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Budding

Chapter Text

“Ahem. This is Morganite Cabochan 6UR. Begin recording.”

An exhalation. The gem on the other side collecting her thoughts.

“This… Coral… As of today, work has begun, by the order of Pink Diamond. As one of her highest-ranking and competent Morganites, I have been assigned to this duty. Producing successful specimens of hybridized organic and gem life.”

“While I agree with my Diamond’s vision, and that success would produce enormous benefits for all, I… find myself doubting our chances of success. Every gem working on this project has been informed personally by our Diamond that we will not want for any resources we will need, and that time is no issue.”

The pink-headed beryl sighed.

“But previous records… the only success in blending the two races together was Kemala. And as skilled as she is, her mother…” Morganite closed her eyes, remembering the tiny Aquamarine that had been one of her first colleagues in the Pink Court, one of the few “immigrated” high-ranking gems from the other Courts who was genuinely trustworthy and loyal enough to be part of the Inner Court.

And while Aquamarine apparently hadn’t held any regrets in giving the world her daughter, her partner and many others had mourned her for a long time.

Even with humanity’s help, gems didn’t deal well with death.

“The other Diamonds have granted Pink Diamond’s request to send them any gem shards that have become inert for her experiments. And previous logged data has been examined for… gems who poofed and never emerged from their stones. We will not be lacking for information.”

“I don’t know if this will work. But I can’t call myself part of the Pink Court if I don’t do my best.”




“Morganite Facet 215 Cabochan 6. Begin recording. Urgh…” The sigh that would be recorded for history spoke of someone who was extremely tired.

“The Crystal Shrimp escaped. Again. I know that them doing this repeatedly is a sign that they’re becoming integrated with the shards in them growing more intelligent, which is promising for the project’s long term success. But our success has also meant that we’ve been calling in repair crews every few days for the last month. I just hope our Diamond can get them all to stay quiet…”




“Ugh, oh Diamonds… arghhh…”  Morganite looked exhausted, and was wincing as she sat down. Several patches of her skin looked… lighter, than usual.

“Progress has been… substantial on insect-level life forms. Pink Diamond has agreed to let us proceed to the next stage of our work.” She scowled, before sighing. “Also, due to… recent events… it has been agreed by 99.67 percent of the Coral project’s workers, regardless of race… as well as Pink Diamond, that any development of species deemed “pests” as geminals is hereby banned without at least 5 separate preliminary assessments, and Pink Diamond directly giving explicit in-person permission for the tests to undergo.”

“Also, the Coral project will be put on hold for the next month while the facility undergoes enhanced de-tickification procedures, and at least 30 separate sweeps by quartzes with the orders to squash any bugs they see.” She winced. 

“And the idiot who thought that creating bloodsucking insects with gem powers was a good idea and pushed it through is going to be staying here as a toilet scrubber without any chance of promotion as long as Coral takes to succeed if I have to file their paperwork myself.”




“Just get them contained! Use the new plating if we have to! Or the tractor wands! SQUISH THEM if you have to!”

As shouting came from offscreen, Morganite scowled as she sat down. “It took a while… but we have managed to successfully integrate a few Mica shards into various members of the species referred to as moles. It has been… for a value of the word, successful.”

Then, something fell out of the wall.

“Aha!” Morganite screamed, before diving offscreen. “GET BACK HERE!”

 

Ten minutes later…

Morganite was visibly fuming as she got back into the chair. Her hair was a mess.

“We have successfully contained the mole-Mica hybrids via the extensive usage of tractor wands. Burrowing capacity is off the charts, to our detriment.” 

“We are now having to send in requests for either heavy maintenance or a new facility due to all the miniature tunnels and the various electrical, water, and other lines that have been cut…”




“I… am not sure what to think of the new development.”

Morganite looked slightly baffled as she looked over the screen next to the recording one.

“I was aware Earth had many unusual creatures, but this is… baffling. While experiments that involve putting multiple types of gem shard into a single animal will be necessary, to study the potential long-term effects of hybrid crossbreeding between castes…”

Turning the screen around, a small animal with a bill was visible.

“Aren’t mammals supposed to give live birth, not lay eggs? If multiple shard types are involved, then this “platypus” is fitting considering how unusual it is compared to most other earth animals, but regardless…”




“Today, we took a step… sideways, I suppose.” Morganite looked slightly baffled as she spoke. “Our Diamond has made a specific request, to see if Rose Quartz magic and powers could be interwoven into the plant life of Earth. For this, we are going to have to be… creative, as every Rose Quartz on record serves in the Pink Court. And to date, none of them has, as far as I know, given anyone a reason to doubt their loyalty. There are no shards to do experiments with, so we are currently trying to rework the creation process for the Limb Cast gems, to see if a weaker Rose Quartz magical essence can be injected into the plants.”




“Well, good news!” Morganite looked pleased as she sat down. “Our previous experiments have met with enough success that we have been given permission to move on consistently to more advanced and large life forms. Presently, we are starting with birds and less mentally complex mammals. We aren’t certain yet if higher intelligence levels could interfere with how gem powers manifest, so we shall be taking our time before those experiments are started.”




“Bats are… fascinating.” Morganite looked slightly awkward. “The echolocation they use… well, it would not be effective in space, but the concept of sound bouncing off objects is something that we gems should have picked up on long before now. The humans and Peristerites who are responsible for the development of new technologies have been alerted, recently. We were going to have to scrap the designs for bats originally, with the fact that very few shatterings ever take place in the gem caste most likely to be interwoven with them.” Morganite took a breath to steady herself.

“But the bats are… now interwoven to some degree with Sapphire shards, thanks to a… reported failure… from a Black Sapphire who was able to prove herself enough to be briefly accepted into White Diamond’s court.” 

If any gem had been looking for evidence that humanity was affecting the Pink Court, they would have gotten plenty of evidence from how queasy Morganite looked.

“Regardless of my doubts elsewhere... they have been doing fairly well. Also, I have given strict orders that only plant-eating bats are to be used as test subjects. I am not going through the tick incident again with something far bigger.”




“I… would call this perhaps the greatest success we have made so far at this project.”

Morganite had a rather strange and uncertain smile on her face. A loud bark came from the room next door. There were also a few coos.

“Intersecting Rubies from the other courts with the “dogs” that humans are so fond of was… very fitting. Also very successful. On a side note, we have begun our first trial run to test the stability of second-generation geminals.” She looked pleased. “Though even if that goes poorly, I will still have Ruddy.”

As she spoke, a large reddish tibetan mastiff-like hound walked into the room, panting. Morganite scratched the dog’s head absently.

“BARK!”




SLAM! The door made a loud noise as it bounced off the wall behind her, and the look on Morganite’s face was one of utter terror as she hit the button.

“Log begins, likely the final one because WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!!” She screamed, before calming down. “Regardless. I will begin at the start, so that anyone who finds this will know what went horribly wrong and what to not do, and how we all were eaten alive.”

Morganite looked as though she wanted to scream again, but she calmed down.

“Roughly a decade ago, one of the Danburites under me started a project involving Pearls and their pocket dimensions in their gems, to see if such a thing could be invoked and “installed” into a living being. Given the… high turnover rate of Pearls in the rest of the empire, the bunch of hypocritical life-wasting bastards they are, there was no issue finding plenty of test shards after the remnants of their consciousnesses had been… laid to rest.”

Morganite sighed. “I wish that there was something more that we could have done for them, but many humans believe that there’s some form of afterlife, and that not ending them when they were in that state was… excessively cruel, since no gem technology, or even our Diamond has been able to heal shattered gems… I suppose that either way, I will be finding out myself if they’re right soon.”

SLUUUUUURRKRRKKK!!

The noise came from behind the door, and Morganite screamed. “IT FOUND ME!” Quickly calming herself (partly), Morganite turned back to the screen, an odd serenity on her face. “I will die soon. I am uploading this video to my quarters and the Palaces as I record it.” 

“Four decades ago, Danburite Facet 2E7J Cut 3HU decided to interplace a Pearl’s gem shards inside the human pet called a house cat, to see what would happen. When it succeeded and left the cat constantly hungry due to a pocket dimension growing inside it, she decided without authorization to see what she could fill the cat’s pocket dimensions with. After choosing an octopus or squid’s tentacles for some stars-forsaken reason, the cat has been weaponized, and has just today began feeding upon the staff and the other experiments without restriction. This will likely be my last recording. Please take care of Ruddy for me, whoever finds this.”

The video ended.

Chapter Text

Morganite looked sort of embarrassed as she turned the projector on.

“...Er, disregard most of what I said in my last recording, anyone who watches this. The guards were able to kill the geminal before it got into my room. Though due to the death toll from the unauthorized catsquid-Pearl geminal, our Diamond has outlawed the creation of weaponized geminals. And attempts are being made to relocate any specimens of the earlier experiments that may have escaped in the past, due to the tightened security. Or any… descendants they may have had, or any animals that may have consumed them and possibly gained their powers. Though after this long, that may be a lost cause. Similar precautions are being added as well for future tests, and the Project has been delayed until we can replace the staff members we lost.”

Morganite sighed. “I think that our efforts are working, but this experience has confirmed to me at least that granting gem powers to a non-sapient animal is a poor idea, if they are too aggressive by nature. Hence our Diamond’s ban on weaponizing them. Regardless, experiments continue. The… octopus… has been determined as a new potential geminal, despite the protests of many of our surviving staff members.” She looked slightly relieved. “If nothing else, all tests are being done under heavy security, with all of the… riskier procedures… being done remotely by machine.”

“Regardless, the octo… pi? That we are using as hosts for Zircon shards seem to be handling things well already. They were fairly intelligent before, though. We had to pass a request up the chain of command for what to do if any of the animal species we are experimenting on become sapient. Several of the potential animals we will be testing on are already close to the borderline.”




“And I don’t know how the frack this geminal got approved anyways… I can only assume our Diamond thought it might be funny.” Morganite looked considerably annoyed as she sat down. 

The crud all across her body probably had something to do with that. 

“But currently, the Danburite who accidentally released the Aquamarine-infused seagulls has been reassigned. She might make it back into Coral in a few decades if she does a good job elsewhere. Hopefully, the guards will round up the escapees soon...”

Elsewhere…

“GO AWAY!”

As a storm of gem weapons, laser fire, and tractor beams scoured the roof, the water-winged scavengers circled around the top of Coral’s lunch room.

Below, a mob of humans and gems, all bereft of their food and mad about it, glared up at them. Several of them were wielding various weapons.

------

“We are going to be working on Lapis Lazulis eventually, so at least the data gathered here will be beneficial there, considering the two gem types are so close.”




“The current experiments have been successful, albeit uninteresting. Not that this is a negative thing.” Morganite reported into the screen. “Nephrites are a fairly common gem type, as are rock pigeons and homing pigeons for birds. They even seem to be adjusting to the shards better than previous geminals did. Whether because they are more receptive of the magic inside, or because we are becoming better at merging organic and gem structures, or a mixture of the two, I could not say.”

“Though it should be noted that at times, they have been released from their pens under supervision for experiments. They are always able to make it back to their nesting pens without assistance, unsurprisingly, even if we moved the nesting pens around. This might indicate an increase in intelligence, I will have to see if there is any data available for the average intelligence level of pigeons…”




“Report begins. The Jade experiments are going well, and considering that Jades are common in all four courts, well… there is no shortage of material. Again, like the Nephrite experiments, there have been no serious issues.”

“The owls are receptive to the shards as well, which is perhaps fitting. A few humans have told me that owls are seen as “wise” animals in their legends, which is fitting with the positions that Jades have as scholars.” Morganite sat back again. “One of the humans under me has made a suggestion that perhaps the perception of humanity towards certain animals, and gemkind’s castes, are affecting the success of a certain gem type’s integration.”

She looked amused. “Belief affecting the real world? This is science, not fiction.”

“But regardless, this was likely our last geminal experiment for this category.” Morganite’s face took on a considering look. “Soon, we are going to begin work on the more advanced mammals. And eventually, we will work our way so that we, hopefully, will be able to have monkeys able to pass down gem magic between generations without major intervention. And after that, work will begin on creating a true line of hybrids between humans and gems.”

Morganite looked nervous. “The end is in sight, and we have been able to build up our base of knowledge over time. Every time we succeed with a new species, we grow more knowledgeable, and able to intersect hard light and organic matter with fewer issues. Honestly, part of me looks forward to the chance to work on something else after we are finished.”

“I will send our results to our Diamond tomorrow. We just need approval from her, and we can officially move forward.”

Chapter Text

“Well, the Topaz experiments are going well. All things considering, mixing them with kangaroos was an excellent plan.” Morganite looked pleased as she spoke up, typing in data on a computer just onscreen. “Experiments are proceeding even better than normal, and… one of the longer term goals of the project has been started.”

Morganite got a serious look on her face, before shuddering.

“While… I acknowledge the necessity of organic reproduction methods for their form of existence as a whole, I will admit that I find it distasteful. I am aware that some humans view our own reproduction the same way.” Morganite shook her head. “I am off topic. While implanting gem shards into a pregnant animal is not allowed, the mating season in several years should be right on time for us to make a new observation and testing cycle.” 

“Previously, observations of geminals have confirmed that, without outside intervention, the strength of the gem magic in any descendants a geminal might have will be lesser than that of the previous generation, even if both parents were geminals themselves, and not every geminal was able to consistently give birth to offspring with gem abilities. If we can figure out a way to non-invasively strengthen that magic during gestation, we can apply that to other animals - and after that, we can apply it to gestating hybrids.”




Morganite looked extremely scared as she sat down. It wasn’t in the normal area, either - it seemed to be in the upper levels of a larger room, judging by the hovering object she was sitting on, along with the many other gems and humans surrounding her on similar objects.

“Log starts. I don’t quite remember who suggested having hoverpads as a quick escape method for the workers here if something went wrong, but they are getting a commendation, posthumously if necessary. And while the recent shard-binding process was very successful, and could be carried out without any true harm in the future as well, I must admit that this particular disaster can only be placed on my head, even if we took precautions. They were not sufficient, it would appear.”

A crashing noise came from below, and everyone in sight winced.

“Regardless. Using the essences of our Diamond and Yellow Diamond that were gifted to us to stabilize said binding was successful, in line with some of our more extreme predictions. The rhinos that we have, though… well, even if it is known that they can be difficult to control and will clash, we should have been less surprised when several dozen of them were able to break through the walls separating us from them. At least everyone was evacuated this time.”




“Well, it would seem that our request about what to do for sapient geminals was somewhat prescient - and I am grateful that we took care, when we were risking it, to do it with the most gentle subjects we could find, and that we did it off of Earth.” Morganite looked pleased as she made the report. “The latest recipients of the mostly inert shards we have received - this time, of a few Lapis Lazulis… have been fairly receptive in negotiating with us. As it stands, well, the Underwater Palace will probably be getting a dozen or so new residents soon.”

A loud “Oooooo.” came from somewhere offscreen. Probably from the large whale that seemed to be looking from the outside of the window. And any oceanographer on Earth (a group that was 99% human) would have been surprised by the intelligence in the whale’s eyes.

“I need to wait back for word from our leader, Laban! She hasn’t replied yet!”

“Bwooo.”

“Yes, I do need her permission!”




“Well, we have a species that is… pushing the borderline on sapience in several cases, and clearly over it on others.” Morganite looked somewhat troubled. “We are studying the process, to see what if anything went wrong. While it is true that multiple types of Garnets were used in creating the elephant geminals, we have too small of a subject pool to be sure if the differences or lack of sapience might be from either the subject themselves or the gem shards we used.”

A trumpeting sound came from outside. Several more followed it, sounding sort of like a classical music song that Morganite couldn’t quite place. “Granted, we had to use smaller amounts of Diamond essence for this experiment. I am not certain if that affected it enough to deny some of them of their sapience, but I cannot be sure.”

“Experiments continue. We will try to allow the remainder of the herd to be fully sapient, and increase the doses of Diamond essence for the ones who are not. The end is almost in sight.”

“Next, we are working on monkeys.”




“Well, the experiment was successful. Everything went just as predicted, and better in many cases.”

The dead look in Morganite’s eyes really took away all of the credibility in her words.

“I am utterly convinced that the only reason we had to give chimpanzees Amethyst shards is because our Diamond thought it would be funny.”




As the screen activated, Morganite was looking around carefully, almost like she was expecting someone to jump out from behind a wall.

“Final log, for the moment. Our Diamond has… declared our experiments a success. Most of our results are now being worked together, and within the next few years, we will start looking into human-gem couples, who have shown interest in having children. There is… one couple in particular that has shown an interest, and which our Diamond has asked us to focus on - one of the Rose Quartzes who serves as a guard for the Moon Palace she favors, and her human mate.”

Morganite looked extremely scared as she said that.

“I just pr-I hope that everything goes well. I know that our Diamond may be the kindest of all… but an enormous amount of effort has gone into this particularly. So... I doubt even she will accept failure.”

“I just hope that this… Greg is easy to work with.”