In the sky arena is where the training trio could be found. Well Steven wasn't really involved at the moment, he was more of the support and audience. No the real action was between Pearl and Connie.
It was only a week ago that the kids convinced the samurai to give lessons on fighting. Connie was a natural it turns out, she took on Halo Pearl level one and two with ease so it was only fair to give the girl a bit of a challenge. It goes without saying Pearl went easy on her.
Week two came and went just as successful. Pearl expanded Connie's knowledge of different swords and the proper techniques used for each. Holo Pearl leveled at three and four were defeated as well during this week but not without putting force on young hands. Connie needed bandages to help blisters turn to callous.
It was on week three that Steven started to worry about his friend. Not so much about her safety, Pearl was more than careful when Connie entered a duel with her or her clones. The worry came from the pep talks, the motives given to keep Connie going in her training.
What had started as a way to protect and defend has transformed into complete disregard for oneself to ensure the objective is met. Keep Steven safe at all costs. That is what worried Steven. Thankfully the end of training for the day had come.
Connie walked over to Steven and knelt in front of him to bow, to which he stood where he was awkwardly. "Connie...what are you doing? Training is over for the day. You don't have to pretend being a knight any more."
"Oh but Steven, a knight is never off duty. Evil never rests and so I shall remain at your service until the end of time." Connie looked up to her friend a goofy smile on her face. "Or until I need to go home for dinner hehe."
"Riiight. Ha ha ah..."
Yep, this definitely isn't what he wanted. Pearl accidentally turned Connie into a full time soldier. Like a robot bent on keeping him safe. Then it hit him. Connie was turning into a robot soldier.
"Come on Steven!"
Connie and Pearl were already at the warp pad ready to go. He rushed over and warped them back home. Pearl congratulated Connie once more and retired to her room for the evening and Connie said her goodbye to Steven and left to go back to her own home. They left too soon for the boys taste leaving him in a less than energetic mood.
On the couch laid Amethyst on her side with her head propped up on her hand. "Yo Stevo! How was the nerd games today?"
"Eh not so good..." He walked over to sit next to her on the couch.
"Connie get hurt? She looked pretty okay to me."
Steven slid down, now slouching and looking away from Amethyst. "Well Connie is doing really really good, Pearl says she's making fast progress." He waited a few seconds but the purple gem next to him didn't say anything so in a hushed voice he whispers. "This is the part you ask 'then what's the matter little man?'"
"Haha okay, what's the matter little man?" Amethyst played along and let him vent his issue.
And boy did he vent. He started from the beginning of how the training went from teaching proper form to being a real knight. He managed to keep the story of the past few weeks to only fifteen minutes. By the time he was done talking he had slouched his way almost to the point of falling off the sofa.
From across the room, Lapis exited the bathroom. Upon returning to the sitting area she greeted the boy. "Oh hi Steven." Taking note of his posture she felt compelled to ask what the problem was but Amethyst jumped in and spoke for her.
"I know! Lapis and I will go with you guys tomorrow! Yea it'll be awesome, we can keep the mood light in case P tries to get super serious like she always does."
Lapis wasn't sure she was fond of the offer. But heck, it was better than sitting around starring at nothing waiting for someone to pester her. "Where am I going?"
"The sky arena! We're gonna watch Pearl give fight lessons to Connie."
"Fight lessons? I don't need lessons on how to fight, if you haven't noticed." She briefly remembered their little fight before she left Earth.
"Don't worry you wont be fighting, just watching with us." Steven reassures the blue girl.
"I'm not sure I wanna do that either." Lapis mutters. Again, it was better than being bored.
"Great! Just one more thing." Steven looks up at the water gem. "What were you doing in the bathroom?"
"Amethyst told me there was a never ending flow of water in there." She narrows her eyes at the crystal gem. "I looked every where. I found nothing."
Amethyst couldn't hold the snickering back, it was too easy really. "Hey she didn't want my help."
"I think I can spot an endless amount of water if there was such a thing."
Steven lead Lapis to the bathroom again. "Lapis, this is a sink. And this is a bath. These twisty things on top, these are called faucets. They make the water come out." He turned the knobs on the faucet for the sink and let water rush from the spout. Steven saved the day, and Lapis found her favorite room in the house. Despite the odor.
The next morning Steven was up and ready for Connie's practice. Lapis was sitting on the couch waiting to go. Amethyst was only just leaving her room to join the two, a big yawn escaping her gaping mouth.
Steven jumps down the steps from his room two at a time. "Hi Amethyst, ready to watch two of our favorite people battle it out to ensure the safety of the world?"
"Don't I look ready?"
"Yes." He says with a grin. Then she throws herself face down onto the couch next to Lapis. "Maybe not."
There was no time to be lazy because Connie was bursting through the door, eager to begin another days training. "Hey guys, ready Steven?"
"Hey Connie, yea I'm ready! Or should I say, we're ready." He gestures to the two gems on the couch. "Amethyst and Lapis are gonna come with to cheer you on. If you don't mind that is."
"Of course that's fine, the extra set of eyes can help point out anything I might be lacking." Connie was giggling at this but Steven was feeling his stomach twist a little.
"Right...well lets get going I guess." Steven and Connie stood on the warp pad and looked back to the others.
Lapis was pulling, or at least trying to pull Amethyst off the couch. It was almost as if her purple friend was glued to the thing. "Amethyst get off this couch. You got me into this and you are NOT making me go alone!"
"Chill Risky, I was just gettin' a few more minutes of shut eye. I'm comin." The sleepy gem got up and pulled Lapis to the warp pad with her arm around thin shoulders.
Connie leaned over to her friend so she could whisper to him. "Hey, Amethyst and Lapis sure got close over the past couple weeks." She couldn't help a little grin forming on her lips.
In a hushed voice, Steven smiles back at her. "Yea I know, it's great isn't it?" Connie hums back to him in agreement just before the two in question get to them.
With everyone ready to go, they warped over to the sky arena. When the flash of light died down and the four walked up the steps leading to a large opening. On the other side they could see that Pearl was already there, of course being the punctual type. The tall gem was setting up obstacles that would be used in a later duel after warming up.
The two kids and Amethyst started making their way to the arena when after only a few steps down they realize they aren't being followed. Lapis was standing at the top step looking down at Pearl. She didn't feel threatened by the gem, no she learned already that Pearl wasn't going act unless provoked. The thing that was holding back the water gem was the discomforting atmosphere that always seemed to follow the two. Lapis liked the distance. At least between her and the crystal gem.
"Aren't you gonna come down Lapis?" Steven asked from where he was.
"I think I'm fine right here. I don't want to be in the way." She spoke in a soft casual tone, hoping she wouldn't be dragged down to ground level.
Amethyst takes a step back toward the top and props a foot up. "Come on weirdo, you didn't drag me off the couch to stand there. We gotta go watch Connie kick Pearl's butt!"
Connie shuffles where she stands a bit, "Guys I need to get ready, I'm already behind my normal schedule."
"Okay I'll race you down then! I'll be back after I let Pearl know you guys are gonna watch. Alright Connie, on my mark." Steven looked to see his friend was already half way down to the ground. "Hey wait up!"
Pearl noticed the new company instantly, not that it was necessarily bad company. She just preferred undivided attention during...well most everything. Then she saw a speck of blue appear at the top of the arenas steps, knowing it could only be Lapis.
Pearl stood up straight with one hand on her hip and the other by her brow as she peered at the foreign gem. "Oh, why are you here?" she said less than thrilled.
"Pearl, hey!" Steven shouts to said gem as he and Connie ran down the flight of stairs. Connie was first to get to her teachers side.
"Hi Pearl. Sorry I'm running behind today, I had some chores to do before I was allowed to come over." Connie dug around in her duffel bag and pulled out her hand wraps. Her small hands were working fast to put the protective binding around her wrists, knuckles, and fingers. Once her hands were properly wrapped, Connie began her routine stretches making sure she wont be pulling any muscles. Pulled muscles meant injury, and injury meant no practice.
Steven was already by Pearl's side, literally. He was currently laying his weight onto his caretaker, hugging her hip to remain standing. "Hey Pearl. We made it." he said between breaths. As it turns out, the race down the arena took more out of him than he thought it would.
The tall gem let out a soft chuckle and wrapped in arm around Steven in a half hug. "Yes you did. And I see you brought guests to today's lesson."
"Oh yea, Lapis and Amethyst are gonna sit in on this one if that's okay?"
Pearl looks up to the stands and sees that Lapis and Amethyst are still at the higher levels. Lapis was standing near the entrance with Amethyst a few steps down standing with her hands behind her head. She was saying something but Pearl couldn't hear her and she was facing away from her so she couldn't even attempt to read her friend's lips.
Thin lips flattened slightly as blue eyes continued to stare at the couple in the distance. Not that they were a couple. A couple of gems who just so happen to be spending a frequent amount of time together without a significant purpose. 'It can't be...' Pearl thought. 'Amethyst can't possibly be subject to an emotional attachment with Lapis Lazuli. Not that it would matter. Nor would I hold an opinion on the matter.' Amethyst tilts her head back in laughter and Lapis wears a quirky smile while failing to hold back her own laughs. A part of Pearl sinks. Or maybe its pulled tight. She isn't quite sure. But a plan she's not even sure of crosses her mind and drags a challenging smirk to her lips.
"Sooo...?" Steven was waiting on a response to his question that someone has not yet answered.
Pale cheeks reveal a shade of blue almost too light to see. "I don't see why it would be a problem." Actually she could think of a few reasons. "As long as Connie's focus isn't lost due to the side line distractions, visitors are welcomed."
"Great, I'll go let them know they can come down now." Steven detached himself from Pearls long legs and sprinted his way back up the stairs that caused him fatigue, completely forgetting his previous exhaustion. Only when he got back to the two did he feel the wear on his legs, bringing him to his knees to weakly crawl up the last few steps.
"Jeez Steven, you gotta work out." Strong purple hands easily lift the boy up on top of broad shoulders.
"Yea. Maybe just. A little." He rested his head on top of Amethyst's, letting his curly black hair mesh with her wavy white. "Pearl says you can come down now."
Lapis leans against the entrance wall trying to muster up the will to do the unwanted. Amethyst saw the stubborn girl and pouted a bit in thought. "Yo Steve-o do me a solid and save us some seats. We'll catch up." She removed him from her shoulder and sets him down next to her gently.
"Okay sounds like a plan." Steven looked back down to his friend and teacher. All the way at the bottom. He began his third trip over these concrete torture devices.
Thus leaving the two gems to be alone again. For no particular reason, they both waited until the boy was out of ear shot again before they spoke again.
Lapis started, "I'm really not looking forward to getting peered at for who knows how long."
"Okay so lets do something else." Amethyst walked past the blue gem.
"Where are you going?"
"Follow me and find out."
After only a moment of consideration, the offer was accepted and Lapis trailed behind her friend. They walked to the edge of the sky arena and paused. Amethyst looked over and around the edge looking for somewhere to continue their travels. She settled on some broken wall that seemed to be caught in the arena's gravitational pull. White boots launched her over to the hovering platform. She turned back to Lapis expecting her to jump also, which she did. They made their way down a level and found an entrance to the bottom floor of the arena.
Little did they know, they were being followed. Steven was almost to the bottom of the stairs when Connie and Pearl began their lesson. Excited, he turned around to see if the others were on their way. When he saw they weren't and they were missing he surveyed his surroundings and spotted them moving down the floating rubble. Curiosity got the best of him as it usually does, and he followed them. His little legs were worn out but he had to follow them. They were supposed to keep his Connie from getting sucked into the role of being a knight!
Navy eyes took in the surrounding architecture. The sparring area above them was heavily damaged, not to mention the arena was now a floating island, but most everything under the field seemed to be intact. Lapis took in her surroundings with only one question in mind. "What is this?"
The shorter gem spun around with her arms out presenting the room to her friend. "This magnificent place, Lapis, is where we keep our cool doodads."
A decorative mirror catches the attention of the former prisoner. She picks up the mirror and looks at her reflection. "Doodads?" After mentally reassuring herself this is not the dreaded mirror that kept her trapped, she genuinely inspected the spiraled handle and vine patterns engraved in the boarder.
"Yea like stuff, junk really. But the cool junk." Not finding anything worth laying on, Amethyst takes a seat on the floor and lays back. "Go ahead and look around. Maybe you'll see something really neat."
And so that's what she did. And if she were to be honest, a lot of the 'doodads' she came across were pretty interesting. Her favorite so far was a statue of an animal she hadn't yet learned of. She believed it was one of the Earths more peaceful, yet complicated water creatures. Living in the ocean, but still needing oxygen to survive. 'Living in a habitat that doesn't support your basic needs doesn't seem very practical, Earth makes it's own rules I guess. What were these things called again? Talhans? Dopkins? Tolmins? Uhg whatever.'
Lapis went to set the statue down on top of a desk, when upon further observation was actually a large chest. It was a mossy green color with intricate gold trim along the edges and studded gold corners. It was pretty plain looking overall. But one very important detail shook Lapis enough to make her lose her grip and drop the beloved art piece. It hit the ground, immediately shattering. This caught the attention of her purple pal.
Amethyst rushed over to the sound to see what happened. "Hey are you okay?" she saw broken ceramics scattered around blue feet. "If you didn't like it, you could have just ignored it haha." The crystal gem noticed she was the only one laughing and slowed down to an awkward silence. Lapis still had her back turned and was still staring at the chest. Amethyst didn't know what had gotten into her, and quite frankly had a bad feeling about this. Not knowing what to say, she settles for a cautious, "Lapis?"
Said gem clenches her fists tight, her shoulders tense up and her gem starts to glow. "Why did you bring me here?" Her words are forced and harsh, although not yelled.
"You didn't wanna watch Pearl and-"
"Stop lying!" Lapis's water wings shot out of her gem, giving her a larger more threatened appearance. Her hands were gripping onto the edge of the chest, her eyes never leaving the center piece.
Amethyst took a step towards Lapis, wondering if this was such a good idea anymore. "Lapis what's going on? What's got you all on edge? Look if you wanna go back to the temple we can do that, I didn't plan on staying anyw-"
"Lapis? Amethyst?" Steven interrupts as he just now catches up to the two, having no idea what he just walked into. "What are you guys doing down here? What is down here?"
The seemingly unstable gem is the first to answer him. "This is a prison!"
"What?!" Both Steven and Amethyst questioned her at the same time.
The water gem moved aside and gestured to a rectangular stone that sat where a lock should be on the chest. The stone was mostly black with several white specks trailed throughout it. It was smooth and shiny like glass and radiated something that only a gem would recognize as one of their own. A gem was trapped in the chest, the same way Lapis was trapped in the mirror. Amethyst's chest tightened at the sight of the dormant gem. She remembered.
Lapis didn't want to, no. She couldn't waste her time talking to these two anymore. So much time had been wasted and now...now was no time for stalling. She latched her fingers onto any corner of the gem she could find grip to and pulled. She pulled and pulled but it didn't budge. Steven finally caught up, somewhat, to the situation and decided to help another gem in need of saving. So he gabbed Lapis around her waste and pulled as well.
Amethyst didn't know what to do, but she figured this was gonna happen sooner or later. So she joined in and summoned her whip. With a flick of her wrist, the whip found its way around the chest without covering the gem to pull in the opposite direction. With all three of them working together to free the stuck gem, eventually they were successful.
A flash of light blinded the three for a moment before it dimmed to reveal the gem hovering ten feet above the ground. It was taking its default form as they all stared. Steven's eyes were full of wonder and amazement. Amethyst's eyes were full of regret and worry. Lapis held hopeful tears in hers. The gem took its form and before them stood a gem two inches shorter than Pearl herself. Her skin was the lightest shade of gray it almost looked white. She had toned legs and broad shoulders. Her chest was proud and her waist was fair. Solid arms were hidden under loose sleeves for sure, but slim none the less. Short snow white colored hair was messily tossed around on top her head. And when she finally looked up, you could see how soft her features are. And when she opened her deep green eyes you could see pain and betrayal coating her glare. More specifically, her glare at Amethyst.
"Amethyst..." The mysterious new gem speaks with malice in her throat. The purple gem takes a few steps back out of caution, too frightened to do anything else. Steven has never seen the carefree gem so intimidated before. He had no idea who this was and what she was capable of. So he watched. He watched as one of his family members backed away from the gem she just helped to set free. And he had no idea why.
The new gem was about to approach Amethyst too, until Lapis intervened. "Snow..." she whispered softly. Her voice weak and wavering but still heard by all present.
She stopped in her tracks. Vicious glare dropped, now replaced with wide eyes and a slacked jaw. Only her torso pivots as her feet are glued to the ground beneath her boots. And there she saw, only four feet next to her, "Lapis."
A single tear rolls down her cheek. Then in a leap and a half, her and Lapis are engulfed in a bone crushing embrace. No words are spoken as the two hold each other. Tears are streaming down the stranger's face and Lapis is openly crying into her shoulder. "I thought...and you weren't...I didn't..." Thoughts and emotions were coming and going as fast as they were living.
As if this moment wasn't already filled with confusion and panic, a couple more guests arrive at the scene. Pearl and Connie storm into the arena's basement, swords ready and senses peaked from the mid training adrenaline. "Steven are you okay?" Connie rushes to her liege, to make sure he is safe. He never answers despite being fine. Being left without an answer, the girl looks at the new gem. "Who's that?" Again, Steven didn't answer. Connie looked at Amethyst in shock, then to Pearl who was also in shock.
In fact Pearl was frozen. The sword she held in her hand shook as her nerves lost control of her cool. Her eyes were wide and quivering. She kept mouthing silent unreadable words until one was audibly spoken. "Obsidian."
The emotion filled embrace between the chest gem and mirror gem was quickly replaced with a defensive and protective stance. A double edged sword was summoned from the rectangular gem sitting in the center of her torso. In one swift flawless motion Lapis was positioned behind her and Pearl was left defenseless as the sword she was previously holding was now across the room lost in artifacts.
The thin crystal gem could feel the cold touch of the sharp blade press against her neck. Everyone was watching, they all witnessed it with their own eyes and still, no one could believe it. In one move, Pearl was effortlessly defeated.