• Published 24th Dec 2018
  • 1,402 Views, 248 Comments

My Little Universe: Season 8 - EquestrianKirin



New Alicorn leader, New Diamond entorage, same old adventures.

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Tambalon

The outskirts of Homeworld.

Not exactly the best place to start off any exact investigation, but unfortunately for Flint and Pearl, that's where the two had ended up shortly after they set foot on ground of Homeworld. At least the planet's landscape was the same: empty and barren as it usually was. Unfortunately, the outskirts they've been placed at was far.

Very. Very far.

"Why couldn't it spawn us closer to the city?" wondered Emerald, "We're WAY out of the way over here."

"It's probably for the best," Flint stated, as he began heading up the next hill, "If we did spawn right in Homeworld, Grogar would probably find us. Besides, the Warp Pad leading to the Diamond City didn't work anyway."

"And just as it was fixed too," Peridot sighed. It was a shame really, though Grogar must've known about it. Why else wouldn't it work, and for that matter, the only working one being this far away? As the group got over the next hill, Pearl began talking again.

"Alright, recap the mission for us," Pearl instructed.

"Why, don't you know?" Emerald questioned.

"Yes, but I wanna make sure you know," Pearl said. Not the best answer, but they might as well humor her. Peridot glanced to Emerald, who gestured her to go on instead.

"Our objective: infiltrate Grogar's army and get a proper layout of his security and sentries," Peridot said matter-of-factly, stopping briefly on top of the hill.

"Yes, very good. Now, we need to be especially discrete and cunning if we are to be successful, so stay sharp alright?" Pearl advised.

"There's no end to this place," Flint stated.

And they all looked on ahead. From their hillside, the expanse of Homeworld's outskirts almost seemed endless. Not that they didn't expect it, but they SURELY wanted to arrived in Homeworld sometime this week. The only real sign that there even WAS a Diamond City at all was a very small speck of artificial light off in the distance. And even that was something only Peridot could see.

"Stars, it's gonna take forever to get over there," Peridot exclaimed, her voice echoing across the empty landscape. Flint started off a little bit ahead.

"All the more reason to keep going I guess," Flint said, "If we're lucky we can make it half way by nightfall."

"Can't we stop just for a minute? I'm worn out already thanks to Jasper's training, thank you," Emerald said, as Pearl and Peridot began going off themselves.

"You didn't have to -" Flint was suddenly stopped when Pearl raised a finger near his lips.

"I'll handle him, Flint. Watch," Pearl said. Flint quieted down, and she looked to Emerald with a "comforting" look.

"Now, Emerald, we understand if you didn't want to keep going. If you want to go back, then you can go right ahead."

"THANK YOU. Now if you -" Emerald turned around to head back to the Warp Pad. However there was a tiny little issue in the form of navigating. Even if up on the hill, there wasn't exactly anything to signify the Warp Pad during the day, unlike Diamond City. Peridot tried to keep from laughing at Emerald's expression.

"We've gone too far to turn back, did me?" Emerald stated.

"No, no, by all means Emerald, go on back. We'll handle the mission from here," Pearl insisted. Emerald was NOT amused, and looked back to Pearl who had a smile. A particular smile. Amethyst told him about this "look" Pearl would get when she was right about something: a sort of cheeky smile saying "I'm right and you're not". And she had THAT look written all over her face.

"... I'll just shut up now."

"Thank you," Pearl said, as Emerald went on and caught up with them, the group of four starting to go on their way again.

"Well that was something," Flint commented.

"I've lived with Amethyst for thousands of years Flint, and she acted … well almost the same way. Uh, don't her that."

"So … experience?"

"Yeah."

Well, they still had a lot more ground to cover before they could reach the Diamond City, so they went off from there. They can't spy in on the city if they don't make it there.

~~~~~~

The hours ticked on by, the Homeworld sun starting to set and nightfall just beginning to peek its way around the next corner. And after all that travel they still weren't that much closer to Diamond City. It was getting WAY too long for some of them, though Emerald and Peridot weren't getting annoyed by the long trip ...

"Believe me, I want to go into the city as much as you do, but I'm telling you if we can just "play along" with them, then it'll go by much smoother."

"And tell me exactly HOW will that make things smoother? And it's not like we haven't snuck in anywhere before."

"How long has it been?" Emerald grumbled.

"Approximately five hours," Peridot answered, covering her ears. It only took one mention on "what do we do when we get there?" to kickstart this long discussion between Pearl and Flint. While seeing him argue with Jasper or Garnet would mainly just revolve around one solution to a problem, these two were juggling around scenario after scenario, idea after idea, and it almost seemed like it wouldn't end until after they arrive.

"Well, at least with my plan, we wouldn't even have to worry about sneaking anywhere. We can just go along with them, observe the area from inside, and then when we find out moment, escape and head right back," noted Pearl, as they briefly stopped over by a drop in the path.

"But they're not just gonna let us have free range of the city if they catch us. They said full layout of the security, and that's what we're gonna give them!"

"Well say we do just decide to sneak in, and then let's say we somehow end up spotted by one of their patrols. We'd get captured and put under arrest anyway."

"Look, with my plan we have more freedom than yours does. I'm all up for keeping us safe, trust me, but how're they gonna let us go if they already got us locked away somewhere? We can't let them know we're here."

"And we can't let them know that there're Gems spying on them, they'll increase security before we can even work anything out," retorted Pearl, "What we need -"

"THAT'S IT, I'm putting a stop to this!" Peridot cut in.

"Please do," Emerald muttered. Even the great and lovable Peridot couldn't stand it anymore.

"Look, why don't we just get to Diamond City, and then figure out what to do, OKAY?" Peridot suggested.

And surprisingly, with Pearl blushing, the two did stop their discussion. For now.

"Uh … right. Sorry. … Eh, here, it's almost night, so let's stay here for the night before we go on. Sound good?" Flint said. The four looked down into the drop in the path, them finding a decent-sized ditch.

"Here? Right here?" Pearl asked, a bit unsure about this spot in particular. The other three went down, and Pearl eventually joined them … getting covered in dirt upon landing. Not exactly the best landing, and Pearl felt disgusted covered in dirt.

She just kept quiet. This was their spot for the night.

…….

The night out over in the outskirts of Homeworld's city was far less welcoming than any of them would like. Pearl, Flint, Peridot, and Emerald were still a bit on edge as the Homeworld moon looked down upon them, leaving seemingly only the four and the rather empty landscape. Not a bit of life outside of the four to say that they were alright, or even if there was it probably wasn't gonna be of any good company. Their small ditch didn't seem to do them any favors either, leaving the four, while covered, strangely exposed to whatever might by lurking around there. Call it ironic that they would be this terrified of foreign land on a planet that all were familiar with to some degree.
As for sound, well, the only sound they could hear was the distant echoing of whatever wind the Homeworld atmosphere could carry, and nothing else. Flint made sure to keep his pistol up and armed just to be safe, though admittedly he too was feeling a bit more on edge than the other two. On occasion, Pearl would peek out to see if there was anyone around the place, but all she saw was empty landscape, and the city WAY far away. Nothing else it seemed. But that didn't leave them any better, considering what had taken over the place. And of course, what it can do.

And just as well, what others were under its power it seemed, from what Pearl could remember.

"Uh. Hey, Pearl? Y-You don't have to, but … think you can spin a yarn for us or something? To pass the time?" Emerald said meekly.

"Wha?"

"He means tell us a story. … Please?" said Peridot. The term she heard a few times before, just enough to get down what it meant. Since they didn't have that much to do other than stand there and be worried, she might as well figure out what story to tell. Gemkind didn't have too many, so her options were kinda limited.

"Well. Ok, let's see now …" Pearl tried to think up of something that would do them good. Eventually, Pearl did remember one story.

"... Several thousand years ago. O-On the planet of Corithral, the cuts of Blue Diamond were struggling. There was hardly anywhere to create more Gems, and those that remained hardly could keep together, unable to reform and unable to regenerate after an attack. … So, Blue Diamond set herself out to find one that she thought could possibly help her and her people. The Red Diamond. And it so happened that her latest place of stay was on the very planet gemkind was struggling over. So Blue Diamond set out for months on end, until eventually she arrived at her stronghold. A large, towering palace, so tall that it almost looked like it could touch Homeworld. And -"

"AND -" a voice suddenly rang out, making all of them jump, "before the humbled Blue Diamond, the great figure in red emerged from the depths of Corithral, like the mists of Orthix. And one sight of her to rival even White herself, in her soul, Blue Diamond knew that there were no more deals to be had."

If they weren't on edge before, they surely were now, and it didn't take them very long until they found out where that voice was coming from. Coming in from the top of the ditch, right above them was no doubt one of Grogar's esteemed patrol. This one specifically appeared unlike any creature from Equestria, Earth, or the other planets they've seen during White Diamond's "vacation". The thing was as black as tar from head to toe, skin like that of a dolphin, four-legged with stubby legs, and with a head that admittedly looked more like a sock puppet, its eyes beady but white like stars. A creature from uncanny valley.

"Ah, the old yarns are always the best, aren't they?" said the creature. Flint and Pearl got out what weapons they got, but it was quick to see that this wasn't the only creature wandering the Homeworld hills. Soon, others were coming around, each one a different shape but all working against the four Gems.

"W-We're found out! Guys, ideas?" Emerald murmured, hoping for a good answer.

"Stay calm," Pearl said, weapon at the ready. However, their "guest" took quick note of the weapons.

"Eh, I wouldn't start a fight out here if I were you," the creature advised, "You see, the king himself requested all Gems of this world to come to him peacefully, and in one piece, and I'd hate to have to bring him all your followers as a bunch of shards."

"We're not afraid of you!" Peridot insisted, getting in one of her ruby-style fighting stances. However, the creature came down along with his sergeants.

"I don't believe I was talking to you, my little green doll," the creature stated, looking her down a bit … before looking Pearl directly in the face. Pearl was already feeling squeamish in the face of this creature.

"Do keep your followers in line, my dear, or we might have … some problems," the creature advised.

"Wait. He thinks I'm in charge?" Pearl thought. Not that she didn't mind that much, but it did seem a bit backwards by homeworld rules. … Then again, the creature wasn't Homeworld at all. The creature then started moving away, the others starting to close in.

"If you think we're going to follow you back, then you got another thing coming," Peridot warned, spear at the ready.

"Oh, I don't think you're going to follow me, I KNOW, you cute clod," the creature said.

"I got your clod right here you little -" Peridot wasn't gonna be taken so easily, but Pearl brought her spear down to block her.

"Peridot, don't! We can't fight them. We tried our best but we can't POSSIBLY beat them now, especially surrounded like this. We come in surrender!" Pearl stated, loud for them to hear, and dropping her spear. The creature, despite this, actually seemed to buy it, and laughed silly.

"Some leader you are, dropping your spear like this. Come on, we wouldn't want to leave you out here to shrivel up. Quickly now," the creature instructed.

Their plan wasn't to just fight them all, and Peridot started to calm down, though taken prisoner by a tar-colored sock puppet was NOT a good color for her.

"Well, I stand corrected," Flint said. Pearl took that as a compliment, but Emerald didn't enjoy it.

"Yeah, good thinking. Did we have to play the damsel card, now they think we're a bunch of wimps," Emerald whispered as they went.

"Our main mission is to layout Grogar's army, so what better way than going inside with them as harmless prisoners? Soon as we find that out, then we get out and head back. And maybe even get our friends out," Pearl quietly explained. Flint now really was impressed.

"Well let's hope so … but color me impressed Pearl," said Flint, "I should work with you more often."

"Oh, come on," Pearl quietly chuckled.

"Keep moving!" one of the guards said, pushing forward Peridot roughly and reminding them that they do indeed have company that could've heard them if they spoke too loud. It wasn't the safest way in, but it was a way nonetheless, plus it removed the complications with "sneaking in" to begin with. They were on their way.

~~~~~~

Throughout the night back on Homeworld, the group was still being brought along by many of the guards that found them. Comparing the Gems' stamina to the organic creatures, they kept up pretty well and didn't stop once throughout the night to give any Gem a break or rest.

"I know we're supposed to be your prisoners and everything, but can't we stop for one second?" Emerald asked. Again. All that got him was a rough shove forward by the guard behind him, nearly making him trip again.

"For the twelfth time you don't have any authority here," said the guard. "Now keep moving, doll!"

"Alright, alright!" Emerald replied, but he was not enjoying one bit of it.

Pretty soon, they began to reach another area. This part wasn't exactly recognized as a addition to Homeworld, but they were getting closer to the outskirts of the city. It was just along the borderline where they got a bit of what Homeworld was becoming, with other creatures lined up to see them. With the morning light they got a better view as to what they got going for them, many of these either some sort of Equestrian animal or something alien, or perhaps both. They did feel a bit humbled by some of these creatures: Flint noting a raptor-like creature with stingers on its tail and back, hissing ominously at the group as they passed; Pearl stepping away as a horse-like creature glared at her with a head more resembling one of those prehistoric armored fish.

And then they stopped when they saw Homeworld up close. It may seemed fine from farther away, but now here, it was already looking like it was a bit different just from the two days since Grogar's takeover. Different members of Grogar's army had easily made short work of Gemkind's hold on the city, and they could already see some "alterations" around the place, including some banners along the buildings to respect the new king.

"We haven't been gone for even a week, and he ALREADY messed up everything," Emerald said.

"Yeah. I'll give him credit: He did not waste any time," added Flint.

And then the creature that found them stepped out in front.

"My esteemed guests," he said, "Welcome to Tambalon."

"Tambalon? … But that's the Diamond City," Flint pointed out. The creature smiled wickedly.

"Not anymore." And the creature simply laughed and started on ahead, as his fellow creatures "persuaded" them to follow with a few good shoves.

"Here we go," sighed Pearl.

None of them really enjoyed the treatment they were getting, but it was nothing compared to what they were about to see.

The four kept close together for some bit of protection as they were heading through the interior of the city, the city as expansive as ever. However, Gem activity itself now looked very low, and the four hardly saw any Gems outside anywhere as they went. For those that they did see they were being given some very bad treatment and respect, and worse yet some by their own Corrupted Gemkind. Many of these too were normally high-ranking Gems of a sort, possibly to better hammer in how inferior they were to the army that had settled in. Many Gems were left at the mercy of these creatures, some being pinned down and ridiculed while others simply were being watched in particular spots, the soldiers under Grogar's command making sure no one made a bad move.

"Not even the old Homeworld was like this. What did Grogar do to the place?" Flint quietly said.

"Just stay calm, everything will be fine," Pearl insisted.

*BAM!* Just as she said that, one of the Gems did try to gain some distance, only to be forcefully pinned down by one of the aliens under Grogar's command. The trooper wasted no time in snarling and sinking its teeth right into her head, making sure she didn't try that again. The group was left stunned.

"Move it, gremlin," huffed the guard behind Peridot before shoving her along. The group continued along, though they wished they could do something to help that gem out as she was being dragged away.

And that was just one of the examples. As they were ushered along, there was another sight that was seen in front of them as they kept being moved along towards the palace itself …

"Get back to your mark, you rocks." *BAM!*

Specifically, another assault on some Gems. This time, specifically it was one of Blue Diamond's Sapphire and Yellow Diamond's Ruby Gems being assaulted this time, the hit specifically on the Sapphire.
The creature this time looked a bit more like some strange alien creature. Its body was smooth, but the patterns made it look like it was covered in sludge or mud. It stood in an awkward position, much like that of a sitting monkey, with the feet looking like Equestrian Pony hooves. The head like that of a salamander, with eyes glaring down at the Gems, a pair of long whip-like antenna flicking behind it.

"You can beat me down, but I will never stop my respect to my Diamond!" the Sapphire said. All that gave her was another slam of the creature's front leg.

"Save those kind of comments for the executioner if you wish to keep them up," he warned. Flint did take a few steps to intervene, but their own "leading guard" got in his way, making him stop altogether. He couldn't get a fight started here … but he really wanted to. Him and the others behind him. The alien creature removed his front foot off of the Sapphire after that, and its attention moved over towards another creature nearby.

"Are you the fool that's supposed to be in charge of this mark?"

"Well I -" the other creature didn't even finish before the larger one pinned it down with a hit of his front foot.

"Concentrate. If these dolls are injured anymore, they'll be gone. Now get them down," the creature instructed. He quickly understood, got up, and started ushering the Ruby and the Sapphire away from the scene. Pearl looked and saw Peridot with fists trembling.

"Just let them do their thing, we'll more than happily beat them up later," Pearl quietly instructed.

Once the ruby and sapphire were moved away from the situation and back towards their mark, their "host" soon got his presence known to the alien creature.

"Eh, Commander Cerrosafe."

"Captain Nichrome. What're these four? Picking up loose trash again?" the creature asked, seeing the new Gems coming in with Nichrome.

"We are not -"

"SILENCE!" Cerrosafe shouted, quieting Emerald, "You dolls will only speak to your superiors when spoken to directly, and not before."

"I wanna beat him up … let me beat him up," Peridot murmured, fists clenched and shaking a little bit, just to be shushed by Flint. Lucky for her (probably) Cerrosafe didn't hear her that time. Nichrome went over to Cerrosafe next.

"I picked these up on the patrol last night," explained Nichrome, "Mixed bunch, aren't they?"

"Head back to the council. I'll take it from here," Cerrosafe instructed.

Nichrome gave them a few chuckles, knowing what was coming next for the four as Cerrosafe took his position and lead on ahead towards the palace. The four were forced along and they could only follow the alien. They weren't sure what was gonna happen, but they still had to play along a bit more to get the laydown of the place correctly. Even if it meant seeing all this torment to Gemkind.
Normally they would be glad to enter the Diamond Palace, but under these circumstances it seemed more like entering Tartarus. The halls were their own form of guards, with the harvested wall Gems now keeping watch and while none of them could "walk", some magic did have them sliding around the place as they continued along. Eventually, Cerrosafe brought them into another part of the palace. The area was made into a sort of "waiting room" for all four of them.

"Alright, vermin. You wait here while the council is preparing itself for you. Any of you found missing ……. well. Do yourselves the favor," Cerrosafe simply stated. Cerrosafe only took a few steps onward from the spot when -

"Commander?" Cerrosafe stopped briefly when another figure came from another nearby hallway. This time it was actually a Harvested Gem (one of the wall Gems), and she seemed to be holding something in her "hands".

"Now what is it? I'm preparing the council," Cerrosafe reminded.

"Sorry but -" the wall Gem then noticed the other Gems nearby, and swiftly clammed up. Much to Cerrosafe's annoyance.

"If you're going to interrupt me, the least you can do is finish what you had to say," Cerrosafe said, actually bringing himself up to her level with a good stretch of his neck, his eyes locked with hers. That was enough to quickly shake off the fear.

"S-Sorry, sir. Well, those other Corrupted Gems just came in. Also … well, Grogar's dearest is ready," the Gem instructed. Cerrosafe glanced over to the four Gems first before making his response. He then gave a sinister smile.

"In that case, Grogar wanted Connie Maheswaran to be used as a proper example to the other dolls in our marks. Have her seen by him first, and then, take her down to the deep underground," Cerrosafe stated. Everyone else couldn't believe their ears.

"Oh Connie," Pearl gasped quietly, as the wall Gem began to move off to do just that. On the bright side, they at least know now that Connie was still there somewhere, but the only question was where this "underground" was. To think though that they were using Connie as an example was just … sick. Cerrosafe looked to the four again.

"You'll find out soon enough. Meantime, none of you move an inch by the time I get back here," Cerrosafe instructed, turning and starting to move away. ...

"Shut your trap, you clod."

Cerrosafe stopped.

"...…. What did you say to me?"

"Peridot, don't!" whispered Emerald, but Peridot was too angry to listen.

"I said shut your trap, you CLOD! We're not gonna follow anyone like you! Not now, not EVER!" Peridot said, her voice shouting venom to Cerrosafe.

Two seconds. That was how fast Cerrosafe pulled Peridot out of the crowd, swung her to the floor, and suddenly having something sharp striking her gemstone! The others gasped in shock, finding one of Cerrosafe's feet turned into a dagger-like spear, Peridot stunned and feeling the blade just inside the surface of her stone. It was enough to keep her quiet now.

"One move of my foot and you will be gone. … Now listen. Closely. Doll. …" And to make sure she heard him, he brought his head down right to her ear. "... If you speak out of tone to me again. I will have your tongue. … Next time you see me, you better wish yourself invisible. ..."

Only then did he remove his blade, it turning back into his foot, and pushing her back to the group. The mark was left there as a nice-sized hole, Peridot's anger replaced by fear in that moment.

"That goes for the rest of you. … Unless you want to be turned into jewelry."

And Cerrosafe turned and moved on, leaving them completely stunned and horrified. The scariest part was that Cerrosafe was NOT the one in charge.

"You ok, P-dot? … Wait, that's a stupid question, of course you're not ok," Emerald said.

"I could be worse. … That good-for-nothing … clod," Peridot said, feeling herself glitch slightly and feeling a little sick already. Flint was horrified, and looked on to where Cerrosafe went off to.

"... What did we get ourselves into?"

~~~~~~

If there was anyone that benefited from all of this, it was Grogar himself. Content and full of power with the Diamond Authority out of his way, the demonic ram settled down within his new and improved throne room full of pride. With only one king, he had the three other thrones removed personally, leaving only one for one ruler to be had. The throne left for the large goat was White Diamond's throne - perfect size for him honestly over the other three, as the rest were reduced to just the rubble of the foundation (hidden out of sight of course for the sake of appearance).

"Oh isn't this the life," Grogar sighed contently, stretching himself along the throne as if it were a bed for him, which it was more than big enough to be. In fact, he was just about to settle down for a good nap on said throne when he began to hear a noise from the throne doors.

"Mighty Grogar," called a voice. "She's ready for you."

"She? She who?" Grogar questioned, slightly bugged as he swung himself off of his back and onto his hooves.

"Uh … your dearest," replied the voice. Grogar would just shoo it off, but he'd been waiting all day yesterday for this to come around, so he smiled.

"Good girl, send her in," Grogar said.

And the doors were opened up. Those awaiting on the otherside were a set of wall Gems coming in with the "dearest" Grogar wanted to see. About four of the Wall Gems arrived inside, but their quarry were not as easily brought up, or as easily swayed as they were, having to kind a be dragged in by them. The first was Connie Maheswaran herself, which they had to bring in by metal chain and collar like an aggressive dog, as she tried to resist with her hardened hands digging into the ground, but to no avail. A yank by the chain made Connie stumble at Grogar's presence, Connie herself NOT happy to see him in the slightest.
However, there still was matter of the secondary arrival. Dragged into the throne room as well was a particular purple Alicorn locked up inside a black, magically-enhanced cage, with her legs and hooves chained up to the bottom so she couldn't move, her wings tied down to her body to keep from flying, and her horn damaged so magic was out of the question. While intrigued about seeing these two, he only expected one of them to show up this morning, not two. Not that he didn't mind multi-tasking, but still questionable.

"Why'd you drag Connie in here?" Grogar questioned. "She's supposed to be put in the deep underground by now."

"Cerrosafe wanted her brought here first," reported one of the wall Gems.

"Why?" Grogar questioned. The wall Gem didn't exactly answer, flustered up again. Unlike Cerrosafe though, Grogar was a bit less forceful on her. After all, she suffered enough thanks to the Diamonds and their twisted sense of "value".

"I guess I can use a witness. Alright, clear the room," Grogar simply instructed. The gems left the room from there, leaving only Twilight Sparkle and Connie Maheswaran in Grogar's presence. Connie hissed and growled at the presence of this monster in front of her, her judgement being very fuzzy since the corruption took hold of her mind, as Grogar hopped down from the throne towards the two. Twilight however looked more defeated with what she had gone through, as Grogar could plainly see. Sure, she tried to move, but her binds made that too hard to do.

"I see you both had been marked," Grogar noted, checking what injuries they had, "It's a bother, I know, but something we're trying out. Wanna keep order in my kingdom, you know. I'm sure you know how that feels, eh princess?"

Twilight felt angry, but she didn't answer him. Part of her blamed herself for all of that hard worked and no rest, and that was what got her in this mess in the first place. Grogar began circling them a bit, checking them both out to an extent.

"So. They've put you in charge of Equestria?" Grogar inquired. Twilight looked to Grogar.

"Why should you care?" Twilight questioned.

"Oh, so you do speak. None at all, but clearly you're not fit for the job if it only takes overwork to topple your empire. Did my colleges give you a hard time?"

"They were from you!" Twilight gasped.

"Of course they were from me," Grogar scoffed, "Why else would ANY of Celestia's guards force you into any work, eh? Seriously, you ponies can be so gullible, it's almost not fun when tricking you. Almost."
Twilight felt so stupid for not putting the pieces together. Even if she was caught up in queen's work, she should've suspected something was amidst with those two guards of hers. Connie would tell her to not listen to Grogar, and indeed she tried, but her strange mouth only got a few grunts and moans instead. Connie was strictly a witness for this interaction. Twilight thought of one trick.

"So what're you gonna do with me now, Grogar? If you're going to kill me, or take over anywhere else, that the least you can do," Twilight asked. Might as well see and get that out of the way.

"I'm taking over, my dear, what more is there to know?" Grogar questioned, unamused by that question. But he was amused by the plan he had for her. Grogar heard more grunts from Connie, trying to get herself free, and slammed a hoof down close to her.

"That you won't find it easy, or that we won't let you," Twilight said, "Me and my friends had faced challenge after challenge, and we won't let you take over anywhere else."

"I don't know if you're aware yet, puny pony, but I single-hoofedly destroyed the Diamond Authority, and over half of your friends in just an hour. Besides, the only one that kept me at bay was Celestia for the longest time. O wait a minute, that old mule's dead now. Kicked the bucket, threw in the towel, stuck in that big sleep of hers. So what's stopping me now?"
Twilight, despite her injuries and shivering all the while, tried blasting him with her horn, but all that did was hurt her more as the electrical sparks bounced off the walls of her cage, zapping her. Grogar laughed as Connie yelped and tried to reach her.

"How dare you talk about Princess Celestia that way? If this is how you rule, then she ruled Equestria better than you'll ever do!"

"She never had the right to rule in the first place!" Grogar roared, slamming his hooves on the rims of her cage, making Twilight step back.

"She was princess Celestia, and I'm king Grogar. And in the rules of hierarchy, that automatically makes me above Celestia in every way. She had no authority anymore than you did before you got those flappers."

"You don't know anything about her! She's the most caring, selfless, and beloved Alicorn I've ever known, the greatest mentor I've ever had the pleasure of working with!" Twilight shouted. Grogar rolled his eyes, and began to move back over to the throne with just one question to shut Twilight up.

"And you thought you could fill in her horseshoes?"

Twilight thought of responding, but the proof she already knew was there from her being in the cage anyway, so she just lowered her head.

"If it makes you feel better princess, I've actually considered something … I'm gonna let you go."

"... What?! You're … letting me go?" Twilight couldn't believe her ears. Here she was locked up, mangled up, and horn broken, and Grogar thought the best idea was to let her free? There had to be something to this, they wouldn't treat her like that otherwise.

"See? I'm not completely heartless, ain't I?" Grogar stated.

"Well. Ok. What's the catch?" Twilight questioned, locking eyes with his with suspicion. Grogar huffed.

"You are smart. … You saw what my troops do to their prisoners, so here's how the dice is gonna roll here on out. We show up. You look the other way. There'll be a few lads missing here and there, but you're gonna keep your eyes blind to it all. Capiche?" Grogar said. Connie roared at Grogar, and the ram got just close enough for her to actually bite into his back hoof. It was strong enough to draw blood, but all Grogar did was shake her loose and clock her head. But, not too hard, strangely.

"And what if I don't?" Twilight questioned. Grogar was hoping she'd ask that, and laid it down hard with him snapping his teeth close to the unicorn's already cut horn.

"We slaughter every animal in sight," Grogar stated, giving a slicing motion across his throat, right where the bell is. Twilight gasped slightly on this, and with what they've done to her already she knew this wasn't just a scare tactic. They would go and slaughter a species if they so were told to, and without much hesitation.

"Here, I've sent your friends back to Earth, I can send you right back to Equus no problem," And to prove that he could, he chimed his bell, and slice the air in front of him to open his own portal to Canterlot. Twilight peered through from beyond her cage, and could even see the familiar Ponyville street corner.

"Now you walk your flank right back there, get everypony nice and safe, and we'll be seeing you by next week. That's a date." And he clamped his jaws close to her face again, almost making Twilight Sparkle stumble a bit.

None of this seemed to make any sense to Twilight, and Grogar was making freedom FAR too easy. In fact, Grogar even went ahead and opened the cage for her, and with his magic un-hooked the chains! Connie couldn't help but actually pinch herself, thinking this could be some weird dream or something. As for Twilight, the Alicorn only felt the restraint on her wings, though she didn't need those to actually walk. Twilight looked to Canterlot. She could go back right now. She could rush back and warn them just how bad things were getting, to see what kind of monster that was threatening the world now. Grogar almost seemed to encourage her, sitting and waiting in anticipation as Twilight took one step forward …

But then two steps back. Twilight kept her gaze down, thinking what the alternate motive is here besides just to give Equestria false hope. She couldn't do that.

"No."

"I'm sorry, did I hear you right?" Grogar questioned. Twilight went back into the cage and sat down, not answering the power-hungry ram.

"I'd rather rot in here than lie to everyone. The truth is always better than a well-meant lie."

"Who said I wanted you to lie? Tell them that Grogar's coming next week -"

"But then we'll run around getting prepared for an attack next week just for you to jump in when we're not ready and strike fear into everyone! I will NOT arrive back if it means making everyone fear you, Grogar," Twilight cut in, "Besides, if I am going to get out of here, I'll do so with my friends, and give everyone the truth instead of guiding them on lies. What do you say to that?"

Grogar dug his hooves into the ground he sat on in a manor like someone clawing their fingernails on their desk, or scratching a chalkboard. In a swift swipe out of anger, the portal closed and he glared at Twilight. The chains relocked on her, and the cage shut tight.

"GUARDS, GET HER OUT OF MY SIGHT!" Grogar called. The guards outside came in, got her cage and dragged it out, leaving Grogar with a migraine. And here he thought that it would actually be easier to get his name out there.

"WHY do I have to do everything myself?" Grogar groaned, hoof between the horns, dragging his face down in his annoyance. So much for "striking fear into their hearts" today. Well, at least he had Steven's injury to accommodate one side of the coin. For now, anyway.

Speaking of which …

"… Connie?"

Connie growled a little at him again, snarling a bit like a dog. Grogar didn't mind the horns and "hooves" but the snarling teeth was bugging him just a little bit too much. She was feeling angry with him with a mixture of unsureness. What was going through this ram's mind as he began to approach her. Instinctively, she lashed out and got her teeth into his leg again.

"OK, this is annoying," Grogar huffed, before his free hoof chimed the bell again. His horns glowed the ominous blue, and for a moment Connie thought she was gonna become completely corrupted. Instead, the mist coming from those horns seemed to suck away rather than fill in, and those sharp jagged teeth reverted back to her normal mouth. She released him by them, coughing a little bit.

"W...wh... y-you -….why?"

"Because I don't want to keep having my legs chewed on by jagged jaws. Glad you can speak again? A bit broken of course, but hey. Nopony's ever perfect," Grogar stated. Connie tried to speak properly, but her mind was still very muffled up so she couldn't really get proper words out right. Grogar slowly went around behind Connie Maheswaran, checking out the girl.

"... So we were here thinking you were just some other common human running around with that Gem lot last few days. But then I've heard from the grape vine that you're. Actually. A human Gem hybrid."
And he emphasized the word Hybrid as if that was a very important detail to note, saying that rather close to Connie to her liking. Grogar continued to slowly loop around her.

"Few know here that I'm actually a hybrid. And like you. I had to try and prove myself. … And here I am. Outcast to ruler. King of Tambalon."

Connie did NOT like where this was going at all. Grogar wasn't as manipulative with Connie however, his words holding some sense of secureness to them on the fact she was a hybrid like him. What he said next began giving Connie shivers.

"As great as my reign is, I suppose that someday even my turn will come. … And an empire's not born in one lifetime. A king needs a Queen. Don't you think that's right?"

Connie freaked out, her hardened hands slashing at Grogar to keep him away. The hit stung Grogar a little bit, a tuff of fur off his face.

"N-NO! I-I-IIEE TO YOUNG! Fifteen!" Connie tried to say through her messed up grammar and speech, pointing to herself. Grogar rubbed the hit she made with an impressed smile, just for him to actually flick her away. That flick sent her flying to the wall!

"You need time to better settle in. Guards, get her prepared for her example presentation," Grogar instructed. A few guards heard him and come in to collect her, Connie still left stunned by what could've easily been a killer hit. Grogar though had one more thing to say as Connie was dragged out.

"Oh, and Connie? Dearest? … I don't like to be disappointed."

~~~~~~

"The council's ready for you."

That was the main message Flint, Pearl, Emerald, and now sickly Peridot was given by Cerrosafe. But rather than him just leading them along (thank the stars), the four were just ushered along by some more of the guards Nichrome had on him earlier. They tried keeping Peridot fine, and while she could walk well she still felt uneasy thanks to her cracked gemstone, which she was either holding or lead to her shaking her head.

"Everything's going to be fine, just keep your stone out of sight," Pearl said, trying to comfort Peridot. She'd give her remark if she wasn't distracted already. As they neared the council's room, Flint had another message for them.

"Okay guys, nobody jump in to attack this time. We don't want to be hurt anymore than we already are, ok?" Flint asked.

"We're good on that chief," Emerald said.

"... Ok," sighed Peridot. "But can I say this right now: Pearl, this is your fault!"

"Me? I didn't know they'd do this," Pearl insisted.

"But it's your idea - aaahhh! Aahh!" Peridot's blame was cut short when she started glitching again, "Oh forget it."

"I know, and I'm sorry. Peridot, I promise you when we get out of here, we'll go straight to Steven and get you healed up in no time. We just have to get through this together, ok?" Pearl proposed. All Peridot did was nod her head a little bit, Flint observing it all from a shoulder glance. He just sighed, and looked on ahead to the door to the council room.

And then they were brought into the room.

"... Oh boy," Emerald said.

Blue Diamond's bath. Or at least, it would've been if not for Grogar's involvement. Everything that Blue Diamond had in there to make it her own was simply not there, and instead the area had numerous amount of the guards, and high-ranking Captains and Commanders. A number of different creatures, but one did catch their eye: the broken-horned Commander Unicorn. The most pony of the creatures in the room.

"Is that a … unicorn?" Peridot asked.

"I think so, but where's her horn?" wondered Emerald. They didn't have an answer for that, and were brought before everyone there. The unicorn was over with the commanders, as the captains were over further near the bath, including Nichrome.

"This lot was found by Nichrome's patrol, captains, with at least two of them considered Defective," Cerrosafe said, emphasizing the word "defective" as a means to tick them off.

"They were out by the southwestern ridge," explained Nichrome, "And their Pearl, heh, knows some of those old Gem stories. She was telling her followers there a good spin."

"Pearls don't have followers Nichrome," stated the unicorn, unamused. Nichrome "remembered" that detail.

"OH, that's right! So if a Pearl's the lowest on the chain, and you're following her, what does that make you?"

"If I hear one more word out of him, so help me -" Emerald looked ready to just jump up there, but Flint got his foot down.

"Don't. You. Dare. What did I say about trying to start a fight?" Flint said, quietly and urgently. With so many of them right there, a fight would be suicide.
One of the captains stepped forward from the top of the pack. This particular creature was bipedal, and stood easily taller than each one of the Gems there. If compared to anything, this creature looked like one of those Satyrs crossed with a baboon. His fur was clad in white, and what skin that wasn't covered in the fur was grey. A set of curved horns jutted from his skull, and fangs lined his lower jaw. Hos torso was lined with the same sort of darkened armor that the unicorn had on her, and when he saw the four he had a look that immediately said he meant business.

"Alright, the uh … bird at the front. Speak," he said. None of them moved at first but Cerrosafe was more than willing to "fill them in".

"He's talking to you. Now go!" Cerrosafe said, shoving Pearl a few steps forward. Pearl … well, she didn't comment on the bird thing.

"Start by telling his excellency where you're from and why you think you're here," the unicorn said. Pearl took a look behind her at Flint, Emerald, and Peridot, trying to come up with something. No way was she gonna just blabber on about where they came from, and she cleared her throat.

"W-We uh … well, we thought we were going to see the Diamonds. We were … told to come to Diamond City a few weeks ago," Pearl said, avoiding the first question and getting the facts for the other one.

"OOOO, that's your story. Well, birdy-beak, your Diamond's gone on a little trip right now. We just decided to fill in," the excellency said, shrugging as if this was innocent.

"I'm a Pearl," Pearl corrected. This got a bit of a nasty response, the excellency going up to her, towering over her.

"And I'm not stupid either, bird," he growled, his face inches from her, and him leaning in such a way it nearly made Pearl fall onto her back.

"... Noted. … Uh, anyway, we've come to hopefully see to some of the Gems. There were a few that were scheduled for uh … Aredox!" Pearl said. Under pressure she was.

"Let me get this straight," said Cerrosafe, "You came here from Aredox, to ask, if you can take our Gems?"
The very idea got both Nichrome and the satyr laughing, which further hit the point that none of them were ever going to listen to any Gem.

"You know, you're funny. You really are," said the satyr, actually pinching Pearl's cheek like a granny would to her grandson. The claws actually stung her, and he and Nichrome began heading back to their positions as Pearl rubbed her cheek.

"Whatever reason you have for coming here aren't remotely needed anymore," explained the unicorn, "but I should thank you for making our job just that much easier."

"N-No no, we can't leave here without putting our case -"

"Leave here? HA! Who said you're gonna leave here?" The satyr laughed, before he started giving a signal with his three-clawed hand. Soon, the unicorn began to force them along ahead towards the bath, using her broken horn as a sort of hog taser (and worked just as painful as it worked well). The captains and commanders moved out of the way to make a clear path to the bath, as the unicorn kept forcing them along. However, there still was one more surprise for them, as they found themselves at the edge of the bath. …

"Who first?" asked the unicorn.

"Oh no. No no no, that's a no for me captain," said Emerald, trying to back away from the bath only for the Satyr to block his way out.

"Thank you for volunteering," said the Satyr, before literally kicking Emerald right into the empty tub, leaving him down a good ten to twelve foot drop. Emerald landed hard at the bottom of the tub in a splat, and when he got himself back around their surprise was more than happy to see him come around.

*SNORT*

"Remember Trotter, we want them alive," reminded the unicorn. Emerald found himself backing up to the wall, as Trotter eagerly moved closer to him, snickering all the while as he licked his chops. It'd been a while since they last met with eachother, and now it was time for the hog to play around some more with Emerald.

"N-Nice pig, good pig, e-easy now - OOF!" Trotter got his front hooves on top of Emerald, the hog grinning good and wide. Emerald, if memory served, knew what was coming next and the pig readied to get his teeth into him … but then his sensitive snout started picking up a better target. Looking up at the others remaining, he gave a loud squeal.

"Handle him first, porker, and you can move on!" shouted Cerrosafe. But Trotter didn't continue his job, sitting down with front hooves still keeping Emerald down.

"Didn't Emerald mention something about a pig at that trash site? … That must be the same one," Flint thought. The captains were getting impatient with him, but it seems even the executioner had his own bygones to look after. Cerrosafe decided to humor him, and forced Pearl down from the edge, though unlike Emerald she landed on her feet. Pearl found herself disgusted by the swine, already turning up her nose at the stench she was getting.

"A-Alright, what do you want?" Pearl asked. Trotter snickered at his prize, and he turned Emerald around.

"Wait, wait, don't you DA - AAAHH!"

*crack*

One hit of his sharp hoof and Emerald was quiet, his gemstone now no better than Peridot. Pearl gasped and stepped back, Trotter literally walking over him to reach the Gem before him. As for Emerald, he took a bit to get himself around, but found that his mouth couldn't move.

"SERIOUSLY?! SERIOUSLY!" he thought. He would scream it, but his mouth just wouldn't let him do anything else besides a big, straining grin. Another detail now was that one of his eyes looked cracked, like broken glass, which only frustrated him even more.

"What're you doing to them?" demanded Flint.

"Oh, just a little procedure called "marking". We can't keep marks on your body, so we set them marked … in stone," Nichrome snickered as he nudged the Satyr, who joined his laughing. BAD joke. Pearl instinctively brought out her spear in some defense of herself, but Trotter had an extra gift for them that he didn't bother showing Emerald back at the garbage dump. With a push up from his front "legs" he actually managed to rear back and stand upright on his back hooves without trouble. Then, this natural monster casually started to pull off his front hooves, to reveal a pair of well-developed human hands. …

"FREAK PIG!" shouted Peridot. Only now did the pig start to close in on Pearl, his muzzle twisted into a sinister grin, as his fingers stretched and ready to grab her. Pearl was just stunned, but suddenly she snapped out of it and she would've attacked …

"Wait. No. Just endure it. … Just endure it," Pearl told herself, dropping the spear as Trotter got his hands on her. Pearl waited for her gemstone to get cracked, and indeed Trotter planned to do that. After all, as executioner for Grogar that was part of his job, but the porker lifted his head up, and he began to gurgle. His mouth filled up with a concoction of saliva …

And he spat a water-balloon of disgusting saliva right at Pearl's face. It reeked of the pig's breath.

".... EEEEUUUUGGGGHHH," Pearl groaned, feeling ready to puke. Peridot and Flint were struck sicken when they saw this, and only then did the trollish porker knock her down, and brought his back hoof to her gemstone.

"I think I'm gonna hurl," muttered Peridot.

"Good call. You're next," said Nichrome. Peridot was horrified, but Flint didn't want to see her get hurt any further. Lucky for them both though, the unicorn stepped in.

"She doesn't need to. Cerrosafe already told me about her, and she's already got her mark right there. Her friend can get his, and then we'll send them on their way."

"Commander Tempest, no one said to jump," remarked the Satyr in annoyance, "shooing" her away, "Now be a good pony and go stand over there like you're told to do."
Tempest nodded and took a few steps back. Only for the Satyr to say …

"You know what, let's let the gremlin slide. She had hers all along," he remarked.

Seriously?

Flint and Peridot took a step back when they began hearing Trotter squeal down below. Soon, Pearl and Emerald were tossed back up, and while Emerald got on his feet somewhat, his crooked smile annoying him a ton, Pearl and her cracked Gem couldn't connect enough to get her landing right, and she actually almost fell back in again. Peridot and Pearl knew this all too well, and both were left worried and remembering the trouble they had before.

"Move it," said one of the other creatures. Flint knew he was next, so he just got it over with and jumped in, as the other three were huddled together. They were not going to stay around any longer than they had to.

~~~~~~

"Aaahhh. aahh."

With a few more gasps of pain, and another shove, Flint and Peridot caught up with Emerald and Pearl to their "mark location" as the others put it. They were lucky to be still standing after that kind of punishment, and could only imagine just how many other Gems had to undergo this same process. And with most of the group having the Gem on their heads, it was giving them a bit more than just a headache.
The four were placed within what looked like one of the training fields for Yellow Diamond's quartz soldiers. Now though, Grogar turned it into a sort of outside camp for the head Gem mark, as most if not all of the Gems there had their gemstones somewhere on or near the head.

"Over here, guys," Pearl said, waving to them, though even that seemed a bit less proper as she couldn't exactly focus too much. Flint and Peridot sat down by them, Flint feeling a migraine coming on.

"This is sure a nice bit of Tambalon hospitality. That hog cut in deep," Flint said, rubbing his gemstone of the cut, which almost looked like a knife was jabbed into it.

"I'm very sorry, I should've known it would be more to it than just getting locked up," Pearl said.

"Well we figured out what happened to Homeworld, that's something -" Peridot cringed when her body glitched a little again.

"We only found, what? The main hall, the bath, and now here. That's only three things out of all of Homeworld," Flint said gravely. Feeling her gemstone make her body glitch again, Pearl thought about what to do, and them looked to everyone.

"Well they all somehow know the workings of a Gem if they immediately cut their gemstone upon being captured, so we got a choice to make. We can either stay and risk further pain, or we can run with what we know. … So what're we doing?"

"But what about -"
Before any of them could answer, a commotion nearby got their attention in the form of Cerrosafe arriving on the scene, him being in charge of this mark.

"Listen up, Head mark," said Cerrosafe, "I want to introduce you all to … Maheswaran."

And then they saw her. Pearl and Peridot were seeing a tortured-looking hybrid from before as Emerald and Flint were humbled by what they saw. Connie hadn't gotten any better since they last saw her, her walking around with a bit of an unsteady movement, the front "hands" weighting her down to walk on all fours, and the horns keeping her gaze lowered.

"Oh. My. Stars …" Pearl was horrified. Her pupil, now into the example Cerrosafe talked about earlier.

"Look hard at this creature, and remember her when you think of disobeying King Grogar. Remember her when you think of running away. Remember her when you think of fighting back," Cerrosafe explained, as Connie was being ushered along by the other guards, each one armed with a Gem Destabilizer just in case someone tried to get in the way. Connie only stopped when she saw her friends.

"C-Connie," Pearl murmured, tears going down her face. And to make matters worse. …

"... P-Pearl. …"

"MOVE IT," the guard demanded, giving her a shove forward despite her injury, which made her hiss and snarl like an animal. Hearing that one word told them all that Connie was still in there somewhere. …

"H-How dare they …"

"Well. That helps decide," Peridot said, feeling angry.

"Yes. I think it does," agreed Flint.

They all knew what to do next. It was a risk, but more than worth it if it all worked. Flint looked on to Cerrosafe, who was distracted a little bit with talking to a sargent. And looking on, the Head Gem mark was actually a straight shot to outside the city. If they can make this work.

"We all talking the same here?" Flint asked. All of them nodded. They will NOT let this go on for her.

"Steven would do it if he were here. Any of us would," Pearl stated.

"Good. … Get ready to run."

*BAM!* "ACK!"

Even if cracked, Flint proved to be a deadly adversary, as both guards were suddenly struck in the back of the head, sent off a good ten feet. It was too swift to use the destabilizers on, and this of course raised quite the alarm around the whole mark. Connie hissed a little bit, but her old memories and new "instincts" were contradicting eachother.

"Let's get a move on," Flint said urgently. He didn't have time to explain anything.

"YOU THERE!"

"Run!" Pearl said. She, Peridot, and Emerald got a running start, and it took a bit of time before Flint just grabbed Connie and ran for it. Cerrosafe and a few other guards (including the knocked over ones), swiftly got to their feet and got together just as the five got out of the training grounds and made their mad dash for it.

The chase was on.

"We got runners! GRAB EM!" Cerrosafe exclaimed. The guards with him made a bolt right after them, fast as they could to keep up with the cracked Gems. Cerrosafe would go off too, but before he did, his antennae straightened up like poles, and suddenly began to light up. His kind's version of police warning lights and alarm.

"He's got an alarm too? Make tracks!" Peridot yelled, trying to gain some more speed.

The five were on the run. Now out of the perimeter of the palace, it was a matter of getting out of Homeworld and reaching the Warp Pad, Flint and Pearl keeping themselves in between Peridot, Connie, and Emerald to keep them protected and moving forward as Cerrosafe's patrol was rushing for them. They may have gotten somewhat of a headstart, but the patrol behind them were not only faster, but they weren't damaged like they were, with the others occasionally having to pull Pearl along just for her to keep up. Whenever they had to turn, it wasn't as quick as they'd like as they either had to slow down or actually trip and stumble just to keep up to speed. Ironically, the only one keeping up at full speed was Connie, in a more monkey-like locomotion in her running.
In this mad dash, with a few still behind them, two of the faster guards actually overtook them, and soon were blocking their escape route! The two stayed firm, expecting the runaways to stop at one point and get themselves cornered. However, the act of "helpless prisoners" was given up the moment they started running.

And Flint and Pearl rammed into them HARD! Peridot, Connie, and Emerald didn't remotely stop, and while Pearl stumbled in her dash, Flint got the harder hit, knocking one unconscious. Both Gems scrambled back to their feet before running off ahead again, though Pearl had to be pulled along first.

"Flint, I can't run fast enough!" Pearl exclaimed.

"Just focus on where you're going, we'll make it to the Warp Pad," Flint said, the five trying to continue forward on the path they got taking them. However, it seemed that no matter how fast they were going, the guards seemed to keep trailing them wherever they go. Hearing Flint remind them on where to go though, one of them actually skidded to a halt abruptly, making them all stop.

"Emerald, what'd you stop for?!" Pearl shouted. Unfortunately Emerald couldn't talk, and with them on their tail, Emerald just bolted away from the main path.

"What the - EMERALD, THIS WAY!" shouted Flint, but Emerald didn't stop. In fact, he was waving his arms, trying to make them follow him. The guards closed in on them from both sides though, one from where they were and where they were going. No choice now. The four made a bolt down towards Emerald, and the green Gem got back to running.

"You clod, we're going the wrong way! The Warp Pad's that way, remember?!" Peridot shouted, running next to him. Emerald REALLY wanted to talk to them, but his crooked smile just won't give him the chance to. The others weren't sure at first what this was, but as Pearl began to feel her gemstone make her glitch a bit, she started to take a good look at Emerald's eye. He was smiling, but his eyes …

"Everyone, we have to split up!"

"What?! Not you too!" Flint said.

"LISTEN: none of them know about the other Warp Pad, so before we - AH, I DON'T HAVE TIME TO EXPLAIN!"

"GAME'S UP!" And just like that, Cerrosafe found his way in front of them all, making all of them stop briefly (and Pearl accidentally falling over her own feet). Cerrosafe targeted her first, his hoof slamming on her legs and leaving her stuck and hurting.

"You dolls had made a VERY. GRAVE. ERROR," Cerrosafe snarled, his antennae now electrified and ready to take down the renegades. Pearl closed her eyes for the blow, the other three unable to use any of their Gem weaponry to help. But one wasn't gonna stand by.

*RAAAHH*

"AAAHH! Get off! GET OFF!" All at once, Connie leaped right onto Cerrosafe's face, making the alien buck around like mad as Pearl had to drag herself away a little bit before comprehending what happened. At least one advantage for being semi-corrupted was that built-in weaponry was guaranteed.

"Connie!"

"GO!" Connie shouted, just before Cerrosafe dislodged her from his head, slamming her to the wall. Cerrosafe was left distracted for them to get a headstart. They could hear the guards closing in on them not too far away.

"I'm sorry, Steven." Pearl thought.

And they all ran for it.

"ALARM! ALARM! Get after them! Hunt them down!" Cerrosafe roared, as the other guards raced passed him and Connie to get to the other four. Connie struggled a bit, groaning underneath the strength of Cerrosafe. She even tried biting into his foot which, while stinging, didn't waver him one bit.

"Enjoy this moment, Maheswaran. … Because it's the last time you'll ever going to stand beneath the stars."

And in one swing of his foot, Connie was knocked unconscious. Just like that. Cerrosafe left her behind from there to catch up to his own group. She won't be a problem when they loop back for her.

"So, what were you saying before we nearly got shattered?" Flint asked as they ran.

"Split up: we can't let them know where the Warp Pad is. Lose them!" Pearl said quick. Flint felt like an idiot.

"Stupid cracked Gem, why didn't I pick that up? You heard her! SPLIT up! Make sure you lose them before getting back to the Warp Pad."

And so they did. In a quick second, and at a good spot in Homeworld's city, all four of them bolted off in different directions down different paths. Cerrosafe snarled when he saw this, and the guards were forced to split off into different parties to try and get each one of them. Each Gem now only had two to deal with at most, which evened the odds a bit better.

...

First one to handle his part in this crazy run around was Emerald. Out of all the cracked Gems, Emerald had it the easiest, having years of being cracked behind him. His small size worked to his advantage here, and he just managed to find himself a pathway in between two of the buildings just big enough for him to go through, but not the guards behind him, who slammed into the wall. Emerald snickered seeing them before bolting away, the guards climbing up the buildings to the otherside … only to find him completely gone.

"Gone already?" one of them wondered.

They both then heard some snickering off nearby, only to find Emerald on one of his hexagons, floating just out of reach. Both guards were dumbfounded at first, seeing a cracked Gem still have his Gem weaponry on him, but they shook it off and tried to get him, only for Emerald to chuck another hexagon at both heads, knocking them out cold.

"K, that happened, let's scram," Emerald thought, hovering away from the situation.

...

"Help me, help me, help me, help me!"
The second one came with Peridot, though she had a bit more trouble with hers. Her running had two guards, but these were brutes and she couldn't find any quick route out like Emerald did. Peridot looked back to the guards to try and regain some distance between herself and them, but her body glitching made her foot unstable, making her fall forward and spiral for a bit. Probably a luck break, since the next thing she saw was a vertical drop down to at least seventy feet!

"We got her!" one of the guards shouted, more confident in the hunt this time.

"EEP! Okokokokok, Got to lose them … HOW?" Peridot scrambled to try and think. Her gemstone however was becoming severely damaged, her groaning and trying to keep together. This time the glitch was so bad her whole body disappeared briefly, only to reappear after about five seconds. She was REALLY in bad shape. If she was gonna get shattered, it would be by a fight, not by a run.

"Alright you clods. ... If you want me. -" she aimed her gaze to her enemy, battle ready and all, "COME AND GET ME, YOU - ooooo where'd you go?"

… And suddenly she saw no one there. She could've sworn she had two guards chasing after her. But then she heard a bit of a groan from behind her, and when she looked down the cliff, both guards were not only at the bottom, but left in pain.

"Ok, that'll work," Peridot shrugged, before bolting off on her way. As they say: there's more than one way to skin a cat.

...

Emerald and Peridot may be all good, but Pearl was a bit more trouble than needed. She was having the most trouble keeping her guards off her tail, unable to cut corners as tightly as before thanks to her gemstone messing with her head. In fact, she was actually getting tired, her speed dangerously low. It didn't help that in her panicked state she was constantly stumbling in her turns, either hitting a wall or landing on her knees before running again.

"Surrender now, and we'll let you live!" shouted one of the guards.

"Over my shattered body, you scum!" Pearl shouted back. Unfortunately, this made her stumble slightly again, making the two guards charge close. Perhaps though, this may be Pearl's lucky break: as she tried to get moving again, she actually slipped on the ground, and fell forward, lowering just enough for the guard to fly over her and slam into the wall, getting his head stuck in one of the building's holes.

"GET ME OUT OF HERE!" the guard demanded, trying to get his head loose. This distraction was just enough for Pearl to gain her lead, as the other guard tried to get his companion out of this situation. It only took a few yanks, but by the time they got themselves out, it was just too late to get Pearl. The two looked through the area, unaware Pearl was hiding just above them within one of the building holes.

"That salty snack of a Gem, where'd she go?!" the guard snapped, trying to relocate his target.

"Salty?" Pearl thought, insulted.

"She can't have gone far. You look back, I'll look over here," the other guard instructed. Both guards split up and left Pearl by herself up in her hole. Once it was clear, she got herself down, making sure NOT to fall over this time. She was just about ready to run when something up in the sky caught her attention. And lucky for her, this was a sight she was hoping to see.
Emerald and Peridot, flying in on one of Emerald's hexagons.

"I'm so glad to see you. Did you lose your guards?" Pearl asked. Emerald and Peridot nodded, and Peridot extended a hand.

"If you want to be free, come fly with us," Peridot said. They didn't need to ask Pearl twice, and she held on as tight as her form will allow, and all three started to fly off on their way. There was only one in their party left …

...

Flint didn't stop his bolt around Homeworld either. And with many of the guards rushing around and trying to get he others, Flint was left with Cerrosafe and just one other associate on his tail as he tried his best to get away. Just one moment will be all he needed to get out of Cerrosafe's grip and towards the Warp Pad in the outskirts, but Cerrosafe just wasn't giving the runaway anytime to actually do that. Along with running, Flint had to also dodge the stabbing front legs of Cerrosafe's moldable feet, each attempt leaving cracked holes in the ground behind them. One particular stab was so close to him, he felt it actually make a very slight cut into him, strands of hair cut off as the ground shook from the oncoming stomp.
That stomp specifically actually gave Flint a head start, as Cerrosafe got stuck in it briefly. Unfortunately, while he did smile on the getaway, it was short-lived as he found himself stuck in a dead end. Flint skidded to a grinding halt seeing this problem, just as Cerrosafe got himself free.

"You thought you could get away?" Cerrosafe warned, starting to close in on him.

"I didn't come to Homeworld to be put under arrest, thank you," Flint stated, keeping what defense he had armed, "I'm not getting locked up that easily, so you better back off."

"You're nearly dead. And I don't take orders from dolls. On my word, go straight into him," Cerrosafe ordered. His associate nodded, and prepared to do just that. Flint tried to work something out, but in his injured state he wasn't seeing any easy way out. All he could do now was fight his way out. If he could keep himself together.

"Nevermind what Grogar said. I'm bringing you back in pieces," Cerrosafe stated, his front foot morphing into the dagger of his. Flint wasn't sure if he was gonna get out of it, but the least he could do was try. He clenched his fists, got them up and ready just as Cerrosafe took a step forward. ...

"SIR!" *STAB*

Suddenly everything went nuts: Something (Flint couldn't tell what at first, it moved WAY too fast) suddenly jumped in from the top of the building behind Flint. Cerrosafe never saw it coming, a loud slice going straight through his head! Cerrosafe's head popped like a muddy bubble, as his whole body suddenly deformed into a puddle of goop. The explosion made Flint jump back, his back to the wall and getting slightly covered in the stuff. As for the associate, all he did was panic and bolt away from the threat, screaming like the "warrior" he was. As for Flint, he checked himself, quickly getting off all of that gunk off of himself.

"Ok, this is gross. More than usual," Flint said, wiping it off himself as whatever practically own'd Cerrosafe went over towards him. And offer out a helping hand. Flint looked to said hand for a brief moment, the coloration and look oddly familiar. He slowly followed the hand up to the face of this savior of his.

She greeted him with a smile.

"It's you," Flint stated humbly. Flint wasn't sure if he was seeing things or not. After all, all the other Gems he saw so far had been locked up tight, so how was this one free and actually keeping up with everyone? At least she wasn't after his stone. Still, without a word, he took her hand and she helped him up to his feet.

"Did they do this to you?" she asked, looking to his Gem.

"Head mark. Cracked my gem like sand. They said it was "required"," Flint growled.

"Oh dear. ... You're the "Crystal Gem" Flint. Right?"

"We call ourselves "Harmony Gems" nowadays, but yeah," Flint replied. No one else was around to hear them, so he wasn't as bothered by the question as much as he should be. The Gem leaned in.

"And ... are the Diamonds alive?" she asked, slightly hoping for a good answer.

"Don't worry, they're all fine and back on Earth with us. We won't let them get shattered by anyone," Flint reassured. She gave a sigh of relief.

"Thank the stars. You have to hurry, they'll be coming back soon," she informed, both looking to the mess left behind. Flint saw her point.

"That's what I'm trying to do. If we go for it, we can make it to the Warp Pad -"

"N-No. Not me. Not yet."

"What? But don't you want to get out? I think they'll be glad to see you," Flint asked, taken aback. All those Gems might as well be dead under Grogar's reign, and she was saying she wanted to stay here?! The Gem with him didn't actually answer his question exactly.

"Hurry back home."

"Wait!" Flint said. But all it took was a quick jump to get her away from Flint and back up on the building rooftops. Flint was just left with a head full of questions as she left him there. But despite what she said, it wasn't the guards that found him first, as a hexagon shadow came up over them.

"Hey, Flint, up here!"

The other three found him first, the sound of Cerrosafe's defeat enough to bring them back over. Flint waved to them as they hovered on down, taking note of the mess around him.

"What in the stars happened here?!" Pearl asked, not daring getting off the hexagon for any moment. There was just enough room for Flint to get on the Hexagon, and all four began to fly off from the crime scene.

"I'll tell you all later. You all in the clear?"

"Yep! Now let's get outta here. FLY US OFF Emerald!" Peridot said, pointing off ahead as if this was a victory. First time today they were feeling good to get out of the city, and out of range from Grogar's troops. Plus, in some twisted stroke of luck, Grogar was down at least ONE high-ranking force that would've given them trouble. None of them were eager for a rematch with him anyway. Pearl looked back to Diamond City as they were flying off, thinking about the one person they most wanted to get out, but failed to do so. Flint rested a hand on her shoulder.

"We'll get back for her," Flint promised.

Her, and whoever else was still there, and still out of Grogar's hooves.

~~~~~~

As for Connie in question ... well, she couldn't recall much of what just happened to her. For one moment, she was outside the prison that she was forced into, fighting off Cerrosafe to save her friends. and the next, as she came to, she found herself right back in the deep underground. Back inside of her cell with so many others scattered amongst the place. The cell she was throne into, unlike the cells one would see in Homeworld, was reinforced to strictly deal with organic creatures, strong bars and all made up of the titanium and obsidian that possibly was apart of Homeworld's many mineral standings. Beyond her cell, she couldn't exactly see any of the other prisoners so easily, but she knew there were many there.
There're were more than plenty of them inside Homeworld's supreme Kindergarten, after all. And all Grogar had to do was add the bars, and there was the highest level security cell he could muster. Connie's cell specifically was along one of the walking paths, several holes away from a bridge to a tunnel across the bottomless riven. Different members of Grogar's alien and monster army patrolled much of the area, and it was actually their voices that woke her up.

One in particular.

"Did you have a nice nap. Maheswaran?"

"G-Grogar?" Connie muttered, feeling the pain of Cerrosafe's attack catch up with her as she groaned, hand to her head, between the horns. She eventually brought herself over to the bars, and saw who was talking but it wasn't Grogar, nor was it Cerrosafe again. Nope, this time it was Nichrome. Nichrome sat there, his front foot gently pushing around some pebbles in front of him as if he was waiting for hours for her to wake up.

"I'm fine," Connie simply said. Nichrome continued pushing pebbles around.

"Very good," said Nichrome. Connie's head was still off, but she could tell that there was a hint of anger in that compliment out of Nichrome.

"... I suppose you're wondering how're you still alive," Nichrome stated, "After all, your involvement in the last excursion had resulted in four escapees, not to mention the injuries of ... six guards. ... And the death of my BROTHER!" That final bit made Nichrome stomp on the stones, crushing them under his feet. Connie admittedly didn't realize this.

"Y-You're brother? I didn't know he died, I-I'm sorry."

"You would be," Nichrome scolded. He did calm down fairly quickly though, and then turned to Connie.

"The only reason you're still alive, Is that Grogar wanted you to be, you being his "dearest" -" he said dearest will rolling his eyes, as if it he thought it was as bad of an idea as Connie thought of it as. "- ... Word of advice: I suggest you stop trying to make freedom happen. There's no point in doing it now, especially for you."

"What do you mean "especially for me"?" Connie asked. Nichrome leaned close.

"... Because word spread that your dearest didn't survive his latest encounter with my king. He went by there a day or two ago, and gloated over some hay that all it took was one, well-aimed blow to crack him open."

That began breaking her heart.

"You're lying. He's still alive, I know he is," Connie immediately said, her nerves coming up on her. Steven Universe wouldn't be dead, not so quickly.

"That just proves how little you know. ... Now get yourself comfy in there, and presentable, you'll be walked through again soon enough. Not like you got anywhere else to go now."

And Nichrome laughed on that note, leaving Connie to what thought she could come up with. Nichrome had that sort of way with words that, even when he was lying to your face, you couldn't help but believe him. Or if he was telling you the truth, it would be twice as harmful. Connie slid down slowly, her weight on the bars until she collapsed to her knees.
Her friend for so many years, and her love for months. Now gone. Connie felt tears come up, whimpering softly, as she remembered the sweet smiling face of Steven Universe, only imagining now just how distraught everyone else must be with him no longer apart of their lives. The Crystal Gems, the Elements of Harmony, the Diamond Authority even had been changed in their own way thanks to him, at least in some part. ...

Steven Universe was dead. ...

.......

"....... No Steven. I'm not gonna give up on you. ..."

And she was in a good position to start. Backing up a bit from the bars, Connie laid herself down on the floor, and got her palms to the ground, and she started to do some push-ups. ...

Author's Note:

And here folks is what happens when a deminc goat takes over an entire city of Gems. Anyone disturbed and wishing death on the goat yet? :pinkiecrazy: