Chapter 9

The hour of judgment had finally come. The burning husk of the once great city stood ominously against the red sky.
Thick black clouds choked the light of the moon as embers ascended into the night. Warped and shattered metal bodies smoldered in the streets.
The war had finally reached it's terminal stage. It was time to end it.

"Where are you taking us?!" Pearl asked as she clung to Garnet for dear life.

"Somewhere far away from here!" Garnet exclaimed.

She had to keep everyone safe, to do that, they had no choice but to forsake the city. With a loud thud, Garnet's feet hit the ground.
She had taken them back to where they had first stumbled upon the city.

"Everyone, stay close!" she ordered loudly. "It's almost over!"

The once mighty river that had divided the north and south end of the city was now a shallow, mud filled pit.
Lumbering through the crumbling city came the surviving tanks. American, British, French, Soviet, and Japanese tanks all moved together in one direction; forward.
They smashed their way through any remaining buildings and crushed anything unfortunate enough to be in their way.
Nothing was going to stand between them and their one last chance to fulfill their birthright.
They needed to fight, it was their sole purpose in the world.
They needed to show the what the great American industry could produce and arm.
They needed to show that they were not afraid to die for their queen and country.
They needed to show the superiority of steel forged from the fatherland.
They needed to show the might that only the motherland could birth.
They needed war.

From the blasted remains of the city, the metal beasts emerged.
Both from the north and south sides of the scarred land, the tanks lined up side to side. The opposing side halted at the edge of the barren river bed.
Below them was a deep, mile long no man's land.
All of the fighting had lead up to this.
Both sides waited for the other to make the first move.
The gems readied themselves. They knew the final battle was about to erupt.

Suddenly, the tanks on the south all fired their cannons in massive volley.

It had begun.

The north fired a volley of their own.
With a collective roar of engines, both sides charged down into the river bed.
Their guns flashed and their treads tore and flung mud as they barreled at full speed towards their enemy.
Like a ancient cataclysm, the two sides slammed into each other.
All hell had finally broken loose.
Tanks rammed against each other. Sparks flew as metal scrapped against metal. Armor was blown open. Engines erupted into flames.
The land echoed with the pounding of metal against metal. Shell after shell was fired. The air began to stink of gasoline and sulfur.
The black oil blood of the tanks stained the ground as more and more perished. Fire spread and covered the river bed.
Even with a sea of fire around them, the tanks kept fighting. They had no need to stop, and they didn't want to.
There were no sides in this battle any longer, now it was every tank for themselves.

Pearl put her hands on Steven's shoulders and pulled him towards her, like a mother would with her child during a storm.

"Chaos..." she muttered, horrified at the hellish nightmare that the strawberry fields had become.

"Absolute chaos."

As the hours passed, the sounds of the distant battle grew quieter and quieter.
With one last explosion, a haunting silence fell over the lands. The gems felt something move them. It felt like the great passing of something.
After all the fire, smoke, and mayhem, all was now still and quiet.

"Is it over?" Steven asked in a numbed tone.

Before anyone could answer, a bright flash lite up the sky.

"Look!" Amethyst yelled pointing towards the city. "What's happening ?"

High above the city, bits of glass and dirt began to spiral towards a bright glowing object.

"It's the crystal assembler!" Pearl exclaimed. "There is still hope!"

The ground began to shake and the wind began to blow towards the crystal.

"We need to destroy it!" Garnet yelled over the howling wind.

"But how?" Amethyst asked as she fought against the pull of the crystal singularity.

Garnet slammed her fist into the ground and cracked it into large chunks.

"We let it take us!"

Before anyone could voice their concerns, the ground split and pulled the gems up.

"Hold on, Steven!" Amethyst yelled as she held on to him.

Buildings crumbled and were pulled into the sky. The husks of tanks were ripped apart and thrown up into the storm of debris.

"It's tearing everything apart!" Pearl cried over to Garnet. " If we don't destroy it soon, it will tear us apart as well!"

The tempest began to spin faster and more violently as it broke down everything down to a molecular level. The sky flashed with a pulsing red light.

"Garnet, destroy it!" Pearl screamed as a whirlwind of glass cut into her.

Garnet lept and reached out for the crystal. With it's light burning her, Garnet grabbed the assembler and shattered it. With a blinding flash, everything began to fall. As the gems plummeted towards the ground, they had to dodge falling rocks and tanks.
Suddenly a huge rock slammed into Amethyst and caused her to lose her grip on Steven.

"Steven!" she screamed as the boy plummeted.

With a sickening crack, Steven hit the ground. Everything went black.

"Steven!" all three of the gems cried out in horror. Quickly they ran over to him.

"Steven, can you hear me?!" Pearl cried as she tried to roust him. He didn't move.

"Come on, please, you gotta wake up!" Amethyst pleaded.

Steven's eyes flickered open, then went wide with fear. His gem began to glow. Suddenly, a huge bubble shield surrounded the gems.
The gems looked up to see a wall of rubble falling down upon them. As the rain of wreckage bludgeoned the shield, the gems all embraced him.
If the shield failed, they would protect the young gem with their bodies. Finally the avalanche of rock and metal came to an end.
His gem flickered and the shield popped.

"Is it over now?" Steven asked groggily, his head pounding.

The gems looked around the fields, nothing was moving and the factories had finally stopped working.

"Yes, it is over," Pearl said with a teary smile as she helped him off the ground. "It's finally over!"

"Good, that really sucked!" Amethyst scowled tiredly.

Garnet nodded her head and rubbed the back of her neck.

"Let's go home," she sighed tiredly. " I need a shower."

Tired and sore, the gems gathered together. They took one last look around the gray ash covered fields. While they may not have been able to restore the strawberry fields to it's former glory, they had at least ended the vicious cycle of destruction.

"Goodbye Jr," Steven muttered sadly. "We'll miss you."

As the dim light of the warp field began to glow, a soft breeze began to blow. Pearl sniffed the air and sighed.

"Call me crazy, but I can smell strawberries."

Finally it's over! I hope you all enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed typing it.

Until next time.

Roll out!