"Connie, come check this out!" Steven exclaimed quietly as he pointed excitedly. We had come along with the other Gems to Mask Island, only to find out that the monster we were chasing had gone back into the ocean. Garnet, Pearl, and Amethyst all took off in separate directions to search the ocean floor, but I stayed back with Steven. He could last a while without oxygen, but by no means could he breathe water like we could. I could even breathe water, but I avoided it. It was very uncomfortable after a lifetime of automatically holding my breath. Instead, Steven and I explored the island, even though he knew it like the back of his hand. It was probably one of his favorite Gem locations.

"What?" I asked in a low voice, creeping out from behind Steven.

Turning to look at me, he thrust his arm out to point once more. "Over there! There's some kind of animal sleeping! Let's go see what it is!"

"Uh, Steven," I whispered nervously, scratching the back of my head as I gently stopped him by catching his wrist. "I don't think we should go near it. There isn't supposed to be wildlife here!"

He immediately stopped struggling against my grip and gave me a baffled look. "Then what is that? It's definitely some type of living creature!"

I turned to look at it to try and assess it a bit more. Most of it was obscured by bushes and trees, but it was definitely an odd, furry pink creature whose chest was moving up and down slowly as though in a deep slumber. If the shade of pink wasn't tinged with a little orange, I would have thought it was Lion, but Steven had sent him out over the water for the search.

"Hmm, maybe you're right," I said quietly, turning back to look at Steven. "We should probably investigate it later though when the Gems come back. If this island isn't supposed to be inhabited, then it may be another Gem monster."

"You're right!" Steven suddenly exclaimed loudly. "If it is a Gem monster, then we can take it ourselves! It's probably the one we're searching for! Come on, let's go!"

"Steven no! Garnet said it would be red – "

But it was too late. Steven had turned my grip around to where he was suddenly dragging me towards the creature. I gave up and finally drew Rose's sword, which had been in Lion's mane for safe-keeping ever since I had left. Steven and I crept towards the thing, which was sleeping next to a waterfall. The sound of the fall helped mask any sound we made until we got into full view of the thing.

It was just as I had dreaded. The pinkish, orange-splotched mystery was indeed a corrupted Gem. Its body mimicked a bear, but its eyes were obscured by fur and had a large Tourmaline gemstone embedded in its front right flank. As it lay there, I realized that, it being a Gem, meant it wasn't sleeping. "Steven, stop!" I begged in a hissed whisper. "It's a Gem! It's not asleep!"

"Huh?" Steven asked dumbly.

"Gems don't need sleep! Gems as old as these don't even know the concept of sleep! That means she's awake!"

My explanation took too long. The Tourmaline must have heard us, because it's head popped up to examine us. The two of us froze in place. Suddenly, the creature let out a deafening roar as it rose to its full height. When I thought it had the body of a bear, I didn't know it was the size of an elephant, too!

"Steven, we need to run!" I cried desperately, tugging on his arm. Instead, Steven just summoned his shield, holding fast.

"No! We got this, Connie!" he said in a bit more serious tone, not removing his hardened gaze from the monster.

"But – "

"Connie, you got this!" he reinforced, looking down at me. "I know you think you can't, but you can. We were just kids when we defeated Jasper that first time, and this monster is no bigger than that one! You're an amazing fighter, Connie! Together, this monster won't even make us break a sweat."

"But we were Stevonnie then!"

"It doesn't matter! We may not know how to fuse with your new form, but we do know how to fight side by side! Jam Buds, right?"

Looking up at Steven for a moment and scrutinizing his words, I finally hardened my resolve and nodded to him. Using both hands, I readied my sword as the beast howled once more. Before the two of us could begin rushing it, it rushed us first. Steven quickly summoned his bubble, using it to act as a buffer to keep the two of us from taking full impact when the creature crashed into us. The bubble threw us into the air several feet, whizzing us past the trees. When Steven saw us quickly approaching a massive crystal geode, he extended out his bubble to form spikes, embedding us in the side of the stone to stop our movement. The sudden stop caused the two of us to crumple in on each other, hitting the side of the bubble hard.

"Ow!"

"Crap, sorry!"

"I'll live. Steven, she's coming right at us!"

Steven looked up and saw what I was talking about. The beast was charging for us, but she still had several yards to go. Dropping the bubble, Steven and I fell to the ground but quickly recovered ourselves to face the Tourmaline.

Bracing myself to Steven's back for extra support, he used his widened shield to collide with the top of the creature's head to stop the monster in its tracks. It took all the strength Steven and I could muster, but once it was stopped and tried to regain its bearings was the perfect time to strike.

"Connie!"

That was my queue. Steven turned his shield horizontal and held it ready as I launched myself. Once one bare foot (for some reason my form didn't develop shoes nor was it comfortable to put some on) touched the shield, I used a powerful kick to propel myself at the beast and slice through its toughened form. I was afraid for a moment after I landed on the other side of it that I didn't damage it enough to force it to retreat to its Gem, but I sighed in relief as I heard the tell-tale poof.

Standing up from my crouch, I turned and looked at Steven. I was right. The Tourmaline was poofed, her gem lying unharmed on the sand. Steven's eyes were shimmering, but I didn't focus on that as I approached the now-harmless Gem. "Wow. I... I did it. And it barely took any effort! That was..." Huffing as I brushed back my bushy mane, I looked disbelievingly at the stone. "That was just incredible!"

"See? I told you you could do it!" Steven said elatedly as he joined me by my side, looking down at the orange-tinted pink Gem on the ground.

"Yeah," I said, still feeling the rush. "But... Okay, you need to bubble it before it decides to come back."

Steven looked at me, cocking his head slightly. "Hm... Why don't you try bubbling it?"

I gave Steven an expression of bewilderment. "Um, if I knew how, I wouldn't have suggested you do it."

"Well, you've never tried before, so what's the harm?" he asked, picking up the shiny stone and placing it in my hand.

Looking down at it, I could basically feel the pulsing energy of the being that lived within it. It was strange, having that kind of sense. Concentrating as hard as I could, I tried to tell myself to just form a bubble. Just... do it. Bubble it.

After about a minute of my eyes being closed as I tried to successfully bubble the Gem, I finally gave up with an irritated cry. Shoving the thing back into Steven's hands, I ground out, "I can't. I just can't. I don't know how. Just... Go ahead and deal with it before it reforms. I'll try again with the next one, I guess."

Steven quickly let a pink sphere engulf the Gem in his hand before phasing it back to the Temple. Looking at me with concern in his eyes, Steven asked, "Connie, are you okay? I mean, it's not a big deal. Learning how to use your Gem powers is just gonna take time, and sometimes they can be really devastating when they happen out of nowhere. Remember when I had to spend the whole night waiting to float back down to Earth after I learned I could super-jump and float? It was a nightmare. So don't sweat it if it doesn't happen. Sometimes, it can be a good thing."

Smiling at Steven's optimism, I couldn't help but feel flushed after his words tied in with after-battle glow. Steven seemed to be in the same state, because he suddenly grabbed me by the waist and pulled me to him, bringing his lips down upon mine. I gasped slightly at the sensation, but quickly reciprocated the gesture. It didn't get to go much further than that, though.

"Steven, Connie!" Pearl's voice rang out as she came into view through the brush. "We couldn't find – "

Pulling back slightly from one another, Steven and I looked over in horror, frozen in each others' arms.

"Uh..." Steven started to say.

"What on Earth?! You... You two? Wh – "

"Pearl," came Garnet's voice as she emerged from the brush behind the pale Gem to place a hand on her shoulder. "Now is not the time. The creature is back on the island, and it's getting a bit more tricky for me to track."

"Oh, that's right!" Steven exclaimed, finally letting go of his hold on me. I realized I had been holding my breath so I let it go in a flustered noise. "We found a Gem monster! It was a Tourmaline, and me and Connie wrecked it!"

"Two corrupted Gems inhabiting the island?" Pearl asked incredulously, turning her gaze to Garnet. "How did we not see it?"

The slightest of grins set on Garnet's lips as she adjusted her shades. "I did. But I knew Steven and Connie could handle it."

Pearl opened her mouth to say something but snapped it shut once she realized she couldn't really question the fusion's reasoning.

"Hey guys!" we heard Amethyst shout from just a little farther behind Pearl and Garnet. "I think I found the Carnelian!"

The four of us immediately were put on guard as we all began running towards her voice. Drawing the large pink sword into a defensive stance once more, I sprinted alongside the group towards Amethyst's voice. Once she was in view, we could clearly see the monster as it stood fifteen feet tall over us. Amethyst was in the process of speed-tying up the creatures' legs, but the massive corruption was breaking her whips like they were made of string as it flung itself around furiously.

"Gems, go!" Garnet shouted, summoning her gauntlets as she launched herself at the creature. Pearl, Steven, and I all followed suit, springing a group attack on the Carnelian while Amethyst had it distracted. Pearl was first to reach the insane looking creature but missed her mark with her spear as the Carnelian suddenly performed a barrel-roll, effectly getting rid of the remains of Amethyst's whips. As it rolled, Garnet fisted her gauntlets together to bring down a powerful swing on the approaching monster. The creature was a bit more battle-worthy than we had expected as it stopped short of Garnet's reach and leaped away from her deadly attack. Unfortunately for me and Connie, the creature had launched itself at us.

"Connie!" Steven yelled out as he grabbed me by the wrist and hugged me to him tightly, allowing his spiked bubble to form quickly around us. The Carnelian apparently hadn't expected that because it couldn't stop itself as its front landed directly on the spikes, causing it to roar out in pain. In its agony, it flailed around, wailing loudly while going completely beserk.

"Pearl! Watch out!" We all screamed as the corrupted gem suddenly threw itself sideways, directly on top of Pearl.

When we all heard the tell-tale poof,as Pearl suddenly retreated to her Gem, everyone screamed out, "Pearl!"

"You bitch!" Amethyst raged, pulling her whips out once more and throwing herself head-on at the Carnelian.

"Amethyst, no!" Garnet tried to warn, but it was already too late. One of the creature's four arms swept out and swatted Amethyst away, tossing her several dozen feet away. "Amethyst!"

In a pure rush of anger and adrenaline, Garnet launched herself forward with an immeasurable amount of force, zipping past the monster to snatch up Pearl's gem before landing quickly in front Amethyst to help her up. While they were occupied, the creature rounded on me and Steven, opening its jowls to let out a deafening bellow. On all fours (sixes?), the creature lumbered towards us at an alarming rate and all I could feel was Steven tightening his grip around me. He knew what he was doing. I could trust him.

Suddenly, I felt as though my body melted in the spot we were standing as we were both surrounded by a bright white light. Even without a physical form, I could see as our two light-forms merged, my black and his pink gems being the only visible things. As I felt my physical body shifting and changing, I found that the sensations weren't unpleasant and the sudden physical formation of Stevonnie seemed to surprise the both of us.

Stevonnie didn't waste time to marvel at her new form of Obsidian, but instead launched herself forward, sword drawn and shield at the ready. The Carnelian seemed momentarily stunned at what it had just witnessed, but it recovered quickly and continued its assault. The creature's hesitation afforded the new fusion plenty of time to slam the Rose Quartz shield directly into the monster's already somewhat flattened face as hard as she could. The blow forced the corrupted gem to the ground harshly, and Stevonnie knew better than to allow it time to recover. Raising her sword, Stevonnie clenched her eyes shut as she impaled the downed gem, causing it to poof instantly.

Without another beat, Stevonnie crossed the clearing to Garnet and Amethyst's side. Surprisingly, Amethyst's form wasn't terribly damaged, and Pearl's gem in Garnet's hand looked somehow completely intact.

"Garnet, Amethyst!" Stevonnie cried out with tears streaming down her face, dropping to her knees in the sand unceremoniously next to the gems, shaking hands reaching out to Pearl's iridescently white orb. "P... Pearl..."

"Stevonnie," I heard Garnet say, helping a groaning Amethyst to her feet before placing a gentle hand on my shoulder, which was actually level with Garnet's head. "Don't worry. Amethyst is fine, and Pearl will regenerate as soon as she stops being embarrassed about being poofed."

Letting go of my shoulder, Garnet walked over to where the Carnelian's gem lay and bubbled it, sending it off to the Temple before coming back to face Stevonnie. In fact, Amethyst was standing there staring as well.

Looking between the two, Stevonnie's eyes widened as she stuttered out, "Wh-What? What is it?"

"Stevonnie!" Amethyst cried out, approaching me and placing her hands on my form with a huge smile on her voice. "Your Obsidion look is incredible! You're bigger than Garnet!"

"Wha – Huh?" Stevonnie asked in confusion, looking down at her form. Somehow, Steven and I had successfully managed to fuse our gem forms on accident, which was a totally new level of bizarre for me. Examining myself, I noted that we stood probably around nine to ten feet tall. My long black hair fell all the way to my knees, only beautifully curly in tight ringlets. My shirt was Steven's red star shirt, except it was only enough to cover my chest, allowing both of our abdominal gems to breathe. Our legs were clad in knee-length cargo shorts, and black sandals adored our feet.

"Oh! Oh wow! I'm a giant woman!" Stevonnie said exitedly, stars shining in her eyes at Steven's absolute amazement.

The moment didn't seem to last but for a moment before Steven and I suddenly split, throwing us both to the ground separately.

"Come on, you two. Our job here is done," Garnet said, adjusting her shades and ushering Amethyst in the direction of the warp pad, Pearl's gem safely in her enclosed hands. "We'll talk more about your fusion back at the Temple after Pearl regenerates. I'm sure she'll want to hear all about it."

"Haha, no. I keep telling you Steven, that red one is Mars. If we had a telescope and could see past Mars, you would be able to see Saturn, too, right now."

"Heh, you know, it's crazy..." Steven said, rolling over on the blanket to face me. We had set up a pallet on a very secluded part of the beach to star gaze. After everything that had transpired that day, we just wanted to unwind with simply laying on the beach on a blanket. Turning to return Steven's look, I raised a questioning eyebrow at him.

"What?"

"Well, I've been into space a few times now, but it never occurred to me that the only places I've ever visited was the moon and Gem controlled places. There's gotta be other places..."

"I'm sure there is," I said, rolling onto my back once again to look up. "Just to visit the moon would be pretty incredible, I imagine."

"Well, it has been a while since I've been there..." Steven said, seemingly to himself. Suddenly sitting up and looking at me, he said, "Do you wanna go see it?"

"It – What – Th-the moon?" I stuttered out, my hand automatically drawing to my gem as it always did when I became nervous.

"Well, yeah," he said as though it were the most obvious thing in the world, getting to his feet. Holding his hand out to me in an offer, I took it and allowed him to help me up. "I don't think the warp pad was damaged after the fight with the Rubies and that's the last time we were there. I can warp you there!"

Sudden excitement flooded through me and I couldn't help but fling myself into Steven's arms and cry out, "Of course I wanna go!"

"Whoa!" Steven said with a laugh, setting me down gently before leading me back towards the Temple. "Calm down! I forget you're the first full Gem to have never gone exploring the warps. How about we make a trip of it?"

Eyes shining like stars, I exclaimed excitedly, "Um, yes!"