Tourmaline

A fight with the Crystal Gems has left Peridot cracked within an inch of her life. Trapped on Earth, with no one and no way to get home, Peridot's all but given up hope. But she doesn't know the lengths Steven is willing to go to in order to keep her alive.

http://archiveofourown.org/works/4409723/chapters/10015133

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3. 3

flashback time

“Ya know, as much as I love all these fun little field trips back home,” Amethyst snagged her whip from her gem, swung it at the leg of the Injector to her left, and ripped it from its perch in the ground. It creaked first with an unsteady waver, then crashed. “I’m kinda starting to wonder if we’re ever just gonna leave Kindergarten alone.

“If you don’t want to be here, Amethyst, you can go look after Steven.” Garnet kept forward. Her words bounced against the canyon walls and shot back from different directions. Hollow echoes smothered out the silence. Garnet paused and glanced up at the sheer edge of the cliff she faced.

“But I’m the worst at that!” Amethyst slapped her whip into the dirt. “And that’s stupid anyway! If I wasn’t here I’d go and do something important. What about Lapis and Jasper, huh? What’re we gonna do when that thing they made shows up on shore and we’re not prepared?”

“Well, it would certainly make finding her easier,” Pearl said with a curl of her lip. She registered the glare from Amethyst and put her hands up. “That was meant as a joke. Steven would understand.”

“We’ve hit a dead end with that, Amethyst. We don’t know where Malachite is, and we don’t know how to reach her. It’s not worth our time right now.” She pressed a hand to the cold stone wall. “We can at least find Peridot.”

“But for what?” Amethyst dropped her whip in emphasis. It disintegrated in a wave of shimmering dust, which settled among the dark chalky minerals in the ground. “She’s not even a threat!”

“Yes she is.”

“Okay…how? Do you think she’s gonna poke our eyes out with her spooky fingers?” Amethyst raised her arms and wiggled her fingers.

“We need to silence her, Amethyst.”

Amethyst gave a humorless laugh. She crossed her arms, wary eyes to the monolithic granite columns. “Yeah, her voice is super annoying.”

Pearl stuck a hesitant finger up. “Amethyst, I don’t think that’s what G—“

“I know what Garnet meant!” Amethyst spun on Pearl, arms thrown wide. “It’s a joke, Pearl.”

Pearl returned her stare with a level gaze. After a moment, her face broke into a smile. “Oh! A joke. Oh very good, Amethyst.”

“Pearl, Amethyst, focus.” Garnet hadn’t budges from the wall. She dragged a single hand down the cold, gritty surface. Faint scuffs of shoes ascended the granite. “We need to take her by surprise, and we need to take her out fast.

“But why? Amethyst insisted. Her lips curled out in a pout. “I know you’re the high and mighty team leader and all, Garnet. But I like to at least know why we’re doing the junk we’re doing.”

“It’s obvious.” Garnet glanced over her shoulder. She turned her whole body and chose an arbitrary path to follow along the cliffside. Pearl shuttled herself to one side to allow Garnet to pass. “Peridot doesn’t have any weapons left, we know that. But she has the technology. If she was able to establish contact with Earth from Homeworld, she’ll probably be able to make contact with Homeworld from Earth.”

“And if she has already?” Amethyst moved briskly until she walked right alongside Garnet. She took twice as many steps as Garnet to keep pace.

“Then there’s nothing we can do.” Garnet flicked her visor up for a brief second, then changed directions. Her footsteps rippled off the high stone walls. “But Peridot expected Earth to be deserted when she first came here, and Steven’s very existence took Jasper by surprise. The gems that have been sent here didn’t know about us. Which means Homeworld has left us alone all these years—“

“—Because they assumed we were dead…” Pearl watched the ground as she spoke. “It would make sense.”

Garnet gave a silent nod. “Homeworld has had 5,000 years to regrow their armies. They’ve got plenty of Injectors on plenty of other planets. We have to assume they could eliminate the three of us with ease.”

“Sooooo…you think we gotta off Peridot so she doesn’t tell her bosses that we’re still here bumming around on Earth?” Amethyst rubbed at her gem. “And you’re serious about the off-ing part, and that’s why we didn’t bring Steven, huh?”

“Bingo.”

Amethyst dropped her hand from her chest. She circled ahead of Garnet and stopped. Garnet stopped too, staring Amethyst down. “You know, speaking as the resident ‘bad gem’ of this team, you don’t always know why you’re doing stuff when you’re doing it. I’m all for bashing Peridot’s legs in after what happened with the spaceship, but what’s with us suddenly ditching the Team Quartz ‘bubble and rehab’ stuff?”

“Rose Quartz cracked many Gems during the war, Amethyst. You weren’t there to see it.”

“Yeah but that was war.” Amethyst countered. “This is one stupid robot-y Gem with a stupid voice. She doesn’t even fight! I bet if we just plucked off her fingers she’d be useless!”

“You shouldn’t be arguing with Garnet, Amethyst.” Pearl moved noiselessly to Amethyst’s side. She placed a light hand on Amethyst’s shoulder. “I know it’s perhaps a bit…sensitive talking about the war while we’re here, but remember that Garnet can see the best path forward.”

“Yeah but not always,” Amethyst shrugged Pearl off. “And what—does that mean I’m never allowed to think something different from Garnet? Garnet can’t see everything. She’s messed up before!”

“Yeah, but not as much as you.”

Amethyst opened her mouth to rebuff the comment, but Garnet had already stuck one finger up to silence her. Amethyst only gritted her teeth in annoyance.

“Peridot will be here soon,” Garnet resumed. She summoned her gauntlets with two quick flicks of her wrists. “I can see it.”

“Do you see us snuffing her too?” Amethyst stuck her hands behind her head, elbows out. Her tone was rigid. “Guess I’m glad you didn’t see yourself snuffing the last enemy Gem you snuck up on here in the Kindergarten.”

“Amethyst, this is not about you,” Garnet insisted in a whisper. Her words were sharp.

“Well it’s not about Peridot either!” Amethyst answered, voice lowered to match Garnet’s. She watched intently for a few silent seconds. “…Is this about the clusters?”

Shhhh,” Garnet thrust her hand out to Amethyst, who had to recoil to avoid being hit. She only watched with irritation in her eyes as the topic dropped dead.

The conversation was quiet, contained, and didn’t travel the 30 foot distance between the Crystal Gems and the rusted, broken Injector to their left. This didn’t reassure Peridot in any way. She stood motionless behind the farthest leg, arms pulled up tight against her chest with her single Destabilizer clasped between her hands. She heard muted voices and muted steps approach.

Running was an option, but a bad one. Forward gave way only to a sheer cliffside with an overhang, which provided a patch of shade at the bottom. Scaling the wall meant running at more than a 90 degree angle, and it meant turning her back on Gems that summoned projectile weapons. Backwards wasn’t much better. Backwards meant running right through the thicket.

Peridot had the Destabilizer, salvaged from the dirt around her crashed escape pod, but her Destabilizer training had been 2,000 years ago. And Jasper (if she had been worth anything in the end) had shown her just how rusty she was in combat. These Gems were primitive, but they at least knew how to fight.

…Look, I feel you on the clusters, Garnet. I got some screwed up memories with these hunks of rock here too—Woah, wait I saw something.”

Peridot stiffened. Her heels snapped together, and she pressed herself hard into the Injector leg. Cold, moaning winds moved past her ears. She gave the Destabilizer an experimental squeeze as she listened for…

…footsteps approaching. Dammit.

Amethyst, do not get ahead of us!”

“Why? You think I can’t handle one nerdy tech Gem?” She raced to the cliff side in a flurry of disheveled hair and small legs. Peridot felt fear jolt through her whole body as the beast grazed her shoulder and ran past.

…and then stopped, and stared at the granite wall. “Huh… thought she mighta been up–”

“Amethyst, move!”

“Huh?” Now the Gem turned. Her purple eyes had only a second to register their shock as Peridot thrust the Destabilizer out. It caught the Amethyst right below the shoulder. Her whole body shivered, cracked with light, and her mouth dropped open right as she exploded in a puff of smoke.

“Amethyst!”

Peridot didn’t have time to react. She spun on her heels, and rammed her boot into the Injector’s leg. It groaned in protest, and she thrust her other foot on ahead. It found purchase on the steadily collapsing metal. Peridot scaled the side of the Injector as it toppled to the ground.

Whhiish. Wind shot past Peridot’s face as a glowing white spear missed her gem by inches. She shrieked, lost her footing, and tumbled head over heels down the broad side of the Injector. Peridot landed face-down in the muck.

“Face me, Peridot.” The cold, sharp tip of a spear pressed between Peridot’s shoulder blades. It threatened to sink deeper, to pierce her body and end its precarious existence. “Accept your fate as a soldier of Homeworld. Face me, Peridot, so I may shatter your gem.”

Peridot lay frozen, eyes pressed into the cold dirt. Aches pulsed through her limbs, her energy and vigor draining by the second.

“If not, I will pierce your body, and then I will crack your gem. Tell me, Peridot, do you want to die a coward?”

“…Fine. You got me…” Peridot answered into the ground. She braced her hands against the dirt, and pushed her upper body out of the muck. A thick, horizontal crack ran across her visor. She stared the Gem down with defiant eyes.

The thin, lanky one, nose sharp and spear sharper. She eased the spear off Peridot’s back, spun it, and redirected it to the gem housed in Peridot’s forehead. The Crystal Gem’s eyes strayed for a moment, looking down at Peridot’s fingerless hands braced in the dirt.

Shock registered across the Gem’s face, just as Peridot broke out into laughter. Hhhhhshunk. Peridot’s disembodied fingers drove the Destabilizer into the enemy Gem’s back. The Gem’s blue eyes went wide, then dull, her shoulders falling limp and her body cracking into a thousand light-leaking seams. She exploded in another puff of dust.

A cry registered in Peridot’s ears, and she had only a moment to turn before a thick, dark gauntlet was driven full-force into her face. The power sent Peridot spinning backwards. She heard a snap in her arm sometime before stopping. When she cracked her eyes open, body motionless, the world still seemed to be whirling.

The fusion was in her face instantly. She grabbed Peridot by the shoulder and lifted her out of the dust. Raw fear shot like lightning through Peridot’s chest. She squirmed and shook and yanked, but the fusion only held her tighter. Peridot glanced around for an escape, but her focus moved wholly, unbreakably, to the other Gem when she felt the firm pressure of a gauntlet-ed thumb press into her gem.

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry! Let me go.” Peridot didn’t dare blink. She only flailed uselessly as the fused Gem held her, unmoving, impassive. The weight on Peridot’s gem doubled, and she shrieked in fear.

“What does Homeworld want with the clusters, Peridot?”

“I dunno!” Peridot shut her eyes, focused her efforts on locating her fingers. They had the Destabilizer. Somewhere. Somewhere… She left out a tiny, pitiful moan. Her body was going numb, and she couldn’t feel them anywhere.

“What is Homeworld doing with the clusters?!”

“I don’t know! Why would I know that?! I’m a Peridot if you haven’t noticed. Let me go let me go.” Peridot opened her eyes again. The Gem in front of her was split in two along the crack in her visor. The top half shot at a jagged angle away from the bottom half in the distorted glass. “I’m sorry come on I don’t know let me go please!”

The fusion twitched her thumb. Stars exploded across Peridot’s vision as she heard a sharp crack from inside of herself. A wave of disorientation rocked through her body.

“What have you told Homeworld since we last met?”

“What have I—nothing!” Peridot kicked her feet aimlessly in the air. “You crashed the ship how’m I supposed to contact Homeworld when I don’t have it are you crazy I’d be home by now!”

The fusion twitched her thumb, and a second ground-shaking crack rippled through Peridot’s body. Her core buzzed with static. A deep-weighted exhaustion pressed on her mind. Fuzzy. Fading…

….!!”

There was…another question. Or another demand. Peridot blinked through bleary eyes in a distant attempt to focus. Something cold and heavy crashed to the ground. She felt lighter, freer. The pulsing ache in her body rolled like waves of the ocean, rocking her gently…out…

…!?!?!”

The fusion shouted. She shook Peridot with ferocity, snapping Peridot back to her senses for all of a moment. A deep, thick buzz filled her ears. She stared out of foggy eyes, through her visor, at the Gem that held her suspended in the air. Split along the crack in her visor. Like looking at something half-underwater.

Split.

Split in two.

The Destabilizer.

Peridot’s eyes widened at the sight of a glinting bit of gold half-buried in the ground behind the fusion. She made out the small, blurry shapes of her fingers scattered around its grip. Mentally, she reached for them, fought for them, harder, more desperately.

One twitched. Another. Three fingers coiled shakily around the Destabilizer’s hilt, and a small spark of electricity arced across its prongs. Peridot lifted it in a precarious, telekinetic, three-fingered grip. It faltered twice and dipped back to the Earth. On the third try, she got it floating.

…….? …”

Sensation rippled through Peridot’s gem again. The pressure was…gone. For a moment, she looked away from the precariously floating Destabilizer, focusing back at her captor instead. The fusion had released her thumb from Peridot’s gem. Her fist was instead coiled backwards, and Peridot had only enough time to shout before the fusion drove her gauntlet into her gem.

Peridot responded in turn with a mental thrust of the Destabilizer.

Her world exploded in a flash of light and stars. A crack loud enough to sweep away her hearing. Splintering, shattering, as if parts of herself had been torn from her core. She felt her body hit the ground—at least, it felt like it had. All sense of self, of being, fled from her in the almighty shattering of her gem. She collapsed, senseless and unknowing, into the mealy earth below.

In front of her, a red and a blue gem sunk deep into the muck. Between them fell the Destabilizer.

And only silence remained. Hollow winds coiled through the canyons. The ancient groans of settling machinery peppered the air in occasional, echoing bursts. The sun rolled by overhead, hot and impassive.

In its wake came clouds. Crackling, curious things, dense with water. They coalesced into a blanket. The sun caged itself behind them, shining like the distant beam of a flashlight, before it slipped below the canyon horizon all together. A slight darkness settled. It was lit with the lavender fluoresce of light trapped by the clouds.

The clouds rumbled, sputtered, and with the setting sun, finally released their deluge of rain on the field of lifeless gems below.

   
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