Joe's Note: Back by demand that - while hardly overwhelming - was greater than anticipated? The continuing adventures of Commander Yvonne Shepard, and her expanded Crystal Gems. Given the number of Steven Universe fanfics out there both pure and crossover, I'm sure that I'm not the first person to use a Kyanite or a Hyalite as an original Gem. That said, both of mine were created for this story and any similarities - superficial or noteworthy - to another character by that name in another author's stories is purely coincidental. Meaning if you think they're amusing and want to use them, please ask first. Thanks. And now on with the show.
Dedications & Thanks: To Nicholas, Alexander, Howard, Daniel, Christopher, Luke, Zachary, Marc, Ziryo, Elliot, Crusifikz70, Timothy, Leigh, Jason, Chris, George, Koby, Ken, MJ, Thyatira, William, Wil, Invernos, Jack, Pat, Warren, Chris, Mitch, and Jess for sponsoring me on , and making it easier for me to spend more of my time writing. Additional thanks go to the incomparable LogicalPremise for his amazing set of references covering many untouched facets of the Mass Effect universe, as well as listening to me ramble about ideas for the future of this story.
"Doctor? Doctor Chakwas? I think she's waking up."
What was Ashley's first clue, that she'd opened her eyes or that she'd pushed herself up into a seated position on the examination table? Yvonne shook her head despondently as she brought her hands up to rub her temples. While she logically knew that her human subordinates would pale in comparison toward the Gems that she'd worked with previously, she hadn't expected them to be so… well, stupid. At least the woman wasn't part of the Normandy's crew; they were supposed to be some of the best that the Systems Alliance had to offer and if Ashley represented that… well, Yvonne would have feared for humanity's future. Suddenly, she realized that the head she was cradling in her hands felt odd, and her field of vision was far too wide. "What in the world?"
"You had us worried there, Shepard." The change in her vision became even more apparent as Yvonne looked up, somehow managing to follow Karen Chakwas from the door of the medical bay all the way to the woman's desk and then over to stand in front of her without turning her head an inch. "How are you feeling?"
Yvonne frowned as she pondered the question. Apart from the misshapen face and being able to see more than she should have been able to? "I feel… fine. A bit of a headache, but other than that? I feel great, actually. What happened? How long was I out?"
Consulting her datapad, Chakwas frowned. "Exactly fifteen hours to the minute. If I didn't know how normal your body isn't, I might be surprised by that. As it stands? Not so much. As for what happened, I was hoping you could tell me. The only other person in the area at the time of the incident hasn't regenerated yet; nobody else had a clear line of sight on the beacon when all this unfolded and so there's far too much supposition going around for my liking."
The only… Yvonne turned her head slightly, looking over at the other exam table, or more specifically at the triangular green gem that was resting on the pillow at the head. "Oh, Peridot. Guess one terrible encounter with Prothean tech wasn't enough for you, huh? Can't wait to see your face when you reform as…" Pausing, Yvonne ran her fingertips over her face again, comparing what she was feeling to the memories Rose had of the Gems' first visit to the Prothean outpost on Mars. "Huh. Let me guess, I'm a pink Prothean right now, aren't I?"
"Quite. Like I said, if I was any less familiar with your kind, I'd be alarmed or amazed. You'd already shapeshifted by the time they brought you back to the ship; I'm assuming that means you came in contact with the beacon as well. Actually, I'm hoping you did because if that's not the reason for these readings, you may be very ill." After tapping at her datapad for a few seconds, Chakwas turned and presented it to Yvonne. "I know you're not the most scientific-minded of the Gems, but what do you make of this? Abnormal beta waves, unusually active alpha waves, heightened rapid eye movement… I've never seen anything like this among either humans or Gems. It almost looks like intense dreaming, but-"
"When I was asleep, I saw… something. I'm not sure what. Death. Destruction. On a level that even the Diamond Authority never achieved. It was horrifying. I'm pretty sure I was watching the fall of the Protheans; why they would record that and set their beacons up to blast people with it, I have no idea." Yvonne shuddered and took the datapad from Chawkwas, looking the information over before shrugging and handing it back to the doctor. Chakwas was right; despite all Yvonne had learned over both human lives and millennia as Rose Quartz, electroencephalography was not a field she had any real degree of knowledge in. The activity drew her attention to her tridactyl hands, and she frowned as it took her several tries to return them to their normal pentadactyl configuration. "Oh, that's not good. I haven't had problems with shapeshifting since back when I was Steven."
Before Chakwas could respond to that, the women found themselves rudely reminded that they were not alone in the medical bay. "So how does that work, then?" Ashley blushed faintly as both Chakwas and Yvonne's attention shifted to her, but stood her ground and pushed on anyway. "I figured that you were related to Steven Universe and Rose Quartz somehow because of the shield, but I thought you were a descendant or something. But you make it sound like you and him are the same person?"
Yvonne shook her head; while Ashley was aware of her true identity after the mission to Eden Prime - and a few other tidbits because neither Yvonne nor Chakwas had demonstrated the good sense to kick the marine out of the medical bay yet - that didn't mean Yvonne had to spill all her secrets to the brunette. "Need to know, Ashley, and you don't need to know. Speaking of which, we're about to start getting even further into that territory so… dismissed." Ashley actually appeared to pout at that for a few seconds before remembering who she was dealing with, snapping off a hasty salute before hurrying out the door. Turning back to Chakwas, Yvonne nodded. "To answer your question? Yes, I came in contact with the beacon. Or it came in contact with me. Peridot tried to interface with it and got poofed for her troubles. Some kind of security field came online, trapping her gem even after she retreated. I tried to get close enough to create a Steven Bubble around me and Peridot, hoping that I could use that to free her. Instead, I got sucked into the field too. I remember it lifting me into the air, and then pain, and then I was waking up here. With a brain full of… hell."
Frowning, Chakwas dutifully recorded all of the new information before shaking her head. "Even with the information provided by your fellow Gems, we still know so little about the Protheans. This is unprecedented on so many levels that I don't even know if I should be concerned. Peridot and Pearl have managed to directly connect to the Mars Archives, but I believe this is the first time in history that anyone has managed to interact with a…" She trailed off as the door slid open to admit two new visitors. "Captain Anderson. And Pearl."
David Anderson let out a low chuckle as a pale, slender form slipped past him into the medical bay, making a beeline for where Yvonne was sitting. "I kept her occupied for as long as I could but once you messaged me that the commander was awake… well, there was no stopping her. How's our XO holding up, Doctor?"
Skidding to a stop in front of Yvonne, Pearl cupped the taller woman's face between both hands and stared into her eyes - presumably four of them with very odd pupils if Yvonne really was a Prothean and had assumed a form identical to the one Peridot had ended up with after her Martian misadventure - for a few seconds before shooting an irritated look over at her captain. "She's currently a Prothean. How do you think she's doing?" Shaking her head, Pearl returned her attention to Yvonne. "Do we need to fuse or-"
"Yes, but not right now. Even the cargo bay would be pushing it; we'll need somewhere big enough to hold our combined form." Pressing a quick kiss to Pearl's lips, Yvonne leaned back and raised her hands between them. "Fixing these was a lot harder than it should have been. I think I'm actually part or all Prothean right now. Not sure how that works, but hey. So unless someone can talk me through how to reshape Prothean guts into human guts without killing myself in the process? I don't think I can fix myself without fusing."
Pearl shook her head in resigned amusement before leaning in and hugging Yvonne tightly. When she finally pulled back, she tsked softly before waggling a finger at the taller woman. "From now on, you're not allowed to leave the ship without either me or one of the other Gems along to keep an eye on you." Opening her mouth to argue, Yvonne was cut off by Pearl pressing a finger to her lips. "Maybe you should save arguing with my decision for when you're no longer a pink Prothean due to one of your unsupervised misadventures? Honestly, you're worse than Steven these days."
Leaning back, Yvonne crossed her arms over her chest as she sulked. "The others were along for Eden Prime and this still happened. Hell, Peridot is the reason this happened to me!"
"Yes and I'll be having a vey long talk with Peridot about her behavior once she regenerates." Pearl shot a look of disgust over at the gem sitting on the other examination bed. "You might be getting a very pretty new necklace for your birthday this year. Or perhaps a new hand mirror."
Yvonne's eyes widened and then she reached out, grabbing Pearl's hands and drawing the Gem's attention back to her. "Woah now. I love that you care about me, really I do… but that's crossing the line into scary obsession, Pearl. Peridot made a mistake. For the first time in like, a hundred years. That's reprimand territory, not permanent disembodiment territory."
Conflicting emotions warred on Pearl's face; she had trained herself to defend Rose - and her alternate forms - to the death, but had also shifted her gem's natural submissiveness to focus on Rose. Should she do what Rose asked? Or protect Rose against her wishes? Finally, the lithe Gem sighed and nodded. "As you wish, Yvonne. But you're still taking a bodyguard with you from now on. Rose would be very unhappy if she regenerated because you lost your life doing something foolish."
"I'll take Lapis."
"Jasper is more capable."
"Lapis can pass as an asari. And she actually likes me."
"Just out of curiosity, do I get any say in this? Considering that it's my ship, Shepard is nominally a member of my crew, and she's supposed to be running missions under my command? Or could we perhaps table this particular discussion for the time being so that we can talk about the fact that the Spectre sent to evaluate Shepard now knows the truth about Rose Quartz's fate? A secret that the Systems Alliance has managed to keep hidden from the Council for all these years at your kind's insistence, Pearl?" Anderson looked from Yvonne's bemused face to Pearl's glaring one before raising his hands in surrender and taking a step back. "I stand corrected. Discussing how you intend to usurp my authority is definitely more important. Please, by all means then, continue."
"Kyanite can pass for an asari, is stronger than Lapis, and also likes you."
"Kyanite would cause an intergalactic incident."
"True. Fine, you'll take Lapis. But I'm guarding you aboard the Citadel personally."
"You can guard my body as often as you'd like, my Pearl. All you need to do is ask."
Jasper scowled as she stomped her way down the gangway connecting the Normandy to the C-Sec secured dock that the ship had been directed to. Not that there was any chance of them being routed elsewhere; as soon as Rose… err, Yvonne had been stationed aboard the experimental frigate, her pet Pearl had commandeered a handful of lesser Gems from their compound in Beach City back on Earth. Reallocated to the Citadel to act as 'support' for their illustrious leader, they'd been confined to a singular dock and the attached facilities, ensuring that Dock 422 would be the only place the Normandy would be landing for the foreseeable future… and forcing Jasper to come face-to-face with more copies of the last Gem she wanted to see at the moment. And some less independent Peridots, but she didn't have a problem with them right now. "You don't get to split us up any more than you do Ruby and Sapphire. You either get both of us or neither of us. End of story."
"That's a specious comparison and you know it; Ruby and Sapphire can't be split up because they're Garnet." Not taking the hint from the strides long enough to force her to jog to keep up, Pearl doggedly kept pace at Jasper's elbow. "You and Lapis clearly are not in the same situation, and therefore it is very possible to split you up."
Pausing so suddenly that Pearl rushed past her and had to loop back around to face her, Jasper raised an eyebrow. "Would you really rather have me and Lapis running around as Malachite constantly? Because if that's what it will take to shut you up…"
Pearl blanched at the taller Gem's words, shaking her head rapidly. "No, no. Not at all. I just…" Sighing, she closed the distance between them and reached up to rest a dainty hand on Jasper's shoulder. "You care about Lapis. You love her. That's why we're having this argument in this first place. It also means that you understand why I need to do this. I need to protect Ro… Yvonne."
"Then do it yourself."
"Then take both of us. Except you won't, because the great Rose Quartz - or what passes for her - has spoken and at your core, you're still her property. Her obedient little pet Pearl." Jasper sneered and pushed Pearl out of her way before continuing forward. "Speaking of which, shouldn't you be hanging off her arm right now instead of bothering me? It's what you were made for."
Hands fisting at her sides, Pearl glared at Jasper for a few more seconds before stalking back up the gangway toward the Normandy. Looking back over her shoulder, the orange Gem watched as Pearl was met halfway by Rose in Prothean form. Yvonne. Whatever. The pink-skinned Gem smiled indulgently as Pearl began to babble, taking the slender Gem into her arms and twirling her as they made their way toward Jasper. Just as they cleared the gangway, Yvonne dipped Pearl and their forms went white, fusing together into a blonde Gem that towered over even Jasper. A nearly perfect fusion, the likes of which Jasper and Lapis still couldn't manage, with only a spare pair of eyes to give away that it wasn't a singular Gem. Much to Jasper's surprise, this version of Rainbow Quartz managed to retain all of Yvonne's armor, only to have Pearl's obsession with rule and order cause it to revert to Systems Alliance standard black with red and white trim.
And then Jasper was out of time to observe and analyze, the fusion crossing the distance between them in the blink of an eye and kicking the smaller Gem's legs out from under her. As she hit the deck with a grunt, Rainbow Quartz planted a foot in the middle of Jasper's chest and pinned her down. "Jasper darling… what did I tell you about calling my Pearl property?"
"And you did it anyway."
"You call her 'your' Pearl. Why can't I?"
Sighing, Rainbow Quartz removed her foot from Jasper's chest and sank to her knees beside the fallen Gem. "We've both called her 'your' Lapis but that doesn't mean she's your property, now does it? Pearl can't help where she came from or how we met, but she's not that Gem anymore. And she hasn't been for the entire time you've known her, so you have absolutely no excuse." Leaning in closer, the blonde Gem lowered her voice. "Big things are coming, Jasper. Huge, galaxy-changing things. Garnet's seen them. Battles the likes of which our kind has never seen. But if I can't trust you to have my back, you're going to be sitting them out and so is Tiger's Eye. Is that what you want?" Eyes widening, Jasper shook her head rapidly. As powerful as each of them was individually, the two quartzes had only fused into Tiger's Eye on a handful of occasions, the last of which was before humanity left its home system. Back when Rose was still Rose. If an enemy was coming that would require her and Rose to fuse… there was no way Jasper wanted to miss out on that! "Then you know what you have to do."
Jasper sat up, rubbing her chest for a few seconds before nodding. "I'm… grr. I'm sorry. I'm still not going to let you run off with Lapis. But I'm sorry for calling calling you property, Pearl."
"Good enough. Now…" Hopping to her feet, Rainbow Quartz clapped her hands together. "You, Lapis, Peridot, and Kyanite were the only Gems who were on Eden Prime from start to finish. Peridot still hasn't regenerated, bringing Kyanite into an important meeting would be a disaster, and Lapis lacks your military background. So guess who gets to come with me to meet the Council and serve as the official Crystal Gems representative?"
…on second thought, being Tiger's Eye was't that great…