The Fifth Triumvirate

The Shadow War

Log date: zero, zero, three. Physical records from the Icosahedron shed light on the anomalous planet: 000505241908, designation ‘Earth’. As predicted, planet contains less uniform crust composition than in spotting department database, and also contains higher percentages of heavier elements. New information confirms that seeding Earth would be practicable. New information also declares that seeding did occur, but was stopped well before completion. Stated reason for abortion of program summarised as follows: at some point a Rose Quartz full name not given takes offensive action against Homeworld in attempt to establish independent colony on Earth. Earth’s kindergarten is destroyed to prevent its capture and use against Homeworld, escalating skirmishes to a war. Subversives are defeated at great cost to Homeworld and exterminated, leading to abandonment of the Earth seeding program. Questions raised: who exactly was Rose Quartz? What possessed her to try and claim the planet for her own? Why didn’t seeding of Earth continue when resources became available? …Who tried to bury this information and why? ...Did this Rose Quartz have ties to the Authority at one time?

Peridot was reeling. She’d found the information she wanted and so much more during the last hour, she couldn’t quite believe it. What was supposed to clear everything up had actually made things a lot murkier, and she found herself thinking up a colourful array of theories. The most persistent of these was that the Authority itself was trying to keep Earth, and any mention of it, as far from the memory of the public as possible; but why would they do that?

As much as she twisted and turned it around her mind, she just couldn’t make the puzzle fit together coherently. But she knew for sure that there was something on Earth, or there had been, that was being suppressed.

Leaning back into the chair, she closed her eyes to concentrate. She needed a plan…

‘Earth. Earth, Earth, Earth…’ she pondered.

What she was dealing with was not common knowledge; she was young, but she wasn’t that young, and with her previous and current jobs she would have heard about something like this, if only a whisper. It was like anybody who’d ever come across the renegade blue planet had miraculously disappeared…

‘Wait, that’s it!’ came the flash of realisation.

Gems didn’t ‘disappear’ they were either shattered, or they went offworld; if it wasn’t one of those two then the people who knew the truth were keeping silent. Only the Authority was capable of shutting things up like that…

The Authority was a proud and secretive group, and Peridot reasoned that whatever was being covered up probably wouldn’t make them look very good in the eye of the public.

‘A planet, a war, and serious attempts to divert attention… A defeat? …That sounds plausible.’ she mused.

Log date: zero, zero, three, part two. Past evidence already points towards intentionally falsified records; after careful consideration I conclude that the practice goes further than the spotting department. To my knowledge, no mention of the planet ‘Earth’ has ever been made, suggesting that those who know about it, and what happened there, have been silenced or are deceased. It is therefore likely that the outcome of the aforementioned war differs from what has been recorded. Current objective: locate and talk to someone who has been to Earth.

She closed the file and smiled in smug satisfaction. She had always been good at getting things done, especially those tasks which required a greater wit than most clods possessed. But as she closed her integrated computer and scooped up the robonoid to leave, she had to stop and ask herself what she was even doing. This was dangerous territory, and the wrong move could get her shattered, or worse, fired… She knew that there were risks, but it just wasn’t her way to leave jobs half finished: it had gotten her this far in life, and she wasn’t about to stop now. A part of her was even working with the idea that the Authority might commend her initiative, and move her into a more high-powered job.

Satisfaction rapidly turned back into deep thought; nothing was going to happen, positive or negative, if she didn’t find a Gem who had been to Earth, or at least heard of Earth. But where was she going to find those people? If her theory was correct and Homeworld had lost the war, then survivors would be both scarce and difficult to locate.

And then she chuckled aloud, amazed at her own brilliance.

If Homeworld had lost the war then that would mean the Gems on Earth had won; if she could confirm their presence on earth then she’d be able to prove her theory. To take this further she was going to need surveillance equipment…

“You look like you found what you wanted.” commented the Gem at the main desk cheerfully. The purple one whom Peridot had talked to before was nowhere to be seen. This one was grey, and covered in little black patches and dots, topped with a silky looking brown mohawk.

“Not just yet, but I’m going to…” she answered with an expansive grin.

“Great.” she said, responding with a grin of her own. “I heard you were from the Department of Clarity, whatever you’re doing must be pretty important for them to send you so soon after the ceremony…”

Peridot suspected that the librarian was looking for gossip to liven up her day; what she was up to would certainly make her day more interesting, but she wasn’t ready to share her findings yet.

“Actually I chose to come here. I’ve turned this one into more of a personal project.” she said cryptically.

“Oh… So do you have any other ‘personal projects’ going on at the moment?” asked the bespeckled Gem.

The question ‘Why don’t you mind your own business?’ was just about to escape Peridot’s mouth, when she realised what she was really being asked. The flirtatious undertone made something click in her mind, and in a fraction of a second she had a good idea where that surveillance equipment was going to come from. Her grin took on a more playful nature.

“As it happens I don’t.”

“Wellllll, if you want to take a break from whatever it is you’re doing, then I’d love to take you out sometime. We could go to some of the Refacetting festivities.”

“Thanks, but I’m going to be busy with this for a quite a while.” The Gem wasn’t bad looking at all, and hadn’t managed to annoy her yet (quite a feat for a stranger), but Peridot had a plan to execute. Right now, dallying with this forward individual had the potential to upset things. She would have to wait if she wanted to spend some time with Peridot.

“Too bad. I’m here most of the time anyway, if you change your mind. And if you can’t find me, ask for Merly. Merlinite.” she said, winking at Peridot.

“I’m Peridot.” she replied plainly. “This belongs to you.” she continued, holding out the robonoid to Merlinite.

She was just about to accept the metal ball when she noticed Peridot’s fingers, and how they weren’t physically attached to her arm; her eyebrow rose in surprise before she smiled again.

“I bet you have a lot of fun with those.” Merlinite said, taking the robonoid.

“Like you wouldn’t believe.” said Peridot as she turned to leave.

From the outside the Icosahedron was opaque: a sturdy looking building, seemingly made from a single piece of some matte, black metal; on the inside those same walls could be made completely transparent, as dark as the exterior of the building, and anything in between. Unfortunately for Peridot the view was good, but the weather was the exact opposite; the sky was totally grey, and it was raining heavily.

Looking out of the building sized window made her groan in misery, it’d been hot when she set out, and she had decided to forgo an umbrella. Still, a bit of rain wasn’t enough to dampen her spirits; Merlinite had reminded her of something, of someone in fact, that would make her life a lot easier.

It was time to reconnect with an old ‘friend’…

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