After many, many years away from fanfic, I've created this little number! I don't know if this is going anywhere... I have some ideas... but it will depend on you, the readers, if this will continue or not. I will say that if this continues, you should expect to see the Gems expand eventually... and oh yes, there will be Lapidot.
It's up to you kiddies... if this is popular, we'll continue.
We've all had that moment in our lives. A road not taken; a decision not made; a hope unfulfilled. These moments make the people that we are and the world that we live in. History is full of these tantalizing could have beens. Haven't we all had that moment where we wondered what if? What if the warnings were made, the precautions were taken, the choices were made differently, and the outcomes were different? How changed could a person's life be? Or the lives of several people? It doesn't have to be much. It could be as simple as a different order at the restaurant, a different time of leaving of home…
…or maybe a throw made a second too early.
Garnet smiled as the hulking Gem charged towards her. Jasper's anger was getting the best of her, which meant she was going to make mistakes like charging blindly at her opponent. She caught the beast by her helmet, easily stopping her attack. She could hear the larger Gem's teeth grinding in rage. No matter. Summoning her full strength, Garnet whirled Jasper around and hurled her at the pulsing powering source of the Gem ship. With any luck, Jasper would smash straight into the center and create a chain reaction that would disable the vessel.
Unfortunately, it seems her aim was just a bit off. If she had thrown the massive Gem a second later, she would have slammed head first into its center. Instead, Jasper's head struck the machine a glancing blow and she immediately slumped into unconsciousness. Still, the brute had at least some of the desired effect; a spider web of cracks began spreading from where her bulk had collided with the alien technology. The job done, Garnet ran to collect the rest of the Crystal Gems.
The aforementioned Gems shuddered slightly as the effects from the damaged engine rippled through the craft.
"What's happening?" Steven cried, taken aback by the sudden jolt.
"The engine's been damaged… something's hit the containment field…" Pearl said, distant, her eyes reflecting the damage report from the systems.
"How much ya wanna bet that somethin' was Garnet?" Amethyst said. The ship trembled again.
"Unless you relish the thought of bellyflopping into Earth's atmosphere, I would withhold celebrating," Pearl said. "If the engine fails, we're going to plummet back to Earth."
"Oh, well, that would be a shame, wouldn't it, Peri?" Amethyst smirked.
"Grrrrr… Why do you creeps always break my things!?" the Gem beneath her growled. Peridot cursed her bad luck. Ironically, if the ship had taken more damage, it might have shaken this purple lump off of her and given her a chance to escape…
"Tough luck," Amethyst said. Garnet bolted onto the bridge.
"Garnet!" the Crystal Gems cried.
"This ship will go down any minute!" the lead Gem warned them.
"What about Lapis?" Steven urged.
"There's no time!"
"No, I promised her! We have to go back!" Steven said. Garnet opened her mouth to argue, but Steven had that look in his eyes… that look she could never say no to.
"Do you know where she is?"
"Yeah, she's just down the corridor, c'mon!" Steven cried, running past her.
"Steven!" Pearl yelled after the small boy. "We have to go!"
"His mind's made up, Pearl," Garnet sighed, turning to follow him. "Amethyst, bring Peridot."
"With pleasure," Amethyst replied, scooping up the squirming bundle and slinging it over her shoulder.
"I told you I'd come back…." the boy said proudly, twitching under the forcefield. "Hurry!" Lapis recoiled.
"No, Steven… I can't… there's nothing for me back on Homeworld… it's also so alien now, I…"
"Steven said hurry," Garnet replied, dragging the petite Gem out through the small hole. Lapis hemmed, but meekly got to her feet. "Now, we need to get off this ship before it—" The ship shuddered, nearly throwing the group to the deck. "-blows. Peridot, where are the escape pods?"
"You think I would tell you?!" the neon green Gem spat.
"Depends… would you prefer to die?" Peridot glared at her, clenching her teeth so tightly they almost cracked.
"The nearest pod is several meters to our right, around the corner. It should be large enough to accommodate us all."
"Then let's move," Pearl said, hustling Steven ahead of her.
Unfortunately, by the time they arrived, someone else had already claimed the pod.
"I have to admit… you're tougher than I thought," Jasper growled as she activated the craft. "This isn't over, Gems… assuming you can find another pod."
"Jasper, what are you doing? Don't leave me with these barbarians! Help me!" Peridot snapped. The huge Gem laughed.
"You think I need you to pilot this thing? You're just extra baggage!"
"But… but you can't just leave me here! Yellow Diamond…"
"Do you really think Yellow Diamond cares about some pathetic Peridot? Of course she doesn't! Think about it… all the assignments to this backwater that's produced defective Gems, or attracted the likes of Rose Quartz… you're expendable!"
"I'm… expendable?" Peridot whispered.
"Why else do you think I was assigned to this mission? Someone worth getting back had to keep an eye on you…"
"But I… no…"
"Don't let the atmosphere burn ya on the way in," Jasper smirked as the pod dropped out of the ship. The smirk was wiped off Jasper's face as another explosion ripped through the ship. Caught in the blast, the pod was thrown off course and re-entered Earth's atmosphere at an erratic trajectory. Enough of the pod survived to ensure the survival of its occupant, but the forces of the explosion had sheered a piece of metal free and forced it into Jasper's stomach, causing her to retreat into her Gem. Minutes later, pod and Gem alike crashed somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, sinking quickly out of sight.
"…expendable…" Peridot mumbled again.
"Focus!" Garnet snapped. "Where's another pod we can use?"
"We're all gonna be expendable if you don't tell Garnet!" Amethyst said, shaking the bundle.
"There's no point…" Pearl sighed. "We're re-entering the atmosphere. We're done for."
"Not yet we aren't!" Steven said as he took Lapis' hand. "Everybody get close…"
Lion pawed through the wreckage littering the beach, hoping to find his missing masters. The massive object that had hurled earthward a moment ago was rich with their scents, but so far the creature was unable to find any sign of them. He was about to poke around the main body of wreckage when he was attracted to a pile of debris nearby. Tugging it loose, he saw a small sphere of pink energy. The sphere dissolved, disgorging six figures onto the sandy beach.
"Nice one," Garnet breathed.
"Oh my gosh… I can't believe you're a fusion all the time!" Steven beamed.
"…you met Ruby and Sapphire?!" Amethyst asked.
"Oh no!" Pearl moaned. "We were going to introduce you… Garnet, your plan!"
"We were waiting for your birthday…" Garnet smiled sadly.
"We can still do it… I'll just pretend I didn't know!" Steven grinned. A yelp brought him back to the real world; Lapis was recoiling from a growling Lion. "Lion, no! She's a friend! Stop!" The beast looked warily at Steven, and then relented.
"Take this one," Amethyst said, picking up Peridot. "I had her tied up, but she got loose…"
"Ack! No! Please!" Peridot pleaded.
"Amethyst, no, she's been through enough…" Steven replied.
"…fine," the chubby Gem huffed, putting Peridot down. She summoned her whip again, just in case Peridot had any ideas to escape. Instead, the engineer seemed to slump into herself, staring numbly at the blazing wreck.
"…well, now what do we do," Pearl sighed. "We've got two unwelcome guests."
"Pearl, stop! Lapis isn't our enemy! Right, Lapis?"
"…no. No, Steven, I'm not your enemy. I'm not exactly happy to see these three, but… no. I don't want to fight. I just want peace," the watery Gem finally said. "Other than that… I don't know what I want…"
"And what about you…" Pearl asked warily of Peridot.
"I have nothing," Peridot replied. "I have lost my ship, failed my mission, and discovered that I am considered expendable. I am… adrift."
"Considering your 'mission' was to end all life on Earth, you will forgive me if I don't shed any tears," Pearl snarled back. "Lapis, I can believe… but you're a different story. How do I know that you won't go and reactivate Kindergarten the minute we turn our back?"
"What is the point? I am alone. I am stranded. I am abandoned. Everything I was loyal to left me. I have no quarrel with you anymore, and couldn't care less what happens to this planet," the engineering Gem mumbled.
"I say we force her back into her Gem and keep her there," Amethyst spat, twirling her whip around a large chunk of debris. Peridot yelped and curled into a fetal position. Steven ran in between the purple and neon-green Gems.
"No! Don't hurt her! She's been through enough!" Steven pleaded. Amethyst snorted.
"Steven, c'mon! She just abducted us! She helped Jasper hurt Garnet! She nearly took us back to Homeworld! She's asked for this!"
"Don't do it!" The boy looked at Garnet pleadingly.
"…stand down, Amethyst," the stoic Gem finally said. Grumbling, Amethyst complied. Peridot numbly got into a sitting position.
"He saved me… why did the Steven save me? I have not done anything to merit such loyalty," she muttered.
"Because he has a big heart and takes after his mother in all the right ways," Pearl replied, protectively cuddling the boy.
"I… see," Peridot hemmed. "Er… thank… you."
"Don't mention it," Steven smiled. "I meant it when I said your tech was pretty cool…"
"Enough," Garnet said, striding over to the two Homeworld Gems. She squatted down so they were more at eye level. "Consider your slate wiped clean. You have a new start here. The question is what you're going to do with it."
"You can join the Crystal Gems!" Steven blurted, seemingly erupting from Garnet's hair. "Even you, Peridot!" Lapis giggled a little at the small boy's rapid climb up the larger Gem.
"I… am sorry to disappoint the Steven, but I hardly feel enough loyalty towards this planet to protect it. I feel… nothing."
"And I'm not exactly happy that I'm back…" Lapis sighed. "I wanted to go home. Now I have no home. Now I'm trapped all over again."
"No. You're finally free now. Both of you. Free of expectations and demands. You're now free to chart your own course, here, without Yellow Diamond or Jasper. Few people get this chance. So, I ask you again… what are you going to do with it?"
"Stay!" Steven chirped. Garnet removed him and gently put a hand over his mouth.
"Let them decide, Steven."
"I… I need to get to know this place better," Lapis finally said.
"What, Beach City?" Steven asked through his gag. "It's pretty small…"
"No, Steven… all of it. The earth," she replied, sweeping her hand toward the horizon. "If I'm going to be stuck here… I need to see if I can at least tolerate it." Lapis looked into Garnet's visor. "I want to wander. I want to see what this place is really like. All of it. Good and bad."
"Then do it," Garnet replied.
"Garnet, are you insane?!" Pearl cried. The stoic Gem ignored her twiggy teammate.
"And you, Peridot?"
"…I do not know…"
"Come with me," Lapis said suddenly.
"What?" Peridot replied.
"You heard me. Come with me. We could both use some understanding. And… I could use some company."
"Garnet, this is madness," Pearl said. "She'll restart the Kindergarten!"
"It… would be nice to have someone with common ground," Peridot said. Lapis smiled slightly, extending her hand. Peridot accepted it with her floating digits, and came to her feet.
"Then go. With my blessing. And if you want to join us… you will be welcome."
"Thank you," Lapis said simply. Peridot hesitated before nodding.
"Garnet, stop this now…" Pearl warned.
"Trust me," Garnet said with a glint behind her visor, "no harm will befall the world from this decision." Pearl opened her mouth, but shut it, knowing she wouldn't win. "But be aware... I will trust and verify that you two are not going to Kindergarten. Do not let me be disappointed."
"Understood," Lapis nodded. Steven ran over and hugged Lapis' legs.
"Are you sure you don't want to stay?"
"Steven, you're a wonderful guy, but I need to see more of this place before I decide to stay with you. I have to know more," Lapis said, ruffling his unruly hair. "If I find more humans like you… I might come back to help protect them."
"I can make no promises, but I thank you for your mercy… Steven," Peridot said simply. Steven hugged the engineer's legs, causing her to wince.
"Please don't restart Kindergarten?"
"…I will not," Peridot said finally. She stared up at the burning hulk of the ship.
"Then perhaps we should get going," Lapis told her new companion. "There's nothing here for us right now." Lapis gave Peridot a few pats on her shoulder to bring her back to her senses. The triangle-haired Gem nodded, and without a word the two aliens began walking inland, making for the highway outside of the city.
"This is a terrible idea," Pearl groaned.
"I don't think we'll have anything to worry about," Garnet replied. "Lapis wants peace, and Peridot feels betrayed by her superiors. They will be harmless."
"Will we see them again?" Steven said sadly.
"Oh, I think you will, Steven. But their journey has just begun. It is not for us to tell them where to go. They need to find that out for themselves."
"Okay," the boy said glumly. The shaking in his pocket brought his attention to his phone. Turning it on, he asked "Hello?"
"Steven, I got your message!" Connie cried. "Are you okay?!"
"Uh, yeah, I think so…" Steven replied. "It was… we had a problem, but we're okay now."
"A lot," Steven managed, watching the two shapes recede into the darkness. "I think I could use someone to talk to, Connie…"
"I'll be right there," the girl replied, hanging up. Steven pocketed his phone and slumped into the sand, exhausted.
"Well, now where," Peridot asked as they left the limits of Beach City. It was the first thing either Gem had said since leaving the beach.
"What, not where. We learn," Lapis replied. "We observe, we watch, we know."
"I can triangulate our position to the nearest city," Peridot replied, forming her data pad. "We can arrive in—" Lapis closed her fellow Gem's hand.
"No. No plan. We just learn. Let's head this way."
Silently, the two aliens made their way north, destination… and mindset… unknown.