The World Refacetted
—The failure of Blue Diamond set their plan in motion: Yellow Diamond led Homeworld’s forces against Rose Quartz’s, ensuring that the rebels were occupied while White Diamond retired with a carefully chosen few. They would oversee the creation of the new age. Including her, there were forty nine of these Gems: scientists from the kindergarten, those with special magical abilities, scouts, fusions, Gems created on Earth, strategists; all of them brilliant in some way, and ready to die for their world at a moment’s notice. As Yellow Diamond made her sacrificial assault, this group boarded a single starship to begin their journey home.
On that starship there was a device; a weapon, made specifically for use against Gems... the only working model ever to be made.
The future that the three true Diamonds had envisioned was built on an enduring unity between Gems, and in it there was no room for the memory of Rose Quartz, or the Earth, or for any of the Gems that had fought to protect it and its humans. Anyone that had previously opposed Homeworld was a threat to the new order… even the slightest chance that someone might return from Earth to spread their corrupt version of events was too great, every last one of them had to be wiped out. Yellow and Blue Diamond understood this perfectly, and just as they had planned, White Diamond’s weapon was deployed as the ship cleared its blast range.”
As she snorted with what was probably amusement, Peridot could see the bitterness in White Diamond’s face. She didn’t really think much of the her, but it was somehow nice to see that she was capable of more than just smugness and derisive smiles.
“Ironically, the way that it worked meant that organic matter was left totally unscathed; its effects were limited to the gems of those caught up in its field… But the battle was the one that was going to decide the outcome of the war, and every soldier on either side would’ve been in the area; thus when it went off, all of them would’ve been shattered simultaneously, regardless of variety or loyalty…”
Pavilion had the utmost respect for the Invisible Empress, as she had come to be called. Only a Gem of the strongest character could’ve agreed to leave the battle and use the weapon, knowing what it would do to her own side. She was a role model, but one that couldn’t be appreciated until the time was right.
“While any of the Diamonds were still alive, there was no chance that Rose Quartz’s army would’ve gone unpunished for what they’d done; the cost had been dear, but finally, after over a thousand years of war, the enemy had been destroyed.
…Homeworld was in a state of emergency when the survivors returned to it. The temporary leaders that the three Diamonds had left in charge were only too happy to relinquish their powers back to White Diamond, so great and numerous were the problems that the world faced.
It is recorded that White Diamond failed entirely in her bid to bring stability back to Homeworld, but that couldn’t be further from the truth…
Her first action was to tell the world of what ‘happened’ during the Third Inorganic War after the Diamonds left: the shattering and disappearance of the other Shard representatives, the fact that the war was over, but no one had actually won it, the explosion of the stars in the system —which very conveniently meant that no evidence of the war would ever be found…
When asked about Pink Diamond, the quiet and simple response was that she fled when the Third Inorganic War broke out and never returned. Between the time that she left for Earth and the announcement of war, Homeworld hadn’t publically heard from Rose Quartz; so with the fact that she didn’t return as the warp grid was being taken offline, there wasn’t much to suggest that she hadn’t fled. On Earth she had transformed into much more than a Gem, she had become an idea, a dangerous and divisive one at that. The Diamonds had determined that the best way to stop people from adopting that idea, was to make sure that they never got to hear it in the first place: since she and all the rebels had been shattered on Earth, nobody was going to find out what she’d been fighting for, or that she’d even been fighting at all. In telling the population that Rose Quartz had abandoned them, White Diamond ensured that they would soon abandon the memory of her.
Of course, while the people were left ignorant, the remaining members of the Authority were told the truth of the war’s end. The grand design for Homeworld was explained to them, and those who could appreciate its logic were included in it, those who couldn’t suffered the same fate as Earth’s defenders.
With the Authority taken care of, White Diamond turned back to the people. A race more powerful than ever before was to be formed, held together by Gems with a common purpose. But what she had before her was a population in panic: missing most of its leaders, split between multiple colonies, lacking an army and fearing invasion because of it. Given time the situation could’ve been rectified, but the people had to completely let go of the ideas of the past, and be guided into a future very different to what they were used to, by a leadership unlike those that had come before it. Life was going to be made better on Homeworld, permanently; but before that could happen it was going to get a lot worse... You two know this period of restructuring as the Era of Inclusion, and as you might expect from the top-down reorganisation of a whole planet, it was lengthy, painful and generously encrusted with violence.
Messages were sent to the remaining offworld colonies, urging their residents to return to Homeworld where they would be safer. The idea appealed to many people, and the population doubled, and then nearly trebled in a very short period of time. When all those that could be persuaded with words had returned home, White Diamond dispatched clandestine teams to the colonies; survivors of the war for the Earth, equipped with experimental weapons for use on strategic targets. It didn’t take much time for the stubborn to believe that they were under attack from the remnants of the Third Inorganic War, and in short order they too were back where they belonged.
With virtually every Gem in existence living on Homeworld, the idea that it had become overcrowded spread among the people. The pervasive feeling of anxiety had created a volatile atmosphere, and the mass integration served as the spark that started the fire, so to speak. It was just one problem too many, triggering the world’s descent into utter pandemonium...
Like the three of us, you two were inducted too recently to have experienced the inclusion era first-hand, but you will have heard it described in all its grim detail before: the uncertainty, the despair, the fighting and rioting...
And White Diamond was responsible for it all.”
Peridot agreed that the old White Diamond had messed up, big time; but the way the new one had said it, like it was something to be proud of, told her that things were not as they currently appeared to be.
Bixbite immediately knew that they were about to learn something even more shocking; she moved her hands from the table to her lap and then back again, turning to look at Peridot uneasily.
She smiled weakly at her, wanting to reassure the green Gem, but at the same time scared by how rapidly the world was changing around her, and needing some reassurance herself.
Interpreting their troubled exchange as disbelief, Corona began the analysis of what she’d just said.
“Yes, the Gem who is always blamed for letting it happen, made it happen. Blue and Yellow Diamond made sacrifices in a more physical sense, but the white Shard representative also had an important part to play, if their plan was to have the desired effect.
If you ignore the fear and disorder, it’s impossible not to notice that there was a planet bursting with talented Gems, trying not to get killed as society collapsed. White Diamond sought the smartest economists and financiers and, promising them that they were making the world a better place, asked them to ruin the economy... well, what was left of it after the war...
Slowly and meticulously they carried out their mission, which…”
As Corona went off on her tangent, Pavilion slowly turned to Essence, who was also leaning back in her chair; the blue Gem rolled her eyes at Corona’s attempt to convince everyone how interesting this part of the story was, making Pavilion grin broadly.Corona was disappointed that she hadn’t been there; if she was just a few centuries older then she could’ve been part of that ingenious group. To be part of a team that was at the forefront of changing the world — using all their skills to do pretty much the exact opposite of what they were used to doing, in a way that no one was supposed to notice — would’ve been an incredible challenge, and a masterpiece of financial engineering.
At some point she realised that she had lost the attention of her students, which had shifted to something beside her. Taking a look either side at Essence and Pavilion revealed nothing: the yellow diamond met her gaze with an expression that said ‘yes?’, and the blue diamond raised an eyebrow to the same effect.
She frowned at both of them in turn and then faced Peridot and Bixbite once again.
“But anyway, as they carried out their mission, White Diamond assembled a detachment of those who had accompanied her back to Homeworld, and gave them one of their own. Rose Quartz had faded considerably in the minds of the people, but the major reminders of her and of the Fourth Shard still had to be dealt with before she could be expunged entirely. Those Gems were tasked with shattering any elements that had strongly supported Rose Quartz, but had not gone to Earth for whatever reason. Behind the veil of mayhem that already shrouded Homeworld, they not only dispatched the undesirables, but destroyed monuments, libraries, records, art…
Like the economist’s, their work blended seamlessly into the background disorder, appearing as a terrible but not unforeseeable consequence of the madness that gripped the world.” White Diamond said sarcastically. It was clear to Peridot that she was rather thrilled by the secret activities of the inclusion era.
“For the three hundred years after the war White Diamond presided over the chaos: carefully directing the misery and fanning the flames of discord… On one hand she had to sit by as she was labelled as incompetent, selfish and uncaring, and on the other hand she had to keep to her course of action every day, knowing that it was she who was orchestrating the suffering of the Gem race.
But she was strong, and she knew that it was a necessary evil; the world had crumbled around her, and in complete secrecy she had put in place the measures that were needed to rebuild it properly.
Eventually, her arduous task was all but complete: things were beginning to fall into place, and the time had come for her to place Homeworld in the hands of those who were to rule it in the future.
Despite missing some of its Diamonds, Homeworld’s leadership had been an effective unit; the survivors and the longstanding members of the Authority had formed a coherent and sensible group, and had assisted and supported White Diamond at every stage of her endeavour to change the world. She decided that no matter how Homeworld was run it needed such an institution, and so the council was established.
The economists and the Gems that had purified the world for its rebirth also had their services recognised: the new Homeworld was to be built on strong foundations, and the way that those individuals had put the future prosperity of Gemkind over their personal notions of right and wrong, was an example of that strength. Though it would be a long time before either was made official, the Department of Finance and the Department of Clarity were created.
Finally, she brought the most intelligent and powerful diamonds of the age together for a meeting, as it was they who would lead the Gem race out of the inclusion era. She imparted to them the knowledge that had been accumulated over the last one and a half thousand years or so, instructing them to first choose leaders amongst themselves from the blue, white and yellow Shards, and then to use what she had taught them to move the world forward as they saw fit. However, she made it clear to them that they should work with the council: ultimately they would be the ones with the power, but without the council’s expertise their reign would be short, unsuccessful and quickly forgotten.
With that, White Diamond’s work was finished: she had set the destination, and it was now up to others to complete the journey into the next era. The rest of the story is known to everyone: the official dissolution of the old Authority, the implementation of the tiering system for our variety, the development of the Triumvirate-council structure and all the rest.”
Apparently the white Shard representative had said all she wanted to say, because then she relaxed her posture, slowly and dramatically ran a hand through her hair, and grinned at Peridot and Bixbite conspiratorially.
Bixbite sat completely still as her mind tried to process everything that White Diamond had just told them. It was horrible: so many people had died, and been scared for so long… it didn’t even seem possible that so many people could believe such a lie, but they did, they had, for millennia. ‘What sort of minds could create a story like that? ’ she wondered.
It struck her that she’d had such an idyllic view of life and universe before this, she felt like crying, but the tears didn’t seem to want to come out.
‘Oh my Gem. Am I… broken?’
She knew it was a silly question, but a part of her questioned if she could be the same as she was before, knowing what she knew now. She really hoped so…
Then she felt her eyes start to water, and gave a quiet sniffle; of course she would be the same: she still cared deeply about all her fellow Gems, she was still Bixbite, the individual that was her… she just knew more about the world now, and she had an even more important secret to keep, and an important job to do —well, she hadn’t been given a job yet, but she still had her old job, and…
Most importantly, she still had Peridot: if it wasn’t for her, they wouldn’t be here… they wouldn’t be a ‘they’ at all; she felt sort of glad to know what she now knew, even if things did seem darker now, somehow…
There was no one she’d rather share this adventure with then Peri; but she wondered if she’d be able to keep her safe if things got dangerous. She felt a twinge of fear as she glanced at her serious green face, realising that she probably couldn’t.
But she could learn to…
Peridot’s thoughts flickered through her consciousness even faster than they had after her visit to the Icosahedron. She looked straight ahead, making sure that she understood the most important details of Homeworld’s true history.
Suddenly she grinned:
This was exactly what she wanted; the truth. Her questions had been answered, mostly, and she was looking forward to working with Bixbite on projects that only they’d be allowed to work on, enjoying all the perks that would certainly come with an Authority level task like theirs.
“Do either of you have any questions?” Blue Diamond asked firmly, breaking the silence and bringing Peridot back from her daydream.
There was one part of the story that still didn’t make sense to her:
“Yes, Empress. The Gems that followed Rose Quartz were either shattered on Earth or on Homeworld, but… surely there’d be someone who’d notice that the Fourth Shard and its representative just ‘disappeared’?”
“You would think so, wouldn’t you?” White Diamond said, returning to the conversation, “But as circumstance has proved, people can become remarkable forgetful after a few hundred years without hope or order. It appears that they were so glad of the stability that the First Triumvirate brought, that they were content to accept the new way Homeworld was going to be run. And don’t forget, the new system was always meant to address the grievances people had against the old one: by eliminating the need for the Fourth Shard, they eliminated the desire for it to be brought back.” she answered rather dismissively.
Peridot wasn’t entirely convinced, but chose not to press the matter. After the first few historians had gone missing, any interest in the Fourth Shard probably disappeared, she concluded.
“What happened to White Diamond —the one with the plan, I mean? …Empress.” Bixbite asked cautiously.
White Diamond’s smirk reappeared.
“You know she vanished after the Authority was disbanded; now she’s in a safe place. When her part in the scheme of the three Diamonds was finished, she requested to be shattered by the diamonds she’d assembled. They tried to persuade her to be bubbled instead, but she deemed that inelegant and demanded that they do as she asked, or she would do it herself. So they shattered her, and set her broken gem in a marble statue of her: kept somewhere that is never visited by people who aren’t Triumvirs or pearls.” she declared with a knowing smile.
There was another pause before Bixbite brought up the next thing to consider:
“So… what do you want us to do now?”
“For now, nothing. Your only order at the moment is to inform us when the Red Eye fails to return, at which point you will receive new commands.” said Blue Diamond without wasting any time or words. “You said that the device would take roughly three months to come back if Gems were found, correct?”
“Yes, Empress.” the two said in unison.
“And how long has it been since you dispatched it?”
“Two months and seven days.” Peridot told her with quick, friendly glance at Bixbite. She was like that with dates and figures… Bixbite would understand.
“Very good. So we won’t be expecting anything from you until say… the middle of next month.” Blue Diamond confirmed.
“And we just... go to work, as normal?” Peridot asked tentatively.
“Yes, Peridot, for the time being you two can continue as though this never happened. Your absences today have been taken care of, and so you have the rest of the day to do what you feel like. Of course, going back to work isn’t advisable, though your cover stories do give you room to do that if you want; in that case you’ll need to read them before you arrive.”
“Thank you, Empress.”
“Yes. In addition to your cover stories the transcript of this meeting, and the formal version of what you’ve been told today will be sent to you. Diamonds, is there anything else you want to add?”
“No thank you, Blue Diamond.” Corona said, smiling at how strange it felt to call Essence by her shortened title. Pavilion merely shook her head.
“No, thank you Empress.”, “No, Empress.” the pair responded.
Jarringly, Blue Diamond looked into both of their eyes in turn with a piercing, steely glare. Blue Diamond lowered her voice, which seemed to make the background noise quieter. Transfixed by the Triumvir, the two stiffened in their chairs as they were treated to the most intimidating words that either of them had ever heard:
“I’m sure you need no reminding, but the things we’ve spoken about today are to be discussed only with the key personnel permitted to discuss them. Your skills are useful, which is why you’ve not been shattered for your actions, but that doesn’t make you indispensable; make no mistake, if you share anything you shouldn’t, with anyone you shouldn’t — even by accident— then you’ll find us far less forgiving.
If you’re responsible for an information leak we will trace it back to you, and when we do, we’ll use your gems in ways so exotic that you’ll wish we had decided to shatter you today...”
Bixbite stared at Blue Diamond in open-mouthed horror and Peridot’s eyes went wide, her face frozen with fear.
“You understand then?” she prompted.
“Yes, Empress.” they said together, loudly, clearly and hastily.
“Good. Then I bring today’s meeting to a close.”
As Bixbite had seen her do before, Blue Diamond laid a hand on the table’s glossy surface and summoned Shell. Their business concluded, the Diamonds rose from the table and the yellow Shard representative made her way towards them.
“Peridot, Bixbite, I look forward to working with you in the future.” she said, shaking each of their hands in turn.
The power that radiated from her (from all three of the Diamonds in fact) was even more pronounced as Peridot stood opposite her, and her handshake gave the impression of intense strength in a comparatively compact body.
Comparatively... Between White Diamond, Yellow Diamond and Bixbite, she felt short: the only person that was smaller than her was Blue Diamond, and she made her feel small in a totally different way...
Though she had addressed them both, Yellow Diamond’s watchful eyes made it clear that she was more interested in Peridot, in the same way that White and Blue Diamond had taken more of an interest in Bixbite. Blue Diamond was eying her partner strangely: assessing, or studying her almost; a lot like what Yellow Diamond was doing to her...
‘That can’t be good.’ thought Peridot apprehensively.
White Diamond was admiring Bixbite when she met Peridot’s eye; with a smile she went right back to what she was doing, first making Peridot scowl, and then blush as realised the Diamond was making her jealous. Luckily it wasn’t long before Blue Diamond’s pearl appeared in the room, awaiting further instruction.
“Shell, please take Peridot and Bixbite to the warp pad. We’ll be in the council’s chamber when you get back.”
“Yes, mistress.” she replied with a nod. Facing the two of them she said, “Please, follow me.”
Her smile made it clear that she was very pleased to see them again.
When the walls had closed behind the departing trio, Corona burst out laughing. Pavilion and Essence waited patiently for her to stop, so they could see what was so funny this time.
“Did you see their faces when she threatened them! You couldn’t recreate expressions like that if you tried: I wish one of the pearls had been here to catch it close up.” she explained between chuckles, “I don’t know how I managed to keep a straight face.”
Pavilion had to smile at how amused Corona was by such a simple thing.
“But what exactly did you mean by ‘exotic’?” she questioned, quickly regaining a measure of seriousness.
“I didn’t have anything specific in mind; it was just to get the point across.” Essence said. Then with an evil grin she added:
“But I’m sure you can use your imagination...”
Corona quickly moved the conversation onwards, preferring not to think about the punishments that Essence could inflict.
“Yes, well… I’m certain they received your point loud and clear. But don’t you think that was rather severe?”
“Severe? Those were just words: things will get severe if they fail to comply with our conditions.”
“Do you think that there’s any chance that they won’t comply, after your little warning?”
“There’s always a chance of the unlikely occurring, even if it’s very slim on this occasion.” Essence said warily.
“You still don’t trust them, do you?” Pavilion interjected.
“I trust Bixbite. Even with her loyalty to Peridot, she won’t be a problem.” the blue Diamond said confidently, “but Peridot herself… she’s devious; thinks she’s pretty smart… and she’s already shown that she’ll break rules for personal reasons... Like I said before, we need to be wary of her; you both know how much damage a rogue asset can do.” Essence clarified.
“Mmm.” agreed Pavilion, quietly comparing Essence’s evaluation of Peridot against her own once again.
“So, at what stage do you think we should give them the details of the resonance engine? A head start in that area might be invaluable, if anything were to go wrong.” Corona proposed.
“The kindergarten isn’t even active yet: we need to start with Five before we even consider the projects in the other Facets. There are more important things to consider for the time being.”
“And starting with Facet Five would give Peridot ample chance to show Essence that she’s loyal to our cause.” Pavilion said definitively.
The Fifth Triumvirate began to move towards the door, making their way into the hidden depths of the Adamantine Palace...
When Bixbite asked Peridot where she wanted to go, she grasped her slender red hand and led her onto the warp pad.
“Close your eyes.” she whispered.
Bixbite heard the chime as the pad activated, and felt the coolness on her skin as they drifted through the warp stream. Then there was stillness.
Wherever they’d arrived was hot.
“You can open them now.” Peridot said.
“Ohhh, Peri.” she said affectionately, putting her hands on Peridot’s shoulders and lightly kissing her gem. “It’s nice here.” She looked around, taking in the daytime scenery of the Lesser Amorphous Desert. It really was nice, perfect in its simple way: the sky was a cloudless, pretty blue, the sand was a beautiful golden yellow, and in the distance the mountains sat high and proud, adding character to the landscape.
When she let go of Peridot, the green Gem fiddled with the pins in her hair and rapidly shook her head, allowing her blonde locks to hang free. Bixbite giggled at the sight.
“Thank you for bringing us here —I mean, really thank you, but ummm… is there something that you wanted to do here? It’s just —I mean, I don’t have my key or anything so it—” she started, genuinely happy to be there, but wondering why they were there.
“I do want to be here, with you. But it’s strange —well not strange strange… I just mean that, you know, you don’t really like surprises -not that this was a surprise for you, but…” She was getting her strands of thought tangled: she was aware that Peridot was trying to interrupt her, but… she just needed to start in the right place, then Peridot would know what she was trying to say.
“This… you know, the war and the Diamonds and the Earth and everything, it doesn’t change how I feel about you: I still want to be with you. We can get through this together! I can be—”
“SHHHHH!” Peridot exclaimed.
It was crude, but she had to get Bixbite to stop speaking somehow, and words hadn’t been very effective. “Sorry, but you weren’t making any sense… at all. Well, I understood the words, but not where it was all coming from.”
Bixbite had looked shocked at the interruption, and then upset and exhausted; she sniffed, and Peridot saw the tears forming in her eyes. She realised that she still had a lot to learn about Bixbite: she, her personality, and the feelings she inspired… the way that her different thoughts and emotions must mix together in her mind, to come out of her mouth and eventually (and sometimes eventually took a long time to come) form that peculiar Bixbiteish logic… it was all so complicated.
She, was so complicated.
Peridot smiled at her, feeling a renewed love for the Gem that had chosen her, and that she’d chosen in turn; she hugged her tightly, to let her know that any of her fears about their relationship were unfounded — at least, she thought it would let her know… somehow: she was still quite new to romantic relationships, but gestures like that felt like they conveyed a lot, which was good enough for her.
Bixbite put her arms around Peridot, crying, but laughing at how silly she could be sometimes. She sighed happily.
“I brought us here to be away from everything.” Peridot told her. “And because this is sort of the place where everything began…”
“Ohhhhhhhh!” said Bixbite, finally realising the significance of being there in particular. “Ohh…” she then added, understanding all that was meant by ‘everything’. She blushed in the desert sunlight.
“That’s sweet, Peri. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome… And you don’t need to worry about us, us is —we are fine.”
Bixbite’s blush darkened.
“I’m sorry, about that… these last few hours… I just feel like everything’s so —it’s like the world has been falling apart, and I’m falling apart with it. I mean, I can do my work: machines and graphs and correlations and all that, it’s easy… it’s fun, and then my mind puts it all together and it makes sense. But being with you —I mean, I love it, I love you, but… I mean, I’ve always worried about you, but now I have to worry about us too; and then with the pearls and the Diamonds and the ‘we lied to everyone on Homeworld and now you’re part of it’ thing… its —not that it isn’t fun, well... okay, getting put in a cell, and maybe-being-shattered, that wasn’t fun, but the whole thing is exciting, but it’s also a lot to take in all at once… It’s unlike anything that’s happened to me before… I think I just need some time to be able to deal with it.”
‘I’m a genius.’ Peridot thought.
This was exactly why she’d brought them here, to talk. The sun was still pretty high, and they had the rest of the day and all night to discuss everything and anything.
She took Bixbite’s hand again, and the pair started to walk towards the mountains; when night fell, the view from there was sure to be spectacular...
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