Reasonable Authority Figures
A Steven Universe Snippet Submission by Andrew Joshua Talon
DISCLAIMER: This is a non-profit fan based parody. Steven Universe is the property of Cartoon Network and Rebecca Sugar. Please support the official release.
It was nice, Steven reflected, that the Navy had shown up to help with the clean up of the Gem ship. Frankly, it meant a lot less work for him. Admittedly, he had felt a bit of tension when the government people in suits and sunglasses had shown up. A reflection of the tension Pearl, Garnet, Amethyst and his father clearly felt at the presence of these strangers. And with how they met with his guardians behind closed doors in his house as he was sent off to see his human friends, it was all a tiny bit disconcerting.
Granted, he didn't feel the same terror he did on Jasper's ship. That had been clear and present danger, and every movement the Homeworld Gems made had emphasized that they were a threat. Here though... It was far more ambiguous.
He could only take that ambiguity so long though. It made him feel like he was tottering on a thin piece of rope across a chasm, wondering if it was going to snap. That kind of wondering was horrible.
It was nearly a relief then when Pearl called him home, and he bid goodbye to Buck, Sour Cream, and Jenny and headed back to the temple. The government personnel working the clean up barely noticed him, though at least one asked if he could take a selfie with him (Steven gently refused; the worker looked disappointed, but nodded.) He ascended the steps to his home, and saw Pearl, Garnet and Amethyst waiting outside the door.
"Guys?" Steven queried. Pearl sighed, as Garnet remained stoic and Amethyst just looked tense and bored.
"Steven, the... Gentlemen from the government would like to ask you some questions," Pearl said. She shot a look through the screen door, and Steven followed her gaze. A tall, middle aged man in military fatigues, wearing a beret, sat on a chair that hadn't come from his house. Next to him was a pretty young woman with deep black hair, almost purple, in a red jacket and black skirt. He could see his father sitting on the couch across from them. Greg Universe looked up, saw him, and smiled in a cautious sort of way.
"You don't have to answer anything you don't want, and we'll be here the whole time," Garnet said.
"We already got done answering their questions... Ugh," Amethyst rolled her eyes. "So many questions! Almost as many as we had to answer the last time!"
"Last time?" Steven asked. Pearl opened her mouth, but Garnet smoothly interrupted.
"We've had an... Agreement, with the humans of this particular land." She shrugged. "We've been here longer but when you came along, having them on our side made things a lot easier. Now they want answers... Which I suppose is only fair, since they might understand them now."
Pearl muttered to herself, before shaking her head and looking at Steven. "It's your choice Steven. You don't have to do anything you don't want to!"
Steven looked back at the waiting people, and at his guardians. He took a deep breath.
"... I guess... Since I wanted to know about stuff, it's only fair I give some answers too," Steven observed. Pearl nodded, very slowly. Amethyst sighed. Garnet gave him a small, encouraging smile, and he managed to return it. He turned and opened the door, entering the house. The army guy stood up, as did the woman with him. He extended his hand with a warm smile under his mustache.
"Hello, Mr. Universe. I'm General Nathan Reynolds. It's a pleasure to meet you," he said, and Steven cautiously took his hand and shook it. He turned to the woman, who also smiled at him though she had a hint of mischief in her eyes.
"I'm Agent Kaede Tachibana," she introduced herself. "I'm also happy to meet you."
"You uh... You guys aren't going to..." Steven looked at his father, and back at the two strangers, "take me away and or dissect me, are you?"
Agent Kaede covered her mouth in shock. His father winced. General Reynolds... Just chuckled.
"You've seen too many movies," the general said gently. "Besides... It would be the height of rudeness to dissect someone who saved your planet, don't you agree?"
Steven looked at the floor, sheepish for the question. "I... I didn't do much-"
"From all that we've heard," and the general's tone almost seemed to compel Steven to look up, "the Homeworld Gems would like nothing more than to destroy this planet and everyone on it. And the only thing that has stood in their way for the last several thousand years has been your family, Mr. Universe. You saved them. Therefore, you saved the world." He looked to Greg, who was full of pride. A pride that made Steven relax, if just a bit. "So as far as I'm concerned, Mr. Universe, you're a hero. Nobody's dissecting heroes on my watch."
"Be bad publicity," Kaede said, with a wink that made Steven blush and look at his feet again. "Now... We'll just ask you a few questions, and if you don't feel comfortable, you don't have to answer. Is that okay?"
"I... I guess," Steven said, sitting with his father on the couch. He took a deep breath, and squeezed his father's hand. He got a squeeze back, and he felt a little braver. He looked back at the two interviewers, and managed a firm nod.
"What... What do you want to know?"
Finding Bismuth was just... Amazing. Finding a new Crystal Gem, after all this time! And she was in Lion's Mane! That was... Kind of weird, but frankly Steven didn't think to question it too much. And neither did the other Gems.
More than that though, getting to talk to her, one on one, about her experiences with his mom... It made him feel a lot better.
It made him feel... He could be better.
"In fact," Bismuth said with a smile, "if you're going to be better than Rose... You need a better wea-"
There was a knock at the door. Steven jumped and looked up, as Bismuth formed a hammer out of her hand. But he spied the familiar hair, jacket and overall shape of Agent Kaede, so he relaxed.
"It's okay," Steven said cheerfully, holding his hand up. Bismuth slowly lowered her hammer-hand. She just raised her brows quizzically, as Steven ran up to the door and opened it up. Kaede smiled cheerfully back at him.
"Morning Steven..." She said, yawning loudly. "Hup... Sorry for the late visit. Had stuff to deal with."
"Ooh... Super secret spy stuff?" Steven asked eagerly, his fatigue forgotten. While General Reynolds was polite and nice, he was always very reserved around Steven. Kind of like Lion, he guessed. So he was comfortable to be around him, but there wasn't much conversation potential. Agent Kaede though was just fun!
"Yup. On the moon," she said with a nod. Steven grinned.
"I've been on the moon, too!"
"Yeah..." She sighed as she looked apologetically at Bismuth. "I'm also sorry I wasn't here when your... New friend showed up?"
"You're spying on us?" Bismuth asked, as politely as she could. Steven waved his hand with a grin.
"Nah. She's just with the government, and they have people making sure we're all right. Since, ya know, a Gem ship did kidnap all of us. They're trying to keep that from happening again."
"Government, huh?" Bismuth asked, tilting his head. She chuckled. "Last time I was around, human 'government' was mostly whoever beat up the most guys with their club got to lead."
Kaede didn't take such remarks from Pearl with annoyance, like some of the other government people. She instead just grinned and shot back as good as she got, "yeah well, now that's only during election years."
Steven chuckled, but Bismuth was still confused. Kaede shook her head.
"Anyway, I wanted to drop by and get a full interview done since I've got another mission in 48 hours," Kaede explained, wincing a bit in apology. Steven hummed thoughtfully.
"I'll forgive you... On one condition."
"I'm not buying you Super Cyborg Samurai: The Second Vengeance II," Kaede said flatly. "The first was better in every way."
"Well," Steven said, hiding his pout, "in that case, you have to show me the super special awesome weapons lab!" Steven cheered.
"Weapons Lab?" Asked Bismuth and Kaede at the same time, before they glanced at one another. Steven nodded.
"Oh yeah! Bismuth has her own weapons lab, and now I wanna see what your weapons lab looks like!"
"Weapons lab, huh?" Bismuth asked, curious and more relaxed. "What kind of weapons are we talking about here?"
It took a great deal of unnecessary "paperwork" (whatever the Pit that was) but Bismuth was soon granted entry to what the humans called Area 51. She accompanied Pearl on one of her visits via warp pad, and they were met by two humans. The first was, according to Pearl's notes, a man somewhere in his early 40s and sported a bushy mustache, as his hair receded to expose his bald scalp. The other was a slightly younger man, taller, and with darker skin and short hair. Both wore white jackets of some sort, and politely shook their hands.
"Bismuth, this is Doctor Sergei Krasikov and Doctor William Adler," Pearl introduced them, smiling a bit more genuinely. "I've worked with them on a number of... Projects, for this facility. They are both reasonably competent, for human beings."
"I will take that as the highest praise possible," Krasikov observed dryly. Pearl flushed a bit, and Bismuth chuckled.
"So! You guys have made a lot of advances since I was..." Bismuth trailed off, and shook her head. "Anyway... When I was last up, you guys were only up to... Bronze weapons?"
"We've made some considerable advances since then," Adler said with a polite smile. "This way?"
They walked through the wide halls, soon coming to a large hanger facility. Bismuth whistled at the massive spacecraft in the dock, and looked it over with practiced ease.
"Huh! You know, that's not bad for a project of six thousand years," Bismuth said, "if a little slow."
"Actually," here Doctor Krasikov adjusted his "glasses", things humans wore over their eyes to help their sight, "the Thunderchild project was begun in the 1970s... About forty Earth years ago," he clarified. Bismuth raised her brows.
"Oh? So what took you so long, anyway?"
"Uh, Bismuth," Pearl began delicately, "humans have only had the ability to fly for about a century. And they've only had access to motive power for around two."
Bismuth stared in disbelief at the two physicists. "Wait... You mean to tell me that you went from... Swords and shields, to this, in... How long?"
"About five hundred years, give or take," Adler said. Bismuth laughed, and he furrowed his brow. "Miss Bismuth-"
"That... Is amazing!" Bismuth said, with a big, genuine grin on her face. "So fast...! Pearl, how long did it take Gems to get to this level?"
Pearl hummed. "Well, to be honest, it isn't really a fair comparison. Gems have been able to access their internal energies for thousands of years. It was only when outside forces necessitated adaptation that we-"
"So even without all that, you guys got to this level so quickly," Bismuth concluded, holding up a hand to appease Pearl. She shook her big head. "I knew this world was always moving and changing, but... So quickly... And all by yourselves!" Bismuth looked over at Pearl, who shrugged.
"For the most part, yes," Pearl confirmed. Bismuth chuckled.
"Well... Come on! Show me your weapons."
The lab was heavily reinforced, so Bismuth had to shapeshift herself slightly smaller to not hit the ceilings. But it was a minor inconvenience, once she got to look at the tech. She asked for (and got) demonstrations of "guns", and applauded their ingenuity. She also saw their bombs and rockets on the test range. At last though, they came to a plain looking metal box, with a strange three-lobed symbol on it, and Bismuth curiously poked the thick glass it was behind.
"What's that?" Bismuth asked. Doctor Adler smiled a bit sardonically.
"A thermonuclear bomb."
"A what?" Bismuth asked, frowning. Pearl cleared her throat, a human affectation, as she stood primly next to Bismuth like an elegant bird.
"It's a weapon that liberates the energy through nuclear fission. They compress a heavy radioactive isotope with explosives to initiate it, then use that to fuse hydrogen into itself."
Bismuth whistled. "Oh! Force Compression weapons." She shook her head, looking the weapon over. "How powerful are they?"
"This one's rated to about fifty kilotons on maximum yield," explained Dr. Krasikov, "or roughly equal to fifty of your Laser Light Cannon's energy release in one second."
"HAHA!" Bismuth laughed. "Now that's a weapon! I could throw this thing and do a lot of damage! Why's it behind the glass? Come on, let me try it out!"
"Well, there are a few problems with that," Adler said, looking over at Pearl with a wry expression. Pearl managed a graceful smile, as Adler continued. "One, the energy is completely liberated all at once. And two, the leftovers from the blast are... Nasty to organic life."
"Hard radiation," Pearl explained to Bismuth. "Humans can't take as much as us without dying."
"It's not great for us, either," Bismuth admitted. "So, you use these to fight Homeworld?"
"We tried," Adler sighed. "I mean, at least according to Pearl and our tests, one of these things could at least heavily damage a Homeworld vessel. But only at point blank range."
"And the problem is getting it that close, huh?" Bismuth asked, rubbing her chin. Krasikov sighed.
"Even with our fastest rockets powering them, our missiles got shot down or repelled before they could get close enough to detonate the last time," the physicist explained, his bushy eyebrows wobbling. "The space fighters Pearl has been helping us with are much faster, but the missiles remain the weak link in the defense chain."
"And of course, the other problem is that while they do release a massive amount of energy, it's in all directions," Pearl explained. "It just goes every which way: To penetrate the defenses of a Homeworld warship, that energy needs to be focused all in one direction!"
Bismuth smirked. "I might be able to solve both those problems... Give me a week... And can I have a few of these?"
"That's... A tall order," Krasikov observed, looking at Pearl. Pearl just beamed.
"If anyone can figure it out, it's Bismuth!"
A week later, Bismuth would return to Area 51 carrying a large cannon... And set off every radiological alarm in the place. She didn't seem to mind explaining what she'd done to General Reynolds as she and her invention were hosed down in a containment room.
"See... It's pretty simple," Bismuth began, "this cannon is made to warp reality: It's complicated, but simply put it makes a space warp with gravimetric lensing. And then I built it strong enough to take the blast... And force all that energy out." She made a face as a little guy in a hazmat suit sprayed her in the eyes. He mumbled something apologetic, as General Reynolds nodded.
"So it just... Fires a beam of nuclear fire? What's the range?"
"On this thing? A few dozen miles," Bismuth said, "but with some more adjustments? It could go a lot further. And the best part? I can build it to switch out new ammo, after every bomb is fired. The only question is," Bismuth looked at the general with a smirk, "how many of those firecrackers do you have?"
"For this? As many as we need," Reynolds said with a nod. "Thank you, Miss Bismuth. Whatever we can do for you in return? We will."
"Hey, it's a pleasure doing bismuth with you," Bismuth said with a smirk. "And all I want? Is to help you take those Uppercrusts down."
Reynolds was silent for a moment. "We're mainly focused on defending our planet. Taking the fight to Homeworld itself...? That's far down the road, if ever."
Bismuth grinned, and Reynolds saw something in the ancient aliens' gaze he didn't like. "However long it takes... Those Diamonds are going down. And whatever I need to do, General... I'll do to make that happen."
General Reynolds slowly nodded. "Thank you... I look forward to working with you... After you've gone through the safety guidelines."
Bismuth nodded. "Whatever you say, General..."
Up for adoption...