It turned out that actually getting Amethyst isolated from the others was more difficult than it seemed. If she wasn’t helping keep the Ruby sane, she was off chatting with Steven or making sure Corundum was okay. Peridot went to corner her when she had decided that the best place to take a nap was under the porch. Apparently, the Gem had a thing for sleeping in dark, tight places.
“Hey, I… need your help.” That sounded odd to say. Peridot did not make a habit of so much as allowing others to assist her, let alone outright asking for assistance. Still, this was a desperate situation.
Amethyst stirred and turned around, opening one eye to look at her.
“Yeah, um… I don’t really do technical stuff,” she said. “If you want help with that, you can try asking Corundum, but she’s mostly still doing that meditating thing–”
“No, no, that’s not the area I require assistance in,” Peridot said. “I simply need access to Pearl’s room.”
“Pearl’s room?” Now Amethyst was sitting up and paying full attention. “Whatdya need in there?”
Peridot had no clue was the word “whatdya” meant, but she assumed that Amethyst was questioning her intentions and proceeded to explain, “After talking with the Steven, I believe I’ve come up with a conclusion as to why the second Pearl half is refusing to regenerate. I believe I can force a regeneration.”
“You can?” Amethyst grinned. “Well, that’s great! Let’s go tell the others!”
“No!” Peridot exclaimed. Then, getting a hold of herself, she said quietly, “No, we can’t bring them into this. This has to be just the two of us.”
Peridot gritted her teeth. All the times she’d seen Amethyst interacting with the other Gems, she usually just followed along with their plans. Why did she have to go questioning things now? But Peridot wasn’t about to be accused of being a liar all over again. These Gems wanted the whole truth from her, then that was exactly what they were going to get.
“In the interest of full disclosure, I’m going to connect to the memories inside this Pearl-half, and I’m going to erase the ones that are causing a disruption.”
“Whoa, whoa, back up. You’re going to connect to Pearl’s memories and do what?”
Peridot winced from the volume. She’d expected her suggestion wasn’t going to go over well, but she’d been hopeful that Amethyst would at least listen to it before exploding at her.
“Think about it,” she said. “Steven just explained to us that this… this… what did Steven call her?”
“Coral,” Amethyst answered, with a tone that implied she didn’t think much of the name.
“Yes. This Coral is having issues dealing with some bad memories. But if we take those memories away, she’ll regenerate right away. Pearl will be safe.”
“I don’t know,” Amethyst said, rubbing her arm.
Peridot rolled her eyes. They were losing valuable time there. “Look, you’ve only got three options.” She held up one finger. “The first, and the best, I might add, is the one I have just proposed to you.” She held up another finger. “The second is to push enough energy into the Pearl half to agitate it until we force the Gem inside to regenerate in her own self-defense.”
“That sounds better than screwing with Pearl’s memories!”
“Does it now? What happens if Coral gets stubborn? Because if that happens, the gem might very well shatter before she decides to show herself.”
Amethyst scowled and kicked at a mound of dune grass. “Fine, you made your point,” she grumbled. “What’s choice number three?”
“Choice number three is that we do nothing. I’m assuming you’re not too keen on that.”
She wasn’t. But Peridot had known that even before coming down here to look for her. Every day that the other Gems just tried their hardest to hold Sea Bass (or whatever Steven had named her) together, Amethyst got more and more frustrated. She was a lot like Peridot, in that way. Never one to sit and wait. She was a doer. Like Pearl.
Amethyst stood and shook the sand off her feet, but still didn’t look Peridot in the eye. “I get where you’re coming from,” she said. “I think you might even be right. But last time I tried to keep something a secret from Garnet, it kind of exploded in my face. I think we need to ask the others what they think.”
“And if they say no and your precious Ruby blocks both of our access to Pearl’s room? You’ll be satisfied with that?”
Amethyst stomped her foot, sending up a spray of sand around them. She just needed one more small push. Peridot cleared her throat and tried her best with a sympathetic voice.
“Look, I’m not erasing any happy memories here. I’m erasing the ones that are hurting her. I’m doing her a favor and saving her life. But I can’t do any of that without you.”
Amethyst made no reply at first, nor did she lift her head. She was so still and silent that Peridot wondered if she’d been temporarily frozen in time or something. “This… memory-hacking thing,” she finally asked, “is it something you can do to any Gem?”
“No, no, not at all,” Peridot said. “That’s what so brilliant about it! See, you’re thinking of a Pearl like an actual living being with feelings, emotions, ect. But that’s not what they’re designed to be. They’re designed to be accessories. Objects. So their minds can interface with computers as smoothly as any piece of hardware.”
Amethyst looked irritated at that, which Peridot didn’t understand at all. It wasn’t like any of them could change what Pearl was. Better to stop denying their friend’s nature and use it to their advantage for once.
“Could… someone do this to you?” Amethyst asked. “I mean, if they wanted to?”
Peridot stiffened. “Technically speaking, it would not be a stretch. But as no one currently desires to access my mind, it is a moot point.”
“I’m just saying… if you were in Pearl’s position, would you want this done to you?”
Peridot scoffed. It was a ridiculous hypothetical scenario that would never happen. And even if it did, Peridot knew what her reply would be without question. “I am interested first and foremost in survival. If hacking into my memories proved the best method for said survival, yes, I would fully encourage it.”
Once again, Amethyst entered silent mode. She looked at the ground, shuffled her feet, but gave Peridot no indication on her decision. It was incredibly infuriating, given the time crunch they were under, but Peridot forced herself to be patient. 87% of the time, patience always paid off.
Finally, Amethyst looked Peridot in the eye and said, “I can get you into Pearl’s room. But we need to break into Steven’s first. That’s where Coral’s gem is.”
“Very well,” Peridot said with a grin. It was quite a relief to be past the diplomacy part of her plan. Now she could move ahead to where she really shone — tactical planning. “First, we need then is to plot the Steven’s movements, analyze his behavior patterns, and determine the time of day when he is most likely to be absent from his sleeping area–”
“Crying Breakfast Friends is on in twenty minutes,” Amethyst said, waving off her suggestion as she walked past. “Steven will be glued to the TV in the living room. Just sneak in there when the characters are sobbing at full volume and no one will notice you.”
Peridot scoffed as Amethyst ducked out from under the deck and walked onto the sunlit beach. “Y-yes. Well… we could do that, too.”
It was actually Amethyst who got hold of Coral’s gem. Something about how Peridot failed at a series of movements called “looking casual”. With no stealth whatsoever, Amethyst walked into Steven’s room, picked up the gem from its resting place, and walked back out with the gem in one hand and some sort of brightly-colored confectionary item in the other.
“Amethyst,” Steven called from downstairs, his eyes not moving from the image cube. “Did you go in my room and take snacks again?”
“Sure did!” Amethyst called back, loudly swallowing the confectionary item whole.
Peridot froze. Did Steven suspect their ulterior motives? Did he have some sort of surveillance technology hidden in his room that they’d failed to notice? Did he–
“Ask first next time!”
“Sorry! Will do!” Amethyst gave Peridot a smug and-that’s-how-it’s-done sort of a look as she pocketed the pearl-half and walked down the stairs as if nothing had happened. Peridot followed behind her nervously. They still had to actually get to Pearl’s room.
Amethyst motioned for Peridot to follow her to a strange door with a large white star at the center of it. The gateway to Pearl’s room, perhaps? Whatever it was, it was located directly behind the couch, putting them even more in the Steven’s line of sight than they’d been before.
The instant the door slid open, Steven shot up and looked behind him, staring at Amethyst and Peridot with eager eyes. “Ooo, are you going somewhere?” he asked.
Amethyst shrugged. “I’m showing Peridot my space,” she said.
You’re what? Peridot was about to argue that with the door open, it was going to be fairly obvious where they were walking, but then she saw to her surprise that the room revealed behind the door seemed to be… well, most resemblant of a trash dump. And while Peridot had not actually been in any of the Crystal Gems’ rooms before, she took an educated guess that when Amethyst said this was her room, she was being accurate.
“Can I show Peridot your space too?” Steven wanted to know.
For the first time, Amethyst looked a bit nervous. She froze at the door’s threshold. “Eh… better not, buddy. I’ve been reorganizing stuff in there. The piles that could fall and splatter your squishy little body aren’t as… steady as they usually are.”
“I’ve got a shield,” Steven offered.
“You do,” Amethyst agreed, “but let’s not put you in a spot where you have to use it. Pearl will kill me if she comes home and finds you flat as a pancake.”
Steven giggled. “He-he-he. Pancake.” Finally, he turned around and faced the image cube once again. Amethyst signaled for Peridot to follow her and the two walked through the doorway. Peridot heard it slide closed behind them. She was most disappointed to discover that her first analysis of this room was all too accurate — the two of them were surrounded by endless piles of useless junk.
“This isn’t Pearl’s room,” she said, pinching off her scent sponges so they could absorb as little as possible.
Amethyst stopped and placed both hands on her face. “Oh… no! You’re so right! I’m such an idiot!” She fell down on her knees. “Arg, if only I could recognize the difference between the place where I spend most of my time and the place that I only go into if I absolutely have to!”
The two stood there staring at each other for a few moments before Peridot finally asked, “You’re… applying sarcasm to your words, aren’t you?”
“No!” Amethyst gasped. She then got up, dusted herself off, and gave Peridot what she assumed was supposed to be a playful punch on the arm. It was more painful than playful. “Will you give me some credit, Peri?” she asked. “You know your way around technology, and I know my way around this temple.” She started to walk down the path that curved around her mountains of junk. Peridot hurried along after her.
“You’re right,” she said as quietly as possible. Even she had to admit, she never would have made it past the Steven if it hadn’t been for Amethyst. She kept the rest of her complaints to herself for the moment and followed Amethyst to a waterfall adjacent to a stack of tires. Peridot stared up; the water seemed to be cascading through a giant hole in the ceiling and landing in a pool of water that never seemed to change size, despite the constant feed above it. When Peridot and Amethyst reached the water’s edge, the latter suddenly pulled out her whip.
“What are you–” Peridot began. Amethyst flicked the whip upwards and it caught on something out of sight. She gave a few good test tugs and after deciding that it had held firm, she held out her arm for Peridot.
“Come on, let’s get moving.”
“Um, okay…” Peridot walked over to Amethyst nervously, who scooped her up like a piece of luggage and tucked her under her arm.
“Hang on,” she said. As if Peridot had a choice in the matter. Then, the two of them were soaring upwards as the whip become shorter and shorter. When they crested the top of the hole where the water was flowing into, Amethyst flung them both into the air, landing them safely on the smooth, polished floor of what Peridot could only assumed was Pearl’s room. The whip had caught on what appeared to be a crystalline rose and Amethyst untangled it with one smooth motion, making the weapon vanish as she pulled it free.
Peridot rubbed her head and stood to look at their surroundings. Pearl was an engineer at heart, so that meant her room had to be filled with all sorts of useful Gem tech. Perhaps she had even developed some as-yet-unknown-to-Homeworld technology in her spare–
“No.” Peridot moved around in a circle. Instead of being surrounded by screens and buttons and wires, she was surrounded by… pretty waterfalls.
“No, this can’t be right.” She turned in a circle again, in case she’d somehow viewed the place wrong the first time around. Her plan was not going to work with the primitive junk in the house. She needed Pearl to be smarter than this. The Gem couldn’t have built her dwelling space all around aesthetics. She was supposed to be intelligent. She was supposed to be–
In her frustration, Peridot punched one of the waterfalls right where its watery gut should have been. As her fist connected with the water, she felt a surge of energy flowing through her. Peridot yelped in surprise and jumped back.
“What the?” Amethyst asked, running up to her. “The water bite you or something?”
Peridot rubbed her hand. No, it hadn’t hurt. It had just been unexpected. And it wasn’t just energy that had been flowing into her in that split second. It was information. Almost as if Peridot had connected with the center of a Homeworld computer.
She grinned. Then she threw her head back and laughed maniacally, as only a true Peridot could. It was brilliant — insanely brilliant. If someone would have showed her this room a mere matter of weeks ago and told her that a Pearl, of all Gems, had designed it, Peridot would have called it impossible.
“Oh,” she said, clapping her hands together. “This is perfect. Exactly what we need.”
“Um, you need waterfalls?” Amethyst asked.
Peridot didn’t answer that question. Far better to actually demonstrate what the place did. Still cradling the salmon-colored pearl in her palm, she walked over and placed her free hand into the nearest stream of water. Only the stuff wasn’t merely water. It was a way to conduct information. By connecting to the water and focusing her thoughts, Peridot could take control of the entire room. It was one massive computer, both beautiful and brilliant.
But she was getting ahead of herself. They didn’t have time to stand here and be impressed. Peridot shifted her hand slightly and imagined what they needed. A short marble pillar rose up next to her, about the size and height of a coffee table. With another thought from Peridot, a small indent appeared in the center of the “table”‘s surface, perfect for placing the gem into. She did so, and the whole pillar lit up with a soft blue glow, which Peridot took to mean that she had established a connection. This was good. This was excellent even. It was a shame that the other Crystal Gems would appreciate her strategy until after she was finished. But at least she had Amethyst with her.
“So,” Peridot said, turning at last to Amethyst, “tell me which memories I’m erasing.”
Amethyst staggered back at the question. “What? Why would you ask me something like that?”
Peridot blinked for a moment, unsure how to answer the question without implying that the purple Gem was a few sparks short of a circuitboard. “I… would ask you because you know what memories in Pearl’s past would be bad enough that they’d stop her from regenerating.”
Amethyst rubbed her arm and looked away. “I… I don’t wanna make a decision like that, Peri. Can’t you…. I don’t know, look at your computer, and just analyze what you should do?”
“It would be nice if emotions worked that way,” Peridot said with genuine longing. “But unfortunately, they’re not so easy to quantify. I need a specific event to pinpoint.”
Now Amethyst looked even more uncomfortable. Which either meant that she felt bad for coming this far and having no clue which memories they should be targeting. Or, the more likely scenario, she knew exactly which memory to target and didn’t want to say so. It became even more clear that the latter was the case when Amethyst started muttering to herself.
“…guess that wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe she’d even be happier without it…”
Peridot tapped her foot. Slowly at first, but she picked up the pace the longer the silence stretched out. “I’m not trying to rush you, but if I could just remind you that eventually, the Steven is going to notice that the Pearl-half is missing, and that fusion that calls herself Corundum isn’t going to last forever. We need to do this.”
Amethyst stomped her foot, as if Peridot was somehow the cause of these unpleasant facts rather than the Gem who delivered them. “Fine,” she growled. “Pearl’s worst memory is when Rose died. Target that.”
“Thank you,” said Peridot, turning and placing her hands back in the water basin. Finally, they were getting somewhere. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply as a vast amount of information flowed into her. She had to take this carefully; one step at a time. Within the water, she envisioned a channel connecting her thoughts to the Pearl-half’s. Then the channel formed and Peridot felt like she was walking through a fog.
I’m doing it, she thought with excitement, I’m inside the Pearl-half’s mind.