Steven, Garnet, and Amethyst found the next-closest room to be far less creepy-looking than the one they had left Pearl in. For one, it had a lot less pipes and wires running all around it. The down side, though, was that most of the machinery it did have was scattered into parts across the smooth, lime-green floor. Steven frowned. When Pearl had said that going through these other rooms would be like picking through garbage, he didn’t think she’d be quite this accurate.
“Well,” Garnet sighed. “Let’s get to work, then.” She and Amethyst walked in and began to do exactly that. Steven followed behind, trying to keep it positive. He’d spent years wishing he could go on missions with the Crystal Gems and now they let him come along all the time. He couldn’t get down just because not all the missions were fun. After a quick scan of the room, he went to pick up a metal canister about the size of his pillow. It didn’t budge. He strained, bracing himself against the wall and pulling with all his might. It moved an inch, almost right onto his foot. Steven backed away and looked for something a little smaller and lighter. He found another canister, this one about the size of a soup can. Through some feat of Gem technology, this one actually felt heavier.
“I… uh, guess I’ll wait on you guys, then,” Steven said, slinking back to the entrance. He rocked back and forth on his heels as he watched Garnet and Amethyst check over the heavy scraps of machinery that were stacked against walls and shelves. Looking at it closer, this place actually reminded Steven of some kind of giant storage room. Or his closet when he hadn’t cleaned it out for a while. He still wanted to be as helpful as possible, but from the way his two friends were throwing around the huge chunks of metal like bean bag chairs, he guessed that “helpful as possible” meant standing out of the way and having his bubble ready whenever they needed it. He almost ran out and put up a shield when what looked like an oversized monitor went flying for Amethyst’s head. But then she turned herself into a baseball bat and swatted the junk harmlessly into the ground.
Steven clapped at the display. “Good one, Amethyst!” he called out. If his powers couldn’t be of any practical use right now, he wanted to at least provide some moral support. Amethyst grinned as she shifted back to her usual form.
Steven climbed onto a nearby ledge and looked around for Garnet. He figured he should share his encouragement equally, but she didn’t seem to be in the mood for cheerleading. In fact, she didn’t seem to be in the mood for anything. She stood in the far corner holding a shattered crystal communicator, but instead of looking at it, she stared off into space.
Is she doing the future vision thing again? As much as Steven tried to resist it, his mind filled with anxious thoughts. Did she see the roof collapsing in on them? Did she see Amethyst carelessly tossing something hard and spiky into one of their gems, shattering it into a thousand irreparable pieces? Did she see–
“Steven,” Garnet said suddenly. “You should go back and check on Pearl.”
Steven straightened to attention. Whenever Garnet suggested he do anything, it was less of a suggestion and more a warning. “Is she okay?” he asked.
“Don’t ask questions,” Garnet replied. “Just go do it.”
Steven didn’t need to be asked twice. He leapt down from his perch and hurried out the door.
After five minutes of poking around the supposed “Fis” room, Pearl was severely disappointed. Not only had she not found any good tech here that could enhance the drill, she hadn’t uncovered a single piece of evidence that Peridot was secretly planning to stab them all in the back. She supposed she really should have been happy about the lack of betrayal, but she never did like being wrong about things, most especially her assessment of others.
Having checking everything else with no success, Pearl rubbed her chin as she looked at the (to use Steven’s words) “super creepy” crystalline pods that seemed to be at the center of this whole monstrosity. She had no clue what they were, but her first guess was that they were some sort of traveling device.
Maybe that’s why Peridot didn’t want me in here, she thought. Maybe she planned to use these to escape back to Homeworld. Though that still doesn’t explain why this would be called the Fis. Room.
With a shrug of her shoulders, Pearl ran a hand over the clear casing of the closest pod. The thing groaned at her touch and cracked open like a cocoon. Pearl gasped and stepped back, her heart pounding in her ears. She even started to reach for her weapon until she realized how stupid she must look right now. Really, she was acting like a frightened little newly formed Gem, and over what? Odds were that the tech in this room hadn’t worked for centuries. She lowered her hand from her forehead and got a good grip on the open crack in the pod, forcing it open enough that she could get a good look inside.
Strange… the pod didn’t seem to have any navigation controls inside of it. If this was some sort of escape vessel, it wasn’t a terribly efficient one. Perhaps it was something more sinister. A prison of some kind?
Her heart began to race again. Garnet had been quite positive that this was a room for experimenting on Gems, and Pearl really would be an idiot to not take Garnet’s advice seriously. She started to straighten up and pull away from the strange device, but somehow, she couldn’t. It was as if she could form the thought in her mind, but the message faded before it got to her muscles. She stood frozen over the strange contraption, not willing to move any closer, but unable to back away. Behind her, she heard the groan of the room’s heavy door closing of its own accord. Her heart pounded faster.
I shouldn’t be in here; I need to get out! /Even as fear seized her mind, another voice seemed to be calling out to her. The voice itself was unfamiliar, but the tone was clear — it was a command, not a request.
“Get in, Pearl.” Pearl had heard plenty of commands in her lifetime. It had taken Rose Quartz decades of reminding her that she was her own Gem, to break her habit of just compulsively obeying whatever order got snapped at her. But Pearl hadn’t felt compelled to obey anyone’s commands in centuries. This one, however, felt like it pierced through every encouraging word Rose had ever said to her. Her mind fell back to her most basic instincts…. she was just a Pearl, an accessory. It was not for her to question what a higher Gem told her to do.
As if in a trance, Pearl pulled the crack to the pod open enough that she could slip inside. She entered feet first, then pulled in the rest of her body. Finally, she folded her arms across her chest and closed her eyes.
“Stay here. Wait,” the voice commanded.
Somewhere deep in her mind, Pearl screamed that she didn’t want to wait, that she wanted to get out of this death trap and run as far away from it as possible. But once again, her body followed the voice’s commands, not her own. She could only listen to the creaking sound of the pod sealing like a coffin around her. Then the ancient machinery that she’d been so completely certain was nonoperational began to hum with building energy.