"Creatures of stone"
((So, this had been in my head for a long time, but the release of trollhunters season 2 gave me the push I needed to finally try this out.
Keep in mind this is incredibly non-canon and kinda just spiraled from a couple of different personal objectives, as well as some silly parallels I saw in steven universe and trollhunters that I just wanted to tug at a little bit))
If one were to tell makind of a race of stone-based inhuman creatures living in their midst, most would likely write them off as mad. If one were to imply that their was not simply one, but two seperate races of such creatures, they'd accuse them of being not only crazy but redundant as well.
Yet, the vast expanses of the multiverse had come to see one such situation. A world, a universe, where humanity shared their existance with not one, but two races of similar, yet vastly different beings.
The trolls, beings born of the earth, sculpted and breathed into life by ancient sorcery. The trolls went to war with early humanity, setting themselves against mankind in a time long past.
It was from this conflict that the original heartstone, the beating heart of all trollkind had rotted and festered to create Gunmar, who sought the subjugation and ruin of all living things.
Eventually this dark underlord and his armies were sealed away in the darklands, though a large number of his followers exist on the surface, disguised as humans.
The trolls who had stood against him had decided upon peace, living underneath human civilization in secret, championing a long line of trollhunters to combat Gunmar's still living agents.
And yet, in parallel lived the Gem race, represented by the crystal gems, who'd lived in plain view of the rest of the world, though still shrouded in mystery and disposed to secrecy in their own way.
They were creatures of an entirely different world, having arrived similarly as invaders, would-be conquerors at the behest of their flawless creators and masters, The Diamond Authority.
A few however decided to war against their own kind, for the sake of those who lived upon the planet's surface, just as the trolls did, lead by one who had fallen in love with humankind, even siring a child of her own with a human.
For untold millennia both existed on earth,appearing only briefly in the others lore and history to be misidentified as one of their own. Neither fully comprehending the strangeness, the otherness, lurking just outside of their vision, Neither fully appreciating just how little they understood about the world around them.
That is, until now of course...
The soft plodding sound of Jamie's every footstep on the sand ended up unnerving the poor mailman further and further. The mailbag on his arm felt like a leaden weight upon him, and he was sure it wasn't just because of the extra cargo he'd placed in it.
It had been scarcely a few days since the abduction incident. The day he and several been abducted by a massive creature and her fairy-esc cohort, the day he'd felt her cold fingers wrap around his skull threatening to crush it.
It was a thought that kept him up at night, kept him lying awake in his bed at the small hours of the morning. Denied slumber by the creeping fear of what lurked beyond the stars, and just what it wanted with him.
deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing.
He reflected solomnly, barely able to keep his sense of direction through the niggling paranoia as he trekked through the brisk evening air, to the barriga household to deliver the mail.
The young mailman had almost considered putting off work today, well, mailwork that is, his "Other" job had more serious implications for tardiness.
Regardless he ended up deciding against it, partially because Barbara would be there to scold him in her usual well meaning but honestly frightening way, and also because he figured it'd present the oppertunity to get his mind off his recent "misadventure".
It was only half-succeeding as all too quickly Jamie found himself at the cozy little estate of the barriga family.
Tentatively, The young actor aspirant knocked on the door, his own traumatic experience not dulling his sense of empathy towards the loss the family had suffered.
Word had spread quick amongst the citizens of beach city about the disappearance of the Barriga's son, Lars, and while Jamie wasn't personally a fan of the shiftless donut boy. He knew it must have been very tragic for the parents to know someone they loved was lightyears away while they were powerless to aid them.
His suspicions were soon outright confirmed when a slightly haggard looking woman with long red hair and glasses opened the door, her eyes red and puffed, presumably from crying.
"Oh, hello Jamie.."
The belligered woman said listlessly.
"Good evening Martha, keeping well I hope?"
He replied, striking up a conversation as he rifled through his messanger bag, taking care to avoid his personal items as he searched for the families mail.
"I...No, not really."
She admitted, her shoulders slumping as if the admission had stolen the very breath from her.
"I miss him...So much, I keep going up to his room forgetting he's not there, and I'm glad his little friend told me he's alright, but for how long, how long before something happens to hi-"
"Sign here please..."
Jamie asked as he held out a clipboard and pen, interrupting the woman's fretting.
Sighing tursly, she took the clipboard and complied realizing that it was, unfair of her to unload her concerns onto the young postman.
"..And don't worry, I know Steven and his friends. They wouldn't let anything happen to Lars."
He added, causing Martha's expression to soften, though she still seemed to give off a genuinely downcast aura.
"I just...I hate it. I hate feeling this helpless."
"Have faith Martha, as a great...man...once said, even the word hopeless isn't itself devoid of hope."
The mailman replied as he retrieved his clipboard and held out several letters all stacked neatly over a velvet red box, which of course immediatly drew the older woman's gaze.
"Macadamia nut truffles? They indeed are, Barbara wanted to give them to you. Talked about how you and Dante used to share them all the time when you were dating."
It was subtle, but between his speech, the gift, and the mention of Barbara, Jamie could see Martha's mood shift ever so slighty, her grief perhaps not pushed away but at the very least not kept at the forefront of her mind.
"Barbara's telling you stories about us?"
She asked, the lightest flush coming into her cheeks as she thought about her and her husband's relationship in their wilder years.
"Only the juicy ones."
He said with a coy smile.
That seemed to be the breaking point, all of the sudden Miss Barriga's light blush turned into a full on red as she held her hand over her mouth, a very light peel of laughter escaping from her as she couldn't help but be amused by the Mailman's forthright statement.
The mailman laughed in kind, happy he'd offered one of his costumers a bit of a repreive, if only for a little while.
After all, he'd need to practice this speech when he had to speak with Sadie about it.
Pushing that thought aside he slung his mailbag over his shoulder and waved goodbye.
"Take care Martha."
"I'm glad you're alright Jamie."
Jamie tensed at Martha's innocious statement, a gesture that did not go unnoticed by her, as she quickly amended her statement.
"I'm sorry, it's just...I'd heard about what happened from Barbara and Sadie."
The young mailman sighed, realizing it was now his time to offer a smile in spite of it all.
"Well, not hurt, and I suppose that's alright enough in my book."
Though for how long, that remains to be seen.
For the briefest moment Jamie felt a familiar pressure press upon the sides of his head,all in a shape suspiciously close to large fingers wrapped around his skull.
With another wave Jamie decended back down the path, making a few more routine stops on his way back home, the bag at his side still not getting any lighter no matter how much mail he foisted upon his fellow citizens of beach city.
Eventually Jamie found his last parcel delivered, and as night was quickly falling, no further excuse to avoid his home and the promise of another fitful sleep.
Joylessly the mailman strode up to his own domicile near the post office, briefly he considered meeting with Barbara before heading home, though he quickly pushed the thought out of his head when he realized she likely wasn't at the post office.
He'd check in tomorrow, she'd likely give him grief for reporting in late, but at this point he just felt a bit too apathetic to care.
Placing a hand on the dull wooden door to his home and preparing to fumble for his keys, Jamie was surprised to see it slowly creek open with little resistance. He could have sworn he'd locked it this morning.
Suddenly feeling far more alert, the mailman inched through the door his gaze shifting throughout his abode as he looked for anything suspicious.
For the most part everything seemed in tact, chairs and sofa right where he'd left them, stains still set in from sessions of eating greasy takeout food and binging on old shows, candlelit study still set with a quill and paper both surrounded by his favorite novels and playwrights as well as a few scripts he'd scrawled out himself.
Grey Cat sitting quietly on the mantle.
The mailman's eyes widened at the thick ball of fur curled above the currently unlit fireplace, it's own yellow eyes staring back at him dimly.
"H-hey little guy...where'd you come from?"
Jamie asked nervously, paranoia setting in as he remembered he didn't own a cat.
The feline gave no response, save for continuing to study the mailman silently.
Eventually the cat jumped down from the balchony and, almost reflexively, Jamie reached into his bag, his hands eventually finding their way around a slightly familiar wooden handle.
Almost immediatly his suspicion was justified as he heard a low chuckle come from the animal.
"Jumping at shadows are we Mister Taylor?"
The "Cat" taunted, it's voice thickly accented and immediatly recognizable.
Jamie responded, breathlessly, his fears all but confirmed as, with but another sinister laugh the creature erupted into green flames, it's form twisting and growing into that of a large, slightly overweight middle age man, dressed in a dark trenchcoat and fedora, thin glasses perched atop his round nose magnifying his glowing yellow eyes.
The telltale signs of a changeling, specifically Otto von Scarrbach, grand commandant of the Order of Janus.
"Gudentaug, Mr. Taylor, you've been well I hope?"
The figure's shadow seemed to loom over the young mailman, though he was not much taller than him in physical height.
Yet the way he carried himself, he may as well have dwarfed Jamie fifty times over. Of course, Jamie knew exactly why, but like a lot of things he intentionally chose not to think about it.
"O-of course Mr Scaarbach."
"Really, then why are you reaching for a weapon pray tell?"
Jamie froze, suddenly very aware of the hand that was still reached in his mailbag, and the object in his grasp.
Pulling his hand out quickly the teen simply laughed and waved off older man's concern.
"You startled me is all, with things being... like they are, one can't be too careful."
Mr. Scaarbach nodded hollowly, a gesture of mock sympathy Jamie could smell a mile away.
"Ah yes, I'd heard about that, such an unfortunate circumstance. Might even be enough to cause one to lose their nerve."
Jamie had never quite thought about what it was like to turn to stone, strangely enough he'd seen it happen to...others...on occasion. But he'd never actually put it in his head to try and imagine the feeling himself.
Right now however, he felt he had a pretty good idea of what it was like however, as he felt every limb and joint in his body simultaneously fail him. Forced to watch the chubby, bespectacled, demon glare a hole into his skull as he failed to find any way to explain himself.
"I-I'm not getting cold feet, if that's what you think..learned quite a bit from Steve-erm the child.."
He eventually stammered out, barely catching himself in the act of calling Steven by his first name.
Unfortunatly barely didn't seem to be good enough, if his tormentor lightly "Tsk'ing" like a dissapointed insructor was any indication.
"Sentimentality is unbecoming of a Janus associate. Even a minor informant such as yourself."
He reprimanded, wagging his finger at the terrified postman and walking over to the study, picking up and briefly leafing through a copy of Beowulf.
"As for your, information, or lack-thereof. We have some serious doubts...even if we were to believe your reports that the strange beings of this city truely come from "beyond our stars" as you put it. So far everything you've reported to us has proven fragmented, inconclusive and above all else...puts our organization no closer to any of our goals."
"Perhaps the Crystal gems don't figure into our goals?"
Jamie offered weakly, already knowing he was nearing the end of his rope and now left only to kick and flail out his last dying breaths for the executioner's delight.
Nearly faster than the human eye, Scaarbach snapped the book shut before leveling a disgusted look at the beleaguered mailman.
"Everything can be used to further one's goals, as a changeling you should know this."
Scaarbach stated bluntly, pushing his way past the mailman and towards the door.
"I won't trouble you further Mr. Taylor, if you truly can't find opportunity here, then I suppose we will have to bring in someone else in your place. Of course, when Gunmar is freed, no thanks to that narcissist Strickler, he will remember who contributed to that freedom...and who did not"
He warned, his statement punctuated by a chuckle that despite being deathly low managed to be heard even through the loud "Creak" of the doorframe as he exited, leaving Jamie alone to mull over his threat.
If he was being completely honest, he'd been expecting this for a while now. The Orders goals never quite appealed to the hopeful thespian, having easily grown enamored with his carefree life as Jamie Taylor.
As such he'd made certain to try and limit just how much he'd contribute to the Janus Order's ultimate plan of freeing Gunmar. Instead simply focusing on giving loose information on beach city's resident Heroes, the Crystal Gems, as well as all the strange events surrounding them, in the hopes that it would do relatively little harm.
And lo and behold his ploy had failed him, and now mere days after managing to narrowly escape death at the hands of off-world abductors. He now found his life all but forfeit.
Even if he could believe Scaarbach would let him go after being replaced (and he found that comically unlikely) either Gunmar or Grand Director Strickler would seek to tie up loose ends at some point.
He almost wanted to laugh. Laugh at the miraculously unfortunate circumstances leading to him being put on the chopping block twice, at how Steven's ploy to save him had all been pointless in the end, at how unfair it all was between his own brushes with death, the Barriga's loss and Sadie's worsening depression.
He wanted to laugh. But he ended up crying.
It was soft at first, just a few sharp intakes of breath that were exhaled as heavy, raspy whimpers.
But those soon gave way to full on, choked sobs that he tried his damnedest to restrain, despite the fact that now he was fairly sure he was alone. The actor always felt the need to act he supposed.
He hated it, feeling so powerless, whether it was being bent to Gunmar's will in the darklands, being browbeaten into line by his superiors at the Janus Order, and recently being captured and held hostage by a couple of alien freaks it seemed like everything in and outside of this infernal world could smell the misfortune upon him.
Such a worthless excuse for an impure, I wonder if it would even be worth the effort to Remake him after shattering his will.
Ah, a mailman, first human specimen on yellow diamonds list and first step towards getting off of this miserable rock, well, hop to it Topaz.
Jamie didn't know how long he sat there, slumped to the floor in defeat, as he reflected on all the injustices set upon him, nor was he sure when exactly he'd managed to get himself to bed through all the ruminating and self pity.
All that he knew was that he couldn't live this way anymore, Gunmar, the Order of Janus, whoever this "Yellow Diamond" was, he knew right then and there if he was to have any hope of survival, he'd have to strike first.
"Everything can be used to further ones goals."
He repeated, as he drifted off to peaceful slumber for the first time in several days.