Full fic written for the @falling-apart-zine, a charity zine focused on the corrupted Steven theory. Preorders are open now through December 31st. Please consider supporting our project, there’s so many talented individuals taking part <3
The fic I contributed is gonna be a short 2K hurt/comfort deal, featuring Connie and Steven.
Content warning: Mild body horror (descriptions of corruption-like effects)
Connie quickly sprints to where Lion stands, dark hair billowing in the breeze. “What it is? Did you find him, buddy?” she asks, lovingly running her hand across his fur.
He responds in only action, shifting his head so his snout points straight across the beach towards a pink glowing figure nestled in a crater at the bottom of the cliff, huddled in fetal position with his back facing them.
“Steven,” she breathes, and immediately takes off running, kicking up sand behind her heels.
But the closer she approaches, the further her heart drops in her chest. She bites back a gasp, solidly pressing her hand to her mouth. There’s rips in his pajama shirt. Oh god. Three pairs of slashes run up his back from the bottom of his spine to his shoulder blades where white crystalline spikes— thankfully far shorter than those of his full corrupted form— emerge from soft, delicate flesh. Another pair of spikes jut out from his elbows, their razor sharp edges gleaming in the pink tinted moonlight. His sweatpants look abused and stretched out, as if his body had been swelling again.
Upon hearing her muffled footsteps, the half-Gem jerks around to meet her glance, shame coating his features like an impenetrable mask. Familiar crystalline horns crown his head, their roots extruding from his temples and pushing back thick curls. Patches of scales cover his arms and neck, creeping up the side of his left cheek where one short tusk pokes out from between his lips. His sclera are black, but notably his eyes are still alert, tracking her every movement as he gives an almost animalistic whine and scuttles backwards on hands and knees.
“Steven, wait! I- I just wanna help,” she blurts, holding out her hands, fingers stretched wide. Her best friend stills upon hearing her voice, keeping his face low to the ground as if dreaming that doing so may render him invisible to the world at large. Slowly, she drops to her knees a few feet away from him. “Please. Let me help.”
So, I learned a few new terms and concepts this week in my Mechanisms of Disease class, and I believe there’s some interesting applications one can make between these human medical concepts and SU’s concept of corruption- specifically, when showing how Steven’s condition in I Am My Monster can indeed be referred to as corruption despite having a different origin to other examples of corruption we’d seen before.
Before I get into the fandom stuff though, we need to talk shop about some cool pathophysiology words! Let’s go do that.
Term 1: Etiology
Etiology refers to the precise cause of a disease or disorder. Now, one of the important pieces of knowledge I’ve had reinforced in this class is that some diseases/disorders can have multiple causes.
An example: Meningitis.
This disease can be caused by one of many species of bacteria, viruses, some fungi, and even by parasitic tapeworms. These are all wildly different sources, but in the end- if all the signs and symptoms of meningitis are there, and the etiology points to a documented meningitis-causing pathogen, the likely diagnosis WILL be meningitis.
Term 2: Idiopathic
Idiopathic is what one calls a disease/disorder wherein the precise cause, or etiology, is unknown. Sometimes, individuals develop some form of disease/disorder and doctors may not be able to pinpoint the specific root cause of it. In that case, their goal is still to recognize and understand the signs and symptoms of it, and work off of what they DO know to try and alleviate one’s signs/symptoms.
Term 3: Clinical manifestations
This term refers to all the presenting signs and symptoms of a disease/disorder. Signs are measurable and directly observable- such as rashes, fevers, increased blood pressure, etc. Symptoms are patient-reported, subjective, and not able to be directly observed or measured- such as a headache, fatigue, etc.
Term 4: Disease/disorder
I also think the specific definitions of disease and disorder are important to clarify before I move forward-
A disease is the functional impairment of cells, tissues, organs, or organ systems.
Whereas a disorder is a disruption of the normal or regular functions in the body or a part of the body.
OKAY, and now to the fandom related stuff!
So. Thesis. When it comes to corruption, my analysis is that it can be considered a Gem disorder that has a collective set of recognizable symptoms, but many potential etiologies.
First off, Gems of course don’t have physical bodies, organs, and cells, but they do have a physical gemstone, and their hard light forms have clear functional abilities that can sometimes become impaired.
Some of these functional abilities include:
- Retaining a stable form
- Communicative ability
- Mental cognizance
- Access of powers
Corruption disrupts many of these functions. Thus, considering the definitions of disease and disorder, I believe disorder would be the most accurate way to refer to corruption, looking at it from a human medical perspective. (While also recognizing that it’s a fantasy alien condition, and thus won’t perfectly align to human standards.)
As a disorder, corruption presents a number of recognizable signs and symptoms, which include:
- Loss of control over form and shape- a corrupted individual’s form may physically expand, develop spikes/tusks/fangs/new body parts, or grow thicker hair. On top of this, upon reformation, this individual is not successfully able to revert to their original form.
- Loss of communication ability- a corrupted individual expresses trouble with verbal communication.
- Loss of full mental cognizance- a corrupted individual is not completely aware of themselves and their surroundings, caught in what may be considered a “fight or flight” mindset.
- Sometimes, but not in all cases- the development of atypically colored splotches on one’s form or gemstone
The only known successful treatment for those who exhibit the symptoms of corruption is exposure to water that contains the essences of all four diamonds.
Now, moving on- Etiology.
From what we’ve seen in Steven Universe and Steven Universe Future, and considering the the situations in these shows that exhibit these clinical manifestations, we can confidently say that corruption has three distinct etiologies:
1) It can be caused by direct damage from the Diamonds. (All the corrupted Gems on Earth.)
2) It can be caused by fusing with a currently corrupted Gem. (Jasper.)
3) It can be caused by a state of extreme mental distress and distortion of self-image. (Steven.)
Now, when it comes to the third etiology, a point of clarification- it cannot be confidently PROVEN whether this cause is something that could arise from any Gem or just from a diamond since we only have one case as an example, but given the fact that we didn’t see any of the CGs randomly corrupt when they were going through mental turmoil, my personal hypothesis is that: it’s either a diamond or a Steven exclusive thing. But again, with only one recorded statistic to work with, we can’t really make any certain statements.
So. Let’s talk Steven’s corruption, and why I believe it wholly counts as such.
The symptoms Steven exhibits in I Am My Monster are: loss of control over form and shape, loss of communication ability, and loss of full mental cognizance. His form shifts until he’s larger than all of the Diamonds, he grows spikes and tusks and scales, he looses his ability to communicate verbally, and he expresses a great deal of mental confusion about his state, attempting to rush at his family and friends out of sheer fight/flight and survival instincts without wholly understanding what’s going on. He doesn’t develop splotches on his gem, but this is a manifestation that doesn’t always appear. It’s like the spotted rash in Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever- not every patient with this disease exhibits it, and it sometimes makes diagnosis tricky.
I don’t believe the Gems had any idea what specifically triggered him to fall into this state at first, nor did the Diamonds. Thus, initially they might have thought of Steven’s corruption as idiopathic. But when Blue Diamond first saw him, she recognized the signs and symptoms of corruption- and so, the most logical first step is to attempt to treat this condition like it IS corruption. The treatment of course, being exposure to water that contains the essences of all four Diamonds. Which means, with Steven being one of those diamonds, they must bring out his humanity so he can cry, adding in his own healing addition to that final elixir.
In sum: What happened to Steven in SUF was an example of corruption, despite having a different root cause than the other examples of this Gem disorder we’d previously seen in the show.
Mini Heads Up
School will be starting up for me tomorrow, so the comic will be a bit delayed from my normal time, but I’ll still update them on either Wednesday or Sunday whichever is closer. Stay safe and I hope you all have a good day or night!
Imagine being a cartoon character.
An Oc!! His name is Caleb. And he likes trees. That’s all you need to know.
Actually, yeah! It happened recently, when we were moving to beach city, my dad fell asleep at the wheel and I was taking the picture and it got messed up because of that XD. Idk why my eye is glowing but I think it was just the camera.
Ew. I don’t like how this came out
Elfven does do fighting because he’s training to be a knight
Elfven is losing it at this point.
Happily Never After here we are✨
(here we are in the future )