it'd help save Steven's human as well, then so be it.

"Peridot." They spoke with confidence.

"How do we get that out and how do we get Connie attached to it?"

The process was a lot more complicated that they anticipated. According to Peridot, the procedure required them to insert the gem into Connie, just unsure of how they would go about the insertion process. The files indicated they needed more organic data from her as well as scans. The scans tracked her magical resonance so it would sync in with the gem and would allow it to, in a way, fuse with her the same way that Steven fused with his gem. Or at least that's what they were getting. However, this required Stevonnie to split. Which be easy..if Pink Steven was helpful enough to action it. But he refused. Great. Nothing in the notes mentioned something like this was going to be a problem. Some prediction that was.

They surmised to manually pull out the gem which could be painful. Stevonnie noted that they had no other way as they laid down with each of the gems having a go at pulling it out. Jasper tried it first, then Lapis, then Peridot...then all three. Stevonnie screamed out in pain each time and was left trying to breath again in response.

"Oh come on..how do they expect us to do this if one of the components doesn't want to leave?" Peridot whined.

Stevonnie then noticed Lapis rubbing their arm as they looked away. She must have been thinking about her fusion with Jasper that triggered it. Oh no.

"I...have an idea." Lapis said, nervous. She then looked at Dori.

That was not what Stevonnie expected. They sat up and began to listen.

"This is going to be a bit strange and the only thing that just came to me but...a while ago before the war. I had been terraforming one of the up and coming Kindergartens when I was approached by a Snow Quartz, one that I had mentioned previously. She seemed to be fascinated by the whole process, like she'd never met a Lapis Lazuli before. We talked about my powers and her powers and we had a chat about her Labradorite. Labradorites have a range of abilities including destabilizing fusions in case things went too far. Why she told me this...I don't know. But it could be our only chance."

She was right. It was odd. An ordinary Snow Quartz just happening to tell her what Labradorites can do. It was too good to be true...unless it was Milky who told her, going from the evidence Snow had given them prior. They turned to Dori, who had been sitting there and silently observing. Peridot complained on why Lapis thought it was a good time to reveal that after they tried that the first time.

"Do you think you can do that?" Stevonnie asked.

"Use your power to make us unfuse?"

Dori whined, feeling uncomfortable about it.

"Please." Stevonnie pleaded.

Labradorites were natural shape-shifters, partners and trackers. They also served as guards and suppressors from the sounds of it. They wondered if Snow Quartz could command it.

Peridot suddenly started shaking as her eyes changed purple once again. Apophyllite was in charge.

"Labradorite 1G5L-6XS Secondary Command Set disabled." They said.

Secondary Command Set?

"What is that?" Stevonnie asked.

"Gems have Command Sets where they have abilities that be activated or turned off by the Diamonds or any one of the higher gem castes." Apophyllite revealed.

"First sets are Primary Combat powers and standard gem powers as part of the Gem Criteria Protocols covering Era 1 and Era 2. Second sets can range from different powers or weapons or minor commands limited to the gem type. Only Diamonds can give gems entirely new abilities or erase them."

Jasper and Lapis seemed surprised. This is the first time they'd heard about this.

"So should I somehow enable it?" Stevonnie questioned as they looked at their gem.

It was then Dori shook her head frantically and stood back, as if afraid of what could happen. Then...something weird occurred. Her gem started to glow as she howled into the air, her form doing the same. Stevonnie could barely move as they had no idea what was going on. A shapeshift perhaps? No. Stevonnie detected a surge of energy that engulfed the other gem. She grew taller as her tail expanded and the white silhouette stood on its hind legs, becoming digitigrade. A long snout formed as bushy hair sprung out from behind the head. Hands popped out from the sides, demonstrating sharp claws. 

Once the light faded, you could see the the white torso that must have been the body suit with an open diamond shape on the collar where Dori's tear dropped gem was, but instead it was white. The shoulders were covered with faded light blue pauldrons. The arms, legs and face were of grey fur and the wild hair was mostly grey too, with streams of white that reached to their waist. like a long mane. Their forehead held a triangular, familiar looking gem too. Stevonnie couldn't help but look at the brushy tail, but then looked back to its face, where four eyes opened. The bottom two were purple and the top two were teal.

It looked at the group with sheer confusion as to what had just occurred. It reminded Stevonnie of Werewolves, in a way. It then looked at Stevonnie with an uncertain stare.

"I...don't know what just happened." It said. It had a slight growl to a feminine voice. It put its hand to its head, feeling Snow's gem there and then to its collar, where Dori's gem was.

Stevonnie was left wide eyed.

"You fused." They muttered.

Did...Dori just fuse with Snow?

It then looked at Peridot and growled, then grabbed her by the the throat and held her up in the air.

"I've been reading your messages Apophyllite." They roared in their sudden bout of aggression.

"Dori wasn't appreciating the fact you kept hiding facts from them. Especially the Diamond."

The others grew worried about this new fusions temper, Lapis more so, who was ready attack them with her water made fists.

Apophyllite didn't seem fazed.

"Apophyllite: Blackbox GIS. Facility Program. Requires platform to engage with users." She said.

The fusion tossed Peridot aside like she was nothing, then turned to Stevonnie, who gasped at the act.

"Hey, there's no reason to be violent like that." Stevonnie said, nervous.

The fusion shook their head.

"I am Howlite. There's a lot about this mess you don't even know."


 

Stevonnie urged everyone to calm down as Jasper looked like she was sick and tired of having to deal with fusion after fusion. So much had to be taken in as is, noting in the realizations of what must be done in order to proceed. Howlite eventually apologized to Peridot for being aggressive, but she was just aggravated from all the nonsense that had occurred up until this point. She seemed amicable shortly after. Stevonnie was willing to let her explain.

"Black Star Sapphires prophecy." She started.

"I found out it was all part of something not even to do with us. They had Snow Quartz's memories readjusted to only know certain things. Until I realised she was part of a larger whole that's lasted for much longer than we realized. It's when Dori began reading into what your visions saw."

Labradorites were powerful enough to sense auras and read them, but also they could see into other peoples minds but never say a word about what they had witnessed.

"Diga. Petra....even Zinnia. They're hunting down the being known as Lilith...the Queen of the Lillim."

The ones that Stevonnie witnessed, although they didn't see this Zinnia. But this...leader sounded more troublesome.

"Did the Snow Quartz fight her in the wars?" Jasper questioned, bringing up the original conflict.

"Yes ." Howlite said.

"Snow and Milky were fellow soldiers in the war. They were the only two who had met up with these...so called Crusaders. A discussion between them had them realize they were after the same goal and had them become allies. Diga gifted them with the Sealed Cores that could trap the Lillim. But the topic would come up about the Queen. No one could find her. When it was clear that the world had been purged of this blight, they believed she may have left before the war ended. Snow Quartz and Dori were not convinced. Their search lead them into patch, that... please we need to tell them...ugh..."

The Snow part of the fusion obviously did not want to talk about the matter, being painful as it already was.

"Okay...okay...say it. They came across a lab owned by a Pyrope Garnet. Someone who was supposed to help them during the War. She helped with the study of the infections. Instead, Snow found out she was feeding our gems to the Lillim and was declared a traitor. Snow and Pyrope fought as Dori was locked outside who then went to get help....then..."

They slammed a fist into the floor in frustration and sorrow, going from the tears coming from her eyes.

"Snow was infected. Dori returned back with Milky, Luna and Black Star Sapphire and they were forced to shatter her gem."

But Snow was alive...unless.

"Then who's the Snow Quartz we met?" Lapis wondered.

The two defused shortly after, leaving Dori and Snow herself left on the ground. She looked different. Where she had her black waist belt, shoulder pads and cloak had changed to blue and her eyes were green, with grey shorts and white and blue gradient socks that reached her thighs with green shoes with the White Diamond insignia on top. She stood up as Dori went up to her and sat by her side. Stevonnie could see the amount of distress she was in, going from her watery vision spheres.

"I am the Snow Quartz. I also go by Medusa Quartz." She said as she rested her hand on her chest, then patted Dori with her other hand.

Peridot then approached her, as Snow stood back in fear of her. Then Snow's face shifted as her eyes lit up, turning a teal colour as she froze Peridot in her place.

The Sight of Stone... Stevonnie though to themselves.

"What did you do to her?" Lapis roared.

Snow gasped, putting her hands to her mouth as she took in the realization of what she had done.

"I...I don't know. This...this..." Snow muttered as she cried.

Now wasn't the time for panic. Stevonnie wanted to let Snow explain it for herself. They approached her without being a threat.

"Snow..it's okay. Tell us what you can. You know, information for information?" Stevonnie offered.


 

She didn't have a threatening air, she looked at Peridot again with great sorrow, then her eyes lit up again and let Peridot be functional again. Apophyllite retreated, as Lapis updated her on the current situation.

"Dori noted my scenario was a case of memory manipulation....there's only so much I can recall thanks to her." Snow said.

Partially not her fault of course.

But they exchanged details as Stevonnie promised, as they updated her on what had happened so far and what they found out through old records and a few Thought Markers, as well as what happened to the other Crystal Gems including Steven's human half. Snow was surprised at hearing on how Stevonnie reformed, which made her more concerned in regards to its effects on Connie on the whole. But she didn't want to go into great detail of her own...story of how she was shattered and rebuilt as Medusa Quartz, only, that she knew the procedure of how they could help Connie integrate with the Diamond. Stevonnie didn't want to pressure her any further.

"Oh my. Well, Black Star did say it would happen." Snow iterated.

"But yes, our priority should be saving the others, alongside this. For that I will not stress further. The project was seeded to near completion as was required and Connie's needed due to the resonance scanning process requiring details of her Diamond Aura. Right now it's set for Steven's Aura. Mapping it as Stevonnie would complicate the process further. Think of it as a blood transfusion. You have to know what blood type you are before you can transfer it."

That made sense. Stevonnie still wanted to know how much human knowledge Snow had to begin with.

"I learned a lot of the details from Diga and Petra about human biology and more from books in various libraries. I guess they wanted me to know for this purpose. To help Connie through it."

Those two were honestly vague with their intentions.

"Is it true that Labradorite can help unfuse gems?" Lapis questioned.

Snow rubbed Dori's head.

"Yes." Snow replied.

"There had been cases with some Snow Quartzes who had rebelled to the point where they fused with one another and simply did not want to tear themselves apart. Labradorites were reprogrammed to send a psychic jammer to them that forced them to break, like a disruption tool except it only splits the the forms without poofing them."

Handy.

"So how do we do this?" Stevonnie questioned.

They weren't certain of what was going to happen next, but Stevonnie let Snow take the reigns. The room was apparently equipped for this situation as Snow ordered the others to find specialized equipment that were locked away. They needed Apophyllite for this as well. Snow tapped her lip as she contemplated, then ran over to the main console and removed a panel, revealing a special slot of sorts. She returned to Peridot and ordered Apophyllite's Blackbox to be removed. They obliged as Peridot shook while pulling it out. She seemed exhausted by the ordeal as Snow thanked her. She looked at the Blackbox for the moment, as of thinking of something, before she removed herself out of her trance and ran over to the slot and popped the Blackbox inside it.

A digitized sphere popped out from the console as a hologram.

"Apophyllite synced in with Delta Kindergarten mainframe. Scanning current status. Diamond-Class gem ninety five percent to completion. Incubation process on hold. Custom Aura Remap required. Biological data update recommended."

They needed to do this. Stevonnie was prepared to do what was necessary to help save everyone.

"Once the gem is out, we'll need to bubble it." Snow mentioned.

"No doubt the pure gem form will want to pop out and attempt to refuse again like it did before."

Stevonnie hovered their hand over it again for the millionth time. Poor Steven. They did not want to subject him to being encased like that, but they had no choice. Sorry Steven.

"Apophyllite, we need to initiate scanning protocols."

It was time.

"Affirmative Medusa Quartz. Warning. Please standby for Procedure Room alterations."

The room rattled as they stood near the door as the room moved around with panels from below and above sliding around. From beneath them a shiny white machine slowly rose up into place, rotating to have the big bulky rounded part towards the left side, then the gurney towards the right. It was not too dissimilar to an MRI that hospitals used. Once everything was set in place, Snow requested that Stevonnie lie down on the stretcher and to lie completely still. First part of the procedure. Remove Steven's gem. Stevonnie wasn't sure on how badly  this was going to hurt, but surely it couldn't be worse than pulling it out. Right?

Snow and Dori wandered around to the left side of the gurney, while Jasper, Peridot and Lapis were on their right, puzzled as to the machines purpose. Peridot more so as she couldn't help but take a glance at every part of it.

"Has Dori ever had to do this?" Lapis wondered.

Snow shook her head, then rubbed Dori's head and smiled.

"No. I'd never even fused before." Snow replied. 

"But to have the first fusion with her is...kind of nice. Unexpected but not unwelcome."

Stevonnie held warm memories of their first time as a fusion. How Steven took Connie's hand and allowed her to have fun without of risk of ridicule. Fuzzy feelings flowed through them as they too were surprised, left stammering and clammering for the right words to say. It was like that their hands were constantly holding on to one another and giving that little squeeze to one another to remind themselves that they were still there.

Pink Steven did none of that.

He was there, but it was all Connie who did the heavy lifting. Emotionally. No voice to call to when doubt became apparent. Connie held on for what was required and had to make the decisions thus far. She just wished she heard a response every so often. It was only through deep introspection that could pertain to any kind of voice. Even then, he hardly sounded like Steven.

"Okay, so...Dori is prepared." Snow said.

"Just try and hold still. Sorry for any pain involved."

Stevonnie took a deep breath as they looked to the roof and waited in anticipation.

"Okay Dori, use your power!"

Dori growled as her gem started to glow. Waves of light brown washed over Stevonnie who felt the instant pain in their gut as they winced and yelped, then hissed through their teeth. It was like electricity that went through and fried their nerves. They looked down to see that the gem didn't even budge. Snow tried to remain neutral but Stevonnie could tell she didn't like doing it.

"Again." Snow said firmly.

Another pulse. Another shot of pain through Stevonnie's body. They reacted through instinct as they curled up.

"Jasper I need your help. Hold them down. Steven's just being incredibly stubborn."

The larger gem complied as they wandered over and pushed Stevonnie down. She looked like her default angry self, but going from her eyes, she didn't like seeing this either. Stevonnie smiled through painful tears in assurance. Both Snow and Jasper held Stevonnie against the gurney on both sides of their torso, as they unintentionally rebelled against the two.

"Peridot, Lapis I need you two at the legs."

The other two gems wandered over, with Lapis on the left and Peri on the right. Their concerned expression dug deep. Stevonnie....Connie was just sorry that they had to witness this.

"Again."

Another pulse stronger this time as Stevonnie's screams shook the whole room as they flailed underneath the shock. Snow was right. Steven was indeed stubborn.

"Again!"

Stevonnie fell into the hallucination stage as the roof was the first to disappear as white, green and blue dots fell against a dark void. They could still see the others as they looked at them. 

"It's working/NO I NEED TO STAY" Stevonnie breathed, then roared.

Oh no. Pink Steven was having none of this, putting in his two cents worth on the matter.

"Keep going. Again."


 

Another pulse sent the hallucination a little further in. This time the others disappeared and were replaced with a glaring Connie and Pink Steven, who replaced Snow on their left and Jasper on their right. Arms pushing down and all. 

"Again!"

Pink Steven was pushed back, but he clung on tightly as Snow's words became mere, muffled echoes in this realm. A place where hidden voices could be heard.

"We need to do this Steven." Said Connie.

The void enveloped them both as they stood in front of one another, while Stevonnie laid on the ground before them with their eyes closed. Steven was insistent as he tried to lurch closer to Connie, who stepped back every time he stepped forward.

"I am not...I am not Steven."

He didn't even blink at all. He wasn't dismayed as the pulses kept washing over them. Connie felt more of it than he did.

"I need you." He said, his voice low and emotionless and yet, it still sent ripples through Connie herself who started to cry. Hearing that soft, innocent set of words from him was not foreseen.

"I know you do." She pleaded.

"But...I know we'll only be apart for a little while. We can be Stevonnie again soon. I promise."

It was then she noticed a tear falling down one of his eyes. He really did not want to let go. Realization struck hard, as it then reminded her of the last time he was pulled out of himself. White Diamond's attempt nearly killed him so of course he'd feel pain from it. He did not want to feel that pain again.

Another step forward and another step back. Connie made sure she held eyes with him, not matter uncomfortable it made her. Another pulse, another shiver, another tear.

"They depend on you Steven. I know it's going to be hard but letting me go right now is going to be incredibly important." Connie continued.

"I'll get you back together again. I swear. You'll be where you need to be."

Brown chains popped out of the ground and clasped themselves around Steven's wrists. Dori's pulses were beginning to work. Steven nudged them without much force, then he stared at Connie again with the hint of betrayal that poured through his magenta eyes. She put her hand to her chest as she walked back more.

"Just...relax. Don't fight it."

She could see Stevonnie starting to fizzle out of existence, but then Steven started to aggressively pull on the chains and broke them with ease. He then jumped into the air and on pounced on Connie, pushing her to the ground. She couldn't move as she wiggled as hard as she could as he had pinned her down. She then starred into his big blank, magenta eyes, forcing her poor, vulnerable nerves to go haywire. Impossible to counter, Connie couldn't pull herself away as he put all of his weight on her, like a tonne of bricks. She could have yelled and told him off for being this creepy and it was what it was. Creepy. But she had to understand this was only a part of Steven. A part that had no restraint or understanding of his actions or consequences. She had to talk of the holes she could not fill for him and how he needed his human self to be that way.

"You're not gonna feel yourself as me." Connie said softly, fighting through her own tears.

"You're never gonna feel whole and you're never gonna feel that you're Steven with me. We are only Stevonnie if both of ourselves are complete. Stevonnie can feel it too."

His stare was static. Stagnated.  It was hard to say if he even got the idea or concept of individuality. His reality unhinged, in his eyes, but it was clear his concept of reality was warped and his way of thinking was alien.

"How do you feel about...Connie?"

It was an odd question to ask, but it was an idea nonetheless to see how much this part of Steven knew and understood.

"Connie is my friend." He said bluntly.

She smiled. He got that down pat.

"Good. Do you want to hurt Connie?" She asked.

Another odd question.

"I do not want to hurt her." He replied.

Good. He got that much.

"How would you feel if I said that you were hurting her right now?" She put forth to him.

He appeared to mull over the words for that brief moment.

"I would...feel...but I need to be whole. You make me feel...whole." He said.

Connie blushed furiously at that statement, then had to remind herself that this had been in a completely separate context.

"Connie is in pain right now. If the only way to stop that pain was to get off of me. Would you do it?" She questioned. Alien logic unto itself could work.

"I do not want to hurt her. She is in pain. I need to..."

Steven's statement was cut off as the chains jumped out from before them as they came in the hundreds to drag Steven away from her, wrapping themselves around him. He did not voice his displeasure, only to try and drag himself back towards Connie who stood up and started to move backwards again. She could only watch as he reached his arm out to her as the formation of Dori appeared out of the ground with her great, big violet eyes and towered over them with her massive size. For every chain Steven broke, ten more would appear in their place. Connie would find herself reaching for him out of her subconscious desire to comfort him. Eventually, he was buried in chains as Stevonnie faded completely. A bright light then encompassed her vision completely.

 

Chapter Text

Another deep breath of life was taken as Connie reached out towards the light. She could see her hand again. Although, she felt incredibly weakened from the events, as random hands adjusted her asthenic body. Seeing Snow's face however brought her warmth, that mellowed as Peridot carried Steven's gem and promptly put it into a bubble. Though from the look on their faces, they weren't too happy to do it either. It was Steven. They could trust him. Connie knew better than to mess around with such a dangerous version of him to be left wandering around, his motives clear and jagged, holding singular desires and uncaring of collecting collateral along the way.

She could see Dori sitting at the end of the gurney with a sorrowful expression. Connie rose her arm, although even doing so commanded a great deal of willpower. Never before had unfusing made her this tired. Even being Stevonnie for a few days straight wasn't that exhausting.

"Hush Connie, preserve your strength." Snow urged. Dori grabbed hold of Connie's gear, including her sword, then handed it to Peridot for safekeeping.

"We need to run some resonance scans. Just rest easy for the moment while I put you into the machine."

Snow sounded like she had a hold on the situation. They needed it, with Connie herself feeling like she had blood drained out of her, staring at her skin as it had gone pale alongside her mind threatening to go in and out of consciousness. Like a flickering light, Connie found it irritating, with no energy to counter her weakening frame. She'd been in an MRI before as the gurney moved inside of it. She remembered the loud, clanging noises and how they caused her to flinch constantly. She knew not to move as the machine took the necessary steps, with her hands by her side and her legs out straight. The last time she'd been in one was to check for any cancers from a previous incident that her mother became paranoid about. Of course it ended up being nothing but her mother just wanted to make sure she was nice and healthy. It wouldn't be the first or last time her mother went overboard.

But she couldn't help but think of how Steven was feeling right now. The way she felt, having a gem ripped out of her must have been the same way it happened to him. The curse of lethargy and barely being able to move under your own power was simply degrading. That didn't matter; hopefully this wouldn't last long. 

His body however. She kept thinking over and over. Where was it? Was he still alive? Was Pink Steven clinging on because he already sensed something that Stevonnie couldn't? It was hard to say when Pink Steven was foreign to her as he was to the other gems. Normal gems. Functional gems that were born from dirt and rock. Steven was not born like them.

Connie held enough belief he was still alive out there somewhere. His gem was pulled out but his body was missing. They had planned to use his gem for what ever reason. To infect it perhaps? Connie took little comfort in knowing they had Steven's gem here and not with the Lillim. Goodness knows what would happen to it if they got their grotty little hands on it. His body was equally important, however and Connie would do what ever she could to bring them back together again. It brought little attention to her own being, her thoughts flipping pages within. So now onto this...Diamond business. Connie would become like Steven...just made in a different way. Pink Stevonnie was a taste of it, but this would be Connie on her own. Allowed to be her own person. Just powered up with a gem. That's all. Maybe she should take this more seriously. Would Steven want her to take it seriously? Would he want her to be afraid instead? She wished he could be here and be all like, it'll be okay Connie and it's okay to feel this way. 

But she was alone and she had no idea on what she should be feeling. In a way, she missed Pink Steven being with her already. This was like what Jasper suggested. No. She wasn't addicted to it. But it was the hollow feeling. It never left. A loss of a hand constantly in hers, the gentle, subtle nudges of assurance and comfort.

The gurney shifted and was pulled out shortly after.

"Okay resonance scans are complete. There's a special machine that's sending the data to the gem now. According to the Kindergartens records, the gem has a node attached to this section. I need blood samples too. Peridot, hand the bubble to Jasper and come over here to help please." Snow continued, being thorough just like a doctor.

It was good she was telling her what was going on, with Connie's consciousness clinging on to the grafts of a stable reality. Connie remained passive as Snow got hold of a syringe and inserted into Connie's arm. It only reminded her of the many occasions her mother had to do it. She barely felt it. Snow then ordered Peridot to put the sample into the console's biopod and typed away as Snow pressed a tissue against Connie's arm to stop the bleeding.

"How are you feeling?" Snow asked her.

Snow would be a good mom, if Connie was honest.

"I could be better." Connie replied, her voice weak.

"But I could be worse."

Snow smirked. Connie learned to deflect her worries with humor thanks to Steven. It was easier to cope with laughter than to cry in most instances and where appropriate.

"I do apologize for the sheer amount of trauma this must be inflicting on you. If I had have known earlier it would have come to this, I would have never brought you all here." She admitted.

No. It wasn't Snow's fault. She was just as part of this as they all were. Manipulated to deal with some prophecy they barely understood when they'd come in for a more noble and innocent reason.

"You were just trying to find your friend." Connie assured her.

"I...I would have done the same thing."

Snow took the tissue and discarded it nearby.

"Gem kind was never meant to deal with the impossibilities Pink Diamonds decisions wrought. We're left guessing just as the humans do. Maybe all the Diamonds should hold the blame." Snow stated.

Pink Diamonds actions were merely a catalyst. She would not have done this on her own accord, not by a long shot. But the vision with Diga, Petra and Rose told volumes. They just needed to translate and study each issue.

"Rose knew." Connie revealed.

"By extension, Pink Diamond knew this was coming. She helped prepare for it too."

Snow was left rubbing her chin.

"From what little I can recall, Milky before she went mad, did mention that they used a special gem to help create this one."

Connie nodded. She took this far better than expected.

"Yeah, Rose used her own gem." She told her.

"But you're just as part of this is I am. To clear the Cosmos of Despair of its binds."

Snow went silent. It had to have been a lot for her to take in as well. In a way, her situation was similar to Stevens. Not knowing the whole truth of your existence would cause some internal strife. Being lead to believe everything you were, was a lie. She'd taken it a lot better and in fact was ignoring her side of it. Memories or no memories, surely she must be constantly on the verge of wanting to think about it. But the look on her face meant everything. She was angry, she was distraught. But she fought on anyway.

"Yes. I will continue to help you. Because it's not worth it to me right now to sulk about my past. You...me...Jasper...Peridot...Lapis...and yes, Steven, Garnet and Amethyst and Pearl. We will continue to fight. I'm not going to waste any more time on things out of my control. What I will do, is utilize what is in my control right now. If the Prophecy states you and me will conquer this then we will conquer it..conquer this despair because that is not part of our design...we were literally made for this..." Snow announced, ever so boldly.

Connie was stunned at Snow's burst of confidence, but she admired her for it as she smiled. They could do it.

The next step required them to get the Diamond out of the Kindergarten. Since the Diamond was created for Connie in a similar way Steven's gem functions, it wasn't going to be easy, since most of the time it usually had a gem popping out of a hole. Snow went through Apophyllite for the process. The resonance scans were completed as well as the biodata being updated were the only two parts were required for the gems completion. 

"No one has seen a Diamond come out of a Kindergarten." Peridot mentioned, teetering on geeking out.

"Come to think of it, they were there before we. So I'm interested to see how this pans out."

Connie struggled to sit up, as Dori jumped back on the gurney to help with her balance, with Connie wrapping her arm over Dori's back. She could see the far back wall from where she was.

"Warning: Tremor inbound." Apophyllite announced.

The whole room shook violently, as Dori instinctively pushed Connie down and shielded the girl with her body. Peridot ran over to the console and helped Snow out.

"Oh no...its going to emerge!" Peridot announced. Her and her big mouth.

"The pressure is so huge...it's gonna tear this whole place apart!"

The cracks on the far wall got larger and larger as the noise of the alarms klaxon rung over and over again, piercing Connie's ears. It hurt so much as Dori continued to protect her.

"There's no way to stop this?" Lapis queried, preparing to take flight.

Jasper fell over from being unable to hold her ground and dropped the bubble containing Steven's gem.  She cried out as the bubble popped due to the constant quakes.

"No!" She cried. She scrambled towards the gem until the floor started crack underneath, with the diamond falling through it.

"Brace for impact!" Snow announced.


 

Instinct forced them to fuse again. But it was of no concern to Howlite. They pushed bits of debris out of the way as they carried a passed out Connie in her arms. She heard a grunting and whining Peridot nearby as she used her ferrokinesis to get the pieces off of them and the other gems. Jasper wasn't too far off, as Lapis pulled her out and got her to stand. Once aware of her surroundings, she started to fret over Steven's gem.

"Where...where did he go?" Jasper called out.

Peridot began to move debris out of the way, until she found it unharmed. Her first instinct was to put back in its bubble then sigh with relief.

Howlite took a look of their surroundings. The centre of the Kindergartens operations had been demolished, but the door to the Warp Pad was left untouched. It had gotten a little hotter due to the the presence of the lava pool in front of them. They saw a light blue figure on the other side, feeling its powerful Aura from afar. A brilliant radiance like none other; like a hot blue-white star.

"It's her." Howlite growled.

"It's the Hope Diamond."

The others stood there in awe of the gem that just stood there. Like Pink Steven, she failed to move, amounting it to the design in her gem. She took Connie's current form, with the same teal top, the same designed jeans and shoes encompassed the ethereal cyan glowing hue, except she had the Diamond on her forehead that heralded a similar design to that of Blue and Yellow Diamonds, being a lot smaller of course to fit just neatly above the eyebrows, going from what they barely see from a distance. Howlite didn't know what to expect, but Connie stirred as she could barely see the form before her as her instinct shifted, her pupils dilating, absorbing the light of her own being.

"I need...I need it." Connie muttered as her voice cracked. Her arm lazily tried to reach out to her. Her aura was growing cold, to her worry, while her gem alone, radiated with immense power that reflected in Connie's weary, gaunt eyes.

But they had the pool of lava to worry about. They didn't want to risk Connie getting hurt any further than she already had. Lapis tried to fly, but her wings would instantly dry up due to the heat. She tried multiple times but had the same result. Figures it would be made to be more complicated and hard putting than they anticipated it to be. 

"I could create a bridge." Peridot noted.

"Jasper, if you wouldn't mind."

With Jaspers sheer strength and Peridot's power allowed them to build a makeshift bridge to the other side. Howlite was impressed with the gems creativity. Their time on Earth really did do them some good. Despite the mishap, it looked like it had been going to plan, if not.

"Oh...I should have expected this." Said a familiar voice.

Howlite turned around, seeing the small black and white gem. Anger flowed through her as the fusion snarled. Again, this was going to get worse before it could get better.

"Black Pearl." She grumbled under her breath.

The traitor, the one who'd cut the cables and left them there to rot. She was furious. Black Pearl gracefully jumped from the doors until the ground as Jasper and Lapis stood in front of them. Her infected aura was charging at an increasing rate that caused her to be anxious underneath the veil of fury.

"My, Medusa! I thought it was you. Now you're fused with your Labradorite? The irony is extraordinary!" The Pearl balked, her arrogance change glaring.

"And Jasper...Pyrope never trusted you. Now we see the Lapis, yes...and the Peridot who holds Pink Diamond. I'll take the gem back now please."

The amount of rage Howlite felt for her, remembering back to the times Black Pearl had helped their cause. It didn't matter how she turned against them. They were not gonna hand anything to the Infected to get their grimy hands on. The culmination of heated, reforged memories stirred the fire with them, bolstering their confidence alongside their desire for combat.

"I hold Medusa's true power now." Howlite roared.

"You better be careful or else you're gonna get it!"

Black Pearl then gave off the most devious smirk.

"But Dori, does your programming not make you want to protect me? After all, should a Snow Quartz strike another gem, should you...pacify her?"

Howlite didn't think about that. They were so instinctual with their actions in taring Black Pearl to shreds that she'd almost forgot about that aspect.

"We'll protect you. You worry about getting that human to her gem." Jasper called out.

"Yeah, we won't let her!" Lapis cried.

It was then Lapis and Jasper exchanged glances of their own determination. Howlite sensed their charging auras as they grabbed hold of each others hands, as both their gems lit up. Their forms were next, as the large blobs of white merged to create a great turquoise monstrosity. Funny, how Peridot once mentioned how Lapis hated Jasper, yet a situation this dire warranted them to work together. 

"Malachite..." Peridot murmured with widened eyes and jittery hands. Howlite suspected some darker story behind this particular fusion, only hearing about it from Earth Reports and Peridot. She was massive and terrifying to behold.

"Haha I'm back and I'm ready to grind someone into dirt!" Malachite announced with the largest, most devious smirk on her face.

Black Pearl gave as good as she got, with her own.

"Oh a powerful fusion, what ever shall I do?" She said with venomous mock.

"How about I show you the true power of the Lillim hmm?"

The next thing they knew was Black Pearls eyes turning onyx coloured, as the smoke that signified the Lillim swirled around her form. She rose her arms and opened her mouth as more smoke poured out of it. The smoke then blanketed her entirely as she turned into a giant, centipede like creature that took on Malachites size. It was oozing and disgusting to look at it as the Black Pearls gem shot out dark beams towards Malachite's facial gem, who then blocked it with her arms. Howlite had seen a creature like that the planet and it reminded her of Snow's old friends, causing distress.

"Howlite!" Peridot cried out.

"Come on!"

The fusion couldn't take her eyes off the battle before her as Peridot took her other hand, as she pressed Connie closely to herself to protect her fragile body. The distance between where they were and where the other side was larger than they anticipated. The bridge that was originally meant to go across was broken, as Peridot strained to use her abilities to keep pulling sheet after sheet of metal across. She detached from Howlite as she pulled one piece that caught her eye and jumped on top of it. She floated up and called on for Howlite to grab a hold of the edge of it. Peridot almost dropped the bubble as her balanced teetered due to Howlites and Connie's combined weights.

Peridot charged on through as another tremor hit off due to Malachites and Black Pearl's battle.

How could it have to come this? Howlite did not want to ponder. She looked at Connie who looked like she barely clung onto life as is. Fragility they would not allow to be broken, lest they deal with the horrific scenario following. Howlite forced herself to think less of the potential dangers and to focus on what they could to avoid them. Stalactites fell off the roof of the cavern as Peridot dodged and weaved themselves around them. Howlite couldn't help but look back in concern as Black Pearl had tentacles wrapped around the fusion who kept trying to punch back.

Peridot sighed with relief...until a stalactite hit the base of the metal plate where Howlite's hand was, forcing her to lose grip, following Peridot's only foolish fall of Steven's gem as well. She cried out and tried to rush down, only to dodge another stalactite in the process.

Howlite fell and held Connie close in what felt like an eternity, as she noticed Steven's gem next to her. She took a deep breath and unbubbled it. Come on Steven come out.

Next thing she knew was him rapidly coming out of it. He fell slower than Howlite, then with his hand, summoned a barrier of his rhombus like shields above the lava, forcing Howlite to quickly turn and slam her back on the basis of it, thinking it shouldn't be such a habit that should happen of as it did, but... It hurt as it almost forced them to defuse, but unlike before it did not force them to poof instantly. They still held Connie on their chest as they struggled to get up.  They saw Pink Steven slowly float down, then stand before them as he constantly looked at Connie with a determined intent that was written within those magenta eyes.

"She isn't yours." Howlite told him, albeit calmly. She compared facing up to a Diamond to trying to topple a mountain.

The roaring of Malachite and Black Pearl echoed from afar, causing another tremor. Howlite raised her arm to shield Connie, but Pink Steven created another barrier above them. He then turned his vacant eyes to something else nearby, as Howlite tracked his line of sight.

While they had been frivolously trying to get to the other side, they didn't notice the light blue figure before them. Hope Diamond. Connie's Gem.

She floated there above the lava under her own, innate and raw power, but from the flatness from her feet made it look like she was standing on air as well. Both she and Pink Steven looked at one another, bright as each other, as Hope Connie (as Howlite had come to name her) walked closer to them. It was really, strange. Two Diamonds of a similar design. Different making, but were like glowing versions of their human counterparts with nary of their personality. Howlite didn't know what to do with this incredibly tense moment, between a pair of ticking tyke bombs. Were they going to fight? It was really hard to say, being more in awe of this rare event, than being outright afraid.

Peridot silently flew in and jumped off next to Howlite, although not drawing the two Diamonds attention to her, as they were incredibly occupied with each other.

"I've never seen this happen before." Howlite commented.

"A Pink Steven and the Hope Connie. It's like they're trying to decide on something."

Peridot rubbed her chin as she tried to make sense of it.

"In all my years of working in Kindergartens and studying Cluster Gems, I can only assume so much based on what I know. Pink Steven is an incomplete Steven. Hope Connie is an incomplete Connie. Their programming is all whacked. Gem Shards will seek out other pieces of themselves to make them feel whole. That's their real true desire. However, with organic and outsider influences involved with both their production and development, they might be in a loop."

"A loop?"

Ignoring the chaos outside of their area, Peridot further went into detail in regards to gem design and function. Human data is a lot different from gem data and that somehow, during Steven's...incubation, it superseded already existed programming and mushed it all together and had to make it work for Steven's very existence. To her theory, anyway.

"I wouldn't be surprised if Pink Diamond's gem had to be cracked open to let all the human data in...then reformed with her healing powers. Maybe. I don't know. There's not enough research to conclude. I could be completely wrong." Peridot continued. Howlite wouldn't have been able to think of that on her own so even if Peridot was wrong, Howlite could commend Peridot for trying with scraps to begin with.

"But if Hope Diamond was made with Pink Diamond's base wavelength design in mind, of course they'd have similar traits. So they could be trying to decide on who to fuse with in order to be whole, rushing through repeated and diverging thoughts that end with conclusion that goes back to the beginning and repeats itself. Hence the loop scenario. Or something like that."

But they couldn't have Pink Steven fuse with Hope Connie. They'd become some kind of...uncontrollable and thoughtless Stevonnie. A Diamond fusion like that would be much harder to split. Not to mention having to contend with one of the most powering being in existence, that they better hope the other Diamonds don't get involved. Howlite barely held on to what Snow could remember, in order to know what she needed to do. Dori filled her in, but even then...Dori's memory was patchy at best as well, leaving the fusion to feel alone in that regard. Whether or not Milky can fill in the necessary blanks, they'd have to balance the powers here, to make certainty and not scrutiny. 

"We need to get the Hope Connie with the human Connie. She doesn't have much time." Howlite noted. She took the initiative as they wandered towards Hope Connie who turned to her and started to walk to her. Peridot kept her eye on Pink Steven, although she was horribly out of her depth if he tried to do something funny, still she stood in front of him with her arms wide.  They stood in the middle of the barrier that Pink Steven still held as Howlite looked at him on their right. Peridot approached him with caution, shifting and dragging her feet ever so slowly. He didn't budge at all, being completely unresponsive. Howlite then carefully handed Connie to her gem and stood back as Hope Connie held her human counterpart in her arms. She wasn't sure what was going to happen, but what ever it was, it happen to happen quickly or else they ran the risk of being caved in with no way out.


Connie woke up, her eyes batting open, fighting fatigue, as she could see her own gem looking at her. She had the same blank stare as Pink Steven did. The contrast felt, the feeling...the same scenario. Fear did not ride her mind, but she did carry awe, wonder and...hope. At last, she could feel the same joy and energy just by looking at her. The gem her forehead glistened as Connie touched it, lighting it up briefly in the process. It seemed a fraction smaller than Steven's but she didn't mind. It was still beautiful. A beautiful, shining light blue diamond meant for her. Her own magical destiny.

"It's weird." Connie said as she smiled.

"Well, it's going to be weird. N-not that it isn't now."

She became incredibly nervous, for a variety of reasons though logically she shouldn't. This was like looking into stars reflection. This gem was going to be a part of her now and her Heart needed to accept in, merge with it, to become whole. Connie looked over to see Pink Steven who had begun his slow walk towards them, despite how frantic Peridot was right now who wanted him to stop. But for an odd reason, it felt different. Howlite tried to intervene too. A feeling went through Connie. It was not anxiety...that had melted away. It was not doubt, for that too, had melted away. Connie couldn't discern the localities of a gem with uncertain intentions and varying thought patterns that made him completely unpredictable. Connie could gauge that Steven's normal bouts of randomness could be due to his gem, but that thought was discarded as it didn't make sense. Who really knew the overall idea of being what they were, a form kindled by unforeseen mappings of the fragmented boy. A thousand theories left on the ground with no one to pick up the pieces correctly, puzzles pieces that no one could fit together yet, they had found a way on their own. A logic, turned on its head, reforming because it had to, not necessary with any other explanation but the reason, the need and the want. It didn't always have to be the why.

"It's okay, let him through." Connie called out. The reason to help was there that Connie knew,  but why...why no longer became important. A reality that needn't to be explained. It was acceptance that had to became the norm.

Howlite and Peridot were hesitant, but moved away as to let Pink Steven through.

For all these kind of psychic ghost type situations, she could sync herself in properly with all of Stevens strange adventures, dreams and what not. Pink Steven stood before them and just..stared. At the same time, in an unheard whisper, she could hear Stevonnie calling out to her. He remembered as he placed her hands on Connie as well. Hope Connie then emitted a bright blue light around them.

Will either human or Gem comprehend such a feeling? Such a blend of their lights and their Hearts to create something that was pure magic in creation? Stories written about the powerful hybrids that could save the world over and over. Howlite then defused, as Snow took to her knees and had tears in her eyes, being overwhelmed with a Aura so strong it brought tough gems to the ground. A strike of divinity; as becoming like those were there before all others.

"Hope Connie is emitting her Aura." Snow worded, her voice cracking not with despair, but with bewilderment.

"Oh geez...what is this? It's..." Peridot cried, doing the same.

Connie felt the power run through her too. Pink Steven stood back, unsure of what to do with himself. But this was a feeling that was actually more familiar the more she understood it. It was like Blue Diamonds Aura except...

"This is...Hope." Connie muttered. Heart and Aura.

She then turned back to Hope Connie. There was a bit of Connie's strength that poured into her, minute by minute, than got stronger. She wrapped arms around her neck and pressed their foreheads together.

"You and me..."

Me and you...

Just us...

 

That puddle feeling came around again.

Chapter Text

She found herself floating again. She missed the dreams about tigers and butterflies and all sorts of mystical, fantastic creatures. Her dreams were colorful, instead of complicated and void of any other, left in the voids of dawn, day and dusk. This was in between all of that.

She found herself in that doorway again. But this time she knew where to go. It was between her and the her she would become. She could see Hope Connie floating in the deep navy sea with dots of blue, green and white dots blended that reminded Connie of magical fairy lights, as the currents played with their hair in sync. Hope Connie then started to walk towards her, ever so slowly. It wasn't painful. If anything else, she was within the zone of where what ever she felt was pushed and pulled like water pulling out to sea to create the next set of waves to crash against the shore. 

But there really was no water to begin with. It was all ebb and flow, as the gust of the wind that merged with the eye of the storm.

She stopped as she got really close to Connie. It took her a moment as Connie peered into her light blue eyes. There were unheard whispers again. But she could hear her own voice. Extraordinary charges were running through her like a tempest. She held on to it, knowing there was less to worry when it was like staring into a mirror, as the stars came around to find her, pulling her into the mesosphere.

I'm here....


 

She didn't feel any different. She felt healthy but other than that there wasn't much to say about the whole experience. Too surreal to properly describe.

Connie felt her forehead, feeling the Diamond against it. She was able to stand on her own two feet. No complaints about that. Connie expected a little bit more, but maybe that wasn't the point. She saw Pink Steven still standing in front of her and in a way, she felt his resonance, his subtle Aura, his life energy. His silent chatter of an indecipherable sort.

Snow and Peridot ran up to her, checking out of she was okay. The former stood on one knee to give Connie at once over, akin to the same style her mother would. She could hear Snow's clicks as her eyes trailed around her form. 

"You're stable. Is everything alright?" Snow questioned, trying to hide her pedantic behavior.

Connie nodded with confidence. Peridot then gave Connie her gear back.

"Yeah." She replied. Her eyes kept going back to Pink Steven, whom Peridot became less fearful and more curious about.

"What about him?"

Snow stood up and turned around, then sighed.

"He's out and about. Not sure what he's going to try and do next." She said.

"Your Aura is your own now. It's no longer identical to Stevens. He still needs to return back to Steven himself so it's going to take effort to get him to even move from here."

Connie wandered up to him. She wasn't fearful of him either...instead, just wary. He didn't want to action any sudden moves but to continue on with his blinkless stare while Malachite and Black Pearl continued to fight in the back ground. Knowing how his powers were nondiscriminatory, Connie had to somehow reign him in to ensure he didn't anything the real Steven wouldn't want him to do. She had to find out how.

"Would I be able to still fuse with him?" Connie queried. If it was a good idea and had him properly cooperate this time of course. She didn't want to break her promise to him.

Snow shrugged.

"Maybe. I mean, you're part gem now so you, by now known logic, will be able to fuse with any gem in technicality." She replied, albeit her tone both unsure and perplexed.

Would he be able to defuse willingly afterwards, would be the real question.

"I wouldn't risk the fusion if you're on the fence about it."

Connie couldn't let Malachite fight as long as they had been already. Does he still pose a threat if they want to defuse? Right now they had to leave the Kindergarten to save the others.

"Fusion does require two willing parties at the least." Peridot said, although she'd never fused before, she studied a bit about it, thanks to Garnet.

"Connie doesn't have to fuse if she doesn't want to. Her gem should give her more of a resistance to the pull. If I could assume that to be case."

Of course. Any time she'd fused with Steven it would be accidental. Although, if they're anything like Ruby and Sapphire they'd subconsciously want to be together. Pink Steven just wanted to feel whole. Connie just wanted her own choice and autonomy in the matter. She grabbed his hand, to see if he'd respond. It was certainly daring, but he didn't budge at the touch. She just wanted him to listen to her. Though her heart began to race as she felt his warm glow, making her hairs stand on end as heat ran through her whole body. The strangest part was it was the same touch like any other time they held hands normally, just like a humans.

"Steven." She stated.

Would he listen? Would he know any better? She pulsed a bit of her power to him, although she didn't know she'd been doing it at first. He did straighten himself however, like he stood to attention. It was a long shot, but they needed to keep moving. 

"I'll take care of you. But before we can refuse as Stevonnie, I need to know I can trust you. For now, you must be my equal as we fight side by side."

Nothing came of his mouth for a few seconds, until.

"Yes." He said ever so softly.

That was good enough for Connie. She looked at Snow who had been simply observing.

"If he listens to you then good for us. We have to get back."


 

Connie couldn't agree more. She refused with Dori as Howlite reappeared, while Peridot got another rogue piece of debris. A longer piece, this time. She jumped on top of it, as Howlite stood on one side. Connie, without realizing it, jumped higher than she anticipated as she took Pink Steven with her and had him stand next to her. Peridot wavered slightly, having to adjust for the weight. She then clung on to the side of the piece and shot them forward. Howlite swiped falling rocks with her claws as Steven seemingly shielded himself with Connie. Even if it wasn't fully him, him being there with her made her feel slightly better. It was her suggestion that the two stand back and let them handle, as Connie would not be used to her new powers yet and it would be better for her keep Pink Steven aside, as if his power could potentially make things worse. Being reminded of his power in White Diamonds mecha gave this idea credence as she took him back to the the nearby wall as they watched on. Connie felt useless, but it was better for right now to restraint Pink Steven as much as she could.

Peridot landed them before the fight with the two.

"Hey how ya two clods doing? Need a hand?" Peridot shouted.

Malachite had Black Pearl's monstrous Lillim form in a headlock, as she gave off a devilish grin to the smaller green gem.

"Oh now you come back around after we're almost done." Malachite answered mockingly as they punched Black Pearl in the face.

Peridot smirked.

"Hey hey hey! You looked like you were having fun!" She said playfully.

Connie held onto Pink Steven's hand tightly as Black Pearl summoned more tentacles as unholy roars escaped her mouth, shaking the area even more so than before. Malachite was doing well, but they needed to poof Black Pearl before they all got caved in. But they needed a plan to do so. She took all of the abilities into account. Malachite couldn't summon water due to the heat. Howlite must have Dori's restraints due to the Geas and Peridot couldn't do much on her own, as she tried and threw bits of metal to distract her... and they really needed Snow's Medusa power to freeze.

Howlite looked lost and perplexed. She desperately wanted to help out as she dug her claws into her head, distressed and almost to her knees, like Snow and Dori were arguing with themselves. She remembered something Pearl told her about the Geas put on her by Pink Diamond about her secrets and by Steven finding out about it, it helped him break it. Apophyllite did mention the Diamonds were able to give and take from other gems as they pleased. She wondered if she had the power to do the same.

It was then she heard Pink Steven muttering in her mind, words she didn't expect to hear.

There is no Command for Dori if Snow decides to attack another gem. He said telepathically.

What?

What do you mean? Connie replied the same way.

He turned his head to the Fusion.

The Command was removed.

How could he possibly know or even see that? No. No time to suss that out. They had to know.

"Howlite! There is no Command for Dori! You're able to attack freely!" Connie yelled.

Howlite looked confused. Connie didn't blame her. Pink Steven had no concept of right or wrong, truth or lies. At least from what she could assume. But he was Steven. She'd trust his word.

"Just do it! Trust me."

Howlite paused for the moment as they stood back up and roared, which caught the Lillim Pearl's attention. Several tentacles shot towards them as Howlite summoned an doubled sided axe from Snow's gem, then summoned what appeared to be spiked knuckle dusters from Dori's gem. The Axe split apart and fused with the knuckle dusters which attached themselves to Howlite's arm, becoming sharp arm blades in their place. She crossed her arms together to defend herself, as the tentacles were cut cleanly. Howlite spun upwards, using the motion to slice the multitude of tentacles coming her way.

Suggest Peridot to fuse with Malachite. Pink Steven told Connie.

Huh? Why?  Connie questioned. Such a random suggestion.

No response.

Ugh. Okay then.

"Peridot!" Connie called out. How was this going to work.

"WHAT! I'M BUSY!" She yelled back in response.

This was a bad idea. But Steven seemed to think some good could come out of it. Not necessarily good. Powerful perhaps?

"Go fuse with Malachite!" A sentence Connie would never hear herself to say. It seemed stupid...

Peridot turned back to Connie with the biggest dumbfounded expression that she could ever make. His advice worked for Howlite. It could work for them too. Connie understood fusion to be personal, relationship dependent experience. Pink Steven's suggestion sounded like something his whole self could say. Which gave it more to understanding to Connie, but not the other gems. It was crazy, it was outrageous. But it could work.

Peridot ended up being whacked by a tentacle during her slight moment of distraction which ended up having whacked towards the pair. They walked up to her Connie temporarily let Steven go, crouching towards Peridot and for what ever reason, instinctively touched her gem as she sent her Aura through it. Pink Steven shielded them from a swarm of tentacles as Malachite accidentally threw the Lillim Pearl in their direction. Peridot shot up, furious as she threw up her hands and started to yell at Connie.

"WHAT ARE YOU THINKING? THAT'S YOUR FAULT!" Peridot roared, then she noticed Pink Steven staring at her, causing her to cower back in fear with a little meep at the end of her lips

 Connie agreed on how asinine it was. How illogical it must be to consider such a proposition. But it wouldn't be without good reason. Even if the sentence she had mentioned was the last set of words she'd never see herself saying.

"I...I don't know." Connie replied as she stared at Steven.

"But he seems to think it'll help."

Peridot's perplexed expression didn't surprise her as she stared at him for the moment. Another blast, another rhombus shield. Why were the doing this...no. It wasn't the why. It was the reason. The reason they needed to do it...

Connie grabbed hold of Peridot's hand and summoned her bluish energy into her unknowingly. The green gem pulled her hand back instantly, then looked back at Connie.

"I don't know what that was...but I'm invigorated for what ever...uh...I'll try and fuse....if they even let me." Peridot worded with concern. Connie knew she herself was out of her mind on matters she'd barely scratched the surface on with this new, yet subconscious desire to empower others. She used the Diamond salute for Connie as she ran off towards Malachite. She could hear beyond all the screeches and roars from Lillim Pearl, Peridot's demands to fuse with them. Malachite was left with the same reaction Peridot had, as she grabbed hold of a rogue tentacle and let Howlite slice through it. 

Connie was highly tempted to fuse with Pink Steven, but she forced them back further as Howlite offered to keep Lillim Pearl away as they did so. She could only watch as Malachite picked Peridot up and attempted to fuse. They tried multiple times with no avail. Ugh. Looked like she had no choice.

"Steven I promised you would we bring back Stevonnie. Please promise me you'll defuse when I want to." She urged him. Not that she'd expect him to follow through with it, it was worth a shot.

Yes.

Close enough.

She took his other hand and stared him in the eyes. She was curious on or if Pink Steven had any legible thought processes. His ideas worked so far, although the Malachite plus Peridot fusion could be for more practical purposes like for strength, but whether or not he even could understand the relationships required between all components. He needed to feel whole...he was suggesting others to do the same.

She hugged him tightly like she hug Steven normally. A harmless glomp that lit up both them gems, as the world inside Connie Maheswarans mind turned to water once again.


Stevonnie returned shortly after the big blast of violet energy. They looked down to see their skin had turned periwinkle instead of the pink they had previously and their hair a dark Byzantium. They summoned their shield, revealing it to be of a different design that Steven's own. Instead of the floral pattern, it too was a faded purple, with a line from both the top and bottom parts of the shield meeting with a diamond outline in the middle. It had the gem like center, but a patterned line of white dots on each side of the lines themselves. 

They grabbed Connie's sword and charged it full of Diamond Energy. It radiated the Aura for a few seconds, but before the sword turned mauve and glistened. 

"This isn't working!" Peridot cried out.

Howlite kept trying to distract Lillim Pearl until they noticed Stevonnie. They weren't too concerned about the fusion, but they worked together nonetheless.

"What do we need to do to..well, defeat it? It's basically just throwing random tentacles constantly!" Stevonnie called out.

The Werewolf fusion growled in annoyance as they jumped back to stand next to them,

"I...I'm trying to figure out how the Medusa Power works." She said.

"Black Pearl keeps covering her gem and I can't reach it. Snow froze Peridot before so I'm thinking we might need to use it against her gem."

She must have known. So somehow they had to attack her and get rid of the tentacles that covered her Pearl. Why would a centipede need tentacles anyway?

They both stared the Lillim Pearl down as it prepared to attack again. They could hear Malachite and Peridot grumbling over their failed fusion.

"Steven suggested they fuse." Stevonnie commented.

"Though even I'm having hard time deciding why. He won't tell me."

Howlite donned a toothy grin.

"Diamond Intuition?" She joked as she stretched her arms out.

"They should know how certain gems work."

Stevonnie was ready to believe anything.

Whatever the case may be, they had a fight to win. Stevonnie offered to be in front as they jumped at the Lillim Pearl at an immense height, throwing their shield at Lillim Pearls disgusting face. As expected, the myriad of tentacles caught it, allowing Stevonnie to pull their sword into a forward slice, only for another tentacle to grab their leg. Howlite jumped and sliced it, setting them free. There were many more disgusting tentacles to deal with it seemed. They fell to the ground as they summoned another shield in time to protect themselves from being slapped down. 

Stevonnie kept at it, as Malachite had enough with dealing with Peridot and continued to fight on. Malachite grabbed a hold of a few slimy ones and dragged Lillim Pearl to them. Stevonnie kept hearing Pink Steven's suggestion at the fusion again, though Stevonnie still couldn't understand why, piling in reason but the why always came back. They kept trying to slice over and over again, but for every one they cut, more grew in their place. This wasn't working.

They caught Peridot who was accidentally flung off Malachite, by the hand and tried to empower them once more. They jumped over to Malachite. Maybe they needed a hand too. They pressed their hand against their body as they closed their eyes, charging them as well with Connie's Aura. Malachite reacted with a gaped mouth, then looked at Stevonnie as they stood back. Peridot approached as Malachite picked her up. Lets hope this works.

Malachite took Peridot up to Jaspers gem as the smaller gem rested her own against it. They started to glow, the old foretell of prefusion. Stevonnie right back as Malachite got even bigger. Their head became five massive spikes. Once the glow disappeared, Stevonnie could see a gold brown shaded combination before them that had Peridots visor. It had the design of a Tiger with a bulky, muscle torso with a star on the chest inside a red square.  Stevonnie could see from their formed snout that had Jaspers gem on the nose, Peridot's on the forehead. The legs actually looked like legs instead of hands, though the feet became paws and another pair of arms poked out from the torso with the same thickness and curvature as the top pair, with similar stripes like Jaspers design, except with claws at the end of her fingers. They looked animalistic from Stevonnie's perspective. Just like an actual tigers. They roared, revealing their sharp teeth.

Tiger Iron...Stevonnie heard Pink Steven say.

She looked towards the lava before them and pulled their hand into a fist, as a blob of lava formed into a sphere at their command as she chuckled.

To say that Howlite was shocked was an understatement. They needed a little bit of encouragement, that was all. 

Their first instinct was to throw the lava at Lillim Pearl, who shrieked in pain from the intense, burning heat. Their next agenda was taking advantage of the ample amounts they had right beside them. They summoned multiple ingot sized samples and shot they towards their foe an intense rate. Lillim Pearl tried to deflect, but a few managed to hit her head.

Interesting. Howlite's suggestion was to bring her closer to the pit as the pair of them went behind her. Lillim Pearl predictably, turned around and continued her assault unabated. Stevonnie kept at her with dodges, blocks and swipes, while Howlite kept up her aggressive spins to both avoid getting hit and to cut with absolute fury. They pushed the Lillim Pearl slowly, as Stevonnie could see at the corner of their eye that Tiger Iron began to dip themselves into the lava, summoning ginormous lava wings that were akin a classic western style dragons. They waited until the other fusion pushed Lillim Pearl towards. 

"NOW!" Stevonnie called out.

Tiger then wrapped her two sets of arms around her and squeeze her tightly. Stevonnie and Howlite kept their hacks with the same speed and vigor. Tiger then began to pull her in the lava itself. Lillim Pearl left off a horrible scream that rattled the whole cavern as more stalactites fell from above. Stevonnie stood back on the ground alongside Howlite as they put their shield above them and enlarged it enough to cover them both.

"Stevonnie, clear the way." Howlite told them.

The Diamond Fusion nodded. Once the shaking stopped, they jumped up and put all their effort into slicing as many tentacles as they could at a tremendous speed. Forward, diagonal, horizontal. Over and over again to leave the trail to Howlite.

They looked up as Howlite defused back into Snow Quartz and Dori, whom both jumped ahead of them and bit into the very tentacle blocking Black Pearls gem. Snow Quartz, with all her grace and poise measured with the look of determination on her face as Stevonnie watched her cling on the monsters chest. Her eyes and her gem started to glow with a great intensity as she screamed into it.

The Lillim Pearl shrieked even louder as they flailed around in pain, enough for the form to freeze on sight. Tiger Iron then let go of her as she summoned Jaspers crash helmet. Snow and Dori jumped back to where Stevonnie was as Tiger pulled her head back and smashed the Lillim Gems form to pieces with might crash like thunder echoing around the cavern as Stevonnie summoed their shield to cover three of them.

Black Pearls gem remained unharmed as Tiger put it into a bubble and migrated themselves back to solid land.

 

Chapter Text

Snow was glad it was over. For now. 

Fusing with Dori was one thing. Splitting Connie and Pink Steven was another.

Releasing a powerful new Diamond into the world was an event that nary anyone would ever get the honor to witness, even in the thousands of years of her own existence.

Realizing you were previously shattered and lied to. That hurt her the most.

She was left to pick up the pieces of those around her. Meant to help out fight off the Lillim with her newfound power to turned gems to stone. It was a horrible power that she would scarcely use. Milky had a lot more to answer for by this point. She didn't have time to mellow when there were other gems who needed her help.

Tiger Iron split up unceremoniously, their regular forms left splayed on the floor and groaning in pain. Snow couldn't fathom on how such a fusion came to be to begin with. A monstrosity, to be sure, but effective and powerful.

"Colour me impressed." Stevonnie commented as they helped Jasper on her feet, who still carried the Bubble. They watched Lapis pick up Peridot, who was left dizzy and mystified.

"Not bad for your first fusion." Lapis complemented, as Peri came too and rubbed her cheeks as she blushed.

They talked about the fight for a few minutes as Snow joined the conversation. They weren't sure with what to do with the bubble. Snow took hold of it and examined it properly.

"I'll have to put this under proper examination to see if Black Pearl can be cured." Snow mentioned as she sent the bubble away. A cure once considered impossible, but if they could contain it somehow, that maybe they might be able to figure out how to treat infected Gems. Milky was supposed to do this and that maybe, they could find something within the facility that help with that. Black Pearl was once a pleasant gem from what little Snow could put her for in the past, though how much was true was up to how up to scratch Snow's current memories were. Dori helped, but even then...it doesn't make up for the lack of clarity in once was and wasn't. She'd have to figure that out eventually. For now, they had an important job to do.

"She'll be somewhere safe and secure."

Stevonnie nodded, then exhaustion overcame them as they collapsed all of a sudden, as Snow caught them just in time, their Aura erratic.

Connie was the one who surprised her. The gem meant for her, a human of all species. To become Hope itself meant she would become like Steven, in a weird way. Although they'd split into Connie and Pink Steven in the blink of an eye, which surprised her even more. His first order once defused was to wander over to the debris and pick up something. He then wandered back to Snow as he handed it over.

Apophyllite. She'd almost forgotten about it. Why Pink Steven decided to help out like that was beyond her understanding. His programming as a pure gem form without its important human aspect was jarring to say the least. It made her wonder if Connie had an effect on him in anyway. She tucked the Blackbox onto her cloak as she carried a passed out Connie in one of her arms, as Pink Steven took her spare hand. How very...human of him.

They left the cavern in silence and returned back to the Warp Pad.


 

Reappearing in Milky's Private Chambers was like taking trip down memory lane. The Pink wall didn't surprise her, seeing pictures of Steven, Connie and Stevonnie. Dori laid down against it as Snow put Connie down to allow her to rest, then had Pink Steven standing guard next to them. 

There was a lot for her to think about, even as Jasper griped about wasting time.

"Connie is still human." Snow told her.

"It'll take her time to get used to her new powers. Training would required for her to regain her endurance and stamina. Two Diamonds in one body would be putting too much pressure on the human part of it. Pink Steven needs his other half to counter balance that." 

Peridot looked down at them as Connie rested peacefully.

"Humans need to recharge. I don't know why they didn't just create a full Diamond gem instead of one being designed for a human body." She pointed out.

That thought did cross Snow's mind. They talked about what they knew thus far in regards to the Prophecy at hand. The Curse of Hope and the Sight of Stone.

The next part was the Cosmos of Despair.

She took her time to have a look at the data Milky had on her console and talked with the others about what they had seen so far.

There were a lot of documents and blueprints, graphs of all of the projects they'd worked on over the years. This...generally wouldn't have even been the scale of what an ordinary Snow Quartz would have gone through anyway. Outpost Majors were large by default...just not this big. She debated on the revelation that she was no longer a true Snow Quartz, as the others explained a bit about what they'd found. 

Shattered beyond recognition, they'd saved some pieces and merged them with a Medusa Quartzes that had popped out stillborn. That was formed as part of the Alpha Kindergarten and taken down on Black Star Sapphires prompting. Jasper mentioned some of the records back down in Diga's Room. A kind of special human that helped them out and helped reform Snow.

The name Diga sounded familiar, though Snow was unable to recall where she'd heard the name. That would be where they'd need to go next. The only problem was Snow couldn't find any records of where Milky had disappeared to, which made her worry even further about her safety and whether or not she'd been corrupted. The only worth known file Snow could find was a shot of their old crew on the Lillim planet. One of the squads they'd formed there. It had Milky, Snow-Throat, herself, Cloudy and the rest with their respective Labradorites. Image of the brighter days before darker nights.

"Jasper." She said.

"Lead me to the human room you mentioned, please."

Lapis carried Connie awkwardly, as they wandered through the hallways, with Snow and Jasper leading the charge while Peridot held hands with Pink Steven to get him to walk alongside them, although she was very cautious in doing so. She had a fundamental idea about how her power worked now, being able to freeze gems in their wake and turned their forms to stone. Funnily enough, there was distinct lack of any Lillim nearby, which was nice, but ideas ran through Snow's head like no tomorrow.

They'd made it to Diga's Room and noted all the odd decor that seemed oddly human. Lapis flew up to the bed nearby and rested Connie on top of it and helped her settle in by removing her jacket and shoes and stuck them with her gear beside the bed, while Pink Steven stood by and watched over her with the blue gem.  Jasper mentioned they'd gone through the files on the computer earlier and found out more info in regards to Medusa herself, as well the remainder of Milky's core crew.

Reading Diga's journals disturbed her as she sat and lurched over the monitor and keyboard, finding out not only did they had her forged back together, but Diga had supposedly infused part of her power to her, rendering her immune to any future corruption and further unknown abilities. What ever that meant. Not to mention she was forced to poof Milky, to protect herself from her own insanity. This Diga had the nerve to hide all this and the GIS from her, while there was still so much she couldn't remember. The name Lilith did press a few buttons, but not much else.

It was clear to proceed, they needed the GIS to get access to the shadowy region of the Southeastern Section to find more answers and to save the others from certain doom.

"This Cosmos of Despair." Peridot worded.

"It's not meant to be you and Connie out into the galaxy fighting the Lillim now is it?"

It's a possibility. But the Prophecy wouldn't be that literal. Diga had this Petra empower her to some unknown extent, knowing that there was considerable stretches with Black Star Sapphires visions to begin with. 

"I doubt it." Snow replied.

"There's been no extra data about what we have to do...or who we have to fight other than that ambiguous phrase. But I'm betting what ever it is, it's in the next area. They were insistent on various protocols to keep what it was in there...or to keep others out."

She found a journal entry that was titled, Medusa - Me and promptly read it.


 

A species is a species. Grounded in its own limitations and attributes. For what the future holds for this place... infinitesimal at face value but much more when connected together. Body, Mind, Spirit. No matter which place it is... its always required a trio of realities unto itself. Milky is useful in pertaining the secrets of her kind, namely the Diamonds and their godlike powers. But it's been interesting, how Petra now holds Black Star in high regard and imparting a bit of herself had her powers increase beyond any seer of their cut. An idea that gives us an edge.

I understand the strength that love holds. I have been in love myself, given form of the children of our making. Milky and her "Snowflake." Milky would never admit it, too stubborn for her to admit when her whole steely facade was entirely focused on fulfilling the Prophecy, shielding the others of her devastation of Snowflakes shattering. Meeting Rose Quartz (true identity withheld) had her adamant and desperate for her to somehow heal Snowflake. But the gem was beyond repair.

See underneath Milky's strong, leader style exterior, lies a twisted thinking gem. She is not evil. Far from it. She clung on to Black Star implicitly, desiring to see a future with Snowflake in it again. She wasn't like this before the War. I know how much the death of a loved one can change you. Grief and despair compel you to act in ways you've never displayed before. 

I agreed to help with Snowflakes resurrection on terms where I can observe the gem in question. Where the projected failures are learned from and new opportunities are born. I'd taken it on myself to understand gem structures in greater detail, namely the fascinating math and science behind their existences. The Medusa Quartz gem was originally from the Alpha Kindergarten but she was stillborn, like most from those Quadrants. It didn't mean that we couldn't use the spare parts provided. The power to freeze or to turn other gems to stone was something not quite achieved before. Not for the purposes of the Reconnaissance Gems Snow Quartzes were known for being.

Early experiments to fuse stillborn gems with broken shards were immoral, but the Pyrope Garnet was more than willing to experiment. Some were failures due to the sheer instability of the fusion experiments and had to be broken again. Bodies with Spirit...with no given mind to run them. Or maybe there was a mind and body and no spirit? 

It'd given me an idea. As Petra bonded herself to Black Star, I bonded myself to Snowflake. The fundamental structure had worked. Once the reconstruction was complete, Milky and I worked to shape the gem properly, balancing its properties and the gems unique design. Half Snow Quartz and Half Medusa with the salvaged pieces. Her front will still be Snowflake, but backed up with the cumulative power of the Medusa Quartz. Snowdusa? Medsnow? Bah. She's okay as Snowflake or she'd be happy to remain as Snow or Medusa. What ever she so chooses is the promise of a human born free will.

But the fabric that tied them together neatly and ensured her wavelengths and light mass were on level? Me. Well, a part of me. Not a great deal due to my uh...status. But it was enough to form Snow Medusa into a well defined individual. It's amusing though. Her form? her look? Similar to mine. Similar mindsets perhaps? The lines between it are all blurred. 


 

Images flashed through Snow's vision of the woman with the white hair and fantastical armor. 


 

I'm keen to discover what this future will hold. The Curse of Hope...the young human girl Connie, yet to be born, and the Sight of Stone...Medusa Quartz, grown from the fallen. The Cosmos of Despair remains to be seen, though Black Star was almost pushed to breaking point by Milky in trying to figure that out. I'd imagine it'd have to be Lilith but somewhere in the back of my mind tells me that isn't the case. Black Star did write it out in gem language so there could be some translation error along the line. 

All in all, it'll be interesting to see how all this maps out. I'm keen to root out Lilith and get her when she's the least prepared. I know her too well now, keen to flee when it gets too much.


 

"Snow?"

She was snapped out of her trance by Peridot. This atmosphere was too familiar yet unfamiliar at the same time. She didn't want to fall to sorrow, but she couldn't help it.

"I'll go out there and find the others." Snow told them.

"You all need to stay here to protect Connie."

Jasper grumbled.

"No, I'll go with you." She said.

She did not wish to risk their danger. She was immune to infection at least. The others weren't.

Once one horrible thought wandered in, it left the door open to thousands of others. Like Steven's human form. How could she be so weak that she couldn't reform when they needed her the most? This was her fault. She needed to fix this.

"Jasper....I couldn't ask you to." Snow told her.

To some Snow would be seen as an abomination on Gem kind. Once this was over, she'll bury this whole place if she had to. Fight off the Lillim and find this Diga who resurrected her...if only if Milky were still here. She'd explain it. She just had to.

"No. You need firepower out there. You're the only one who can freeze gems up. Line em up and I'll knock em down." Jasper suggested with confidence.

Destroy gems. Like she destroyed Milky. Images of her being poofed by her own Labradorite when Snow tried to defend herself flung back to her. 

"Snow?"

Again...she was distracted by the open door policy on her mind right now.

"Are you...feeling alright?" Lapis asked.

No. Well, she was angry, distressed, confused. Combination of a righteous lashing out by this point. She wiped a tear from her face after she'd realized she'd started to cry. They needed her. She needed to save them from thousands of years of mistakes and tragedies. All of them. This was her burden to bear. No one elses. Not even Connie. She's the one who's really suffering. Being forced into this...mess. None of that was her fault. All because Snow was simply not strong enough that this could all twist the greatest darkness.

"I will be." Snow replied. How true that was...was her truth to mold.

They could use Apophyllite to help them out with this mess too. She noticed a slot near the rightmost door. This must have been the one Jasper mentioned, requiring the Blackbox to open it. She got off the chair and used it on the console on the right side of the door. Apophyllites Sphere projected itself from the top.

"Apophyllite, I need to know the status of the Southeastern Section."

"Scanning." It replied.

"Lillim in area causing interference. Scans may be sixty four percent in accuracy."

Of course.

"Tracking organics inside Southeastern Section. Detecting Gems in Southeastern Section."

But where were they?

"Are there any schematics or general notable sections?" Peridot asked it.

Good question.

"Downloading interior map data. Information update. Organics detected in Experimenta Room One and Two. Unknown life force detected in Storage Room Twelve. Warning, Unknown Life Force in Storage Room Twelve has been Quarantined due to Lillim infection. Apophyllite enacting Faraday Sphere. Blocking exterior comms."

Experimenta Rooms? She hadn't seen any of those anywhere besides Homeworld. Mostly for interrogation and testing mostly for unruly gems. This unknown life force does have cause for concern, however.

"Possible Gems detected in Experimenta Room Four. Lillim interference scale from Experimenta Rooms. Three. Lillim interference scale from Storage Room Twelve. Thirteen."

Snow thought the scale went up to ten. What ever the stars was in Storage Room Twelve must been incredibly potent.

"Meep." Peridot commented.

"That's troubling..."

Snow agreed that much. They had to find out more about what was going on here. Luckily enough, they had Peridot to be able to look into the incredulous trove of data within the comm logs they could look into, while Snow looked at Connie and the desire to protect grew even more.

What was in Storage Room Twelve?

 

Chapter Text

SCRIPT APPLICATION ACTIVATED

Apophyllite Comm Logs, accessing Southeastern Section Channels. Comm line connected on embedded encrypted network. SCRIPT BITPAK files found. Decryption required. Unidentified users found. Sub-forums engaged.


 Downloading BITPAK DSS-442X, DECRYPTION IN PROGRESS

Regular reports detail extremely slow progress with the subject. If we have to pull all stops to get them to deal with us we will.

I'm not losing them, they're still important to my plans. If Pyrope and Black Pearl could stop being so foolish, I'd be done already. Still, signs are showing of deterioration. Traces of thought have become erratic.

 

Downloading BITPAK DSS-559C, DECRYPTION IN PROGRESS

I do nothing, she goes away.

I do something, she comes back.

I do nothing, she comes back.

I do something, she goes away.

 

Downloading BITPACK DSS-590D. DECRYPTION IN PROGRESS.

There's no amount of force great enough that could push through them. I'd imagine their power would be massive but not this big.

More work obviously. Trying all angles but there's seemingly this impossible wall made of goodness knows what that can't be breached.

If they up the firepower a lil' bit it should do the trick.

I'm certain it doesn't conventionally take this long to change.

Mine happened in thirty minutes. Upgrading and alteration procedures for next session practice.

 

Downloading BITPAK DSS 666Z. DECRYPTION IN PROGRESS

Okay, you're going to be okay, They took away all their toys.

How long has it been?

An hour?

A few hours?

A Day?

A YEAR?

Are the marks I'm making even correct to begin with?

It's strange on how much time seems to have passed. No one will tell me. Seconds don't mean seconds. She says my marks don't mean anything on the outside. I don't understand what she means.

I don't blame me for being a little crazy, I'm not crazy. No.

I'm going to be okay.

I'm going to be okay.

I'm going to be okay

I'm going to be okay.

How long has it been?

You're not there to answer me now?

I'm going to be okay.

I'm going to be okay.

ERROR DECRYPTION FAILURE

I'm going to be okay.

I'm going to be okay.

Seriously? Answer me!

I'm going to be okay.

I'm going to be okay.

I'm going to be okay.

I'm going to be okay.

You're going to be okay

You're going to be okay.

You're going to be okay, okay, okay...

...

MODULE ALTERATION FILE NOTE USER UNKNOWN FORUM MISMATCH DETECTED

...

Wait, what was I saying again?

I don't even know if it was me saying it?

I really am crazy now aren't I?

I still don't know how much time has passed. I don't even know what day it is.

Am I asleep or awake?

I see nothin'.

I don't know if I'll be okay.

I don't know if I'm alive.

I am alive, or else I WOULDN'T BE TALKING TO -

ERROR, FILE CORRUPTED.

-

Downloading BITPAK DSS 724D, DECRYPTION IN PROGRESS.

 

CONFLICTING SUB-FORUMS, FILE TEXT MAY BE INCORRECT. MULTIPLE MEMORY CACHES DETECTED

We/I shouldn't be here.

Why does this feel so wrong?

I'm not alone and [unknown variant] does not wish to harm me/us. [unknown variant] Simply wants to talk.

But [name omitted] does not want me, me, me to talk.

But to wrench [unknown variant] into submission.

[unknown variant] has persisted. No matter how many times we subject [unknown variant] to the inconceivable amount of horror that no normal [ORGANIC] has to ever endure.

One would [theory missing] so.

 

The one who calls themselves [GREG] is here. I have asked them to stay with me. But [name omitted] will come back to inflict [negative infliction] on [ORGANIC] just as I have on [unknown variant]

How do I know this? I know and don't know who I am. I admitted that to [GREG] who has been gauging [theory missing] in me. 

Am I not me? I should be not be according to [name omitted]

I don't know if I am a [GEM] or am I a [LILLIM]

 

I go back and forth between having to deal with [unknown variant], [name omitted] and [GREG]. Greg talks about their [ORGANIC] creation. Why do I know this? [REPEAT]

I'm not complete. Data is incomplete. [GEM] [LILLIM] incomplete.

I hear voices. Voices unheard. 

 

We/I cannot [negative infliction] [unknown variant] anymore. There must be another way.

[name omitted] will subject us to [negative infliction] [unknown variant] more.

What about [GREG]?

[GREG] will be let go.

[GREG] is [ORGANIC]

[MEDUSA] is what [name omitted] [Emotional response]

[theory missing] is also what they [Emotional response]

[name omitted] will [negative infliction] [GREG] to [negative infliction] [unknown variant]

[name omitted] has been hurting [GREG] to hurt [unknown variant]

-

ADDITIONAL SUB-FORUM ENGAGED

"We can still fight this."

[unknown variant] still fights on.

[Emotional response] data is too large to process.

[Action] Commands unable to alter

Pulse check for Aura procurement.

Two aura's detected.

[unknown variant] [GEM]

[alternate variant] [GEM] [ORGANIC]

"Gem and Organic?"

[PINK DIAMOND]

[UNKNOWN DIAMOND]

"Yellow? Blue or White?"

[UNKNOWN DIAMOND]

"Is there anyway to contact those Diamonds?"

Faraday Sphere in effect. Only Aura's can be detected on Diamond [LEVEL EFFICIENCY]

[GEM] alternates detected.

"Can we can contact them?"

[MEDUSA] detected. Quartz-Class detected.

"The one she's afraid of. Okay. Well, we want to free the gems here too. If Medusa can help out us out like you said, we want to let her in so the others can be let out."

[Action] Commands unable to alter.

"I understand. Anything you can do, I can try instead."

[unknown variant]  [MEDUSA] is in close proximity to [GREG]

"Oh good. If she can pull him out and get him into that faraday thingy you were talking about, then we'll be able to protect him."

 

WARNING MESSAGE UNKNOWN INTERCEPTED, FARADAY SPHERE FAILURE

I am here.

You're still here.

You will be okay.

The stars will find you once again.

You feel like you're in chains.

They will break.

APOPHYLLITE TAKE CARE OF...

ERROR ERROR ERROR

FARADAY SPHERE RESTORED.

 

Chapter Text

The air in this area was stained in the Lillims essence. Unlike the clean, sterile hallways of the Northern Section, this Section was just dirty. Scratches on the walls and the floors indicated much had gone down here than anticipated. Even Jasper was a little jumpy by just being down here. Snow didn't blame her.

If they had the layout down correctly, most of the places and rooms down here were mostly for storage and the more ambiguous experiments. While she couldn't recall much about what actually happened, especially after her own resurrection, it did indeed feel familiar in a weird, obscure way. 

Broken lights flickered above. No one really cared about the maintenance down here..which is weird, considering from what Snow could remember, Pyrope was considerably addicted to fixing things. Her focus was definitely elsewhere. Being considered a traitor to the cause however...

Memories of the ending days of the war floated in her mind. Seeing the devious look on the crimson gem, her eyes searing into her very being. They'd fought yes, but. She'd used words unheard from gem kind. Whispers, mutters. The walls were like rippling waters as illusions of the Lillim scratched her mind.

It held a new perspective however, to find that what were had changed. In a way, that it wouldn't matter. Yes she was lied to, but it opened new doors to Snow to help others who felt like they didn't fit in with the general crowd. Being unique had positive and negative connotations. But to find others in the struggle who felt the same way. She wanted others to find their own beauty in their own traits.
Jasper being one of them. A battlecrowned soldier left in the shadows of her rage and confusion that lead by purpose through anything, that would make her feel wanted.

 

"Jasper." Snow stated.

"What did you expect would happen if you had received the Pink Diamond gem once you got it?"

The orange Quartz, as to be realized, was a bit dismayed by that question.

"She would come back, obviously." Jasper replied.

"So much of what the Amethyst told me didn't make sense to me. Pyrope promised that I would once again serve the Diamond I was made for."

Promise of purpose, promise of need. Gems could not wake from their constructed dreams unless a human was there to open the blinds.

Pink Diamond was already awake before anyone else was.

"Yes. She was risen alongside human realizations and holds much of the supposed heart of what gems need. You now know that the Diamond you once served can no longer be. Amethyst is a carried concept of environmental behaviours just like Steven is. To be herself is just as important as you to be yourself. The Concept of Self differs greatly from our perspective to theirs. An Earth crafted ideology alongside the general facts. Organics give birth to new life forms. Life forms that are molded by their environment the same way." Snow explained.

Though the process of how Pink...or Rose even created him still tussled away in her thoughts. She wasn't the only one.

"I was made here." Jasper said.

"I was built to destroy. This planet made me what I am."

Classic gem mindset. She had a predisposition of what should and shouldn't be.

"You let that dictate your decisions?" Snow challenged.

Jasper remained silent.

"There is nothing wrong with loyalty. Everyone has varied reasons for belief into a cause. For you, you're doing what you're made for. Others...hold a belief so deeply."

Yet why was Jasper still on Earth and not on Homeworld? 

"The Crystal Gems cause is what they're loyal to. Protecting the planet they live in. Your loyalties are with Homeworld. Serving our Monarchs as a warrior. But look, you have no real purpose unless someone is giving you orders to destroy or you make use of your constructed purpose." Snow continued.

Jasper shook her head.

"I will continue to serve my Diamond. They live...just not the way I expected them to." Jasper replied.

Which could in turn, lead to her own pool of perplexities.

"Then I guess Pyrope did end up honing to one of her promises then. Just not in the way you expected them to." Snow pointed out.

The other Quartz was left with widened eyes on that count.

"You telling me to trust the Pyrope instead?" Jasper queried.

Goodness no.

"The other notion of loyalty, is the premise of bargaining. Humans pay one another for their services or goods in order to acquire them. Payments, Jasper. Promises to lend another with the lure of a reward to keep people within their circle of people they can manage in order to further their own goals." Snow explained.

Pyrope would gift others to keep them in line. It's fascinating how she learned that as well. Surely that couldn't be a Lillim trait. Would it?

"So what are you trying to tell me?" Jasper asked.

Ah the breakdown.

"Is serving the Diamonds what you really want?" Snow asked.

In the general scheme of reality, finding ones purpose in life is easy for a gem. However, once someone pops that bubble, reality can really turn on its head...but at the same time, it can allow for so many possibilities. Snow herself was content in living the life the way the Diamonds had made for her. While there was nothing wrong with discovering, it was a series of experiences that reshaped her expectations and series of newborn desires that came along with it. Not to mention recent events made it easier to accept that the Diamonds would want this for their curiosities of the "Human Curse."

"What else is there?" Jasper poked back.

"You'd be an abomination.... but if my Diamond has become one as well...this whole planet seems to grow them...."

Jasper then looked herself, then felt her horns.

"Does that make me one too?"

The extent of Jaspers corruption, as well as the myriad of others who had gone through the same thing, had lead to a loss of worth for some.  Others were content to remain and become more with themselves with Steven's help, as per the records. Jasper, thus far, had been one of the only who had refused his help with getting them to settle in on the planet. He tried. Amethyst and Peridot tried. So what did Jasper really want?

"What makes an abomination?" Snow asked, interested in Jaspers views on the topic.

"Something that doesn't follow the grand design? Why should they be punished for not being the way they were made for? Are they not worthy of living?"

Jasper grumbled as she stood there with her fists shaking.

"It's easier to put them out of their misery." She claimed. 

They found another room where Snow had her gem scanned and that it lead them to another spare room. Storage mostly, but it looked like it had been wrecked by some kind of experiment here. They went through the bits and pieces, perhaps finding a Thought Marker along the way if it'd help them. Jasper picked up a piece of a broken terminal then threw it down.

"Shattering gems who don't fit the mold saves time on having to deal with their problems."

Old Yellow Court mentality.

"But...me...who was too weak to deal with what I became and it...felt so humiliating seeing all the Diamonds there. Except Pink. Who the meatbag replaced."

Snow then picked up the pieces as Jasper was left in tears. She was ashamed of who she was. Jasper tried to shake the tears off in an attempt to mask her tough facade.

"Why don't I just shatter myself and be done with it all?"

It struck chords within Snow. Seeing Jasper on the brink of self-shattering brought a single tear by her cheek.

"There's obviously something wrong if the Diamonds have decided to wipe their hands of my purpose and turned to cater the interests of...everything they hated."

Snow had then instinctual feeling to hug Jasper as she threw her arms around her and squeezed her tightly, confusing the large gem. Snow had read about depression beforehand and she was annoyed that she didn't see it before. She heard the gem whimper, then reluctantly returned the embrace as she rested her head on Snow's shoulder.

"I don't know what to do anymore....I want to be angry, but it's brought me nothing but misery. It'd be easier to take me out of commission due...due to how wrong I am...."

Snow let go of Jasper and held her face in her hands. Jasper was practically pleading for death. The two then sat against the wall as Dori went to Jaspers right side and lifted her her hand with her nose, as Jasper started patting her, as she collapsed on Snow's side to her left, leaning her head against her shoulder. A gem without direction or meaning to anyone. Jasper talked about the Gem War and had fought against Rose's armies and despite heavy losses on both sides, she praised Roses tactics. Then they finally met on Earth and Jasper became, without a doubt, disappointed by what she saw. She started to explain how Garnets fusion infuriated her constantly, then her fusion with the Lapis Lazuli for months left mental scars behind and a lust for power and control. She brought her own war in a desperate desire not to be seen as weak. 'Roses' fusion with the human made her more angry. Then the corruption happened when she met 'Roses' and Amethysts unprecedented fusion.

Snow remained calm and combed her fingers through Jaspers hair as she ranted and vented her anger against the world that created her. Yet she was defeated time and time again by these weak gems who were forced to fuse.

"I don't know Jasper, it seems to me that the only way they could get on your level was through fusions. Your power was enough for them to claw at desperate measures." Snow commented.

Jasper furrowed her brows. She did the same, but they drew the ideas in first.

"I thought you're on their side." She noted.

Snow made a soft giggle.

"I'm making an observation Jasper. Remember that I work for White Diamond as a Recon Gem. My resurrection holds no baring on that, just like you being cured of being corrupted should hold nothing for who you serve and what you choose to do. I owe it to Steven that if I decide to reveal the truth to White, then she won't attempt to discard me like she would have in the past. I'm certain if you decide to continue to follow Yellow Diamond, Steven or even yourself, you make do with you of now." She said. 

"However, seeing myself for what I really am does have value to it, yet I feel no different from before. It will allow me to connect easier to others if they benefit from the similarities."

However Snow would only reveal it to White Diamond if it came up in discussion. For any notes or relevance in reports would have to be about herself in tandem. Though Snow would most likely have to tell her, that within Black Stars Prophetical data came up with her as part of it, then it would necessitate an explanation to White Diamond herself. She wanted to trust White Diamond to make the right decision, only if it did call for her shattering at the end of the day, then it would allow her to have a trial to debate on whether she would exist. All Four Diamonds would need to make note.

Or five, if you count Connie now.

"I know you're struggling to find your own identity. You will, in due time. There's no rush and who you are can change. We're no longer restrained to who we're supposed to be and that the beauty of life now is discovering who we want to be. Choose your own door."

 Jasper then handed Snow a Thought Marker. Snow was a bit weirded out from the gift, although she could tell that Jasper was trying.

"It's a message from Black Star." She said.

"She knew we would find Diga's room. I think you should see its contents."

She stood up from where she stood and showed her light on the sphere, revealing Black Star Sapphire who then played her message.


After the message ended, Snow had a lot to take in. Black Star must have seen a different outcome. Setting her free from her confines and letting her go back to Homeworld. She couldn't imagine the burden the Sapphire had when it came to visions like this. But knowing that it wasn't Milky that see the Lillim free did comfort her slightly. But it made her curious as to where Milky and the rest had disappeared to. There were no indicators of what happened when the breakout got worse. Snow feared that they had gotten infected from trying to keep the Lillim contained. They had to be here, of all places, where the darkness grew the thickest.

Memories of Pyrope, however, flickered before her, knowing that her treachery continued on this realm of all places. She wondered if...she wondered if Dori knew that it was the same Pyrope that infected her. She patted her partner, the ever loyal companion who stood by and waited for her to return.

Jasper stood up as she walked beside Snow.

"I owe a lot to both Milky and Black Star." She told Jasper.

"Their sacrifices will not go unnoticed. Let's go."

Chapter Text

Snow felt Jasper needed a bit of TLC. A gem lost in the chaos of too many answers thrown at her at once. She cried foul and left in deep want of a part of the new world that would accept her. That she allowed Snow to see what she had seen, knowing that their similarities would have them bond together. Snow wasn't as lost as she, but left just as confused. All the struggle for those they care about to survive and to save the world, if not the galaxy, from a horrible fate.

For now, they had more of a priority to take care of. They didn't find anything of note in the room they found, so they carried on down further the hallways. Again, the deeper they got, the more decrepit the environment became. Dori then became more proactive as she charged forward, recognizing a scent. It must have been Greg. The two Quartzes got a move on, hot on Dori's heel.

Another locked door. Dori scratched it twice before they approached it. There weren't any security scanners or anything. Jasper pulled her back and used her crash helmet to bust it open.

"So much for tight security." She noted with a trickle of sarcasm.

They wandered inside. The room was dark, save for any LEDs that were scattered here and there. Although they couldn't see anything, they did hear something.

"Uhh...hello, anyone there?" Called out a familiar voice.

Snow swallowed.

"Greg is that you?" She asked.

"It's Snow!"

She felt relief on hearing his voice again.

"You better not be an illusion, but I'm so glad you're here. If you're real, you'll cut me loose, right?"

Snow couldn't even see what was going on here. She urged Jasper to find a switch as she made a few clicks. No auras in this room. The room went brighter as she gasped at seeing Greg in the metal contraption before her. Poor guy didn't deserve this, feeling absolutely awful that he had to fall into this. She jumped up and placed her feet on two horizontal poles, which spread her legs and practically tower over Greg himself, who had his eyes widened as he looked at her, obviously a bit nervous and shaken. What had they done to him?

"Oh hi..." He said, awkwardly.

She smiled at him. She could see that he looked warn as she grabbed a hold of his chin and checked his features. He had red shaped branch like patches on his skin. An indicator of electrocution. This was more than cruel.

"Are you alright?" She asked him.

He nodded, showing off a bit more red on his cheeks.

"Much better that you're here...although I would be more so if you would be so kind to let me out." He requested.

She nodded, seeing how he was strapped down via his wrists, his neck and his ankles. She couldn't help but feel his stare as she took to doing so.

"How is...everyone?" He asked her, with his voice low.

She sighed. How could she tell him?  How could she tell him how everything went wrong. Her face fell, unable to look up at him as she finished with the left most wrist strap then went to the right.

"That bad huh...well, once we're somewhere safe, I know I have loads to tell you as well. I think I do anyway, I just don't understand any of it..."

She appreciated that. But she had to make sure he knew exactly what was going on. It was only right. She then went to the neck strap, forcing her to lean on him as a grunt of surprise escaped his throat. She put an arm around his neck and made sure she wasn't going to be too tight as to choke the poor man. She felt his beard against her cheek as she focused on the more complicated back strap, as well as his body and his quickened heartbeat underneath hers. He must have been terrified. Again, fault of her own in dragging them here, not to mention he's someone who has no real means at defending himself.

"I'm sorry Greg." She told him.

"What for?" He asked, perplexed.

"I..."

She stopped with the back and then pushed herself off of him, then worked on the ankle straps. She did note his confused expression as she didn't finish her answer.

Once she was done, she jumped down and drew out her arms for him to jump. He rubbed his wrists and held the face of uncertainty before he jumped down into her arms. She smiled at him once more as he was a bit worried, but as soon as he responded in kind, she felt her own cheeks heat up, for reasons unknown to her. She let him on to his own two feet again as he sighed with relief.

"What about Lion? According to the two gems that were here, he was in the same position as me." Greg queried.

The whole room rattled violently, as they heard the loudest screech, which had Greg cover his ears with his hands in the fastest of reflexes. Darkness ran rampant behind the glass mirror, shrouded its occupant but at the time, reminding them of what they were really up against. Snow had to know more. 

"You...you'd think years of dealing with audio would grant me some kind of immunity...but it doesn't."

A huge storage of Lillim, no doubt. As he could see Greg shiver, it became noted that the Lillim were extremely near, especially with Dori's loud growls. She looked at Jasper too, who stood by the door and looked on the defensive.

"We'll have to come back for Lion. Greg, we'll get you to safety first." Snow ordered.


 

A lot filtered through Snow's mind as how to approach it with him. But first, she had to make sure he was comfortable.

They got back to Diga's Room without too much fuss. Greg questioned the factory aesthetic, before he noticed Connie asleep in the bed nearby with Lapis, noting the gem on her forehead, then seeing...Pink Steven standing there by the bed itself as he stared outwards. A washed wave of anxiety plunged deep into Snow, anchoring her in as she waited for the inevitable to occur.

"Steven!" He called out as he ran over. Snow broke free of her bind and followed, barring him from going any further by blocking him with her arm.

"Careful." She cautioned.

"It's Steven, but not as you know him."

Greg's attitude did a total 180 going from being enthused to seeing his son to...distraught.

"Oh geez, what's he gotten himself into this time?" Greg questioned.

They talked about how this version of Steven was simply his gem who had been discarded from his human form. He'll respond with Connie but hardly anyone else and is only interested in self-preservation. Peridot joined in as well as Lapis as they explained the battle that occurred in the Delta Kindergarten, turning Connie into a half gem like Steven, as well as losing Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl to the Lillim. His eyes went wider and wider as the tale went on and It wasn't long until Greg started hyper ventilating, almost losing it completely Snow took him away as he struggled to breath, sitting him on a nearby chair on the other side of the room, their backs to the middle pillar and out of their sight. She rubbed his back as he leaned over, with tears falling out at a rapid rate. She should have expected this.

"He's still your son." Snow told him.

He calmed down after a few minutes as Snow grabbed another chair and sat to the left of him, then wrapped a bit of her cloak over him as he tugged on it. Poor man. Snow would often forget humans perspective on gem magic and science would be vastly abstract on first glance. He's had to deal with it, time and time again surely, but stuff like this? Beyond anything else he'd ever dealt with before, going from his hysterical reaction. She felt for him, really. Not much she could do, but try and keep him together and ride the wave with him like she did with many others.

"I know... I'm sorry. It's just...I don't know any better when it comes to all the gem things he does. Rose wanted me out of it for a reason and I gave her the room she needed to do what what she had to. Steven's the same. But I can't help but worry about him. He's done a lot when it comes to the stuff he wants to achieve. But this is too much to bare. Seeing what symbolizes half of his life standing there and not knowing what to do about it scares me the most. N-now his friend is part gem now all of a sudden? And the other Gems? Gone? Oh boy..." He stated.

Losing his own son would be absolutely heartbreaking. He'd already lost the person he'd loved the most. He didn't need this.

"I still wanna have faith in them all."  He continued. Greg took a deep breath and grabbed Snow's right hand, much to her surprise. She didn't pull away, as she pressed the top of his hand with her spare left one in comfort. He looked at her with intent, which struck another foreign energy through her.

"They help fill the gaps I can't....and they're family to Steven too."

Snow blinked twice, before she shook her head and grasped his hand.

"I know humanity has its potential in other ways. Having learned from its mistakes and to continue learning from its mistakes with every generation. But seeing it here, in full force. You hold a lot of compassion. I find human philosophy to be an eye opener really." Snow told him.

Greg gave off a small grin that warmed Snow all over.

"Heh...I still can't believe your knowledge on all of this human mind related stuff far outweighs any gem I've ever met. You'd make a great therapist." He complimented.

A slight giggle vibrated in her throat. She wouldn't get ahead of herself on that count. A gem psychologist perhaps, depending on how much be applicable in reality. Snow would only be scraping the surface, if she had to admit it.

"It's like they made you not long ago to help people...you know to help recover from the trauma."

Snow froze at that statement. She was remade...and seeing the image of Diga in her mind made her think. That her essence not only stabilized her being, tethering the two pieces together, but it had forged her entire status. Medusa was her body. Snow was her mind. Diga was her spirit. It made more sense now. For all the accessible data of humans didn't just come from her gem or from her studies or from being taught. She had to have had it from Diga's essence too, knowing how Steven functions on his own persons and maybe perhaps Connie too. All in a similar way. At least, that was her theory. Whether or not she should look at the journals again to see if Diga noted it, it was going to have to wait for a bit. Knowledge born from small memory patches or Howlite's access to Dori's mind did assist in a way. But being the one who had the know how to...force Connie this way? It was a burden to bare.

"Snow?"

She didn't realize that Greg had been looking at her with a concerned look while she had been putting her theory together. His stare stirred something fierce within her, with Snow none the wiser for the abridged pulse of internal light. He needed the courage to get through this. They all did.

"It's...I've...no. I will make sure you all get out alive. I will help the others...they have to be alive and fighting." She responded with shard spread confidence.

"They're amazing warriors, defined and inspired. I trust that they won't go down easily."

She didn't realize her voice had gotten softer and that was she edging her face closer to Gregs, as a tender wave of yearning crashed through her body. This was new...weird but not unpleasant. Painful? Yes...but it was more than that. More than what she could get her head around. She wasn't in pain but it was definitely another part she had no idea what to do with.

"They are, aren't they?" He said, his voice low and quiet, with his face getting closer to Snow's as he drove their hands to her cheek. A subconscious want, a desire...fresh yet chest tightening. She wasn't even paying attention to the world around her, her mind mixed up in sorting out what the stars this had to be. 

"And we'll get Steven back. I promise..." Snow whispered unknowingly.

It really was a matter of faith. But there was still so much of the unknown to be explored. Humans had yet to explore their depths as the ocean, fearing the darkness and pressure within. Gems had to deal with it the same way. Or maybe it was Diga talking. How much of it, was really her talking, Snow wondered. Their lips almost came to a close...

"Hey guys!"

The two jolted out of their trance as they spread apart on hearing Peridot yell out to them. They wandered over, as if nothing just happened, to see Connie breathing heavily. Greg went first as he sat down beside her and put the back of his hand on her forehead. Snow could see the sweat that dripped down her cheek. 

"She's heating up." Greg commented,  clearing his throat as if the last few minutes never happened.

"Symptoms of a fever I'd say."

A fever? Snow would not have believed it.  Greg fretted over it, worrying on how her parents would react to all of this. 

"I don't remember Steven going through this at any point. I mean, he has the common allergy to pollen but, nothing like this from what I remember."

This definitely wasn't normal then. Human/Gem biology was still considerably new to them and it would take them years to find out the barriers that they would need to understand or overcome. Greg looked deeply troubled by this, as he wanted to cool her temperature down. Lapis utilized her water wings over Connie's forehead and gem. From what little Snow could gather, Connie did take more energy from Pink Steven than the human body could handle. One could underestimate their fragility at times. Gems would have no idea. She got knelt down before the bed and grabbed Connie's hand, then clicked to see her Aura hanging in there. 

"I know I had fevers when I was younger." Greg explained further.

"Caused by sickness or infection. Usually bed bound for a few days."

They didn't have a few days to wait however.

"She's been infected?" Peridot exclaimed with worry.

Snow shook her head. Wrong infection.

"No. I don't think so. It could be her body trying to adapt to her Gem. Humans get sick for a variety of reasons."

She felt Connie's hand squeeze in hers, seeing her struggle to open her eyes. 

"Hey you need to rest." Snow told her.

She struggled to get each breath, forcing herself to smile at the gem.

"I...Know...but...you mentioned...infection. My....body could be thinking...my Gem is a...foreign object...it could...be fighting it off. I have ibuprofen and a small bottle of water in my backpack...please..."

Did none of them consider the human involved could end up having a negative reaction? She would have thought that Diga would know that. Unless Diga was never human to begin with. Homo Magia...that term popped up in her mind again. Greg pilfered through her bag and brought out a small white box and popped out two white tablets, as well as a bottle to which he aided Connie in swallowing the tablets and tipping the bottle into her mouth. 

Snow had to keep her cool. She patted the back of Connie's hand as she got up and walked off. She was getting incredibly angry for all the nonsense this had wrought. Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl were gone, Lion and half of Steven were missing, Milky and the others were no where to be found and now Connie was sick. She wanted to feel hope could guide them through. They needed Connie to help out with this obscure prophecy.

Who was Diga, really.

"Have you considered talking with Apophyllite? After all, they helped us with the whole transition. Practically designed for this purpose." Peridot suggested as she stood by her.

She had a point. A GIS designed for this kind of operation would not have been so blindly made either. They would have been written in the turn of events, guiding them as they went along with the Prophecy in trail. In case Milky and/Or Black Star Sapphire were no longer around. She thanked Peridot and went to the console as its Sphere projected from it.

"I need to know whats going on with Connie. Did anything in the Delta Kindergarten files talk about her getting ill?" Snow queried to it.

"Human Gem growth part of three phase plan. Phase 1. Diamond formation. Status. Completed. Phase 2. Human Gem symbiosis. In Progress. Phase 3: Human/Gem to action course to fight Lillim Gems and Unknown Enemy."

Phase 3 did sound a bit ominous, but Human Gem Symbiosis. It would have to be complicated wouldn't it?

"Explain Human Gem Symbiosis." Peridot asked it.

"Human Gem Symbiosis. Using the genetic information from the human source in line with the Gem's bioenergy , the Gem is interwoven with the human component. In this process, the Gem's magical resonance is required to spread through the blood stream in order to enforce the new Resonance Setting. The Gem's natural magical power can be engaged with right away, but the full response and technique is required to be developed over time. In the meanwhile, the human component can suffer side effects as a result of the Symbiosis, such as nausea, increase in temperature and dehydration due the humans natural responses to an unknown object, as well as the Gems way to blend its bioenergy by fusing with the bodies cellular constructs. Nature of event is Gemma Mixitio Modum."

That would have been nice to know earlier. But they had anticipated it, at least. But it began to frustrate Snow to no end. She wanted to go out there now to save the others since she felt that they were running out of time.

"She'll have to recover." Peridot said.

"Or else it wouldn't make sense for her to go through this." Snow continued. She could see something bothering the smaller gem.

"What is it?"

Peridot sighed as she dragged Snow around to Diga's computer.

"I managed to tinker around with Apophyllite earlier." She said.

"I had it hack local comm logs that it detected in the Southeastern Section. A lot of noise due to Lillim interference primarily but it did pick up an interesting conversation."

Peridot explained to Snow about how it seemed to be a conversation about two individuals, though it wouldn't explain who. It knew Greg and Snow (as Medusa) were in the area at the time. Which meant the conversation would have to have been very recent and a whole bunch of other logs that made zero sense. Snow then remembered Greg had something important to say as well and asked him to come over to speak. The three then sat and discussed what Greg had mention about his experiences with the supposed Master behind the mirror. Every time it shocked him, it reacted in tandem. Like the logs mentioned, according to Peridots notes.

Hearing that Greg had been tortured like that built up protective instincts and made sense about what she saw, but then Greg told them how it somehow connected with him in very strange ways.

"Well, it's weird and kinda hard to explain." Greg stated in an awkward way.

"It was like it was broken. It constantly went through three forms. Steven, Rose and whom I assume was Pink Diamond."

It managed to connect with Greg in a way like it was trying to manipulate him. The nerve!

"Then it settled on a younger version of me. I was...flattered but weirded out. Then it gave me its name."

It had a name?

"Black Diamond."

Snow and Peridot exchanged glances. Another Diamond in the facility? Was this what they were so afraid of? Was this...the Cosmos of Despair? While they didn't have concrete evidence, the fact that there was yet another Diamond roaming around did have much cause for concern. A being so formidable...that of course the only thing that could stand up to a Diamond was another Diamond.

"The other gems seemed to revere it. Going from when we talked, it didn't seem evil. Just...scared."

No one had even heard of a Black Diamond. But it was a common practice and mindset to worship the Diamonds; being the strongest, wisest and oldest.

"Did it say what it wanted?" Snow questioned further. The more she could know about them, the better. 

"It wanted me to stay with it, for what ever comfort it brought." Greg continued.

Intent to infect maybe? Greg didn't seem comfortable about it.

"Look, I don't know much about what's really going on around here. When ever Diamonds are involved, I know it becomes a lot more serious."

He wasn't wrong. Snow stood up and attempted to wrest control of her dangling thoughts. Another Diamond with a seemingly innocent demeanor  but had no control what so ever. An internal snap sounded within the white Quartz. Snow had grown....tired of people around her getting hurt from this. 

"Yes lets just casually grow immensely powerful Diamonds anywhere we please." Peridot commented sarcastically.

"But if I had to be serious, two grown on one planet? Imagine how many resources had to go into planning both. But from your description, it sounds utterly broken and flawed. A gem should have a singular solid form. Not constantly flexing through multiple ones. Unless you're doing it intentionally like some gems do..."

Steven, Pink, Rose...even Greg? How powerful was this Diamond exactly that it wanted to be connected to him? Though Snow was reminded of the Thought Marker that Jasper gave her. Notes were stolen from them...notes regarding the Hope Diamonds creation perhaps? Snow pondered on that for the moment. Pyrope was indeed the culprit for most of the deeds done here that had the facility in lockdown. How she found out was irrelevant. Why was irrelevant. The matter was...how they could take it down.

"Do you think we can try and communicate with it?" Snow queried.

"If its open to speaking, then it might be worthwhile interrogating with it, to see what it knows."

It'd be a long shot, considering they were walking around in the dark due the amount of Lillim interference in the area that made it hard for Apophyllite to see clearly. Saving Greg was a stroke of luck, but that had been one of the many Experimenta Rooms they noted in existence. And that Storage Room Twelve had the biggest concentration of Lillim with its capacity. It wouldn't have been too far off from where they had found Greg then.

"I'm not sure I feel comfortable dealing with it again. It spoke in riddles that I could barely understand. I mean, I will if you want me to." Greg stated.

No. Snow refused to let Greg fall into that obvious trap. The more Snow thought about it however, it being Diamond meant it had its own Psychic Aura like the others. It spoke to Greg that way...and the only other person in the room that could make that powerful connection was currently bedridden. She didn't even think about what Pink Steven could do.

"Steven usually has to fall asleep to be able to see into other minds or something of the like." Greg continued.

"But I don't know...if he has to be...well, put together again to do it."

She didn't want to have to resort to using Pink Steven to that extent. But maybe Connie if she's asleep. She technically didn't have to use her body at all. She got up and checked on the girl, who was still struggling. In that state, she would be half awake. Snow felt pained to do so, with a degree of madness alongside it to boot.

"You're not gonna make her do it like that are you?" Greg asked her as Peridot and himself caught up with her.

Snow rested her hand on Connie's cheek. Not much had changed, but Connie barely opened up her eyes and struggled to smile in the meanwhile.

"We may not have a choice." Snow stated.

"I can't risk any of you out there and being swallowed whole by them. Black Diamond is obviously some kind of powerful Lillim Gem that needs to be incapacitated...or at the very least, bubbled. If its the source of the Lillim outbreak, shattering it may be the last resort we need to stop it." 

There was little go on than that. The Prophecy needed them both. Snow's power to detect auras was standard for their Quartz line. Medusa freezing or turning Gems to stone...was another. But she had no idea of other powers that that type of gem had. Even Peridot couldn't explain it. There wasn't a lot of data pertaining to Medusa's, which meant it may have well been the only one in existence. Labradorites had their own subtle psychic abilities to help track and determine threats as well as creating their own markings to warn any other Labradorite or their Snow Quartz partner of danger.

"Connie. How are you feeling?" Snow asked her.

"No, no way is she doing it. Look at her Snow! She can barely move." Greg said with anger, which stunned her.

Snow then stood up. She expected a differing opinion, as using Connie was the other alternate route.

"Then the only way through this for me to go out there on my own then." She told him.

"I can't predict when Connie will get better, but we need a Diamond's Aura to get in contact with Black Diamond."

Greg then growled. Snow had never seen him so grated before.

"Fine, I'll do it." He said, begrudged.

"Black Diamond can talk to me if it wants. I'm not a gem and it hasn't infected me so far. I'm not even sure if this...thing can infect humans ya know."

Snow shook her head. She wouldn't allow it. The only practical solution she had right now was to go out on her own. The logs indicated her immunity. She will be fine, but right now she had the hardest decision to make. Garnet, Amethyst, Pearl, Steven and Lion were still lost to them. The guilt piled up on her shoulders as she had her back to the group who had surrounded and protected Connie. Snow did not want her to suffer any more than she had, so it was time she took matters in her own hands. 

"Apophyllite." She muttered. Regret would be had, but any small sacrifice to get answers and solutions would be worth saving and fixing a mistake she started.

"Lock the door behind me when I leave please."

She heard the inevitable gasp.

"What are you doing?" Jasper roared.

"You're gonna do this again?"

Snow said nothing as the door opened and she left on her own. Without Dori.

Chapter Text

There was no time for tears, but the guilt was almost unbearable as Snow left on her own. She stormed down the hallways, grateful for the silence the further down she went. Her stride was hastened as she looked to the floor as she walked, her hands in fists as they swung with a sturdiness.

She was supposed to be strong. She was supposed to know what she had to do. But she didn't. They could hate her. That's fine. Snow Quartzes were known to be controversial. This was no different. Old words from Milky floated by in her memories...from the years between the Rebellion and the Lillim Wars.


 

Milky Quartz Log

We've always been the topic of conversation Snowflake. We're known to be stubborn as any other Quartz, even more so. We're built for strength and we're built for intelligence. We're not built for deeper relationships, like those we see of other gems. Even the forbidden cross-gem fusions. 

But for the time I've known humans, they're known for their tenacity and they understand the importance of building relationships with one another. Simple as they may be, they're a lot more incredulous than one would give them credit for. I knew what Rose Quartz was trying to do. It was never the preservation of self, but the preservation of livelihoods and lifestyles. The Diamonds would never allow for that. But we must remain silent. We do not want to end up the same way their line did.

We also hold more secrets. Secrets that could make or break us. Secrets never whispered and secrets never heard. 

So its important to keep looking on the horizon. Feign obedience where required. Because you do need a sense of preservation, but also the desire to protect others. The Diamonds have given us another chance and it'd be stupid to disregard it. But we can still play our main speciality. Information for Information. Know what to give and what to gain. That's important to you now. To all Snow Quartzes. We no longer fight like we used to but we can still fight with our words where we can. Sometimes...the right set of words given could be all that saves us.


 

Snow tried so hard to keep looking forward as Milky so wisely said. Information learned is information kept. She's stood by that for most of her life and it's helped her immensely.  What disturbed her was how much she didn't know about any of this. From her infection, to her shattering, to her resurrection. All of that remained as splintered as she once was. What she told Jasper was still true as well. Her being part of something else did not change who Snowflake was. 

What she desired most of all, was Milky explaining it all to her. She wasn't here and she was trying to find her to understand...yet it lead to the doom of people she had started to care about. Snow preferred not to be with crowds, but the people Rose stood for and tried to protect...were disappearing. All of her hard work just...gone.

She wasn't meant to be that powerful to begin with. Weakened with newer rules and boundaries. The Prophecy made it sound like she was supposed to be someone special. But all it ended up doing was hurting people. Far from what her desires were.

She wanted to learn. She wanted to be educated about the more complicated aspects of the human psyche and mentality. She wanted to know the core, inner harmonies of love and hope. Had she shut her mouth about Milky...

Secrets that could make or break us...

As she came to an intersection, she heard whispers coming from her left. A corridor with a strange amount of gust. Going down it she'd come across another door, but it was left open for what ever reason. She made a few clicks and realized there was another gem left in there. The limb enhancers and the amount of red. It was Pyrope. Feelings of rage filled her, but Snow had to remain vigilant as she hid behind a desk as another person came in nearby. She had long black hair which contrasted Pyropes, who's was more of darker shade of purple than black, wearing a red, strapless  dress with a gold belt. Her beige skin indicated her human frame, but Snow sensed something of a more sinister from within her.

"My Queen!" Pyrope called out excitedly.

"How has our subject been progressing? Where is Black Pearl?" Said the woman.

Snow's gem started to flare up in pain for an unexplained reason as she was forced to do a silent hiss through her teeth.

"Longer than expected." Pyrope answered as she typed into a nearby console.

"I sent Black Pearl to Milky's Quarters after we found a trace amount of energy pouring from there. She hasn't come back."

They must have found out about the entrance to the Delta Kindergarten that way. No wonder she found them. The woman stomped her foot on the ground, which shook it violently. It made Snow wonder if she was one of the Homo Magia like Diga or Petra, going from the drop down circlet with matching earrings that pertained red, glowing jewels. Although her slapping Pyrope became far more jarring.

"I'm s-sorry my Queen. Most subjects submit to infection anywhere from five minutes to an hour?" Pyrope said as she rubbed her cheek

The humanoid had a blank face of disappointment. A Queen? Images flurried in Snow's mind again, telling her a vague indication of who this was.

"It's been five hours Pyrope." She pointed out.

"It would have been done sooner if you were able to keep an eye on that damn Diamond."

Steven's Gem. It couldn't be anything else.

"I see the human escaped too. Do I have to do everything myself?" 

Greg. They knew.

Pyrope looked nervous as she shuffled through multiple screens of red. Out popped at least five. The imagery looked familiar, seeing several figures; one on each of the screens.

"It's okay. We've gotten the three main Crystal Gems stuck in Storage Room Twelve along with the master. The beast is still stuck in Experimenta Room Two. So we still have leverage of the subjects mental state if we want to take advantage of that." She pointed out.

Subjects Mental State? Why would they need to use the Gems to...if what they were doing to Greg was the same, they were using them to torture Black Diamond. Which meant that they had been trying to infect Black Diamond? No. That made as much sense as opening a door that already opened. Apophllylite stated there was a tonne of Lillim interference coming from Storage Room Twelve; practically off the charts.

"We've tried TM Ratings One through Four. None of them worked. Resorting to TM Ratings either seven right or nine could still work."

If Snow could get to Storage Room Twelve, then she could possibly save the Gems. She had to save them.

"I'll get to Ten if none of them work. Push the rating to Seven for now, increase of need be. I need to get back to finding that Medusa Quartz Black Pearl was warning me about. I expect submission within the hour, or else!" The humanoid urged as she left the room and closed the door.

Snow gulped. So she was indeed a threat. She severely underestimated Black Pearl previously and after fighting her, Snow wouldn't make the same mistake about Pyrope either. Now that she semi-recalls her overall. But this Queen? A much larger problem. Snow was going to risk being shattered for it. For them. She contemplated on taking Pyrope by surprise and getting her to spill on all that she knows.

Memories of their fight on the Lillim world sent shivers down her back. Snow could not let such a thing happen again. She charged up and kicked Pyrope in the face with a clean drop kick, then proceeded unleash her repressed rage onto her her, much to the gems surprise. All this build up and all this flurry of a fire residing within her core; millennia of left over vengeance scored in one simple strike.

"Ahaha....I...ENOUGH!" Pyrope called out as she pulsed out a wave of darkness from her gem on her shoulder, which only pushed Snow off of her, who flipped and landed on her own feet. Snow gritted her teeth as she glared at the Pyrope, and pulled out her double sided axe, which left Pyrope stunned as Snow could see her vicious expression in the gems eyes.

"You...you're...impossible."

Snow nonchalantly flipped the axe in her hand and snarled.

"Impossible. Yes." Snow said,  her tone low and calm, but filled with incredible passion.

She remembered this same scenario. Except it was the opposite this time. Part of Snow felt good at seeing Pyrope crawling on the floor, left trying to make up on what was happening right now.

"I didn't expect to remember any of this. But right now, I know you betrayed our kind. You lead to the infection of hundreds of innocent Snow Quartzes. Including me."

Pyrope shot up and patted herself down, as her eyes turned jet black, giving off a smirk.

"You Snow Quartzes were going no where anyway." Pyrope retorted.

"Blue Diamond sent you all to die. We thought you'd make better use as Lillim Warriors. Take our vengeance back to the Diamonds themselves. That sort of thing."

The thoughts crossed Snow's mind. But it didn't mean subjecting themselves to this kind of atrocity.

"We had no part in the Rebellion. Milky negotiated this for the best. I know how spotty our history is, but we were at least granted a choice. Being a Lillim Gem on the other hand...there's no choice." Snow called out.

Pyrope then started laughing. Hard.

"Heh...I found out about the whole scheme from my Queen. She found out Rose Quartz was Pink Diamond before anyone else did. Another machination by the most cunning of all Diamonds. A chance to be free. I might have been born in Era 2...but my Queen has granted me privileges affording someone of my station. Like being there at the trial with Milky Quartz and suggesting the idea to Blue Diamond to begin with, seeing how I was but a mere technician in Blue Courts at the time and pointing out that the Lillim World needed to be dealt with in order her colony to completed. You'd be surprised on how much power one can feel when lording knowledge. I envied your positions greatly and I was hungry to know what the Snow Quartzes knew. My Queen granted me that wish in fantastic ways."

Snow looked at herself as she started to shake. Violently. She was so infused with the power of...the power of her own hate. She'd never felt like this...unless she did. All those years ago. 

"They all cried when their beloved Snowflake was infected. Fighting her down to their last bits of light. Milky was...the one who shattered her. Yet, you stand in front of me. How is this the same person who walked through my doors? She wasn't angry. She was inquisitive, just like any Snow Quartz."

Are you who you think you are?

Are you hurting more than you are helping?

Are you being blinded by failure?

Your door didn't open when you were brought back.

 

DON'T LISTEN TO HER SNOW

A voice different from the rest?

ARE YOU SNOW QUARTZ?

ARE YOU MEDUSA QUARTZ?

NEITHER?

BOTH?

OR

IF YOU

IF YOU ARE

IF YOU ARE WHO I THINK YOU ARE

BUT

YOU CANNOT BE

SHE IS NOT HERE WITH US

NOT IN THIS REALM

IMPOSSIBLE

WHY

 

The room shook violently as shrieks echoed from afar, loud enough to force both Snow and Pyrope to their knees. Snow got out of it the trance first as she jumped up and charged towards Pyrope and swung her blade 

She is Snow Quartz, Lilith

She's who she decides to be.

Pink Diamond decided to be Rose Quartz

Rose Quartz decided to give herself to be a part of Steven Universe

You don't know this lore well enough.

You told Pyrope the truth

But not the reason, nor the why

We don't have to know the why

 

Another softer voice entered Snow's mind. Who was this? She then noticed Pyrope going through the same phases as Black Pearl before her, slowly and agonizingly changing into a monstrous centipede creature. 

"So there is a little monster in you too." Pyrope grunted.

"Glad to hear it."

Snow was disappointed that she didn't freeze Pyrope when she had the chance.  She became so overwhelmed with a insatiable need to pulverize that it drove her swing and roar. She weaved and dodged the numerous tentacles that came her way. The room was barely big enough for them to fight, as Lillim Pyrope was much larger than the Lillim Pearl. However, the little monster in her head talked to her at the same. Not an active, but a passive conversation. The unheard whispers of the mind that often gave birth to doubt and internal disagreements.

She fought for the lost. But the rage was not against losing those she knew. It was something else entirely. Pyrope said this wasn't the same Snow Quartz she saw that day. Then who was it?
What was the lie and what was the truth?

The truth wasn't the reason. The truth was power. What power did knowing the truth have? Did knowing the truth about it all really give any power? Or was it understanding it, was what the true extent of its premise flowered into?

Snow favored the offensive style a little too much, but could defend where need be. Despite her large size, she was quite speedy. Part of her regretted not having Labradorite with her to fuse into Howlite again, however change came to form with her light mass, eyes a little too white and sparkly and projected wings that she had no clue were appearing on her back, glowing brightly. Snow....Medusa...Diga....one of those had to trigger the unknown formation, so foreign that it caused havok with her own mental pathways she didn't know where being affected by it. An unseen, a newly experienced power not unlike any other.

So...like a fusion.

Garnet, Stevonnie, Malachite, Tiger Iron. A proper reflection of power not based on truths...but ideals, love and trust. Being Howlite allowed her to see things from their perspective. Relationships that are formed with others...and the feelings that came with them. Her desires to learn love are based on truths, but to experience them for herself. 

Discovery is part of that journey. Whether it means facing your fears or acknowledging that you're wrong once in a while, is within that growing path. It doesn't matter how long we live for, we're all in that together. Growing. Always.

Discovery didn't always equal truth. Just as a blade can cut a branch, it does not mean it can cut metal. You can try, but won't work.

But finding out that on your own does equate to truth, but if you can change the blade so it can cut metal, would that become truth and discovery too?

A lot of it was confusing.

But the word, discovery, sounded much better than simple power with knowledge. It meant be able to connect to others far easier with what you found out on your own and helping them.

Though...

the truth was she was Part Snow Quartz, Part Medusa Quartz and Part Diga.

The discovery was that she was all that.

The idea of who she is, is who she chooses to be.

Would not that make it...her own truth?

The truth is...is that she chooses to serve Homeworld. 

She chooses to help others.

But can she discover the truth of choosing...who to love? Who to befriend? Who to give information to?

You can have your own take on love. You won't really know what it is until you experience it for yourself.

 

So why the doubt?

"This little Snow Quartz is without her darling Labradorite. Worried it might attack you for attacking a fellow Gem?" Pyrope taunted.

"I wouldn't blame her. What I'm looking at right now is considered horrific. What would White Diamond think?"

Yet the programming for that was disabled.

Lies hurt her, yet they shouldn't.

How could Snow look forward if she fell into the habit of looking back all the time?

Human nature.

A voice...the soft feminine voice that guided her.

Human nature is to use past experiences to move forward.

Snow's memories were still hazy up until this point. She struggled to get up as Pyrope kept slamming tentacles in her way. Snow needed to reach her shoulder to freeze her, but couldn't get that high on her own, or when she could when she utilized fallen debris, Pyrope kept covering it, like Black Pearl did.

Your talent is your voice though. Use it. Shout.

Shout?

An unrelenting force should knock her over.

Why did that sound familiar?

She jumped into the air and inhaled deeply. Next thing she knew, she screamed out something fierce that sent shockwaves knocking Lillim Pyrope over. Snow then cut through the tentacles then prepare her sights on her gem. She clung on to the grimy body as her eyes and her gem started to glow. It sent ripples towards Pyrope gem, as she went totally white. Snow then jumped again as her body became stone, then shattered it with her axe. She picked up the gem shortly after, bubbled it then sent it on its way.

That part was mentally exhausting to Snow, her body returning to normal, her eyes fading back to their newer green shine and her wings disappearing in a flash. She dusted herself down then went towards the console Pyrope previously had been using as luck would have it, it was left untouched during the fight.

She brought up the profiles of what appeared to be the Crystal Gems and put them next to each other. The text detailed notes held their data, as well as the infection rate. Amethyst's was the most progressed at seventy two percent, Pearls at fifty seven and Garnets at thirty, for both of her gems. The process for infection could either be fast or slow depending on the Gems willpower to resist it. One hundred percent was the point of no return, so they were fighting the infection with such an intensity. She'd have to start with Amethyst. 

They too were in Storage Room Twelve. Lion was still stuck in Experimenta Room 2.

I have someone taking care of the beast. You focus on the gems.

That voice again. Who was that?

"Should I trust you?" Snow murmured. She'd heard enough voices for one day.

No answer.


 

Was the powerful shout part of Medusa's powerset?  Snow Quartzes did have their own voice, but nothing like that. Snow had a need to look into what in the world a Medusa Quartz could do when she had the time. A door opened to her left, which would lead her to Storage Room Twelve.

Defeating Pyrope did not grant her the satisfaction Snow craved. Instead she was more conflicted. Her anger drove her to attack instead of talking like Snow was used to doing. She could have gotten more out of her. Her broken memories gave way to an uncontrollable urge, after all this time, talking about peaceful resolutions when she had done the complete opposite.

It was about, knowing that she had been shattered but not knowing; erased memories did not mean erased feelings.

Snow....

Yet another voice to intrude her rummaged thoughts.

It's Connie...I'm with you in this...psychic realm. I can see the Crystal Gems stuck with the Lillim, but I need your help as well.

Maybe the loneliness gave birth to self-intrusive thoughts and lead to untruths instead.

Chapter Text

It was agreed on that Snow was odd for a gem. Knowing how many they'd already met thus far and to consider Snow odd told volumes about her.

A lot of them had to become accustomed to Earth mannerisms and quirks. It was to be expected. Two completely different species with obvious cultural barriers. But Snow seemed more attuned than anyone else. Peridot did state that Snow Quartzes were designed to adapt to their given worlds for a variety of reasons. They fulfilled a variety of roles. Finding useful information as well as dealing with any problems they might come across, such as hostile locals.

It brought to mind of a lot of human history and its tendency to invade other territories for their resources. But some explorers, like cartographers for example, held a desire to see and map the world before them. There was no fear of the unknown if it became known.

Connie heard the whole argument between her and the others as they blasted her for going on her own. Peridot chalked it up to being just as Snow Quartz would do. But to leave her faithful Labradorite behind like that, was very unlike her.

She heard Jasper bang on the door, chastising the other Quartz for doing something stupid like that. Meanwhile Dori was left scratching and whimpering for her partner. 

"Idiot..." Jasper grumbled as she scrunched her fist.

"She wants to go out there on her own so be it. Not my fault if she gets shattered!"

In another weird way, Snow did remind her of Steven. The initial desire to protect others, the way that they used words to resolve their problems. Connie felt bad because she couldn't do anything in this state, despite the Prophecy noting that they needed to work together. Snow's suggestion to use her Psychic Aura did make her think about it. A lot. Alongside her bodies response to her newest addition, she needed to do something. Anything. The others jumped the gun a bit when it came to Connie's defense, but at the end of the day, it was still her choice on what she wanted to do. The fever waned slightly thanks to the ibuprofen, but it still remained.

She was inspired by Steven's ability to reach out to the others in his sleep. Connie could do the same if she tried.

"She's right though." Connie croaked as she tried to sit up. Lapis took her water wing off her head and stood back.

"The Lillim attack the mind. The only way to win this, is by doing the same. If I can just talk to Black Diamond, It might tell us where Steven is."

She noted Greg who sat on the chair against the pillar with crossed arms, who then stared at the blank faced Pink Steven at the end of the bed. 

"I dunno kiddo, all it did was ask me questions...and spoke like it knew me and wanted to spare me from some unwanted fate...but who knows what it'll want from you."

Infect her, now that she's part gem in the worst case scenario. Somehow, somewhere deep within her gut, it told her otherwise.

Peridot then interjected.

"The comms I found earlier may have...persuaded Snow's horrible decision making." She said, with guilt.

"Greg's Summary of Black Diamond's talks look like they match up with the communication lines blethered words. Talking about how it doesn't want to hurt Greg or this...Unknown Variant. There was another one in the logs. Someone else that it was speaking to. And it was tracking Snow down as well as Pink Steven and whom I am assuming to be Connie."

Black Diamond did not want to be hostile but it looked like it had no control over its actions. The source of the screams and the tremors, as well as Gregs explanation could lead to a far more interesting conversation if Connie could get in contact with it. She had certain ideas about this third party, but wouldn't be able to confirm them unless she'd had the chance to speak to Black Diamond directly. She just had to.

"I'll go under then." She told them.

"Snow's locked the door...there is no other way for us to get in there."

Greg then shot up from his chair. Was he mad? Was he upset? He wandered over then sat next to her as he put his hands on her shoulders.

"Human being to....partially Human being..." He murmured, then heaved a huge sigh.

"Don't push yourself. I don't want you to get hurt....but please...if you can find...Steven while you...go where you have to. If it gets too much and if we see you struggling...we'll pull you out. Okay?"

Connie smiled weakly. She appreciated Greg in his attempts to vaguely understand the situation. She didn't know if she'd expect to see Steven in the realm, since he no longer had his gem. Anything was possible. If he was there, she'd definitely would take the chance to save him too. They noticed that Dori had stood at the edge of the bed too. She jumped up and laid herself next to Connie, who patted her.

They prepared themselves as Peridot utilized Apophyllite to continue tracking data down. Jasper and Lapis stood at the door as Greg grabbed a chair to sit by Connie. He didn't realize Pink Steven had moved himself too, having suddenly appeared beside the head of the bed as he stared at Connie also, who was...kinda freaked out, but to her understanding, he could have sensed what Connie was planning...or not. Who really knew what happened there.

Connie laid on her back as she had her head against the pillow and rested her hands on her chest. She looked at Greg who smiled back at her.

"Good luck."


 

It took a moment to ignite the watery realm around her as she sat up. Filled with numerous blending dots of shades of blue against a nightscape, she stood ankle deep in the middle of a large pond filled with beautiful twirling lotus flowers, with more than slowly fell from above and onto the water alongside various lily pads. Connie still wore her blue shirt and jeans and rubbed the gem on her forehead. Knowing she was still all there, she walked forward a few paces. She then stopped as the ground shook from beneath her bare feet. Greyish Slates rose up from the ground, with artwork painted on the stone that emerged from both sides of her, side by side Artwork more of a less painted and carved in an interesting art style once done by her grandmother. They represented people she knew. To her right she could see what appeared to be Greg, holding a guitar with a huge black star behind him. She could hear him whisper through the stone.

I'm out of my league. As always. But kids these days also seem to figure out more than adults do. So there's that.

Connie smirked. Good old Greg.

The stone to her left was a picture of Dori, who didn't appear to have any thoughts, but instead broke out of the stone and jumped towards Connie. She shook the remaining dust off herself, then wagged her tail at seeing Connie with a open smile and dangling tongue. She wanted to help. The others did note that Dori had some kind of special Psychic ability too, so it was good to know that she wasn't going to be alone.

Next to Dori was Jasper's slate, looking like she had just conquered a giant monster as she had foot raised on a black body and her arm in the air, with a fist of triumph.

You can't trust anyone these days. I don't even trust me now. I still can't believe I tried to kill my own Diamond. Snow tried to get me to see things her way too...but she too has abandoned me.

Jasper still suffered under her own duress and guilt. If only Steven could get to her.

Next to Greg was Lapis, who's image had her flying through clouds.

There's so much that I've learned on this planet alone. Is there such a thing as caring too much? 

Lapis was indeed caring when you got to know her better, but she preferred to appear aloof most of the time and generally kept to herself. Next to her was Peridot, who had her hands rising towards a rectangular object like it was the holy grail or something.

I need to find out more about Apophyllite. You don't just construct a GIS for personal use. Why would a Snow Quartz have one anyway? They're normally for larger, more complex facilities. This is one advanced program.

Typical Peridot, her curiosities were left elsewhere. But it was better than her fretting. Not that Connie understood much about what went on in the scientific aspect of gem technologies, she was glad someone could understand its advanced nuances.

Then on her left, besides Jasper was...Pink Steven. He stood there with his arms by his side. She could see the the darker pink silhouette of Rose behind him and a much larger, further dark pink silhouette of Pink Diamond behind her. She heard nothing from it at first, before he burst out of the stone in a small affair. Dori stood in front of Connie and managed a slight growl. He said nothing and continued to stare at Connie for a good while, before turning his head and pointing towards the large, dark violet storm cloud in the distance.

That had to be where Black Diamond was.

She assured Dori with a simple stroke of her back that Pink Steven wasn't going to be a threat. The Wolf Gem walked around to the other side of Connie, who then took Pink Steven's hand. It's as if, he wanted to be here. Connie swallowed as they continued, with the sounds of the water gushed as they walked, kept her from going insane with the mundane silence that followed.

As they got closer, Connie could hear the lightning and thunder from within the wall of the storm clouds. She then heard Dori bark to her right, who then saw something in the distance and bolted. Connie ran over and followed Dori as she pulled Pink Steven beside her. She found Snow, whom was busy fighting off another Lillim Gem. Dori kept her distance, as they watched Snow from afar. The look of fury on her face worried Connie. She stood on top of her own slate with an impending power to her eyes, which had turned bleach white and a faded set of butterfly wings that glitched in and out of existence and allowed her to dodge easier. She'd never seen Snow fight before so this was a first.

She looked up to see a gigantic figure that watched over the battle between the two. Their hands were jettisoned as if she was pulling the strings of a puppet. Her black haired flailed in the unseen winds as her torso popped out of thick black smoke. She could hear her speak, as Snow battled with the unknown source's voices who was seeing her with doubt.

"DON'T LISTEN TO HER SNOW!" Connie roared.

Snow reacted to her voice with confusion, who then fought her harder as she tightened her grip on her axe.

The entity continued to taunt Snow with her identity. Then another slate emerged from beside Connie and burst before she could even have a better look at the picture. The white hair, the red cloak and the fantasy style armor? 

"Diga...?" Connie murmured to herself, noting the figure Stevonnie saw. 

Diga looked at the entity with a face of pure displeasure. Her form was strong and full of confidence, folding her arms behind her and using a stern tone.

"She is Snow Quartz, Lilith. She's who she decides to be. Pink Diamond decided to be Rose Quartz. Rose Quartz decided to give herself to be a part of Steven Universe. You don't know this lore well enough. You told Pyrope the truth. But not the reason, nor the why. We don't have to know the why."

Connie gulped, seeing that this was the infamous Lilith she had read about from Diga's journals.

Snow continued to fight, yet at the same time her thoughts of doubt continued to fester. She then noticed Diga's side glance as she looked at Connie.

"It is still up to the sight of stone and the curse of hope to set them all free." Diga told her, before she looked back at the battle.

"You...you and Steven must continue to teach Snow."

Her and Steven?

"About what?" Connie asked.

"Human nature." Diga replied.

"Snow can understand human related behaviours and can discover new things. But she does not have a mind with an organic brain with neuro-plasticity like humans do. Her line was designed for adaption but she does not yet grasp certain concepts. Her confusion stems from spiritual imbalances triggered by an hidden identity crisis. She desperately uses her position as a Snow Quartz to solidify her positioning, like any other gem given a certain role does. But developments of her being part Medusa, part me did crackle a bit of her programming."

That's right, Diga helped bring Snow back from the dead.

"She wants to serve White Diamond and Homeworld but at the same time she wants to explore herself even more. But her line of work denies her that. Hearing of the recent changes in policies did spark the unconscious idea, to which she jumped at the chance when the position for being the new Recon Gem for Earth became available. Given recent events, I'd wager she'd be the envy of all current standing Snow Quartzes."

Gems who came to Earth held the habit of being set free.

"However, she needs to be tempered. Her programming will ark up like this from time to time. Her Labradorite helps mitigate a lot of the issues with the imbalances due to their gems being used generate unique psychic fields. Mostly for their tracking purposes but their pulses work the same way."

Dori whined, seeing her partner like this, throwing herself into a tizzy of rage and fury. 

"But I digress. Human nature is using past experiences to move forward."

Human nature had a lot of meanings. Using such memories as a key to progression in life was to look at them fondly, or sadly....and knowing which to choose to embrace or throw away. Diga leaned over and picked up a lotus flower that floated by, then examined it thoroughly, she then looked at three forms that weren't that far from from Snow herself. It was the slates containing Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl that lived on the barriers between her normal, flowing atmosphere and the violet storm clouds.

"What Snow has, are experiences she will never personally have gained. But gifted. Or cursed depending on how one would interpret it. The Chaos of Love that birthed us, to the mercy of death that releases us. Steven....you. Heralds of a new age....as the move the light with your hearts alongside your minds."

Connie watched as Snow roared at the Lillim Pyrope, who was flung back, before she used her Medusa Power to turn Pyrope to stone and shatter her, leaving her gem behind. She looked at Diga, who then disappeared without a trace. She walked up to Snow's form and listened to her troubling thoughts as the gem fell to her knees. The fact she attacked Pyrope instead of talking to her really did a number on her psyche as Snow appeared then reappeared closer to the Crystal Gems in a flurry of water. If Steven could communicate like this, then Connie could too. She grabbed Snow's hand the same way he did.

"Snow!" Connie called out.

Snow's head snapped out and hearing her voice.

"It's Connie...I'm with you in this...psychic realm. I can see the Crystal Gems stuck with the Lillim, but I need your help as well."

Snow was left bewildered for the moment, then she nodded and kept herself firm.

"I'm sorry for leaving you all like that." Snow told her.

"Especially you. I went out thinking I could solve this on my own without more lives being taken...since I can't be infected, I could take advantage of that. But my fear and my anger...there's more wrong with me than I once believed."

This was what Diga was worried about. There was nothing wrong with her per-say. Steven would just say she would have had her own unique set of flaws, but she was perfect with those flaws. Not to mention Connie's copped this type of self-sacrificing nature before.

"Apology accepted..." Connie told her.

"I'll admit we're all in the dark...but we're in the darkness together."

To say Connie was petrified would be an understatement, but she wanted to charge Snow with positive energy. The storm raged on with its flashes of lighting followed by clashes of thunder that rumbled the ground beneath her and sent ripples through the water.

"I appreciate that Connie." Snow told her.

"Now...I see nothing from where I am. The doors here are locked tight. The temperature here is practically near freezing point and I sense something fierce behind them. Is there anything you can see on your side?"

The slates contained interesting artwork. All of them had the gems bodies in a T pose but had tendrils of pulsating lights pumping into crack aspects of the slates which happened to be where Garnets hands and her gems were. Garnet had Ruby and Sapphire behind her on red and blue backgrounds respectively. Amethysts had the most cracked and had the most tendrils that aimed at her gem in the center and had a purple background. Pearls was next, though hers wasn't as badly damaged as Amethyst's, it still looked pretty bad as the tendrils coiled out to her forehead gem. Connie described these as best she could to Snow.

"Black Diamond's trying to make them into Lillim Gems, I assume." Snow told them.

They didn't look fully infected, however. There had to be something they could do to save them.

"Somehow we to need to get inside their individual gems to set them free. I found an analysis of their scans. Amethyst's infection rate has the most progression. We need to free her first."

Connie got to her Slate first, in the middle of the three. She rested her hand, hearing the chorus of whispers in the meanwhile. She focused, hearing Amethyst's voice first, then others she couldn't decode. A chill ran through her as the temperature dropped for her too. The water around her then drained away, leaving nothing but barren and deserted black grounds. 

She gasped as tendrils aimed for her gem too, if not for Pink Steven's timely interference as he summoned his barrier around her which enforcing a tinging noise as each of the bounced off the different facets. Steven promptly unsummoned it. He walked back, then continued to stare at Amethysts slate as Dori stood behind them.

"They're quite defensive." Connie told Snow.

"Yes you'd have to be cautious about getting too close." Said Snow.

"They'll at aim any gem in proximity. Perhaps its best for me to get inside. But I wonder if I can get where you are right now."

Connie tried to think. She looked at Pink Steven who had suddenly stared at her. He slowly raised his arm and rested his hand on her gem. Memories of Steven going into Pearls gem flashed by. She remembered him telling her this at some stage. Although, not in great detail. But if it worked for Pearl, then it could work for her too.

"Snow. Go back to Diga's Room. I need you go inside my head. I'll wait here." Connie told her.

Whether or not it work like that to begin. But Pink Steven hadn't been wrong so far.

"I have Steven's Gem with me right now. He's suggesting this."

Snow froze for the moment, then nodded her head. Whether or not the others could forgive her for her prior actions was irrelevant. Right now they needed to do this. As Diga noted, the past was key to moving forward. Labradorite then rubbed her head on Connie and wagged her tail, before she disappeared into a puddle of water that went away at the same time. Connie wished she could talk, honestly.


It hurt Connie more to watch the gems be in this bizarre state. She sat down with Pink Steven, who then mimicked her every move, including crossing her legs as they continued to stare at the slates.

She wondered, what was going on in his head half the time. The alien thoughts that trotted around in there. He defended her and suggested scarily good ideas. Not to say Steven didn't have a good idea once in a while, but for something that was only half of him suggesting this...it was too complex to imagine.

It made Connie wonder now that she was like Steven...would this happen to her? Would taking out her new Gem prompt the same kind of action? Was she its host? Was she like White Diamond once suggested, wrapping herself around something else? No. Peridot did mention that the Hope Diamond was designed for her, that had the same exact expression and purpose that Pink Steven did.

She meditated there for the moment as she closed her eyes, inviting the whispers in to try and to decode the messages herself. Pure...darkness that silenced the thunder.

---

We/We/We cannot hurt her.

"You better not."

---

The voices were minor but they were there. The first constantly fluctuated between masculine and feminine. The second sounded deep and masculine.

---

How we...how we define hurt is through you.

For it is not just we who can cause hurt. But it's her.

---

Her? Were they talking about herself?

--

She's coming back again. Brace yourself.

What? nooooooOOOOOOOO---

---

Connie winced at hearing the screams again that intermingled with the thunders violent bellowing.

-

"YOU WILL SUBMIT OR THEY WILL DIE."

--

Another voice. The loudest one. It was Lilith. She knew it. The other noises were more like glitched autotune and softer (besides the horrific visceral screams that echoed.)

---

"I AM NOT GIVING IN!"

"Pyrope underestimated you then. We're coming close to the six hour mark and you're still resisting?"

---

Connie felt the intensity from where she was. The anxiety wrenched her heart and tightened her throat. 

---

"I knew you were lying to me about how much time had passed. You can hurt me all you like. You can punish me all you like. You can put all the horrible things in me as you like..."

You....YOU are not resisting.

 "It's not about resisting..."

"Then what is it, worm? Are you giving me permission to heat things up? To let you know, TM Ten is considered the most...intense...so. I'll ask again. Submit to me."

---

Connie ignored her increasing heartbeat and her breathing.

---

I....DON'T...CARE...I will never. UGHAAAAAAAAA-

"So be it."

---

It went calm for the moment. Connie then looked to see Pink Steven sitting to the left of her in the midst of the silent void. She looked down as she noticed that his hand was shaking slightly, with his eyes pinging with an intense stare. Connie was unnerved by the sudden movements of his form, never seeing him react like this prior. She took his hand to comfort him, only to be met with...extraordinarily violent images and terrifying pains through her chest. She felt a drip on her forehead, then touched it with her spare right hand and noted the red smear on her palm. Dread filled her as she slowly looked up, to see Pearls body hanging above her, with a blank face and a blood soaked torso.

Connie wanted to scream, instead she felt a white hand cover it.

Snow had snapped her out of the sight, returning to the outer limits, still seeing the slates before them. She looked at her hands again, seeing them clean, but shaking with total fear. She turned to Snow, then cried into her chest and whimpered. She felt the larger gem take her into her lap and wrapper her arms around, holding her close as she took Connie's head underneath her chin. She said nothing as Connie felt her rub her back.

It took her a moment to settle, until she had the nerve to tell Snow what she saw. Snow frowned, but continued to comfort her.

"I'm sorry I took so long. I had the others rightfully berating me for what I did. I quickly apologized after another quake rattled us. Then told them I had little time that I had Dori help me get into your gem. The look on their faces is a tale to tell for another time." Snow noted.

She further explained how Peridot kept getting comm logs from the Sections databanks. Peridot, Lapis and Jasper then went to Pyropes room to find more data and to see if Peridot could help unlock the doors to Storage Room Twelve. Snow advised against it, but they weren't going to argue, not after the stunt Snow pulled. So Dori and Greg were the only ones left, alongside the Apophyllite to protect them.

"I also figured out with Apophyllite on how we can save the others. I know conventionally that you need a strong light to push the infection out of the gems. However, due the gems being stuck inside the room, there's no real way we can do it. However, thanks to your Aura, we're able to see the gems here without needing to touch their gems physically. I need a much stronger light, say a Diamonds, to create the rifts into their gems this way to pull them out. If we're successful...."

Connie couldn't help about the poor souls stuck with Lilith however. Snow noticed her haunted look and her head in her hands.

"Connie, what you saw...I think you know that wasn't real. You really hope that logic wins out...but Lilith...by extension her Lillim, can create strong illusions that feed real. Its not just the image but every other sense being struck at once. She makes it seem...incredibly potent."

Connie blinked, her own mind vacant with any sensibility.

"Is that...how it was for you?" She blurted out as an automatic response.

Snow looked to her right and had her eyes half lidded.

"Kind of. Sensors in overdrive in retaliation to the falsehoods imposed made it incredibly hard to defend against." Snow replied.

Which could include why the...mysterious being was reacting the way they did.

"But if that really was Lilith and if she did mention TM Rating Ten, then whom ever they have been toying with has been going through an intense fight....they must have tremendous will power."

If seeing something akin to a corpse was only the start, Connie did not want to see the rest. Snow looked at her with a stern expression.

"But Connie, we too must have to be tough. You see the storm and fear the lightning."

More literal than one would anticipate. But Connie did want to know one thing.

"Snow, you talk about my Aura like it's always been there. You saw me becoming like this...didn't you?" She questioned.

Snow blinked twice. Connie debated on whether or not she let them know she had eavesdropped on hers and Pearls conversation back at the house.

"I know both you and Pearl talked about me the other night. Saying on how Steven and I fusing has had an effect on me. Why didn't you say anything back then?"

The white gem's eyes widened with surprise, as she could barely open her mouth to speak. Her face blushed blue as she looked away.

"Your mutations weren't critical. I didn't anticipate any of this...you becoming a half gem. I blame only myself for being the catalyst. I blame myself for losing Steven...I blame myself...for all of this..." She cried, as tears began to roll down her cheeks. It was clear that Snow still carried all the guilt and shame and had fallen into the trap of melancholy again.

"But...I want to move forward still. I should not fear the lightning in the storm. I am the one carrying the thunder after all."

How did Snow get so good at metaphors anyway?

"Then I am the Lightning to your Thunder then?" Connie joked.

Snow grinned.

"In a way. I'd say you're more the sunshine to Steven's rain, as rainbows you can create are beautiful to behold."

A fusion metaphor. That's a new one.

"I'd say I'm the rain to Steven's sunshine." Connie corrected.

Snow's grin got even wider.

"I'm not surprised. I'd heard of the phrase, Light of your life, but I'm certain that's a love thing." She called out.

Connie blushed furiously. Old thoughts surprised her mind again.

"Uhh...yeah it is." She stated. Not this again. She felt Snow's hand caressing her cheek again, like a mother would. Stevonnie was indeed a rainbow either way, a beautiful, shining icon of beauty and awe. Opening the door to them was the most wonderful moment they stumbled into.

"I think from observation alone, that holding onto those positive feelings will allow your powers to bloom. Records indicated, as well as information from Pearl, indicated that Steven's abilities were often triggered from his emotions. Suffice to say, that may work for you too."

In a way, this brief moment away from the chaos made Connie feel...comfortable and more at ease with Snow. More so than she had ever realized previously. Snow made mistakes like anyone else and mistakes weren't always human based. It was simply how an individual evolves. It's was as simple as what being alive felt like.

"I certainly hope so." Connie stated.

"I've never even done something like this before. I wouldn't even know how to do it."

They both stood up, then looked upon Amethyst's slate. Snow did a few clicks to check the auras.

"We both need to do something soon. But don't try too hard that you'll strain yourself from overdoing it." Snow warned her.

"If it really is emotion based, you need to feel the power flow through yourself as happy feelings surround you."

She was right. She can't force herself to the brink of her not being able to use her powers in the first place. She took a deep breath. She honestly didn't even know what she was doing, but if stories and tropes helped her, is that simple hand gestures and affirming stances were half the effort. She added another notch to the things she took from Steven for granted. She raised her right arm and pointed it forward.

Snow spoke of catalysts. Steven could be considered one. A door way to an unknown world that opened her eyes to fantastic things. Terrifying things. Beautiful things. A girl with no friends to a girl with extraordinary powers. How would her life be if the two had never met? No...Connie...don't dwell on the negatives. Negative equals no power. Positive. Positive only. Think Connie...think think think.

The dance? The dance with Steven and the other Crystal Gems? The fact he imagined her in a gorgeous turquoise gown? The look on his face warmed her. His laugh caused bubbles in her throat, forcing her to giggle them away. She then felt something grab her left hand....warm and inviting. She looked to see Pink Steven, as his gem glowed from under his shirt. Connie felt hers pulsating like a second heartbeat. Whispers entered her mind again. Unheard words of encouragement. She closed her eyes again, then heard his footsteps as he let go of her hand, then felt something against her back. Arms wrapped around her torso, which to then she yelped as he suddenly hugged her from behind. Connie swallowed as she felt the paradox of nerves fighting for and against her in a flurry of flames.

She had the temptation to fuse so badly, that to even hold his power as Stevonnie was what her heart really wanted. But she didn't want to. Now wasn't the time. Instead, he rested his right hand against her arm. She felt a small jolt run through her in a split second to which a cut off gasp escaped her throat. Her anxiety threatened to give way as Steven had his left hand gripped over her gut due to how uncomfortable it made her feel. Her breathing intensified as she felt the second jolt. The anxiety brewed in her stomach as butterflies ran rampant. It wasn't long until she realized what was he was doing. Her light blue aura enveloped her as more memories returned to her, during their first hunt for a gem monster together. Then their fight against Jasper...then the dance on Homeworld.

Steven, we're going to be okay. I'm here. Look at me, we'll get through this. Together.

Seeing both halves fuse back together after the incident with White Diamond...he laughed again.

Another jolt, another gasp. Her Aura got stronger.

Suddenly she found herself laughing too.

She opened her eyes to see the Aura that surrounded her. She let it run through her body to the ends of her finger tips as she charged a combined blast with hers and Pink Stevens which curled around one another, cracking open a light into Amethyst's Slate. She didn't realize that Pink Steven was still standing next to her this entire time, still holding her left hand and lending out his right with his own Aura.

"Amazing." Snow said in awe.

"Also amazing that Pink Steven helped us out too but still...that's incredible."

Connie blushed. If only she saw what Connie saw. She honestly didn't feel that bad afterwards, though what pertained as having strong powerful, if not painfully...unusual emotions in that space of time...vexed her.

"Oh thank you. So...how do we do this?" Connie said, wanting to get out of that awkward line of thought already.

Snow nodded.

"I've had experience of pulling out gems from the brink of infection. Stand here and try to use your abilities to create rifts for the other two. I'll get Amethyst out." She said.

It was in agreement, as Snow stood before the crack, then jumped inside.

"Good Luck." Connie whispered.

 

Chapter Text

Connie would only have to do it twice more. She figured the more she practiced, the easier it would be, just like how Steven developed the use of his shield. Though Connie didn't have a gem weapon that she could summon (as opposed to the one Bismuth made for her) for now that what ever this unknown Aura was, she could utilize it for good.

She stared at Pink Steven, who continued to stare into the abyssal storm. It was only then she noted how long he'd been away from his human half. Connie didn't want to think about it, but she hoped he was okay, where ever they had him stored. She cared for both of the Stevens dearly. Even if this one had questionable ideas from time to time, she eventually accepted his strangeness for the better. Steven himself could be a goofball but that's part of what made him so lovable.

But the world could still be the cruelest ruler to the nicest person.

"You were born into this." Connie noted to him.

"There was no choice. But you make the best of who you are and who you want to be. I want to be the best of who I am too. I wonder, if you'll take comfort of not being alone anymore. Or even if you'll look at me in the same way you do now."

She didn't care that he didn't respond to her. She would appreciate it if he listened, if at all.

"You want everyone to be the best of who they are, no matter their circumstance. That's the Steven Universe I know."

She approached Pearl's Slate next, to the right of Amethyst. Hers was the next required. She took Steven with her as they stood in front of it. She held fond memories of Pearl and their training together. 

Connie owed a lot to her at honing her sword play. The desire to be like a knight in her stories and the opportunities to become more was what she stood for. To be a better Connie Maheswaran. 

Refocusing herself, she channeled her happy memories of Pearl into herself as took a deep breath. Pink Steven remained stoic, but still aided Connie into projecting their Aura's to create the Rift for her.

Next was Garnet. Steven always looked up to Garnet for her strength and Connie could see why. Being a fusion herself, she was indeed Stevonnie's number one fan. Her support for Stevonnie as well as Steven and Connie themselves was incredibly crucial and helped sort out their problems in ways Connie could understand.

"I owe a lot to the Crystal Gems for letting me into their crazy, magical filled lives." Connie said as she raised her hand to the Slate.

"Letting me become magical too...a miracle on its own."

Other than the magical sciences that allowed to be, more so than a miracle. 

But there could be logic in miracles too.

Contriving circumstances that happened to be in the right place and the right time with the right fit and the right mind.

It's the same as luck really.

Again, the pulses of their Auras opened a rift for Garnet as well, though tiring as it was, it did become easier for Connie to master and strengthen. The cracks interlinked with one another and remained stabled, so all they could do now, was wait.


 

Though it wasn't long until she heard the voices of Peridot, Lapis and Jasper respectively. Though going from their constant shouting, it was clear to see that they were getting along so well.
They must have made it to where Snow was previously; the ever forbidden Storage Room Twelve. They weren't as slates like the others. They stood opposite in front of the others. Jasper in front of Amethyst, Peridot in front of Pearl and Lapis in front of Garnets. 

Connie listened in on their chatter.

"I can't believe her. She pulls that stunt and expects us to do the dirty work?" Jasper chastised.

"If anything we have it easier." Said Peridot.

"I'd rather deal with the problems I'm familiar with, than parade in someones head all day long."

They were busy chatting about Snow. Peridot was keen on scrounging for more data. If anyone was good at hunting things down, it was her.

"She said the others are just in this room, but...I'm feeling awfully cold by just standing here." Lapis commented.

The last thing Connie wanted was for them to risk their lives. But they were far more capable than she was.

"Ugh. I still need Amethyst's help with our...thingy."

Thingy?

"Did you even read the book?" Lapis questioned.

"Briefly." Peridot replied.

"I had plans to study its contents with our favourite Recon Gem. I'll admit that human emotions still escape me."

Lapis rolled her eyes.

"Not always human, remember?" The blue gem called out.

Connie began to feel bad about eavesdropping. 

"Greg said that humans can feel the same way we do. They just like to make it more complex that it really seems."

Human emotions were indeed...varied in expression. But using flowery words for the same meaning didn't seem all bad. 

"What are you two blabbering about?" Jasper called out as she crossed her arms.

You had to admit their vagueness and what kind of point the pair were trying to get across.

"Lapis has been reading too many human philosophy books...dangerous to ones health ya know." Peridot pointed out.

Humanity has always been the center-point of many stories.

Connie looked around, trying to find the source of the whispers, feminine and slightly husky. It had to be Lilith again.

"I don't care about that. I just want this door open." Jasper demanded.

The truth is, humanity is just as infectious as any disease. It's its own curse unto others...forcing their views on other species...inflicting its morals and prejudices. Forces others to see their way.

"I'm working it on...sheesh. Why don't you try cracking encryption yourself? I'm sure you'll have a swell time." Peridot scolded.

They like to mark their territory like filthy degenerates. They think themselves as pioneers. Gems are just the same.

"Ehh that's what you pebbleheads are for." Said Jasper.

 Then they dig too deep; their minds unable retain the knowledge in a nonsensical way. That's what makes your minds fragile...

"Shhh I found something. I got root access to the doors mainframe, shouldn't take long for the auto-lock to shut down. It'll give me time to see whats in there...besides the others of course." Peridot continued.

I'm sure you've heard of Pandora's box? Hope Diamond?

The young girl gasped, freezing in place as she looked at Pink Steven. The lotus flowers that once fell, turned into dark roses as the water returned as black as oils that surrounded her their feet.

"Lesse here we...wait...yes, we know that Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl are...here...but something else is in there..." The green gem said.

Connie looked to see the glowing rifts behind her glow brighter. She then heard banging noises from where the others were. They weren't all too loud and they repeated themselves in even patterns.

"I can hear them!" Lapis called out in revelation.

"Peridot, open the door, then shut it tight."

If humans were a curse, then gem kind is a parasite. Complete with the Lillim, which allows them to function as one entity....it will only be with the singularity...which starts with him...

Peridot then started to cry and mutter words under her breath. Deeper dread was felt through out like a waterfall.

"Stars....No...no, no, no, no....that's that's impossible..." She murmured, her hands hovering over the keypad and shaking violently from shock. 

"PERIDOT!" Lapis yelled in desperation. But the Green Gem struggled to maintain her composure, seeing something she obviously didn't want to see.

To force all to be the same...to force all to think the same. To force all to work the same.

The slates containing the gems shattered, as Peridot finally had the nerve to force the doors open. Screeches almost deafening Connie, as she could see Snow with the Crystal Gems, disheveled and weeping jumping out as Peridot quickly closed the door. Connie was still on her own as she could see them all surrounding her and Pink Steven before the entrance.

"What happened? Did you see Black Diamond?" Asked Lapis.

Connie could already feel the trepidation in her heart. Seeing the gems like this...Peridot reached out to the three with equal amounts of tears in her eyes as he approached them as Snow pulled them all into a group hug. She wished to give her own embrace. But, what did they see that made them be this way? She had to know.

"I know who it is..." Peridot whimpered as she fell to her knees in considerable and heavy distress.

"It's Steven in there, combined with the Black Diamond gem, isn't it?"

A new beginning. A new progenitor. The Universe of Love becomes the Cosmos of Despair. Irony has never been tastier.

Hope's Realm then started to rain as Connie fell to her knees. She felt Pink Steven's hand on her shoulder, as a door of onyx in the shape of the temple door appeared where the gems slates used to be. She looked at her fingers that had become stained with the disgusting sludge like water beneath her. Never had she felt the heaviest of all feelings before, threatening to drown her as anxiety and fear clogged her throat.

But out came the tiniest whisper.

No...

 

Chapter Text

SCRIPT APPLICATION ACTIVATED 

Apophyllite Comm Logs, accessing Southeastern Section Channels. Comm line connected on embedded encrypted network. SCRIPT BITPAK files found. MD-LJ user found. 8XM-CG-A user found. Loading PROJECTION SIM. User 8XM-CG-A data retrieved from Observational Recon Journals. Last user: Milky Quartz; Facet-1MKZ Cut-7LT. SCRIPT edit mode on.

Name: Amethyst: Facet-5 Cut 8XM

Gem type: Quartz

Gem superior: Uncatalogued (Previously registered under Pink Diamond; deleted prior to Gem War)

Current Status: Crystal Gem

Observed Fusions:: Opal, Sugilite, Alexandrite, Smoky Quartz, Obsidian 1.0 and Obsidian 2.0

Notes: A Quartz soldier constructed for Pink Diamond. Classified a defective, found by Rose Quartz after the war and taken into the Crystal Gems faction ranks.

New Analysis Contributor: MD-LJ


MD-LJ HAS ENTERED SIM CHAT

8XM-CG-A HAS ENTERED SIM CHAT

Let us draw out your history. Prone to being destablized? You're not the strongest gem. But you have your own skills and strengths.

You wear the Curse of Humanity on your sleeves.

You bring your 'Down to Earth' attitude

But you bring your brashness

And your inability to not to be yourself.

Then your lack of confidence

Then you....

 

A worthless Quartz at face value.

But there is so much more, deep down...hidden potential.

Let's go Amethyst.

Steven's here with me.

He's calling for you.

 

SU-PD HAS ENTERED SIM CHAT

AMETHYST DON'T DO IT!

 

Words are hidden.

Unsaid. He needs you Amethyst. He cares for you deeply.

 

GET OUT AMETHYST DON'T FALL FOR IT

 

He just doesn't understand it. We can make you strong. Let's get those who ever doubted you. I can make you like Jasper? Wouldn't that be nice?

Wouldn't that be nice Amethyst?

To be strong like you were meant to be?

No longer will you be overshadowed.

The others will see this and bow to you.

See them Amethyst.

See Garnet...see Pearl...

See you.

 

See the you never heard of before.

 

PLEASE AMETHYST DON'T FALL FOR IT.

SHE'S LYING

GET OUT OF HERE

GET OUT

FIND AAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

 


 

 

"Steven?"

Amethyst could only see the nothingness that surrounded her as she sat there on the seat she somehow found herself in. She looked up at the blinding spotlight above her. The world became clearer, though not by a lot. It was like she was underwater, but the water was a deep violet. Where was she?

A shot of pain went down her gemstone, a lot worse than when she had cracked it that one time, and in response she fell off the chair in agony and hissed through her teeth. She clung to it and hoped by any means that the pain would stop. With undue mercy, it did eventually fade after a minute, with the tiny facet of relief, until she saw Steven standing there. She smiled for the moment as she laid on the ground on her stomach. It was pulled away after seeing his angered face. His eyes were closed, like he was about to show her something. She got up to go and wrap her arms around his body and give him the tightest of hugs, until to her surprise; she was blocked by Rose Quartz who popped out from a cloud of black smoke. But this Rose...she had onyx hair and she had her weapon and shield drawn that were in equal colour. Not unlike the colour drained Diamonds on White Diamonds mecha. Dread stirred lightly at first, churning her from within.

"Steven, what's going on?" Amethyst cried out as her voice cracked, uncertain of what she was even seeing.

This had to be the Lillims doing...no not again. How could...

"You need to go Amethyst." Said Rose, but that wasn't her voice on her lips. It was Stevens, that echoed repeatedly. This level of weirdness did not sit well with her. At all.

"You can't stay here."

Amethyst shook her head as she tried to go around the Rose figure, except Rose would refuse to let her through by moving as she moved, raising her arms. No matter how hard Amethyst tried, Rose would not let her pass.

"I'm so sorry...I let this happen." Steven admitted with a tone that almost broke Amethyst.

She was in tears by this point...then she saw images of Smoky Quartz surround them like a floating mural of screens. Scenes that were supposed to happy, but they made her sad.

"I was glad to give you Smoky. Smokys great."

More images of them hanging out and being best buds transitioned on the screens themselves. It took Amethyst a moment of reflection and observation to realize what was going on. She smacked herself for not realizing it sooner. The very issue Snow tried so hard to get into their heads was right in front of her. Despair became her leader, commanding authority with her emotions. Going on how smart she thought she was with knowing how she can see others, she felt like she was just dumb in not seeing the message earlier.

"Steven..." Amethyst cried out weakly.

"You've been infected...haven't you..."

Silence. The Rose figure stared at her sadly. Amethyst fell to her knees. How in the world did this even happen? Anger was ready to go on command as distress was first and fear treading slightly behind.

"I'm sorry we weren't there for you...but we can fix it, I know we can...you can't give up just yet." 

The Rose figure poofed away in the smoke, revealing Steven who just stood there with his arms by his side. Tears fell down his face as Amethyst went up to hug him, until he raised his palm at her to stop.

"Steven?"

It wasn't until he opened his eyes, that she realized she was right. His eyes were jet black, save for the white diamond shaped pupils, striking despair in her core and taking the lead.

"Get the others...get out of this awful place and tell them I'm sorry." He said with synchronizing sorrow; his voice layered with higher and lower pitched tones.

Amethyst shook her head as anger overtook heartache. He was a Crystal Gem. He was their family...he was theirs. No way, shape or form, that would she would allow for this to continue and for anyone else to take him from them again. Not again.

"NO! I WON'T LEAVE YOU HERE!" She roared. She sprinted, with the intense intent to hug him, before she was flung backwards by his strange, splintered Aura.

She got back up again, but froze in fear as she noted his immense and terrifying glare. Another projection appeared behind him...a shadowy form like none other...much larger than Rose was.

It was Pink Diamond.

No...this one was...different. She had rougher, longer hair.....and the coloured drained like Rose's was and her eyes were the same as Stevens. Her grin was unsettling as well with razor sharp teeth that looked like they had the power to easily crush gems into the tiniest shards. Steven raised his hand again, but then Pink Diamonds hand rose up as well, as if preparing to attack. Then dozens of Rose Quartzes popped up as well, this time in their uniform. All of them resumed the same stance as Steven and all had the same glare as he. The atmosphere became more erratic as the rotating, floating screens vanished and the realm they came in changed to black with chaotic scribbling all over the place, as if it was a child's drawing gone erratic.

"You can fight this Steven. You don't have to do this..." Amethyst pleaded. She couldn't believe he was doing this. This couldn't be Steven, it just couldn't be. It was impossible.

Us worse Gems stick together right?

Spheres of Darkness aimed themselves at Amethyst, who could barely move at all.. no...she wasn't going to fall apart on him. She went into a spin dash as she dodged all the blasts. She skidded to a halt, then realized that the Pink Diamond figure had yet to fire her gigantic sphere. Amethyst was too stunned to get herself going again and it was too late to step away from the blast....

until...

SM-2011-Q HAS ENTERED SIM CHAT

A figure of white emerged to defend her. Light Blue cloak, white hair...odd butterfly wings... She had her hand raised as she blocked Pink Diamonds attack.

"Amethyst, we need to you out of here and into the Apophyllite Sphere." The deep, feminine voice called out.

"Snow!" Amethyst called out.

"What about Steven?"

She heard Snow crack her own neck, the sense of frustration with urgency.

"Amethyst, close your eyes!" 

She did so, but...

 

PROJECTION SIM ENDED.

Chapter Text

SCRIPT APPLICATION ACTIVATED 

Apophyllite Comm Logs, accessing Southeastern Section Channels. Comm line connected on embedded encrypted network. SCRIPT BITPAK files found. MD-LJ user found. AAA-H5-CG-P user found. Loading PROJECTION SIM. User AAA-H5-CG-P data retrieved from Observational Recon Journals. Last user: Milky Quartz; Facet-1MKZ Cut-7LT. SCRIPT edit mode on.

Name: Pearl (DATA OMITTED)

Gem type: Pearl (Custom made)

Gem superior: Pink Diamond. (Rose Quartz)

Current Status: Crystal Gem

Observed Fusions: Rainbow Quartz, Opal, Sardonyx, Alexandrite, Obsidian 1.0, Rainbow Quartz 2.0. Obsidian 2.0.

Notes: Second Pearl of Pink Diamond. Presumed missing after Pink Diamonds (false) shattering. Had become a renegade in the war against Homeworld, discovered to be a co-conspirator.

New Analysis Contributor: MD-LJ


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The second Pearl made for Pink Diamond, after the original Pink Pearl was too damaged to function properly.

A Pearl of grace and poise...one who would be the game changer in everything Pink Diamond craved.

Designed for to make one happy.

Tell me Pearl...

Did you succeed?

Did you make Pink happy in the end?

A deep love for your Diamond. A love too deep. Maybe defective? Maybe the grand design?

You know what?

Let's make a painting.

A splash of blue, a splash of yellow, a splash of pink. To surround the blank white spaces on this gigantic canvas.

It's like a cloud in the void. You try and get closer, the cloud disappears. 

An illusion of tangibility.

Yes let's put the blue on first, on the top, to represent the sky.

I love art.

I could always paint the clouds on afterwards.

But you see.

They won't be the original clouds...the ones that were never painted there. You can't see the white on the canvas anymore. Only the paint covers it now.

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PEARL GET OUT

 

You could always get a new canvas I suppose. But it won't be the same. Tear this one apart, start again. Start with a pink canvas. 

Let's put some green on there...green's always nice.

Calming, like blue...like the ocean.

I hated painting in humans though, I mean, the colour for them is always hard to mix. What do I use again?

PLEASE LEAVE NOW

Strokes of precision leave form. Let's see who we can make now... 

I really like the design of Rainbow Quartz 2.0. He's got such personality to him. Much better than the dull original. I mean, Rose Quartz was beautiful, but Pink Diamond was much more creative.
To identify ones self as a lesser gem definitely threw them off. I don't think I need to go on.

I actually sincerely believe you're the creative one Pearl. You have an amazing imagination. To match your Diamonds. Though I feel the core reason why she never loved you back was because your love was designed. No genuine feeling. Art is created. Love is formed naturally. So I've been told.

 

PLEASE.

 

But you know what is the most beautiful? That Curse of Humanity. It's more of a blessing. To me.


 

Pearl opened her eyes to see the blank world before her as she had been sitting down the entire time. She saw Steven before her, with his eyes closed and his arms by his sides.

"Steven?" She muttered. She had her hand to her mouth; with the constant idea in her mind on how this wasn't right. Her gem then started to cause her pain as she fell to the floor, holding her forehead and crying it out, wanting it to end, erasing all other senses and desires.

The world was the surrounded in four rows of gigantic Pink Diamond shapes that floated around them like a dancing pattern in this alternate realm. The pain had then stopped with her thought trails retracing their steps as Pearl got up to see Steven with his back to her. This was very wrong. Black liquid started to pour in from above the circles of Pink Diamonds, they then trickled down like small waterfalls onto the ground, which trailed towards Steven and circled around in a clockwise fashion, until he stood on a giant circle of it. This was absolutely horrifying to witness.

"I'm sorry Pearl." He answered, voice full of sorrow. His voice didn't seem like his...or it was and it echoed in several, varying tones, like others were speaking in the same chorus.

It was then a colourless Rose Quartz emerged from the liquid itself, donning her classic dress but with no hint of pink in it.

She stared at Pearl for the longest moment, who had found herself covering her mouth with both hands again. There was no need as she shook her head, then she scrunched her hands.

"I took everything from you...and now look what's happened." Rose said in Steven's voice.

Pearl gasped. This wasn't Steven. This couldn't be Steven. It was impossible.

"Steven you don't know what you're talking about." She called out.

"This isn't you."

A hidden blast coming from Steven knocked Pearl over to her knees again, then she noticed each of the Pink Diamonds had started to crack into two. One by one...as their shards remained still in the air. She then looked at Rose, who then turned into Pink Diamond...but again...colourless. She got to her knees to meet up with Pearl. She leaned over to cradle Pearls chin in her hand that made Pearl incredibly anxious and filled with mixed emotions.

"Leave Pearl...please." She whispered, her voiced mixed in with Steven's.

Pearl pulled herself back and pulled out her spear, her face filled with anger and refusal to believe in what was going on.

"Who are you and what have you done with Steven?" Pearl cried out as she clung onto her spear tightly. She had her stance wide and she was prepared to lunge.

Pink Diamond got up and stood back as the shards of the Pink Diamonds broke into tiny pieces, turning them into replicas of Rose's old sword. They promptly fell down and dug themselves in deep into the ground like sharp rain drops, one by one. Pink Diamond herself rested her hands on her chest as she cried out in pain, before bursting into a black liquid that sprayed everywhere, disturbing Pearl to highest degree . Shaking herself off the of the shock, Pearl withdrew her weapon and ran up to Steven, rested her hands on his shoulders, went down on one knee and attempted to get through to him. Her core burned with an intensity that threatened to tear her apart with the darkest, distressing feelings that spread to cleaving the anxiety down her throat.

"Steven please tell me what's going on? Whats wrong with you?" She pleaded as tears fell down her face.

His head fell as he grabbed his shirt. Pearl jumped back as she could see his gem as pure black stone. His face remained without his usual smile...void of anything recognizable of him. This was not Steven, she was sure. No...he was a dark, insulting mimicry. That was his antithesis. This was his disease talking, showing the outcomes of Snow's worst fears come to bite them. Hard. Now they were paying for it...with the one they'd sworn to defend.

"Steven..." She wept as she leaned her forehead against his. She failed. She failed to protect him.

"I am so sorry..."

"I need you to leave..." He muttered to her.

"I'll try and repress as much as the Lillim down here as I can. There's a fight going on right now and it'll hurt less if you can help the others get out too."

He opened his eyes, as hers widened at seeing those spheres of darkness with the white diamond shaped pupils. How he was managing this was beyond Pearls understanding. He wasn't. This couldn't be in his control. Such a decrepit way of fighting a battle you both did and didn't know you were losing. How much was gone and replaced? How much was copied and merged with what one would believe to be true?

"I-i....I don't want to leave you alone here." Pearl cried, as she struggled to maintain her composure.

He then grabbed her hands and clasped them in his own. His face turned serious as he looked in her straight in the eyes, like spikes that speared right through her. She'd never felt this much extremity from him before. He was her son indeed.

"By my order...my first and last order as a Diamo-" He said, until the shocking truth pinged her, which then Pearl forced her hands away as she stood back.

"NO! I cannot let you do that to me again!" She yelled as her words echoed across the realm, until she realized what she said that forced her to refrain.

"Pearl..." He muttered as he took a step towards her, his foot making ripples on the liquid.

Pearl shook her head repeatedly with every moment he edged closer to her, she stood back. 

"Pearl...I've been infected. The only way I can save you is if you get out of here. I'm sure you'll find a way to defeat the Lillim. For now, I'll keep on fighting. The force she has on me is strong and I can't keep this up any longer. Please promise me you'll protect Connie."

How...why....he's a Diamond! He couldn't have been infected that easily. Unless his human side made him weaker...that wretched curse of humanity. But then Pearl recalled the gem in Stevonnie. It wasn't the full fusion. She hadn't yet the heart to tell him what was going on with Connie. But now wasn't the time. The swords that formed from the fallen shards melted into a pink liquid that surrounded the dark circle around Steven. Visions of Rainbow Quartz 2.0 came to light, as well as the fun times Pearl and Steven had together as they appeared on the surface of the rose water.

"Rainbow was fun. I'm glad I was able to fuse with you, even if it took us a while to that point.... and we only fused for a short snippet. You work so hard."

Pearl refused to accept it. She couldn't let him go. She needed to support him. She was technically his Pearl. Only his. She wasn't going to lose her Diamond again....no...he was her Steven. 

She noticed his gem glowing as he fell over in pain as he was left clinging on to his stomach. The black liquid overtook the pink at an extremely fast rate. His cries of agony almost tore Pearl apart.

"PEARL GET OUT!" He cried, his voice layered with an unknown but loud frequency.

"NO STEVEN I WON'T!" Pearl replied as she ran over to him, as the world around them began to shatter with the walls of the realm already starting to fall apart, revealing the dark void behind them. The room shook violently as bits of debris fell everywhere. He grabbed her hands in a swift, sudden movement as he glared at her.

"WHY WON'T YOU LET ME TO DO THIS FOR YOU PEARL?" He screeched.

Another gasp escaped her, as she failed to respond. She didn't even notice the large part of broken debris fall next to her, mere inches from her body.

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A light blinded her vision as a hand came out of it and pulled her into it.

"STEVEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN!"

A cry that went into the void left unheard.

PROJECTION SIM ENDED.

 

Chapter Text

SCRIPT APPLICATION ACTIVATED 

Apophyllite Comm Logs, accessing Southeastern Section Channels. Comm line connected on embedded encrypted network. SCRIPT BITPAK files found. MD-LJ user found. F2-RS-G user found. Loading PROJECTION SIM. User F2-RS-G data retrieved from Observational Recon Journals. Last user: Milky Quartz; Facet-1MKZ Cut-7LT. SCRIPT edit mode on.

Profile: Garnet (unregistered Homeworld codes) 

Gem type:  Fusion (Components: One Ruby, One Sapphire)

Previous affiliation: Blue Diamond.

Current Status: Crystal Gems (de facto leader)

Observed Fusions: Sugilite, Alexandrite, Sardonyx, Sunstone, Obsidian 1.0 and 2.0

Notes: Known Permafusion. Took lead of the Crystal Gems once Rebellion Leader Rose Quartz was considered inactive.

New Analysis Contributor: MD-LJ


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Fusions fascinate me to no end.

I'e seen such love before

A beautiful young girl and a beautiful young boy

A girl of Pink and a boy of blue.

The girl was the most beautiful yet most vicious

The boy was the one who always moved forward

 

And yet, they changed fate for each other as they fused together, becoming the most powerful being in existence.

 

See their wind, their fury, their fire deep in their hearts.

What brought them together? Their love.

Love you'd think would be considered their greatest weakness and yet, that's what made them strong. 

 

I'd envy that, I'd envy that if love didn't become our consequence born of neglect and regrets. Regrets over the amount of fate that could have been changed if you done it sooner.

See them on that sunset swallowed beach. So many beautiful colours too. Each star came into existence in the sky, like they were opening doorways. Doors to where you ask? Different destinations...different conclusions.

In the end it didn't matter. She died and he was left in despair.


 

The realm Garnet was left in was covered in gradient shades of blue and red that rotated around her. She looked at her hands as she leaned over on the blue fold out chair she was sitting on. They weren't in the stage to defuse, although it did make her equally confused as she saw Ruby and Sapphire standing there, left and right of her respectively, apart as spotlights enveloped them.

"There's a reason why we couldn't see beyond the darkness." Said Sapphire.

The realm changed that into the beach they knew at sunset as the shades of blue and red blended to create beautiful hues of violet, with Garnet's eyes honing in on the waves.

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"The Darkness was too strong to begin with." Said Ruby, who pointed towards Steven who stood there, ever still. Many awful feelings flowed through Garnet and left in a mixed twister shown by the cyclones that formed in the distance in the oceans before them.

Steven stood there as he looked at Garnet, who was taken aback by his black, diamond eyes.

"Don't blame yourself." He said, his voice calm but holding a type of magic echo to them.

Different versions of many other Sapphires popped in one by one as they lined up in a row, streaming to her right. The same happened to Ruby, as numerous Rubies popped onto her left and into the nearest horizon.

"There's nothing you could have done."

No. That's a lie. Garnet could have tried harder. It was her fault that she forced the split up. Her powers were considered useless if she couldn't see it coming.

"It was right there...in front of me." She said, her voice and in sync with the voices the Rubies and the Sapphires that spoke at the same time.

Hydrangea petals fell from above. It was like the storm, that day. He was on the roof and she had hoped they would be closer. Rain would always feel bittersweet.

"I underestimated the Lillims power. It blinded me. I wasn't strong enough."

Steven approached her as he grabbed both of her hands as he looked up at her. Those eyes...she didn't care that they weren't his. She could tell it was him. No matter what form he'd take, she'd know who Steven was, without a doubt.

"Again, that isn't your fault." He stated. He sounded just like his mother.

"Remember our conversation. You see the future you want to happen and you make it happen. So tell me. What do you want to happen now Garnet?"

She froze in place as she noticed all the Rubies and Sapphires looking at her...then at the raging storm that got closer to the shore. Judgement on that was yet to pass, but if she could choose.

"I want to save you." She answered. A way of words, steadfast and true.

She felt Steven inch closer as he grasped her hands tighter as he smiled.

"I know you do." Steven replied.

"Amethyst and Pearl had a hard time understanding that there was nothing they could do. This is my responsibility. While I won't give up, it's my job to save you right now."

Garnet tried her best to not cry. So much that hurt him and so much she couldn't see. But he was right. They had to make the future they wanted. So she was prepared to listen to him. Like his mother used to. Memories of her demise haunted her and the others. She did not want the same fate for her son. He needed to come back. He was their voice, he was their heart. He was their family.

"It hurts too much." She commented.

"Please come back to us. That's the future I want."

Steven nodded. She had to trust that he could make the right decisions. The shadows had to pass. They had to.

"I'll try." He said.

"Now. You need to leave. Sunstone was super fun, by the way."

The petals stopped falling as the storm calmed down. The Rubies and Sapphires faded into black smoke as Steven let Garnet go and slowly walked backwards into the ocean. They held eye contact as the ocean turned obsidian as chains and clasps shot out of the water to his wrists. Garnet stood there, in deeper turmoil, as Steven vanished into the water.

"I love you..." Garnet muttered.

I love you too Garnet...

A mighty crash of lightning signaled the storms sudden return. She scrunched her fists as she tried so hard not to fall apart. He was right. She was not going to let him fall to this cruel fate. 

Not if she could help it.

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Chapter Text

It should have been simple. They should have gone in, find Milky and get out. Not...this mess that they've all somehow created.

Connie couldn't stop staring at Pink Steven, even as the Slates burst apart, revealing an onyx door that had a design similar to the Temple Door, except the star only had three stones in it. They were horizontal to each other. The right most stone was light blue and had Connie's Diamond, the left most had Pink Diamonds and the middle had Black Diamonds.

The fact that they had Steven's humans side disturbed her the most. Pink Steven said nothing, as per the norm. Her imagination was filled with Steven being tortured constantly, causing her to cry. How could they let this happen? Why did they let this happen? The only answer lied behind that very door. 

Even as the storm raged on, Connie had to gather the courage to make a single decision. This was the very entrance to his psyche and that only she could make the choice to stand up to the darkness that overwhelmed him; to  make the daring fight to free him from the chaos, holding the power of a Diamond within her. The others may think otherwise, but the way that she understood matters was that it was that through the power that their gems gave, it would allow them to stand a chance against the forces unseen and unheard.

She felt absolutely horrible and anxiety clogged her throat. Feelings she had to cast aside for his sake because what he was experiencing had to be a million times worse. She helped free the other gems, even as distraught as they were, this was going to be Connie's mission alone. Looking at Pink Steven who stood beside her, there was a sense of his own desire or what warranted for desire in his alien trace of thought as desire, to re-fuse with his human counterpart. She helped him before, so she'll do it again.

"Don't worry Steven, I'm here." Connie called out in confidence as she wiped her tears away.

She took Pink Steven's hand as his and her gems on the door lit up. There was something significant about this experience that traversed Connie's mind. The atmosphere was tense yet calm as stood inches from the entrance. She had her left hand firmly grasped in Pink Stevens right hand of warmth and light, reminding her of what they had to fight for. She made the first and most important step inside, taking herself and Pink Steven into the stormy abyss.


Her feet hit the floorboards on first entry with the slight groans in response to her weight on the ground. Looking up, she could see the layout of Steven's home under a hue of faint red. It was unusually quiet; you couldn't even hear the subtle sounds of the waves outside. All Connie could hear was the uncanny sounds of her heartbeat. She took Pink Steven around to see if they could find himself, but noting the strange whispers in the process. Whispers of old arguments and disputes from ages past. Voices of Garnet, Amethyst, Pearl...the louder voices of Rose/Pink and Steven were above them, trying to calm them down. It became a cacophony of nonsense Connie couldn't decipher.

It is when they cannot balance themselves, standing at the foot of their being. They cannot reach safety and seclusion, even in a place of their own. The root of their soul is powerless.

Deep, sultry and firm. Venom. Lilith.

This was his home.  No...this was nothing but a mockery of the home she made for him. How dare she persuade him like this? A dredge of a dull emptiness that even made Connie herself feel hollow.

You can feel safe here too...like him. He's always welcome here. Where no one else can reach. 

Connie could see a single red dahlia flower on the bench nearby. She walked over to it, not recalling they had flowers like these. She then jumped at the sound of glass breaking behind, although when she turned, she could see Steven standing there as he looked down at broken shards at the ground. His entire body and clothes had lost colour with the chill in the air being more apparent. She could see his black diamond eyes in the reflection in the shards as they glared at her. Connie couldn't feel more nervous about this as she gripped Pink Steven's hand all the harder.  If this meant, what she thought it meant.

The discoloured Steven then slowly walked onto the shards themselves, cutting his feet as blood spread from beneath them. Connie didn't know what to think as he remained silent and his head remained down. Fearful, she tried to get away from the black blood as it crept closer to her. 

"I....I....tr-tried to help them." He said, his voice interchanging with Rose's.

"How can...I-I be safe...they...he...she...won't let me be at home-home."

This definitely was what Greg was warning them about. The figure that tried to be Steven or anyone that had been a part of the gem at some point. Otherwise known as Black Diamond.

"I need you to help me find Steven." Connie asked, despite how futile the request was.

It was then he looked up at Connie with the most depressed look on his face. Much like the time they were in the tower, almost surrendering himself to the disillusionment. 

"Steven...Steven....that's who I am-who he is...who we are." He replied.

"Who we're, we're supposed to be."

It was nothing more than confused carbon copy...or a light copy. The emptiness was filled with a singed rage.

The blood stopped spreading before Connie's feet, as she stood at the front of the house and he was closer to the temple entrance. She continued to look down, seeing the reflection in the blood a series of stars, but his reflection was coupled with Steven being chained down by his neck and wrists. She gasped.

"We're...we're home....but he isn't." He said, as he started to melt.

Connie covered her mouth as the horrific scene unfolded before her.

"I'm not here. I'm not safe."

The blood spread out further as it went up Connie's body. She looked at Pink Steven who tried to keep it off himself. She shook her head and ran down past Black Diamond and into the Temple Doors.


 Connie looked down at her stomach to see the muck had disappeared. When she looked up, she could see the sand and the adjacent ocean during an orange sunset. The sound of the waves were all she heard. Odd feelings trickled through her nerves as oddly enough, Pink Steven was the one to squeeze her hand. To feel that from his response to seeing this was a contrast.

Giggling echoed in the distance. Her giggling and Steven's laughing. It sounded so nice...but it gauged the more negative response from her core. Memories of them dancing and fusing into Stevonnie the first time came to mind. Orange tulips grew around them in quick haste, bursting open as decent sized white silhouettes of them danced around in sync with one another, as the petals fell down like time slowed rain. 

Her feelings went haywire but she kept in control through holding onto Pink Steven's stable grip. Though she then saw her mother and father sit on plastic chairs nearby, playing checkers, for what ever reason.

"Mom?" Connie voiced.

"Dad? What are both of you doing here?"

They ignored her...they didn't even acknowledge she was there. 

"I talked with Connie about...her adventures..." Said Priyanka.

Oh no...Connie stumbled into this conversation one night. She'd gone down to get a drink, then hid around the corner to eavesdrop as soon as her mother began to talk about what happened at the hospital.

"Oh? What of them?" Doug asked. 

They did make it incredible awkward from what she could recall. Why here? Why now though?

"I'll continue to worry about her hanging with that Steven boy. Magical journeys turn into teenager antics...I got her to promise me to tell us everything that goes on." Priyanka replied

"Actual magical journeys? I got that vibe from his guardians. Makes me wish I had magicians for parents."  Said Doug.

He wasn't serious, but it didn't stop her mother from glaring at him. They made everything about this, so sacred.

"I hate to admit that she was right. She is a growing girl. I just can't stop thinking the point where she'll have...needs." She said.

The odd book or two explained that to her already.

"And he'll have...his desires..."

Connie blushed the same way she did back then. Being beat red. Giant orange tulips burst around them, as more cut out forms of their dancing emerged from the waves, their forms spreading across in a straight line across the shore.

"So she's gonna tell you about that?" Doug asked, his eyes widened.

"Honey, our Connie is a smart girl. I have full confidence that she'll work through this carefully as we have taught her to. We just need to continue to support her."

Connie always suspected her dad would understand. He'd normally relax when her mother wasn't around.

"I know." Priyanka sighed. "I know Steven isn't a bad kid. I fear he'd be a bad influence that's all. All I can  really say is that he does care about Connie a great deal....and I can respect on the smallest margin that at least she's at least learning how to defend herself."

That much Connie was extremely thankful for. Multiple versions of her sword popped out of the ground, forming a circle around her parents like a fence.

"It's a scary world out there." Doug commented. "I can acknowledge there will be things out there we can't protect her from that she needs to learn herself. You and I both know this very well. It is only fair.."

She'd been trying to get that point across for years.

"Of....of course." Her mother stated. "I know...it makes her happy...I need to see her healthy...but I only really want to see her smile."

Those who wish to pervade our lives with what THEY think is in your best interest....they just don't know any better...

 The ocean turned dark quickly as chains popped out of the ground and clung them over her parents wrists and ankles. They cried Connie's name to help them as they were dragged in. Connie herself swallowed as she went to charge after them, only to be pulled back by Pink Steven. She could only watch until they kept crying out to her, only for their voices to be silenced as they were forced under. Tears ran down her face as she whimpered. It took her a moment of reflection to try and get the idea that it wasn't real... it felt real, however. Painfully real.

"No they don't." Connie said as she looked at the waves.

"But...they try anyway. Because they love you."

Pink Steven's grip tightened even more. Causing some concern on Connie's end.

"Everything alright?" She asked.

Urges are a combination of reactive stimuli and a natural occurrence. It's when you don't know what to do with these urges that it becomes problematic. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to control them?

Connie clasped her stomach, feeling as if knives were digging into her gut. Glancing downwards, she didn't realize her clothes changed into her blue dress and that black blood was running down her legs as a quickened pace. The pain of that outweighed the terrifying experience of seeing herself bleed like that. The high pitched giggles didn't help either. She didn't want this. She didn't need this. Not now, not yet...not in the face of a thousand mocking eyes and devilish laughs.

A time in a womans life, once dictated by the societal norms...still subjected to the woes of growing up. A step in the direction of the harsh realities that would come to pass.

This wasn't real. This definitely wasn't real. The desire to see through the lies was not strong enough to curb the illusion.

It distracted her from the realization that a shadow covered them both, as she looked up to see a huge tidal wave above her. Her next action was to embrace Pink Steven, to force the thoughts away.


 

Swallowed by the oceans, it became quiet again until the noises faded into the vibrating hums of high tech machinery. She opened her eyes, to see that she'd fallen into what appeared to be the interior of White Diamonds ship. Looking up, Connie gasped as she could see Steven chained to two poles that stretched out his hands and feet. The discolouration indicated that again, it had to be Black Diamond, though it looked like a statue of Yellow Diamond that stood above him, with her yellow gem the only thing in colour to make note of. Connie moved forward and with each step she took, yellow daisys magically appeared on both sides of her. They spread across the whole room, giving it a near shining yellow hue.  It confused Connie as to why Yellow was here, instead of White...

Pink Steven stared at him, though from his manner, Connie sensed the gems ire against him. Black Diamond constantly fizzled between Pink Diamond and Rose Quartzes forms alongside Steven's.

"Control...need control." They said.

Connie wasn't sure what to think, hearing the whispers again, though she could hear the voices of the other Diamonds as they argued. Pink Steven wrapped an arm around her waist, much to Connie's dismay. Black Diamond struggled against the chains, desperate to break out. Arms of different sizes and colour shot out from the statue's torso and began to wrap themselves around his body.

"They...want to control me, me...ME."

Whispers called out the names of Steven, Rose and Pink repeatedly as Pink Steven tightened his grip.

Steven, Steven, Steven, Steven Universe! Steven Quartz Universe, SteVAN, Schtu-ball, Rose! Rose Quartz! Pink! Pink Diamond! My Diamond! Starlight...

Words and names that kept repeating themselves often talked over each other. It almost drove Connie mad. It would drive Steven mad for sure.

"FREE ME, ME, ME." Black Diamond cried out.

The Yellow Diamond gem charged up with energy, sending bolts of electricity to Black Diamond, forcing him to give off that visceral scream again as Pink Steven covered her ears with both his hands. 

"You are not me." Pink Steven said out of the blue, shocking Connie. His voice was incredibly serene, deadpan and intense. And those tones were in an entire conflict of their own.

The two glared at one another. Despite cycling through the differing forms, each angered expression Black Diamond gave was exactly the same. 

The cluster of hands tightened their grip on it, causing it to screech and attempt to bust out of its confines. Connie could only feel sorry for it...she could not understand but she could feel its pain. Pink Steven was just outright antagonist. Knowing what his raw power could do, Connie had to ensure that his restraint too and wrapped her arm around his body too. 

"No I am not you. I am you. I am not. I am Steven. I am Black Diamond. I am Rose Quartz. I am Pink Diamond, I am Steven, I am Black Diamond, I am Rose Quartz, I am Pink Diamond..."

They transformed into other, unusual forms too.

"I am Greg Universe, I am Stevonnie, I am Smoky Quartz, I am Rainbow Quartz, I am Sunstone...."

Everything that was a part of Steven, including his own father. 

"I AM OBSIDIAN" He roared, becoming a monochrome version of the giant, multiarmed fusion.

Connie felt the terror run down her throat to her chest. Pink Steven raised his hand and beamed a flash of magenta light that blinded the monstrosity, who continued to scream in agony. It rocked the room as it rattled about. 

"IT HURTS, IT HURTS, IT HURTS PLEASE STOP."

The Yellow Diamond statue behind him broke apart, revealing an opening. Pink Steven grabbed Connie as Black Diamond flashed rampantly between forms. Connie herself felt the lunge as Pink Steven tried to dodge Black Diamonds flurry of arms, as they then jumped through the opening.


 

 It started off dark and enclosed within the walls of grey. It reminded Connie of the prison Steven and herself were stuck in on Homeworld. She rested her hand on her chest, trying to oust the pain of knowing how hard that was for him experience. She felt Pink Steven grasp her hand, willingly, much to her surprise. Though it shouldn't surprise her. If anything else, Pink Steven's actions were becoming considerably unpredictable at an increasing rate.

She found herself shaking still as she looked at her hand. She didn't understand much of what was going on but what ever it was, it was hammering down on her mental state hard. How much further to go and were they getting any closer to Steven?

Pink Steven made it clear (or as clear as it could be in accordance to his alien logic) that Black Diamond wasn't him. No matter how much he insisted it was. How regular Steven coped with these strange mental trips was beyond her. She couldn't imagine the nightmares he'd suffer in response to the amount of trauma that would inflict on him to be soft on him either, other than seeing what he buried within his pile of hidden guilt come back to haunt them as Stevonnie...stuff he'd only shake off on first glance and continue to keep it within himself, pretending like it wasn't an issue. Connie scrunched her fist and looked up.

The door was closed behind them, but Connie could still sit the light from the opening above them. Though the noises that came from there sounded like the outside, complete with bird chirping and other natural sounds. This was not Homeworld. Pink Steven jumped up again, causing Connie to yelp at the sudden movement as she was taken along for the ride, to the opening in the wall. Connie could see forests, with willows and all sort of trees. At least there wasn't any terrible sights to see. Yet.

They managed to fit through the opening and landed onto solid ground. Connie felt the cool blades of grass between her toes and saw white and green butterflies fluttering about, sparkling under the rays of sunshine that spilled through the leaves. A sense of calm washed over her, though she wanted to be prepared for any horrible nonsense that would come their way.

Pink roses dotted the thick, lush bushes, as Connie took Pink Steven through the forests. She felt her chest tighten as they approached the willow tree and listened to the branches in the soft, subtle breeze. The sound of chimes jingling alongside unusually gold bells that hung off the tree. She took Pink Steven beyond the foliage of the willow and was perplexed on the gigantic trunk of it. She noted the image of Steven's gem etched into the base that was at chest level. She put up her hand and pressed her hand against it. It lit up with growing lines of blue, pink and green that made root like patterns everywhere. A cluster of butterflies surrounded them both, causing them to elevate. Connie remained still as they took the two into the tree tops, then on to what must have been a base of the beach house, though it would be more appropriate to be called a tree house, if Connie could be honest.

It looked like the bottom half and with the lack of a roof and large walls left it fair game for the great willows branches to fall inside. Above the door however, the painting of Rose was replaced by a painting of Steven instead. She turned to see a single green table in the middle of the room with a pink book on top of it. Curious, she picked it up and looked into its contents. Each page had a different person in it. Humans, Gems, Steven himself.

"How I feel about others." Pink Steven mentioned.

"We should be close."

Connie blinked twice as she tried to get a grip of what he just said.

"If we're here, then we're not far from where we need to be."

She shook her head, realizing what he actually meant. She wanted to read the book, but instantly closed it and put it back on the table.

"You don't want to read it?" He asked. It sounded like a statement more than a question.

It was unusual for him to be this talkative too, to what she found was the strangest by this stage. 

"I think it's rude for me to find out how you really feel about others. That's not my business." She told him.

"I see." He replied in tandem.

The problem was where his thought trail was heading. Did he want her to find out? Or was he simply just probing her own line of thought? She couldn't figure it out. He rested his hand on her chest without warning as the looked into each others eyes. A swirl of emotions curled up within her, trying to understand what exactly she trying to feel about all this. This place of absolute resonance, a paragon of purity and....love.

"This is....is your Heart...isn't it?" Connie questioned.

Pink Steven gave a subtle nod.

"It hasn't been infected. This place has been left untouched. Black Diamond cannot reach my Heart. I won't let him." He explained.

Connie had no real expectations of what she would find or see in this place. Pink Steven's affirmations that his human self continued to fight on were encouraging however. It did give Connie a small amount of comfort in knowing such a fact. Could he hold on for a while longer, however.

"Do you know how much further we need to go?" She questioned.

"I can't say." Pink Steven replied. His fingers on his right hand, one after the other, curled and uncurled for a moment.

"I am here as part of your Aura and my Aura. My Aura is strongest when is connected your Aura. It is the strongest to those I am connected to. Your power is your connection to me. My power is my connection to you. As this is my Heart, your Aura, your Heart connects with me."

Her gem...or just her in general? It was hard to fathom, to grasp a phenomena and experience like this. No gem or human could ever properly explain it. 

"And Stevonnie?" Connie croaked, unsure of where the line should be drawn.

"Stevonnie is the intertwined link and balance that our Hearts and Auras create."

He moved to pick up the book to find the page of Stevonnie. It had a picture of their profile on the left page and walls of text on the right.

"We share this. This is yours and this is mine."

Was he trying to get her to read it? She wanted to, as she bit her lip.

"This book wouldn't be here. If you or I didn't want it to be. I had opened this book to you before. I told you about Jasper. I told you about how she fused with Lapis...."
A book of periwinkle and book of teal, pixelated into existence onto the table. Pink Steven put the pink book back. Connie looked over the books, labelled Connie on the teal and Stevonnie on the periwinkle books. Her heart began to race greatly.

"You have to tell me something." Pink Steven told her.

"I will read the book if you are presenting it to me."

Connie shook her head. It was going to explode if she wasn't careful. All this talk of Hearts and Auras like she was supposed to understand it all clearly like he did.

"No...no...I don't want this to be about me. This is about you. My heart is irrelevant." She told him.

A gust of wind played with her hair as she grabbed her book and held it close to her chest.

"Your Heart is relevant." Pink Steven claimed.

"Both of your Aura and Heart are what I require. I do not fuse with you because your Heart and your Aura don't want me to. Your Aura is what's holding me back. Your Heart is..."

He stopped as he looked at his own book, then at the periwinkle book.

"We move on. There is no voice here to speak any further."

A warp pad formed nearby. Connie promptly put the book back with the others, as they fizzled away. Connie couldn't help but wonder what Pink Steven really meant as she fell into his gaze again. So much to consider and break down that she really wondered if that really was Steven. He gave her his hand. It amazed her to no end on all this from only half of who he was supposed to be. Her Heart...her Aura.  His Aura...his..Heart. It didn't make any special logic to her on where he was trying to lead them. She didn't even have an Aura to speak of when Stevonnie first appeared. Who knew...who really knew the logic of all of this? What was logic? What was this place? Who was Connie Maheswaran really? Born human that mutated into some kind of gem experiment that had been planned her whole life. She didn't want it to get this far. Not at all.

"Connie." Pink Steven spoke in the moment of reflection.

Even as lifeless as he seemed, Pink Steven did serve as Stevens power and lifeforce. Seeing him almost die almost broke her, but she had to push on. It wasn't about her then and it wasn't about her now. It was trying to fathom the boy she loved saying sentences he'd never hear him speak. So there was something deep in his subconscious construct that was growing more and more each day. About reality and about life. Whether his gem was helping or hindering. It remained to be seen.

She took his hand. His face didn't change, as expected. She pressed her chest again her with her spare hand, feeling the strain being here brought. The atmosphere, the serenity...all beautiful.

"I'm ready." She said. She breathed in deep.

"Let's go."

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Into the deepest of blues, she floated. The visage of the darkness before her, she could only stare out into the nothingness as her throat clamped up. It wasn't anxiety, it wasn't fear. It was an abstract flow of unheard of feeling that ran from her feet, to her mouth which silenced her. Bubbles popped and the deep bass of the currents filled her ears in their muffled chorus. In a weird way, it was quite relaxing. The cold, wet and the quiet. No screaming, no shouting, not whispers. A blissful existence where every distraction had disappeared. It wasn't the first time she'd been in here either. A mental get away, just for her.

It wasn't until she heard something swim towards her that her full attention snapped to it. Paranoia grew and the illusion was broken. She felt the off rifting pulses like a turbulence effect. What ever it was, it sent chills through her skin. It was then she realized Pink Steven wasn't with her. There was a certain futility in swimming around in a dark void, but Connie had no real choice. Logically, she swam upwards, hoping to see what ever was on the surface. But the higher she got, the noises of the false realities from before began to ring in her ears once again. It got lighter, with the the colour blue blending in with what ever light was scattered from above. 

 We know there are certain words you want to say... a voice called out. It sounded like...her own..

Multiple black figures shot past her, but she could only see their light blue glowing eyes. The giggles sounded like her too. Connie swallowed as she got extremely uncomfortable listening to herself like that.

There is no escape from it Hope. They said. Hope? Memories of Homeworld sprang up again.

A certain order...a certain song...can the Cosmos of Despair be saved? To become the Universe of Love once again?

It got lighter, until the figures were easier to be seen. She covered her mouth in shock, seeing the uncanny grins and the unsavory chuckles of the greyscale versions of herself that swam before her.

Anxiety swallowed her whole, straining to fight against the open battle with her own mind as she tried to swim up, only to be met with her devious doppelgangers.

Say it. You know you want to...

Connie covered her ears as they chanted it over and over again. She drew her knees to her chest. But the voices got louder and nastier, as she unknowingly started to shake and dig her fingers into her scalp in the attempt to withdraw herself from this sorrowful existence.

You fear to say it because it's true. But you are just a nobody with a gem. You're not a real half gem like he is.

But you're still to prepared to give everything? You don't even live for yourself?

You're a fraud. You are not a real person?

It dug deeper into her than she anticipated.

He doesn't even love you like that.

What makes you think he's not going to fall for someone else?

Connie.

You're listening...

You're drowning...

You want to be with him so bad?

Drown with him.

 

"STOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOP!"

They disappeared as Connie breathed heavily and uncurled herself, looking around as her voice echoed repeatedly in the watery void. She uncurled herself, seeing that her copies had disappeared. A moment of calm....before a pair of black, clawed hands reached for her throat and started to choke her. She could only see the tendrils of hair behind the jet face with its deep red eyes. Connie couldn't breath as she looked up, feeling like her eyes were going to pop out of head. Instead she was met with static obscuring her vision. She kept seeing a field of blue roses within the static itself. Fed up with the nonsense, she could feel energy run through her and felt something form in her right hand. Without hesitation, she mustered her strength to slice through the arms, to see that she managed to summon her sword in this dimension. Both arms and hands vanished as Connie rubbed her neck.

"I am Connie Maheswaran. Always have been...and always will be." She said with shaken confidence.

"You can't dig into my doubt like that. It doesn't work."

Doubt could. But she wouldn't let it. The monsters weren't real. The monsters that appealed to obscurities and obscenities and the clouded thoughts mustered within. A source of evil, made to break her. She wouldn't allow it. The pain was very real however. Under the veil of darkness were unseen nerves touched and rubbed on in the wrong way, It wasn't the water. It wasn't the doors she walked through. It was everything else that broke barriers she had naturally. What humans had naturally and that maybe this was the Curse of Humanity. Gems don't need to sleep so they never had the luxury to escape into their dreams or the desire to escape nightmares. The static of their lives prevented them from confronting the mixed messages their minds gave them. Most were fearful in raising their voice.  To challenge their own status quo.

The minute of reprieve allowed her to continue to swim upwards, seeing Pink Steven floating there on his own in the meanwhile. She swam faster to reach up to him. He looked okay as he continued to float there and stare at her like that. She was unnerved on how fast she'd gotten used to that.

"Thank goodness you're alright." She said, instinctively hugging him. She wasn't expecting a response....but she did. He slowly, but surely wrapped his arms around her.

"Your Aura was going dark and I heard you scream. I was going down to get you until the Aura lit up again." He replied.

So they were trying to infect her? She let go of him to speak properly.

"It was?" She questioned.

He nodded. It was risky.

"As we go deeper, your Heart is fusing with mine." He explained.

A weirder version of Stevonnie?  No. Connie was not ready for that. But...could he feel? Could he see what she could not?

"Tell me...if that is true....can you feel the fear? Can you feel pain?" She asked.

He stared at her for a good moment, though she wondered if he was trying to figure out the words to say, or he was ignoring her.

"Your fear is my fear. Your pain is my pain. Fused Hearts share the same burdens." He answered.

Him dancing with his human side and seeing his smile as he embraced himself previously did come to mind. Did he truly understand the meaning of the word hearts in this case?

"What is the meaning of our Hearts then?" She continued to prod in a series of questions she was prepared to both receive and not receive.

"I use Hearts in the context of our truer selves. This form does not possess a Heart. I reach out to other Hearts my other self has connected to previously in order to function. I can reach out to familiar auras as well. Your Heart is the first one I think of and the closest and most familiar to bond with. I take what both Hearts hold as a type of logical construction of who I am supposed to be; to build an identity and purpose. Or else I am of no real use other than defending myself."

If anything else, Connie felt this version of him was fascinating. An unrestrained Steven saying what he thinks without pause. It was uncanny and very unlike him. But it was like he plucked out what he could potentially already know. The logic created of what he knew and could translate. He was smarter than he gave himself credit for.

"You've been thinking about this a lot..." She noted.

"It is an interpretation based on experiences I had thought of and what other Hearts perceive." He said.

Neither truth or lie, but an assumption born from his memories and hers. Amazing. There was no one else like him to make claim otherwise. It'd just be a theory, but a theory was better than nothing.  

"We're not far now." 

Connie nodded as she took his hand and swam upwards. They continued to swim until they could see the surface ripples. She swam faster, until they reached the surface.


They'd swam up to the top onto a realm of watery grounds and sparkling stars on an indigo sky. Once on the surface, they could put their feet down on the gushing water, effortlessly walking on it. Connie could see the shining stars above, but they felt more like eyes that beamed down from above, that watched their every move. She gave Pink Steven a tight squeeze as they moved forward. It was like a platform that looked over the Earth in all its beauty. Connie knew they were in the mesosphere by this point.

Pink Steven let go of her as he slowly made his way to the middle of the platform. Connie watched on as he stared downwards, then raised his arm and faced his palm towards it. Just as she was on the cusp of understanding him, he always had to evade her attempts completely. Unintentional, but frustrating. It wasn't anything out of the norm, but she could at least case it as a gem thing. She hoped.

The waters bubbled as Connie almost fell over due to the shakes. From beneath the waters she could see something dark and pink arise. It...it was him. No illusion of Black Diamond or his Aura. The Human Heart of Steven Universe.

He was on his hands and knees as he was brought up completely, chained around his neck and hands with onyx clasps. Pink Steven stood over him as he looked up. Connie froze as human Steven's sorrowful expression pierced her. His face was gaunt and he had huge bags under his eyes as his skin was deathly pale. She ran over and knelt beside him, put her hands on his cold cheeks as he struggled to look at her. His pupil's were extremely narrow as his mouth was half-gaped.

"Y-you're here...both of you....you can't stay." He warned them, his voice coarse.

Connie rubbed his cheeks in assurance as she sat on her folded legs.

"We want to help you." She declared, unable to prevent her own tears from falling.

Human Steven's eyes swirled to his gem counterpart...raising his shirt to reveal the Black Diamond gem in his stomach. Pink Steven then looked at Connie, who put his hand on her forehead and brushed away her hair to reveal hers. Human Steven couldn't believe it. Pink Steven was connecting to her Heart again...both of their Hearts.

"Connie....what...did they...what did they do to you?" Steven asked as he cried. He wanted to reach for her head, but the chain prevented him from doing so. She shouldn't have been surprised to see the new gem in his old ones place, but she was. She could see black veins that popped out around it, fading outwards on his torso.

"I should be asking you that question." She pointed out. It wasn't about her.

Steven then looked at his pink self as he struggled to reach out to him, desiring his light.

"I can't believe I'm...I'm in this position again...humiliating..." He replied as he let his hand drop to the ground.

"You've been restraining the Lillim in this position." Pink Steven pointed out.

That was random.

"Black Diamond is a Lillim Gem who controls the Lillim forces. You have been its Heart. But there is another Heart fighting you. You have been fighting this conflict."

Connie just had to roll with what Pink Steven was saying, as she turned back to Human Steven for a more...sensible explanation. Although his gem didn't make it that complex as she thought he did.

"He's...I'm right." Human Steven replied.

"It's not....It's not been easy....but I....I...."

Steven started to breath heavily as his back popped repeatedly. Those breaths turned into cough...coughs turned into violent coughs that sounded awful, as he spat up a tar like substance from within. He clutched his stomach as he scrunched his eyes and started hyperventilating. He breathed out grunts of pain in between as his hand turned jet and his fingernails that turned into claws. His grunts turned into animalistic growls. Pink Steven pushed his hand against his forehead, somehow pushing back the transformation process and reversing it. Steven's breath slowed into slight intervals, before he started to bawl his eyes out. Connie clutched her chest, not being to able to fathom the amount of absolute devastation this was causing.

"The Unknown Heart is trying to fuse with his." Pink Steven explained.

"This has been going on for some time."

Connie simply allowed him to cry into her shoulder, as she rubbed his head.

"What can we do though? We can't leave you like this." Connie called out.

Her senses picked up the amount of strife that pulled him down. They had to do something...and fast. Steven moved back as Connie wiped his tears with her index finger. If she could get him to focus.

"I....I...I..." He stammered as he looked into her eyes. He was still there. He was still Steven. The fight wasn't lost if he still remained. There had to be a way to fix it. But the intensity of his stare dug deeper than she had anticipated. Her core erupted like a volcano as she'd fallen even further, under the clause of her subconscious feelings. He winced, only to stare at her Gem again.

"I want...I don't want... you need to...you have to..."

He closed his eyes briefly, then opened them to reveal Black Diamonds.

"You do not want to do that....I need you..." He threatened, his voice holding several inflections.

He glared at Connie, who fell backwards in response to his angered manner as he tried to choke her, only for the chains to pull him back. 

"I won't let you hurt my friends!" Steven called out as his eyes returned to normal. 

Black Diamond obviously had an idea of what he meant, fighting for control once again.

"THEY HURT YOU!" He roared.

"I'VE SEEN WHAT THEY'VE DONE TO YOU...DONE TO ME...DONE TO US! I'M YOUR ONLY ESCAPE! I'M YOUR ONLY FRIEND!"

This terrified Connie to no end. It wasn't just seeing Steven screaming those words, but the inability to solve it peacefully, like he wanted to. Steven took control in that silence that followed as he remained deathly still.

"You can be my friend too if we just....stop this fighting." Steven said, with his voice low.

"SHE WON'T LET US...." Black Diamond cried.

That can only mean one person.

Lilith.

"Then we talk to her." Steven suggested.

"SHE'LL BE WORSE THAN WHITE DIAMOND. She isn't...a gem...you're not able to....CONNECT....to her." Black Diamond stated.

Connie and Pink Steven exchanged glances. Black Diamond held the same sources of logicality like he did.

"Black Diamond." Connie voiced.

"You're not Steven. You're not his right gem."

The piercing eyes of the dark force were almost too much for Connie to bare, as if she insulted his very existence. Greyscale figures of individuals Steven knew and loved emerged out of the waters, one by one. Each of them a different Crystal Gem, standing straight with the same exact fury in their faces and Diamond eyes. 

"I see the memories etched into my gem. I see the words behind the doors..."

Even the fusions popped up. Stevonnie, Smoky Quartz, Rainbow Quartz 2.0, Sunstone and Obsidian formed behind them all.

Then...

A huge onyx colored shape rose up after Obsidian did. A feminine form of long, tendrils of hair, red eyes and giant claws. 

"I see everything the Universe has to offer, Hope Diamond." He said as his voice changed in between to Liliths, speaking in sync.

"Hope is here to destroy the despair with it's curse!"

Connie took Pink Steven's hand, who then rose his spare to shine his light on the fakes before them. He poured it out to blast each of them away into smoke, but not before the screeches were distilled in their ears. One by one one, they were swiftly destroyed by the power of the Pink Diamond, until Steven rejoined them as he had his palms firmly played against the ground as he took inhaled deeply with cut off whimpers. Connie ran over again, fearless as Steven attempted to regain what little composure he could. The fact that he had to fight both Black Diamond and Lilith at the same time and for this long, took incredible courage and tenacity. Problem was, would he be even capable of resisting further? Time was running out and Steven's willpower was growing thin.

"What does she m-mean? You got caught too?" Steven stammered as he looked at her gem.

How could she even begin to explain? That this all planned? Then it hit her. Hard and fast like an arrow to her chest. Her heart dropped on the realization that the prophecy was meant for her to do this. To fight Steven. She fell to her knees as her eyes went wide. 

"Connie, please I need you to talk to me! I...I can't do this on my own." He pleaded.

To clear the Cosmos of Despair of its binds. Hope to destroy the despair. It couldn't mean...killing him, would it?  Was that what it was trying to tell her? Her heart hurt so badly she could feel the darkness returning as she covered her mouth with her hands to prevent herself from the overwhelming urge to sob.

Despair is an illusion of hopelessness and can be nothing more than a heavyweight in your Heart.

"I...the Prophecy...no...." Connie said, trying to make sense of it all. This. Was. Not. About. Her. She shook it off and glanced at Steven with ferocity as she grabbed his shoulders.

"Steven I took this on to rescue you. I took the risk to set you free. Lilith nor Black Diamond nor anyone will take you away from me!"

Steven blinked twice, until Connie noticed what she said and felt her cheeks heat up.

"I mean, -fr-from me and everyone who cares for you and loves you for who you are...not what you are. I only ask to remain by your side as you to remain by mine. I'm not sure what will happen but we can find out, together...right?"

A smile, no matter how small it was, formed on his face. It granted her warmth to her spirit. Anything to make him feel better.

"Right...Jam buds stick together? Right?" He said, his voice still coarse though with a bit more sprightliness. 

Connie returned the gesture.

"Right!" She said with a nod.

That much she knew was true. Very much so. He cleared his throat and made new resolve within himself. It was time for them to make a plan and hopefully with luck, they would have no interruptions.

"So...any ideas how we can get this fixed?"

Steven proposed to get the diamond out of his stomach the same way they put it in. A machine that popped it into him by force, but they would require taking his body to a special room behind Storage Room Twelve. Connie explained that Peridot managed to hack inside for access. Then once the Diamond was removed that he would be able to fuse with his gem again. It wouldn't be easy; Connie wasn't that naive. She would need the full world of courage to break through.

"You need to get out there." He told her.

"You need to fight the battles I can't. Lilith's...Lilith...oh no not again..."

Intervals between each mental battle as Lilith kept up with her consistency as Steven violently shook, his body twisted and misshapen from her attempts to subdue his spirit; His Heart.

A mind, body and spirit meant to work in flux, but in this case the Heart fought for control of the Aura and raw power of the gem itself. If only she could give him more Hope she like had before.

Chains shot out of the waters in their attempt to clamp themselves on to Connie and Pink Steven. The former dodged and weaved her way, using her agility to escape the clamps, meanwhile the later took the chains and broke them with little effort as he pulled out. He summoned his shield to protect himself from the dozens, then hundreds of chains that headed his way. Connie summoned her blade as she cut the chains that kept appearing over and over again. She heard human Steven scream, with Connie turning her head to see him being dragged back into the water again. She bolted towards in the feeble attempt to save him, only for Pink Steven to drag her in his shield.

"I'm losing my grip" He yelled in the semblance of his lucidity.

"Black Diamond has to listen and fight back against Lilith. It's the only way."

 


 

Dozens of gangley onyx hands gushed out of the water as they took hold of his body and forced him to go under. The world became abrupt, rattled with colours shifting and changing constantly under the throes of the messy chaos. Each of the stars burst out like light bulbs with the shards falling like black tulip petals. The skies fractured alongside them, revealing grey clouds behind them. Connie clung on to Pink Steven as the noise became too much for her. It took a few minutes to stop until Connie opened her eyes.

It looked like Rose's Room. Only befitting the broken dark nature of Black Diamond instead; in shades of violet.

"Black Diamond." Pink Steven called out.

"We would speak with you."

Out of the clouds, formed several whitesh spheres, until he formed before them in Steven's shape.

"You aren't supposed to be...be....here." The Dark Gem said. His face twisted, holding more emotion than Pink Steven.

"Neither are you." Connie stated.

The atmosphere was so tense in room meant to be soft. A dire world of the creative sort. A room forged for the dwellers of the dark, meant to submit to the wishes of its owner. It was Steven, but which one controlled it right now? The Pink and Black Diamonds stared at each other, as if the galaxies greatest war was about to start and going from their power alone, they were ready to take the world as collateral.

Neither would care how much damage could be done. They had only but a single desire above all else... a battle for the Heart and Mind of Steven Universe.

The ever returning whispers filled the air as the arguments sounded between the two, while Connie was still stuck in the mentality of her human psyche to even debate their apparent laws in logic. 

"I am already here." Black Diamond stated.

"Defiance is futile."

Connie was than prepared to fight as she pulled out her sword. Black Diamond unceremoniously summoned Rose Quartz and Pink Diamond replicas.

"It is not defiance." Pink Steven stated.

"You are not me. You are but the copy of me. Unstable. For what your purpose serves it is not curated for my body."

Pink Steven was right, to an extent. On how they made Black Diamond to begin with was a story she wanted to know. 

"I was created. I was born. I hold the earliest days." Black Diamond claimed.

"I remember the days of Pink Diamond and Rose Quartz. I am more complete than you'll ever be."

That didn't necessarily mean that he was complete. He just held more....data as Peridot would put it.

"Steven is neither Rose Quartz or Pink Diamond." Connie replied.

"He knows that he is himself. No one else."

Everything that happened with White Diamond solidified it and erased every trace of doubt. This...entity was fooled to thinking like this. 

"You can be Black Diamond. You can be Black Rose. You can be Black Steven. You are not me." Pink Steven stated.

"Only I can define me. This is my Heart. That is a fact."

This wasn't going to work. Each of them were too stubborn to back away. The only factor they had was Connie herself and while they could stand here and argue, there were wasting time. Only Connie was the unstoppable force between two unmovable objects. 

"I don't want to hurt you." Connie called out. She wished there was another way, but she had to push Black Diamond away. Pink Steven held no doubt. Black Diamond didn't either, as if they had the inability to doubt themselves, even if they were told a hundred reasons why, the logic on those would never be considered. Connie steeled herself, grasping on her blade tightly as she stood in between them and scowled at Black Diamond. If he couldn't be persuaded through true logic, then she'd have to resort to her own constructed logic.

"Connie." Black Diamond said.

"You can not want to hurt the real Steven. You are not meant to be here. Your Aura has nothing to do with me."

No. That's where he was wrong.

"Connie comes from my Aura." Pink Steven told him.

"I connect to my Heart and to Connie's Heart. You do not connect to her and that is how you are nothing to me."

Did he really believe that? Of course he did, but was that an actual fact unto itself?

"Connie has been connected to me for a long time. You are blind to that fact because she is Human. You have not experienced the Human programming from birth. You have pre-processed data within your Aura to forces you to have the perception of being the real me and the real time memories of who was once Pink and who was once Rose. You think this, you think you know this. Your truth is not the real truth."

This made Connie's head spin. To believe the lie so hard that you wholeheartedly accept it as the one core fact that solidifies ones existence. She then had an idea.

"I will listen to the only commands of the true Steven. That I am his Knight." Connie explained as she pointed her blade towards Black Diamond.

"My will is his voice alone. You can't command me unless you're the real Steven."

Black Diamond glared at her as he walked towards her. She raised her sword in defense and stepped back as he got closer. He raised his hand, summoning a Dark Connie from behind her, which grabbed her shoulders and threw her to side. More Connie's appeared into existence as they glared at her with black eyes. Connie crawled backwards with a new fear that almost paralyzed her, as Black Diamond began to attack Pink Steven. The Dark Connie's then got hold of her body, as one of them mimicked her new half-breed from, and placed her hand on her forehead, towards her gem and charged an energy into it. The world begun to glitch out as Connie screamed and kicked about, her vision distorting as her mind began to fracture under Black Diamonds power.

"Then I am forced to make you see reason."

-

Imagery flashed her eyes again in short bursts. Sounds of the whisper and the static and echoes of otherworldly noises brought havok to her senses. Her screams were either cut off or spliced and the chants of those she knew were brought from the vestiges of her subconscious memories. Her parents, the gems, horrible cranky teachers and people she had forgotten about in ages past.

Hope is nothing without action. It encourages laziness and dependence on a hollow concept that things will get better.

Lilith.

Humans are but the Curse to bring that concept to life. Life will get better. How? Why? There is no plan. There is no reason for this to exist. Are you waiting for it to happen at the right place at the right time? What happened to being proactive? What Humans think is a protective bubble until their reality improves in its own. It will not get better. It cannot be better. Why not accept your fate? Why not let those strong enough make their actions true?

Steven doesn't need Hope. He needs a new part of himself where he can be truer than true. That his reality made flesh...made gem, to dominate others. He's fallen to his fears and own generic brand of stupidity. Weak. His Heart cannot merge with his Aura unless he accepts the darkness into it. The Dark Aura of the Lillim will make all life better....make the life of those who depend on him, to make them fall into line like gems should be. Without Hope, they will take his action without question.

Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl appeared in her vision with their darkened eyes.

Black Diamond will erase all hope and all doubt. Absolute certainty.

"YOU LEAVE HER ALONE."

Steven?

Why does he cling onto this? I'm saving you. I'm saving your Heart. Your Aura is bent out of shape. Mutated from the Pink Diamond Gem and forced to take on the power of another so foreign to you that it will kill you. Slowly.

"THAT'S NOT TRUE, CONNIE PLEASE WAKE U-"

Silence!

Her spirit was a bedlam of disharmony, too much visual stimulation as it nearly overloaded her brain. 

The Real Connie Maheswaran is a good girl, isn't she? Your mother and father would be happy for you to fall into line.

"NO. They know now I need my independence! They're much better than that now...so I can be better for them....they are proud of me!" Connie called out with the only fraction of her being in what ever this existence had become.

WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH MY DAUGHTER???

"Mother?" Connie cried, hearing her moms voice and see her form towering over her within flashing pictures.

"THAT'S NOT HER CONNIE, WAKE UP!"  Steven called from afar.

She found herself in the dark waters again, surrounded by few dozen Dark Connies swimming about, with their devilish, inhuman giggles and grins, each possessing a set of their own crimson eyes. 

Can you feel it? Once you accept it, you'll be better. You'll be happier. Promise.

She heard growling rumble in the flow of the currents, seeing a much larger monster that lurked in the back ground that kept its on eyes on her, observing her as the Dark Connie's shrilling, banshee like laughs pierced through her like a knife through butter. She felt something push her back as the monster came closer, with the Dark Connie's moving out of the way as she came through. Her form looked amphibian in texture, with plashes of burgundy on her form, otherwise she had a very curvaceous and alien figure. Her hair was of the tendrils and danced in the currents. She held a sharp toothed grin as Connie realized that she being carried in the monsters hand.

White Diamond was a weak-minded fool. Soon, I will take all three of you to Homeworld and the war there shall be glorious. Diamond against Diamond. 

Her claw reached for Connie's gem. Connie tried so hard to fight back, but all these mental battles had worn her out. Her mind couldn't take it anymore.  Hope to become Despair.

It wasn't until a force dragged Lilith back as a pair of monstrous greyish arms with white patched clung onto Lilith's torso. Each of the Dark Connie's broke apart, limb from limb and body part by body part until they melted away from existence. Connie held herself and fell into the well of the void quickly as she brought her knees to her chest and started to cry again.

Chapter Text

"Connie. You have to wake up." Steven echoed.

She looked up to see herself on top of Steven's head. Or at least, a statue of him. She could see another monster on top of it. It had Steven's shirt and jeans, but...it had longer and messy black hair that covered a face that was looking down and was much larger than Steven himself. His arms were the gross clawed ones that dragged Lilith away earlier, as his feet were in the same state. Connie slowly landed on top as she approached him. She had to be in the deepest part of his psyche. Instinct overrode her with something fierce, as her gem blinked rapidly.

"Steven?" She said, raspy.

"DON'T LOOK AT ME!" He roared as he dragged himself back, with the echoes shrilling as they faded.

He wasn't wrong about losing before. Surely they could reverse this. It wasn't too late.

"I'm telling you to wake up...I don't want you to see this....WHY WON'T YOU LET ME DO THIS CONNIE?"

Onyx Shields formed from above, although they were more square in nature, with the targe design, complete with spikes, preventing Connie from getting closer to him.

"You said you couldn't this on your own." She reminded him, as she clutched the chest of her shirt.

This was painful from all angles. A world, winded in the depths of an internal torment she could only describe as void of hopelessness.

"No...I need you to get out there...I...you've gone too deep here. I think...I dunno...I don't even know anymore. I can't...Connie..." He croaked, falling apart.

The shields broke apart as Steven could barely stand under his own power, leaning on his giant hands, like he was crawling on all fours like a primal. She ran up to him as fast as she could and went down on her knees and ran her fingers through his hair to touch his bony cheeks. She forced him to look up. His eyes were but the same static from before, not to mention looking slightly older. Black veins rose up from his neck to his checks and faded inwards. Every time he opened his mouth she could see rows of razor sharp teeth.

"I didn't get to do what I wanted to do before you were taken by her." Connie told him, without fear in her voice.

The look of surprise on his face was amusing as he was left gaping. Stars fizzled out of his eyes through the static occasionally, knowing the glance of amazement all too well. What she wanted to do, what her Heart desired was to give him the extra power to hold on for a little while longer, no matter how much hurt it would cause her. As the Hope guided Peridot to help form Tiger Iron, this Hope too would allow Steven to cling on the vestiges of his own humanity and his own gem self, at least until they get the Black Diamond out. 

She brushed his hair away from his forehead, to gently press her lips against it. It made him blush, then glow slightly as his form returned to normal, becoming the only Steven she should know. Tears fell from his eyes as Connie continue to hold his cheeks, rubbing them with her thumbs as he blushed.

"Connie..." He muttered.

He was the last person who deserved this. No one deserved this. Cruelty so unnecessary to rule over his world. Her heart was charged with passionate energy, which lead to the rhythmic marches of a two thousand feet, patting in sync with one another.

"Black Diamond...I don't know how to persuade him to leave."

Black Diamond was incredibly obdurate in the face of discovering his own light. The marches came from an army of Dark Snow Quartzes, their eyes deep in infection. Each of them had their individual characteristics however, suggesting these Snow Quartzes....were already infected gems Lilith had either possessed, or they were driven as fakes forged by Black Diamond himself. The marches beat was infectious unto itself.

"I don't know if I can protect everyone."

He's done enough.

"Steven, not all battles can be fought with words alone." Connie explained.

"You're fighting so hard already. I want to help any way I can. I am Connie Maheswaran, Half-Gem, like you. I am here to hold your burdens as you have with mine."

A ring of Stevonnie's formed around them, preparing Connie's blade and Steven's Shield against the Dark Snow Quartz army.

"We have each other to form someone like none other to fight the battles neither of us can."

The army stopped as they surrounded them. Their stance was so uptight, holding long spears in their hands and their faces so blank and lifeless you could mistake them for statues.

"Stevonnie would just risk infecting you!" Steven said with urgency.

"I never asked you do any of this to yourself. For me."

They didn't consciously ask for Stevonnie to exist either.  But it happened.

Connie didn't ask for the mutations that had altered her DNA. But it happened.

Steven didn't ask for a lot of the misgivings and life changing events. They all happened.

"I didn't lie when I said I wanted to be a part of your universe." Connie said, not realizing on her face was drawing closer to his again. The army charged forward as each of the Stevonnie's stood to their defense.

"I'll take the chance if it means saving you."

The Stevonnie army swung hard and fast, ensuring not a single Dark Snow Quartz breached their defenses as Connie took Steven to his feet, allowing them to see each other as equals, their eyes locked on with one another. A Whirlwind of emotions messed with her core from the stare alone, a force so powerful it would bring the worlds cruelest ruler to their knees.

"You've sacrificed too much." Steven whimpered.

"I want to fight with you...but I don't want to lose you either."

Connie never took it as a personal sacrifice, but an honour, a pledge. If it meant rearranging the foundations of her own humanity, so be it. She knew who she wanted to define as herself, no matter what her own body decided to do as a result. If she took the route of choice, then she would own that choice. If it was made for her and that fate told her to accept it, she would only accept that fate as long as she still held the power to own to choose to become Hope Diamond. An alternate universe would have left her to die on her own terms if need be.

"I don't want this to become like it was before...Pearl asked a lot of you. I don't want you to fall under the same idea again."

No. It wasn't going to. She wasn't going to. Connie wouldn't let it. 

"I am the same, Steven." She assured him.

"Seeing White Diamond pulling out your gem the first time was beyond devastating. Seeing you lying there, wondering if you were dead...it broke my heart...but you were barely breathing and I took that chance to bring you out like I'm trying to do now. I reunited you with your Gem because it needed to be done. Then seeing reunite with your gem...it brought...."

Her gem started glowing again as Steven glanced at it.

"It brought Hope. It made Hope stronger. There's so much power in wanting and needing things to be as they should be. To be themselves and to be happy and healthy. I want that for you...I don't want to lose you myself."

They ignored the battle as grunts and clashes became null to their ears.

"I want you to be happy too." Steven told her.

"I want people to be happy."

Of course he does. That's what made him too important to lose. Even in dire situations like these, the world needed a beacon of joy to shine its light on all who were willing to accept it. Not to mention the reasons Connie needed him for.

"You make me happy already." She said, combing her fingers through his hair. Her heart threatened to escape her chest as she felt droplets on her cheeks.

"You make me feel so many emotions I'm not even sure which one I'm feeling right now. There's a lot to say when one person gives you a giant kaleidoscope of the entire human emotional spectrum."

Should she say it? Should she say the words here and now? She almost squeaked as Steven hugged her tightly as more tears fell on heir own volition.

"I love you too Connie." He said into her ear, out of the blue.

The girl froze, not believing the words he said out loud and before she even had the chance to . The sky fractured again, revealing a mix of pure white and violet as the world turned brighter. With each Dark Snow Quartz destroyed, they were replaced by sprouting bouquets of different flowers. Red roses, violet flowers, white jasmines were among ones Connie recognized. She giggled, knowing that she was talking to the one person who loved love. Of course he'd know love when he saw it. It didn't stop the flow of inflammation in her stomach, His own laughed synced with hers as their gems started to glow. Her eyes opened, noticing the light as she stepped back, taking Steven's earlier words into consideration. If he did not want to fuse, she wasn't going to force him to. Although most other times were accidental in these scenarios. Thank goodness she had the quicker reflex this time.

"Oh....oh my Steven we can't." Connie voiced with concern.

The boy was blushed hard as he laughed nervously.

"I uh...I understand. We can't help ourselves sometimes." He joked.

The world they created together looked peaceful, as all the duplicates left, leaving the two alone in the fields of flowers that bloomed and danced in the winds.

"The Fusion we'd have through Black Diamond wouldn't make for anything in our control. Who knows who we would make." He warned.

They instead held hands and took what little time they could have in reaffirming themselves. The genuine expression of love on Steven was one that comforted her in a sense of a serene warmth. Not enticing, but like peaceful waves on her heart.

"I am just content on seeing you here with me." Connie told him, she then giggled.

"But ya know, don't have to fuse to show how we feel."

Other ideas floated in her head, causing both of them a great deal of anxiety. It'd come to the point in their lives with the question of when, not if, it was going to happen and in the long run it was only ever to be with him. The boy who whisked her away into an adventure of a life time and broke her out of her shell. She had so much to be thankful for that she had no qualms in giving what he needed when he needed it the most. To retain his sense of morals and who he was supposed to be, in the face of those who had predisposed expectations prior. Much had changed since then, but the struggle would remain as is in the modern day where he still had to work hard enough to maintain the balance in the relationships between humans and gemkind. He wanted to do this and no one really had any objection but the others, he was closest to would complain he was less at the Beach House than he had ever been and to hang with those he loved. This was a normal human like thing as humans grew. Her parents noted that as they became adults that had lost touch with old friends as they moved around and this just happened from time to time. 

It came to Steven's emotional growth that needed more tending to. Connie promised Steven that the only people she could tell the story on Homeworld to was her parents. Even then, she purposefully omitted some of the details, like when it came to White's infamous act. Steven never told the gems. She wasn't even sure if Greg knew that this wasn't the first time that this had happened. Knowing how he freaked out over all this did give Connie a perspective on it in general.

For now, all Connie was able to process was being able to deal with her own emotional onslaught. Steven loved her too. She wanted to press to wonder if he meant it in that way. He loves everyone. He loves his family. Was he in love with her however...

"I know. I know...well...just in case then." He said as he got closer again.

Steven appeared entirely nervous, sweating. He cleared his throat.

" uhh...I want to, but I uhh..."

For the boy who loved love but didn't know how to deal with it on a more deeper level for himself.  It was incredibly cute. He raised his hand as Connie watched it shake under pressure of his own willpower. Connie wanted him to initiate it but also remembered how passive he could be when it came to the...ahem physical aspects of life. He could both such a gentleman, a romantic and an outright adorable dork.

"Did...you want help?" She asked, not even expecting herself saying that to begin with.

"I mean, we don't have to do this if you're going to be uncomfortable with it."

Steven shook his his head and reaffirmed his stance as he puffed his chest and gave off an air of confidence. He pulled Connie in by her waist with his left hand, causing her to yelp as he pulled her close. His right hand caressed her cheek as he drew his face towards hers. Her heart started to beat faster and faster, until she saw his eyes glitch briefly. Something like lightning struck her, a realization as he closed his eyes. The sound of broken glass went off nearby, distracting her as Pink Steven emerged from afar to sucker punch human Steven in the face. It sent him flying as Connie stood back and pressed her hands against her face in total shock.

Their realm broke apart into the deep purple version of Rose's Room as Pink Steven stood in front of Connie, as human Steven started fizzing about.

"I am the real Steven. WHY CAN'T YOU ACCEPT THAT?" He roared, shaking the room with his power and anger.

Was...that Black Diamond?

"Your infection levels were high. She will be here soon to pick you up." Said Pink Steven.

Oh no...no no...

"How could he do that?" Connie questioned, frantic over being lied to and toyed with.

"Black Diamond and myself are interchangeable. My Heart is being managed by Lilith and Black Diamond at this depth. I cannot control it. Only Black Diamond has the connection at this point." Pink Steven answered.

"Your Aura and your Heart are the only things I can connect to now. While Black Diamond resides here, he controls my humanity as my humanity remains its Heart."

Black Diamond stood up and walked forward in pure anger. His form changed from colour and black and white constantly.

"She loves me...she gives me Hope." Black Diamond cried as he put his hand on his chest. Desperation clouded his mind, unable to find its way out of the fog.

You do not need Hope. Whispered Lilith.

I love you Steven.

"He can no longer tell the difference between my Heart and himself. The Heart and the Aura have fused successfully. But his Aura has been changed. Altered. It's a blurred line that was not what it once was before." Pink Steven continued.

It explains why Steven was so afraid to fuse. By accepting Black Diamond into himself, they're indistinguishable. Connie became drenched in fear and regret as a storm blew around with thunder and rain. Connie was foolish to ignore his pleas to wake up. He knew this ahead of time and she was so stupid to chalk it up to Steven being afraid as well, not wanting her to be dragged into his problems. And her problem was that she didn't trust him enough. Her heart was splintered as she fell to her knees upon that very revelation. She clearly didn't understand anything. Whats the point of being given all this power and not being able to use it to its fullest potential? She didn't want to give up...or give in, but despair rode her like a horse she needed to shake off.

A bright light from above poured down from above. A great white hand emerged from it to reach for Connie, who was too far in her own thoughts to resist. She'd thrown about, poked and prodded far too often.

Connie it's Snow! Come on, wake up!

Was it really wrong to Hope?

Chapter Text

The Crystal Gems were distraught as they were dragged out of the room. Snow took them back to Diga's Room as they discussed the situation, but it ended up turning into one huge argument as to why to try next.

It was frantic and it was confusing as they tried to make sense of what was going on. Pearl began to panic over Connie's state, knowing that Connie was still stuck in that mental realm disturbed her and worried over if she'd wake up. Pink Steven remained void as per usual. Greg, who sat on the edge of the bed, mentioned some movement and tried to wake her up but with no avail. He took it the worst; possessed in grief in knowing that his son was stuck in this horrible situation as the gems described it. A pain struck in her chest by the look of despair on his face while the tears came down hard, as he sobbed into his hands. All Snow could really do was stand by him and rub his back for what little reassurance that gave. Lapis, Peridot and Jasper hung around Apophyllite, with Jasper leaning against one of the filing cabinets, unable to figure out what they should do.

They needed more to resolve than this in order to get Steven back to full health.  All Snow could grasp on, is from what Connie had told her previously, that in truth, that this was not the first time that Steven's gem had been pulled out. Garnet was cautious as she squatted to look at Pink Steven from a safe distance. For a fusion like her, Snow pondered her truer thoughts.

"Unusual. Nothing like this has ever been seen before." Garnet commented as she rubbed her chin.

Amethyst's curiosity got the best of her as she went to go chat with Pink Steven, only to be rebuked and knocked to the other side of the room. This must have counted her as being an annoyance to trigger that kind of reaction, as Snow was forced to explain that it had none of Steven's restraint and that for what ever reason, reasons only known to half gems, that he was only ever interested in Connie. Amethyst got up with a groan.

"Hey what's the big idea?" She balked, annoyed.

They had to be extra careful around him. Pearl curled her hands and put them to her face, as her expression as she looked at Pink Steven was dire.

"How could we let this happen?" Pearl said, her eyes gone watery.

Snow imagined Pearl to privy to all the danger Steven would have been put in. This being the most unexpected of them all.

"He's still Steven." Said Garnet as she removed her visor.

"We need to treat him as such."

That much was known. 

"But...his interest in Connie." Pearl repeated.

"Is that due to the Mutations we discussed a few days ago? Or the Gem that was put into her head?"

Snow sighed. It was a bit of both, if they had to be truthful.

"Connie was beginning to get a similar aura to Stevens." Snow noted, bringing back those prior observations. 

"Theory being that he found Connie before he could find his real body and ended up fusing with the closest equivalent."

Garnet stood up and put her visor back on, as she stared at Snow. Part of the Quartz believed that Garnet was a tiny bit irritated about that.

"Subjected to full gem fusion exposure? Is that even possible?" Pearl continued.

With Steven's Gem at least. Who really knew?

"It'd be the same thing I told him." Said Peridot as she typed away with Apophyllite.

"Find missing pieces to make himself whole. Suffice to say, Steven, not in the same exact way, was indeed shattered."

The Gems gasped in horror to think of it.

"Are you saying Connie was in the process of becoming a gem herself?" Greg stated.

It was indeed hard to say. The very least she would have become like Steven regardless. It wasn't likely for her to gain light based mass as opposed to organic mass loss.

"She was certainly heading in that direction, yes. But now, through the procedure of fusion as well as shattered gem behaviors, his gem had no other barriers and forced part of Connie's biological structure to rapidly mutate, altering her body and her DNA to the point she had to depend on a gem to survive. Just like Steven....I'd imagine." Snow said. Human stuff confused her, but she knew enough on how their state was prone to change based on survival factors as evolution took its course as it did with most organics.

She explained on how when they found the Delta Kindergarten that they had to take Steven's Gem out and with Dori's help and powers to destabilize fusions, they removed him, but it made Connie entirely weak and left with her life slowly draining away. It wasn't painless, Snow would stress, but they did find something important within the Delta Kindergarten that of course, magically made life easier for her. Even then it made Snow ponder on the notions of what the others had explained. The Curse of Hope. 

"The Prophecy." Snow stated.

"The Prophecy said that this would happen. Connie would become a half-gem to help save us from the darkness. As with me, the Medusa Quartz, being able to using my power to freeze gems, to help her out."

Garnet became increasingly uncomfortable with this as she held herself, on the vestige of defusing from the stress. Pearl and Amethyst stood by her, knowing the subtle signs of their leaders distress. Her future vision had to have been working funny or not working the way she wanted it to, from the looks of it.

"What about Steven?" Pearl called out.

Snow sighed as she looked at Connie, whoms face looked strained from the struggle. A psychic battle of wills as Snow wondered if she'd be fighting off the storm within the aura realm.

"Steven's...been united with the Black Diamond gem." Said Peridot, her voice low as her head.

Greg's eyes widened. 

"Wait, that was Steven? Did...I didn't know...the Black Diamond I spoke to didn't...it took Steven's form but it was saying it was someone else." He claimed.

Confusion with the gems programming most likely. Gregs earlier description of shifting through various people, made it appear that the gem itself had an identity crisis. Snow could definitely relate to that. Just not that badly.

"It could be due to the Gems formation." Peridot pointed out.

"Like with what we found with Connie's gem, there's usually a series of elements involved in the gestation. The quality of the earth for example, is an environmental factor that nurtures character, power and design. The main crux of it, is the compound 'goo' that makes up the gems data. What they are, what they're meant for etc. Black Diamond would be considerably unstable if it didn't know its true nature or what it was meant for. Its an incomplete gem."

Snow had worked with Kindergartners before, but only to give them information on a planets materia logistics, so she could definitely understand what Peridot was saying.

"The Gems I eavesdropped on talked about flash copying, what ever that is." Greg mentioned, offhandedly. 

Colour drained from Peridots face. 

"Fl-flash copied? I thought they outlawed that!" The green gem panicked as she dragged her hands against her cheeks.

Pearl didn't look too keen either.

"I'd heard the Diamonds talk about that before. Banned the process due to it being, as Peridot said, unstable." She commented.

Amethyst's eyes darted around the room for answers, being a youthful gem without much experience in Homeworld history.

"Flash copying? What's that?" She asked.

Snow had to dig deep on Earthican terminology and comparisons on that count.

"Our resonance is replicated through the use of scanners and can be put into artificially made gems. It was an old and forbidden technique when you used to need soldiers in an instant. A lot of these poor stones didn't last very long." Snow explained, her tone somber. 

"So...like cloning?" Greg said as he rubbed his neck.

"Did they like, clone Steven's gem or something to create Black Diamond? Please tell me if I'm wrong. Actually, I'd prefer you to tell me if I'm wrong." 

Sadly, he was right. Greg groaned as he wiped his forehead. The room rattled again as the lights flickered, hearing deep growls and screeches once more. Snow turned to Connie, who started breathing heavily. Her gem blinked rapidly, going from completely dark to completely bright in short bursts, complete with sparks from the above lights. Sweat rolled down her face as her breaths turned into grunts of pain. Snow noticed Pink Steven's gem doing the same under his shirt. Connie was still in that realm...and she was fighting. Her aura was chaotic, as was Pink Steven's. Even as he stood there with his vacant stare and open eyes, he must have somehow been in there with her.

"They're..." Snow muttered in disbelief.

Connie's grunts turned in agonized whines as her Aura pushed against what most likely would by the Lillim trying to infect. The intensity between the clashing forces affected the real world too. Amethyst pulled Greg off the bed, as to give Snow, Pearl and Garnet some room to figure out what they needed to do as Pearl went to her right, Garnet to the left as Snow got on the bed and hovered over Connie as she planted her hands and knees beside her body.

"They'd have to be fighting Black Diamond in there." Snow told them.

Pearl panicked as she turned to face her Snow.

"What? She's gotta be fighting Steven too? Right?" Pearl questioned.

It would be the case, as Snow thought back to seeing the large storming cloud with the three slates.

"We saw Steven in our minds." Garnet told her.

"He is resisting until we can rescue him. He doesn't want us in the way."

Pearl started to whimper again, as another Earthquake struck, with the lights continuing to flicker and spark over them, as Connie growled as her face twisted to match the literal internal struggle. Forces of light and darkness, mixed into this obscurity. It was a whirlwind in there; the tempest was a noisy shroud that would mess anyone else up if they saw it too. Steven had to be strong enough to not enforce Liliths will, no matter how much she would swing at him and channel his being to hurt the people he adored. Bringing the other gems out wasn't easy, but seeing them here and ready to take control of the situation as well as the pure love they had for him, made Snow envision that their light would be able to endure and be able to bring him back from the brink when the time came. For now, Connie was their priority.

"You're right. I just...no...you're definitely right. He'd want us to help Connie first....he made me promise to protect her." Pearl iterated.

"Snow, if you would be so kind."

The Quartz nodded, as her gem lit up, Pearl did the same with hers as well as Garnet who spread her hands to share her light with the others. It shot out from their gems in a light rainbow of colours, combined that gave off a slight chime. Snow closed her eyes, seeing Connie spliced in between the goings on, seeing her lost and afraid in the chaos she found herself in. The forces were strong, but she had Garnet and Pearls lights to back her up. Within the shine as bright as the sun, she held hands with Garnet and Pearl, sensing their auras in their mental phases, sharing their energy with Snow as she pushed forward. The layers of darkness was incredibly potent. They were breaching the Auras of at least Diamonds to their knowledge, of course it would be difficult. Purple lightning struck her however and caused the light reflect back a bit, before Snow channeled it a little harder. She urged the other two to hold on.

'We're not giving up." Garnet assured her.

"We're still here." Pearl said with determination.

Their combined light was incredibly strong, however the dark magical interference made it increasingly difficult to deep their influence. A surge of magical light did connect to them which helped them breach it further. Snow sensed another had decided to help them and in their psychic conduit, she could see Jaspers aura join in.

"You idiots... try harder!" The larger Quartz roared.

Snow was impressed, surprised and warm from Jaspers sudden bout of generosity. 

"Yeah yeah I'm here." Amethyst said, her aura formed into place as well, increasing their ferocity. Snow was greatly indebted to their efforts to work together like this.

A flash indicated seeing Connie lying there in a pool of black water, her eyes distant as she huddled into a fetal position. Snow lowered her hand to her and reached for her body.

"Connie it's Snow! Come on! Wake up!"


 

Everyone pulled back as Connie gasped for air. Snow watched cautiously as she inhaled deeply. Pearl hugged her and cried, while the others stood back, as Jasper and Amethyst exchanged glances, as the latter smiled and gave off a knowing look, as Jasper blushed and turned her head away.

The white Quartz let them tend to Connie as necessary, standing right besides Greg as she put her hands to her chest. It was important for Connie to be with people she knew and could relax around, as the others ensured that she was taken care of, asking her about her gem and wondering if she needed anything to eat or drink. Amethyst pulled out her bottle of water and a protein bar out her back pack to where Connie nearly guzzled the whole bottle down. Glimpses of her worn and tired face indicated she must have seen some terrible sights while in that foreboding realm.

She'd been in that place before. The point of no return. It was like a bad dream. A dream that curtailed all reason and logic and all sense of self. If Snow could admit it, she could say she still felt Liliths stench on her, even if she was purified and remade. None of that mattered anymore. Her light was her own.

"You did good." Greg assured her, his voice soft.

Snow's cheeks went a darker hue, then her face fell on other related issues.

"Not good enough. We still need to find your son." She said.

Greg frowned as he turned to her and crossed his arms.

"I know. Steven's in a bad place and...I've cried enough tears for now to allow my own head to clear for the moment." He said. "I know one things for sure."

Snow felt a tap on her shoulder. She looked at Greg who nudged his head downwards, motioning her eyes towards his offering hand. Puzzled, she moved her right hand from her chest to her side as Greg suddenly held it, interlocking his fingers with hers, much to her surprise. While she was taller and a tad larger, his hand was a little bigger than hers.

"It seems silly for me for doing this, but when you're a young human, a young child, if you're out about with a parent, guardian or someone you know who is older than you, you put your trust into them to protect you and guide you. It's an assurance you're not going to get lost or be misguided. Some situations call for both of you to depend on each other, to make sure neither of you are alone, even if you do get lost."

A kind gesture, Snow would believe. What ever it was, Snow enjoyed holding Gregs hand. Maybe a little too much. He then turned to the gems.

"I will forever worry, but the fact is Steven has held their hand and they have held his and they've guided each other through good times and bad. Steven's definitely in good hands...or greater hands."

Snow grew concerned for Gregs mental state, however. She could grasp his words and his arch-typical parent-to-child bonds. The idea of Rose entered her mind quickly, forcing her to let go of Greg instantly, who was taken aback by Snow's disconnection.

"I appreciate the gesture. I'm here to guide as I need to as well. I am not...in the same prestige as any of you. I am a Gem, but I am not part of this family...a dysfunctional, but precious group of individuals who serve each other and themselves. I find that admirable. I find that worth protecting. White Diamond on the other hand...doesn't understand."

Greg blinked as it appeared like he was trying to understand what she meant.

"Is that why she sent you?" He queried.

Yes...and no. Her Diamonds orders were to observe them. Her reason was to find Milky. Now things had obviously changed, as Dori rubbed her head on Snow's left hand.

"I'd be lying if I said no...or yes. Destiny would have brought me here regardless. Whether or not my Diamond can see all that transpires in her Court, which she wouldn't be wrong, being proven that undermined her completely. If anything else, I did offer to find Milky; one of her best Snow Quartzes." Snow replied.

"All this? It's a preemptive mess that no one accounted for....and others prepared for. Milky brought me back. I could at least return the favor."

It was his turn to look at her with a perturbed face.

"Is it, what you want to do?" He asked.

What she wanted to do was irrelevant. It was what she needed to do was what was on her mind right now. Connie had calmed down and discussed her findings with the other gems.

"I don't get half of the stuff they do. It doesn't mean I can't help. Steven does need to be reminded of his humanity on occasion. Connie and me have been the ones to ground him in that reality."

A reality that became impossible to cope with. Being human was indeed a curse.

"Now half of her has become half of them. I'm more understanding than most, but her parents...I'm sure they won't like this one bit."

That was the part of the problem. For what humans were used to gem shenanigans, others weren't. The world was still young but not ready for an entire alien race to bunk in with them. Steven's job was to help ease people and gemkind into the new Era, like Era 3 was for gemkind. Acceptance of the new and strange...but it wouldn't be without its own set of laurels and prejudices that would come with it. Snow's study of humanity would prove the history for her. Snow took a glimpse of her hand, then saw that Greg's frown got worse. Like Snow, Greg wanted to be strong for them, especially for his son. If holding hands signified exchanging strengths, then Snow could only bring out what she could for him, taking his hand once more, putting in neutral at best.

"I'm not going to let Earth fall through the same rabbit hole." She told, using his own words.

"I'll only be here if you really need me."

Which...she really wanted. He beamed, which struck her with a burn she could scarcely describe as he squeezed her hand gently.

"Be there for them too, ya know. These guys really need it." He said.


 

They spoke with Connie who described what she saw with Pink Steven, talking about the fact Steven's human side had merged or at least had been fused with the Black Diamond gem and that he's trying so hard not to give in. Greg joined in, although he was a bit squeamish and anxious about the fact that he was torturing his own son, Snow cemented their trust by keeping their hands together. She was impressed however, that Connie managed to dig out more information from within his mind than anything else they had discovered. A lot of the pieces were put together with the numerous events, past and present. Pearl was, at the very least, quite dumbfounded that Connie had gotten a Diamond, of all Gem types, and was quite protective of Connie due to this. But their next move was now known. They needed to confront Steven with Black Diamond in Storage Room Twelve. 

"He wants us to pull out the Black Diamond gem. It's the only way." Connie told them.

Pearl then looked at Pink Steven.

"What would even happen? Would he reform into...what ever...well, into him?" Pearl asked with a half mumble at the end.

"I'd never even imagined that this type of...thing would occur."

Amethyst rolled her eyes.

"Hey remember when you tried taking out the gem when he was a baby?" She pointed out.

Greg looked astonished.

"You did what???" He said.

Pearl then appeared incredibly nervous, then glared at Amethyst, then made a half smile at Greg.

"Hey the past is the past! I was just..well, I thought...I mean..."

Greg shook his head. Now wasn't the time.

"Never mind, I don't want to know." He commented.

Connie then looked awkward as she rubbed her arm. She knew something, but didn't want to open her mouth.

"Connie whats wrong?" Pearl asked.

That's right...the gems didn't know yet.

"I...promised Steven I wouldn't say anything but...." The girl voiced.

"He's right here. I'm sure he won't say no. Literally won't say any other word." Amethyst pointed out.

That wasn't the point. Connie sighed as she stared at him, who was still standing at the end of the bed, being his usual, statuesque self. Would he mind? Would it matter? Connie shifted uncomfortably as she got up and sat on the edge of the bed.

"That isn't it Amethyst." She said as she walked over to Steven's gem. She took his hands as she stared right into his wide eyes. Something about his pure gem form that made Snow, not to mention the other gems, uneasy.

"This is Steven's Gem only. He doesn't possess his Heart, or his soul. His only one real wish is to reunite with his humanity."

A single minded but sensible desire. A shard on the hunt for the missing pieces. It was necessary to have Steven be Steven once more.

"We need to make a new plan then." Garnet announced.


 

With the amount of talented gems in the room, they planned the whole ordeal out. Peridot utilized Apophyllite for this situation and had gotten used to the GIS's user interface. They had created the map layout from what the GIS had so far downloaded and hacked with the tools they had with them and portrayed them against the wall for all to see. Peridot marked their location and Storage Room 12's location. In the meanwhile, it appeared that the room Connie described as the one where they had gone to remove his gem originally was right behind it, although they'd have to continue out of SR12s main doors, then take the hallway to the right and curve around to get the series of Experimenta Rooms on the other side. Apophyllite did detect the huge amount of Lillim interference within SR12, mainly due Black Diamonds presence. SR12 was huge by design, as Greg compared it to the size of a large warehouse. 

Peridot then revealed Apophyllites systems contained a Frequency Comm Relay Modulator, a type of communications code that allowed it to talk to others using their gems for a connection point, like telepathy. Its special sphere forced encrypted transmissions, only communicating with registered gem frequencies. As they updated their security data earlier, they already had the frequencies to allow their exchanges to go on in private only that they just had to update Connie's and Jaspers. This GIS was far too advanced for its own good, though Snow never personally dealt with them. Thankfully, Peridot already had a grip on it as she offered to provide updates on comm and would continue to find any security cameras in SR12, but struggled due to the Lillim.

Otherwise their plan was to get into SR12, find Steven and to bring him into the Experimenta Room in question, namely EX-R 66, remove Black Diamond and get him to reunite with his only one true gem. The plan sounded simple in practice but Snow knew by default that this wasn't going to be easy. Peridot would remain at the helm with Greg to give them updates on the situation, while the rest would need to give it their all to get to Steven asap. Peridot had Connie registered to Apophyllites security listings, only to list her as Hope Diamond by default and Pink Steven as Pink Diamond.

Pearl was hesitant to bring Pink Steven with them, but Connie insisted and that she would be the one to take him to Steven directly, if not the only one. Snow was glad Connie did not decide to reveal what happened on White Diamonds ship to them, respecting Steven's choice...so she would know what to do more than anyone in this situation or at this point, be the only one who could, in the worst potential scenario, feel the same way.

They created a circle around each other and threw their hands in one more time. They could do this.

 

 

Chapter Text

Connie wasn't sure what she'd expect, but if it was anything she had seen already, she'd had taken down mental notes as to what to avoid. The others were the same, surely from their own, horrible experiences of being trapped in the darkness, only to see the one they had cared about had already succumbed to it...or in Connie's ideal vision was busy curbing its influence. It'd be the hardest battle to combat that's for sure.

They'd followed Garnet down the hallways, with Connie walking alongside Pink Steven, their hands together and in sync. He said nothing, as usual. In the space of the silence allowed Connie to ponder the nature of gems. Though echoes of a song she'd never heard of entered her mind; with foreign communication from within her subconscious knew the words while she translated her thoughts. Not from Lillim, but from something...more benevolent.(^1)

Born in a waking world, who's light will begin to seep.

Jasper for example. A gem of highs and lows. A perfect Quartz, as Peridot described. Though still severely limited and struck with the mental disposition and disillusioned with the core nature of change. She'd been thrown around, made to think and made to believe, like any other construct, in a certain way. The talk about Hearts and auras and souls and the like...Jasper's Heart...corroded with self-inflicted problems and issues stemming from goodness knows where that had been born from. 

Pink Steven's words began to make more sense. Gems thought structures were limited in theory...perhaps, made, persuaded or manipulated in the belief of one choice or another, a gems version of right and wrong; black and white. When presented with a third direction, a fourth or fifth even, their mentality changes completely. Pink Steven was based around his human selves experiences and knowledge...his Heart. Alongside Peridots explanation, he couldn't think properly, though was given the default of answering questions in a blunt yet, unabated way. His alien logic was due to the way Gems are normally designed...Just...no, that made Connie's head hurt as she could only make guesses and she'd read too many stories on indoctrination to know the exact answer. But without the environment (Steven's humanity), the gem essence (the 'goo') wouldn't be able to function as it should. Even if the environment was subject to constant change. That much could be considered true, if what they surmised was the most logical explanation. Who really understood anything about his true nature?

Garnet had emphasized that Steven's true power was change. Humans could adapt to change easier. They can learn from their mistakes. It wasn't saying that gems were stupid, far from it. It was their thought patterns. Their lines of thought were limited. It took an organic concept to be able to create new lines of thought for themselves. Born from the influences of the world around them. From others, from people...just like Steven. It took to him to persuade others to perceive reality...in a different light. 

In any which way the darkness dies, remembrance of souls to keep

If what Connie had summed up Pink Steven's desires, it was because he no longer had those creative thought patterns. His instincts drove him on survival and the craving to be able create those thoughts for himself. A shattered gem needed to find pieces to make itself whole. Connie only had learned so much from those IT classes in school, but it was like a line of code that kept popping up with an error message saying that a file wasn't found. It constantly needs to find that line to the file to work. If that was true (to which Connie could be completely wrong which would be fine due to the fact she barely scratched the surface on gem biology.) then Pink Steven had been using Connie was a temporary work around. She was fine with that too. Could gems be offended if they were compared to computers? It sounded like a question that would be outright disrespectful. But Connie, ironically couldn't think of anything else to compare them to. She'd take her explanation, as her own creative expression as per her organic imagination. Her head hurt even more.

Snow would have to be the same. With an organic essence swimming around in her complex gem, her human understandings could be traced back to that very same influence. 

Ugh...Connie wished she had a pen and paper to write these theories down. Could help in the long run in the unlikelihood of her writing a thesis about it. She'd have to speak to Peridot more.

"Peridot, open it up." Garnet ordered.

But for now, they were about the enter the belly of the dreaded beast.

"Affirmative." Peridot replied.

The doors slowly opened the slight shhh from the gears grinding about as they moved, with a glistening dark and chilled mist pouring out the the gap. Connie could feel the goosebumps on her skin rise up. A lot was riding on this, so this would be considered minor. The room was filled with nothing but the thick, fine smoke that was its veil and the scent of something sinister behind it, the smell of chilled metals as Connie could taste the iron in the air. Pearl and Snow went in first and lit with enough coverage that would protect them, their light pushing it back as they took the long stride. Then it was Garnet and Jasper who were their bulk. Connie felt Pink Steven's tug for a warm source of reassurance; a surprising yet touching gesture. Their experiences in each others Auras and Hearts meant he could have been using these new imprints as key to his ability to just attempt to be himself. Amethyst, Dori and Lapis were the last ones to enter, with their current stance cautious, suspicious and wary in that order.

Born in a breaking world, who's light will begin to sleep.

Amethyst looked the most nervous, cracking through her tough exterior. Garnet, Jasper and Lapis were indifferent, though all had been subjected to the horrors of the Lillim. The clicking and patters of their feet were dulled by the whispers that tensed up the atmosphere. What was worse, was that Connie could hear the different types. Steven's, Liliths and Roses/Pinks. Snow grabbed Pearl's hand as the latter started to shake. Lapis took hold of Amethysts hand, who wasn't so much as stunned, but was subtly freaking out. Dori went to Amethyst's other side to comfort her. Jasper and Garnet were managing okay, but who knew when the very being they were about to face was one of their own.

They stopped as the jingling of chains echoed. Jasper went to walk forward before Garnet stopped her, as she raised a finger to her lips to prompt quiet.

Pink Steven raised his spare hand forward as he begun to walk on his own ambition. Connie followed as the others watched on, unsure of what to do. Steven was close, as Pink Steven could detect him nearby despite the thick fog. Connie felt a shift in the wind then looked up to see a spear heading right for them.

"Steven look out!" Connie called out. She took the gem and rolled him away, then looked towards their attacker. They got up and turned around as they grabbed their spear and turned to the both of them. A Dark Snow Quartz. Snow and Pearl looked over as the Lillim Gem glared and hissed under their light. Snow gasped as the others prepared themselves to fight her.

"The Diamond Child seeks to reunite with its host? Admirable, if not futile." The Dark Snow Quartz said. Connie recognized her voice as Liliths layered with a Snow Quartz gems similar tone, reverberating in the echoes of her shadowy power and almost like Steven's and Rose's voices were mixed in there too, which made it all the more terrifying to hear. 

Those unsung voices, no longer theirs to keep.

"Give Steven back to us right now!" Garnet demanded as she summoned her gauntlets.

Some of the smoke dissipated, revealing more Dark Snow Quartzes that circled them all with their dark, unholy eyes and devilish grins. A horde of horrors, awaiting the chilling commands of their master. Connie pulled Pink Steven off the ground and drew her sword with her spare hand.

"Guys, it's Peridot. A huge clearing has appeared on the map. You're surrounded!" Peridot transmitted.

That much was obvious.

"Connie, take Steven's Gem, we'll hold them off." Garnet ordered.

Not again, though this time they stood more of a chance with more gems...plus they had more room to maneuver. Connie nodded as she pulled Steven down further.


Connie didn't want to leave them behind again, though as she ran, she encountered one Dark Snow Quartz that decided to interfere. The smoke surrounded the two of them, masking the illusion of their loneliness while it muffled the fighting with the other gems. This Quartz snarled and growled as they circled one another, her gem on her left shoulder, with them trapped in the storm of shadows once more.

"It's pointless Hope." She said, as she pulled out her weapon, a spiked mace, out of her blackened gem.

I could have been better, I could have known better, than to sit around In joint thrones left in want

"You can see there is nothing to be gained in this onslaught, An effort; wasted in trying to resist inevitability."

There wasn't need to be cordial about this either. Especially when it was someone who was as pure evil as Lilith. She looked at Pink Steven and tugged his hand, channeling small amounts of her Heart and Aura to give permission to fuse. He gave a court nod, as the pair fused in a short blast.


Stevonnie reflected on their purple shaded design, before summoning their shield and pumping Connie's Sword with their Aura. They fought on as the Quartz charged Stevonnie with aggressive offensive tactics, aiming to the smash them to bits as well as their component gems. Stevonnie kept on the defense as Dark Snow kept throwing over and over, until they found an opening and swiped. Dark Snow dodged and tried out wave after wave of strikes. It was a challenge, but they weren't going to give up that easily.

They moved around until they found themselves alongside a series of steel storage crates. Stevonnie felt cramped with the confines, as they kept up block after block and tried to roll around to swipe occasionally, but she was too quick, retaliating in the fury of rage to guard herself with her mace. They ran up the sides of the wall of the crates and attacked, seemingly surprising the Quartz. Other than that, the fight seemed to go on forever.

It wasn't until they had their back against the wall, that Stevonnie held their stance, glaring at the Quartz as they swung their mace a few times and laughed at them, their uproar filling their ears in an attempt to leak in the dread.

"You're strong." She commented.

"But for a Two Diamond fusion? You're holding back."

I could have listened better, I could have said better, running in circles in empty thrones in font

What were they worried about? Stevonnie tightened their grip on the hilt. 

"Give it to me. Now!"

Stevonnie charged the blade as they poked it forward, then shot out a blast of light from the tip, which sent the Dark Snow Quartz flying back and against crates behind with a sickening thud.  This stunned Stevonnie as they didn't even know they could do that. They shook their head and watched as the dark gem struggled to get up, grinning their sharp teeth.

"Oh yes...that's it. That's the power I'm looking for. Delicious."

Stevonnie charged forward, thrusting towards her and digging the sword into the gems gut. They gurgled black blood out of their mouth, but continued to laugh. It was then Stevonnie heard more footsteps. They looked around to see more Dark Snow Quartzes that surrounded them. How did they sneak up on them like this? Surely they would have noticed something sooner. The Dark Snow Quartz they stabbed poofed, but they were more worried about the oncoming forces. Surely the others weren't overrun...surely.

Stevonnie was forced to go on the quickest defensive strategy they could, with the swarm lunging at them with impunity. It took all the parrys, blocks, kicks and bashes to get them away. The screams and screeches didn't help, as Stevonnie had to concentrate harder to block out the offensive noises. They poofed a few, but more and more kept coming. Even though they were two Diamonds, Stevonnie only had Connie's stamina, mentally and physically. They panted and grunted, sweat dropping off their face and not bothering to check the few scratches they copped from what ever couldn't be avoided. These Quartzes were vicious, ruthless and unforgiving. They even reformed quicker than they anticipated, being charged with the smoke itself to empower them once more.

Death in a sinking world, who's darkness begins to grow

"Stevonnie!" 

They looked up to see Pearl as they dropped in with their own spear in hand as a sense of relief washed over them. They stood back to back, providing Stevonnie with much needed confidence.

"Snow's taken care of the others, Garnet wanted me to check up on you. I see you have your own hands full." She commented, staring at the rows and eyes of the monstrous gems.

She showed her light on the Dark Snow Quartzes which pushed them back, causing them to hiss in reaction.

In the way, words we're unable to throw

Stevonnie did their best to keep them off Pearl as she pushed forward through the outer area of the room, hugging the wall until they saw another clearing. With even more Dark Snow Quartzes. Pearl gulped.

"How many did they grow here?" She wondered.

They could see the others, especially their Snow Quartz, who couldn't focus her gem properly to freeze them. Pearl explained she couldn't risk the others getting frozen in the powers widened range. They fought back towards the main group, with the others, especially Amethyst and Garnet surprised to see Stevonnie...like they were. They were unused to this violet hued form of theirs.

"Woah..." Amethyst said with a stunned expression.

Death in a risen world. who's darkness begins to show.

They were surrounded no matter how hard they fought nor if they tried to split up. Lilith knew exactly what she was doing and how. Hundreds of Infected with the same exact eyes and glinting, disgusting grins. They were tough. Chills ran through their veins as the others appeared to be outright terrified. Snow, Garnet and Jasper remained steadfast, but they too were teetering off the edge in the attempt to hold themselves together. Stevonnie just wished they could do more. They had to continue on, even if it seemed impossible. Was fear holding them back? Was the influence of the Lillim's power too terrifying to combat?

These were some of the most experienced gems Stevonnie had ever known. Loyal, strong, brave and loving. Their Hearts and their auras, together and as individuals, but their minds had been touched, tainted by the grave abilities of those who want more than to infect or corrupt. But to control. Bravado could only do so much...they all looked so warn and exhausted, hours of trying to get through all of this. They had to this for Steven's sake. He fought hard for them just as they fought hard for him and each other. A love Stevonnie greatly appreciated...though they didn't want them to overexert themselves in doing so. Steven wouldn't want that much sacrificed for himself. Not by a long shot. Garnet did say Steven wanted to be saved, but what she saw in his Aura made it greatly difficult to discern if it really was him or Black Diamond speaking.

"Well it was nice knowing you guys." Said a sarcastic forlorn Lapis.

"No! We can't give up yet!" Said Snow in her stance.

They then charged at the group with great force as Stevonnie took position. They had to have hope. They couldn't give in, they wouldn't let Lilith win. This had to be done, they had to keep on going...but the enemy was relentless, numerous, murderous. Stevonnie's newfound power meant nothing if they didn't know how to use it. They felt useless all the while. Lilith was right. They were holding back. The issue was why. Garnet kept hitting as hard as she could, but even a thousand punches meant nothing. Pearl struggled to aim her spear in the darkness and while some were poofed, they would come right back before anyone could put a gem in a bubble. Amethyst had hardly any room for her whips and kept getting kicked around or barely dodging strikes. Jasper wasn't faring much better even if her size tilted the scales it wasn't by much. Lapis only had her water wings as fists but they barely did anything. Snow must have been hurting in seeing her sisters attacking everyone like that...she was more on the defense trying to reason with them but to no avail and Dori was speedy, but not speedy enough. Numbers...power...taunting. Screaming...enough sweat was gained in those minutes of chaos that Stevonnie would have appeared that they were caught out in heavy rain. Their strength was fading. Their wills were ceding. Their hope was dwindling. What did the Curse of Hope have to do in all of this? What was the point when it did nothing? They couldn't have come here for nothing...this couldn't be where they would fall in the wake of the infecting darkness. None of this could be for naught. Even if they were fighting close, the way the Lillim projected it was like they were dragged hundreds of miles away from each other, separated by the familiar light of their friends were drowning in the same pit of darkness, with their hands reaching out to the only sunlight they could find. The despair would consume...it was only a matter of time...while the whispers tore them apart from within.

DESPAIRDIEUSELESSYOUREJUSTAPEARLYOUREAFAILUREINSECUREDEPENDANTOBSESSEDLOUDRUDEIDIOTDROWNWITHMESTOPLYINGTOMEYOUREGROUNDEDUNACCEPTABLEFILTHYWARMACHINEDISGUSTINGYOUREPREPAREDTODIEYOUCLODTHISISWHATHOMEWORLDTHINKSOFUSIONYOURUNTDONTDOTHISNOONEIFUSEWITHWANTSTOSTAYAMETHYSTATLEASTHESAPPHIREHASSOMESENSEIMJUSTSOMEDUMBRUBYIMSICKOFEVERYONELYINGTOMEPEARLTHISISMYDECISIONTHISISWHATIWANTYOUREJUSTOOMUCHMAYBEYOUREJUSTOOLITTLEPUNOVERCOOKEDRUNTDOESTHATCALLHERSELFAGARNETHOWDOESASNOWQUARTZSURIVIVEINTHISDAYANDAGENOMOREYOUREJUSTSOMEONESSHINYNEWTOYIWASNTSUPPOSEDTOBESMALLPLEASREMEMBERNOWONDERYOUTHINKIDONTCAREIMJUSTAHUMANYOUDOITFORHERITSOVERISNTITSTOPITMAYBEYOUREBETTEROFFWITHHERROSEQUARTZISMYMOMDONTIDESERVETOKNOWTHETRUTHYOUHAVETOIMAMONSTERNOBODYELSECARESABOUTMEWEHADAGOODRUNGEMSCANTDIEFROMAGINGBUTHESHALFHUMANITHOUGHTVIOLENCEWOULDBETHEANSWERWEALLHAVESUCHLITTLETIMEHOWLONGAREYOUGONNAMAKEMEWAITPEARLIWASNTSTRONGENOUGHTODOANYTHINGIDONTUNDERSTANDISITMESTOPITPLEASEWEDONTWANTANYTHINGMORETODEALWITHYOUIMLAPISLAZULIANDYOUCANTKEEPMETRAPPEDHEREANYMORESTEVENICANSEESOMANYTHINGSTHATCANHURTYOUISHOULDNEVERHADLETONEOFTHEMBEMEINEVERASKEDTOBEMADEWHYISEVERYONELYINGTOMEHOWWOULDYOUKNOWYOUNEVEREVENMETHERTHISHAMELESSDISPLAYIDONTWANTHISWHYWONTYOULETMEDOTHISFORYOUROSEBUTWEMADEHIMFEELLIKEITWASHISFAULTYOUDIDNTNEEDMEATALLITISMYFAULTITSALLMYFAULTSTOPLYINGTOMESTOPLYINGTOYOURSELFSJUSTGOIWANTOYOUTOLEAVESNOWYOUGOTTAGOLEAVEMEALONEGOCRYABOUTITSTOPLYI-

 

 

"STOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOP!"

 

 

All of the Dark Snow Quartzes stopped mid run and halted, slamming the the base of their long weapons into the ground in a wave of noise shortly after the huge roar. That was Steven's voice that permeated around them in a strong but desperate command. The horde remained still and vigilant and their faces null and devoid of any emotion. The reality changed as the room felt smaller, emptier, despite the only things that changed were movement coming to a dead halt. The silence became the loudest sound in the room. Whether or not it was welcomed, was up for debate.

We can no longer hear ourselves, lost in the snow...

"Steven is that you?" Pearl cried out in horror, on the cusp of tears. All of them just appeared totally worn.

No response, other than the eyes that looked out to them, that turned into Black Diamonds. This wasn't right. Though one turned jet black alone and returned to have a snarl.

"You will not take control of my forces so easily!" Lilith roared, using the lone Dark Snow Quartz as a conduit, then the eyes change back again, with all their expressions doing the same. They were about to move once more, but stopped as their eye designs flickered back and forth.

"I can't have you hurting them anymore!" Steven yelled, using the forces he could control.

Stevonnie had never seen anything like this before. They winced as a pain hit their stomach. It was Steven's gem making a ruckus, detecting his Heart nearby. Their own thoughts were incoherent, but it couldn't have been anything else. It was then only half of the infected gems to the left hand side that went under Liliths command.

"Steven it's us!" Garnet stated, nearly tearing up.

I could have left it better, I could have spent it better.

Stevonnie felt ill, in the same sickness that made them want to vomit.

"We're okay!" Amethyst said as she joined in.

 Again, no response. The atmosphere tensed up as the temperature went down to the point Stevonnie shivered under its influences and seeing their warmth breath for itself. Their heart beat fast in anticipation, though they felt that any sudden movement would have their heart jump through their throat. Instead, Stevonnie just vanished in a flash of light.


 

Connie opened her eyes to see Pink Steven walking towards the other side of the room. The other gems had no idea what to do but watch in both awe and confusion as he wandered down there fearlessly. The Dark Snow Quartzes under Black Diamond Steven's control moved away, creating a path into the smoke. The sheer light that he gave was enough to push the fog away. It should have not come as a surprise, but...if he was out like this then who knows what damage he'd caused before he got what he wanted. His sole reason for being here and his sole purpose to exist. Getting up, Connie soon followed after him, as Garnet ushered the others to do the same. Fear would tremble her nerves to the worried looks on all the gems faces, they were scared too.

They remained still, until one of the Dark Snow Quartzes fell under Liliths control and went to swipe Pink Steven with their axe. Panic rippled through Connie, but Pink Steven effortlessly countered with his rhomboid shield. He then pushed his shield back which sent the infected gem flying, knocking over a single row of soldiers in an instant. The Crystal Gems, Jasper and Snow became wary of any sudden attack. Pearl gasped, as the others couldn't believe their eyes. 

Snowsongs/DIAMONDSONGS life is not at rest

"That Pink nuisance!" Lilith complained, through one of the other Dark Snow Quartzes.

"You're too late. You no longer have your humanity to cling on to. He's my Diamond now."

That wasn't true. Connie was confident in that. Lilith had words to bring the torment, only that Pink Steven would not react...unless...

"Why do you all bother? This sack of flesh is only a means to an e-"

"ENOUGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" Pink Steven screamed...with the same, visceral roar as the one he gave to White Diamond with the same exact rattled impact and dent in the floor. Connie knelt over and had to cover her ears with her hand, as did everyone else, not expecting that outburst at all. A lot of the Dark Snow Quartzes did the same, temporarily losing control of themselves. Lilith attempted to wrest control as they all glitched out, as Steven did the same, for a mighty battle of wills. Even if Pink Steven's expression didn't change from its lull blankness, Connie felt the intense anger from his stare alone. 

No longer left in time

Pink Steven went forward, unabated in his desire to reunite with himself. This was a repeat in history, after all. What he wanted, was one thing and that one thing he wanted was imprisoned and that which threatened his goal would be mere insignificant pushovers. They were nothing and nothingness to him is a void of everything but his sole, core desire. 

"That's the true, unshackled power of a Diamond." Garnet commented, teetering on astonishment and cautious fear.

"But that's not a very Steven thing to do. That didn't even sound like him." Said a quite frightened Amethyst.

"He is still our Steven. Just...not himself." Said a very discerned Pearl.

Steven on a very, very, very bad day and pushed in a very, very, very hard way. The kind of pressure that's built over time. A new layer grown under every transgression and let loose at the worst possible moment.

"That's how he beat White Diamond, right Hope?" Jasper commented, using Connie's...well, kind of official gem name...wait. Connie froze. Stevonnie told Jasper. The other gems still didn't know. Oh....no.

The other gems turned to Connie who gulped and forced her hands to her face as she didn't want to say anything.

I could have lived it better, I could have sung it better.

"You're saying that Steven defeated White Diamond?" Pearl queried as she eyed the other half-gem while pointing towards Steven's Gem.

Oh no, no...they weren't supposed to find out this way. 

"Connie." Garnet worded coolly. 

In come the sobs. Guilt and anxiety attacked her throat in the causation that slipped her mind. 

"I-I promised Steven I wouldn't tell anyone." Connie cried.

It was a power even White Diamond could be toppled with.  They continued onward, but Connie knew the idea that the others were to outright afraid of Steven's real power. Not just Pink Steven, but Black Diamond Steven as well. Two opposite ends of the spectrum, but two incredibly unstable and powerful beings that could decide on their fates at any given moment. No wonder Garnet had trouble with her future vision. It wasn't just the shrouded darkness, but the blinding rays of two Diamonds. Forces beyond their understanding and above all to be all of gem kind. 

"Oh I remember the Pyrope and the Black Pearl showing me the feed from White Diamonds ship. You Crystal Gems were either possessed or incapacitated, as White Diamond pulled out the Gem from his body, throwing the host to the floor and unleashed Pink Diamond to the world. An uncaring, unthinking and feeling force of nature with the same exact screams and abilities that could make the biggest diamond into the greatest fool for underestimating them. Is that what you saw Hope Diamond? As you brought Steven's body to his gem to re-fuse? On how he grovelled and bawled to be reunited with his gem but could not do so under his own power? It's the feed that gave me the inspiration for Black Diamonds creation."

Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl looked at one another in shock. Pearl couldn't help but stare at Pink Steven and cry, though she was more angry than sad.

"White used you all to try to bring Pink Steven down as well. You were made to hurt him. Because you were weak."

"That wasn't their fault!" Said Steven from one of the Dark Snow Quartzes he got back.

"White Diamond didn't understand. You don't understand!"

"I understand enough, Black Diamond." Lilith claimed.

"You have repressed enough that your gem contains the truer aspects of your conscious behavior. You hated how they treated you. You secretly buried it all away..."

Aura's recollection in dispute

That was not true. None of it.

"No. It was the real Steven who brought her down like he's tried to do with so many others." Connie roared, having none of of Lilith's attempts to bring them down.

"He proved a point to her. With words and by being himself. The real Steven Universe would not hurt others on purpose...because he's a good person and just wants everyone to get along."

She then looked at Pink Steven who then stared at her blankly. Deep down, his mind was racing for concepts it could never access.

"Getting along is a nice premise. It would be easier to get on the level where I can help everyone be happy. Don't you want that? Black Diamond?" Lilith asked him.

Happiness is made on their own terms. No one elses. Individuals should be the ones to choose their own happiness. Lilith was trying to get them to see the positive aspects. But it brought them nothing but pain and anguish that nobody wanted. Steven didn't answer.

Or else their voices would be mine.

"Steven, you know we love you." Said Garnet. She seemed to be trying so hard to not burst in tears or let anyone down.

"Clear the path so we can get to you."

It took a moment, until a response was sounded. The Dark Snow Quartzes got out of the way in near synchronicity, moving away to the chilling smog to reveal a giant onyx box that was chained up against the wall, connected to various apparatus and wires. Connie could sense something within it. It had to be Steven. Pink Steven walked towards it in the calmest pace he could. Once he got there, he looked at the cube continuously. He needed his Heart, desperately. The other gems came across and unanimously agreed to get him out of there. Each gem brought out their weapon and sliced each of the four chains one by one. Garnet and Pearl with the top left, Amethyst and Jasper with the top right, Lapis and Dori with the bottom left and Connie and Snow with the bottom right. The box hit the ground with a mighty thud, as they then frantically tried to get the box opened to no avail. It wasn't until Pink Steven helped out that it had started to crack. A few more hits until it finally opened, with a oozing ink coloured liquid pouring out of it. Connie gasped at the horrific sight before them.

It looked like Steven from his Aura but much, much worse. Gaunt, bony cheeks with black veins popping out from his neck to his arms and hands and his body looked larger; older than they were used to seeing him conventionally, to where his stomach had the Black Diamond gem in full view. Knowing that his body reacted from his state of mind, what ever the living stars Lilith did to it had rendered him damaged to the point where his body reflected it in the worst way possible. Connie did want to see him be older than he was, but not like this. Not like this.

He wheezed and splattered as he could barely breath. Connie made a soft whimper as Garnet pulled him out and carried him in her arms. Pink Steven stood before her. She should have felt relief, but Connie clenched her chest, still feeling that something wasn't right.

"We need to take the Black Diamond Gem out first before you can be yourself again." Garnet explained.

Or else their voices would be mine.

Connie heard whispers,; Pink Steven's whispers at the back of her head. A sense of dread came over her, seeing Pink Steven as he looked up at Garnet. He wanted his human back. As soon as Garnet turned around, Pink Steven tugged her leg gently.

"Steven you'll just have to wait, I'm sorry." She said.

A justified feeling from someone who would want to be be whole again. Connie would have to try and grab his hand to let him sync with her Heart again until this was over...

That was until Pink Steven punched Garnet which sent her flying across the room and crashing against the nearby wall.

"Garnet!" Connie called out in fear.

The others were outright stunned by Pink Steven's sudden assault, unable to verify on what they just saw.

"Steven what are you doing?" Pearl yelled.

Or else their voices would be mine.

Pink Steven ignored them as he went to Garnet, who was dazed from the punch, as he picked up his human counterpart and pulled him away before Garnet could get herself back together. Connie's breath hitched in her throat. Knowing exactly what he was going to do. Garnet got back up in an attempt to get Steven back, but Pink Steven raised a shield before she could do so.

"Steven don't you dare!" Garnet roared.

Human Steven couldn't fathom what was going on right now, his eyes batting open a few times before staring at his actual Gem. Amethyst tried using her whip, but Pink Steven effortlessly pulled on her whip and slammed her down into the ground. Jasper and Lapis freaked out as they went to go fight as well, only for Pink Steven to rebuke them too.

Connie stood beside Snow, terrified at him rampaging like that, as well as Pearl who didn't know what to do. 

Words left unsaid, unheard.

"He sees them as threats to his other half." Snow commented as she readied her axe.

Connie should have known. Her heart broke at seeing this display of brutality. She'd seen it before. She had to stop this before it got worse. She ran forward in an attempt to communicate with him, only for him to put her in a bubble and throw her away. Connie broke the bubble shortly after, but then became worry as Snow clicked twice, before her eyes widened.

"No...no don't do it!" Snow called out.

"Dori quickly!"

The Wolf Gem bolted and glared its teeth to Pink Steven, only him to attack back with his telekinesis before she could even use her abilities. Peridot called out over the comms about the huge surge of light energy pouring into the area. But it was too late.

Connie could only watch as Pink Steven embraced his weakened human counterpart as the room suddenly became a lot warmer than before. A red aura enveloped them as Connie felt immense amounts of energy enchanting from him. The blast soon faded, as Steven was left writhing on the floor as he covered his stomach. Connie noticed from his snarl that his canines had extended into fangs. His eyes shot open, revealing his blood red irises with black diamond pupils like cat eye slits, with ebony fang like markings pointing down from beneath the sides of his eyes that curved down his cheeks and his black hair longer and straighter. What just happened? Was this a fusion? He looked at Connie with a stare that pierced her stomach. No one had idea what just happened.


 

Kept in whispers left behind


 

"Well, this is surprising...." Lilith said from afar.

Steven growled, then let off a horrific, pain induced scream that knocked everyone over, instead of Connie who dug her sword into the ground to keep her balance as the waves were dispersed. The Dark Snow Quartz behind them were poofed instantly. He went still, then stood up and raised his hand to lift them off the ground with telekinesis, then bubbled each of them from afar, then summoned them away.

"It's too noisy in here." He said, voice was oddly calm and eery...inhuman in inflection and deeper than what they were accustomed to. Almost as alien as his gem logic. Connie then noticed the two gems on his belly as his shirt hitched up too. Both of them, coloured in crimson. An aura was felt from his presence as it radiated from his gems.

"Steven, are you okay?" Connie asked as she cautiously approached him in small steps. Her gem started to hurt as well as she rubbed her forehead.

The others would not want her to do this. He looked at his hand as he clenched and unclenched it.

"I need to find where she's hiding." He said, ignoring her question.

"I haven't finished dealing with her yet."

This sent shivers down her spine. This wasn't Steven. This was someone else. This was a new fusion that had a new focus. Aggressive and ruthless. This was not him at all.

"Steven we need to get that other gem out. This isn't good for you." Pearl pleaded as she clung on to Garnet. Connie couldn't help but agree. Her having his Diamond was fine...but when you involve an infected gem crossed with a normal, albeit ultra rare and valuable one, their expectations on how that could turn out didn't require future vision to see how bad it could become. This was all wrong on so many levels....levels never reached before. 

"Pearl's right." Said Garnet.

"We want to save you."

His family so desperately wanted him back. Connie did too, although she wouldn't expect to go as easily as they hoped. Connie then noticed the other gems were in pain too. 

"You already did." He replied.

"You got me out of that prison...you got me my gem back. I'm the only one who can defeat Lilith this way."

Not if it caused them pain. The others fell over and started to cry, even Snow and Dori. They weren't tears of sadness, they were tears of pain. Steven turned to see them writhing on the floor in agony, then he saw Connie, who then was looking at her bloodied hand. He ran up to her in haste to check it out, but the intensity was beyond anything short of a migraine. He didn't know what to do, then looked down at his pulsating gems.

"Am...am I causing this?" He said, in horror as he connected the dots.

Or else their voices would be mine.

"No...I'm doing it again. I'm hurting them. No...I can't do this...Connie I'm sorry I'm just-"

"You're hurting more than you're helping..." Lilith commented from afar.

Connie fell to her knees, coughing up blood. Garnet had de-fused from the amount of agony that this caused them, as each of the gems struggled to maintain their forms underneath his painful, agonizing yet powerful Aura.

"Lilith stop it! Make it stop!" He roared, his shout sending shockwaves around him.

"I'm not doing anything Black...or should I say, Blood Diamond?" Lilith noted.

"How appropriate...how marvelous. I'm loving every inch of this...."

Connie gasped as she heard the gems poof from the intensity of his Aura, but Snow was still holding on as she was dragging herself to collect them, until Steven fired a red blast at her. By what must have been pure instinct calling in, he used his power to collect the gems and put them all in their own, red bubbles, then sent them on their way as well. Presumably safe at the temple, Connie hoped. He walked up to her and went down on one knee as he sat her up.

"I'm really sorry Connie...I don't know what to do." He cried out in desperation. 

The young half-gem felt herself fazing in and out of consciousness. Then her eyes widened as she felt wind on her cheek and a clang into the ground. She saw Snow in front of her as Steven moved away, in a stance with her arm out. She'd thrown her axe to get Steven to move out of the way. 

"Get away from her." Snow called out. She too was in pain, but she was dwelling it a lot easier than the other gems. Steven was furious as he charged up his Aura. Snow's form had begun to turn brighter, her eyes turning their glistening white.

Or else their voices would be mine.

"I was going to take Connie somewhere safe." He said, he then looked at her limp form.

She raised her hand to touch his face, seeing him cry dark red tears. He didn't mean for this to happen. It had to be his Gems...his Aura. He then gave her to Snow to hold.

"You take her." He said, defeated, as he lifted her up.

Snow as left stunned by this, but nevertheless took Connie from him. He begun to walk backwards.

"Get up to the surface. I need to find Lilith....I can't......"

He was at the center of this. This center of what was causing them grief. She hated Steven punishing himself for things out of his control and now he couldn't control himself. Now he was going to fight her alone? Connie tried to move, but to no avail. There just had to be something they could do. They could solve this if they just worked together. Had he forgotten their promise? He slowly walked backwards to the entrance, keeping his eye on the pair, his distress apparent. 

"What are you going to do?" Snow questioned, her tone stern, calm like a mother. Connie was impressed by her being relatively stable in all of this.

"What are you going to do when you find her?" 

That was the million dollar question, wasn't it?

No response.

"Steven." Connie muttered under her breath.

His Aura was messed up from what Connie would sense. Lilith subjected him to be this way, wanting to change his crucial moral compass. He was one to want a peaceful resolution and it most cases it worked. Lilith's evil magic had wormed its way into his Heart, warping it in its entirety.  His stare became creepier than that on Pink Steven's. He then turned around and ran off,  letting the black smoke fade before them. Connie called out after him as he ran off, pleading for him to reconsider.

"STEVEN!"


 

Instead my voice is left behind.

 

Chapter Text

For someone who wanted to stay out of the magical stuff, he was very much being involved. Although, he was in the room with a gem whom had previously tried to kill him by throwing him off the barn roof, Greg took the longest time in getting used to Peridot. She was the smart one when it came to a lot of the technology involved (though he couldn't or wouldn't say she was better than Pearl). Efficient in gem stuff but a willing learner into the ways what she would deem to be primitive or pointless devices that humans created in the mean time. Greg had to admit some were useless, the rest helped humanity survive.

All this was new to him and in no easier way would he ever be able to wrap his head around the convoluted and outright impossible things that the gems did. Still, he wanted to help in anyway he could.
After the gems left, he remained behind to aid Peridot. Aid better for the lack of a better word. He sat there remaining stoic until he was needed. He doubted it, but it was the thought that counted.

Even then, after speaking to Snow, all he could do was quietly tap his fingers on his legs out of anxious habit, knowing Steven was out there...in ways that Greg did not want to fathom. His throat was still clogged and his chest was still tight. He just wanted him safe right now but it killed him to know there wasn't anything really he could do. He did trust the gems to make sense of it and bring things back to normal, but if what Greg felt after being tortured by these people was bad, what Steven felt had to have been a thousand times worse.

"Please stop doing that." Peridot commented.

Greg blinked.

"Doing what?" He asked.

"Tapping your legs with your fingers. It's distracting."

Oh.

"Oh sorry. I'll stop." Greg replied, solemn. Maybe he could ask more questions to pass the time.

"I noticed you've been working on that non-stop. What are you trying to do?"

Peridot sighed. Oh boy, here it comes.

"There's something that's been bothering me about Apophyllite. GIS construction is generally based off existing wave length patterns. You mentioned flash copying earlier. That's okay to use if you're only usually a small portion of gem data. But never it is to be an actual gem into itself." She explained.

Cloning but not cloning. Right.

"I've been trying to find the link or at least the raw input codes that will tell me what gem Apophyllite was made from. A GIS isn't always named the gem its made after, but the fact it was named like a gem was a key cornerstone. I've been hitting dead links constantly, traversing in three unrelated deposit caches. Makes zero sense."

Should Greg have had understood what she just said? Because he didn't.

"Which reminds me, I've been wanting you to ask a question for ages...."

It took her until now to ask him?"

"How did you make Steven anyway? I mean, I looked up human mating books and I was not impressed. In fact I was disgusted."

Greg went a deep beetroot at that sudden and unexpected statement. He tried opening his mouth but was left with ums, ahhs and I's as Peridot kept interrupting with the most embarrassing yet intricate details. He'd rather be with the others right now....until a sudden beeping noise caught their attention by surprise. Dozens of red dots appeared on the screen where the other gems were. 

"Guys, it's Peridot. A huge clearing has appeared on the map. You're surrounded!" Peridot called out frantically.

Greg knew little, but he knew trouble when he saw it. Panic continued to fluttered into him. The map fizzled out as the Lillim's power kept messing with the transmissions. Peridot whacked the console, cursing it as it didn't respond to her commands. 

"Woah, be gentle. I'm sure Apophyllite's trying to get through the static." Greg assured her. Although that was just a guess.

Peridot went back to work typing away goodness knows what, in order to get the answer she'd be satisfied with. The void was filled with the ventilation's soft humming, although it didn't make it less awkward by the moment.

"Combining organic matter and gem matter is considered impossible by any means, although once I studied a bit of the Pink Diamonds properties, I did come up with a few theories." Peridot continued.

Was she really curious about how Steven was even formed? Greg just...well, given the general idea of what human reproduction entailed... she described that Rose's ability to heal others and deal with plant life in general could have been related to it. Rose did what ever she wanted to do. A lot of that was on her hands. He just...happened to be a contributor. Having a kid wasn't originally on Gregs to do list, but it grew on him. The rest is history. The talk of environments molding a gems character made sense. For a gem to pop out of the ground knowing who they are and what they were to do. Rose really desired the human's ability to be who ever they wanted to be.

"I'd been thinking about Fusion a lot." Peridot revealed.

"The convergence of two gems or more. I was fortunate to be a part of it recently, forming, now that I look back to it to being a circumstance where it was necessary, with Jasper and Lazuli to create an entity known as Tiger Iron."

Greg wouldn't have the pleasure of fusing himself, knowing how much of a failure that ended up being, though it was the for the better.

"I had made some mental notes about being a fusion that allowed me to scope out the properties of what makes a cross gem fusion so unique."

She went on to explain Garnets situation and most other fusions she'd encountered so far. Being Tiger Iron held an impact on her much more than she realized and felt like she had taken away a bit of her when they unfused, not necessarily power or gain, but the mentality. A niche engraved in her gem.

"Fusion combines everything of a gem to create a new being. Same gem fusions use existing traits of their own components to forge their light mass to become a much larger version of themselves. Cross gem fusions take similar routes but they add another complex string of data. An imprint. Due to the traits of two separate gems being similar, new data is made to forge new paths to make new strings of logic to make a tangible form based on the relationship between the two or more gems. I'm wondering if an imprint is added on to the gems memory cache...so new data is formed for the next time they fuse to make it easier. "

Yup. Gregs brain was fried.

"But the component gems still have some say in the decisions the Fusion makes...both superconscious and subconscious. That's what makes up the personality of the fusion."

That Greg could get, personality. Garnet held aspects of Ruby and Sapphire, the only fusion he'd come to know quite well. As for everyone else...well...but he got the idea.

"What was Tiger Iron like?" He asked. Curious.

Peridot sighed.

"Hard to say. Fusions created in a time of need between gems with obvious conflicting interests can create unstable fusions. But Malachite seemed to have everything under control for that very reason. Although I'd come into the picture quite late so it's hard to nail down the exact personality for Tiger. Malachite was ruthless and filled with innumerable hatred. Not at that moment. When I became a part of that..it changed. I felt Lapis and Jaspers willing cooperative selves with me and another part emerge that I'd never seen before. We were only fused for about ten or so minutes, being guided by the need to fight. That's the intended purpose for fusions...being war machines when you've just needed more fire power. Now there's more to it than just being stronger."

The original intention for Greg to fuse with Rose was to get closer to her. To get on her level and to experience what could have been an entire trip that would blow his mind and hers.

"You can still be stronger. Relationships are made and developed by bonding with one another. Strength doesn't just come from having a lot of power, but by education and sharing experiences. To fall in love with someone takes time in getting to know the other person and if you survive the highs and lows and both of you still come out better on the other end than you did before, then it's a relationship worth pursuing." He explained to her.

"There's always going to be a rocky period of time where there's a series of misunderstandings or misgivings you'd never expect to have otherwise. Talk, communicate and work out a solution that's going to work for the both of you. Communicate constantly to make sure the other is on the same page so that you can overpower any problem any of you come across. There's no easy solution to everything, which is why you need to constantly strive to understand each others feelings."

Peridot nodded, rubbing her chin as she absorbed his words.

"There may be some wisdom in your madness." She responded.

He wasn't sure about madness. It could be maddening if you really thought about it.

"You have a great relationship with Lapis right? You care about her well being...and you care about Steven and Amethyst..." He pointed out, counting with his fingers.

Peridot grumbled. Klaxons went off as Apophyllite pulled up graphs of goodness knows what.

"What is it?" Greg asked.

The green gem went into a flurry of rapidly trying to decode what Apophyllite was showing them.

"There's an extremely powerful demonstration of something going on in that room. It's huge and-"

The room went dark as Apophyllite short circuited.


 

Peridot turned on the light with her gem in order for them to see. She was pedantic about the system going offline at the worst possible moment. She slammed the console to get it on, but it was clear that they had a power outage. Greg's chest tightened as a chill entered the room. Whispers went off, then were cut off shortly after. Greg went to check any kind of panel of any sort to see if they could get it working. It wasn't then until he heard sobbing. He could see Peridot crying into the console itself. He wandered over to try and console her as he patted her back.

"Woah woah, it'll be okay, we just have to keep trying to find a way.." Greg told her.

"I don't even know why I-I'm crying....my gem, it hurts..." She cried out.

Greg noticed the bright glow of the console that lit up, projecting Apophyllites sphere again. 

"Working off of reserve power. Generating barrier sequence. Scanning."

A wave of blue light filled the room briefly, as Peridot sighed with relief as she fell backwards to the ground. Greg went over to her, uncertain but willing to do what it took to help out. He sat by her and helped her sit back up, as her eyes lulled as she rubbed her gem.

"You alright?" He asked.

She blinked twice.

"Does it look like I'm alright?" She yelled, as Greg was taken aback by her sudden outburst. She then sighed.

"It felt like someone was stabbing me there. Never felt that intense before."

It made Greg fret over what was going on down there. He pursed his lips as he stood up then stared at the door. It just got stranger and stranger by the moment. How did he get roped into this? It wasn't long until the mains power was restored to the room on its own. Peridot collapsed against him as he put an arm over her shoulder. He let her just stay there to recollect her thoughts and her strength for the moment. She reminded him of some of the younger, nerdier girls he knew in school who used to talk to him about their problems. They were the nicest people you'd ever meet but the amount of times the thuggish jerks or the more clique girls would pick on her since they were really excited about certain subjects or topics.

Though she didn't have magic powers or the ability to fuse or anything like that. Certainly not with two separate gems let alone one. Hmm...it gave him an idea.

"You said that...Apophyllite had three memory...cache thingys right?" He asked her.

She nodded. 

"Yeah? So?" 

Three memory caches. The topic of Flash copying. Memory caches created during fusion, what ever that all meant and GIS production stuff.

"Did they ever try to clone Fusions? I mean, I know about the fusion experiments and what not, but given the unique uhhh...uniqueness of gem fusions, have they tried copying any of that?"

Peridots eyes widened at Gregs series of unasked, unexpected questions. 

"You said they don't always name those GIS things after the Gem? What if..."

She shot up off the ground and eyed off Apophyllites projection.

"That's it!" Peridot beamed. She grabbed Greg by the shoulders as she drilled her eyes into his and ended digging up his anxiety instead.

"Three Memory Caches that belonged to three separate gems. Apophyllite is a Fusion scanned GIS. Not only does that explain its unique properties but it also proves my imprint theory. When did you get so you good at Gem Physiology and technology?"

Uh. Well, most of it was put together from bits and pieces. He also did apply some of her earlier logics too. Other than that, a lot of it came from seeing what happened to the gems on a infrequent basis.

"A minute ago?" He replied sheepishly.

Peridot grinned as she threw her hands to her hips, proud at the revelation.

"If only I could find out what gems you were made out of...that would be the next aspect of this investigation!"


 

Her joy was soon cut off as they heard the door slam hard, causing Greg to jump. Peridot ordered Apophyllite to unlock the door as it soon flew open. Greg could only watch as Snow came inside, carrying a heavily bloodied Connie in her arms, weeping as the door was shut. Snow fell against the door and slid down. Greg went to Connie's bag at the edge of the bed nearby, trying to find any first aid equipment he could find. He found some bandages and tissues in there, helped wipe off some of the blood then went to work to stop the bleeding from her forehead. He carefully wrapped the bandages around her head, careful to not knock her gem. He then noticed that the others hadn't come back either. Greg took Connie from Snow and put her back on the bed to let the girl rest. He could see Peridot kneeling before Snow who looked absolutely distraught as she too rubbed her gem. Greg gave Connie her bottle of water, but couldn't help but feel like daggers were dug into his chest as he could see Snow trying so hard to stop crying.

After a moment of tending to Connie, she felt a bit better and sat up. She was weak, but she could sit up under her own power. Relieved, Greg  saw that Peridot had Snow sit down on one of the chairs, back slouched as she held her head in her hands, her elbows digging into her knees. Despite her own pain. Connie went over, as they embraced one another. Snow eventually stopped as she rubbed Connies head and sat up. Greg witnessed the stretch of sorrow from her glistening green eyes. It had to have been a horrible situation for Snow to be like that; with even Connie looking worse for wear. He had to be prepared for the worst.

"I don't even know where to start." Said Connie.

"Start it from the top." Greg suggested.

Both Connie and Snow described on how they had gotten to the room itself and that they had found Steven encased in a giant cube of onyx, only for Pink Steven to fuse with him becoming some kind of gem fusion that Liliith called Blood Diamond that caused pain to the very gems they had that ended up poofing everyone except Snow and that Connie's bleeding was part of that. Snow theorized his new Aura was giving off a warped projection that ended up hurting everyone in its perimeter. Explained why Peridot was in agony prior at least. Steven had the mercy to put everyone into a bubble and send them away. However, he definitely did not like seem like Steven in his bout of aggressive behavior. Greg found this all very hard to take in. His own son...his sweet little boy was put through all this...he couldn't take it.

"I'm sorry Greg." Said Snow. Her anguish spoke volumes.

"And you just let him go?" Peridot chastised.

"There wasn't anything we could do." Connie pointed out.

He was like his own mother. He did what ever he wanted. But the thought of Steven going rampant like that, the way that they had described this...this...

"He's my child and I'll be in my own grave before I let him do this to himself." Greg declared angrily, fighting through his own tears.

"Where did he go?"

Connie and Snow exchanged glances.

"We don't know...." Snow said softly.

Greg wanted to be angry. He wanted to be angry at the gems for not being able to protect him from this mess. He wanted to take him far away from them as he possibly can. Go somewhere where they couldn't find them. Isolated, safe. But he couldn't do that. This was his home. This was his family too. He loved them too much to disappear like that. For now, they had to think of something they could possibly do to find Steven and just..

"After Lilith...sounded like he wanted payback." Connie continued.

Payback? Steven didn't even seem like he was the one to harbor vengeance against other people (baring a single infamous individual). She must have stirred up something fierce within for him to react like that. 

"So what do we do now?" Peridot questioned.

They had to get him back. They just had to.

"We'll have to do a final sweep of the place. If Steven's gone to find her, she's either going to be here or if somehow he finds out she's not, he'll leave this place and end up going goodness knows where." Snow put forth.

"Once we're done, we'll head back up...we'll need to check up on the other Gems..let's hope they're okay."

Greg hated this more and more.

Chapter Text

Humanity likes to dance over their flaws in their lives. The flaws of the beds they make themselves, the issues with the images they fabricate and the ways they handle truths and ideals they hold to their hearts until their death.

Rising over their problems like reversed rain, are the real heroes that ascend above all else. But it's important to watch for their elevation to ensure they can still be grounded, to where they once were. The last aspect you want is a desire to lose all sense of what makes you, you. Ego becomes our enemy. Pride becomes our cancer.

Don't let the people you love fall into that trap. Remind them. Give birth from old ideas to form new ones. Don't let the parasite consume them. 

Or you.

Diga Arch-Fire


 

The mood was heavy by default. After they found nothing left they could use at Outpost Major, Snow took Connie. Greg and Peridot back to the surface, even when they couldn't find traces of Milky no matter how times she'd search the whole facility. It meant she had to be out there. Priorities had shifted to finding Steven and getting him back in the surprising turn of events that forced him to flee. 
In the months that followed became difficult for them. They found the others safely in the Burning Room back at the Temple, which gave them some relief that Steven had the mercy to return them home. He hadn't gone completely at least.

They'd discussed the situation hundreds of times and made many missions in the attempt to find out where Steven had gone. Arguments and debates were had, but at the end of the day, they just wanted to see him again. Snow and Greg went with Connie to her house to explain what had happened to her, why she was like this and so forth. To say her parents were hysterical about their daughter suddenly getting magic powers would be an understatement. Greg assured them that she was physically okay. When the question of Steven came up, Connie opened her mouth up, presumably to explain, but Greg intervened and said he's busy doing his duties and being a responsible gem. Snow was surprised to hear Greg lie about that, but when she truly dwelt on it, what could they have said instead? These humans had accepted Connie's dalliance into their version of alien sorcery and Connie pledged herself to be as responsible with her new found powers and that she'd have the gems to guide her.

Snow was humbled by the love for their daughter, experiencing the familial sort from what Connie had told her previously. She could see Greg crack slightly under his smile, as Snow then felt guilty at his current dilemma in comparison. She wished she could do more to ease his pain, for now Snow offered her assistance to the Maheswarans if they needed anything from her in the future. It was the least she could do.

Connie would come over often, the only beacon of pure light in the wake of Steven's disappearance. Her presence was more than welcome in the Beach House and she found herself staying over a few times, as Pearl helped her train her new abilities to understand them better. Her Aura generated the feeling of Hope and Empowerment within others, which may have been the reason why the others depended on her staying around. Their love for Steven would often leave them in a state of melancholy and despair, generating and healing rifts between each of the gems without his presence.

Whether or not the gems would ever recover from the trauma inflicted, it wasn't healthy for them nor Connie to balance their emotions and encourage such a dependency based on her power. Greg's earlier advice of becoming a psychologist or some kind of therapist to help them came to mind. Peridot was the mostly stable one of them all...and maybe Amethyst. She wasn't stubborn just...she would be jovial in either reality or it was just a mask. Snow knew it to be the latter, but she would easily could lose more than she gain if she pushed too far. Garnet was reclusive and Pearl was obsessed in trying to find Steven's location as soon as possible, though through training Connie, Snow became concerned she was not only using her for her Aura, but she lived vicariously through her as a another Half-gem like Steven.

Another issue that popped out was located at Snow's post. She'd settled into one of the Outpost Minors that Milky once had when Snow had arrived.. She noticed the inactive warp pad that was there and was given minimal prompting. Milky didn't like Warp Pads for what ever reason. This one wasn't that far out of Beach City and was located on top of a nearby Mountain. She only found it on the map she was given prior to her mission on Earth. It had several rooms for that Snow took advantage of and would think Milky wouldn't mind if she made it her home. When she had time, she made it a bit more cosy. Black marble floors and in the center was the sunken in lounge with the mauve carpet and semi circle shaped biege leather couches with a black glass table in the middle. Over the same month, she had more stuff put in, knowing that she would eventually have visitors (human, gem or otherwise) and wanted to make them feel more welcome. She transformed the room on the right into a kitchen and dining area, where she would make tea for new...friends.

Understanding herself with the bit of human feeling within, she had the left most set of rooms transformed as well and a set of stairs that lead to the bedrooms above. It contained a master bedroom and other guest rooms. Only appropriate for when Connie would come around to talk when she needed to. Without even an inch of realizing it, she'd already become a Therapist for the girl who would stay the night occasionally as well, especially when dealing with the other gems became a bit much.

Peridot would come around as well, especially with how she helped refurnish the house. She would tell Snow on how Lapis wanted to help find Steven too and felt powerless to do so. She'd gone and helped reconstruct the barn a few months back and now that Jasper had moved in, much to Lapis' dismay. Peridot kept telling Jasper to go see Snow for her Snow Quartzy wisdom. She had one session and that was it. Not that Snow expected that as much, but she was always welcome back in case anything else came up. 

Now, the only actual issue was that from what Snow could recall, she had bubbled and warped both Black Pearl and Pyrope back to her own personal Burning Room or her secured study area. The secured aspect as damaged, as if someone broke in for that specific purpose. Dori tried tracking the scent, but came up with nothing. Nothing else around the place was touched...only the two gems. It worried Snow, until she saw the note on the nearby bench in childish hand-writing. 'They're safe with me.'

Snow didn't want to cause panic, feeling like that it was Steven who stole them. She never mentioned it to anyone else, lest they freak out.

Instead, she became focused with Peridots study of Apophyllite as they examined it in Snow's study. According to her discovery. the Blackbox GIS was a scanned three Gem Fusion. It was very odd and it was unheard of a fusion being scanned. Well, if  due to the prior taboo of cross gem fusion, they might as well have been the first successful Fusion copied GIS. It became Peridots main purpose to find and cling onto any data that she might have popped out. Snow had the console prepared for her as per Peridots successful replication of the Outpost Majors Blackbox compatible terminals. They wanted to use Apophyllite to potentially track down Steven's location. Once the Box was installed, Apophyllite's hologram sphere emerged from it shortly after initial activation. Peridot became excited at the prospect of working together with Snow, unintentionally revealing that the tensions between the gems were getting to her as well.

"Unfortunately. Steven was the theoretical glue that held them together." Snow explained.

"Without that foundation, things quickly fall apart."

It was true, from what Snow had already observed.

"I noticed Connie's been with them a lot lately. She seems to be doing okay." Peridot noted.

She was but she wasn't.

"She misses him dearly like the others and has every right to believe that he'll come home. Whether it's on his terms or if we drag him back. Either way, she's being strong for herself....even if her closest friend has abandoned her, she won't let it hinder her like it has for everyone else." Said Snow. She said he'd done it before but this time was a little bit more complicated. Connie just needed some kind of contact to ease her mind.

"You're the same. I find that commendable."

Peridot blushed under Snow's compliment and tried to brush it off like it was something she did all the time. Which was kind of true.

"It helps in having a focus a specific mission. I am certain Apophyllite will be the key in helping us further. They're a trove of information just waiting to be discovered...and bam, we'll score!"

Such confidence emboldened Snow. She also believed that Apophyllite had to have some answers hidden away in their memory. Now that they know its a flash copied fusion, it became more interesting to pour into its hidden contents. 

"I've also asked for special Debugger Chip. Installing those would allow us to blatantly get proper Root Access to find the hidden source codes. We need to dig deeper to find the original gems that they were copied from. It'll take about another week. I had to get Steven's pinkish pilot friend to get it from some old Peridot buddies on Homeworld."

Ah this...Lars she'd heard about. She had yet to meet him.

"Great. Let me know when it comes in. In the meantime I'll do a bit of tinkering of my own. See if I can't get them to talk." Snow told her.


 When on her own, Snow couldn't help but think about the circumstances that brought them here. She had half a mind to contact White Diamond about the situation, knowing full well that she'd find a way to solve this, given it did involve one of their own. On the other hand she was against it. It hadn't gotten to the point where they needed to get that far, so she went through her list of contacts she'd come to know over the years. She'd eventually tracked down one of her old gem associates. A Black Opal, an Archivist nicknamed Ridge. They dealt with Black Opals over the years to deliver information to them, only for the purposes of storing them. Black Opals were mostly down to earth gems who would get really excited in writing down not just gem lore, but any kind of lore they'd come across. History, religion...not that they were high up on the Empire's listings, only square above Pearls mostly given their purpose was for data storage alongside Beryls; who were more the database creators, programmers and entry specialists. Unfortunately they didn't get a lot of respect for their fields.

She'd tracked down Ridge in another human settled continent. Luckily enough there was a Warp Pad closer to her location. Once there, the land she saw was flat as can be. Tall eucalyptus trees were spread sporadically as they grew out of the red tinted earth, with the odd patch of grass. The temperature was mild to warm as Snow looked up to see the the sun in the clear blue sky. Nearby was a rusted tin shed next to a slow paced metal fan constructed windmill and the sounds of birds chirping alongside the crickets.

She walked to the shed itself and knocked on the rickety door.  She did eventually hear a voice.

"Just a min'!"

Snow smiled. It'd been ages since she heard that tune.

She heard footsteps, then the creaking of the door as it spread wide open. In front of her was a tallish dark blue gem, with long, wild navy hair with red streaks with a single ponytail that sat on the left side of her cheeks. Her eyes were a beaming light green that sat on her subtle chubby face, which had a light blue streak against her face akin to a blind fold. She had a small, dark green cloak of an odd design, that sat above her mixture of light and dark blue clothes and skin. Her round, black gem was situated on the top of her right foot.

"Oh Snowflake, haven't seen you in donks! How are ya mate? Heya Dori! Come in, come in!"

Black Opals were independent like Snow Quartzes, often living in the moment but absolutely love talking about the past. Her home was quaint and looked live in, but had books and paper work everywhere as Dori began to sniff some of the contents, but often didn't like what she smelled. 

"Soz about the mess, just got back from chroniclin' some documents from some folks in the west. Every tribe has their own unique set of tales. Their purpose is similar to mine. Preservation of stories that are brought to every new generation. These humans are somethin' else. Nicest people you'd ever meet."

They went into the living room as Snow sat on an old worn red couch, while Ridge sat down on adjacent folded chair. Black Opals were never the cleanest of gems, if anything else. The place was riddled with dust and dirt, as Dori sat up next to Snow and gave her an expression of concern.

"So what brings a prim and proper Quartz such as yourself to the Southern Hemisphere?"

Snow was hesitant, but if anyone could help her with anything it'd be her.

"I'd thought we'd catch up, Ridge. As you said, it's been hundreds, maybe thousands of years since we last spoke."

Ridge grinned, then looked at Dori and scratched underneath her chin.

"Aren't you the sweetest chook? I'd be much obliged to hear whats been going on in the outer world....haven't had much of a chance since this place is absolutely massive. Not to mention the locals got me hooked on going to the pub every so often. It's a...it's a place where you have a fun time with ya mates, if you're wonderin'."

Ridge never failed to make her laugh. There was some knowledge of human culture that Snow could grasp, but Ridge appeared to have adopted this place as her home. If she recalled correctly, Ridge originally was made for Pink Diamonds colony as this region was supposed to grow a decent amount of Kindergartens here. Snow had come here with Milky once before to map this place out, having a lot of potential Quartz soldiers. It, obviously, never happened. Ridge had escaped the planet during the evacuation and was meant to be reassigned to Blue Diamonds Court and ended up coming back to Earth on the terms of being able to preserve the data she'd collect there. She'd been back here ever since.

Snow explained the whole Pink Diamond drama to her and the current situation thus far. To say Ridge was shocked was an understatement.

"Good grief, that's a mouthful." Ridge commented, hooked on the edge of her seat.

"Ta think, I'm thousands of kilometers away from all of this happenin' why wasn't I gettin' all this down? So much unwritten lore! Humans, gems, human-gems. That's nuts." 

She'd quickly tried to shuffle through her files to find some spare paper to begin writing it all down. Where was her personal terminal though? Snow then noticed something drawn on one of the sheets of paper. A red coloured circle with a blue scribble around it and crudely drawn stars and a red creature underneath it. She was curious.

"What's this?" Snow questioned.

Ridge was knee deep in scraps that she looked up to see what Snow was checking out. She got up and had a closer inspection.

"Oh that? Locals I met up with about a month back chalked up a weird tale about a Blood Moon and some crazy event." She revealed.

"Nothin' much to it, but they get this tale from their Dreamtime or their Dreaming...records of the oldest tales. This one was important I found because it dates back to during the war, so there is truth within its words. I'll need to chronicle your tales first Snowflake..."

Snow did help out with the rest of the details incredulous to Ridge's position. As disorganized as she was, she did eventually note down everything Snow could explain to her. It took them a few hours, not to mention Snow assisted in cleaning the place up so she could be a little more 

"Bah...I wish I had a Pearl not just for company but to help me be a little bit more...lesse..." 

Snow gave a cheeky grin.

"Cleaner? Less messy?" She put forth.

Ridge chuckled.

"Yeah that...someone who's file savvy ya know. I knew Pink's Pearl from waaaaay back. Well, not really. We only met once when it came to Pink Diamond being introduced to a lot of the gems that would be under her command for the initial colonization. Who'd think that this Diamond could have done all of this...it boggles tha mind."

They worked into the night, when Ridge invited her out the back and lit up a bonfire with the pleasant sounds of cracking wood. Snow enjoyed the embers that curled their way upwards; bright as the thousands of stars in the night sky. A place as flat as