Target

Note: As this fic deals with the backstory of Murder Pearl, it's going to be dark. Real dark, even by my standards. Read at your own discretion.

Also, I now have original fiction available freely on my archive:

…..

She had been yellow when she was first made. She remembered that much; pale yellow with a sky blue tint to the ends of her hair. It was a popular look at the time. She was expensive, and she had been bought as a gift for an Emerald in the merchant district.

The Emerald had an on-off romance with a popular Carnelian who performed sometimes at the Silverdene. Their affair was passionate but their break-ups were brutal, to the point that the Carnelian feared for her safety at times. That was why she bought the pearl in the first place; she needed something to absorb Emerald's violent tempers.

When Emerald was angry with Carnelian, she put the pearl between them to protect herself. When Emerald was cooling down after an argument and Carnelian wasn't there, she struck out at the pearl and felt better. When they threw things at each other in the middle of their screaming matches, those things had a habit of hitting the pearl.

Emerald's insurance on the pearl was voided because it incurred so much damage in the first few cycles. She brought it in to be filled time and time again until her local repair station would no longer do it and she had to hire underground remodelers.

"You can't keep doing this," Orthoclase had told her sharply after the second lot of patching had been done by her. "Pearls are delicate. You're going to shatter it."

"I'm not paying you to tell me what to do," Emerald replied curtly.

Eventually one of Emerald and Carnelian's fights spun out of control and Emerald lost her position on the barracks maintenance committee. Newly short on cash, she downsized and got rid of anything she could live without. Selling the pearl wasn't easy, even with the filler it was clearly damaged, and there were only a few kinds of gems that were willing to buy a damaged pearl; those that couldn't afford anything better, and those that deliberately sought out a damaged one.

The pearl's newest owner was a Hematite, one of the undergrounds' most lucrative illegal holocast creators. It was through her that the pearl learned how just about anything could be a weapon if you thought about it. Hematite's underling Chalcedony ran a chatbox that let the holocast viewers suggest what could be used on the pearl.

Cutting off her fingers was a popular activity, as was putting out burning gallium tubes on her skin. Hematite had a set of jaw forceps for her personal use and, once pearl's jaw had been cracked open, she poured whatever she could find down her throat, up to and including chloric acid. Sharpened pipes were inserted into every corner of her mass until her form released so the viewers could place bets on how long it took. One of her eyes was burned out by a molten steel beam and she was made to walk around the studio after her feet had been cut off. By now she was so used to the pain that the shocks from the spike didn't even register with her anymore.

How she survived it all was a mystery, but eventually the novelty wore off. She was dumped in a corner of the black market to find someone cheap enough to buy such a badly damaged pearl.

That someone was a Kunzite. She was looking for a barracks pearl but didn't want to spend much of her own money getting a motivator for her squadron of Jaspers. When she brought the pearl back, the Jaspers were disgusted that their long awaited treat was in such bad shape.

They amused themselves by hurting her. In the same way that Hematite had used anything she could get her hands on to inflict pain, the idle Jaspers came up with new and degrading ways to ruin her. Within a single orbit her gem was so badly damaged she could barely walk and had lost her voice entirely.

After listening to the Jaspers complain so much, the Kunzite in charge eventually brought in a new black market pearl, but they didn't bother getting rid of the old one. Two pearls meant twice the fun, as far as they were concerned. But having the new pearl was a blessing for the old pearl, because she could finally communicate with someone. Gesture-speak had been lost to her for her entire existence.

It did not last.

They were separated when a team of Jaspers temporarily sharing their quarters with the pearl's owners asked to borrow a pearl to bring back with them for a while. The pearls' owners agreed to let them take the older broken one, knowing they wouldn't see it again and not particularly caring. For the pearls, it was devestating. The broken pearl gave her memories to the newer one, assuming she was finally going to die.

But, in a strange twist of fate, the Jaspers lost her. They put her under the barracks floorboards, as most Jaspers did with their pearls, and were sent out immediately on an offworld mission that most didn't return from. Tucked into the floorboards for Core knew how many orbits, with the spike more of a mild irritation than an actual shock, the pearl's mind festered.

Eventually the barracks flooring was dug up for a rewiring and the pearl discovered. She was sent to the processing plant but the process worker she just happened to get was a black market inside trader, and he dumped her back on the market to be sold for a pittance.

That was when Hematite became her owner.

She was no stranger to the destruction market. Any gem with the stomach for such a nasty business could make good cash deliberately destroying pearls, but to do so live in front of an audience was a novelty that brought in a lot of spectators. Hematite brought in one of the better remodelers (Orthoclase could not be found) and she was repaired to functional standards, and given a redesign.

She could not fight her programming, it was still too strong even after all the damage. But all she had to do was wait for her new owner to say the right thing. She asked what she was supposed to do in the ring.

"I don't know," Hematite shrugged carelessly. "Do your best, I suppose."

That was a clear order. She would do her best. A lifetime of pain meant her best would be very, very good.

Jaspers and Amethysts were slow, and far too confident. They wavered easily when confronted with the unexpected, and they never took steps to secure their weapons. She learned to read them as clearly as reading gesture-speak, she found those tiny movements that betrayed their weak spots. Once she found a weak spot, it was already over.

No matter what gem they sent in to fight her, she had already calculated their defeat before the bell chimed. Most of them went down in parsecs, once she managed to knock them off their feet they were pretty much dead. The ones who were more likely to regain their balance, she always let have the first blow. When she let herself be hurt, they tended to think they had won and got distracted long enough for her to land a mortal wound.

It was strange how many gems had seen her use her own severed limbs as weapons, and yet it always seemed to surprise them.

The destruction market had taught her that anything could be used as a weapon. A quick scan over the arena, even when it had been supposedly wiped of things like loose screws, plastic shards and aluminum plates, usually brought up something. If there really wasn't anything, she could afford to wait until the opponent gem manifested their weapon, and once they had done that she had practically already stolen it. If all else failed, she let them rip off her arm or leg (Jaspers always had a fondness for this move, in and out of the arena) and grabbed it to use the corebone as a shank.

She was quite hopelessly insane. Almost all of her thoughts were of killing gems, even though it made the spike react. Sixteen of her former Jasper owners had been in the ring with her, without knowing it, and she made sure their deaths were particularly brutal. Gems still spoke of how she had ripped out one Jasper's corespine with her teeth and tossed the head into the electrified fencing.

Her sister pearls, when she got to see them, were worried.

You are not well.

She always smiled, gesture-spoke back to reassure them. Some cycle in the future, maybe their owners would get into the arena with her, and she could make them suffer as they made her sisters suffer.

I do not need to be well. I am happy.