((Yes, this was way too long coming, I'm so, so sorry about that, but I didn't know what to do. NONE OF YOU WILL SAY ANYTHING! For real, I don't know what to do or what anyone wants because no one ever gives me any feedback. So please, if you're interested in this and you want to see more of it, please, please, PLEASE, comment something. Lemme know that people are actually reading the bloody thing, that it's not a waste of my time.))
Steven ran outside and leapt onto Lion’s back, riding towards the center of Beach City from which people were fleeing. He was almost shocked to see not just one but three corrupted gems attacking the city. He saw the Worm monster from the day he met and talked to Connie for the first time, the day he learned how to make his bubble. It was devouring a box from the Big Donut filled with some sort of promotional glowing cup. Meanwhile, the Big Bird from the day he met Opal was flying around and swooping on people, trying to eat them. Lastly, he saw one of the old corrupted quartzes rummaging through an alley.
He didn’t know if he was angry or proud to see Tim running out of the Big Donut, trident in hand, to fight off the Worm. Around the same time, the quartz was thrown back, Rodney dashing into it. The bird dove down at some people running, only for a spear to fly past its beak, forcing it to pull away. Mary was on the ground, sighing, relieved she managed to ward it off.
“Uncle Steven,” Beth said as she approached. “My armor is ready, should I use it?”
“Uh, save it for now. Just stay here with Lion for now.” She didn’t seem pleased, but he didn’t have time to worry. Gabriel approached, gauntlets out. “Good. Looks like Mary could use some help with the Bird.”
“I got it!” Steven felt a shock of fear at that phrase as Eric came flying in as a parrot, Centipeetle on the ground and following.
But as the Bird dove at the seemingly easy prey, Eric changed mid-flight into a porcupine. The Bird snapped him up, but immediately started coughing, landing to retch and giving Centipeetle the chance it need to douse the creature’s legs in acid. Mary gave the final strike, a spear through the back, taking care of the first threat.
Steven ran up to bubble the gem, while Gabriel and Rodney manhandled the quartz into submission with ease between the pair, poofing it through sheer crushing power and bringing it over to their guardian to bubble it. “Okay, that leaves…” The oldest half-gem blanched as he saw Tim chase the Worm into the water.
“Don’t worry, my suit has aquatic capabilities,” the young genius stated, pulling out a metal disk from her overalls. She slapped it to her chest, and her black armor grew outward from there, the first time anyone but Mary had seen the process.
“Beth!” Steven called out, causing the youngest to turn. “… Be safe, and take care of Eric.”
“Of course. He’s family.”
In the clear waters off the coast, Tim found that the Worm could move as easily as him, and that he’d lost the advantage his flight gave him on the surface. It took every bit of training he had to dodge and strike back against the corrupted gem, but he knew he couldn’t do this alone. As he dodged another lunge, not even able to get off a counter attack this time, he could faintly hear a garbled voice.
“Eric, I’m moving in.” He didn’t think anyone else could fight underwater and was incredibly glad to be wrong as a green blast hit the Worm, knocking the angry gem off course and saving him. Beth stood in her armor just at the top of the shelf above where he fought the Worm. “I’m charging up primary blast, but I need it still.”
“With pleasure.” Tim gave a salute and threw his trident at the Worm to catch its attention before heading towards a small crack in the stone. Like the mindless beast it was, the Worm followed with an angry roar. Tim cheered a moment when he slipped inside the sea cave and his foe slammed into the wall, but that ended when he saw the crack widen and the first rocks fall. “Beth? It’s now or never!”
The only answer he got was when an explosion rocked the sea bed, more rocks falling around him. Luckily, the cave held, and outside there was naught but silence. Swimming out revealed a crater in the wall and a gem resting in the sand. When the swimmer looked up at the shelf, he saw Beth leaping down.
“Woohoo! Beth, that was—“
He was shocked into silence as Beth hugged him, not hard enough to hurt but enough to show how worried she was, though that may have just been the suit’s strength enhancements. Before he could address it, she pulled back and turned. “… Don’t tell anyone, okay? I want them to take me seriously.”
“Of course, Beth.” He smiled, though, because that didn’t change the fact that she was worried about him. “Come on, let’s take the gem to Uncle Steven.”
To say she was worried was an understatement. She’d almost stopped in the middle of her work when she heard the sounds, but she trusted Steven to take care of it. Though that didn’t stop her from grabbing a sword and running after him once she’d finished up in the bathroom. To her pleasant surprise, she found the battle over when she got there, all of the kids standing around her husband and talking excitedly about the battle.
“Aunt Connie!” Eric was the one who noticed her, and they all ran up to hug her. “Auntie, you should have seen Mary, she was incredible,” the young hoodlum praised, an interesting sight in the formal clothes he’d worn to see Yellowtail.
“She finished off the Big Bird,” Steven explained, smiling. The young girl blushed and stammered, but that didn’t hold off the adulation of her family.
“And Rodney went toe-to-toe with that quartz,” Adam said, a hint of pride in his voice. “He almost didn’t even need us.” Eve tittered as the most hot-headed of the kids glared at each and proceeded to argue about who actually poofed the gem in question.
“How about Tim soloing the Worm?” Beth mentioned, giving him an interesting look. “I was very impressed, he did very well on his own.”
When everyone went to congratulate him, he shook his head. “I was handling it well at first, but in the water I lost my advantage. I couldn’t have taken it down on my own. Beth was the one who made the shot. That armor of hers is amazing.” She blushed heavily at the praise being directed at her, hiding a small smile.
“I’m proud of all of you,” Connie said with a smile, impressed.
“What about you, what was that about back there?” The doctor/warrior groaned, looking back to the house at Steven’s question.
“Well, that still has to be seen…”
“Steven!” There was a collective groan as Buck approached, worried about something worse happening. Instead, the mayor was smiling. “I have to say, I was worried about the kids, but I can see you’ve trained them well. I mean, Mary stuck that bird like a holiday turkey.”
“Tim, that was amazing!” The tanned boy shouted out as his father ran up behind him to hug him. “You saved the promotional cups!” Everyone got a laugh out of that, and next seemed to be Ronaldo’s turn to approach.
“Drat, I missed a chance to see your combat armor,” the fed said, adjusting his shades.
“Apologies, father. It takes three days for it to recharge. Next time, I will inform you before I head into battle so that you may observe.”
“Eric, little dude, you ran off, man.” Sour Cream walked up and smiled. “Pops said that next time, he wants to talk to you some.” Eric rubbed the back of his head in embarrassment but nodded.
Jamie was somewhere between terrified, livid, and overjoyed, eventually settling on hugging the twins close, much to one’s chagrin and the other’s pleasure. Steven had watched all of this would a mixture of joy and sadness, before glancing over at Rodney on the edge. Mr. Smiley was approaching, and the boy seemed like he was dreading what came next.
“Boy… Come on, dinner’s getting cold, and you need to wash that dust out of your hair before you get anywhere near my dinner table.” This treatment seemed to throw the young warrior for a loop, but he didn’t resist as the elderly arcade owner led him home.
That seemed to be the signal for everyone to scatter and go back to acting like regular humans, each waving goodbye to the rest and to their guardians. Steven, Connie, and Lion started the walk back to the in-progress Universe home in silence. Connie was pensive, Steven was thinking, and Lion was Lion. Back home, she fled to the bathroom, delaying Steven’s questioning, but only until he knocked on the bathroom door.
As the door opened, Steven saw his wife come walking out, tears in her eyes and a scared smile on her face…holding a pregnancy test with a small pink plus sign staring back at him.