The light hurts Amethyst's eyes. She's used to the dim half-light of Kindergarten, lit only by the glow of machinery. The world is bigger and brighter than she ever imagined.
The first few weeks, she hid herself away in the Lunar Sea Spire most of the time. It's the only gem territory in rebel hands, but she doesn't even feel safe there. The only time she really feels safe is when Rose is there and Rose can't be everywhere at once.
Amethyst has her own room in the Spire. It's a lot bigger than her hole, but she used to have all of Kindergarten to herself. She doesn't really like sharing.
A gentle knock on the door pulls her back to the present.
"Come in," she calls, pulling the door open with her whip so she doesn't have to get out of bed.
She snaps to attention when Garnet enters.
"Rose wants to see you," Garnet says. "I will take you to her."
It's the most Amethyst has ever heard her speak. "Did she say why?" Amethyst asks.
"Yes," Garnet says and doesn't elaborate.
Rose's headquarters are at the very peak of the Spire, protected by her shield. There's a temporary warp pad off to one side, but it's inactive. All the warp pads in the area are. As long as Homeworld controls the galaxy warp, none of the other pads are secure. They've already lost too many gems to cut warp streams.
Rose waits for them at her desk, still arrayed in gleaming pink armor. She smiles gently, her sword unsheathed at her hip.
"I assume Garnet didn't tell you why you're here," she says.
Amethyst shrugs and Rose sighs. "She really needs to learn to talk to people," she mutters, shaking her head. "I need you to accompany her on a scouting mission."
Amethyst blows her hair out of her eyes. "Are you kidding me?" she demands, crossing her arms. "I'm a gem warrior. I don't do scouting missions."
If Rose is impatient, she doesn't show it. She doesn't show any emotions that aren't peaceful and happy and loving. Honestly, it creeps Amethyst out sometimes. Rose gets up from her desk and leans down to embrace Amethyst.
"I need you for this," Rose says, gentle but persistent.
"But why me?" Amethyst asks. "Why not Pearl. She's good at scouting. In fact, why not just send Garnet by herself?"
"Amethyst," Rose says. "I need you to do this because you are a gem warrior. Someone has to keep an eye on Garnet."
Amethyst laughs. "Seriously? Garnet?" she demands. "Since when does Garnet need a babysitter?"
"I have my reasons," Rose says solemnly. "Now, will you accept the mission?"
"Fine, fine, whatever," Amethyst groans.
"Thank you," Rose says and kisses her on the forehead.
Garnet is waiting for her outside the office, leaning against the wall, her arms crossed defensively over her chest as best she can with giant gauntlets in the way. She almost never puts away her weapons.
"Let's go," she says.
Amethyst follows her to the warp pad outside the spire, clutching her whip like a lifeline.
"So, where are we going?" she asks.
Amethyst blinks. Garnet places a star shaped key in the base of the warp pad. It hums in a deliberate pattern, showing that their path is clear.
"You do know where we're going, right?" Amethyst repeats when they land.
Garnet shrugs again and points. "That way."
They're in a forest, fir trees growing so close together that only the barest suggestion of light can filter through. It reminds Amethyst of home, but it's not nearly as silent as the Kindergarten had been. Unseen creatures make all sorts of strange, unfamiliar noises and their quiet footfalls echo off the trees. Amethyst draws closer to Garnet.
"What exactly are we supposed to be looking for?"
"Don't worry," Garnet says. "I'll find it."
Amethyst groans in annoyance, then catches herself. "Why am I even here?" she whispers.
Garnet doesn't reply.
They walk east in relative silence, following the path of a nearby stream. Amethyst fiddles with her whip, keeping her eyes on the trees around them. She can't shake the feeling that she's being watched and the silence is unbearable.
"So, why did you join Rose's Army?" she asks, desperate for conversation. It's the only thing she can think of to ask.
"Don't doubt my loyalty," Garnet snaps.
"Hey, hey, I'm not doubting," Amethyst laughs. "I'm just curious is all."
"We have our reasons," Garnet says grimly.
Ahead of them, the trees start to thin out.
"Yeah, I wanna know what your reasons are," Amethyst says. "Most of Rose's gems are, well, kinda defective. You're not. So. Why'd you join?"
Garnet looks at her with a blank expression. Amethyst is usually pretty good at reading people, but she goes by the eyes. She doesn't think she's ever seen Garnet's eyes.
"We're leaving cover," Garnet says. "Hold my hand."
"What?" Amethyst shrieks. "I'm not a child! I'm a gem warrior. I don't need to hold your hand."
Garnet sighs. "Don't be arrogant," she orders. "Hold my hand."
Amethyst grumbles as she slips her hand into Garnet's gauntlet. It might just be her imagination, but she thinks Garnet relaxes.
Garnet leads her to an open plain covered in gently swaying grass and abandoned weapons. A few red berries dot the landscape. Most of the weapons are massive, easily three or four times as large as the biggest weapons Amethyst has seen.
"Where are we?" she asks.
"This was a battlefield once," Garnet says, her hand tightening around Amethyst's. "In the early days of the war. About a century ago, when Homeworld still thought we were barely a threat. Hundreds of gems fought and died here."
"Oh," Amethyst murmurs. "Did we win?" She hates to admit it, but she's glad she's holding Garnet's hand.
"If you like," Garnet says. She shakes herself. "Come on. There's work to do."
They walk the battlefield for hours, Garnet bubbling any gem she comes across. They don't wander. Garnet walks with single minded purpose, though Amethyst couldn't say where. The sunlight glints off the weapons, shining in her eyes.
"I still don't know why I'm here," Amethyst points out when the silence becomes unbearable.
"I needed you with me," Garnet says, still holding Amethyst's hand.
"You could've had anyone hold your hand," Amethyst grumbles.
Garnet opens her mouth to answer and drops to her knees with a wordless scream. Her hand convulses around Amethyst's hard enough to crush bone. Amethyst tries to pull away but she can't break Garnet's grip and Garnet doesn't even notice she's there.
"Come on," Amethyst pleads. "We need to get out of here." She has no idea where they need to go, just knows they have to get moving. "Garnet. Come on. Please."
Garnet just screams.
All around them, broken fragments of weapons jerk violently from the sheer force of Garnet's cries. Amethyst splits her free arm in two and forms herself ears just so she can cover them. When she's dulled her hearing enough to think, she grabs Garnet and starts dragging her back to the warp pad.
Garnet is heavier than she looks and it takes Amethyst a few tries to get her moving, using the death grip on her hand like an anchor. Her joints strain with the effort.
They're halfway to the warp pad when Garnet finally stops screaming. Amethyst blinks in the sudden silence.
"Are you alright?" she asks, her voice straining with fear and exhaustion.
"No," Garnet gasps. "We need to leave. Now."
She gathers Amethyst into her arms and runs. The landscape flies past them faster than Amethyst knew possible. They reach the warp pad in a matter of minutes.
Garnet activates the warp pad.
There's a sound like metal tearing and the warp stream vanishes, leaving them stranded in space.
For a moment, no one moves. They hang there, suspended in time. Then Amethyst starts laughing. Once she's started, she can't seem to stop and she laughs louder and louder, spinning around without gravity to keep her upright.
"Quiet," Garnet snaps. "They'll hear us."
Amethyst laughs louder still. "Come on, Garnet," she crows between gasps. "What's gonna hear us out here?"
As if in answer, a smooth black orb floats into view. It's easily twice Garnet's size and it hums quietly, drifting towards the stranded gems.
"A drone," Garnet whispers.
A line of glowing red light encircles the drone. It splits in half, twin cannons emerging from its core, aiming unerringly at Garnet and Amethyst.
Garnet grabs Amethyst's collar and drags her away. There's just enough air to make movement difficult. The beams of light barely miss, clipping the end of Amethyst's hair.
"Stay back," Garnet orders. She pushes off Amethyst's shoulder, lunging at the drone.
The drone dodges, fires again, breaks Garnet's left gauntlet off. Garnet hisses in annoyance, the extra weight of her remaining gauntlet spinning her around. She tries to summon the missing gauntlet, but the drone fires and she loses the right gauntlet. Unarmed, defenseless, and barely able to dodge, Garnet folds her hands against her chest and stares at the drone like she can destroy it with the sheer force of her rage.
The drone glows, ready to strike.
That's when Amethyst moves.
She forms a fin like she's seen aquatic organics use and pushes herself in range of the drone. She pulls her whip from her gem, wrenches the cannon away from Garnet. It fires at nothing. Amethyst shifts back to her normal form and jumps inside, tearing out everything she can get her hands on. Her vision narrows until all she can see is the drone's dying systems.
She flinches at a light touch to her shoulder.
"We could have used it," Garnet says.
"It nearly killed you," Amethyst points out, too tired to be angry.
"No it didn't," Garnet says. Before Amethyst can bristle she adds "It wasn't alone."
Sure enough, humming fills the air as three more drones materialize. Garnet summons her gauntlets.
"If we get out of this alive, I want some straight answers from you," Amethyst says, biting down on her fear.
"If," Garnet agrees.
The drones drift towards them slowly, almost casually. Garnet and Amethyst float back to back, linking their arms together. Amethyst shifts the fin back. Two more drones emerge, one from above and one from below. They're surrounded.
The drones start glowing in perfect unison, cannons pointed directly at them.
"Do you trust me?" Garnet asks.
"Is this really the time?" Amethyst demands.
"Answer the question."
Amethyst sighs. "Yeah. I trust you." She has to yell to be heard over the hum of the drones.
"Brace yourself," Garnet says.
And falls apart.
Her body writhes and shifts and glows, constantly moving. The drones fire and Garnet expands to shield Amethyst, the laser beams passing through her harmlessly. A sound like singing comes from her, if singing shook the air violently enough to shake the drones to pieces. They fly apart and drift into space.
Garnet reforms, summoning her visor to cover her third eye.
"You can move here," she observes.
Amethyst nods, unable to tear her eyes from Garnet's stoic face.
"Let's try that stream," Garnet says, pointing to a warp off in the distance.
Amethyst takes Garnet by the hand and leads her there.
"How did you-" she asks.
"Not now," Garnet says. "We have to hurry. It's almost too late."
Amethyst doesn't ask.
They land in the middle of a battle. Amethyst doesn't know where they are but she sees Rose's flag. Pearl carries it of course. Pearl always carries Rose's standard. Rose stands beside her, sword in one hand, mace in the other, her legendary shield spreading out to protect a company of twenty soldiers. Her hair gleams like blood in the sunset and her gentle smile is gone, leaving behind an expression of utter fury. She's surrounded, cut off from the soldiers she protects with only Pearl by her side to protect her.
"Are you ready?" Garnet shouts above the roar of combat.
"Let's do this," Amethyst calls back.
Garnet leaps into the fray, scattering smaller gems with her gauntlets. Amethyst follows behind, picking off the few that Garnet misses. She loses herself in combat, spinning and shifting and striking until she's almost forgotten her own name.
Most of the enemy are other Kindergarten gems, twice her size and three times as deadly. But that doesn't matter because there's nobody in the universe who can shift like Amethyst. She changes forms faster than she ever has before until she loses track of friend, foe, fear and anything that's not an uncracked gem.
Behind her, she can hear singing. There's shouting too, but the singing is what she remembers, what pulls her out of the battle rage.
She comes back to herself just in time to see Rose Quartz die.