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Steven Universe: What Do You Believe?

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In many ways, the life of a Chrysoberyl could be quite exciting… 

As a Chrysoberyl she was used to work both on the field, and in the high council. She was adept at planning strategy and aiding directly in service of the Diamonds, leading attacks where they saw fit. Unlike the Homeworld elites who flouted their Pearls around and only sought to better themselves, Chrysoberyl was grateful that she was able to see the bigger picture, and could actually make a difference in this universe. 

Or could she?

That was the question that plagued her gem as she stared wistfully, turning the small crest over in her hands. A lot had happened this cycle, and yet a great deal more lay ahead. There was so much uncertainty, so much fear in her gem, but she couldn’t think of a better group of friends to face it all down with. Shifting her gaze away from the object in her hand, she looked out at the rest of the Diamond Moon Base, watching as Amethyst, Peridot, and Sapphire conversed excitedly about their new orders.

Amethyst Facet 1F2L, Cut 3ZC made grand, exaggerated gestures to the rest of the group as she recounted her role as a distraction for the Clarity gem that she went up against, before watching as Peridot and Sapphire joined in, smiling as the two excitedly recounted the events from their perspectives. Peridot facet 2F4L, Cut 1AR - or “Dot” as she preferred to be called, recounted her role with equal amounts of exuberance and exaggerated gestures. Her new set of limb enhancers that she customized for the mission gesticulated wildly about as she dramatized the large barriers that emerged from the ground. The other two gems turned as Sapphire facet 1F2L Cut 1AR - or White Sapphire, as she was titled - spoke up, the gemstone that stood in place of her singular eye catching the gentle light that reflected off of the pale, blue colony they all orbited. 

Certainly, these gems were an odd, even eclectic bunch, but Chrysoberyl wouldn’t trade them for the galaxy.

Or would she?

If this all went wrong, would she trade good, positive change for the first friends that she ever made?

Did she even deserve friends to begin with? After what she did?

What she was about to ask of them would certainly not be an easy choice to make. In essence, they would be forsaking their own Diamonds to follow a goal of her own making. She knew that at least some of them would stick with her regardless of the request, but was it fair to ask that of them?

Could she even ask this of them?

She would ask how she even got in this situation to begin with, but honestly it was not that surprising…

It had to be just forty short cycles ago, after tending to her duties, she found herself spending some time with her friends at the facet’s sporting arena like usual. As always, she arrived later than the rest of the group, Sapphire, Amethyst, and Dot were already watching the sparring match occurring below, where a large Jasper dueled with what appeared to be a very nimble Aquamarine.

* * *

“AQ-UA! AQ-UA! AQ-UA!”, Dot cheered from the edge of the box seat enclosure closest to the arena, waving what appeared to be a holographic projection of the Aquamarine’s face in the air.

“Of course you would cheer for the smaller one, Dot”, Amethyst laughed, lounging in her chair, “Heya Chrys, you’re late to the match, the Jasper of Facet five Level three is taking on the champion!”.

“The Aquamarine of Facet 7 right? The one who’s never been hit, or even lost a match?”, Chrysoberyl asked, “I feel bad for the whatever poor gem is facing her.”.

“Indeed”, Sapphire replied simply.

“YES~!”, Dot sang with excitement, “Aquamarine F73L, Cut 5TL!! She’s absolutely amazing!”.

“I mean, is it any surprise that she’ll win?”, Amethyst laughed, “We all saw what she did to the Gauntlet Trials right?”.

“I know right!?”, Dot laughed, “Not a scratch on her gem, and she handed their culets to them!”.

Just when it looked as though the Jasper might have the upper hand in the match, she was swiftly poofed by her opponent’s quick strike with a short sword.

“WHOO-HOO!”, Peridot cheered, “I knew you could do it Aquamarine! You were clearly the superior gem in that matchup!”.

“Remember Peridot, just because one opponent is faster than the other, does not necessarily mean that they are the better fighter.”, Sapphire chided.

“Is that why you picked my favorite break activity this time Sapphire?! Just for more lessons?”, Dot squawked.

“Hey, just be grateful that she picked your favorite to begin with.”, Chrysoberyl laughed, “I would have preferred relaxing in the clarity spire at her favorite spot”.

“Now now.”, White Sapphire laughed, “Just because I can’t see what’s happening as it happens doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy using my future vision to figure out what’s going on! It helps me stay in the moment, and enjoy things as they come.”.

“So this is all more training for you?!”, Amethyst interjected, “You need to use our free time as actual free time, not more learning opportunities!”.

“Anyway, who do you think Aquamarine is going to face off next?”, Dot interjected, “I mean, she already battled pretty much everyone on Homeworld, who’s even left?”.

“Relax both of you, I’m just continuing to improve my passive abilities, so it isn’t strenuous on me at all. Also, I’m sure that whoever Aquamarine battles next will make for an interesting fight nonetheless.”, Sapphire responded, “Besides, Dot she’s not even fighting in the next round, we appear to be entering a loser’s bracket.”.

“Aww, bye Aqua…”, Dot muttered as she deactivated her holographic sign.

“Hey, no need to be bummed out!”, Chrysoberyl supplied, “Look! The Jasper from Facet 3 is taking the stage against Topaz from Facet 9!”.

Peridot‘s mood brightened instantly as the matches started up and the night went on. Rubies, Amethysts, and even a particularly agile Zircon participated in the games, but none were nearly as stunning as the skills displayed by the Aquamarine. Sensing that the crowd was also growing bored of the lackluster matches, the manager of the event - a Sardonyx with a particularly commanding and enrapturing voice - called forth Aquamarine to battle the victor of the current match for the grand finale of the night. Cheers erupted across the arena, with the audience elated that the champion would once again grace the field in display of her skills.

“Yes! AQ-UA AQ-UA!”, Dot cheered in anticipation.

“Sorry Dot, but we won’t be able to see that match, if it’s any consolation, Aquamarine wins without taking a single hit. Again…”, Sapphire spoke up.

“What!? But-“, Peridot started before she was cut off by an approaching Cat-Ear Jade bearing the crest of Yellow Diamond.

“Chrysoberyl, you and your team are being summoned to the throne room of Yellow Diamond, to report to her immediately.”, the Cat-Ear Jade stated, while bowing cordially.

“Thank you Jade.”, Chrysoberyl replied, while returning the bow and the Diamond salute - her words carried the authority Yellow Diamond after all, “You may inform her Radiance that we are on our way now.”.

“What happened to staying in the moment Sapphire?”, Dot grumbled.

“You weren’t the only one who was bored of the matches…”, Sapphire replied with a smile.

Making haste, the four gathered their things and headed off to the nearest warp pad, before teleporting to Homeworld’s planetary hub. The hub was not nearly as busy at this time of night, as most gems were typically off at their stations now, concerning themselves with their duties and orders. However, that just made the planetary hub all that easier to admire without having to worry about bumping into another gem. Its gargantuan arched ceilings, walls sculpted from white marble and glass, its orderly halls and corridors branching off to various warp pads, all made the architecture very reminiscent of White Diamond’s very own throne room. Though Chrysoberyl figured that those two structures would have had to been built at around the same time, as one’s ability to traverse the planet quickly might even precede the need for a centralized room of command. Regardless, the Bismuths and Iolites who constructed this place certainly put a great deal of effort and skill into their work. Chrysoberyl never really understood why a gem would want intricate murals and statues in a place where a gem is only concerned with getting from point a to point b. However looking at it now, she couldn’t say that she wasn’t grateful for them being there, as it really made the structure all that more awe inspiring. Making their way to the central corridor where the Diamonds’ pads were located, the group approached an elegant doorway, guarded by two Jaspers.

“Identification please.”, the taller of the two Jaspers requested, staring at the cracked gem on Chrysoberyl’s forehead, as well as her vacant, static-filled eyes.

“Chrysoberyl Facet 1F1L Cut 1AB, and my team members, Amethyst Facet 1F2L Cut 3ZC, Sapphire Facet 1F2L Cut 1AR, and Peridot Facet 2F4L Cut 1AR”, Chrysoberyl responded.

Upon hearing the level and cut number of Chrysoberyl, the smaller Jasper’s eyes widened. Fumbling with her screen, the shorter Jasper swallowed and brought up the arrivals schedule.

“Y-yes ma’am, it appears that Yellow Diamond has cleared you for entry to her throne room.”, the Jasper replied shakily, “Right this way”.

“Thank you.”, Chrysoberyl smiled warmly, despite the Jasper’s initially cold tone.

After opening the door, the gems were lead into a square room, one that was somehow larger and more ornate than the hall preceding it. Each corner of the room was decorated with a color of the Diamond Authority, and held a corresponding large warp pad big enough to accommodate said Diamonds. A lone Pearl stood at the room’s center, operating a control panel that activated the pads.

“Well, you know where to go from here... Have a nice cycle!”, the Jasper finished somewhat awkwardly before returning to her superior.

Truth be told, despite both Chrysoberyl’s status and job she had only been inside Yellow Diamond’s throne room a small handful of other times before. Each instance of which were always regarding dire emergencies in times of war. This was largely because the Diamond herself preferred to communicate via hologram or Pearl, and rarely face to face as she was doing now. Whatever was in store for Chrysoberyl and her group, it was sure to be of immense importance.

Taking a deep breath, Chrysoberyl stepped up onto the warp pad and nodded to the Pearl controlling the main panel. The Pearl nodded in return and activated the warp pad, sending the group into one of the most venerated areas in all of Homeworld, the throne room of Yellow Diamond.

When they re-materialized inside the throne room, the group’s eyes were instantly drawn to the sheer magnificence of the room that they were in. Intricate murals adorned the walls, each depicting great wars won by Yellow Diamond. Tall golden pillars reached skyward, supporting an opulent, citrine dome. Flavescent stained glass windows welcomed in a brilliant yellow light, and at the center of it all sat the venerated Yellow Diamond upon an icterine throne. When struck by the majesty of it all, only gems with the most resilient of wills would be able to remain stoic and maintain proper courtesy.

“Woooow…”, Dot whispered in awe.

Dot was not one of such gems.

Regardless, the group approached Yellow Diamond’s throne and bowed in the Diamond salute.

“Your Radiance, how may I serve you?”, Chrysoberyl asked with trepidation.

Yellow Diamond regarded the group before proceeding.

“Chrysoberyl Facet 1F1L Cut 1AB, you have heeded every one of my orders, have you not?”.

“Yes, your Radiance”, Chrysoberyl responded.

“And each task that not only I, but the each member of the Diamond authority had bestowed upon you, you saw to completion, correct?”.

“Yes, your Radiance”.

At this, Yellow Diamond stood up, her full height filling the room, and began walking towards Chrysoberyl, towering over her.

“Then you as a skilled gem, know the weight, and severity behind my words when I say that the conversation that I am about to have with you, and your team, and the order that I am about to give you is never to be spoken of outside of this room. Are we clear, Chrysoberyl?”, she questioned, her fiery yellow gaze burning into Chrysoberyl with what seemed to be the intensity of a million Stars.

“Yes, your Radiance.”, Chrysoberyl replied, now very nervous, but still maintaining a perfectly held salute.

An off-the record mission?”, Chrysoberyl thought, her gem racing, “Such an act had never been heard of, after all, all missions are logged by the Ammolites in order to determine efficiency and strategic information for their commanding Nephrites. If this mission was off the record, then it must be as though it never happened, but to organize a stealth mission so covert that it is hidden even amongst the military’s higher ups? What could Yellow Diamond be planning?”.

“Good, because frankly, you, and by extension, your team, are the only gems that I can entrust this mission to.”, Yellow Diamond began, “You of all gems are aware of how the loss of Pink Diamond affected not only Homeworld, but the Diamond Authority as a whole.”.

“Yes, for me personally the pain of her loss was, and still is, an immense burden on my gem. I cannot fathom how much more the loss is affecting you who were closest to her.”, Chrysoberyl supplied.

Yellow Diamond nodded, her gaze resting on Chrysoberyl’s cracked gem and static-filled eyes, “Well that is why I called you here today. The fact of the matter is that while we know that we could have - and should have done more for Pink Diamond, it has come to light that Blue Diamond in particular views herself responsible for the loss of Pink.”, Yellow Diamond sighed, as if admitting these words pained her, “She has become clouded with grief, Chrysoberyl. It has come to the point where I am managing Blue’s Court in her place, and I’m having to send all my orders through her Pearl just so no one finds out about this.”, Yellow Diamond admitted as she sat back in her throne, her face in her palms.

What once was a figure equal parts beautiful, terrible, and awe inspiring seemed to implode on itself, revealing a Diamond far more tired and downtrodden than Chrysoberyl had seen in a long time. Then again, Radiances normally didn’t have to manage two Courts at once while dealing with their own pain and loss. However, as she shook off the shock of seeing Yellow Diamond drop her facade and actually processed Yellow Diamond’s words, a wave of deep terror settled into her gem.

“No…”, Chrysoberyl gasped in horror, “Her Radiance Blue Diamond, does she have??”, she trailed off, not even daring to speak the name.

“No.”, Yellow Diamond sighed, realizing how her words must have been taken by the team before her, a sigh of relief rippling through her subordinates in response, “And thank the Stars she doesn’t. But it is what I am worried about. Even though a Diamond has never contracted the Weeping, if there was ever a Diamond to get it, it would be her. That is why I need you and your team, Chrysoberyl. You are to go to Earth and find the shattered remains of Rose Quartz, and bring them back here so that Blue can grind them to dust beneath her feet. Barring that, you are to find something, anything that can give Blue Diamond hope. Something that would honor the life of Pink Diamond.”, Yellow Diamond concluded.

“Consider it done, your Radiance.”, Chrysoberyl answered without hesitation.

Usually Chrysoberyl could pride herself on being objective in any situation, but trying to convince herself that she was impartial would only be a lie. No, what Rose Quartz did was unimaginably terrible, and Chrysoberyl would be happy to spend a millennia searching for her broken remains on that rock in order to watch Blue Diamond crush those shards into dust. To see firsthand as that traitorous piece of schist is ground into dust by the very gems she so dearly hurt.

Breathing in, Chrysoberyl steeled herself for what she was about to ask. “Your Radiance, if I may have one request?”.

“And that is?”, Yellow Diamond questioned, raising her gaze from her hands.

“When Blue Diamond crushes the remains of Rose Quartz, I wish to be there. To watch as she gets what she deserves.”, Chrysoberyl’s gaze hardened, her voice filled with venom.

Yellow Diamond regarded Chrysoberyl, and sat contemplative for a moment before opening her mouth once more.

“Very well, Chrysoberyl. You may hold audience to Rose Quartz’s destruction. You are all dismissed.”.

“Thank you, your Radiance.”, Chrysoberyl spoke, bowing lower still, “We will begin immediately.”.

“Thank you, your Radiance.”, repeated the rest of the team, before returning to the warp pad and teleporting to the Diamond’s warp room.

“Well team…”, Chrysoberyl began as she turned and addressed her friends, “We have some work to do.”.

Yes, the life of a Chrysoberyl is exciting indeed.

Chapter Text

Regrouping back in their main base, the team took in the events of their prior meeting with Yellow Diamond.

“I understand now why she made us swear to such secrecy.”, Amethyst began, breaking the tension in the room, “I always thought that the Diamonds were always strong and decisive, but yeah, it makes sense that they would be just like us too, right, Chrysoberyl?”.

“Right…”, Chrysoberyl replied, still shaken from her prior emotional outburst, “First things first, Sapphire, what are you seeing with regards this mission so far?”.

“There is a Diamond observatory set up on the moon orbiting Earth, complete with an observation orb… We are there for quite some time, apparently planning something, there are mentions of weapons, so it would seem as though we are appearing for a conflict of some form.”, Sapphire replied calmly.

“Conflict? With what? That rock’s only inhabitants are a bunch of primitive organics.”, Amethyst chuckled, incredulity filling her tone.

“If we are preparing for a fight then this mission can’t be nearly as straightforward as it seems.”, Chrysoberyl sighed, “Dot, make sure that every possible useful device is on our ship, the 3D mesh projectors, your light construction refractor prototype, everything you can think of Dot - as well as a toolkit and workbench in case we need to build something on the fly.”, she ordered, turning to Amethyst, “In the meantime, Amethyst, I want you to get as much intel on Pink Diamond’s colony that you can find, and upload it to the ship’s computer. Sapphire, prepare the ship, and chart a course to the Moon orbiting Earth. As for myself, I need to calm down and prepare myself for this mission. Everyone good?”, Chrysoberyl asked.

In response, the rest of the group nodded or hummed their affirmations, effectively dismissing the group. Peridot and Amethyst both departed quickly to fill their respective roles, leaving Sapphire alone with Chrysoberyl.

“Chrysoberyl, I know how much this mission means to you.”, Sapphire spoke up eventually, breaking the silence in the room, “If there’s anything that you want to talk about, I’ll always be there to listen.”.

“Thank you Sapphire…”, Chrysoberyl gave her a weak smile, “It’s just hard thinking about Rose Quartz again, after all these years.”, Chrysoberyl began slowly, looking away from Sapphire, “I know that the past isn’t your specialty, but, do you think that I could done something?”, Chrysoberyl got out, hands balling into fists.

“Can you see any path where I was able to something, anything to change what happened to her?”, Chrysoberyl asked, her tone more pleading than asking, as her expression filled with a mix of pain and regret.

Feeling the other gem’s pain, Sapphire drew Chrysoberyl into a hug. It all felt like so much all at once for Chrysoberyl, the pressure of a secret order from the Diamond Authority, the digging up of old wounds, and the thought that if she could have just done a bit more, none of this would have happened.

Chrysoberyl could not help but weep. It was her job wasn’t it? Her job to aid and make things right? Her job to stop evil, and protect the Authority? Because that’s what a Chrysoberyl does, so why did she end up shattered anyway if it wasn’t her fault? At this thought, Chrysoberyl could only sob harder into Sapphire.

“Chrys, look at me.”, Sapphire ordered, startling Chrysoberyl with the use of her nickname, “No one, not even I, predicted what happened to Pink Diamond. So please, do not blame yourself for this.”, Sapphire spoke, gaze turned upward to the gem in Chrysoberyl’s forehead, and the deep cracks that marred its front.

Startled by this admission, Chrysoberyl tried to look at things from her perspective. Of course a gem blessed with such skill at clairvoyance would blame herself for not seeing the future when it mattered most. And if White Sapphire has found it within herself to move on from this, then Chrysoberyl should put effort into healing as well.

“Thank you, Sapphire. I’ll try.”, Chrysoberyl replied, eyes still watery.

“You are most welcome, Chrysoberyl”, Sapphire replied, smiling, “Now go get some rest in your healing chamber. You’ll need to be in peak condition for our mission.”.

* * *

Sapphire then left the room to complete her duties, leaving Chrysoberyl alone for some time. Deep in thought, Chrysoberyl made her way to her room in the base, and sighed. Her room was in fact rather conservative for that of an elite gem. There were no grand murals or artwork, no intricate columns, nor any Pearls to wait on her every need. Instead, her room was quite plain. A small computer terminal in one corner, and a healing chamber to ensure her cracked gem is never overly stressed in the opposite corner. The only feature that made this room truly luxurious, was its large window, which covered three out of the four walls, as well as a good portion of the ceiling. If there was one luxury that Chrysoberyl enjoyed, it was the ability to see the stars on a clear night such as this.

Reclining in her healing chamber, Chrysoberyl looked out at the stars.

“Maybe I didn’t fail you, or maybe everyone failed you, Pink Diamond.”, Chrysoberyl spoke, more to herself than anyone else, “You always cared about us though, more than any other gem… I have to wonder, having Rose Quartz not only shattered, but crushed, is that something you would want? You were never one for violence… Or would it make you happy to know that Blue Diamond is once more at peace? You two were very close after all, so I would imagine that you’re worrying about her just as much as Yellow Diamond is.” Chrysoberyl paused, thinking over her words once more.

“Can my words reach you?” Chrysoberyl whispered, the Milky Way galaxy reflecting off of her gaze, “Perhaps not… but we will pay you a visit after our work is finished either way.”.

A chime sounded at her door, startling Chrysoberyl from her reflection.

“Come in.”, Chrysoberyl called to the guest.

“Heya, Chrys!”, Amethyst greeted, opening the door, “So, I got all the information I could from Homeworld’s databases, and it all pretty much confirms what we already knew. It’s just a big rock over-run by organic life forms. Apparently, Pink Diamond commissioned a large habitat just outside of Jupiter for their species.”.

“Interesting, there must be some importance to them then, if Pink Diamond took such an interest to them.”, Chrysoberyl remarked, “Do you know if any Peridots ever researched the species?”.

“I would imagine that there’s one or two reports at least floating around somewhere. Would you like me to get their findings on the humans?”.

“Yes, and upload it to the ship’s database with everything else. Dot should be done soon, and we will leave shortly afterward. Thank you, Amethyst.”, Chrysoberyl smiled.

“No prob, Chrys!”, Amethyst replied jovially, while noogie-ing the smaller gem, “I know this is serious, but that sour look on your face is gonna bring the whole team down!”.

“You’re right.”, Chrysoberyl admitted, laughing along, “Thank you, Amethyst.”.

Amethyst simply waved in response, already on her way to complete her assigned tasks, leaving Chrysoberyl alone with her thoughts in the healing chamber once more.

Casting her gaze once again to the Milky Way, Chrysoberyl smiled and formed the Diamond salute, “See you soon, your Radiance.”.

* * *

Amethyst was right, now was the time for work, and she couldn’t let her negative emotions effect the rest of her team. Chrysoberyl smiled to herself as she made her way to the ship.

“Peridot, how are we looking on supplies?”, Chrysoberyl asked the petite gem as she flitted from one work station to the next, pulling items into the ship with her tractor beam.

“Nearly finished, Chrys! I should be done in about 2 millicycles!” Dot reported briskly.

“Good to hear.”, Chrysoberyl responded as she made her way onto the ship.

“Amethyst, were you able to get those documents?”, Chrysoberyl asked.

“Yes, ma’am. I didn’t get a chance to look over them, but I just finished uploading them to our database.”, Amethyst responded.

“Wonderful, and Sapphire, I take it the ship is ready and our course is set?”.

“Indeed.”, Sapphire responded, “Also, Dot just finished loading thi-“

“I JUST FINISHED!”, Dot yelled excitedly, interrupting Sapphire.

“Yes, that.”, White Sapphire laughed.

Chuckling, Chrysoberyl asked, “Alright then, I take it everyone is ready?”.

Two brief yes’s followed by one excited YES filled the ship’s control room, and just like that the team set off on course for the moon of Earth. The trip itself wasn’t terribly long either, with the development of Era 2 gravity well technology, their ships could travel at very high speeds, and traverse large expanses of the universe in a short time. That’s not to say that the time spent on the ship was wasted however, as the team took the opportunity to read the reports on humans made by the Peridots. All in all, there was nothing too fascinating about the species, outside of the fact that they could somehow regenerate and heal cracks in their physical form given enough nutrients and time, something about a liquid plasma that circulated throughout their body allowing for the movement of materials and reconstruction of an exterior shell dubbed “skin”. Suddenly, the sound of the ship’s landing legs extending and coming into contact with the ground resounded throughout the ship.

“We’re here.”, Sapphire stated.

The group made their way out of the ship, taking in the sight of the tower before them, before opening the door.

“Interesting.”, Peridot commented, as the atmosphere from the inside of the tower began to be sucked into the vacuum of space, “Why would Pink Diamond have air inside the base?”.

“Perhaps she needed to study some of the flora and fauna of the planet?”, Amethyst suggested.

“Hmm.”, Dot muttered in response.

“Everyone, the observation orb is on the second floor.”, White Sapphire called, regaining everyone’s attention while gesturing to the spiral staircase.

Making their way up the staircase, the team admired the murals decorating the walls.

“Looks just like the ones back in Yellow Diamond’s throne room, huh Chrys?”, Amethyst commented.

“That’s because the same Iolite made them. Iolite Facet 2F3L Cut 3PL if I remember correctly…”, Chrysoberyl stared at the intricate murals, the stunning beauty that the gem managed to portray was simply incredible, “She was commissioned from the Yellow Court to help her Radiance Pink Diamond with this base. When she was making them she told me that she made the ones in Yellow’s throne room as well.”, Chrysoberyl replied.

“Whoa…”, Dot replied, craning her neck up to appreciate the large artwork.

Eventually, the team made it to the small blue orb on the second floor of the tower.

“Here we are.”, Sapphire announced, activating the observation orb in the center of the room, an image of the colony’s galaxy warp filling the room in response.

“So, where to begin searching.”, Chrysoberyl mused, “First we should categorize the planet into notable locations. So obviously, there should be the remains of the Facet three battlefield here.”, Chrysoberyl said touching a spot on the north eastern spot of the globe, bringing up a live feed of a field of large strawberries inter-strewn with pieces of gem weaponry.

“This place doesn’t seem like it has been touched in ages, though.”, Amethyst commented, “Plus, didn’t Rose Quartz survive the battle here?”.

“She did. It is worth checking out though.” Chrysoberyl muttered, touching another random point on the map, bringing up footage of a small settlement.

“Hmm, so these are the humans that Pink Diamond took interest in.”, Amethyst thought aloud, “Where is this place?”.

“Well, assuming the translation software on this orb is up-to-date, according to this sign outside the settlement, it appears to be called the town of ‘Empire’…”, Chrysoberyl replied, squinting at the sign as its text blinked between the organic’s scrawl and gem glyph.

“Empire? Yeesh, these organics certainly don’t have a concept of scale.”, Amethyst chuckled incredulously, “How can it be an empire if it doesn’t even encompass the planet and its moons?”.

“Beats me.”, Dot replied, “But what I do know is that we are going to be here forever if we don’t find some way to narrow down our search, didn’t the early Diamond Observation Orbs have some kind of search filter?”.

“Good thinking, Dot”, Sapphire replied.

“Yep, right here, recent gem activity.”, Chrysoberyl said pointing to a menu displayed by the orb.

Upon pressing it, the map panned down just south from the town of Empire to a small coastal cliffside, brining into view a gem warp station and statue. Sitting below the statue was a bulky, pink figure.

“W-what?”, Amethyst asked, stunned at what she was seeing, “Dot, when was this video taken?”.

“It’s live.”, Dot replied, equally stunned, “Chrys… Chrysoberyl this is now.”.

“I hoped I was wrong.”, Sapphire spoke up, crying, “I didn’t think it would actually be true, but she’s really here.”.

Chrysoberyl could only stare. That hair, that gem, she had that image burned into her core for the last two million cycles. She feared… no deep down she knew that the battles with her and that ever-present Pearl weren’t over. But now it could be truly finished, it could end by her hand, Pink Diamond could finally be avenged.

While every other gem in her group felt some mix of stunned and shocked, Chrysoberyl smiled coldly, gaze ablaze with determination.

“Rose Quartz.”.

Chapter Text

How, how could this be? How could she still be alive after what the Diamonds did to this planet?”, Amethyst shouted, pacing around the observation room.

“They have a newer member of their team, a gem that was defending them.”, Sapphire began, “Their nature is confusing, but they should be arriving shortly.”.

Suddenly, a gem with purple skin and three eyes appeared on the warp pad.

“What kind of gem is that?”, Amethyst asked.

“Look at the shape of their body, they’re a Garnet!”, Dot began excitedly, “But it looks like her injector ran out of Diamond Extract halfway through the incubation process… I know she’s tall, but for a Garnet, she should have received limb enhancers of some form, because she’s much smaller than a Garnet should be. Maybe I should look into that if that’s a recurring problem…”, Dot muttered, trailing off.

“Her hands.”, Sapphire said urgently, “Pause the feed and look at her hands.”.

Nodding, Chrysoberyl expanded the protection to fill the entire room, making it as though their team were standing right next to the mysterious gem, before pausing on a frame.

Amethyst ran up to the Garnet projection and gasped, “Sapphire’s right, she has two gems, she’s a fusion somehow.”.

“A fusion of two even smaller Garnets? That doesn’t even come close to making sense…”, Chrysoberyl replied, confused, “Dot, check through all reports across Homeworld and Pink Diamond’s colony relating to the keywords fusion, and Garnet.”.

Nodding, Dot pulled up her screen and typed in the search terms, “Ummm, searching now. Here, I have one result. A report from late Era One. A Ruby guard 6F2L, cut 4BN and a Clarity Sapphire 1F1L cut 9DE from Blue Diamond’s court fused once when attacked by the Renegade Pearl here on Earth, she then ran off, and was never seen again.”.

“That must be her.”, Sapphire replied, “It’s no wonder the Crystal gems have been hidden for so long, they have a Clarity...”.

“She’s probably been steering them away from futures where they are discovered.”, Sapphire replied, “We will have to take care of her first. That way no one will suspect a thing... We can use her fusion to our advantage, while she is strong, the Ruby in her is weak in focus and lacks prioritization.”

“How do you know that?” Amethyst asked.

“All Rubies are.” Sapphire answered plainly, “The poor prioritization skills of a Ruby combined with the laser-focus and future sight of a Sapphire can be easily exploited, but we will need Amethyst’s shape shifting abilities to do so. Chrysoberyl, can I operate the orb?”

“Absolutely.”, Chrysoberyl said, stepping away from the controls.

Now at the controls, Sapphire paused, her gem glowing as if she was summoning a weapon.

“Focus, focus…” she grunted, exerting her energy into a kind of hyper focus. This was Sapphire’s true gift. While it was true that all Sapphires, White Sapphire included, could see branched paths and possibilities, it was this focus that allowed her to see the future as she desired it to be, looking across billions of possible endings, and finding the necessary events to form such a result into a reality. While most of her superiors knew her ability allowed her to see reality as it would happen, what only a seldom few knew was that it was Sapphire herself pulling those fates into existence.

“Rose’s defeat. Come on, I can almost see it…”, Sapphire continued, voice now laced with pain as her light manifestation began to distort with the extreme pressure exerted upon it, gem glowing ever brighter.

Peridot!”, Sapphire commanded, now shouting, “Plug the gem link cable from your enhancers into the orb, and the input cord into my gem!”, she got out, her teeth clenched.

Hurriedly, Dot plugged the auxiliary feed from her enhancers into the orb, and the input plug into Sapphire’s glowing gem, Providing sapphire a mental link to the observation orb, her database, and her screen projection system all simultaneously.

“IT’S IN!”. Peridot shouted, as the light from Sapphire’s gem filled the room with a blinding light, forcing the other gems to shield their eyes.

It’s nearly there! Just a little more!”, Sapphire cried out, her body now levitating a few feet off the ground.

Suddenly, the observation orb began to spin into action, displaying images of a cliffside near the Crystal Gems’s warp pad, a small, brown furred life form that was apparently located on the opposite side of the land mass the Crystal Gems were on, multiple images of warp pads across the planet, a field of flowers in a garden next to a fountain depicting Rose Quartz, and another screen that was completely black.

“I’VE GOT IT!” Sapphire shouted, her gem releasing a shockwave of energy, knocking the rest of the team back.

Just then, multiple screens appeared next to the ones displayed by the observation orb, this time from Peridot’s enhancers.

“I did it.”, Sapphire repeated, catching her breath, “I know how we can defeat Rose Quartz.”.

“Well, that’s great and all…”, Amethyst replied, “Could you maybe give us a warning next time before you start glowing so much you almost shatter yourself?”.

“Yeah, I agree with Amethyst.”, Chrysoberyl said, “You had me pretty worried there, Sapph.”.

“I apologize.”, Sapphire replied, “I will let you know before I attempt something so strenuous again.”.

“Let us know? How about find a way to help WITHOUT almost shattering yourself Sapphire!”, Amethyst countered, understandably concerned for her friend’s well being and priorities.

“Please, it was quite safe. It only looked scary from the outside. I can assure you I was in no real danger.”, Sapphire responded, smiling.

“It may be safe for you, and that’s great and all, but that’s the LAST time you get to use my limb enhancers!”, Dot cried, “You very nearly shorted out the entire system with that blast!”.

“Alright, alright everyone, that’s enough.”, Chrysoberyl spoke up, regaining everyone’s attention, “Sapphire, what is all of this?” she said, gesturing to the screens around her.

“Right.”, Sapphire began, “This is how we defeat Rose Quartz. As I mentioned before, we need to deal with their Clarity first.”, she said, gesturing to the screens depicting the cliffside, the organic creature, and the warp pads.

“This gem’s primary weakness that we will have to exploit is that of predictable rhythms and timing-based activities with a reward stimuli of some form. So I looked into the future for behavior of organic creatures that could provide this stimuli for us and found what are called ‘moles’.”

“Moles?”, Dot asked, “What kind of name is moles?”

“I am not sure.”, Sapphire replied, “But that is largely unimportant, all I was able to see is that a human organic saw that creature and will call it a ‘darn moles’ 1 deci-cycle from now. That aside, its behavior of burrowing and hoarding is what is important for us to make a believable distraction. This is where Amethyst comes in, as I will need her to mimic it in order to properly distract their Clarity.”.

“Umm, I’m able to copy shapes, yes, but I can’t do colors. So unless a ‘moles’ come in purple, we’re going to have an issue.”, Amethyst interjected.

“I know.”, Sapphire replied, “That is why we will require Dot’s three dimensional mesh projections in order to give you a convincing disguise.”

“These projectors? Or the larger units?”, Dot asked, pulling two small clasps from her gem.

“The smaller ones.”, Sapphire replied, “They need to be small enough to be able to be strapped onto Amethyst’s back so that it can disguise itself as well.”.

“Alright, I’ll set those aside then.”, Dot replied.

“We will need ten of those, as well as two toggle-able pad scramblers, and a spare tractor beam emitter in order to deal with their Clarity.”, Sapphire stated, “From there, we will need a way to burrow at least nine interconnected holes into the wall of the cliffside. Dot will us-“, Sapphire began before being cut off.

“My plug robonoids should be able to do the trick!”, Dot interjected excitedly.

“Yes, they will.”, Sapphire continued, smiling, “Amethyst will wear one projector, while the others will be buried in the holes, thus making it seem like there are more moles than there actually are. From there, the moles will pop out in a randomized, but continuous manner. Garnet will try and catch the moles, but fail each time since they are projections. This in turn will allow Chrysoberyl enough time to place pad scramblers onto the underside warp pad in their base, using the tractor beam to lift its base. From there, the renegade Pearl will-“.

“Hold up a second, Sapphire.”, Amethyst interjected, “I feel like we are missing a step here. Why is this Garnet chasing the moles in the first place?”

“Ah right!”, Sapphire said, realizing her mistake, “So, intermittently, a small Amethyst working for Rose Quartz will bring gem shards back to their base, either from the Kindergarten, or from the gem battlefield on Facet Three. It doesn’t seem like they are using the shards for any weapons in particular, but they are important to their team, as they are quite dangerous in the wrong hands, or in the possession of someone who does not know what they are doing. Thus making it the perfect motivation for their Garnet to chase after them.”, Sapphire concluded.

“So, I’m just going to jump up as a ‘moles’ and take the shard?”, Amethyst asked.

“Not exactly. Before their Amethyst finds the shard, Chrysoberyl will apply some spare friction reduction gel from Dot’s toolkit to the shard, making it difficult to grab. Then, using her chatoyance, she will follow the Amethyst onto either the Kindergarten pad, or the Battlefield pad, depending on the instance we plan to use, which in turn depends on how much time we need. Once in their base, our Amethyst, disguised as a moles, will startle their Amethyst, causing her to drop the shard. You’ll have to use of Dot’s high-traction ship maintenance gloves in order to maintain your grip on the shard, but from there you’ll run out to the holes, prompting their Amethyst to get Garnet.”

“Alright, so that whole interchange deals with their Garnet. But what about their Amethyst and Pearl?”, Dot asked.

“The Amethyst runs off into her room behind the warp pad and is no longer a threat to our mission. However, Chrysoberyl will have 0.5 millicycles to attach the scrambler onto the warp pad, because after that there is a 0.17 millicycle time period before Pearl exits her room, which is when Chrysoberyl will trap her using Peridot’s light construction refractor.”

“Which means I’m going to have to set aside time to finish the refractor, then.”, Dot interjected, “It’s a good thing we brought my workbench...”.

“Yes.”, Sapphire resumed, gesturing to the screen displaying the fountain, “From there, we can approach Rose Quartz. In each opportunity we have to begin this sequence of events, Rose Quartz is always tending to the gardens around her fountain.”.

“Pfft, that’s not pretentious at all.”, Amethyst commented, looking at the gaudy statue honoring the war criminal.

“We can use this to our advantage by setting up disruption barriers one planetary rotation prior.”, Sapphire elaborated, bringing up a small map of the garden on the observation orb.

“Rose will be located here after Pearl’s capture.”, she said, pointing to an area just north of the statue, “In order to make an ideal arena, we will need to utilize six separate field generators, hidden at these points.”, she continued, selecting six separate points on the map, equidistant from where Rose is to be located, forming a highlighted hexagon shape on the map.

“After turning on the pad scramblers, Chrysoberyl will approach Rose using her Chatoyance, entering the area before activating the barrier. Additionally, we will also need to set up speakers through the arena for Chrysoberyl to utilize when she is invisible in order to further confuse Rose mid-battle. However, assuming that each step is done properly, this will lead to Rose’s defeat.”.

“What about that screen over there?”, Amethyst asked, gesturing to the all black screen.

“I’m not sure what that is, it may just be left over information from my vision…”, Sapphire responded, trailing off.

“It’s still worth checking out though.”, Dot spoke up, making her way over to the orb, “The screen appears to be trying to access coordinates out of its bounds.”.

“What is it trying to access?”, Chrysoberyl asked.

“Let’s see.”, Dot said, copying the coordinates from the orb onto her screen, “It seems to be trying to access a point in Homeworld’s orbit…”, Dot replied, scanning through the information on her screen, “Not sure what it has to do with Rose Quartz though.”, Dot concluded.

“Yep, Sapphire was right.”, Chrysoberyl replied, dismissing the screen, “Just leftover information from her vision.”.

Suddenly, Amethyst piped up, “Okay, so I get this gist of the plan, but when does all of this happen? Everything with the moles and the setup of the holes in the cliff side and the insta-barriers?”.

“The first opportunity comes within two lunar cycles on this colony, or sixty-one cycles in Homeworld time. We will need to use that time to monitor the Crystal Gems’ patterns of behavior, so that we practice our sequence in random areas on Earth and set up infrastructure for travel, before we set the trap for real.”.

“Also, I need to finish the light construction refractor!”, Dot chimed in.

“Yes, but following that first opportunity, there are ten additional opportunities, beginning seven planetary rotations after the first, with each opportunity seven rotations apart.”.

“Well, since all I have to do for this mission is grab a gem shard and hop out of some holes, I’ll take gem monitoring duty, studying their patterns and behavior, since that’s going to take up the most time initially.”, Amethyst volunteered.

“Yeah! And since I’m mostly going to be working on the light construction refractor, and infrastructure set-up practice, I can help with the monitoring duties from time-to-time as well.”, Dot added.

“Good.”, Chrysoberyl commented, “While you two work on that, Sapphire and I will train for the battle with Rose until we can get the infrastructure set up, then we can all start practicing the sequence.”.

“Sounds good to me.”, Amethyst replied, “Sapphire, Dot what do you think?”.

“Sounds wonderful.”, she replied.

“YEAH, LET’S KICK THEIR CULETS!”.

Chapter Text

The next fourteen cycles went by rather quickly, far faster than what Chrysoberyl was comfortable with, to be honest. That said, it was productive. Dot was able to get a tremendous amount of work completed on her light construction refractor, and her and Amethyst were able to reverse-engineer the schedule, skill-sets, and responsibilities of each of the rebel gems, thus providing useful information in predicting what they would do next. However, Chrysoberyl threw herself into training for her fight with Rose.

Once more, the sound of Chrysoberyl’s twin blades slicing through a holographic projection rang throughout the first floor of the Diamond outpost.

“I feel like that generation of her fighting style AI was as close as we are going to get to fighting the real Rose Quartz.”, Chrysoberyl got out, panting from the match.

“Was Dot able to finish analyzing and building a model for the fighting styles that the organics developed?”, Chrysoberyl asked, “We may need to account for the possibility that she picked up some of their tactics over the last four-thousand years.”.

“Chrysoberyl, are you quite certain that you want to continue? You have been at this for some time.”, Sapphire asked, worry coloring her tone.

“Sapphire you and I both know that even if I stopped, I would not be able to rest. Not here at least.”, Chrysoberyl replied, before surrendering, “Just one more round, Sapph, then I will stop.”.

“Very well then, but I’m holding you to it.”, White Sapphire replied, summoning a holographic projection of Rose Quartz from her gem, “Holo-Rose, please append your fighting techniques to include the following parameters.”, White Sapphire ordered, gesturing to a databank equipped with an Era-2 interface panel.

Downloading new information.”, the projection reported, eyes glowing blue green a bits of new information flitted across them.

Download complete, incorporating information into fighting style, predictive algorithm complete.”, the projection said, stepping towards Chrysoberyl and adopting a fighting stance, “Commence generation 7,552 of guided learning algorithm?”.

“Commen-“, Sapphire began before being cut off by Dot.

“Hey everyone! I know you all are training right now, but Amethyst and I found something!”, Dot interjected, hurriedly leading everyone to the second floor.

“Good, now Chrysoberyl can give herself a break.”, Sapphire relplied, before turning to the projection, “Holo-Rose, pause program.”.

“You only agreed to another match because you knew Dot would interrupt, didn’t you Sapph?”, Chrysoberyl laughed as she climbed the stairs to the second floor.

“Perhaps~!”, Sapphire replied with a smirk.

“Well congratulations, you got me to take a break.”.

“And I consider that a job well done. Now what is this that you wanted to show us, Dot?”, Sapphire said, reaching the top of the stairs.

“Chrysoberyl, Sapphire! Come look at this”, Dot exclaimed, gesturing to a recording of the Crystal Gems’ Clarity walking around the planet’s Galaxy warp, “So Garnet does a visual sweep of the galaxy warp every 5 planetary cycles, right?”.

“Yes. What about it?”, Chrysoberyl replied.

“Well look, she’s just checking to see if they’re still broken, she isn’t standing on them or trying to use them, she’s just looking at it!”, Dot said excitedly.

“What are you suggesting?”, Chrysoberyl asked, curious as to what the smaller gem had in mind.

“We still have the large three dimensional mesh projectors! We can send my flask robonoids to fix the necessary pads on one of her off-cycles! The galaxy warp has pads for Homeworld and access points to major transit hubs, but it also has one for the moonbase here! All we have to do is fix the moonbase pad, and we can get access to anywhere in the colony!”.

“Alright, when do you want to go down and fix it?”, Chrysoberyl asked.

“I don’t see any reason to why we can’t do it now, the fusion just finished her check on the pads one cycle ago, plus I can easily put all the necessary materials in one of my escape pods, and head down there!”, Dot replied excitedly.

“Alright, get everything set up, I’ll keep an eye on the gems, to see if they deviate from their pattern, of anything comes up, I’ll let you know.”, Chrysoberyl assured.

Making her way down to the ship, Dot made a mental list of what she would need to repair and camouflage the warp pad.

“Let’s see, I’ll need a scan robonoid to take an image of the broken pad, a flask robonoid to repair the pad, as well as the large 3-D mesh projector to camouflage it. Plus I’ll need a small projector to hide the large one.”, Dot thought aloud, now in the ship.

* * *

It wasn’t long before all the necessary items were loaded onto a small, green escape pod just outside of the team’s ship.

“I thought I should take the escape pod, since it would be less conspicuous in case something were to happen.”, Dot spoke over the coms to Chrysoberyl.

“That’s a good choice, but you sure you have room for yourself in there as well?”, Chrysoberyl laughed.

“Yeah, it’s at times like this when I wish I could adjust and compress the size of my limbs enhancers, so I could actually shrink down a little.”, Dot grumbled into her mic as she squeezed into her small escape pod alongside her robonoids and projector.

“Alright, I’ve got Rose’s base pulled up on the orb, as well as the galaxy warp.”, Chrysoberyl reported, “You’re clear to make your way down there.”

“Yes ma’am!”, Dot replied happily, despite her cramped position.

“Alright, and nooooow we launch~!”, Dot hummed to herself as she activated the pod and set course for the galaxy warp.

It wasn’t long before Dot moved far enough away from the moon’s field of gravity that her small craft felt the pull of Earth’s gravity far stronger than that of the moon, causing the contents of her small vehicle to shift around the cockpit.

“UGH!”, Peridot yelped, as she got a mouthful of one of her flask robonoid’s gravity connectors, “Computer, how much longer until we are on the planet”s surface?”.

Estimated time to arrive at galaxy warp, One Deci-cycle.”, the computer supplied.

This was going to be the longest deci-cycle of her existence, Dot thought to herself.

* * *

When the pod finally touched down onto the surface of the warp platform, Dot quickly opened the main hatch and tumbled out of the craft.

“Oh thank the STARS that’s over!”, Dot cried in relief, happy that she could finally move again.

“Alright, everyone out!”, Dot ordered, as the flask and scan robonoids came out of the pod, carrying the 3D mesh projector.

“Good! Now first things first, we need to find the right pad…”, Dot thought aloud to herself, pulling up a blueprint of the galaxy warp’s pads on her screen, “And if that’s the pad that links to the rest of the colony’s circuit,” Dot began, observing the only intact warp pad as a reference to find the moon’s pad, “then THIS should be the pad for the moon!”, Dot chirped joyfully as she stood in front of what looked to be the proper pad.

“Now that we see which pad is which, scan robonoid, it’s your time to shine!”, Dot exclaimed as she input the scan preferences to record the broken warp pad accurately.

In response, the scan robonoid whirred to life, emitting multiple grid-like rays from its spherical body and onto the broken pad. It wasn’t long until Dot had a very detailed three dimensional image of the pad uploaded to her screens.

“Good job scan robonoid!”, she said, petting the small contraption, “Alright flasky, time to strut your stuff!”, Dot said, ordering the flask robonoid to repair the selected warp pad on her screen.

Quickly, the small robonoid scaled the warp pad and began coating it in a green gooey mixture, repairing the pad back to functionality.

“Now to see if I was right!”, Dot said as she stood atop the newly fixed warp pad, and activated it.

Within moments, Dot found herself right outside of the moonbase.

“Alright, it can send gems, but now for the important bit, can it receive them?”, Dot thought to herself, activating the pad on the moon.

Once more, Dot was enveloped in a beam of light, and found herself at the galaxy warp.

“WOOHOO!”, Dot cheered, excited that her plan worked, “Chrysoberyl are you getting this? The pad works!”.

“I see! That’s great Dot!”, Chrysoberyl said excitedly, now let’s get the projectors set up and get out of there.”.

“Alright, robonoids, take the large projector over there.”, Dot said, gesturing to the opposite end of the warp platform. Once in place, Dot sent the image file from the scan robonoid to the projector, so it could begin building the file.

“Now first things first, let’s make you invisible.”, Dot muttered to herself, typing in the few necessary functions for the small projector to bend light around the shape of the larger projector.

“That’s one of your newer creations isn’t it?”, Chrysoberyl asked, “How does it work, if you don’t mind me asking?”.

“It’s actually based off of your chatoyance ability. I had to harvest some minerals from the Kindergarten where you formed in order to build these smaller units, but they’re a pretty robust system.”, Dot finished, clipping the smaller unit onto the larger one, making the projector look as though it faded out of existence.

“There, now the large projector unit is properly camouflaged, we can finish formatting the projection on the larger one. How are things looking at there base, Chrys?”, Dot asked.

“Hang on, the Garnet just came out of the back room, and is walking to the Renegade Pearl.”, Chrysoberyl said, turning up the volume on the observation orb’s incoming feed.

“Alright, keep me posted.”, Dot said as she began formatting the projection of the broken pad over the fixed image.

Suddenly, Chrysoberyl’s hurried voice came over the coms. “We have a problem, Garnet must have sensed something is up with the galaxy warp, we don’t have much time, she just told Pearl she has a bad feeling about the galaxy warp and they’re headed to the pad. Dot you have to hurry! How long until the projector is up?”

“Just a micro-cycle!!”, Dot replied frantically, sending the robonoids and escape pod down to the underside of the warp to hide, “I just have to finish calibrating the model. Almost there!”.

“Dot, listen to me you need to hide, NOW. They are in the cave and getting on the pad.”, Chrysoberyl warned, urgency in her tone, her gaze locked on the display of the gems as they activated the warp pad.

Quickly, Dot activated the projector and dove behind one of the pillars surrounding the galaxy warp, before the sound of an activated warp pad rang throughout the area.

One moment, two moments pass, but for Dot it feels like a millennia.

“Hmm, are you sure you sensed something?”, the renegade Pearl’s voice carried through the air, “It looks the same as it always does.”.

Internally, Dot breathed a sigh of relief. The projector had worked, and fooled the enemy. Wait, of course they had worked! What was she thinking!? She was Peridot cut 1AR! Of course her projector worked!

“I just felt something off.”, the fusion replied, now walking around the warp, “I’m going to have a look around.”.

“Okay, but make it quick. We can’t leave Amethyst alone for too long without her getting bored and terrorizing the humans with whatever shapeshifted monster that she has planned out this week. Although, I must admit I actually kind of liked the big hairy creature that she made last time. What did she call it? Big-foot? Because of the feet? That is so like her to make something like that up.”, the Pearl laughed as the fusion slowly paced around the galaxy warp.

“We can leave her alone for a little bit.”, Garnet responded, “This is about safety, Pearl.”, she said, moving to the area with the moon’s pad, now directly in front of Dot’s pillar.

Chrysoberyl dared not move as she watched the Garnet get closer and closer to the pillar Dot was hiding behind, before pausing right behind it. Chrysoberyl wanted to alert Dot of the imminent danger, but she dare not speak a word, for fear of having Garnet hear her through the coms. She could only watch as her friend did her best to stand very, very still while pressed against the wall.

STARS, she is right behind me! She’s so close she could probably hear me think! If I could just shrink down!”, Dot thought to herself, eyes clenched shut, as she prepared herself to summon her weapon if needed, “Curse my stupid limb enhancers!”.

Seemingly perturbed by something that she couldn’t see, Garnet ran her hand against the column, before turning around and leaning her back against it.

“What is it?”, Pearl asked.

“I’m uncertain.”, the fusion sighed, “I felt like something would have been different or changed, but nothing has.”.

“So... We’re good then?”, Pearl asked.

Humming an affirmation, Garnet finished her patrol, and returned to Pearl on the warp pad, muttering something about her own paranoia before teleporting away.

As soon as the rogue gems were gone, Dot collapsed to the floor in a sigh of relief.

“That was TOO close!”, Dot all but screamed into the coms.

“It’s okay though, you’re safe now, and that’s what matters.”, Chrysoberyl said, more to herself than to Dot, “You can put the robonoids in the pod and send it up here, but you’re going to be taking the pad.”.

“Sure thing.”, Dot said, exhausted from the rush of emotions, before ordering the robonoids and the pod accordingly and warping away on the new pad.

As soon as Dot materialized on the moon’s pad, she was drawn into a hug by Chrysoberyl.

“I’m so glad you’re okay.”, Chrysoberyl muttered while embracing the smaller gem, “From here on out we are running all of our ideas by Sapphire first.”.

“Agreed.”, Dot concurred, “I mean, I could’ve defended myself if I needed to.”.

“Against the fusion, yes, but not against both her and the Pearl. Besides, I could never forgive myself if you ended up hurt, we don’t even have any restoration pads out here for Diamond’s sake!”, Chrysoberyl fretted, “From here on out, you’re staying on the moonbase until it’s time to do the sequencing for real, and Sapphire is to look ahead to ensure the safety of all parties when practicing on Earth, understood?”

“Absolutely Chrys~!”.

* * *

With the infrastructure for quick travel in place, Sapphire, Amethyst, and Chrysoberyl were able practice their sequencing a great deal over the course of the following ten cycles. Out of all of the events in the sequence, Chrysoberyl found the handoff of the gem shard between the small Amethyst of the Crystal Gems to the disguised Amethyst the most difficult to pull off while still appearing as though it was a naturally occurring event. It was during one such practice run when the three received a message from Dot.

“Everyone! Come up to the moonbase! I finished the prototype!!”, Dot’s voice blared over the coms, startling Chrysoberyl and causing her to slip and fall into a holographic projection of the Crystal gem’s Amethyst.

“Ow.”, Amethyst moaned, rubbing her ear, “We’re coming, Dot, we are coming.”.

“Alright everyone, let’s wrap it up and see what she has for us.”, Chrysoberyl spoke up, picking herself up off the floor.

Once up, she turned to where White Sapphire was to help her, only to notice that Sapphire had removed her earpiece and was chuckling.

“You could have given us a heads up there, Sapphy.”, Chrysoberyl grunted, but with no real anger in her voice.

“I could have!”, Sapphire’s bell like laugh echoed across the cliff side, “But it would not have been nearly as amusing!”.

Overtaken by the contagious sound of Sapphire’s laughter, the other two gems joined in to laugh at their own expense.

It was only a short period later before the gems were able to make it back to the moonbase, but despite that, Dot rushed to greet them as though the team had left for millennia.

“Where were you all?”, Dot cried exasperated, “If the tear down and packing of that equipment is truly so time consuming, then perhaps we should consider putting effort into streamlining our gear!”.

“That will not be necessary, Peridot.”, Chrysoberyl began, getting Dot back on topic, “Now, you mentioned that you finished the light construction refractor?”.

“YES!”, Dot exclaimed, holding up a small yellow prism-like device, “But to demonstrate, I need a volunteer.”.

“I’m game for some refraction.”, Amethyst laughed, stepping forward.

“Alright! So, I worked it out so that the device operates by being thrown at the target gem. It was the safest way to build it to ensure that it won’t accidentally trap someone.” Dot explained, bringing up screens displaying the prism to the other three gems.

“In order to use it, you first must sync the prism to the light wavelength your own gem.”, She said, touching one flat end of the prism up to her own gem, causing the prism to glow a light green color, “That way, the prism does not bind your light construction instead of your target’s”.

“Now we throw!”, Dot exclaimed, tossing the small prism at Amethyst.

As soon as the prism made contact with Amethyst’s form, a wave of yellow light appeared around her, before expanding into a small triangular cage, just large enough to fit Amethyst’s form.

“Huh, these look like the form disruption barriers that are used in holding cells.”, Amethyst commented from inside her container before experimentally placing a hand upon its wall. “YEOUCH!”, Amethyst exclaimed.

“That’s because they are!”, Dot replied excitedly, “But that’s not even the most amazing part of this device! Once inside the prism, any gem is immediately synced to the wavelength of the user. Their gem, their light construct, weapons, everything. Meaning that from there, you can draw the enemy gem into your own gem, but it acts like one is storing an item, so the user doesn’t have to worry about their enemy doing any damage!” Dot beamed, approaching the prism.

“Now Amethyst, this should probably tingle quite a bit, but it is harmless!”, Dot said, as her gem started to glow.

“Um okay, so you’re about to-“. Amethyst began before the prism began to glow in unison with Dot’s gem and was immediately pulled inside of it.

“What!?”, Chrysoberyl exclaimed, surprised.

“I know right?!” Dot replied, “You can pull the whole thing into your gem, like you’re de-summoning a weapon!”

“Okay, well, let’s see how she feels.” Chrysoberyl said, excitedly, “Bring her out.”

All at once, the prism retuned from Dot’s gem, and was deactivated leaving a very disoriented Amethyst on the floor.

“Amethyst! Amethyst! You have to tell me how it felt!” Dot asked, practically vibrating in excitement.

“Dot, remind me to never volunteer for another one of your experiments ever again.” Amethyst groaned.

“That was amazing, Dot. I love it, and I could tell that you really went all out with this one.”, Chrysoberyl praised.

“Thank you.”, Dot beamed with joy at the recognition.

“The only potential issue that I have with it is the manner in which the prism is used at one’s target. What if I throw the device and miss? And what if it breaks?”, Chrysoberyl asked.

“I suppose I can attach a rod to the prism, that way we wouldn’t have to throw it.”, Dot responded, coupling an inert light-manifestation disruption rod to the base of the prism.

“How’s this?” Dot asked, holding the yellow flanged rod with the prism now at its top.

“That’s perfect, now I don’t have to worry about missing.”, Chrysoberyl replied, before turning to Sapphire, “Well Sapphire, I think that we have everything set for the sequence, what do you see?”.

Pausing, the clarity looked into the future to determine their probability of success.

“We’re ready.”.

Chapter Text

There were a lot more gem shards embedded in this cliff face than what Chrysoberyl was originally anticipating. All in all, this entire situation was odd, why would their Amethyst simply grab one shard when she could gather a much larger amount with little extra effort. Or perhaps she is simply putting in the minimal amount of effort in order to claim that she completed a task? Chrysoberyl wondered to herself as she grabbed yet another shard for White Sapphire’s observation.

“This shard?” Chrysoberyl asked White Sapphire through the coms, as she used her foresight to determine which gem shard she was referring to.

“No, there should be a shard, azure in color, around 1 milli-cut to the left of where you are standing. That is the one that you will coat in the anti-friction fluid, and move two meters away from the cliff face.”, Sapphire replied.

“Alright.”, Chrysoberyl responded, moving to the left before reaching a shard that matched Sapphire’s description, “This one?”.

“Yes, that is the one.”, Sapphire replied after a brief moment.

“Alright, coating the shard now.”, Chrysoberyl reported as she retrieved the fluid from her gem and applied it to the shard.

Once the shard was suitably slippery, Chrysoberyl then moved the shard a short distance away from the cliff face, “The shard should be in position now, Sapphire if you just want to confirm.”. Chrysoberyl reported back to Sapphire.

“The shard is in position.”, Sapphire confirmed, “You have five centi-cycles before the Amethyst arrives.”.

“Understood.”, Chrysoberyl replied over the comms, before switching to Dot and Amethyst’s channel, “Dot how are we looking on the holes in the cliff side?”.

“The holes have just been completed.”, Dot reported quietly rom the back side of the cliff to avoid drawing too much attention to herself, “We just have to place the projectors in and we are all finished on our end.”.

“And the barriers that you set up in Rose’s garden last cycle are still ready to be deployed?”, Chrysoberyl asked once more.

“Yes ma’am.”, Dot replied, pulling up a small screen displaying the status of that equipment, “The barriers are online and are ready to be deployed, the speakers are placed throughout the area and are also online, plus the 3d mesh protectors are still active and report no distortions, so no one has spotted them yet.”.

“Wonderful.”, Chrysoberyl replied, “Amethyst, how are you feeling?”.

“Feeling like I’m ready to snag me a gem shard!”, Amethyst reported excitedly, already phased into her mole form, complete with gloves and projector ready to go.

“That’s great, from this point on, I need you all to switch your com links to Sapphire’s channel, that way we can hear each-other at all times.”, Chrysoberyl responded.

“Got it.”, Dot replied before switching communications channels on her earpiece.

“Everyone here?”, White Sapphire’s voice came over the channel.

“Yes.”.

“I’m here.”.

“Absolutely!”.

“Good.”, White Sapphire replied, smiling, “Chrysoberyl, you have one millicycle until the Amethyst arrives, I recommend using your chatoyance now. Dot, return to the ship, so that we can fly to the arena.”.

“Got it, returning now.”, Dot replied, heading back to the ship.

“Got it. Hiding now.”, Chrysoberyl replied, taking a few seconds to focus.

Slowly, her body began to shimmer, as the light bent around her form, her body seeming to fade out of existence. Focusing harder still, Chrysoberyl willed her gem to reflect and refract the light, warping it until not a trace of her form was visible.

Then, taking a deep breath, she waited.

It wasn’t long before a small purple figure crested the hill, making her way from the warp pad.

“Let’s see, let’s see.”, the small Amethyst muttered to herself, “Oh here’s one!”, the gem exclaimed excitedly, picking up the azure shard, before promptly dropping it.

“Wow, you’re a slick one, aren’t you?”, she muttered to herself, before looking at the residue on her hands.

“Ewww, gross!” she laughed, before wiping her hands off and trying to grab the shard once more. After fumbling a couple more times, the Amethyst finally got used to carrying the slippery shard, and made her way back to the pad, silently followed by Chrysoberyl.

“Chrysoberyl is now on the pad.”, White Sapphire reported, watching the events through her clairvoyance, “Amethyst get into position.”.

“I’m in position.”, Amethyst replied from her area right outside the cave.

Suddenly a glowing light filled the pad in the center of the temple, revealing Amethyst with her shard. That was Amethyst’s cue. Running up to the small purple gem, she got her attention.

“Oh hey little guy!”, Amethyst cooed, moving the shard to one hand, before petting the disguised gem, “Where’d you come from?”.

Carefully, Chrysoberyl nudged the gem shard, causing it to slide out of the Amethyst’s relaxed hands.

“Whoops!”, the small Amethyst exclaimed, dropping the gem shard.

Acting quickly, Amethyst sprung up, and snatched the shard before the Crystal Gem’s Amethyst could grab it once more.

“Hey give that back!”, the small gem cried out, chasing the disguised gem around the temple.

“Haaah, you don’t give up do you? Hang on little guy, wait right there.”, she huffed, as she went into the room behind the warp pad.

“She’s going to get the Clarity now, Chrysoberyl and Amethyst get into position.”, White Sapphire spoke over the coms.

Shortly, the Garnet fusion made her way out of the back room, trailed closely by the Amethyst.

“See? He’s just right there, with the shard!”, Amethyst said.

“Alright now little guy.”, Garnet called out to the disguised Amethyst, “Hand over the shard, and you won’t get hurt.”.

Amethyst took that as her cue to run towards the holes, trailed closely by the Garnet.

“Alright! You have fun with that!”, the small Amethyst called out before heading back into her room.

Quickly, Amethyst 3ZC dove into the center hole and activated the projectors. As soon as Garnet rounded the corner, she was met with the sight of a large number of moles, each popping in and out of a set of holes in the side of the cliff.

“Chrysoberyl, you are now clear to attach the scrambler.”, White Sapphire reported.

“Got it.”, Chrysoberyl replied, retrieving the scrambler, as well as a tractor beam emitter from her gem.

Carefully, Chrysoberyl lifted the warp pad, using the tractor beam, and placed the scrambler on the underside of the pad, before lowering it once more.

“Scrambler is placed.”, Chrysoberyl announced as she took position next to the door to the Temple’s room.

“Good, I see it’s online and ready to be activated!”, Dot responded from over the coms.

“How are things going with you Amethyst?”, Chrysoberyl asked.

“Things are going well, but this fusion is really upset.”, Amethyst replied from deep inside the hole.

“Oh come on.”, Garnet groaned, “Just give me the shard!”, she shouted, now grabbing at the moles as they sprung out of the cliff face.

It wasn’t long before Garnet was quickly entranced with the rhythm of this “game”. The mole would spring out of the wall, and each time Garnet would be there to punch it back down into its hole, however the shard was nowhere to be found. It didn’t matter that much, she reasoned to herself, it was just a shard, and this was fun, predictable even, she had an objective, and she could just do it forever, this just felt so good…

“Good work, Amethyst. She’s entranced now, keep it up.”, Sapphire’s voice rang out over the coms. “Chrysoberyl, Pearl should be coming out of her room in one millicycle.”

Chrysoberyl grit her teeth as she prepared herself to face that Pearl once more. Pearl would suffer as she took everything away form her, by taking away her very purpose. If it wasn’t for her, Rose Quartz would never have gotten as far as she did. If it wasn’t for her, the Crystal Gems would have all been shattered millennia ago. If it wasn’t for her, Pink Diamond would still be alive. If one thing was certain in the galaxy, it was the fact that the renegade Pearl will suffer dearly. Just as she herself did.

Chrysoberyl was interrupted from her thoughts as the door to the back room was opened once more, the renegade Pearl appearing in its threshold. Quietly, Chrysoberyl moved behind the Pearl, syncing the light construction refractor to her own gem, before preparing to jab the Pearl in front of her.

Everything happened in the blink of an eye. One moment, the Pearl was muttering to herself about the needs of Rose Quartz, and the next, the Pearl found herself struck by a sharp yellow object. Instantly, a wave of yellow light shone across Pearl’s form, trapping her instantly.

“WHA-WHAAT!?”, Pearl cried out in shock, her voice echoing through the small cage.

“Hello again Renegade, did you miss me?”, Chrysoberyl smirked.

“Chryoberyl!? How did you get here? How did you FIND us?”, Pearl’s voice was muffled by the barrier as she yelled.

Grunting, she tried to summon her spear, only to recoil in pain as her form was shocked from the barrier’s walls.

“Like it?”, Chrysoberyl asked, “We put a lot of work into making something special for you. As for all your other questions. Yellow Diamond commissioned me to retrieve the shards of Rose Quartz from Earth. Imagine our surprise when my team and I discovered that she was alive and well. But don’t worry, I’m not going to shatter you.”, Chrysoberyl gloated, leaning towards the barrier, “You get to finally know what it’s like to crack under the weight and grief of your failure. To watch as the one you hold dearest to yourself, the very gem that you are tasked with protecting is taken away. You’re going to watch, as the one you care about is shattered right before your very eyes, just like what YOU did to me, Pearl.”, Chrysoberyl spat out her name as though it were a curse, before drawing the caged Pearl into her gem.

“We’re all wrapped up here, Sapphire.”, Chrysoberyl announced over the coms, “How do things look at the arena?”.

“Everything is still online, and we’re in position!”, Dot reported from the ship, now cloaked and hovering high above Rose Quartz’s garden.

“You are clear to enter the garden.”, Sapphire replied.

“Got it.”, Chrysoberyl responded warping to the garden.

* * *

The first thing that struck Chrysoberyl about the garden was just how serene the place was. The light and warmth from the colony’s star covered the space in a gentle glow, a light breeze stirred up the flower petals, filling the garden with a sweet perfume. A fountain bearing Rose Quartz’s image sat in the midst of it all, filling the hills with the calming sound of flowing water. The observation orb couldn’t really capture just how serene a place like this truly was.

It made Chrysoberyl sick.

This clod shatters an innocent gem, the Diamond Authority suffers in agony and grief for millennia as a result of her actions, and instead of receiving justice, instead of being shattered like she deserved, this traitorous coward got to relax by a fountain in paradise and spend her cycles tending to some organic flora!?

Chrysoberyl drove her fist into the warp pad, shattering it.

“Well, I suppose that’s one way to render the pad useless.”, Dot’s voice came over the coms, “I’m activating the scrambler now, so we should be safe to engage Rose. Are you okay, Chrys?”.

Chrysoberyl took a few deep breaths and focused herself.

“This will all be over soon. She’s going to be brought to justice and this will all be behind you. Focus, focus, you can do this, you can avenge her, it will all be okay.”.

“Yes, I’m alright now.”, Chrysoberyl took a deep breath, determination filling her gem, “Let’s do this.”.

Chrysoberyl turned invisible once more, and approached the field that Rose Quartz was tending to.

The wind blew across the field, the sun shone brightly down.

If she listened closely, small Earth fauna could be heard in the distance.

Rose Quartz, the war criminal who shattered a Diamond, was sitting before her, as if embodying the picture of serenity.

“Activating the barriers now.”, Dot’s voice came over the coms, as six separate pillars rose from the ground creating an arena of yellow light. Rose stood up, equal parts startled and fearful of what was occurring. Chrysoberyl watched as the large barrier was formed around the two of them, before becoming visible once more.

“Hello Rose Quartz.”.

Chapter Text

The two combatants stood facing each-other down, each one daring the other to make the first move.

“Chrysoberyl 1F1L, 1AB…”, Rose spoke first, “Why are you here?”.

“I was commissioned by Yellow Diamond to return your shards to her, in an effort to ensure that Blue may overcome her grief from losing Pink Diamond.”.

At that, Rose’s expression hardened into one of resolution, before bringing forth her sword and rushing forward to attack.

Quickly, Chrysoberyl drew her weapon, a thin wakizashi, medium in length, single edged, straight in shape, and with an angled tip. Chrysoberyl put all of her effort into parrying Rose’s attack, as the bulkier gem had far greater strength and momentum than what she could typically muster on her own.

Hopping backwards, Rose Quartz once more regarded the gem in front of her.

“Don’t lie to yourself, that’s not the only reason why you’re here, Chrysoberyl.”, she smirked before she swiped at her opponent, forcing Chrysoberyl to duck out of the way of an oncoming attack.

“I would be lying if I said that this wasn’t personal as well.”, Chrysoberyl admitted, “Oh! That reminds me, we have an audience to our match!”, she announced with false cheer.

Promptly, Chrysoberyl took three large leaps backwards towards the barrier, and drew Pearl’s cage out of her gem, placing it outside of the barrier. It took a few moments for Pearl to regain her bearings, but once she did her eyes widened.

ROSE!”, Her screams came out muffled from inside the cage.

“What are you going to do with her, Chrysoberyl?”, Rose asked menacingly, before charging at the smaller gem.

“Oh, don’t worry. I won’t put a scratch on her stone. I just wanted her to watch.”, Chrysoberyl replied, nimbly jumping out of the way of a particularly devastating blow.

“You would go out of your way to cause us suffering? Why? Haven’t we suffered enough? Hasn’t Earth suffered enough?”, Rose bit back, her tone as sharp as her sword.

“Suffered?”, Chrysoberyl laughed incredulously, charging at Rose, “You sit amongst tranquility, tending to a garden, and call it suffering? Meanwhile the Diamond Authority mourns the loss of the one they hold dearest to them, THEY are the ones who suffered here, NOT YOU!”, Chrysoberyl retorted with a shout, leaping above the larger gem, and bringing the pommel of her sword down on Rose’s head, before tucking in a roll upon landing.

Taking advantage of Rose’s momentary dazed state, she charged the larger gem once more, slicing her dominant arm with her blade.

As Rose Quartz reeled from the pain, Chrysoberyl took the opportunity to turn invisible.

“Do you have any idea what it’s like to lose someone you care about, to lose someone you can truly look up to?”, Chrysoberyl spoke, watching as Rose turned around, looking for where her opponent went.

“Do you have any comprehension of the pain you caused us…”, Chrysoberyl asked, her tone now earnest as she desperately tried to get through to Rose, if only so that she understand what she did and feel regret for her actions.

“Pink Diamond wasn’t just any Diamond, she was the start of something new, a hope for the outcast in Gem society!”, Chrysoberyl continued.

“She couldn’t REALLY accomplish all of that.”, Rose turned around, desperately searching for where Chrysoberyl would attack next.

The rustling of flowers was Rose’s only warning, before the air in the arena snapped and pulled and a new gash appeared on Rose Quartz’s hip, Chrysoberyl having attacked at an immense speed. Half a moment later, Rose Quartz cried out in pain and fell to one knee.

“Did you know that she was the only gem that ever said thank you to me?”, Chrysoberyl’s voice whispered in Rose’s ear.

“So many gems go about their existence operating on a cold, transactional basis, but she was the only one who cared…”, Chrysoberyl’s voice trailed off before continuing, now utilizing the speakers strewn about the battlefield to throw Rose off of her location, “Did you know that she made friends with Pebbles? Yeah that’s right, Pebbles, and not because she was lonely either! She was a Diamond, had the whole galaxy of elites at her fingertips every time she threw a ball, but she made time to care about the Pebbles. She could have fundamentally and permanently changed how the Diamonds ruled!”, Chrysoberyl screamed through all of the speakers at once, the sound enveloping Rose Quartz in a torrent of anguished words.

Rose Quartz seemed to give up on trying to determine where Chrysoberyl would strike next, instead deciding to rise to her feet and summon her shield. However, her efforts were in vain, as Chrysoberyl swiped at the larger gem’s legs with her blade, knocking her down once more and bringing her ever closer to poofing.

“You say that you fight for outcast gems… but she had the ability to do that better than anyone ever could! AND YOU SHATTERED HER!!”, Chrysoberyl’s voice shook the arena, her form now becoming visible a few meters away from where Rose lay.

Suddenly, a loud roar resounded across the battlefield. In the distance, a large furred creature could be seen bounding towards the two combatants.

“Chrys! We have a creature headed right towards you!”, Dot shouted over the coms from her position in the ship, “Scanners show that it’s organic.”, Dot continued, nervously, “The barrier won’t hold it back!”.

“White, can you hold it off? We cannot lose this fight.”, Chrysoberyl replied, her gaze locked on the gem before her.

“Dropping the camouflage and opening the main hatch!”, Dot called out over the coms, as the warship became visible over the battlefield.

“Will do.”, White Sapphire replied, leaping out of the ship and descending gracefully into the garden below.

* * *

Truth be told, White Sapphire herself did not care for senseless violence. Where the sparring matches back on Homeworld were each orderly and clean - resulting in a gem’s poofing, not her shattering - the battles that took place in war were senseless, unnecessary, and in her case, often very one-sided. It was for that reason that Sapphire preferred to give her opponents a chance to flee or turn back.

“Creature of Earth and resident upon her Radiance’s Pink Diamond’s first and only colony. We have no quarrel with your kind. However, you trespass upon matters that are not your own. Therefore, I hereby order you to stop in the name of the Diamond Authority, or face shattering!”, White Sapphire attempted to negotiate with the beast.

The lion, however, did not heed or understand the blind gem’s words, and continued its charge towards Rose Quartz.

“Very well, creature.”, Sapphire sighed mournfully, sensing that the organic did not cease its approach, “Your courage, though valiant, is ultimately in vain. You have my condolences.”.

With a quick thrust of her hand, the great beast was frozen, encased in a thick layer of ice, killing it instantly.

* * *

Rose Quartz cried out in anguish, dispelling her shield as she witnessed the fate of one of her pets.

“She didn’t have a voice.”, Rose replied, struggling to stand back up, focusing her glare on Chrysoberyl, “Pink Diamond, she was kind… But she didn’t have a voice!”.

“She didn’t have a voice? She was a DIAMOND!”, Chrysoberyl shouted as she grabbed Rose by her dress and lifted her up, her hot tears dripping onto Rose’s face, her static-filled gaze now burning with rage, “She had more of a voice than you could ever hope to have!”, she screamed as she tossed her short sword high into the air with her other hand.

It was only one second, but Chrysoberyl could make that second stretch on into an eternity, all she had to do was focus.

Taking a deep breath, she let go of Rose Quartz, allowing the light from her body to glow and carry her across the battlefield. The world blurred around her as time slowed to a standstill. Using her powerful form, she leapt off of the rocks into a run for ever greater speed, before blitzing at Rose so fast that the very light around her seemed to slow in response to her movement. Then using all of her momentum, she grabbed Rose Quartz and spun into a flip, hurling her directly at the barrier.

Then, just as quickly as it began, the second was over.

Rose Quartz hit the barrier with a great crash. Yellow jagged lines of light invaded the light construct of her body and she collapsed to the ground.

Chrysoberyl caught her blade out of its fall, and leveled her glare at Rose. Rose was cornered. Trapped between a rock and a construct diffusing barrier, there was nowhere else to run. Pearl stood trapped in her cage, both hands covering her mouth. Rose could only hope to make an appeal to the gem before her.

“I only wanted what was best for the gems.”, Rose’s voice came out pained as she propped herself up against the rock she lie against, “I know that what I did was wrong, but I thought it was the only way to help gem-kind. I’m sorry.”.

“You’re sorry?”, a pained laugh spilled from her mouth, her face stained with tears.

After all you’ve done, now you’re sorry?”, Chrysoberyl laughed bitterly, before taking a deep breath.

Rose Quartz’s gaze softened, as she looked down to Chrysoberyl’s blade. As if accepting her fate, she closed her eyes.

SORRY WON’T BRING HER BACK!”, an anguish-filled scream tore loose from Chrysoberyl’s mouth, as she drove her sword into the larger gem.

As Rose’s form dissipated, Chrysoberyl collapsed in grief, her gem feeling nothing but guilt and pain.

Chapter Text

The bright light of a gem reforming roused Chrysoberyl from her grief. Chrysoberyl blinked wearily at the form before her, straining against the static that clouded her vision.

“My- my Diamond?”, she muttered, staring at the tall, slender, pink gem before her. Chrysoberyl’s eyes filled with shock at the sight of Pink Diamond, her Radiance awash with a bright light, forming a halo around her.

“I must be shattered too, then.”, she spoke once more, her eyes only for her Diamond as she broke the silence between them, “The grief must have finally been enough to shatter me. Either that or Rose was able to reform and strike me down too.”.

“You are Chrysoberyl 1AB, correct?”, Pink Diamond finally asked.

“Yes my Diamond.”, Chrysoberyl replied, her static pools filling with tears, as she began to weep once more, “I’m sorry. I failed you. It’s my fault you were shattered, I wasn’t there for you when you needed me... I’m so sorry...”, she broke off, sobs wracking her form.

“It’s okay. Don’t cry.”, Pink Diamond replied quickly, enveloping the small, pale, green gem in a hug, “You didn’t fail me. If anyone should apologize it’s probably me.”, she trailed off, laughing slightly.

“My Diamond, I was supposed to protect you, what do you mean that-“, Chrysoberyl replied, backing away from Pink Diamond’s embrace before cutting herself off.

“Wait, what?”, she breathed, finally taking in the environment around her, the churned earth, the still-active disruption shields, and the renegade Pearl staring at Pink Diamond with, was that guilt in her gaze?

“You- you’re alive!? We’re alive?? I don’t understand.”, Chrysoberyl rambled.

“I have some explaining to do. Chrysoberyl, would you mind gathering your team down here, and releasing Pearl as well?”, Pink Diamond asked.

“Yes, of course my Diamond.”, Chrysoberyl bowed in a Diamond salute.

At once, Chrysoberyl turned back on her com line, only to be assaulted by the sound of Dot raving over the coms.

“CHRYSOBERYL ARE YOU SEEING THIS!? I MEAN OF COURSE YOU SEE HER BUT SHE’S HERE!! SHE’S ALIVE! OH MY STARS WHAT EVEN IS THIS?”, Dot screamed over the line.

“Dot.”, Chrysoberyl winced at her voice, “Can you land the ship and drop the barriers? She wants to speak with us.”.

* * *

“I’ll do it.”, Amethyst’s spoke over the coms, dropping the barrier around them.

Carefully, Amethyst landed the ship amongst the flowers some ways away from the Diamond and her subject.

“I… can’t believe it’s her.”, White Sapphire whispered to Amethyst as Dot and her walked out of the ship, “That’s why I never saw her shatter… She didn’t…”, she breathed, still unable to comprehend the situation.

“Should we approach them?”, Dot asked, looking to the two in the center of the field.

“No, let her have some time with our Diamond. You know how she took the news of our Diamond’s shattering.”, Amethyst replied.

“Yes.”, White Sapphire agreed, “She needs this.”.

A few moments later, the group eventually made their way down to the meadow where Pink Diamond and Chrysoberyl were, the former raising her gaze and acknowledging the group, while the latter remained bowed in the Diamond salute.

“First and foremost, I ask that you all remain silent on matters concerning my continued existence.”, Pink Diamond ordered them all, “Prior to all of this, the faking of my shattering was only known to one other, my own dear Pearl.”, she finished, nodding to the Renegade Pearl, who had been freed and was approaching the group.

Chrysoberyl turned to look up at her Radiance abruptly, “Your Pearl!? The second Pearl of Pink Diamond, her Radiance White Diamond’s hand since before Era One, is the Renegade Pearl!? Ma’am I am so sorry!”, she exclaimed in shock, before bowing to Pearl.

“Yes, and her service and leadership abilities are deserving of such a title and more.”, Pink Diamond smiled, “Now as I was saying, if you wish to honor me and everything that my Court stood for, I ask of you… I beg of you to keep this a secret.”.

White Sapphire, Dot, and Amethyst each startled as Chrysoberyl began to cry, losing as if the weight of the galaxy bore upon her gem, “Y-yes my Diamond. I will do as you wish.”.

“Thank you, my Chrysoberyl.”, Pink Diamond smiled, “Should you still wish to serve my Court in light of this order, I only ask for you to complete one other task.”.

“Anything, my Diamond.”, Chrysoberyl replied, seemingly desperate to show that her allegiance had not swayed despite the pressure she was under.

“When I saw the formation of the first gems of the Pink Court I rejoiced. I thought that we were creating life from nothing, instead of sapping it away as we were actually doing.”, she paused, her tone becoming nostalgic, “If it is possible, I ask of each of you to find a way in which this ideal can be met. A way for gems to be formed without harming the environment around them.”.

“Consider it done, my Diamond.”, Chrysoberyl replied.

“Consider this my final order, and the way in which I better the rest of the Authority.”, she spoke, her words carrying over the meadow.

Amethyst and Dot watched as Chrysoberyl’s expression seemed to twist with apprehension and grief, before finally finding some form of resolve, “Yes, my Diamond.”.

“Your Radiance.”, White Sapphire spoke up, “I know that we did not personally attack you, but we still helped Chrysoberyl’s efforts. For that we apologize deeply for our wrongdoings.”.

At that, White Sapphire bowed, the other two gems in her company bowing as well.

“You are forgiven.”, Pink Diamond replied with a gentle smile, “That being said, could you please bring me the organic creature you attacked, Clarity?”.

“Yes, your Radiance.”, White Sapphire replied.

Mere moments later, White Sapphire returned, the massive beast in her tow.

“It is unmoving, yet it still has a physical form, so it should not be shattered.”, White Sapphire commented.

“Unfortunately, that is not how things work here on Earth.”, Pink Diamond knelt down to the lion, as she wiped a single tear from her eye and placed it on the creature’s forehead, “Beings here can shatter and retain their physical form. The humans here call the process ‘death’.”.

As the tear absorbed into the lion’s skin, a gentle pink light began to spread through its form. Eventually the glowing stopped, revealing that the lion had taken on a pink hue. With a start, the beast opened its eyes, clearly afraid and alert.

“Shh, shhh… It’s okay… You’re okay.”, Pink Diamond soothed, calming the organic creature down, before turning back to the gems, “You four are dismissed - however Chrysoberyl, White Sapphire?”.

“Yes my Diamond?”, Chrysoberyl and White Sapphire each spoke in unison, bowing in the Diamond salute.

“Thank you… For everything.”.

* * *

Could she even ask this of them?

She sighed deeply, taking another breath as she looked back at her friends.

It would be worse not to ask them.”, she decided.

Chrysoberyl turned the old and worn emblem of the Pink Court over in her hands once more, relishing its familiar weight. Despite its faded hue and the lighting of the moon base, the crest still seemed to shine. After all this time, after all this pain, it was still here.

“Everyone, have I ever told you about my service under Pink Diamond?”, Chrysoberyl asked eventually, turning towards the others as they lounged about the base’s uppermost floor.

Only White Sapphire nodded in response.

“It was wonderful, it was a time I knew and could see that I could truly make a difference in the universe.”, she began, “We all have regrets from that time, things that we wished we could have done better, but knowing that she’s alive now, knowing that I still have a chance, there’s something I can do about it.”, Chrysoberyl sighed, pushing aside her regret, “My Diamond asked me once, as soon as she received a colony of her own, if I could ensure that the other Diamonds respected her, as they do each other.”, Chrysoberyl paused, crying once more.

Just how many tears had she shed this cycle?”, the thought crossed her gem.

“I tried.”, she admitted, “I tried to make that happen so hard, but at that time, I was just one gem. I came close, organizing what I thought was the defeat of the rebellion on her first colony, leveraging the aid of White Sapphire, but it failed.”, Chrysoberyl paused, turning to White Sapphire, Dot, and Amethyst, “I have a new chance to obey her orders, and fulfill my word that I gave to her all those cycles ago. I cannot fail her a second time, so please forgive me, but I cannot go back to Homeworld with you. You don’t have to join me in this if you don’t want to, and I understand if you wish to leave me, but I have to make this right. I’m going to stay and work on a way to solve the resource crisis, and then, I will ensure that she gains the respect from the other members of the Authority.”.

Sapphire smiled in response, grabbing ahold of Chrysoberyl’s hand, “Chrys, I would never leave you. I’m going to stay and help Pink Diamond with you.”.

“Yeah!”, Dot shouted, “You’re gonna need help designing a new kindergarten after all! And besides, why would I leave you? Yeah, the rest of Homeworld may look at us as some kind of ‘super team’, but I’m, not sticking around for peer pressure! You’re like, the best boss I’ve ever had! Of course I’m staying put!”.

“I second that.”, Amethyst replied warmly, “Chrys, if you think that this is a worthy cause, I’m gonna be with you all the way!”.

“Thank you.”, Chrysoberyl dried her tears, drawing everyone into a big group hug, “I’m so grateful to serve alongside all of you.”.

The group stayed like that for a moment, just enjoying one another’s embrace and letting the stress and the pain of the cycle’s revelations wash away, before breaking away.

“Dot,”, Chrysoberyl began, her voice filled with excitement, “It’s time that we open up a new mission profile.”.

“Yes ma’am!”, Dot replied eagerly, “What do we call this one?”.

Chrysoberyl turned her gaze towards planet Earth, Pink Diamond’s first colony.

It will be hers again…”, Chrysoberyl promised to herself, “And it will be the first of many.”.

“Operation: Ensky.”.

Chapter Text

White Sapphire sighed as she poured over the potential branching timelines, the mire of time-space seeming to provide simultaneously too little and too much information.

“It’s all so much…”, she finally spoke, her words echoing around the domed ceiling of the observation tower.

 

“Is everything okay?”, Chrysoberyl turned away from her notes to face her.

“Ensky… there’s so many variables, it feels like so much could go wrong. One small mistake and Pink Diamond either rejects the throne, never has the chance to retake it to begin with, or is shattered for war crimes that she did not commit.”, she spoke, “We have accomplished the impossible before, but it as if there are other forces at work here.”.

“What do you mean?”, Chrysoberyl asked.

“The flow of time carries forward as if affected by gravity.”, White Sapphire explained, “This is true for all beings, but none are as affected by this pull quite like Pink Diamond herself. If we leave things be, she will eventually lose her memories of her past as she changes forms to take on that of an organic manifestation. This new being will be weaker, but far more passionate and altruistic than ever before. She will hear the stories of Rose Quartz shattering Pink Diamond and believe them to be true. She will attempt to atone for her past actions, giving herself up to Homeworld before escaping to aid an organic. She will learn of her true nature as Pink Diamond from the then titled Renegade Lustrous Pearl, and it will create in her a great internal conflict. Yellow and Blue Diamond will eventually confront her back on Earth, and she will reveal herself as Pink Diamond to them. She will return to Homeworld and speak with her Radiance White Diamond, and help the Diamond Authority grow closer together. However, she will never retake the throne. In fact, after aiding her fellow Diamonds for six-hundred-ought cycles, she will outright refuse the throne.”, she paused, taking another breath, “This course of events is not simply what will occur in absence of our intervention, it is what every timeline falls towards, as though they were a multitude of rivers and creeks spilling into a singular basin. As we continue Ensky, we will not be fighting to win the trusts of gems, we will be fighting against the very nature of time-space itself. We have accomplished a great deal in the past, prevailed against a great many foes, but can we really accomplish this goal, when time itself is our foe?”.

“Just because it is difficult, does not mean that we should not try.”, Chrysoberyl replied.

“And if we fail? If our Diamond is shattered as a result of my actions?”, White Sapphire asked.

“We’ve fought against difficult foes before, it may seem different here, but if time itself is our foe, then we need to put together some kind of plan.”, Chrysoberyl reasoned, “Yes we are just gems, and fighting something as powerful as the flow of time itself as it coalesces into a singular point should be impossible, but that does not mean that we ourselves are powerless. When we have taken action against great enemies before, we made for ourselves some kind of advantage, a means of giving us an edge in battle.”.

“And what means do we have to take up armaments against fate itself?”, White Sapphire asked.

Chrysoberyl paused, a memory coming to her of a time long ago, a time before the Great Gem War and the strife and anguish that ensued.

“For one, we have you - the most gifted Clarity in the whole galaxy at our side, who is able to see the timeline that we desire, and help keep us on track.”, Chrysoberyl began, standing up now, “But I remember something else, something that might just put this war of attrition into our favor.”.

“What is that?”, White Sapphire asked, standing up in response.

“Let’s get to the warp pad, we need to get to Earth, facet 4 if I remember correctly.”, Chrysoberyl replied, leading White Sapphire down the stairs and to the warp pad outside of the main door, “The White Court commissioned something to be hidden away there early in Era One, just as the planet was announced to be under Pink Diamond’s rule.”.

“Early Era One?”, White Sapphire asked, “That would have been prior to your transfer, back when you were tasked with handling securities and threat mitigation?”.

“Yes, before we met.”, Chrysoberyl replied, “I wasn’t in charge of the project myself, I only knew of its existence due to my clearance.”.

“What project was that?”.

“Just as Era One was starting, White Diamond had commissioned a secured vault to be constructed, one where weapons and artifacts deemed too powerful or dangerous for use could be stored.”.

“I remember that.”, White Sapphire replied, “And then there was an attempt made on the vault, as soon as it was finished, right?”.

“Right.”, Chrysoberyl replied, “Well, even though nothing was taken from the vault and the would-be thieves were unsuccessful, White Diamond knew that it would be only a matter of time before a group came around who would be successful. So, a select few of the most powerful weapons and artifacts were hidden away, strewn throughout the galaxy in secure locations.”.

“And one is on Earth?”, White Sapphire asked.

“Yes.”, she replied, the two being brought up in a warp beam.

* * *

Chrysoberyl looked around the Sea Shrine upon the warp pad, the structure just as serene as she remembered it from an Era ago.

“Where, where is this?”, White Sapphire asked, sensing the unfamiliar location around her.

“This is the Sea Shrine.”, Chrysoberyl replied, “It’s the only structure on Pink Diamond’s colony not explicitly commissioned by her. While it is in the colony’s database, it’s listed as a Diamond essence storehouse.”.

“I’m sensing that this structure is unstable.”, White Sapphire spoke up, as the two stepped off of the warp pad, and began to walk through the structure’s beautiful green halls.

“That is intentional.”, Chrysoberyl replied, “This place has two separate security measures. The first of which, we already passed through.”.

“The warp pad?”, White Sapphire asked, “Was that an encrypted pad?”.

“Yes. Only the highest gems of the White Court, or gems accompanied by a high White Court gem are able to access the pad. Otherwise, any attempts to access this pad will beam the user to an actual essence storehouse near the Beta Kindergarten.”, Chrysoberyl explained, walking up to a large table covered in hourglasses, “The second security measure involves the structure of the building itself.”.

“There’s branching options in front of us… Hourglasses?”, White Sapphire asked.

“Yes, this ensures that whoever enters the structure actually knows what it is that they are looking for. Grab the wrong one and the weight of the entire ocean comes crashing down on the gems inside.”, Chrysoberyl smiled, the genius behind the room’s security design truly impressing her, “Of course, the only gems who would know what the true hourglass looks like, are gems that have been cleared to use it before.”.

“But wait, none of the weapons and artifacts stored in White Diamond’s vault were ever used in Era One? Did you use this device before?”, White Sapphire asked.

“Once…”, Chrysoberyl replied, her gaze falling upon a tiny sphere, adorned by three golden bands, an innocuous looking hourglass resting inside.

“What did it do?”, White Sapphire pressed on, her curiosity overwhelming her.

“It is no ordinary tool.”, Chrysoberyl spoke, her tone now reverent as she carefully picked up the marble, before kneeling and facing White Sapphire.

“The Glass of Time.”, she announced, pressing the device into White Sapphire’s hands, “It grants its wielder the ability at traverse time at will, taking one back or forward to any desired moment.”.

“Incredible…”, White Sapphire breathed in wonder.

“This…”, Chrysoberyl continued, as White Sapphire carefully drew the device into her gem, “Is how we win against fate. It is a weapon that we can wield against time itself.”.

Chapter Text

The passage of time seemed striking and overwhelming at first, yet in hindsight it was all too simple of a phenomenon.

To organisms on Earth, the span of a hundred and twenty planetary revolutions around its star constitutes well more than a lifetime, a generation and a half for most. Whole civilizations were able to develop, towns grew forth into towering metropolises, and technology progressed at dazzling pace. It was so finite and brief, the life of the bipedal organics known as humans. At least that’s what Sapphire thought to herself as she ‘looked’ out at the world with her clairvoyance. In that time, Chrysoberyl, Dot, and Amethyst had accomplished so much, she was so proud of them and how far they were coming. Already, the small team had figured out a way to repair the damage done to the Earth from the Kindergartens, using energy from the gem shards in the cluster to restore the land’s fertile properties. Amethyst in particular had found it ironic that a weapon invented to cause so much destruction could in turn be used for so much good. Dot had then gone further and begun to develop a system for which to use the shards’ energy for the development of a regenerative kindergarten. Utilizing the very principles of Harvesting that she developed, wherein the original Diamond essence that was injected into a gem to give it life was removed for re-use in injectors, she created a system that functionally harvested essence from the shards of gems. This essence then was used to fuel a fully automatic system consisting of one single cut, suspended in a large network of machinery, and operated from a single panel. The device was dubbed Kindergarten Delta, and what a sight it was to behold. Chrysoberyl in particular was impressed with Dot’s work, and invested her time in aiding the small engineer to the best of her ability. While the engineering of all new technology was hard, dealing with the fallout of seemingly ignoring her Radiance Yellow Diamond’s orders was a little more difficult. With a great deal of effort on her part, a series of communications were written and sent directly through the Diamond Line to Yellow herself. Effectively, their cover story was that Rose Quartz had been reduced to atoms upon the Diamond’s final attack on Pink’s colony, as the shards of her gem were nowhere to be found. However, what they did recover was a supposed transcript of Pink Diamond’s will and goals for this colony. Upon its discovery, Chrysoberyl had sworn herself to the carrying out of her Diamond’s last wishes for her colony. The last, and most important part of the communication was effectively true, seeing as they were indeed carrying out the will of her Radiance Pink Diamond, however the story leading up to it was a complete fabrication. It was unpleasant, tricking a Diamond in this manner, but to not do so would pit them against the will of another Radiance altogether, so she counted herself as fortunate that Yellow Diamond accepted their decision to remain on Earth and carry out Pink’s will.

As for herself, she spent most of her time looking to the future, taking notes, and making plans for how to best see it that Pink Diamond is reinstated as a member of the Diamond Authority, before finally gaining the respect of her peers. The power that the Glass of Time gave her was truly incredible, and yet the realizations that she came to upon its use truly boggled the gem. It was hard at first. All she knew with certainty was where she wanted to be. The desired reality shone dimly like a Star on an opposite end of a galaxy. Its light barely visible, and all too easily outshone and overpowered by the reality that they were currently headed towards. As a result, she wasn’t surprised when her first uses of the Glass of Time had little effect on reality at all. However, instead of growing dismayed, she took it upon herself to learn the underlying machinations of the flow of time. Though she was no Peridot, she was a very capable and studious gem. Deep down, she knew that such a task was not beyond her - not when she had all the time in the universe to learn.

The passage of time quickly became meaningless to her. Kilo-cycles came and went as she walked through the expanse of time-space. An outside observer would find great difficulty if they were to try and determine a difference in her gem as she studied reality - after all, a gem was far more resilient to time than any organic life. That did not mean that she was unhampered by its passage - as she had grown tired on many an occasion. It took great effort in fact, struggling to swim through the relentless waves of chaos. Each use of the Glass of Time was but a desperate attempt to keep her gem afloat in the turbulent, temporal sea. However, weariness was inconsequential when the prospect of knowledge lay within her grasp. She could feel it growing closer too, each change in reality, each shift in history, the nebulous information that eluded her grew slightly more discernible. Statistically speaking, the event that eventually occurred was inevitable, given functionally infinite time and perpetually expanding space the event would eventually manifest. Yet that doesn’t mean that it was not astounding, especially when experienced firsthand and in the moment. As if brought forth in a thrust of light and brilliance, epiphany struck, and the true nature of causality became known in her gem. A universe so beset with entropy and indecipherable occurrences grew comprehensible under her gaze. With all of her strength, and all of her knowledge, and all of her will, order and predictability was forged from the swirling miasma of chaos. Random occurrences and events each held meaning, sometimes small, sometimes large, but all were consequential. That was not to say that space and time adhered to any semblance of conventional logic. In fact, sometimes in order to move towards her desired future, she would have to perform tasks that seemed completely irrelevant to her end goal. Anything from tasks of seemingly great importance, such as secretly ensuring that the clarity fusion Garnet would find a scroll that held a painting made from the shards of gems, to tasks that seemed utterly meaningless, such as simply moving the smallest feather or leaf over to its other side, had a dramatic impact on the timeline as a whole. What was even more shocking, was that it was often the tasks that were the smallest that had the largest impact on the flow of time. Such as when she moved a gem’s shard out of the pockets of one of Pink Diamond’s articles of clothing. Such a seemingly arbitrary action ended up preventing a larger series of confrontations that would have resulted in the animation of an organic sustenance-themed armor. With each change, each act of even existing in somewhere the original timeline didn’t account for her to be in, the flow of time shifted. The river of time-space, once so inundated with branching realities that inevitably ended in the same result, now began to taper. The timeline that reality itself was held in now resided on the edge of the metaphorical river, shifting ever so slightly away from the rest of its sisters. A few more gem shards in one area, the movement of what one called a ‘VHS Tape’ to another, seemingly meaningless and all too similar location, and reality’s ceaseless momentum turned. White Sapphire’s actions were small, yet numerous. It was a process akin to grains of sand tipping a cosmic and temporal scale. Reality still hurtled at the same end just like countless other timelines, its gravity-like pull affecting the timeline all the same. However the trajectory was now off. Instead of meeting the reality of Pink Diamond bringing the Diamonds closer together, yet ultimately abandoning the throne - a reality that she had seen for so, so long - space and time now shot past that conclusion and towards a different future altogether.

Was it headed somewhere better now? She had to wonder whether reality would indeed have been better off without such intervention on her behalf. Certainly, Pink Diamond deserved better, but the other members of the Authority were happy in that original end, and Pink Diamond herself was safe and sound. In what she could see of it, the future of Ensky was one of great trial and uncertainty, and certainly not one for the fragile-gemmed. The Diamonds were happy in it, yes. In fact, such moments of joy and unity seemed to shine even brighter than what she saw in the timeline’s original destination. However, it was not without great cost. Those motes of joy seemed all too easily overshadowed with trials and tribulations. Was it right, she had to wonder. Was it a worthy cause to sacrifice peace for joy? To forgo a safe surety, in favor of brighter, yet more harrowing future? Before, Pink Diamond would have lead a life of solitude, ultimately leaving behind the gems closest to her to forge a path of self-discovery. Such a fate was far too humble for a Diamond in her opinion. However at the same time, who was she to be making the decisions for a Diamond? A throne, not solitude, now lay in Pink Diamond’s future. Was her Radiance better off for it? Certainly, the future Pink Court and gem-kind would benefit immensely from her Radiance’s benevolence, but what of her Radiance herself? Faced with such a question, she could only turn back to Chrysoberyl’s words. After all, the plan was her idea. White Sapphire herself was no strategist, and instead was content to drift across the flow of time, keeping her metaphorical sights on the equally-metaphorical horizon. And now through her actions, time had bent itself away from the inevitable, and towards the impossible. Chrysoberyl knew how to form a plan and enact it, she would not have gotten nearly as far in the Radiances’ good graces if she didn’t. With that on her gem, she knew that trusting Chrysoberyl’s judgement was the only right option.

She had already made herself comfortable on this vessel called reality after all, she could certainly trust Chrysoberyl to plot the course.

Chapter Text

“Aaaaand that’s the essence stabilizer done! Stars, finally!”, Dot cheered excitedly, her voice echoing off of the cliff sides of the Prime kindergarten, snapping White Sapphire from her self-reflection.

“So what was giving you all the trouble earlier?”, Chrysoberyl asked, looking up for her side of the giant machine.

“Well, I’m no certified Kindergartener, and Stars, after this mess it shows…”, Dot chuckled to herself, still underneath the machine laying on a hovering platform, “But the pressure for these injectors was way too high! If we were dealing with the raw unrefined Diamond essence this wouldn’t be that big of an issue, since the strain rates of that fluid is proportional to the applied shear stress that we are putting on it with the injection process. However, we aren’t dealing with that at all!”, Dot ranted, before pulling her head out from under the machine, and displaying an equation on her screen, with a line graph next to it and a depiction of the reusable cut, “We’re using essence that has already been refined by an injector before, as we’re harvesting this essence from the shattered gems that make up the cluster! And the strain-rates for this fluid are all out-of-wack! If we used the pressure values for regular injectors, the essence is dispersed unevenly through the host cut, because as soon as the essence leaves its injector nozzle its flow becomes turbulent - I mean look at those eddies!”, Dot screeched in exasperation, the depiction of the cut on her screen being filled with colorful spirals, “At best, this thing would have just been churning out off-colored gems! So, after a ton of math I adjusted the pressure to a value that creates a clean, laminar flow.”.

“That’s great Dot!”, White Sapphire praised, “So what did you learn from your efforts?”.

“That I need to brush up on my Rheology?”, Dot guessed, as she pushed herself back under the machine.

“No…”, White chuckled, “It means you need to learn when to ask for help. I could have determined the right values for you if you just asked.”.

“Oh…”, Dot replied meekly, before retorting, “Well, I did requisition help from the Yellow Court almost thirty cycles ago, and they still haven’t gotten back to me?”.

“You put in an aid requisition for the Yellow Court?”, Amethyst piped up, turning away from their communications and informational terminal, now interested in the conversation.

“Yeah, it’s okay, I already approved it after checking with White Sapphire.”, Chrysoberyl replied, now engrossed with soldering a panel on the opposite side of the machine.

“Don’t worry Amethyst, I only approved of it because I knew that the requisition would get lost in the delegation process.”, White Sapphire smiled.

“Wait, what!?”, Dot screeched again, “You mean help isn’t coming!?”.

“No, you already completed the hardest part all by yourself! Solving the pressure issue was the only significant aid a Kindergarten-certified Peridot would have offered you, and you managed splendidly on your own!”, Sapphire replied.

“Well we still-“, Dot began, only to be cut off by the central terminal whirring to life, a transmission request appearing on its screen.

“Uhh, White? You sure that the request didn’t go through?”, Amethyst asked, staring at the identification data on the screen before her, “It’s a Kindergarten-certified Peridot.”.

“Well, answer it!”, Dot stood up from her creeper hover seat and made her way over to the terminal.

At once, the image of an Era Two Peridot filled the screen.

“Well hello!”, Dot greeted, sarcasm filling her tone, “It’s about time someone answered my requisition! It’s been twenty-nine. whole. cycles!”.

“Wait, there are still Homeworld gems here!? I thought that creature said that there were only humans, and whatever those crystal clods were…”, the Peridot replied, confused at the gems before her.

“Yes, we’re here in the service of the Yellow Court, on the express orders of her Radiance Yellow Diamond.”, Chrysoberyl supplied.

“O-oh… then maybe my orders are tangential to your work here then! Should I give you the report of what I saw on the Prime Kindergarten’s main terminal?”, the gem replied, seeming relieved to finally be getting somewhere.

“That would be wonderful.”, Chrysoberyl replied, her expression slightly more tense than before, “I will see to it that the report gets to the higher ups.”.

“It says on your id sheet that you’re part of the Yellow Court as well?”, Amethyst asked.

“Yes, I am Peridot Facet-2F5L Cut-5XG!”, she replied.

“And are you calling to answer our requisition request?”, Dot replied impatiently, “I’ve needed the aid of a Kindergarten-certified Peridot for some time now!”.

“I- I’m sorry.”, 5XG stuttered, “But I already have orders, I can’t just abandon my work to help you all out without permission from my supervisor. I’ll forward you the report though.”.

“Alright then, thank you 5XG.”, Chrysoberyl finished, before closing the communications line.

“Auugh! Now it’ll be at least two-hundred cycles before we get the Kindergarten finished!”, Dot screamed.

“It’s okay Dot.”, White Sapphire soothed, “Remember, you’re already past the hardest part.”.

“Yeah, yeah…”, Dot grumbled, before hopping back on her hovering creeper chair and pushing herself back under the machine.

“So, that was the call you were talking about right?”, Chrysoberyl turned to White Sapphire, “The report that 5XG sent is what we use to start off 2-1?”.

“Correct.”, White Sapphire smiled, “Things are progressing along just as planned.”

Chapter Text

True to Dot’s estimates, it was another two-hundred cycles before the machine was complete. After a great deal of effort, Dot, Amethyst, Sapphire, and Chrysoberyl finally gathered in front of the finished Delta Kindergarten. In a way, Chrysoberyl thought it looked quite beautiful. One massive cube of rock and minerals, with tubes and wires leading in and out of each side save for the cubes’s “front” so to speak, the network of tubing and machinery forming an intricate and almost elegant lattice. On the front face of the cut there was a large, vertically rotating carousel of utilities, to be interchanged at various stages of kindergarten operation. One portion of the carousel was lined with an array of injector heads, 676 of them, to be exact. Once the injectors were finished, the array would rotate clockwise, moving the heads downward and to the right, in an arc, before being replaced by a series of ramps and walkways for the finished gems to traverse down from the cuts and onto a nearby warp pad. Once the ramps were no longer needed, the carousel would once again rotate, replacing the ramps with a large compactor, used in tandem with the shard energy injectors to restore the cut to a state where it was once again ready for injection. However, the best feature of the machine was its ease of operation, the whole device was controlled by a single panel, allowing for multiple different types of gems to be harvested in different columns and rows. All the operator had to do was select the insertion point and the desired gem, and the machine would do the rest of the work. Although, Chrysoberyl had to wonder what Dot had to think of the machine. Given that she knew a great deal of Kindergarten-certified gems, this device had to feel as though it encroached upon their responsibilities in a way. Stars, what good is Kindergarten certification anymore if this machine is so well designed, even a Pebble could operate it?

“So…. we completed Pink Diamond’s orders…”, Dot broke the silence, turning to the others as they stared at the completed device, “Now what?”.

“We tell Rose Quartz, right?”, Chrysoberyl confirmed with White Sapphire.

“Yes, just remember what I told you all about her looking different now though.”, White Sapphire reminded the group.

“Absolutely!”, Dot cheered, running over to the warp pad, “She’s got a new form and she’s working on controlling her abilities! I just can’t wait to see the look on her Radiance - err, I mean Rose Quartz’s face when she sees our work!”.

“Wait!”, White Sapphire called out to Dot, who already hopped aboard the warp pad, “You can’t just warp there!”, she yelled running aboard the pad as well.

Suddenly, the two were taken up in a beam of light.

“Well, this’ll be interesting…”, Chrysoberyl deadpanned, her gaze fixed on where White Sapphire and Dot just stood.

“I wouldn’t worry about it!”, Amethyst laughed, making her way to the ship, “Dot’s great at first impressions!”.

* * *

Pearl laughed as Connie and Peridot excitedly recounted the story of how they, along with Lapis and Pumpkin, washed cars and helped around the city in the Crystal Gem’s and Doug’s absence. Pumpkin was even getting into the story too, hopping atop the kitchen counter and yipping excitedly, while Lapis laughed from the couch. It was good that they learned to aspire to be their own team and unit, as opposed to simply trying to imitate the roles and behavior of others. That being said, she was grateful that they were at least able to repair everything, the sheer amount of property damage in this one story alone was shocking.

Just as Connie and Peridot began to explain how they crafted a new carwash sign to replace the old and broken one, a sound emanated from the warp pad.

Instantly, everyone turned to see the figures atop the warp pad, with Garnet, Pearl, and Amethyst drawing their weapons and taking a defensive stance.

“Hi Rose Quartz!”, Dot greeted excitedly, turning to face the group, “We finished your mission!”.

“Dot! I told you, you cannot just warp here, it’s an abode now! It was changed into Rose’s very quarters!”, White Sapphire whispered, embarrassed.

“Oh yeah, this looks way different than the cave it was before!”, Dot commented, looking around the house.

“Please excuse us.”, White Sapphire bowed apologetically, “We’ll leave so that we may perform a proper introduction.”.

“Hold on.”, Garnet spoke up, lowering her gauntlets slightly, “You said that you completed a mission for Rose Quartz.”.

“Yeah, if you’re a Crystal Gem, how come we haven’t heard about you before?”, Amethyst piped up.

“Well, we weren’t ever formally inducted into the Crystal Gems.”, White Sapphire explained, “We just follow Rose’s orders.”.

“Seems like a Crystal Gem to me!”, Amethyst laughed, “What’s your names? I’m Amethyst Facet-5 Cut-8XM!”, she announced proudly, excited to have just learned her Facet and Cut information.

“I am Sapphire Facet 1F2L Cut 1AR. It is a pleasure to meet you.”, White Sapphire greeted with a curtsey.

“You’re the 8XM cut!?”, Dot gasped, “I saw that exit hole! Did you know that even though your form is smaller than that of most Quartz soldiers, because of the time that it had to have taken for you to emerge, you’re effectively stronger and more powerful than other Amethysts carat-for-carat! I even mocked up a few limb enhancers that could take advantage of that!”.

“Oh heck yeah!”, Amethyst cheered, turning to Pearl, “I like these gems already!”.

“Oh right! I didn’t introduce myself! I’m Peridot Facet 2F4L, Cut 1AR!”, Dot exclaimed.

This time it was Peridot’s turn to stand up in amazement, “I’m sorry, did you say 2F4L, Cut 1AR?”, she gaped, hardly believing her eyes.

“The very one!”, Dot replied brightly.

“You know this gem?”, Garnet turned to Peridot.

“You don’t know this gem!?”, Peridot balked, seemingly scandalized on Dot’s behalf, before approaching Dot and bowing to her, “Peridot Facet-2F5L Cut-5XG! I’m a huge fan of your work!”.

“Oh, she’s famous?”, Steven piped up, “Like a gem celebrity?”.

“Steven, you’re excused for not knowing who she is, given that you’ve spent all your time here on Earth, but these other clods have no excuse!”, Peridot ranted.

“I was trapped in a mirror, and then stored inside Pearl for pretty much all of Era Two, don’t I have an excuse?”, Lapis deadpanned.

“I said that the other clods don’t have an excuse - you aren’t a clod, Lapis.”, Peridot replied simply, before projecting a screen from her gem, “Now let me introduce you to the works of the the great 2F4L, 1AR! As you all know, there was a huge shortage of Diamond essence following the start of Era Two, which lead to the resource crisis and the subsequent formation of underdeveloped Quartz soldiers, and Peridot like myself. Normally, this would be a huuuuuuge problem, but then in comes 2F4L, 1AR! You see, she formed just like you did Amethyst, but she was made way before the crisis! Normally, the Kindergarteners would have deemed her an off-color due to her size, but 2F4L, 1AR decided to prove them all wrong! She went out and built herself limb extensions that allowed her to work at a level surpassing that of even regular Peridots! Her designs were so good and so robust, that the Blue Diamond elected her as a lead R&D member where she developed the very limb-enhancers that we still use this cycle! And that’s not all! I mean, tractor-beam wands, flask robonoids, roaming eye ships, gravity engines, the FTL panic-mode on those gravity engines and so, so much more! You’re looking at the gem who designed and built all of Era Two’s tech!”.

“Not all of it!”, Dot blushed, looking bashful as she shrunk in on herself slightly, “Kindergartens were never my strong suit, so my interns made the Era Two injector system!”.

“So, you’re a famous Era Two engineer?”, Pearl spoke up, “You and Sapphire 1AR do look familiar though.”.

“Yeah! We met before, when I met Rose Quartz! It’s good to see you again, Renegade!”, Dot chuckled brightly.

“Wait…”, Pearl wracked her gem to figure out why this gem was so familiar, only to be interrupted by the sound of a knock on the door.

“That would be the others…”, White Sapphire spoke up as Amethyst opened the door, inviting in a larger Amethyst and a far thinner green gem, with a large crack in her gemstone.

“Oh…”, Pearl whispered, realization drawing on her, “It’s you. Wait, does that mean?”

“Hello Renegade, it is good to see you again.”, Chrysoberyl smiled and nodded to Pearl, before turning to the others in the room, “While the Renegade and I have met before, and our group has seen most of you before, we haven’t had a proper introduction until this point. I am Chrysoberyl Facet 1F1L Cut 1AB.”, she bowed slightly as she introduced herself.

“And I’m Amethyst Facet 1F2L Cut 3ZC.”, Amethyst bowed.

“Hi!”, Steven spoke up, “I’m Steven!”.

“I’m Amethyst Facet-5 Cut-8XM!”, Amethyst added.

“I’m Garnet.”, she spoke, unsure of these new gems.

“So Pearl and Rose met you before?”, Amethyst asked.

“Yes.”, Chrysoberyl smiled, “We have returned from our mission that we received on 73,710 16 2, and are here to report that the objectives given to us were completed successfully.”.

“73,710 16 2…”, Garnet muttered, “That was over a hundred years ago, and well after the war…”.

“Yes.”, Chrysoberyl replied, “These orders were a part of her efforts to restore the damage done to the planet from Kindergartens Beta and Prime, in addition to finding a way to meet her ideals of gem production.”.

“So, you actually found a way?”, Pearl trailed off, hardly believing this turn of events.

After all, if they actually completed Rose’s orders, especially when it came to the formation of new gems…

That could change everything.

“Yes!”, Dot cheered, “We did it! The ability to produce gems without harming the colony or its organic life!”.

“Forming gems without using a colony’s natural resources?”, Peridot 5XG breathed in wonder, “How did you pull that off?”.

“I would be happy to give you a tour, if Rose Quartz allows it.”, Chrysoberyl replied, noticing that Pearl, Garnet, Amethyst, and Steven all stiffened at her words, “So, I understand that Rose Quartz has a different form and appearance now?”.

“Ah, yes.”, Steven blushed before revealing the gem on his belly, “She was my mom, but she’s also kind of a part of me? I’m not her though, I mean, kind of? I’m sorry, it’s complicated…”.

“Wait, what’s a mom?”, Dot asked.

“We can find that out on our own later, Dot.”, White Sapphire cut Dot off from asking any more questions, “Discussing her relationship with Rose Quartz is making her uncomfortable.”.

“I apologize deeply for offending you.”, Chrysoberyl kneeled and bowed to Steven, catching herself before she added a Diamond salute, realizing that Steven might not want to be reminded of her role at this time.

At that, Amethyst 3ZC, White Sapphire, and Dot followed suit, bowing as well.

“If you would like a tour of the healed Kindergarten and a display of the new gem injector system, we would be honored to show it to you.”, Chrysoberyl spoke, still bowing, “However, if you wish to dismiss us outright we can leave this planet immediately.”.

“Uhhh, that’s not necessary!”, Steven stammered, looking to Garnet or Pearl for advice.

Seeing Pearl nod slightly, Steven continued with more confidence, “You can show the Kindergarten to us!”.

Steven blinked, slightly perturbed as none of the gems moved to stand from their kneel. The four gems each remaining perfectly still.

“They believe that they offended you Steven, and because of your gem, they see you as a leader.”, Pearl supplied upon seeing Steven’s confused expression, “You can forgive them, or provide a consequence for their actions.”.

“Oh…”, Steven replied, turning back to the gems before him, “I forgive you… um… At ease?”.

At that, Chrysoberyl stood up, the other gems following her lead.

“Thank you.”, Chrysoberyl replied, “You mentioned that you wished to see our work?”.

“Yeah!”, Steven replied excitedly, “I’m sure it’s gonna be really cool!”.

“I’ll be coming with you.”, Garnet added.

Chrysoberyl turned to Steven, a questioning look filling her gaze.

“Yeah, it’s alright if she comes along! Everyone can, if they want to.”, Steven spoke up.

With a nod, Chrysoberyl stepped onto the warp pad, everyone else following behind her.

* * *

When Pearl touched down on the warp pad of the Prime Kindergarten, she didn’t know what to expect, but a lush field was certainly not on the list.

As they walked through the canyon, everywhere she she looked, the ground, the walls of the cliff sides, there was so much grass, flowering plants, trees, and life.

“Uhh, are you sure that this is my Kindergarten?”, Amethyst spoke up eventually, hopping off of the pad and looking around the canyon, “It’s a lot greener than it was before.”.

“Yep!”, Dot replied excitedly, before pointing to an exit hole on the canyon floor, its surface now covered in moss, “See! That’s where you were formed!”.

“They fixed it.”, Pearl cried, looking to Garnet, hardly able to believe what she was seeing.

“It’s beautiful.”, Garnet replied, setting aside her apprehension towards these gems to appreciate what they accomplished.

“I’m confused.”, Connie spoke up, “Did it not look like this before?”.

“No, it was barren.”, Lapis replied, “At least it was back in Era One, I haven’t been here since.”.

“Thanks to Peridot 1AR’s work, we were able to inject a modified solution of refined Diamond essence, amino acids, and a liquid compound consisting of two parts hydrogen, and one part oxygen into the cliffside and areas affected by the Kindergarten. As a result, we not only restored all lost organic life, but actually managed to increase the concentration of organic life in this facet cut-for-cut when compared to the Kindergartener’s records of this site prior to the development of the Prime Kindergarten.”, Chrysoberyl explained.

“But that’s not our greatest achievement!”, Dot replied, excitedly, leading the group to a massive machine.

“What in the Three Courts??”, Peridot 5XG breathed, taking in the sight of the tubes and wires leading out of a large cut of mineral and stone.

“This is what we are calling Kindergarten Delta!”, Dot announced excitedly, “It’s a new way of making gems that recycles the same cut over and over again without affecting the surrounding environment!”.

“Wait, so how does it work? Wouldn’t that mean that you’re creating matter out of nothing?”, Peridot 5XG asked.

“Making life out of nothing…”, Pearl spoke up, still in awe “And it works? You actually fufilled her wishes?”.

“When did Rose Quartz wish for that?”, Amethyst piped up.

“Well, you know how Rose was fighting for Earth because of what the Kindergartens were doing to it right?”, Pearl replied.

“Yeah…”, Amethyst responded, encouraging her to go on.

“Well, originally, she thought that Kindergartens were a good thing because she thought that they were creating life from nothing, instead of taking life, like they actually were.”, Pearl explained.

“So, this big machine does what Rose originally thought Kindergartens did?”, Amethyst asked, following along.

“Yes, it could solve the resource crisis in a way that protects all life, instead of just gem-life.”, Pearl whispered to Garnet, looking at the device.

“That’s helping Homeworld though.”, Garnet replied.

“So?”, Lapis interjected, “They can make gems without hurting planets now. That’s kind of a big deal.”.

“It’s making Homeworld better, like Rose wanted originally.”, Pearl replied simply.

“So how does it even work?”, Peridot 5XG asked, “And please don’t skimp out on the explanations, I can follow along just fine as I’m Kindergarten-certified.”.

“Glad you asked!”, Dot began, “So basically, what we are doing is filling the cut with a concentrated and refined Diamond essence, just like a typical injector. However, unlike a typical injector that only fills the area immediately surrounding the nascent gem, this machine fills the entire cut. Once filled, the cut is pressurized and heated to simulate conditions approaching those typically found on the lower-most levels of subterranean Kindergartens. This causes the normal slate and stone contained in the cut to turn into metamorphic rock, and eventually nascent gemstones themselves. Once completed, the cut is filled with essence a second time, and the gems emerge. After the gems emerge, the cut is re-pressurized, compacted back into its original shape, and is ready for re-use. This system does not create new matter indefinitely, however. I estimate that after 100 such uses, additional gravel or other common stones will need to be added to replenish the carbon and silica used up in the incubation process. However, this machine is designed to operate at 100% cut-use efficiency, with no loss. For those of you that aren’t Kindergarten-certified, that means that this system can create 676 gems after a single use - and that a mineral replenishment would only need to occur after 67.6 thousand gems were produced.”.

“Whoa…”, Peridot 5XG gaped in awe, “You could solve the resource crisis with this!”.

“Well, not entirely.”, Dot blushed, looking away bashfully, “While it is true that this device has far less impact on a colony than a traditional Kindergarten - meaning that multiple units could be utilized on a single colony with no drawback to a colony’s resources - the system itself uses far, far more Diamond essence than a traditional Kindergarten. In effect, we are removing the strain on one factor of the crisis by exacerbating the other.”.

“Like how much more?”, Peridot asked.

“Nearly ten times as much as the typical Era Two equivalent.”, Dot admitted.

“Whoa…”, Peridot 5XG replied, this time a very different emotion coloring her tone, “Like, is that even viable with the resource crisis? Where are you even getting…”, she trailed off, her gaze drawn to the tubing that went below the planet’s surface.

“You’re harvesting the Cluster!?”, Dot laughed in shock, “How in the Courts did you…. That’s insane! Brilliant, but insane!”.

“To be fair, brilliant but insane is kinda how we operate.”, Amethyst 3ZC laughed.

“You can say that again.”, Chrysoberyl laughed, before turning to Steven, “I know that it may not be as efficient as you might like, but given enough time, we should be able to decrease the amount of essence needed for incubation. We can requisition the aid of a team Kindergarten-certified Peridots from the Three Courts, but it may take some time before a group can be assembled. What would you have us do in the meantime?”.

“Uhmm, well you don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to?”, Steven turned to Garnet, recalling what she said about the gems that they bubbled and stored in the temple.

“But there is one thing you could try to help us out with…”.

Chapter Text

“So every time we encounter a gem creature on one of our missions, we bubble them and send them here.”, Steven announced, leading the group off of the warp pad back home, “Is it alright if you show them, Garnet?”.

“Uhh, sure…”, Garnet replied to Steven, before opening the door to her room, revealing a vast array of bubbled gems.

“Gem creature?”, Amethyst 3ZC asked, confused by the term, “What do you mean by that?”.

“Oh, you want us to harvest these gems?”, Dot piped up, staring at the veritable sea of bubbled gems that floated above a pool of magma, “Fixing a broken extractor’s no problem at all!”.

“See!”, Peridot 5XG exclaimed, turning to Steven with an exasperated expression, “I told you that’s what it looked like this room was for!”.

“No, definitely not!”, Pearl interjected, “We aren’t trying to harvest them, we’re trying to help them!”.

Chrysoberyl glanced down at Steven, watching as he nodded in affirmation to Pearl’s words.

“Yeah, these gems were corrupted, so we’re keeping them here where they can’t hurt anybody.”, Steven replied.

“Corrupted, what do you mean by corrupted?”, Chrysoberyl breathed, her gaze flitting across the sea of bubbled gems.

“Well, maybe it would be best to show you…”, Steven replied, before walking over to a bubbled Nephrite gem.

“Steven, be careful…”, Garnet tensed.

“It’s just Centipeetle, it’ll be fine.”, Steven replied assuringly as he un-bubbled the gem.

Slowly the gem began to glow, revealing a green, segmented form adorned with what appeared to be pincers, mandibles, and a large mane.

“Stars above!”, Dot yipped, taking a few hurried steps backwards.

“This is corruption.”, Steven explained, slowly approaching Centi-peedtle.

“Steven…”, Garnet cautioned further.

“It’s okay Centi.”, Steven’s voice soothed, “I’m going to heal you a little okay? These other gems are here to help.”.

Chrysoberyl watched as the corrupted Nephrite seemed to relax at her words, her form shifting into something slightly more recognizable as a Nephrite after Steven healed her.

“It doesn’t last long though…”, Steven whispered to Chrysoberyl, “Is there anything you can do?”.

“We’ll do our best.”, Chrysoberyl bowed slightly, before turning to Dot and Amethyst, “Dot, we need an analysis of her gem. 3ZC, you and I can try to perform a basic comfort exercise. If ‘corruption’ has a psychological component, it should have an effect.”.

“Got it.”, Dot nodded, pulling up several screens and activating scanning devices on her limb enhancers.

“Comfort exercise? What is that?”, Steven asked, watching as the Amethyst carefully took Centipeetle’s hands into her own and began speaking to her in a soothing manner.

“It’s something that we had to develop in the start of Era 2.”, White Sapphire spoke up, “Basically, it involves talking to the patient, acknowledging the situation that they are in, expressing our concern for them, and letting them respond. It’s decently effective in helping the patient overcome extreme grief. By knowing that others are with them, and empathizing with them, they will feel less overwhelmed and hopeless. It is a decent tool for dealing with trauma, and we were able to save a lot of gems from shattering with it.”.

“To be honest, it sounds like some kind of grief counseling, or therapy.”, Connie muttered.

“I’m sorry, did you say that gems are shattering from trauma?”, Pearl interjected.

“Yes?”, White Sapphire replied, confused, “It was a blight to the Courts for nearly 1.5 Mega-cycles?? What is that, nearly 4,000 solar rotations on this planet?”.

“Wait a moment… you said that you made that guide to help the gems with the Weeping?”, Peridot 5XG interjected.

“Well, that honor goes to Amethyst 3ZC.”, White Sapphire smiled brightly, “Her work on gem-psychology throughout the Yellow Court was what got her recommended to our team in the first place. She was the one who pioneered advancements in grief therapy at the start of Era Two, and developed the comfort exercise as well as all of the other tools in our arsenal. Her work ended up saving millions of gems.”.

Millions of gems?”, a pained expression filled Pearl’s face, “White Sapphire, what is this Weeping? What happened while we were here on Earth?”.

“You really don’t know?”, White Sapphire whispered, hardly believing her ears.

“Yeah, I’m gonna have to side with Sapphire on this one.”, Lapis spoke up, mildly irritated, “I had an excuse to be unaware, cause I was stuck inside you. But you were free, you could go anywhere at any time! How did you manage to be oblivious to something that big?!”.

“Hang on everyone, we can talk about that later!”, Peridot cut Lapis off, before turning excitedly back to White Sapphire, “I can’t believe I didn’t recognize you all before! It should have been obvious with a Chrysoberyl in your group, and I knew that Peridot 1AR was famous but I didn’t know that she joined the Bequest!”.

“Well, she didn’t actually join the Bequest, per-se - you see, we were all gathered together at order of her Radiance White Diamond”, White Sapphire explained, sensing the somewhat tense and apprehensive emotions that seemed to radiate from Garnet, “On her Radiance’s order, we became a team that was then sent out into the Courts to address the resource crisis and the Weeping. It was only some time after the fact that gems began to refer to our group as Pink Diamond’s Bequest.”.

If Garnet was tense before, she seemed outright confrontational now in response to White Sapphire’s words.

“Alright you four.”, Garnet grit out, stepping forward, “You come here out of nowhere, claiming to work for Rose Quartz, but it turns out that you’re an elite task force put together by White Diamond, and act in the service of Pink Diamond?”.

“Working for Rose Quartz and operating in a team assembled by her Radiance White Diamond to save gems aren’t mutually exclusive, your Clarity.”, Dot replied casually, before showing a screen of information to Chrysoberyl.

“Steven.”, Chrysoberyl’s expression was discouraged as she returned from Centipeetle’s side, “This ‘Corruption’ is not something we have ever dealt with before. The comfort exercise we performed had a subtle effect on the abnormalities on her physical form, implying that Corruption does indeed have a psychological component. However, any recovery that she made was quickly lost as soon as we stopped speaking to her, leading us to believe that this Corruption also impacts a gem’s ability to retain and form new memories. That being said, I believe we have found a potential cause for Corruption. Dot’s scans revealed that Nephrite’s gem appears to somehow be lacking the necessary amount of Diamond essence needed for her very incubation and formation.”.

“Nephrite?”, Steven asked confused.

“Yes, as per healing protocol, we pulled up some basic identification information from her gemstone, as the cabochon and facet information can help provide insight on how to best care for her. Her name is Nephrite Facet-413 Cabochon-12, of the Yellow Court.”.

“Oh.”, Steven replied simply.

“But, how is that possible?”, Peridot 5XG interjected, bewildered, “How could a gem lose essence! It’s not like she was ever harvested or anything?”.

“That I am not sure of. However it is clear that in order to heal her and the other gems, we will need a large amount of Diamond essence.”, Chrysoberyl replied.

“Could you use the essence from the injectors in the Prime kindergarten?”, 5XG asked.

“We have already exhausted the essence from those injectors in the formation of the Delta kindergarten system, and the Prime Kindergarten’s recovery. However, there is a Beta kindergarten on this planet, perhaps we could harvest essence from there.”, Chrysoberyl paused, before turning to Steven, “What would you have us do?”.

“Uhhh…”, Steven trailed off, unsure of what to say.

“You still haven’t answered my question, Chrysoberyl.”, Garnet interrupted, squaring up with the tall, green gem, “You may say that you work for Rose, but you act like you work for Homeworld. And now it comes out that you’re a bunch of Homeworld-elites serving the Diamond Authority? So what is it? How can we trust you!?”.

Chrysoberyl’s static-filled gaze seemed to bore through Garnet, tension filling the room as nobody made a move.

“You can trust me because my allegiance lies with Steven, I serve him - just as you do.”, Chrysoberyl replied.

“Serve?”, Steven questioned, looking somewhat confused.

“I- I’m sorry, was I not supposed to say that?”, Chrysoberyl appeared stricken at Steven’s words.

“What?”, Steven replied, only more confused.

“Garnet.”, Pearl spoke up finally, getting everyone’s attention, “I can’t explain everything, but you can trust them, okay?”.

Chrysoberyl nodded in agreement, a look of understanding passing between the two gems.

“No. If I am to trust these gems, then we are going to talk about it.”, Garnet replied evenly, leaving no room for discussion, before turning to Steven, “Steven, you should go to your room.”.

“Wait, what?”, Steven replied, at a loss for this turn of events.

“Steven. Go. To. Your. Room!”, Garnet all but growled, now turning away from Chrysoberyl and to Steven.

Pearl flinched at Garnet’s words, understanding what would come next. Before anyone could blink, Garnet was pinned on the ground. Chrysoberyl stood over her, both of her blades pressed on Garnet’s two gems.

“Trusted Clarity or not, if you speak to Steven in that tone again and I will not hesitate to shatter you.”, Chrysoberyl spat, “Now apologize.”.

“What!?”, Garnet replied indignantly, trying and failing to summon her gauntlets, as Chrysoberyl’s blades were already leveled to her gems.

Apologize. NOW.”, Chrysoberyl increased the pressure on Garnet’s gems, her voice echoing through the large room.

“Steven, I’m sorr-“, Garnet began.

“Heeeeey, let’s not fight everybody!”, Steven interrupted, moving himself into Chrysoberyl’s line of sight, “I know we all just met and things are kinda confusing, so maybe we should just take some time to get to know each-other, instead of threatening each-other? So, Chrysoberyl, can you please get off of Garnet?”.

At that, Chrysoberyl backed off of Garnet, and bowed to Steven.

“I apologize for acting out of line, Steven.”, Chrysoberyl bowed deeply in response, “I just couldn’t stand by while she insulted you honor like that.”.

“I…”, Steven trailed off, before deciding to change to topic entirely, “Listen, let’s just forget it, and work on growing closer together. I know that Garnet, Pearl, and Amethyst all grew close together on their missions. Perhaps if you four went on a mission with us, we would grow closer as well!”.

“I think that’s a great idea, Steven!”, Amethyst 3ZC spoke up, “Working together as a single unit has always aided team morale and cohesion!”.

Garnet only huffed, the glares of Dot, Amethyst 3ZC, Chrysoberyl, and somehow even White Sapphire on her as she stood up once more.

“Thank you, Amethyst.”, Steven replied, a little more confidently, “So what do you all say?”.

Chapter Text

“So, we usually patrol around here, searching for any gem shards, or anything out of the ordinary”, Pearl explained, as she lead Chrysoberyl, Lapis, Connie, White Sapphire, Dot, Amethyst 3ZC, and the Crystal Gems off of the warp pad, and around the strawberry-covered hills.

“The battlefield of Facet 3, that makes sense.”, Chrysoberyl mused, casting her gaze around the area as she made her way off of the warp pad.

“Oh yeah, we come here all to time to look for any gem-stuff that might be dangerous!”, Steven piped up.

“And then we take it and bubble it away to keep everyone safe!”, the far smaller Amethyst added excitedly, “It makes you wonder how much dangerous stuff could actually be in a place like this, though doesn’t it?”.

“Well, Pearl did say that this is where the Crystal Gems made their stand against Homeworld.”, Steven reasoned, “Since we won, it makes sense that there’d be a lot of weapons and dangerous stuff here.”.

“Oh, so Pearl says that the Crystal gems won the battle that took place here?”, Chrysoberyl couldn’t help but chuckle slightly at Pearl’s expense.

Pearl promptly blushed in embarrassment at Steven’s words, her gaze affixed to the blades of grass beneath her feet.

“I ah- I may have exaggerated a bit when I said we won Steven. Really, we just made a stand for Earth and fought back here…”, Pearl trailed off, the group making their way atop one of the many hills that dotted that battlefield.

“Well… we’re okay now, right?”, Steven spoke up eventually.

“Yes…”, Pearl breathed, taking in the view from the hill’s peak, “We are.”.

Chrysoberyl paused atop the hill as well, watching as the others made their way down to search for gem shards and weapons.

“It feels as if it was just last cycle that we stood here.”, Pearl whispered, looking out over the hills as memories of fire, lasers, and churned soil filled her gem.

“I should apologize.”, Chrysoberyl spoke eventually, “I - I didn’t know.”.

“And that’s why I don’t hold any of this against you.”, Pearl replied, “We both fought for her will. We both served her. I can’t blame you for following her orders because I did the same thing…”.

The sound of Steven’s excited laughter drifted throughout the battlefield, as he flitted between Amethyst, Dot, Amethyst 3ZC, Lapis, Connie, and Peridot 5XG.

“Doesn’t make it hurt any less looking back on it all.”, Chrysoberyl replied, the static in her eyes catching and reflecting the light of the sunset.

“Forgiving yourself would be a good first step.”, Pearl supplied.

A hollow laugh spilled from Chrysoberyl’s lips.

“How?”, Chrysoberyl breathed, “You know what my role was, what responsibilities I was given… How do I move on knowing that I attacked members of the Pink Court?”.

“T-they weren’t exactly…”, Pearl began.

“They were a group of gems fighting in the service of a Diamond, what would you call that?”, Chrysoberyl bit out, her tone full of self-loathing.

“I would call that following orders.”, Pearl replied simply, “Think of it this way, what would she have done if you hadn’t lead all of those soldiers into battle?”.

“Well, she might not have done anything, but their Radiances Blue and Yellow Diamond certainly would have reprimanded her.”, Chrysoberyl replied.

“Right, and it was her will to keep them appeased, correct?”, Pearl continued.

“I can see what you’re getting at…”, Chrysoberyl sighed, relenting to Pearl’s logic.

“I couldn’t always see the reasoning behind her orders, especially not in the heat of the moment.”, Pearl admitted, drawing one of the pink flowers from the strawberry bushes into her hand, “Some of the things she asked of me… scared me. I didn’t know how things would turn out, or why it even was a good idea, but…”.

She sighed, staring at the flower, the sight of its pale pink petals dredging up even more painful memories, “But when I look at the end of the path that she lead us on… Earth is safe now, and it’s so full of life. If she can see through his eyes… If any of her is still in there, I know that she would be proud of it, proud of me… and proud of you.”, Pearl smiled, drying her tears.

“Thank you…”, Chrysoberyl was at a loss for words, her tears falling onto the grass below.

Gently, Pearl took Chrysoberyl’s hand into her own. The two leading generals of the Gem War staring out at the setting sun, the sound of laughter carrying over the breeze.

“Hey guys!”, Steven laughed as he made his way back up the hill to Chrysoberyl and Pearl, his arms full of various weapons, “We were able to get a bunch more stuff! How are you two doing?”.

“We’re doing better, Steven.”, Pearl smiled, glancing at Chrysoberyl.

“That’s good! I told you that going on a mission helps gems overcome their differences!”, Steven cheered, “Has anyone seen where Garnet went though?”.

“I’m here, Steven.”, Garnet spoke up, emerging from behind the hill with a massive claymore, its length easily five times Garnet’s size.

“Aww, you always find the big ones.”, Steven grumbled, the group making their way back to the warp pad.

Pearl, Chrysoberyl, Steven, Dot, Amethyst 3ZC, White Sapphire, and Peridot 5XG made their way onto the warp pad.

“You guys coming?”, Steven called out to Garnet and Amethyst, the two waiting by edge of the platform.

“We won’t all fit with this big sword.”, Garnet replied.

“Yeah! You guys take the first ride! We’ll be right behind you!”, Amethyst added.

“Alright!”, Steven smiled, the group immediately being caught up in a beam of light, warping away.

“Sooooo…”, Amethyst turned to Garnet, “What did she say to Pearl? Can we trust these new gems?”.

“She was talking to Pearl about the Gem War, and she regretted the role she played in it.”, Garnet replied, “I don’t understand everything about her, about her history with Rose Quartz, but it was clear that Chrysoberyl wanted what was best for her.”.

“That means that we can trust them, right?”, Amethyst prodded.

“It means that they aren’t a threat…”, Garnet sighed, making her way atop the warp pad, “Now come on, before they get suspicious.”.

Chapter Text

“So, if we can’t heal the corrupted gems without Diamond stuff, and you have to gather that from another kindergarten, what are you going to be doing in the meantime?”, Steven asked, watching as Garnet and Amethyst put the large claymore into the back room.

“Well, we didn’t have any objectives other than that.”, Amethyst 3ZC spoke up.

“I know!”, Steven replied excitedly, “You could hang out with us, and I can teach you about human-culture!”.

“Human culture?”, Dot asked, as Peridot 5XG laughed.

“Ohhh, Steven’s gonna give you the tour!”, Peridot chuckled.

“Tour?”, Amethyst 3ZC asked, turning to the Peridot.

“Yeah, when I first got here…”, Peridot paused, “Well, not when I first got here, but a bit after, Steven gave me a tour of his home and of elements of human culture!”.

“Yes!”, Steven replied, “That’s a great place to start Peridot!”.

“Why thank you, Steven.”, Peridot smiled.

“So, we’re standing in what’s called a living room.”, Steven turned to the group of new gems, before sitting down on the couch, “We use it as a space to relax and enjoy ourselves.”.

“Looks comfortable!”, Chrysoberyl smiled, copying Steven and taking a seat on the couch as well.

“So, this must be where you hold mission briefings then?”, Amethyst 3ZC asked.

“It would be perfect for that.”, Chrysoberyl commented, “It’s similar to the common room then, don’t you think Dot?”.

“Well, we can talk about missions in the living room…”, Steven answered Amethyst’s question, “But it’s kinda more than that? It doesn’t have one single purpose.”.

“Oh, so this space fulfills multiple purposes?”, Dot asked, “An efficient use of assets then. Are human organics also going through a resource crisis?”.

“Well, there is the stuff with our planet’s climate.”, Connie replied, “But that’s not why a living room has multiple purposes.”.

“Yeah, we can use this area to hang out!”, Amethyst 8XM added.

“Or solve puzzles!’, Pearl added, gesturing to a puzzle box.

“Or read human literature!”, Peridot 5XG beamed, holding up what appeared to be a manga based on dog-copter, “Their stories on machine-organic hybrids are fascinating!”.

“I see.”, Amethyst 3ZC replied.

“So, in addition to the living room, the bottom floor also has this!”, Steven hopped off of the sofa and walked over to the kitchen, “This is a kitchen!”.

“It looks like there are a lot of tools designed to provide different kinds of thermal energy…”, Dot spoke up, looking between the coils of the oven and the microwave.

“Yep!”, Connie spoke up, gesturing to a toaster, “Some tools are used for different kinds of food. Like this toaster, it can get really hot, and it can be used for heating up bread!”.

“Or toaster waffles!”, Steven replied excitedly.

“Food?”, Amethyst asked.

“Oh, I know this…”, White Sapphire spoke up, “An organic’s manifestation is not made from light, so they need to sustain it through the consumption of other organic entities, most commonly locally provided flora and fauna from distributors run by other humans!”.

“Yes.”, Pearl replied, “Humans call those places restaurants.”.

“Okay, and isn’t there a space for humans to perform the opposite function?”, White Sapphire asked, “Like, cause their forms are inefficient at processing the resources that they consume, so there’s always un-utilized materials left over post-processing so it needs to be expelled, right?”.

“How do you know so much about human culture?”, Chrysoberyl asked, turning to White Sapphire.

“I was around them a lot for Ensky.”, White Sapphire replied simply.

“Well, yes…”, Steven answered White Sapphire’s question, blushing slightly, “That’s called a bathroom.”.

“Yeah!”, Peridot 5XG replied, “And Steven here held me prisoner in one for like, two whole cycles!”.

“Fun times…”, Amethyst 8XM chuckled, “So fun fact! Gems can eat human food too!”.

“Really?”, Dot asked, turning back to Steven.

“Yep! Amethyst eats stuff all the time!”, Steven replied, smiling, “Sometimes it isn’t even food!”.

“I personally don’t care for it though…”, Pearl shuddered.

“I know! I could make everyone dinner to celebrate the success of your mission!”, Steven spoke up, excitedly.

“That sounds like a pretty big task.”, Pearl replied, “You want help with cooking for that many guests?”.

“Hmm, I don’t think that we have enough toaster waffles for a together breakfast…”, Steven muttered.

“Well if this is the first time that these gems are eating, we could start them off with something simple, like soup!”, Connie suggested.

“I think we have some chicken broth in the pantry, and I know we have vegetables in the fridge.”, Pearl replied.

“Yeah!”, Steven cheered, “We can all make dinner together!”.

* * *

“So, first things first we’ll have to heat up the broth before we can add any vegetables.”, Connie announced, dumping the broth into a large stock pot.

“I got it!”, Dot exclaimed, hopping atop the counter and picking up the toaster, “When dealing with increasing the heat of a fluid, inserting a heat source directly inside the vessel is always the fastest way to heat it up!”, she chirped turning on the toaster.

“Wait!”, Pearl interjected, grabbing ahold of the toaster before Dot could throw it in, “That uses electrical energy! You cannot just throw it into a stock, it’s mostly water!”.

“Water?”, Dot asked, “I can’t say that I’ve analyzed water much. We usually just use it for ambiance in fountains, and I know that Lapis Lazulis can use it for terraforming colonies and transportation… But the electricity part was obvious cause of the copper in the device’s plug component. It may be rudimentary, but it will certainly heat up the fluid quickly.”.

“Yes well let this be a useful lesson then, water may be good for making a relaxing atmosphere for clarity halls, but it is also a great conductor for electricity!”, Pearl replied sternly, “And it can poof gems and kill humans!”.

“Kill?”, Dot asked, “What is that?”.

“Right…”, Pearl paused, remembering her audience, “If a human is filled with an electrical current, it can shatter them.”.

“Oh my Stars!”, Dot’s eyes widened as she slid off of the counter looking back to Connie, “I am so sorry!”.

“Let’s not forget that then…”, Chrysoberyl spoke up, her tone also conveying shock, “There is a great deal of water on this planet, it would be terrible if anyone were to get hurt or shattered.”.

“It’s alright, no one was hurt.”, Connie replied reassuringly, before turning on the burner on the stovetop, “Let’s just use the heat source in the stove, okay?”.

“Alright.”, Dot replied meekly, watching as Connie operated the many devices and tools in the kitchen.

“Okay, now that that’s heating, we should focus on the vegetables.”, Connie announced, drawing some kale out of the fridge.

“Alright, how do these need to be prepared?”, Chrysoberyl asked.

“Well, we have to wash them first.”, Connie replied, demonstrating the process of rinsing off the produce and setting them on a dry towel.

“Now we chop them up into smaller pieces.”, Connie explained, getting a small kitchen knife from the drawer.

“Do you want to help cut this up while I work on the onions and garlic?”, Connie asked, gesturing to the cutting board and knife.

“Sure.”, Chrysoberyl smiled, before looking over the cleaned plants, “You want me to slice these into smaller pieces?”.

“Yes.”, Connie replied, watching as Chrysoberyl weighed the kitchen knife in her hand, “Just make them bite-sized, or pieces small enough to fit in one’s mouth without difficulty.”.

“Understood.”, Chrysoberyl replied, scrutinizing the blade that Connie had offered her.

Truth be told, the balance of this offered weapon was terrible, the weight was all in the blade, with hardly any in the hilt. That wasn’t even mentioning the obviously dull edge. It didn’t matter if her task was simply to cut up some inanimate organic flora, a weapon this poorly designed was not just useless, it was a liability on the battlefield.

I can’t tell the organic that though…”, Chrysoberyl thought to herself, “She is obviously a close acquaintance of Steven, and these blades are some of his possessions. To speak poorly of these tools could be seen as a grave insult, yet inaction could lead to tragedy in the future… How do I rectify this situation?”, Chrysoberyl hummed, getting to work.

* * *

Connie paused and looked up from her work on the onions as soon as she heard the sound of a hammer hitting steel. On the side of the counter, Chrysoberyl had apparently set up what looked like the gem equivalent of a miniature forge, had disassembled the kitchen knife, removed the handle from the blade, and was now heating up the metal. Chrysoberyl drew a tray and a jar from her gem, adding some of the jar’s contents, clearly some kind of mineral to the tray, before placing the knife in the tray and sliding it back in the forge.

“Um Chrysoberyl?”, Connie spoke up, watching as Chrysoberyl molded the blade into what appeared to be a dagger, its appearance now matching that of the opaque, crystalline blades of the gems.

“Yes Connie?”, Chrysoberyl replied as she traded the forge for what looked like a sharpening lathe jig and began grinding the knife down.

“What, uhhh… What you up to?”, Connie asked, watching as she finished grinding the dagger and traded the lathe out for a whetstone.

“I hope that I am not intruding upon your culture’s sensibilities, and I mean no insult to your civilization’s ability to create weaponry, but the blade was inadequate for the task at hand.”, Chrysoberyl explained, wiping off the finished pink dagger with a cloth, before returning her attention to the vegetables on the cutting board, “Fortunately, I am trained in the skill of forging weaponry from my experience in the Great Gem War. There was many a cycle where Morganites were unavailable, overworked, or understaffed; their Rubies and Pearls having run themselves ragged trying to forge enough weapons to meet demand. So, as a general, I not only took it upon myself to take better care of my own weapons, but also aid with the weapon making process, to help lessen the workload of those under me.”.

Connie watched as Chrysoberyl stood the head of Kale up on its end and took an offensive fighting stance.

Soup…”, Connie screamed internally, watching as Chrysoberyl cut across the kale in a blur of strikes, “IT’S JUST SOUP!”.

“Is this satisfactory?”, Chrysoberyl asked, bringing a cutting board full of surprisingly uniformly sized pieces of kale.

“Uhh yeah…”, Connie blinked, looking down at the evenly cut shreds of greenery, adding them to a skillet with the onions and garlic and rendered bacon.

“So what now?”, Amethyst 3ZC asked watching as Connie added the sautéed ingredients into the soup.

“Well, the next step is to season the soup.”, Connie replied, bringing out some salt and pepper.

“Crushed up dried flora, and… are those nascent Halite shards?”, Dot asked, looking over the salt and pepper.

“Halite?”, Amethyst 3ZC asked, sending a confused look to Connie, “Humans can eat Halite?”.

“Uhhm, this is salt?”, Connie replied, shooting a confused glance at Pearl, “It makes things more flavorful, it’s a mineral?”.

“Halite is a natural rock salt.”, Pearl explained.

“Oh, oh my goodness, I’m so sorry!”, Connie apologized frantically, before putting back the salt, “I didn’t think of that!”.

“Don’t worry!”, Amethyst 3ZC laughed, “Minerals and nascent gemstones are used all the time in our technology and weapons! It’s fine to add it to the soup, we were just surprised that your digestive system is able to process raw minerals!”.

“Oh, so it’s not like eating a gem or anything?”, Connie asked, still flustered.

“No no…”, Dot laughed, “Now if you told us that you were adding the shards of a previously living gem to the soup, then that would be worrying.”.

“Oh.”, Connie sighed in relief, taking back out the salt and seasoning the soup, “No, no we don’t have anything like that.”.

“That is a relief to hear.”, White Sapphire smiled, “That would have made continued meetings with your kind somewhat awkward, knowing that gem-kind was being used as some kind of sustenance.”.

“Yeah, that would have been weird.”, Connie laughed, before putting a lid on the pot and letting it boil, “Welp, the soup’s almost done! We just need to let it boil a bit! Steven and the others should be done getting the table ready.”, she finished, turning to where Steven, Garnet, Amethyst, Peridot, and Lapis had set up extra chairs, cushions, and beanbags around the living room coffee table.

* * *

Chrysoberyl watched as Steven, Connie, and the Crystal Gem’s Amethyst each eagerly gulped down large mouthfuls of the sustenance.

“This is amazing Connie!”, Amethyst 8XM praised.

“Thanks!”, Connie smiled back, “It’s my mom’s recipe.”.

Chrysoberyl glanced over to Garnet, Lapis Lazuli, and Peridot, who were comparatively far more composed, each of them only eating small mouthfuls. While the four of them were more reserved when it came consuming human sustenance, Pearl was outright abstaining from consuming food, lacking even a bowl of the sustenance in front of her. Was there something about it that the other gems were unaware of?

“It’s alright for gems to eat human food, if that’s what you’re wondering.”, Pearl spoke up, noticing Chrysoberyl’s hesitancy.

Timidly, Chrysoberyl raised a concave tool full of liquid sustenance to her mouth, and transferred some into her mouth. Surprise flitted across her face as the unfamiliar sensations of taste filled her manifestation. The soup tasted pleasant, the resulting sensations nearly reminiscent of emotions. Though the broth was pleasant to hold in one’s mouth, a new and more immediate problem arose to the forefront of her gem. Glancing over to the other, more experienced gems, she could tell that they were taking the soup into their very forms. However, the thought of allowing something foreign to enter into her manifestation just seemed so wrong…

It would probably be rude to spit out the soup though…”, she sighed internally.

With even greater hesitance, she allowed the soup to spill down the back of her throat. She shuddered as she felt the hot liquid trickle down the inside of her form, pooling somewhere deep inside her abdomen, the heat radiating off of it feeling so alien to her.

“It’s not for everyone…”, Garnet spoke up, getting Chrysoberyl’s attention, “Pearl doesn’t like eating either.”.

“Thank you, your Clarity.”, Chrysoberyl replied.

“Just Garnet is fine.”, she replied.

“Thank you, Garnet.”, Chrysoberyl amended, before turning to Connie, “The soup was very pleasant, when held in my mouth. However, I personally do not care for the sensation of consuming other things.”.

“No worries!”, Connie replied brightly, “I’m glad you tried it though!”.

“Can I have the rest of your soup if you aren’t interested in it?”, Dot spoke up, turning to Chrysoberyl, “I actually enjoy it!”.

“Sure!”, Chrysoberyl smiled, all too eager to not let Connie’s work go to waste.

* * *

It wasn’t long before the group finished their dinner. At Steven’s suggestion, the gathering made their way outside to enjoy the beach and night air, seeing as Chrysoberyl, White Sapphire, Amethyst 3ZC, and Dot ended up spending all of their time on Earth in the Kindergartens, and didn’t get to enjoy the simple pleasures of planet Earth.

“So, I wanted to ask you this earlier, ever since I first saw you all in Steven’s house.”, Chrysoberyl spoke up, turning to Pearl, “But I have to ask, is this the formation of a banner?”.

“No no, we’re just together. We aren’t a recognized body, and we don’t have a governing system.”, Pearl supplied, blushing slightly.

“We all listen to Garnet?”, Steven piped up over the sound of the gentle waves, “So there’s a governing system there…”.

“Yeah!”, Amethyst joined in, “I dunno what this ‘banner’ stuff is, but it sounds cool! What is a banner anyway?”.

“It’s basically an old form of gem-government.”, Pearl began to explain, “But it isn’t recognized anymore. Stars, there aren’t many gems left who were even around in the cycles of banners. Well, I know their Radiances White and Yellow were there, obviously. And if I remember you were there too, Chrysoberyl right? Because you were part of the council I lead on the Authority, but it really comes down to semantics on how the Ammolites recorded it.”.

“Yes, the Ammolites still register my formation on 30,700,000,000 2. So, still under the banner - but only just.”, Chrysoberyl replied.

“Wait, 30,700,000,000 2, what?”, Peridot 5XG asked, “What’s the third number? It’s 30,700,000,000 2 1, right?”.

“It didn’t have a third number.”, Chrysoberyl replied, “But some Ammolites who specialize in that field of history would dub it 30,700,000,000 2 W.”.

“A letter in a calendar system?”, 5XG replied bewildered, “What kind of system is that?”.

“An old one!”, Pearl laughed, Chrysoberyl joining in, as if she just told the funniest joke.

“Wait, so how old are you Pearl?”, Connie asked.

“I’m quite old.”, Pearl replied, “I’ve been around for a while, if that’s what you’re asking, though I don’t really know how to describe the time in terms of years.”, she admitted, before turning back to Chrysoberyl, “But to answer your question, no we aren’t starting a banner. We’re just doing our own thing, trying to help any gems that we find.”.

“Oh, so kinda like us? We aren’t really tied down to a Court, so-to-speak.”, Amethyst asked.

“I guess.”, Pearl replied, “We’re outside of the Authority though.”.

“Um, Chrysoberyl?”, Steven spoke up somewhat awkwardly, “I noticed that your gem was cracked…”.

“Yes…”, Chrysoberyl’s tone grew solemn, the once upbeat atmosphere quickly evaporating, “It was… well it’s been that way for some time.”.

“I… I was wondering… Well, I have the ability to heal gems with my spit. I was able to use it to heal Lapis Lazuli, and if you want I could heal you too.”.

“You are welcome to try…”, Chrysoberyl replied timidly, “I have been treated by the best Rose Quartz gems and used the most state-of-the-art healing chambers, yet none of them were able to heal my gem. Not that I do not believe in you ma’am, only I do not wish for you to be hard on yourself should you fail.”.

“Alright…”, Steven replied as Chrysoberyl knelt down, giving him access to her gem.

His breath caught as he looked over the stone’s marred surface. The teardrop shaped gemstone appeared to be fractured. A deep crack began at the stone’s curved base, before branching into two separate cracks at the stone’s center. One fracture lead upwards towards the teardrop’s point, and the other continued along the angle that the original crack held. Steven seemed to gather himself up as he licked his hand, before placing it gently on her gem.

One moment passed.

Two moments…

“I’m sorry Steven.”, Chrysoberyl sighed, a sadness seeming to fill the static in her eyes.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t help you…”, Steven replied, dejected.

“You don’t need to be,”, Chrysoberyl replied, standing back up to her full height, the atmosphere growing brighter with Chrysoberyl’s words, “It is alright.”.

“Well, it is getting late.”, Pearl spoke up, getting the group’s attention, “I know that Connie should be heading home, and Steven should get ready for bed.”.

“Right.”, Connie replied, before turning to Chrysoberyl, Dot, White Sapphire, and Amethyst 3ZC, “It was nice meeting you all!”.

“It was great meeting you too Connie!”, Amethyst replied, waving as Garnet, Steven, and the Crystal Gem Amethyst lead Connie off to her place.

“Peri and I should be heading back to the barn as well.”, Lapis spoke up, picking up Peridot and Pumpkin and flying away.

“Warn me next time before you just grab me, Lapis!”, Peridot squeaked, the three of them flying off into the night sky.

“See you!”, Dot called out, waving at the trio’s retreating forms.

“byyyyyyyeeee!!”, Peridot’s screamed reply could be heard in the distance.

“We should be going as well.”, White Sapphire spoke up.

“Yeah, we have a lot to work on now!”, Dot smiled, heading over to a large, midnight-blue, teardrop-shaped ship.

“Chrysoberyl?”, Pearl spoke up, watching as the rest of the gems made their way back to the ship.

“Yes Pearl?”, Chrysoberyl asked, turning back to Pearl.

“I wanted to say thank you…”, Pearl began, the gentle sound of the wind and waves filling the silence, “I know it must mean a lot to you to see her will carried out, but it also means a lot to me as well…”.

“It does…”, Chrysoberyl smiled, “There are a lot of regrets that I carry from that time.”.

“So do I…”, Pearl replied, drying a few stray tears.

“But you are most welcome, ma’am.”, Chrysoberyl smiled, bowing lightly.

“I’m not your overseer anymore, Chrysoberyl.”, she chuckled.

“Please, we both know that after being my superior then, I’ll always be calling you ma’am.”, Chrysoberyl laughed, “The only reason that I’m not using the honorific is cause it would give away Steven’s identity.”.

“I’m glad about that.”, Pearl smirked, “I always thought that title was too ostentatious anyway.”.

“Really?”, Chrysoberyl replied, surprise and incredulity filling her tone, “It fits you quite well! More importantly, it was a very apt description as well! With your original hue, next to her Radiance’s light? You seemed to just soak up her light, shining brightly and giving hope to any gem that happened to be around you.”.

“I appreciate the sentiment.”, Pearl smiled, turning to look out at the night sky.

“I have a plan.”, Chrysoberyl spoke up eventually, unable to keep herself from sharing this with her former superior, “Remember 113,576,991,630 2 1?”.

“The cycle she received her colony, yes.”, Pearl replied.

“You remember what our Diamond asked of me?”, Chrysoberyl continued.

“Respect…”, Pearl trailed off, “She told you that she wanted to be respected by the other Radiances.”.

“Yes.”, Chrysoberyl smiled, taking a hold of Pearl’s hand, “There’s going to be a lot of change in the future…”.

“I- I don’t understand.”, Pearl replied, confused, “What are you trying to do?”.

“I have another chance… We have another chance…”, Chrysoberyl replied wistfully, listening to the waves as they continued to roll against the shore, “She’s alive still… Different, changed, but alive. I’m not going to let this opportunity pass. I’m going to finally do something right by her.”.

“Okay.”, Pearl replied, hugging the other gem, “Be safe, Chrysoberyl.”.

“I will ma’am… I promise.”.

Chapter Text

It seemed just like any other cycle, Amethyst and Dot were getting ready to visit the crystal gems the following day, Chrysoberyl was analyzing profiles of the Homeworld elites to try and determine allies for an eventual push for off-color and eventual cross fusion acceptance, and Sapphire was meditating in her corner.

However, the day took a turn for the eventful once Sapphire stood up from her meditation and faced the group.

“We should be ready to finally set things in motion now.”, Sapphire said, to the group.

“Set in motion the phase 2-1 of Ensky? Are you sure we are ready?”, Chrysoberyl asked, looking around at her team-mates, “Everything is in place? Peridot, the roaming eyes in Homeworld, they’ve been avoiding the Facet 1 Kindergarten, correct?”.

Dot nodded in response, before Chrysoberyl spoke up once more.

“Sapphire, you facilitated the mind link between Lars and Steven, to reduce Lars’ self esteem, right?”, Chrysoberyl asked again.

“Yes Chrysoberyl.”, Sapphire replied.

“Amethyst, you were able to adjust the standby idle suspension of Blue’s palanquin when she was in Facet 7, correct? And I fixed the rest of the Galaxy hub…”, Chrysoberyl hummed, realizing that they really were ready, “Everyone know your teams and roles? We have one shot to do this right.”.

With each member giving their affirmative, Chrysoberyl walked over to the communications hub once more, and donned the crest of Yellow Diamond.

“Dot, do we have the report from Peridot 5XG’s interaction with Steven in the Prime Kindergarten?”, Chrysoberyl asked one more question.

“Yes, it should already be uploaded to the main computer.”, Dot replied.

“Alright then… Okay…”, Chrysoberyl took a deep breath as she typed into the terminal.

“Aquamarine Cut 2F1 and Topaz 9IX?”, Amethyst read off of the screen, somewhat confused, “Sapphire, why do we need bounty hunters for our mission?”.

“They will be the catalyst that ensures Steven is compassionate towards all gems, not just those of Earth. They will ensure that Steven is able to appreciate the repercussions of the actions he takes. And lastly, they will be the gems responsible for taking him to Homeworld.”, Sapphire replied.

“Wow, that’s a lot!”, Dot marveled, “You made this one event move forward multiple objectives!”.

“Thank you, Dot.”, Sapphire smiled towards her friend.

“Here we go, I’m calling them now.”, Chrysoberyl announced, gaining the attention of the other gems.

Suddenly, the communications channel screen activated, displaying the aforementioned Aquamarine and Topaz.

“Greetings, this is Chrysoberyl Facet 1F1L, Cut 1AB, acting in the service of Blue Diamond. Is this Aquamarine Facet 4F6L, Cut 2F1?”, Chrysoberyl began.

“Y-Yes ma’am!”, the Aquamarine on the screen stuttered, quickly bowing, “How may I be of service?”.

“We have received orders from Blue Diamond herself to assemble a group of bounty hunters tasked with increasing the population of the Human Zoo. We were going to be assembling a larger team, but after reviewing your credentials, we have determined that you and Topaz Cut 9IX will be more than capable of completing this operation.”, Chrysoberyl replied, complimenting the small bounty hunter.

“I am grateful that my reputation proceeds me, ma’am. We’re able to start right away.”, Aquamarine replied, blushing slightly.

“Very good.”, Chrysoberyl said, while submitting the list of targets and accompanying video file to the bounty hunters, closing the transmission shortly afterwards.

The room went silent again as the transmission ended.

“We have one chance to do this right.”, Chrysoberyl spoke, breaking the silence as her gaze remained focused on the space the screen once occupied, “I believe in us. We can do this. Now that that is in motion however, I will head to Homeworld to aid Blue and Yellow Diamond. They will need me by their side to ensure the next part of our plan goes off without a hitch. My communications line will always be open. If anyone needs anything, do not hesitate to call. Understood?”, Chrysoberyl finished, turning back to face her friends.

“Yes ma’am”, they replied, each team-member looking to each other, realizing that they have crossed a point of no-return.

Chapter Text

It was fourteen cycles before they heard anything from the bounty hunters.

“Dot, Amethyst. We are all packed up and ready for the mission on Homeworld?”, Sapphire asked the remaining group.

“Yep! I got all the mesh projectors loaded on the ship, and I’ve been monitoring the activities of the Shattering Robonoids, so we can jack into them and pilot them at any time!”, Dot replied excitedly.

“Good. Because, if everything is going to plan, we should be receiving a transmission in 1 millicycle.”, Sapphire announced, walking to the terminal.

“What if we don’t?”, Dot asked, following behind.

“Then Connie and Steven have yet to run into the bounty hunters, and it will be another three millicycles before we are expected to receive the call.”.

Just then, the terminal whirred to life, displaying a large screen of Aquamarine.

“Come in Chrysoberyl, this is Aquamarine.”, the gem began, bowing.

“Chrysoberyl is currently with Blue Diamond.”, White Sapphire responded, “You may relay your message to me in her stead.”.

“Very well then, your Clarity.” Aquamarine replied, “We’re having a bit of trouble capturing the organic ‘My Dad’, and we want to know if we can just head back with the rest of these smelly creatures right now.”.

“You’re one of the best Aquamarines of Blue’s court, and you’re having difficulty capturing a few lowly organics?”, White Sapphire replied with incredulous sarcasm.

“They aren’t making things easy for us ya know? I know you higher-ups are all busy with Diamond-work, and got us all running about on these errands, but ya could at least cut us some slack, can’t ye?”.

“Very well.”, Sapphire responded before pausing and feigning a sigh, “From what I can see, you should be able to find the organic you’re looking for if you head to an area called the board walk.”.

“Thank you, your Clarity.”, Aquamarine replied, somewhat relieved, “We’ll have these targets ready for you in a jiffy!”.

Promptly, the signal cut off, leaving the room quiet once more.

“They’re headed to the boardwalk now, we have about seven millicycles to get there.”, Sapphire addressed the other two gems urgently, “Dot get your observation robonoid onto the pad, we need to get to Beach City now.”.

“Yes ma’am.”, Dot replied hurriedly, piloting the machine onto the pad, before hopping on herself.

Quickly, the other two gems climbed aboard the pad as well, and were enveloped in light. It was only a short moment later before the gems appeared once more, this time inside Steven’s house.

“Dot, be careful that you don’t bump into anything with your robonoid, the temple should be empty, but no one can know that we were here.”, Sapphire spoke, walking off of the pad and towards the front door.

Carefully, the gems made their way out of the household, making sure that nothing was disrupted by their presence.

“Where to now?”, Amethyst asked.

“We need to jump up to the top of the cliff.”, Sapphire stated, gesturing upwards.

“Yep, that looks like a good vantage point!”, Dot exclaimed, hopping on top of the robonoid and piloting it on top of the cliff, with the other two gems leaping up on top of the cliff.

“Alright, is this good?”, Dot asked, having moved the robonoid to the highest edge of the cliff.

“Yes.”, Sapphire responded, “Turn it on, and point the cameras to 103 degrees East, and at a 25 degree angle downward.”.

Quickly, Dot activated the robonoid’s camera and screen display, punching in the angles that Sapphire instructed. The machine rotated to point out at sea, and displayed an image of the gentle rolling waves.

“Uhm, this can’t be right. It’s just the ocean!?”, Dot replied, confused.

“Don’t worry, the location is right. Just make sure that the audio is turned all the way up so that I can hear what is happening.”.

“Okay.”, Dot replied, getting audio feed from the location, and turning it up, “It’s just waves.”, Dot deadpanned, as the sound of the ocean emanated from the screen.

“Good, now we wait for another .5 millicycles.”, Sapphire replied, patiently.

It was only a brief period of time later before a large, deep blue gem ship came into view on the screen.

“Looks like we got something.”, Amethyst replied.

“It is an Era Two passenger ship, correct?”, Sapphire asked.

“Yes.”, Dot answered.

Suddenly, the ship was grabbed by Alexandrite, holding it in place.

“WHOA! The Crystal Gems stopped the ship! And the humans are getting out!”, Dot cheered excitedly.

“Dot, please keep your voice down, and turn up the volume, I need to hear what is said.”, Sapphire replied, urgency lacing her tone.

Dot turned up the volume further as the gems and humans were covered in a blue glow.

“Nice try. But it’s hopeless, my dad. I can’t go back to Homeworld without getting what the Diamonds want.”, Aquamarine’s voice rang out from the robonoid’s speakers.

“Is the human Lars, among those in the water or on the platform?”, Sapphire asked Amethyst.

“No, I don’t see him, he’s probably still on the ship somewhere.”, Amethyst replied, as Steven’s voice began to emanate from the speakers as well.

“I’m someone the Diamonds will want more than any of these humans. The leader of the Crystal Gem rebellion. The gem that shattered Pink Diamond. I’m not my dad. I’m my mom. I’m Rose Quartz!”, Steven proclaimed.

“He’s turning himself in?!”, Dot and Amethyst both balked.

“Please, I need to hear what is happening.”, Sapphire interrupted.

“I get it now. I’m the only one who can stop what she started. I can stop all of it!”, Steven called out to the other gems, their shouts coming across far more muffled through the robonoid’s speakers, “She wouldn’t have wanted this. But I do.”, Steven finished.

The gems could only watch as Steven went inside the ship as it took off. Sapphire wasted no time in calling Chrysoberyl, her face appearing on the screen.

“Sapphire, what’s our status?”, Chrysoberyl asked, concerned.

“Steven is with Aquamarine, Topaz, and Lars. They are all headed to Homeworld, and Steven has a strong desire to end the fighting between Homeworld and the Crystal Gems.” Sapphire reported, smiling.

“Everything is going according to plan.”

Chapter Text

“Your Radiance, I heard the report from Aquamarine Facet 4F6L, Cut 2F1…”, Chrysoberyl bowed, saluting Yellow Diamond. “We did not consider to check inside organics in our search for Rose’s remains.”.

“I do not hold your failure against you Chrysoberyl, even if the gem that is being brought here truly is Rose Quartz.”, Yellow Diamond replied, taking a seat at her courtroom throne.

If the gem is Rose Quartz, your Radiance?”, Chrysoberyl asked.

“Yes, if.”, Yellow sighed, “Aquamarine submitted footage of the gem’s capture, and though she is indeed a gem, the entity’s organic component makes identifying her as Rose Quartz rather difficult. While this could be Rose Quartz, it could just as easily be a gem who simply wishes to end the amnesty between Diamond Authorities and these ‘Crystal Gems’.”.

“I see, my Radiance.”, Chrysoberyl replied.

“You may be dismissed, Chrysoberyl.”, Yellow Diamond replied, “We must prepare for the trial.”

“I understand. Farewell, your Radiance.”, Chrysoberyl replied, leaving the courtroom via bubble as Yellow Diamond turned to a Zircon of the Yellow Court.

* * *

Chrysoberyl breathed a sigh of relief as she turned on her com line, “All teams, the Radiances are preparing for the trial, everything is still nominal with the Authority, how are things on your ends?”.

“The Facet 1 Roaming Eyes and shattering robonoids are in position, and I have direct control!”, Dot replied over the coms.

“Good.”, Chrysoberyl replied, “White Sapphire?”.

“In place to lead the troop of Yellow Court Quartz soldiers to the Facet 1 Kindergarten.”, White Sapphire whispered over the coms.

“Good.”, Chrysoberyl replied again, “Amethyst?”.

“Luring the Rutile Twins to the catacombs near the Kindergarten as we speak!”, Amethyst huffed over the coms, as rustling sounds were heard in the background of Amethyst’s feed, “I’m so glad that I get to use this ‘moles’ disguise again!”.

“Alright, that’s wonderful.”, Chrysoberyl sighed in relief, “How does everything look White, are we still on track?”.

“Yes.”, White Sapphire’s smile could be heard even through the com line.

“Thank the Stars…”, Chrysoberyl smiled, “Alright Behest, let’s not get complacent now! We’ve come this far and we’re in the last stretch of this race, we can do this!”.

Chrysoberyl ended the transmission with her cheer, now looking out at the sprawling capitol of Homeworld.

Everything… Everything is about to change.

* * *

“Whoa, we got activity!”, Dot exclaimed excitedly, looking at the feeds from her observation robonoid.

“They’re falling down now!”, Dot chirped over the coms, watching as Blue Diamond’s palanquin fell from the Facet One courtroom.

“Thanks for the update, Dot.”, White Sapphire’s voice came over the coms.

“No problem.”, Dot replied, “Alright here we go, Steven’s on the ground, so I’m gonna activate shattering robonoid 27-34.”, Dot called out as the robonoid activated and flew over to Steven’s location

“Hi Steven!”, Dot chirped excitedly as Steven and the other organic came into view on her screen.

“She can’t hear you, you know…”, White Sapphire replied, before adding “Lead him back a bit, closer to the hole.”.

“Got it.”, Dot replied, “He’s currently up against a rock, so we can’t lead him back yet. Buuuut, I can destroy the rock with the shattering beam after we scan Steven!”, Dot muttered, coming up with a solution.

“That works too.”, White Sapphire replied over the coms.

“Alright then, now we scan~!”, Dot chirped, moving the beam up Steven’s body, before focusing the scanner onto Steven’s gem, causing it to glow.

“Cmon Steven, see that it targets gems and can’t see organic stuff.”, Dot muttered encouragingly, while charging the shattering laser at the rock behind them.

Panicked, the Steven displayed on Dot’s screen jumped out of the way, just as the blast shot to the left of where Steven was standing.

“She sees how it works now.”, White Sapphire spoke up, “Switch back to roaming mode and deactivate targeting mode, but keep the drone in the area.”, she ordered as the small Steven on Peridot’s screen covered his gem and hid behind a large pillar alongside the human.

“Amethyst, how are we looking on the twins?”, White Sapphire asked over the comms.

“They should be poking their heads out in 0.1 millicycles!”, Amethyst replied, “0.05 millicycles… and now!”.

“Steven sees them!”, Dot called out over the coms.

“Good.”, White Sapphire nodded, “Now remember, there are three shattering robonoids patrolling the kindergarten. You need to deactivate two of them, Dot. However, it is critical that the human organic does not get harmed in the altercation! If she hops aboard the robonoid, then land it carefully. The off-colors and Steven need to remain in that spot, so keep them busy with one robonoid, but do not let any of them suffer harm!”.

“Alright, make sure they only have to deal with one robonoid, if the human tries to ride it, land the bot carefully, and keep them all safe at all costs. Got it.”, Dot replied, following along.

“Alright!”, Chrysoberyl's excited voice filled the com line, “Let’s start the next sequence!”.

* * *

Dot faced on the screen before her, watching as Steven and Lars faced off against the one shattering robonoid. Luckily, she had thought ahead, and stationed another shattering robonoid just outside of the cavern, overlooking the area where the off-colors, the human, and Steven resided, that way when the first robonoid was inevitably destroyed, she could still keep tabs on how things were going.

“Yeesh White, you were right about the human organic having moxie.”, Dot muttered, watching as the human picked up a broken piece of stalagmite and charged at the robonoid, batting it away.

It wasn’t long before Steven realized that her shield could deflect the robonoid’s shattering beams, and used it to reflect a beam right back at the machine.

“Waste of good equipment if you ask me…”, Dot sighed, turning back on the coms, “Alright Amethyst! Robonoids are down, that’s your cue!”.

 

* * *

Just as Steven finished catching his breath from beating the robonoid, the sound of approaching footsteps caught his attention.

“Who's there?”, Lars shook, turning to face the sound, still armed with a piece of stone.

“Relax human and off-colors, I mean you no harm.”, Amethyst 3ZC smiled as she made her way to the group.

“Amethyst?”, Steven balked, “How did you get here? You were back on Earth?”.

“That’s not important right now, Steven.”, Amethyst drew closer to Steven, “There’s a few very important things that we need to tell you, okay?”.

“We?”, Steven looked to Amethyst warily.

“Yes.”, Amethyst replied, “Chrysoberyl, White Sapphire, and Dot are all on Homeworld as well. We’re here to help you.”.

“Alright.”, Steven nodded, trying not to be overwhelmed.

“Steven, who is this gem?”, Lars asked, exasperated, “Who are these ‘others’ she’s talking about.”.

“They’re alright, Lars. They’re safe.”, Steven reassured.

“Alright.”, Amethyst replied, kneeling down to Steven’s level so that they were eye to eye, “Now, you wanted to prove to the Diamonds that you are Rose Quartz, right?”.

“I mean, that’s why I’m here.”, Steven admitted, “I just want my family to be safe.”.

“Right, well there’s a device that is used in Homeworld courts of law that can be used to prove one’s identity.”, Amethyst explained, “It’s called a set of ‘Mohs Calipers’.”

“Alright.”, Steven nodded, following along.

“There’s one more thing that is critical as well.”, Amethyst continued, her voice filled with urgency, as she took Steven’s hand as if to put emphasis on what she would say next, “What I am about to tell you may not make sense in the moment, but its importance is far greater anything else you might wish to say to the Diamonds. Even though the Radiances may declare it to be so, an asset’s ability to lend itself to the production of gems is not the only metric by which an asset is viewed. That is to say, gem production isn’t everything! Can you repeat that after me?”, she asked, practically begging Steven to understand her.

“Yes?”, Steven was confused, yet ultimately willing to go along with what the familiar gem was asking of him, “Gem production isn’t everything.”.

“Good.”, Amethyst sighed in relief, “There is a good chance that they will bring up that topic. So you should ask them in return that if the only thing that matters is gem production, then why do they have a throne room? Is it not a waste of resources?”.

“I’m… What???”, Steven replied, confused.

“It’s okay. You’re going to do great Steven.”, Amethyst smiled, the gesture reassuring Steven slightly, “Now White Sapphire and some guards are going to bring you back to the Diamonds. You’re going to be okay, alright?”.

“Steven, don’t leave me!”, Lars turned to Steven, fear in his eyes, the sound of footsteps echoing throughout the cavern as a number of gems approached.

“We need to hide!”, Rhodonite whispered frantically, as the sound of approaching troops grew closer.

“Do not worry organic human. We have transport available for you to get back to your home planet.”, Amethyst replied, turning to the rest of the group, “Now, everyone except Steven, follow me! There’s a place where we will be hidden from the guards, back here.”.

Steven watched as Amethyst hurriedly lead the group of off-colors and Lars deeper into the caverns, the familiar purple gem turning to him one last time.

“Good luck Steven, the Stars are smiling down upon you.”, she called back.

Not a moment after those words were uttered, a group of Jasper guards lead by White Sapphire marched into the now empty kindergarten.

“Halt! Rose Quartz, you are under arrest!”, a Jasper’s voice bellowed throughout the cavern, White Sapphire giving Steven a small smile at the words.

Nodding more to himself than to the gems before him, Steven steeled his emotions and raised his hands above his head.

Amethyst held her breath as she watched Steven get lead away by the Jasper guards and White Sapphire, before turning back on her com-line.

“Chrys, Steven is now back with White Sapphire. Everything remains nominal.”, she smiled with relief, “Awaiting your cue to lead the off-colors up to the next section.”.

* * *

“You put us through a great deal of trouble.”, Blue Diamond all but spat at Steven, the latter having been returned to the courtroom in cuffs and a bubble, “But we can now continue your trial. Zircon?”, she spoke, turning to the blue Zircon.

“Yes my Diamond.”, Blue Zircon stuttered, “We may now continue the trial of Rose Quartz, beginning 74,752 3 2, and continuing 74,752 3 2.”, she announced typing away at the screen in front of her.

“If you would go to such lengths to turn yourself in and convince us of your identity, why would you then attempt to escape the very justice that you claim you deserve?”, Yellow Diamond’s glare seemed to burn straight through Steven.

“I… I wanted to keep the other human safe.”, Steven admitted, “My mom started the war. She put so many gems in danger, and I just want to end it. I want my friends to be at peace.”.

“Your ‘friends’ the surviving members of the Crystal Gems?”, Blue Diamond questioned.

“Yes.”, Steven breathed, “Garnet, Pearl, and Amethyst.”.

“So, in exchange for your surrender, you wish to absolve these other gems from their crimes? While I am unfamiliar with this Garnet or the Amethyst that you speak of, the Renegade Pearl has committed numerous war crimes against the Authority and shattered a great many of our soldiers. Surely you do not expect us to welcome them back into our Courts after what she has done.”, Yellow Diamond’s tone was filled with incredulity.

“No, of course not.”, Steven stammered, “Just let them stay on Earth. They’re happy there… please.”, he pleaded.

“So, you would have your associates be expunged from every Court under the Authority? The excommunication of these gems and your imprisonment, in exchange for the absolution of their crimes?”, Yellow Diamond clarified, before turning to Blue.

“It seems reasonable, after all none of them shattered Pink.”, Blue’s rage-filled whisper echoed through the courtroom, “But it is only fair if she is who she says she is.”.

“Yes, there is the matter of your identity itself.”, Yellow Diamond continued, “Such a trade is only fair if you are the one who shattered Pink to begin with.”.

“Uhhhm.”, Steven replied awkwardly, trying to remember what White Sapphire had told him prior, “Isn’t there a device that can be used to confirm my identity? It started with an ‘M’?”.

“The Mohs Calipers.”, Blue Diamond nodded.

“That would only confirm her identity as a Rose Quartz, not the Rose Quartz.”, Yellow replied.

“All of the other Rose Quartz gems that were ever formed are back on Pink’s organic reserve. All except for one.”, Blue Diamond replied, her tone sharper than any blade, “If she is a Rose Quartz, then she is her.”.

“I cannot disagree with that.”, Yellow Diamond relented to Blue Diamond’s logic, realizing that she had spent a great deal more cycles amongst the bubbled Rose Quartz gems than she had.

At that, Yellow Diamond turned to her Pearl, “Send for Chrysoberyl Facet 1F1L, Cut 1AB, and have her bring a Mohs Caliper system with her.”.

“Yes, my Diamond.”, Yellow Pearl replied immediately.

As if on cue, Chrysoberyl entered the throne room, a small, pointed device in her hands.

“Your Radiances.”, Chrysoberyl bowed, saluting the Diamonds before her, “As requested, I have arrived with a Mohs Caliper system.”.

“Chrysoberyl?”, Steven exclaimed at her appearance, “You’re working for the Diamonds?”

“Chrysoberyl?”, Yellow exclaimed, incredulously, “The gem accused of shattering Pink Diamond is familiar with you? Am I to understand that you have been in contact with the accused party? I expect an explanation, Chrysoberyl.”.

“Your Radiances.”, Chrysoberyl bowed, now standing before the two Diamonds, “I apologize for the misdirection and confusion, however this is a cycle that I have long awaited, for reasons that will soon become apparent. With your permission, may I use the Mohs Calipers on the accused party?”, Chrysoberyl replied, gesturing to Steven.

“You say those words like you already know what the result will be.”, Yellow Diamond’s glare shifted to the green gem.

“I will not lie to you. Your Radiances, I am aware of her identity, but I am not at liberty to speak it to you.”, Chrysoberyl explained.

“Not at liberty?!”, Yellow Diamond leaned forward, shock filling her tone, “We are your Diamonds, Chrysoberyl you will tell us her identity and your connection to her at once!”.

“Yes, your Radiance.”, Chrysoberyl replied, still calm despite Yellow Diamond’s tone.

In response, Chrysoberyl synced the calipers to her gem, a large projected image of the device’s readout filling the court room, static briefly filling the screen every-other moment.

“As we know, when measured by a set of Mohs Calipers, the gem of a Rose Quartz returns a value of seven. For the purposes of this trial, I will use myself as a control test, to ensure that the device is properly calibrated. Upon testing, the device should return a value of 8.5.”, she announced, before gently pressing the device to the side of her gem, avoiding the large crack that ran down its middle.

At once, the digits 8.5 filled the screen in response to the device’s contact with her gem.

“Can we each attest to the fact that this device is calibrated correctly?”, Chrysoberyl asked the room.

“No.”, Blue Diamond’s whisper echoed throughout the court room, “This series of events is very suspicious. Bring the device to me so that I can test it myself.”.

“Certainly, your Radiance.”, Chrysoberyl replied, approaching Blue Diamond’s throne and handing her the device.

Blue Diamond turned the device over in her hands, scrutinizing it, before placing the pointed end onto the gem of her Pearl. All eyes in the room shifted to the large screen, as the number 2.5 was emblazoned on its surface. Nodding to herself, Blue Diamond then placed the point onto her own gem, the number 10 quickly filling the screen in response.

“It is calibrated properly, Chrysoberyl.”, Blue Diamond replied, handing the device back to the green gem, “You may continue the trial.”.

“Yes, your Radiance.”, Chrysoberyl nodded, accepting the device.

With the utmost care, she placed the pointed end on Steven’s gem. All eyes were drawn to the screen before them.

Yellow Pearl gasped.

Blue Pearl fainted.

Yellow Diamond stood to her feet in shock.

Blue Diamond fell to her knees.

Steven only stared in confusion at the large number 10 flickering on the screen.

Chrysoberyl commanded the attention of each gem present, her voice ringing throughout the court room.

“Your Radiances, it is my utmost joy to bring before you all my Diamond, her Radiance, Pink Steven Universe.”.

Chapter Text

You knew…”, Blue Diamond whispered, enraged, “You knew for cycles upon cycles and allowed me to wallow in grief??”.

“Your Radiance, it was not my choice to do so. I wished for nothing more than to take this grief from you, but I could not go against the will of my Diamond.”, Chrysoberyl replied, bowing in a Diamond salute.

“You will explain. Now.”, Yellow Diamond commanded, her tone leaving no room for argument.

“Your Radiance, in order to properly explain myself, I must be allowed to speak of my prior missions in the service of your Court.”, Chrysoberyl replied, bowing still.

At that Yellow Diamond’s glare sharpened, realizing what mission Chrysoberyl must be referring to.

“You may.”, she bit out, “However, know that if your reasoning fails to justify these egregious actions, there will be consequences.”.

“I understand, your Radiance.”, she bowed in a Diamond salute, “At 63,700 20 2, I was sent on a mission by her Radiance Yellow Diamond. Her mission was simple, retrieve the shards of war criminal Rose Quartz, and deliver them to her radiance Blue Diamond, so that they may be ground into dust.”, Chrysoberyl explained evenly, ignoring the way that Steven swallowed nervously, “To accomplish this mission, we set up a base in the remains of my Diamond’s old observational tower on the colony’s moon, and made use of the observation orb that resided within it. It was there that we learned that Rose Quartz had not in fact been shattered during their Radiances’ White, Blue, and Yellow Diamonds’ attack on the colony. As such, my team and I lead an attack to subdue and divert the remaining three Crystal Gems while I myself faced down Rose Quartz. It was in this fight that I dissipated the form of Rose Quartz, revealing the true identity of my Diamond, Pink Diamond.”.

The room stilled at Chrysoberyl’s account, as Diamond and gem alike hung onto her every word.

“At first, I had believed that grief had finally cracked my gem beyond recovery, that I had shattered, and reunited with my Radiance amongst the Stars. However, when it was apparent that I was still very much alive, I begged for forgiveness for raising my blade against the very one that I had sworn to protect.”, at that, Chrysoberyl kneeled, a projected image of Pink Diamond standing before her.

“Chrysoberyl. I do not blame you for attacking me.”, Chrysoberyl spoke in sync with her Diamond’s movements.

“But-but my Diamond! I swore to protect you, I cannot simply be alright with putting you in danger like that!”, Chrysoberyl protested.

The projection of Pink Diamond grew closer to Chrysoberyl, setting a hand on her shoulder.

“And I spat such, hateful things at you. You didn’t deserve it…”, a tear fell from Chrysoberyl’s face.

“Yes… I think I did, actually.”, Pink Diamond replied, “When I rebelled as Rose, I was thinking of the organics that resided here, and the outcast gems that had no place in a Court. I wasn’t thinking of the gems that already served under me. I wasn’t thinking of you and all of the others that served me tirelessly, and I was wrong in doing so.”.

“My- my Diamond?!”, Chrysoberyl stuttered in shock.

“This colony… My colony was ravaged by the old injector drills, sapping life from everything that they touched. I can only imagine how Homeworld is faring without a fourth Diamond providing essence for the formation of new gems.”.

“So, you’ll return to the Diamond Authority?”, Chrysoberyl replied, hopeful.

“No… I do not deserve to show my face around them after what I’ve done. They’re better off without me.”.

Blue Diamond’s breath hitched at those words, tears falling from her cheeks.

“My Diamond, the others love you! Their Radiance’s Yellow and White have mourned you, her Radiance Blue Diamond has dulled with grief! Please reconsider!”, Chrysoberyl begged fervently.

“I was only an annoyance to them, they will all move on in time.”, Pink Diamond replied, her expression seemingly resigned.

“I see, my Diamond.”, Chrysoberyl relented to her Diamond’s will, “What would you have me do?”.

At that, the image of Pink Diamond glanced up from Chrysoberyl, seeming to acknowledge others in her midst, “First and foremost, I ask that you all remain silent on matters concerning my continued existence. Prior to all of this, the faking of my shattering was only known to one other, my own dear Pearl.”, Pink Diamond nodded to one direction in particular.

Chrysoberyl turned in shock, “Your Pearl!? The second Pearl of Pink Diamond, her Radiance White Diamond’s former hand since before Era One, is the Renegade Pearl!? Ma’am I am so sorry!”, she dropped the salute as she bowed to her superior.

“Yes, and her service and leadership abilities are deserving of such a title and more.”, Pink Diamond smiled, “Now as I was saying, if you wish to honor me and everything that my Court stood for, I ask of you… I beg of you to keep this a secret.”.

Chrysoberyl only wept anew at those words, knowing the pain that obeying such a decree would cause, “Y-yes my Diamond. I will do as you wish.”.

“Thank you, my Chrysoberyl.”, Pink Diamond smiled at her, “Should you still wish to serve my Court in light of this order, I only ask for you to complete one other task.”.

“Anything, my Diamond.”, Chrysoberyl breathed.

“When I saw the formation of the first gems of the Pink Court I rejoiced. I thought that we were creating life from nothing, instead of sapping it away as we were actually doing. If it is possible, I ask of each of you to find a way in which this ideal can be met. A way for gems to be formed without harming the environment around them.”.

Steven gasped at those words.

“So, when you approached me all those months ago…”, he breathed, his eyes widening in realization.

“Consider it done, my Diamond.”, Chrysoberyl replied.

“Consider this my final order, and the way in which I better the rest of the Authority.”, Pink Diamond finished.

A wave of emotions flitted across Chrysoberyl’s face, as she seemed as though she wished to protest, before ultimately relenting and saluting her Diamond once more, “Yes, my Diamond.”.

At that, the projection faded away, and Chrysoberyl returned to her full height.

“That was the last time I ever saw my Diamond in that form. The next interaction I had with her was after she had taken on the form of Steven Universe. However, those were not the only orders from her that I was following during that time.”, Chrysoberyl explained, “Prior to Era Two, my Diamond had confided in me that she wished to gain a greater degree of respect and recognition from her fellow Diamonds.”.

Yellow’s expression seemed to shift at those words.

“In accordance with those wishes, her clarity White Sapphire and I orchestrated the introduction of Diamond Steven Universe to the both of you, your Radiances.”, Chrysoberyl bowed in the Diamond salute once more.

“You… you planned all of this!?”, Yellow Diamond took a step closer to Chrysoberyl, enraged.

“Down to the millicycle, your Radiance. I apologize deeply for the misdirection, however, I could not disobey my Diamond’s will.”, Chrysoberyl replied evenly.

At that, Yellow Diamond seemed to calm down, returning to her chair.

“Are you not going against her will now as we speak?”, Blue Diamond questioned.

“No, your Radiance.”, Chrysoberyl had to stop herself from smirking, “For you see, she claimed that she did not deserve to show her face to the both of you. However, as we can all see, that is not her face.”.

Yellow, Blue, and Steven all blinked at Chrysoberyl’s words.

“A technicality, yes - however, I believed, and continue to believe that it is in the Diamond Authority’s best interest for my Diamond Pink Steven Universe to be reunited with the other Diamonds. However, to ensure that I was not acting outside of my Diamond’s will, extra care was taken to ensure that her Radiance’s arrival to Homeworld was of her own will.”, Chrysoberyl finished.

A tense silence filled the courtroom as Chrysoberyl’s account ended.

“She’s right…”, Blue Diamond whispered, “I am glad that we have Pink back, and I cannot fault a gem for not only following the will of her Diamond, but also accommodating the will of every other Radiance.”.

Yellow Diamond chuckled slightly at her words.

“That’s the White Court for you.”, Yellow muttered under her breath, before returning her gaze to the green gem before them, “Chrysoberyl Facet 1F1L Cut 1AB, after reviewing your intentions behind your actions, as well as the lengths that you went to ensure that you did not act against the will of any Radiance in the Authority, we do not find you guilty of any crimes.”.

“Alright…”, Steven sighed in relief for the safety of his friend, “What happens now?”.

“Now…”, Yellow’s glare focused on Steven, “We are first doing something about your apparent lack of memory…”.

“And then we bring in White Diamond.”, Blue Diamond finished.

Chapter Text

“First things first, we should restore your throne to its place back in the throne room.”, Blue Diamond stood up from her chair in the courtroom.

Blue Diamond paused, before bending down to Steven, “It will be easier if you come with me.”, she spoke up, offering her hand to Steven, who quickly climbed atop it.

Blue Diamond smiled, making her way to her palanquin, which had been hastily repaired and returned to the courtroom.

“My throne?”, Steven asked, as Blue piloted the palanquin over to a large, blue tower.

“Yes…”, Blue replied fondly, landing the vessel and carrying Steven inside, “I had it moved to my quarters.”.

“Ah…”, Steven replied, taking in the sight of the long blue halls, ornate columns, and intricate murals.

“Here we are…”, Blue announced, opening a door to a massive, domed room.

Steven looked around the room in awe. The large columns, flowing water, and overall peaceful appearance brought back memories of the Lunar Sea Spire. However, despite all of the serene sounds, and natural light filtering in from the ceiling, the room seemed to emanate a deep sadness. Steven felt like it was as if simply being present in this room was encroaching upon something deeply personal and painful to Blue Diamond. These feelings only seemed to increase as his gaze fell upon a large, pink chair, its surface seemingly partially eroded with water. Blue Diamond herself seemed to grow more somber as she entered the room and set him down on the floor.

“This is my throne?”, Steven asked.

“You truly have no memory of it, do you?”, Blue whispered, her voice tinged with grief, “Do you remember me, Pink?”.

Steven blinked in surprise as he brushed his hand against the pink throne, the bumpiness of salt crystals flaking off of the throne and onto his hand.

“I- I’m sorry.”, Steven replied, looking back at Blue Diamond, “It’s difficult.”.

Steven glanced back in confusion at the throne, “Salt crystals and erosion? So salt water, but why…”, Steven blinked as he was hit with realization,

Tears…”.

Steven watched as the small throne was taken out of Blue Diamond’s tower, and off towards the throne room.

“It… it helped me feel closer to you, when I believed that you were gone forever.”, Blue Diamond admitted, somewhat bashfully, shedding a few more tears.

At that, a pang of deep sympathy filled Steven, as he recalled the pain of losing his mom.

“I… I’m sorry.”, Steven fumbled, searching for some words to console her, before giving up and simply leaping upward with his hover ability.

In one swift motion, he clung to Blue Diamond’s shoulder in a semblance of a hug.

“Oh Pink…”, Blue cried in earnest once more, brining Steven to her cheek and returning his embrace.

“My Diamond…”, the quiet voice of Blue Pearl spoke up, “Pink Diamond’s throne is ready, and High Clarity Sapphire 1F9L, Cut 1AW is ready to restore her Radiance Pink Diamond’s memories.

“Let’s be off Pink…”, Blue Diamond whispered, standing as she carried Steven off to the throne room.

* * *

Steven sat awkwardly on the large throne, the seat of leadership feeling nothing but foreign to him.

“Pink, this is my High Clarity.”, Blue Diamond spoke up, gesturing to a Sapphire with a long flowing dress, “While most Clarities simply see into the future, my High Clarity has the unique ability to restore memories.”.

“I see…”, Steven replied awkwardly.

“1AW, if you begin please.”, Blue Diamond ordered.

“Yes, my Diamond.”, the Sapphire replied, before hovering in front of Steven.

As the Sapphire laid her hands on his gem, he felt something shift inside him slightly. At once, memories and emotions seemed to pour into him from his very gem. Memories of Yellow, Blue, and White. Memories of longing for recognition, but the loathing of the expectations that came with it. The other Diamonds cared for Pink Diamond, but it felt like they didn’t see her. Eventually, Steven opened his eyes.

“It is done.”, the Sapphire spoke.

“Why does she still look the same?”, Yellow Diamond was the first to speak, “Is a gem’s form not based upon how they see themselves? She has her old memories back, so why does she look the same?”.

“Pink Diamond isn’t there…”, 1AW replied, “She is Steven now.”.

* * *

“I don’t understand…”, Blue Diamond turned to White Diamond, seemingly at a loss for words.

Steven sighed, glancing between the three other Diamonds in the throne room. After the High Clarity’s response that he was, well himself, the Yellow and White Diamond joined Blue in the throne room, and began discussing the recent revelations.

“Isn’t it obvious? She embedded herself inside a human in order to hide from us, and the consequences of her actions.”, White Diamond remarked.

“White Diamond, Your- Your Radiance.”, Steven began, remembering the titles that the Zircons gave the Diamonds.

“That title is not necessary with us, Pink. You’re a Diamond too, after all.”, Blue interjected.

“Okay, White.”, Steven began, “I have some of mom’s- Pink Diamond’s memories back after the Sapphire helped me. She, I guess, I, ran away.”, Steven corrected, “It may not have been the best decision at the time, but I felt like you weren’t listening to me. That you were treating me like a child.”, Steven said, turning to Blue Diamond, “and I guess that I am a child NOW, but that is besides the point. The point is, is that you were all to focussed on what you wanted Pink Diamond to be, who you wanted her to become, that you never took the time to listen to what she had to say. She saw that there was life on her- MY colony. That the things there had value beyond gem formation potential, that it had worth, not just for herself, but for you all as well - and she tried to lead and do something about it.”.

“But there is no other potential for colonies than gem formation!”, Yellow Diamond countered, “Why do you think we are in the middle of a resource crisis, Pink!?”.

“Well.”, Steven paused, thinking through Yellow Diamond’s words, and suddenly recalling the words of Amethyst 3ZC, “Well if that’s the case, then why isn’t this a Kindergarten?”, Steven asked.

“What?”, Yellow Diamond replied.

“If nothing matters except gem production, then wouldn’t Homeworld be a waste too? There’s so many different kinds of buildings and places here for gems to live and enjoy themselves. Is it wrong that I saw potential for that in Earth too?”, Steven countered.

For once, the other gems of the Diamond authority were taken aback at what Steven had to say.

Blue was the first to speak up.

“Is that what you wanted, Steven? Another Homeworld of your own? Like my Gliese and Yellow’s Cancri?”, Blue asked, an unidentifiable emotion filling her tone.

Yellow Diamond cut Blue off before Steven could answer, however.

“Blue, don’t be ridiculous! All she wanted was a responsibility. You should have heard her, cycle in and cycle out, going on and on about how we needed to trust her more - and look where it got us! She wanted a colony of her own SO BADLY, and so we gave her a simple mining colony to aid with resource production. We gave her ORDERS, and she IGNORED THEM.”.

“And since when did she ever listen to our orders?”, Blue bit back, “She had the strongest heart out of any of us. If she set her sights on something, she would make sure that she had her way. When you think about it, it does make sense. After all, she was the most sentimental out of all of us. Surely she could see inherent value in places where we just saw raw materials.”, Blue Diamond’s words echoed throughout the room.

At that statement, Yellow Diamond stood from her chair and drew closer to White Diamond’s throne.

“White, when Pink was made,” Yellow asked, her tone far more subdued, “Is this what you had in mind? A Diamond that could see value where others couldn’t?”.

“I- I’m not sure.”, White Diamond admitted, “I only wanted the new Diamond to be unique, herself, in a way. I thought I knew her, but I guess that the way I created her may have had an impact on my expectations. If I wanted her to be unique and useful, perhaps I should not be surprised when she turns out to meet my desires.”.

“But a new cultural colony? As her first planet? Even when she was specifically instructed to do otherwise?”, Yellow asked.

“We saw the transmissions from Chrysoberyl.”, Blue interjected, “She had a communications tower, a clarity hall, and even a sparring arena built before the standard amount of kindergartens were finished. I think it’s clear that she wanted this to be bigger than just a kindergarten colony.”.

“And what does this mean for Pink?”, Yellow asked.

“It means that we ignored her again.”, Blue responded, broken, “That instead of trusting her with the responsibility we gave her, we ignored her again and put our ideals before her own. We didn’t just fail her. We failed the hopes that we put into her when we made her.”.

Blue Diamond’s words resounded throughout the room. Each Diamond reacting to the weight of those words.

“Stars, we did, didn’t we?”, Yellow Diamond finally spoke up.

“Pink.”, Yellow continued, “I am so, so, sorry for my actions. I should have been more involved with aiding you in the development of your colony, I should have known that you weren’t ready.”.

At that, Steven promptly left his chair and flew up to the large Diamond, giving her the biggest hug that he could manage.

“You wanted what you thought was best for her, what you thought was perfect, because you all truly care for her, for me. So I forgive you.”, Steven spoke up, “And yeah, Pink was trying to do something much more difficult, and she could have messed up, but even if she did, that was a decision that she had to make on her own. After all, if every pork-chop were perfect, we wouldn’t have hotdogs.”.

“What?”, Yellow asked, confused, “And why do you keep referring to Pink Diamond as if she is not you?”

“Never-mind the metaphor.”, Steven replied, “But, I am different from my mom. Her memories, her thoughts, her emotions - I remember them now, but I’m not her. I’m Steven.”, Steven replied, the other Diamonds looking at him skeptically, “But that’s not the point. What I was trying to say is, that by focusing on what you wanted Pink to be, you missed out on what she was becoming, and you tried to make her into something that she wasn’t. That doesn’t make you a bad gem, as long as you can live and learn from things.”.

“But Steven, we’re Diamonds.”, Blue began, “We’re not supposed to make mistakes.”

“But we do anyway, don’t we? There’s no use in being upset at ourselves for doing what we thought was right, even if that turned out to be the wrong thing.”

“No, that’s just it Pink!”, White Diamond stood, her light filling the room with an overwhelming brightness, “We are the leaders of gem kind! It is our light that shines through the gems below us, and it is our light that guides us forward. If we aren’t perfect, then who will be? How will we be fit to lead, if we cannot set an example for others?”.

At this, White Diamond dimmed and sat down once more, “You deserved better from us, gem-kind deserves better of us! What will we become if we stop trying to be perfect?”, White Diamond finished, tone growing exasperated.

At that, Steven hovered from Yellow Diamond to the lap of White Diamond.

“You’ll be better gems, because you allow yourself to learn from your mistakes.” Steven began, holding onto one of White Diamonds fingers, “Because you allow yourselves to be open with one another, and grow together like the Crystal Gems and I did. Garnet, Pearl, and Amethyst weren’t perfect either, but they were open with one another about their feelings, and when they made mistakes, they apologized to one another and made things right, and they’re better and stronger gems now because of what they experienced!”, Steven proclaimed, his words finally reaching the other Diamonds of the Authority.

“I don’t expect you to be perfect.”, Steven continued, before turning to Yellow Diamond, “Yellow, when we met with Peridot on Earth, she spoke very highly of you, but she never thought that you had to be perfect for her to follow you. In fact, when you did something that she thought was inefficient, she may have insulted you, but she still sought to do what you thought would be right. I guess what I’m trying to say is, no gem, not even a Diamond can truly be perfect, but we can all learn from our mistakes, and earn the respect of those that follow us.”, Steven concluded.

Silence filled the room once more, as the weight of Steven’s words truly sunk in.

Surely, Pink had to have been passed down these lessons from weaker gems, who were just instilling in her their own coping mechanism for dealing with inadequacy.”, White Diamond thought to herself, “After all, if you’re always learning from your mistakes, then you can’t ever expect yourself to be perfect, then can you?”.

 

But what if she’s right, and I’m deluding myself?” another, louder part of White Diamond’s mind argued, “What if this is actually how I overcome what everything that happened?

What is there to overcome? I am EVERY color of the light. I AM perfect.

If you really were perfect, you wouldn’t have to put up this front, Pink may be the newest of the Diamonds, but she’s still a DIAMOND. What if she’s right? What if by making Pink, you created the gem that can finally fix everything? What if this actually works?”.

We cannot afford to be open to others again, not after what happened last time.”.

It won’t be like that. We can try again, do things differently.”.

In the end, White Diamond’s desire to improve won out over her desire to keep up appearances.

Relenting to her conscience, White Diamond spoke up, “Very well, Pink.”.

“Steven.” Blue Diamond corrected.

“Very well, Steven.”, White Diamond began again, “Starting now, we will be more open with one another, confiding in one another our mistakes so that we may grow from them and better ourselves. However,”, she said, turning to Steven, “…should this not work, we will go back to doing things MY way.”

Steven nodded in response as White Diamond appeared to brace herself for what she was about to say next.

“Pearls and Chrysoberyl, could you give us some privacy please?”, White Diamond asked.

“Yes, your Radiance.”, Yellow and Blue Pearl responded, along with Chrysoberyl. Promptly, each of the gems trailed out of the room, White Pearl included.

Blue Diamond could only stare in response to this turn of events. White Diamond finally admitted that the way in which the Diamond Authority operated was flawed, and now she wants to share something that not even White Pearl would be privy to? That Pearl was more of an extension of White’s very being than a servant.

As soon as the door closed, all eyes were on White to see what she would say next.

“If we are going to be open with one another, then I should be the one to start. Diamonds, I, I haven’t been the most forthcoming with any of you.”, White Diamond began, strained, dimming the bright light that her form emitted, revealing her pink discolorations, “I’ve kept a great many things secret in an effort to ensure that my image and authority, and by extension, the image and authority of all of us was preserved. I thought that if I kept everything contained inside, things would be better and we all could carry on. However, if there is a chance that I can grow and improve even further, to improve despite through my flaws, as Pi- as Steven has said to have done, then I am willing to attempt to grow instead of in stagnating in our own rote ideologies.”.

“Anyone else like to be open about their flaws?”. White Diamond asked of the other three gems.

“I-I am overly focused on the grief and pain that I have experienced. It blinds me, and prevents me from being an effective leader.”, Blue spoke up, finding courage after White’s proclamation and display of her being off-colored, “Yellow Diamond managed most of my Court for the past five millennia while I just sat and wept.”.

“And I.” Yellow Diamond began, “Am far too focused on the effort or work that one is capable of doing, that I lose sight of the gem that is doing it. I have been too hard on both Blue, and my own subjects over these last millennia, expecting more and more of them, while I myself remained the same. I’ve hurt the gems under me, and I’ve hurt you Blue. I am so very sorry.”, Yellow Diamond finished.

“I don’t always make the best decisions.”, Steven admitted, “A lot of the time I end up acting before I think, and it causes the gems and people I love to get hurt… Sometimes I just feel like I’m in everyone else’s way. It’s not something I’m proud of, and I want to grow to be able to help others more, instead of leading them into more trouble. That’s why I came here to Homeworld by myself anyway, I don’t want anyone else to get hurt!”, Steven finished with conviction.

“Okay.”, Yellow Diamond spoke up, “Now that everyone has shared their insecurities, what happens next?”

“Well, it’s not like we are going to get better instantly.”, Steven replied, “It takes time, trust in one another, and the ability for gems to rely on their friends in order to for each gem to grow, at least, that’s how it was for Pearl and Amethyst. These things take time.”.

“I see.”, Yellow responded, “Well, since it going to be a long time, I say that we continue to spend time together more frequently, just like things were back in Era One.”.

“Only this time, we will be more honest with each-other”, Blue added.

“Yes.”, White Diamond replied, “Yellow, we need to see to it that Steven’s Court is restored to her. A Diamond should not be without her subjects.”.

“That’s right! I almost forgot of her Court in all of this.”, Yellow Diamond exclaimed, “White, I am going to bring the Pearls back in now so that we can see to it that we can begin assigning gems to aid in the reconstruction of her Court.”.

“Yes, thank you.” White Diamond replied, restoring her perfect facade, before calling out, “Pearls, Chrysoberyl, you may return.”.

At once, the gems re-entered the throne room and saluted White Diamond.

Yellow then turned to Chrysoberyl, speaking, “Chrysoberyl, we have come to a decision to reunify the Diamond Authority, and to crow closer together. As such, Steven will need a new Court. Would you see to it that her needs are met in this regard?”.

“It would be my utmost honor, Your Radiance.”, Chrysoberyl intoned, before turning to Steven and saluting with a deep bow.

“My Diamond, if you would allow me, it would be my greatest privilege to aid you in the reconstruction of your Court.”.

“I would love that Chrysoberyl. There’s something that I need to do first, before we go though.”, Steven replied, before approaching White Pearl, “Hey, I’m not sure if this is a sensitive subject, but I noticed that your form was damaged.”.

White Pearl’s expression remained blank.

“I can fix it, if you want. Before I go off with Chrysoberyl, that is.”, Steven stuttered.

“White Pearl is an extension of myself.”, White Diamond replied, White Pearl spoke in unison with White Diamond, “She goes where I cannot, her physical appearance is irrelevant.”.

“Well, if you’re going to be more involved with the gems of Homeworld, what will become of White Pearl?”, Blue Diamond asked.

“What do you mean?”, White asked in response.

“Well, if we are all going to be more open with one another, and our Courts, why would you need someone to go and manage gems in your place, when you can be there for the gems yourself?”, Yellow Diamond replied.

White Diamond appeared contemplative for a long moment.

“You are right, Yellow.”, White finally spoke, “I never used her as a Pearl because I simply have no use for one, and going forward I will have no use for any form of social barrier. Pink- Steven.”, White Diamond corrected herself, “Seeing as you have taken an interest in her, you may have her as your own.”.

“T-Thank you White.”, Steven replied, uneasy at the thought of ‘owning’ a gem.

Suddenly, White Pearl fell to her knees. Her body shifting colors, taking on a pink hue, as White Diamond’s control left her gem.

“W-What? What happened?”, Pink Pearl asked, somewhat dazed.

At this, Steven approached the Pearl, and helped her to her feet, the other Pearls and Chrysoberyl shocked at Steven’s actions.

A Diamond helping a Pearl?”, Yellow Pearl thought, “How could one even consider such an act? What does this even mean?”.

“Here, let me help.”, Steven said, soothingly to the injured Pearl. Once she showed no signs of objection, Steven licked his hands and placed them on her gem and cracked face. Responding to Steven’s healing spit, her body began to glow, as if fusing. At this, Steven backed up a few steps and shielded his eyes, the other gems and Diamonds in the room squinting or looking away as well.

As soon as the light dissipated, every eye in the room fixed on where Pink Pearl stood.

“Oh good, it worked…”, Steven quietly breathed a sigh of relief, looking at the now healed Pearl and her two eyes.

Suddenly, Blue Pearl spoke up, quiet voice gaining the attention of her Diamond, “My Diamond, permission to approach Pink Pearl?”.

“Permission granted.”, Blue Diamond responded.

At once, Blue Pearl hurried over to Pink Pearl and spoke, “Pink Pearl, it has been so long. So much has happened, but it brings me great joy that you are healed.”.

“Blue Pearl? It is good to see you as well. What happened?”, Pink Pearl replied.

“Her Radiance Steven will tell you everything you need to know.”, the Pearl spoke curtly, before hurrying back once more to her Diamond.

“Thank you, Steven.”, Pink Pearl replied, turning “Although, I’m not entirely certain who you are. Where is My Diamond?”.

“Well, I suppose that’s the first thing I should tell you.”, Steven replied, gesturing to the gem in his belly, “She’s me. It’s- it’s been a VERY long time, and we have a lot to catch up on.”.

At this, the Pearl’s eyes widened, looking to the other Pearls and the Diamonds for some kind of confirmation. It’s not that she distrusted her Diamond, but this form, it was just so DIFFERENT. Sensing no dishonesty from Steven, or the gems around her, Pink Pearl quickly bowed and saluted.

“My Diamond, it is good to see you again.”.

Chapter Text

“So…”, Steven trailed off, “Explain it to me one more time?”

“So, in its most basic sense, a Court is a collection of gems that serve a Diamond’s express will. The gems of a court are seen as protected by their Diamond, as they carry out her will through the galaxy. As such, they operate under their Diamond’s blessing unless otherwise stated.”, Chrysoberyl explained patiently.

“Alright.”, Steven paused, taking in the information, “And how is that important for Earth?”.

“My Diamond, do you remember the gems in the Homeworld kindergarten - the off-colors? Do you remember how you sought to aid the gems that were hurt and rejected by Homeworld? To give peace to those live in fear? This is your opportunity to do just that. As a Diamond, you can change Homeworld, and make it a force for good!”

“But if I’m spending all of my time here, then what about all my friends on Earth?”, Steven interjected.

Chrysoberyl couldn’t help but chuckle, “My Diamond. Earth is your colony. You can go there any time you want. And as for your friends, well you are in need of a Court.”, she paused for a moment drawing up a screen from her gem.

“A Court has a Head Scientist.”, she spoke, an image of Peridot filling the room.

“A High Clarity.”, an image of Garnet took Peridot’s place.

“A High Guard.”, Connie’s image filled the screen.

“Members of military and lower guard.”, a larger image of Pearl and Amethyst alongside the off-colors appeared next.

“So…”, Steven muttered, “I fill the Court with all of my friends? How does that help them?”.

“Well, it will be filled with your friends alongside other basic citizens, like Iolites, Zircons, Ammolites, Agots, Citrines, Bismuths and the like. To answer your question, it helps them because they act under your rule, and as such they are protected under the Diamond Authority. By making the off-colors and fusions like Garnet members of your Court, you are declaring that they are fit for service under a Diamond - that they matter just as much as any other gem. You are saying that they are worthy to help build your colonies, and benefit from the services your Court provides.”.

“Everyone would be able to live happily and without being afraid.”, Steven realized, stars in his eyes.

“Wait, services? What services am I providing?”

“Mostly protection from hostile forces, that will be especially the case if you intend to populate your court with off-colors, as some Homeworld elites would look down on that. Also, you will eventually be expected to influence and progress gem culture in some form or fashion. Such as Yellow Diamond did with the Sparring arenas, and Blue did with the tranquil clarity halls. This should be something enjoyable for gems to participate in as a pastime.”.

“Oh cool! I’m sure gems would love music!”, Steven spoke up, quickly becoming sidetracked.

“Not every gem has the same interests, but I am sure that there are a great many gems that would enjoy it, yes.”.

“I see, we should have areas on Earth that lets each gem do what they want!”.

“That can be arranged.”, Chrysoberyl nodded, making a note of that, "We'll have to gather some extra topographical data of the colony in order to determine proper zoning for different districts. We'll also need to repair the rest of the galaxy warp as well. And your ship too! We still have to find your ship, my Diamond!

At that, Steven winced, “Uhhm, do I have to be called that?”.

“What do you mean?”, Chrysoberyl replied, confused.

“Your Diamond… It’s too, I dunno… regal? It doesn’t seem right.”, Steven muttered.

“Well, you are our leader. You are deserving of respect.”, Chrysoberyl replied, “What would you like us to call you?”.

“Well, the title of Diamond is what Blue, Yellow, and White are…”, Steven mused, “So what about… Pink Steven!”, he finished excitedly.

“All rise for her Radiance Pink Steven!”, Chrysoberyl called out, her voice clearly meant to imitate a Pearl, “It sounds perfect, Pink Steven!”.

“Ah… that’s another thing.”, Steven replied blushing, trying to figure out how to go about this conversation, “Do… err, have gems ever heard of male pronouns?”.

* * *

“What do we do Garnet?”, Pearl paced nervously back and forth across the living room, “Do you see any future where we get him back?”.

“I can’t believe that he would just give up like that.”, Amethyst clenched a throw pillow in frustration, “What was he thinking!?”.

“Pearl, what did Steven mean when he said that was ending what his mom started?”, Connie spoke up eventually, “I know that she lead the Crystal Gems into the Great Gem War. Does he think that by turning himself in, he would be atoning for what Rose did?”.

“I… It’s what he would do, isn’t it?”, Pearl cried, “He’s always had a selfless nature, trying to help others even if he was in over his head…”.

“Yeah.”, Lapis added, “Steven saved me without even knowing what I really was when we first met! If he goes out of his way to help something that was introduced to him as a glorified book, who knows what lengths he would go to for his family! Stars, they could be sentencing his shattering and he would take it with a smile if it kept us safe!”.

“Don’t say stuff like that…”, Peridot shuddered, “Besides, he looks so different than Rose Quartz!”, she stammered, gesturing at the large painting of Rose above the threshold, “Their Radiances would only shatter him if they had proof that he was indeed the same gem as Rose Quartz, and good luck to whatever poor Zircon has to sort that out. Does anyone even know what her Facet and Cut number is?”.

“I dunno. She always just said to call her Rose Quartz?”, Amethyst shrugged.

“Well, barring that information, they’ll probably try to use the Mohs Calipers, but those will only prove that he’s a Rose Quartz, not the Rose Quartz.”.

“Maws what now?”, Amethyst asked.

“It’s a device that reads the hardness of a gem and tells you what kind of gem they are.”, Peridot explained.

“Wait, hold on.”, Pearl cut Peridot off, “They have a device that tells you what kind of gem someone is?”.

“Yeah, it was another one of Facet 2F4L, Cut 1AR’s inventions. It’s a good way to determine if a gem is camouflaging themselves, or disguising their identity as another gem, but it can’t determine Cut or Facet information.”, Peridot explained, “I’m not very familiar with Homeworld trials, but some of my co-workers and definitely all my supervisors back on Homeworld worked pretty closely with Zircons.”.

“Why would Peridots need Zircons?”, Lapis interjected.

“Mostly for claims from accidents that took place at their Kindergartens. All it takes is one injector falling off of a cliff-face and onto some poor gem, and you get Zircons flooding the place to determine liability, negligence, and operator’s compensation. Stars, the craziest one I had ever seen was one of my co-workers had an essence tank rupture! You know those big tanks where the injectors go to refill? Well one burst open! Luckily, no one shattered, but so many gems were cracked as a result, but get this! Because raw, unprocessed Diamond essence spilled out onto the ground, the accident ended up creating, like, a thousand Pebbles! With the help of a couple Zircons, the new Pebbles amassed a class-action lawsuit that was ultimately devastating for a whole division of Kindergarteners!”, Peridot paused, catching her breath, “But yeah, if they’re trying to determine a gem’s identity though, the Mohs Calipers are a good first step in that process. Why do you ask?”.

“Stars, it’s her plan…”, Pearl breathed, realization dawning on her.

“Whose plan?”, Connie turned to Pearl.

“Remember when Chrysoberyl and those other gems were here?”, Pearl began.

“Yeah, the Crystal gems part two? Well, actually they should be part three, since Lapis, Peridot, Connie, and Pumpkin are two…”, Amethyst trailed off.

“They told me that they had a plan to fulfill one of Rose’s… other requests, one of the first major ones that she ever gave Chrysoberyl.”, Pearl replied, looking away as she glossed over the truth of the situation.

“That doesn’t sound like her.”, Garnet spoke up, “You know how protective she was of Steven. She practically treated him like a Diamond.”.

Pearl winced at Garnet’s choice of words, as Lapis added on, “Yeah, there’s no way that she would put Steven in harm’s way. What makes you think that she would even do that anyway?”.

“Pearl and Chrysoberyl did seem to have a history though, maybe she knows something that we don’t?”, Connie added.

“Hey guys?”, Amethyst spoke up, her attention drawn to something outside the window, “Speaking of harm’s way, we’ve got incoming!”.

“What?”, Connie turned to Amethyst in shock, before drawing her sword and rushing out of the house.

“Wait, Connie!”, Pearl called out, following after her mentee.

Now outside, she saw what appeared to be a large, pink inverted pyramid, with four, almost claw-like landing legs protruding from each of its sides. Pearl watched as the legs rotated around the body of the ship, before descending to touch down on the shore-line.

“What kind of ship is that!?”, Amethyst all but screamed, as the wind and sand whipped around her.

“That’s a high-end transit ship!”, Peridot replied, seemingly more at ease as she stood next to Amethyst, “Only the most high ups in Homeworld would have access to one of those ships!”.

“So they’re not here to attack us?”, Lapis asked.

“Not necessarily.”, Peridot replied, “If it was with the rest of its components, then it would be a formidable threat. Since there’s only one component, it’s functionally a drop-ship. So, while the ship itself isn’t here to attack us…”.

“Alright then.”, Garnet spoke up, “We’ll attack as soon as they get off their ship.”.

“Got it.”, Connie replied, readying her blade.

At that, portions of the vessel’s roof appeared to retract and fold upwards, the light of the mid-day sun reflecting off of the portion’s surface to illuminate a steadily rising center platform.

“Hi everybody!”, Dot greeted excitedly alongside White Sapphire and Amethyst 3ZC.

Suddenly, a beam of light enveloped the three gems. Before anyone cold blink, the gems re-appeared on the beach in front of the ship. Unable to hold herself back, Pearl ran up to the other gems.

“Is Steven alright?!”, she asked, desperation filling her tone, “He turned himself in to the Blue and Yellow Courts! Do you know if he’s okay?”.

“Yeah, and Pearl mentioned that you all and Chrysoberyl had some sort of plan?”, Amethyst asked, “What’s that about?”.

“It is alright. Steven is alive and well.”, White Sapphire’s soothing voice did a lot to ease the group’s nerves, “And as for your second question, that is actually why we are here!”.

“Yes!!”, Dot cheered, this time actually jumping for joy.

“So Pearl was right? It was all part of a plan!?”, Peridot 5XG replied incredulously, “You intentionally put Steven in danger!?”.

“We would never put her in danger.”, Amethyst 3ZC replied sternly, “At no point was she in any risk of shattering, we ensured it personally.”.

“Risk of shattering or not, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have any explaining to do.”, Garnet growled stepping forward.

“We can explain, but the specifics of this discussion would be best had between yourselves and Pearl.”, White Sapphire replied.

“What are you even talking about? Pearl doesn’t know what’s going on either!”, Lapis’s tone grew irritated, oblivious to the way Pearl shook, trembling hands raised to her mouth.

“Wait, Pearl! Are you okay?”, Connie fretted, noticing her mentor’s apparent pain.

Everyone else’s attention drew to Pearl at those words.

“Pearl?”, Garnet drew Pearl’s hands into her own and looked into her eyes.

“I’m sorry, I can’t!”, Pearl cried, “I can’t!”.

“It is alright Pearl.”, Amethyst 3ZC spoke up, “Steven regained some of the old memories. He wanted me to tell you that you can be released from your vow of secrecy, if you want to be.”.

“It’s not… It’s not that simple…”, Pearl replied, shaking, “She told me herself…”.

“Vow of secrecy? Old memories?”, Amethyst asked, “Just what is going on, and why are you roping Pearl into it?”.

“Do you have a line on you Amethyst?”, Dot sighed, “This is getting nowhere…”.

“Yeah, I got one.”, Amethyst muttered, drawing a Diamond line from her gem.

“Wait…”, White Sapphire spoke up, sensing that the object was a triangular bipyramind, and not an octahedron.

“Yeah, that’s the Era Two one…”, Dot supplied.

“Yeah, yeah…”, Amethyst grumbled, putting the Diamond Line back in her gem and drawing an Era One Diamond line from it, before twisting it to the Pink line setting.

“Why are you using a Diamond line!?”, Peridot 5XG screeched, “You can’t just call them on a whim like that!?”.

“It’s alright 5XG.”, White Sapphire soothed as the melodious chime of the Acclamation of the Diamond Authority rang out and a large screen comprised of four interlocking pink diamond shapes materialized.

Pearl’s eyes widened at the sight of the Pearl displayed on the screen, “You’re… you’re healed…”, Pearl breathed in awe, “He remembered and he healed you didn’t he?”.

“Pearl, you’re not telling us everything.”, Garnet stared at Pearl, still holding onto her hands, desperately looking for some kind of answer.

“Oh my Stars, it’s you! It’s been so long your Lustrou-!“, Pink Pearl began, before being cut off by Pearl.

“Just Pearl is fine.”, Pearl interjected quickly, before Pink could complete the honorifics.

“I see, my apologizes.”, Pink Pearl replied.

“Okay. I said this already, but will someone PLEASE. TELL ME. WHAT. IS. GOING. ON!!”, Amethyst yelled.

“Yeah! I mean, I knew that you were a fancy Pearl and had to be of high status when we first met - but how are you this well connected with even the Diamonds of Homeworld!?”, Peridot 5XG ranted, “I mean, the former hand to her Radiance Pink Diamond not only knows you, but she treats you like a superior! What’s that about?!”.

“I…”, Pearl stammered, the attention of all the other gems on her now.

“Oh that’s right, you were sworn to secrecy about… well, that matter.”, Pink Pearl replied, her tone filled with empathy.

“That’s actually why we are calling.”, Amethyst 3ZC spoke up, “She needs her express permission, given directly by her.”.

“I’ll get him on the line.”, Pink Pearl replied, going out of frame for a moment, giving the gems a view of a large, pink room decorated with small bubbles and a few chairs.

“Him?”, Amethyst 3ZC asked, confused at the Pearl’s terminology, “What’s a him?”.

Before any gem could turn to ask Pearl another question, Steven himself appeared on screen. However, instead of wearing the simple t-shirt and shorts that he was in when he left for Homeworld, he was instead wearing a regal flounced bodice with pagoda sleeves. The amaranth-pink tiered frills of his sleeves complimented the cerise shades displayed in his pink frilled skirt and the deep, near-rosewood color of the pants he wore beneath the skirt. Completing the look were a pair of gloves, the very same shade of pink as the gem that was featured prominently in the blouse’s center.

“Hey guys!”, Steven smiled, greeting the surprised and confused gems before him.

“Steven, you’re alive!”, Garnet cried tears of relief.

“Hey Garnet, I know that this must be pretty confusing for most of you. I mean, when I turned myself in, I thought I would just go through a trial and face whatever punishment would be sentenced. I had no clue that this was going to happen, or even how crazy all of this mess really is.”, Steven sighed, running a hand through his hair, “But things are going to change for the better.”.

“Okay, I’m glad you’re alright Steven, and I don’t really forgive you for turning yourself in just yet…”, Amethyst began, “HOWEVER I don’t know how many times I have to ask this before I get an answer… But WHAT THE HECK IS HAPPENING!!”, she screamed, pulling her hair.

“Pearl, I’m sorry that mom put you through all of that, forcing you to remain silent for so long. It wasn’t fair to you.”, Steven teared up, “Which is why I’m going to do something that should have been done a long time ago. Pearl, I hereby revoke the final order given to you by her. It is okay to look back… It is okay to remember and to heal from the past. They can know about what happened that day. Everyone can.”.

At once, Pearl felt as though a tremendous weight was lifted from her gem, the final order from her Diamond having been rescinded.

“Thank you… My Diamond.”, Pearl cried, bowing in the Diamond salute.

At those words the Crystal Gems turned to Pearl in shock, before glancing back at Steven.

“I’ll see you all soon, but Chrysoberyl and I are pretty busy. Is it alright if you fill everyone else in on the way here?”, Steven asked.

“I will.”, Pearl cried, standing up now.

“I’ll see you all soon.”, Steven smiled, ending the transmission, the screen disappearing.

“‘Your Diamond’?!”, Amethyst screeched in confusion.

“So when you and Chrysoberyl were talking atop the hill on the battlefield”, Garnet muttered to herself, “She was saying she was guilty of attacking the Pink Court, that means… Chrysoberyl was a part of the Pink Court?”.

“She served as the head of military for all Pink Court operations. Effectively, she was the High Guard.”, White Sapphire replied.

“Oooh that makes so much sense now…”, Peridot put a hand to her gem in light of the revelation, “Wait wait wait… If Steven is… And you served Pink Diamond directly... then you’re the second Pearl to serve as the hand to… right? ‘Cause Pink Pearl was first?”.

“Yes.”, Pearl replied simply, “I was rejuvenated upon transfer to the Pink Court, but I ended up regaining my memories late in Era One.”.

Right… cause the wars and battles must have triggered some previous memories on the role you served…”, Peridot muttered, before continuing, “But that means that you were originally…!”.

“Yes.”, Pearl replied simply.

“So when you and Chrysoberyl were talking about your expertise in banners it was because you served as White Diamond’s hand during!?”, Peridot stammered in confusion and amazement, “You’re the Lu-!?”.

“It’s just Pearl now.”, Pearl cut Peridot off, “You can call me the Renegade Pearl if you want though.”.

“I am so sorry for insulting you back when we were designing robots!”, Peridot cried, “Of course you would be a better engineer than me!”.

“Peridot, you should be apologetic because you were acting demeaning towards someone else in the first place, not just because I happen to be your superior.”, Pearl sighed, pinching her brows together.

“Well, yeah. I just thought you deserved an extra apology.”, Peridot mumbled, slightly embarrassed.

“So, now that Pearl is released from her order.”, White Sapphire interrupted the conversation, “His Radiance, Pink Steven Universe requests the presence of every one of you on Homeworld.”.

* * *

Garnet had to sit down. For the second time in her existence, she felt completely confused. Pearl’s explanation certainly helped when it came to the facts of the situation, but the reality of it all didn’t seem to set in, at least not until they landed on Homeworld, and the group of Bequest members were leading them to a large pink tower. They were heading to Pink Diamond’s tower, to Steven’s tower. It was all happening too fast. Suddenly, they were in Pink Diamond’s old quarters, being met with Pink Pearl and Chrysoberyl. Connie was talking about how regal Steven looked in the Pink Diamond uniform, and fawning over his skirt, and Pearl was just talking to Steven, her mannerisms seeming so natural when speaking to someone whose status was effectively higher than her. She knew, the Bequest knew. It was all so much.

“So it is true then.”, Garnet spoke eventually, breaking herself from her thoughts, “You’re going to take up the title of Diamond, and you want us to join a Court.”.

“Right now, Homeworld is a place where gems aren’t free to be themselves, to enjoy life and have fun. I want to change that. I want gems to be able to have hobbies, to do the things that they enjoy, to be a place where off colors and fusions can exist without worrying what other gems think of them.” Steven finished.

“I see, you’re going to debate against the Diamonds.”, Garnet said, “And the Diamonds, and all the other gems of Homeworld will listen to you, because you decree it to be so. Steven, it’s not going to be that simple. We should just head home, where we are SAFE.”.

“I know it won’t be easy. I know this won’t all won’t change overnight, it’s going to take time and many many experiences to show the other gems that you all aren’t anything to be afraid of, to be disgusted by, and that they themselves shouldn’t be afraid to pursue their dreams either. It’s going to be the hardest thing that I’ve ever done, and I’m going to need the help of all of you to do it. However, I also know that if there’s something that I can to to make sure that every single gem has the same freedom and hope that we have as the Crystal Gems, I’m going to try my best!”.

At that proclamation, the off-colors and Connie all broke out into a loud applause, before all eyes turned to Garnet, to gauge her reaction.

Slowly, Garnet began to chuckle, as she faced Steven with a bright smile.

“Steven, when I first heard that Rose was Pink Diamond, I couldn’t believe it. I thought that we had been betrayed and tricked by her. But whether she was just trying to do what she thought was right, or if she was leading us all on, it doesn’t matter now. All of those decisions, whether good or bad, lead us to here - lead us to a chance where our dream could actually come true. Because we have you in charge, someone with a kind heart, who would rather put themselves in danger for the greater good of others, instead of run away like so many other, lesser gems.”.

“That was a test?”, Steven asked.

“Yes Steven.”, Garnet smiled, ruffling his hair slightly, “That was a test, and you passed wonderfully. While I’m still upset about the stunt you pulled when you surrendered to Aquamarine and Topaz, I’ve always been so, so proud of you, and how far you have come over these years. There’s no one else in the whole universe I would rather serve.”, Garnet paused, drying off a few happy tears before bowing into a Diamond Salute, “My Diamond.”.

At that, Pearl, Amethyst, and Connie all dried their tears and saluted as well, joining the off colors in the salute.

“My Diamond.”, a chorus of voices big and small resounded throughout Pink Diamond’s room, as the first members of the Pink Court gathered together.

“A-actually, Chrysoberyl and I were talking about this a bit earlier, and I decided that Pink Steven would be a bit better of a title.”, Steven got out, somewhat awkwardly.

“Pink Steven then?”, Pearl asked, “I like it, it suits you.”

“My Steven.”, the gems saluted once more as they acknowledged their leader with his preferred title.

“So, now that we’re serving you and all.”, the Amethyst of the Crystal gems began, casually staring out at Homeworld from the window in the throne room, “What are our jobs?”.

“Ah, right! Thanks for reminding me Amethyst!”, Steven responded.

At that, both Amethysts turned towards Steven, giving him their attention.

“Oh right, this might be a problem with lots of Amethysts, won’t it?”.

“It’s no problem at all, My Steven, you can just refer to me by my nickname 3ZC. It’s what Chrysoberyl and Sapphire call me when there’s multiple Amethysts in the room. That way you can just keep calling 8XM ‘Amethyst’, since you’re used to just calling her that.”, Amethyst 3ZC finished.

“Thank you 3ZC!”, Steven replied to the taller Amethyst, “Now, Chrysoberyl and I were able to work out jobs and roles that I think you would be good at, based on what a Diamond Court needs, but feel free to make any comments or critiques if you think your role should be different.”.

Comments and critiques on a Diamond’s orders?”, Pearl thought to herself, “Stars, Steven. This might just work out after all.”.

The night went on as the joyful chatter of the gems filled the room with a sense of hope and excitement.

Chapter Text

Steven fidgeted under the glares of Yellow and Blue Diamond, before nervously casting a glance back to Connie, the off-colors, and Crystal Gems that filled the throne room. The members of his Court seemed equally nervous as they bowed in the Diamond Salute to Yellow and Blue Diamond.

“I cannot believe this.”, Yellow Diamond sighed, pinching her brows together.

“Now Yellow, Steven just had some of his memories restored, we must go easy on him when he makes mistakes.”, Blue Diamond interjected, cutting Yellow Diamond off.

“No, Steven I understand! What I do not get is how you Chrysoberyl could have allowed him to make such a decision.”, Yellow countered, leveling a glare at Chrysoberyl.

“Your Radiance.”, Chrysoberyl bowed, “My Steven saw worth and value in these gems. It is of my understanding that any gem deemed useful should be put to work, given the current resource crisis.”.

“Oh Stars above…”, Yellow sighed, exasperated as she fell back into her throne, “I’m just glad that White isn’t here to see this mess.”.

“Should he be sent off to try again?”, Blue Diamond asked.

“No… not yet at least. Give him another 10,000 cycles and then we’ll try again.”, Yellow Diamond groaned, her eyes still closed.

“Wait, what about my Court?”, Steven piped up.

“These gems are not fit to serve a Court, Steven. Those off-colored gems will be harvested according to protocol, and the remaining gems will be rejuvenated.”, Yellow Diamond explained, now sitting up in her throne, “As for your organic pet, it will either be sent back to Earth, or to the organic habitat that Blue commissioned for you back in Era One.”.

Despite not knowing exactly what Yellow Diamond was sentencing for the members of his new Court, the looks of abject horror on everyone’s faces filled him in enough to know that it was nothing good.

Thinking fast, he interjected, “Wait, why are they not fit to serve a Court?”.

“They just aren’t Steven.”, Blue Diamond attempted to soothe Steven, “It’s not your fault that they aren’t any good.”.

“Has anyone ever seen that they can’t serve a Court?”, Steven retorted.

“Yes…”, Yellow Diamond explained tiredly, “The whole reason that they’re labeled as off-colors is because their gems have an imbalance of Diamond essence in them. As such, they are unfit for the very roles that they were created for.”.

“Well… that doesn’t mean that they aren’t fit for any roles. Just because they aren’t good at what they were made for doesn’t mean that they can’t be good at something.”, Steven argued.

“Just because your logic is sound, doesn’t mean that your premise is true.”, Yellow Diamond replied evenly.

“So, they should be tested! We should give them a chance to prove themselves!”, Steven replied, passionately.

At that, Yellow Diamond paused, seeming to consider his words. Connie, the off-colors and Crystal Gems each held their breaths, awaiting the Diamonds’ verdict.

“Alright Steven, I’ll consider your words. If I may, I would like to convene with Blue in private to come to a consensus as to the nature of this test.”, Yellow Diamond broke the silence.

“Thank you so much, Yellow!”, Steven breathed a sigh of relief, before ushering his Court out of the throne room, leaving the two Radiances and their Pearls alone.

“Oh Stars above! I thought that we were shattered for sure!”, Rhodonite sighed with relief, leaning on the corridor wall as the others gathered in waiting for news on this test, “Thank you so much for vouching for us my Steven! It really means a lot to us.”.

“No problem!”, Steven smiled, equally relieved.

“Still, I would fight the Gauntlet Trial before I step foot in there again!”, She laughed, running a hand through her hair.

“Gauntlet Trial?”, Connie questioned, “What’s that?”

“You haven’t heard of the Gauntlet Trials??”, Dot spoke up excitedly, “I have so much to tell you!”.

* * *

Blue Diamond shook with barely contained rage, leveling a fiery glare at Yellow Diamond, “I cannot believe that you are actually entertaining this! You saw the selections he made for his Court! A cross-gem fusion as a High Clarity, an organic creature as his High Guard!?”, she stood, a wave of cold fury erupting from her form, “Are you determined to have Pink be shattered a SECOND TIME BEFORE OUR VERY EYES!?”.

“Calm yourself Blue, I intend for no such thing. Rest assured that those rocks will not serve anywhere near Pink Steven’s Court, much less in it.”, Yellow replied, struggling against the wave of Blue’s powers.

“Explain…”, Blue Diamond seethed, releasing Yellow from her powers.

“You know how Pink Diamond would get back in Era One. The micro-cycle I said no to her on something she had her gem set on, she would lose her temper, and there would be a crater in the floor.”, Yellow Diamond sighed, “Pink Steven needs to be shown he is wrong firsthand.”.

“He cannot be placed in any danger.”, Blue stipulated.

“I would never intentionally place him in danger, Blue.”, Yellow sighed, a pained look coming over her face, “Whatever this test is, he’ll be watching it play out from the throne room, with us by his side.”.

“So, with regards to this test…”, Blue Diamond mused, “It should be something impossible, yet not so important that its inevitable failure negatively impacts one of our Courts.”.

“Exactly.”, Yellow Diamond replied.

“And what if they retreat, or if a partial victory is achieved and there are survivors?”, Blue Diamond questioned.

“Then they’ll be harvested, rejuvenated, or just shattered.”, Yellow replied casually, pulling up the Diamond line, “It doesn’t matter then. When they fail, Steven will have learned his lesson and we’ll be able to go back to how things were before.”.

“Alright.”, Blue Diamond replied, before turning to meet her gaze, “I apologize for yelling at you earlier.”.

“Think nothing of it. I forgive you.”, Yellow replied, “I would have done far worse if you or even White insinuated putting Pink Steven in danger. He… he means a lot to me as well.”.

Blue Diamond smiled, resting her hand atop Yellow’s own, before the image of a large, orange gem with yellow hair and a billowing red cape appeared on screen.

“Greetings High Guard Hessonite.”, Yellow Diamond addressed the gem on-screen.

“My Diamond.”, Hessonite 1F9L, cut 9AB bowed, saluting her Radiance, “How may I be of service?”.

“We need you to find a mission for a very special group of gems.”.

Chapter Text

Connie wanted to curse. She really really wanted to curse as a wave of acid hurled towards her and Padparadscha, forcing her to take cover in a ditch. The ground around her seemed to be filled with craters and ditches formed by laser fire and missile strikes. While it made advancing against the enemy difficult, she counted it as a small blessing that it also provided ample cover from enemy attacks.

All in all, the last two days had to have been the most ridiculous of her life. It started with her calling her mom and dad, letting them know that she was headed off on another gem mission, and that it might be a day or two before she came back. Then the next thing she knew, she was coming to terms with the fact that Steven was effectively intergalactic royalty, and he wanted her to serve as one of the highest positions in his ‘Court”. The other Diamonds didn’t trust his choice and originally wanted him to choose different members of his Court, but Steven ended up arguing and convincing the other Diamonds that they deserved a chance. Or, at least she thought he did, but by the looks of this absolute mess of enemies that they were up against, it seemed like the other Diamonds had sent them to their deaths.

Sure, the task itself seemed straightforward. Apparently, a hive of alien insect-like creatures was terrorizing a colony under the Yellow Court, and the new Pink Court was tasked with saving the gem encampments from the threat of these beasts. However, it really REALLY should have dawned on Connie at some point the kind of danger that an organic creature needs to pose in order to threaten a group of trained gems. These things didn’t just spit acid at anything that so much as looked at it the wrong they, they were fast too. Despite going into this situation with a semblance of a plan, they were quickly overwhelmed by a hoard of the beetle-like creatures. The only thing that managed to save them from devolving into sheer panic was Garnet’s quick-thinking and natural leadership skills. Thanks to her, the Court was able to remain a cohesive unit through the first wave. Amethyst and Rhodonite were both incredibly skilled with whips, and they managed to keep most of the creatures at arm’s length. Pearl and the Rutile Twins supplied covering fire, while the Court managed to group together to revise their plan. A plan that basically consisted of Fluorite grappling the large beasts and flipping them onto their backs, while Lapis flew Pearl or the Rutile Twins into the air to blast the beast’s sensitive underbelly. And sure, maybe they would have been successful if it was a small handful of these beasts, but as soon as they seemed to be making some kind of headway against these beasts, a whole swarm shows up!

Connie cringed as another wave of acid flew overhead, before turning back to the Padparadscha in her arms.

“Padparadscha!”, Connie spoke, her words commanding authority, “I need you to listen! This battlefield is unsafe for you. Can you use your abilities to see anywhere, think of anywhere that you might be able to go and be safe in?”, Connie asked, desperate to keep the small gem safe from harm.

A short moment passed, before Padparadscha processed what Connie said.

“I!! I don’t know ma’am! I can’t see like a Sapphire!”, Padparadscha cried, “I tried and I tried but I can’t see into the future! I can‘t see myself being safe! These creatures, they’re angry and hurt after their queen died, and they’re going to tear everything apart!”.

“Wait, what?” Connie asked, perplexed, “Did I miss something in the briefing about their queen?”.

Another beat passed.

“N-no, Connie.”, Padparadscha replied, “It wasn’t in the briefing, I just, know it because it happened?”

“I don’t understand...” Connie trailed off, “Were you here when it happened?”

“No, ma’am?” Padparadscha replied after another moment, “If something happens, I just know it? Is that not how everyone knows things?”

“No.”, Connie laughed, “Oh my goodness Padparadscha! You have an amazing gift!”

“I do?!” Padparadscha replied, after yet another short moment.

“Yes! You can see the past!” Connie replied excitedly, “These creatures, where did they come from?”.

“They came from this planet, deep below the surface.” Padparadscha replied, after a moment.

“And how have most of them died?” Connie pressed on.

“While most of them passed from old age, lots of them die from cave-ins, falling stalactites hit the soft spaces in between the hardened plates in their backs. While their underbellies are soft, most of their vital organs are located right on their backside.”.

“No way, that’s incredible!”, Connie breathed in amazement, “Padparadscha, you’re incredible! You just gave us an answer on how to stop them!”.

“I am?”, Padparadscha replied after a beat.

“Yes! Now stay here.”, Connie replied excitedly, before climbing out the ditch, her gaze quickly locking on to Garnet.

“Garnet! Padparadscha figured out their weakness!”, Connie’s voice rang out, commanding the attention of the other gems, “I have a plan!”.

* * *

“They did it!”, Steven cheered, standing and whooping as he watched the footage play out from the throne room, oblivious to the glare that Blue Diamond shot Yellow.

“I… I’m sorry my Diamond, and your Radiance…”, Hessonite 1F9L, cut 9AB trembled under the glare of both Radiances.

“I thought I asked you to choose something difficult.”, Yellow Diamond bit out.

“I- I did! We were struggling against those creatures for three hundred cycles! So many of our gems were shattered by those creatures!”, Hessonite whispered back.

“So, you would have us believe that those off-colors did what you and the troops of the Yellow Court couldn’t?”, Yellow Diamond whispered, her fiery tone and carrying through despite the volume she was speaking at.

“They... their strategies and execution of them were very well carried out, my Diamond.”, she all but whimpered.

“You seriously-!?”, Yellow Diamond began, only to be cut off by Blue Diamond.

“Enough, Yellow.”, Blue sighed, “Hessonite has a point, we have underestimated these gems. It was as Steven said, they were not completely incompetent.”.

“So, you think that they should actually serve the Pink Court under the roles Steven picked for them?”, Yellow asked incredulously.

“Don’t even start with that tone with me. I wasn’t the one to give them all a chance to begin with. However, if this rag-tag group of rocks can do what some of the best of your Court couldn’t, I am more inclined to believe that Steven had a point in saying that they had a purpose.”.

“They did great!”, Steven’s tone was bright as he walked back to the thrones where Yellow and Blue Diamond sat, “So what exactly happens next?”.

“Next, they will be giving us a briefing of their mission when they get back.”, Yellow Diamond sighed, exasperated.

* * *

“So, it was all because of Padparadscha?”, Blue Diamond asked.

“Yes your Radiance.”, Connie replied, bowing in a Diamond salute, “It appears that she has the unique ability to use her clairvoyance to see almost any given event, so long as it took place in the past.”.

“I see.”, Blue Diamond mused, “And it was this information that allowed you to determine their weakness?”.

“Yes, your Radiance.”, Connie replied.

“Well…”, Blue Diamond sighed, “Off-colored gems or not, given that you have provided a tremendous aid to the Yellow Court, it is only fair that we be up-front and honest with you in turn.”.

“Truth be told…”, Yellow Diamond began.

“We were never meant to survive that mission, were we?”, Connie’s voice was tense, her expression filled with anger and frustration.

Yellow Diamond paused, shocked that she was being spoken back to in such a tone, and ashamed that she had been called out on her wrongdoing.

“That is correct, organic.”, Yellow Diamond replied, quickly silencing the group’s - and Steven’s - protest with a wave of her hand, “However, after watching your battle against the creatures that plagued my very Court, I believe that you deserve a chance - a real one this time.”.

“Pink Steven was right. We were only seeing you for the gems your Kindergarteners wanted you to be, not as the individual gems that you actually are, and for that we were mistaken.”, Blue Diamond began, “We have decided that each of you gems will be trained for each of the positions that you have been chosen to hold, by equivalent members of both of our Courts, with the exception of Pearl and the members of the Behest, who are in no need of training for the roles given to them. After sixty cycles, the very gems that trained you will assess your performance and provide recommendations for your improvement. Should you fail to improve after yet another sixty cycles, your position will be re-evaluated, both by your Steven and ourselves. If necessary, you will be re-assigned - however rest assured that the threat of harvesting or rejuvenation is no longer on the table.”.

“It shouldn’t have been an option to begin with.”, Steven muttered under his breath.

“Your Radiance.”, Connie bowed in the Diamond salute once more, “You mentioned that the off-color gems would receive training and assessment for the positions assigned to them, as a part of their chance to prove themselves. For clarification, am I to understand that I am also a part of that group?”.

At that, a somewhat saddened look flitted across Blue Diamond’s face, “No, organic.”.

“It’s Connie.”, Steven spoke up, frustration lacing his tone.

“No, Connie.”, Blue Diamond corrected herself, “The position that Steven had appointed to you was that of High Guard, as a part of this role, one is not only responsible for leading every aspect of his military and ensuring the safety of his Court, but most critically you would be responsible for ensuring his safety in life-or-shatter situations. Yes, you were able to prove to us that you were capable of remaining calm and collected on the battlefield and in high-stress environments, but being a High Guard is so much more than that. I apologize for giving you false hope, and for not being true to our word, however you can understand our position right? We just got him back. We thought he was shattered for over a million and a half cycles. We mourned him, I mourned him.”, Blue Diamond’s tone almost sounded vulnerable, if Connie wasn’t mistaken, “You are more than welcome to join Steven’s court as an infantry gem, or possibly even a warship pilot, given proper training. But surely you can understand why we would not want you serving as Pink Steven’s last line of defense?”.

“Your Radiance…”, Connie sighed, “I cannot claim to have grieved for Steven. I cannot imagine what you went through when Pink Diamond did what she did. But I promise you that I can serve as Pink Steven’s protector.”.

“And how can we trust that claim?”, Yellow Diamond barely restrained a chuckle of disbelief at Connie’s words, “You hardly used your sword on my colony, how can we be confident that you can keep him safe from a hoard of enemies?”.

“Moreover, whatever skills with a weapon you may have are all geared towards the combat of other organics.”, Blue Diamond continued, “What will you do if a gem army faces down his Radiance? What will you do if a gem rushes his palanquin?”, she finished, Pearl and Chrysoberyl both flinching at Blue’s last hypothetical scenario.

“On the contrary your Radiances, I was trained to be able to hold my own against gem opponents, and I have experience fighting and dispelling the forms of opponents that were far larger and stronger than me. The tactics and strategies that I learned were not from any organic.”, Connie paused.

Truth be told, she was only able to get bits and pieces of information on what her mentor’s old job actually was. However, she could count herself lucky that she only needed to know Pearl’s title to feign knowledge of what she actually did. She knew that Pearl was apparently a very significant figure, judging by Chrysoberyl’s conversations with Pearl, and Pink Pearl’s own reaction to her. Thanks to Peridot’s ranting on the beach, she at least knew Pearl’s title, however the honorific was another problem entirely, seeing as Pearl herself was quick to cut off whoever was speaking, once out of what seemed to be modesty, and another time because she was still under oath to keep any connection between her and the Diamonds a secret. Connie wracked her brain trying to guess what the title was when it hit her.

Diamonds have Radiance, both because they radiate the exemplary qualities of the Court they lead, but also because the gemstones themselves are Radiant. Sapphires and Garnet are Clarities, both because of their clairvoyance and because of the clarity of their gems! Each honorific is reflective of a quality of their gemstone… So what do Pearl’s have?”, Connie smiled, “Luster, she is the Lustrous Pearl!”.

“I was not trained by an organic, your Radiances.”, Connie took a breath, pausing as if for effect, “I was trained in the art of sword fighting by the former hand to her Radiance White Diamond herself, the Lustrous Pearl.”.

Yellow and Blue Diamond blinked in surprise at Connie’s words.

“Is this true?”, Yellow Diamond turned towards Pearl.

“Yes, your Radiance.”, Pearl replied, sighing, accepting the fact that everyone seemed to know her old role in the Diamond Authority.

“I understand the importance of being skilled in combat to protect his Radiance.”, Connie spoke up, bringing everyone’s attention back to her, “I also understand the significance of the role that was chosen for me, and why you both desire for only the best of the best to serve as his Radiance’s protector. Which is why I propose that I undergo another test to prove myself.”.

“This test will need to assess your ability to strategize in addition to your skills with a weapon.”, Yellow Diamond added.

“I heard of the Gauntlet Trials that are held in the sporting arena. It was hailed as a trial for the best-of-the-best in skill and prowess.”, Connie replied.

“The Gauntlet…”, Blue Diamond hummed, “That seems fitting, pitting you against a series of skilled gems in order to determine your own ability to protect his Radiance from skilled assailants.”.

“She will have an impossibly high standard to meet. She’s practically throwing herself into the void with such a challenge.”, Yellow Diamond whispered to Blue, “But if the Lustrous Pearl was successful in imparting the knowledge and skill that she possessed into the organic Connie, she might be able to hold the position.”.

“So we accept her proposal of a second trial?”, Blue Diamond whispered back.

“If she loses, then we’ll have Chrysoberyl take on the role of High Guard, since it’s what she did before - but if she wins then we’ll know that Steven is at least kept safe from enemy assailants.”, Yellow Diamond replied.

“She could be trained by Chrysoberyl to fill the other duties of a High Guard in the event that she wins.”, Blue Diamond supplied.

“We’ll see about that when we have to make such a decision.”, Yellow whispered, before turning back to Connie.

“Organic Connie.”, Yellow Diamond addressed the human before her, “After some deliberation we find that your proposal is satisfactory. If you win this gauntlet, you may take on at least the primary role of High Guard, serving as his Radiance’s primary protector. Based on your performance, we may be inclined to have you undergo tutelage under the previous holder of your position, Chrysoberyl 1AB.”.

“Thank you, your Radiances.” Connie smiled, bowing once more.

“This trial will not be easy.”, Blue Diamond spoke up, “We will be attending your Gauntlet Trial, and we will have a say in the opponents you face.”.

“Normally, Gauntlet Trials pit an opponent against an enemy that is still possible to overcome, despite a large disparity in skill or ability. This trial will not be like that.”, Yellow Diamond explained, “Instead we will be selecting the hardest and most challenging opponents possible. This test will be-near impossible for you to complete. This is not out of any slight or prejudice against your kind, but because that is the standard that gems who hold said rank must live up to. Are we clear?”.

Steven swallowed nervously, glancing to Connie.

Pearl nodded to herself, as if expecting such a test to be in place.

Connie smirked, before bowing in the Diamond salute once more.

She had a chance now, she wasn’t about to let it go to waste.

“Yes, your Radiances.”

Chapter Text

Connie took a deep breath, looking out at the packed stadium, the massive arena in the center holding a single gem. It was weird, seeing a gem that bore a strong resemblance to the fusion of Sardonyx that she knew from back on Earth, yet was simultaneously different. This gem too was titled as Sardonyx, yet she was certainly not a fusion. The gem’s two eyes and two arms confirmed that. That being said, while she did not look like the fusion, she certainly acted like her, the Sardonyx in the arena’s center kept the audience enraptured with her every word.

“Ladies!”, the distinctly not-fusion announced, “Have we got a show for you on this cycle! Not only are all four - that’s right four Radiances in attendance with us for these matches, but their Radiances Blue, Yellow, and White Diamond are going to be picking the opponents for our challenger themselves! Why go through the trouble, you may ask? Well dear audience, that is because our challenger is no mere contestant, but an aspiring member of the soon-to-be-unveiled Pink Court!”, Sardonyx smiled as gasps rippled throughout the crowd.

Connie steeled herself, checking over the plain, rudimentary armor, and hefty schiavona-style broadsword. She had already given it a few practice swings, familiarizing herself with its balance and weight. Connie breathed in again.

She could do this.

She was ready.

“Who is this mysterious challenger and Pink Court hopeful?”, Sardonyx asked, “Well, let’s meet her! Dear audience, participating in the Gauntlet Trials on this cycle is the first organic to ever compete in our arena! I give you, human Connie Maheswaran!”.

The cheers stopped at Sardonyx’s words.

The crowd grew quiet as Connie stepped forward and entered the arena, as if bewildered and perplexed by her very existence. Connie swallowed nervously glancing around at the once-lively audience, before wincing as quiet murmuring began to reach her ears.

“An organic?”.

“Look at it, how could Pink Diamond find value in something so grotesque?”.

“That sword is almost bigger than she is…”.

Connie ignored the insults as she took the stage. Their opinions did not matter to her.

She would shut them all up… she would prove them all wrong.

“Well, that’s certainly a reaction.”, Sardonyx laughed nervously, glancing down at the organic challenger, “Let’s see who she’s up against in the first round, shall we?”, she announced, drawing a cane from her gem and tapping it to the arena’s floor, a large bubble rising from the arena floor in response, “Hailing from the Yellow Court, we have Topaz Facet 1F9L, Cut 9IK!”.

Connie tensed her grip on her blade as the bubble containing her opponent dissipated, and Sardonyx continued on, “Now, we all know that Topaz gems are some of the strongest and fastest in the Courts, but 9IK here is a cut above the rest! Long-time fans of our tourney will recognize her as a common ‘final opponent’ for our challengers, but on this cycle, she’s the opener! What a way to set the tone for this round of Gauntlet Trials! Our Radiances aren’t messing around when it comes to our challenger organic!”, Sardonyx paused, expecting applause, only to be met with the same confused silence.

“Well then…”, Sardonyx spoke up, seemingly unnerved, “Challenger Connie, are you ready?”.

Connie nodded in affirmative.

“Opponent Topaz 9IK, are you ready?”

The Topaz nodded as well.

“Then, may the Gauntlet Trials, BEGIN~!”, Sardonyx announced with bravado and a twirl of her cane, before tapping it to the arena once more, teleporting herself away.

Connie steeled her gaze, as her opponent took that as the cue to start, drawing what appeared to be a massive, yellow pugil stick from her gem, with large, heavy crystals on each end.

She’s a larger opponent.”, Connie assessed, drawing on all of her experiences under Pearl, “Her weapon is good for creating inertia and dealing blunt-force damage. She’s going to be relying on momentum throughout her attacks, so I can’t let her build up speed, and I have to end the match quick, as she’s bound to get faster and harder to beat the longer the match goes on!”.

At once, Connie rushed forward, closing the distance between herself and Topaz. True to her assessment, the Topaz began spinning the pugil stick, before swinging the heavy weapon at her in a broad sweep. Connie only smirked, leaping over the pugil stick, before turning on a dime, now behind the Topaz. Before her opponent could even turn around, Connie leapt upwards, driving her blade through the back of the head of Topaz’s manifestation, immediately below her gem.

Gasps filled the crowd as Topaz’s gem and pugil stick clattered to the arena floor.

“Well well well!”, the Sardonyx announced, materializing into the area once more, “That may not have been the fastest match we’ve seen in the Gauntlet Trials, but it should definitely place high up there! She made quick work of a very skilled opponent! So dear audience, when I said we had a show prepared for you fine gems, was I right, or was I right?”, her bright laughter filled the stadium as she raised a hand to her ear, as if listening for the cheers of the audience.

Connie smirked as the gems that hurled insults at her just moments prior, stared dumbfounded, before slowly applauding.

“The first round of the Gauntlet goes to the organic! Only time will tell if she can keep it up!”, with a tap of her cane on the arena floor, the Topaz gem and her pugil stick were bubbled and sent away, “This next round comes at the request of someone very special. You know her name! She’s the powerful, the elegant, the ever-splendent Radiance, my Diamond, Blue Diamond!”, Sardonyx cheered, gesturing towards Blue Diamond sitting in the box seats, “And pardon my uncouth language ladies, but my Stars, what a challenge she has set up for our combatant! Long-time viewers of our production will certainly be familiar with the melee trial, however it has never been used as the second round! Usually we like to have our combatants to have a few more rounds to their name before we throw them into to void like this! Oh whatever will our little combatant do?”, Sardonyx feigned a swoon raising a hand to her gem, “I’ll tell you what she’ll do folks! She’s gonna have to haul-culet and fight to the best of her ability, cause this is no ordinary melee!”, her tone shifted to one of excitement and giddiness as she tapped the arena once more with her cane, a bubble rising from the floor in response, “Hailing from the Yellow court, we have Orange Spodumene Facet 219, Cabochon 45! She’s a fairly high-ranking warship-pilot under High Guard Hessonite’s command, with over three-hundred victories to her name! You better watch yourself with this one ladies, she’s skilled with a mace, and skilled at wooing gems! So let’s see if she can win over our combatant like she wins over our affections!”, Sardonyx chuckled before tapping the arena once more with her cane, a large bubble rose from the area’s floor as Orange Spodumene blew a kiss to the audience and drew her mace, the audience cheering in response.

“Our next opponent also hails from the Yellow Court!”, Sardonyx’s tone returned to the dramatic as she hyped up the newest combatant, “Returning viewers will recognize her as a Gauntlet Trial veteran! Esteemed gems and Radiances, on this cycle we have the mighty Ruby fusion of Facet 7F9L Cut 2EK, Cut 2EL, Cut 2EM, Cut 2EN, Cut 2EO, and Cut 2EP! As mentioned before they’re no stranger to the fight! Not only has she amassed over four-hundred victories for her Radiance Yellow Diamond’s Court, but she’s no newbie to the Gauntlet Trials either, having won on two separate occasions!”, Sardonyx paused for effect, as the audience took in the sight of the absolutely massive Ruby fusion, “Now you might be thinking, ‘Oh Sardonyx, where is her weapon? What weapon does someone as huge as her specialize in?’. Well dear audience member I’ll tell you! This fine gem before you needs no weapon, after all, as a fusion, she’s all the support that she needs!”, Sardonyx laughed as the Ruby summoned a pair of gloves onto her hands and struck a pose, “That’s right, she’s a master of hand-to-hand combat, to the point where she even excels against opponents with ranged weapons! I look forward to seeing how our combatant fares against an opponent like her!”, Sardonyx chuckled.

“And the last opponent hails from the Blue Court! I’m going to be honest with you audience, the last two opponents may have recognitions for their number of victories for their Court, but this gem’s career dulls those other records in comparison! Whereas the previous opponents didn’t break five-hundred victories, this gem holds almost a thousand!”, Sardonyx smiled as gasps rippled through the audience, “That right ladies, holding a whopping nine-hundred and forty-six victories, we have the gem serving directly under the High Captain of the Blue Court!”, Sardonyx had to pause as cheers erupted across the audience, “Oh so you know this gem?”, Sardonyx joked, as laughter rippled through the stadium, before tapping the arena once more with her cane, another bubble rising from the ground in response, “Well then, it seems like no further introductions are necessary! For the last opponent in this melee round, I give you the brilliant, the cunning, Jasper 1F9L, Cut 3MK!”.

A roar of applause resounded as the final bubble dissipated, revealing a large Jasper wielding a broadsword similar to Connie’s own.

Hooo boy.”, Connie sighed internally, casting her gaze between the three opponents, “So we have an Orange Spodumene, I don’t know much about them, other than the fact that they’re fast on their feet. She’s wielding a blunt-force weapon, so she’s probably going to be relying on momentum and speed a lot in her tactics. Then we have this hulking Ruby fusion. She’s apparently no stranger to these fights, and has been able to pull off wins even against opponents with weapons, so simply evading her isn’t going to be enough. She’s wearing a visor though, if I crack it, it could temporarily blind her, and then I could find an opening in her defenses. As for Jasper, she appears to be a solid all-around fighter. Doesn’t seem to have any identifying traits that would lead to a strategy off of the bat, so I’ll probably want to leave her for last…”.

“Well, now that the combatants are set, let’s get ready for Round Two of the Gauntlet!”, Sardonyx announced with a flourish, Connie recognized the large gem glyph for number two in projecting from her gem, “Everyone ready? Begin!”, and just as before, Sardonyx warped away in a beam of light, signaling to her opponents once more that the battle had indeed started once more.

* * *

Chrysoberyl sighed as Connie began the second round, watching as Connie dodged and rolled around her opponent’s attacks. It was one thing to know that her fellow Homeworld gems would be insulting Connie as she took the stage, but it was another thing entirely to hear it firsthand. What’s worse is that what she heard was just from the higher-Court members that she shared the box seat with, she was sure that this was nothing compared to what the gems were saying in the bleachers below. That being said, the look on the gem’s faces when Connie spun around that Topaz and poofed her like it was nothing would be a memory that she would cherish for quite some time. Not that it made listening to the insults worth it, but it almost made it worth it.

Amethyst 3ZC noticed the change in the audience’s demeanor as well, taking great pleasure in the slack-jawed stares that adorned the faces of the other high-Court members as Connie made quick work of her opponents. Amethyst watched enraptured as Connie dodged and parried her opponent’s attacks. She struck with such accuracy and ferocity, it was as if Connie was answering each and every one of the audience’s insults. It was is if she was determined that she wasn’t going to let herself be defined by any gem’s predispositions against an organic, and instead put effort into proving each and every one of them wrong.

“Go Connie!”, Dot cheered excitedly, watching as she poofed yet another opponent, “You can do it!”.

“Yeah!”, Amethyst cheered, “Hand their culets to them!”.

* * *

“Well done! Well done Connie!”, Sardonyx praised, warping back onto the arena, “So tell us, how are you feeling after that round?”, she asked, before kneeling slightly and holding what appeared to be a small crystal on a thin rod out to her.

“I’m feeling good.”, Connie blinked as she spoke into what she now recognized as some form of microphone, “Those last opponents were really giving it their all, it was only respectful for me to do the same.”, Connie smiled.

“What sports-gem-ship! That’s the kind of honorable demeanor that we at the Gauntlet Trials love!”, Sardonyx extolled, “Let me tell you, if this position with the Radiances doesn’t pan out for you, we’d love to have you here with us!”.

“Thanks I appreciate it, but I’m more interested in helping the Authority.”, Connie laughed into the microphone.

“And a good set of priorities too! This organic knows what’s up!”, Sardonyx turned back to the audience, as they cheered at Connie’s words, “So, before we start up the next round, there’s a rumor that’s been floating around that you were trained by the first hand to her Radiance White Diamond, the ever-dutiful Lustrous Pearl. If you would indulge my questioning for a moment, can I ask if this is true?”.

“You may.”, Connie replied simply, “And yes, I was trained by her.”, Connie paused as awed murmuring filled the arena, before continuing, “I didn’t know of her status at the time, since she preferred to keep those elements of her past to herself, but in the end it just makes me all that more appreciative of what she did for me.”.

“Wow…”, Sardonyx breathed, “Simply amazing. So, knowing what you know about her now, how does that make you feel as her mentee? It must be quite the legacy to uphold, having been taught by the very gem who served under the ever-resplendent, ever-powerful White Diamond, since even before the Authority.”.

“Actually, I think that’s half of why she was so hesitant to share her achievements with me in the first place.”, Connie replied earnestly, “She trained - and is still training - me so that I can make my own legacy, to forge my own path instead of constantly comparing myself to someone else.”.

“Well with an outlook like that, I can’t wait to see what legacy you make for yourself! We’ve all heard the news that her Radiance Pink Diamond has made a miraculous return, and is re-building her Court. Given that you hail from her first colony, am I right in assuming that Pink Diamond herself wanted to add you amongst her Court?”, she questioned further.

“That is right.”, Connie replied, ignoring the bits where Sardonyx called Steven a girl, “It is a great honor, and the rest of their Radiances wish for me to prove myself prior to being approved for the Pink Court position assigned to me. I don’t blame them, they want what’s best for his Radiance after all.”, Connie paused weighing her next words, “I’d be the first organic accepted into a Court, so I’ll have to do my best, and show them what I am capable of, that I am worthy of being considered for the position!”.

Sardonyx smiled at Connie’s earnestness, standing back up to her full height now, “Well well well Homeworld, what do you think of that? The determined organic trained under the Lustrous Pearl now seeks to make a legacy for herself under the Pink Court! Fortunately for her, the Gauntlet Trials are where legacies are formed!”, Sardonyx paused as the audience cheered once more, “So without further ado, let’s see how she fares against our next opponent~!”, Sardonyx twirled her cane, before tapping it to the arena once more.

* * *

“So, what was it like, before Era One?”, Steven turned to Pearl, from his small throne in the box seat.

“It was, chaotic to say the least.”, Pearl sighed glancing up at White Diamond, who sat immediately behind Steven.

“Gems were so… lost back then. So, her Radiance sought to give them something to look up to, a symbol of hope, if you will.”, memories flooded back in Pearl’s gem.

“They were certainly difficult times.”, White Diamond spoke up, “But they were made easier having you by my side.”.

“Thank you, your Radiance. It was a pleasure to serve you.”, Pearl replied, bowing in the Diamond salute.

“I know that the circumstances behind your initial transfer to the Pink Court were… unconventional, and seeing as Pink Steven has restored his former Pearl, you would be more than welcome to rejoin the White Court if you so desired.”.

“I am honored by your offering, your Radiance.”, Pearl replied, “However, if I may, I believe that his Radiance will continue to need my council and assistance for a while longer - especially as we shift into Era Three.”, Pearl replied.

“A wise decision.”, White Diamond replied, “My offer still stands should you reconsider at any point in the future.”.

“Thank you, your Radiance.”, Pearl replied, before turning back to the arena, watching as Connie rolled and flipped around an opposing Lapis Lazuli’s attacks.

“She is quite adept at fighting opponents larger than her”, Blue Diamond mused, watching Connie flit around the battlefield, before she backflipped over an Amethyst and struck them across the face with her blade, poofing them instantly.

“You taught her that move?”, Yellow Diamond’s tone was filled with incredulity.

“Well, she originally came to me saying that she wished to be taught sword fighting, so I taught her how to best protect Steven.”, Pearl blushed as she explained, “Just because I couldn’t share the identity of his gem doesn’t mean that I couldn’t take adequate steps to ensure his safety in a wide variety of situations. Given that I found myself facing off against larger opponents under her Radiance White Diamond’s service, I thought it would be reasonable to teach Connie the technique I developed for larger opponents.”.

“I don’t disagree with your judgement.”, Yellow Diamond replied, “It’s just… unnerving seeing someone other than you use it.”.

“That is an interesting point though…”, Blue Diamond interjected, watching as Sardonyx began the next round of the Gauntlet, three Lapiz Lazuli gems appearing onstage, “Each of the opponents so far have been larger than her.”, she paused, before turning to Blue Pearl, “Pearl, can you bring up the full list of potential combatants again? I have an idea for her final opponent.”.

* * *

Chrysoberyl, Amethyst 3ZC, Dot, and White Sapphire watched the matches play out with rapt attention, alongside the Pink high Court members and Hessonite 9AB in the box seats directly below the Diamonds.

“That’s another one down.”, Amethyst commented as Connie poofed the second Lapis Lazuli, and turned to face her last opponent.

“The next match is the final one, right? I lost track.”, Dot asked, turning to Chrysoberyl, who nodded in response, “I wonder who she’ll face then -.”, Dot cut herself off as she watched Connie rush the final Lapis.

With an impressive amount of speed, Connie managed to roll around the Lapis’s water tendrils, before hurling her blade at the gem. Naturally, the Lapis was able to catch the projectile well before it could make contact, but it looked like that was part of Connie’s plan all along. In the next instant, she was leaping into the air, before coiling her body into a tight spring and bounding off of the flat side of her very sword. With a sharp twist, she landed a powerful kick on the gem. After a tuck and a roll, she landed on the ground, the Lapis crashing to the ground behind her. In a swift motion, Connie caught her sword from its free fall and poofed the final enemy.

“Whoa…”, Dot breathed in awe.

“White Sapphire and I actually had a long conversation about this.”, Chrysoberyl chuckled, “I was initially against Connie or any organic taking on the role of High Guard, but then White Sapphire told me about what she saw Connie being capable of…”, she paused laughing in amazement again, “The reason I’m so supportive of Connie being the High Guard now is that this… As amazing as it is, it doesn’t even scratch the surface of her potential.”.

“Okay, that’s cool and all, but hush!”, Amethyst 3ZC cut Chrysoberyl off, “Sardonyx is gonna announce the final competitor!”.

“Oh my Stars! Bravo! Bravo~!”, Sardonyx cheered, applauding Connie as she materialized once more on the arena, “What a display of ingenuity that was! Using your very own blade as a platform to leap off of to attack the Lapis who was flying so high above you!”.

“Thank you.”, Connie huffed into the microphone, before turning to see a tall purple Pearl standing next to her with a towel and what appeared to be a bottle of water and a small towel on a tray.

“Courtesy of the Lustrous Pearl, organic Connie.”, she spoke, her voice resounding clearly through the speakers that filled the arena, “I also bring a message from her.”, the Pearl bowed lightly as Connie wiped her sweat and took a large gulp of water, “She says that you are doing magnificently, and is cheering for you as you enter into your final match.”.

“Thank you.”, Connie replied, before humming in relief as the cool water soothed her parched throat.

With a few more gulps, she finished off the bottle of water, returning the empty bottle and the towel to the tray, the purple Pearl leaving the arena immediately afterwards.

“So, challenger Connie are you ready for the final round of the Gauntlet Trials?”, Sardonyx asked.

“Yes.”, Connie replied, a look of determination displayed across her face.

“Well that’s good, cause the next challenger is coming whether you’re ready or not!”, Sardonyx smiled, before turning back to the audience, “Ladies and esteemed Radiances, what a cycle this has been! Only the Clarities themselves would have been able to see such an outcome! Connie the human organic, not only making it to the final round of the Gauntlet Trials, but making it to the final round in a series of battles where the Radiances themselves are selecting the hardest opponents possible to prove her worth?! And Stars above they aren’t letting up on the final round either~!”, Sardonyx paused watching as the audience’s excitement for the reveal of the final opponent grow, “You see, our Diamonds have been watching these matches play out, watching as our challenger’s fighting style adapted to various opponents - and they believe that they’ve found an appropriate counter to our challenger’s skills and ability. One that will serve as a suitable challenge to our seemingly indomitable competitor. Dear audience, our last match is a one-on-one battle! Chosen by her Radiance Blue Diamond herself to be the final opponent, we have a Gauntlet Trials fan-favorite!”.

Chrysoberyl smiled as she watched Dot practically vibrate at the edge of her seat, hanging onto the Sardonyx’s every word.

“Renowned for her meteoric rise through the Gauntlet Trials tiers, and for her fast, brutal, and out-right relentless fighting style, we have the un-defeated, un-scathed AQUA~MARIIIIIINE 5TL!!” Sardonyx called out, tapping the arena for the final time with her cane, a small, blue bubble rising from the floor.

“Aquamarine!?”, Dot exclaimed, “Now I don’t know who to root for…”, she whined.

“Root for Connie.”, White Sapphire replied, “Besides, you only rooted for Aquamarine cause she was underestimated in the first place, but now she’s the undefeated champion…”.

“You’re right.”, Dot sighed, “Sorry Aqua, but I’m rooting for Connie! GO CO-NNIE!”, she cheered.

Connie and Aquamarine both hesitated to rush forward into battle, instead opting to pace around one another, each combatant daring the other to make the first move. The atmosphere was so tense, Connie could swear that she would have been able to hear a pin drop. Of course, it was Aquamarine that broke the silence first.

“Ello miss, I hafta say I’m quite impressed.” Aquamarine spoke up, “ B‘fore all this started I thought you were a right proper trophy of war, or a pet for their Radiances. Course, can’t quite think that anymore after ya up an poofed the rest a’ tha gauntlet like they’re some toddlin Rubies. Hate that your winning streak has to end here though, it was quite exciting!”.

“Thank you ma’am, but I could say the same thing about YOUR winning streak too.”, Connie smirked as they both continued to pace around the arena, “Exciting, but everything ends eventually.”.

“You think that’ll provoke me? Thing is, that kinda talk s’what I use to goad others into makin’ tha first move.”, she mused, “You and I are alike in that way, I suspect…”.

Connie shrugged in response, “It just lets me keep opponents on their toes, I guess. There’s no rule in place saying that I have to move second.”.

She as she finished shrugging, she leapt upwards, startling the Aquamarine who hastily raised her rapier to face Connie. As her blade met Aquamarine’s she leapt off of the gem, landing a short distance behind her in a roll.

“You’ll haft’a try better than that!”, Aquamarine yelled, unleashing a flurry of attacks on Connie, who was forced to desperately dodge and block each strike.

Wow, she’s fast…”, Connie thought to herself, trying to come up with a counter-strategy, “I just need to focus, to think. Remember what Pearl taught you. Is she too fast to hit? Does she have any openings in her attacks?”, Connie reflected on this as she continued to dodge and block a flurry of attacks, “Conservatively, that would be a no. Alright then, can I make her stop moving?”, she thought, watching as the gem flitted to and fro with ease, her wings providing her great mobility across the battlefield, “Also, no. I could try simply overpowering her with brute force…”, Connie paused her train of thought, reflecting on all of the other opponents she faced before, “But if I could overpower her, then she wouldn’t be undefeated then, would she? There’s something else, another weakness that I am not seeing.”, she discerned, continuing to dodge and block the Aquamarine’s attacks.

"Uh-oh! Looks like Aquamarine finally has Connie on the ropes!”, Sardonyx announced, “What will Connie do now?”.

I need to get her to stop moving… but how?”, Connie thought, before she was struck with realization, “No… I don’t need to limit her movements, I just need to know where she’s going to be. But the only time I know for sure where she’s going to be… is when she’s about to attack…”, a plan formed in Connie’s mind as she blocked another one of the gem’s attacks.

With a plan in mind, she parried Aquamarine’s rapier before riposting with her own blade, intentionally leaving herself wide open. Just as she predicted, Aquamarine rushed in to capitalize on her opening, but before her rapier could make contact, Connie leaned back, dodging the blade, turning her momentum into a spinning heel kick. Normally, such a move would be pretty telegraphed, and would be risky to throw out at speedy opponents, but by disguising the first half as a dodge, she successfully flipped around, her heel flying at its target.

The crowd stilled as Connie’s heel connected with the small gem’s torso, sending her careening to the arena floor.

“You… you hit me…”, Aquamarine breathed, nearly as shocked as the audience, “Trained by the Lustrous Pearl or not, I ain’t losing to a newbie Pebble!”.

And for the first time ever in her career, Aquamarine is hit by an opponent’s attack~!”, Sardonyx announced, the crowd going wild in response.

“You’re certainly sure of yourself…”, Connie laughed, her words barely carrying over the roar of the crowd, “Maybe that’s what happens when you’re on the top for so long?”.

At once, Connie closed the distance between herself and Aquamarine, the latter having hastily raised her rapier to block Connie’s attack.

“I’m not done yet!”, Aquamarine yelled in rage, before flying out from under her, and attacking in a flurry of swipes with her rapier.

Connie blinked in surprise, this was much much faster than Aquamarine had been attacking previously. Tentatively, she raised a hand to her cheek realizing that she hadn’t been as successful in dodging her opponent’s attacks as she previously thought, when her palm came back slightly bloody.

She’s fast… much faster than I gave her credit for.”, Connie thought, “Knowing where she is going to be one move ahead isn’t enough anymore, I need to be thinking two moves ahead. She’s fast, she’s determined, just like me… but she’s different too, she has an ego, she’s the best. She’s the best because she has to be, because the gems would look down on her otherwise… Pride. She’s fighting for pride, so she’ll take an option that involves my humiliation… Sacrifice…”, she realized, “I need to be able to sacrifice pride to win…”.

Connie huffed, releasing a flurry of attacks of her own, forcing Aquamarine to go on the defensive. Just as before, she left herself wide open on the final hit, a notably looser grip on her blade. Smirking, Aquamarine swiped upwards with her rapier, catching Connie’s blade underneath her cross guard and disarming her, her blade having been flung upwards out of her hands.

In that moment, Connie knew that it was already over… her opponent had fallen right into her trap.

Before anyone could even blink, Connie took advantage of her opponent’s blade’s proximity to her hands and clasped both hands around the flat sides of Aquamarine’s rapier, before pulling back on the blade and attacking with a front snap kick. Too startled to let go of her own blade, Aquamarine was struck by the ball of Connie’s foot, her form dissipating with the blow.

The audience fell into shocked silence as Aquamarine’s gem clattered to the arena floor. Connie sighed with relief that her gambit actually paid off, before dropping the rapier and checking her hands, thankful that her palms weren’t bleeding. After all, she’d need to be in top condition if she wanted to pull off her next stunt.

The audience seemed to shake themselves from their shock as Sardonyx re-materialized on the arena, before erupting into a roaring applause.

Ladies and esteemed Radiances~! The winner of the Gauntlet Trials, organic Connie!”, Sardonyx cheered, turning to Connie, “What a show of skill! What a display of cunning! Did you intend to have yourself disarmed during your last attack, or did you simply take advantage of the situation?”.

“I intended to be disarmed.”, Connie replied into the microphone-like device, “She was a very fast opponent. Far faster than me. I had to limit her movement to be able to land an attack. After her comment where she said she wouldn’t lose to a ‘newbie Pebble’, I knew that she was fighting for her pride, so I gave her an opening to potentially humiliate me, by disarming me. I bet that she would take it and she did, so I sacrificed my pride to keep her in one spot and capitalized on her vulnerability.”.

“Incredible… Simply incredible~!”, Sardonyx cheered, “So, how do you feel after finishing the Trials?’.

Connie chuckled to herself, drying the sweat from her palms before looking back to Sardonyx, “I’d say that I’m glad to have come this far, but my trials are not over yet.”.

“Come again?”, Sardonyx replied, confused.

“Your Radiances.”, Connie took the microphone from Sardonyx’s hands before bowing in a Diamond salute, “I have displayed for you all my abilities with a sword, and I hope you have found them acceptable. However, if I am to serve as the High Guard to his Radiance…”, Connie paused as a hush fell over the crowd, as they realized exactly what role Connie was hoping to be approved for, “Then I must also prove my ability to strategize under pressure. For this reason, I challenge High Guard Hessonite 1F9L, cut 9AB of the Yellow Court to a duel!”.

* * *

Dot stood up in shock at Connie’s words, “What in the Diamond’s name is she thinking!?”.

“She’s going to get herself shattered!”, Amethyst 3ZC shouted, “Chrysoberyl, we have to put a stop to…”, Amethyst 3ZC paused as she saw Chrysoberyl and White Sapphire both grinning at Connie’s declaration, “Oh you have got to be kidding me… this was part of the plan too?!”.

* * *

“She cannot be serious.”, Yellow Diamond spoke up, before turning to Pearl, “You trained her, is she serious?”.

“I believe so your Radiance.”, Pearl replied simply, “She has always been brave.”.

“Brave?”, White Diamond laughed brightly, “I’d say she’s just as audacious as you, Pearl!”.

“What do you think, Yellow?”, Blue leaned in to whisper to Yellow Diamond.

Pearl hurriedly drew another bottle of water and towel from her gem and gave them to the Aubergine Pearl that was attending the Diamond box with the same instructions that she gave prior.

“My Stars, what a challenge!”, Sardonyx’s voice came through the speakers to the Diamond box, “The human organic was not only selected for the position of High Guard, but she now seeks to challenge to best of the best of the Yellow Court, save for her Radiance herself!?”, Sardonyx announced, “Let’s see what her Radiance says in response!”.

Yellow Diamond paused as all the camera-robonoids turned towards the Diamond box, zooming in on herself. Nodding to herself, she took a breath.

“I’ll allow it.”, the words rang out through the arena, the audience losing their gems in the process as their cheers grew to almost deafening levels.

And her Radiance allows the fight~!!”, Sardonyx practically vibrated with excitement as she shouted through the microphone.

Within moments, Hessonite stepped onto the battlefield, drawing a wide-bladed rapier from her gem, its single edge a vibrant teal, with the rest of the blade a pink-rose color. Connie swallowed nervously, her longsword gripped tightly in her hands.

“Well dear audience we have ourselves another battle!”, Sardonyx announced, recovering from the shock of this series of events, “A test of worth and merit, a challenge of ability! Who will prevail? Let’s find out together! Is everyone ready?? Then leeeeeet’s begin~!”, she called out, tapping her cane to the arena causing her to teleport away once more.

“May the best competitor win.”, Hessonite called across the field.

“Now, that’s not fair to me, now is it?”, Connie laughed, almost casually.

“Self-deprecative humor?”, Hessonite chuckled, adopting a battle stance, “Alright.”.

With a smirk, Hessonite rushed at Connie, the latter rushing out of the way, barely avoiding Hessonite’s blade. Huffing, Chrysoberyl turned, rushing at Connie once more. Instead of leaping out of the way of the attack, Connie focused and rolled towards Hessonite and under her blade. With the pommel of her sword, she struck Hessonite’s one, sending her tumbling across the battlefield.

“And the challenger Connie lands the first strike! Sending Hessonite sprawling~!!”, Sardonyx cheered.

“Your abilities at dodging are certainly impressive.”, Hessonite laughed, dusting herself off, “So I suppose it’s time I truly put some effort into this fight.”, she breathed taking on a fighting stance, “Now… Witness greatness!”.

Before Connie could even blink, Hessonite was already on top of her. Desperately, she tried to roll out of the way of Hessonite’s strikes, only to be hit across the shoulder with the pommel of Hessonite’s sword, her blade having adorned Connie’s arms with more than a few shallow cuts and scratches. Just as Connie regained her balance, she turned to face Hessonite again, the gem now two swords lengths away from her, fiddling with the glove on her dominant hand.

She won’t even let me get close enough to counter-attack after she goes all out like that!”, Connie thought, exasperated, “She’s not taking any chances!”.

“Whoa! And Hessonite answers Connie’s strike in stride! Did you even catch that attack audience, cause I sure didn’t!”, Sardonyx cheered.

Reluctantly, Connie took a defensive stance, and circled around the arena, watching for the slightest tell from her opponent. Suddenly, Hessonite tightened her grip on her sword with her dominant hand.

There!”, Connie’s instincts screamed, before she leapt into the air.

Just before Hessonite could land a hit on her again, she flipped over and behind Hessonite, swinging her blade in a wide arc that just barely connected with the gem’s backside.

Whether from the force of Connie’s hit, or from the simple shock of being stuck by Connie’s blade, Hessonite tumbled forward.

“It will take more than that to poof me!”, Hessonite proclaimed as she stood herself up once more.

Hessonite glared at Connie as she tightened her glove once more and backed away to the arena’s center, “Trained by the Lustrous Pearl… Bested the most skilled challengers of the Gauntlet Trials… It matters not...”.

Connie shifted as the atmosphere seemed to shift around Hessonite, the light around her form… no the light around the whole arena seeming to dim, as if it was drawn into Hessonite’s very gem.

“You want to be High Guard of the Pink Court? This is what it means to be capable of protecting a Diamond!”, Hessonite proclaimed, raising her sword into the air, its tip pointed downwards, “LIGHT!!”.

At once, the arena floor was filled with small triangles of white light.

WHHHHHHHAT IS GOING ON!?!”, Sardonyx’s voice blared over the speakers.

I don’t know what that is, but it can’t be good!”, Connie thought nervously, “But wait, she’s left herself wide open now!”.

Quickly, Connie rushed at Hessonite, avoiding the white triangles that covered the floor. Connie blinked as the arena grew dimmer still, the only sources of light quickly becoming the triangles that filled the stage, and the area immediately around Hessonite herself. She couldn’t allow herself to be distracted by that though, not when Hessonite was leaving herself open by preparing whatever this attack was.

SHATTER!!”, Hessonite screamed, driving her blade down onto the triangle below her.

At once, the arena erupted with light. Each of the triangles that covered the floor seemed to burst upwards. Sharpened shrapnel filled the air, as if propelled by hundreds of small geysers. But she couldn’t let that deter her, not when she was so close to her opponent. Pain exploded in her leg and left arm as shards of light tore through her simple armor.

Two more steps! Just two more steps, I can do this!”, she willed herself to close the distance between herself and Hessonite, whose sword was still embedded in the ground.

With a final leap forward on her uninjured leg, she thrust her blade forward. Light returned to the arena as Hessonite’s eyes went wide with shock. Connie fell to her knees, still holding onto her blade - its hilt embedded in Hessonite’s torso, just beneath her gem, with its length protruding out of Hessonite’s back.

Gasps rippled through the audience, the entire arena going silent at the sight before them.

“How…”, Hessonite looked genuinely lost as she stared at Connie’s crumpled form, “Just what are you, Connie?”.

“I’m an organic, I’m a human, and I’m not giving up!”, Connie raised her head to meet Hessonite’s gaze.

Hessonite only looked down in awe at the figure before her. Despite her exhaustion, despite all of her wounds, this organic met her gaze with a fiery determination. It was the look she had seen in many of her troops before they went into war, the look she saw in her Radiance as she lead an attack, and here was this organic, beaten down and wounded, yet still looking like she could face down an entire army and win.

“I see it now.”, Hessonite laughed to herself, “I get what his Radiance sees in you… Your willpower and fortitude are incredible, High Guard Connie.”.

Before Connie could react to Hessonite’s acknowledgement of the title, her gem fell to the arena floor.

The arena itself shook with the roaring applause and whoops of excitement from the audience.

AND CONNIE WINS THE MATCH!!”, Sardonyx’s stunned voice blasts over the speakers, “Dear audience, what a match, what a CYCLE! The underestimated organic and Pink Court hopeful wipes the floor with the Gauntlet Trials, and then not only challenges what would be her equivalent member of the Yellow Court to a match but then proceeds to defeat her in front of the whole Authority!? Kilocycles from now, gems are going to ask where you were, when an organic DEFEATED THE YELLOW COURT’S HIGH GUARD!! And you get to tell them that you were right here when it all went down!! The Lustrous Pearl, and by extension her Radiance White Diamond, must be really proud of this organic and how far she’s come!”.

At those words, the camera-robonoids panned back to the Diamond box, revealing Yellow Diamond standing up in shock, her mouth wide open, while the other Radiances appeared awed at what took place before them.

* * *

Connie sighed in relief as Steven’s healing saliva worked its magic on her arms and legs. Normally, the thought of applying saliva to an open wound would be repulsive, but seeing and feeling her body sew figuratively sew itself back together and heal at just a touch was mesmerizing.

“Any other wounds?”, Steven asked, looking at Connie with vague concern.

“Nope, that was the last of them!”, Connie replied brightly.

“That’s good, because we have to get you in front of the Diamonds again.”, Pearl replied.

“I know that I never got to apologize before, but I’m sorry for using your reputation like that, Pearl.”, Connie turned to her mentor.

“Apologize for what?”, Pearl chuckled, “It’s not your fault that I trained you and hid my career from you! I must say though, after what that Sardonyx said back in the arena, your legacy will now forever be tied to its origins in the White Court.”.

“I’m fine with that.”, Connie sighed, looking hesitantly towards her mentor, “I just hope that I was able to do right by your legacy.”.

“My legacy?”, Pearl had to actually stop herself from laughing before Connie got the wrong idea, “Connie, I would have been proud of you regardless of whether or not you won those matches. You’ve come so far in such a short time, and you don’t have to worry about my legacy or honor, that is my own to defend.”.

“Thank you.”, Connie looked up to Pearl tearily.

“You certainly blew me away though, challenging Yellow’s High Guard like that.”, Pearl smiled, giving Connie a pat on the back, “They have no choice but to give you the position now - just don’t be surprised when Yellow goes and glares daggers at you. I haven’t seen her this shocked and worked up in quite some time…”.

“That reminds me.”, Connie spoke up, “I know that I asked a similar question after we first met Chrysoberyl - but knowing what I do now about your role under White Diamond, and the closeness that you have with the other Radiances, I have to ask. Just how old are you Pearl?”.

“Very old.”, Pearl laughed, “But that’s a long and largely irrelevant story for another time. Their Radiances are expecting you.”.

With that, the trio left the small room that the were in, and entered a large corridor underneath the arena.

“Hey everyone.”, Connie smiled, as she was greeted by Garnet, both Amethysts, Lapis, Peridot, Dot, White Sapphire, and the off-colors.

“Connie that was amazing!”, Peridot 5XG spoke up first, only to be cut off by Dot and Amethyst 8XM each giving their praises.

Connie was just about to thank everyone for their kind words, when another decidedly less happy voice got everyone’s attention.

YOU!!”, Aquamarine F73L, Cut 5TL shrieked, her expression furious, “You cost me my perfect winning steak, ya worthless Pebble! How dare you!”.

“Hey, hey! Calm down Aqua.”, another gem hurried up behind the livid Aquamarine, one that Connie recognized as one of the three Lapis Lazulis that she had faced down in the melee semi-final.

“Don’t ya tell me ta’ calm down! I’ll shatter her!”, Aquamarine raved.

“Nope.”, the Lapis sighed, wrapping the Aquamarine in her water wings, before turning to the group, “Sorry about her, she’s ah… well she’ll cool off eventually.”.

“Ah…”, Connie replied awkwardly, wincing as the Aquamarine rolled around in the Lapis’s hold - nearly striking the Lapis’s gemstone in her abdomen, “Thank you. You both fought really well…”.

“Thank you, Connie.”, the Lapis smiled back brightly, before turning and making her leave, the raving Aquamarine still in tow, “Have a nice rest of your cycle!”.

“Thanks, you too…”, Connie replied, still somewhat at a loss.

“Yeesh, who knew Aquamarine was such a sore loser?”, Dot commented at the other gem’s vulgar display, “I won’t be cheering for her anymore…”.

“Alright everyone, let’s get going.”, Pearl spoke up, getting everyone back on track.

* * *

Just as Pearl had claimed, Yellow Diamond did not look terribly happy with her. That being said, Blue and White Diamond both appeared excited to see her, with the latter even clasping her hands together in what appeared to be anticipation.

“Well well, if it isn’t the gem - er organic of the deci-cycle!”, White Diamond corrected her mistake quickly, “You’ve already caused quite a stir amongst the Courts, and you’re not even a member yet!”.

“My apologies for the chaos, Your Radiance.”, Connie bowed in a Diamond salute.

“Oh pish posh, think nothing of it~!”, White Diamond laughed, “It was a compliment if anything. The Lustrous Pearl has certainly trained you well.”.

“Thank you, your Radiance. She was a wonderful student.”, Pearl replied, bowing as well.

“Well that is relieving to hear.”, Yellow Diamond replied tensely, “After the… lengths that you went to to prove that you were deserving of such a position and your subsequent victories, we have decided that you have the capacity to handle such a role and all that it entails.”.

“Thank you, your Radiances.”, Connie bowed once more.

“However.”, Blue Diamond spoke up, “Just because you have the capacity to hold the position, does not mean that you have the cycle-to-cycle practical knowledge necessary to fill the role as of yet. As such, Chrysoberyl herself will be responsible for your training. As the first High Guard to the Pink Court, she will instill in you all relevant and necessary studies and skills, to prepare you for the role that Pink Steven wishes for you to take. Until she deems you prepared for the role of High Guard, she will be serving as acting High Guard in your stead.”.

“Thank you.”, Connie bowed yet again, before turning to Chrysoberyl, “I look forward to learning under you, teacher.”.

“It will be an honor to train the next High Guard to the Pink Court”, Chrysoberyl bowed.

“Now that the first members of the Pink Court have been finalized, how shall we announce the return of the Pink Court, Steven?”, White Diamond asked.

“Well, given that there was a lot of mourning and loss when Pink Diamond faked her shattering,” Steven began, recalling Chrysoberyl’s experience, “I think that since this is all about the Pink Court coming back, we should have a party!”

At that, Yellow looked to Blue for her reaction to the suggestion.

“I think that’s a wonderful idea!” Blue spoke up, “It will be just like the balls that were thrown before all of this happened! And it will give us all an opportunity to spend more time together.”

“Hmmm.” Yellow Diamond pondered, “Yes, I do believe that Blue is right. It will be appropriately nostalgic. What do you think White?”

“I think that the ball is perfect. However, now that Pink Steven has been restored to the Diamond Authority, we must recognize that this marks the start of a new Era.”.

“Right, Pearl was talking about that a bit when Connie was fighting the Gauntlet…”, Steven trailed off.

As the other Diamonds and gems agreed, Connie could barely hold back her excitement.

She finally made it. She was going to be Steven’s High Guard!

Chapter Text

“So, you mean to tell me that humans serve what are functionally small Courts, called ‘employers’ in exchange for items of universally accepted value - and not out of a sense of duty to their superior?”, Chrysoberyl clarified with Amethyst 3ZC.

“Yes, so if my parents are going to approve of my promotion, then I will also need to receive money - or the items of value - as well.”, Connie pinched her brows together.

A lot had happened over the last two weeks, and even though Connie knew that she had it rough, she couldn’t even imagine how Amethyst was doing. Sure, her parents were interested and somewhat concerned in what happened for Connie to have a two-day jaunt off on a gem mission, but they seemed mildly excited and relieved when she came back saying that Steven was okay, and that she had a new role with the gems. It wasn’t until she realized just how much time that the role of High Guard would actually take from her that it dawned on her that she was effectively making this into her career. And yes, she wanted this - after all she wouldn’t have fought so hard for it if that weren’t the case - but it truly dawned on her as Amethyst and Pearl brought up potential salary figures to Chrysoberyl exactly what she was getting into. Of course, that wasn’t even touching on what Amethyst and the former Crystal gems were busy with over the past week. First off, the rest of the whole Diamond Authority came back to Earth to heal all of the corrupted gems, and Garnet and Pearl had to basically fill each gem in on what happened over the last 5,000-ought years. Chrysoberyl and White Sapphire found a giant pink ship that was just straight up abandoned in the middle of the desert with a bunch of garbage, and Amethyst was tasked with being the official ambassador between all of humanity and the Pink Court!

At first, a pessimistic and cynical part of Connie thought that the two gems would have been laughed out of whatever conference room they tried to get into. After all, two odd looking people claiming to be aliens on a diplomatic mission wasn’t a scenario that a government leader would be likely to take seriously. However, Pearl and Amethyst had apparently displayed some form of gem technology, and they ended up getting a meeting set up with the UN, where they displayed the technology as a solution for climate change. In exchange for this planet-saving technology, they were able to negotiate a deal between the Pink Court and the Australian government wherein a significantly large portion of land along the border of Southern Australia, Queensland, and New South Wales would be given to the gems to be used for the new capitol of the Pink Court. All in all, Connie had to figure that the Australian Prime Minister got a pretty good deal out of the whole thing. Not only was their country hit pretty hard by the changing climate, and would be able to make the most out of the gem technology, but they were also bound to get added tourism from curious humans wanting to check out the new civilization. With the prospect of human tourists came the inevitable conversation of gem currency - namely the lack thereof.

“Well, Pearls are a pretty widely accepted item of value for gems…”, Chrysoberyl mused, “What do you think the exchange rate woul-“.

No!”, Connie cut Chrysoberyl off, “Pearls are their own being, we are not selling them, that would be slavery!”.

“But you also said that the possession of this ‘currency’ is also an indicator of status, right? The more a human has, the higher in status they are? It is the same way for the Pearls of Homeworld.”, Chrysoberyl reasoned.

“Well yes, but currency doesn’t have feelings.”, Connie retorted.

“We’ll need a way of making money, at least a little for Connie’s wages”, Pearl replied.

Before anyone else could get another word in, Dot burst through the door.

“Connie!”, Dot exclaimed, rushing up to her with a large case, “I have something for you!”.

“What is it?’, Connie asked, eyeing the case.

“Well, you know how organic beings can’t interact with warp pads, use the communications screens, door gates, terminals, and like, most of all gem technology?”, Dot continued.

“Yeah?”, Connie replied.

“Wait, you can’t use gem tech?”, Chrysoberyl interjected.

“Oh, that’s right…”, Pearl sighed, “We had a lot of difficulty with the most basic things back when Steven was little and couldn’t use his gem.”.

“Well, hang on both of you!”, Dot regained control of the conversation, “I was thinking of what we could do for you since you’re gonna be a high Court member. I mean, it’s not like we can get you a Pearl to just follow you around all the time. But then I remembered that the Era Two Agates had like, the same exact problem! They had gems, but they couldn’t interact with even the most basic of gem tech!”.

“Wait, you’re gonna use the Turquoise supplemental gems?”, Chrysoberyl asked.

“Yes!”, Dot exclaimed, opening the case to reveal a shining Turquoise cabochon.

“But Connie’s a human, wouldn’t that have to interact with a gem’s light manifestation in order to work?”, Pearl asked.

“A sound hypothesis, but this system actually interfaces directly with the carbon atoms in a gem’s stone.”, Dot replied, “I’m no human Kindergartener, so I don’t know the minutiae of a human’s makeup, but based on the reports from the old Era One organic preserve, we know that humans are carbon-based in some form. I mean, it’s worth a shot! If it worked for them, it might just work for her!”.

“Well, it’s ultimately Connie’s decision”, Pearl relented, turning to Connie, “What do you think?”.

“I mean, it lets me use gem technology, so that’s good - I don’t know why I would be opposed to it. I just carry it around with me?”, she asked, turning to Dot.

“No, it attaches to your physical manifestation directly, just like a regular gem.”, Dot replied, fiddling with the device, “This is one of the most versatile and robust models I ever had to design back in Era Two. Specifically, it is programmed to facilitate and act as an intermediary for all technology use between its user and any tools, ships, terminals, or other devices used in one’s cycle-to-cycle experience. In addition to that, it also functions as a standard nascent gem, in that once attached to its user, it can facilitate the storage of items and weaponry, display standard communications screens, project images, facilitate note-taking, and provide all other basic gem functions. All in all, it is essentially a comprehensive gem supplement, designed to be used for gems who were formed with only very little Diamond essence, whose gemstones were only outputting enough energy to necessitate the projection of the manifestations and little else.”.

“Gosh, Era Two sounds like it was rough...”, Connie replied, before noticing Dot, Pearl, and Chrysoberyl’s awkward expressions, “...What?”.

“Connie, we’re in Era Two right now.”, Chrysoberyl coughed awkwardly, “Dealing with the resource crisis is going to be one of our Steven’s greatest challenges, and his most immediate goal for bringing stability and hope to the Four Courts. We have a great deal of talented Peridots and other gems on our side though, so we’re going to come up with something... but yeah, you’re right about it being rough.”.

“Ah...”, Connie blushed, slightly embarrassed, before changing the topic and looking back to Dot, “So you said that this thing goes on me?”.

“Yep!”, Dot replied excitedly, “It will be set right above your eyes.”.

Great, no way I’m hiding that from anyone...”, Connie thought to herself.

Shoving down her nerves, she turned to dot with a large smile, “Sure Dot, let’s go for it!”, she replied, an upbeat tone coloring her words.

“Awesome! It’s all calibrated and ready to go, so I can just apply it when you’re ready.”, Dot replied, activating her limb enhancers, making her grow to the size of an Era One Peridot.

“You sure about this, Connie?”, Pearl asked confirming that her mentee did in fact want to go through with this.

“Yes.”, Connie replied, a determined fire in her eyes.

“Alright then.”, Dot replied, lightly brushing Connie’s hair from her face and resting the gem onto her forehead, her taller form now able to reach Connie’s head.

A few screens appeared on Dot’s limb enhancers, before the Turquoise supplemental gems began to light up, its own screen projecting information that Dot read over.

“Is... Is that it?”, Connie chuckled slightly, just feeling the cool stone resting on her forehead.

“Nope, I’m just aligning it at the moment.”, Dot replied, a focused expression filling her face, “I’ll let you know when the syncing process begins.”.

A few more moments of Dot fiddling with her screens later, she turned back to Connie with an odd look in her eyes.

“These readings are very, ah... atypical for an organic human. My sensors are detecting particles of a foreign substance that has bound itself to your manifestation, immediately behind your vision spheres, and your limbs. Readings indicate dual frequencies in the range of 700 THz and 450 THz.”, Dot spoke up eventually, “I have to ask, at any point since your formation have you ever been exposed to raw, unrefined Diamond essence? Like, has any absorbed into your skin or been ingested by your body?”.

“What? I don’t think so...”, Connie replied, confused.

“Vision spheres? You mean her eyes?”, Pearl clarified.

“Wait, didn’t Steven say that he was able to heal your eyes with his healing spit?”, Amethyst piped up.

“Oh right.”, Connie replied as she remembered the time she drank after Steven, “I did drink after Steven, and some of his healing spit was on the straw, and I was healed by him after the Gauntlet Trials as well.”.

“Yep, that would do it.”, Dot chuckled, before adjusting some values on her screen.

“Is that going to be a problem with this Turquoise gem?”, Connie asked.

“Not at all!”, Dot fully laughed this time, “It just makes my job easier!”.

“Okay.”, Connie replied, watching as Dot nodded to herself and dismissed the screens from her limb enhancers.

“We’re ready to sync the Turquoise supplemental gem. Are you ready, Connie?”, Dot asked.

“You bet.”, Connie smiled excitedly.

Nodding her head, Dot pressed a few more buttons on the Turquoise’s screen - or maybe she should call it her screen? Regardless, the screen disappeared and the gem itself began to glow in response. Connie shuddered as what felt like an electric current emanated from the gem and ran through her body, filling her with a weird, static-like feeling. However, just as she felt like she was getting used to the odd sensation, the electric feeling stopped.

“It’s synced!”, Dot replied excitedly, before deactivating her limb enhancers.

“Wait, so it’s a part of me now?”, Connie asked, poking the Turquoise stone, before recoiling at her own touch.

“Wh-WHAT?!”, Connie’s voice shot up, “I- I felt that!? I can feel through the gem!?”

“Yep!”, Dot replied excitedly, “Let’s run a few tests to get you acclimated to the device first though.”.

Suddenly, Connie had the strangest feeling that someone was trying to get her attention, before a screen projected from the - from her gem. Connie blinked, reading through the bits and pieces of gem glyph that she knew.

“I don’t know gem glyph that well, but ‘accept communications’?”, Connie spoke, more to herself than anyone else.

As soon as she uttered those words, the screen changed, revealing an image of Dot from the other side of the room.

“Yes, it worked!”, Dot cheered, the sound of her voice coming though her new gem half a second later.

“You’ll need to learn gem glyph in greater detail in order to properly use your gem.”, Pearl spoke up, “Luckily, I can teach you!”.

“I’m looking forward to it.”, Connie beamed, excited to learn a new language, “I’m guessing that since I can literally feel through it, I can’t exactly take the gem off can I?”.

“No, it’s definitely on there permanently.”, Dot replied, before scrunching her face up in thought, “I mean theoretically, if you somehow gained a light manifestation of your form, and then coalesced into a single point of light you might be able to get the turquoise gem to fall off…”.

“So basically, it’s on there forever.”, Connie laughed, before pulling out a pocket mirror, admiring the blue stone.

“Pretty much.”, Dot replied, “Is that okay?”.

“I mean, it’s not too different from a tattoo or a piercing aesthetically, but this has a lot more functionality, so it makes sense. Honestly, I like the way it looks too. Besides, I can always brush my hair over it if I get self-conscious about it, so it isn’t that big of a deal.”, Connie mused, “It kinda makes me look like you, Pearl!”.

“It does.”, Pearl smiled brightly, grateful that Connie was taking the change in stride.

“Heeeeey! Speaking of technology, Pearl you have more of those duplicator thingies, right?”, Amethyst asked.

“The replicator wands? I should have one more, why?”, Pearl asked.

“What if we took a dollar, and then copied it?”, Amethyst asked excitedly, “Then we could pay whoever we needed!”.

“That’s counterfeiting! And it’s a crime!”, Connie screeched, exasperated.

“Stupid human regulations…”, Amethyst grumbled.

“Aren’t you the Diamond Authority’s ambassador to humanity?”, Chrysoberyl questioned.

“I don’t know all the rules, okay?”, she sighed, “There’s a lot of em! And they’re all over the place.”.

“We could sell some of our gem technology for money.”, Pearl mused.

“Or you could charge for services!”, Connie added, “You could set up a super fast train like the light shuttles on Homeworld, and then charge a fee for humans to use them!”.

“A light shuttle would take a lot of resources, but it may be a good idea later on.”, Chrysoberyl replied, “Until then, selling small tools and devices should be sufficient for income. No offense to your kind Connie, but your species’ technology isn’t that advanced. So our trinkets should end up selling for quite a bit of your currency.”.

“Yeah, that’s fair.”, Connie replied, both with regards to the plan to earn money and the assessment of Earth technology.

“So, we’re done with sorting out Connie’s pay?”, Amethyst asked.

“I’ll have to sort through the paperwork to register the Pink Court as a legal employer with a payroll, but pretty much.”, Pearl replied.

“Ohhhhhh no.”, Connie gasped.

“What’s wrong?”, Chrysoberyl turned to Connie, a concerned look on her face.

“What are we gonna tell my parents?”, Connie bemoaned.

“Shoot.”, Amethyst grumbled, “You didn’t tell them?”.

“No… they just thought I was going on gem missions, not starting a career!”, Connie collapsed into her chair.

“We’re gonna need a Zircon…”, Pearl trailed off.

“One thing’s for sure, we’re gonna need to have a big talk with my parents.”, Connie sighed.

Chapter Text

Steven glanced nervously between Connie, Priyanka, and Doug. Despite the tense atmosphere, he could tell that her parents were genuinely trying to be accepting of all of these changes. While he was not the most common sight in the Maheswaran household, he had been with Connie’s parents plenty of times before, and was a regular dinner guest - so logically, there was no reason to be nervous about all of this. After all, Steven wasn’t exactly shy when it came to sharing stories about the gems or gem missions, so they had to know, but now this was their daughter getting deeply involved as well. And well, there was a lot that they didn’t know. The Turquoise supplemental gem was definitely one of the bigger points of interest, but Connie managed to put them at ease by comparing it to a tattoo or a piercing, before showing off all of its functional capabilities. Much to Steven’s relief, Doug and Priyanka seemed to be accepting of this new adornment as Priyanka so termed it, after Connie talked about its usefulness. Of course, that lead into the discussion of why she would need such a device to begin with. Steven was just glad that he had Pearl, Chrysoberyl, and Garnet to back him up.

“Well, you see…”, Connie began.

“I offered her a job.”, Steven supplied quickly.

“And this job has to do with your recently realized position as some kind of leader?”, Priyanka asked, turning to Steven.

“Basically, yes.”, Steven admitted.

“And what does this job entail?”, Priyanka asked.

“Her role is that of High Guard.”, Chrysoberyl supplied, “It involves ensuring the security and safety of his Radiance Pink Steven, and providing council and leadership according to the interests of the Pink Court.”.

“So, a security guard?”, Doug spoke up.

“Basically?”, Steven replied, not fully understanding the position either.

“Mom, I know you can’t understand it all right now, but I worked really hard for this! I get to help so many gems with this job, and I get to do so much good for others…”, Connie trailed off.

Priyanka sighed deeply at Connie’s words, “It’s not like I don’t know where you’re coming from…”, she muttered, more to herself than anyone else.

“This job…”, Doug spoke up, “It’s a paid position, right?”.

“Yes ma’am.”, Chrysoberyl replied at that, “Through a trade deal set up by the Lustrous Pearl and Amethyst 8XM, the Pink Court is receiving human currency local to the governing body of this facet, and I can assure you that these ‘Youésse Doll-ares’ are accepted at all places of trade or enterprise in not only this facet, but most surrounding facets as well! There are quite a few such places though, so it will be difficult to determine exactly how many accept this form of currency…”, she admitted bashfully.

“That- that’s fine, you don’t have to keep checking everywhere. That currency is good.”, Doug replied hurriedly, ignoring the fact that he was called ma’am by the tall, unfamiliar gem.

“Oh good, the Rubies will be so glad to hear that news.”, Chrysoberyl sighed in relief.

“Right…”, Pearl interjected, “Well, I knew that humans calculate wages according to how much they earn in a given year. So with the help of some others, we were able to cross-reference similar human careers and their salaries to determine what Connie should be earning according to your society’s current standards. We have determined that Connie should be making around 164 thousand dollars annually.”.

Doug and Priyanka both choked at the figure, with Connie following suit, as she had not heard the final decided upon salary until this point. However, Chrysoberyl took that as a bad sign.

“This figure can be changed obviously, if you deem it too low!”, Chrysoberyl interjected hurriedly, “Gem-kind has no need for currency, so we were only setting up a means of earning it to provide to her. We will be more than happy to provide her with a greater salary if you wish.”.

“No, no it’s… it’s just a lot of money…”, Priyanka breathed.

“Well, she’s important to us, and we want her to feel appreciated.”, Garnet spoke up.

“I already feel appreciated you guys.”, Connie replied, blinking back tears, “You don’t have to do this all for me.”.

“Nonsense.”, Pearl replied, “In human culture, one’s skill and merit are rewarded by their employer with larger sums of money. Since you’ll be joining the Pink Court, you will be employed by us in the eyes of human society. I meant what I said back in the arena when I was proud of you. You’ve come so far and accomplished so much. While you are getting the recognition that you deserve from gem-kind, it is only right for you to be receiving the same recognitions when it comes to human standards.”.

“Thank you Pearl.”, Connie couldn’t help but cry in earnest now, overwhelmed with the praise that she was receiving from her mentor, she ran up to Pearl, giving her a big hug.

Surprised at Pearl’s words, and Connie’s subsequent tears, Priyanka glanced at Doug, a silent conversation occurring between the two.

“I have been saying that she should get some kind of job…”, Doug leaned in to whisper to Priyanka, “If this teaches her responsibility and work ethic, then I’m fine with it.”.

“Okay… Alright.”, Priyanka sighed, “Just, before we go and talk about all of this, is there anything else that you’re keeping from us? Anything else that you would like to tell us?”.

Steven glanced between Connie and Garnet at those words, knowing that there was one more thing that did need to be discussed. Garnet caught Steven’s gaze and nodded in response.

“There was one more thing, Ms. and Mr. Maheswaran.”, Garnet spoke up, “Do you remember the dinner when we first met?”.

“You mean when Alexandrite and us first met?”, Priyanka chuckled slightly.

“Yeah, Connie was able to tell us a little more about your fusion with Pearl and Amethyst.”, Doug laughed, remembering the very awkward dinner.

“And was she able to tell you what exactly fusion was?”, Garnet asked.

“Not really.”, Priyanka replied, “Only that it was two gems growing closer, and becoming one.”.

“Well, that’s close.”, Garnet replied, “Fusion is a very emotional activity. It is becoming closer to another in the deepest sense, and creating something entirely new.”.

“So, it’s more than just getting bigger and intimidating?”, Doug asked.

“Oh, that’s right…. they haven’t met.”, Steven spoke up.

“Haven’t met who?”, Priyanka asked, as Garnet began to glow, revealing Ruby and Sapphire.

“Garnet is a fusion??”, Doug blinked in surprise.

“Hello Mr. and Ms. Maheswaran, I am Sapphire.”, Sapphire 1F1L cut 9DE bowed.

“And I’m Ruby 6F2L, cut 4BN! It’s nice to meet you!”, she greeted.

“It’s nice to meet you too.”, Priyanka replied, feeling slightly overwhelmed.

“As Garnet was saying, a fusion is far more than the sum of one’s parts.”, Sapphire spoke up.

“Yeah! When I spend time with Sapphy as Garnet, it’s like the whole galaxy is different. We get to see things differently. With her at my side, it feels like we can do anything!”, Ruby ranted excitedly.

“Fusion helped me learn more about myself. Before Ruby, everything about my future seemed predictable and rote - but after we fused, after I met her, I saw that the future was nowhere even close to the single track that I had seen before. The possible timelines and realities are far more vast, far more numerous than I could even begin to describe - and fusion with Ruby helped me see that.”, Sapphire explained.

“Basically, fusion not only helps the participants grow closer to one another, but it also helps the participants learn more about themselves too.”, Pearl explained.

“Okay, that is certainly interesting…”, Priyanka replied, taking all of that information in, “But why do you have to tell any of us this?”.

“Do you want to just show them?”, Connie asked, turning to Steven.

“Sure…”, Steven replied, unsure of how to begin.

Connie only smiled, before beginning to sing a familiar tune.

The sun is bright, our shirts are clean, we’re sitting up above the sea, come on and share this jam with me!”.

Laughing, Steven joined in, singing the other part while beginning to dance.

Peach or plum or strawberry, any kind is fine with me, come on and share this jam with me! I’ll do my best, to give this jam the sweetness it deserves~!”.

“And I’ll keep it fresh, I’m jamming on these tasty preserves~!”, Connie sang, dancing along.

Then the two began to waltz together, Connie taking ahold of Steven’s hand and side as they both sang in unison.

Ingredients in harmony, we mix together perfectly, come on and share this jam with me~!”.

Priyanka and Doug both took a step back in surprise as the two began to glow.

“Hello! It’s nice to finally meet you. My name is Stevonnie!”.

Chapter Text

“S-Stevonnie?”, Priyanka stuttered in surprise.

“Yeah!”, Ruby interjected, “Like, cause they’re a fusion of Steven and Connie! So Stev-onnie!”.

“I’m sorry for hiding this from you.”, Stevonnie spoke up, gaining the room’s attention once more, “Connie was worried that you would be confused by me, and would mistake fusion as a gem-equivalent for, ah something else…”, Stevonnie replied, blushing, “Which it totally isn’t by the way!”, they added hastily.

“Ah, I can see where she would be coming from with that.”, Doug chuckled, blushing, “But, seeing them fuse by dancing like that kinda put those concerns to rest.”.

“Connie was worried, is worried about a lot of things.”, Stevonnie admitted, looking away from Priyanka and Doug now, “She thinks the world of you both, but she was so concerned that you’d keep her from being with the gems and Steven if you found out everything.”.

Priyanka sighed, closing her eyes as she pinched her brows together. It was so much, almost too much, but her daughter was trying to be open with her about something that was important to her. This was all because she wanted to help others, and Steven wanted her help so much that he had given her a job, and at some point she grew close enough to Steven for them to even be able to fuse. Whatever fusion exactly means in terms of a relationship, she didn’t know. Was Connie dating Steven now?

Priyanka pushed those thoughts away to focus on the immediate problem, specifically how should she best respond to Connie being upfront and honest with Doug and herself. She guessed that the first and easiest step would be to see if Connie could actually hear her.

“Stevonnie, I know that that Connie and Steven being fused is important, and that it signifies a good relationship between the two of them, but when you’re - well, YOU, is it possible for Connie to hear me still?”, Priyanka asked, clumsily.

“Yes, she can hear everything I can, Steven too.”, Stevonnie responded.

“Alright then.”, Priyanka began, taking a deep breath, “Connie, I know how hard it must have been to share this with us, and we appreciate your honesty. To tell you the truth, you’re being far more open with us than I was with my parents at your age, and I didn’t have to deal with any inter-galactic gem drama that you’re going through. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that I’m not scared. You’re still just a kid, Connie. But you’re also getting all of this recognition from your teacher Pearl, and she thinks that you’re not only capable of handling yourself, but also deserving of an award.”, Priyanka paused, taking another breath, “I haven’t seen you with a sword, other than that one time at the hospital, so I’m just going to have to trust her. And Connie I know, trust me I know what it’s like to desire to help others. I get up at odd hours and am on-call all through the day just so I can help people. Doug and I could never be upset at you for being selfless, Connie. But I also know how consuming a helping-position can be. I know that so many wonderful and outlandish things are happening right now, and that things like schoolwork, and family responsibilities seem dull in comparison, but can you or Stevonnie look me in the eyes and tell me that you will be careful? That no matter how involved you become with the gems, you will also have time for your studies, your coursework, and for US, your family?”, Priyanka questioned.

At that, Stevonnie embraced Priyanka in a hug. “I will ALWAYS have enough time for you, mom.”, they said, burying their face into her shoulder, before backing away, “I’m sorry, is, that alright that I call you Mom?”.

Priyanka’s eyes began to water at Stevonnie’s question.

“Yes.”, she replied tearily, “You, and Steven both are ALWAYS able to call me ‘mom’.”, she said, before hugging the fusion back.

“The same goes for me too.”, Doug added, joining the hug, “You can always call me Dad.”.

Once the three of them separated, Chrysoberyl spoke up, “If it is academic studies that she needs help completing, her position would allow her access to gem science, research, and free access to everything in the Pink Court’s developmental branches. If there’s any form of information that she needs, we would be happy to provide it.”.

“Also, there is plenty of downtime in her position for her to work on her studies.”, Pearl added.

“Mom, you’re right that Connie’s not just doing this because Steven and Connie are close friends.”, Stevonnie replied reassuringly, pulling back and looking Priyanka in her eyes, “She’s doing this because she cares about the gems too. There’s so many people here that I have the opportunity to help, to protect, and to lead. This isn’t something that I can turn by back on, and I don’t think that this is something that YOU would want her to turn away from either.”.

Priyanka smiled back, drying her tears as she looked at the fusion before her, “I know, which is why I’ll allow it, on one condition.”, she replied, her tone growing stern, “Connie needs to keep her grades up, AND make time for her family. Your father has a job as well, but he sets aside time for family as well. If you don’t, I’m pulling her, and you out of this position. Understand?”.

“Yes Mom, I promise.”, Stevonnie sighed, grateful of their parents accepting Connie and them.

“So, fusion…”, Doug began, “When did that happen, or how did it start?’.

“It was about a month after you both met Greg and Alexandrite for dinner that first time? Gosh, about a year ago now?”, Stevonnie replied, “Steven had just finished a lesson where he tried and failed to fuse with Garnet, Pearl, and Amethyst.”.

“He tried to fuse with all of them?”, Priyanka asked, before turning to Garnet, “But you said that fusion was a very emotional process?”.

“Well, I mean yeah.”, Stevonnie interjected, “They’re all basically his moms. That’s why he wanted all of them to be represented when they first met you both.”, they replied confused.

“So, these emotions can be platonic, or familial - not just romantic?”, Doug followed up.

“Yeah, it varies.”, Stevonnie replied.

“Anyway, we interrupted, you were saying?”, Priyanka got them all back on track.

“Right!”, Stevonnie replied, taking a breath, “So after failing to fuse, Steven and Connie met on the beach, and he was pretty disappointed that he couldn’t accomplish what Garnet, Pearl, and Amethyst wanted? It was all kind of a blur. Someone suggested dancing, and Connie was pretty embarrassed at first, but they were both having a great time together. Steven ended up tripping on some sand, and Connie caught him, and the next thing anyone knew, I was, well me!”, they finished with a small laugh.

“That must have been really confusing at first.”, Priyanka replied, laughing along.

“It was, but it was so exciting too! Like, I was me! And everything was just so new and different! Every second is a new experience, and every moment there’s just so much life that can be explored!”.

“I’m guessing that you’re telling us this because Connie and Steven would like to spend more time as you?”, Doug asked.

“I mean yes, they do like being me a lot.”, Stevonnie replied, “But I don’t think that any of us are ready to be me long-term like Garnet.”.

“That makes sense.”, Priyanka replied, “So does Greg know about you yet?”.

“He does…”, Stevonnie replied bashfully, “They accidentally fused when Greg was playing music.”.

“I take it he took it well?”, Doug asked.

“Yeah, he already knew a bit about fusion already, and he had tried to fuse with Steven’s mom Rose Quartz once too.”, Stevonnie laughed at Connie and Steven’s memory of Greg recounting the story.

“Oh, was he successful?”, Priyanka asked, surprised.

“No.”, Pearl replied.

“Sort of.”, Garnet smiled, “Not physically, but emotionally, yes.”

“Garnet, you are only going to confuse them. They just learned about fusion, so they are going to take whatever you say seriously.”, Pearl laughed.

“Alright.”, Garnet relented, turning back to the Maheswaran parents, “No, they did not fuse.”.

“Were they just not able?”, Priyanka asked further, “I mean, based on what Connie told me, Steven is the same gem as his mother, so why would Rose and Greg be unable to fuse, but Connie and Steven are able to make her?”, Priyanka paused a beat before turning to Stevonnie, “Sorry, or is it him? Them??”.

“Them.”, Stevonnie confirmed, smiling.

“Right, so why would Rose and Greg be unable to fuse, but Connie and Steven are able to make them?”, Priyanka corrected herself.

“Steven is different.”, Pearl replied, “There’s never been anything like him before. We think that because he’s half human he can fuse with humans too, just as Rose could fuse with gems. Rose was just a gem, so she was unable to fuse with an organism so completely different from her.”.

“That makes sense.”, Priyanka replied.

“But mom-heswaran? Err, mom?”, Stevonnie corrected themselves.

“I actually like mom-heswaran.”, Priyanka laughed amusedly, turning back to Stevonnie.

“Okay mom-heswaran, dad-heswaran?”, Stevonnie laughed, “Thank you for being so understanding with everything. I know we dumped a lot onto you both, but it means a lot to Steven, Connie, and I.”.

“Stevonnie.”, Priyanka smiled, her eyes watering again, “Doug and I will always be willing to put effort into understanding the things that you want to share with us, and the things that are important to you, Connie, and Steven as well.”.

“Thank you.”, Stevonnie cried, hugging Priyanka, joined by Doug in the group hug a second afterwards.

“Anytime kiddo.”, Doug smiled.

As the three embraced for the second time that night, filled with the joy and relief emanating from each of their halves, Stevonnie couldn’t remember a time that they had ever felt happier.

Chapter Text

Maintenance of the regenerative-cut kindergarten was pretty dull, in Peridot 5XG’s opinion. She had to admit, the system itself was ingenious and incredibly efficient. That was a given, considering its inventor. However, all of the skill and effort that a kindergartner would have to put into fostering gem production was now obsolete.

Stars, a Pearl with a screen could suffice as an adept Kindergartener with this machine. However, it did allow for ample time to engage in other studies and branches of research. Today she was busying herself with analyzing geological data relating to gem formation over the last century. It should have been easy, but the scanners in the moon’s Diamond Observatory were spotty at best, forcing the gem to make some assumptions with regards to tectonic composition.

“UGH, these sorts of things can never be easy!” Peridot 5XG moaned, exasperated.

“What’s wrong?” Dot asked, looking up from her terminal.

“This data is woefully inadequate for us to harvest cuts for the new Kindergarten model.” Peridot griped.

“Well, if our data is insufficient, perhaps the humans’ information could help us fill in the gaps in our scans.” Dot supplied.

“You really think that the organics are going to have information on the level of what we need?”

“Pink Steven said that the humans did research on geology, it’s worth a shot.”

Sighing, 5XG pulled up another screen, accessing the communications information on the head of human-gem relations. Within moments, Amethyst 8XM appeared on screen.

“Sup Peri!”, the former Crystal gem member greeted, her loud voice crackling through the speakers, “Long time no see!”.

“Hi Amethyst.”, Peridot greeted tiredly, “You wouldn’t happen to know if any human institutions that study geology, would you?”

“Oh gosh, hmm.” Amethyst muttered, paging through multiple screens on her terminal, “Looks like the best human school for geology is a place called Harvard, I’m sending you their coordinates now.”.

“Thank you Amethyst, unfortunately our scanners were rendered inoperable from time and disuse, so any information that the humans will have will be very helpful.”

“No problem! Ya gotta stop by sometime soon though, okay?”, Amethyst replied.

“I will.”, Peridot smiled, ending the call.

* * *

Even though the facility looked primitive when she first arrived, Peridot had to admit that in functionality, it was very similar to the halls of education and instruction back on Homeworld, where she received her Kindergarten certification. Peridot glanced around as she made her way though the halls, gradually becoming more and more lost.

“Um, sorry if this is rude…”, a passerby spoke up, getting Peridot’s attention, “But you’re a gem right? Like those beings that presented at the UN a couple months ago?”.

“Yes, I am Peridot Facet-2F5L Cut-5XG.”, she smiled politely.

“I’m Clara, Clara Apple. It’s nice to meet you!”, she smiled reaching her hand out to shake the gem’s hand.

“It is nice to meet you as well, human Clara.”, Peridot replied, shaking her hand.

“Whoa, are you made of metal!?”, Clara exclaimed in shock, startled by the the cold surface of Peridot’s limb enhancers as she shook Peridot’s hand, “Wait, that’s probably rude, sorry. So what brings you to Harvard University?”.

“Well, I’m looking for where the archives of geological information are?”, Peridot asked, grateful that she might actually find out where she needs to go.

“Oh you’re in luck! I teach geochemistry, specifically Solid Earth Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry! But if I can’t help you, I can point you to the the person who can get you whatever information you need!”, Clara replied excitedly, “Is it alright if I ask you what kind of information that you need specifically? I might have better luck getting you in touch with the right faculty member that way.”.

“Oh wonderful!”, Peridot replied, smiling genuinely now, “I’m looking for lithostratigraphic records of all major tectonic plates on this planet. Really, all I need is the comparative geological and petrological information though, the geochronological data is irrelevant to the Pink Court’s needs.”.

“Lithostratigraphic records for each plate, huh…”, Clara muttered to herself, before replying, “That’s a lot of information, so you’ll definitely find that in the library. It probably won’t all be in one place though. Our Petrology professor should be able to help you out though. I’ll introduce you to them!”.

“Thank you!”, Peridot smiled, following Clara around the halls.

“EPS 245 just let out, so I should be able to introduce you to her.”, Clara paused right outside a room, waiting as a large number of students trailed out of the classroom.

“Ms. Jackson?”, Clara walked into the classroom, knocking on the open door.

“Hello Clara! How are you doing today?”, Ms. Jackson replied, pausing her process of gathering her files into a large tote.

“I’m doing well!”, Clara smiled back, “I know that you’re probably busy, but if you can make an exception, I actually have a very important friend here who needs your help.”.

“Greetings.”, Peridot entered the classroom, and stood next to Clara.

“Oh my heavens! A gem!?”, Ms. Jackson exclaimed staggering back, “I was just speaking with some of the other faculty members earlier today about your kind!”.

“Ms. Jackson, this is Peridot Facet-2F5…. Um.”, Clara paused, forgetting the string of numbers and letters that made up her name, before turning back to the gem, “I’m so sorry, I actually forgot the rest of your name?”.

“It is alright.”, Peridot replied, before holding out her hand to Ms. Jackson, “Greetings, I am Peridot Facet-2F5L Cut-5XG.”.

“Jackson, Linda Myers Jackson…”, she breathed in awe, “Please forgive me if this is a rude question, but in the UN meeting, your society’s ambassador introduced herself as an Amethyst, and you are a Peridot. Are those just names that you have taken, or are you actually made of the silicate mineral?”.

“No offense taken.”, Peridot replied, “My body itself is actually a tangible projection of light, save for my limb enhancers.”, she paused, removing one of the arms of her limb enhancers, showing the two her actual hand, “The name Peridot refers to my gem, which does consist of magnesium iron silicate.”, she finished, gesturing to the gemstone that rested in her forehead.

“Wow, that’s incredible…”, Linda breathed in awe, “S-so how can I help you?”.

“She’s looking for lithostratigraphic records of all major tectonic plates, with a special focus on their comparative geological and petrological information.”, Clara replied.

“For the whole planet?”, Linda replied bewildered, “I mean sure, I’d be happy to help, but that’s a lot of information.”.

“Thank you for your assistance”, Peridot replied.

“Ooh this is so exciting!”, Clara squealed with glee, “Is it alright if I join you?”.

“I don’t see why not.”, Peridot replied, before glancing to the other human in the room, “Unless this information is classified beyond your given clearance level?”.

“Ah, no… it’s not classified or anything.”, Linda replied, somewhat overwhelmed and confused.

* * *

Peridot sighed as she through the texts, the human observations and studies confirmed most of what the scanners indicated, meaning that she was effectively back to square one. Large amounts of Opal and Amethyst across the eastern coast, with Jasper and Quartz strewn about the continent’s center. That being said, the recorded deposits on the north-eastern portion of the continent confused her.

“So, you said your gem is made of magnesium iron silicate, correct?”, Linda asked, as she dropped another stack of academic papers and reports onto her table.

“Yes.”, Peridot replied.

“So, we have those same deposits here on Earth.”, Linda replied, trying to figure out how to word the next part of her question, “How is it that they are not alive like you are?”.

“Well, that gets into the study of Kindergartening, which is a whole field of its own.”, Peridot began, “Effectively, the deposits found across the stratum, are what we call ‘nascent gems’.”.

“Nascent… so each mineral deposit has the potential for life?”, Linda asked.

“Correct, these nascent veins of mineral deposits can lay dormant, or they can be used for a Kindergarten.”, Peridot continued.

“A… Kindergarten?”, Linda asked, confused

“A Kindergarten is a given area wherein the nascent gem deposits are injected and formed into gems such as myself.”, Peridot explained, as she poured over the papers and texts in front of her, “When starting a Kindergarten, the developer or manager looks at the comparative geological and petrological data of the surrounding cuts… I believe that you humans have a different system of measurement though. Well, a ‘cut’ is a constant unit of volume, similar to your Earth concept of liters. I ran the numbers a while back when I learned about your units of measurement, and a cut is roughly equal to 19,683 cubic meters. However, the unit is always made in reference to mineral deposits, we don’t have ‘cuts’ of metals or gasses.”.

“I see… that seems like a very specific number though. Is there a reasoning behind that?”, Linda asked.

“Yes, a cut is a standardized volume of sediment capable of incubating 676 gems.”, Peridot turned towards Linda now, excited that the human shared her interests, “Typically, cuts are perfect cubes, allowing for 26 clean and neat columns of 26 rows each, however sometimes the given resources of a particular kindergarten are less than ideal. But I got off-topic… So the developer looks at the comparative geological and petrological data of the surrounding cuts in a given area, assessing the mineral’s given unit cells to determine whether or not they fall within acceptable parameters of viability.”.

“Viability?”, Linda asked.

“That gets into another branch of study, but basically a manager is looking to see whether or not a particular gemstone would make for a viable gem, prior to injection and formation.”, Peridot continued.

“And, if I’m following your explanation, the injection and formation process is what sets standard mineral deposits apart from living entities such as yourself?”, Linda guessed.

“Yep!”, Peridot replied.

“So what exactly occurs during the process of injection and formation?”, Clara asked excitedly.

“Injection is actually a very quick process, wherein raw Diamond essence is refined by an injector, and shot into a cut of nascent gem deposits. Incubation is a lot slower, and it involves the nascent gem absorbing the essence and developing their hard-light manifestation. After a period of 3-4 cycles, err days.”, Peridot amended for her audience, “The gem is ejected from her host cut, fully formed and leaving an exit hole in her wake.”.

“So you need specialized equipment to turn a mineral into a living being?”, Linda asked.

“Not necessarily.”, Peridot answered, “The equipment just streamlines the process and makes easier and it more efficient. Back in the early days of Era One, the Peridots didn’t have injectors to work with, and had to apply Diamond essence to mineral deposits directly, before burying them back into their original cut. Thank the Stars I wasn’t around for those cycles, I can only imagine the mess we would have been in with the Alpha Kindergarten on Cancri…”, she moaned.

“So, you’ve managed Kindergartens before?”, Clara asked.

“Yep! While Peridots in general make for skilled engineers and inventors, some can apply for the process of Kindergarten certification.”, Peridot replied, turning to face Clara, eager to discuss her certification and accomplishments, “After a little over 1,400 cycles, I graduated from the certification process and was cleared to begin working in Kindergartens! At first I worked under a supervisor, but I eventually was able to manage my Kindergartens myself. To this cycle, I have overseen 50,476 such Kindergartens for the Yellow Court, and I am beginning work on the first Kindergartens of the new Pink Court!”.

“Wait, hold on…”, Linda interrupted, “So, I heard the Amethyst and Pearl mention that they were representing the Pink Court, and you just mentioned that you worked for a Yellow Court. Are these Courts corporations, or some kind of governing body in gem society?”.

“Courts are… I guess comparable to human nations?”, Peridot fumbled with her words, trying to determine the proper analogy, “And each Court is lead by one of the members of the Diamond Authority.”.

“Wait, so you mentioned Diamond essence before as a critical component of gem’s living… does the essence of your very life come from your leaders??”, Clara asked.

“Yep!”, Peridot replied, before turning back to Linda, “So, while I would love to talk about gem Kindergartens and society, I actually have a few questions of my own.”.

“Alright!”, Linda replied, eagerly.

“What exactly is Helenite?”, Peridot asked, “I’m only seeing it in the eastern portion of this land-mass. I mean, I have to figure that the deposit is metamorphic in nature, since it appeared to be named after the nearby volcano Mt. St. Helens, but beyond that there is little information.”.

“Helenite is a gemstone created from the heating of volcanic ash, beyond 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit.”, Linda explained, “Because the ash can be anywhere from 45-75% silica, it is able to be utilized as a gemstone after treatment with enough heat and pressure.”.

“So… you’re basically creating gems from silica-enriched ash?”, Peridot asked.

“Pretty much, though technically the resulting mineral is a glass.”, Linda replied.

“This planet doesn’t have anywhere near the amount of volcanic activity necessary to make Helenite on a large scale though. And the only other source of silica is from minerals.”, Peridot muttered, her hopes dashed.

“Actually, you can get silica out of plants too!”, Clara interjected, “It’s not a lot, but if you have a large enough biomass, you could burn it and create a similar silicate and ash compound.”.

“Plants could be used to make gems?”, Peridot’s eyes lit up at the thought, “What species has the most silica?”.

Clara laughed, “Well, luckily for you, I interned with The Plant Biology Initiative in undergrad! The plant with the highest silica content is the Horsetail plant, or Equisetum arvense L.! It has so much silica, that it can amount to 25% of the dry weight of the whole plant! If the plants were burned, and then refined so that the silica concentration was increased, it might just result in a compound that is similar to the volcanic ash!”.

“You wouldn’t happen to have any samples of this plant by any chance would you?”, Peridot asked, turning to Clara.

“You bet!”, Clara beamed, dragging Peridot away.

* * *

“Welcome to the Arnold Arboretum!”, Clara announced leading Peridot and Linda into the garden, “We have so many different kinds of ferns here, including horsetail!”.

“Wow…”, Peridot breathed in awe, looking around at the clean paths, picturesque trees and flora, and calming lakes, “This place reminds me of the clarity spires back on Homeworld, just with plants instead of fountains…”.

“It sure is beautiful here, but we’re on a mission! Not time to stop and smell the flowers!”, Clara replied eagerly, leading the group to a small field, with various reeds shooting out of the ground.

“Very funny…”, Linda deadpanned, turning to Peridot, “Welp, here’s the horsetail plants, how much would you need to run your tests?”.

“I’m not entirely sure, maybe a kilogram?”, Peridot replied, “Of course, if it’s successful, I’m going to need some seeds as well…”.

“Actually, Horsetail reproduces via spores instead of seeds! But we would be more than happy to give you some spores!”, Clara replied, drawing a pocket knife and harvesting some of the horsetail.

“Thank you, that is very kind of you.”, Peridot replied, watching as Clara gathered a large bundle of the reeds.

“Welp, I’m definitely not a human scale, but this seems to be about a kilo of the stuff!”, Clara smiled, handing the bundle to Peridot, “You let us know how your experiment goes, okay? I can’t wait to see living gems made from plants!”.

“I will!”, Peridot replied excitedly, before waving goodbye to the two humans, excited to get to work.

* * *

“The ash has been refined so that the silica content is now within the range of the volcanic ash.”, Dot reported, looking up from the readouts on her screen.

“Understood.”, 5XG replied, drawing the tray of ash out of the machine and returning it to the furnace, “Now bringing the ash up to temperature, please keep an eye on the readout.”.

“Ash is 100 degrees Celsius and rising.”, Dot called out.

Peridot squinted against the glare and heat that poured out from the furnace. While she was no stranger to intense heat, as a Kindergartener she was far more familiar with the concentrated burn of a welding torch or a soldering iron, rather than the far more all-encompassing burn that radiated off of the heavy-duty forge before her.

“1,000 degrees, get ready…”, Dot called out again.

5XG steeled herself, getting ready to draw out the tray with her heat-resistant limb-enhancers.

“1482!”, Dot called out, “Pull it now!”.

At once, Peridot 5XG pulled the tray from the furnace, revealing a sheet of bright green crystal.

“That looks promising.”, Dot spoke up, looking over the tray’s contents.

“We won’t know anything until we look at it under a scanner though…”, 5XG replied, walking over to a large, cylindrical device, placing the tray underneath a large lens.

Peridot 5XG’s eyes widened as data began to fill a screen on the device.

“Well?”, Dot asked, eager to hear the results.

“The crystal should have an amorphous structure… yet, despite the impurities of the ash, and it not being made of pure silica, the stone is behaving like a type three fused Quartz??”, 5XG replied, confused.

“So they’re viable?”, Dot asked.

“Based on the generally accepted principals that form the parameters of viability… yes.”, 5XG breathed in awe, “I knew it.”.

“Knew what?”, Dot asked.

“I knew that this planet had value!”, her tone filled with indigence, “With these gems, we can end the resource crisis!”

Chapter Text

Steven was worried.

Connie seemed to be troubled by something for the past couple weeks, and he had a sinking suspicion that it had to do with all of the Gem leadership responsibilities that he was taking on, and that he was growing distant from Connie. Oh gosh, he HAD been rather engrossed in all of the gem stuff lately, when was the last time that he was actually with Connie and it wasn’t politics-related?, Steven thought, only half listening to the Peridot in front of him as she discussed the specific production requirements for the new Helenite, and the number of colonies needed to end the resource crisis.

Stars, this is complex.”, Steven thought to himself, hoping that Peridot was getting any of this, so she could just implement all of it instead of him.

Luckily, Connie picked up on Steven’s overwhelmed state and spoke up.

“While that it is all well and good, Peridot 4XJ, is there anything remaining in this presentation that specifically concerns actions that Steven needs to take in order to best help Homeworld?” Connie asked succinctly.

Gosh, Connie always knows exactly what to say.” Steven thought, grateful for the help.

Fumbling with her screens, the Peridot looked through her notes, replying “No, ma’am. The main points from this meeting is that due to the rapid implementation of the Pink Court’s Delta Kindergarten system, and the harvesting of Diamond essence from gem shards, the other Three Courts have managed to dramatically increase the production of gems. This in turn is curbing the severity of the resource crisis, by eliminating one of the primary limiting factors of gem product - namely, the need for new Kindergarten colonies. That being said, we aren’t out of the crisis yet. We have sent Peridot Facet-2F5L Cut-5XG’s report on the Helenite mineral, and subsequent Equisetum arvense L., colloquially titled ‘Horsetail’ harvesting recommendation to the White Court. Samples of the resulting silica-rich ash and subsequent nascent Helenite gems were delivered to the Kindergarten-certified Peridots of the White Court. After rigorous testing, they have approved of the Helenite’s usage in Courts, and have calculated that it would take 12 class-B planets operating at standard-kindergarten efficiencies and regular Diamond essence extraction for each member of the Authority in order to fully end the crisis of Era Two. In terms of actionable goals, we now need to find 12 planets that meet the botanical criteria that Peridot Facet-2F5L Cut-5XG determined in order to end the resource shortage.”.

“Thank you, Peridot. We will inform our Clarities and Citrines at once.”, Connie replied, giving a light bow and dismissing the gem.

Steven sighed, watching as the Peridot left the small gazebo-like tent that served as a temporary base and meeting area. While the area itself was very convenient, as it was right next to the warp pad that was installed just last week, the tent itself lacked any wall, meaning that it did little to insulate its occupants from the dust and din of construction work. That being said, it did offer a beautiful view of the Pink Palace.

“It’s certainly coming along, isn’t it?”, Connie spoke up, noticing that Steven’s gaze had turned to the construction area around his palace, the scaffolding and support pillars reaching far into the sky, “I’d say it’s almost a third of the way finished, going off of the blueprints.”.

“It certainly looks like it…”, Steven replied, before another figure approached the tent.

“My Diamond, the process of gathering the previous Pink Court Quartz soldiers is going well.”, Jasper Facet 1, cut 9BB announced, “By my estimates, our forces are at 90% of their original size from Era One.”.

“Ah, Jasper… You know that it’s just Steven right?”, Steven replied awkwardly, watching as the gem before him glared, her teal horns and discolorations making her seem even more intimidating.

“You are my Diamond, Steven. Do not be surprised when I address you as such.”, she replied gruffly, before saluting once more and leaving.

“Well…”, Connie sighed, watching as Steven’s former enemy left to go about her newfound duties, “At least she’s not challenging you to a match to prove your worthiness anymore?”.

“Yeeeeah. That’s definitely an improvement…”, Steven blushed, recalling how confrontational she was when she first healed from corruption.

“Did you have to make her High Captain though?”, Connie asked, “She’s like, my direct subordinate now… and she won’t stop glaring at me.”.

“Well, it was her previous position in the Pink Court?”, Steven shrugged, “It only made sense to have her be what she was most experienced as…”.

“Yeah… It’s just, awkward…”, Connie sighed.

Steven took a deep breath, determined to set things straight now that they finally had a moment free of distraction. But first, he opted to ease into the topic a bit.

“So Connie, how did training go with Chrysoberyl today?”, Steven began.

“It went great!”, Connie replied, “She brought in a Peridot and I learned all about the inner workings of gem tanks, skiffs, and warships! I even learned how to hot-wire them if I need to by-pass the pad-activator system!”, she replied excitedly.

Steven smiled in response and braced himself for what he was about to ask.

“Connie, there’s something that I’ve been wanting to tell you.”, Steven said, snapping Connie out of her thoughts.

“Hmm?”, she responded.

“Listen, I know that I’m a Diamond and all, but I don’t want that to get in the way of us still being friends and hanging out together, like we used to as Jam Buds!”, Steven began, “I’ve noticed that you seemed kinda sad, or at least lost in thought lately, and I really don’t want all this new stuff to mess up our friendship.”.

“Me neither!”, Connie interjected quickly, “I’m sorry if I’ve been a bit distant lately, it’s just that, well, I love spending time with you, and I was wondering if…”, Connie trailed off before starting again, willing herself to continue, “I was wondering if we could be more than just friends!”, Connie got out, eyes scrunched.

“Like SUPER jam buds?”, Steven began, before pausing and slapping a hand to his forehead, “OH! You mean like boyfriend and girlfriend?”.

“Yes!” Connie squeaked, still anxious as to how Steven would respond.

“Connie.”, Steven began excitedly with stars in his eyes, taking Connie’s hand into his own, “Yes! I would love to be your boyfriend!”, he responded, drawing Connie into a tight hug.

Laughing, Connie hugged him back, so genuinely excited and happy that he returned her affections. It was at that moment that the two began to glow, Stevonnie taking their place as the two fused, hugging themselves.

“Ahh! Thank you Stev- I mean Con- oh! I’m me!”, Stevonnie exclaimed, noticing that they had fused, before a thought rushed through their mind.

“I have GOT to tell Garnet!”, they exclaimed, dashing over to the warp-pad, before calling out to Pink Pearl to inform her of what was going on.

“Pearl, I’m headed to see the Garnet and the rest of the Crystal Gems! I’ll be back soon!”, Stevonnie called out, already on the warp pad.

“Very well, My Stevonnie!”, Pink Pearl replied with a smile.

* * *

Excitedly, Stevonnie rushed over to a large plot of land, where Bismuths and Iolites were diligently constructing what would become the Pink Court capitol’s very own hall of Clarities.

“Garnet!”, Stevonnie greeted excitedly.

“Hello Stevonnie.”, Garnet greeted, smiling, turning away from a screen of blueprints that a Peridot was showing her, “I take it that Connie and Steven are a couple now?”.

“Yes!”, Stevonnie exclaimed, hugging the other fusion, “It’s so exciting!”.

“It is.”, Garnet replied, “And how do YOU feel about them getting together?”, Garnet questioned.

Pausing, Stevonnie took time to reflect on their feelings.

“Right now, I feel really happy for them. I know that this was something on Connie’s mind for some time, and she’s glad to have that off of her chest. It also may be a little selfish, but I’m also glad that this means that I’ll likely be around more?”.

“There’s no need to worry about being selfish, Stevonnie. You’re not being selfish by enjoying being yourself.”.

“Thank you Garnet.”, they laughed, hugging the Clarity, “Oh! Garnet! I need to tell you about the meeting we had with one of the Peridots earlier!”.

“No worries Stevonnie, Padparadscha already told me that we need to find 12 planets. I’m going to get started on assembling a group with some Citrines to work on that now. As for you…”, Garnet said, standing up, “You should focus on taking time to enjoy yourself. Steven and Connie have both worked quite hard, and it would do them both some good to let you take control and enjoy things for a bit.”, Garnet finished, smiling.

“Alright! I will!”, they replied, making their way around the plethora of Bismuths and Iolites that diligently flitted about the worksite.

“Let’s see, who do we tell next?”, Stevonnie asked themselves, before coming to a realization, “Oh! Pearl! I can’t wait to see the look on her face!”.

Laughing to themselves, Stevonnie ran across the capitol, casting glances to any gem that passed them by, as they made their way to what was effectively a large shipyard.

“This is so much more fun than the palanquin!”, Stevonnie exclaimed, exhilarated.

Stevonnie looked out at the several Bixbite and Peridot that engineered the base for what would eventually become a large floating arena, just like the original ruins of the Era One arena that Connie herself trained at. It wasn’t long before they found Pearl, flitting between Peridots and even other Pearls as she delegated tasks and oversaw the arena’s construction.

“Hey Pearl! I know that you’re pretty busy right now, but I have some very important news!”, Stevonnie called out as they ran up to Pearl.

“OH! Hello Stevonnie!”, Pearl replied, turning away from a Bixbite to face Stevonnie.

“So, how are you doing Stevonnie? It’s been a while since I’ve seen you.”, Pearl continued.

“I’ve been good, but I have exciting news!”, they replied eagerly.

“Oh?”, Pearl replied, her interest piqued.

“Steven and Connie are a couple now!”, Stevonnie shouted excitedly.

At once Pearl’s eyes filled with a mixture of happiness and pride, “Oh my goodness, that is exciting news! I’m so happy for them - and I take it that it also means that I’ll get to see you a lot more too, correct?”, Pearl asked.

“Yep!”, Stevonnie replied, happily.

At that, Pearl could not help but to hug the fusion.

“I’m so happy for you all.”, Pearl got out, shedding a few tears, “I mean, I knew that this would happen eventually, but I am still very proud of Steven and Connie for being brave enough to take this step.”.

Chuckling, Stevonnie replied, “Same here. It’s about time those two goobers got together.”, they finished with a smirk, knowing that the two could hear what they said.

“So, did you want to join in and get a few updates on how this facility is coming along?”, Pearl offered, “The Peridots sent me some blueprints and designs, and I can’t wait to begin training all of the new gems! It’s going to be wonderful!”.

“I will later!”, Stevonnie responded, “I still want to tell everyone else the big news!”.

“Alright then, have fun!”, Pearl replied, waving goodbye.

Now, let’s see…”, Stevonnie thought to themselves.

“Today is Friday?”.

“Yes, it’s Friday.”.

“That means that Amethyst, Dadiverse, the Maheswarans, and maybe even Vidalia are all together playing cards at Connie’s house!”.

“That… that’s actually a ways away from here.”, Stevonnie sighed to themselves.

“Looks like I’m taking the palanquin.”

“Aww, but I like running around!”.

“We can’t run over the ocean…”.

“Maybe we could get Peridot to make us a jetpack? That way we could have all the exhilaration of running, but we could go EVEN FASTER!”.

“That sounds difficult to control… What about a small ship, but it’s like a convertible car? We could have the wind in our hair, and be able to go fast as well!”.

“I like that idea!”.

* * *

Stevonnie smiled, a content look on their face as they watched the ocean and small islands blur by, the speed at which their palanquin was moving making the many islands and waves of the Pacific appear like streaks of colorful light, splattered across an abstract canvas.

“So Pearl, how is your day going? Were you able to do anything fun?”, Stevonnie turned to Pink Pearl, curious as to how their friend’s day went.

“It’s going quite well, My Stevonnie!”, Pink Pearl replied excitedly, “I helped High Clarity Garnet set up the meeting with the Citrines and Clarities, and we should be able to determine 12 different suitable planets to add to your Court quite soon! Also, Blue Pearl and I were able to spend some time drawing together today too!”.

“That’s great Pearl! I’m glad that you get to spend time with her!”, Stevonnie smiled, “And listen, if you want to have some more time to spend with Blue Pearl, just let me know and I would be happy to take on some of your work as well so you can be with her.”.

“I appreciate the gesture, My Stevonnie, but it is not necessary. I’ll be able to organize the meetings and still have time to enjoy myself.”.

“Alright, if you say so!”, Stevonnie replied, looking out of the palanquin once more, the ocean and islands having been replaced by rolling hills and the occasional town or city.

“We are at the specified coordinates.”, Pink Pearl announced eventually, slowing the palanquin down, resting its landing legs atop the front lawn of Mr. and Ms. Maheswaran’s house.

“Uhm, can you park it on their driveway?”, Stevonnie asked, looking out of the ship, “It’s the paved area right next to us.”.

“Absolutely, my Stevonnie.”, Pink Pearl replied, the palanquin retracting its legs and rising upwards in response, before moving over to the right and landing atop the cement driveway.

“Perfect! Thank you!”, Stevonnie replied, making their way out of their (well, Steven’s) palanquin, before and knocking on the front door.

“Oh! Hello Stevonnie! And who is this?”, Priyanka greeted the fusion before turning to Pink Pearl.

“I am Pink Pearl, hand to their Radiance Stevonnie of the Pink Court.”, Pink Pearl replied.

“Well, it is nice to meet you Pink Pearl!”, Priyanka greeted, “I am Priyanka Maheswaran. We are all in the living room getting things set up for card night, would you like to join us?”, Priyanka offered.

“No thank you Momheswaran! I actually have some exciting news that I want to tell you all! Is Amethyst here too?”, they replied.

“Sup Vonnie!”, the gem in question greeted, lounging on the floor with a bag of chaaps.

“Well, that answered that question.”, Stevonnie laughed to themselves.

“Everyone! I have some exciting news!”, they spoke up, gathering everyone together, Pink Pearl standing off to one side, “Steven and Connie are a couple now!”.

At that, Amethyst promptly fist pumped and shouted, “Whoohoo! It’s about time those two got together!”.

“I know right?”, Stevonnie replied.

The three adults in the room had a very different reaction, however. Stevonnie could tell that while Greg looked taken aback at first, his emotions quickly shifted to something akin to pride, but then he quickly looked to the Maheswaran parents to determine their reaction, before opening his mouth.

It was Priyanka’s reaction that had Stevonnie the most worried. Stars, it had taken a whole talk just to get her up to speed with all of these new changes with Connie being accepted into the Pink Court, and what that meant. Now she has to deal with the concept of her daughter dating someone else? It seemed like quite a bit for her to take in.

Priyanka took a deep breath, putting on a smile before breaking the silence.

“So, Stevonnie.”, Priyanka began carefully, “How did this come about? Who asked who to be a couple?”.

Nervous, Stevonnie replied, “Well, it all started because Steven was worried that their friendship was straining because of all of his new responsibilities, but it turned out that Connie was just thinking about how to best ask Steven out on a date.”.

“So it was Connie who asked Steven out?”, Priyanka interjected, a slightly more relieved tone coloring her voice, “What happened after that?”.

“Well, after a bit of confusion on what Connie asked, Steven said yes, they hugged, and accidentally formed me.”, Stevonnie got out, awkwardly, “After that I went to tell Garnet and Pearl the exciting news, and now I’m here.”.

“I see.” Priyanka replied, smiling genuinely now, “Well, I can’t say that I’m all to surprised by the development, and we are very happy for you both - you all.”, she quickly corrected.

“Yes, I’m so proud of those two and you.”, Greg added, following Priyanka’s lead, and hugging the fusion.

“Thanks guys.”, Stevonnie replied, hugging the four of them.

“So did you have time to play cards with us?”, Amethyst asked, “Or are you getting ready for the big unveiling tomorrow?”.

Stevonnie glanced back to Pink Pearl, “Do you think I have time for a few games?”.

“Your schedule should allow it, since most of the work is already done. That being said, Steven does have to go through a few more dry-runs of his speech for tomorrow before his cycle-end rest.”, Pink Pearl replied.

“Alright.”, Stevonnie replied, turning back to the rest of the group, “I can play two quick games.”.

“Woohoo!”, Amethyst cheered, “I’ll deal you in!”.

Stevonnie smiled as everyone resumed the card game, and Pink Pearl struck up conversation with Amethyst. Priyanka and Doug began enthusiastically asking them about date ideas, while Greg smiled and looked on, a nostalgic look filling his gaze. Yes, tomorrow would be a big day, and they had a lot to prepare for, but for now, they were content to relax and enjoy the simple bliss of being with their family.

Chapter Text

“I can’t believe it! After all these weeks, it’s finally here!”, Connie squealed with excitement, as she looked over her appearance once more.

While Connie knew that she would be receiving a set of armor for her role of High Guard, she didn’t expect Bismuth to put so much effort in its design. The armor itself appeared to compliment Steven’s royal garb, as her breastplate, greaves, pauldrons, and gauntlets were all varying shades of pink. Adorned proudly on the front of her breastplate was the crest of the Pink Court, outlined with what appeared to be a rose gold filigree.

“Bismuth really went all out with this armor, didn’t she?”, Connie continued, turning herself around in the mirror, appraising the armor’s fit and appearance.

“It looks amazing!”, Steven gushed excitedly, “You were able to see the plans for the capitol as well right?”, Steven asked.

“Yes! The blueprints for the Palace and the whole square are incredible! Plus the way Peridot was able to ensure the efficiency of the transit systems, and the work that the Peridots of the Blue Court were out of this world!”.

“Well, they are an alien species.”, Steven chuckled.

“Oh you know what I meant!”, Connie huffed, before laughing along.

“It’s just all happening so fast.”, Steven sighed, looking at the both of them in the mirror.

“That’s a good thing, right?”, Connie asked, turning a concerned glance to Steven.

“I mean, yes…”, Steven stuttered, “We get to help so many gems that were scared for their lives. We get to give them hope, and a place to belong. We get to change the Diamond Authority for the better, to make it a place where the Crystal gems and all gems belong…”.

“But?”, Connie asked.

“But it’s just so much change, so much responsibility.”, Steven sighed, “How do I know if I’m ready for it all? I mean, I’m going to be leading everyone. Like I didn’t expect any of this??”, he sat down on a small chair, Connie quickly taking a seat as well, “When I turned myself in - goodness it feels like so long ago. I thought that I was finally doing something right by everyone, like I was finally able to fix everything. I asked the Diamonds to stop hunting the Crystal Gems and to let them live in peace in exchange for my captivity, or shattering, or whatever else they decided.”, Connie stiffened at Steven’s admission, but allowed him to continue, “They used some kind of device to prove that I was Rose Quartz, but it just ended up showing that I was Pink Diamond. Now everything’s flipped upside-down. I have to opportunity to do so much good… but I’m - I’m not an experienced leader, Connie. I could barely lead a mission with the Crystal gems, and now I’m leading a whole Court?”, Steven sagged under the stress.

“Hey, hey…”, Connie spoke up, getting Steven’s attention, “You’re not going to be alone in this. Just because you’re a Diamond, it doesn’t mean that you’re not able to rely on the help of others. You don’t have to lead alone. You’ve got Pearl, Garnet, Amethyst, Lapis, Peridot, Bismuth, and me behind you every step of the way.”, Connie finished, before a small chime came from the room’s entrance.

“My Steven, High Guard Connie, are you both ready?”, Pink Pearl spoke up through the door.

“Do… I mean…”, Steven spoke up, vulnerability filling his tone, as he turned his gaze up to face her, “Promise?”

“Always.”, Connie smiled, wrapping Steven in a tight hug.

Connie watched as a spark of determination and hope seemed to ignite in Steven’s eyes.

“Yes.”, Steven spoke up, turning to face the door, “We’re ready.”.

* * *

Connie had to keep herself from shaking with excitement as she stood behind Steven alongside the rest of the first members of the Pink Court.

“Now, I’ll announce our Steven’s entry, and then when Steven calls out to announce his Court, that will be your cue pro get ready.”, Pink Pearl spoke up, “I will announce each of your names and titles, and then you’ll enter the throne room and take position in front of our Steven’s throne.”.

Connie nodded in understanding as Pink Pearl turned around to face the curtains, and stepped through them.

Connie watched as Steven seemed to push down his nerves, and prepare himself to face the crowd on the other side of the curtain.

“All rise, for the return of the ever-merciful, ever-honorable Radiance, Pink Steven Universe!”, Pink Pearl’s voice rang throughout the throne room.

“Wait.”, Connie whispered, turning to Garnet as she noticed the absence of one gem in particular, “Where’s Pearl?”.

“She’s already inside the throne room.”, Garnet whispered back, “White Diamond approached her earlier, asking if Pearl wanted to announce her entry like they used to, and she agreed. When it’s time to announce the members of High Council, she’ll step down from White Diamond’s side and fall into line with the rest of the Court members.”.

“That makes sense.”, Connie replied, straining her ears to hear what was being said behind the curtain.

Picking up on Connie’s curiosity, Garnet spoke up, “Right now, Blue Diamond is talking about how much the return of the Pink Court means to her, and how having Steven back on the throne will change Homeworld for the better. White Diamond will speak up in a few moments on off-colors.”.

“She’ll be speaking about the off-colors? I thought that’s what Steven was going to do.”, Connie whispered back.

“Originally, he was going to. However, White Diamond was particularly moved after watching footage from the battle on Yellow Diamond’s colony. So she wanted to be the one to address the stigma surrounding the gems in her part of the speech, since it was her Court that caused all the damage in the first place.”, Garnet whispered back.

“That’s good, right?”, Connie asked.

“Yeah, it just makes me wonder what she gets out of all of that though. Usually a Radiance isn’t one to admit that they were wrong about something unless they gain something personally.”, Garnet replied, listening as White Diamond spoke about the previous mistreatment of irregularly formed gems, or off-colors.

“You don’t trust her?”, Connie whispered.

“I didn’t say that.”, Garnet whispered back, “I just don’t care for politics.”.

“Same…”, Connie sighed, “It would be a lot better if there were more people like Steven running things.”.

“Connie, you picked a terrible career if you don’t like politics.”, Garnet laughed, “But yes, Steven will make an excellent leader, one that we all will be proud to serve.”.

“You’re right.”, Connie laughed, before pausing to clarify herself, “About both things; me with politics, and Steven as a leader.”.

“And with those words in mind, I present the Pink Court!”, Steven’s voice drifted past the curtains, getting Connie and Garnet’s attention.

“Get ready, you’re up first.”, Garnet whispered.

“Known for her showing in the Gauntlet Trials and her subsequent challenging of the Yellow Court’s own High Guard, we have the human organic who trained under the Lustrous Pearl! We welcome, High Guard Connie Maheswaran!”, Pink Pearl’s melodic voice rang out.

As soon as Connie pulled back the curtain and re-entered the throne room, she did a double-take in shock of the room’s dramatic change in appearance. Gone were the sterile white over-tones and beige and slate accents. Instead, the whole room seemed to glow a pink hue. The pathway to the four thrones were covered in a pink mineral that seemed to radiate a pink light, and the thrones themselves seemed to be topped with an opalescent, gleaming, streamer-like adornment.

The gems of the other three Courts erupted in applause as Connie took her place by Steven’s side. Connie looked around at the other high-Court members and Jades of every variety in awe. To say that she was floored by the reaction was an understatement. The fact that even the high-most members of each Court had not only seen or heard about her Gantlet Trials, but were cheering for her and accepting of her presence in a Court was surreal.

The cheering died down as White Diamond rose her hand, “I know that she made quite the impression on you all, but we ask that you hold your applause until the end of the ceremony.”, White Diamond spoke up, the gems in attendance each bowing in a Diamond salute at her words.

“Consisting of gems formerly under the Blue Court, we have a cross-gem fusion! We welcome High Clarity Garnet!”, Pink Pearl’s voice rang out once more.

Connie watched as Garnet made her way down the aisle as the High Court members paused and stared at the fusion, mixtures of awe and confusion adorning their faces.

Just another thing that Steven will have to set right…”, Connie thought to herself.

Garnet however, was unperturbed by the looks that the high Court members were giving her, and instead smiled as she took her place next to Connie.

“Formerly under the Yellow Court, we welcome lead scientist, Peridot Facet-2F5L Cut-5XG!”, Pink Pearl spoke up again.

Connie watched as Peridot made her way down the aisle, having adorned a new set of limb enhancers that Dot created for the occasion.

“Originally from the Pink Court in Era One, we have the head of Pink Court R&D Bismuth 1F5L 7XR!”.

Bismuth smiled bashfully as she pulled open the curtain and made her way to Peridot’s side.

“Also an original from the Pink Court of Era One, we have High Captain Jasper Facet 1, cut 9BB!”.

Jasper smiled faintly, waving as she made her way down the aisle. Connie watched as some of the gems in the audience stared and gawked at Jasper’s discolorations and teal horns.

“Taking on a new role unique to the Pink Court, we have the gem ambassador to organics, Amethyst Facet-5 Cut-8XM!”, Pink Pearl continued.

Amethyst stepped out from behind the curtain, waving excitedly at the other High Court members as she made her way to the front of the throne room.

“And now, we welcome the members of the Pink Court’s High Council!”, Pink Pearl announced.

“First and foremost, we welcome the original hand to her Radiance White Diamond, the Lustrous Pearl!”, Pink Pearl called out, as Pearl stepped down from White Diamond’s side to join the other Pink Court members.

“Originally the first High Guard of the Pink Court, transferred after a long career of service under the White Court, we have the unofficial leader of Pink Diamond’s Bequest, Chrysoberyl Facet 1F1L Cut 1AB!”, Pink Pearl continued.

Chrysoberyl made her way down the aisle, pausing to bow and salute Steven before joining the others in line.

“Also an original member of the Pink Court, transferred after a long career of service under the White Court, and member of the Bequest, we have Sapphire Facet 1F2L Cut 1AR!”, Pink Pearl announced.

White Sapphire smiled timidly as she made her way down the aisle and stood at the side of the others.

“Originally hailing from the Blue Court, and another member of the Bequest, we have Peridot Facet 2F4L Cut 1AR, filling roles of both High Council, and an advisory role under Bismuth 7XR’s division!”.

Dot hopped out from behind the curtain in response, making her way down the aisle with a new set of limb enhancers that had wheels, before falling in line with the other Pink Court members.

“Formerly outside of the Four Courts, we have a clarity with the unique ability to witness any event, so long as it took place in the past! We welcome Padparadscha Facet XFXL, Cut 1AA to the Pink Court!”, Pink Pearl continued, ignoring the confused, yet interested looks on the high Court members faces.

After a short moment, Padparadscha made her way down the aisle, and took her place at the side of the other gems.

“Formerly a member of the Yellow Court, and a member of the Bequest, we have Amethyst Facet 1F2L Cut 3ZC!”, Pink Pearl called out.

The larger Amethyst made her way out from behind the curtain, calmly waving at a couple high Court members before making her way to the now large line of other gems.

“Last, but not least, we have three gems whose roles are yet to be determined! The exact positions of these gems will be set after a training period by gems of the other Courts, but nevertheless, we are happy to welcome the Rutile Twins Facet 7F7L, Cuts 3DE and 3DF, Fluorite Facet XFXL, Cut 1AA, and Rhodonite Facet XFXL, Cut 1AA! These gems among a great many recently uncorrupted others constitute the undeclared gems of the Pink Court!”, Pink Pearl announced.

Connie watched as the last three off-colors trailed out of the hall, and made their way to the front of the throne room. As they took their place in line with the other Pink Court members, Steven stood up from his throne.

“Gems of the Diamond Authority, I am happy to unveil the Pink Court!”, he smiled, opening his arms wide with bravado.

“And…”, White Diamond spoke up, standing as well, before opening her arms in a mirror of Steven’s gesture, “Gems of all Four Courts, it brings me the utmost joy to announce to you all…”, she paused, her radiant white light bursting forth and filling the throne room, “Welcome to Era Three!”.

Connie smiled looking between the now official Pink Court and Steven, as the audience erupted in applause. She could tell that he was still nervous, despite trying to put on a brave face for the Diamonds and their high Court members.

Subtly, she reached over and squeezed his hand, glancing at him reassuringly. He met her gaze, a small, but genuine smile replacing the large false one he wore seconds prior.

“You’re not alone.”, she whispered, hoping that her words could be heard by him over the din of the applause, “We’re in this together.”.

Connie smiled as Steven squeezed her hand back, knowing that her words were heard.

Things may be difficult ahead, but they could face down anything as long as they were together.

* * *

On the other side of the galaxy, two gems gathered in a very different throne room, their forms illuminated only by the light of the screen projected from a Diamond communicator.

“It was just as you predicted…”, one figure spoke.

“Era Three, and the return of the Pink Court…”, the second figure spoke up.

“Can it truly be called a Court?”, the first figure’s voice was filled with contempt.

“No.”, the second figure replied decisively, “Despite notable figures like the Luminous Pearl and the Behest amongst their ranks, the utter refuse that they have surrounded themselves with more than prevent them from being able to make any positive change.”.

“The Diamonds already have enough issues with the resource crisis… the last thing they need is some clod like that playing Diamond and building a crippled Court. This could spell the end of the Diamond Authority… What should we do next?”.

“We need to call a meeting with the others… and figure out how to put an end to this farce of a Court before it can hurt any of the real Radiances.”.

“Sounds like a good plan…”.

Chapter Text

Arc2_Cover

Chapter Text

Usually, the atmosphere was peaceful in the hall of clarities - a fact that was by design. Garnet herself specified that both her and the other Sapphires required great amounts of calm and peace in order to discern elements of the future. However, peaceful could hardly describe how she felt in this cycle, Garnet thought bitterly as she ran out of the serene hall.

“I have to tell Steven. We HAVE to be ready.”, Garnet repeated to herself, as she ran to the nearest warp pad.

* * *

“Greetings everyone.”, Garnet announced, as she addressed Steven, Connie, Jasper, Bismuth, Chrysoberyl, Amethyst 3ZC, Dot, Pearl, White Sapphire, and a number of other high Court officials, each of whom were summoned at a moment’s notice at Garnet’s request, “I’ve gathered you all here today because I have had a vision regarding the safety and well-being of Pink Steven and the Pink Court. I saw that there will be an attack on the the palace.”

At that declaration, a multitude of gems gasped, each speaking up and voicing their concern.

“Everyone!” Garnet spoke, gaining the attention of the gems once more, “The attack will occur exactly 54 cycles from now, so please remain quiet as I explain my vision.”

“How are you sure that your vision is accurate?”, a Topaz spoke up, “Aren’t your visions potential possibilities and not certainties?”.

“I can verify Garnet’s vision as accurate as well, 7UJ.”, White Sapphire replied, “We had it at the same time.”.

“Now with all of your concerns out of the way, let us please continue with the matter at hand.”, Garnet spoke up once more, slightly agitated, before bringing up a large projection of the planets of the four Courts, “In 54 planetary rotations, 98% of our armed forces will be occupied away from planet Earth and the capitol, with 30% spread across the multiple planets in the Pink Court to keep the peace, and the remaining 68% engaged in the blockade of the terrorist stronghold on YX-437.”, Garnet began as she gestured to a distant planet halfway across the galaxy.

“Is there any way to divert troops away from the terrorist stronghold?”, one gem spoke up.

“No, each and every gem assigned to that stronghold is needed to bring it down, as per High Clarity Garnet’s visions.”, Connie spoke up.

So much had changed over the past three years. When Connie first joined the Pink Court, she knew that Steven was changing how the Diamond Authority and gem-society at large operated, so she knew that there would be some pushback, but she never imagined that it would be this much. An entire faction of terrorist gems seemed to come out of the woodwork and dedicate themselves to the cause of destroying the Pink Court. If that wasn’t bad enough, they had no leads on who was actually in charge of this group. They acted way too coordinated to be acting without a leader, and each terrorist they captured labeled themselves as a member of the ‘Ameliorators’. So clearly there was someone behind the scenes. She hoped that the leader would be found in the assault on YX-437, but given that such a large attack is still able to be amassed against her Steven’s Court despite the blockade, it would seem as though the leader was operating from elsewhere.

“On that cycle, at approximately 10:32 PM Earth Time, or 0.93 HST a squadron of 30 highly trained Jasper soldiers will infiltrate the palace and split into groups, they will knock out our power, and shatter most of our generals, before…” Garnet paused, the next words difficult to say, “Before killing High Guard Connie, and shattering our Steven.”.

“My Stars...”, someone gasped from one end of the table, Steven couldn’t tell, all he could feel was dread and panic at the thought of losing Connie.

“What happens if we don’t engage the terrorists? We bring the other 48% of our troops back here to deal with the gems.”, Steven spoke up immediately.

Connie took a deep breath, forcing her emotions down and focusing on the task at hand.

Just think of it like one of Chrysoberyl’s puzzle scenarios.”, she thought to herself.

“Then the attack won’t come.” Connie replied, “The Jaspers will see that we are defended and they will attack later when we are unprepared.”, Connie replied before turning back to Garnet, “You said that we had 2% of our armed forces able to aid us with this attack. In your vision where were these forces?”.

“They were interspersed throughout the capitol. I didn’t see them.”, Garnet replied.

“So we can use those forces to stop the terrorists.”, Connie concluded.

“I say that we position them around the palace!”, Jasper, the High Captain of ground forces spoke up, “They’ll meet the enemy head on, and the terrorists won’t even be able to get close to our Steven!”.

“Hold on Jasper.”, Connie replied, “There’s a chance that the presence of these gems would scare off our attackers if they were met with such a force. Our enemy needs to be captured and stopped, not a single enemy gem can escape. So before we can plan a strategy, we need to know how many troops we have on hand. Jasper, how many gems constitutes 2% of our total forces?”.

“That’s around 500 gems.”, Jasper replied.

“500 gems against 30.”, Connie muttered to herself, “If we surround the gems, and engage them, they might be able to fight their way out and retreat. Tanks and cannons are easily recognizable from a large distance, so they’ll probably run off before they even get close. There has to be a way to look at this problem differently, to flip it on its head.”.

“Wait. Jasper, how many of those gems are Amethysts?”, Connie asked, the beginnings of a plan forming in her mind.

“Well, they’re quartz soldiers, so Amethysts make up around 1/5 of our total forces. I’d say about 100 then?”, Jasper replied.

“Is there any way to find out for sure?”.

“It was 23rd and 324th ground force divisions that were unused in my vision.”, White Sapphire spoke up.

Jasper quickly pulled up a screen from her gem, bringing up the aforementioned divisions.

“There will be 124 Amethysts able to aid us, ma’am. What did you have in mind?” Jasper replied.

“We will only need around thirty Amethysts for what I’m thinking, but we will use the shapeshifting abilities of the Amethysts to our advantage to infiltrate the enemy’s ranks as they go about their attack on the palace.”, Connie replied.

“And how will they be able to do that? They can shape shift, yes, but it’s not perfect.”, Topaz 7UJ before spoke up.

“Do you recall the preferred pastime of most Amethysts, 3F3L 7UJ?”, Connie asked.

When she was met with silence, Connie continued, “A great many of our Amethyst forces like to act and host plays at the Amphitheater here in the capitol. Yes they shape shift, but they also use Era 3 tech to modify their appearance and voice to match that of who they play as. We can use that same technology to have the Amethysts gradually replace the enemy forces, that way we can corner their leader. We can also use the same projectors to camouflage non-Amethyst troops to use as defense in this room and the throne room, thus preventing casualties.”.

“So we whittle down their squadron as they make their way through the palace, and then overwhelm them in the throne room. You’re turning their very target into a trap!” Jasper exclaimed, a mixture of awe and excitement in her voice.

“Yes, well it is a rough idea.”, Connie explained, bashfully, before turning to Chrysoberyl, “We need to create a more specific plan of attack now. Are we able to pull up a map of the Palace?”.

“Sure.” Chrysoberyl replied, doing just that as a large three-dimensional model of the building displayed before them.

“Garnet, can you trace out EXACTLY what paths they took?”.

The gems planned on long throughout the day, eventually putting together a strategy that ensured that the enemy forces of the two lesser teams would be dwindled down to 1-2 for each group given a conservative margin of error. Connie even suggested cutting off their own power in order to convince the leading team that their other groups were successful, a strategy that Chrysoberyl was quite impressed by.

* * *

“So if the first enemy squadron takes the path shown here, we should be able to position ambush teams, here, here, and here.” Connie stated, pointing to specific corners on the Palace map, “Moreover, in each of these areas, there is potential for error and mistakes. So we will need to have backup troops hidden close to each ambush point, to aid the Amethysts should something go wrong.”

“That’s a lot of large mesh protectors…”, Dot spoke up.

“Well, we can have some ambush points share contingency groups, to avoid using too many projectors. Do you think we need to engineer more?”, Connie replied.

“Well, let’s see.”, Dot muttered, focusing on the map, “If we want to have 8-9 ambush points for each group, and each ambush point requires a mesh projector, we will require 27 projectors.”, Dot deduced, before pulling up a screen from her gem, “And it looks like we have 30 in storage at my lab, so nope! We should be good, ma’am!”.

“Very good.”, Connie replied.

“Alright. So the thirty Amethysts are divided across three teams, Alpha for protecting the generator, Beta for protecting this room, and Prime for protecting the throne room. Moreover, each team is divided five to ten sub-groups of each team, based on the number of ambush points.”, Jasper replied, taking notes on the points that Connie covered, “Assuming that each group is successful, the lead squadron should be down to two enemy gems by the time they reach the throne room. However, we should have a backup plan, just in case this doesn’t work.”.

“We will have large squadrons stationed in this room, the generator room, and the throne room. Troops that specialize in projectile spears and weapons that are favorable to tight-quarters combat should be given special consideration.”, Connie replied, “Ideally, since the generator room is the smallest, we will station 30 troops there, whereas this room will have 50 troops, and the throne room will have 100, in addition to myself. So, all in all, we will have 180 troops assigned to the target points, and 30 Amethysts interspersed throughout the palace itself, so 210 troops in total.”.

“So we overwhelm them, once the trap has already been sprung, and there’s no way out.”, Jasper smiled and gave a hearty laugh, “I like the cut of your gem, ma’am!”.

“Thank you, Jasper.”, Connie smiled back, before turning to Topaz and the Clarities, “Topaz 3DF, now that we have a plan of attack, you are to work with the Clarities to build a training simulation for this mission. Have it completed as soon as possible, but do not cut corners.”, Connie paused, and addressed the Clarities, “Garnet, White Sapphire, see to it that the resulting simulation is flawless. We need our troops to be fully prepared for this battle, and we cannot afford a single mistake.”, Connie ordered as Topaz, Garnet, and White Sapphire bowed.

“I want those 210 troops sole assignment to be training for this mission.”, Connie spoke up, turning back to Jasper, “They are to be in the training simulators constantly, only leaving during their leisure periods. They are to know this mission thoroughly, as if it were the facets of their own gem. Understood?”, Connie ordered.

“Yes ma’am.”, Jasper replied, “I will gather them for briefing as soon as our meeting is adjourned.”.

“Lastly, we will need some way of quietly poofing the gems in a way that doesn’t alert the other guards.”.

“Oh!”, Dot spoke up, “High Guard Connie, I believe that I can help with that! There’s a prototype for an Era 3 disruptor back in my lab! With some modifications, we should be able to use it for this application.”.

“And how long would these modifications take?”, Connie asked.

“Not long, ma’am two, maybe three cycles at most.”, Dot replied.

“And how long would it take to make sixty of these weapons? Each gem will need to have one spare rod as backup.”, Connie replied.

“Given the right resources, that should be able to be finished in around another three cycles.”.

“Good, that leaves a minimum of 48 cycles left to train and prepare.”, Connie replied, turning to Bismuth, “See to it that Dot has all of the resources and help that she needs to make these weapons. As soon as they are done, get the weapons over to the Amethysts in the training halls, they’ll need to familiarize themselves with these new weapons as much as possible.”.

“We won’t be able to get the weapons standardized with the Homeworld Armaments Board”, Bismuth sighed.

“They won’t be standard issue for troops then.”, Connie replied, “Work around the red tape if you have to. If they still give you trouble, tell them that they can take it up with his Radiance himself.”.

“Got it.”, Bismuth shuddered at Connie’s change in tone.

“Alright then, is everyone clear on what their next steps are?”, Connie addressed the room.

A chorus of yes’s and other affirmations filled the room.

“Good.”, Connie replied, before taking a deep breath, “Things may look harrowing as more and more of these terrorists rise up against us. But we will not let them win! Thanks to the premonitions of Garnet and White Sapphire, we have the opportunity to prevent a tragedy, so let’s not waste it. What once was a great threat is now our opportunity to capture some of their most elite soldiers and gain useful information! Together, we can turn what would have been a night of great grief into a moment of triumph! We will make it a night where not a single gem will shatter!”, Connie proclaimed, strengthening the wills and resolve of her fellow gems.

“Now go forth and complete your orders!”, Connie cheered, adjourning the meeting.

At that the rest of the gems cheered as well, before bowing and leaving the room to begin their orders, with Chrysoberyl remaining in the room.

“You handled yourself incredibly, ma’am.”, Chrysoberyl praised, “Soon, there won’t be much else for me to teach you.”

“I couldn’t have done it without your teaching, Chrysoberyl.”, Connie smiled.

“You are most welcome, ma’am.”, Chrysoberyl replied, “I will see to it that the simulations are programmed properly, and then aid wherever else is necessary, unless you need me elsewhere?”.

“No.”, Connie replied, “That will be good for now.”.

“Very well, High Guard Connie.” Chrysoberyl responded, “However, may I make one request?”.

“Yes Chrysoberyl?”.

“I wish to be among the gems standing guard amongst Steven in the throne room. Not that I doubt our forces!”, Chrysoberyl quickly amended, “Only that should something go wrong, I wish to be there to protect my Steven if necessary.”.

“That is perfectly fine, Chrysoberyl.”, Connie replied, “After all, I’m going to be stationed in the throne room as well.”.

“Thank you ma’am.”, Chrysoberyl bowed, “Well, I best be off now.”, she finished, before turning and leaving the room. Leaving Connie, Steven, and Pink Pearl the last members in the room.

Worn out from the day’s planning, Connie and Steven retired to the throne room, Pink Pearl trailing close behind. While Connie herself was still focused on the plan she put forth to the other gems, she could tell that Steven was pretty shaken from the day’s events.

“Are you okay?”, Connie asked, voice full of concern.

“No, I’m not.,” Steven replied, voice unsteady, “I’m scared Connie. Garnet saw you die. That’s not something that I can just shake off.”, Steven began before he was interrupted by Connie wrapping him in a tight hug.

Slowly, Steven returned the embrace, both of them on the throne now, “I can’t lose you. I- LOVE you Connie.”, Steven sobbed as his declaration sunk in to Connie.

“I love you too Steven.”, Connie tightened her hug, tears running down her face, “That’s why nothing is going to harm us. We know that it’s coming now. We can be prepared to fight. And when we fight, we fight together. You won’t lose me, and I won’t lose you.”, Connie finished, punctuating her promise with a kiss.

* * *

At first, Steven was confused at to what was taking place, all he could tell was that something very, very soft had been placed against his lips. However, that confusion was quickly replaced with shock as Steven opened his eyes to see Connie kissing him.

What!? She’s - we’re!?”, Steven’s mind stuttered.

I mean yeah, we’ve been dating for three years, and I did just say ‘I love you’ to her for the first time, but all we’ve done before is just hold hands with the occasional kiss on the cheek!”, Steven mentally screamed before he realized that he should probably kiss back.

Steven wished that this moment could last forever. Despite all of the fear, despite all of the panic and planning that preceded this moment, he knew that this made up for it, because she was right. They knew now, and they were going to be okay. Sinking into this newfound peace, Steven’s gem began to glow.

All of a sudden they couldn’t feel Steven - no Connie kissing them back anymore. Was something wrong? Did they pull away? Opening their eyes, they noticed that the person they were kissing was nowhere to be seen. Moreover, they were a good deal taller than they were previously. Looking down at their hands and body, the answer became far more clear.

“Oh! I fused!”, Stevonnie laughed to themselves, the emotions and dialogue from just before rushing back to them, “So you two ‘love’ each other now! That’s exciting!”, Stevonnie exclaimed, before turning to Pink Pearl, “Hi Pearl! How are you doing?”

“I’m doing well, My Stevonnie. How are you?,” Pink Pearl replied.

“I don’t know.” Stevonnie replied, “I feel very different? Steven and Connie were pretty scared and on edge with all of the counterattack planning, but then they felt hope? Determination is probably more accurate, but then all of that was overwhelmed with the love that they have for each other, and I feel that now too? I feel happier, and a good deal stronger as well, and I don’t know what that means.”.

“Well, it seems like whatever happened was positive.”, Pink Pearl replied, “Would you like me to summon High Clarity Garnet? Perhaps she could provide some insight into how you are feeling.”.

“That’s a good idea Pearl. Ask her to come by sometime after she is finished helping Topaz with the simulations.” Stevonnie replied.

“Yes, My Stevonnie.”, Pink Pearl bowed in the Diamond salute once more.

At that, Stevonnie breathed deeply and focused themselves. Whatever happened, they would be prepared. Whatever happened, they would be together.

Chapter Text

The next two weeks flew by quickly for Connie. The training simulation was finished not two cycles after the meeting, with every detail and subtlety having been poured over by a large team of clarities. After that, Jasper gathered together the 210 troops, before briefing them and starting the training process. Only four cycles after that, Dot finished what she dubbed a “silencer” version of the disruptor staff for the use of the Amethysts troops. After providing an explanation on how it operated to the troops, its workings involving her light construction refractor to poof the target gem without any sound, paired with a photon neutralization field generated by miniaturized 3D mesh projectors to prevent the weapon from creating any light, she issued the weapons to the troops for use in their training. Things were going according to her, she just wished that gave her some form of reassurance.

“The margin of error for our troops has decreased by another 1.5%, ma’am. Teams Alpha, Beta, and Prime each have increased their success rate dramatically.”, Jasper spoke up, snapping Connie out of her thoughts.

“That’s what, one mistake every 5 simulations now?”, Connie replied, tiredly crunching the numbers in her head, “When they do make a mistake, is it always one particular sub-group, or are they spend out evenly?”.

“Its more or less one mistake every five simulations.”, Jasper replied, “The mistakes are spread out evenly across the groups, but sub-group Beta-4 has the most current mistakes.”.

“That’s the last gauntlet of two Amethysts behind the cubicles on the second floor of the armed forces management division?”, Connie stared back at her screens, her eyes bleary as she looked over metrics of the gem’s performance and improvement.

“Yes.”, Jasper replied, “You think we should be doing more?”.

“Yes.”, Connie replied, tipping back the last of her tea, now glaring at the empty vessel.

Tea isn’t working anymore… I wonder if I could send a Ruby to get me some coffee?”, Connie mused internally, “What time even is it in Delmarva?”.

“I’m worried.”, Connie leaned back, pinching her brows together, “Worried that the simulation isn’t accurate. Worried that when the real attack comes something will happen that we’re not prepared for. Worried for you, the other gems that High Clarity Garnet said would shatter, and for Steven.” Connie finished, pinching her brows together.

“It is natural to fear shattering.”, Jasper replied, tone consoling, “It doesn’t make you weak.”.

“Thank you, Jasper.”, Connie replied, her expression changing, “I think I know what to do.”.

“And that is?”, Jasper asked.

“We need to clear the palace, and hold a true dry run.”, Connie replied, “It’s one thing to perform a simulation in those boxes, but in the palace, they’ll actually be moving around, feeling the columns as they navigate through the lobby, moving up the siphon transporters for real, and not just in a simulation. That will prepare them for the real battle.”.

“When would you like to hold this dry run?”, Jasper asked.

“Well, we’ll need to consult the Clarities first, to ensure that if we attempt this, our enemies won’t be able to tell what we are doing.”, Connie replied.

“You think we are being watched?”, Jasper asked, concerned.

“Not thoroughly, but we would be clearing out the whole palace. Something that big could attract attention.”, Connie replied.

“I see.”, Jasper replied.

“Just be on standby.”, Connie sighed, “I will summon the clarities to determine if this is an option.”.

“Yes ma’am”, Jasper bowed before leaving the room once more.

* * *

“From what I can see, there should be no harm in staging a dry run of the mission.”, Garnet answered finally, before turning to the other clarity beside her, “What do you see, White Sapphire?”.

“The path of time stretches out cleanly. High Guard Connie’s anxiety will drive her to hold a practice session of the mission in the palace, requiring most of the occupants of the palace to temporarily leave. This exercise will reveal multiple faults within our troops routine, and will not have any effect on the behavior of our enemies.”, White Sapphire stated.

“Good.”, Connie replied, standing up from her chair and dismissing the screens, before turning to Jasper, “Prepare the palace for the demo, and get Dot to bring the mesh projectors. We’re not wasting a single cycle.”, Connie ordered, a fire in her eyes.

It only took a few commands for the palace to be cleared. While Jasper herself never gave the true reason as to why she ordered the Palace cleared of non-essential occupants, their official cover story was that they were conducting a structural analysis of the building in response to a predicted earthquake.

“Are all of the mesh projectors set up, Dot?”, Connie asked over the com links, her eyes focused on several live feeds across the palace to monitor the results of the exercise.

“Yes ma’am!”, Dot replied, popping out from the field of the final projector.

“Good. How are things on your end Jasper?”, Connie asked, switching over to her com line.

“We got all of the Amethysts in place and ready. Right now we’re just briefing the Jaspers on the routes they’ll take.”, High Captain Jasper replied.

“Good.”, Connie replied, before switching back the com lines once more, “Make sure you get in place to turn off power to the designated areas of the palace, Dot!”.

“I’m headed there now ma’am!”, Dot replied, scurrying over to the main lobby, to head to the siphon transporter that lead underground.

It wasn’t long before everything was in place for the dry run. As night began to settle over the capitol, the group of thirty Jaspers that would serve as the Amethyst’s ‘enemy’ were finally ready to begin the exercise. While Topaz, High Guard Connie, High Captain Jasper, High Clarity Garnet, and Pink Steven oversaw the drill from the throne room, a massive array of screens observing every part of the path that the pretend enemy would follow.

“Is everything ready to begin? Is everyone’s rods set to freeze instead to poof?”, Jasper asked over the com lines, trying to ensure that her troops would not be hurt in the drill.

“Alpha team, ready!”.

“Beta team, ready!”.

“Prime team, ready!”, three Amethysts called out over the coms.

“Enemy Jaspers, are you ready?”, High Clarity Garnet asked over the coms.

“We are in position, my Clarity!”, the leading Jasper replied.

“Everything is ready to start ma’am.”, Jasper reported.

“Alright.”, Connie replied, pressing a button on the screen closest to her to open up her com link to all channels.

“Run test!”, Connie ordered.

At once, the Jasper group began to advance on the palace.

“They’re inside the building.”, Jasper announced, “They’re about to split up.”.

“Alright.”, Connie replied, eyes focused on the feeds in front of her, “Let’s see how our troops handle a real test.”, she replied, before turning to Topaz, “Get ready to take notes for necessary adjustments to the simulation.”.

As the group of Jasper’s split up and made their way throughout the palace, Connie and the other high Court gems focused on the screens in front of them as their troops began whittling down the members of their pretend enemy.

“Alpha Group 1, successful.”, Jasper spoke over the coms, informing the next group of the Alpha team which gems in the group to target.

“Beta group 1 successful.”, Jasper’s voice came across the coms again.

“Prime group 1 successful.”.

“Alpha group two successful.”.

The calls went out over the coms, continuing until each team reached at least group five, with team Alpha being almost entirely replaced.

“They’ve already replaced 50% of their members.”, High Captain Jasper reported, “The Alpha team is almost to the generator room.”.

A few more moments passed as the group of Jaspers and disguised Amethysts made their way to the generator room.

“Alright. Cut the power, Dot.”, Connie ordered, as the last remaining Jasper of the Alpha group was frozen by the Amethyst’s rods inside the generator room.

“Cutting power now.”, Dot replied over the coms, as the rest of the Palace went dark, save for the throne room.

“How are things looking Garnet?”, Connie asked.

“They are doing well. The Jaspers are following our enemy’s path and replicating their behavior perfectly.”, Garnet replied.

“Good.”, Connie replied, focusing once more on the screens in front of her, “Is it just me, or do the Amethysts seem to be moving stiffly?”.

“They are, ma’am.”, Jasper replied, “It appears as though moving around the simulations might be easier than moving one’s form in real life.”.

At that, Connie turned to Topaz 7UJ, “Is there any way to fix this?”.

“Yes ma’am!”, 7UJ replied, slightly nervously, “Since they were spending so much time in the simulations, their forms may need adjusting to true movement instead of simulated movements.”.

“Jasper, add some basic running exercises and aerobics in between simulation periods for the troops.”, Connie ordered, sighing.

“Aerobics, ma’am?”, Jasper asked.

“Right… no such thing as aerobics for gems… no lungs or heart.”, Connie muttered, “Just some moderately strenuous physical activity that involves their arms in legs will suffice.”.

“Will do ma’am.”, Jasper replied as she watched her troops stiffly, gradually, yet accurately replace the remaining Jasper soldiers.

It wasn’t long until the remaining two Jasper troops made their way into the throne room, before the drill came to a close.

“Alright, very good everyone!”, Connie announced, the Amethyst troops dropping their disguises.

“Thank you, ma’am!”, a chorus of voices rang out from the troops in front of her.

“You can turn the lights back on, Dot.”, Jasper called out over the coms, the power coming back on across the palace a moment afterwards.

“Did you take good notes, 7UJ?”, Connie asked.

“Yes ma’am!”, Topaz 7UJ replied, “With a few adjustments, I should be able to fix the stiffness problems that our troops were having.”.

“That’s great.”, Connie replied, turning back to the troops, “Now if everyone’s ready, we’re going to do the drill yet again!”.

Chapter Text

If the first two weeks seemed to pass by quickly, the remaining month and a half were but a blur. Between Topaz’s adjustments to the simulation, Jasper increasing the intensity of their physical exercises, and Dot re-vamping the 3D-mesh projectors to be even more effective in the dark environment of the palace, Connie hardly had time to focus on the reason why their troops were spread so thin in the first place, namely the ongoing campaign against the terrorist forces on YX-437. High Captain Jasper seemed content to handle the strategy and planning with regards to those missions though, as she herself had plenty to deal with in organizing the troops for the Palace mission. However, with all of the stress and anxiety that went into preparing for the attack, Connie thought that she would be terrified now that the day was finally here, but as night grew closer and closer, all she felt was an odd sort of peace.

“How are you doing, Steven?”, Connie looked up from her screens, turning to Steven seated on his throne, his leg bouncing with anxiety.

“I’m pretty worried.”, Steven replied, continuing to fidget, “How much more time do we have until they get here?”

“About 45 minutes.” Connie replied, taking a sip of an obnoxiously spiced pumpkin spice latte, “45 minutes, 26 seconds.”

“That exact, huh?” Steven chuckled, trying to brighten his own mood.

“Yes.”, Connie replied simply, “Dot has already set up the projectors, the troops finished their simulations earlier today, since there was no physical exercise period, and the standard palace guards have all been given strict orders to run from the incoming Jaspers to avoid conflict, and the potential of friendly fire.”

“That’s good.”, Steven replied.

Suddenly, a light chime rang out from one of Connie’s screens, with Connie herself turning quickly to open the communication.

“High Captain Jasper, do you have a status update?”, Connie’s voice sounding urgent, yet authoritative.

“Yes ma’am.”, Jasper replied, “The Amethyst troops have finished their training and are headed to their positions now. With the adjusted training regimen, we were able to get the troop’s margin of error down to .0134%.”.

“One every ten-thousand runs?”, Connie asked, shocked, “That’s incredible!”

“Thank you, ma’am!”, Jasper beamed, “It’s mostly thanks to you though! Hosting those dry runs really helped us figure out our problem areas.”.

“Well, I’m glad they helped.”, Connie smiled, before continuing, “You mentioned that the troops are on their way to their positions?”.

“Yes ma’am.”, Jasper replied, “They should be there shortly.”.

“In that case, let’s turn on the com lines.”, Connie announced, pressing several buttons on her screen.

“Attention all troops.”, Connie’s voice rang out over the communication lines, “We are 2 centi-cycles until the mission starts. Everyone to your stations! Just like it was in the simulation, this line will be used for calling out checkpoints and target completions, and line 2 is a raw data line, used for the silent communication inside your team. Again, just like in the simulations, that is the line that you will be using to communicate your place in the enemy ranks to avoid friendly fire. Is everyone clear?”.

A chorus of “yes ma’am’s” came across the communications line.

At that Connie turned off her microphone, and sighed, Steven and herself alone in the silence of the throne room once more.

“Connie?”, Steven spoke up, getting her attention, “I know that I’m usually brave and optimistic in front of the others, cause all of the gems look to me as their leader. But I’m scared.”, Steven admitted, his eyes watery, “I know that you worked so hard on this plan, that all of these gems did, and I’m proud of them, and of you, but I can’t help but think about all of the things that could go wrong! All of the things that could happen…”.

“It’s going to be okay Steven.”, Connie replied, wrapping Steven in a tight hug, “I trust our troops. We’re going to make it through this.”.

“Sub-groups Alpha 1-4 in position!”, an Amethyst called out over the coms, getting Connie and Steven’s attention.

“Sub-groups Alpha 5-9 in position!”, another Amethyst called out.

“This is squadron leader Helenite Facet 1 1F3L, Cut 9NN, reporting that all members of Ambush Squadron Alpha are in position around the generator!”.

“Good.”, Connie replied, “Is Peridot 1AR there as well, to turn off the power?”.

“I am in position ma’am!” Dot replied over the coms, her limb enhancers adjusted to form a sturdy layer of armor around the gem.

“Sub-group Alpha 10 is in position!”, another Amethyst called out.

“Copy that, Dot.”, Connie smiled, noting that the last of the Amethysts of the Alpha team were ready.

“Alpha Contingency squadrons 1 and 2 are in position around the projectors!”, a Ruby’s voice could be heard from another com line.

High Guard Connie and Pink Steven watched the screens intently as more calls were made on the com line.

“Sub-groups Beta 1-4 in position!”.

“Alpha Contingency squadrons 3-5 are in position around the projectors!”.

“Sub-groups Beta 5-8 in position!”.

“Sub-groups Prime 1-4 in position!”.

“Beta Contingency squadrons 1-3 are in position around the projectors!”.

“Sub-groups Prime 5-8 in position!”.

“Sub-groups Beta 9 and 10 in position!”.

“Beta Contingency squadrons 4 and 5 are in position around the projectors!”.

“This is squadron leader Topaz Facet 5 5F2L, Cut 2KL, reporting that all members of Ambush Squadron Beta are in position in the High Strategy room!”.

“Sub-groups Prime 9 and 10 in position!”.

“Prime Contingency squadrons 1-4 are in position around the projectors!”.

Suddenly, the sound of marching gems could be heard from the stairwell leading up to the throne room. Steven’s eyes widened as the large number of gems made their way into the throne room. Sure, in the meeting room Connie had said that there needs to be a hundred gems guarding the throne room, but Steven thoroughly underestimated exactly what that would look like. Now surrounded by his fellow gems, Steven felt a bit more confident in Connie’s safety.

With a loud thud, several large projectors were set up on the throne room floor, and set to their standby mode.

At that, Chrysoberyl’s voice could be heard calling out to the squadron, “Ambush Squadron Prime troops! Form ranks and report!”.

At once, the large group of gems formed a series of orderly lines, shoulder to shoulder.

“Members 1-10 present and accounted for!”, a Ruby called out in reply.

“Members 11-20 present and accounted for!”, a Jasper called out in reply.

“Members 21-30 present and accounted for!”, an Amethyst called out in reply.

“Members 31-50 present and accounted for!”, a Helenite called out in reply.

“Members 51-60 present and accounted for!”, a Topaz called out in reply.

“Members 61-80 present and accounted for!”, a Nephrite called out in reply.

“Members 81-100 present and accounted for!”, a Pearl soldier called out in reply.

“All members are present and accounted for?”, Chrysoberyl’s voice echoed throughout the room.

“Yes ma’am!”, the Squadron shouted in unison.

“Good.”, Chrysoberyl replied, turning on her com line, “This is squadron leader Chrysoberyl Facet 1F1L Cut 1AB, reporting that all members of Ambush Squadron Prime are in position in the Throne room!”, her words echoing through Connie’s screens a moment afterwards.

The sound of footsteps could be heard echoing up the stairwell again, High Clarity Garnet appearing at the top of the steps.

“I will be joining the squadron defending My Steven, if that is alright.”, Garnet announced, in response to everyone’s stares.

“That is more than fine, my Clarity.”, Chrysoberyl replied bowing.

“All troops are in position.”, Connie announced, Steven’s expression growing serious once more.

“I have just received word from our scouts on the outskirts of the capitol.”, High Captain Jasper’s voice came across the coms, “The enemy Jasper squadron has entered the capitol, and are on their way to the palace.”.

“They’re right on time.”, Connie replied, glancing at the steadily decreasing timer on her screens, before turning on the mic for the coms once more, “All squadrons, the enemy is inside the capitol, engage cloaking.”.

At once, the everyone in the throne room disappeared, save for Connie, Steven, and Chrysoberyl, the latter of which took position behind the steps of the staircase, before drawing her weapon from her gem and turning invisible herself.

Connie wasn’t focused on that, however. Instead, she hurriedly adjusted the screens in front of her, making it so that the all of the live feeds of the palace were displayed prominently, and a readout of the enemy Jasper squadron took the center of the array of screens.

“Everyone get ready.”, Connie announced over the coms, “They’re here.”.

* * *

The Pink Palace was dead quiet as the Jaspers made their way into the lobby. Amethyst 3NG forced herself to remain calm, checking again to ensure that her disguise was indeed up.

“Alright everyone.”, a voice echoed throughout the large, empty room, “As we practiced.”.

Peeking an eye around the corner of the column she hid behind, she saw a large group of Jaspers making their way into the palace. At once, the large group of Jaspers split up into three groups, two of which headed off to a different siphon transporter, the last group heading down towards her.

“It’s just as those Sapphires said, huh 7BL?”, one of the Jaspers of the group called out to her fellow soldier, making their way towards the back columns that lead to the lower levels of the palace, “They didn’t expect a thing.”.

“Pipe down!”, the leading Jasper of the small group called back to the Jasper at the very back, “Stay focused, we’re looking for the hall that leads to their generator, not meandering about on some sightseeing tour!”.

3NG breathed in, focusing herself. This was it. Before the Jasper could reply, 3NG jabbed out with her rod, quickly and silently poofing her enemy. Without missing a beat, 3NG fell into lock step with the rest of the group.

“My apologies ma’am.”, the Amethyst replied, mimicking the Jasper’s voice, “I’ll stay focused.

“Good.”, the leading Jasper replied, oblivious to the switch that occurred.

As the group passed another row of columns, a second and third Amethyst infiltrated the group, each looking back to ensure that the Jaspers behind them in the formation was actually their friend in disguise.

3NG watched as more and more of the Jasper troops were replaced by Amethysts, the images beamed to her through the second com line confirming each Pink Court gems position in file. Despite all odds, High Guard Connie’s plan was working.

“Alright, finally. We’re in the generator room.”, the lead Jasper groaned, looking up at the large device in the room’s center, before turning to who she thought was a teammate, “6TH, help me shut this down.”.

“Yes ma’am.”, the disguised Amethyst replied, before walking up to the lead Jasper and removing her earpiece, cutting off her ability to communicate with the rest of the team.

“W-what has gotten into you 6TH!?”, the Jasper replied, perturbed, “Give me back that com line at once!”.

Suddenly, the 3D mesh projectors in the room deactivated, several Pink Court troops training their weapons on the Jasper leader.

“We got everyone, right?”, Amethyst 3NG asked, dropping her disguise as the other Amethysts dropped their disguises as well.

“What? WHAT!?”, the enemy Jasper replied, voice filled with fear, watching as the entirety of what she thought were her troops revealed themselves as her enemy, another Amethyst that was positioned off to the side of the room making her way towards her.

“You’re Jasper Facet 3 3F7L Cut 8UI, correct?”, the Amethyst asked, approaching the now very scared Jasper.

“Y-yes?”, Jasper got out, watching as the Amethyst who took her earpiece handed the device to this Amethyst that was questioning her.

“Good.”, the Amethyst replied, drawing a small, square device from her gem.

“P-please! I’ll do anything! Just don’t shatter me!”, the Jasper pleaded, now backed up against the side wall.

“Anything?”, the Amethyst smirked, pressing the device against the Jasper’s gem and pushing its button, “Then scream.”.

Whether it was Jasper’s willingness to obey, or just her sheer terror, she complied with the request, a high pitched note resounding from the device shortly afterwards.

Voice synced. Modulator ready for use.”, the machine chimed.

Amethyst’s smile grew, as she placed the device onto her gem, and turned on the enemy Jasper’s com line.

“This is Jasper Facet 3 3F7L Cut 8UI, reporting in.”, Jasper’s eyes widened in terror as the Amethyst before her perfectly recreated her voice and appearance.

“We have secured the palace generator, and are ready to destroy it at your command.”, the Amethyst continued on in 8UI’s voice.

“Team 1, this is Jasper Commander 1FG. You may destroy the generator now.”, the response came over the line.

“Alright Dot, that’s your cue!”, the Amethyst called out, turning off the enemy’s earpiece and turning on her other earpiece, setting it back to channel 1.

“High Guard Connie, this is Alpha team leader 3SD, reporting that Phase 1 has completed without error! Power will be down momentarily.”, 3SD reported jovially.

With a few button presses, Dot successfully turned off power to the majority of the palace, save for the throne room itself.

“Very good 3SD.”, Connie’s voice came over the line, “Head to the rendezvous point, and continue mission normally.”.

* * *

High Captain Jasper breathed a sigh of relief as soon as the message of team Alpha’s victory came across the coms.

However, we’re not in the clear yet.” Jasper thought to herself, her gaze focused on the screens from inside the ambush point in the mission room.

“Beta-3 successful.”, green lines flitted across High Captain Jasper’s eyes as she received the message over the silent com.

One moment, two moments passed.

“The squadron had passed subgroup Beta-4.”, Jasper stared hard at the screen in front of her, displaying an unchanged group of enemy Jaspers, with only three infiltrated allies.

“We have a problem!”, a loud whisper came across the com lines.

“Sub-group Beta-4, what is your status?”, Jasper replied.

“I accidentally froze the enemy Jasper instead of poofing her! I didn’t check the setting on my rod!”, the Amethyst whispered back frantically.

“Is the group aware of your presence?”, Jasper replied urgently.

“No ma’am! Only the allies saw my mistake and walked around the enemy’s frozen form!”, the Amethyst replied back.

“Dot, how long can a gem stay frozen with the disruptor rod?”, Jasper asked over the coms.

“As long as the rod is held to the gem’s form. They should be able to be frozen indefinitely.”, Dot replied back, “I would be more concerned about the squadron’s apparent lack of a member.”.

“Beta Contingency group 2, head to the Jasper’s location and poof her!”, Jasper ordered.

No!”, Connie’s voice came over the coms, “Contingency group two is in front of the Jasper team. If a soldier leaves, they will be seen by the enemy! Contingency group 1 will have to go in their stead.”.

“It will take longer.”, High Captain Jasper replied, worriedly.

“Would you like me to go in their stead, ma’am?”, Chrysoberyl offered, turning to Connie.

“No, Chrysoberyl, we will need you here, as backup.”, Connie replied, before speaking into her com lines, “Dot, how long will a gem stay frozen if the rod isn’t held to their form?”

“Around 1.25 millicycles.”, Dot replied, nervously.

Alright, that’s 1 minute and 48 seconds.”, Connie thought as she took a deep breath, “Amethyst of Beta 4, join the group of Amethysts. Beta Contingency group 1, get to the Jasper’s location as fast as you can and poof her! There is no time to waste!”, Connie’s order rang throughout the coms.

Jasper stared at the screens as a timer appeared next to the enemy indicator screen, counting down to when the Jasper would become freed from the rod’s effects.

“Beta contingency group 1 is en route to the Jasper’s position!”, a Topaz called out over the coms as they ran to their target.

“This is Amethyst 5XC of subgroup Beta-4 reporting that I have joined the Jasper squadron’s formation.”, green lines flitted across her eyes as the message went through.

“She’s in the group.”, Jasper called out over the audible coms, alerting Connie to the progress, “We just need the contingency group there quickly.”.

“Good.”, Connie’s voice came over the coms, as Jasper searched through the live feeds to determine where the group was.

One thing was for certain. If the group did make it, they would certainly be cutting it close.

* * *

Topaz’s chest heaved with exertion as she ran towards the target, her squadron trailing just behind her. She didn’t have much time to begin with, and the sheer distance between ambush point 4 and contingency point 1 was quite large.
“Pearl 199-11-2401!” Topaz called out to one of the soldier Pearl’s in her squadron, as she rounded the corner, ever closer to the target, “How good of a shot are you with your spear?!”.

“I am fairly accurate ma’am.”, Pearl 199-60-2401 replied, “Why do you ask?”.

“It may be necessary to shoot down the Jasper if we do not make it in time!”, Topaz called back, continuing her sprint, “We cannot have her using her coms to alert the rest of her group!”

“How much time do we have?”, 2FG called out over the coms.

“0.625 millicycles, or 54 seconds in Earth time.”, High Captain Jasper replied.

At that, Topaz pushed herself to run even faster, making her way through the cubicles of the lower floors of the armed forces devision.

“0.3125 millicycles, or 27 seconds left.”, Jasper reported, tone growing urgent.

“Target is in sight!”, Topaz called out, rounding the last corner.

However, instead of relief, her gem sank. The enemy was at the far end of the hall. There was no way for them to make it in time.

“No!”, Topaz growled, “2FG, fire at will!”

“Yes ma’am!”, the Pearl replied, firing off two consecutive rounds at the enemy gem as she ran, both shots failing to hit their target, “She’s still too far away, ma’am!”.

“Then get over here!”, Topaz called back, an idea occurring to her, as she reached out behind her.

“Yes ma’am?”, Pearl replied, grabbing onto her superior’s hand.

With a quick motion, Topaz scooped up the Pearl into her grasp, preparing to throw the gem as one would a javelin.

“I’m going to throw you at the target!”, Topaz yelled, still charging at the enemy, “Are you ready?”.

“0.156 millicycles left! 13 seconds!”, Jasper’s worried voice called out over the coms.

Pearl swallowed nervously, before steeling herself, “I’m ready!”, she replied.

With a mighty heave, Topaz hurled the Pearl across the corridor, the smaller gem’s spear pointed out in front of her, allowing her form to cut cleanly through the air.

High Captain Jasper watched the seconds tick away from the timer on her screen, her attention divided between the timer and the progress of the contingency team. Suddenly, a quick blur flitted across one of the live feeds. Jasper watched as a Pearl sailed through the air towards the target, before gracefully landing in front of the enemy gem. With a quick thrust of her spear to the head of the enemy’s light manifestation, the Jasper’s gem fell to the ground.

“This is Pearl 199-11-2401 of Contingency Group Beta-1. The target has been poofed.”, Pearl’s relieved voice came across the coms, followed by the sounds of cheering from her fellow soldiers.

“That’s great!“ Connie’s voice came over the coms, “How have the rest of the Beta teams fared?”

“Every other team has been successful.”, Jasper replied, eyeing the readout, “Only three enemy soldiers remain.”.

“That is good.”, Connie replied, pulling up the screen that displayed the progress of the Beta team.

* * *

High Captain Jasper watched as the number of enemy soldiers slowly decreased to two, the squadron’s leader and one other soldier.

“Everyone get ready.”, she called out, “They’re nearing the mission room.”.

The sound of footsteps could be heard coming down the hall. Jasper quickly dismissed her screens and donned her war helmet, the other members of the ambush team drawing their weapons. The sound of marching drew closer, Jasper steeled herself. Unlike the Alpha Team, these Jasper troops were prepared to fight.

A mighty blast resounded throughout the mission room, as the enemy Jaspers blew down the door. However, where the enemy expected to be met with confusion and fear, they were instead met with a large battalion of troops.

“PUT YOUR HANDS UP!”, High Captain Jasper ordered.

“We will never surrender! Not to inferior clods such as yourself!”, the leading Jasper of the enemy squadron replied, “Troops, attack!”.

A second passed, not a single gem dared move.

“Are you all cracked!? I said to attack!”, the lead Jasper angrily turned back to her troops, only to recoil in horror at the sight before her.

There, instead of her soldiers, stood eight Amethysts, each bearing the crest of the Pink Court.

Numbly, the lead Jasper fell to her knees.

“Amethyst 3RF, take the com line from their leader.”, High Captain Jasper ordered.

* * *

Amethyst 3RF quickly followed her orders, retrieving the com line and syncing the voice modulator so that she could make the call that the Jasper squadron was ‘successful’.

Truth be told, she didn’t expect the plan to be working this well. Sure, she had run this mission in the simulation and in the dry runs countless times, but at the end of the cycle, this plan was made by an organic. An organic that trained under one of the greatest strategists in all Four Courts yes, but still she was no gem, it made it hard to foresee this mission to really be successful. Yet, despite all of that here she was, having detained the second of three enemy teams, with not a single Pink Court gem shattered. Perhaps her Steven saw something in these organics that she herself could not.

“We just got word from High Clarity Garnet that we are clear to continue.”, High Captain Jasper called out, “3RF, you may send the call out over their line and head to the rendezvous point.”.

“Yes ma’am.”, 3RF replied, before bowing and turning on the enemy line, “This is Jasper, Facet 3 3F4L, cut 7MK, reporting in.”.

“Team 2, this is Jasper Commander 1FG.”, a response came in over the line, “What is your status?”

“We have shattered Pink Diamond’s high Court gems, they put up a good fight, but we suffered no losses. My troops are tired, but ready for the final stretch of the mission, ma’am.”.

“Good work, 7MK.”, the Jasper on the other end of the line replied, “We are at the rendezvous point with Team 1.”.

“We will be there shortly ma’am.”, 3RF finished, before turning to the Amethyst troops behind her, “Alright team. Let’s finish this mission!”.

At that, the other nine Amethysts gave a cheer, before re-engaging their disguises, and falling in step behind her as she made her way up the flight of stairs to the transport hub.

As soon as she made her way into the final staircase, she was greeted with the cool night air. The view of the Pink Court capitol spreading out before her like a maze of stained glass, its bright colors and lights illuminating the night sky.

This is what we’re fighting for, what High Guard Connie is fighting for.”, the thought entered 3RF’s gem as she reached the top platform, “This wouldn’t be here without my Steven. Gems wouldn’t be this free to express themselves without his work.” .

It was with these thoughts that pushed 3RF to trust in her High Guard. If her plan could be proven successful, despite all odds, then 3RF would follow her orders to the ends of the galaxy.

“You made it.”, 1FG called out to the group of disguised Amethysts, “Is everyone accounted for?”.

“Yes ma’am.”, 3RF replied, walking over to the rest of the Jaspers, “All members are accounted for.”

“Alright then.”, 1GF replied, looking over her troops, “Is everyone ready?”.

“Yes ma’am!”, the group of Jaspers and disguised Amethysts replied.

“Alright then Ameliorators, let’s shatter this farce of a Diamond!”, 1GF replied, before making her way to the spiral staircase that lead up to the throne room.

* * *

Connie stared nervously at the screen before her. Everything was going according to plan. The group of thirty enemies had been whittled down to five. So far, not a single gem had been shattered, but that didn’t mean that their victory was assured. All it took was one well aimed shot with a spear, or a quick strike with a sword and Steven would be gone. Any one of the gems in this room could be. That fact alone was why Connie could not allow herself to relax.

“Positions, everyone. They have five members counting their leader. Two rows of two gems each, immediately behind the leader. Everyone else is on our side.”, Connie ordered, dismissing her screens as the sound of the Jasper troops began echoing up the spiral staircase.

Connie drew her blade and took her position in front of Steven, determined to ensure his safety. Nothing would get past her. She was prepared, they both were. They had each other, she wasn’t facing them alone, and no force in the galaxy could prevail against them.

Connie watched as the Jasper squadron made their way into the room, as a blurred form silently tore through the four gems right behind the lead Jasper, their gems vanishing out of sight.

“Pink Diamond.”, the lead Jasper sneered, oblivious to the situation occurring behind her, the disguised Amethysts forming a semi-circle around the Jasper, “Your corruption of the Diamond Authority ends tonight! For in this cycle we, the Ameliorators, restore the Diamonds to their former glory!”.

“Oh really?”, Connie allowed herself to smirk, “You and what army?”.

At that, the lights in the throne room returned, momentarily stunning the enemy Jasper. Simultaneously, the 3D-mesh projectors deactivated, revealing the massive array of troops also present in the throne room, their weapons drawn and ready for battle.

“G-gah!”, Jasper 1GF paled at the sight of the enemy forces, “Troops, retreat!”.

However, just as the leader turned around, she came face-to-face with the twenty-five soldiers, each with a weapon pointed at her.

“W-what is the meaning of this?”, the Jasper replied, shaken, “You dare betray me? Betray the Rectificator?”.

“No need to worry. Your troops were quite loyal.”, Connie continued, as the Amethysts turned off their disguises, revealing their true identities.

Jasper 1GF turned back to Connie, a fire in her eyes, “This isn’t over! You haven’t beaten me yet!”.

However, just as it looked as though the Jasper was actually about to rush Steven, Chrysoberyl materialized in front of the enemy, a blade leveled at the Jasper’s gem, the other four Jasper gems secured in a bubble in Chrysoberyl’s other hand.

“Don’t even think about it.”, Chrysoberyl’s tone was as deadly as her blade.

At that, Jasper slowly raised her hands into the air, before being seized by two large Topaz gems.

“Now then 1GF.”, Connie spoke up, approaching the defeated enemy, “You are going to tell us everything you know this ‘Rectificator’ gem.”.

* * *

Connie sighed as she sat on the floor reclined against Steven’s throne, next to Steven himself who was lying across the armrests.

“We did it.” Connie spoke up tiredly.

“We did.”, Steven replied back, “Your plan worked!”

“We’re safe.”, Connie replied, her emotions finally coming out, “Oh Steven, you’re safe.”, she cried, hugging Steven tightly.

“I’m so glad you’re okay.”, Steven cried, clinging onto Connie, “I’ve been having so many nightmares about losing you ever since that meeting with Garnet. I’m just so glad that you’re safe.”.

“Same here.”, Connie chuckled slightly, before pulling away and actually noticing the dark circles under Steven’s eyes, “Looks like we could both use a good night’s sleep.”.

“You could say that again.”, Steven laughed.

“But first, we need to do something with the information we got from that Jasper. Pink Pearl?”, Connie called over to the Pearl standing dutifully by the throne, “We need to set up some form of sanctuary for off-colored gems, a heavily guarded area wherein they can be protected from being singled out and picked off by these Ameliorators.”.

“Well, while there are a large number of off-color gems recorded as of the Era 3 census, a significant number exist as cross-gem fusions. As a result, they number far lower than the reported count, because of this I would estimate that around at least 90% of the galaxy’s reported 5,785,376 off color gems could live comfortably in one or two facets.”

“Only 5.7 million off-colors?”, Connie questioned, “That seems small.”.

“Yes, well we must take into account that off-colors themselves are formed due to imperfections and miscalculations in an injector’s drill head and Diamond essence extrusion, factors that Kindergarten certified Peridots pride themselves on keeping as low as possible. It wasn’t until Era Three wherein the Kindergarten Peridots grew more lax with their restraints on gem production and cultivation, as societal opinions on off-colors began to change. However, these years amount to but mere moments when compared to the scale of gem production over the past two Eras.”, Pink Pearl explained.

“That makes sense.”, Connie replied.

“Hang on.”, Steven replied, sitting up now, “Weren’t there four unused facets on HK-1 that we aren’t able to do anything with?”.

“There are, my Steven. Would you like me to assemble a team of Bismuths, Iolites, Topazs, and Peridots to begin planning and construction of this sanctuary?”, Pink Pearl asked.

“Yes.”, Steven spoke, setting Connie’s plan into motion, “As long as these Ameliorators are out there, they aren’t safe on their own.”.

“Consider it done, my Steven. I will assemble the necessary gems now, and have drafts of the plans ready for your review when you rise next cycle!”, Pink Pearl replied merrily, before making her way to the warp pad.

“Thank you Pearl!”, Steven called out, followed by Connie chiming in with her own thanks.

“It is my pleasure.”, Pink Pearl smiled, as she warped away, disappearing in a flash of light.

Suddenly the melodic chime of the Acclamation of the Diamond Authority rang throughout the throne room, a large screen composed of four, interlocking, blue, diamond shapes materializing in the room’s center.

“The Diamond Line.”, Connie breathed, before quickly getting off of Steven’s lap, straightening her uniform, and standing at attention.

“Hello, Blue! How are you doing?”, Steven greeted the other Diamond, after having moved to sit properly in his throne.

“Hello Steven.”, Blue Diamond smiled back, “I am doing quite well. I actually wanted to speak with High Guard Connie, if it is alright with you.”, Blue Diamond replied, asking permission to speak with the other Diamond’s subjects.

“Sure!”, Steven replied, slightly confused.

“Yes, your Radiance?”, Connie greeted the Diamond, bowing in the Diamond salute.

“Chrysoberyl has informed me of your cunning and skill used to stop a potential threat to Pink Steven.”, Blue Diamond began, “ I would like to commend you on your success and offer you a mission from my Court with which to further your career.”.

“Thank you, your Radiance!”, Connie bowed once more, excited that she was getting recognition for her efforts.

A mission from Blue Diamond?", she rambled internally, "With this kind of recognition, I can begin helping even more gems!

* * *

A green gem glared at screens filled with static in front of her, dismayed by the loss of signal from Jasper 1GF. Suddenly, a knock echoed throughout the dimly lit room, startling its occupant.

“Come in.”, a large green gem grumbled, turning away from the screens in front of her.

“Rectificator.”, a Nephrite greeted, slowly making her way through the room’s threshold, “We have word from our Padparadschas, the attack on the Pink Palace was a failure.”.

“Yes, I am aware Timeweaver.”, the great Emerald ‘Rectificator’ replied through gritted teeth, “Do your clarities have any word on how they managed to stop my best troops!?”.

“They were apparently lead by the organic High Guard.”, Timeweaver replied.

“Oh sure they were. Do you honestly believe that a lowly organic took out gems as unblemished as those that we sent to shatter Pink Steven?”, Emerald spat.

“You doubt my Clarities?”, Timeweaver asked, her tone taking on an edge.

“Your Clarities? No.”, Emerald replied, “But those off-color runts that call themselves Clarities? Yes, I do.”.

At that, the large Nephrite leaned in close to Emerald.

“Listen here, Emerald.”, Timeweaver whispered menacingly, “Off-colors or not, they are a valuable addition to my team. Insult them again and there will be consequences.”.

Grumbling to herself once more, the large Emerald returned to her screens.

“Next time, we’ll shatter those clods. Even with the aid from their organic!”, Emerald vowed, a new plan coming together.

“You want me to develop another plan of attack so soon?”, Nephrite asked, her tone wavering with uncertainty.

“No…”, Emerald breathed, “Determine a future where the galaxy is made clean from the lies and impurities that the Pink Court spews each and every cycle, and then find a way to achieve it!”, the gem growled, “Until then, I will remain here, organizing my forces to continue their assaults as scheduled.”.

“Very well, Rectificator…”, the Nephrite relented.

“Very well…”.

Chapter Text

“Congratulations, ma’am!”.

“Good work, High Guard Connie!”.

Connie could only smile and voice her appreciation as she tiredly made her way through the Pink Palace and to her quarters, carrying yet another medal earned for completing yet another special mission assigned by the Diamonds.

With a press of her hand, the door to her quarters unlocked, its cozy living room inviting her in. Carefully, she rested the new medal atop her ever growing stack of accolades and recognitions that were piling up in the room’s corner.

I should really organize these.”, Connie thought tiredly to herself, “Maybe Pearl could help with that?”.

However, that was a task for another day. Making her way over to her armory, she all but tossed her broadsword and armor onto the center podium, the device sorting the gear accordingly. Now in her High Guard uniform, she made her way onto the warp pad next to her bed, sparing a glance to the photo displayed prominently at her bedside. Connie smiled, looking at the picture of Connie and Steven surrounded by a few high Court members and a large crowd of off-color gems. The inauguration of the off-color sanctuary was a sight to behold, and one that she never wanted to forget. Steven was so happy that day too, laughing as several colorful gems ran about, so happy, so free. Of course, it put Connie herself at ease too. With the threat of the Rectificator ever-looming, measures needed to be taken to protect those that were a target of the terrorist organization. Connie glanced back to her-ever growing pile of accolades and medals, setting the picture down once more.

“Yes, I’m winning battles and getting recognized, but I’m only fighting because that Rectificator is getting more and more bold.”, Connie sighed, the sight filling her with dismay rather than pride.

Shaking off the feeling, Connie stepped on the warp pad, before materializing at the front steps of her house.

“Hi mom.”, Connie greeted tiredly, opening the front door.

“Connie!”, Priyanka smiled, standing up from her chair, “How was work today?”.

“It went well.”, Connie replied, “I completed two missions today. One from Yellow Diamond, and one from White Diamond.”.

“Those are the really important gems, right?”, Priyanka asked, trying to remember the hierarchy of gem society.

“Yes mom.”, Connie chuckled, “They are pretty important.”.

“And I’m guessing that’s why you have more decorations on your uniform?”, Priyanka replied, noting the medals.

“Yeah, they awarded me with them for my victories and leadership ability.”, Connie yawned.

“That’s wonderful, Connie!”, Priyanka praised, before noting the dark circles under her eyes, “You should be getting more rest though. Have you been getting eight hours of sleep a night? You should really head to sleep as soon as we finish up dinner…”, Priyanka fretted, brushing away Connie’s hair to get a better look at her, her gaze moving between Connie’s tired features and the turquoise gem on her forehead.

“I’ve been getting enough sleep, Mom.”, Connie replied, brushing off her mom’s concerns, “But I can’t sleep just yet. I have some more studying to do for the exams tomorrow.”.

“Right.”, Priyanka sighed, “Final exams are tomorrow.”.

“Yep!”, Connie replied, smiling as she headed into her room to study, “If I ace the finals, I’ll have secured another perfect report card!”.

“That’s great, honey.”, Priyanka replied worriedly, “You’ll get more rest after school lets out, right?”.

“Yes mom!”, Connie called back, before closing the door to.

Priyanka fell back into her chair, full of concern for her daughter.

“She’s keeping her promises. But at what cost?”.

* * *

Connie let out a sigh of relief as she made her way out of the classroom, grateful that the exams of the school year were all behind her.

I think I did pretty well on my math final, but the last set of questions on my bio final definitely proved to be more challenging than what I had studied for.”, Connie thought to herself, as she began cleaning out her locker, drawing its contents into her gem.

“Hey if it isn’t the gem freak!”, a voice called out from behind her, interrupting her thoughts.

“Hi Mertle, Linda, Veronica. What do you all want this time?”, Connie was too tired for this.

“So how did your finals go, hm?”, Mertle replied condescendingly.

“I bet she uses that rock in her head to cheat.”, Linda snarked.

“I do not cheat!”, Connie replied indignantly.

“Uh-huh, sure.”, Mertle replied, backing Connie up into the lockers, “So you just happen to get better grades than all of us, despite hanging out with your alien friends the whole time? I don’t think so.”.

“I studied hard to get where I am.”, Connie defended herself.

“Oh, and we don’t?”, Mertle bit back, Connie’s eyes widened as she realized her mistake, “You spend so much time with those rock freaks that you think you’re better than us?”.

“I think you should teach her some humility, Mertle.”, Veronica taunted.

“I think you’re right V. Let’s see what happens when we crack that stone in your head.”, Mertle smirked, winding up her fist to punch Connie.

All of a sudden, the world around Connie slowed down to a snail’s pace, as her instincts kicked in.

Three enemies are in front of you, only one is a current threat.”, one part of Connie’s mind assessed, “Her stance is poor, use that to your advantage.”.

In one fluid motion, Connie closed the distance between herself and Mertle, before wrapping her arm around Mertle’s neck, and stepping across Mertle’s leading leg, she backed her hip into Mertle’s hip. Having gained proper leverage, she curved her form downwards, throwing Mertle into the lockers as she flipped her upside-down.

Current threat has been neutralized, however the other two enemies are now at your back, and could strike at any time. You are not wearing your armor, so an attack now could be fatal.”, Connie’s mind supplied.

Moving at a tremendous speed, Connie ducked low to avoid a potential attack, sweeping her leg out in a circular motion, knocking Veronica and Linda off of their feet and onto their backs. A rustling sound came from behind Connie, alerting her to Mertle attempting to move.

All enemies are in prone position, the first enemy is getting back up. Use swords to pin enemies and regain control of situation.”, the instinctual part of Connie’s mind supplied once more.

With a clean motion, Connie drew two swords from her Turquoise gem. Pointing one at Mertle, and aiming the other between the two bullies in front of her.

“Wait.”, Connie blinked, her fight-or-flight response wearing off, as she realized what she was doing.

“P-please don’t k-kill me.”, Veronica whimpered, “I’m s-sorry!”

“Oh Stars.”, Connie’s eyes widened as she returned her swords to her gem.

“I am so sorry!”, Connie apologized , before bending down and offering Veronica a hand, the latter flinching away from her, before running away, Linda trailing closely behind.

“Okay. That’s fair.”, Connie sighed to herself, turning back to Mertle.

“Ugggh.”, Mertle moaned still collapsed on the floor, a bruise beginning to form on her forehead.

“Here let me help you.”, Connie replied apologetically, bending down to give the bully a helping hand.

“Gah!”, Mertle screeched, desperately trying to put distance between herself and Connie, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!”.

Connie could only stand helplessly as her bullies all scampered to get away from her.

“Linda and Veronica Taylor, Mertle Edmonds, and Connie Maheswaran, please report to the Principals office.”, a voice rang out over the school’s PA system.

“Yep.”, Connie sighed, exhausted, “This is how today’s going to go, isn’t it.”.

* * *

“So, after looking over the camera feeds, and the accounts from other students. I have decided to not continue with any punitive action for today’s events.”, the Principal concluded, her expression making Connie feel uneasy.

“Wait, what?”, Connie asked, surprised, “I leveled my sword at students! No, I leveled TWO SWORDS at the students!”, she fretted.

“I know, but the students you pointed the sword at had each admitted that they provoked the fight, and that you had tried to help them after the attack.”, the principal chuckled, “Those three will probably think twice before giving any other students trouble now.”.

“So, I’m not in trouble?” Connie asked.

“No, but I did want to talk to you, Connie.”, the Principal replied, drawing her gaze back to Connie, “This ‘internship’ that you have with the gems. What exactly does in entail for you to be trained in hand to hand combat and swordsmanship?”

“Uhm, it involves serving as security personnel and working as a tactical and strategic consultant, mostly.”, Connie replied nervously, before yawning.

“Hence the swords?”, she asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Yes, hence the swords.”, Connie replied, before her attention was drawn to a coffee maker off to the right of the principal’s desk, “Hey, is it alright if I have some coffee?”

“Help yourself.”, the principal replied, surprised by the small student’s apparent taste for coffee.

“And this internship with the gems, they are paying you for your work, right?”, the principal pressed on.

“Oh yes.”, Connie chuckled lightly as she poured herself a cup of coffee, “They’re actually giving me a salary!”.

“You’re seventeen and they’re giving you a salary?”, the principal replied, slightly shocked.

“Yeah, the gems don’t have that strong of a concept of the age of humans and its relation to ability. They really only care about what people have achieved, or can achieve.”, Connie replied, taking gulps of her drink.

“I take it that they’re paying you well then, for you to want to stick with them through all this.”, she replied bemusedly.

“They are paying me a lot, $164 thousand dollars a year…”, Connie began as the principal sputtered with bewilderment, “But that’s not why I’m staying with them.”, Connie’s face seemed to light up as she explained, “I really enjoy helping the gems out. Spending time with all of them, and helping them thrive is really important to me!”.

The principal could only stare at this puzzle before her, glancing between her and her report card of straight A’s. Here was a seventeen-year old kid, working a six figure job, keeping up with her studies, and chugging black coffee.

“You’re not getting a lot of sleep, are you?”, the principal commented eventually.

“I’m getting enough sleep.”, Connie replied, finishing her coffee, the heavy bags under her eyes betraying her statement.

“Uh-huh.”, the principal replied skeptically, “In any case, that was all I wanted to ask you about.”, she finished, before standing up and handing Connie her report card.

“You’re doing an amazing job, Connie.”, she spoke up, as Connie’s eyes widened at her final grades, “Just take care of yourself okay?”.

“Will do, ma’am!”, Connie replied excitedly, before running off with a whoop of joy.

* * *

“So, you got your report card in?”, Priyanka asked at the dinner table, between mouthfuls of spaghetti.

“Yes!”, Connie exclaimed excitedly, “I got straight A’s! Even in the French history class!”.

“That’s wonderful honey.”, Priyanka replied, gaze downcast as she tried to think of how she could best approach this topic.

This expression did not go unnoticed by Connie, however.

“What’s wrong?”, Connie asked, concerned.

“We’re… worried for you Connie, for your health.”, Priyanka began, unsteadily, “All of this work with the Diamonds, you need to cut back so that you can care for yourself.”.

“I’m FINE mom! I’m keeping all of my promises!”, Connie replied, slightly upset by her mother’s insistence that she needed to stop spending as much time with the Diamonds, she was just starting to truly help them out - she can’t stop now!

“Connie, you are most certainly NOT fine!”, Priyanka replied angrily, “You have kept all of your promises, but we’re worried about you! LOOK at yourself! You’re exhausted, you’re shaking, and if you keep working yourself this hard you’ll start losing weight! This is not healthy! How are you supposed to help the gems, when you can’t even help yourself!?”.

Connie deflated slightly at her mom’s words.

“I was a lot like you, when I first started med school.”, Priyanka’s tone shifted, more solemn than before, “I wanted to help people so badly, that I disregarded my own personal health.”, Priyanka paused, looking into Connie’s eyes, “I know how much this means to you. How much helping others means to you. But please, if not for me, if not for yourself, then do it for your patient- I mean, do it for THE GEMS.”, Priyanka corrected herself, “Don’t make the same mistakes I did.”.

“I won’t mom.” Connie replied, understanding where her mom was coming from, “I’ll take better care of myself. I pro-.”, Connie began, before being cut off by her gem glowing.

Suddenly, the Acclamation of the Diamond Authority filled the dining room, a large screen comprised of four interlocking white diamond shapes materializing in the room’s center, filling the room with a radiant glow.

“Connie.”, Priyanka spoke patiently, but sternly, “Our rule of ‘no cell phones at the dinner table’ includes communication lines from gems.”.

Connie was not paying attention, instead she was all but choking on her food as she hurriedly scrambled up from the dinner table.

“W-White Diamond!?”, Connie sputtered, before pressing a hand to her gem, her High Guard uniform materializing on her, as she took a few steps backwards from the table.

“Connie!?”, Priyanka replied, “We are having dinner!

“I’m sorry, mom! But this is important!”, Connie replied, urgency filling her voice.

At once, Connie bowed in a Diamond salute, the image of White Diamond appearing before her.

“Greetings, your Radiance.”, Connie replied, still bowing.

“Greetings, High Guard Connie.”, White Diamond replied, “My High Captain, Lace Amethyst 1AA has informed me that your mission was successful. Congratulations.”.

“Thank you, your Radiance.”, Connie replied, still bowing.

“That is the five-hundred eightieth such victory for my court where you have succeeded despite overwhelming odds. As such, you are deserving of a reward.”, White Diamond continued.

“Thank you, your Radiance.”, Connie replied again.

“Yeah, is the reward a BREAK?!”, Priyanka spoke up, bristling as she walked into the frame of the communications line.

“Mom!?”, Connie replied, several shades paler, “Sit back down!”.

“Have I reached you at a bad time, Connie?”, White Diamond asked, patiently.

“Not at all your Radiance.”, Connie replied, before turning back to her mom, whispering harshly, “Mom, please sit down, this is not the time!”.

“Not right now, honey.”, Priyanka replied, before turning to White Diamond, “Look. You may be some high up in gem society, but that doesn’t mean that you get to just treat Connie like a tool, or a means to an end! She is still a child, and you’re running her into the ground! Connie loves you and all of the gems, but she’s neglecting herself! She needs sleep, and rest! And she can’t get that if you, and Blue Diamond, and magenta or whatever other color of Diamond keep giving her so many missions!”, Priyanka finished, chest heaving from her rant.

Connie could only stare in shock at her mom’s outburst, before turning back to White Diamond, who was staring hard at her mom through the screen.

“Out of respect for what Connie has done for my Court, and the other three courts of the Diamond Authority, as well as your apparent lack of knowledge of who we are, in addition to your concern for High Guard Connie, I will excuse your insolent behavior.”, White Diamond replied sternly, before turning her gaze to Connie, “Is what this organic said true? That you are neglecting your health in order to take on this workload?”.

“Y-yes your Radiance.”, Connie admitted, shamefully.

“I see. You must understand that overworking oneself leads to negative consequences. Stress can lead you to get hurt in battle, make simple mistakes, or even crack under the pressure.”, White Diamond lectured, “Have you tried spending time in the healing chambers? Accounts from human tourists report that it is incredibly rejuvenating.”, White Diamond supplied.

“I have not, your Radiance.”, Connie replied.

“The Peridots of my court will see to it that units are installed in your quarters and your secondary place of residence. Your organic acquaintance was correct that you should take proper care of yourself.”, White Diamond continued, “Moreover, I will see to it that your schedule is monitored so that you do not take on more work than your gem can handle.”.

“Thank you, your Radiance.”, Connie replied.

“You are a skilled tactician, a brave leader, and a formidable warrior, it would be tragic for you to suffer preventable harm.”, White Diamond finished.

“Thank you, your Radiance. I will take better care of myself.”, Connie replied, bowing in the Diamond salute once more.

“That will be all for now.”, White Diamond replied, “I expect to see you in the palace next cycle for during the briefing period, you will be assigned on a new mission under my court.”.

“Thank you, your Radiance, I will be there.”, Connie bid her superior goodbye, as White Diamond ended the communication line.

“See, was that so bad?”, Priyanka chuckled, smiling down at Connie, “I gave that bright gem an earful, and she actually listened. Now you have a better workload, and some ‘healing chambers’ on the way apparently?”.

“Mom.”, Connie replied, pinching her eyebrows together, “I love you, and thank you for caring about me, but you CANNOT speak to Diamonds that way!”.

“What’s the problem? She listened to me! You’re over here bowing to them like they’re royalty or something.”, Priyanka replied, casually.

“They ARE royalty mom!”, Connie replied exasperated.

“What?”, Priyanka replied, paling slightly.

“YES! How do you think I’m able to help so many gems when I’m working? I’m doing important work that helps out the gems because I’m working directly under, and at the service of the Diamond Authorities!”, Connie all but screamed, “And you just sassed the head of their entire matriarchy!”.

“Oh.”, Priyanka replied, eyes wide as she fell back into her chair at the dinner table, “Oh heavens…”.

“How do I apologize?”, Priyanka spoke up, eventually.

“I’ll have to tell her you’re sorry when I see her tomorrow.”, Connie replied, sighing.

Suddenly, the sound of the doorbell rang throughout the house.

“Who could that be?”, Priyanka muttered, still focused on her previous actions towards White Diamond.

“I’ll get it.”, Doug replied, standing up from the dinner table, and making his way to the front door.

As Doug opened the door, he was greeted to the sight of several Peridot gems, each bearing the crest of the White Court.

“Greetings organic.”, the Peridot closest to Doug began, “This is the secondary quarters of Pink Court High Captain Connie Maheswaran, is it not?”.

“Uhhh, Connie?”, Doug called back into the house, “It looks like some gems are here to see you.”.

“Hello?”, Connie replied, appearing in the doorway.

“Greetings High Guard Connie.”, the Peridot replied, bowing lightly, “We are here to install the healing chamber as requested by my Diamond.”.

“Ah, right this way.”, Connie replied, leading the Peridots into her room.

“If you could just set it up around my bed, that would be great.”, Connie ordered.

“Your bed?”, the lead Peridot replied, confused.

“This object right here.”, Connie replied, pointing to the bed.

“Alright then, it will only be a moment, ma’am!”, Peridot replied, before starting work on the device, drawing several large components out her gem.

* * *

“So this is how the gems stay so well rested!”, Connie laughed, as she laid back in bed, the healing chamber revitalizing her body.

“Is it working?”, Priyanka asked, mildly curious as to how the device worked.

“It is!”, Connie replied, yawning again, “I’m gonna get some rest now.”.

“Alright, honey.”, Priyanka replied, before placing a hand on her shoulder, “I’m so proud of you, you know that?”.

“I know mom.”, Connie smiled back, holding onto her hand.

“Love you, good night.”, Priyanka finished, before turning out her bedroom light.

“Goodnight mom. I love you.”.

Chapter Text

Connie made it a point to always be early for every meeting. It was as her father said, ‘If you’re early, you’re on time, and if you’re on time, you’re late’. Today was no different, as Connie sat alone in the briefing room of the White Court, twiddling her thumbs, and looking around the room’s radiant, white interior as she waited for the other members to arrive. Although, it wasn’t long until White Diamond herself arrived, her large form appearing in the room’s threshold.

“Good cycle-start, Connie. I see you are early as always.”, White Diamond greeted.

“Good cycle-start, your Radiance.”, Connie replied, bowing in the traditional Diamond salute.

“How were the healing chambers that the Peridots installed?”, White Diamond asked.

“They were wonderful, your Radiance!”, Connie exclaimed, “I feel much better now.”

“That is good to hear.”, White Diamond replied.

“Oh, and that reminds me.”, Connie replied, remembering her mother’s message, “My mother, Priyanka, offers her sincerest apologies for her behavior on the transmission last cycle.”.

At that, White Diamond nodded, before the rest of the gems that were to attend the briefing began filing into the room.

“Greetings everyone.”, White Diamond began, after everyone sat at their place in the table, “If everyone is ready, we may begin.”.

“Thank you, my Diamond.”, a Peridot bowed at the far end of the table, “The first news from the cycle brings new intel from our Clarities and analytical team, regarding the thwarting and general prevention of terrorist attacks. Specifically, our teams have found that periodic ‘Shows of Force’, or patrols that include the presence of a Diamond are very adept at thwarting terrorist attacks, as it instills fear in our enemy.”.

“That is useful information, 6GC.“, White Diamond replied, “Now let us continue with the primary matter at hand.”.

“The situation is as follows.”, 6GC explained, “One cycle ago, on colony W-1b a group operating under the Ameliorators attacked and successfully gained control of White Court Research Lab Epsilon. These gems were highly skilled, able to take down the squadron of guards that we used to defend the location.”.

At that information Connie tensed slightly. After all, it was commonly known that as the lead matriarch, White Diamond, and by extension the White Court had the very best of everything. The best colonies, the best technology, and most importantly, the best guards. To take them down would be no small feat.

“However, approximately 3 centicycles after their infiltration, we received a message from the enemy, stating that they have taken hostages.”, 6GC continued.

“Why strike a hard target, but also take hostages?”, Connie muttered, “If they’re holding hostages, it must mean that they didn’t find what they were looking for in the facility, or the facility itself isn’t their express goal. Have they made any demands?”.

“Yes.”, White Diamond replied, before nodding to the Peridot at her right, the latter of which promptly pulling up a large screen of the facility.

“The Ameliorators have offered to release hostages in exchange for decryption codes to one of our prototypes.”, the Peridot explained.

“What does this prototype do, exactly? What makes it so special?”, Connie asked.

“Not only is that information classified, I fail to see how that is relevant.”, Peridot scolded.

“We cannot assume that our enemy is unprepared, especially after the attack on my Steven’s palace.”, Connie replied, sternly, “If we know what they’re after, we can get a better idea on what they aim to do, and inversely, what sort of situation that they have prepared themselves for in their operation. For instance, if the prototype that they’re after was rather small, then they might not prioritize a large escape vessel, and instead intend to sneak the device out through some other means. On the other hand, if the item in question is large, then we need to be made aware of the possibility that they have backup arriving for the device’s extraction.”.

“She has a point, 6GC.”, White Diamond replied.

“Yes, my Diamond.”, 6GC relented, before continuing, “Very well. While the physical prototype itself was destroyed as a part of a failsafe in case of attack, the blueprints exist in an encrypted format on a hard drive. The prototype was the culmination of project Silex, and the encryption key is what the enemies want in return for the hostages.”.

“Project Silex?”, Connie asked, pressing further.

“The goal of project Silex was to create a device that could bypass the lengthy and inherently flawed process of interrogating captured gems, and instead access their memories directly. We have based this ability on one possessed by White Diamond herself, wherein she can access a gem’s memories sequentially via the gem’s screen. However, the project’s goal is to be able to make the process far more direct, allowing the interrogator to search through another gem’s memories at any point, and even according to rudimentary search terms.”, 6GC paused letting her words sink in, “The most recent prototype was capable of doing just that, and while the physical version was destroyed, its blueprint was consistently updated throughout the design process.”.

“Meaning that if they get the blueprints…”, Connie began.

“Then they get the prototype.”, Peridot finished.

“How big was the prototype?”, Connie asked.

“Pretty large.”, 6CG replied, looking around the massive briefing chamber, “It would fill about half of this room.”.

“Then we are at a true disadvantage.”, Connie replied, disheartened.

“And why is that, ma’am?”, 6CG asked.

“Our enemies expected to have to extract an entire room’s worth of contents from the lab. However, due to your ‘failsafe’, their work is far easier. They now only need to remove something that could easily be hidden inside of one’s gem.”, Connie assessed.

“Well, their work is far harder now…”, 6GC trailed off.

“And do you think these agent’s superiors care? If they get their hands on the blueprints, they’ll just build their own prototype. We must assume that the same group that can amass such an effort against the White Court, also possesses a great deal of assets of their own. Resources to build a device won’t be an issue for them.”, Connie replied harshly, “What we need to do is focus on finding a way to get the hostages out of the building, so we can flood it with troops.”.

“You want to give them the code?”, the Peridot replied, incredulous.

“No. That should be a last resort, and only if we can ensure that they will not be able to deliver the contents of the hard drive via com line.”, Connie replied, firmly.

At that, White Diamond stared at Peridot 6GC, a silent order given.

“We… may have been working on a device that can disrupt gem com lines. It creates what we call a chromatic distortion field, preventing the transmission of inter-gem communications. Its existence is highly classified, for reasons that should be obvious. We cannot afford this technology to fall into the possession of the enemy, or even into the possession of less careful gems.”, 6GC replied, sheepishly.

“Will we be able to use it for this mission?”, Connie asked.

“Yes, although this version is only the prototype. It isn’t able to target specific gems, so if we use it, it will end up affecting our own troops.”, the Peridot reported.

“We can work around that.”, Connie replied, “What we really need is a way in which to extract the hostages from the lab, while ensuring that the hard drive stays inside our observed perimeter. Do we know where the hostages are being held?”, Connie asked.

“Yes, the hostages are being held in the lower quadrant of the lab.”, Peridot replied, pointing to the lower section of Lab Epsilon on the screen.

“Good, and where are the hard-drives held?”, Connie questioned further.

“The drive in question is located in the center of the lab.”, 6GC replied, “We know that it’s still there because we were able to remotely access the lab’s main computer to ensure that the drive in question is still plugged into the mainframe.”.

Connie paused, staring deeply at the map in front of her.

“Good.”, Connie replied, a plan forming in her mind, “I believe that we may have our way in.”.

“I’m glad to hear it, High Guard Connie.”, White Diamond spoke up, “We cannot afford for that project to fall into enemy hands. Your responsibility is to ensure that the projects of Lab Epsilon are kept safe by any means necessary.”.

“Yes ma’am.”, Connie bowed deeply once more.

She definitely had her work cut out for her.

* * *

“Great Rectificator, this is the head of Strike team Theta, Amethyst 5AY, reporting in for an update.”, the Amethyst reported, from her position at the center console, “The Diamond Authority still hasn’t replied to our communications, and I fear that they are preparing a counterstrike. In the meantime, our lead scientist Peridot 5TY has been unsuccessful in cracking the encryption.”.

“Of course they’re preparing a counterstrike, you clod!”, the Emerald replied angrily, “What, did you think that they would just let you walk in and take over the place without fighting back!?”.

“No ma’am, but Timeweaver said that our mission would be successful!”, the Amethyst replied, fretfully.

“I don’t care what Timeweaver said!”, Emerald replied, angrily, “You need to be preparing contingencies, and now!”.

“But, but the timeline?”, Amethyst replied, meekly.

“You’re one of my top generals 5AY, act like it. I will not lose again.”, the Rectificator replied angrily, before cutting off the communications line.

At that, the Amethyst sighed, before falling back into her chair.

“What are your orders, ma’am?”, Peridot 5TY spoke up eventually.

“We need a strategy”, Amethyst began, “Do you have any ideas?”.

“I might”, 5TY replied, “The files on the hard drive, they can easily be copied to an entirely different drive. If we have multiple prototype drives, we may just be able to leave with both the key and the drive.”.

“In that case, do whatever you see fit.”, Amethyst sighed, relinquishing control to her subordinate, “Just know that if you fail, we’re all shattered.”.

“Yes ma’am.”, 5TY replied, before saluting and going about her work.

* * *

This is the High Guard’s plan!?”, Peridot 6GC internally fretted to herself, looking down at the lab from her view in the main warship, “Are we really doing this? Are we really, REALLY doing this? If this is her plan, then HOW DID SHE GET AS FAR AS SHE DID!? Stars! She’s lead more gems to victory than even most of generals of the Yellow Court!? And she’s only existed for 17 planetary circuits for Diamond’s sakes!”.

“Ma’am? Permission to speak freely?”, 6GC stuttered, bowing lightly to Connie.

“Momentarily, 6GC.”, Connie replied, before turning back to the Aquamarine that she was speaking with prior, “Keep our enemy occupied with the negotiations, tell them that your superiors have sent for the code, and it is on its way. We can’t have them suspecting anything, understood?”, Connie ordered.

“Yes ma’am.”, the Aquamarine bowed.

“Alright, what was it you wished to say, 6GC? Is the distorter primed and ready to block their communications?”, Connie asked.

“Yes ma’am, the distorter is primed and ready for use at your signal, however, that is not what I wished to say.”, the Peridot took a deep breath, “But I have to ask, are you quite certain that it is optimal to be firing on our own base, with hostages inside?”, the gem stressed.

“Peridot, look the map of the lab once more.”, Connie replied patiently, gesturing towards the large screen on the warship’s center console.

“Yes ma’am.”, the small gem replied.

“All of the White Court gems, everyone we are here to save, they’re all located right here.”, Connie pointed to a large, circular room, in the southmost point of the lab, just below a corridor leading directly to the main hub, “Every entrance and exit to the facility is heavily guarded, and even if we were able to force our way inside, there’s no way of guaranteeing that the enemy won’t shatter a hostage in the time it takes us to get to the southern chamber of the laboratory. Therefore, a surprise attack is necessary.”, Connie explained, as if giving a class lecture, “If we try to use standard weaponry, or plasma cutters, they’ll end up being too slow, and we risk injuring a White Court gem. Moreover, these tools also produce a fair amount of noise, so their use in a stealth application is also moot. As such, utilizing a large enough force to surprise and create panic in our enemy, as well as create a way in is optimal. That is why we will be using the warship’s cannons. I understand that minimizing collateral damage on one of her Radiance’s best facilities is of great concern as well, which is why we are aiming at this corridor here.”, Connie continued, pointing to the corridor just north of the room where the hostages were held, 6GC’s eyes widening in realization, “As you can see 6GC, this corridor houses no research projects, assets, or anything of value to the White Court. A blast here will ensure a close entry point to the hostages, without being so close as to accidentally shatter anyone. As such, we meet all of the aforementioned objectives of minimizing collateral damage to her Radiance’s assets, maintaining an element of surprise, and ensuring the safety of the White Court Gems.”, Connie finished, “Do you have any objections?”.

“No ma’am, I apologize for doubting you.”, 6GC replied, bowing once more.

“Apology accepted.”, Connie replied, before turning on her com line, “Jasper 2FD, How are we looking down there?”, she asked, turning to the gem overlooking the troops from the warship’s center console.

“Teams Alpha, Beta, and Prime are in position. Teams Alpha and Prime each have their shields deployed and cloaked, while team Beta is set for backup.”, the Jasper reported.

“Good. Alright, final checks everybody! Is everyone clear on the code-word?”, Connie asked the team.

“The code word is candy!”, came a large chorus of voices from the other gems.

“Good.”, Connie replied, “Now, I have the encryption key to give as a last resort, but hopefully it will not come to that. Also, I have the photon detector, so I can get a layout of the room, in order to aid team Alpha with keeping the hostages safe. Remember to keep watch on the skies, they should have backup coming at some point, so we need to be prepared. Keep our ship, as well as the rest of the fleet ready to attack at any moment. understood?”.

“Yes ma’am!”, the gems replied, bowing in unison.

“If that’s everything, I’m going to get into position.”, Connie replied.

After pausing a moment to ensure that there were no further questions, she pressed a hand to her gem, changing her uniform into a sleek, aerodynamic flightsuit, with specialized metal boots. With the press of a button on the ship’s terminal, a bubble enveloped Connie, depositing her on the top of the ship. Bracing herself against the cold, she took a deep breath, however, the thin wind of the colony’s upper atmosphere did little to provide her lungs with the much needed oxygen. Steeling her will, Connie broke out into a sprint to the back edge of the ship, before leaping from the ship’s edge and nosediving towards the planet’s surface.

Focus, focus.”, Connie thought to herself, her expression hardening as the atmosphere grew thicker, the air whipping around her body, and the planet’s surface growing closer and closer, “You can do this.”.

Breathe in, breathe out.

With one quick motion, Connie pulled upwards, her body now gliding parallel across the ground. Now coasting through the skies, Connie activated the photon detector in her goggles. At once, a deluge of data and light frequencies filled her vision, the readout indicating the approximate positions of various gems inside the facility.

“I’m picking up multiple readings!”, Connie called out over the coms, as she glided over the area where the hostages were held.

With a few additional taps, the readouts on her goggles displayed a blurry image of the interior of the southern chamber of the laboratory.

“Most of the photons we’re picking up are in the 565 THz range!”, Connie yelled over the rushing wind, “But we have five points reaching 491 THz! There’s five orange gems, most likely Jaspers. There’s two at the lab’s entrance, two stationed at the corridor, and one in the center of the hostages!”.

With a quick shift of her arms, she steered herself so that she was in line with the corridor to the south chamber of the lab.

“If everyone is ready, you may fire at will!”, Connie called out over the coms.

That’s the cue!”, Jasper 2FD called out over the coms, “All units we are activating the disruptor now. All lines will be going dark momentarily!

Suddenly, a beam of light erupted from the warship, striking the southern corridor and obliterating it entirely. At once Connie drew her arms inwards, plummeting towards the newly formed opening in the lab. Just as she was about to crash into the lab itself, Connie pulled out her arms, drawing out the wings of her flightsuit, soaring through the hole created by the warship, and approaching the enemy gems with tremendous speed.

Connie’s eyes narrowed as she locked onto the Jasper in the center of the group of hostage Peridots.

If we want to prevent a standoff with the enemy Jaspers, the gem closest to the hostages will have to be eliminated first.”, Connie thought to herself as she flew through the hallway, its many lights and panels blurring by her.

In one swift motion, Connie flipped around and drew her sword from her gem, grinding the metal components of her boots against the ground, sparks erupting at her feet as the specialized gear slowed her down, before leaping upwards once more, flying directly towards the Jasper in the center of the hostages. With a precise slash, she cut the enemy Jasper cleanly in half, her gem falling to the floor as Connie landed on the ground once more, grinding to a stop. Before the other four Jaspers could even react to the presence of an enemy in their midst, Connie drew a spear from her gem, and fired at the two Jaspers guarding the lab’s entrance, poofing them both.

Connie rolled her shoulders as a Jasper yelped in fright, the gem no doubt confused at the sudden turn of events.

“It’s the organic, get her!”, another Jasper yelled, charging at Connie.

However, before the Jaspers could even come close to Connie, the Amethysts of team Alpha poured through the corridor, surrounding the two gems. Two poofed gems later, the room was freed of enemies, and the Peridots were safe.

“Alright! We’re all clear.”, Connie shouted, “Jasper 9KL! Signal the main ship to restore communications!”, Connie ordered the Jasper standing at the corridor’s opening, the gem promptly firing a blast from her spear into the air, creating a small explosion.

High Guard Connie, this is Jasper 2FD. Lines have been re-opened at the signal. Do we have a status update?”.

“Yes ma’am!” Connie replied excitedly, “We have freed the hostages!”.

* * *

Amethyst 5AY paced nervously as the numbers of her troops dwindled away from the screen, the White Court’s attack catching her troops off guard. Suddenly, a chime rang out from her gem, a large screen appearing in the middle of the hub as she answered the call.

“Amethyst 5AY, this is Agate 3RT, reporting that we are entering the atmosphere and rapidly approaching the target for extraction. We tried hailing you prior, but there appeared to be interference.”.

“That doesn’t matter.”, 5AY replied, “I need you to fire on the southern chamber and the southern corridor of the lab as soon as you’re in range.”, the Amethyst ordered.

“Ma’am, are you sure? Won’t you hit your own troops?”, the Jasper replied, worriedly.

“Just do it! We need to create a distraction and the mission is at stake!”, 5AY ordered.

“Yes ma’am.”.

* * *

Connie was in the process of ensuring the health of each of the Peridots who were held hostage when the lab began to shake.

“2FD, what’s going on up there? We need to keep collateral damage to a minimum, remember?”, Connie shouted through the coms, her voice mostly drowned out by the sounds of explosions.

You were right ma’am!”, 2FD replied over the coms, her tone stressed, “They brought backup and they’re currently firing on the lab! They’ve already taken out the majority of group Prime!”.

“Well send backups for group prime and shoot the enemy out of the sky!”, Connie ordered.

On it now ma’am!”, 2FD replied, before ordering the fleet of warships accordingly.

Suddenly, a blast rocked the room, half of the roof collapsing, poofing the gems of Team Alpha beneath its weight.

The Peridots in the room’s center screamed, each backing up towards the remaining wall, its damaged structure forming a crescent-shape of cover from the warships above.

“Everyone remain calm.”, Connie’s voice rang out over the din of battle, “I know things are scary now, but everything’s going to be okay. The fleet of the White Court will take out the enemy and we will all be safe.”, she finished reassuringly.

“Are you sure about that?”, a voice called out from the crowd.

“Yes, I can assure you, you’re going to get out of here alive.”, Connie replied, calmingly.

“Oh, I’m not worried about myself at the moment.”, Peridot 5TY replied, stepping forward as she held a dagger to the gem of another Peridot in her tow, “I would be more concerned about the lead scientist here.”, 5TY smirked viciously.

Connie froze as her eyes locked on to the gems before her, several loud explosions echoing throughout the battlefield.

“Your name is Connie, correct?”, the Peridot spoke up, her voice laced with malice, “I’ve been watching your career under the Diamonds pretty closely. While my higher ups don’t really see you as a threat, your actions and victories tell a different story, at least in my opinion. Connie the organic! Watch as she bests enemy after enemy, leading army after army to victory, all for the glory of the Diamonds. You haven’t lost a single battle yet.”, Peridot commented, idly twirling the point of her dagger against the gem of the other Peridot, eliciting a whimper of fear from the lead scientist.

Connie, this is Jasper 2FD. We have dealt with their extraction team, and are now air dropping support for the Prime team.”, Jasper called out over the com line, “What is your status?”.

However, Connie wasn’t paying attention to the call that went out over the line, her focus was entirely on the hostage situation in front of her.

“Release her.”, Connie ordered, watching the other Peridot tremble in 5TY’s grasp.

“You see, that’s what just so funny to me!”, 5TY chuckled, glaring at the human in front of her, “You care about her.”, she replied, tussling the top of her hostages head in a mock affectionate manner, “The Diamonds you serve couldn’t care less about this clod. Stars, even if I shattered her right now, your mission would still be considered a victory as long as the commander, our troops, and I are all bubbled away or shattered. White Diamond only wants to keep the ‘precious secrets’ of this lab safe from our hands, she doesn’t care how many gems are shattered in the process!”, 5TY laughed, her words stinging Connie.

“You’re wrong! Her Radiance cares about the gems under her Court!”, Connie bit back fiercely.

“Oh yeah?”, the 5TY smirked, pressing her dagger against the other Peridot’s gem, forming a small scratch in its surface.

At that, the head scientist screamed in pain, as static erupted across her form.

“Prove it.”, 5TY finished, glaring at Connie.

Connie’s gaze hardened, steeling herself in preparation for her next move. Slowly, she reached towards her gem, drawing out the encryption key for the plans.

“The hostage for the encryption key?”, Connie stared at the enemy Peridot in front of her.

“Yes, and a cease fire from your troops.”, the Peridot smirked, “I have to get to my commander safely, after all.”.

Connie took a deep breath, before holding out the key.

Take it, you candy-colored clod.”, Connie growled at her enemy.

“That’s the code word!”, 2FD shouted over the coms, “Beta team, you’re up! 6GC, re-engage disruptor!”, The Quartz soldier ordered.

“All units, we are going dark!”, 6GC’s voice went over the coms.

The Peridot stared at Connie’s outstretched hand, suspiciously, unaware of the events transpiring around her.

“Huh, see? That wasn’t so hard was it?”, 5TY’s voice dripped with sarcasm as she drew the encryption key into her gem.

“Now then.”, 5TY continued, dropping her dagger to her side, her arm still wrapped around the other Peridot, “Order your troops to cease fire, and I’ll be on m- GLUH!”, 5TY exclaimed, as a large sword pierced cleanly through the center of her form from behind.

“My Diamond, and EVERY Diamond in the Authority cares for the gems that serve under them.”, Connie spoke, now eye-to-eye with the Peridot, as she struggled against the blade in her chest, “Her Radiance White Diamond’s reliance on me proves it. If she didn’t care about the gems under her, she could have had any of her generals lead this mission. Instead, she reached out to the one general who had a record of no losses, the one general who hasn’t lost a single gem to war. I care for the gems that serve me, and White Diamond chose ME. That should prove to you how she feels towards her subordinates.”, Connie finished, glaring at the other gem.

As if punctuating her proclamation, the Peridot poofed at the end of Connie’s words, her gem clattering to the ground. At that, Connie turned back towards the remains of the southern corridor.

“Jasper 9KL!”, Connie called out to the gem, “Signal the main ship once more!”.

The sound of a spear shot rang out across the battlefield, Connie watched as the glowing round rose in the air before exploding in the atmosphere.

“This is Jasper 2FD, reporting that communications are back online. High Guard Connie, what is your status?”, the Jasper’s voice came across the coms.
“We are alright, the hostages are safe. Please send a drop ship so that team Beta and I can escort them to safety.”, Connie breathed a sigh of relief, bubbling the Peridot and sending her away, “Also, what is the status of the Prime group?”.

“The Prime group members have been reinforced properly, seven members were poofed during the attack, none were shattered.”, 2FD reported.

“Thank the Stars.”, Connie replied, breathing another sigh of relief, “Make sure they get to safety too, this whole lab is structurally unsound after the enemy’s attack.”.

“Yes ma’am.”, the Jasper replied, before ending the conversation.

Things may have been difficult, but the worst seems to be over.”, Connie thought to herself.

* * *

Amethyst 5AY shook in fear, staring at the screen in front of her revealing the defeat of her troops.

“I will not be beaten by that organic again!”, Rectificator spat, her form projected through the screen on the Amtheyst’s gem.

“Yes, well. What would you have me do, ma’am?”, the Amethyst replied, quivering as the sound of White Court soldiers drew nearer and nearer.

“We will use the organic’s strength to our advantage.”, the Emerald replied, eventually.

“What does that mean for me?”, 5AY replied frantically, “What do I do?!”

“Nothing. As far as I’m concerned, you’ve already failed me.”, Emerald glared back, the line cutting out abruptly.

* * *

With a huff, the large Emerald closed her communications line.

“Those clods! I should have never entrusted them with such an important task.”, Emerald grumbled to herself, before opening up another com line, the screen in front of her displaying a silhouetted figure.

“Rectificator, what is it this time?”, the voice on the other end seemed unamused.

“I need your help retrieving a gem.”, Rectificator replied, expression stern and unwavering.

“You come to me, not reporting a success, but asking for another favor? I already planted the fake assessment results to give you a chance to redeem your hastily assembled regiment of gems that you deem an army. What could possibly be of such importance this time?”.

“One of my troops performed less than admirably in a mission this cycle.”, Rectificator replied, “I need your aid tying up loose ends.”.

“You mean that YOU failed another mission. After such a lackluster performance, what makes you think that I will not turn around and tell Master herself?”, the voice replied, incredulous.

“It involves project Silex of the White Court.”, the Emerald continued, unperturbed by her peer’s threat.

“Project Silex?”, the voice replied, surprised, “So Timeweaver’s operation is still able to be completed?”.

“Yes.”, Emerald replied, evenly.

“I see.”, the voice on the other end of the line replied, weighing her options, “The opportunity for such a grandiose display of talent and skill is at stake. I will aid you, Rectificator.”

“Thank you, Conductor.”, Emerald sighed, bowing lightly,

“However, base Omnicron gets to be the venue for Cacophony’s operations.”, the Conductor replied.

“As you wish.”, the Rectificator sighed.

At that, the figure on the other end of the line cut out, leaving Emerald in the dark once more.

“So much filth in this galaxy!”, the Emerald groaned, “Does she want me to crack under the pressure of this mess!? It’s everywhere I go, everything I see, these off-colors are getting bolder and bolder! It’s not right! Can they not see that?! This isn’t how the galaxy works, and an organic is leading the charge!”.

The gem collapsed into her chair, with a sigh, pinching her eyebrow together.

“The performance of those clods does not matter.”, Rectificator assured herself, “In the end, we will still be victorious, and the galaxy will be made clean. It will be right once more…”.

* * *

Connie watched as the Lead Scientist Peridot was treated by one of the Rose Quartz medics, healing the scratch on her gem, the rest of the peridots next to her in the safety of the warship, as they headed back to Homeworld.

“High Guard Connie.”, the Peridot began, “I want to thank you for your bravery and cunning that you displayed today. I must admit, even though I trust my Diamond to make the best decisions, I was doubtful that an organic like yourself could have been successful in saving us all. I am sorry for underestimating you.”, the gem finished, bowing deeply.

“No offense taken.”, Connie replied, “I realize that as an organic, I have a lot to prove in terms of my own ability. However, I am grateful for her Radiance’s trust, and that you are all safe and sound.”.

“You are too kind, High Guard Connie.”, the green gem replied, still bowing deeply, “Know that your skill and grace will not be forgotten by the White Court.”.

“I appreciate that.”, Connie replied, before turning back to her view out of the front of the bridge.

It wasn’t long before the squadron and rescued gems made it back to Homeworld. While the other gems were each checked over for injuries before heading to debriefing, Connie herself headed to White Diamond’s throne room, to provide a report of the mission’s events.

“Greetings, High Guard Connie.”, White Diamond spoke up, as Connie entered the room.

“Greetings, your Radiance.”, Connie replied, bowing in a Diamond salute.

“The Jaspers stationed at the landing bay of Facet 1 have informed me that the hostages were all successfully rescued.”, White Diamond began, “I take it that our enemy has been dealt with as well?”.

“Yes, your Radiance.”, Connie replied, “While I did have to surrender the decryption key as a distraction, the recipient gem was immediately poofed and bubbled into custody afterwards, and the leading gem of the enemy troops was poofed and bubbled for questioning as well.”.

“Amazing work as always, Connie.”, White Diamond praised, “With this victory, your successes have overshadowed that of even Yellow Diamond’s High Guard.”.

“E-excuse me, your Radiance!?”, Connie replied, bewildered.

“It is true. Remember, the previous two Eras were primarily peaceful, save for the small war of Rose Quartz. It is only now that we are dealing with instances of frequent combat.”, White Diamond replied, “Her High Guard Hessonite has 1,589 victories to her title, and with this victory, you now have 1,590. Now, you do not have the most victories out of every gem.”, White Diamond amended, “That title goes to Yellow Diamond herself, who served as my own High Guard many, many cycles ago.”.

“Wow.”, Connie breathed in awe, “How many victories does she have?”.

“Under my Banner, she held 89,272,311,705 victories, prior to the establishment of her own Court.”, White Diamond smiled fondly.

“Oh Stars…”, Connie’s eyes went as wide as saucers at the statement.

“Yes, her record is quite impressive.”, White Diamond laughed, “Should you manage to avoid shattering, the cycle may come when you surpass even her.”.

“Uhmm, okay?”, Connie replied, unsure whether While Diamond knew that humans could die of old age.

“Regardless, that is aside the point.”, White Diamond replied, “I was going to give this to you in the previous cycle but, I believe that you are deserving of a reward befitting of your accomplishments...”, White Diamond continued.

* * *

The sound of a door sliding open reverberated throughout the dark room. Suddenly, an Angel Aura Quartz appeared in its threshold, the light from the open door revealing rows upon rows of bubbled gems.

“It seems like we’re always cleaning up the messes of the higher-ups.”, the gem grumbled, drawing a small scanner from her gem, and making her way down the line of gems.

“This row should have the most recently captured ones…”, the gem muttered to herself, a white light emitting from the scanner, as it assessed the gems before it, a stream of numbers and information appearing on the screen before the Quartz.

“Nope… No…”, the gem muttered to herself as she sorted through several Peridots.

Suddenly, the scanner in her hand let out a small chime, the gem’s eyes widening in response.

She scanned the gem a second time, the green glow of the Peridot gemstone illuminating the her face, before she activated her com line.

“Rectificator, this is Angel Aura Quartz 9YU of Base Omnicron. I have secured Peridot 5TY.”

Chapter Text

Steven stared at the large projection of the seventh planet capable of producing Helenite gems, his eyes sweeping over the various highlighted facilities and other points of interest as the Peridot before him droned on.

“So, given that the Equisetum arvense L. maintenance facilities are arranged in a grid shaped pattern across each of the ten facets of HK-7, the most efficient route for your transport between stations involves utilizing the same grid pattern.”, a Peridot lectured, outlining the safest and most efficient routes for their planned show of force.

Suddenly, a small chime rang through the room, as a small snapshot of Connie’s image came over the screens, informing Steven that she was calling him.

“I’m sorry Peridot, this is important.”, Steven spoke up, cutting the smaller gem off from her lecture, now sitting up far straighter in his chair.

“It is of no issue, my Steven.”, Peridot replied, bowing in a Diamond Salute.

“Steven!”, Connie’s face appeared on screen, “You’ll never believe what happened!”

“What happened?”, Steven asked, unsure if what Connie was about to say was good or bad.

“I succeeded in White Diamond’s mission and she said I should receive recognition!”, Connie rambled excitedly, “And I was all like ‘You don’t need to do that, your Radiance!’ and she was like ‘High Guard Connie, I insist! Your service to the courts is exemplary, even amongst gem standards, and it deserves recognition!’ and I guess that’s kind of an insult against all of humanity, but I don’t care, because guess what Steven!” Connie shouted in excitement.

“What?”, Steven asked, smiling.

“I HAVE MY VERY OWN WARSHIP!”, Connie whooped, “I’m calling you from its bridge right now!” Connie explained, panning the screen over to reveal a large control panel and a small crew of Rubies, each of them pausing to wave at the screen.

“Whaaat!? That’s amazing!” Steven cheered.

“I know right!? I’m sending you over the schematics right now! This thing’s a beauty!” Connie replied, an image of a large, pink hand warship appearing in a screen next to it.

“Whoa, that’s... big.”, Steven replied, looking over the ship’s dimensions and arsenal.

“It’s in a class of its own apparently! It’s bigger than a Commander Class ship, but smaller than a Diamond class!” Connie replied, “Anyway, I’ll let you get back to planning our next moves against this Rectificator character. I’ll be over soon, bye my Steven!” Connie finished the video, blowing Steven a kiss, causing the latter to blush heavily.

“B-bye.”, he stuttered back.

* * *

“Welp, we took her out for a spin across the galaxy. Where to next, ma’am?”, the head navigator Ruby asked, turning to Connie.

“Let’s go back to Earth, Facet 2.”, Connie replied, eyes sparkling with excitement.

“Facet 2?”, the Ruby replied, “Isn’t that a human habitation facet?”.

“It is under their jurisdiction, 7HF.”, Connie nodded, “Given the current time there, there’s a group gathered in a specific quadrant of that facet I want to show my ship to!”.

* * *

Amethyst shifted her gaze from Greg to Priyanka, weighing her options. Her gaze shifted to Pearl, whose expression radiated determination and resolution.

“Alright, I’ll call.”, Amethyst sighed, placing two more green chips into the center pile, before grabbing and handful of Chaaps from the bag next to her.

“I got a two-pair.”, Amethyst shouted, laying down a five of Hearts and a seven of Diamonds, “Now everybody else show your cards!” she laughed through a mouthful of crisps.

“I got a two-pair also, but mine is made of higher cards!”, Priyanka replied, smiling as she laid down her cards.

“Oh come on!” Amethyst shouted, mildly frustrated, “You got a nine and a King of Hearts!?”.

“Yep!”, Priyanka laughed back, jovially.

“Just a high card.”, Greg sighed, running his hand through his hair, revealing an Ace and a two.

“I got a high pair.” Doug replied, laying down a King of Clubs and a two.

“I believe, that I have a straight flush.”, Pearl replied, smiling as she laid down an eight and a ten of Clubs.

“What!?”, Priyanka yelped, worried that her once assured victory now faced a threat, as she stared between Pearl’s hand and the seven of Clubs, nine of Clubs, King of Spades, five of Diamonds, and six of Clubs from the community cards.

“Yeah, you won.”, Priyanka sighed in defeat.

“I never should have invited you to cards night.”, Amethyst grumbled.

“Why, because I would win?”, Pearl replied, smiling.

“No!”, Amethyst laughed, “It’s because WHEN you win, you always have that stupid annoying smile on your face! I invited you because I thought that would be an easy tell for you, I didn’t know you could turn it off!”.

“Oh, so you underestimated your opponent then.”, Pearl laughed, pulling the poker chips into her already large pile.

“So, do we want to play another round?”, Doug asked.

Suddenly, the sunlight that shone from the windows dimmed, the room growing considerably darker.

“Was it supposed to be cloudy today?”, Amethyst asked, glancing to the side window.

“I don’t think so.”, Priyanka replied, standing up and walking over to the window.

“What!? What is THAT!?”, Priyanka paled, staring at something in the sky.

“What is what?”, Pearl asked, standing up from the table.

However, Priyanka couldn’t hear her. Instead, she rushed out of the house and into the driveway.

“What’s going on?”, Pearl asked, following Priyanka as the latter appeared transfixed on something in the sky.

“That.”, Priyanka pointed upwards, at a large, pink hand that appeared to be descending towards them.

“What’s got you all freaked out ‘yanka?”, Amethyst asked, walking into the driveway as well, followed closely by the rest of the group.

“Oh Stars...”, Pearl breathed, “That’s a gem warship!”.

“Whoa!”, Amethyst shouted, finally noticing the giant hand that was nearly on top of them.

“Are they friendly?”, Priyanka replied nervously, as other neighbors and residents began to fill the street as well, “How do we know if the ship is on our side?”.

“We don’t.”, Pearl replied, gaze hard, “However, the fact that they don’t have any weapons charging now is a good sign.”, she replied, before turning to Amethyst, “Amethyst, if they start attacking, get the humans onto that warp pad and take them somewhere safe.”

“Alright.”, Amethyst replied, eyes focused on the ship as well, “What about you?”.

“They wouldn’t send a ship like that to shatter us.”, Pearl replied, a strategy forming, “They’re going to come out of the ship themselves to detain us, so I’ll take them down, before boarding the ship and destroying the bridge.”.

“Gotcha.”, Amethyst replied.

With great precision, the ship descended further, resting one of its fingers on the asphalt. Pearl summoned her spear, expression hard as she gripped her weapon. Amethyst grew into her wrestling form, preparing herself to pick up all three of the humans at once. Slowly, a bubble formed at the end of the figure, a silhouetted figure appeared just inside.

“Guys! Guess what!”, Connie shouted excitedly, popping out of the bubble.

“CONNIE!?”, the whole group shouted at once.

“What are you doing in a Commander Class warship?!” Pearl screeched, returning her spear to her gem, “We thought you could’ve been an enemy! The captain should’ve hailed someone to inform us of your arrival so we wouldn’t freak out!”.

“Oh! Right, sorry!”, Connie replied, realizing how things must have looked to them, “I was just so excited that I came here as soon as I finished taking it out for a test drive!”.

“I’m sorry, what is going on here?”, Priyanka asked, relieved that everyone was not in any danger.

“Wait.”, Pearl paused, Connie’s words registering in her gem, “You’re the captain of a Commander-class warship?”.

“It’s a little bit bigger than Commander-class, actually!”, Connie replied, bashfully, “White Diamond gave it to me as a gift for helping her Court!”.

“Again.” Priyanka spoke up, feeling increasingly overwhelmed with each sentence spoken, “What is going on here?”.

“White Diamond gave her this ship.”, Pearl replied, still in awe of the recognition her pupil was receiving.

“But she only just learned to drive! Can she even fly it?”, Doug asked.

“That isn’t the biggest problem here, Doug!”, Priyanka nearly screamed, “Why would her Radiance find it appropriate to give a CHILD a WARSHIP!”.

“I can handle the responsibility mom, if that’s what you’re asking.”, Connie replied dryly, “I’ve helped the Diamonds with far bigger things than this. And besides White Diamond entrusted it to me!”, she continued before turning to her dad, “And I’m actually not the one flying the ship either.”.

“What do you mean you handled things bigger than this!?”, Priyanka replied, “Also, if you’re not flying the ship, then who is?”.

“Well, I wanted to give you a tour, if you want to check it out!”, Connie replied, happily.

At that, Pearl and Amethyst walked up to Connie as she drew a small screen from her Turquoise gem, with Greg, Priyanka, and Doug following shortly behind. With a press of a button, a pink bubble formed around the large group, before drawing them into the ship itself.

As the bubble dissipated, the group was met with the sight of a large pink bridge, its sloped ceilings a massive windows providing a clear view outside of the ship. Lower still were stationed several Rubies, each seated at a computer terminal around the main bridge of the ship.

“Hi everyone!”, Connie greeted the Rubies, “These are my family and friends that I was talking about earlier!”.

“Hi there!”, one of the small Rubies approached the group, “I’m Ruby 7HF! I help navigate High Guard Connie’s ship!”.

“Hello Ruby.”, Priyanka stepped forward, holding out her hand for a handshake, “My Name is Priyanka, I’m Connie’s mom.”.

“Hi Priyanka!”, 7HF replied, before glancing at Priyanka’s outstretched hand with confusion.

“Uhh, ma’am? This organic is extending her appendage out to me, what do I do?”, 7HF turned to the Second Officer of the ship, slightly worried.

“I dunno…”, the Ruby replied, before turning to Priyanka, “Hiya! I’m Ruby 9CE, I’m the second-in-command of the ship!”.

“Uh, hi Ruby.”, Priyanka replied, before turning to Pearl, “Is it rude to ask why they all have the same name?”

“Oh, they have different names.”, Pearl replied, smiling, “They are just introducing their gem type first, followed by their identifier. So, in conversation, you would address the Navigator as 7HF, and the Second Officer as 9CE.”.

“Oh! I remember what that means!”, another Ruby piped up, “One of my friends spends time in the human facets. She said it’s a way organics greet each-other, you’re supposed to shake their appendage!”.

“Oh thanks, 8ER!”, 7HF relied happily, before turning back to Priyanka, “Sorry I didn’t greet you properly!”.

“Uhm, it’s okay.”, Priyanaka replied, holding out her hand to give the Ruby another chance.

At that, 7HF gently grabbed ahold of Priyanka’s wrist and shook it side to side excitedly.

“Did, did I do it right?”, the small Ruby looked up at Priyanka with excitement and glee.

“…yes.”, Priyanka replied, not wanting to crush the small gem’s spirits.

“Woohoo! I did it!”, 7HF cheered, hopping into the air and drifting down slowly, “I greeted a human!”.

“Are all Rubies, this…”, Priyanka trailed off searching for the right word, “Bubbly?”.

“Yep, pretty much.”, Amethyst laughed, “That’s why they’re so fun to be around!”.

“Oh, so it’s not just Garnet’s Ruby?”, Greg asked, turning to Pearl.

“Nope!”, Pearl explained, “Most Rubies share a carefree, energetic nature. That’s why they make an excellent crew, as they’re not only good at their work, they are good at raising morale as well.”.

A few more ‘handshakes’ later the crew introduced themselves to Priyanka, Doug, Greg, Amethyst, and Pearl.

“Well this is really interesting, Connie.”, Priyanka replied, plastering on a smile while trying to adjust herself to the fact that Connie has a ship and crew, “But, we were in the middle of cards. Would you like to join us for a game?”.

“Oh, no. I just wanted to show you all my new ship.”, Connie replied happily, “I actually have to head back to the Pink Palace, Chrysoberyl and her friends invited Steven and I to a show.”.

“Waaaait, you mean the theatre with the Famethysts?”, Amethyst replied, excited.

“Yep!”, Connie replied, “You can tag along if you want.”.

“Sweet.”, Amethyst replied, “Seeya ‘yanka, Greg, Doug, I’m outta here!”.

* * *

“So, what’s this show about?”, Amethyst asked, following Connie through the Pink Court capitol as they made their way to the amphitheater.

“It’s actually supposed to be a series of plays, all about Eras Two and Three.”, Connie replied excitedly.

It wasn’t long before the two arrived at the theater, and were greeted by White Sapphire, Chrysoberyl, Dot, and Amethyst 3ZC.

“Glad you could make it ma’am!”, Chrysoberyl smiled, bowing lightly.

“Oh, none of that!”, Connie laughed, as they entered the theatre and made their way to a box seat, “You don’t need to pile on formalities, we’re here to relax!”.

“Hi Connie!”, Steven greeted Connie excitedly, with a slight kiss on the cheek, “How did the Amethyst, Garnet, Pearl, and our parents react to your new ship?”.

“They were actually kind of scared at first…”, Connie trailed off embarrassed, “In my excitement I may have forgotten to message them ahead of time that I would be arriving in an unfamiliar craft before showing up in my parent’s front yard.”.

“Yeah, I didn’t know what to think!”, Amethyst laughed, “All I saw was this huge ship coming out of nowhere, so we all freaked out! Then Connie comes out of the ship and everyone’s screaming! You all had to be there!”.

“That’s right, I heard that you got a ship as a reward from her Radiance White Diamond!”, 3ZC spoke up excitedly, “How is it?”.

“Oh 3ZC, it’s absolutely amazing!”, Connie gushed excitedly, “At first, I was expecting like a small gunner-craft, or something. However, when I got down to the shipyard, the White Court Peridots presented me with a freaking behemoth of a vessel and a whole crew! Like any bigger and it would have been as big as a Diamond-class vessel! Her Radiance said that it was supposed to be reflective of my victories for the Four Courts, but it’s kind of overwhelming!”.

“That’s incredible Connie!”, 3ZC replied, happy for her superior.

“Everyone, it’s starting!”, Dot hushed the others.

Connie watched in awe as the Famethyst group took the stage, and began their performance. Era two epics of honor and hope amidst crises contrasted sharply against the ballads of jubilation and unbridled joy that defined the plays and performances created in Era three.

“Who writes these plays?”, Steven whispered to Pink Pearl, enraptured with the performance before him.

“There are a number of Ammolites that take up the profession of playwright. Their natural skill of documentation and recital lends itself to the development of inventory manifests, and archiving the events of the Eras, but it also makes them inherently adept at writing plays.”, Pink Pearl replied.

As a new play began, a pink gem joined the Amethyst group on the stage, before dancing with the actors in what was clearly a musical comedy.

“Who is that? I’ve never seen a gem like her before.” Connie asked, surprised by the appearance of the gem, a pink, heart-shaped gemstone adorning her chest.

“I think I remember her? Or at least Pink Diamond did…”, Steven trailed off.

“That is Spinel, My Steven.”, White Sapphire replied, “I found her after your order to search for potential threats to your Court.”.

“She was a threat?”, Steven asked, surprised, staring at the gem as she performed an elaborate song and dance, shrinking and elongating herself to form various props that the rest of the Amethyst actors then used as a part of their own performance.

“She would have been, had it not have been for my intervention.”, White Sapphire replied, evenly, “She was abandoned, so I introduced her to the Famethyst acting group back in Era Two, while they were still stationed on the human zoo.”.

“I see.”, Steven replied, “I think my mom knew her. I have memories of her. But, I think mom felt… guilty, I think?”.

“It’s okay if you don’t remember everything.”, Connie replied, gently taking Steven’s hand in hers, “Remember, even if your mom did something to hurt her, that doesn’t instantly mean it’s your responsibility to fix it. Besides, she looks happy now, doesn’t she?”, Connie gestured to the pink gem, a genuine smile on Spinel’s face as she flipped and spun around the other actors.

“You’re right.”, Steven relented, “I still feel like I should apologize in some way though.”, Steven admitted, watching as the gems left the stage, the curtain closing behind them.

The lights of the theatre brightened slightly, signaling an intermission in the performance. At that, Amethyst got up and stretched, groaning loudly.

“That was a cool first set of acts!”, Amethyst spoke up, before turning to White Sapphire, “Do you think they’ll let me see the Famethysts before they get back on stage?”.

“I’m sure they would be glad to see you, 8XM.”, White Sapphire smiled back.

“Well, I think that we should be heading to sleep, Steven. We have a big day tomorrow patrolling HK-7”, Connie spoke up, reminding Steven of their early start the following day.

“Oh right, that’s tomorrow…”, Steven sighed, running a hand down his face.

“What’s tomorrow?”, Amethyst 8XM asked.

“Oh, we’re going on a patrol around one of the Helenite kindergartens tomorrow. It’s supposed to be a show of force around the Pink Court to dissuade the Ameliorators from attacking.”.

“Ah…”, Amethyst replied, the mood in the room growing slightly dour.

“Oh don’t let my work rain on your parade.”, Steven laughed, trying to brighten the mood, “Go say hi to the Amethysts for me, okay?”.

“Sure thing, Steve-O!”, Amethyst replied, before running off to the backstage.

Taking that as her cue that she could leave, Connie stood up and stretched before making her way out of the theatre and into the cool night air. Connie glanced up at the stars glistening in the clear night sky, somewhere up there, Homeworld and the colonies of all Four Courts were drifting amongst the stars. What normally would be a sight that made one feel small and insignificant, instead filled her with a sense of pride and optimism. Out there were beings that owned most of those far-off motes of light, and out of everyone else, they recognized her as significant.

With a renewed vigor in her step, Connie made her way back to the Pink Palace. She had to rest up - tomorrow was a big day after all!

Chapter Text

SOF_Cover

Unfortunately, patrols throughout Steven’s colonies were a growing necessity. The rising frequency in attacks made by terrorist gems mandated that Steven himself had to be present with his entourage at random intervals throughout the Kindergarten planets. While Connie had labeled it a ‘necessary show of force, recommended by the Peridots of the White Court, Chrysoberyl just thought it a waste of resources, and a strategical oversight to boot, by putting their prime target out in the open.

Connie sighed once more as the Palanquin coasted through the mid-day heat of HK-7, and its FOUR SUNS. "Seriously? Four suns!? How could a planet even maintain a stable orbit with so many large gravitational wells, much less form a climate that was close enough to Earth to facilitate the growth of Fungi?", Connie thought, exasperated as the small convoy travelled from one manufacturing point of the Kindergarten to the next manufacturing point.

Steven didn’t appear to be faring much better, in Connie’s opinion. Sweat was dripping down his head as well, and they both had to take extra care to stay hydrated in this balmy climate.

Noticing his discomfort, Pink Pearl spoke up.

“Do not worry, My Steven. We are almost finished with all of the botanical oversight stations for this Facet. Only two more stations to visit, then we may head back to Earth to continue the planning of HK-12.”.

‘That’s good.”, Steven replied, “Hopefully, the Citrines will be able to find a planet with a few less suns this time.”.

At that Pink Pearl laughed melodiously, “Yes, we will be sure to find a planet with a cooler climate this time, My Steven.”, Pearl finished with a chuckle.

In response, the Steven and Connie both broke out into laughter of their own. Not only was Pearl’s laughter contagious, but the sheer ridiculousness of the whole situation was just too funny on its own.

However, their laughter was quickly cut short by the sound of explosions, swiftly followed by a Jasper guard rushing into the palanquin.

“My Steven! We are under attack!”, the gem announced, saluting.

“We have ears too! Get back out there, soldier!”, Connie ordered, drawing her sword and stepping out of the palanquin and into the fray.

Outside of the palanquin, Connie was met with an ambush of incredible size. The enemy HAD to have had a Sapphire on their side to let them know that Steven would be here, there was no other way. Remembering her training, Connie quickly hopped atop the palanquin and got her bearings, as well as an idea of the situation.

“Focus, focus.”, Connie thought to herself, looking around, “Forty troops to the north, one… no three tanks to the west, twenty troops to the south, and-“, Connie worked out before being interrupted by explosions raining from the sky once more, “One gem warship to the west.”, Connie finished dryly, looking up at a large, purple, hand-shaped spacecraft.

“We have a total of fifty guards in our squadron, but eight appear to be injured and two poofed. My ship is back on Earth, at least an hour away with warp, so that’s not an option. That’s okay though, we will have to work with this.”, Connie finished, hopping down from her perch on the palanquin and turning to the second-in-command.

“7XR!”, Connie shouted over the din of battle, “Tell twenty of your troops to engage the enemies to the south, twenty to engage the enemies to the north, and the other eight to guard the palanquin! Steven will care for the poofed gems inside the safety of the vehicle.”.

“Yes ma’am!”, the Jasper responded, “But what of the tanks?”.

“You and I will engage them directly! They’re tanks, great at long distance, but terrible at close combat, we mount the tanks and use them to take out that warship!”, Connie responded, pointing to the giant hand above them.

“Yes ma’am.”, the gem replied shakily, before giving out orders to her soldiers.

As the troops met the forces to their north and south, Connie and the Jasper rushed the tanks to the East.

“They’re locking onto us.”, Jasper called out to Connie.

“Get ready to dodge when I call out the orders! Those are Era 2 tanks, they take 30 se- they take 0.35 millicycles to recharge between rounds, so they’re going to be able to fire two rounds each!”, Connie replied, picking up her pace.

“Understood, ma’am!”, Jasper replied, running faster to keep up.

Just then, the tanks began to charge their cannons, light emanating from the end of the cannons’ barrels.

“JUMP!”, Connie called out, before leaping into the air, gracefully flipping over the bolts of plasma as they went under her.

As soon as she landed onto her feet, she regained her sprint and looked to her side to see how Jasper fared the blast. Unsurprisingly, the gem cleared the blast with her hover abilities, however, she appeared to have a bit of difficulty regaining her footing on the landing, as she stumbled a couple of times while regaining her sprint. It was no matter, they’re 30 meters from their target now, only one more volley left to jump.

20 meters, 10 meters, the barrels began to glow once more.

“SLIDE!”, Connie called out, sliding down and under the nearest tank’s barrel before slicing upward with her sword, cleaving the cannon in two. The resulting buildup of energy within the tank, now lacking an outlet, began chain reaction inside the vehicle, causing the entire machine to glow a bright yellow.

Quickly rolling away, Connie moved towards the second tank, as the muffled screams of gems could be heard from the inside of the glowing tank, before a resounding blast hurled shrapnel and soil though the air, alongside the poofed and scuffed gems of the tank’s operatives.

Just as Connie mounted the second tank, Jasper landed atop the tank’s top entrance.

“That was incredible ma’am!”, Jasper marveled, shocked by her superior’s skill with the sword.

“Thank you, now help me get this hatch open so we can pilot this tank and take out that warship!”, Connie replied, exasperated.

“Yes ma’am.”, Jasper replied.

However, just as the two moved to pull open the hatch, a pulse of energy shot out from the tank, knocking the two off of its hull. Promptly, five Rubies made their way out of the tank, each armed with a weapon.

“So, you think that you can just run up all willy-nilly and slice though our tanks, do you?”, The tank’s apparent captain shouted at Jasper and Connie, “Well I won’t let you stand in our way! Rubies!”, the captain called out, as the five other Rubies fused together, forming one giant adversary.

Shiiiiist.”, Jasper muttered under her breath.

“Remain calm, we can take them.”, Connie replied, tightening her grip on her sword and waiting for her opponent to make the first move.

Without warning, the giant Ruby swung her fist towards the duo. Connie quickly rolled under the attack and towards her opponent, while Jasper leapt upwards, summoning a battle axe, and bringing it down upon the Ruby’s large visor. The visor shattered, hundred of small shards filling the battlefield, but the Ruby herself was unscathed, grabbing ahold of Jasper and hurling her to the ground. Connie used Ruby’s momentary distraction to her advantage, landing a few quick strikes to her large abdomen before rolling away as the Ruby clutched her waist in pain.

“GRAAAH! You’re even more annoying when you’re smaller!”, the ruby’s voice bellowed throughout the battlefield.

Jasper managed to get back on her feet, and charged at the Ruby once more. However, this time, the large fusion was ready. Just as Jasper leapt upwards to strike at her opponent once more, the Ruby threw her arm forward in a practiced motion, and began to glow. Suddenly, a single, small Ruby was sent flying from the larger fusion, towards the incoming Jasper.

“Weeehee! I LOVE THIS PART!”, the tiny Ruby cheered as she flew though the air, before she grabbed onto Jasper’s battle axe and threw the larger gem off trajectory.

“Hi!”, Ruby greeted Jasper, waving at the gem from her hold on Jasper’s axe.

“GET. OFF. OF. ME!”, Jasper screamed as the two tumbled through the air.

Just as the two were about to crash into the ground, Jasper was caught by the large fusion, the smaller Ruby running up to the larger one and fusing back to their original size.

“Ugh! That’s cheating!”, Jasper cried out trying to free her arms to strike at the large fusion.

“Too bad~!”, the Ruby sang, before squeezing the Jasper in her grip, poofing her instantly.

“Jasper!”, Connie cried out, before leaping once more and cleaving the Ruby’s hand, releasing both a poofed Ruby and Jasper’s gem.

Tucking into a roll, Connie nimbly caught Jasper’s gem, and rolled behind the now slightly smaller fusion, before slashing at their legs.

“Owww...”, the Ruby fusion muttered, falling to one knee before reforming their arm, “That HURT!”.

“That’s the point!”, Connie yelled back as she ducked under another one of Ruby’s attacks.

“Why don’t you stupid off-colors and organics just give up? We’re BETTER than you!”, the fusion screamed, throwing more punches towards the small human.

“If you really thought that, you wouldn’t be scared right now, would you?”, Connie replied with a smirk, dodging the Ruby’s attacks before leaping upwards.

The Ruby tried to follow Connie’s movement, but the planet’s many suns blinded her to Connie’s attack. Now vulnerable, Connie angled her sword downward, driving the blade deep into the fusion’s form, poofing her instantly.

Tucking into another roll, Connie landed on the ground, the Ruby gemstones falling around her. Just as she was about to check on Jasper’s gem that was still tucked into her off-hand, a whirring sound attracted her attention. There before her lay the third tank, its weapon aimed at her and ready to fire. In response, Connie rolled away from the enemy fire once more, tripping on one of the gems of the fallen Rubies.

Gah! Not the Rubies!”, Connie thought, watching the light from the tank’s barrel grow brighter and brighter.

Just as she thought she was done for, a pink barrier formed around her, the glowing plasma bolt ricocheting harmlessly off of its exterior.

“STEVEN! What are you DOING!? It’s not SAFE out here!”, Connie shouted, clutching onto 7XR’s gem.

“We’re jam buds, remember? Where you fight, I fight too!”, Steven replied, dispelling the barrier and hurling his shield at the remaining tank’s cannon, disarming it, and causing it to explode.

“What about the poofed gems?”, Connie asked.

“Bubbled and sent home.”, Steven replied, taking the Jasper’s gem into his bubble and sending it back to the palace where it was safe, “Now let’s show these gems what we’re made of!”, Steven cheered.

Connie took advantage of the moment to determine how her troops to the north and south fared. Now pulling up a magnifying screen on her gem, Connie was pleased to see that the southern group seemed to have all but defeated the enemy gems. Unfortunately, the same could not be said of their northern forces, as the warship appeared to be raining down fire upon many of her troops, dwindling their numbers.

“Right.”, Connie replied, mounting the second tank and taking aim at the warship.

“Connie, that ship is moving around pretty quickly.”, Steven spoke up, looking out at the group of his gems struggle against the enemy forces, “We’re going to need some way of getting its attention, and fast, before the northern group is completely overwhelmed.”.

“Good idea. I’ll fire a few rounds in front of it first.”, Connie replied, firing the tank’s cannon.

Just as before, the barrel of the tank began to glow, Steven pulling up his shield to protect himself from the shock of any recoil. The beam burst forth with a resounding bang, flying through the air and whizzing just past the ship’s cockpit. The ship paused its attack on the forces below, and turned towards Steven and Connie.

“Welp, we got its attention!”, Steven called out, as the ship began charging its cannon to fire at the tank.

“Connie! Keep firing! I’ll protect us from the blasts!”, Steven yelled.

“Got it!”, Connie called back.

Bracing himself, Steven took a running leap at the ship, forming a strong bubble around his body. A beam of light rocketed out of the enemy ship’s finger cannon, headed directly for Steven. Steven grimaced as his shield deflected the enemy’s projectile, while he himself was shot backwards from the sheer force of the attack. Tucking into a roll, Steven landed back at Connie’s tank, unharmed.

“Connie! Fire while they’re charging up again!”, Steven called out.

“Already locked on!”, Connie said proudly as the tank fired a strong blast, aimed directly at the enemy ship’s cannon finger.

With a large explosion, the bolt held true, striking the warship’s cannon, causing the digit to fall off of the ship.

“YES!”, Steven celebrated, excitedly, “You did it Connie!”.

“Hang on.”, Connie replied nervously, watching the ship maintain its approach, “It’s not slowing down.”.

“But why? It’s not like they can shoot at us anymore...”, Steven asked.

Suddenly, the ship paused in the air and formed a fist with its remaining digits, before plunging towards the tank at a tremendous speed.

“Oh, right.”, was all Steven could say before Connie flew out of the tank and rushed towards Steven, scooping him up as she ran from the path of the giant fist.

A loud crunch echoed across the field as the warship tore through the tank, soil, stone, and anything else that happened to be in its way. The ship rose once more, appearing relatively unscathed, save for its missing finger, before turning towards Steven and Connie again.

Steven and Connie shared a look with one another, understanding what needed to be done before drawing close together, a glow emanating from both of their bodies.

Stevonnie gazed fiercely at the ship before them, and drew their sword and shield, waiting for the ship to make the first move. In response the ship plunged downwards once again in all of its terrible might. However, instead of running away, Stevonnie stood firm and crouched their legs. Just as the ship was about to hit, Stevonnie leapt upwards, just clearing the top of the ship’s hull, before slamming their sword into its exterior. Stevonnie held on tight to their sword, still lodged in the ship’s hull, as the ship flew upwards from its dive.

“They’re looking to see where I dove off to, no doubt.”, Stevonnie muttered to themselves, pleased that their plan was working.

Then, forming their shield, Stevonnie rammed one end of the disc into the gash that was torn in their initial attack, before pulling themselves up and using the shield itself as a foothold to more safely stand. Now with proper leverage, Stevonnie took their sword into both hands and plunged it deep into the enemy warship. Sparks and smoke erupted from the new gash, causing several panels of the ship’s exterior to fall off.

Panting from the exertion, Stevonnie caught their breath and looked around the ship’s exterior. As the ship’s hull fell away, it exposed several panels and circuit boards, many of which Stevonnie recognized from Connie’s training under Chrysoberyl.

“I don’t have long before they figure out where I am, so I have to make this quick.”, Stevonnie grunted as they spied the panel that they were looking for.

Crawling up to the panel in question, Stevonnie drew two small tools from her Turquoise gem, and began prodding at the panel. Without warning, the ship began to roll through the air, Stevonnie gripping onto the hull for dear life.

“LoOoOoks LiKe tHeY FoUnd mE!”, Stevonnie screamed as they spun around violently.

Gripping onto the panel, Stevonnie reached out and unplugged a wire from the circuit board, slowly bringing the ship to a halt, before it righted itself.

“Phew. Glad that’s over.”, Stevonnie said to themselves, before sitting back down to better access the panel.

Adjusting a few more terminals on the circuit board, the ship lurched forward.

“Okay, okay, and there!”, Stevonnie exclaimed as they gained rudimentary control of the ship’s movement.

Now steering the ship towards the northern forces, they stood up to get a better view of their target.

“HEY YOU!”, came a shout from behind the fusion, “GET OFF OF OUR SHIP!”.

Stevonnie turned to face the new attacker, revealing a Jasper guard charging at them, wielding a bright orange mace. Thinking quickly, Stevonnie pulled up their shield and parried the attack. Taking advantage of the opening in her defense, Stevonnie slashed at the Jasper’s waist. Unfortunately, the enemy Jasper leapt backwards, dodging the attack, before quickly following up with another swing from her mace, this time catching Stevonnie in the stomach.

The fusion reeled backwards in pain, clutching their stomach. With their other hand, they dispelled their sword and shield, before licking their hand and pressing it to their abdomen, healing the wound instantly. Wiping the blood off of the hand they used to clutch their stomach, they re-summoned their sword and took a battle stance.

“That’s not FAIR!” The Jasper yelled, charging at Stevonnie once more.

This time, the fusion swiftly dodged the incoming gem, causing her to overshoot her target and tumble forward. Stevonnie then took the opportunity to summon their shield and hurl it at the gem, launching them off the side of the ship, the enemy Jasper digging her mace into the side of the vessel to remain onboard.

Now able to breathe, Stevonnie looked out to see how close the ship was to the enemy forces to the north. By their estimate, the ship seemed to be about 100 meters away and closing fast.

“Time to start decreasing our altitude.”, Stevonnie muttered to themselves, prodding at the circuit board once more.

Out of the corner of their eye, they caught glimpse of a shadow creeping up behind them. Summoning their shield, they turned around, catching the Jasper’s mace before she could bring it down on their head.

“Not letting you do that again!”, Stevonnie grunted, pushing the gem back with a sharp thrust before summoning their sword.

Stepping backwards, Stevonnie goaded the Jasper to charge at them, and closer to the front end of the ship.

The enemy Jasper fell for their trick, rushing at Stevonnie with a broad horizontal swing of her mace. Predicting their opponent’s attack, Stevonnie quickly brought up their sword, parrying the attack before it could connect.

However, instead of taking advantage of their opponent’s momentary lack of defense, Stevonnie quickly glanced behind themselves, seeing that their forces were keeping the enemy in relatively one place.

Jasper swiped at them once more, but this time instead of dodging to the side, or parrying, Stevonnie leapt upwards, landing gracefully back by the panel. With a gentle tap of their tool, they fine tuned the ship’s trajectory to hit the enemy troops, before charging at the Jasper with their shield. The two met with a powerful clash of weapons, but Stevonnie easily overwhelmed the Jasper captain, thrusting her ever closer to the end of the ship.

Come on. Come on!”, Stevonnie thought to themselves, looking past the Jasper to see that they were still on trajectory to hit most of the northern enemy’s ground forces.

Unfortunately, their enemy noticed the shift in attention, and turned her head to follow the fusion’s gaze. Seeing that the ship was mere meters from colliding with her enemy forces, she furiously gazed back at Stevonnie, before noticing the exposed panel and tools that the fusion was using to control her ship.

Making a mad dash for the panel, Jasper tried to run past Stevonnie to steer the vessel off of its collision course. However, Stevonnie was faster, and had anticipated the gem’s move, grabbing the gem and using her own inertia to spin her around. Turning with all of their might, Stevonnie hurled Jasper off of the front of the ship, and into her own army below. Not a moment later, the ship crashed into the planet below, poofing most of the enemy gems, and destroying the enemy ship in one fell swoop.

Not wasting the opportunity that they were given, the gems of Pink Steven’s Court poofed the last of the enemy gems, and turned to the figure atop the wreckage, weapons still drawn and ready to fight the unknown individual.

Having used their shield once more to maintain footing as the ship decelerated, Stevonnie themself stood atop the wreckage. Between the dust from the crash lightly silhouetting their figure, and light from the planet’s four suns forming a glowing halo around the fusion, Stevonnie’s visage appeared ethereal, while still conveying a form of raw power.

Chapter Text

The gems around them hesitated, some even taking a step backwards before raising their weapons once more.

“Is everyone okay?”, Stevonnie asked, looking around the group to determine if any of their gems were hurt in the crash.

Stevonnie was met with silence as the combatants continued to aim their weapons at them.

“The attack is over.”, Stevonnie continued, perturbed, “We need to focus on bubbling the gems of these terrorists so that they can answer to the Diamond Authority, any of our own that were hurt need to be brought back to the palanquin for healing.”.

“Excuse me, but who are you?”, a Lieutenant Amethyst spoke up.

“What do you mean? I-“, Stevonnie began, before cutting themself off.

It hadn’t occurred to them until just now that this was the first time their subjects ever saw them as Stevonnie.

“What a weird first impression THIS is for my court.”, Stevonnie thought to themselves dryly.

“My apologies, I never introduced myself.”, Stevonnie began, collecting themselves and clearing their throat, “My name is Stevonnie...”.

* * *

One long discussion, an unfusing, a re-fusing, and a trip to Homeworld later.

“So... looks like most of your subjects know about you now. That’s good, right?”, Chrysoberyl asked, trying to ease the tension from her superior as Pink Pearl, Garnet, and Stevonnie walked to the Diamond Authority’s throne room for a briefing.

Sighing, Stevonnie replied, “Yes, I just wish that it was under better circumstances, you know? Steven and Connie love me, and love BEING me, they really wanted my reveal to the court to be representative of THAT, not fighting and war. You know?”.

“I know exactly what you mean.”, Garnet replied, “But we only get one chance at a first impression. I didn’t choose for Ruby and Sapphire to meet Steven the way they did, but they’re still good friends. You formed to protect those close to you, it was Steven and Connie’s love for each other and the gems under them that lead them to the realization that they could not complete the mission on their own, not some drive for violence, or the shattering of gems.”, Garnet finished sagely.

Stevonnie’s eyes widened at the statement, remembering both Ruby and Sapphire’s original reveal to Steven, and the time that Garnet made it up for Steven and re-introduced themselves on his birthday.

“You’re right, Garnet.”, Stevonnie replied, “Thank you.”.

“You are most welcome, My Stevonnie.”, Garnet replied, hugging the slightly smaller fusion, before adding, “Are you ready?”.

“Yes.”, was all Stevonnie said before nodding to Pink Pearl to open the door to the throne room.

The layout of the room was typical for when the Diamonds were giving a briefing or holding a council meeting. Instead of having all of the thrones face a singular direction, such as in instances of presentation or trial, the four thrones all faced together around a large, ornate table. The other three Diamonds of the Authority had already arrived, their gaze weighing upon the fusion, scrutinizing them.

“Welcome, fusion of Pink Steven and High Guard Connie.”, White Diamond began, “We gather here today to discuss the events of the attack on Pink Steven, on his colony HK-7.”.

“Before we begin.”, Stevonnie spoke up, “You can just call me ‘Pink Stevonnie’, it’s easier than the mouthful of titles and everything.”.

“Very well, Pink Stevonnie.”, White Diamond replied, “Now, can be begin the account?”.

“Yes, absolutely White.”, Stevonnie replied, bowing slightly before looking to Chrysoberyl, cueing her to begin the presentation.

“Your Radiances.”, Chrysoberyl began, projecting a large and detailed image of the battlefield on HK-7, “Approximately 3.721 centi-cycles ago, Pink Steven’s palanquin was ambushed on the seventh facet of HK-7. The enemy forces numbered 60 ground forces divided across two teams, three class M7 Era 2 tanks, and one Era 2 commander class warship...”.

Chrysoberyl’s explanation was very thorough, though Stevonnie was glad that she had left out the part where Steven called Connie his ‘Jam Bud’. The Diamonds themselves seemed impressed with Connie’s ability to lead an army as well, with Yellow Diamond herself having a slight grin when Chrysoberyl discussed Connie’s strategy to rush the tanks and hijack one to take down the warship. However, what really got a reaction of the Diamonds was when Chrysoberyl mentioned how they single-handedly took out the entire warship and the majority of the northern group of ground forces. Stevonnie was sure that they saw White Diamond’s eyebrows raise at that.

“And where are these terrorists now?”, Blue asked Chrysoberyl, after she was finished with her account of the day’s events.

“They are still bubbled, and being held in a holding cell for interrogation and trial.”, Chrysoberyl replied.

“Good.”, Blue Diamond replied, before turning her attention to Stevonnie, “And how are you feeling, after the attack? I cannot imagine that this ordeal has been easy for Connie, Steven, or you to process.”.

“I’m a little shaken, but mostly fine. I’m just glad that everyone is safe.” Stevonnie replied.

“Well, that brings us to our next topic.” Yellow spoke up, getting the attention of the other Diamonds, “The matter of a Diamond fusing with another gem, or in this case, an organic.”.

“Pink Stevonnie, you are no doubt aware of the stigma surrounding gem fusion, correct?”, White Diamond asked, “That it is a tactic used by weaker gems.”.

“I am aware.”, Stevonnie replied, “However, Steven and Connie fused into me in an effort to protect the Pink court, and to ensure the capture of our enemies - not because they were weak.”.

At that, Yellow Diamond spoke up, “While it is true that no one can consider Pink Steven or High Guard Connie weak in their own right, we must still recognize the image that this portrayed, the fact that gems will interpret them as weak. They fused in order to beat adversaries that each individual could not beat on their own.”.

“You forget that their ‘adversary’ in this case was a commander class warship.”, White Diamond interjected, “Something that both you and Blue would have great difficulty taking down as well without a ship of your own.”.

“So you’re saying that even though Steven and Connie are powerful, their fusion is capable of creating something greater?”, Blue asked.

“That is what appears to be the case.”, White replied, “The stigma surrounding cross-gem fusion only exists because its participants are considered ‘weak’, in the eyes of the members of our Courts, Pink Stevonnie can be seen as an exception to this viewpoint. Moreover, Pink Steven has made it his goal to aid the gems that have been hurt and rejected in the society of Era 2, if he wishes to make cross-gem fusion truly acceptable, then leading by example should be beneficial to his goals.”.

“Thank you, White.”, Stevonnie relied dipping their head into a light bow, “I have been considering making a formal address to the Pink Court of my existence, and I will have to add that to my speech.”.

White Diamond smiled warmly in response, “You’re welcome, Pink Stevonnie.”.

“One last topic before our meeting is adjourned, however.”, Blue Diamond spoke up, turning her gaze to Garnet.

“High Clarity Garnet, why was it that this attack on Pink Steven’s palanquin was not foreseen? It should go without saying that predicting and preparing for an attack on the palanquin is of utmost importance.”, Blue Diamond asked, her voice taking on an edge.

“My deepest apologies, Your Radiance.”, Garnet replied, bowing in a salute, “Given the increase in attacks from enemy gems, My Steven tasked myself and others to find instances where gems were shattered in the future. Since no Pink Court gems were shattered in this conflict, we did not foresee this event. However, starting now, I will form another commission of clarities, for the sole purpose of foreseeing threats to My Steven. This will not happen again.”.

“It had better not.”, Blue Diamond replied, glaring at the clarity, “While I cannot order the shattering of gems outside of my Court, I can and WILL order your demotion from your position, your removal from the hall of Clarities, and your arrest under charges of negligence and aid of enemy forces should this happen again. Are we clear, Garnet?” Blue Diamond’s voice boomed throughout the throne room.

“Y-yes your Radiance.”, Garnet replied, slightly more nervous than usual.

“That concludes all the topics that we gathered to discuss.”, White Diamond said to the group, “If there is another topic that anyone wishes to discuss while we are all gathered, they can do so now.”.

A beat of silence passed.

“Very well then. Meeting adjourned.”, White Diamond concluded.

“It was nice meeting all of you.”, Stevonnie bowed to the group.
.
“It was wonderful meeting you too, Stevonnie.”, Blue Diamond replied, before hugging the small fusion, “I’m just so relieved that you are safe.”.

Laughing, Stevonnie hugged Blue back as best as they could, before Blue set them back down.

Waving goodbye to the other Diamonds, Stevonnie left the throne room in high spirits.

“Where to now, My Stevonnie?”, Pink Pearl asked as the small group walked to Homeworld’s planetary hub.

“We need to get back to the capitol on Earth. Garnet needs to assemble her commission of clarities, and I need to make an announcement to the Pink Court.

“Shall I have the Rubies set up a stage in the Main Square in front of the palace?”, Pearl asked.

“Yes, also if you could send some Kindergarten certified Peridots over to the Hall of Clarities to aid Garnet with the development and planning of her new group of gems, that would be good as well.”, they replied.

“Consider it done, My Stevonnie.”.

A few short warps later, Stevonnie found themselves back in Steven’s throne room, where they all but collapsed into the chair as they let go of all of the stress of the day.

I think… I think that we should fuse on stage.”, one part of Stevonnie’s mind echoed to the other.

But that means that we have to un-fuse now, or at least before we take the stage. That SUCKS.”, The other part of their brain replied.

It’ll only be for a little bit.”, Stevonnie was sure that Connie was the one thinking that part.

Begrudgingly, the other part of Stevonnie’s mind agreed, and Stevonnie began to unfuse.

“Don’t worry Steven, I’ll be back soon!”, Stevonnie spoke up reassuringly, as their body began to glow.

Where once a single person sat, now there were two. Steven and Connie were still hugging each other from the battlefield, except now Steven was practically on Connie’s lap. The two couldn’t help but chuckle at the odd situation, bright laughter filling the throne room.

“So, you like our time as Stevonnie a lot, huh?”, Connie began.

“Yeah, I do! It’s really nice to be able to just ‘be’ with you, you know? It’s something that I would like to do a lot more - if you’re okay with that of course.”, Steven quickly added.

“Steven, of course I’m okay with that!”, Connie replied, laughing, “I really enjoy it too!”.

Connie then leaned in closer to Steven, punctuating her reply by giving him a quick kiss on his cheek. Steven could only blush in response, his brain short circuiting. Suddenly, a bright glow overtook the two, leaving behind a heavily blushing Stevonnie.

“You GUYS! Really!?”, Stevonnie laughed as the Steven and Connie parts of their mind each expressed some form of embarrassment.

“Sorry! I just didn’t expect a kiss! Connie knows that her kisses usually end up in us fusing when I’m surprised!”, Stevonnie blurted in response, their voice expressing Steven’s thoughts.

“Alright, alright. Now let’s unfuse, and this time, can we try to STAY that way until we get to the stage at least?”, Stevonnie replied, smirking as they felt the embarrassment radiate from Steven and Connie.

Another quick flash of light later, Connie and Steven were back on the throne, Connie’s lips still brushing up against Steven’s cheek. Steven willed his gem to cooperate and not fuse the two of them again, as he pulled away and turned to Connie.

“Sorry.”, he said, blushing.

“It’s fine, you goober.”, Connie laughed, before uttering a surprised yelp as Steven kissed her on the cheek as well.

Connie’s blush grew even deeper in response to Steven’s display of affection. Slowly, Connie leaned in, intending to kiss Steven yet again. Suddenly, the sound of the warp pad activating rang throughout the throne room, Connie all but leaping off of Steven in response and trying to regain some level of composure as Pink Pearl materialized on the warp pad.

“Greetings High Guard Connie, and My Steven. You will be pleased to hear that all preparations are finished for your speech.”, Pink Pearl announced, before standing up from her bow and salute, noticing the blush on her audience’s faces, “I hope I’m not interrupting anything?”.

“No!”, Connie and Steven both squeaked in unison.

After sharing a look, Steven spoke up.

“You’re not interrupting anything at all. Thank you Pearl.”, Steven replied, still blushing, before standing up and following Pearl down to the warp pad, Connie trailing closely behind.

The first thing that Steven noticed as he took the stage was just how large the square felt when it was packed with gems. Camera robonoids and stage light robonoids hovered around him, broadcasting his image all throughout the galaxy and beyond. At the podium now, Steven could make out some of the faces of his friends in the crowd. Garnet, Pearl, Amethyst 8XM, Amethyst 3ZC, Lapis, Peridot, Dot, Chrysoberyl, and White Sapphire were all there too. His gaze turned to Connie, who gave him an encouraging smile.

Welp, here goes nothing.”, Steven thought to himself, taking a deep breath.

“Gems of the Pink Court, and to gems of all Courts under the Diamond Authority.”, Steven began, voice surprisingly steady, “You may have heard a rumor, that there was another attack on our Court by a group of terrorist gems this cycle. That rumor is true. This attack took place on planet HK-7, and it targeted myself, those close to me, and the brave gems serving as my protection.”, Steven paused, letting that information sink in, “Fortunately, no gems were shattered as a result of this attack, as we were able to band together and subdue the enemy before innocent lives could be lost. However, there is another rumor surrounding our victory that I would like to address. Specifically, that in the course of battle, Connie and I fused to take on an enemy warship.”.

Silence filled the square, as each gem waited in anticipation of what Steven’s next words would be.

“That rumor is also true.”, Steven spoke as gasps echoed throughout the square, “Everyone is aware of the stigma surrounding cross-gem fusion, as well as fusion in general. That the members who participate in it are weak. But I am here to tell you that that is not the case. Each gem on their own is capable of incredible things. Just today, Connie on her own was able to take out several enemy tanks with nothing but her sword. I myself was able to deflect enemy fire and missiles, while healing members of my Court.”, Steven paused, before reaching his hand out to Connie.

Connie nervously took Steven’s hand, the two beginning a quick dance, before Connie dipped Steven, kissing him lightly, the two glowing as they fused.

Stevonnie stood at the podium, the gems of their court awed by the sight before them.

“Gems of the Pink Court, and all Courts under the Diamond Authority, greetings! My name is Stevonnie.”.

The crowd of gems before them bowed into a Diamond Salute.

“As Steven had mentioned before, fusion is not a last resort for weak gems. While Steven and Connie did form me on the battlefield, they did so to protect what was important to them, the gems whose lives were at risk. However, gem fusion is far more than a military tactic. It is a way for gems to grow closer to one another, to enjoy spending time with someone close to you, to learn more about yourself or the world around you. Steven has made it one of his goals to undo the stigma that surrounded cross-gem fusion throughout Era 2, and the best way to go about doing so is to lead through example!”, Stevonnie paused, letting their words sink in to their audience, “That does not mean that each and every gem should go out and find someone to fuse with. Fusion isn’t for everyone. Fusion is not always easy, or right, or good, or even forever - but for the gems that want to fuse, and the gems who exist as fusions today, know that you are loved and respected just as much as every other gem in the Four Courts. The stigma surrounding gem fusion is not one that is based in truth, it is only based in the bitterness of gems that cannot see its worth.”.

The crowd before them erupted in applause, with Garnet herself crying tears of joy.

Pink Pearl then walked on stage, silencing the crowd.

“That concludes My Stevonnie’s address, however they are free to answer any questions you may have, both in person, and on the Diamond line.”, Pearl announced, bringing up a communications screen.

* * *

“Oooohkay, THAT was a lot more questions than I thought we would get!”, Stevonnie said, collapsing into Steven’s throne once more.

“All the comments seemed positive though!”, Pink Pearl replied, “Despite all of the questions on Connie and Steven’s relationship, I would say that your introduction to the Pink court is going quite well!”.

“Pfft. Yeah, I didn’t think that THAT would be the biggest bombshell of the day. Going public with a relationship sure is crazy, huh?”, Stevonnie laughed.

“Bomb-shell, my Stevonnie?”, Pink Pearl asked, confused.

“Oh it’s a human expression. It just means that a particular piece of information was big news, or particularly surprising.”, Stevonnie replied.

“I see, My Stevonnie.”, Pink Pearl smiled, “I suppose that learning this definition is a bomb-shell on its own!”, the small gem finished with a light laugh.

“Yeah! You’re getting it!”, Stevonnie cheered.

Suddenly, a small chime came from one of Pearl’s screens.

“Another question?”, Stevonnie asked, surprised that they were still coming in.

“Yes, my Stevonnie. Would you like me to pull it up?”.

“Sure. Pull them up.”, Stevonnie replied, straightening themselves and ensuring that they’re presentable to their subjects.

Pearl pressed a few buttons on their screen, a communications link displaying a large, green gem wearing a flowing shawl filled the room.

“Hello, your Radiance?”, the gem greeted in a Diamond salute, “I’m sorry if I’m late with my question.”.

Stevonnie’s eyes widened slightly, taking in the sight of what was clearly a fusion before them.

“You’re not late at all! I just got back from finishing my address.”, Stevonnie said reassuringly, “How can I help?”.

“My name is Lemon Jade, and I serve under the courts of their Radiances Blue and Yellow Diamond. I wanted to thank you for making the Diamond Courts more accepting of fusions like me, I know that I wouldn’t have had the courage to be myself today if it wasn’t for what you just did.”, Lemon Jade began.

“I’m glad that I could help, Lemon Jade!”, Stevonnie replied, smiling brightly.

“I was wondering though, how did Blue and Yellow Diamond react to you being a fusion?”, Lemon Jade asked.

Stevonnie paused for a moment, recalling the Diamonds’ reaction.

“Well, they were both very relieved that I was okay, and unharmed from the attack. Blue Diamond was very positive throughout the whole interaction, and White and Yellow Diamond both reacted well to my existence, with White Diamond even helping me with the speech I gave today. I know that fusion is a lot to take in for other gems, but it's worth it in the end, to be able to show this side of yourself to your friends, co-workers, and superiors. I hope that answered your question Lemon Jade!”, Stevonnie finished before smiling at the other fusion.

“It did!”, the green fusion exclaimed, “Thank you so much, your Radiance! I’m gonna tell my bosses now!”, the fusion excitedly proclaimed, before saying her farewell to Stevonnie.

“Wow…”, Stevonnie breathed, tearing up slightly from happiness.

“It looks like your proclamation has already helped out some gems!”, Pink Pearl said excitedly.

Another chime played from Pearl’s screen.

“Another question?”, Stevonnie asked.

“Actually my Stevonnie, this appears to be a message from Bismuth, the head of Weapons and Armor R&D. She requests permission to see you.”, Pearl replied.

“Bismuth?”, Stevonnie asked, recalling the former member of the Crystal Gems, “Yeah absolutely, let her in.”.

“Yes, my Stevonnie.”.

The warp pad activated, revealing Bismuth holding a large case.

“Oh. My. Stars!”, Bismuth began excitedly, before bowing in the Diamond Salute, “My Steven never told me anything about him and Connie being able to fuse!? I saw your address to the Four Courts! I still can’t believe that you fused on stage! I don’t know if you saw Garnet’s reaction to the whole thing, but her and Pearl just couldn’t stop crying. They’re all so happy for you and what you’re doing!”, Bismuth rambled before wrapping the fusion in a tight hug.

Eyes still watery, Stevonnie hugged Bismuth back, “It looks like I was able to help out a lot of gems today.”.

“I still can’t thank you enough for what you are doing for the Diamond Authority. These ‘upper-crusts’ used to be so uncaring for gems like me, but now with guidance from my Steven and you, things are finally looking up.”, Bismuth replied, before turning towards the case that was still on the pad.

“I originally started this for Connie, for when she’s older and taller. But after seeing you, and hearing your feats on the battlefield this morning, well I got to work on this piece as fast as I could!”, Bismuth laughed to herself, opening the chest that she brought along.

Bismuth pulled out the first piece and presented it to Stevonnie, and what a sight to behold it was. An ornate, rose gold cuirass and backplate, bearing the crest of the pink court prominently in its center. Around the edges of the crest, a bright pink metal, not unlike the material that comprised the sword of Rose Quartz, formed a filigree, decorating the chest piece.

Next, Bismuth took out a set of light, yet robust looking pauldrons, each decorated with a similar filigree design, and a golden, gilded star, similar to the one that would always be adorned on Steven’s t-shirt was framed prominently in the center of each one. Rose gold vanguards and gauntlets, each inlaid with similar filigree and adorned with golden accents. Sturdy greaves came next, each with a floral design crafted from the same pink alloy inlaid in the construction. Last came the sword. Unlike their previous sword, this one appeared to have an ornate basket-hilt, providing protection for their dominant hand. Like their previous sword, this one also possessed a single edge, almost meeting the style of a backsword in its construction, if it weren’t for the sheer girth of the weapon itself. All along the blade were golden filigree etchings, the blade itself the traditional pink hue of Rose’s sword.

“It’s beautiful.”, Stevonnie gasped in awe.

“Well, I can’t take all the credit, unfortunately.”, Bismuth replied, bashfully, “I asked a couple Iolites, and even a Peridot to help me out with the filigree work on the armor itself, but the rose gold titanium alloy and the main decorations were all me.”.

“Well, regardless, it is still breathtaking. You can give them my thanks.”, Stevonnie replied, appreciative of Bismuth’s honesty.

“Well, don’t be shy, try it on!”, Bismuth replied excitedly.

“Alright!”, Stevonnie replied, matching Bismuth’s excitement as they donned the armor.

“It fits perfectly!”, Stevonnie exclaimed, giving the sword a few swipes through the air to test its weight, before storing the armor and sword in Steven’s gem, “And the sword is perfectly balanced too!”.

“Thank you so much Bismuth!”, the fusion exclaimed, giving the large gem a hug.

The happiness and laughter shared between friends filled the throne room.

* * *

Meanwhile, on a distant planet halfway across the galaxy...

“Can you believe it? Not only did that pathetic excuse for a Diamond take down some of our best gems, but she then fused with an organic twice! Once in battle, and another time in front of all four courts! And now she wants to make fusion acceptable for all the gems under the Diamond Authority!”, the Rectificator bellowed, her voice echoing throughout the large war room.

“I know Rectificator, I know. These situations may seem trying, but remember, should our work prove successful, her reign, and by extension, her influence on the TRUE Diamond Authority will only be temporary.”, another voice replied.

“It is as if I am fated to be mired with this dissent and corruption. Is this how the wall gems of Homeworld feel? Forced to bear the weight of the palace, burdened by such an exalted responsibility, but forced to watch as the world passes her by, ignorant of her plight? I fight for truth and honor, but the galaxy blinds itself to reality and chooses to side with one who crafts beautiful lies and alluring falsehoods!”.

Suddenly, a chiming sound interrupted the arguing gems, a large screen projecting from Emerald’s gem filled the room, a silhouetted gem appearing on its screen.

“Rectificator, that is the second time that you have failed to capture Pink Diamond and end the Pink court.”, the voice on the other end of the line announced, “I expect you to explain yourself.”.

“Y-yes ma’am!”, Emerald shook nervously, “We attacked her palanquin, but High Guard Connie was able to mitigate the effectiveness of our assault, she fused with-“, Emerald began before being cut off.

“Are you telling me that this organic stymied what I am to believe was your best troops?”, the voice replied, coolly.

“N-no, ma’am.”, Emerald shook harder, “We have another plan, however! We are making good progress on Operation Cacophony! We have already gathered the necessary resources and tools, all that is left is for Timeweaver to finish compiling the sequencing of timeframes in order to build a path to the event itself. We will not fail Master again!”, Emerald replied nervously, before bowing.

At that, Timeweaver bowed as well, “This operation will be seen to fruition. The entirety of my service under the Master has lead to this moment.”, the Nephrite spoke up, her tone bold, yet humble, “The Pink Court will fall. This I swear to the both of you.”.

“I will hold you to those words, Timeweaver. And as for you Rectificator, you had better not fail our Master again.”, the voice replied sharply, “I am only giving you both one more chance.”.

At that, the transmission ended, leaving the Emerald and Nephrite both badly shaken.

“At least it’s wasn’t the Master herself reaching out to us...”, Nephrite chuckled, trying to be positive.

“The Master, her Pearl... They might as well be one and the same.”, Emerald sighed, clutching her hands to the gem in her head.

“It’s time that we did something about that organic.”, Rectificator growled.

“You have something in mind?”, Timeweaver asked.

“I do”, Emerald replied, before asking, “How close are we to creating a path to Operation Cacophony?”.

The Nephrite cast her gaze out of the war room’s window, overlooking a large floor filled with hundreds upon hundreds of Sapphires and Padparadschas, each at a computer terminal.

“Soon Rectificator. Very Soon.”.

Chapter Text

Timeweaver stared blankly at the terminal before her, pages upon pages of data scrolling by at a blinding speed, yet none of the probability wells were deep enough, or were shaped too far outside of the margins of feasibility to be used. Idly, Timeweaver paged down to the bottom of the report, the probability well of the last data set catching her eye.

“Event 1002-CA0057-EO95476… 99.8% probability of occurrence, 85% probability of correct execution, 84.83% net chance of success… MoE +/- 0.1%… Entity set at sector 907.03, 742.17, 549.78, at 78 12 3, 0.6714 HST. MoE +/- 5.27 cuts along x, y, and z axises, and +/- 0.5 centicycles…”, Timeweaver’s eye widened slightly.

“That could work… High chance of success… Favorable Margins of Error too…”, she commented, pulling up a blank screen and copying the information onto it.

Timeweaver scribbled furiously on her screen, the sharp, angular lines of gem glyph making her act of transposing the information appear all the more dramatic to any onlookers.

“Yes, yes, that could work very nicely…”, Timeweaver mused to herself, her once dull expression shifting to a mixture of determination and curiosity.

“So tell me, High Guard, what are you up to?”, the gem muttered under her breath.

Hastily, she returned her gaze to the terminal and pulled up a more detailed report of the final data set. A spreadsheet and accompanying chart filled the screen upon hitting enter, yet Timeweaver paid no mind to the chart, and instead quickly scrolled down to another set of data.

“Success parameters…”, Timeweaver mouthed to herself, her eyes locking onto a string of data.

EOI: 1002
IsDefended = true, DefenseAssetID: 17 - subclass 7-b
EntityStat ID: 23 (Vulnerable) - subclass 2-i (Distracted)
MinAssetsToManifest: “Event requires ‘2’ assets of ‘ID: 17 - sub-class 1-c’ AND ‘3’ assets ‘ID: 17 - subclass 5-a’ to occur.

Display Required Asset Allocation according to time space parameters? Y/N?

Timeweaver choked in surprise at the information on the screen, before falling backwards out of her chair, rolling in laughter.

“Okay, okay, that was good, but there’s no way. It can’t be that easy! She would never leave herself vulnerable like that!”, the gem laughed to herself, wiping tear from her eye and pressing the program’s refresh button.

However, her smile dropped as the data remained unchanged. Hastily, she checked back over her work, ensuring that she typed in the correct data-points before running the algorithm.

“T-that’s impossible.”, the Nephrite glared at the entity’s status variable, expanding the report to display the status’s underlying factors.

EntityStat ID: 23 (Vulnerable) - subclass 2-i (Distracted)
StatusStartTime: 78 3 3, 0.2401 HST
StatusEndTime: 78 12 3, 0.9745 HST
Log info: 0.1893 HST, 98 4 3 | Padparadscha 8F4L, Cut 2UJ
Revision History:
0.3400 HST, 78 4 3 | Padparadscha 2F2L, Cut 8EJ (Added subclass 2-i to EntityStatID: 23 after second viewing of past event)
0.3653 HST, 78 4 3 | Sapphire 9F6L, Cut 7YV (Added StatusEndTime datapoint)
Note(s): 2

Incredulousness turned to intrigue as Timeweaver expanded the attached notes.

0.1893 HST, 78 5 3 | Padparadscha 8F4L, Cut 2UJ: Detected severe emotional distress in Entity of Interest 1002 (High Guard Connie Maheswaran , Pink Court), including feelings of inferiority, powerlessness, and insecurity. Emotional distress witnessed is severe enough to cause the individual to make rash decisions and make oneself Vulnerable, thus meeting the criteria of a type 23 StatusID. Further examination and clarification may be needed in order to better define the kind of Vulnerability, but that is beyond my abilities. I will forward this status event to Rank Beta Clarity Sapphire Sapphire 9F6L, Cut 7YV, for review for its use in the development of Counter Action 57.

0.3650 HST, 78 5 3 | Sapphire 9F6L, Cut 7YV: Upon review of 2UJ’s discovery, and 8EJ’s subsequent appending of information, the classification of Status 23 (Vulnerable status) is fitting and appropriate. I myself appended a StatusEndTime datapoint in order to obtain necessary data for finalizing the report. Standard probability well analysis and rudimentary sequencing was performed as per protocol. Upon receiving results from said procedures, I can report with utmost confidence that the corresponding plan to utilize this weakness lies within acceptable margins of success (>= 63%), thus appending it to the list of Engagement Opportunities to be utilized as a candidate for Counter Action 57.

Time weaver shifted forward to the edge of her chair, hanging onto every word from the report. Hastily, she pulled up another window on her screen, opening a com line directly to the Beta Clarity.

“Timeweaver, ma’am.”, Sapphire 7YV’s form filled the screen, “How may I be of service?”.

“I need you to collapse the superposition state for EO95476. Bring EO95476 as well as any relevant sequences into our timeline at once.”, Timeweaver’s voice was urgent, “We are moving forward with that option for action 57 at once, and I myself will deliver the asset allocation information to Rectificator.”.

“Yes, ma’am.”, 7YV replied, pressing serval buttons on her screen, “The clarities are bringing the event into the time stream now. Is there any other way I may be of service?”.

“Yes. Please commend Padparadschas 8F4L, Cut 2UJ and 2F2L, Cut 8EJ on my behalf for their amazing work.”, Timeweaver replied, jittery from excitement, “You have done well 7YV. If this quality of work continues, then a promotion is in order.”.

“Thank you, Timeweaver. I am grateful to have provided this aid to you.”, the gem bowed once more, before the transmission cut off.

“Stars above…”, Timeweaver sighed, leaning back in her chair, before scrolling up on the report to print out the Asset Allocation file.

“Well, to pull this off we need two commander class warships stationed and cloaked just outside of Cancri, with three small gunner ships flanking around that central point at 78 12.6700 3…”, Timeweaver muttered to herself, looking over the Asset Allocation report.

Nodding to herself, she pulled up another screen from her gem, opening up a com line.

“Timeweaver, is it urgent? I’m busy at the moment, and I’m not scheduled to arrive at your lab until the next cycle.”, the Rectificator growled over the com line.

“I’ve put something together that I think you will be quite interested in.”, the Nephrite smiled, sending the Emerald event 1002-CA0057-EO95476, along with its corresponding asset allocation guidelines.

“Nephrite, I’m not a clarity.”, the Rectificator sighed, her eyes roaming over the pages of data, “What does all of this mean?”.

“It means that if you can get 2 commander-class warships and three smaller gunner ships to the coordinates that I just sent you, at the times that the allocation guide says to be there, then a certain High Guard of the Pink Court will no longer be a thorn in our side.”, the Nephrite smirked.

Emerald did a double take, looking between the guide and the Nephrite on the screen.

“You’re serious?”, the Rectificator asked, wonder filling her voice.

“Without a doubt.”, Timeweaver smiled, “All you have to do is have your troops be in that place next cycle, and they will be victorious.”.

“I’m preparing a group for briefing on the mission now. And, am I reading this correctly that the High Guard will be at those coordinates next cycle?”, Rectificator asked, hurriedly pressing buttons on her screen.

“That is correct. Her arrival there is inevitable now.”, Timeweaver replied, receiving a notification that the superposition collapse was performed successfully.

“Then they’ll be bringing her to your base.”, Emerald replied.

“Lab Theta? Why?”, Nephrite asked, incredulous.

“Because, I’m going to be there next cycle with you to oversee the finalization of Operation Cacophony’s sequencing.”, the Rectificator explained, “After all the trouble this organic has put us through, don’t you think we both deserve to watch her shatter?”.

“I like the cut of your gem, Rectificator.”, Nephrite smirked.

“Why wouldn’t you?”, Rectificator huffed, before adding, “Any other game-changing discoveries you want to inform me of?”.

“That is all, Rectificator.”, Nephrite smiled, ending the transmission and leaning back in her chair.

“Truly, this is the best-possible course of events…”, Timeweaver laughed.

Chapter Text

Connie was troubled, to say the least. Call it paranoia, call it a hunch, but ever since the attack on HK-7 it felt as though the enemy could pop up from anywhere. This of course left Connie feeling more high-strung than usual, her nerves growing more and more frayed as she waited for the other proverbial shoe to drop.

Suddenly the sound of a light chime rang out in the throne room, causing Connie to flinch.

“Peridot and Lapis of the Crystal Gems wish to speak with you my Steven.”, Pink Pearl spoke up, “Shall I let them in?”.

“Hold on, Pink.”, Steven replied, noticing Connie’s distress.

“You alright, Connie?”, he asked, a worried look flitting across his face.

“Y-yeah, I’m just nervous about nothing is all. It’s okay.”, came Connie’s clipped response.

“Alright.”, Steven replied, unconvinced, before turning to Pink Pearl, “Let them in.”, he ordered.

At once, a pink bubble rose from the throne room floor, before gently depositing Peridot and Lapis on the ground.

“Steven! Steven! Steven!”, Peridot raved, “You won’t believe what we have to show you today!”.

“Don’t you mean who we have to show you, Peri?”, Lapis gave a lazy smile at the smaller, green gem.

“What is it?”, Steven chuckled amusedly.

“So, you remember how you appeared as Stevonnie in front of all of the Courts?”, Peridot began excitedly.

“Kinda hard to forget.”, Steven rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly, “I mean, it wasn’t the best introduction to the gems, but I think the press conference afterwards helped clear things up…”, he trailed off.

“Well, you see-.”, Peridot began, before cutting herself off, “Lapis and I- I think the human terminology would refer to it as ‘dating’, but that doesn’t even begin to capture the minutia and finer aspects of what her and I experience on a cycle-to-cycle basis. ‘Partnered’ too is insufficient in describing the relationship also, given our propensity to-”.

“We like each other and we fuse.”, Lapis spoke up, cutting off the smaller gem.

“Lapis!”, Peridot grumbled in protest.

“You weren’t getting to the point.”, Lapis smiled back at Peridot, her expression nearing a smirk.

“Well, I wanted our reveal to be perfect!”, Peridot snarked back.

“You’ve fused!?”, Connie and Steven both exclaimed in surprise.

“That’s great you two!”, Steven was quick to praise the other gems.

“You haven’t even seen her yet.”, Lapis deadpanned.

“Nggaah! You don’t get to have all the fun Lapis!”, Peridot growled playfully, before rushing into Lapis’s arms, the larger, blue gem catching her and spinning her around.

Slowly, the two began to glow, a bright, blue-green light filled the throne room.

Steven and Connie squinted in response, before a lithe, aquamarine colored gem filled the space where Peridot and Lazuli once stood. At once, the fusion opened her four eyes, six tentacle-like ‘limbs’ of water emerging from their form.

“Greetings, High Guard Connie, and my Steven. My name is Moonstone.”, the gem announced, her voice as smooth as satin.

“Wow, Moonstone! You’re so cool!”, Steven’s eyes lit up in amazement.

Connie only smiled to herself, looking back at Steven’s reaction.

He still gets starry-eyed whenever he sees a ‘giant woman’…”, she laughed internally.

“You look amazing Moonstone!”, Connie praised the fusion, “How did you first fuse?”.

“The first time they made me, was actually an accident.”, Moonstone laughed to herself, “They were playing an old song, something that they had created as one of their meep-morps. Peridot started dancing excitedly, and Lapis joined in too, next thing either of them knew, I was formed. It was definitely a surprise for them.”.

“I can imagine.”, Steven laughed sympathetically, “Connie and I fused under similar circumstances.”.

“Oh yeah.”, Connie laughed, recalling Stevonnie, “I didn’t know what was going on, only that suddenly I was a lot taller.”.

“I’ve actually been, well myself for a couple cycles now. They just wanted to unfuse for the reveal. I’m actually thinking about the possibility of incorporating limb enhancers with my water… limbs?”, Moonstone replied, staring at her water tentacles, trying to decide what to call them.

“Well. I think that whatever you decide to do, it’ll be great!”, Steven replied excitedly, Connie nodding in agreement.

“Just know, that as a fusion, you are greater than the sum of your parts.”, Connie interjected, smiling, “You’re something more, something inherently deeper than a combination of two gems. You’re an experience.”.

“Thank you.”, Moonstone smiled, before looking between Connie and Steven, “In any case, that was all I wanted to share with you, I’m sure you’re pretty busy.”, she finished, taking her leave.

“Thank you for sharing that with us Moonstone! See you around!”, Steven replied, bidding the fusion farewell.

“See you.”, Connie sighed.

Steven’s smile faded as Moonstone’s form disappeared from the warp pad.

“So, did you want to talk about what was troubling you earlier?”, Steven spoke up.

“I just…”, Connie started, before cutting herself off, “Sometimes I wonder if it’s enough, you know?”.

“Enough?”, Steven asked, perplexed.

“Every day I get up, I go on missions and help some gems, maybe we fuse and spend time as Stevonnie, maybe we don’t - and it all just…”, Connie’s face twisted in anguish, “Gems are still shattering, Steven. The Rectificator and her gems are still out there and shattering innocent gems, and I can’t do anything about it!”.

“Oh Connie…”, Steven began, his voice trembling, “You’re already doing so much! Don’t blame yourself for someone else’s actions!”.

“I mean-“, Connie began, before being cut off.

“You’re giving hope to the gems of Homeworld, protecting me, Blue, Yellow, and even White Diamond!”, Steven replied, earnestly, “I don’t think there’s any way that you could help even more without becoming a Diamond yourself!”.

“And besides…”, Steven paused, taking a deep breath, “I think it’s natural to doubt yourself? Like, I mean, I think you can doubt yourself and still be good at leading, at least.”.

“You’re doubting yourself too?”, Connie asked, concern filling her tone.

“It’s just, you know…”, Steven stammered, trying to figure out how to start, “Sometimes I wonder if I’m really good enough. I wonder if I could have done more to help… or if…”, Steven shook himself out of his train of thought, “Yeah, basically that,”.

Connie sighed, trying to figure out what to say next, where to even go from that.

“What is it like?”, Connie’s voice pierced the silence of the room, trying to change the topic, “Being with the Diamonds and all?”.

“What do you mean?”, Steven replied, confused, “You’re always there too.”.

“I mean like, with your memories of them.”, Connie clarified.

“Oh.”, Steven replied, thinking back to their interactions with Pink Diamond.

“Honestly, all of the stuff I can remember from before, well, me, feels like it’s happening to an entirely different person. And yeah, I know that they weren’t very nice to Pink at times, but they still really cared about her. Not to mention that Pink Diamond wasn’t particularly nice to them either.”, Steven admitted.

“It must seem so weird to have your mom’s memories, though.”, Connie muttered, “Just back there floating around in your head”.

“I know it must be weird saying this… But I don’t really see her as my mom.”, Steven confessed, “Pearl, Garnet, Amethyst, they’ve always been there for me. But Pink?”.

“Hey.”, Connie spoke up, taking Steven’s hand, “It’s okay to feel that way about her - and it’s okay to see Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl as your moms instead of her. I mean, it makes sense since they have been with you since you were born. Does this change the way you feel about the other Diamonds?”.

“I mean, not really. I can tell that they care about me though, as well as you and even Stevonnie, too. I feel like they’re finally seeing me as me, and not just another form of Pink Diamond, you know?”, Steven replied, “And, yeah they seem like an extended family to me as well. Definitely not moms though… Or… Not Yellow and White at least, Blue Diamond is kinda like a mom to me…”, Steven trailed off, “They’re more like aunts.”, Steven laughed, lightening the mood.

“Oh my gosh, I can totally see them as a bunch of really doting space aunts!”, Connie laughed hysterically.

Steven paused, deep in thought as Connie’s laughter died down.

“But Connie, you know that you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself, right? You’re doing your best, and that’s all the gems that we’re protecting need. Don’t run yourself into the ground over this, okay?”, Steven spoke up, trying to be reassuring.

Connie hummed in response, before sighing, “I’m… I’m going to head out. Going to take my ship and do a perimeter check around the Authority’s colonies. Hopefully that’ll dissuade an attack or something.”.

At that, the High Guard stood up, and made her way to the warp pad.

“Okay…”, Steven sank into his throne, before calling out to Connie, “Love you.”.

“I love you too, Steven.”, Connie replied back, a note of dismay in her words.

Steven sighed, watching as Connie vanished in a beam of light.

She doesn’t believe me… She’s blaming herself…”, the thoughts echoed through his mind, compounded with worry.

“Well, if I can’t get her to see that she’s doing her best, maybe I could reach out to Garnet and get her to talk with Connie?”, Steven mused aloud.

“That sounds like a good idea, my Steven.”, Pink Pearl spoke up, “Shall I send for her when High Guard Connie returns?”.

“Yeah, that would be great.”, Steven replied, resolved.

We’ll sort this out as soon as she gets back.”.

Chapter Text

Everything happened so fast. In one moment, Steven was reflecting on what to say to help Connie’s self-esteem, and the next moment, High Captain Jasper was informing him of a distress signal coming from Connie’s ship.

‘Captured by enemy forces.’ ...it was all Steven heard before the world around him faded away, his body seeming to work on auto-pilot from there. Everything blurred together, but thankfully, Pink Pearl was there to help assemble a rescue operation. Chrysoberyl insisted that Steven move the base of operations to Homeworld, in the event of another attack on the Pink palace, while the court members were still reeling from the capture of the High Guard. Top clarities were hastily gathered in the Diamond Palace on Homeworld, while Chrysoberyl herself organized Pink Court strike teams and drop ships as Acting High Guard. Chrysoberyl and High Captain Jasper worked tirelessly to assemble the full might of the Pink Court’s military, readying it to move out and strike Connie’s captors on a moment’s notice. Meanwhile, Steven himself just sat, shellshocked in the Diamond throne room, the other three Diamonds each wearing similar expressions of concern.

“I just… I just can’t believe that this is real. It feels like a nightmare.”, Steven admitted.

“These may be trying times, but worrying and pacing in circles will get us nowhere.”, Blue Diamond replied, soothingly, “In times like this, we can only look to our Clarities for guidance, and trust in the abilities of those that were taken hostage.”.

“Blue is right, Steven.”, Yellow replied, “Connie has a strong will, and great determination. I cannot imagine her cracking under the pressure of this. We must simply await for the demands of the group holding her hostage.”.

“Yes, and just like how Connie herself freed the hostages from my lab, we will be there to free her from wherever it is that she is being held.”, White Diamond spoke up, “Connie has aided all of our courts, in our times of need. It would be irresponsible and abhorrent for us to not do the same.”.

“Thank you.”, Steven replied, drying his tears.

“Anytime Steven.”, Blue Diamond replied lovingly, before turning to her Pearl, “Pearl, have the best fighters of the Blue Court gathered and ready to move out at Pink Steven’s command.”.

“Pearl, you are to do the same.”, Yellow Diamond ordered.

“We’re going to get her back Steven, without a scratch on her gem.”, White Diamond smiled.

“Thank you all, I best get my troops ready as well.”, Steven bowed before leaving the throne room, Pink Pearl trailing close behind.

“Would you have me mobilize our forces as well, my Steven?”, Pink Pearl spoke up.

“Yes, but also have the Rubies prep the Diamond Legs for launch, and have all of the communications run directly to the ship’s bridge. I’m going to be leading the forces of the Four Courts myself.”, Steven replied, a fire burning in his eyes.

* * *

Garnet nervously paced the floor of the conference room that was hastily adapted to serve as a Clarity ‘think tank’ for the Pink Court gems. The screens of empty note boards projected into the room’s center seemed to mock her, the fruitlessness of her efforts weighing on her gem.

“I’m sorry, High Clarity.”, Padparadscha 1AA spoke up eventually, “The Nephrite that is in charge of the base is not taking any chances with High Guard Connie. She’s heavily guarded, and the Nephrite has no intention of making demands of the Pink Court.”.

“So we go to wherever this base is and bust her out. Every compound has a weakness, no matter how large, so we should just focus on finding out where she is held.”, Garnet replied, tone aggravated, “We cannot just let her die.”.

“Even if we knew where she was, we cannot approach her.”, White Sapphire replied, “Not yet. If we send forces to the planet she is being held at now, they’ll shatter her before we’re able to even get close. If we don’t approach, they’ll contact us in half a cycle under the pretense of negotiation, only to shatter her on camera in front of the whole galaxy.”, White reiterated, her voice shaking, “These gems, they don’t want anything from us except to make us hurt. They fear us, and what we have done to their forces. That fear has made them paranoid, and paranoia breeds contingencies and overly defensive strategies.”.

“There has to be a way she survives! Look harder!”, High Clarity Garnet ordered.

“Yes ma’am.”, White Sapphire replied, straining her vision harder, her form beginning to steadily glow.

The lights of the conference room began to flicker in response to White Sapphire’s exertion, the screens in the room’s center filling with static.

“White!”, Garnet spoke up, her voice full of concern as she witnessed the full extent of White Sapphire’s abilities for the first time.

“I am alright, High Clarity.”, White Sapphire replied through grit teeth, as Garnet moved towards her in concern.

Slowly, White Sapphire’s form dimmed, the static and flickering of the room’s screens subsiding.

“Right now, Connie is not seen as a threat.”, White Sapphire replied eventually, “According to this timeline, if High Guard Connie frees herself, there might be a possibility of her survival.”.

“You say that as though it is possible for her to leave her cell at any time.”, Garnet replied.

“It isn’t.”, White Sapphire replied, before moving on, “She is being heavily guarded by a team of gems who are in the cell with her. Assuming that she is able to get past the guards, she will need to drop the base’s defenses, as there is a shield protecting the complex she is held in. She will need to take down three separate power sources in order to disable the shield and allow ships to approach the complex. Once completed, the base would be thrown into chaos, providing both an opportunity for her to send a distress signal, and for us to be able to follow through on that signal and rescue her.”.

“Stars, she’ll have to fight through the whole base?”, Padparadscha interjected.

“Yes.”, White Sapphire replied, “The base has a strong communications terminal that she can send a message to us through, so we can gain her location. Upon receipt of that message, we can then send reinforcements. However, relaying all of this information to High Guard Connie will prove difficult. The only foreseeable way to get this information to her is if Pink Steven relays this to Connie using his dream telepathy. She is currently unconscious, so I recommend his Radiance does so within the next ten centi-cycles.”, White Sapphire paused, weighing her next words carefully, “However, for this series of events to begin, we must make a few assumptions. Specifically, that she is capable of fighting in her current condition, and that she is capable of freeing herself from her cell. Assuming these two factors, it is possible that she could begin this sequence of events, but as to whether or not she can complete it? The sheer amount of stamina and willpower needed for what amounts to a one-gem strike operation taking on an entire enemy base, and we don’t even know if she’s injured...”, White Sapphire trailed off, her words weighing heavily on the gems in the room.

“I will not lie to you Garnet.”, White Sapphire spoke up, tone filled with sorrow, “Even with these generous presuppositions factoring in, her chances of survival are infinitesimally small. It would be in My Steven’s best interest to prepare for the worst. Perhaps we can make arrangements to honor the life she lead.”.

Garnet’s gem sunk with the news. They had the strength of all Four Courts at their command, yet they were powerless to save one person. Not only that, but if there was any hope of Connie’s survival, she would have to first save herself before the Courts could do anything to help her. That’s not even considering what the enemy gems have already done to her, or what kind of state she was in to get captured in the first place. Stars, she might not be able to move, much less fight her way out of a secured facility.

It felt like Garnet had just been slapped in the face.

“I will inform My Steven of this myself…”, Garnet replied eventually, “If he is going to hear the news of the most certain demise of someone he loves so dearly…”, Garnet paused, voice thick with emotion, “Of someone who we all love, then it might as well be from a figure that he loves also.”, she announced, before turning to leave the room.

“Does that mean that you wish for us to begin planning ways for which to honor the High Guard, High Clarity Garnet?”, White Sapphire called out.

“You are free to do whatever you see fit.”, Garnet replied, the door to the conference room shutting behind her.

* * *

“So, if Connie is being held in an open environment, I will use my ship’s shields as a barrier to protect her as soon as Connie’s location is identified, that way all other ships will be free to fire without harming her.”, Steven announced to the generals of the Four Courts, their images displayed on several screens from Pink Steven’s Diamond ship.

“Understood, your Radiance. That seems to be a solid strategy given the limited information that we have on the situation.”, a general from the White Court spoke up, “Do we have any news from your Clarities?”.

“Not yet, but I will let you know as soon as I do!”, Steven replied energetically.

As if punctuating his statement, the door to the bridge opened, revealing Garnet in its threshold.

“Ah! And there she is right now!”, Steven replied to the generals, “I will call you back with the updates.”.

“Talk to you shortly, your Radiance.”, the generals replied, bowing deeply, before the screens in from of Steven went dark.

“Alright Garnet, what’s the plan?”, Steven replied, eagerly before noticing Garnet’s body language.

Whereas Garnet was usually some mixture of stoic and optimistic, the Garnet before him now was shaken and deeply troubled.

“Garnet?”, Steven spoke up, his tone filling with trepidation.

At that, Garnet kneeled next to Steven’s captain chair, and took off her sunglasses, the two now eye-to-eye.

Dread replaced trepidation as Steven paled significantly, his eyes filling with tears, “No, no. Garnet please tell me that she isn’t… She can’t be! She- She’s a hostage right?”, Steven rambled, his breaths growing fast and shallow, “They would make some sort of demand, and I’ll give it to them! I’ll give them anything they want!”.

“She is still alive Steven.”, Garnet replied, her voice wavering, “But the gems holding Connie don’t want anything in exchange for her. They’re not interested in holding a negotiation, they’re only waiting to kill her, so that when they do, it hurts the Pink Court as much as possible.”.

“There, there has to be something…”, Steven replied, tears running down his face.

“We found one possibility.”, Garnet replied, her tone cautious as to not give Steven too much hope, “Connie will have to fight her way out of the cell she’s held in, and the base itself. From there, she’ll have to drop their security systems and send us a message of confirmation detailing her exact location. If she does all of that, we may be able to rescue her.”.

May be able to?”, Steven replied, incredulous, “But Garnet, she’s hurt and alone! We can’t expect her to do all of that!”.

“We can’t.”, Garnet replied, solemnly, “The chances of her doing that might be zero, but it is the only possible future we found where she survives. Connie is unconscious right now, so if you try and sleep now, you should be able to use your dream ability to reach out to her and tell her all of this. I’ll be with you to tell you the specifics as you sleep.”.

“That’s it? Just reach out to her and hope that she makes it through? We have four fleets of ships and that’s all we can do?”, Steven replied, crying in full now.

“I know, Steven. I’m so sorry that things are this way, I would give anything to make sure that she was safe.”, Garnet replied, wrapping Steven in a tight hug, the latter gripping onto her as he sobbed.

“But what about Connie’s parents, what will they say? What about Stevonnie?”, Steven sobbed, Garnet tightened her grasp on Steven at the mention of Stevonnie, in what she hoped was a soothing gesture.

“This is all my fault…”, Steven sobbed, his thoughts spiraling, “I should have done more to keep her safe. It’s my fault that she’s in this mess. It’s my fault!”.

“Steven, look at me.”, Garnet pulled away, forcing herself to be strong for him, “We’re going to get through this together. Right now, you should focus on getting to sleep so you can reach out to Connie.”.

“Alright...”, Steven replied, shakily drying his tears.

“You have an opportunity to talk to her again, to… to say…”, Garnet couldn’t bring herself to finish those words, and instead took a deep breath, “I want you to have as much time as possible to say what you want.”.

Wordlessly, Steven and Garnet walked out of the bridge and towards the back of the ship, to give Steven some peace and privacy for his rest.

* * *

Darkness.

It was as if a black sheet had been thrown over her, blocking out all of the light.

In truth, Connie couldn’t tell where she was, only that things felt wrong, somehow...

Her train of thought ebbed in and out coherency as she tried to make sense of her surroundings...

“I must be dreaming... but why?”, Connie thought to herself.

“Wasn’t I just piloting my ship though? When did I have time to go to sleep?”

Connie...

“Hm?”, Connie turned around in the pitch-black void, hoping to find the individual calling out to her.

Connie!

“Who’s there?”, Connie yelled into the void, before recognizing the voice.

“Wait, Steven? Is that you?”, Connie shouted again.

Suddenly, she wasn’t alone in the inky blackness of the void anymore.

“Connie!”, Steven smiled, materializing in front of her.

“Steven!”, Connie replied, wrapping him in a tight hug, with Steven shakily reciprocating the gesture.

“So I am dreaming!”, Connie laughed, “I can’t seem to remember when I dozed off though...”.

At that, Steven’s grin faltered.

“Connie... You were captured by a group of enemy gems.”, Steven replied, his words breaking through Connie’s amnesia, like water rushing out of a broken dam.

“No... wait, my crew!”, Connie replied tone full of worry.

“I don’t know if they’re safe or not.”, Steven admitted, “But Connie, they’re holding you hostage in their base. You’re locked up in one of their cells, and since they knocked you unconscious, I can reach out to you this way...”, Steven trailed off.

“Hostage?”, Connie asked, “What do they want in exchange for me?”.

At that, Steven’s expression shifted to grief, “They, they don’t. They’re not planning on letting you go.”.

“And what, they’re just going to babysit me for eighty plus years?”, Connie laughed, before realization dawned on her, “Oh... oh.”.

“Yeah.”.

“I take it that you wouldn’t be telling me this if you were able to rescue me, huh?”, Connie replied, fighting back tears.

“There is a chance.”, Steven began, “You’ll have to find a way out of your cell. There should be generators.”, Steven paused, as if listening, and when Connie strained her ears, she could hear a light murmuring coming from somewhere within the void, “Three generators located around the perimeter of the base that you’re held in. It kinda looks like a crescent moon?”, Steven supplied, “If you get out of your cell, there should be information terminals that you can access with your gem that will allow you to find the generators. If you destroy the generators, the whole base will be thrown into a panic, and be defenseless. From there, you’ll need to find the base’s central communications terminal. That terminal will be strong enough to send us a signal that you took down the barrier, as well as give us your location. Normally our Padparaschas would be able to determine your location, but there appear to be a lot of Clarities where you are being held, and it’s messing with their past-vision.”.

“So, get out of my cell, destroy the generators, and send a message home?”, Connie replied, chuckling a little, “Gosh, when you put it like that, it sounds easy!”.

“Connie.”, Steven replied, crying, “I’m so sorry! This is all my fault! If I never asked you to be my High Guard, I-!”, Steven began, before being cut off.

“Steven, it’s okay!”, Connie soothed, now crying herself, “Steven I love the gems, and I love you! I would have found a way to help out regardless of your input, and I would have been targeted all the same! I loved every second of helping these gems, and if I had a chance to do it all over, I wouldn’t change a thing!”, Connie smiled through her tears.

“I cherished every moment I spent with you, too! I love you so much, you know?”, Connie added.

“I love you too Connie.”, Steven replied, desperately trying to hold back a sob, “I can’t- I- I can’t!”, he broke down, no longer able to maintain his composure.

At that, Connie leaned in and kissed Steven, drawing his attention away from his grief.

“I’m gonna try to fight my way out of this.”, Connie replied, pressing their foreheads together, “You of all people should know that I don’t back down from a fight easily.”.

“Right.”, Steven chuckled slightly, recalling an argument that the two had prior.

“And if... if things...”, Connie began, trying to find the right way to phrase her words, before ultimately deciding to skip over them altogether, “We’re jam buds. I’ll always be with you.”, Connie finished, wrapping Steven in a tight hug, tears running down her face in earnest now.

“Connie, I can’t do this! I can’t live without you!”, Steven wept.

“Steven...”, Connie replied, drying her tears, “Remember the stories that I would tell you of when I was younger?”.

“Y-yeah? The ones where you went exploring by yourself when you thought your parents weren’t paying attention?”.

“Yeah, those.”, Connie attempted to smile, “When I was little, I never had any friends. Everyone else just thought I was some weird anti-social kid, always more interested in books than people. You were the first one who ever reached out to me, and wanted to spend time with me.”.

“Oh, Connie...”, Steven replied, moving to hug her, before she drew back slightly.

“I say that because, you have so many friends. Garnet, Pearl, Amethyst, Pink Pearl, the Diamonds. There’s so many people that care about you.”, Connie replied, before drawing into the hug, “They’ll be able to be there for you... when I’m not around.”, Connie finished.

Steven could only cry in response.

“I promise you Steven, I’ll always be with you. You’ll never be alone, okay?”, Connie spoke up, drawing Steven’s face into her hands and giving him a small kiss, before wrapping him in another tight hug, their tears mingling together.

Slowly, Connie began to hum a tune, although, she wasn’t sure if it was to soothe Steven or to calm her own nerves.

Any kind is fine with me
Come on and share this jam with me
I’ll do my best
To give this jam the sweetness it deserves~

At that, Steven joined in, his voice watery.

And I’ll keep it fresh
I’m jamming on these tasty preserves~

Reaching the chorus, the two joined in song together, each of their voices cracking slightly.

Ingredients in harmony...
We mix together perfectly...
Come on and share this jam with me...

 

 

…I love you, Steven.

Chapter Text

Connie’s head throbbed painfully as she finally came to, her eyes adjusting to the dimly lit room.

“Oh look at that, the thing’s finally awake.”, a gravelly voice spoke up from her left.

Connie’s eyes widened slightly, as she recalled the contents of Steven’s message, her arms struggling against the chains that held her hands above her head.

Captured.

She was captured, and had to fight her way out, and destroy the shield generators before she could get help. And Steven...

Steven was so so worried for her.

“I must admit, you put up quite the fight. But in the end, you’re still just an organic.”, the voice continued, menacingly, “You’ll never be as good as us. But I think you already knew that, didn’t you?”, the voice taunted, before a large hand grabbed onto Connie’s head, and turned her semi-lucid form to face her.

Tears welled up at the ends of her eyes as she realized the extent of her situation. Here she was, her arms chained together, and pinned to the wall above her, surrounded by enemies on a foreign planet.

This can’t be it, can it?”, Connie thought to herself, reflecting on her life as she sagged in her chains, the cold cuffs digging into her wrists, “Is this really where my story ends?”.

Connie focused her eyes and looked around the room. Dust particles filled the air. Everything around her seemed to be covered in a thick layer of dirt and grime. Light spilled through a small window in the wall, illuminating four other figures in the cell with her. Unlike her, they were not chained to the wall, and were free to move about the cell at will.

Jaspers.”, her mind supplied, noting the parallelogram-shaped stones that occupied their orange forms.

Their eyes filled with malice and hatred towards her.

These are the gems assigned to keep me detained.”, she realized, “They’re not taking any chances.”.

She was trapped. Stuck on an unknown planet, chained to the ceiling, and surrounded by an unknown number of enemies. She could feel it, this was the end of her story.

Connie tried to keep herself from shaking with fear, tried to show her captors a bit of dignity reflective of the Pink Court, but after being placed in such a situation, who wouldn’t shake in fear.

“Aw, look at her! The poor thing’s trembling!”, the Jasper closest to her taunted in mock concern, the sound of rattling chains filled the small room.

“Good!”, she spat, “You thwarted our boss one too many times, and now you pay the price!”.

Thwarted their boss?”, Connie thought to herself, “Oh, they must be talking about the attacks on Steven’s palanquin and palace.”.

But, if I’m gone. Then who will protect Steven?”, the thought arose in Connie’s mind.

Connie looked once more at her surroundings, and at the Jaspers who held her captive. If she died, who would protect Steven? Who would be there for him when things got difficult?

“Ya see, our boss has plans for you.”, another Jasper spoke up, “We’re gonna shatter you in front of the whole galaxy, hit the Pink Court where it hurts. You’ll get to watch as Pink Diamond’s eyes fill with hope, before we rip it all away!”, the Jasper laughed as if she just told the most hilarious joke.

I can’t let them kill Steven, and I won’t let them use me to hurt him.”, Connie thought to herself, her will fortifying, “I have to get out of here and back to him!”.

“No.”, Connie decided, speaking the word aloud, “I will not die here.”.

“Pfft! You say that like you actually have any say in the matter!?”, the Jasper laughed at the organic’s chained form.

However, Connie wasn’t listening, her mind working at a rapid pace to form a plan of attack.

Four enemies to my front, each are currently unarmed, however, in order to properly stand as my detainers, they would need weapons of some form, in case of a rescue attempt.”, Connie assessed, before tugging lightly on one of her chains, noting that her other arm rose with the effort, “My chains are attached to a central point in above me, there appears to be at least four feet of distance between my cuffs and the anchor point, and I’m 5’ 9” - so I can attack any gem that gets within nearly 10 feet of the anchor point.”, Connie concluded, before examining the room in greater detail, “There’s only one entrance and exit to the room, operated by a standard interface pad. That means that at least one Jasper needs to not be poofed so that I can open the door and leave. However, none of that matters if I can’t get out of these chains. To do that, I need a weapon, and to get a weapon, I need one of my enemies to summon one first.”, Connie finished building her strategy, where there were once tears, now a fire was burning in her eyes, as her will to fight grew.

“That’s because I do have a say in the matter.”, Connie replied, condescendingly, “You just can’t understand that.”

If there’s one easy way to make a Jasper angry, it is to insult her pride and ability as a Quartz Soldier.”, Connie recalled from her training.

“Why you little clod!”, shouted back, clearly irritated, before beginning to move towards Connie.

“Hang on 9JO.”, another Jasper to her right spoke up, “Remember, Timeweaver and the Recitficator said that she’s a hostage, you can’t shatter her.”.

“I’m not gonna shatter her.”, 9JO growled, further approaching Connie, “I’m just gonna rough her up a bit.”.

Connie’s gaze sharpened as the Jasper got within range, before grabbing onto the chains that held her cuffs to prepare for the attack. In one fluid motion, Connie leapt forward, using the chains that bound her to the wall like a swing to provide her kick with extra torque, and slammed her heel straight into the Jasper’s jaw. While she was still airborne, Connie yanked on the chains, propelling her towards the anchor, before continuing her spin upwards and planting her feet on the wall, her grip adjusted on the chain to maintain leverage as she now stood on the very surface that held her in place.

“I would like to see you try.”, Connie all but laughed in reply, as the Jasper guard was sent reeling backwards.

9JO clutched her chin in pain and shock, before quickly recovering, her enraged glare locking onto the human that was now standing on the wall, lengths of chain dangling below her.

“Oh that is it!”, 9JO yelled, drawing a broadsword from her gem, and making her way towards Connie once more.

Thank goodness she has a sword.”, Connie mentally sighed in relief as the enemy gem charged at her.

“9JO, stop!”, the other Jasper called out, but to no avail, as she was already winding up to swing her sword.

Connie breathed as time seemed to slow around them, her eyes locked onto the blade’s upward path, calculating its trajectory.

Focus, focus…”, Connie thought to herself, “It’s just me and the sword.”.

At once, Connie released the chain from her right hand, and began falling down to the ground, her right arm raising up from the chain’s tension. Connie watched as the enemy’s blade tore through the air, headed directly for the chain above her right shackle, before pulling hard on both of her shackles, drawing the chain tight in preparation for the blade’s strike.

9JO’s eyes widened as sword cleaved through the air, missing her target.

The sound of metal being rent in two rang throughout the cell.

Connie landed on the floor, the length of chain falling down from the anchor and piling up to her left.

* * *

Connie panted in the mid-day sun, as she dodged another attack, her arm narrowly avoiding slamming into the side of the one of the pillars that lined the edges of Pearl’s training ground.

“Good dodge, but you must remain mindful of your surroundings, High Guard.”, Chrysoberyl assessed, her eyes focused on the human before her, “Now switch to the whip.”.

“I don’t see why I must gain proficiency with all of these weapons, ma’am.”, Connie replied between gasps of air, setting aside a large mace that she previously wielded, “Pearl already taught me how to use a sword.”.

“And how many swords do you possess, High Captain?”, Chrysoberyl countered, “There may come a cycle when you are forced to rely on weapons that are not your specialty. When that time comes, you had best be prepared.”, Chrysoberyl instructed.

“Yes ma’am.”, Connie replied, nodding.

“Good.”, Chrysoberyl replied, “Now, you have familiarized yourself with physics and the forces of objects through your education among the organics. So now I ask you, what is the proper manner in which to use a whip?”.

“Send a large amount of force through one end, so that the striking end can accelerate in response?”, Connie guessed, recalling the equations from her physics labs.

“Close.”, Chrysoberyl replied, before summoning a whip of her own, “Think of the whip as a line, and your attack as a wavelength of light. One must utilize each end of the wave, in addition to its frequency, in order to be properly effective...”.

* * *

Connie took a deep breath, visualizing the wave that she wanted to create with the chain that dangled from her left shackle. The Jasper in front of her still finishing her slash that cut through the chain. In one smooth motion, Connie swung her arm through the air, the chain length uncoiling outwards and wrapping itself around the Jasper’s neck.

Without warning, Connie leapt forward, tugging on the chain with all of her might, sending her flying towards the enemy with great speed. Now in the air, Connie, tucked her legs inwards and leaned back, before uncoiling her legs like a spring, drop-kicking the Jasper directly in the face.

With the combined force of Connie’s kick, and the chain squeezing the Jasper’s throat, the enemy Jasper erupted in a cloud of smoke, her gem and sword free-falling to the ground.

Swiftly, Connie righted herself mid-air, before catching the broadsword from its fall.

“Hmmm. It’s not one of Bismuth’s broadswords, but it will do.”, Connie commented on the weapon, looking it over.

“Wh-what!?”, one of the Jaspers shouted in shock of what just happened, before regaining her composure, “Never-mind, 9JO had it coming! It doesn’t matter if you have a sword, you’re still locked here with us!”, the Jasper proclaimed boldly.

At that, Connie couldn’t help but smirk, “No… You’re locked in here with me.”, her eyes glinted darkly.

At that, the Jasper growled, drawing a large mace from her gem, before rushing at Connie.

One enemy inbound, preparing to strike high, aiming for your head, the other two enemies are currently unarmed, waiting for the results of this attack.”, Connie’s mind supplied.

Acting quickly, Connie ran at the gem, before ducking under the Jasper’s mace, and cleaving upwards with the sword.

Another poofed gem clattered to the cell floor.

Two enemies down. Two remain.”.

“Alright 4UY.”, the Jasper on the left, closest to the door all but sighed, before summoning a shortsword, “You go low, I’ll go high.”, Jasper 4UY summoning a large war-hammer in reply.

Two opponents remain, the one to the right appears heavier set than most Quartz Soldiers. I can use that to my advantage.”, Connie assessed.

At once, Connie dashed towards the remaining two gems, before winding her left arm back and cracking her whip at the rightmost Jasper, the chain coiling around the gem’s shoulder, and up across her waist. However, Connie’s opponent was unhampered by the chain, and swung her massive weapon directly at Connie’s legs, hoping to immobilize the small human.

Undeterred, Connie leapt gracefully above the hammer’s arc, before tucking into a tight ball and bounding off of the right wall. Suddenly, the chain in Connie’s grasp tightened as more and more of its length began to coil around the heavy Jasper, now becoming an effective anchor point for the chain, as Connie swung around the group. With a final bound off of the back wall, Connie drew in close to the enemy gems, the Jasper closest to the door turning to face her as Jasper 4UY grunted in protest against the chains. However, the other gem was not fast enough, failing to put up her guard as Connie’s blade moved past her own, cleaving her form in two.

1 to go. Time to open the door.”.

Using the momentum from her swing, she curled the blade inward, holding the flat end of the sword against the chain, its blade facing downward. Using all of her momentum from her leaps off of the wall, she threw her weight downwards. As she hit the ground, Connie slammed the full weight of her body against the flat edge of the blade, its length acting like a lever, sending the final Jasper flying towards the door with a mighty crash.

“Haaaaah.”, 4UY chuckled darkly, her face pressed against the wall next to the door, “You really thought that would poof me?”.

“No.”, Connie replied simply, standing up and grabbing 4UY’s hand, placing it on the terminal, “Of course, I wasn’t trying to poof you either.”.

The Jasper’s eyes widened in horror as she realized where in the room she had been thrown, the cell door sliding open in response.

“N-no! You can’t!!”, Jasper 4UY all but screamed, before being cut off by Connie’s blade.

The fourth and final gem clattered to the ground.

Connie stepped out of the holding cell.

“Now. Let’s get to those generators.”, Connie encouraged herself.

* * *

The lead guard at Base Theta stood at attention, guarding the main console room. Meanwhile, her superior Timeweaver and the great Rectificator herself scrutinized the information on the screen before them.

“So how much time do we have left before the event is sequenced?”, she overheard Emerald asking the Nephrite.

“I’ll pull up a progress bar illustrating out estimated time to completion, but it should be within the centicycle.”, Timeweaver replied, “Do we want to begin hailing the Pink Court?”.

“No, not quite yet. We need to have the sequencing completed first...”, Rectificator trailed off as the guard’s attention drew to a gem peeking through the doorway.

“Peridot 2DF, what is it? Can you not see that I am charged with standing guard over our leaders at the moment?”, the lead guard whispered harshly to the gem hiding around the door.

“Amethyst 3FV, ma’am!”, the Peridot bowed deeply, “We have an urgent situation that requires your attention!”.

“What is it?”, the gem sighed, following the Peridot across the hall to the security room, only to be met with a group of very concerned Peridots upon her entrance.

“Okay. What’s going on?”, the Amethyst asked, no longer acting dismissive.

“It’s High Guard Connie, ma’am!”, 2DF replied worriedly, pulling up a live camera feed of her interfacing with a terminal in the general hallway, “She escaped her cell, and the Jaspers that were sent to keep her in her cell aren’t responding!”.

“WHAT!?”, 3FV screamed, “How did a chained organic get past four Jaspers and open the door?”.

“Would you have us sound the alarm and put the facility on lockdown?”, 2DF asked.

“Absolutely not!”, 3FV replied sternly, “We are this close to achieving Timeweaver’s goal, and the purpose of this entire facility! I will not have a single organic slowing our progress by locking the facility down! Send two armed squadrons through the halls to her location! I want their com lines synced through this room, so we can be in constant communication, you understand?”, 3FV ordered.

“Yes ma’am!”, a crowd of Peridots shouted back.

* * *

With a grin, Connie closed the information terminal. While she wasn’t able to shut down any of the barriers through it, she did get a good idea of the layout of the facility itself, including where the generators are, and where her confiscated weapons and armor were likely being held. The generators themselves were only accessible from the outside of the facility, each contained in one of three large orb-like structures that dotted the perimeter of the complex. The process of getting to the generators would no doubt lead to a lot of fighting, so it would be more prudent to retrieve her armor and gear first. As such, she began making her way to the facilities armory and storage, as that was where her stuff was most likely to be. If not, there’s bound to at least be a gem who know where her gear is, Connie assured herself, as she made her way down the long, grey corridors of the base.

She didn’t get far before she heard the sound of marching footsteps from around the corner, a platoon of ten soldiers making their way towards her.

“Amethyst 3FV, we have spotted the human, and are ready to engage.”, a Peridot spoke up from the group’s rear.

Ten gems, each wielding short range, high damage weaponry, aside from the Peridot commander, who wields limb enhancers.”, Connie assessed, “Each gem appears to be on offensive, rather than defensive. Moreover, the team as a whole does not have weapons that balance one another out, as each weapon of choice seems to be best suited for all out attacking, with very little regard for defense. They still underestimate me, meaning that an element of surprise is still on my side.”.

With a clear strategy in mind, Connie rushed the platoon at a tremendous speed, making a beeline to the unfortunate gem that happened to be heading the group. The front gem, a mace wielding Amethyst, hardly had time to react before Connie’s sword cut clean through her form.

Nine left. A Jasper is next in line, attacking with a war hammer.”, Connie assessed, determining the trajectory of her enemy’s downward swing, before sidestepping the massive hammer mid-run and retaliating with a swing of her own.

As the gem of her second opponent clattered to the floor, Connie’s mind went blank, her fight or flight instincts taking over.

Duck, upward slash. Seven. Parry, close distance, thrust. Six. Spin, leap, cleave. Five. Roll, slash upwards, close distance to target. Four. Grapple with chain, leap above grappled gem, thrust sword into next gem. Three. Adjust grip on chain, hurl grappled enemy at next enemy. Both enemies are now in prone position, slash to finish. One.

Connie started at the Peridot in front of her, a platoon of poofed gems at her back.

“Surrender quietly, and I won’t harm you.”, Connie’s voice was even as she stared down the platoon’s leader.

“I will never!”, the Peridot screamed back, a bright ball of green energy formed at the end of her limb enhancer, as she aimed at the former hostage.

Dodge!”, Connie’s instinct’s screamed, as she rolled out of the way of the energy blast, before thrusting her sword forward.

Unlike the Peridot, Connie’s aim held true, a full set of limb enhancers clattering to the hall floor.

At once, Connie took the opportunity to catch her breath from the battle, eyeing the limb enhancer on the floor.

“That weapon might actually be useful.”, Connie muttered to herself, before picking up the left gauntlet and syncing the device to her gem, donning the large glove.

Connie stared as the enhancer’s fingers opened and closed, the fingers moving as if the gauntlet was a part of her very body.

“Now this is interesting.”, Connie commented, before the sound of troops marching from down the hall drew her attention.

Furrowing her brow in concentration, Connie aimed her limb enhancer down the hall towards where the gems could be heard approaching from, a large green sphere forming at the limb’s end. As soon as Connie saw the first troops round the corner and enter the corridor, she released the ball of energy, the green sphere promptly flying down the hall towards the platoon.

A few startled shouts and screams were heard as the orb hit the platoon, poofing a few of its members. Connie focused again, firing more rounds at the platoon, as the enemy gems tried and failed to take cover in the open hallway.

“Dang, I need to get Bismuth and Dot to make me one of these.”, Connie remarked, looking over the poofed squadron of gems, before continuing down the corridor, and turning left.

“Now, if I read the map correctly, it should be right aboooout, here!”, Connie muttered to herself, a front counter and window breaking up the monotony of barren corridors and doors coming into view.

“Welcome to the Armory! How can I he-AAAAGH!”, a small Ruby screeched from behind the counter, “Hostage! How did you get out of your cell!?”, she exclaimed, drawing a small chisel from her gem.

“That’s not important.”, Connie replied calmly, “Do you know where the Jaspers put my armor and gear?”.

“What makes you think I would tell you huh?!”, the small Ruby exclaimed, hopping up onto the counter so that she was slightly above Connie’s eye level, before pointing her chisel at her.

At that, Connie pointed her broadsword at the Ruby, maintaining her deadpanned expression.

“Ack!”, Ruby exclaimed, dropping the chisel and raising her hands above her head, “I’ll show you! The stuff from your ship is all held back here!”.

“Good, that’s what I wanted to hear.”, Connie smiled, following the small gem into the armory.

“Erm, sorry Hostage.”, Ruby’s tone grew embarrassed, “We didn’t have a lot of time to sort through it all, so your gear, and the crew’s gear are all kinda piled together.”, she explained, opening a door to the rest of the armory, Connie’s gear piled up on the floor.

“Oh thank goodness!”, Connie breathed a sigh of relief, as she donned her Pink Court armor, before spying her first aid kit and emergency food supplies amidst the pile.

“What is all of that stuff, anyway?”, Ruby asked, more curious than afraid.

“This is a first aid kit, it helps me recover from injuries if I don’t have a Rose Quartz with me.”, Connie explained, gesturing to the white box, before drawing it into her gem and moving onto the next container.

“And this is food and water.”, Connie explained, before opening the large box and retrieving a bottle of sports hydrating drink and several protein bars.

“What do those do, Hostage?”, the small gem asked.

“They provide energy to sustain my form.”, Connie explained between mouthfuls of energy bar and sports drink.

“Timeweaver was right, you organics are gross.”, Ruby commented, disgust coloring her tone, before her eyes widened in fear, “W-wait, now that I showed you where your stuff is, you have no more use for me...”, she whimpered, before drawing her chisel once again, shakily pointing it at Connie as she backed away slowly.

“Wait, what?”, Connie asked, perplexed at the small red gem’s sudden change.

“PLEASE DON’T SHATTER ME!”, Ruby cried, dropping the chisel and curling into a small ball.

“Hey, hey! I’m not going to shatter you!”, Connie replied soothingly, setting her sword down on the floor, “My Steven frowns on shattering other gems, and besides, you helped me out, I’m not going to just turn around and break you.”.

“But, aren’t you organics supposed to be really heartless and uncaring to gems? Like, sure you’re friends with me now, but when I stop being useful to you, you’ll turn around and stab me in the culet!”, Ruby replied, slowly uncurling from her ball.

“Uhh, no? At least I’m not.”, Connie replied, chuckling slightly, “I’m not going to make such a broad statement and say that no humans will do that, but we’re mostly good when it comes down to it.”.

“Oh...”, Ruby replied, thoughtfully.

“Welp, I better get going!”, Connie replied, finishing off her energy bars and drink, feeling refreshed and ready for action.

“I have a barrier to take down!”, Connie proclaimed, more to herself than anyone else, as she made her way out the door, before calling back to the small gem, “Thank you Ruby! If I see one of your superiors, I’ll tell them you fought valiantly!”.

“You’re welcome, hostage!”, Ruby waved back as Connie left the room.

* * *

Amethyst 3FV glared at the screen before her, watching as Connie left the armory with her gear.

“W-would you like us to send another squadron ma’am?”, the Peridot asked her superior, shaking slightly.

The Amethyst only turned her glare to the green gem, before sighing deeply.

“No…”, 3FV groaned, pinching her brows together, “Sound the alarm and put the facility on lockdown. I will inform Timeweaver of Connie’s escape.”.

“Yes ma’am.”, the Peridot replied, hurrying off to one of the computer’s access terminals, as 3FV left the room.

3FV steeled herself as she opened to door to the main terminal room, the sound drawing Timeweaver and the Rectificator’s attention from the progress bar before them.

“Timeweaver, ma’am, I bring unfortunate news”, 3FV announced, bowing.

“And what is that, lead guard?”, the Nephrite glared, before a piercing alarm blared throughout the complex.

“High Guard Connie has escaped from her cell.”, 3FV replied, wincing as her superior slammed her hands against the computer terminal in front of her, shaking the room.

“How!?”, the Nephrite yelled, her voice rattling the room’s windows, “She was detained by four Jasper soldiers, are you telling me that an organic beat four of my best gems!?”.

“Ma’am, she IS the head guard of Pink Diamond.”, 3FV shook under her superior’s glare.

“SHE IS STILL AN ORGANIC!”, Nephrite yelled in 3FV’s face, “SEND A PLATOON OF TROOPS TO SHATTER THAT CLOD!!”.

“We tried ma’am, she just tears right through them.”, Amethyst replied meekly.

“Having difficulty with your troops, Timeweaver?”, Emerald asked, with a smirk.

“Oh shut it! You have no room to speak!”, the Nephrite bit back, before sighing and turning back to the Amethyst, “Very well then. If she wants a fight, I’ll give her one. Have the entire division ready to battle in the central pavilion. She will not reach our barrier generators.”.

At that, the Amethyst balked from the sheer scale of the overkill her superior was proposing, “All 3,000 troops with the tanks and air support?? For an organic, ma’am?”.

“I’m sorry 3FV, do we need to have your auditory sensors checked?”, the larger gem asked in mock concern, “YES, I WANT THE WHOLE DIVISION TO WIPE HER OFF OF THE FACE OF THIS PLANET! ARE WE CLEAR, AMETHYST 3FV!?”, Timeweaver shouted, her harsh voice rattling the windows once more.

“Yes Ma’am.”, 3FV bowed shakily, before hurrying off to fulfill her master’s orders.

* * *

Connie took a step back looked the craft before her, appraising the hastily fortified delivery cart, with its several shields and improvised thrusters crafted from pieces of dropped armor, limb enhancers, and a vacuum-class jetpack.

“Alright, so I’m looking for a giant sphere-shaped generator, and it should be on top of the building on the far side of the complex.”, Connie reviewed aloud, psyching herself up.

“I have my armor, my sword, a ranged weapon, a restraining weapon, a first aid kit, and an armored… vehicle… thing.”, Connie listed off, staring at the creation before her, before charging up her limb enhancer, and blasting a hole in the wall of the complex, creating a opening straight into the pavilion.

“Let’s do this, High Guard Connie!”, Connie shouted, hopping aboard her skiff and setting the thrusters to maximum.

At once, the cart took off down the length of the hallway, before shooting out into the open air. At first, Connie was blinded by the planet’s bright, afternoon sun, but her eyes quickly adjusted. While she had expected some resistance or militia to be stationed around the generators, the last thing that she expected was to be met with an entire army. There before her lay rank after rank of quartz soldiers, each armed and ready to battle. Moreover, Connie could make out tanks and even some warships to provide air-support overhead.

“These gems aren’t pulling any punches, huh?”, Connie muttered to herself, as she braced for impact with the enemy lines.

With a loud crunch, the cart made contact with the front line, plowing through the gem forces, as Connie approached the first generator. However, it was only moments before the cart began to slow down greatly, it’s pace reducing to a crawl.

“Welp, time for plan B!”, Connie muttered to herself, pulling the lever on the front of the cart.

At once, the jetpack and the chair that Connie sat upon were propelled into the air, rocketing high above the cart and army below.

In any other scenario, Connie would have thought that the view from where she sat was quite beautiful, or even breathtaking. Before her was spread an azure sky, dotted with motes of orange and lilac, as whatever this planet possessed that constituted a star or light source began to wane over the horizon. However, Connie’s attention was drawn to the warships in the air. There were what appeared to be six, small, triangle-shaped vessels, each carrying a single pilot, and armed with two cannons each. From there, Connie drew her attention back to the generator, noticing the large stairwell leading up to it. All in all, she appeared to be around 200 meters away from the stairs, and from there she could reach her first of three targets.

Alright Connie. You made it this far, you can do this.”, Connie thought as she began to decrease in altitude.

Right before Connie hit the ground, she expended the last of the jet pack’s fuel, slowing her descent as she tucked into a roll and drew her sword, letting her fighting instincts guide her.

Slash, Duck, Slice, Roll, Sidestep, Thrust. Inhale. Slash. Exhale. Eyes on each opponent. Parry. Roll. Counterattack. Do not let the enemy have an opening. Sidestep. Thrust. Inhale.

Connie glanced upward, only to see the stairwell growing slightly closer, before a high-pitched whine attracted Connie’s attention.

Tone is too low for a limb enhancer, too artificial for a war horn, a rusty armor plate creaks, not roars. That’s a tank’s plasma charge. ROLL!”, Connie’s instincts screamed, Connie quickly ducking into a roll to dodge tank fire in response, before focusing on where the beam originated from, quickly locating the tank in question.

Without a moment’s hesitation, she rushed at the vessel, cutting the tank barrel cleanly in two, before rolling away from the ensuing explosion.

Getting closer now. Thrust. Sidestep. Parry. Strike with whip to knock prone. Finish with a jab. Swing-“, Connie had just finished poofing a rather large Jasper when an explosion tossed her to the side, sending her flat on her face.

Carefully, Connie shifted herself up from the dirt, relieved that nothing seemed to be broken, as her armor took the brunt of the blow. Casting her gaze upwards, she locked onto the gem responsible. There before her stood a particularly small Peridot, holding a large belt of grenades, the small green gem smirking as she wound her arm back, holding another grenade to throw at her.

“Oh no you don’t!”, Connie growled, sprinting at the green gem, batting away an incoming grenade with the flat end of her sword, before driving her blade straight into the Peridot’s form, poofing her instantly.

“I’ll be taking that.”, Connie declared as she grabbed the belt of grenades and shrugged it on over her armor.

We’re over halfway there.”, Connie thought to herself, “Let’s keep going!”.

Roll forward, slice, thrust, sidestep, slice right, thrust, keep moving forward.", Connie’s instincts continued, the stairwell growing closer and closer.

Just as Connie thought that the ranks of the enemy army would never end, she broke through to the other side of the squadron, with nothing but open field between her and her goal.

Filled with confidence, Connie broke out into a sprint, before dropping a live grenade behind her to act as a deterrent for any gems that could be chasing her.

“Come on, come on!”, Connie repeated in her head, driving her forward as two Amethyst Quartz soldier came into view, each guarding the stairwell’s entry.

One swing of her blade and two poofed Amethyst’s later, Connie began ascending the stairwell, bringing her closer and closer to her first target.

“I can do this! I’ve made it this far already! I will be able to Steven again, and I’m not going to let these clods stop me!”, Connie proclaimed, encouraging herself before reaching the top of the stairs and pausing for brief moment, catching her breath.

“Well, well, well. I’m surprised you were able to make it past our army.”, a voice spoke up, startling Connie from her internal monologue.

Quickly, Connie turned to face where the voice came from, only to be met with an Amethyst gem, wielding what appeared to be a very heavy battle axe.

“You’ve made it pretty far, organic.”, Amethyst Head Guard 3FV spoke up, “But this is where your journey ends. You see, while I’m not sure how you’ve realized that these devices are of particular importance, my leader Timeweaver does NOT want them damaged. So I can’t let you get past me, see?”.

“Well, it appears that we are at an impasse.”, Connie chuckled, her hands still on her knees as she recovered from her sprint through the enemy lines, “You see, I need to shut down that generator if I want to be rescued, so how about you let me go by, and no one has to get hurt.”.

“And betray my leader Timeweaver!?”, the Amethyst replied incredulously, “My status as Head Guard would surely be called into question by such an act!”.

“Head Guard, hmm?”, Connie replied, “That reminds me, there is a Ruby that was in charge of this compound’s armory, I would like you to know that she fought valiantly, if you see to it that she is not punished or shattered for not stopping my entrance to your storage facilities, I promise to not shatter you.”.

“You say that like you are sure that you will win!”, Amethyst laughed, raising her battle axe, and taking a battle stance, “I’ll shatter you before you can even come close to this generator’s control panel!”.

“I’d like to see you try!”, Connie replied, adopting a fighting stance of her own.

At once, the two combatants rushed at each other, the Amethyst Head Guard moving her axe as though it was made of paper, as she cleaved through the air effortlessly.

DUCK AND SLIDE UNDER THE ATTACK!”, Connie’s instincts screamed, as she slid under the attack, and righted herself.

Just as Connie swung her blade at the Amethyst’s exposed backside, the purple gem spun around, using the weight and added momentum from her axe to spin around and parry Connie’s attack.

“Do you really think I would go down that easy?”, the Quartz soldier taunted, before striking with an attack of her own.

At once the two began a twisted waltz, each combatant parrying the other’s blows.

Connie huffed as she rolled out of the way of a particularly devastating blow, narrowly dodging the lead guard’s axe as it cleaved through the air. It wasn’t until Connie felt something wet dripping down her face did she realize that the axe managed to slice her cheek.

“Well now, you’re like a robonoid, aren’t you?”, 3FV commented with mild curiosity, staring at the blood running down Connie’s cheek, “You use that goo to power your form and actions, and you tear down my troops like a machine.”

I can’t just keep dodging and parrying.”, Connie thought to herself, formulating a strategy, looking between the chain whip and limb enhancer on her left hand.

“Well, you’re not wrong...”, Connie muttered in response, readying her attack.

In one swift motion, she swung her sword at her opponent, who sidestepped the attack and began move in to attack her in return. However, instead of moving away from her opponent, Connie snapped her chain whip at the gem, its long length wrapping around the lead guard several times. At once, Connie rolled behind the gem, tightening the chain on her grappled opponent as she charged the cannon on her limb enhancer.

“You have got to be kidding me...”, the Amethyst grumbled, struggling in vain against the chain that held her.

“Nope. You put up a good fight though!”, Connie praised, before firing her cannon, the purple gem clattering to the ground.

At that, Connie took a deep breath, and drew the first aid kit from her gem, rummaging around its contents before drawing a vial of Rose Quartz tears from the kit, and applying it to her wound. As the cut on her cheek began to glow and disappear, Connie returned the kit to her gem and drew more of her sports drink from her gem, chugging the rest of the fluids as she turned and faced the generator.

“Alright, what do we have here?”, Connie mused to herself, eyeing what appeared to be a service panel on the machine’s exterior.

Opening the door to the panel, she spied several buttons and switches, each labeled and organized according to function, as well as a large shut-off switch.

“Welp, that was easier than expected.”, Connie laughed, pulling the shut-down switch and destroying the panel with a shot from her limb enhancer.

Connie looked up at the bright blue barrier surrounding the base, as it flickered before stabilizing once more.

One down, two to go...”, Connie thought to herself.

Before she could even take a breath, a plasma bolt struck the generator immediately to the left of where Connie was standing. Instinctually, Connie rolled away from the blast, just in time to spy a passing warship as it strafed by her position.

They must not care about the integrity of the generator now that I shut it down.”, Connie thought to herself.

Connie watched as the warship flew closer and closer to her, before letting out a steam of plasma rounds, destroying the stairs leading up to the roof.

Well, there goes my exit.”, Connie thought to herself, trying to formulate a plan to get down.

Before Connie could even catch her breath, the warship strafed her again, letting out stream of plasma bolts as it neared ever closer to the platform.

Hang on, I could make that jump.”, Connie thought as she rolled away from the blasts.

Connie watched as the warship drew ever closer to the edge of the roof, now less than a meter away from the building’s ledge as it opened fire on Connie. In response, Connie rolled towards the ship, dodging the plasma bolts and leaping over the building’s edge.

Gracefully, Connie landed atop the ships hull, much to the surprise of the pilot. With a clean swing of her blade, the ship’s cockpit was opened, revealing a very frightened Nephrite.

STARS ABOVE! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?”, the pilot screamed, as she reared the ship backwards.

“Hitching a ride!”, Connie grunted, fighting to stay aboard the ship as it careened through the sky, before poofing the pilot with a thrust of her sword.

“Good grief that was close...”, Connie grumbled, tossing the Peridot’s gem out of the cockpit and gaining control of the ship.

Alright, alright.”, Connie breathed, focusing herself, and forcing herself to break the situation down into smaller pieces, “I’m in the air now. The only threats to me now are the five other warships in the air and the dozen or so tanks below... Let’s get to work!”.

At once, Connie increased the altitude of the ship, moving it up and out of range of tank fire, while raining down plasma shots onto the battlefield, eliminating many of the tanks.

“Bank right, come on...”, Connie muttered, beginning to weave throughout the air, as she dodged plasma bolts from the other warships.

Before she could even bank out of the turn however, a ship appeared at her rear, her craft’s control terminal blaring an alert that it was being targeted. Quickly, Connie broke right, ensuring that she was no longer in the enemy’s line of fire, and turning the aircraft so that it was traveling straight upwards, before turning around and plummeting towards the ground and pulling up, now traveling in the opposite direction, and immediately behind her opponent.

“Alright!”, Connie whooped, as she locked onto the opposing warship.

Just as she was bout to fire however, the enemy ship broke left, her ship’s computer no longer targeting her opponent.

“Oh no you don’t!”, Connie yelled, quickly pulling her ship upwards before plunging it downwards into a half loop, all while rolling her vehicle, so that she positioned herself behind her opponent once more.

“Nice try, but I got you now!”, Connie cheered, opening fire at the enemy vessel, and sending it careening into another warship, destroying both ships as well as any gem or tank unfortunate to be under the wreckage.

Before Connie could celebrate, a blast shook the small vessel, several alarms blaring warning messages at her, informing her that the craft was in fact damaged.

“Oh, can I not have. A. Single. BREAK!”, Connie yelled, looking around for her attacker, as the ship began to sink in altitude.

It didn’t take long for her to find them, as the rear camera showed the enemy ship right behind her and approaching fast. Thinking quickly, Connie unbuckled her seatbelt and pulled the ship straight upwards, before looking back at the approaching ship.

 

“Alright, I can do this!”, Connie assured herself, as she lined up her cockpit to face the oncoming enemy ship, before leaping out of the damaged aircraft.

Now free falling, Connie landed on enemy ship, pressing herself flat against the ship’s hull as her damaged vessel passed overhead, plummeting into the army below. With a few clean strikes of her sword, Connie removed the cockpit’s covering, revealing a very bewildered Nephrite inside.

“ERODING STARS!? How did you-!?”, the small, foul-mouthed gem began before being poofed by Connie’s blade.

“Alright, let’s try and keep this ship intact this time?”, Connie chided herself, as she climbed into the cockpit and took control of the vessel.

“How about we actually work towards our objective too, huh Connie?”, Connie continued this self-banter, trying to keep herself on track, as she took aim at the second of three generators, this one positioned above the middle of the facility’s curve, and let loose a stream of plasma bolts, each hitting their target dead on.

Connie cheered as the barrier flickered once more, the second generator collapsing into the complex below it.

“Two down, one to go!”, Connie thought to herself as she turned around the ship, heading towards the third and final generator, before a large blast rocked the ship.

“Ugh, again?”, Connie groaned as the ship’s alarm’s blared once more.

However, unlike last time, she was headed directly towards the opposing ship. Connie smirked as she eyed the ejector seat button to her right. Quickly, Connie put the ship into full throttle, aimed directly at the opposing warship, before pressing the eject button, her seat immediately being enveloped in a small bubble and popped out of the craft, the cockpit chair bouncing onto the battlefield before rolling to a stop.

“Ohhh, okay… That may not have been one of my best ideas.”, Connie muttered to herself as she waited for her surroundings to stop spinning. Slowly, she dispelled the bubble surrounding the cockpit chair, only to be met with a field of wreckage and poofed gems. The combatants that she did spot out amongst the churned earth each had their gaze turned upwards to the debris that was falling to the planet’s surface. Connie watched as smoke billowed from a large hunk of wreckage, the remains of the two warships intact enough to allow her to confirm that she did indeed take out the other warship.

“I guess they didn’t see that I ejected before the ship crashed.”, Connie mused, as she stretched and drew her sword once more, gaze drawn to the third and final generator.

* * *

Timeweaver fumed as she stared out of the window overlooking the center pavilion.

“The security room was completely destroyed by the rubble from the generator, Timeweaver.”, Peridot 3RF spoke up, “Fortunately, no gems were shattered. However, we have lost all of our monitoring systems. By our estimates it will take a new requisition from base Omicron, a small team of Bismuths and Peridots, numbering at least three each, and around three cycles to repair the room properly and get our systems operational. Shall I put in the materials requisition, ma’am?”.

“The room doesn’t matter right now.”, Rectificator admonished, “You cannot lose that last generator! If that falls, your base falls with it!”.

“How close are we to completing Cacophony?”, Nephrite asked, looking back to the terminal, “80%? We only need to keep her from reaching the clarities, then.”

“You’re staking the base on this timeline?”, Emerald chuckled, “You’ve already accepted that this one organic beat you, haven’t you?”.

“That’s ENOUGH Emerald 4VB!”, Nephrite slammed a fist against the window in rage, “I haven’t given ANYTHING up! I simply have the long term goal in mind. But this army won’t be so easily defeated. We’ll see how she likes one of the Artist’s toys!”, Nephrite screamed, turning back to the Peridot at the room’s entrance, “Peridot 3RF, send out the Cabochon tank!”.

* * *

A loud whirring noise cut over the din of the battle quickly drawing Connie’s attention away from her approach to the last generator.

A great blue sphere made its way onto the battlefield, before a second, smaller, clear sphere extended from it’s side, a purple gem contained within.

“That can’t be good…”, Connie thought to herself, before a large cannon emerged from the vessel’s front.

“Nope! Definitely not good!”, Connie screamed, ducking under another attack from a charging gem, before strafing the tank in a large circular pattern, hoping to gain an opening.

Connie’s eyes glinted as she formed a strategy, noting that the tank’s pilot was on the left side of the vehicle, the tank’s entire right side was effectively one large blind spot!

Laughing, Connie dashed to the right of the tank, hiding in the pilot’s blind spot, before rushing in.

However, just before Connie could strike the tank, the vehicle rolled sideways, away from Connie, the bubble the pilot resided in rotating in the opposite direction, the pilot now on the vehicle’s right side.

Connie skidded to a stop to avoid being crushed by the clear bubble, the Amethyst inside laughing at her startled expression, before pressing more buttons on the control panel, two smaller cannons jutting out of the tank’s left and right side in response, the latter of which was trained on her. Quickly, Connie rolled out of the way, as small laser blasts shot out of the thin barrels in rapid fire. Grunting, Connie drew back from the tank, going on the defensive.

A few cheers erupted from the enemy troops around her, as they watched her struggle with the adversary.

Now a good twenty meters away from the tank, Connie watched as the laser shots seemed to diffuse with the rest of the light around the projectile, effectively rendering the round harmless. Suddenly, the main center cannon began to glow a bright white. Realizing that the tank was about to fire, Connie quickly ran to the right, as a large ball of plasma flew behind her, churning the earth, and creating a large crater in the round’s wake. As the tank recharged, Connie took a deep breath, assessing her opponent.

The tank is big, and very agile. It has small guns to defend it at short range, and a large cannon that’s good at long range.”.

Connie examined the tank further, retreating away from the tank to look for an opening, as the large spherical machine prepared to fire its main cannon.

Quickly, Connie rolled out of the way of the projectile’s path, and watched as the large plasma ball soared through the air, taking out a few enemy gems, before colliding with a wall of the compound.

“That’s it.”, Connie breathed, as realization dawned on her.

The tank itself may be perfect, but its pilot isn’t!”.

At that, Connie turned her gaze to the their generator, and scanned the battlefield for a place to enact her plan.

Spying a cluster of downed tanks and ships that formed a slightly elevated platform, Connie ran off, drawing the attention of the onlooking army.

“Hey! You can’t just run from the tank!”, a random Amethyst shouted, moving into Connie path, before being immediately poofed by Connie’s blade.

Now atop the platform, Connie looked back towards the final generator, confirming that the machine was indeed within the tank’s line of fire, before charging her limb enhancer and firing at the tank.

Connie watched as the Amethyst made eye contact with her and smirked as the round from her limb enhancer bounced harmlessly off of the tank’s exterior, before she aimed the cannon’s barrel at Connie, charging up the large cannon once more.

“You get down from there and face that tank head on!”, a large Jasper bellowed, climbing atop the wreckage and charging at Connie.

Reacting quickly, Connie ducked under the Jasper’s brass-knuckle clad fist, before swiping upwards with her sword, poofing the gem.

“If she isn’t gonna play fair then neither should we!”, another gem yelled out from the crowd, “Get her!!”.

At once, each gem rushed Connie, climbing atop the wreckage as well. Thinking quickly, Connie ran to the opposite end of the platform firing several small blasts of plasma from her limb enhancer at the horde, before casting a glance at the tank.

“It’s about to fire!”, Connie thought aloud, rushing towards her position in the center of the platform.

NOW!”, her instincts screamed, before Connie gracefully turned on a carat and leapt upwards, a blast ringing out across the battlefield as a bolt of white-hot plasma shot out of the tank’s barrel and hurtled towards Connie, vaporizing the gems unfortunate enough to be in the round’s trajectory.

However, instead of fear, Connie’s face held only a smile of victory, as she arced her body around the bolt, and out of its path, before landing gracefully on the other side of the platform, turning her head to see if her strategy was successful. Connie held her breath as the round soared across the field, before slamming directly into the side of the third generator.

Connie let out a sigh of relief as a tremendous explosion erupted from the side of the third and final generator.

Now to get the message out.”.

Every fighter stilled as the protective blue barrier that surrounded the complex flickered, before disappearing entirely. Suddenly, the confidence and morale that had filled the enemy gems fell away, each gem instinctively looking to their captain for instruction, dumbstruck at this turn of events.

Wasting no time, Connie leapt off of the platform and sprinted towards the tank, the other gems in the battlefield hardly paying attention to Connie anymore. In one bound, Connie leapt and thrust her blade into the clear cockpit of the tank, her sword skewering the stunned Amethyst inside, dissipating her form.

Using her sword as leverage, she hoisted herself atop the cockpit bubble, before cutting a clean hole into its top, with a slash of her sword.

Dang, what this tank has in mobility, it really lacks in structural resilience for its cockpit. The designer must have opted for lighter materials to increase speed, intending for the vessel itself to never get hit by anything substantial.”, Connie thought to herself, as she hopped inside the cockpit, tossing out the Amethyst’s gem and activating the control panel.

The tank lurched in response, before rotating around, its cannon now aimed at facility’s left wing. With a press of a button, the cannon charged, before letting out a massive blast of energy, blowing a hole in the side of the building, and snapping the enemy gems out of their stupor.

“GET HER!”, an enemy gem yelled out from the crowd, prompting the other gems to rush the tank.

Quickly, Connie drove the tank forward to the entrance she created, bowling over the enemy gems.

Suddenly, just as Connie thought she was in the clear, a large blast of energy exploded in front of the tank, forcing Connie to swerve out of the way.

“Where did THAT come from?!”, Connie grunted, before another explosion shook the tank.

Not finding another tank capable of causing such explosions on the battlefield, Connie turned her gaze upwards, only to find the remaining warship, its cannon trained on her, and glowing a bright white.

“Oh come on…”, Connie grumbled, quickly rolling the tank out of the ship’s line of fire.

Another explosion rocked the tank, as the warship’s rounds struck the earth, kicking up debris.

“Let’s see how you like this!”, Connie yelled, aiming the tank’s cannon at the warship and firing.

The white hot ball of plasma shot out towards its target, before slowing and falling away in an arc, the round hitting a group of gems on the other side of the battlefield.

“Out of range, figures that this thing isn’t designed for anti-aircraft...”, Connie grumbled to herself, before steering the tank pout the the way of another of the warship’s blasts.

“Come on, think!”, Connie forced herself to focus.

“My tank shoots plasma, so I can’t hit the ship, and there’s no way that my limb enhancer is powerful enough to take the ship down…”, Connie thought to herself, before noticing the band of grenades around her waist, and looking back to the limb enhancer on her left hand.

“THAT could work though.”, Connie thought, proud of her new plan, as she steered the tank underneath the warship.

Carefully, she strapped her belt of grenades to the limb enhancer, while dodging the warship’s cannon fire. Then, aiming the enhancer out of the top hole of the cockpit and at the warship, she set the enhancer to propellor mode and activated one of the grenades, before letting go of the gauntlet. Connie watched the device rapidly ascended towards the warship, before dodging more enemy fire.

“Come on! Please work!”, Connie thought as she watched the propeller get closer and closer to the ship, the warship’s pilots’ no doubt unaware of the projectile slowly making its way to them.

Suddenly, the enhancer crashed into the warship’s bottom hull, the resulting explosion engulfing the ship, and sending it careening towards the compound’s right wing.

“Woohoo!”, Connie cheered as the warship collided with the compound, happy that her impromptu strategy ended up working, before rolling off towards the hole in the compound’s left wing.

When Connie drove the tank inside the compound, the last thing she expected to see were clarity gems. However, before her residing in what could only be described as some massive office floor, stood hundreds upon hundreds of Sapphires and Padparadschas, each at some computer terminal. Even more disturbing, was the fact that each of the gems seemed to pay little mind to Connie’s presence in the tank, or what could be their impending doom. Instead they diligently typed away at their computer terminals.

“Okaaaay. That’s certainly something.”, Connie commented, before turning her tank to the right, towards where she knew the main communications terminal would be, and blasted a hole in the wall with the cannon.

Connie watched as the clarities continued typing away at the terminals, without so much as flinching from the blast.

“I need to get off this planet.”, Connie muttered, before kicking the tank into high gear.

* * *

Emerald all but glared at the scene from the terminal room’s window, the smoldering wreckage of several tanks and warships dotting the center pavilion, as the surviving troops flitted between panicking and tending to the poofed soldiers.

Nephrite however, paid no mind to the catastrophe behind her, and instead focused on progress bar before her, the screen displaying a 99.9% completion.

“Your army is an utter disgrace upon her master’s name, Timeweaver.”, the Rectificator spat, looking at the wreckage of the army that the Nephrite deployed, and the compound’s destroyed barrier.

“Be that as it may, my specialty lies in altering the future, not fighting in wars. We only needed to hold the High Guard back while we fought the real war.”, Timeweaver replied sternly, gesturing back to the screen before her, “The failed capture of one High Guard is inconsequential when the restoration of the Diamond Authority is our prize.”.

“SHE IS AN ORGANIC!”, the Emerald screamed, “Why is it that your army cannot subdue one eroding clod!?”

“I could ask you the same thing, Rectificator…”, Nephrite replied.

“I never lead an army against one opponent, nor did I ever launch an attack on the scale that you just did. Your honor as one of Master’s trusted gems is called into question by this human, you do understand that, correct?”, Emerald continued.

Suddenly a chime resounded from the screen before them, the image of a completed timeline displayed before them.

“It’s finished.”, Timeweaver breathed, tears of joy running down her face, “It’s finally finished! The Pink Court will be no more!”.

“At least this loss is not without a silver lining.”, Rectificator replied, exporting the timeline to the terminal’s hard drive, before ejecting the drive from the terminal, “I will get this information to the others at once.”.

“And take all of the credit yourself!?”, Timeweaver guffawed, incredulous as she watched the other gem pull the hard drive from the terminal and into her gem, “I don’t think so!”.

“I would think nothing of the sort! On the contrary, I will sing your praises to the Master, as I present to her your Magnum Opus - as long as you defeat the High Guard yourself.”, the Emerald returned, “You claim that the army was only to serve as a diversion to buy time, then prove it. Display unto me Connie’s shattered form and I will tell Master that it was your clarities that gave us this information, and your exemplary cunning and skill that bought your clarities time to provide this stunning victory. Simply name the gem, and I will tell them of the great works you completed in this cycle.”, the Rectificator paused, her expression shifting, “However, if you fail to shatter the organic, I will tell Master the truth. I will tell her your every failure, and recount unto her the great shortcomings of the troops you held here. That is assuming you are still alive to receive our Master’s disapproval.”.

“You assume too much, Rectificator.”, Timeweaver bit back, “I will deal with the organic myself, and I will see to it that the work of my clarities is honored properly.”.

“I would hope so, Nephrite, for your sake and my own.”, Emerald replied sternly, “We are the upper echelon of Master’s forces, and our actions reflect her abilities as well. It is of the benefit of all of us, myself included, that you not disappoint her.”, Emerald finished, before turning away and leaving the room, “I must get this hard-drive to Master now. Best of luck, Timeweaver!”, the bulky, green gem waved as she bid the other gem goodbye, the door closing behind her.

“You self-centered clod!”, Timeweaver spat, watching the Emerald’s retreating form, “I WILL defeat that human, just you wait!”.

However, Emerald paid her no mind as she continued down the hall, the complex shaking as Connie’s tank continued to plow through the various corridors and chambers.

“That blasted human. We should have shattered her when we had the chance.”, Emerald muttered to herself, before reaching the aerodrome, its many spacecraft lined up and ready for takeoff.

Emerald sighed as she reached her ship, a magnificent, green, hand-shaped warship, standing proudly against the sunset sky of Alabast.

With a few quick button presses, Rectificator was aboard the bridge, her crew of Amethysts awaiting her command.

“Where to, ma’am?”, one of the purple gems asked.

“Take us to Base Omicron, getting the information on this drive to the Conductor and the Master is our top priority”.

* * *

Connie sighed with relief as she brought the tank to a stop inside a large corridor, before hopping out of the hole she made in the cockpit.

“If I remember the map correctly, the main terminal should be two floors up and one room over.”, she muttered to herself, heading to a large stairwell leading off of the hall.

As soon as Connie reached the top of the staircase, she was surprised to be met with open air and rubble.

“What on Earth?”, Connie muttered to herself as she looked upon the remains of the second generator and a partially collapsed roof.

Connie coughed as she made her way through the hall, the acrid smell of smoke and dust filling the darkened corridor. The harsh glare of the hall’s light fixtures flickered in and out, the facilities electrical components no doubt damaged by the shield generator falling through the roof, leaving the only reliable source of light that of the planet’s star, setting across the horizon, its light filtering through the hole in the ceiling, forming clean beams of light as it illuminated the dust and smoke in the air.

Tiredly, Connie approached the door to the room where the communications terminal resided, before placing her hand on the door terminal, and commanding the door to open.

Access denied. Gem not recognized.”, a sharp chime rang out from the terminal.

“Oh come on!”, Connie groaned, pinching her eyebrows together, before angrily picking up a discarded spear from the hallway floor, “Why does everything have to be so difficult here!”.

Connie focused, commanding the spear to materialize a ball of hot plasma at the spear’s tip, but not fire it. With a grunt, Connie thrust the plasma ball into the door, the material heating up and glowing a bright red in response. Before long, much of the door was glowing a bright yellow, before sagging down into a large puddle, a gaping hole big enough for Connie to walk through now occupying the door’s center.

With a huff, Connie entered the room, noting the large power generator to her left, a window overlooking the pavilion to her right, and a large computer terminal directly in front of her.

“That must be what they’re using to power the whole facility.”, Connie muttered, appraising the generator before approaching the large computer terminal, the giant screen waking from its sleep mode.

“Event ‘Operation Cacophony’ 100% Initialized. Causality sequencing complete. Probability Well manifested. Event of given parameters has 100% chance of occurring with a margin of error of 0.0001%.”, the screen displayed, filling the room with a harsh, white, artificial glow.

“Operation Cacophony?”, Connie asked aloud, before pressing a few buttons on the terminal, “What is that?”.

File not found. File last accessed 6 millicycles ago, by user Rectificator. File moved to external drive.”, the screen displayed.

“External drive?”, Connie asked, before looking down at the computer, noticing a large, open port where a drive would typically sit, “Alright, okay. Definitely not going to find out what that was, then. Let’s just stay focused on getting the message out to Steven.”.

With a few more button presses, a loading screen was displayed on the large computer terminal, before Steven’s worry-wracked face filled the screen.

“Connie?!”, Steven all but shouted, full of relief at the sight of Connie alive and unharmed.

“Oh Connie, you’re okay!”, Steven cried, tears of joy running down his already tear-stained face.

“Steven!”, Connie replied, “The barrier is down! I’m sending you my coordinates now, okay?”.

“Yes, our best fighters, healers, and I are going head right your way, just stay in a safe spot, alright?”, Steven managed to say, his voice thick with emotion.

“I will. I love you so much.”, Connie replied, now crying as well, “I’ll see you soon okay?”.

“See you soon.”, Steven smiled, before the communications screen went dark.

“I should have known that you were trying to get here.”, a voice spoke up from the room’s entrance, startling Connie as she drew her sword and faced down the Nephrite before her, “And now you’re bringing an army of your own. Just eroding perfect...”.

* * *

Steven sighed with relief and hope, as he forwarded Connie’s location to the rest of the fleet.

“She did it.”, Garnet breathed, surprise coloring her tone.

“I never should have doubted her.”, Steven replied, hanging his head in shame.

“We all were preparing for the worst, Steven.”, Garnet replied, soothingly, “But we can dwell on that later, now we must hurry, we don’t have any time to lose.

“Right.”, Steven replied, filled with determination to save his girlfriend.

“Attention all troops.”, Steven announced through the coms, “I have High Guard Connie’s location, and have just sent it to all of you. We already went over the plan to engage the enemy, so is everyone ready to head off?”.

“Yes, your Radiance. The White Squadron is ready for warp.”.

“Yellow Squadron, ready for warp!”.

“Blue Squadron, ready for warp!”.

“The Pink Squadron is ready for warp, my Steven!”.

“Good.”, Steven smiled, before nodding to the Ruby pilot at his right, “All squadrons, move out!”.

At once, the large fleet of ships all jumped into warp, disappearing among the stars.

“Connie, we’re coming...”.

* * *

Connie narrowly rolled away from one of the Nephrite’s sai that was aimed at her abdomen, before slashing at the larger green gem. However, just as the blade looked like it would connect, the Timeweaver blocked the strike with her second sai, wielded in her off-hand, nearly trapping Connie’s blade in her weapon’s grip if it were not for Connie’s quick reflexes.

At that, Connie took two measured steps backwards, re-evaluating her strategy to approach the enemy before her.

“You blew through my army like it was nothing.”, Timeweaver all but spat, “Yes, I will admit that I was wrong to think that you were a puny organic, but now you’re up against me. These weapons I wield may be decent against another gem, but against an organic wielding a sword...”, the gem trailed off, smirking viciously, “Let’s just say this where your ‘Diamond’s’ pathetic farce of a court ends, starting with you.”.

“You think you are better than all of the other warriors that I defeated today?”, Connie retorted, swinging her sword around herself, adjusting her grip on her blade, “I will tell you the same thing that I told everyone else.”.

At that, Connie’s stance lowered in anticipation, her fierce gaze trained on her opponent, “I would like to see you try.”.

“Gladly.”, the Nephrite smirked, before lowering her sai downward, and crouching into a fighting stance.

Seeing that her opponent was wide open, Connie stepped forward and slashed downward at Nephrite’s middle.

Just as Connie thought that she had made solid strike on her opponent, Nephrite sidestepped her blade, before grabbing her wrist, catching her elbow inside one of the sai’s hooks, and kneeing the inside of her leg.

With a thud, Connie hit the floor, Nephrite’s sai pinning her right arm to the cold, hard ground, the green gem kneeling over her.

“I will restore the Diamond Authority to its former glory!”, the gem boasted, her thumb pressing against the sai’s opposite hook, turning the weapon into a lever.

Connie screamed in agony as she felt something snap in her arm.

Humerus is broken...”, a part of her mind supplied.

However, despite the pain, she didn’t pass out, and instead she willed herself to stay conscious, and began to try and wiggle her arm out from under the sai.

“Oh no you don’t!”, Nephrite retorted, putting her left leg over Connie’s waist, and bringing her right knee to Connie’s back, both mounting her, and holding her arm in place.

“I may not be able to do it the way I wanted, but I will still shatter you, and the entire Diamond Authority will watch as I grind you to dust!”, the gem grunted, before pulling up a screen from her gem, a small camera robonoid whirring to life in the corner of the room.

At that, Connie focused, recognizing her opportunity as her opponent was not only distracted, but had all of her weight focused on her right side.

“You know, I think I finally get why they call you the ‘Timeweaver’.”, Connie spoke up, distracting the gem from her screen.

“Oh yeah? Why is that?”, Nephrite mused, her attention focused on getting the feed up and running.

In one fluid motion, Connie shoved and rotated her hips backward on Timeweaver’s right knee, shrimping her way out of the mount, before pulling her leg and arm around the gem’s right leg, and shoving her foot forward. Just as the Nephrite rolled backwards, Connie stood up, taking care not to put any weight or pressure on her broken arm.

“GHAA!?”, Timeweaver yelped as she flailed helplessly on the ground.

Wincing, Connie drew the last vial of healing tears from her gem with her left hand, before pulling the cork out with her teeth and applying the salve to her right arm. Instantly, the magical solution began to work on her injury, her arm glowing with sparkles as the bone reset itself and healed back to normal.

“It’s because you spend so much time focused on the future, that you lose sight of the present.”, Connie breathed, refocusing herself as she drew her sword once more, satisfied that the blade’s weight was not causing her right arm any pain.

“You clod.”, the Nephrite spat, finally managing to right herself, before spinning her right sai around, so that the blunt end of the handle faced towards her, “You won’t be able to do that to me again!”.

Connie focused, recalling her lessons from under Chrysoberyl.

The sai is a primarily defensive weapon, specializing in pinning opponents, and relying on the wielder’s ability to grapple her opponent’s weapon, and move out of the way of her opponent’s attacks. Attacking first is never a good option, but I just made her angry, so she’ll probably ignore that. She flipped the sai around, and since she seems to know enough about human physiology to know to break my bones, she’s probably going to go in close for a strike to the ribs or face.”, Connie assessed.

Just as she thought, the green gem rushed at her, swinging the blunt end of her sai directly at her ribs in a brutally powerful jab. Anticipating this move, Connie moved towards Timeweaver, and past the sai’s strike, spinning around and bashing the green gem’s visor with the blunt pommel of her sword. Clutching her face in pain, Nephrite reeled backwards from the blow.

“For someone who speaks of themselves as superior to others, you aren’t really putting forward a convincing argument with your actions.”, Connie taunted.

“Oh and you think the results of this match will change anything, organic? Or do you want me to break your bones again?”, Timeweaver bit back, punctuating her question by charging at Connie once more.

“Aiming for the ribs again?”, Connie thought to herself as she noted her opponent’s posture leading into her attack, the Nephrite’s off-hand rearing back and readying a wide, arcing jab.

Quickly, Connie moved her body towards her opponent out of the way of Nephrite’s strike, however, instead of frustration on her opponents face, Connie only read a smirk of victory. Suddenly, Connie’s noticed eyes widened as she realized her mistake, instead of a strike, Nephrite pulled Connie close to her with her off-hand, before slamming the blunt end of her second sai into Connie’s diaphragm with her dominant hand.

Connie doubled over in pain as the air was knocked out of her, only for her opponent to land a kick right on her jaw, sending her tumbling to the floor.

“Do you understand now, Connie?”, Timeweaver chided condescendingly, “No matter how hard you will yourself to be right, to convince yourself that your Court isn’t filled with walking talking, pieces of schist, you won’t be able to escape the reality that some gems are just better than others, and that some gems should just be shattered to spare them from a miserable existence!”, the gem proclaimed, laughing harshly, “You run about and say that the Diamonds should show these off-colors and fusions a kindness? Relieving them from a tortured life, and granting them a quick shattering is a true mercy!”.

“You’re wrong.” Connie mustered her strength, willing herself to stand and fight, before charging at the Timeweaver once more.

Swiftly, Connie swung her sword horizontally, aiming at her opponent’s torso, only for her blade to be caught by one of Nephrite’s sais. However, Connie was ready for this, and shoved her off-hand against the blunt end of her blade, pushing down against Timeweaver’s sai, and forcing her opponent to put more effort into blocking the attack.

“Give up you clod!”, Timeweaver grunted, now using both sais to keep Connie’s sword at bay.

“Never!”, Connie yelled back, “Every gem has worth and value. Those that can’t see that for themselves are the less fortunate ones!”.

At that, Connie put her plan into motion, taking advantage of the low-friction material that the sais were made of, Connie slid her blade forward, stepping closer to her opponent and coiling her body. In one fluid motion, Connie delivered a solid kick to the gem’s chest, sending her careening into the generator on the back wall, and causing several cracks to appear in the device’s exterior.

Nephrite shrieked in agony as yellow lines of energy invaded her form.

“You cannot win! Your shattering is inevitable you miserable CLOD!”, Nephrite raved, pushing herself out of the generator and lumbering towards Connie.

With each labored step, her body grew her body grew more and more yellow, the lines overtaking her form, as electrical energy spewed from the machine.

“You’ll see!”, Timeweaver screeched, raising a hand towards Connie, “YOU. ARE. ALL. FATED. TO. SHATTER!”.

At that, her form dissipated, her gem clattering to the ground.

“Okay... okay... Now that was an actually difficult battle.”, Connie huffed, catching her breath before the sound of a shrill alarm got her attention.

WARNING, GENERATOR UNSTABLE. EXPLOSION IMMINENT. PLEASE EVACUATE THE FACILITY AT ONCE.”, the central terminal blared.

“Yeah, that’s not good.”, Connie muttered to herself, observing the arcing energy erupting from the generator, before looking around for a quick exit.

Out the door and through the compound? No that would take too long.”, Connie’s thought’s raced, before spying the window to her right, “I am only on the second floor.

“Whew, okay. I can do this.”, Connie muttered to herself as she steeled her resolve, “It’s just like the leap from the warship on W-1b... just shorter and without a flight-suit.”.

Taking a deep breath, Connie dashed to the window and took a running leap. The glass shattered into millions of tiny pieces as Connie flew into the cool evening air. Tucking into a roll, Connie landed gracefully in the center of the compound. Just as Connie stood up, an explosion rocked the complex, setting off a chain reaction leveling the entire semicircle of buildings. Raising her gaze to the gems before her, Connie was met with the remaining forces of Timeweaver’s army.

The army however, saw a very different sight before them. Awash with the dust of her former prison, the organic rose up, clad in the symbol of the Pink Court, blade drawn and a fire in her eyes conveying her determination to win, as lab Theta exploded behind her. Her very being emanated a challenge. Her poise exuded fortitude and power. In her eyes lay a dare, to come and face her, or be shattered trying.

At that, a decorated Jasper, no doubt the army’s acting captain, spoke up, “We can still take her! There’s at least two-thousand of us, and only one of her! Charge!”, The captain bellowed.

But the army stood still. Sizing up their opponent, the troops took a step backwards, scared of what Connie could do.

“W-what are you all doing!? I said CHARGE!”, the captain spoke up once more, fear tinging her voice as she grew confused at her troops actions.

“ 7DE, ma’am, she was able to take us on when we were 3,000 strong and had air and tank support...”, a gem to the captain’s left spoke up.

In response, Connie smirked, and took a step forward. The army took yet another step backwards, the decorated Jasper guard only swallowing in response, the expression of fear in her eyes betraying her confident order.

“You...”, the Jasper turned her gaze back towards Connie, her voice almost a whisper, yet loud enough to carry across the pavilion to where Connie stood, “What are you?”.

“I’m an organic. I’m made of flesh, blood, and bone, what are you made of?”, Connie retorted, every word from her mouth ablaze with ferocity.

The Jasper could only stare at the figure before her, her knees beginning to shake with fear, as she weighed her options.

“7DE, ma’am?”, the gem to the left of the captain spoke up again, “W-What do we do?”.

“Retreat.”, 7DE whispered.

“Ma’am?”, the gem asked.

“RETREAT! ALL GEMS RETREAT!!”, 7DE shouted across the battlefield.

Not needing to be told twice, the group began to turn around and run. However, before they could even leave the pavilion, shadows filled the evening sky, a loud roar reverberated across the battlefield, shaking every gem to their core, several shockwaves rattled each individual that stood on the the planet’s surface. With a great thud, the feet of Pink Steven’s ship landed to Connie’s left and right, before the ship itself kneeled, its legs forming a wall between Connie and the enemy gems, the vessel itself sheltering her from the enemy as a wave of dust was kicked up and pushed away by an unseen force.

At once, the sky itself was awash with a bright light. Radiant beams of cannon fire erupted from the ships above her, the lasers and volleys of explosives filled the expanse above her forming a nebulae of light and color. Motes of white-hot plasma and projectiles rained down on the army below, the sheer magnitude of light and heat spewing forth from the armada rivaling the stars themselves.

Squinting, Connie turned away from the sight, only to be met face to face with a large, pink bubble. At once, the bubble shrunk to a simple platform, revealing two Rose Quartz gems and four Jasper Quartz soldiers, each bearing the crest of the Pink Court.

“High Guard Connie, I am Jasper 7VN of Facet 5, here to ensure your safety and escort you to the rest of the Rose Quartz team.”, the gem announced, reaching out her hand.

“Thank you, 7VN.”, Connie replied, taking her hand and stepping aboard the bubble platform as the Rose Quartz gem tended to her injuries, her cuts and bruises disappearing in a shimmering glow as the bubble drew upwards, drawing Connie into the ship’s bridge.

Gradually, the large pink bubble drew itself into the bridge. Steven himself held his breath as he waited to see the state of his girlfriend with his own eyes.

“Connie!”, Steven exclaimed, joyfully, wrapping Connie in a tight embrace as the bubble dissipated.

“Oh Steven! I’m so glad to see you again!”, Connie cried, hugging Steven even tighter, peppering his face with kisses.

At that, Steven laughed, crying tears of joy as he kissed her back, his heart filled with gratitude and relief at Connie’s return.

“How are you? Did they hurt you?”, Steven asked, his tone shifting to worry.

“I’m fine Steven! I’m just so happy to be with you again!”, Connie replied earnestly.

“High Guard Connie is perfectly healthy.”, the leading Rose Quartz replied, “While it appears that she sustained injury either during her time on Alabast or in the events leading to her capture, she also appears to have been able to heal herself, and sustain little injury afterwards.”.

At Steven’s questioning gaze, Connie replied, “There was a first aid kit that was recovered by the enemy gems that I was able to find once I escaped my cell. It had some Rose Quartz tears in it, so I was able to heal myself.”.

At that, Steven’s gaze only hardened, “They still hurt you.”, he bit out, “They should be taken prisoner to answer for their crimes.”.

“It’s okay, Steven. I already beat them.”, Connie replied, chuckling slightly, “You may not have seen it, but they were retreating from me before you got here.”.

“What?”, Steven replied in response.

“Our scans indicated that a large number of gems were moving away from High Guard Connie immediately before our landing, my Steven.”, Dot replied, backing Connie’s testimony up.

“Their leader is shattered, and their complex is destroyed.”, Connie replied, “Maybe take one or two gems in for questioning, but other than that, cease fire and let them go. The worst they can do is tell their superiors how frightening I was in battle.”.

As if punctuating her statement, Connie walked over to the Bridge’s main window, and looked put across the battlefield.

“Hang on...”, Connie muttered, looking out of the bridge’s window down at the complex’s aerodrome, specifically at the large, pink hand parked in its center.

“Hey, it’s my ship! My Crew!”, Connie exclaimed, before turning back to the screens on the bridge, quickly recognizing High Captain Jasper among the generals there, “High Captain Jasper, please send a squadron of troops to retrieve my ship, and to check on the status of my crew!”, Connie ordered.

“Yes ma’am!”, Jasper replied, smiling.

“Alright then.”, Steven replied, before turning to the panel of screens before him, “Everyone, you heard High Guard Connie. Cease fire. We completed our mission. Capture a few gems for interrogations, then move out. We are headed back to Homeworld!”.

“Yes, your Radiance!”, came the reply from each of the generals.

“Connie, I’m so, so very glad that you’re okay.”, Garnet spoke up, as she hugged the smaller human, Steven’s ship began to lift off from Alabast.

“I’m glad I made it.”, Connie replied, crying once more, “I was really worried there for a while.”.

“And as for you.”, Connie spoke up, turning to Steven, “You’re NEVER saying goodbye to me again!”.

At that, Steven couldn’t help but cry again, laughing as he hugged her once more, “I w-was so worried. I’m just so happy that you’re alright.”.

“I mean it. When I realized what they were going to do… When I thought that I would never-”, Connie paused, her voice laden with pain, “…When I thought I would never see you again, I couldn’t take it. I still can’t. So never again. I’m here, Steven, and here to stay. We’re going to be okay.”, Connie hugged Steven back tightly, punctuating her declaration with a kiss, which Steven gladly returned, a bright light filling the bridge.

“Oh. I’m me!”, Stevonnie cried, “I’m me again!”, they exclaimed, their voice reflecting the intense relief and tumultuous emotions felt by each of their components.

“Stevonnie, I hope you are feeling alright.”, High Clarity Garnet probed the fusion.

“I’m very relieved that Connie’s alright, that I’m... well me again.”, Stevonnie replied, “I know that my potential death was weighing on both of them as well, in addition to Connie’s own safety. So, I’m grateful that I’m back again, that everyone is safe. I’m still a little worried about Connie’s crew though.”, they added.

“We’re going to get all of that sorted out.”, Garnet soothed, “You’re safe now. Let’s just focus on getting you home.”

With that, Steven’s Diamond Legs warped away, headed off to the safety of Homeworld.

* * *

It wasn’t long before Stevonnie landed back on Homeworld, much to the relief of the Diamonds, and the gems of the Pink Court, as they received word of Connie’s safety. Of course, the only downside to this was that Connie herself was expected to appear in a briefing before the Diamonds, meaning that Stevonnie had to temporarily unfuse. Despite that, Steven and Connie were inseparable as they made their way into the throne room, the other three Diamonds each wearing expressions of anticipation mixed with great relief.

“Now that we are all here, I believe that the briefing may begin.”, White Diamond began.

Connie approached White Diamond, before taking a deep breath, looking between each of the members of the Diamond Authority.

“First and foremost, High Guard Connie, I would like to say that I am incredibly relieved that you are unharmed.”, White Diamond spoke up, beginning the briefing.

“Most certainly.”, Blue Diamond agreed, “You have not only been a wonderful aid, but a pleasure to be with. Our cycles would not be the same with your absence.”

“That being said, I believe that I speak for my fellow Diamonds when I say that I am most confused as to the series of events that lead to your rescue.”, White Diamond continued, “In one instant you were captured by the enemy, and in the next, the entire army of the Ameliorator forces were retreating from you? Did you form allies inside their forces to aid in your escape?”.

“No, your Radiance, I had to fight my way out by myself.”, Connie replied, bowing still.

“You took on all of those gems by yourself?”, Yellow Diamond asked, skeptical.

“Yes, your Radiance.”, Connie replied, once more.

“You have to understand that such an event is simply not possible.”, White Diamond replied.

“I assure you, that it is nothing but the truth.”, Connie replied fervently, her form growing more and more illuminated as White Diamond leaned closer to Connie.

At that, White Diamond’s eyes narrowed, as she reached out and pressed a finger to Connie’s Turquoise gem. The gemstone released a small chime, before glowing a bright white color, a large screen appearing in the center of the room in response to White Diamond.

“W-what?”, Connie exclaimed in confusion, as White Diamond panned through several unfamiliar screens from her gem, before landing on one that displayed a frame from her time in captivity.

“Do not be alarmed, we are searching through your memories to determine the truth.”, White Diamond replied, her brows furrowed in concentration as she panned through the various moments of her capture, before pressing play on the earliest memory available.

At once, the footage of a cold cell filled with four Jasper guards filled the screen.

The Diamonds watched, enraptured as Connie’s skill was displayed before them in full. While Blue, Yellow, and White Diamond were each filled with a sense of awe at the events displayed, Steven only hugged Connie tighter as he watched the harrowing events that played out on the screen, terrified that she had to face such hardships alone.

Eventually, the footage reached the end of the battle, the enemy gems retreating from her, before the Pink Court forces arrived in full. At that, White Diamond dismissed the screen, before turning her gaze back to the organic before her.

A heavy silence filled the room, as White Diamond took several moments to chose her next words.

Connie swallowed thickly, the weight of White Diamond’s gaze making the moments that passed feel as if they stretched on to an eternity.

“High Guard Connie, step forth.”, White Diamond spoke eventually, Connie quickly heeding the Diamond’s words, bowing in the center of the Throne room.

“I have seen a great multitude of events throughout the three trillion, seven-hundred billion cycles of my existence. I saw as star systems and galaxies burst forth into existence. I watched as gem kind rose and took their first bold steps from the minerals of Homeworld. I have witnessed the rise and fall of civilizations, those ruled by both gems and organics alike. Every cunning general, every tremendous conqueror, every admirable leader, every hero. I have watched as they rose to power, and I witnessed as they fell from it, either through their own shattering, or by the rise of a figure that supplanted them.”, White Diamond paused, letting her words sink in, “In this cycle, I witnessed something that defied my expectations, and forced me to reconsider what I understand about the universe around me. You, Connie Maheswaran overcame a force that should not have been possible to overcome alone, both with respects to your physiology and your ability. Yet, it was your strength, no, your fortitude of will that drove you forward to achieve an impossible victory.”.

“Thank you, your Radiance.”, Connie replied bowing, “However, I must admit that when I was back in the cell, I did feel like giving up. Like I was in a hopeless situation. But I thought of Steven, and how if I had died there - if I had shattered there, I wouldn’t be able to see him again. That I wouldn’t be able to be there for him, and spend time with him ever again. As soon as I realized that, I made up my mind that I needed to fight to see him again.”, Connie admitted, turning to Steven, whose eyes were filled with tears at her words.

It took everything Steven had to keep himself from running up to Connie, hugging her right then and there, and promising to never leave her side.

“Your motivations are honorable, certainly. However, your resolution and strength should be rewarded regardless.”, White Diamond replied, the other three Diamonds giving their affirmations.

“As such, by the powers granted unto me as the head matriarch of the Diamond Authority, I hereby bestow upon you, Connie Maheswaren the title of ‘Fortitude’. A title that will be recognized by all gems under the Diamond authority, as their superior and their role model for strength of will and virtue.”, White Diamond’s voice boomed throughout the throne room, “Yours shall be a title that outlasts the fleeting and vapid honors and recognition given to the heroes of prior organics, for this title will last for every Era henceforth!”, White Diamond proclaimed.

At that, the Pearls in the room each bowed deeply, a chorus of “Greetings, our Fortitude.”, ringing out through the throne room.

“Thank you for this honor, your Radiance.”, Connie replied, bowing in the Diamond salute once more, “I will do my best in order to live up to this title.”

White Diamond smiled before turning to Yellow, “We should see to it that an announcement regarding Connie’s title is arranged shortly.”.

“I will see to it that one is held before the cycle’s end.”, Yellow Diamond replied.

“Very good.”, White replied before turning back to Connie, “Now that we have covered the nature of your return to safety, let us continue forth with the briefing. Were you able to discover any new information regarding our enemy’s forces?”.

“Yes, your Radiance.”, Connie replied, tone growing serious once more, “As we saw in the recording, the facility itself was used to house a great many clarities, both Sapphires and Padparadschas, numbering at least one thousand, from what I could see.”.

Blue Diamond hummed in response, still taken aback at their enemy’s resources, “Were you able to determine what it was they were looking for, or trying to accomplish?”.

“They were all assigned to work on a single project. They called it ‘Cacophony’.”, the title rang out in the throne room, chilling the other gems as Connie recounted the information from the main terminal, “The project appeared to be some kind of event, or a sequence of events, and they were able to ‘initialize’ the contents of the operation. However, I don’t know what it was, or even if they were successful in their main goal before the facility was destroyed, but I believe that we should invest our resources into developing a defense against the sight of enemy clarities. We cannot guarantee that this was the only facility of its kind, our enemy may have many such clarity bases strewn throughout the galaxy, so we need to stay safe.”, Connie finished.

“I’ll have Dot and Peridot 5XG on it immediately.”, Steven spoke up.

“I see.”, White Diamond replied, “With that out of the way, I believe that our meeting should be finished for this cycle. I must imagine that you are quite exhausted. See to it that you rest fully before taking on another mission, Fortitude. You have certainly earned it.”.

“Thank you, your Radiance.”, Connie replied, her bright laughter filling the throne room, “I think a vacation would be great.”.

* * *

The smoldering remains of lab Theta lit up the night, as a large, grey vessel descended to the center of the pavilion. However, instead of a bubble, a large hatch opened on the vehicle’s front, a large platoon of Quartz soldiers headed by a single, smaller gem made their way to Timeweaver’s forces. To any onlooking gem, it appeared as though the troops themselves were headed by nothing but a shadow, for while the Quartz gems were illuminated by the fires and glowing rubble, the gem in front appeared to be absorbing the very light around her, leaving her form cloaked in darkness.

“M-ma’am! I am the acting General Jasper 7DE.”, the Jasper shook, before bowing to the darkened gem, “I apologize for our disorganized state! Had I known you were coming-.”, the Jasper began, before being cut off by the gem before her.

“Save your apologies. I am only here to appraise the handiwork of the Diamond’s Fortitude.”, the darkened gem’s voice was even.

“F-fortitude, ma’am?”, the Jasper questioned.

“The organic was able to surprise White Diamond herself. As a result, she was given a new title, that of Fortitude.”.

“Oh, yes.”, the Jasper replied, embarrassed, “She really did a number on this place. And she even shattered the Timeweaver as well! Luckily, all of the clarities were unharmed. I take it you were able to see Operation Cacophony?”.

“Yes, we did.”, the gem replied, “Normally, after such a dismal performance, one’s work would be disregarded, but...”, the gem paused, casting her gaze across the scene before her, “Everything in the report pertaining to the last half cycle, has come to pass. Her account of the series of events was perfect and without flaw, down to the micro-cycle.”.

“Stars above, she predicted her own shattering?”, the Jasper replied, awed.

“Her shattering, the base’s fate, the organic’s promotion, along with every action and sequence of events necessary to bring about the end of the Pink Court.”, the gem explained.

“I see.”, Jasper replied, “So now that this branch is gone, where will we be transferring to? One of the Rectificator’s bases perhaps?”.

“No.”, the gem replied.

“I’m not sure I understand ma’am? We have our full group of 1,125 clarities, plus the 250 clarities that Master herself sent. As well as a remaining 500 Quartz soldiers available to transfer anywhere Master desires, unless you would actually have us reconstruct lab Theta?”, the gem replied, bewildered.

“You misunderstand, my arrival here is to mark the end of Timeweaver’s division under the Master. Her work with Clarities and timelines was exemplary, but her ability to train an army, and the gems that she lead, are stains upon Master’s name.”, the darkened gem replied, her tone stern.

“I am sorry, ma’am!”, Jasper bowed deeply, trembling in fear, “I’ll train harder, I-I’ll do better and make you prou-GLLLK!”, 7DE began, before the darkened gem shifted, a golden rapier now protruding from the Jasper’s gem, the shadow having impaled her cleanly.

“You could train for 6,000 kilo-cycles, and still be a stain upon Master’s name.”, the gem’s words dripped with venom as the Jasper stilled, her gem cracking, “Gems as abysmal as you are only useful as shards.”.

With that, the gem withdrew her rapier from the Jasper’s gem, her gem falling to pieces and her form dispelling immediately afterwards. The darkened gem’s stance shifted, her head turning down towards the pile of shards.

“Disgusting clod.”, the gem spat, before crushing the Jasper’s shards beneath her foot.

With a huff, the shadow turned towards one of the soldiers that accompanied her.

“Escort Master’s 250 clarities back to her palace.”, the gem ordered the Master’s Quartz soldier, her tone almost bored, “Shatter everyone else.”.

“Would you have me deliver the shards to base Alpha like the rest of the shards that we collected, ma’am?”, the soldier asked in return.

“Let Master decide on that.”, the gem replied, “The Artist wants more materials for her toys, but whether or not she has earned them is another matter entirely...”.

The shadowed gem cast one more glance over the rubble of Lab Theta, as her soldiers moved forward to carry out her orders, taking out their spears and opening fire on anyone that wasn’t a clarity.

“You saw all of this, didn’t you Timeweaver?”, the gem spoke, her tone conveying a sense of wonder, despite the fact that the intended recipient was not there to hear it, “You saw the bigger picture, and recognized that a sacrifice needed to be made, in order to accomplish greatness…”.

The gem turned, making her way back towards the ship.

“You have my respect.”, the gem breathed, the hatch sealing shut behind her.

FortitudeCover

Chapter Text

Stevonnie stared between their opponents, weighing their next move carefully.

If I go with a bolder move, my opponent could be thrown off guard, resulting in my victory.”, Stevonnie thought to themselves, “However, if I play it safe, I might end up losing in the long run...”.

Their mind made up, Stevonnie sighed, “Alright, I’ll call your two blue chips, Amethyst, and raise it with one green!”, they smirked, pushing the three chips into the center of the pile.

At that, Pearl and Priyanka both tensed slightly, a change that did not go unnoticed by Stevonnie.

Yes! Good work Stevonnie, you made the right choice!”, Stevonnie mentally cheered themselves on, “Thank you, Stevonnie... Anytime Stevonnie.”.

“I will raise the bet as well.”, Pearl replied, adding two blue and two green chips to the pile.

“Call.”, Priyanka replied, tossing in her chips.

“Call.”, Greg replied.

“Fold!”, Amethyst laughed, putting down her cards, before turning to Garnet who was sitting on the opposite side of the couch, watching cat streamed to the TV, “Yo, G-squad! You sure that you don’t want to join in on this?”.

“My future vision makes the game boring, so no.”, Garnet replied simply, “But it is fun spending time with everyone though!”.

“Fine. Suit yourself.”, Amethyst replied, before turning to Stevonnie, “Get it ‘Vonnie? Suit yourself?”.

“Yes, I get it.”, Stevonnie laughed.

“Same, I’ll fold.”, Doug sighed, running a hand down his face.

“And I’ll call!”, Stevonnie proudly proclaimed, throwing their chips in.

“Alright, let’s see what everyone’s got!”, Stevonnie exclaimed to the table.

The group laid down their cards, each with a look of disappointment on their faces.

“Woohoo!”, they cheered, “That’s another point for team Stevonnie!”.

“Great job, Stevonnie!”, Garnet smiled from her chair, continuing to pet the cat the rested in her lap.

“Do you want to go another round?”, Amethyst asked the group.

“Thanks everyone, but I better head back to the capitol. Dot needs to show me a couple things in her lab.”, Stevonnie announced, standing up.

“Same here.”, Pearl replied, “I’ve got a group of Helenites that need training.”.

“Boooo!”, Amethyst cupped her hands around her mouth, making her displeasure known to the rest of the group.

“I’ll see you all later!”, Pearl called behind her as she walked out with Stevonnie.

* * *

“My Stevonnie!” Dot exclaimed, running up to the fusion, as they made their way into the lab.

“Yes Dot. What do you have for me today?”, Stevonnie replied.

“So, you know how my Steven had to communicate to Connie via his telepathy in order to help her, because there was a shield blocking our communications?”, Dot said excitedly.

“Yes?”, Stevonnie replied.

“Well! I just found a way past those shields! I was reading some texts on Quantum Mechanics, and there’s a way to send information instantly across any distance! So I made a ‘panic button’ of sorts that will allow anyone to call for help and send their location! I call it, the SOS Beacon! I named it after some naval terms that humans use to call for help!”, Dot exclaimed, holding up a small, spherical device.

“That’s great Dot!”, Stevonnie praised, “I’m guessing I’ll get one of those?”.

“Yep!”, Dot replied, “You and every high court member! But that’s not the biggest point that I wanted to show you!!”.

“And that is?”, Stevonnie smiled, happily being dragged along by the smaller gem.

Jittering with excitement, Dot lead Stevonnie through an open door, and into a large room. At its center sat what appeared to be a large cylindrical tower, with several wires streaming out of it, connecting it to the terminals on the sides of the room.

“We finished the anti-clarity barriers that you requested!”, Dot shouted with a flourish.

“Whoa…”, Stevonnie breathed, taking in the sight of the device.

It was at that point that they noticed they were not alone in the room with Dot. Instead, a Sapphire bearing the crest of the Pink Court sat idly on a cushion in the room’s corner, while another Peridot could be seen tending to various screens and terminals on the other side of the room.

“You see, we were able to figure out that Clarity gems themselves base their vision around the particles that make up matter, and their likelihood of collapsing into one state or another. Based on that information, we designed an engine that creates a field of protons that are locked in superposition around the engine’s area of effect. This field is then held in place by lattice of lasers that cool the particles in the field down tremendously, allowing the uncertainty held by the protons to effect objects on a macroscopic scale, and forming what we dubbed the ‘Impossibility Field’ wherein clarities see a multitude of different futures within the engine’s area of effect. We don’t know a lot about what it shows the Clarity now, but what we do know is that it doesn’t show the clarity what is actually happening!”, Dot continued.

“That is tremendous, Dot!”, Stevonnie praised.

“Thank you so much, my Fortitude - and ah, my Stevonnie!”, Dot smiled gratefully, “Of course, I couldn’t have completed the barriers without the help of my assistant Peridot 9UL!”.

Bashfully, the other Peridot stepped forward in response.

“Thank you for your service, 9UL. Your contributions to the safety of the four Courts will not be forgotten.”, Connie smiled at the taller Era 1 Peridot.

“Thank you, my Stevonnie.”, Peridot bowed simply, watching as Connie left the lab.

“Now that our primary work is complete, is it alright if I have a small break now, ma’am?”, 9UL addressed the smaller Peridot.

“Absolutely 9UL! You’ve certainly earned it.”, Dot replied earnestly.

* * *

9UL hummed in response, before leaving the lab. Now in the main corridors, 9UL quickly made her way outside, mingling with the other gems of the capitol. Glancing behind her to ensure that she wasn’t being followed, she made her way through the crowd and down to one of the many shipyards that serviced the capitol of the Pink Court.

“I hate coming here. It’s always so grimy!”, 9UL grumbled to herself as she approached the shipyard’s entrance.

With the flash of her identification to a particularly bored Larimar, she was let into the facility. Paying no mind to the large strips of materials being cut and broken down by a team of Bixbite in the yard’s stock area, 9UL instead cringed at the grime and oil that covered each surface of the massive shipyard, hurriedly making her way up to an office on the upper floor. 9UL sighed in relief as she entered the comparatively cleaner room, and made her way to a large desk arranged in front of an observation window overlooking the shipyard’s assembly area. With a few button presses, a series of blinds dropped down from the office’s ceiling, covering the windows and concealing the office’s interior from the rest of the shipyard. Getting down on her hands and knees, 9UL lifted a panel from the floor of the office, revealing a small communications terminal, hidden away in the floor.

“It’s at times like this, I really wish I needed limb enhancers. That way I wouldn’t have to touch everything!”, 9UL huffed, lifting the terminal out of the hole, and setting it on the desk with a large thud.

Quickly, 9UL drew a small cloth from her gem and proceeded to wipe off her knees and elbows, determined to rid her form of any dust and grease that contaminated it. Once her form was cleaned to her liking, she booted up the terminal, the device whirring to life as a large screen appeared in the office’s center.

“Greetings 9UL, you are on schedule for your report as always.”, Rectificator’s form filled the screen, a pleased expression on her face.

“Yes ma’am. However, I bring unfortunate news. Lead scientist Peridot 1AR has completed the temporal uncertainty fields, despite my best efforts to stymie her progress. I fear that it will not be long before they begin mass-production and implementation. It won’t be long before we lose our advantage over them, ma’am.”, 9UL reported, still bowing to her superior.

“I see. Playing with a level playing field will not spell our defeat, however. Besides, the Artist has had an entire Era to perfect her barriers, and the Pink Court is just beginning. Their Court is not long for this galaxy anyway.”, the Rectificator hummed, before continuing, “You have done well, 9UL.”.

“Thank you, Rectificator.”, the gem preened under her superior’s gaze.

“The information you have supplied us has been useful, however, your continued operation in gathering Pink Court intelligence will no longer be needed.”, the Rectificator replied.

“You are moving to the next phase?”, the Peridot questioned, eagerly.

“Correct.”, Rectificator smiled, “After her Fortitude eliminated Timeweaver’s branch, the Pink Court believes that we are crippled. They aren’t expecting retaliation to occur so soon, only because they did not understand Timeweaver’s purpose. However, our branch took the opportunity to grow even stronger. We have garnered support from key gems responsible for providing security to one of Pink Steven’s dearest assets, so we will strike later this very cycle. I will need you to retrieve the high council target we discussed last transmission before she is on high alert. Understand?”.

“Yes ma’am.”, the Peridot replied, “However, my approach to the target remains unclear. I’m an R&D scientist specializing in defense, and she’s a high council member that has lead entire battalions into war. I can’t get close to her without being suspicious. It’s not like I would have any need to be studying under her?!”.

“You aren’t studying under her 9UL.”, the Rectificator smiled, eager to tutor one of her more successful gems in the art of manipulation, “Recall the larger picture. You’re an R&D scientist developing experimental technology, and she has one of the most prolific military careers in the entire Diamond Authority! You are asking her for advice on potential applications of the newly created barriers, as well as guidance on what to best protect the engine itself with. You haven’t seen a battle before, but she has. Ask for her insights, and she’ll be more than happy to let her guard down around you.”, Rectificator replied.

“That…”, 9UL began, her eyes wide with realization, “That is perfect…”.

“Is there anything else that requires clarification, 9UL?”, Rectificator asked.

“No ma’am, you will have her gem in your hands by cycle’s end.”, 9UL replied, bowing once more.

“Good.”, the Emerald smiled dangerously, the screen turning off with the end of the communication.

* * *

Pearl sighed with relief, grateful for the end of another successful training session. It wasn’t that teaching the Helenites was difficult, she quite enjoyed it in fact. However, the gems themselves were always so hungry for information that it seemed that every time she introduced a new topic, a never-ending flood of questions would soon follow. They were like Rubies in that respect, she figured, as she made her way to her office. Humming to herself, she brought up a screen from her gem, tapping on an image of Peridot 5XG. However, instead of seeing the small green gem, Pearl was instead greeted by a large, aquamarine-colored fusion.

“Hello Pearl.”, Moonstone smiled at the Renegade Pearl, “How was this cycle’s training session?”.

“Just as hectic as it always is.”, Pearl sighed, “We went over the basics of piloting skiffs and other small planetary-class aircraft, and the questions! The questions, Moonstone! They just wouldn’t stop!”, Pearl clenched her hair in her fist, sinking into the chair behind her desk, “‘Pearl, if we raise the altitude of a wind and light sail hybrid skiff in a planet with thin atmosphere, how long will it take us to stall?’, ‘Pearl, if we put a Era 3 fusion drive onto an Era 1 speeder, will it work, or will it overclock the mag-levs?’!”, Pearl mimicked the grating questions of her students.

“Ouch, that sounds difficult.”, Moonstone replied, sympathetically.

“I know I should be proud of them for paying attention in their lessons, but this class in particular is getting overwhelming. Sometimes I wish I could be Sardonyx with Garnet. She would know what to do.”, Pearl admitted.

“Hey now, being a fusion doesn’t solve all of your problems, you know.”, Moonstone chided.

“I know…”, Pearl picked her brows together, before looking back at Moonstone, “Anyway, I was calling because I wanted to see when the next batch of Helenites would be complete.”.

“You mean, when are you going to be able to move on to a less-irritating class?”, Moonstone smiled back, pulling up a number of other screens from her gem, “Well, you’re in luck, HK-9 is about to produce another batch for you to teach.”.

“Thank the stars…”, Pearl groaned, closing her eyes as she sunk into her chair.

“HK-7 will have a batch ready in a few cycles, same with HK’s 2-6, 8, 10 and 11…”, Moonstone trailed off, “That’s weird.”.

A knock sounded at Pearl’s office door.

“What’s weird?”, Pearl questioned, standing up with a sigh.

“HK-1 isn’t reporting anything, but we should be getting in a steady stream of data from them. Maybe their communications tower is damaged?”, Moonstone commented idly.

“Well, you get to the bottom of that.”, Pearl ran a hand over her face, bracing herself, “It seems like another Helenite has visited my office to ask more questions…”.

“Alright.”, Moonstone replied, engrossed with the screen before her, the com line cutting off in response.

Her call finished, Pearl opened the door. However, instead of an eager Helenite, Pearl was instead greeted with the sight of a tall, Era 1 Peridot.

“Renegade Pearl ma’am? I’m Peridot 9UL. I just finished a large project for our Steven, and I had a couple questions regarding potential applications for it. Is it alright if I come in?”.

“Of course.”, Pearl replied, relief filling her tone.

Chapter Text

Garnet hummed in deep thought, pacing around the throne room.

“These barriers may be useful at preventing our enemies from gathering useful intel on our own colonies, but I do not believe that they would be useful on the battlefield directly.”, Garnet spoke eventually, “When I look into the future, I’m not looking for specific troops, I’m looking for outcomes. Hiding an outcome from our enemies will only make them fearful, which in turn leads to overcompensation, like what we saw with our Fortitude on Alabast.”.

“So, how would you recommend its use?”, Connie spoke up, her question gaining the attention of the others in the room.

“We should have them deployed on any research facility in the Four Courts, as well as any assets of great interest to the Radiances. This will serve to provide privacy from enemy clarities, and keep a level of ambiguity to our actions and capabilities. When it comes to winning battles, we want to change the outcomes, not hide them.”.

“That makes sense, Garnet”, Steven spoke up, before turning to Dot, “We’ll need a list of each production facility in our Court, and its size, so we can determine how many generators we need. I’ll speak with the other Diamonds so that we can get the same information from the other courts. That way we can be safe from-.”, Steven cut himself off as a screen emerged from his gem.

“My Steven, I apologize for interrupting, but it’s an emergency!”, High Captain Jasper’s voice came across the screen, “There’s been an attack on one of our Helentite Kindergartens! We’re deploying ships there now.”.

“An attack on one of our Helenite Kindergartens?”, Steven replied, confused as to why the enemy would attack a gem production site, “Who reported it?”.

“Moonstone of the Pink Court, your Radiance. She noticed a discrepancy in gem production reports, so she turned on the live feeds and saw enemy troops.”, Jasper replied over the screen.

“That doesn’t make sense though. Why would the Ameliorators go after a gem-production facility?”, Dot spoke up, confused.

“I’m not sure Peridot 1AR, but HK-1 was attacked by the Rectificator’s forces.”, High Captain Jasper reported.

“HK-1? Are you sure?”, Connie spoke up, an urgency in her voice.

“Yes, it was HK-1.”, Jasper replied.

“The sanctuary…”, Connie breathed, hands covering her mouth in shock.

“No. Nononononono…”, Steven stood up, his face wracked with fear, “Ready my ship!”.

* * *

Steven gasped as HK-1 came into view from the ship’s bridge, the once green planet now colored a pitch-black, interspersed with motes of glowing red.

“It appears that the horsetail was set ablaze by the enemy forces.”, Pink Pearl spoke up, “I’ll connect us to the ground troops now.”.

At once, Chrysoberyl appeared on-screen, her expression riddled with worry.

“My Steven.”, Chrysoberyl bowed before meeting Steven’s gaze, her expression grim, “I regret to inform you that we came too late. The enemy has already left. We have Peridots searching through the security databases, and the best Rose Quartz gems of our deployment looking for survivors.”.

“Thank you, Chrysoberyl.”, Steven replied, still shell-shocked, before turning to Pink Pearl, “Take us down.”.

“Yes, my Steven.”, Pearl bowed.

It wasn’t long until the remains of the haven were declared free from hostile forces, and Steven’s ship was cleared to land. Upon touching down on the planet’s surface, a bubble emerged from the foot of Steven’s ship, depositing Steven, Connie, and Pink Pearl at the entrance of the Off-Color safe haven. Even though it was mid-day, the haven was shrouded in darkness, the planet’s nearest star having been blotted out by the thick smoke.

“My Steven, my Radiance.”, Pearl spoke up, drawing two respirators from her gem, and handing them to the organic and half-organic.

“Thank you, Pink Pearl.”, Steven replied, putting on his mask to block out the smoke, while Connie walked numbly through the city’s remains.

Several burnt-out buildings stood out amongst piles of rubble. Where once were homes and places of business, now lay the crumbled remains of foundations, dirtied with soot and debris. Rubble and debris filled the streets, several Rose Quartz gems sifted through the hunks of rock and dust, searching desperately for any survivors.

“My Steven, my Fortitude, you made it.”, Chrysoberyl bowed, approaching the three.

“This is a nightmare…”, Steven spoke up, his voice muffled by the respirator.

“Unfortunately, we aren’t at the worst of it yet, my Radiance.”, Chrysoberyl shuddered.

“What do you mean?”, Connie looked out over the broken buildings, noting the plasma blasts in the small handful of buildings that remained, “How could this get any worse?”.

Wordlessly, Chrysoberyl lead the trio to what was the haven’s town square. Unlike the main street, this area was not covered with the remains of buildings. Instead, the square was filled with the shards of gems. Strewn throughout the entire square were millions of gem shards. The square was so filled that the brick tiling that adorned the square was wholly covered with off-color shards, the red-brown hues of the town square completely obscured. Chrysoberyl shuddered at the sight, the sheer quantity of shards evoking memories of the Cluster in Chrysoberyl. Steven fell to his knees, an unfathomable sense of loss overtaking the young Diamond.

“H-how?”, Steven cried, his tears mingling with the gem shards.

“The Peridots finished their search of the local databases.”, Chrysoberyl reported, looking out over the sea of gem remains, “Not only was no alarm sounded upon the arrival of the enemy fleet, but our security systems that allowed for automatic hostile detection and damage mitigation were apparently turned off. We’ve also recovered the haven’s ingress and egress checkpoint logs and found that 79 of the 160 Pink Court security forces stationed here ended up leaving immediately before the attack started.”.

“Meaning that we are dealing with an inside job.”, Connie spoke through the respirator, her voice devoid of emotion.

“Correct, my Fortitude.”, Chrysoberyl nodded, clearly shaken by the sight before her.

Connie stepped towards Steven’s crumpled figure, trying to give him some form of reassurance.

I never should have taken the throne…”, Steven whispered.

“S-Steven…”, Connie recoiled having heard Steven’s whisper, “Don’t… T-this isn’t!”.

“Do we have a triage set up?”, Steven asked, ignoring Connie’s words and looking to Chrysoberyl, desperation in his eyes.

“Yes. Along with a makeshift medical bay.”, Chrysoberyl gestured to one of the few buildings that remained standing, “We haven’t found-“, Chrysoberyl began, before being cut off with the melodious chime of the Acclamation of the Diamond Authority.

At once, everyone turned to see where the sound originated from, to see a Rose Quartz gem placing a hand to her gem.

“I found one!”, the Quartz cried tears of joy.

Hurriedly, the others rushed over to the Rose Quartz, watching as the healer gem cradled a light brown gem in her hands, a large gash marring its front. With the utmost care, the pink gem placed one of her tears on the gem, causing the stone to heal and glow.

“My Radiance.”, Chrysoberyl spoke up, stepping between Steven and the other gem, “We do not know if this gem is on our side. For all we know, she could be a downed Ameliorator soldier.”.

Slowly, an orange gem materialized in the Rose Quartz’s gentle hold, the gemstone itself settling into her form’s nose. Her beige hair grew into a short ponytail behind her, the crest of the pink Court adorning a dark, grey-brown cloak that covered her shoulders.

“Who are you?”, Connie spoke up, lowering her blade upon seeing the crest of the pink Court.

“My Radiance, my Fortitude!”, the gem sat up weakly, aided by the healer gem, “I’m Chert. Chert 1F3L, Cut 4TO. I was stationed as a guard to protect the haven. The enemy attacked, but there wasn’t an alarm raised, so I ran to sound the alarm. I ended up getting trapped under the residential hall as it fell…”, Chert trailed off, before quickly standing up and away from the Rose Quartz, fear tinging her voice, “Flint! I was with other gems as well! Are they okay?”.

“We don’t know.”, Connie spoke up, drawing the nervous gem’s attention.

“You are the first survivor that we’ve found.”, the Rose Quartz gem spoke up, trying to placate the frightened gem, “But we aren’t going to give up.”.

“I-I’ll help you look for more survivors.”, Chert replied weakly.

“You need to rest. You were injured badly, and will need time to recover fully.”, Steven spoke up, “We will find the survivors, okay?”.

“Yes, my Steven.”, Chert bowed shakily, before following the Rose Quartz gem to the triage area.

“She’s the first survivor we’ve found?”, Steven asked, turning to Chrysoberyl and walking back to the square.

“Yes, but we’re still holding out hope that we’ll find more.”, Chrysoberyl replied, following Steven.

“How much of the haven have we searched through?”, Connie asked, turning to the green gem.

“The Rose Quartz teams have searched through around 80% of the haven so far.”, Chrysoberyl replied, forcing her voice to remain steady as the trio returned to the sight of the gem shards before them.

“Do another pass once the first search is complete. Requisition Aquamarine and Topaz gems to aid with the clearing of rubble.”, Connie ordered Chrysoberyl, “We can’t afford to miss any survivors.”.

“Yes, my Fortitude.”, Chrysoberyl bowed, “The gems may take time to be deployed to the haven, would you like Chert to join in the search as well?”.

“No.”, Steven’s voice cut through, heavy with pain, “She can’t… she can’t see this. No one should have to see the square.”.

“Have half of the Rose Quartz gems that are involved in the first pass return here as soon as the first sweep is finished.”, Connie looked back to Chrysoberyl, her voice equally heavy with sadness, “Have them gather the shards, so that they may be given an honorable funeral.”.

“I will send for a team of the best Iolites to craft a memorial pillar.”, Chrysoberyl replied.

“Has… Has anyone looked in the haven’s center?”, Steven asked, gesturing to a few standing walls in the center of the square, “Or has no-one been able to get to it because of all..”, he trailed off, looking at the morbid mosaic before him.

“We haven’t gotten to it yet.”, Chrysoberyl spoke, her voice almost a whisper.

At that, Steven began to gently hover and drift his way over to the remains of the center building. Wordlessly, Connie followed, and began to trudge through the gem shards. The pile of broken stones reached up to her claves as she waded through the remains, careful not to crush any shards under her feet.

Against her will, she allowed her eyes to roam over the shards that surrounded her, the sight of a bright red Rutile gem catching her eye. The gemstone itself appeared normal, almost whole even. However, a shard that had no doubt branched off of the larger stone lay next to it. Had they been together, the gemstone itself would have formed a “Y” shape. Connie paused, a sob wracking her form.

“Are you alright my Fortitude?”, Chrysoberyl hovered by her side, her expression full of worry.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry I can’t!”, Connie shook, her gaze locked onto the remains of the Rutile Twins, “I’m supposed to be strong, but I knew these gems.”.

“It is okay to mourn, my Fortitude.”, Chrysoberyl soothed, picking Connie up, and drifting over to the town square’s center, “A tragedy of this magnitude is unheard of. No one is expecting you to be able to weather through this as if nothing was wrong. Remember, the title of Fortitude was something given to you because you had earned it, not because it was a goal that you had to live up to. You can show emotion, you can be yourself, and no one will think less of you.”.

“Thank you, Chrysoberyl.”, Connie replied as she was set down next to Steven, before embracing her boyfriend tightly.

Steven paused, holding onto his girlfriend with equal fervor, leaning on her as they grieved the loss of those they held dear.

“I don’t see any non-shattered gems here…”, Steven spoke eventually.

“What… What is that?”, Connie spoke up, drying her tears, before gesturing at a small robonoid that was seemingly intact in the center of the building.

“I don’t know.”, Steven replied, “Perhaps one of the off-colors were using it before the attack?”.

“It looks… too clean to have been in all this rubble.”, Connie remarked, activating the robonoid.

In response to Connie’s actions, the robonoid whirred to life, before projecting a large screen across the town square.

“Hello there Pink Steven!”, a large, green Emerald greeted jovially, “It is good to finally meet you, and I’m glad that I have this opportunity to introduce myself! You’ve accomplished a lot in your tenure as the fourth member of the Diamond Authority, have you not? You declare equality for the off-colors, you sanction cross-gem fusion as acceptable amongst the subjects of the Four Courts, and you even have the audacity to bring an organic into the upper-echelons of your Court. All in all, you have been very busy!”, she laughed.

Steven and Connie only looked on at the figure before them, unsettled by the gem’s demeanor.

“You see, Pink Steven, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. When a quake occurs on a colony’s fault lines, a Lapis is dispatched to terraform the land back to the way it was. When towers collapse, a Bismuth is sent to repair them. When a gem is cracked, a Rose Quartz comes to heal the injured. When a leader sows chaos and lies in her subjects, I am the one who rights the wrongs and corrects the errors in the galaxy. I strive to purify the Courts from your lies and bring peace and stability to the system that you have thrown into chaos. You Pink Steven, have contaminated the Four Courts, so I am their Rectificator.”.

“W-what!?”, Steven staggered back, his shock distracting from the carnage around him.

“It’s a beautiful sight, isn’t it?”, the Rectificator spoke, the camera and projection robonoid raising into the air, giving the Emerald a better view of the haven’s remains, “You should be thanking me, Pink Steven. So many stains upon the Diamond Authority are wiped away, and what is left are resources that can be used for the betterment of the Courts. Consider this a valuable lesson Pink Steven, for this is how it was, how it always will be.”.

“Rectificator, haven’t you done enough?!”, Connie replied, a fire in her eyes.

“Ah hello there, Connie Maheswaran!”, Emerald replied, turning her gaze to Connie, “So, you like to think of yourself as the Fortitude of others? Is that what gems call you now?”.

“Well, no... It is a title bestowed upon me, you see...”, Connie trailed off, awkwardly.

“A title that those we hail as sovereign have bestowed upon you?”, the robonoid on the Rectificator’s side moved away, putting Emerald’s body into full view, “An organic makes fools out of the foolish, and suddenly she is hailed as a hero? For what? Bringing to light what was already clear as day?”, the green gem chuckled, “As for your question, Fortitude, the answer to that is a resounding no, in fact, I’m just getting started. You see, I had the Ameliorators place this robonoid here because I could be certain that after my troops razed this monument to mediocrity to the ground, you and Pink Steven would show up here!”, the Rectificator replied haughtily.

“You did all this just to get our attention?!”, Steven replied, shedding hot tears of rage.

Stars no, Pink Steven!”, Rectificator laughed, “As I mentioned before, I had my troops shatter those wastes of Diamond essence to get you to open up this com line...”.

At that, the Emerald trailed off, before pulling another gem in front of the camera. Despite the scuffs and her haggard appearance, her identity was unmistakable to the transmission’s viewers.

This.”, the Rectificator smirked, holding Pearl by the shoulder, “Is to get your attention.”.

“Pearl!”, Steven screamed, fear filling his voice, “Give her back!”.

“Steven, Connie! Don’t listen to her! Just leave me!-“, Pearl began, before Rectificator tightened her grip and squeezed, poofing her instantly.

“Look at yourselves.”, Rectificator sighed, turning Pearl’s gem over in her hand, gazing at it idly, “You toil in vain to establish worth for worthless creatures, believing with every carat of your gem that you are right, and where does it get you? The gems in your very own Court saw through your falsehoods, and joined me. You set up this haven for the gems to keep them safe, to give them hope. Where are they now? Their shards litter the ground at your feet. Your struggles are in vain, Pink Steven...”.

“Enough, what do you want?”, Connie cut off the other gem.

“What do I want?”, Emerald chuckled, “What I want is to show the Courts what you’re really made of, what the figure they hold so dearly is really made of when faced with a real challenge! What I want is Pink Steven, broken and begging for mercy as the galaxy sees the true nature of the figure that they are instructed to revere! You see I’ve grown tired of these tête-à-têtes. We send our small companies of gems to engage in what amounts to a glorified skirmish with the other party, and hope that our team comes out on top. No more! Pink Steven, I am issuing you a proper challenge, a duel of ability, merit and hope, a duel of truth and of ideals!”, the Rectificator spoke, sweeping her arms out in a grand gesture, “You may be accompanied by her Fortitude Connie Maheswaran, and three other gems to this duel, which will be held at my Palace!”.

“Sounds like you’ll have the home-court advantage...”, Connie grumbled.

“Is there a problem, Fortitude?”, the Rectificator asked, incredulity coloring her tone, “You are to be held as a model of virtue, will, and strength. As you so proclaim, yours is the side of hope, which shall overcome any and all who stand against it. What was it you said as that fusion? ‘The stigma surrounding gem fusion is not one that is based in truth, it is only based in the bitterness of gems that cannot see its worth.’?”, she recited Stevonnie’s words condescendingly, “Surely, if I am blinded by my own sense of bitterness, and consumed with such a fragile sense of self worth, any advantage I put in my favor is meaningless when compared to the pinnacles of morality and idealism such as yourselves. Or are you afraid that you got it wrong? That yours is not the position of moral superiority that you claim it is?”.

At that Connie roared in anger, “You shatter millions and have the audacity to lecture us on morality?”.

“I gave them peace.”, the Rectificator countered, “Relieved them from an existence marred by pain and false hope. I spared them from the crushing disappointment that your falsehoods lead to. Fortitude, you yourself experienced firsthand the result of the lies of the Pink Court, when you spoke to Pink Steven of your feelings of inadequacy and guilt at not achieving enough.”.

“H-how did you?!”, Connie interjected angrily.

“This pain that you felt and still feel is exactly what I spared those gems from.”, the Rectificator ignored Connie’s question, and continued on with her point, “What were you going to do once the threat I posed was over, and they left your resplendent charnel, hmm? Were you going to go back to telling them that they can contribute to gem-kind in a meaningful manner? And what were you going to do when they failed to meet the expectations that you instilled into them? What were you going to do when they came crawling to you, begging for guidance on how to live up to those impossible ideals? You will only fill them with more lies, and the cycle of pain would continue. You try so hard to give their kind a serene and content existence, but I provided them the one thing you couldn’t, an end to their suffering.”.

“You think what you did was a mercy?!”, Connie shook, “Even if being capable of contributing to the rest of society was some sort of metric for being happy, every single one of those gems were able to contribute to gem society and lead a joyful existence! And you took that away from them! You don’t get to determine what is and isn’t an impossible ideal for an individual, especially when your whole motivation involves looking down on their kind! You don’t get to arbitrarily decide that a group is suffering, just so that you can justify genocide! You utter monster!”.

“Bold words, organic. You cause nothing but pain and anguish by feeding your Court saccharine lies and impossible ideals, yet you point at me and say ‘evil’. But I understand why you hold so dearly to your ideals. You say that these gems have worth because it gives you worth. If even these repugnant gems can lead a happy, joyful existence, then how much more happy and joyful can you become? You don’t support those around you to make them feel better, you help them because it makes you feel better about yourself. You help others, because it defines you, and you seek to aid the weakest and lowliest of life because they will depend on you for longer. After all, if no one needs you anymore, what becomes of yourself? You need to be needed, Fortitude... Better yet, when your method of increasing your sense of self-worth ultimately fails, you don’t ask if your ideals are wrong, or if what you are basing your sense of self off of is wrong. Instead you ask if there was more that you could do to help others, vainly grasping after the respect of worthless gems in order to appease your insatiable ego. All the while you fill your subjects with lies and falsehoods, providing them with a fleeting, vapid happiness, distracting them from the pain of their existence, yet doing nothing to solve the core of their problems. The Pink Court crumbles and shatters under the weight of your lies, and you only have yourselves to blame.”, the Rectificator laughed darkly, “So tell me Fortitude, are you happy? Do your ideals result in joy, or do they only bring self-doubt and pain?”.

Connie only growled in response.

“I can see that even reason will not stop you.”, the Rectificator sighed, “You, Pink Steven are my antithesis, so full of splendor and self-righteousness that you aim to bring an end the paradigm that the very Diamond Authority was built upon. You can best my troops, escape our prisons, cut us off from the manipulation of time-space, but it is all in vain. In the end, the galaxy will understand, they will see, and they will know who was right.”, she spoke, her tone holding a weight and authority rivaled only by the Diamonds themselves, “I’m sending you the coordinates now. Be there by the end of this cycle, and if you two break the terms of our duel, I’ll know about it, and you can forget about ever seeing your Pearl ever again.”.

At that, the transmission cut out, the screen before them displaying a set of coordinates.

“I… I’ll take down the coordinates and send word to the other high Court members.”, Chrysoberyl spoke eventually.

“She’ll pay.”, Connie spoke up, her grief at the massacre surrounding them having transformed into a white-hot rage, “She’ll pay.”.

“Connie…”, Steven breathed, falling to his knees in shock, “She has Pearl. She… She… It’s all my fault…”.

“We’ll get her back Steven.”, Connie grabbed a hold of Steven’s shoulders, turning his gaze upward to meet hers, “Look at me. We’ll get Pearl back, understand?”.

Weakly, Steven stood up, leaning on Connie for support. Wordlessly, the trio walked back to the Diamond ship.

* * *

Steven fell into Garnet’s arms, with Amethyst and Connie following to form an impromptu group hug.

“I… She…”, Steven cried, his voice muffled by Garnet’s shoulder, his breaths growing faster and more shallow as the reality of the situation set in, “She’s gone! She took her, she’s got mom! What do we do!?”.

“I... I don’t know...”, Garnet replied eventually, rubbing Steven’s back in a soothing pattern, “Breathe Steven. Slowly, like this…”, she soothed, leading Steven out of his state of panic.

“I didn’t see any of this…”, Garnet spoke up eventually, after Steven calmed down, “I don’t know how this happened. This wasn’t supposed to happen.”.

“We’ll get her back. She’s going to be okay.”, Connie spoke up, determined.

“Are… you okay though?”, Steven spoke up, turning to Connie, “What she said about you feeling worthless? She was talking about our conversation that we had before you were taken…”.

“A Padparadscha must have told her, but I’m fine.”, Connie replied, steel in her voice, “Right now, I’m just going to focus on getting Pearl back.”.

“Who should we pick to join us?”, Steven asked, looking around the room, “She said we could bring three others with us to the duel.”.

“Well, we’re three gems, aren’t we?”, Amethyst spoke up, looking between Garnet, Chrysoberyl, and herself.

“Should you so choose, I am ready to fight for your honor, my Steven. I will do everything I can to ensure the safe return of the Lustrous-Renegade Pearl.”, Chrysoberyl bowed.

“Yeah!”, Amethyst joined in, “We’ll take that green jerk down, and get Pearl back!”.

“It’s going to be okay, Garnet.”, Connie spoke up, noticing the fear and doubt that filled the High Clarity’s expression.

“Thanks everyone.”, Steven spoke up, drying his tears and steeling his resolve, before turning to Chrysoberyl, “You still have the coordinates that Rectificator sent us?”.

“Yes, would you like me to prep the Diamond Legs?”, Chrysoberyl replied.

“Yeah, let’s bring Pearl back home...”.

Chapter Text

Chrysoberyl drew her blades from her gem as the pink bubble from the Diamond Legs deposited her on the surface of the Rectificator’s home planet. Before them lay a massive green palace, consisting of what appeared to be a veritable forest of brilliant green spires, reaching upwards into a lilac sky. Two grand doors stood proudly at the palace’s front, filling Chrysoberyl with a sense of trepidation.

With strengthened resolve, Connie pushed open the doors to the Rectificator’s palace, everyone else crossing the threshold behind her on high alert. Chrysoberyl readied her blades, searching for any sign of a threat. As she expected, the inside of the palace seemed just as lavish and ornate as the structure’s exterior would suggest. With bated breath, Chrysoberyl stood in front of Steven, protecting him as they made their way into what appeared to a particularly vast grand hall. Elegant statues and frescos lined the walls of the room. Elaborate columns lined a clear path to a door at the back of the hall, the columns themselves reaching upwards to support a vaulted ceiling.

“Greetings your Radiance Pink Steven, Fortitude of the Four Courts and Exemplar of All Organic Life Connie Maheswaran, Garnet High Clarity of the Pink Court, Chrysoberyl the un-shattering guardian of the Pink Court, and Amethyst.”, a smooth voice emanated from somewhere in the grand hall.

“Hey! I have accolades too, ya know!”, Amethyst shouted back in the direction of the voice.

“Now that everyone is here, we may prepare the arena.”, the voice continued, ignoring Amethyst’s protests.

At once, the ground beneath the five shook, Chrysoberyl and Connie both moving closer to Steven, while Garnet and Amethyst each tried to maintain their balance. Before anyone could tell what was happening, the floor of the grand hall broke apart and began to fall, the columns of the hall separating from the vaulted ceiling. What once was a single, massive hall, became a series of large platforms, suspended by what appeared to be a network of robonoids, positioned at various altitudes.

The first thing Chrysoberyl noticed as soon as she regained her balance was that the hall had been cast into darkness as a result of a series of shutters that lined the skylights embedded in the ceiling. The second thing she noticed was that Amethyst and Garnet were both missing.

“Well, this all went to schist…”, Chrysoberyl muttered sarcastically.

* * *

Shakily, Amethyst stood up and took stock of her new surroundings. The platform she found herself on seemed to be roughly a quarter of the size of the grand hall, around the size of a typical sparring arena. Just as Amethyst began to grow used to the darkness that enveloped the room, the platform she stood on was enveloped in a bright light. Colorful spotlights flitted across her platform, reminding Amethyst of the Homeworld ball she attended to herald in the Pink Court and Era Three. Not allowing herself to be distracted or dazed by the flashing lights, Amethyst’s attention focused on the one significant landmark her platform possessed, a pair of columns that jutted out from the floor of the slowly spinning platform.

“Well hello there Amethyst!”, a voice spoke up from behind the column, “Are you enjoying the ride?”.

“No I’m not!”, Amethyst shouted in the direction of the voice, before taking in the sight of an Aquamarine gem that appeared from behind one of the two downed pillars.

“This arena looks set for a ball, doesn’t it 8XM?”, the gem commented idly, floating above the spinning platform, “So what’d’ya say? Would you care to dance?”.

“You bet.”, Amethyst growled, before charging at the smaller gem, unfurling her whip and attempting to strike the Aquamarine.

Unperturbed by Amethyst’s attack, Aquamarine easily dodged Amethyst’s whip, countering with a blast from her wand. Desperately, Amethyst rolled out of the way of the incoming beam, and took shelter behind one of the downed columns that littered the spinning platform.

“You think that you can hide from me?”, the Aquamarine chided, “I was the best a the best you know? I could fly around battlefields and arenas alike an’ the whole planet would cheer my name! It’ll take a lot more than a few pillars to save your gem from me!”.

Punctuating her statement, Aquamarine ensnared the column that Amethyst was hiding behind with a beam from her wand, and effortlessly hurled it to the side. Now without cover, Amethyst used her spin dash to quickly roll out of the way of another attack, before tackling the smaller gem out of the air.

“The Rectificator’s told us all about you lot, you know?”, the Aquamarine continued, unperturbed by her position, “She told us you’re scared, you’re upset at the loss of your friends, and you want to get the one friend that is still alive back from her clutches. However, there’s no way a defective gem such as yourself could ever hope to prevail against her. You do know that, right?”.

“You gems think you’re all that, huh? Just because you fit a certain description, it gives you the right to look down on us, or claim that we don’t have the right to exist!? Well tell that to my fist!”, Amethyst shouted, throwing a punch at the pinned gem.

The Aquamarine simply smirked, before shrinking down even smaller, shapeshifting herself out of the hold and avoiding Amethyst’s punch.

“Augh!”, Amethyst cried out in pain, her fist slamming into the hard floor of the platform, “No fair!”.

“Oh dear Amethyst, who are you to say what is and isn’t fair? Especially when your very existence is an unfair allocation of Diamond essence depriving the underdeveloped Peridots and Agates of Era 2?”, Aquamarine returned snidely.

“Okay, that’s it!”, Amethyst spat, leaping up and lashing her whip out at the other gem for another series of strikes.

“‘Course, you won’t even get to see the Rectificator at all.”, Aquamarine laughed, “Not you, and certainly not that Fortitude organic!”, the gem spat out the title as if it were a curse.

“Yeah, and what do you have against her?”, Amethyst grunted, dodging another attack.

EVERYTHING!! That newbie Pebble took everything from me!”, she screamed, enraged, “I was the best of the best! All a’ Homeworld knew my name until she came along and defeated me that that blasted Gauntlet! But that’s okay…”, Aquamarine F73L, Cut 5TL was practically vibrating with glee, “You see, in exchange for my dutiful service, the Rectificator promised me a rematch with that organic. And by rematch, I mean that I’ll get to torture that worthless schist to my gem’s content, before shattering her with the very rapier that I used in our first battle! I’ll take everything from her! Just like she took EVERYTHING FROM ME!”, her laugh twisted into mania as she effortlessly dodged Amethyst’s attacks, and attacking with her own flurry of strikes.

Amethyst trembled from exhaustion as Aquamarine prepared another flurry of attacks, the sound of her manic laughter filling the hall.

* * *

Grunting, Garnet pushed herself to her feet, leaning against a column for support.

“This is bad…”, Garnet muttered to herself.

Truth be told, she couldn’t see anything that was about to happen. It was if the very timeline before her in this space was blank. According to her last meditation, none of this should have even happened. Pearl should have been safe, training a group of Helenite from HK-7 right now, not have been captured and taken hostage on some Diamonds-forsaken rock out in the middle of nowhere! As if to add insult to injury, not only could she not see into the future, but it would seem that the Rectificator has decided to make the lighting on her platform as dark as physically possible, judging by the veritable rave party that appeared to be taking place on the platform across the chasm. Garnet squinted, peering across the gap to see who ended up fighting on the platform, watching it spin and glow various colors, before noticing a small purple gem fly at an even smaller blue dot.

“Amethyst.”, Garnet sighed, before readying herself to float across the gap to help her teammate.

“G-garnet?”, a voice called faintly from somewhere in the center of her platform.

“Pearl!?”, Garnet called out, turning around and facing the forest of columns, “Pearl, is that you?”.

Swallowing thickly, Garnet entered the rows of columns, looking for her friend. A shuffling sound emanated from deeper in, Garnet herself becoming enveloped in the shadows of the columns. Pausing a moment, Garnet raised her left hand, a beam of red-tinted light shooting forth from her gem.

“Pearl, are you there?”, Garnet called again, her photo-kinesis casting shadows amidst the sea of columns.

“I’m sorry.”, the voice spoke up, a tall tan, white, and red gem coming into view, “But your Pearl isn’t here right now.”.

At that, the Bixbite smiled viciously, detaching what appeared to be a small, square device from her gem, and summoning two impossibly sharp-looking sickles, before cleaving one down at Garnet.

Quickly, Garnet rolled out of the blade’s path and threw a punch at the enemy’s head.

Not one to be out-sped, Bixbite nimbly ducked under the punch and swung out with her other sickle, catching Garnet’s heavy gauntlet as she punched forward. With a powerful thrust, Bixbite buried her blade into deep into the platform, pinning Garnet’s hand to the ground, before spinning around and cleaving her sickle at Garnet’s face.

Desperate, Garnet caught the blade with her other hand, stopping the sickle with her gauntlet.

Bixbite only laughed in response, “You know, for a High Clarity, you should really have the foresight to know that was a bad idea.”.

At once, the sickle in Garnet’s hand began to glow, a searing pain erupted in her form’s fingers as the sickle cleaved through her gauntlet. Garnet screamed in pain, before dispelling both of her gauntlets, freeing her other hand from the sickle that pinned it, and rolled out of the way. Frantically, she hid behind one of the columns, desperately putting as much distance between herself and the enemy as possible.

“Pfft, you think you can hide from me, Clarity?”, the Bixbite drawled, peering through the darkness at the rows of columns.

Quietly, Garnet pressed herself against a column, before turning her attention to her injured hand. Thankfully, the blade missed her Sapphire gem entirely. Focusing herself, she willed her light manifestation to reform the digits she lost in the Bixbite’s attack, before donning her remaining gauntlet.

Focus, focus. I’m going to need the element of surprise if I want to beat this gem.”, Garnet thought to herself.

Quietly, Garnet weaved through the columns, ensuring that she was kept in the shadows. It wasn’t long before the Bixbite’s silhouette came into view once more, the sickle -wielding gem facing away from her. A determined expression on her face, Garnet leveled a punch at a column directly behind the Bixbite, startling her opponent. Having been forced on the defensive, Bixbite rolled out of the way of the column, however Garnet was counting on the gem’s reflexes, and dove at her opponent to grapple her.

In one instant, it appeared as though Garnet had her, her gauntlet-clad arm had wrapped almost completely around the other gem. However, in the very next instant, the Bixbite leaped, and was now nowhere to be seen.

“You’re good.”, Bixbite praised, mild surprise coloring her tone, “But you’ll have to be better than that.”.

* * *

Connie and Chrysoberyl shouted in unison, poofing the form of a particularly large Topaz gem.

“Are you guys okay?”, Steven spoke up, grateful that the last of the wave of troops were dealt with.

“Yes, I am fine my Steven.”, Chrysoberyl replied, “How do you fare, my Fortitude?”.

“I’m alright. There were a lot more gems than I was expecting though.”, Connie commented, “We need to find a way to get to the Rectificator, that way we don’t tire ourselves out on her minions before we face her.”.

At that, Connie looked out at the series of platforms before her. While Garnet and Amethyst ended up on the platforms to her right and left, there were three additional platforms between where she stood and the door at the far end of the hall.

“What do you all think about that door?”, Connie spoke up, pointing to the hall’s end.

“Assuming that this palace is styled according to the architectural themes of Era One, which its exterior suggests, it would make sense that a room of great importance would be immediately behind the door leading out of the main hall. Whereas less significant rooms would branch off to the sides.”, Chrysoberyl replied, gesturing to a few smaller doors that lined the sides of the room.

“Back door it is then.”, Connie replied, before analyzing the platforms that stood between them and the door, “Steven, you and Chrysoberyl can both float, but I can’t jump that far. So one of you will have to carry me across the gaps.”.

“I’ll do it.”, Steven replied quickly, before gathering Connie into a bridal carry.

“Uhm…”, Connie blushed lightly, the meaning of the gesture having been lost on both Steven and Chrysoberyl.

“If you are both ready, I am as well.”, Chrysoberyl replied.

Moving past her embarrassment, Connie steeled her expression and nodded to the others. With a mighty leap, Steven bounded over the gap between the two platforms, gently setting Connie down on the other side.

“This isn’t looking good.”, Connie spoke up, staring as several enemy gems turned to face towards them.

“The Rectificator wants to shatter you both before we can even reach her.”, Chrysoberyl grit her teeth, “The pattern in which the floor split was no mistake, she wanted to split us apart.”.

Suddenly, the platforms moved once more, the platform that Amethyst and Garnet ended up moving towards the back of the room, with the platforms that were positioned behind those platforms shifting forward and to the center row, putting more ground between the trio and the door, yet also rendering the space between the platforms easily traversable.

‘That all but settles it.”, Connie growled, glaring at the distance between them and the door, “Rectificator’s definitely behind that door.”.

“Well, if Garnet and Amethyst’s platforms moved forward, then there’s a good chance that they’ll tire Rectificator out a bit before we reach her.”, Steven replied with a hopeful tone.

“I’m not sure that the Rectificator would be willing to take those kinds of chances.”, Chrysoberyl hummed, analyzing the battlefield before her, “I have an idea though.”.

“That being?”, Connie questioned.

“How fast could you run if you were carrying our Steven?”, Chrysoberyl asked, her static-filled gaze now analyzing Connie.

“Fairly quickly.”, Connie replied, smiling a bit, “He’s quite light.”.

“Hey, I don’t think that battlefield is a good place to be discussing the fact that I’m fun-sized!”, Steven interjected.

“I’m going to clear a path.”, Chrysoberyl spoke evenly, leaving no room for argument, “Get yourself and his Radiance to the door, understand?”.

“Got it.”, Connie replied, her expression hardened as she picked up Steven in a bridal carry, mirroring his gesture from earlier.

At once, Chrysoberyl began to glow, the light around her seeming to bend and warp around her form. In one instant, she was standing at the front of the platform with Connie and Steven, and in the very next, she stood at the platform’s opposite edge, a swath of poofed gems in her wake.

“Hurry my Fortitude. I cannot traverse the battlefield much slower in this state.”, Chrysoberyl’s voice was warbled, distorted as though her speech was sped up at odd intervals.

Not needing to be told twice, Connie followed after Chrysoberyl to the best of her ability, leaping short distances from platform to platform amidst a sea of gemstones. What once seemed like an insurmountable enemy offense became a simple stroll as Connie and Steven followed Chrysoberyl to the doors at the end of the room.

“That… should be enough…”, Chrysoberyl huffed, tinges of static flitting through her form as it returned to normal.

“Are you alright?”, Connie spoke up, her voice laden with concern.

“I will be fine, my Fortitude. Moving like that was never easy after Era One ended, but I will be alright.”, Chrysoberyl replied, moving herself between the enemies and her superiors, “Right now, you should devote your efforts to facing the Rectificator. I will be more than enough to handle these soldiers.”.

“Are you sure?”, Steven asked.

“My Steven.”, Chrysoberyl turned to face Steven, something more than determination alone in her gaze, as she moved into a Diamond salute, “I will keep you safe from them. Not a single enemy gem will cross the threshold between this chamber and the next, this I swear to you on the Stars above.”.

“Thank you…”, Steven replied, not knowing what else to say in response to such conviction.

Nodding, Connie turned away from Chrysoberyl, entrusting her to keep the enemy troops at bay. With a deep breath, she took Steven’s hand.

“Are you ready?”, Connie asked, looking to Steven.

“Ready as I’ll ever be. Let’s finish this!”, Steven replied, a determined fire in his eyes.

At once, the two pushed open the large doors, each of them holding their breath in anticipation of what lay inside.

Chapter Text

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The large doors swung open, welcoming the duo into a large, ornate throne room, decorated in various shades of green. Sitting on the throne was none other than the Rectificator. Unlike the other opponents that they faced prior, the gem that sat before them exuded power. Her gem seemed to soak in the gentle green light filtering through the skylights aloft in the hall’s ceiling, the Emerald stone shining like a viridian star. Her poise commanded respect, every movement instilling a sense of authority. As the two entered her throne room, Emerald fixed her gaze on the two intruders, a look of abhorrence flit across her features, before twisting into a grim sense of satisfaction as a smirk adorned her lips.

Connie swallowed thickly, her breath stilling as she met the gem’s gaze. She liked to think that she was good at assessing opponents to identify weaknesses and determine plans of attack, but the gem before her seemed to defy all determination. There was something inherently powerful about the gem that sat before her. Something that seemed to go deeper than the skills or strength that she faced before. It was as if she was looking at a force of nature, the aggregate of every honed skill and developed strength, every modicum of power, wealth, and ability, realized into one being. The sight evoked a sense of awe and fear, both enrapturing her filling her with trepidation. Desperately, she looked away from the sight of the gem on the throne, instead focusing on the Pearl immediately to the Rectificator’s right.

Squinting, Connie took in the sight of the beige Pearl, her cream colored hair preventing Connie from meeting the Pearl’s gaze. Despite this, the Pearl seemed to notice the presence of herself and Steven, and turned to face them.

“I expected quartz soldiers and other militia, but you have Pearls working in your service as well?”, Connie spoke, breaking the silence in the room as she looked over the gem’s tan bodysuit and brown shawl.

“Greetings, challengers.”, the Pearl spoke.

With a start, Connie recognized the voice as the same one that greeted them upon the entry of the palace.

“Yes.”, the Rectificator replied, not expecting this line of questioning, “My master rescued her from a library on your first colony in the beginning of Era two. She was left behind in the aftermath of the Gem War, so she was taken under my master’s care, where she was healed from the corruption afflicted to her by the Radiances, before being awarded to me for my contributions to Master’s cause.”.

“H-healed from corruption?”, Steven asked, bewildered that a single gem could heal corruption when it took the entire Diamond Authority to achieve the same feat.

“As amusing as this line of conversation is, I do not believe you are here to talk of my Pearl.”, Emerald replied, before drawing a mirror from her gem, and turning it around, revealing a singular, pale, cabochon gem affixed into its back, “Yours, on the other hand has been talking quite a bit. I don’t know whether to commend you for cultivating such loyal and resolute subordinates, or to admonish you for encouraging such behavior in a Pearl of all gems, but I could not get a single piece of useful information out of her. I would have thought that one of the few gems that served so close to a Diamond throughout Era One would have retained some level of purity, some ounce of respect and understanding of the hierarchy of gems, but no, she’s just as tarnished as all the others that you contaminate.”, Emerald spoke, disgust and frustration filling her tone as she raised her right hand skyward.

Immediately, a large green bubble rose up from behind the Rectificator’s throne. Connie gasped at the sight of Garnet and Amethyst’s poofed gems, suspended helplessly in the enemy’s hold.

“Release them.”, Steven all but growled at the Rectificator.

“Or what, Radiance.”, Emerald spat out the title as though it were a curse.

“We’ve taken down your armadas. We’ve beaten your armies time and time again.”, Connie spoke up, allowing her gaze to return to the Emerald once more, no matter how much the sight seemed to shake her, “What makes you think that facing you will end any differently?”.

“What makes you think I will be any different?”, the Rectificator’s tone took on one nearing amusement, “Look at yourselves. You’ve toiled away, fighting against so, so many of my followers, and proven yourselves against them in this cycle and cycles prior. However, the gems that follow me were not what you would call an army. Sure, some were skilled, some were even former soldiers and troops of the Four Courts, but their history and talent did not matter. They were a revolution, relying on strength in numbers over the strength of the individual. Like so many Rubies, they gathered up and untied into a force capable of razing colonies under my name. But in the small groups and platoons that you faced against? They were hardly a challenge. Now, in this cycle, you face a different foe. Unlike the others, I stand before you unblemished and pure. The cut of my gem is not only indicative of my skill and ability in battle, but in all things. Although, you both already know this. You can feel it in the atmosphere itself, can’t you?”, the Emerald asked, her tone condescending, “Tell me ‘Fortitude’, do you find yourself as full of indomitable willpower and bravery as you did when you faced down the legions of my colleague? Or what of you, Pink Steven? Where is your hope? The optimism and idealistic drivel that pervades your every action?”, Emerald paused, letting her words sink in, “Your resolute will, Fortitude, and your optimistic ideals, Steven, they both fall away when met with the truth. And now, upon this cycle, the whole galaxy will bear witness to reality.”.

At that Emerald stood from her throne, her full height towering over Connie and Steven. Each step the gem took seemed to shake Connie to her very core. The Rectificator’s gaze was alight with determination now, as her cape billowed behind her, a light seemed to erupt from the green titan’s brilliant gem, bathing the whole throne room in a sharp, vibrant light. With a single hand, the Emerald drew a massive, double-edged blade from her gem.

“A Zweihänder?”, Connie breathed, her eyes locked onto the twelve-foot long behemoth of a weapon, its girth measuring strength least a foot and a half, and its thickness appearing to be at least three whole inches, the blade’s cross guard appearing more as a bludgeoning club rather than any means of defense, with a weapon like that, was any defense even needed? And to top it all off, the gem before her was just holding the thing as if it weighed nothing at all, even though it appeared to weigh more than most Era 2 tanks.

“You see, my Pearl is recording us using those robonoids.”, the Rectificator spoke up, gesturing to several camera drones that adorned the throne room’s ceiling, “And now every gem in the galaxy is watching us.”.

Connie swallowed, drew her sword, and took a defensive stance, before looking to Steven, “Steven, I know we can’t abandon our friends, but we may want to consider calling for backup.”, she whispered carefully.

“What backup? The only one left is Chrysoberyl, and she’s keeping us safe from the other guards. There’s no one else.”, Steven muttered, before summoning his shield, “We are enough. We have to be.”.

With a nod of understanding between them, the two rushed the large gem. In one smooth, almost choreographed motion, Steven ducked low and held his shield skyward. With a graceful leap, Connie landed on the shield, before Steven launched Connie forward, sending her flying. With a sharp twist, Connie began to spin through the air, her blade cleaving through the atmosphere as she put her strength into one, brutal attack, aimed directly at the Rectificator’s head.

Just as it appeared as though Connie’s aim would hold true, Emerald raised her blade, parrying Connie’s attack. Connie’s bones creaked with protest as the sound of the two blades clashing echoed throughout the hall. The gem before her appeared unfazed from the strike, and her arms ached as if she struck a solid wall with her sword, and not an opponent.

Connie swore that she must have blinked, or cringed from the impact, because in one instant she was suspended in midair, still exerting force from her attack, and in the next instant, Emerald had somehow managed to spin around in a full circle and ready her blade for a strike of her own. Connie’s eyes widened as the Zweihänder met her own backsword, the force of the impact hitting her like a train. The throne room blurred before Connie’s eyes, and pain erupted through her shoulder and collarbone as she collided with the massive, steel doors of the throne room.

What on earth?”, Connie thought to herself blearily, grateful that her armor absorbed most of the shock of the impact against the doors, shuddering at the thought of how many bones she would have broken from that kind of hit had she not been protected.

How can she move that fast? That kind of speed from someone so large, just seems impossible.”, Connie thought as she stood shakily, now a great deal farther away from Steven and Emerald.

“The great Fortitude, I would have thought the strike of your blade would have been stronger.”, Emerald smirked, ignoring Steven by simply stepping over him and continuing her approach to Connie, “The Ameliorators, they spoke of you as though you were like me. An equal opposite. The pinnacle of all organic life, an exemplar among the universe so powerful and awe-inspiring that it forces even the Diamonds themselves to seek your council. Your name rang throughout these halls in hushed tones, and was revered in terrified whispers.”, at that the Rectificator paused, reassessing her opponent, “Or perhaps you are pacing yourself, holding back? Judging my abilities to determine how much force you need to exert to keep your Diamond safe from my blade. Your analytical gem searching my form for weaknesses and strategizing a counter attack?”, Emerald laughed, a cold chuckle reverberating around the columns of the throne room, “You won’t find any in me. If you hope to prevail against me, you’ll need to give me everything you’ve got.”, Emerald finished, now standing over Connie.

Connie breathed in sharply, and for the first time, she met the Emerald’s gaze with a fire in her eyes and stood up to her full height.

I intend to.”, her quiet words rang out through the hall with such a force of conviction and power, it felt as if Rectificator’s defeat was ensured, simply because the words themselves were uttered.

“Then it’s about time you put some effort into it.”, Emerald smirked, taking an offensive stance.

With one quick motion, Connie leapt upwards into a backflip, coiling her body into a tight crouch before pushing off of the throne room doors, propelling herself at the Rectificator. Just as before, the two blades clashed, and Connie’s bones shook with protest as it felt like she struck a solid wall, as opposed to an opponent once more. Yet again, the Emerald spun around and struck Connie’s blade, sending her flying across the hall. However, this time Connie had a plan. Drawing her whip in her left hand, Connie swung her arm outwards, the length of cord catching onto one of the many columns that adorned the Rectificator’s throne room. With a violent lurch, Connie swung around the column and dispelled her whip, changing her trajectory to strike the Rectificator once more with even more speed than the last strike, the Emerald’s very own attack propelling her forward.

Hearing her opponent cut through the air, the Rectificator turned abruptly, a look of mild surprise adorning her face as she blocked Connie’s attack once more, before shifting her blade to parry the attack yet again. If Connie thought that meeting the Rectificator’s with her own force hurt, it was nothing compared to the white-hot pain that erupted in her wrist, Ulna, and Humerus as she met the Emerald’s blade a second time. Gritting her teeth, she bit down a scream, forcing herself to remain strong as she faced down this opponent.

“That’s more like what I was expecting.”, the Rectificator smiled, meeting Connie’s determined gaze with a look of excitement, “It has been too long since I have faced a worthy challenger.”.

With an even greater speed, the Rectificator spun around again, and slammed the tip end of her blade against Connie’s own, sending her body careening at an almost impossible speed though the hall, as her armor shuddered to absorb as much of the blow as possible.

She was holding back!?”, Connie screamed internally, as she drew the whip from her gem once more, launching herself at the Emerald with even greater speed.

Connie quickly fell into a rhythm. Strike, endure the pain, get launched back, endure the pain, grapple with whip and launch herself back at her opponent, endure the pain, repeat again, but even faster. Her arm protested from the strain that each use of the whip put on her, as if another use could yank it out of socket, or worse, have the appendage be torn clean off. Her bones themselves felt like jelly with each consecutive strike, but she couldn’t back down. She was the Fortitude of the Four Courts, the whole galaxy was watching, and if she fell Steven was next.

Through it all, Steven watched with a sense of awe, as he watched Connie give it her all. The thought crossed his mind to join in and help, yet he held himself back. Surely with the all out flurry of attacks that Connie was delivering, anything that he did would only be a hinderance to her strategy.

With a mighty scream, Connie dispelled her whip yet another time, the centripetal force propelling her at a blinding speed towards the Rectificator. Her armor-clad body became a blur of pink and gold as she rent her sword through the air. With a deafening crash, her blade struck the Rectificator’s Zweihänder and shattered, sending her careening past the Emerald’s guard. Thinking quickly, Connie angled the serrated, fragmented stump of her blade and tore a gash through the Rectificator’s cheek. Before Connie could even feel a sense of accomplishment from marking her opponent, she crashed into the far wall of the throne room, the clash of the Rectificator’s blade doing little to slow her flight.

“CONNIE!”, Steven’s scream tore through the throne room.

No longer holding himself back to ensure Connie’s attacks would go unhindered, he rushed to her side, startled at the sight of her condition. Her breastplate was shattered into several pieces, the gauntlets and pauldrons that adorned her arms and shoulders had fallen off, revealing mottled, purple flesh, her capillaries having no doubt ruptured from the incredible g-forces that she underwent. Connie groaned as she opened her eyes, her sight darkened and tinted red as Steven’s worried expression filled her vision.

The capillaries in my eyes must have burst.”, Connie groaned internally, recalling her biology textbooks, as Steven frantically pressed a kiss to her forehead, causing her vision to return to normal, her blood vessels and bones healing instantly.

Shakily, she stood up once more, materializing a new set of armor, and a new blade from her gem. Unlike her traditional High Guard armor which was a pink and rose gold similar to Stevonnie’s armor, this set was awarded to her by the Diamonds upon ascension to Fortitude. Clad in a vibrant white breastplate accented with platinum, and bearing the crest of the full Diamond Authority, Connie rose to her full height, a white crash-helmet now adorning her head, with two, axe-like, sharpened horns protruding from the top of her helm, the blades themselves adorned with a platinum filigree. With a flourish, Connie drew her blade, a long, sleek falchion, featuring a cross-guard molded into an S-shape. Like her armor, the blade too was forged from the same white material, and adorned with platinum filigree.

Emerald only stared at the Fortitude before her with an expression of intrigue, as she gently pressed a hand to the mark on her cheek, “Out of all the things that I expected to crack under the pressure, your very blade was not one of them, Fortitude. And yet you managed to take advantage of that fact and land a hit on me. I can see why Timeweaver fell to your might.”.

“Connie, I’ll take her on for a bit.”, Steven pleaded, insisting that she give his healing powers time to work, “Just rest for five minutes, okay?”.

Connie met his eyes and nodded, allowing Steven to give her one last healing kiss for good measure and take the lead as he turned to face Jasper.

“I think you’ll find that you have underestimated the both of us, Rectificator.”, Steven replied, charging at the large gem.

With a great leap, Steven flew though the air and hurled his shield at the Emerald, who effortlessly deflected the disk with her blade. Grunting, Steven summoned a spiked bubble around his form, intending to use himself as a projectile to bludgeon the Rectificator with. With a smirk, Emerald grabbed ahold of the sphere, her fingertips deftly avoiding the spiked protrusions.

“Did you really think that would work?”, Emerald gave him an unimpressed stare before turning around and hurling the ball at one of the room’s many columns.

Steven bit back a scream of pain as the impact dispelled his spiked sphere and formed a crater in the column itself. Before Steven could even stand, the Emerald was on top of him, her sword cleaving through the air right towards him. Instinctually, Steven summoned another shield between himself and the blade and braced for impact.

Oh Stars... Is that what Connie felt?!”, Steven thought to himself, as the impact sent him through the column and careening straight at Connie.

With a pained grunt, Steven pressed a spit-covered finger to his shoulder, healing the shock from the brute-force that was dealt to it.

“Steven!? Are you okay?”, Connie fretted, helping Steven to his feet.

Before the two of them could even blink, the Rectificator was on top of them again, swinging her blade down to smite Steven.

Grunting again, Steven surrounded himself and Connie in a large, thick bubble. With a tremendous crash, the sound of Emerald’s blade bouncing off of Steven’s bubble rang throughout the halls.

Now you know how it feels.”, Connie thought vindictively as she watched the Rectificator actually wince at the reverberated shock of having her blade meet an unstoppable force.

“So that’s how it is, Pink? Cowardly hiding away in a bubble instead of facing me?”, Emerald took a step back from the sphere, the combatants clearly at a standstill.

“Look at yourself. Broken, cowering behind a shield, and having to rely on your guard to even stand.”, Emerald sneered as she paced around the bubble, “You’re supposed to be a Diamond. The absolute pinnacle of gem-kind! When you speak, you are to command the respect of others. When you lead, other gems should look to you in admiration. When we look at you, we should feel hope...”, Emerald trailed off, almost wistfully, before glaring at Steven, “But instead, the gems of the Pink Court got you. An off-color leader who thinks he can start a social revolution, without any strength to back it up.”, Emerald paused a moment, allowing her words to sink in, “You know, I actually wouldn’t be as opposed to your ideals if you actually were able to back up the claims you made. You say that off-colors are valuable and have a place in society? Then prove it! Show the galaxy what these shunned gems are made of! Don’t claim that they have value without any proof! Instead, you make this bold statement without any evidence. And because you didn’t, the whole galaxy can now see them for what they truly are!”, Emerald stopped her pacing and kneeled down to Steven’s level, her voice softening as she rested her hand on the sphere, “You know that it was that fact that drew so many gems to my army, correct? Sure, some gems were uneasy with a half-gem, half-human hybrid ruling a Court, but if you proved yourself, then everyone would have respected you, and I would be without an army. Stars above, I might have even been fighting on your side if you proved yourself enough.”, Rectificator paused, before standing up to her full height, her tone growing harsh once more, “But instead you didn’t, you’ve surrounded yourself with such unapologetically defective, off-colored, rocks. How is anyone supposed to respect the Diamond Authority now!? Nowadays, off-colors and now even perma-fusions are walking around in broad daylight. In my era, if we didn’t shatter those disgusting excuses for gems on sight, we would have placed them in mirrors or other tech, and it would have been seen as merciful! But now they have ‘worth’ just like every other gem.”, Emerald sneered, “You’re turning things on their head, Pink. You disgust me, but I’m going to set things right. Under our guidance, the Diamond Authority will once more be regarded as a force to be feared and respected!”.

As if punctuating her statement, she brought the pommel of her blade down hard on the bubble, causing yet another terrible bang to resound through the throne room. As soon as her ears stopped ringing, Connie looked up at the the bubble that surrounded them, a look of fear filling her face, the expression mirrored on Steven’s face as well. The Rectificator only smiled in response, her teeth glinting dangerously in the viridian glow of the room.

The bubble, Steven’s strongest defense, was now littered with cracks.

“W-what!?”, Connie whispered frantically to Steven, “How!?”.

“My powers are tied to my emotions, like my floating abilities.”, Steven whispered back, the sound not making it outside of the dense bubble, “I guess when I feel weak, my defenses are weak as well.”.

“She’s getting in your head, Steven. You can’t let her control you like that.”, Connie replied urgently, a plan of attack forming in her mind, “You go left and throw your shields at her. Keep out of her range, and keep up a steady barrage of attacks. Meanwhile, I’ll go right and engage her. If she doesn’t have a weak spot maybe we can wear her down, and create one. Got it?”.

Steven nodded in response, dispelling his bubble just as the Rectificator’s blade was about to slam into it a second time. Quickly, Connie and Steven each dove out of the way of the blade’s path, which buried itself deep into the throne room floor. Taking advantage of the opening, Steven ran away from the Emerald and towards the center of the room, before summoning another disk shield. Running, Connie watched as Emerald tore her blade from her room’s floor and stared her down, as she leapt into the air to strike at the Rectificator once more, hoping to distract her from Steven’s attacks. With a smooth motion, Emerald parried the attack, sending Connie flying backwards, before a sharp, whistling sound rang through the air. With tremendous speed, the Rectificator rolled to the right, dodging a pink disk that was hurtling towards the space the back of her head previously occupied. With a huff, the Rectificator turned to face Connie again, swinging her blade at the Fortitude, forcing Connie to dodge and remain on the defensive. However, before Emerald could swing her blade a second time, the whistling sound rang throughout the throne room a second time. Without even turning to look, the Rectificator rose her off hand and grabbed the disk out of the air, much to the shock of both Connie and Steven.

“These disks.”, the Rectificator remarked, turning the shield over in her hands, as though it were a large coin, “Is this the best you can do?”.

Steven only paled in response.

“You’re going to have to try a little harder than that.”, Emerald spat, crumbling the shield into a fine dust with her grip before turning to Connie, “And as for you, I honestly expected more of a challenge after your prior display of managing to land a hit on me, however, your skills are average at best. Your choice of weapon is not suited for someone of your stature, and to make matters worse, you over-extend all of your strikes, leaving yourself wide open. Had I possessed a lighter weapon, I would have been able to easily take advantage of those openings.”, the titan of a gem assessed, as if critiquing a student, “How did a clod like you get as far as you did? What are you even supposed to be to the Diamonds? A pity project? A collective ‘pet’ for their Radiances to fawn over? Like, ‘Come and watch this organic fight and lead other gems in war! Isn’t she so cute?’?”, Emerald paused, before laughing heartily, “I get it now! You’re not their ‘hero’, you’re their entertainment! A glorified Spinel dancing on a stage littered with the shards of gems!”.

At that Connie retorted, “The Diamonds trust me, and I provide real aid for the gems that I am sent to rescue and provide protection for! I have protected countless gems, and defeated your own armies time and time again. I am not here to entertain, I am what keeps the Diamonds safe from the likes of you. You question not only my competency, but also the judgement of each of the Diamonds in the Authority!”.

“And what of it? As far as I’m concerned, they’ve all been tainted by your Steven of the so-called Pink Court!”, Emerald bit back.

“I was tasked personally with handling the threats YOU posed to the Four Courts.”, Connie replied, turning the question back to her opponent, “You threatened the lives of a great many gems, My Steven among them. Let’s consider for a second that White, Yellow, and Blue Diamond are being ‘corrupted’ by the influence of my Steven as you so claim, it would make sense that the other Diamonds care for his Radiance.”, Connie paused, letting her words sink in, “If we are to even look at the situation from your viewpoint, we would expect that the Diamonds would choose their best warriors to protect the ones that they hold dear. Is it not more likely that I am a competent warrior entrusted with the responsibility to deal with a threat as dangerous as you, as opposed to being an easily dismissible joke? Moreover, if you still truly believe me to be but a stooge to humor my superiors, then what does that make you? A threat so meager that the Diamonds would entrust their entertainment to handle it?”

At that, the Emerald began to shake with rage, but Connie pressed on, “Face it Rectificator, you simply cannot comprehend the reality that an organic has overcame your military offensive, so you must demean me in order to preserve your ideology.”, Connie smirked, angering the larger gem.

“You CLOD!”, Emerald bellowed, before charging at Connie.

Connie breathed in, focusing herself. She knew that attacking the other gem’s ideology would be the best way to anger her opponent and force her to act more brashly, however it was a risky gamble. Unlike the Jaspers that would leave themselves wide open in battle when their pride was on the line, this was an opponent that not only held a tremendous amount of brute force and durability, but was also very strategic in her movements. Moreover, this was a gem that was adept at manipulating others, and proved herself to be one step ahead of her opponents time and time again. As such, wile provoking her would make her more likely to leaving openings in her defenses, developing a solid, robust strategy would be crucial to survival.

Emerald was almost on top of her now, rearing her sword back for a broad horizontal swing. At that, Connie leapt upwards, above both the large blade’s path and Emerald’s head, landing immediately behind the large gem. Taking advantage of her opening, Connie quickly spun around, making her mark on the Emerald’s back, her blade finding great resistance against the sturdy gem’s form.

In response, the larger gem bellowed in anger, reaching out to grab Connie. Reacting quickly, Connie rolled backwards, out of the gem’s reach, only for her back to meet the far wall of the throne room.

Shoot, I’m cornered!”, Connie fretted internally.

“You think blades wielded by organics and forged by off-colors can prevail against an unblemished gem!?”, Emerald roared in rage, closing the distance between her and Connie, “You will face my might firsthand, and know who is superior!”, she bellowed, punctuating her proclamation with a strike of her blade.

Bracing herself, Connie held her sword upwards, the two swords meeting each-other in a terrible clash, the sound of the blades striking against one another ringing throughout the grand throne room. Connie strained against Emerald’s sheer force, pushing back against her opponent’s blade with all of her might, the ground beneath her feet beginning to crack from the force. However, Emerald only smirked, pushing her sword down even harder.

For the first time since her stay in that wretched prison cell, Connie’s eyes filled with unbridled terror. Here she was using all of her might to hold back her opponent’s blade, but Emerald was wielding the sword one handed, her other arm simply relaxed at her side.

Stars, she isn’t even trying!”, Connie thought, exasperated, “I can’t! I can’t keep holding her back!”.

Grunting under the pressure, she dropped to one knee, desperately pushing back Rectificator’s massive sword.

“Get away from her, Rectificator!”, Steven bellowed in anger, as he ran towards the two combatants.

At that, Emerald laughed, “As you wish, Pink!”, she replied in a mocking tone, before grabbing Connie with her free hand and throwing her at him like a rag-doll.

Connie cried out in pain as she fell hard against the floor, before rolling to a stop.

“Connie! Are you okay?”, Steven asked, rushing backwards to where Connie lay on the ground.

“I’ll be fine, Steven.”, Connie coughed, “I just need to sit out for another five minutes...”.

“Alright.”, Steven replied, before giving her her a quick kiss on the cheek, his healing saliva working to heal some of her wounds.

“Now as for you, Emerald.”, Steven spoke up, facing down the larger green gem and drawing his shield, “You’re going to regret that.”.

“Oh, am I, Pink?”, Emerald chuckled, adopting a battle stance with her massive blade, “Please, enlighten me as to how I should regret my actions.”.

Connie watched as she saw something shift in Steven’s expression. His stance and body language that was usually soft and reserved, changed to one of deep aggression. At once, a pink wave of light burst forth from Steven’s gem, covering the green throne room in a pink hue, his entire body taking on various shades of pink. However, unlike the feelings of warmth and joy that Connie usually felt when Steven used his aural powers, she was instead met with a sense of valor and rage. The light that shone forth from Pink Steven’s gem grew to nearly painful brightness, as his form was enveloped by the waves of his emotion.

Heart.”, Connie was struck with the realization, “I had always thought Steven’s powers were to bring joy or love, but that was only because that was what Steven’s heart resonated with at the time. This heart, this ferocity, it is what Steven is feeling.”.

Connie squinted against the bright, cold light that burst forth from Steven’s form, but failed to peer through it. Although, her inability to see Steven was not what had her the most worried. The shock of the blows, the relentless attacks from the large Emerald, they all added up, and Connie could feel herself blacking out.

“Steven, you better win...”, Connie’s voice was faint as she collapsed against the floor, as she watched Steven approach the Rectificator before him.

“You hurt my friends, you threaten the lives of my family, your troops shatter the gems of my Court, and you want to know why you should be sorry for what you’ve done!?”, Steven yelled, his every word resounding with righteous fury.

“Your cycles of hurting other gems just because they are different from you are over!”, Steven proclaimed, drawing forth his shield, its edges lined with spines, as though they were thorns on a rose.

At that, Steven charged at the Rectificator, the light from his gem propelling his every movement, his heart driving his form forward with tremendous speed. Before the Emerald could even react, Steven had leapt upwards, his very body a blur of dark pink, as he drove his horned shield into her face, just below her gem.

Emerald bellowed in pain, just before Steven removed the shield from her face, and flipped away from her shaking form.

“Your added speed may have caught me by surprise, but it will not happen again!”, Emerald swore, re-assuming her fighting stance.

At once, Steven rushed the Emerald again, this time leaping off of the walls in a blur of bright pink light. In one swift motion, Emerald moved her sword to connect with the shield as it approached her gem, throwing Steven backwards towards Connie’s collapsed form as he caught his footing. Rushing to capitalize on his opening, Emerald dashed forward, before cleaving her blade downward, intending to smite Pink Steven and Connie both.

Before the blow could make contact however, Steven firmly rose his shield upwards, the blow of Emerald’s blade creating a shockwave that sent her reeling backwards.

“I meant it when I said that your cycles of hurting others are over.”, Steven replied, his tone even and menacing as he slowly walked towards Emerald, closing the distance between the two of them, “Connie is my dearest friend, I will not let your harm her.”.

“Heh, you keep telling yourself that, Pink. But in the end, they’ll all see what your protection really amounts to.”, Emerald sneered.

In one fluid motion, she brought down the flat end of her blade hard against Steven’s shield. As before, a shockwave erupted forth from the disk, however Emerald anticipated this, and moved out of the wave’s path, and instead allowed the blast to hit the broad end of her blade, its surface area acting like a sail unto the wind. With tremendous speed, Emerald spun her blade around, her sword propelled by the shockwave, and struck the shield’s edge, sending the disk flying out of Steven’s hands and deep into the wall.

Now without a shield, Steven watched helplessly as Emerald sent a kick flying at him. Hastily raising his arms to block the attack, Steven slid backwards towards Connie’s unconscious form as her kick connected.

“You think you deserve to be considered a part of the Diamond Authority?” Emerald’s tone was scolding, as she approached the young Diamond, “You think you’re worthy of leading a Court? Of even having the authority to guide the galaxy and say what is and isn’t acceptable to gem-kind? You can’t even stop me and protect your subjects properly!”, Emerald berated Steven, as though lecturing a child.

“I am capable of protecting them!”, Steven replied angrily.

“No you aren’t!”, Emerald retorted, “Look at yourself! I gave you another chance to fight me, and you ended up right back where you started, right next to your ‘Fortitude’, except this time you’re glowing pink. It’s time to face reality Steven, everything you’ve ever done as the fourth member of the Diamond Authority has been in vain. Your best effort at solving the resource crisis only gave us gems that need to be trained before they can do anything useful! The Delta Kindergarten system relies on either shattered gems, or an excessive amount of Diamond Extract to fuel it, so that the cut can be restored. In the previous Eras this would be fine, but because you declared off-colors a protected class, we don’t have access to the first fueling method, and the Radiances themselves are too busy dealing with the defecting gems and rebel forces created by your own political shortcomings to spend the time needed to gather enough extract to fuel the Kindergartens the other way! You’ve been in power for over one thousand eight-hundred cycles, the resource crisis could have been solved in less than four-hundred if you set up proper colonies!”, Emerald paused, letting her words sink in, “What’s even more ironic is that your work only made the off-color gems and cross-gem fusions a target for gems like me. And you know, I bet more of ‘em would still be alive today if you hadn’t been so cruel to give them a false hope.”, Emerald retorted, her every word cutting Steven deeper than her blade ever did, “Everything you ever did in your rule has only brought pain and disgrace to others. So I’m ending it.” Rectificator finished, raising her blade once more, and bringing it down hard.

Just before the blade made contact, Steven raised a pink semi-sphere, its form comprised of several interlocking hexagons, their edges funneling the blade to a central point against the bubble.

“Stop resisting, and give up already!”, Emerald bellowed, before raising her blade up once more, striking the bubble hard, and attempting to drive the edge through the pink structure.

However, Steven’s bubble held true, the energy created by these two opposing forces forming great cracks in the floor and the walls of the surrounding room, as Rectificator continued to press her blade against the shield with increasing force.

“I’m not going to let you hurt her!”, Steven grunted, his form glowing brighter and brighter, the shield surrounding him pulsing with energy as Emerald’s blade pressed harder and harder against it.

With each ripple of light, more shockwaves were released from the bubble, however the massive green gem before him stood firm against the blasts of energy, as she drove her blade ever harder into the bubble’s surface. The hairline cracks littering Rectificator’s throne room transformed into great fissures as the blasts of energy shook the very foundations of Emerald’s palace.

“You think this means anything!? That you’re able to keep the one organic safe!?”, Emerald screamed over the waves of energy and light that spewed forth from Steven’s bubble, “I thought that the Renegade Pearl and High Clarity Garnet were supposed to be your family too! Why was it that you didn’t show this much resilience and dedication when I captured them? If ‘every gem matters’ as you so claim and parade as truth throughout the Four Courts, then where was this dedication when my troops shattered thousands of those off-colors! WHERE WERE YOU, PINK STEVEN?!”, Emerald bellowed.

“I was-!”.

“I’ll tell you where you were!”, Emerald replied, her voice firm, her tone authoritative, “You were sitting up in the Pink palace, with all of your high Court members and friends, protected by hundreds upon hundreds of Quartz soldiers! Because the simple fact of the matter, no matter how hard you try to deny it, is that you see the truth like I do. Some lives are worth fighting for with everything you’ve got, and some aren’t! You say that you believe in gem equality, but in practice, some of your gems are simply more important than others, you hypocrite!”.

Steven screamed in anguish as he fell to his knees, the light pouring from his gem dimming.

“It’s not true! I care for them! They matter to me!”, Steven repeated fervently, the aura from his gem and the pink coloration of his skin now completely gone, revealing Steven’s crying form, his arms weakly extended to maintain the hemisphere.

With a quick thrust of her blade, the bubble shattered, reduced to glimmering dust, as though it was made of a fine glass.

“They may matter to you, just as my troops matter to me. But in the end, we both see them as more dispensable than those that we truly hold dear.”, Emerald spoke softly, kneeling so that she was now eye to eye with Steven, as she gestured to Connie’s form.

“I care for all of them. You don’t understand.”, Steven replied weakly.

“Oh I understand perfectly, Pink.”, Emerald replied, gently taking his chin into her hand, drawing his eyes to meet her gaze, “I’ll even prove it to you.”.

At that, Emerald released Steven and turned to her Pearl, who was still stationed dutifully by the green throne, “Pearl, bring camera robonoid 5 down, and bring us into frame.”, she ordered, the robonoid moving immediately in front of Steven, Emerald, and Connie.

“What?”, Steven muttered in confusion.

“As I mentioned before, this whole battle is being broadcast to every single Court. The Diamonds, along with every gem in the galaxy are watching us.”, Emerald explained, “So, in the interest of proving you wrong, I’ll make you a deal...”.

At that, Steven’s expression shifted from confusion to bewilderment.

“What I want you to do is look into that camera and renounce the equality of off-colors and cross-gem fusions. Tell the galaxy that you were wrong, and that those gems should go back to whatever cave or abandoned Kindergarten they crawled out of.”, the Rectificator’s voice and tone bordered on soothing, as Steven struggled to raise his head to face her.

“I will never-“, Steven began, before being interrupted by the larger gem.

“I’m not finished yet.”, Emerald interjected, politely holding up her hand before continuing, “You and Connie are beaten; worn down to nothing. I could shatter the both of you in an instant right now, but I’m giving you a chance.”.

“You think I’ll betray my own gems to save my life?!”, Steven shakily replied, still crumpled on the floor.

“Not for a single moment. If you have one positive quality, it is that when facing down opposition you stand by individuals who are seen as weaker - and you always strive for the best for others. You may act hypocritically at times, but you are no coward. You have ideals and you strive for them.”, Emerald replied, her tone considerate and, if Steven wasn’t mistaken, even held a degree of kindness, “However, that is not what I am offering... Rescind your statements on off-colors and cross-gem fusions, and I will let her Fortitude live. I’ll even see to it that she makes it safely to Homeworld.”.

At that, Steven’s eyes widened.

Connie.”, the realization hit him hard, his own words to Garnet when Connie was held captive echoing back to him.

“You aren’t ordering the shattering of these gems.”, Emerald spoke up, her voice sweet now, caring even, her words acting like a soothing balm to Steven’s scattered mind and tortured emotions, “All you’re doing is bringing things back to the way they were. To the way both of us know that things really are.”.

“I-I…”, Steven stuttered.

What about Garnet? What about Pearl, and Amethyst? They’ll be…”, Steven thought.

At that, another voice rose to the forefront of Steven’s mind as he wrestled with this choice.

They’re strong though, they’ll just go back to being the Crystal Gems, if the Rectificator lets them go.

“So, I just renounce it? And you’ll let her go? W-what about Garnet, Pearl, and Amethyst?”, Steven asked eventually, turning his gaze up to Emerald.

At that, Emerald paused, considering Steven’s counter offer,“You ask a great deal of me, Pink Steven. However, I suppose that I am also asking you to perform an even greater act.”, Emerald sighed, “Very well, I will allow the release of your high Court members also. I’ll have whatever remaining guards I have left deliver them all to Homeworld. They will be safe.”, Emerald bowed her head, giving Steven her word.

But what about all of the fusions that I helped? All of the off-colors?”, Steven fretted.

Garnet, Pearl, and Amethyst will be able to help them. They’ll be safe.

Steven’s breath quickened. She was being serious. He could save her and the gems, at least. It was his fault they were here, the least he could do is get them to safety.

That means, the only one that would be hurt is me.”, Steven realized, “If it means that Connie will be safe…”.

He thought of all of the off-colors, all of the fusions, of how his family would react to this. Steven may have been naive growing up, but he certainly wasn’t oblivious. For most of his life Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl were filled with fear of the unknown, be it some unknown corrupted monster, an enemy gem, or some aspect of himself and his past that came back to haunt him. But now? The corrupted gems were healed, his abilities and history as a Diamond were all laid bare, all that was left to fix were the enemies that threatened what mattered most to him. Steven always fixed things. If there was someone you could count on to make things right, it was him. He spent so much of his life loving these gems, loving his family. Sure, things may be rocky at first, but they would be safe, forever. No more running from Homeworld or its enemies, no more shattering, no more fear.

No! I can’t do that to them! I have to fight back! I’m important to them!”, a part of Steven’s mind supplied.

Am I really important to them?”, a voice rose up into Steven’s internal monologue.

Rectificator was right, I am a terrible excuse for a leader. The Pink Court could run so much better without me.”, Steven admitted to himself, his other thoughts crystallizing around this epiphany.

If you cannot be a leader, then why do the Pink Court gems need you?”, a voice - no, his conscience spoke up.

He only hurt the gems who served him. The fusions, the off-colors, there would be so many more of them alive today if it wasn’t for him. Sure, they may be in hiding, but they would still exist, instead of being a pile of shards and dust on a scorched colony. He could not serve as a Diamond.

His Court would be better off without him.

If you cannot be a Diamond, then why do the members of the Authority need you?”.

The Diamonds? All Blue did was worry and fret over him. Yellow took too much of her time away from her own colonies to help guide him with his, and White wasted so much of her time educating him on Diamond-hood that it was embarrassing. Each of them spent so much time concerning themselves with his problems and failures, only because they saw him as their family.

They would be better off without him.

If you cannot be a member of a family, then why do Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl need you?”.

Garnet was always there for him to give advice and provide sound guidance, and what council has Steven ever given in return? If it wasn’t for his actions regarding the off colors, he wouldn’t have made the enemies he did, and Garnet wouldn’t be doubting herself, scared of what the future held. When was the last time he saw Garnet not filled with fear and uncertainty? Amethyst was always there for him to share a laugh and unwind with, but now he’s even taken that away from her too, hasn’t he? The once carefree Amethyst was given responsibilities and duties as a result of his actions. When was the last time she was able to be relaxed again? Pearl was always there to care for him, keep him safe, and teach him. Out of all the others, she was a constant pillar in his life. But now because of him, her very life is in danger, leaving himself and others to wonder if she would ever be able to teach, or care for another again. Their love for him only caused themselves pain.

They would be better off without him.

If you cannot be loved, then why does Connie need you?”.

Connie… She shone like the the Stars themselves, and in return, all he did was hold Connie back, burdening her with all of his futile goals and ideas. She could shine so much brighter if it wasn’t for him. She rose to the title of Fortitude with him holding her back, just imagine what she could do without him? Maybe she could finally keep the off colors and fusions safe. She was too good for someone as insecure as him, her love and attention was wasted on someone like him. She deserved so, so much better, and he was only standing in her way.

She would be better off without him.

If I cannot be without being in the way, then am I really needed at all?”, Steven asked of his conscience.

His conscience was silent.

Steven wanted to scream, to wail, anything to drown out the pain, no the reality around him as he sobbed once more.

Steven blinked through his tears and looked back to the green gem that towered over him, his eyes roaming over the blade that she wielded.

The blade in her hands, the warmth in her expression, the understanding in her eyes… She was not his enemy. No, she was his salvation. Not even minutes before, the thought of his death filled him with fear, but now?

There was no reason to be scared, he could finally make a change, could finally do something right by everyone else.

A weight seemed to lift itself from his chest, motes of hope filling the space where the weight resided. More tears spilled down his face…

Happy.

He was happy.

This cycle of needless pain, and every failure, every heartache, every single time he ended up doing more harm than good, it could all finally end. There could finally, finally be peace in the galaxy once more.

He tried so hard to help others, to be needed by others, to make himself important, but all he succeeded in doing was hurting and holding back those around him - and conversely, his most important, most meaningful act of all will be removing himself from their lives, sparing them from himself.

The sheer irony of his situation would be hilarious if it wasn’t so painful. The sobs from his grief twisted into a bitter laughter that echoed through the halls.

“You were right, Rectificator.”, Steven spoke softly, his red, bloodshot eyes meeting Rectificator’s dark green, “You were right about me from the very start. It’s all been so much. It’s been too much. I can’t do anything right. I can’t lead and protect my family, so there’s no way I could ever hope to protect my Court... I... I need this. I need to do this.”, Steven’s voice shook with emotion, “For Connie, for my family, for everyone...”, Pink Steven replied, his eyes dull and vacant, “I accept your offer.”.

At that, the Emerald smiled, before turning back to her Pearl, “The cameras are still functional? We are still broadcasting?”.

“Yes, my Rectificator.”, came the reply.

“We are ready for you to begin, Pink Steven.”, Emerald announced, gently helping Steven to his feet.

Steven felt heavy, heavier than he ever felt before. It took every ounce of energy he had to just turn his gaze upwards. Numbly, he could feel himself shift upwards, leaning on the Rectificator’s arm for support as he got to his feet.

With a pained gaze, Steven turned and faced the camera, his expression reflecting his resolve, “Gems of-“.

“Not even on my life, Universe.”, Connie growled, interrupting Steven as she pushed herself up.

“After everything we’ve fought for together. I’m not about to let you throw it away!”, Connie proclaimed, standing up now.

“And another thing, what did we say about goodbyes?”, Connie continued angrily.

“That we wouldn’t anymore?”, Steven replied, slightly shell-shocked by Connie’s apparent anger directed at him.

“Yeah, and what do you think you would be doing if you sacrificed yourself for me, huh? You’d be saying goodbye, and how do you think I would feel about that?”, Connie berated Steven, leader of one of the Four Courts in front of all of gem-kind.

“Steven, I love you. Amethyst, Pearl, and Garnet love you. Steven, we would be devastated if you sacrificed yourself for us!”, Connie continued, her eyes filling with tears.

“I- I didn’t think...”, Steven stuttered, realization dawning on him, the poisonous words of Rectificator and his resulting tunnel vision cracking, “I- I just wanted to finally help!”.

“Steven, you’ve always helped us! Everything you’ve done, everything you do! You’re always putting other people first, and I can’t imagine what Emerald put you through while I was out for you to end up like this, but I’m going to be there for you no matter what!”, Connie encouraged, standing up to her full height, “Now what are we?”.

“What?”, came Steven’s reply.

“What. Are. We. Biscuit!?”, Connie emphasized each word, her fiery tone tempered by her grin as she called him by his nickname.

“We’re jam buds.”, Steven smiled, his shock at Connie’s words, his shame at what he was so close to doing, and what he believed were quickly overtaken by his happiness that Connie was okay.

“And what does that mean?”, Connie smiled, her contagious joy encouraging him, as she reached out to draw him closer to her.

“It means that we fight together! That we’re always together, no matter what!”, Steven replied, his morale restored, as he took her hand and stood alongside her, his gem glowing a bright white, as both their forms began to glow.

“I’m not going to take your offer Emerald!”, Steven proclaimed, his voice strong with conviction, “We won’t back down from what’s right, and if we lose, we’ll do that together!”.

At that proclamation, a blast of white light erupted from their form, forcing Emerald to stagger back and shield her eyes from the light.

“Grah! No you don’t!”, Emerald growled, before raising her blade, and bringing it down hard on the mass of light.

The sound of Emerald’s sword crashing against a shield rang out through the hall.

“That was a pretty low blow, using Steven’s love for Connie to manipulate him like that.”, Stevonnie spoke, their voice menacing as they held up their shield against the Rectificator’s blade.

At once, they stood up to their full height, their full battle armor covered their form, its stunning rose gold color and vivid pink and gold filigree adorning their figure. As the light from their fusion dissipated around them, they drew their massive backsword from their gem and took a battle stance, their very being conveying equal parts raw power and ethereal beauty.

“And now we come face to face with your greatest atrocity yet, Pink Steven!”, Emerald laughed, stepping away form Stevonnie, “You try and make yourself an example of your ideals, that cross-gem fusion has a role outside of battle, but you only truly use it when fighting opponents stronger than you! The failure to protect the off-colors and cross gem fusions was one thing, however this form is the epitome of your failures made manifest!”, Emerald bellowed, slashing her sword downwards, forcing Stevonnie to parry.

“There are so many flaws with that argument, it would take me cycles to pick it apart.” Stevonnie growled in response, riposting, their sword almost striking the Rectificator, “But first and foremost, how dare you blame Steven for the shattering of gems that you and your armies yourselves destroyed! You and I may not have created the anger against these gems, but you were the one who harnessed it to create violence. You were the one who leveraged their anger to attack a group of under-appreciated gems!”, they argued, taking two steps backwards from their opponent.

“It’s your fault that the gems were willing to join me!”, Emerald replied, swiping with her sword at Stevonnie’s head, the fusion ducking under the strike.

“So what?”, Stevonnie replied, landing a kick on the Emerald while she was open, “If a gem was shattered in an altercation, would you blame the shatterer, or the gem that couldn’t move out of the way fast enough?”.

Emerald only growled in response as she regained her footing.

“And another thing, I cannot understand how it is that you of all gems cannot see the worth of off-color gems and cross-gem fusions.”, Stevonnie continued, rushing the Emerald and thrusting at her, the latter simply dodging the strike.

“Me of all gems?”, Emerald replied incredulously, lunging in response, forcing Stevonnie to parry yet again, “Do enlighten me.”.

“Those very classes of gems beat you time and time again.”, Stevonnie replied, smirking, “Your defeat at the Pink Palace, on HK-7, and at Alabast, each and every one of those failures was aided by, and sometimes as a direct result of the gems that you look down upon.”.

“Those don’t count!”, Emerald replied, furious, “Each of those times, I was forced to rely on lower gems for aid. Now you face me!”, the gem replied, angrily lashing out with a flurry of attacks with her massive blade.

Quickly, Stevonnie blocked each of the attacks, angling their blade to ensure that none of her hits would aim true.

“You want a display of their efforts the here and now? Of the value of these gems?”, Stevonnie asked, their tone proud, “Look no further than how far I’ve come, and what the Pink Court has been able to accomplish. Look at the Padparadschas, a gem that was once considered nothing more than an off-color Sapphire; they are now an integral part of every Clarity group, even among those in your own forces. I would not have been able to make it to this throne room without them. You want more? Many gems consider the Lustrous-Renegade Pearl to be an off-color, as she is a Pearl with no master. Yet, she trained me how to fight, and stand up for myself. She taught me how to hold the very sword that I wield against you on this cycle. It was Garnet, a cross-gem fusion that taught me to do what is right, in spite of how difficult it may be. She taught me to stand up for others, to hold fast to my ideals and morals. A quality that you yourself praised as good. She taught me all about fusion, and what it means for gems. She is the reason that I can even stand before you, and hold true to my convictions to stand against you.”, Stevonnie proclaimed, their blade cutting through the air as they swung at the Rectificator, forcing her to back up.

“I-I’m not! T-That’s not! Your efforts at solving the resource crisis have still fallen short!”, Emerald fumbled, her damaged pride hindering her ability to form an argument, so she instead opted to thrust her sword at Stevonnie, intending to impale the fusion directly through the gem in their abdomen.

At that, Stevonnie nimbly sidestepped the attack, before countering with a swipe of their own.

“Yes, with regards to trying to solve the resource crisis, the gems produced need training in order to fill a duty, but it’s easy when you have good gems training them!”, Stevonnie replied evenly, “These gems are able to be made from a renewable resource, unlike the entire planets that were used prior. You think that just because they don’t emerge with everything needed to complete their cycle-to-cycle tasks means they’re somehow flawed? If you truly believe that, then you are the one who is misguided!”, they replied defiantly, before rushing the Emerald and leaping upwards.

Quickly, Emerald rose her sword at a defensive angle, Stevonnie’s blade clashing against Emerald’s sword, as they landed behind her. Quickly, Emerald spun around to block an incoming attack, only to have the blunt end of Stevonnie’s shield slam into her head, the disk having been thrown by the fusion to capitalize on Emerald’s vulnerability where their blade couldn’t.

“That is IT! You farce of a Diamond!”, Emerald roared, her very voice shook the throne room, as she drew a second Zweihänder from her gem, this one just as long as the first, and wielded it in her off hand, Emerald moving the two massive blades as if they weighed nothing at all, and were merely extensions of her arms.

Without a single pause, she began rapidly spinning them around her form, creating a brutal torrent of heavy blades that functioned as an offensive and a defensive measure.

In that moment, Stevonnie wanted to swear. They really wanted to swear, especially as the air whipped violently around the hall, blown around by Rectificator’s blades that might as well have been propellers in a helicopter for how large they were.

What kind of anime garbage am I having to put up with now?”, Stevonnie sighed internally, in an attempt to stave off their overwhelming feelings of intimidation and fear.

Before they could even so much as blink, the Rectificator charged at them, swinging one of her massive swords down at Stevonnie. Quickly, Stevonnie rolled out of the way of the attack, and behind the gem. However, the Emerald was prepared for this. Using the weight of her second sword, she turned on a carat, cleaving her blade through the air, the sword careening towards Stevonnie’s torso.

Instinctually, Stevonnie activated their shield and threw themselves out of the way of the strike. Despite their efforts, sword still managed to glance the side of their breastplate, its weight and momentum shattering cleanly through their bubble, striking their armor, and sending them flying across the hall.

Good night…”, Stevonnie thought to themselves, exasperated as they picked themselves back up, now several meters away from the Emerald.

In one fluid motion, Emerald continued to spin around, grabbing ahold of her discarded blade with her free hand, and building up momentum once more with her movements.

Stevonnie watched as Emerald built up more speed with her swords.

She’s using the weight of the swords to spin even faster, and attack in unpredictable patterns. She slashes with one blade, and uses the other as a counterweight to keep moving, almost like a flywheel.”, Stevonnie analyzed, “Take out the counterweight and her defense falls apart...”.

With a clear strategy in mind, Stevonnie stepped back, looking for an opening. With a grunt, Stevonnie threw themselves out of the way of Rectificator’s downward slash, the blade burying itself deep in the floor.

“Now’s my chance!”, Stevonnie thought to themselves as Emerald continued her spin with her second blade.

Quickly, Stevonnie closed the distance between themself and the Emerald, before leaping upwards towards the second blade and drawing their shield below their feet. Leaning backwards, they coiled themselves into a tight ball and braced themselves.

This must be what it feels like to be a baseball.”, Stevonnie thought to themselves, as they drop-kicked the Rectificator’s second blade, their shield taking the brunt of the hit, the force of the attack sending both opponents away from each other.

Gracefully, Stevonnie righted themselves in the air, and landed in a fighting stance.

“What did you?? How?”, Emerald replied, slightly shaken and disoriented by her sudden stop and change in momentum.

Stevonnie couldn’t waste a single moment, even as their legs screamed in protest, their very bones sore and aching from the stunt that they just pulled. Thinking quickly, Stevonnie closed the distance between themselves and the Rectificator.

Grunting in shock, Emerald began to raise her blade to block the attack, only to be forced to duck out of the way as Stevonnie’s blade tore through the air her head once occupied.

She’s slowing down. She can’t wield her swords as effortlessly as she did before.”, Stevonnie realized, as Emerald continued to back away from and evade of flurry of swipes that they leveled at her.

With her increasing frustration apparent on her face, Emerald continued to dodge as Stevonnie forced her to take a defensive stance, the two combatants circling each other.

“You put forth a compelling argument that these classes of gems have value and purpose.”, the Rectificator spoke up, “However it does not negate the truth that unblemished gems have greater value and use. A truth that is acknowledged and supported by Pink Steven’s hypocritical actions.”.

“Don’t even try to conflate the presence of guards with a perceived degree of value and usefulness. High Court members are protected for the benefit of those that serve the Court, as it is their task to protect and reinforce the rights of the outcast gems! No gem is worth more than another, and not a single one is without value or is any less deserving of basic dignity just because of how they were formed, or whether or not they are fused!”, Stevonnie’s words were alight with anger, passion, and righteous indignation, their very form seeming to glow in response to their proclamation, “And don’t even try to say that your manipulation was an unveiling of his ideals! He blamed himself for Connie being in danger, and was attempting to atone for what he had done!”.

Emerald chuckled, her back now to her second blade, “I think I’m finally beginning to see why gems view you as a leader.”.

With a smirk, Emerald took two large steps backward and drew her second blade from the floor of her throne room, “You utter proclamations and promises with such heart and a presence of willpower that gems cannot help but stand in awe and listen.”, the large gem rolled her neck and stretched her arms, spinning her blades around her body, re-familiarizing herself with their weight.

“But in the end, all of the empty promises and palliative declarations in the galaxy can’t save a single gem from reality. You weave soothing lies, your Radiance.”, Emerald leveled her glare at the fusion before her, adopting a fighting stance, “But I fight for the truth!”.

In a blink, Emerald was nearly on top of them, having closed the distance between the two of them in an instant. Instinctively, Stevonnie raised their large backsword, preventing Rectificator’s two blades from meeting their mark. Stevonnie themselves seemed to glow pink once more, as they clashed against Rectificator, their sword pressing hard against the two Zweihänders of her opponent.

The Rectificator grit her teeth, pushing harder against the fusion’s blade, the fissures and cracks underneath the feet of both opponents widening and multiplying from the force.

You want reality?! You want truth!?”, Stevonnie bellowed in return, “It was off-colors that forged this blade; it was off colors and cross-gem fusions that guided me to where I am now! With the help of off colors and cross-gem fusions, we are ending the Resource crisis, and Pink Steven brought peace and dignity to gems that were cast out by the Diamond Authority! The only issues in Steven’s leadership were the ones engineered by your own hand! We have defeated you and your forces time and time again, and this cycle will be no different!”.

Punctuating their statement, Stevonnie drove their heel into the Emerald’s knee, causing her form to buckle. Following up their attack, they drew back their heel a second time, before driving into her chest, knocking her to the floor.

“Yield.”, Stevonnie commanded, leveling their blade at the green gem on her forehead.

“You foolish gem! You think that being aided by those dismal rocks give your ideals merit? As long as my gem remains untarnished, this duel isn’t over!” , Emerald spat, before tuning to Pearl, “PEARL! NOW!”.

“Yes, my Rectificator.”, the Pearl bowed, summoning a screen and pressing a button.

At once, a swarm of shattering robonoids whirred to life and locked onto Stevonnie, who promptly dodged out of the way of a shattering beam aimed at their gem. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Emerald rose up from the ground and grabbed her Zweihänders once more.

Panting hard, Stevonnie rolled out of the way of two consecutive blasts from the robonoids, desperate to gain some kind of opening against these new adversaries. Stevonnie’s eyes widened in fear as three more robonoids locked on to their gem. With a resound crash, the doors to the throne room opened, revealing Chrysoberyl in its threshold. Before Pink Stevonnie or the Rectificator could even blink, the three robonoids in front of Stevonnie appeared to disintegrate before their very eyes, a large number of slashes littering their forms as Chrysoberyl materialized next to her Diamond.

“Chrysoberyl!”, Stevonnie called out in relief.

“My Stevonnie, all enemies from the ballroom have been dealt with… I am glad to see that you are alive.”, Chrysoberyl replied, “What would you have me do?”.

“Just watch my back.”, Stevonnie replied, before rolling out of the way of another shattering beam.

“You yourself may be strong. On your own, you may be capable of achieving many things, even overcoming the shortcomings of one’s subjects, regardless of whether or not you actually perceive said shortcomings. However, that speaks of the cut of your gem, not of the gems that serve you. You and I can both agree that a Diamond is powerful, that a Diamond is worthy of one’s service. You conflate the merit of a leader with the merit of her subjects, which is a grave mistake to make.”, Emerald replied, growing increasingly irritated at the fusion’s ability to dodge her robonoid’s bullets.

“Pearl, the firing rate is too slow! Set the robonoids to disengage scanning protocols, and shift to rapid fire only!”, the Rectificator growled.

“Yes Rectificator.”, the Pearl bowed, a torrent of beams erupting from the robonoids in response.

Desperately, Stevonnie and Chrysoberyl weaved through the barrage of beams, several small craters appearing in the wake of the robonoid’s fire.

“I have an idea!”, Chrysoberyl called out, before leaping upwards into the air, landing atop one of the shattering robonoids.

With a sharp twist, Chrysoberyl aimed the stream of shattering beams at the other robonoids, bringing down a chunk of the drones.

“You horrid disgrace! You dare ally yourself with these repugnant stones and strive against me?!”, the Rectificator screamed at Chrysoberyl, before charging at Stevonnie once more.

Just as before, Stevonnie blocked the Emerald’s attack, keeping her blades from aiming true, and locking the two in a struggle. The swarm of robonoids locked onto Chrysoberyl in response to their target drawing so close to their master, forcing Chrysoberyl to double her efforts in taking the swarm down as she flitted from machine to machine.

“Yes! I will!”, Stevonnie screamed, “I will stand against you, and anyone else that dares say that a gem, an organic, or anyone needs to have merit in order to simply exist!”.

“You lost stone! Merit precedes existence as a pre-requisite - as a determining factor!! Why else do you think certified Kindergarteners exist?!”, Emerald roared, “You can’t stand against me! My gem is pure and unblemished! My cut is beyond compare! Nothing can prevail against me, especially not a delusive and deluded Radiance like yourself!”.

With a grunt, Emerald landed a kick on the fusion before her, mirroring Stevonnie’s own actions from prior. However, unlike before, Stevonnie held their ground, their blade still keeping her opponent’s swords at bay.

“If merit preceded existence, then according to your view, the off-colors WOULD NEVER HAVE EXISTED IN THE FIRST PLACE! But they DO! And THEY HAVE VALUE!!”, Stevonnie roared as they bore against their opponent’s blades

FALL, YOU CLOD!!”, the Rectificator screamed in frustration, before bellowing, “PEARL, OPEN FIRE ON THIS GEM!”.

Stevonnie’s eyes widened as shattering beams flew towards them. Instinctually, Stevonnie fell backwards in fear, desperately trying to move away from certain death. As the fusion stumbled backwards, the Rectificator was all too eager to press her blades forwards as she bore down on the Radiance, stepping forwards once, twice…

…and right into the line of fire.

The Rectificator stilled as the shattering fire ceased. Every combatant in the room froze, their gaze locked upon the green titan.

“Impossible…”, the Rectificator blinked, pressing a hand to her gem, feeling the cracks that marred its surface.

Where there once rested a viridian star that enraptured foes and allies alike, there was now left a half of a cracked gem, the other half occupied by a large hole, tearing through the Rectificator’s gem, and a portion of her form’s forehead. Wordlessly, the great titan collapsed to her knees, static filling her body.

“Agh! Those blasted robonoids! I HAD YOU! I should never have relied on anything else when I am more than enough!”, Emerald spat, slowly rising to her feet and raising her sword to strike the fusion.

Stevonnie widened their eyes in fear and stepped back, surprised that the Rectificator was not only alive, but standing against them and ready for another round.

Is this gem even real?! She should be shattered!”, Stevonnie fretted, before trying to raise their blade to block the attack.

Weakly, they raised their blade in response, sweat trickling down their forehead. It was everything they could do to lift their weapon and defend themselves. Truth be told, they were spent, their adrenaline having run out a long time ago. Desperately, they raised their blade in an attempt at a show of force, hoping that a bluff would convince the Rectificator to reconsider and retreat.

Emerald scowled and thrust her blade forward, only to be interrupted by another wave of static overtaking her manifestation, her blades phasing through her hand, and sending her crumpling to the ground.

“Aggh! You think this is over, huh? It’s too late to stop us now, you and your whole pathetic Court, Pink. You’re all just a pile of shattered gems. I saw it. And you’re going to see who was right in the end!”, the Rectificator laughed as her form distorted, her features warping with each movement, “Time will prove me right! I will be proven right! It is only a matter of time! Heh, ha. HA HA HA HAAH!” The sound of Emerald’s twisted laughter filled her throne room, before the remaining shards of her gem clattered to the floor, her manifestation finally dissipated.

Chrysoberyl could only stare at the green shards that were piled upon the floor, a mix of horror and something indiscernible adorning her features.

“Hmm, that was a shame… she was so close too.”, the Pearl standing post by the former Rectificator’s throne spoke up, breaking the silence.

“Was what the Rectificator said true? Who are you, really?”, Stevonnie spoke up, shakily, knowing that they did not have the strength to face yet another opponent.

“Our Rectificator did not lie to you about my origins, she was only unaware of my true purpose under her service. I was brought here by my Master to oversee her efforts, and ensure that she performed her tasks properly - to keep her in check, as it were.”, the gem replied, taking in the sight of the fusion and gem before her.

“Why do you burden yourselves with such fear?”, the Pearl remarked eventually, “You should be relieved, I am not here to fight you, for my Master has not decreed it to be so. In this cycle, I am not your enemy, so rejoice.”, she finished, her tone sending a chill down Stevonnie’s spine, “However, in the event that the Rectificator was to fall in battle, I was instructed to relay to you a message...”, the gem paused, stepping to the side, and moving atop a warp pad before clearing her throat, “Congratulations on your victory, fusion Stevonnie. I look forward to seeing how the brief surrender of Pink Steven affects the morale of the other Courts.”.

Without warning, a beam of light appeared around the Pearl’s form, before the gem was a taken up and beamed away. Stevonnie could only stare at the empty space that the gem once occupied, unsure of whether or not they should be concerned by this turn of events. Wordlessly, they turned to Chrysoberyl, who still appeared shaken by the Rectificator’s last words, staring off into the distance.

“Come on.”, Stevonnie spoke up, drawing Chrysoberyl from her trance-like state, “Let’s get everyone out of that bubble.”.

Wordlessly, Stevonnie dispelled the bubble holding Garnet, Pearl, and Amethyst, the group reforming in a bright flash of light.

“Stevonnie.”, Garnet spoke up first, her voice thick with emotion, quickly wrapping the other fusion in a hug, “I’m so glad that you’re okay.”.

“I was so scared, Garnet.”, Stevonnie admitted, “But I’m just so glad that you all are okay.”.

As if on cue, Pearl, Chrysoberyl, and Amethyst joined in on the hug, each trying to comfort Stevonnie from the stress and pain of the battle they faced.

“Alright everyone, let’s go home.”, Stevonnie shed tears of relief from being surrounded by their family once more.

* * *

Without warning, a previously darkened throne room was illuminated by a bright beam of light, revealing a figure standing atop a warp pad.

With the press of a button, the image of the beige Pearl flickered, her tan bodysuit and brown shawl disappearing, revealing a shadowed silhouette. Though many gems have tried to peer past the shadow that enveloped the form before them, none have ever been successful. Whereas a gem’s form consisted of a physical manifestation of light, the form of this gem seemed to be comprised of the absence of light.

“Black Pearl, I see that you have made it back.”, a voice resounded from the back of the room, its speaker cloaked in shadow, “How was Emerald’s performance?”.

“She performed as expected.”, the Pearl replied, bowing, “She broke Pink Steven’s will in front of the whole galaxy, only to lose to the fusion Stevonnie through her own actions, just as predicted by Timeweaver’s account.”.

“That is good, yes?”, an Iolite spoke, “Timeweaver’s predictions were accurate.”.

“While I love a good show, we cannot overlook the fact that she still failed at getting Pink Steven to follow through, Artist.”, a Lapis Lazuli replied.

“Conductor, just because Pink Steven did not succumb fully to Rectificator’s influence, and did not subjugate himself to her rule, does not mean that she was unsuccessful. Cacophony is still on track, and we all know the rewards that the end of this timeline results in.”, the Artist replied, “Also, can we replay the Chrysoberyl’s attack on the third squadron of guards?”.

At once, the surveillance screen before them shifted back, revealing Chrysoberyl as she took on a row of guards on the platforms in the main hall.

“See?”, the Artist pointed at the footage, “She is on one end of the main hall, and then she materializes on the other end, the gems behind her poofed instantly!”.

“It is an impressive feat. Her skill and panache provide a marvelous show.”, the Conductor replied, “But you should pick your jaw up off the floor, so we can focus on where to go from here.”.

“Still…”, the Artist replied, “I will be looking into the feasibility of gem teleportation.”.

“These tangents, while useful, fall outside of our goal.”, a new voice spoke, “We must focus on the forwarding of Operation Cacophony above all else, and as it stands, the troops on base Omnicron are not ready for such an endeavor.”.

“Master.”, the Conductor bowed to the new speaker, “With the information that Timeweaver sacrificed herself to provide us, I have the utmost confidence that my troops will be sufficient for the extraction. The success of Cacophony will truly be a spectacle to behold.”.

“It is not only the target’s extraction, but their subsequent defense that this plan hinges on.”, the Master replied.

“My troops are loyal, and they respect my authority. We will not fail, Master.”, the Conductor replied, while the Artist appeared lost in thought.

“Very good.”, the Master smiled, before turning back to the darkened Pearl, “Pearl, kindly accompany Conductor to base Omnicron. Ensure that her troops have the needed resources to finish the Silex system on schedule. If she doesn’t, get her the necessary materials. Timeweaver’s account has proven true so far, we cannot let this opportunity slip through our grasp.”.

“Yes Master.”, the shadow replied, as the Conductor stood and joined the Pearl on the warp pad, beaming them both to the far-off base.

“Is there anything more that you need from me at this time, Master?”, the Artist spoke eventually, shaking herself from her idle musings.

“No, each of your weapons have surpassed even my expectations, Artist.”, the Master praised, “All I ask is that you continue your good work.”.

“D-Do your subjects know when a new shipment of shards will be?”, the Iolite asked, nervously.

“I