One year later
Jinx wasn’t sure how much time had passed since dad died. She’d been busy and keeping track of time hadn’t been at the top of her list. She supposed it could’ve been months. A year, maybe more?
She was seated by her workshop, having just gotten done replacing some delicate parts on Fishbones. She’d figured out how to reduce the time when she reloaded him before he could fire again. There was a considerable delay before, and she was quite pleased that she had managed to shave off a few seconds of that time.
It had been a busy period, but at least she had gotten a lot of work done. She had enough ammunition to last for a long while. Well, provided she didn’t go on a complete rampage with Pow-Pow, although she mused, that could be a lot of fun.
“And you might just tear apart even more lives as well! Live up to your name!” Mylo cheered.
“Urgh. Not today. I need to fix the lights down here; they keep flickering and it’s driving me crazy!” she laughed loudly, though she was unable to stop flinching when she saw the shadows on the walls in her lair shift and turn, taking the shape of a large humanoid creature, with far too large teeth. She blinked her eyes and found that it was gone just as quickly again, though.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw Claggor laying on her old couch. He was picking at a sore on his brow that would never heal. She scowled and hissed at him. “Get off my couch! That’s mine!”
Claggor didn’t make any indication that he had heard her at first, though after a long moment he looked at her with empty eye sockets before dissolving into dust in front of her eyes. She huffed angrily. So rude to just use her stuff without asking!
She shook her head and turned back to inspect her stock. She had built a lot of chompers as well, and she had even managed to increase the explosive yield of them! The blast was more powerful now and she’d manage to increase the range of the fire as well. She recalled her first test of the new batch and giggled as she remembered the chem-punks running around wildly, attempting to put out their burning clothes.
Oh, she’d had so much fun lately. It never seemed to satisfy the emptiness she'd felt since dad died, though. Maybe she needed to get out again soon and pay a visit to the Pilties. It had been a while since they’d enjoyed one of her explosions, hadn’t it? Maybe it would get better this time.
The last time she visited topside, Vi – sister… not-sister…si-- “Stop it! I don’t know!” Jinx growled. She clenched her fist and hit the side of her head. After taking a moment to steady herself, Jinx thought back to it again. She’d been chased halfway across the city by not-sister and her girlfriend. Over the rooftops and through Mainspring Crescent, where she’d torn through several cafes. Just thinking about it brought a large giddy smile to her face, and she remembered the screams and panic as if it were yesterday. She was fairly sure it wasn’t yesterday though!
“You’re really something, aren’t you? Who can’t keep track of time? How useless can you be, Jinx?” Mylo snickered, and behind him Claggor stood, guffawing. “Oh shut up Mylo, why don’t you go back to being DEAD!” Jinx shrieked and grabbed Zapper, swiftly shooting both specters. It only made them laugh harder as they disintegrated, with the final part fading being Mylo’s cruel grin.
She sighed dejectedly and put Zapper back in his holster. Every time she had a nice thought, like not-sister and sister-stealer chasing her, the boys had to ruin it. They were only ever gone when she was out having fun and even then, Mylo sometimes, somehow, found his way out from the shadows to interrupt her fun.
It wasn’t all bad though! Jinx was pretty sure that Dad, or well… Some parts of Dad, she guessed, were inside Fishbones. She’d had some good conversations with him now and then, but it wasn’t that often he showed up. Just now and then if she was particularly sad or didn’t know what to do in a situation. Then he weighed in his opinion. Sometimes.
As she set about fixing some of the malfunctioning chem-lights around her lair she thought of other things that had changed.
The Undercity, or Zaun, as they called it now, even if it wasn’t officially called so, hadn’t changed all that much. Aunty Sevika, Jinx giggled quietly, had managed to take over after Dad. She’d been quite brutal about it as well, making sure everyone knew who was in charge! Most of the other chem-barons had fallen in line, but there were a few outliers who had decided on a different course.
Jinx had visited once, barging into Dad’s old office in the Last Drop, loudly exclaiming ‘Aunty Sev!’. It… hadn’t gone over well. Aunty hated that name, it seemed. Either way, Sevika wasn’t as angry as Jinx thought she might be. It turned out that Sevika had expected something like this to happen, since things usually went sideways when Jinx was involved. Sevika wanted Zaun and was loyal to that dream. So, she had told Jinx to grab whatever she wanted of Dad’s stuff and then leave. She’d filled a backpack of things from his office. Some of the old things she’d made for him. The monkey head cup, and the ashtray she’d doodled upon. An old shirt of his and other knick-knacks that he had been fond of.
Mylo and Claggor had a field day, of course. They’d never miss an opportunity to scream about how unwanted she was. She’d sort of expected them this time, though, and had handled it surprisingly well.
She chuckled quietly to herself as she worked. For some reason working on stuff always calmed her. Well, mostly, she thought. It would be nice to get the chem-lights working again, the flickering really was driving her nuts. After this, she supposed she should plan her next excursion, although ‘plan’ was used very loosely. Dad would not approve and sometimes the part of Dad inside of Fishbones would scold her for being too reckless. Her toes were itching though, and her fingers were twitching. That was usually a good sign that she needed to go do something. To drive away the emptiness she felt so often now. Maybe she’d bump into not-sister again. It was so much fun to goad her into chasing her. Perhaps what she needed was just a little bit of play time.
It was in the middle of the next day when Jinx found herself topside. She was standing on the roof of an old house overlooking the Sunspring Plaza. It was busy today and Piltovans from many parts of the city were here to either peruse or buy. It was loud as well, something even Jinx appreciated, with the constant chatter from people and tradesmen shouting offers and prices. Not far from here was an engineering shop, ‘Kenna’s Trinket Emporium’. Jinx had visited a few times and secured herself a few quality items, making sure to disguise herself when she did, although Jinx thought she'd been recognized last time.
She took a few steps back from the ledge and sat down next to a chimney and leaned back against it. Her eyes scanned over the people in the market and some of the statues that had been raised. She wanted a chase today and needed to draw attention. Before she left heir lair this morning Dad had indeed scolded her for not having a plan, but she couldn’t find it in her to particularly care either. It was just her now, after all, and she could do exactly as she liked.
There were truly a lot of things here she could blow up. So many shops and buildings, a clock tower. Statues, monuments… Even the large fountain would be fun to smash into a thousand pieces. She kept searching for anything that could spark an immediate interest when suddenly she saw a flash of pink-red hair in the busy crowd below. She felt her mind freeze, before it rapidly cycled through several emotions in a violent internal storm.
“Vi…?” muttered Jinx.
Her mind shifted and tilted again, and before her eyes the sunlit plaza was covered in a red haze, with dark thick plumes of smoke blotting out the sun. Everywhere below, shops were ablaze and hungry flames were devouring anything they touched. Dead bodies of faceless people were strewn all over the ruined stones of the market. The large fountain in the middle was dried out, and the white marble was cracked and ruined. Next to it, besides a large burnt shape, a husk of what once might have been a man, a blue haired girl was kneeling. A piercing scream tore itself from the throat of the girl, and Jinx tried to cover her ears. Suddenly, the girl looked up and her wide-eyed gaze cut into Jinx like a thousand tiny knives trying to reach her heart. Jinx couldn’t look away.
“We did this. Why did we do this…?” the girl croaked in a voice Jinx hadn’t heard in a long time.
Jinx’s eyes widened in shock, and she jerked her head back to get away. There was a vague feeling of something hard colliding with the back of her skull, and she let out a hiss of pain, finally managing to squeeze her eyes shut tight.
After a moment sound returned and Jinx hesitantly opened her eyes. The market below was once more lit up by the sun and it was bustling with life and activity again. There was no trace of damage or fire, and the stones below showed no sign of blood and ash and burned bodies. The only thing remaining for Jinx was a dull throbbing pain at the back of her head from slamming it into the chimney.
“You’re losing it, aren’t you Jinx? Do you even know what’s real anymore?” Mylo asked in a teasing voice. His voice was mild for once, friendly almost, there was a satisfied, cruel grin on his twisted face, however.
“Shut up Mylo… Just stop please.” Jinx whispered, her eyes darting back and forth over the plaza.
Her eyes were wide as she continued searching. For any sign. There! A flash of blue! She narrowed her eyes, but the blue was gone after a person passed it.
She felt unease wash over her, and she began to shiver. She felt clammy and cold, and was certain that if she stood up, she’d lose her balance.
“What’s going on here… Why am I…” Jinx choked out. Her breathing was heavy.
Jinx knew she struggled with certain things. But she thought that she’d been managing it better. Her mind had never done this.
“Hasn’t it?” the whisper in her ear taunted.
“No! N-Not like… Not this way…” Jinx stuttered. Her face scrunched up in thought, frantically searching her mind for any other signs.
She did vaguely recall the life-saving treatment at the hands of Singed. She’d seen… She’d seen Vi, and the Piltie. She knew her body had been in a lot of pain and stress then, and Singed had said after that it had only been him present, along with her unconscious father.
“Maybe he lied…” the whisper mocked.
She did see the boys often as well, of course. And Vander. They were specters though, ones with little color most of the time. Something like today had not happened before. At least not on this scale. And all from seeing a mop of pink hair?
No. She’d just have to… Move on. She could brush this one off. She needed to do something, instead of just sitting here.
With a shiver she stood up and tried to focus. It was difficult. It was like her peripheral vision was flickering, as if this odd filter had been drawn over it. Flashes of the red haze she had seen sprung in and out of existence, and people below shifted and turned into horrific shapes whenever she wasn’t looking directly at them.
She rubbed her temples to clear it up, but found it was of little use. Perhaps Mylo was right, and she really was tipping over the edge.
“I’m always right. Always and always, Jinx.” he sang with laughter in his voice.
Jinx gnashed her teeth together. “Liar. You’re a liar Mylo. Stop talking to me.” she snapped at him.
He laughed and faded in the bright sun.
“Stupid Mylo… Just won’t leave…” she complained. Oh, well, she thought. She couldn’t just stand here any longer. She scanned the plaza once more and after a while her eyes fell on one of the smaller clock towers that overlooked the plaza. With her head tilted she considered it. Getting inside would be easy enough, and she had enough explosives in her bag to collapse it. It would certainly draw attention, and that was what she wanted, wasn’t it? She’d come Topside to play chase today, and she was sure this would work.
With a grin that she had to force onto her face, she pulled up the hood on the shirt she wore and secured her braids so they wouldn’t show. It was a fine shirt that she’d nabbed from a store a while back, and it helped her blend in when she went Topside. She walked on the roof to the other side of the building, one that had a narrow alleyway below that ended in a dead end. Quickly and effortlessly, she scaled down the building. It really was easy to climb up here. There was so much to grab and use as support.
The alleyway was empty, and Jinx quickly looked through the bag she’d brought with her.
“One… Mh, four. Four charges. That should be enough.” she muttered.
Closing the bag, Jinx quickly stalked out amongst the crowd in the plaza. Normally she’d be feeling giddy and practically twitching with excitement, but she felt as if there was a hand pressing down on her mind and emotions, crudely suppressing them, leaving her to just go through the motions. It wasn’t going to stop her, though. She came to play, and she intended to see that through.
As she neared the small clocktower, she gazed up at it. Ornate and finely built. It screamed wealth. It brought a contemptuous sneer to Jinx’s lips. Typical Piltie building. It would look so much better as broken-down rubble. She only wished it was bigger. As it was, it was only a bit higher than some of the two-story houses and shops that surrounded the plaza.
Jinx continued weaving through the crowd, bumping her shoulders against several people along the way until she was at the base of the clock tower. There were too many people around the plaza, preventing her from gaining access unnoticed.
“Heh, as if that matters. I’m here to be noticed.” she murmured to herself, before turning to face the door.
It was a metal door with a small keyhole. Nothing one of her firelight bombs couldn’t handle though. She’d made ones with a smaller yield suited just for the purpose of opening doors.
Jinx put her palm down in front of the keyhole and her lips twitched in a hint of a smile as she watched one of the tiny mechanical firelight bugs crawl out of her sleeve and awkwardly settle itself into the small key slot. Ten seconds.
She stepped around the corner of the tower, away from the door and whistled a quiet tune. Five seconds.
Standing there, she was given a few curious looks, but nothing else. She paid them no mind and tried her best to ignore the twisting shapes of people in her periphery. Maybe that was their true shape? Monsters, hiding in the guise of people. She mused over this thought for all of five seconds, until a muffled, but still loud metallic explosion rang out.
She quickly turned the corner and noted with satisfaction that the door had warped inwards slightly, and it looked like a simple kick would force the door open.
At the same time, people definitely noticed now. Several were pointing, and others had scooped their children into their arms and started to briskly walk away, unsure of what was happening, but noticing something was off.
With a growl she braced herself and kicked the door in, which provided no resistance and fell back off its hinges. It rung out loudly as it crashed into the polished stone floor. She was about to enter when someone shouted behind her.
“Hey, you! Y-You can’t go in there!” Jinx turned swiftly and drew Zapper in one motion, aiming steadily at the source. It was an old man dressed in rich Piltie clothes. She flashed him a wide smile, one promising nothing but danger, her pink eyes gleaming.
“Better leave Piltie. I’m not here to play with you. Skip along. Clocks about to tick!” she chirped and backed into the open door of the tower. The man held his hand up and backed away as well, before turning to run.
“Pilties are always so rude, butting their heads in where they’re not wanted.” she murmured irritably, her glowing pink eyes staring out over the remaining people who were looking. She turned quickly and tore open her bag. With an ease that told the story of someone who had done this countless times, Jinx began to meticulously set each charge on the load bearing pillars in each corner of the tower. She knew once she pressed the remote, she’d have about thirty seconds.
With a last check on the charges she nodded with satisfaction. This would do. Picking up her bag she stalked outside again and slid her hood down. If the events before hadn’t made people wary, this did. The moment she was recognized she could hear screams, and the panic quickly started to spread throughout the plaza. People began scattering in all directions, away from the tower and Jinx.
Jinx noted with a small flicker of amusement, that people must’ve connected the dots between explosions and Jinx by now. With a shrug she clicked the button on her detonator, mentally counting to thirty as she began to stroll leisurely away from the tower. Once she knew she was far enough away she turned around, and fixed her unblinking eyes on the clock tower. Most people had fled by now, with a few hiding behind shop stalls and benches. She began playing with one of her braids, calmly swinging it in circles as she stood waiting.
Then, perfectly timed, four consecutive explosions could be heard from the tower. She watched the stonework crack and begin to crumble, making the clock tower collapse in on itself. Her smile grew and she felt a jolt of excitement, muted, but it was still there. She’d never get tired of blowing things up.
It was a slow day today and Vi felt restless and bored. She’d begged and pleaded with Caitlyn to hand her something to do. She’d take anything over sitting here doing paperwork. She looked up at Caitlyn who looked content and perfectly comfortable, her pen scratching away on the paper at a relentless pace.
This was just a part of the job, Caitlyn had said.
She grimaced as she felt her stomach grumble. Maybe she’d go grab some lunch soon.
“Uh, hey, Cupcake?” How ‘bout some lunch?” she asked.
Caitlyn’s pen stopped its journey across the paper and she looked up, frowning.
“There’s so much to do, Vi. And haven’t you just eaten?” Caitlyn asked dryly, with a hint of irritation in her stare.
Vi ran a hand through her hair, her lips curved upwards in a smile.
“Ah, well… It’s been a few hours at least, y’know? I need a snack or something. I ain’t getting anything done here.” she complained.
Vi saw the irritation at the interruption fade from Caitlyn’s face. Instead, she looked at Vi with fondness and amusement.
“Well, we’d better get you something then. I know how you get if you don’t eat, and I’m not sure the office would survive your tantrum again.” Caitlyn teased.
Vi was about to open her mouth to shoot back an indignant reply when they heard it. In the distance they heard a rumble, and a plume of dirty gray smoke wafted upwards.
“Looks like food will have to wait, love. Never any rest, is there?” Vi grumbled, shooting the plume of smoke a worried look through the window.
Vi grabbed her red jacket and slung it over her shoulders and walked out the office at a brisk pace, closely followed by Caitlyn who’d grabbed her iconic top hat.
The plaza was smothered in a blanket of dust and rubble. What before looked pristine and was beautifully lit up by the mid-day sun, was now gray and drab. The clock tower ahead was no more. It had collapsed in on itself and there was nothing but debris and warped pieces of metal and stone left.
It didn’t quite look like her earlier vision. There was no red haze, no fire, and no bodies burnt to a crisp laying about. She could hear distant screams but paid them no mind. She wasn’t here for them. She could see a few people move and slowly get up.
“Do you think your old man would be proud? Look at you… What a pathetic tantrum just to get attention. You just keep sinking lower, don’t’cha, Jinx?” Mylo laughed.
Jinx pulled out a spray can of paint, scowling. Never a break. Never. She knew she deserved it, but why couldn’t she just get a tiny break?
Walking to the marble fountain, Jinx stared at the large base of it. Plenty of room. With angry and jerky motions she began to spray the base with a bright neon pink.
’Jinx was here’.
She angrily threw the can to the side and leaned against the fountain, waiting.
After several minutes, it seemed she didn't have to wait any longer.
At the other end of the plaza, she spied two figures bursting into sight. Jinx would recognize them anywhere. Vi… Not-sister, and the Piltie with her ridiculous hat. Pushing away from the fountain, Jinx clenched her fists. Hat Lady kept changing shapes, and it made Jinx anxious and itchy. She drew her gun again but kept her arms hanging at her sides. In the back of her mind, Jinx noted that she didn't react to the sight of pink-red hair this time.
When they got closer, Vi was staring at her with that same look she always did. So soft, so warm.
“So fake…” whispered Mylo.
Hat Lady was staring at her as well. She’d brought her rifle but it was pointed down. Jinx did her best to keep her out of sight. The way the Pilties face twisted and blurred was horrific, as if something was crawling under her skin.
“Powder…” Vi breathed.
Jinx interrupted her with a shrill laugh. She just didn’t get it, did she? Not-sister was truly unbelievable. She saw Vi was about to open her mouth again, and her temper, muted as it felt, exploded.
“Jinx.” she snarled. “Jinx. Jinx. Jinx.” she repeated. She saw Vi wince every time she said it. “It just won’t seep into that thick head of yours, will it? All those hits to your face finally knock something loose?”
“I just… I can’t call you that. You’re not a Jinx. God… I should have punched Mylo when he began that shit!” Vi choked out.
As it were, the spectral form of Mylo stood next to Vi, grinning his grotesque smile.
“Mylo asks why you'd punch him. He was right, after all. Should’ve listened to him.” Jinx said in a flat voice.
Hat Lady’s face twisted again, and Jinx flicked her gaze to her, terror creeping into her gut. The shadow she cast was towering, and Jinx felt as if it might swallow her.
“Jinx.” the monster began, and Jinx took an involuntary step back. “Easy, Jinx. It doesn’t look like anyone’s been harmed here, alright? And we just… We just want to talk to you. Can we do that?” Caitlyn spoke softly.
She just wanted to play, though. Why was this Piltie monster asking her to talk? It had already stolen her sist… Not a sister! Not-sister!
Jinx looked back at Vi, who was nodding in support at Caitlyn’s words. Jinx twitched. She could hear shouts from a street further away and knew more Pilties were coming.
Her fingers tightened around her gun.
“Talk? I just came to play. I was bored, and here you are.” she glared at Vi. “You always do this. Why do you have to ruin the game?!” Jinx shouted, frustration welling up in her. They were just no fun. They kept doing this, trying to make her talk every time she came out to play. Talk about what?! She had nothing to say to not-sister and her girlfriend.
Vi licked her dry, dust covered lips. “It’s no game. It’s no trick either. Please just put the gun away, and let’s talk. That’s all we’re asking. I don’t care about what you’ve done here. I just want to talk.” she finished gently.
“Mylo says it’s always a trick with you. Liar. He was wrong about Dad. But he’s never been wrong about you.” Jinx said, rebuffing Vi’s words.
At the other end of the plaza enforcers turned the corner and ran towards them. Caitlyn turned to signal them to a stop, and Jinx used the distraction and forced a wide grin onto her face. She saw on Vi’s face that her not-sister instantly knew what she would do, and before Vi could grab her, she bolted toward the other end of the plaza.
“Powder!” Vi yelled.
“Go, Vi. I’ll handle everything here!” Caitlyn spoke quickly. “Go!”
Vi wasted no time and tore off after her sister, her boots pounding down onto the dust covered stone.
The past year or so had been intense. Her sister was near impossible to catch. She was just so fast. There’d been several times where they had gotten close and had almost been able to close the net around her, but somehow, she’d slip away at the last second. It was incredibly frustrating, and Vi feared that the longer her sister was allowed to roam alone, the worse her mental health would get.
She’d even visited the Undercity a few times to ask around about Powder. Visiting Sevika had not been pleasant, but they’d managed to not beat each other to a pulp this time. Sevika had let Vi know, however, that while Powder was occasionally spotted around, they had nothing to do with her. Too unstable. Too big a risk, were her words. She had not been helpful at all in disclosing any potential hiding places either. Only Silco had known where Powder went, she said. Vi didn’t know if she believed her, but short of beating her half to death, she didn’t know what she could do about it.
So, they were usually forced to wait around until Powder showed herself, which made planning any capture attempts difficult. Vi wouldn’t give up though. Never. She was going to get her sister back and get her the help she needed.
Jinx they all called her. It made Vi rage and scream internally. Her name was Powder. She remembered when she’d uttered the name Jinx at the council meeting a year ago, and it had torn at her heart. No. Her name was Powder, and Vi would bring her home.
Those were the only thoughts burning in her mind as she scaled the building Powder had just climbed.
With a grunt she pulled herself up on the roof, her gaze zeroing in on Powder ahead. Her sister kept looking back, her face stretched in that mockery of a smile that Vi had come to hate. She heard Powder laugh shrilly as she jumped to the next roof, and Vi sped up, her teeth grinding together from effort.
They were moving rapidly over the rooftops, tiles clattering and cracking from the heavy steps of their boots as they neared the Bridge of Progress. Vi jumped to the next roof and before her eyes the roof she was about to land on suddenly caved in with an explosion of fire and smoke.
“Fucki-“ she cursed, only to be interrupted as she crashed into the middle of a living room, smashing the table she landed on.
She could hear Powder laughing above as she continued running, and Vi wasted no time in barreling through the rest of the house.
“Powder!” she screamed, bursting outside through the gorgeously made, but thin, wooden door. It splintered everywhere. Vi growled and continued down the street, her lungs and legs burning. People on the street screamed and jumped out of the way, Vi yelling warnings along her path.
“Fucking move! Get out of the way!” she bellowed, panting heavily as she ran. How the fuck could her sister keep up this speed?
Up ahead the bridge loomed, and she saw Powder jump from a roof down onto a balcony, barely slowing down before jumping down to the street level. She looked back at Vi and grinned even wider somehow. Vi knew she had to catch her soon. If she escaped to the other side, the chances of catching her sister were near impossible.
Up ahead was the checkpoint where people crossing into Piltover were checked and frisked. It was crowded today with many people heading both ways. The controlled chaos soon descended into outright chaos as she saw Powder throw several grenades into the mob of people. Her eyes widened in horror at what she was about to witness and tried to run even faster, screaming for people to move.
One, two, and finally three loud explosions sounded, though they were not followed by fire and shrapnel. Instead, the checkpoint was blanketed in thick pink smoke obscuring people and obstacles alike. Vi heard screaming, wheezing, and coughing and her own eyes were watering from the stinging feeling the smoke caused. She kept pushing through the crowd, following the flashes of blue hair ahead of her. Vi felt relief that the grenades had just been smoke. The ice that had filled her veins had almost caused her to freeze. But she had to push on.
When she finally emerged from the smoke, she saw her sister ahead. She was still running, and Vi flew after her.
“Powder! Stop! Come on!” Vi yelled. Vi heard more yelling in the distance behind her and looked over her shoulder to see enforcers bursting out of the smoke to follow them across the bridge.
The chase continued into the promenade level of Zaun, as the people called it over here. Powder dodged and weaved between the mass of people and shops in the boundary markets, before suddenly veering left into what Vi knew was a maze of narrow alleyways. If she didn’t stay close in here, she’d lose her, and there were several shortcuts to the levels below in here. Turning the same sharp corner, Vi slammed into the wall with her shoulder, but didn’t let that stop her pursuit. She’d had worse.
Left, right, right, left again. Vi lost all sense of direction as she only had eyes for Powder, desperately following the trailing blue of Powder’s braids. The alleyways were getting darker, and the few people that had been in the first few turns, soon turned into no people at all, and she was left chasing Powder through increasing amounts of trash and rats.
As she was about to turn the next corner, she saw a mass of blue and pink coming at her before she felt a blinding flash of pain in her gut. She fell to her knees and coughed and heaved. It was only with the greatest effort she managed to not throw up. She looked up at Powder, who was staring down at her with a wide grin. Powder was panting from the run and her pink eyes were alive with excitement. It looked to Vi as if Powder’s eyes were moving. Swirling, somehow.
“That was a good chase, you know. You’re getting faster.” her sister chirped, sounding pleased.
Vi slowly stood up, using the filthy wall next to her for support. There was some kind of growth on it that she couldn’t see here in the dark, but it felt squishy beneath her fingers. Vi, gasping for air, slowly managed to get her breathing under control.
“Pow… Powder, why? Why all this? We just… I-I just wanted to talk.” Vi panted, choking her way through the words.
Powder leaned her head back and let out an exasperated groan, one reminiscent of a child having to do something they didn’t want to do. Vi had to bite down on her tongue. Powder had used to do that all the time.
“Seriously, not-sister, this again?!” her sister groaned. Vi’s face fell. Not-sister?
“What do you mean not-sister, Powder? Why… Why would you say that?” Vi asked quietly.
Her sisters face lost all expression before morphing into one of utter confusion, as if she couldn’t think of any reason Vi would’ve asked that question.
“I don’t understand.” she said flatly.
Vi carefully removed her hand from the wall, and took a tentative step forward, approaching her sister as if she were a wild animal, or a ticking bomb. Powder narrowed her eyes and Vi could see the confusion bleeding away into suspicion.
“Are you trying to trick me again?” she demanded, and Vi saw that her hand was close to her gun.
“No trick, Pow-Pow. You know who I am, right? My name? That we’re sisters.” Vi tried, carefully hiding the emotional toll this was having on her.
Powder took a step back and nodded stiffly. “I’m not dumb, even if Mylo says so. Of course, I know who you are. But you left, and family stays together,” she said, so matter of fact that it made Vi wince, “so, not-sisters.”
Vi closed her eyes for a moment and exhaled. Those words made her stomach curl and she felt like punching the wall, just to redirect that pain.
“You’re right, Pow. I-I did. I tried to come back; I really did. But… Fucking Marcus,” Vi spat angrily, “just threw me in Stillwater and-“
Powder waved one of her thin arms in dismissal. “Not that! I know that. You’ve said it so many times. Seriously, I get it…” Powder said.
“Then…” Vi began.
“You promised you’d always chase away the monsters!” Powder suddenly howled. “And you didn’t! You just let it stay and… and, it was going to take me, and take you, and there’d be no us!”
Vi gaped, and her mouth and throat felt as dry as a desert in Shurima. She wracked her brain, coming up blank.
“Pow, please… Try to explain it to me. I know I promised that, but… When did I…?” Vi asked slowly and carefully, not wanting to set Powder off further. This was the longest she had spoken with her sister in a very long time.
There was a long period of silence between the two sisters, and Vi felt her hopes deflating. After another period of Powder staring unnervingly at her, her sister started to speak.
“I asked you to make the Piltie go away and you didn’t. You chose her, Vi. You chose a monster over me.” Powder said quietly.
Vi remembered, but she wouldn’t have connected the dots without Powder saying that. She drew in a deep breath, and then exhaled.
“Okay. Okay, Pow, look… Caitlyn,” she saw Powder flinch at the name, but continued, “and I were friends then. She got me out of Stillwater, you know? I couldn’t just get rid of her as you wanted.” Vi said gently while maintaining eye contact with Powder. Her sister was standing, frozen and quiet, just staring at unblinkingly. Vi decided to take that as a cue to continue.
“You know how much friendship means to me, don’t you? And when I couldn’t do that, I definitely couldn’t shoot her either. That’s just not who I am, Pow. And… and I think you know that, right?” Vi dared to say, still using that soft voice she used when Powder was little.
She saw the anger and the hurt on Powder's face give a little and there was a hint of uncertainty, instead. Vi couldn’t stop the seed of hope in her from spreading. She could hear Powder muttering softly as well but was unable to make out any of the words. After a while she stopped and looked at Vi again. Vi felt her heart tighten and constrict in her chest. It was like looking at Powder when she was nine. There was so much hurt and confusion in Powder’s eyes. Vi felt the urge to hug Powder to her chest, it was so overwhelming. She knew she had to keep it together though, and that any sudden movements might spook her sister.
When Powder spoke, it came out as a croak, her voice breaking. “I know. I just wanted you to pick me. And when I look at the Piltie… I just see a monster. It keeps changing shape, and it scares me. There’s so many of them.” she finished in a whisper, and her eyes darted to something behind Vi.
Vi looked at Powder with wide eyes. Certain things began to make a little more sense to her.
“You… You see a monster when you look at Caitlyn?” she probed carefully.
Powder nodded jerkily with an uncomfortable look on her face.
Vi was about to say something more when both her and Powder reacted, their heads turning toward the sound of pounding boots and shouting voices. When Vi turned back, she could see that all of the softness and vulnerability in Powder’s face was gone, replaced by suspicion.
“You need to go, Pow.” Vi said softly.
Powder gave her a look of shock.
“I thought you were supposed to catch me and lock me away.” she sniped.
Vi gave her sister a watery smile and shook her head.
“I wanted to catch you so we could talk, Pow,” she began, “I am not letting them lock you away.” she stated firmly.
Powder scoffed and gave Vi a skeptical glare. “And I suppose your Piltie girlfriend is all aboard with this, huh?” she sneered.
With a wide genuine smile, Vi just nodded and quipped, “Oh, she’s in on it. Why do you think she stayed behind at Sunspring Plaza?”
Powder opened her mouth and closed it again with a snap, before growling out, “You’re lying.”
“Nope,” Vi said, making the word pop, “and, you really need to go. They’ll find this place soon. Can we… Can we talk again, Pow?”
Powder looked incredibly unsure, her eyes darting back and forth between things Vi assumed only she could see. After a few more moments, she gave Vi a careful nod. “Okay.” she said.
Vi felt as if she was soaring, and she was sure her smile could’ve lit up the entire alley. Slowly Vi moved her hand into her jacket pocket and pulled out a small piece of paper. “Okay. This here? I made it in case I ever managed to catch up with you. It’s where I’m staying. You can find me there. Whenever you want, or need, okay? The window on the second floor… I’ll leave it unlocked always.”
Powder nodded again and snatched the paper out of Vi’s hand and turned to walk away but stopped. “Vi… My name. It’s Jinx.” she said quietly, and Vi closed her eyes and felt a stab of pain pierce through some of the joy she’d just felt, but not enough to sour it. This was the farthest she’d gotten with her sister.
“I… Pow…” she began, but when she opened her eyes again, there was no trace of Powder.