Chapter 1: Birth
Quartz are born in nutrient-dense soil.
Mark did not remember much about "waking up". Dislodging layers of rock and unused minerals in his struggle to the surface. It was dark, cramped and hot- then it was light. Open. He could feel chilled air caressing his smudged face and it carded invisible fingers through his hair as he propelled himself further out. Bits of earth and rubble skittered to the bottom of what appeared to be a broad canyon system. But the streaks of muted color and shuffle of other life forms scarcely drew his attention.
He was too busy looking up. At an inky blue sea thick with stars of every shape and size; clustered around a luminescent full moon. Something equally bright streaked across the metaphorical ocean and made the meticulously formed light within him twist. Gave him an ache he could not describe in bones he did not possess. Mark had no idea what to make of it. Any of it.
All he knew was that it was beautiful. And he wanted nothing more than to preserve it with his life.
Chapter 2: Soldier
Quartz are elite soldiers.
Fighting was... complicated for him.
Not that Mark had any issues in terms of skill or power. As an Amethyst he was born to be a battle machine. A weapon of mass destruction that could cleave through lesser gems all on his own. He was a creation to be feared and respected by the masses; appreciated and treasured by the Diamonds. Quartz could be made in excess but to bake one quite so perfect as himself was truly reMARKable. (That joke would never get old, never, and let anyone whom claimed otherwise confront him about their opinion personally.)
No, it was not that Mark could not fight. Rather, the act gave him mixed feelings as a whole. His fellow Quartz seemed to have no issue rushing into battle with a thirst for violence that could be seen as admirable. Understandable. To be expected. But Mark would rather be doing other things. Bearing witness to greater phenomena that were not so easily explained as "poof this soldier" or "shatter this gem".
Mark wished he could decide his own path. Choose his own destiny. Seek out his own preferences. But he was a minion to the Diamond Authority. Bound to a Homeworld that did not feel very much like home at all. He was a Quartz, an Amethyst, a soldier beneath the banner of Orange Diamond.
And no amount of stargazing would be able to change that.
Chapter 3: Manufactured
Quartz are made for a Diamond.
Mark liked Orange Diamond. Perhaps it was simply in his code, the thing that made him exactly what he was, to feel such admiration and loyalty. But Barry, as he was also called, just made himself easy to follow. Mark was hardly the only gem to get along with his superior so well. Be they soldiers, technicians, engineers or clairvoyants, everyone could agree Orange Diamond was pretty gosh darn swell of a leader to serve.
The fact it was his job to personally oversee the Earth, its resources, and how said resources were utilized only played further into Mark's favor. As a perfect Quartz, he was supplied the position as one of Orange Diamond's top generals. He reported to no one but Barry. Barry, the oft-silent but ever-understanding Diamond, the one perhaps a bit too lenient towards his followers. Mark could not have been in a more prime situation.
He was a good soldier. A good worker. A good leader. But whenever he grew tired of his lot in life, of filling the niche specifically laid out for his kind, he knew he could slip away for a little while. That Barry would turn a blind eye to his missing general. It was a luxury that only served to earn more of Mark's respect and subservience. An opportunity he would never take for granted or forget.
Because it was during those fleeting moments of freedom that he truly felt alive. Digging his toes and fingers into sand or grass; feeling the wind rush through his hair; gazing up at the sky as it traveled through its spectrum of colors and patterns. Beautiful amethyst in the pre-dawn that resonated with his gem. But the night sky was his favorite. The sight of stars and planets he could name by heart reverberating to his very core. He loved the Earth. He loved its sky.
And he loved space most of all.
Chapter 4: Servitude
Quartz must serve a Diamond.
His world was falling apart.
The statement could be a somber metaphor, or perhaps used literally in the case of Earth's current, devolving state. As if the planet did not shuffle through enough environmental shifts of its own with the passing centuries, gem wars tended to leave their gruesome mark almost akin to a Kindergarten.
But rather than boring thousands of holes into the Earth's crust, massive soldiers of all shapes and sizes met on indiscriminate battlefields. No mind was paid to the local flora and fauna being pulverized to dust in the wake of feet or weapons. Not when a struggle for dominance, the fate of a resource rich planet, the honor of Homeworld and the Diamond Authority itself were on the line. There was no time to preserve Earth's beauty or admire its skies.
No number of stars could bring Orange Diamond back. No cool breezes could wash away the stench of rebellion; of betrayal. No amount of sympathetic looks or pitying smiles could rebuild what Mark had lost. Green Diamond was a nice guy, a fantastic leader, a fearsome warrior- but he was not Barry. Barry was shattered and no one had been able to recover the pieces. No one was there to act as a substitute. A Quartz, no matter how perfect, could never measure up to a Diamond.
So Jack stepped in, and Orange Diamond's forces were absorbed into his own. Granted, Yellow Diamond took a handful for himself, but Mark was in no shape to keep track of the details. Too long for the shock to wear off. Still grieving as he was sent into battle with the other Quartz. Seeing each and every Crystal Grump as the sole source of his pain. The cause of the disruption to his peace. His planet. His Diamond.
He never got to fully avenge Barry. Homeworld lost, even with Blue Diamond's change of heart. It was an embarrassment. A humiliating blow to the ego of the Diamond Authority and all they had accomplished since the dawn of their reign. Losing such a nutrient rich planet. Losing countless soldiers that had been harvested from its soil. Losing one of their own.
Mark was pulled away from his Earth, his home, whatever might remain of his Diamond. And for the first time in his existence, he could not even take comfort in the wonders of space flying past him. Because there was not a single doubt in his mind he would ever be able to view its splendor from the surface of Earth again.
Chapter 5: Restriction
If you've been keeping up with the Crystal Grumps blog, you can probably guess whom this Peridot is. ;)
Also, Jack may come off as a bit of an asshole here, but that'll be explained in my next fic. Promise.
Quartz may not attack a Diamond.
"I'm telling you, something is there. Something keeps messing with my work! It's making it impossible to perform any of my research or get a status update on the Cluster. It's too dangerous for me to investigate by myself. I beseech you, I need a bodyguard, I need a soldier in case the threat is sufficiently hostile-"
"I'll do it."
Both Jack and the rambling Peridot turned to look at Mark as he finally spoke up from where he had been occupying his post beside the Diamond. The latter appeared stunned and just a little intimidated while the former was merely amused (and maybe a smidge intrigued). Jack placed a hand to his chin and regarded his general with a thoughtful hum.
"You volunteer yourself for this mission, Mark? To go back to Earth with this Peridot and take care of whatever rats keep chewing through the wires? That's a long journey, you know. Not bound to be very exciting either. Didn't think you'd be interested in such a mundane task, if I'm to be honest."
Mark maintained his smooth, if determined, expression as he stared the Diamond down. Not his Diamond. Green Diamond. "It would be an honor to preserve the Diamond Authority's will, Green Diamond. No matter the mission or location." The words tasted stale even in his own mouth. A generic response he would have never given his Diamond. But Jack apparently was not finished with him just yet. The gem's mischief and wily behavior truly knew no bounds. Were he any less than a Diamond, Mark had to wonder if he would have been shattered by now for his attitude.
"You've been there before, haven't you? Earth? Yeah, I remember. You were one of my first acquisitions after the start of the war. Not that I remember it personally or anything. Always better for a Diamond to observe the battlefield from a safe distance, I'd say, when there are shattering dissenters running amuck. Blue Diamond was lucky he didn't get his arse handed to him as well. Then again, what do you expect to come about from such weak discipline?? I'm shocked you can follow orders as well as you do after serving under Orange Diamond for so long!" The massive gem gave a raucous laugh and slapped his knee as if the mere memory of his fellow Diamond was one of the funniest jokes in the universe.
Mark figured he probably looked pretty terrifying by that point, judging from how the Peridot was staring at him with a sort of anxious fright. His fists were clenched at his sides, jaw gritting together powerful teeth as he resisted the urge to snap back. To rip his cestus free from his gem and smash it into the Diamond's smug face. The way Green and Yellow Diamond treated Orange Diamond as a complete and utter failure of a leader in the wake of his demise made Mark's stomach turn. They only said it because Barry's "easy defeat" was a betrayal. Because it was his destruction that triggered the rebellion. The war. Their loss. His loss. The twisting of history to create a scapegoat made him sick.
But what he felt did not matter. Not in the grand scheme of things. Not even as such a prized Quartz. He still served under a Diamond. And if that Diamond wanted to be an asshole, then he was obliged to grin and bear it. That did not lessen the stiffness in his posture or voice as he spoke. Nor did it stop him from squeezing a hand around his gem where it glimmered with the urge to fight. To defend his Diamond's honor. "...yes, Green Diamond. I was there for the war. I have not been to Earth since. It holds no bearing over my decision or motivation, I can assure you. I will accompany the Peridot and neutralize the threat." Neutralize Earth, if the Diamonds had their way.
Still looking far too amused after the discussion of such a grave and tragic event in the gems' history, Jack hummed in acknowledgment and spoke. "Very well then. You will accompany the Peridot to Earth and see to it he is able to complete his mission. You will destroy anything that seeks to impede our progress with that miserable planet. And you will report back to me upon return. You will be set to leave for Earth immediately. The sooner we get rid of that blemish on the galaxy, the better. Dismissed." He shoo'd them away and Mark had never been happier to retreat from a room. The Peridot apparently felt the same as he darted out the door without a second's hesitation.
Mark just wanted to find a secluded rock somewhere and pummel it into dust until he could expel all the aggressive energy buzzing beneath his skin. It would not make him feel better, but he had long given up on that prospect. Yet as he reached the door he heard Green Diamond call out to him one more time. He did not bother looking back as the words sunk into him.
"Oh, and Mark. Do see if you can find information about those rebels while you're there. Any details about the results of our final attack would be welcome. I want to know just how much they've been squirming over the past few centuries of isolation on the rock they sacrificed everything for...."
"...yes, Green Diamond."
Chapter 6: Orders
All right so the Crystal Grumps make their cameo this chapter but you'll notice I don't go into too much detail with them, or the fight in general. I tried to keep the narration for this fic very light and general because that's the kind of flow I wanted. (Plus, I have NO idea how to write the Grumps, at all. Apologies.) Matpat has some more dialogue this chapter as well but I'm not nearly as familiar with him as I am Markiplier or Jacksepticeye so please forgive me for any OOC.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Quartz must follow direct orders.
When he sees them all, standing there, weapons drawn and expressions horrified it almost feels like deja vu, in a sense.
Mark was taken back to the battlefield- thousands of years ago. Fighting for his life, for the memory of his shattered Diamond, for Homeworld's glory. Tearing his way through gem after gem in some effort to reach their leaders. The betrayers. The source of his disrupted peace and misery. He never succeeded, but the Diamond Authority was so certain they had wiped away any traces of the Crystal Grumps upon their departure from the planet. Left nothing but rusting weapons and corruption in their wake. Yet here stood several gems in perfect condition.
They looked just as shocked to see their own kind as he was.
But he had a mission to fulfill. That was all he had now: missions, orders, duties. He had lost his Diamond and his planet. Earth had changed, and so had he. No longer did he feel conflict in poofing the gems, one by one. In capturing what could be considered brothers and sisters to lock away in cells. They were living proof the Diamond Authority had not been as efficient as they thought. That gems still inhabited the planet and could prove to be a thorn in Homeworld's side.
"Set coordinates for Homeworld. We're going back."
"What?! But- the Cluster! My mission! We can't just abandon it for a few prisoners!"
"They aren't ordinary prisoners."
"Whatever!! Can't they just- I don't know, stay on the ship?? It's not like they're going anywhere. They haven't even moved since-"
"Blah blah blah weh weh weh- are you still talking?? I said to set our coordinates. Get this ship back into space and set on the fastest course to Homeworld. Now. And by now I mean fucking yesterday!!"
"You know what I mean! Move it!!"
"...f-fine. Fine. Whatever you say."
The Cluster could wait. Getting this evidence back to Homeworld was so much more important, whether the Peridot liked it or not. There was time to come back. Time to be certain the Cluster had gone undisturbed and would properly form to destroy the Earth. The Peridot could not understand. No one born after the war could. These rebels sulking in their cells meant everything to Mark.
And if nothing else, he could at the very least perhaps wipe that smug, self-satisfied grin off Green Diamond's face.
Also, as an extra note, no Mark didn't poof Barry. (If you've been keeping up with the Crystal Grumps blog you get what I'm saying.) He wasn't there for the fight at all. Probably off doing something else, haha, I don't know. If he was there I'd have to end this story here and there's more to explore!
Chapter 7: Strength
The fusion mentioned in this chapter can be found on the Crystal Grumps blog. It's aptly named Starbomb and composed of Dan, Arin and Brian. The designs don't belong to me, neither does the concept, I just thought it would be the best Garnet-esque fusion for the Jasper-esque Mark to fight. :>
And yes, I did a parody of "Stronger Than You". You're welcome. :P
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Quartz are powerful.
"WHERE DID THEY GO?!?!"
His roar rang through the sickly green corridors of the ship as he charged past rows of empty cells. How could they all have escaped? How did they manage to slip by right under his nose? No gem could have split that barrier. They must have done something. Had some nasty rebel trick hidden up their sleeves. He had to track them down and destabilize them- fast. Before they could mobilize and mess with the ship.
He was utterly furious.
And coming across the fused abomination in one of many antechambers just added fuel to the fire. He counted three gems in total. That was not all the gems he captured, but he had no time to worry about them now. He had to take care of the immediate threat shooting him a cocky grin from across the room. It reminded him of the Diamonds. It made his insides boil. "Oh, great. So not only did you break free of your cells, but you decided to all come together in one big freak show of a fusion! A big, freaky mishmash of limbs and eyeballs and what is even with that color scheme? You couldn't pick just one?? Nevermind- why?? Fusion is just a cheap tactic to make weak gems stronger. Quit embarrassing yourselves already. It's pathetic. You're not fooling anyone. I've seen what you really are... and it's weak. Compared to me, you're all nothing."
But the fusion just laughed, and Mark thought he might very well explode. Someone else not taking him seriously. Someone else laughing at his words. Someone he knew for a fact he was better than. He squinted at them with a scowl of distaste lodged firmly on his face but his disapproval did nothing to deter the fusion from kicking up a beat.
"No, you haven't. I think an introduction's in order!
"This is Starbomb
Swag to the brim
And we're never going down at the hands of the likes of you
'Cause you're looking pretty dim
And every part of us is saying go get him
None of us are gonna follow your rules
Come at us without any of your fancy tools
Let's go, just us and you
Let's go, see what we do
Go ahead and try to hit us if you're able
Can't you see our awesome friendship is way stable
We could see you think our current state ain't "Home"-ly
But we think you're just mad 'cause you're lonely
You're not gonna stop what we've made together
We could keep beating your ass forever
If you break us apart we'll just come back better
We'll all always be twice the gem that you are
We are ma-ade o-o-o-o-of so-o-o-o-ong
It was inconceivable. The fusion- Starbomb, they had called themselves- was singing while they fought. As if it was all just some silly game. Mark had already felt the flames of anger licking at him before the song started. Now, he was in a full-blown rage. Attacking the fusion full-tilt with everything he had. He was a Quartz. He was a perfect Quartz. He had been Orange Diamond's favorite general. He could do this. He could beat down a few upstart rebels with nothing to rely on but fusion. He would prove their betrayal had left them nothing but weak and defenseless.
Loyalty was strong. Loyalty was noble. Loyalty was right. And proper. And everything that made Homeworld powerful. Loyalty was all he had, even if it was not to his Diamond anymore. He would not let the dissenters win again. Let them ruin what little he had left. He would show them he was stronger. That not even a three gem fusion could defeat him.
And for a brief moment, he thought he had won. Starbomb was on his knees before him, after he had sent both of them tumbling through the floor into the main generator room. The fusion's ridiculous glasses were crumbling on his battered face and Mark felt triumphant. Surely, Orange Diamond would be proud of his prowess. Surely. Surely.
But the fight was not over. Starbomb got up, and started to sing again. Catchy tune or not, Mark was sick of being mocked.
"This is who we are
This is where it ends
And if you think you can stop us then you need to think again
Because we're more than teamwork
And we will never bend
And we won't let you hurt our planet
And we won't let you hurt our friends
Go ahead and try to hit us if you're able
Can't you see our awesome friendship is way stable
We know you think we're not something you're afraid of
'Cause you think that you've seen what we're made of
We are even more than just three gems
Everything they care about is what we are
We are their fury
We are their patience
We are beyond sensation
We a-are made o-o-o-o-of so-o-o-o-ong
And we're stronger than you
And we're stronger than you"
It was impossible. No matter what he did, how hard he fought, how much of his strength and millenia of abilities he used- they were still stronger than him. There was nothing he could do. And even as the generator shocked him to his core, made his vision dance sporadically between green and white, they continued to sing. Relishing in his sound defeat. He could hear the ship careening back towards Earth well before the systems finally shut down and left him sprawled on the ground in a singed heap. There was nothing he could do.
He had failed.
He had failed his Diamond again.
For the first time, he did not want to go back to Earth.
Please note, again, I didn't describe the fight much. I'm very unfamiliar with the characters making up this fusion and again, light details and descriptive emotions are the flow of this narrative I'm going for. Sorry if you were hoping to see a big, epic battle.
Chapter 8: Fusion
Realized I forgot to title the last chapter. Oops. It's fixed now.
Nate as Enstatite makes an appearance in this chapter, which is heavily influenced by both the show and fanart made for this very scene with the pair. There's a brief skip from the end of the last chapter and it's all very vague, but if you aren't used to that by now then I don't know what to tell you. X'D I sort of wrote this whole thing in one very emotional, stream-of-consciousness go.
I hope you enjoy it, one way or another. :')
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Quartz do not fuse.
"Enstatite, right?? Fuse with me."
"How long were you stuck here on this planet? How brutally did they destroy you just so they could use you? They kept you trapped here so long that by the time you made it back to Homeworld nothing was the same. I grew with it, Enstatite. I watched it change. Things aren't the way they used to be but that's fine. You can adapt. And I can even help you, but only if you prove your loyalty still lies with Homeworld. That you're willing to stand against these rebel gems and show them exactly what happens to traitorous Diamond shatterers." Mark did not bother toning down the snarl in his voice as he shot the equally battered Crystal Grumps a vicious glower. One of them appeared a little stunned by his words but honestly he could not care any less. It was the truth.
At any rate, the gem appeared to be considering his words. He had to keep pushing while Enstatite's thoughts were in his favor. He needed help to defeat the Crystal Grumps once and for all but the Peridot was nowhere in sight. Enstatite would just have to do. "This is your chance to take revenge. Don't you want to make them pay for all the grief and misery they put you through? What they took away from you? How they ruined your life??" Belatedly, Mark had to wonder if he was still talking about the Enstatite. Or if he had shifted to airing his own feelings on the matter. Did it make any real difference, in the end?
"Come on. Just say yes."
"Nate, don't do it...."
Mark watched Enstatite mull over his offer. If the gem refused, he might need to post a retreat. This was a last resort. As a Quartz, he should not need to fuse. But he was at a complete loss.
Then Enstatite turned to him, and extended a hand, and just like that they were in business. Mark grinned with a sort of giddy excitement as he grabbed the smaller gem's wrist. He had never done this before. Fused with someone. The thought had never even crossed his mind until now. What would it feel like, he wondered as he twirled Enstatite around. Would it hurt? Would he be overflowing with energy created by two individuals? Would they truly become one and lose their respective consciousnesses? He ignored the cries of "no" and "stop" in the distance and dipped the brown gem with a grace he never knew he possessed.
Everything glowed with bright light.
For a few moments, he was more powerful than he had ever been before. He was immense. He was unstoppable.
Then the air was filling with deafening sound and his limbs were no longer his own.
He could feel himself being dragged under.
Everything went dark.
In terms of the AU, a popular theory seems to be that he has control over sound waves instead of water in the way Lapis does in the actual series. I really love this idea, but I couldn't really come up with a way to describe how such an ability could still trap a fusion. So I wrote a hint as to what exactly was happening to Mark and then left the scenario itself completely open to interpretation.
Can you all sense how bitter and hurt Mark is yet.
Chapter 9: Hierarchy
I'm a nunce. And a dingleberry. And any other plethora of words you wanna call me 'cause it took me so damn long to update this. I don't even have the excuse of writing the chapter because it's all been written out from day one.
All I can say is sorry for the wait. Life, work, family, friends and my own insecurities about various things to do or not to do with writing this have been holding me back. But I'm going to post the last three chapters over the next three days- starting with this one. Sorry it's short. It was always like that. The next two will be longer.
I hope you enjoy it none the less. :)
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Quartz are superior.
Fighting, fighting, fighting.
It was a constant struggle. A desperate pitch to stay on top. To stay in control.
Why was fighting one stupid Enstatite so damn hard?!
Mark had no idea how long it had even been. How long he had been trapped; beaten down; forced into submission in a more physical manner than he ever had before. Serving Green Diamond was better than this. Fighting the war was better than this. He would do anything to reclaim his freedom. To see the stars once again. Just one more time.
Just one more time.
Again, sorry it's so short, it wouldn't have been a big deal if I'd stuck to my daily posting schedule. OTL Next two WILL be longer.
I know I had some other Crystal Grumps fanworks going (in writing, not on here) but I don't know if I'll continue them. I'm sort of doing a major project with Fantismal right now that's eating up all my writing mojo.
Chapter 10: Freewill
I know "free will" is two words. It's symbolism. (And keeping with chapter title theme of single word usage. XD)
The vaguely mentioned Crystal Grump in this chapter could really be anyone, I left it like that on purpose (partially because I'm not highly knowledgeable of the Grumps at all so ambiguity is my friend here).
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Quartz are independent.
He was free, but it was wrong.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Something was wrong and it took him forever to figure out just what and when he did he was disgusted with himself.
How weak he had become.
How dependent he was.
He had his freedom. He had his Earth. He had his night sky full of stars. Everything he could have ever wanted that was still within his grasp.
So then why was he crawling back to that damn Enstitite?!
"I thought I'd never catch up to you...." The Enstatite looked absolutely abhorred to see him again. Good.
The asshole deserved it.
"You've been following us?! What the fuck, dude??"
"Ha. No. No, no, no. You misunderstand." He swept his arms out amicably and put on a smile that was almost welcoming as he strode towards the gems. "I've been following you."
Another gem- one of the Crystal Grumps- sprang into action, putting himself between the two of them and summoning a weapon. Mark laughed. "You're pointing that thing the wrong way. He's the one you should be afraid of-"
"That's not true!" Of course the Enstatite was quick to deny his claims. It irritated Mark more than anything.
"You can't lie to me. I've seen what you're capable of. I thought I was dangerous, but you... you're a straight up monster. No wonder they kept you trapped here for so long. You'd be a menace anywhere. I can only imagine what sort of destruction you accomplished before being poofed."
"I...." The Enstatite could not even argue with him anymore. Mark felt a trill of triumph just before it was soured by the third gem's words.
"Enstatite doesn't want anything to do with you!"
That sent a burst of indignant rage coursing through Mark and he snarled. "This. Is between. Us!!" He swung out one of his massive arms and sent the little gem flying with zero issue. He only had eyes for Enstatite. And when he tried to run after the fallen gem, Mark grabbed at the wrist he could remember grasping once before. At the power he had shared while trapped for so long. He fell to his knees without even thinking about it. Dropped into a kneel only Orange Diamond had ever been on the receiving end of. He felt pathetic. He was pitiful. He was desperate.
"Let's be Citrine again!!"
The Enstatite looked stunned. "Why... would you want that??"
"I was wrong about fusion.... I was stupid.... You made me understand! Citrine was so much stronger than both of us! He was unstoppable! We could have done anything together in that form. Anything.What reason would I have to not want that?" He did not mention how he felt whole. How it felt like something he had been missing out on his entire life was present, even if it hurt. Even if it was pure agony. After they separated he had never felt so lonely. Not even the stars could bring him comfort.
"Enstatite! Don't listen to him!"
Mark stood abruptly and rounded on the gem whose name he failed to care about. "You stay the fuck out of this!! It has nothing to do with you!" He might have kicked the gem further away, but Enstatite was speaking then- drawing his full attention back.
"...I was terrible to you. I liked taking everything out on you. I n.. needed to, I- I hated you, I- it was bad."
Enstatite was right. Mark knew he was right but he did not care. Maybe their fusion had been awful and unhealthy. Maybe they had both come out of it worse for the wear. But he wanted to feel whole again so badly. He wanted to feel powerful and invulnerable and secure. Like he could do anything. He was desperate.
"It'll be better this time! I've changed. You've changed me. I'm not the same gem that came to Earth in that battleship. I'm not the same gem that fought a war here thousands of years ago. You've warped me beyond reversal and I can't stand living like this anymore! I need you. I'm the only one that can handle your power and you know it." He backed the gem into a corner; jabbed at his chest with a finger to emphasize his words. "Just think about it. You know this to be true. Together, we'll be unstoppable. Together, nothing would be able to hurt us ever again...."
There were several moments of silence, and then...
"What?!" Mark was stunned. Flabbergasted. He could not comprehend why Enstatite continued to deny him.
"What we had wasn't healthy. I never want to feel like I felt with you! Never again!! So just... go."
It felt like something inside of him was broken. But that did not make any sense. His gem was fine. So then why did it feel like shattered pieces were laying at his feet? "But... but Enstatite-"
"I said go. Get out of here! Go away and never come back! If you ever try speaking to me again I'll personally shatter you."
The gem's words were a vicious snarl that could have cut to the bone if Mark had any. He felt like a beast that had been thoroughly whipped as he took a step back. It was like the world was crashing down around him again. As if he had just witnessed Orange Diamond's shattering again. His life was turned on its head and the sole source of comfort he had found wanted absolutely nothing to do with him. He could not understand.
He did not understand.
That deafening sound again, it slammed into him, and he was sent careening into the nearby ocean.
I chose Citrine as the gem Amethyst (Mark) and Enstatite (Nate) would fuse into because of its relation to both gems. Big ol' bright orange monster you can probably find on the Crystal Grumps blog (which I've linked to several times in various notes for this fic and you should DEFINITELY go check out :D
(Yes, this chapter looks funky on purpose, I'm a sucker for symbolism and it's meant to represent how fractured Mark is right now.)
So obviously I took a lot of inspiration from another familiar Steven Universe episode. Mark is sort of the "Jasper" of this AU, with Nate being the "Lapis Lazuli", but I tried to tweak the dialogue and actions to better reflect their own personalities. And of course, in the end, Nate screeches Mark off the boat instead of using a giant fist of water.
Enstatite used Disarming Voice!
It's super effective!
Amethyst used Charm!
It's not very effective...
Enstatite used Screech!
It's super effective!
Chapter 11: Strength (In the Real Way)
Wooo more Steven Universe references for the win, haha. And it being the last chapter, I allowed for a theme break (sort of). :)
This has been a wild ride I'll admit. Sorry for the delay again, twice, but that's a reason I'm posting this up tonight! Technically, had I posted Chapter 10 yesterday like I was supposed to, you guys WOULD have gotten this one today. So I feel it's only fair.
Thank you for reading and picking up this story again once I finally updated it! Hope you enjoyed it. Keep an eye out for any future Crystal Grumps bugs that might bite me. (And a little Septiplier something called "The Revolving Title Fic" you may have seen me tagging occasionally on my Tumblr. It's gonna be a doozy.)
Side note: Any Grumps vaguely mentioned this chapter can, again, be ANYONE. It's vague for a reason. If they get referred to by name, well, there you go.
Without further ado, here's the exciting finale to "Quartz for Dummies"!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Quartz. Are. Strong.
Mark had seen many things.
He had seen the Earth as a colony. He had seen its beautiful skies and lush landscape. He had witnessed the shattering of his Diamond. He had witnessed the brutality of war. He had viewed defeat. He had experienced fusion. He knew of loss and regret. He knew of corruption. He had seen what Earth had done to these gems.
What the Diamonds had done to these gems.
And now, on the ropes and cornered by the Crystal Grumps at last, he would see his own destruction.
And he felt strangely at peace with that. (Barring a few final words.)
"Earth... used to be my home.... I only left, because you took it from me.... From Homeworld...." Mark was slumped against the stone wall of the very Kindergarten he had sprung out of so long ago. It was daytime now, with the breeze on his face hot and the sky devoid of the stars he loved so much. But it was still home. All along, Earth had always been his home. And now it would be his grave.
"...when I came back... when I saw an opportunity to return, I... I thought... I thought it'd be the same as I'd left it.... I thought you all would be long gone. I thought I could experience it, one last time, before it was destroyed and left a shell of its former self...." He laughed a bit, self-deprecatingly. "Well... looks like I'm the one who's gonna be destroyed, huh? Haha...." He brushed fingers along the elegant gem implanted in the back of his hand and sighed much like a tired, old man. "...I wonder if it'll be anything like he experienced.... If I'll finally know how he felt.... At least I was given time to reflect before my gem was shattered into dozens of pieces...."
Tears started to well up in his eyes against his will and he sniffled indignantly at the feeling. Mark scrubbed at his face in a desperate effort to be rid of them but they just kept coming. Thoughts of Orange Diamond always made him emotional. And he did not want to die. No matter how miserable he became, he never wanted to stop living. He had no idea why they had not shattered him yet but if they wanted to hear him talk, then so be it. He would speak his mind while he still had a mind to speak from.
"Everything was going so well before your little rebellion. Before you betrayed my Diamond and sent us all spiraling into war! Do you have any idea how many gems were shattered?? How long and hard I had to fight against gems that should have been my allies? All because of what you did to my colony! Because of what you did to my planet! Because of what you did to MY DIAMOND?!?!" His voice had escalated into a roar and with strength he thought he no longer had to expel he slammed his fist against the nearby rock wall. A crater and crumbling stone was left in its wake but the gems he faced suddenly appeared lost and confused. Bravely, one of them finally spoke up.
Mark was so stunned his voice audibly cracked. Fresh tears spilled down his face as he choked out the anguished words. "MY DIAMOND. ORANGE DIAMOND!!!" How could they not remember?! How could they fail to recall shattering someone so good and kind and wonderful? Barry deserved better. He deserved more loyalty than that. He deserved to be remembered and cherished for the amazing leader he was. Forgetting about his existence was even worse than mocking it.
The Crystal Grumps all seemed at a loss for words. As if they had no idea how to handle the weeping, distraught Amethyst standing hunched over before them. Mark could not take it. Could not stand the mixture of pity and confusion in their gazes. He was done with being pitied. He no longer wanted sympathy. He wanted his Earth. His sky. His stars. His Diamond-
"Holy fuck, I gotta admit, I never thought I'd see this day."
Mark's head snapped up at the sound of a new voice. But not really new. It may have been millenia since he last heard it but he would recognize those quiet tones anywhere. His voice was scarcely a whisper as he spoke.
"Oh, Mark. What kind of shit did you get yourself into now?"
HAHA! And there's the end of it, folks. Sorry to leave it at KIND OF a cliffhanger but alas, as I've mentioned, I don't know shit-diddly about the Grumps. :( Sorry. That's why this story was all about Mark, but Mark's story in the AU intertwines with the Grumps, so. I tried looking up some stuff to at least get a feel for Barry but I'm not sure if it was one hundred percent spot-on. It's also why I cut their interaction off there.
But you can pretty much imagine Barry found his lost little second-in-command and scooped him up all like "where the fuck you been mate" and Markethyst is just curled up there weeping against him in stunned silence and it's all really embarrassing so the Grumps give them a moment. Or five. And then Barry brings him back to the Temple and is all "This is Mark. He's my Amethyst. He's with us now." with Mark clinging to his arm like a child.
Nate is fucking pissed. Mat also has QUESTIONABLE THOUGHTS. But it's Barry. So they let him. And Mark doesn't get corrupted and poofed and bubbled hooray! :D
That's just my take on it anyway. If I do write something else Crystal Grumps related, it'll probably be about Jack and Sam or Felix and Marzia. We'll see. Those are the dudes I know besides Mark, so. In any case. Thanks again for reading! Go check out the Crystal Grumps blog if you haven't already. It's good shit.