Peridot narrowed her eyes at the objects in front of her. The identity of said objects was not that much of a mystery… they were obviously two pearls. Nearly identical in size and shape, the only subtle difference seemed to be that one had a orange tint to it, while the other, more of a purple one. The question was where they had come from and what the others expected her to do with them.
“And… explain what happened next?” For some reason, she felt the compulsion to yell this question very loudly, but managed to keep her voice at a normal tone.
The Steven… no, “just Steven” he’d asked to be called, was making the most peculiar blubbering sounds while liquid streamed from his eyes and even dripped out of his nose. “…and then, Pearl was gone, and just these two stones were sitting there!”
Peridot picked up each stone and carefully weighed them in her hands. Impressive. They even seemed to weigh the same. But that didn’t change what had happened. “So…” she said through gritted teeth. “Let me make sure I understand this correctly. I warned Pearl, specifically, warned her, not to go into that room, and the first thing she does is asked to be left alone in it?”
The Crystal Gems all nodded at her. Seeing this, something in Peridot snapped. She put the two stones calmly back on the table before releasing her tension in a violent whirlwind of destruction on the rest of the room.
“Clod!” she yelled at the top of her lungs, grabbing a primitive room-lightning device and smashing it against the countertop. “Stupid, stupid, stupid clod!” She yanked the bread-burning machine from its socket and hurled it through the nearest window. “That stupid, lying pearl said she trusted me! She even gave me a percentage! How could you lie about a percentage?”
Peridot went to grab the image cube next when she felt Garnet’s strong hand on her shoulder.
“Peridot, it’s okay,” Garnet said. “We’re all scared for Pearl. But that’s why we came to you.”
“I am not scared!” Peridot snapped. And she wasn’t. At least… it didn’t feel like being scared. Scared was when she got abandoned on Earth and thought she’d never see home again. Scared was when Earth’s atmosphere made strange noises and dumped water everywhere for no discernible reason. You got scared of something. You didn’t get scared for someone. Did you?
Peridot rubbed her eyes and found to her shock that they were leaking liquid just as the Steven’s were. Apparently, his condition was contagious. “I just… I don’t get your Earth behaviors at all. Why wouldn’t she trust me?”
At this, Garnet looked angry. “You mistrusted her first. You didn’t trust her to handle the full truth, so you left out key information when you were talking to her. There’s more than one way to lie, Peridot.”
Peridot stiffened in defense, but couldn’t think of again good retort. In either case, however, Garnet didn’t give her much of a chance. She ushered Peridot back to the table, in front of the two pearls once again.
“Now, we need your help,” Garnet said sternly. “Is there anything we can do to repair this?”
Peridot breathed deeply and refocused her intellect on the problem in front of her. That was what she was made for, after all. Not this… these erratic, emotion things. She picked up each pearl once again, examining them closely, trying to analyze them for any hint of information she didn’t already have. She hadn’t had a whole lot of experience with the Fission Room, but even she knew that a split as perfect as this was extremely rare. There might genuinely be a chance of normal regeneration with these two gems. A minuscule chance, but a chance nonetheless.
“Well?” the Steven sniffled. “Can you bring Pearl back?”
“Bring her back?” Peridot tried not to laugh. Really, she did. But the level of ignorance on Steven’s part was just so ridiculous that she couldn’t help herself. “I can’t bring back someone who doesn’t exist anymore. The Pearl that you’re familiar with is gone.” She put the two gems back on the table and pushed them away. “I don’t know who or what will emerge from these two pearls or if anything will emerge at all. We’re wasting our time.”
She walked away from the table. This was stupid, getting her hopes, getting any of their hopes up like this. Their survival was at risk, and that had to be Peridot’s focus. They still had to get this drill moving and now with the only other Gem who could actually follow a technical discussion gone to pieces, Peridot would have to work twice as hard. She reached under the couch where she’d stashed a copy of the drill’s schematics and the map they had to follow. Much to her frustration, however, none of the Crystal Gems budged from where they stood.
“So that’s what happened in that room, then?” Steven asked. “Pearl’s gem was split in two?”
Peridot groaned at the redundancy of Steven’s question, but in the interest of not having Garnet fling her through the nearest window, she decided to answer in the kindest way possible. “Yes. Hence why we called it the Fission Room. Where do you think we got Gem shards to form the cluster in the first place?”
This, it seemed, did not turn the conversation in Peridot’s favor, but instead pitted everyone further against her. Garnet let out a gasp of shock and Amethyst even went so far as to pull out her whip.
“You…” she growled. “We thought those were pieces of Gems that were broken in battle. We didn’t think you actually murdered them yourselves!”
Peridot stood up her chair, which only seemed to prove how much stature she lacked here. But she was sick of being labeled the villain, and this time, she planned to say so. “I didn’t murder anyone! In case you’ve forgotten, this all happened thousands of years before I landed on Earth! You’re looking for someone to blame, but since the Gems who built that room aren’t here, you figure I’m the next best thing!”
Amethyst actually did raise her whip at this, but before she could use it, Garnet stepped forward and pounded the table, which very nearly snapped it in two. “Even if you didn’t build that place, you knew it was there! If you couldn’t tell Pearl about it, you could have at least told the rest of us!”
“You would have been worse!” Peridot said, throwing her hands in the air. “You Crystal Gems are so obsessed with fusion, if I told you that fission existed, you’d kick me out!”
“Like we’re not gonna do that now,” Amethyst growled. She and Garnet both took a fighting stance. Peridot prepared herself to fight, too (thought she had no clue how she would do so). Then, much to her surprise, Steven grasped Garnet around the waist and made a pathetically vain effort to pull her back.
“Please,” he begged. “Stop fighting! We had enough bad things happen today without any more fighting!”
His pleas didn’t seem to have any effect at first. Garnet was a mountain of a Gem, ready to come crashing down on Peridot with her full strength. Yet, at the sound of Steven’s voice, she seemed to soften. Her weapons disappeared and she gently patted Steven on the head as he rubbed his eye and nose liquid all over her.
“I’m sorry, Steven,” Garnet said. “You’re right. Fighting isn’t helping anyone.”
“…would’ve made me feel better,” Amethyst muttered.
Peridot massaged her forehead. It seemed she’d narrowly escaped death once again. “Look, the situation isn’t great, but it’s not totally lost, either.” She motioned to the table once again. “These Gems are definitely alive. They are regenerating, and I believe they will form complete bodies when they do so. And since both these two Gems came from your Pearl, they should, in theory, have aspects of her personality. They may even have her memories, too.”
“But… they’ll still be different Gems?” Amethyst asked, lowering her whip by a fraction.
“As I think I’ve explained several times already, yes.” Peridot expected this statement to send Steven into another wave of hysterics, but instead, it seemed to have the opposite effect. He got a look of excitement and hope in his eyes and grasped Garnet’s hand.
“Hey, maybe that’s what you couldn’t see in your future vision,” he said. “If Pearl is two different Gems now, you wouldn’t have known to look for them. That’s why it felt like Pearl disappeared, even though she didn’t totally.”
“It’s a possible explanation,” Garnet allowed, with no tone of hope in her voice at all.
“So then it’s settled,” Steven went on. “All we do is wait for these two new Gems to regenerate, we get them to fuse with each other, and bam, Pearl’s back!”
“Steven,” Garnet began, “fusion’s much more complicated than just–”
Only Steven wasn’t listening. “I’m going to go help Pearl’s gems to regenerate!” he announced, scooping the two pearls up and cradling them in his hands. “I’m going to make them their own little bed in my room. They’ll feel super-welcome when they come out.”
He skipped out of the room with Amethyst calling out, “They’re not eggs, dude!” right as he closed the door.
Peridot watched with curiosity as Steven left. If the Crystal Gem’s fluctuating emotions made no sense to her, Steven’s emotions made even less sense. He did know that the odds were against him, didn’t he? Statistically speaking, there was little hope of anything resembling his old friend regenerating from those pearls. Yet he acted so… happy just now.
Peridot sighed, resigning herself to eternal confusion. “I’ll be honest–”
“Please do,” Garnet said.
A fair point, not that Peridot would admit as much. “The Fission System wasn’t designed to make two individual Gems like that. Our Pearl must have been having some serious internal conflict to make a split so perfect. I mean, I don’t think you could manufacture that if you tried.”
“You’re insulting Pearl at a time like this?” Amethyst asked.
“Not at all,” Peridot said. “I’m saying that what that conflict was, it might have very well just saved her life.”