Chapter IV – Miscalculation
“War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.”
Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, Civil War 1861-1865
A thousand years.
One thousand years ago, an unruly rose quartz corrupted a lowly pearl and began a rebellion against their diamonds and their own people. Apparently, two gems causing havoc was enough to upset the millennia of balance and society Homeworld stood for – a new colony destroyed, a new planet within their empire lost, a Diamond murdered, and their society splintered.
During those years, two gems would turn into three and then into four hundred; the rebel forces were just a drop in the galactic pan that was Homeworld military might. For every rebel gem, there were a thousand troops on a bad day and Homeworld had fought larger forces than this before; they had conquered numerous planets and societies with a wave of their hands, taking the planet and its resources. The Great Diamond Authority had never faced opponents like these before. They were a conquering race, that’s what they did, and up until now, they had done it well. Yes, they had faced opposition – apparently, planets didn’t like when you tried to invade them – but it had been easily overcome. Nothing had withstood their superior military and technological might.
Until they faced off against their own kind.
A thousand years was a long time for a war.
In one thousand years, a small group of rebel gems had managed to nearly topple the Diamond regime. Homeworld resources were nearly exhausted, gem production halted on the planet of Earth, while other colonies had upped production so they could be used to battle against the forces below. Things were not turning out the way they should have and it had put the Diamond Authority in a tizzy.
The three remaining leaders were supposed to meet on the former planet of Xelcor, now colony Y376. It was a member of Yellow Diamond’s planetary colonies and according to her, the most secure within their entire system. The war had not only taken a toll on her military, but on her very thread of reality; she had grown increasingly paranoid, especially with the gems in her own court. She had whittled down her entourage down to just her pearl, placing more administrative duties on the gem’s shoulders.
It was ironic actually that Yellow should turn to a pearl after everything a rogue one of her kind had done.
White Diamond had traveled from her chambers on Homeworld, though she wasn’t happy about doing so. Yellow insisted that the rebels were no doubt monitoring their communications and speaking through these channels, though highly secure, could cause a potential for leaks that would ultimately sink their entire empire. White was sure communications were fine, but she found the longer this war continued, the more she had to indulge Yellow’s usual baseless claims.
Blue did not attend.
She contacted them via her communicator, which only lead to Yellow dressing her down for doing so, but her azure colored sister couldn’t be bothered to care. Blue had spent the better part of this war trying to preserve the memory of their fallen sister – liberating the rose quartz gems she had created and bubbling them before Yellow destroyed any more, outfitting her zoo to be more personable to the humans who lived there, and putting the majority of the gems grown on Earth in charge of it. If she couldn’t have Pink, she would at least keep the things she created and cared for.
She knew her other colonies were suffering – she had once been very good at overseeing her entire court, but now she could barely think past her constant pearl companion – but she had put capable people in charge, so everything should be fine. She assumed. She really didn’t care, to be honest. What was the point? The rebels gained new ground every day and it was just a matter of time before their home spun ideas on Earth would infect the rest of their empire.
And maybe that was for the best. They deserved this, didn’t they? They had done something wrong and they were paying for it; perhaps it was the gall to try and take the Earth. There were other planets around it, but that was the first they focused on. At the time, it was because there were living organics on the planet and they knew from experience that taking out the organics first would allow them to do whatever they wanted to the planet and its resources.
But Earth had proven to be their downfall. Something about that planet – it turned gem against gem, heightened and exploited taboos, and took down a Diamond with barely a whisper. Blue didn’t need a sapphire to tell her that Earth would be their doom and would lead to their destruction one day, she just didn’t know when.
“What is the status of the war?” White asked, oblivious to Blue’s dreadful thoughts.
“It’s going well…” Yellow began, though the grimace she tried to hide wasn’t lost on the elder gem.
“Really? Because last I heard, those…rebels had managed to destroy two galaxy warps and halted production on another three spires.”
“There have been some setbacks…”
“Have there?” White asked, sarcastically. “I wouldn’t have known. Oh wait. Yes, I would have because we’re still fighting a war.”
Yellow narrowed her eyes in annoyance. “Your comments are not appreciated.”
“Do you know what I don’t appreciate?” White whispered, taking measured steps until she stood directly in Yellow’s line of sight. “I do not appreciate having the entirety of our civilization die because of a bunch of misguided miscreants. I do not appreciate having to drop everything to come rushing to your aid when your obviously inferior troops are defeated by an abomination.” Sending a look to Blue on the holo-screen, she continued with, “I definitely do not appreciate having to oversee my sister’s own colonies because she seems incapable of doing so.” She turned her hard gaze back on Yellow. “And I certainly do not appreciate spending a thousand years losing a war to a pair of upstarts.
“I want this war to be over, Yellow. And I do not care how you do it, just. Do it. I would very much appreciate that. And if, at this point in time, you have any thoughts on achieving that, you will do well to tell me. Now.”
Yellow did her utmost to retain her composure, but she would be lying if she wasn’t intimidated. White Diamond was the oldest of their order, already having a number of colonies before Yellow and Blue came on the scene; while she was usually jovial, White was never one to be underestimated.
“My scientists have been working on something…”
Yellow cleared her throat. “I’m sure you’ve heard the reports about the rebels’ fusions -” White shuddered. “My thought was to counter them with fusions of our own.”
“I had heard,” White replied, her tone distasteful. “I had hoped it was just a rumor.”
“You wanted to win the war and I sought to do that,” the military leader defended. “Unfortunately…that idea fell through the cracks. However…”
“If there’s a point to all this,” White interrupted. “Please feel free to make it.”
“However,” Yellow continued. “It gave me the idea for something even better. Over this millennia, my scientists have been creating a geo-weapon from the shattered shards of the rebels.”
“What?” This was the first thing Blue had said since stating the reasons for her not attending.
“Go on,” said White.
“I wanted to create a fusion to combat the rebels,” the commander stated. “When I couldn’t do that voluntarily, I chose the next best thing. For every captured rebel we’ve gotten, I’ve kept their shattered remains, which my scientists have used to fuse them together.”
“How is that possible?” Blue asked. “When a gem is broken, it’s unable to form.”
“That’s true,” Yellow said. “When you don’t put those shards back together. However, we know from reports that Rose Quartz has some sort of healing ability that has allowed her forces to remain in the fight, while we are continuously having to raise more gems before their incubation period is over. I took that concept and applied it to this fusion idea.
“We’ve simply engineered the broken shards together – putting a jasper shard with a bismuth, for example – and allowing the gem to natively try to reform.”
“Do they?” asked White, now curious.
“No,” Yellow replied. “Not yet at least. And that’s the beauty of it. As we speak, my scientists have been fusing together the shards of the rebel forces for years; the more shards, the bigger it gets.”
“The bigger what gets?”
“My scientists and I have been calling it the cluster. The plan is to gather as many shards as possible and fuse them together. We will then incubate them within the Earth’s crust, where it will form, and…”
“Destroy the planet,” Blue whispered, her eyes wide.
White appraised the military commander. “I’m impressed, Yellow,” she stated. “I wasn’t sure if you’d ever come up with something so ingenious.”
“I’ll take your compliment,” Yellow sneered. “Regardless of how you intended it.”
“No disrespect, of course,” White amended. “While brilliant in its theory and application, there is one slight problem to your plan.”
“The timeframe,” Yellow sighed. “I know. But you’ve seen what happens when we rush production. I don’t even know why Blue insisted on taking those defected jaspers into her care.”
“I needed them.”
“I’m sure you did.”
“None the less,” White interjected. “I like your idea, but it’ll take too long. I want this war over now. Not tomorrow, a week from now, or another thousand years. Now.”
“And you have a way to do that?” questioned Yellow.
“Of course,” White replied. “We’ve always had the way and it’s something we should’ve done at the start.”
Despite the ongoing conflict happening on Earth, those Homeworld gems who currently spent time on the planet tried to avoid such things. They were doing more important things, such as trying to stick to the plans set forth by the planet, even with the interference from the rebels.
Within spires and towers, Homeworld gems either planned, probed, or partied – as the rebels were making it more and more difficult to actually work on plans for a completed Earth colony, gems tended to gather within their social hierarchy – lowly gems continued planning, while the upper crusts enjoyed social engagements.
The top tiered military personnel also used these locations to interrogate prisoners or to repurpose them. One such gem, a lapis lazuli, had been captured on the ground during a battle, claiming she had no affiliation to the rebels, but they had taken her anyway. If she was a rebel, she was good at not talking and if she was who she claimed – a terraformer for Blue Diamond – then it was better she didn’t go back to Homeworld, least she inform people about her capture.
Instead, they placed her in a lovely mirror, something the organics on the planet seemed to be drawn to these days. Having a gem powered object was extremely helpful in all activities and this lazuli powered one was great at viewing locations and giving information. Unfortunately, she didn’t have the information they wanted, but…she was still useful.
Every gem had its place and those places always had purpose.
The call came at night.
The sound of alarms and klaxons blared through every single Homeworld built structure. It wasn’t a proximity alarm, such as those that went up if the rebels were seen in the area, but something much worse.
It was the evacuation alarm.
For whatever reason, the Diamonds wanted everyone off the planet and they wanted them off now. It was chaos, a mad scramble for the closest warp pad that would lead them all to the galaxy warp back to Homeworld. Gems pushed, pulled, elbowed, punched, fought…they just needed to leave. Those who had come in antiquated ships, outdated once the concept of warp pads was discovered and created, frantically rushed to their only means of escape.
In the scuffle, the beautiful mirror that held Lapis Lazuli was dropped and stepped on, left mere inches from the galaxy warp back home.
A nephrite captain had been separated from her crew and she had been desperate to find them. This trip to Earth was supposed to be short, a recon mission of information and plan updates and instead, she was about to miss her window of escape. She was within her rights to do so, but she just couldn’t leave her crew. They had been with her throughout this whole ordeal, had even rescued her when she had the misfortune of being on the wrong side of the Renegade Pearl. She couldn’t leave them here. She had to find them, she had to!
On Homeworld, the Diamonds were the ultimate authority, and not because they were unmatched in size and power. The Diamonds had the ability to create life, they also had the ability to take it away.
A species as long lived as the Diamonds and their gem subjects do not get this way by allowing laziness and resistance. Homeworld’s system was made up of hundreds of worlds and their moons and these were not acquired by gently asking for them. Gems were constructed to be conquers; invaded worlds had a choice – give up their world, their resources, and become slaves or be destroyed.
Ultimately, even those aliens who went peacefully were destroyed – the gems had no use for their primitive minds or technology and if they did, they would be repurposed to match what Homeworld and their society needed.
Sometimes, rarely, they would be met with resistance. Beings who thought their technology matched or outclassed the invaders, decided they would defend their planet and their people. The Diamonds let them have their way, for a while, and then they would unleash their power on the planet. It was a sonic light, a power derived from White, Yellow, and Blue combining their own energies into a light that engulfed the planet and anyone on it.
Within the matter of minutes, their resistance problems were taken care of – everything on the surface was destroyed and it allowed Homeworld gems to come in and take control the planet.
The fact that it took them a thousand years and countless resources to perform this same maneuver on Earth was not to be stated or talked about. Ever. The Crystal Gems had made a mockery of the Diamond Authority with this war and the costs of its continuation was not something White Diamond wanted to invest in. She was done with this planet.
So she gathered the others to the moon base they had deployed to oversee the Earth and make quick communications. She silenced them both before they could start complaining and told them exactly what was going to happen; it was times like these she did miss her younger counterpart. They hadn’t gotten around to teaching her this technique before the rebels got a hold of her, so White could only imagine the delightful destruction all four of their powers could’ve wrought on one planet.
Ah, such as fate.
Gathering together, the three began the ritual, safe in the knowledge that this whole ordeal would be over soon.
Fate often times finds fault in even the most simple of plans.
A sapphire could tell you what the proper outcome should have been – the Diamonds would unleash their energy wave and it would have wiped out the majority of people, animals, and gems on Earth’s surface. The planet would be devastated, but would after a time, begin to support life again. However, by the time this would happen, the cluster – the weapon that laid dormant within the planet – would emerge, taking half of the planet and its people with it.
It would lose its orbit and ultimately crash into the sun, removing it from the Crystal System entirely.
That…is not what happened.
Showcasing just how little the Diamonds and Homeworld understood Earth outside of its minerals, the energy wave released by the Diamonds did not destroy the surface or its inhabitants; well…to be fair, it did. The energy wave did disintegrate human and animal bodies and destroyed vegetation that would take years to grow again, though crops in those areas tended to be larger than average when they did begin to grow.
But…it did not destroy everything.
Those gems who had been left on the planet – from elite gems that were trampled or pushed away from the galaxy warp to soldiers on the battlefield – should have been shattered on contact, but they weren’t. At least, not their physical forms. To this is day, those on Earth don’t know what exactly occurred or how, but gems weren’t shattered.
They were corrupted.
As though someone went inside and crushed their intellect, their personality, their very being, and reduced them to…monsters. As their minds turned in on themselves, so did their forms, transforming a gem’s body into a beast or worse.
The Diamonds were unaware of what transpired on the surface. They had assumed their last resort had been successful and certainly, as scientists made semi-regular checkups on the cluster and experimented with some of the shards they managed to find, it looked to be true. The Prime Kindergarten was completely abandoned and other than a few odd noises every once in a while, things seemed to be in hand and in order.
Back on Homeworld, as years turned to centuries and then to a millennium – leading the society from Era 1 to Era 2, then Era 3 – the events of the war were erased from public knowledge. Only a few gems were left from Era 1 and they were in no hurry to relive or even remember the war they barely escaped. So, gems in the newest eras weren’t aware of a rebellion or a war, of a Diamond shattered before her time, or of the rebels known as the Crystal Gems.
Life went back to what Era 1 gems remembered and missed in the aftermath. What most didn’t know was that their resources were dwindling and they didn’t know why.
What the Diamonds didn’t know was that three members of the Crystal Gems still lived, their forms being protected by the shield of the rebel leader, Rose Quartz. They also didn’t know that there was a lone amethyst quartz soldier who had been left on the planet, emerging nearly 500 years after the war’s end.
What fate couldn’t predict was that the rebel leader would fall in love and with a human, no less; she would give up her form for a child, a hybrid between human and gem, all because mother and father wanted a child together.
Fate, and to some extent the Earth, wouldn’t give up its secrets until a lone peridot came to check on the cluster in facet five…