Sunshine, Moonlight, and Dawn hid behind a rock, Steven in Dawn’s arms, as they tried to figure out who the slender green gem was and what she possibly wanted.
Steven was confused. He had so many questions, but after trying to ask a few he understood he should wait until the stranger was gone.
And soon she was, but not without leaving behind something that turned off all her little round robot things.
The atmosphere was tense as the gems stepped into the main area of the galaxy warp.
“They’re coming back!” Moonlight cried out. “I can’t do this again!”
“Calm down!” Dawn shouted, but she too sounded anything but calm. “We’ve sent them away before. We already know what to do.”
“No, I can’t!” Moonlight pulled at her own hair. She could feel the weight of a sword in her hand. Hear the screaming. The smoke, the dust, the cracking… she couldn’t take another war.
Steven’s eyes went from one gem to another. He was completely lost. “What’s going on? Was that another gem? What does she want?”
He looked at Sunshine, the only one who didn’t seem to be freaking out. The gem on her shoulder glowed, and her pink arm harness appeared on her arm. She stepped to the largest warp pad, the one Peridot’s robots fixed, and hit it with a punch so strong and loud that it brought Moonlight back to the present and made Dawn and Steven look at her in shock. The warp pad cracked.
“It doesn’t matter. She is not coming back.” Sunshine said in an uncharacteristic serious tone.
Steven felt cold and hungry and the hay wasn’t even comfortable enough for him to rest on it. He was tired and he already missed Beach City, and Sunshine and Dawn.
“I want to go home.” He said, looking at Moonlight.
“I have no right to call that place home.” She mumbled.
Steven wasn’t sure of what she meant at first, but then he remembered. “Right. Gems are from Homeworld.”
“That’s definitely not my home.” Moonlight said, angry.
“Where are you from, then?”
Moonlight sighed. “I will show you.”
It was a short walk from the train’s next stop, which should have made Steven suspicious. But he was a bit excited about the chance of learning a little more about Moonlight’s past, and at the same time worried about her strange mood since this “No Home Boys” adventure started. It didn’t cross his mind she was taking him on a pre-planned route.
He followed her through woods until they hit a place where it just stopped. There were no trees, no grass, no birds, only walls of dark rock and dust.
Steven shivered. There was something really bad about that place, and he felt it even before he saw the large pieces of machine abandoned around or the holes lining up each wall.
“Welcome to the kindergarten!” Moonlight said, smiling strangely.
“What is this place?” Steven asked, trying to smile back. It was hard, that place gave him a really bad feeling.
“It’s where I was made!” Moonlight pulled him by the arm towards a corridor of rock walls. Steven looked up at the endless holes, trying to avoid looking too long at the sharp tips of the machines.
“What do you mean… ‘made’?”
Moonlight shrugged. “You know how human mothers make human babies? Gems are made in places like this. And this-” She pointed to a new wall in front of them, which looked just like all the others. “-is where Rose Quartzes were made! Look, that is my hole!”
Steven watched as she entered one of the holes that were on ground level. “Your hole?”
“Yup. It’s right here that I started being me.” Moonlight sat down and closed her eyes, appearing to truly relax for a moment. “Hole, sweet hole.”
Steven smiled, forgetting his uneasy feelings. “What about Sunshine and Dawn and Mom? Do they have holes too?”
“Sure they do!”
Steven stepped back and looked at the wall. There were a lot of holes. The uneasy feelings came back. “How many Rose Quartzes are there?”
Moonlight opened her eyes, her expression changing to something he couldn’t read. “There used to be a bunch of us. I wonder where the others ended up.” She said in a fake cheerful tone.
She exited the hole as Steven blinked, trying to make sense of it. He didn’t know a lot about gems. Until a few months ago, he believed that the only gems that existed were Sunshine, Moonlight, Dawn and his mother, and he had no idea they were from space (and maybe they really weren’t, considering what Moonlight just told him?). He still wasn’t even sure of what them being “Rose Quartzes” meant, other than that they and everything of theirs were pink, but they were clearly very different from Lapis Lazuli or Peridot. Were they like… a race of Earth gems?
His thoughts were interrupted by footsteps approaching. Steven turned around, tense, only to see it was just Sunshine. He heard Moonlight mumble an ugly word.
“What are you two doing here?!” Sunshine shouted. “Moonlight! Why did you bring him here?”
Moonlight shrugged. “He asked me some questions.”
“What’s wrong?” Steven asked. Sure, he was confused by all that Moonlight tried to explain, and the place gave him shivers, but there was no reason why he shouldn’t know about their home, right?
“Nothing is wrong,” Sunshine said, smiling at him. “We just had agreed to wait until you were a little older to tell you certain things.” She glared at Moonlight.
Steven blinked. “I already know about human babies. I can know about gem… babies?”
“Don’t worry, Sun.” Moonlight said. “I didn’t tell him anything about the bad parts.”
Steven turned at her. “Bad parts?”
“Yeah.” Moonlight smiled as if hiding a secret.
“About how this is where the Big Evil Gem Queen made her Evil Soldiers in her own image to fight in her Evil Wars?” Moonlight said, the happy mask falling to show more and more bitterness at each word.
“Moonlight!” Sunshine said in a harsher tone. “This is not the time.”
Now Steven was really confused. Gem Queen? Soldiers? What was she talking about?
“Why not?” Moonlight asked. “There is another war coming! Steven should know what we are! He should know what we did!”
“Don’t worry, Steven!” Moonlight smiled again as she turned to him, but it didn’t reach her eyes. “We sent all the Evil Gems away! Now there’s just the three of us left!”
Sunshine stepped forward and placed a hand on Steven’s shoulder, pulling him closer. He felt really scared, Moonlight was not acting like herself and the things she was saying hurt him.
“And that sure makes up for how we were helping destroy this planet! After your mother-”
Moonlight couldn’t finish it, as Sunshine jumped on her, sending them both to the ground, arm harness in place.
“Stop before you say something you will regret,” Sunshine said, voice low and serious.
Moonlight’s gem glowed as she summoned her quarterstaff, and with a strong push, she stood up and sent Sunshine backward.
“Are we just gonna pretend we are the good guys forever?” Moonlight shouted.
Steven couldn’t do anything except watch them, his eyes teary. They were a family, they shouldn’t be fighting.
“You are not undoing everything we’ve done!” Sunshine shouted back.
“And what have we done?” Moonlight’s voice broke as tears she had been holding for too long finally fell. “They’re coming back. Star is gone. We-” She lowered her arm and her weapon disappeared. “We did nothing.”
Sunshine dissipated her weapon as well. “Moonlight…”
Moonlight turned away and ran to her hole.
Sunshine placed a hand on her own forehead, clearly shaken. Steven looked at her, and then at the dark hole where Moonlight was hiding. He decided to go after the latter.
“Moonlight.” He called.
Steven could tell she was crying. It broke his heart. “Moonlight, please…”
“You don’t get it. If you knew what we are- what I am, you wouldn’t want to be near us.”
Steven couldn’t deny it, he didn’t get it, but nothing he learned would ever make him not want to be near her, or any of the gems. He loved them.
But he didn’t feel like he could show it to Moonlight right now, not with her in that state. He left the hole, and walked to Sunshine, who stood in place, still in shock.
“Sunshine! You have to talk to her.”
“Me?” Sunshine asked weakly. “But I-”
“It has to be you!” Steven said, grabbing her hand. He took her to Moonlight’s hole’s entrance, and waited outside.
Sunshine took the first tentative steps inside. She could hear Moonlight sobbing, in a way she hadn’t in centuries. But she considered the fact she didn’t push her away a victory.
“Star used to say we could be anything we wanted.” Moonlight said, voice rough from crying. “She said I wouldn’t need to fight anymore once it was over.”
Sunshine smiled. Star had been their biggest inspiration. Who knew where they would be if they had never met her?
“But she was wrong!” Moonlight exclaimed. “It was supposed to be over, but the fighting never stopped! Is this all we are? Is this all we’re good for?”
“No!” Sunshine shook her head. “You know it is not! We are much more than where we came from!”
“It’s true! Look at everything we have done. What we built, what we learned, what we feel! We are much more than war and destruction.” Sunshine looked away, her chest aching just for a moment. “We are much more than anything she wanted us to be.”
Moonlight finally turned to look at her. “I can’t fight another war, Sun.”
“I don’t feel ready for it, either,” Sunshine confessed. She reached for Moonlight’s hand. “But we need to protect our home. You won’t be alone, Moonlight. I will be with you the whole time.”
Moonlight crawled to her and held her tightly. Sunshine returned the gesture with equal strength.
Steven felt like an eternity passed as he waited, sitting outside Moonlight’s hole. He wondered why she chose that place to hide. Did it feel like an old room for her? Somewhere she could feel safe, away from the world and from everything that hurt her?
Did it feel like being in one’s mother’s embrace?
He heard footsteps and turned around to see Sunshine and Moonlight walking out of the hole, hand in hand.
“I think it’s time to go home.” Moonlight said.
Getting home, Steven went straight to the shower, and then to bed. He was tired, both physically and emotionally, so sleep came quickly.
“Where were you?” Dawn asked, voice low as not to wake Steven up.
Moonlight couldn’t look at her.
“They were in the kindergarten,” Sunshine said.
“The kindergarten?!” Dawn’s eyes widened, and she had to fight to keep her voice low. “What were you doing there?”
Moonlight shrugged, and walked to the temple’s door. She was too tired to be scolded by Dawn right now.
“It doesn’t matter,” Sunshine said. “It’s fine.”
“What did she tell him?” Dawn asked.
“It’s fine, Dawn.” Sunshine insisted. “You know he will find everything out someday, right?”
Dawn sighed. “I wish he wouldn’t. I wish he could stay like this forever.”
Sunshine placed a hand on her shoulder. “Moonlight is scared of what is coming. I am too. We should… I don’t know. Do something.”
Dawn looked up at Steven’s bed. “I have some ideas we could use to fight back.”
The two gems walked to the temple, where they could discuss their plans more freely.