A GEM IN THE ROUGH
It is a period of uncertain peace. Although the Homeworld Gem JASPER was incapacitated by fusing with LAPIS LAZULI, the unstable Fusion has yet to be found by the heroes of the planet: THE CRYSTAL GEMS. Ever vigilant, the Gems keep their eyes open for the Fusion MALACHITE and the ever-elusive PERIDOT.
In this time of peace, the youthful STEVEN UNIVERSE is content living his life in the quiet BEACH CITY. Joined by his faithful lion LION, his father GREG UNIVERSE, and his best friend CONNIE MAHESWARAN, Steven has learned to embrace his half-Gem heritage and strives to be seen as an equal member of the Crystal Gems alongside GARNET, AMETHYST, and PEARL.
In his attempts to prove himself to the Gems, Steven is about to embark on an adventure to procure a powerful Gem artifact. Little does Steven know that this adventure is one that will change his life in ways that he will not be able to imagine...
Beach City: the name says it all. A populated area by the water, all of its occupants were happy and content with the quaint lives they lead. This can all be traced back to the city's magical guardians: the Crystal Gems. The Gems were three alien "women" (technically, they were just genderless, polymorphic, sentient rocks who projected a female body from their gemstones) whose power was derived by the very rocks that fueled their life sources. There was Garnet: a tall, shapely female whose afro and sunglasses just exuded coolness; Pearl: the dainty, delicate peach-blonde-haired Gem whose gemstone extended from her forehead; and lastly Amethyst: the squat, purple skinned, fun-loving member of the trio. These three, and these three alone, always saved the day. Regardless of what anyone thought, they always found a way to prevail.
And then there was Steven Universe: the odd boy out of the group.
Steven is the only known male Gem. This is mainly because he is also the only half-Gem in existence: the product of the love between Greg Universe and Rose Quartz. Inheriting his late mother's shield and (on-again/off-again) healing powers, Steven held just as much of a claim as the other Gems for the role of Beach City's protector.
"Gems! We might have found the Rifting Stone!" Garnet told the group on a day like any other.
"Wha...?!" Pearl cried out. "But the Rifting Stone was thought to be destroyed on the Strawberry Battlefield!"
Steven cocked his head in curiosity. "What's a 'Rifting Stone?'"
Touching her forehead, an image of a rock illuminated the small beach house where Steven lived. "The Rifting Stone is an ancient Gem weapon that allowed its user to create a rift in space to allow travel from place to place..."
"A personal Gem teleporter?!" Steven asked excitedly.
"It is more complicated than that, Steven," Pearl tried again. "Though it might send you from place to place, it is dangerous to cross between the rifts of space and time. We have lost many Gems through its use... which is why we have updated to the Warp Pad."
"But... it IS a personal Gem teleporter?" Steven pried.
The Gem sighed. "Yes. Yes, it is. We need to bubble it and fully destroy it before it claims another life."
"This mission will be too dangerous for you, Steven," Garnet started to say before she stopped herself. Steven had worked so hard to be a part of the team. It was time to show him that he deserved a place with them. "...unless you bring your Cheeseburger Backpack."
Stars filled the youth's eyes as he stared at the Gem in awe. He ran over to her and gave her a big hug. "Thank you, Garnet! I'll go pack! I'll bring a change of clothes just in case!"
As the boy ran to his room, the other two Gems gave Garnet an odd look. "I would have bet anything that you were going to tell him not to come," Amethyst folded her arms.
"Well, why IS he coming?" Pearl demanded. "The Stone is dangerous and if something were to happen..."
"We need to give Steven the time to grow and mature. If we keep him back, he will never learn," Garnet told them with a finality in her voice. "Besides, the Stone hasn't worked in thousands of years. It shouldn't start now."
The Gems teleported to the furthest edges of the Strawberry Battlefield. Though now overrun with wild strawberries, it was once the location of some of the deadliest battles of the entire Gem Rebellion for the fate of the planet Earth. Though Steven had been here before, he never visited this section of the field and, as any child would be, was curious about it.
"So, why was this part of the Battlefield closed off before?" Steven asked.
"It was a precautionary measure," Pearl went on. "Some of the weapons that went off had done major damage to the entire landscape. It was uninhabitable for years."
"...but wouldn't it have cleared up by the first time we visited here?"
"...yes," Pearl said quickly. "Honestly, we just didn't know if there would be any residual effects on humans. Thankfully, it seems our worrying was all for nothing!"
Amethyst laughed. "You mean YOUR worrying!"
"AMETHYST!" Pearl snapped before regaining her composure. "It is always better to be on the safe side."
Over the next hour, the four Gems searched high and low for any sign of the Gem artifact with no luck. By this point, Steven had managed to wander off on his own, chasing butterflies among the strawberries.
"I'm going to catch you!" he laughed to himself. Suddenly, he tripped on the ground. As he fell, he tried to cover his face but instead just scrapped his elbows. "Ow! That hurts!"
He looked to the ground to try to find what he tripped on and his eyes made contact with a half-buried stone. "Mister Rock, you are going to keep having people trip on you if you stay like that! I'll just dig you up and send you on your way!"
He pulled the rock out with all of his might until he went flying back toward the ground. This time, however, he did not hit the ground.
He was falling in the air.
"What?! How... the rock! Oh no! I'm in a rift! AHHHHHHHH!"
The boy fell fast to the ground below... except there was no ground, as Steven quickly realized. It seemed that somehow the Rifting Stone had transported him to a world full of water.
"Ahhhh! Why can't Lapis be here? She'd save me... or Lion? OR ANYONE!" he panicked as he plummeted to the sea below.
"Wait!" Steven snapped his fingers. "I can make a bubble so I don't drown... and get my backpack wet!" He clapped fast and a giant pink sphere surrounded him.
Of course, this would not stop Steven's descent into the sea... or protect him from the ocean dwellers below the surface. But as he was focusing on the bubble, he failed to notice that he was on a collision course with a small boat not that far away from him...
"How will we ever make it to Little Garden, Mr. 5, when it took all we had left to get out of Whiskey Peak?" a female voice asked on the aforementioned boat.
"We need to press on or the boss will put the press down on us, Miss Valentine..." a male replied.
The two people sighed. Both of their bodies were covered in bruises and it was clear they engaged in a fight... and lost miserably. Miss Valentine was a thin, blonde-haired woman who wore a yellow hat and a dress with lemons on it. Her partner, Mr. 5, was a dark-haired gentleman in a trench coat and sunglasses. Together they formed the "Mr. 5 Pair" of the Baroque Works Organization.
"If we don't catch up with that Straw Hat crew and get our hands on Princess Vivi... well let's not think of the implications..." Mr. 5 finished, causing both of them to shudder.
"The last thing we want is for the 'Mr. 4 Pair' or the 'Mr. 3 Pair' to be sent after us to 'rectify' our failure," Miss Valentine rubbed her temples. "This is so stressful. I would kill for some tea right now."
"It would just rile you up. You know you are a lightweight," Mr. 5 said while picking his nose.
"I SAID TEA, NOT SHERRY!" she yelled.
"I heard what you said. The caffeine alone would put you on a rush that would... do you hear yelling?"
The two looked up to see a pink cannonball fly toward the dingy ship they commandeered. "We are under attack!"
"But there aren't any ships near us at all!" Miss Valentine screamed. She picked up her umbrella and squatted down. "1 Kilo!"
The blonde-haired woman jumped high in the air to try to stop the projectile weapon from striking the ship. But when she floated up to the sphere, she shockingly realized it wasn't a cannonball at all: it was a little boy.
"Wha...? MR. 5!" she tried to call down, but the bubble boy sped right past her and hit the water around the ship with an intense power. The resulting waves tore into the ship at fast speeds. Though it was not enough to destroy the ship, it was enough to strike the unsuspecting Baroque Works officer with such intensity that he managed to fall overboard. "MR. 5!"
The woman plummeted down to her vessel as fast as she could. Dread filled her heart. Mr. 5 ate a Devil Fruit (the Bomb-Bomb Fruit to be precise) which meant that the man lost the ability to swim. Though they rarely admitted it, the two partners did consider themselves friends and to lose one of the "Pair" would be disastrous, both for the emotional trauma and from the boss, who would no doubt kill the remaining Agent for their failure.
To her surprise, the bubble popped after a moment and revealed the young boy inside. He had curly black hair, was wearing a salmon pink shirt with a yellow star on it, and... a backpack shaped like a cheeseburger? Her surprise of the boy was strengthened by the fact that he seemed to have debubbled purely to swim after Mr. 5.
Who was this kid?
When Steven collided with the water, he nearly had a heart attack. He had survived somehow, but he still had no idea where he was and how to contact the Gems. He looked into his hands and saw that he still held onto the stone.
"The Rifting Stone! I need to get to dry land and get this thing going again... but I don't even know how I did it in the first place!" Steven buried his head into his hand and started to cry until he made a startling revelation.
"Is that guy... is that guy drowning?! Ahhh! I knocked him off of his boat! I have to save him!" Steven put the Rifting Stone into the backpack and clapped his hands, popping the bubble that had kept him dry and saved his life. Now it was time to do the same for the man who he sent overboard.
He took a deep breath (something he was getting better at thanks to his time with Lion, his pet... lion) and swam down after the man. The man seemed to be sinking like a brick and Steven hoped he would have the strength to pull him up. Diving down with all of his might, he made it to the older gentleman. He pulled at him, not as heavy as he feared but not as light as he hoped, and dragged him back to the surface as fast as he could before he ran out of breath.
At last, he reached the surface and pulled up the drowning person, the man gasping for air and coughing up water. From the nearby boat, a woman looked over, seemingly relieved, and reached her hand out to try to pull them to safety. Using the last bit of energy he had, he held onto her as she brought them on board.
"Mr. 5! Are you okay?" she asked, seemingly ignoring Steven for the moment. He didn't think anything of it, since she was clearly worried about her friend.
After a short coughing fit, the man called Mr. 5 wiped off his glasses and spit up some water. "What... what even was that? What hit me?"
"Ask the kid who saved your life... after nearly killing you in the process!" the woman pointed to Steven. Now that she put it that way, Steven felt terrible. He had no idea where he was and how he even activated the Rifting Stone. Now he realized that he put these people's lives in danger.
Feeling overwhelming guilt, the boy passed out on the deck.
"...well, now what?" the woman asked.