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Gem Corruption Theory
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Theory Information
Title Gem Corruption Theory
Author SpinDizzy1
Illustrator SpinDizzy1
Date of Publication June 16, 2016
Publication Order
Previous Gem Weaponry Development II - The Cluster

Introduction

This article is an expansion on the "How Gems on Earth became Corrupted" theory but focuses on what exactly has caused the corruption of Gems on Earth, whether it was a natural or manufactured phemonmena, and the possibilities of a cure for corrupted Gems.

What Is The "Corruption"?

To know what the corruption is, you need to know how exactly Gems work. The form of a Gem is a hard light projection emitted from what is termed as a "gemstone". Whether these gemstones share the same or a similar composition to regular precious stones is unclear, but a Gem's gemstone could be viewed as a computer that contains all of the data that makes up the individual Gem, including shape, personality and memories - some might even consider it to be like DNA. From what we have seen in the series, Gems are mass produced in Kindergartens and are distinguished from each other by their "cut" and "facet" numbers. In the episode "The Answer" we see three almost identical Rubies, even their personalities were very much alike. Each batch of Gems created is based on a template, the ideal unit for whatever job they are destined to be assigned to, everything is the same except for their memories. We know from accounts by both Peridot and Amethyst that Gems have no memories prior to emerging from their Kindergartens.

Over time data is added to a Gem's gemstone. Under normal circumstances a Gem can change their basic appearace although the most stable form a Gem can have would be the one closest to their original form. They can do this concisously if their forms are damaged to the point where they are forced to retreat into their gemstones to heal. A Gem's experiences also edit the data on their gemstone, thus two Rubies may start off with identical personalities, but their individual experiences in time molds them into two unique individuals which was what we saw in "Hit the Diamond" with the five Homeworld Rubies.

If a gemstone is cracked then it impairs how it can project what data is upon it ("Reformed"). If a gemstone is shattered then the Gem ceases to be, however remnants of the original Gem's data remains in each of the shards.

Pearl changing

Pearl Reforming

Centatransform

Centipeetle Attempts To Reform

Corrupted Gems have no physical damage on their gemstones, the damage done to the corrupted Gems is within the data contained in their gemstone. We can see this clearly when we look carefully at Gems reforming. In "Steven the Sword Fighter" we see Pearl start off as her basic form and then cycle through each of her regenerations until she adopts her new form that she has consciously chosen. (In "Reformed" we see Amethyst demonstrate this numerous times). In "Monster Buddies" we see Centipeetle reform, at first she starts off as her basic humanoid form, the first form she ever had, but then she switches to her Centipeetle Mother form. She does however have some control over her regeneration as she was able to sense Steven's fear and chose a less intimidating form, however it is still based on her Centipeetle Mother form, not her humanoid one.

In "Reformed" we learn that under normal cirucumstances a Gem cannot sustain a form that differs too much from their default form, however we can see in Monster Buddies that Centipeetle is not constrained by that limitation, she could pick a form much larger, smaller and different than her default form and sustain it. This indicates that part of what makes the corruption possible is that these contraints a corrupted Gem with regards to their size and form usually has when choosing a new form have been removed, allowing monstrous forms to be adopted.

All free corrupted Gems (there are issues with respect to Gems bound in gemtech which I will address later) have all taken on some of the phyiscal and personality traits of lifeforms on Earth. Most of them are attracted to other Gems and will actively seek them out. I refrain from saying that corrupted Gems solely target the Crystal Gems because in "Giant Woman" we can clearly see an example of a corrupted Gem is hunting other Gems, both corrupted and uncorrupted as the "Big Bird" stomach contains dozens of bubbled Gems.

From what we can see by Centipeetle's regeneration, her default form, skill set and personality (as with every other Gem) is still there and could not be overwritten or tampered with, it's rather like the data is being stored on Read Only Memory. Other stuff like other forms, memories, etc are on a writeable part of the Gem. I believe that the writeable data concerning the Gem's personality and behaviour has been corrupted with data from Earth's organic lifeforms (DNA possibly from multiple sources in some cases), which in turn shapes how the Gem views herself and chooses her form, hence why Centipeetle reverted to an insectoid form in "Monster Buddies". Without the constraints in place limiting a Gem's form to be like its default (thus most sustainable) form, corrupted Gems can maintain these forms.

Who Is Responsible For The Corruption Of Gems?

So far the only references about corrupted Gems have been dated after the Homeworld Gems evacuated Earth. No Homeworld Gems have mentioned about any similar phemonenas happening in other Homeword territories. In the episode "The Return" Greg mentions briefly to Steven about the fate of Rose Quartz's army.

There's no such thing as a good war, kiddo. Gems were destroyed, people too... In the end, your mother could only save a handful of her closest friends. If it weren't for her shield, man, I don't know.

—Greg Universe, The Return
His words point to a singular event by the Homeworld Gems that wiped out almost all of the Crystal Gems, and would have done so if Rose Quartz had not intervened. If Greg's account was true, why did the Homeworld Gems abandon Earth rather than continue colonizing Earth after ridding the planet of the Crystal Gems? Even this matches the official Homeworld records of rebels' fates.

You what? But the records say that Gems were wiped out on earth...

—Peridot, Marble Madness
These accounts appear to contradict Pearl's account of one of the later battles of the Rebellion of an apparent victory for the Crystal Gems.

But we won! Your mother led us to glorious victory! The odds were against us, and our hearts were uncertain. *lays scabbard on her chest dramatically* But we chose to fight alongside Rose, and here we made our stand against our Homeworld!

—Pearl, Rose's Scabbard
The most logical solution is that Homeworld was indeed losing the battle for Earth and that the Homeworld Gems used a weapon to wipe out the Crystal Gems. The Cluster could not have been this weapon as there would be no Earth left if it had taken form, plus it was not destined to hatch until thousands of years after the Rebellion - this weapon was clearly created for a target other than Earth. Whatever it was that the Homeworld Gems unleashed upon the Crystal Gems, it was also a threat to any Homeworld Gems upon Earth hence why they did not return to the planet even after they thought the Crystal Gems had been wiped out.

If Homeworld Gems were responsible for the corruption, it would explain how the Crystal Gems went from almost winning the rebellion to almost being wiped out within a very short space of time. By corrupting Rose's army, the Homeworld Gems managed to turn the Crystal Gems against each other as the corrupted Gems' instincts were overridden to hunt down all other Gems, and this was why the Homeworld Gem's could not return to Earth.

Same Old World LQ 154

The Evacuation of Earth by Homeworld Gems

Same Old World LQ 155

The Possible Event when the Corruption of Gems Began

In "Same Old World" there is a scene when the corruption event might have taken place during the Homeworld Gems' evacuation of Earth. What we see is a bright flash of blue/white/yellow light (which coincidently corresponds with the colours of the three Diamonds of the current Great Diamond Authority). We know that Rose Quartz most likely shielded and saved Garnet and Pearl from this attack, however the rest of the Crystal Gems were not as fortunate.

Amethyst was still buried inside the Kindergarten (within her gemstone) at the time of this event, however Lapis Lazuli was exposed to this light whilst she was stuck within her gemstone as a part of her mirror (her gemstone was faced upwards). This suggests that the only other way Gems could be protected from this corruption event was if they were already retreated inside of their gemstones.

Due to the large variety of beast-like forms the corrupted Gems have, the source of the data corrupting the Gems was most likely from the flora and fauna nearby the Gems during this event rather than carried on the weapon itself. So far I have refered to the cause of the corruption even being a weapon, however the blue/yellow/white flash of light are the signature colours of the three Diamonds of the Great Diamond Authority. It is possible that the corruption is the result of a magic attack when Diamonds unite (or possibly fuse together), something that is only used in an extreme emergency when all hope of regaining control over rebelling Gems is lost.

Serious Steven Pyramid Temple Gem Glowing

Steven and the Pyramid Temple Gem

The Odd Ones/Gems Out

There are a couple of examples of "corrupted" Gems that do not appear to follow these rules. Firstly the white diamond-shaped gem that powered the Pyramid Temple in the episode "Serious Steven". We do not know for sure that this Gem was actually corrupted as it was bubbled before it could reform. This Gem merely powered the pyramid, it did not actively attack the Gems which suggests that this gemstone was just a power source and not a corrupted Gem, however it still posed a danger due to its lack of stability (it caused an explosion and destroyed the pyramid).

The next example we have is Desert Glass who appears to have some connection with Rose Quartz via Lion. Lion was left as Desert Glass' guardian, however we cannot be sure if Lion was protecting the world from it, or protecting Desert Glass from the world. We do know that Desert Glass acts on instinct like other corrupted Gems, and is able to form structures around itself from sand to attack or defend. This contradicts Lapis Lazuli and her mirror as she was unaffected by the corruption event despite being bound to an object like Desert Glass, however we know exactly when Lapis was captured, but not Desert Glass. It is very possible that Desert Glass was placed in the pillow after she had been corrupted. The only possible person who could have done that would have been Rose Quartz which may explain why her Lion was left guarding the Gem rather than bubbling it and storing it at the Crystal Temple. Garnet mentioned in "Monster Buddies" that Rose Quartz had attempted to find a cure for corrupted Gems but was unable to, perhaps Desert Glass was one of these early attempts.

Finally the Lighthouse Gem in "Horror Club". Unlike the Pyramid Gem, Steven could actually feel that this Gem was in distress, much like how he was able to connect with the Cluster. Also it is the only corrupted Gem so far to directly target a human (Lars). It is highly likely that this Gem's data was corrupted with human DNA hence why it was able to speak and form a mouth.

Possible Cures For The Corruption

Rose Quartz never gave up looking for a cure for her comrades and she, Garnet and Pearl continued to search for them (the corrupted Gems) for thousands of years. Despite her ability to heal physical wounds to Gems, Rose Quartz appeared to be unable to tap into the data within gemstones to correct it. It is possible that Steven himself was Rose Quartz's final attempt to find a cure for her comrades.

Rose Quartz and Steven Universe share many powers, but one that has not been explored is whether Rose Quartz could connect with other Gems in the "dream realm" like Steven could (with Malachite in "Chille Tid" and the Cluster in "Gem Drill"). I suspect that this "dream realm" Steven's visualization of the area where Gems store their data, their personalities, etc. We saw in "Chille Tid" the battle for dominance between Jasper and Lapis Lazuli as they both attempted to exert their wills within this realm and shape it. It is possible that because Steven has access to this area, he may in time be able to "rewrite" what is in this area. I suspect that Rose Quartz realized what needed to be done during the course of her experiments but was unable to because she could not establish a strong enough emotional link between herself and her target. Steven had already befriended Lapis Lazuli hence why he was able to access the data in Malachite's gemstones, also he was able to access the Cluster because it was so lonely and desperate to find its missing shards. The reason why I suspect this is because of Rose's Room, an area built within the Crystal Temple which just so happens that someone with a Rose Quartz gemstone can manipulate and bend it to their will, just like a dream. Rose Quartz has proven herself to be a prudent individual with her secret armory, it would not be a far stretch to say that this room was designed specifcally to hone the skills needed to cure corrupted Gems.

But why would Steven have such an advantage over his mother with this type of healing? The first reason is simple, Gems simply do not need sleep ("Chille Tid"). Also Steven is the only Gem who is completely open and willing to place his trust in people, even if they are considered by the other Crystal Gems as foes. Essentially what Steven is managing to do is a form of fusion, he's so empathetic that he does not need to be physically present to link with other Gems, all that he needs is their trust.

First you need a gem at the core of your being. Then you need a body that can turn into light. Then you need a partner you can trust with that light.

—Garnet, We Need To Talk
Why is this so important? In order to cure a corrupted Gem, a bond of friendship and trust must be established with that Gem. Once that is done then Steven can access the data within that Gem(s) gemstone(s). At the moment Steven is still learning how to control his dreaming ability, but eventually he should be able to do stuff in the "dream realm" (the gemstone data bit) as he can do in Rose's room.

Communication is the most important factor as it would have been the one element Rose Quartz lacked. Steven is more open whereas it has been stressed frequently that despite the good that Rose Quartz did, she kept secrets from even her closest of friends.

Conclusions

  • The "Corruption" was the effect of a Homeworld weapon unleashed on the Crystal Gems as a last resort at the very end of the Rebellion, probably to prevent Rose Quartz's rebellion spreading to other parts of the Homeworld dominion.
  • The corruption rewrote the data on all exposed gemstones, removing the constraints that prevent Gems from adopting forms that deviate to far from their default humanoid forms, and it rewrote the Gems' personalities so they acted just like the lifeforms on Earth they were originally trying to protect.
  • The attack came in the form of a flash of light which effected Gems that were fully formed. Only Gems who had retreated inside of their gemstones (Lapis Lazuli) or those shielded by Rose Quartz (Pearl, Garnet) remained unaffected.
  • It is not clear if being underground would have shielded any of the Crystal Gems as Amethyst was still within her own gemstone (not fully formed in Kindergarten) at the time of the incident and it is not certain if the Pyramid Gem was corrupted.
  • Homeworld Gems (even the Diamonds) truly believed that the Crystal Gems were all wiped out because they (the Diamonds) knew that the result of the corruption would be the Crystal Gems turning into monsters and attacking each other.
  • The corrupted Gems' default data is still in their gemstones. It is unclear if their original memories are still intact (however if Lion is proven to be a corrupted Gem then it is very likely that their original memories prior to being corrupted are intact as Lion knew/remembered the location of Rose Quartz's scabbard in "Rose's Scabbard as well the Diamond Base in "It Could've Been Great".
  • Steven Universe's dreaming ability will be the key to curing corrupted Gems, allowing him access to the data on their gemstones and setting it right, the other key is Steven establishing a bond of absolute trust with the Gem in question.
  • Rose Quartz would not have been able to cure her fellow Crystal Gems as she lacked Steven's ability to be open and willingness to communicate her feelings therefore would not have been able to connect with corrupted Gems.
  • Evidence of Rose Quartz's attempts to cure the corruption still remain, i.e. Desert Glass and her room in the Crystal Temple. (It is possible that Lion may be one of these experiments however there is no concrete evidence to support it so far)
  • Because of the trust needed for Steven to be able to access the "dream realm", the area where a Gem's data is stored and processed, the most likely candidate for the first Gem to be cured is Centipeetle as she already has a strong connection with Steven. Lion may also be a candidate if he is proven to be a corrupted Gem.

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