Previous Update: The Endless Dead
The Void’s contamination has spread to the Shurima Desert, site of a mighty ancient civilization whose lingering magic still holds the Floating Pyramids aloft. The collision of these magics has created seams of “dark sand”, or “pyrikhos”, which burns when lit and contains high levels of ambient magical energy. Until now, hextech has been held back by the rarity of suitable energy sources. The Void-touched pyrikhos could power a hextech revolution, but at great risk …
… OF FUN!!!
Jinx heaved another shovelful of sand aside. The moonless desert night was chilly, but she’d been dashing to and fro digging for almost an hour, and was really working up a sweat. She drew her scrawny forearm across her damp brow and exhaled with an exaggeratedpsheeeeeew.
She struck the shovel deeper into the sand, and this time drew out a swirl of hot purple smoke. Her eyes lit up, and she eagerly tossed the shoveful aside. Underneath was a seam of sparkling scarlet sand. This was the good stuff. Not just pyrikhos . Oh no. The special red …extrasplosive pyrikhos.
“Pay dirt!” She dropped to her knees and started scooping it up into some old hexproofed mortar shell casings.
Aaaaaand that’s about when she started hearing unfriendly click sounds.
She lifted her head. In the distance, she glimpsed khaki-clad troopers from Piltover’s Special Shuriman Expeditioneers putting her in their rifles’ sights.
Standing, she swung Pow-Pow to her hip and gripped the handles. “Oh nooooo! Minions!” She scowled. “So how many of you for a B.F. Swor-”
Her quip was interrupted by a ZWOOOOR sound. She had just enough time to pivot toward the glare before it hit her. The shock blast jolted her off her feet and into the sandpit.
From another direction, she heard oversized boots crash through the sand as her head spun.
GSSSH GSSSSH GSSSH GSSSSH
By the time she figured out which was up, Vi was glaring down at her. A hextech gauntlet grabbed her by the neck and lifted her up out of the pit. She clung to Vi’s forearm and gasped for breath.
Vi leaned in. “I’d ask you to take out your digging permit, but, one, there aren’t any permits for red sand until the tournament, and two,” she gestured at Jinx’s typical attire, “waaaaay too skanky for pockets anyway. So how ab—”
Jinx hastily snatched a grenade from her belt-belt, which is to say, the one around her waist. She widened her eyes and mouth into big round circles and mimed horror. “Gasp! A grenade!” She pushed her thumb right underneath the safety catch and glowered. “Lemme go or I drop this right into the pit.” She puffed up her cheeks and then blew out in a BOOOOOM sound.
Vi rapped her armored chestplate with her free hand. The enormous gauntlet clacked solidly against the layered metal. She scoffed and settled into an easy smirk.
“Go for it, pipsqueak. Shakin’ in my big metal boots.”
Jinx glanced at Vi, at the grenade, at the several hundred pounds of hex-hardened metal Vi was wearing, at her own relative lack of blastproof armor or hextech plating or, uh, pants, and gave it a moment’s thought.
She exhaled limply. “Bleh.”
“Heeeere comes Jinx!” Vi exclaimed, before spiking her into the sand and a massive concussion.
When she came to, she was chained up inside a clattering pyrikhos-fueled autocar. She looked blearily at the two guards for a few moments before the rocking-swaying jostle of the autocar sent her back into unconsciousness.
It’s a long way to Piltover.
Corporal Amelia Dalton sat in the jostling autocar with her rifle across her lap. She studied the gleaming platinum revolver Caitlyn had given her. The Champion had told her that, if Jinx got a single pinky loose of her bonds, the Corporal was to put one of these high-caliber bullets through the scrawny little monster’s head. She was the best pistoleer in the regiment, and she was fairly sure she could do it, even inside this bouncing metal box on wheels. But for the moment, though Dalton’s own eyes were bagged and bloodshot, Jinx seemed quite soundly asleep, grinning softly in her surely homicidal dreams as the autocar rocked her to and fro. Life just wasn’t fair.
She looked across at the soldier sitting opposite her, and saw his own head lolling. She secured his rifle with a firm grip, lest the idiot shoot her, and gave him a swift kick in the shin with the steel toe of her boot. He jolted awake in terror, and his startled senses ran smack into Corporal Dalton’s shout. “Private Rigby!” She checked his rifle into his chest hard enough to knock him back into the wall. “Seeeeeecure arms!” She watched him start to come to, and released the rifle to help him along with a slap across the face. “Asleep at your post? That’s a hanging offense, that is. What would your dear ol’ mum say?” She really threw herself into the routine; the private’s terror was vicariously invigorating. She spared a quick glance to confirm that Jinx was still out.
“Wasn’t sleep, ma’am. A-asleep, I mean. Wasn’t.”
“Don’t you ma’am me, and don’t you lie to me neither.” She looked him up and down. “Hung by the neck ‘til dead. On account of it being treason, sleeping at your post.” She gave a firm nod. “And that’s if we make it back to Piltover. This is Shurima, soldier. Extrajurisdictional territory. So long as they don’t touch the pyrikhos or disturb the Council zones, any country can do anything they like out here. And you know what they’ve been saying about mummies and such. You’re lucky it was me waking you up, and not—”
The autocar swerved to a halt. Corporal Dalton heard gunshots plinking against metal. Standing, she cocked the revolver and glanced down at the still-snoozing Jinx. She heard a wry, gravelly voice behind her. “Evenin’, miss.” She began to turn. A shudder ran through her body and her world burst into golden dust as she collapsed to the floor.
Twisted Fate leapt from the back of the autocar. He twirled a mastercrafted platinum revolver by its trigger guard as he glanced around.
A psychic warning from Summoner Zalori pinged the back of his mind. He whirled to the side just in time to dodge a rifle bullet. As he turned, he raised the revolver, shut one eye, and pulled the heavy trigger. Crack! The soldier went down, clutching his chest where the shot had pierced his heart. Runes carved along the revolver’s barrel glowed red as the soldier’s life drained away.
Twisted Fate crouched behind the autocar for cover, and tipped his hat to his associate. “Much obliged, Summoner.” His thumb pulled the hammer back into firing position. “Long time since I had a good ol’ fashioned shootout.”
He flicked the barrel out and spun it like a roulette wheel. Zalori saw flashes of red, blue, and gold racing around inside.
A tank roared over the dune it had been hiding behind. A bright orange death ray screeched as its techmaturgic beam turned sand into glass and drove the Piltovian rifles down behind cover. Vi lunged forward and stopped it in its tracks with a massive blow. Its side hatches swung open, and hextech-augmented cyborg shock troopers charged out to engage the Champion in close combat.
“I reckon the cavalry’s arrived.” Twisted Fate banged his fist into the autocar’s metal siding twice. “Get a move on!”
On cue, Jinx sprung from the vehicle and caught the khaki rucksack Summoner Zalori tossed her way. She yanked the drawstring open and beamed. “Pow-Pow! Fishbones! Yet unnamed grenades!” She gleefully armed herself.
Summoner Zalori gave her a nudge. “Hey, watch this.” He took a fluorescent pink vial from his robes, popped the cork, and dropped a small bead into the liquid. He stood to chuck the foaming vial at an approaching autocar.
Sparks and smokes erupted where it had struck the vehicle. Its pyrikhos engine reacted with the field, and soon reality began to warp and twist before their eyes. The soldiers inside desperately fled. The bright purple glow provided enough light that Jinx could see somethingclawing them back into the smoking metal box.
“Ha! You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, Summoner.” Jinx took aim at Vi, who was brawling with the cyborg troopers in front of the tank, and blasted her in the side with a rocket. It knocked her off her feet and sent her spinning through the air into the sand.
Zalori tried to look impressed.
The tank’s hatch opened, and Viktor ascended to stand atop his creation. His mechanical laugh bellowed out as the bullets bounced off his armor.
“FOOLS! RUN WHILE YOU CAN!” He clenched a robotic fist. “WE WILL GRIND YOU INT—”
Jayce’s shock blast knocked Viktor back a few steps. “Sorry. Thought you were done.” His Thunder Hammer locked into melee combat mode. “Please, go on.” He charged forward to meet his nemesis.
Twisted Fate took aim and fired. The bullet flashed gold as it flew and struck the knee joint of Jayce’s powered armor, staggering him.
Viktor regained his footing. “DESTROY HIM! DESTROY THE TINKERING FOOL! HE IS ONLY FLESH! YOU ARE UNSTOPPABLE!” His death ray slashed across Jayce’s armor as his cyborg shock troops opened fire.
Another tank rolled up. Jinx cupped her hands around her mouth and shouted, “Bye bye!” before leaping inside. Twisted Fate followed, fanning the revolver’s hammer to lay down cover fire for the Summoner beside him.
Jinx pressed her nose against the tempered glass and watched the neon mayhem as they drove off.
After a few minutes, as the lightshow died down, she heard tiny clattering footsteps behind her. She glanced over to see a cybernetically augmented yordle in a robe and hextech armor. His robe was khaki, not purple, and he wasn’t wearing any Council insignia, but she remembered seeing him in the halls of the Institute, wearing a little Summoner-in-training badge.
“My designation is N-6732. You can call me En.” His cutesy little voice was oddly distorted by his breathing mask. Maybe one of Viktor’s whatchamacallits. Aco-whatevers.
Jinx yawned. She’d had a long day. “So, where’s this thing headed?”
One of En’s eyes was either replaced by or simply covered by some kind of red light. It flashed. “My scan indicates your fluid levels are below optimal parameters, possibly causing malfunction.”
Jinx took a step back, in case this little robo-fuzzball was about to dissect her. But he just offered her a flask. She unscrewed the cap and sniffed it. She was so thirsty that she didn’t actually wait to think about whether it smelled like poison or motor oil or what before gulping it down: she just saw that glorious liquid shimmer and felt the coldness in her hand and tipped it up.
It was absolutely delicious. She wiped her mouth on the back of her hand, and saw it left a kind of green residue.
“Uhh, what did I just—”
“Type VII electrolyte-infused rehydration solution, lime flavor, manufactured by YumYum Beverages Incorporated under a special HexKorps contract.”
Jinx nodded slowly, then drank the whole thing in about five seconds. It didn’t taste like any kind of lime she’d ever had, but she didn’t care. She flung the empty flask to the robo-yordle and slumped down onto a seat. “Thanks. So, uh, where—”
Once again he eagerly intercepted her question mid-sentence. “Now that your systems are replenished I will provide the requested data.” He tightened the cap and hooked the flask onto his belt. (Jinx noticed that the only belt he had was a belt-belt.) “We are en route to Zaun. The Council of Zaun would like to solicit your assistance in the present dispute. We can offer full diplomatic protection within the Shuriman Desert region pursuant to Council Declaration V-014-P2. I am unfortunately not authorized to discuss details of remuneration at this time.”
Jinx yawned again. She sat there thinking it over. Piltover was getting way too hot. And these Zaun types, they had some neat toys. Even this En guy was like some kind of robo-plushie with built-in death rays.
“Just so you know, I’d have totally gotten out of there myself.” Jinx shrugged. “But yeah. Sign me up, lil guy.”
She paused. “Kind of a long way to Zaun from here.” She wasn’t keen on the idea of running into a Demacian garrison on the way.
“Estimated remaining travel time is 7 minutes.” He inclined his head. “You may experience a tingling sensation as we travel through the gate.”
Jinx, the Loose Cannon, will fight for Zaun!
Next Update: A Desperate Alliance