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The Lonely Leader

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Rose Quartz didn’t have many friends. Most of the gems who had fought by her side during the Battles for Unification were gone. Common gems didn’t usually approach her unless it was related to their work, and a few millennia of being an authority already made her forget how to hold a normal conversation. She was friends with her fellow Authority members, of course, but… it was complicated.

Unification had been a dream of hers for a long time, and she truly believed that it would make everything better for every gem. Now it happened, and whenever decisions were made she always voted keeping the wellbeing and happiness of every gem in mind. Yet, the result was, in her opinion, a disaster, and she didn’t understand how Garnet, Pearl, and Amethyst couldn’t see it. Rose knew they were good people, but the power seemed to be blinding them to what this unified Homeworld was like for other gems. Rose didn’t want to end up like them. She would still fight to make things better, and she wouldn’t let her status prevent her from still trying to approach so-called “lower gems”.

She wouldn’t forget who she was and where she came from.

But Rose wasn’t completely alone. She smiled to herself, sitting on her throne, as she saw a tiny figure jumping from between two small cracks on the wall. A tiny Pebble.

Pebbles weren’t considered actual gems by law. They weren’t intentionally made, but a byproduct of gem production, small pieces given life but no purpose. The more fabricated gems were made, the more Pebbles were made as well. With no place in society, they lived inside the walls and under the floors, trying to stay away from big gems.

That was one of the matters in which Rose disagreed with her fellow authority members. One of the matters in which she had little power to change things on her own.

Over the years, Rose managed to befriend many of the Pebbles that lived in the palace. At times when she was alone in her throne room, they would sometimes come out to chat.

“Hey there.” Rose greeted the Pebble, that jumped on her arm. “How are you?”

“We’re good!” The Pebble said, taking something from her pocket. “This is for you!”

She placed it on Rose’s hand. It was a trinket in an organic curvy shape, made of metal maybe.

“It’s beautiful. Thank you, Brainy!” Rose said, before storing it in her gem. She had a collection of gifts from her friends, each more lovely than the other.

“Bye, Rose!” The Pebble waved as she jumped back to the ground and ran to the wall.

“Playing during work time, your Radiance?” Asked a teasing voice.

Rose turned around to see Spinel smirking at her.

“You caught me.” She said, smirking back.

Officially, Spinel was employed as Rose’s assistant, but in truth she was much more than that. She was one of Rose’s oldest friends. The only one she still had from before the Unification. The only one who truly knew Rose.

“Don’t forget you have a meeting to attend later.” Spinel said.

“I won’t,” Rose said, sitting back on her throne. Her mood was considerably darker.

Spinel leaned against the throne’s arm, stretching her arm longer than she had to and gently pushing the other side of Rose’s face so she would face her.

“What’s wrong, Flower Bud?”

“Nothing is wrong.”

“Did you and Pearl fight again?”

“We never fight. She makes her mind and stops listening.” Rose said, bitter.

Spinel made a face. “Why are you still with her? She doesn’t make you happy.”

“I love her, Spinel,” Rose said, sincerely. “And I know that under all that stubbornness she is a good gem.” Her voice lowered. “They all are.”

Spinel just nodded. She had heard that many times. She could hear it many more, it wouldn’t change the fact that she didn’t like those friends of Rose.

Rose opened a screen and accessed the live stream of a certain security camera. She had taken the habit a few centuries previously. Ever since she found out that the three Diamonds living in the palace hid in a small shelter room in uthe ballroom sometimes. There were no cameras in the shelter room, but Rose knew enough of their schedules and habits to watch them as they entered and left.

“Flower Bud.” Rose hummed in response. “You know there’s nothing forbidding you from just talking to them, right?”

“Talk to them? I couldn’t.”

“Why not?” Spinel asked.

Rose turned off the screen but didn’t dismiss it, leaving the light pink surface faintly reflecting her form.

Spinel sighed. “It’s still you, Flower Bud. You are the same gem.”

Rose closed her eyes and dismissed the screen.

The green filaments tickled her bare feet. It was strange, it had been so long since Rose had last stepped on a foreign planet.

She kept her eyes on the three gems in front of her, almost fearing that they would run away if she even blinked. They stared back at her with the same intensity.

“Your Radiance.” The blue one was the first to speak. Tone all proper, as if they were still in the palace. As if nothing had changed.

Everything had changed. From the moment the three Diamonds ran away from the ship, Rose knew that nothing would ever be the same again.

“Please, don’t. I am not here as a member of the Crystal Authority. I am just Rose.”

“Why are you here?” The white one asked, suspicious. Rightfully so.

Not that their hiding place was very good. No place was while they kept the screens they didn’t think to discard. No place on that planet would be, soon enough.

“I’m here to talk,” Rose said. “I have a proposal that could be beneficial for all of us.”

Her words were met with disbelieving looks. She expected as much. The only way to get their trust was to be completely honest with them.

“There’s something you need to know about me.” She said. Her gem started glowing as she turned back into her true form.