Chapter 1: Late Night Tea Party
So far everything had gone according to Jinx’s plan. As well as any plan could go that had been created with rage and betrayal as its foundation. The old blown out room in the cannery had quickly been prepared for her little get together. The old decrepit table had been set immaculately, a stark contradiction to the state of disrepair and rot otherwise in the room. Various sorts of dishes and cakes that all looked as though they had been put together in a quick and haphazard manner littered the table. All of them carried the same trait of appearing rather unappetizing. Candles on the table had been lit, making a mockery of what could have been a cozy dinner. As a final touch, the chairs around the table had name tags on them. Vi, Caitlyn, Silco, Powder, and finally Jinx.
All but two of the chairs were occupied already, of course. Jinx had seen to that. It wouldn’t do to have her own guests late to the party, after all. As such, dear old Dad was present in his chair. With a smile that was just slightly too wide Jinx glanced at him, noting that he was yet tied up and gagged. He’d woken not long ago, and she’d felt his gaze on her skin ever since. In his remaining normal eye, she saw emotion that she’d rarely seen from him. Fear and desperation. He tried to talk to her, to yell, but nothing but muffled groaning came out, courtesy of the gag.
At the other end of the table was her sister. Vi. Violet. Violence. Sister. She was bound as well, and Jinx noted with satisfaction that the rope was tight. Tighter than was strictly necessary, perhaps, and while Jinx loved a little risk… Well, a lot… tonight needed to be done right.
Tonight, Vi would choose. Vi’s grey eyes were wide with fear and ever since she had woken, she’d been attempting to plead and beg and scream at Jinx to cut her loose. To talk. With a smile that could only be described as manic, Jinx tuned out the pointless and deceitful words from her sister and turned to her thoughts again. She abandoned Powder. Powder had drowned. Or had she? On the spire and on the bridge, little Powder seemed to come up for air. Vi had the opportunity to choose Jinx on the bridge. She left then as well.
“She’ll always leave you. And why wouldn’t she? You killed everyone. You killed me. I knew what you were… I know what you are. We all did. Failure. Useless. Worthless. Jinx.” Mylo’s voice felt as if it was right next to her ear, cajoling and cruel. Claggor was here as well. He’d join in with Mylo sometimes. Now he was simply watching, along with Vander. Vander was always silent. Judging. Burning her. Sometimes Violet would show up as well which had happened more lately.
“Not now Mylo. Not now. Not now.”. Jinx snapped. She shook her head to clear the voices up and swept her shimmer-pink gaze to the person seated near Vi, the motion also clearing up her otherwise fixed smile.
Caitlyn. Hat Lady. Thief. Sister Stealer. Just looking at her, Jinx felt that creeping sensation of betrayal and horror welling up in her gut. And rage. So potent and eager, wanting to be released. Why couldn’t Vi see the monster this Topsider was? All jagged edges and murderous smiles. Right now, however, Jinx took immense satisfaction in the apparent unease and fear on Caitlyn’s face. Dad always said she’d become stronger than any monster.
“What is it about her, that made you choose her?” Jinx asked with a note of curiosity. The question was directed at Vi, yet she kept her eyes on Caitlyn, studying her as a predator sizing up its prey. It felt as if Vi wasn’t going to answer, and she started to feel her patience crumble. At the sound of Vi’s voice however, Jinx twitched and listened.
“I didn’t… Powder, I didn’t choose her. She- They needed my help on the bridge. I couldn’t just let them die… And you… Powder, you were shooting at us…” Vi’s voice was soft, gentle.
It only served to infuriate Jinx further. Her pink eyes widened, the torrent of rage inside of her simmering to the forefront. With a voice like gravel, she ground out, “Don’t call me that. She’s dead. Powder is dead. Dead. DEAD. She drowned. Fell down the well. Blown to bits. I’m what’s left.” Each word spoken looked as if it was a punch to Vi’s gut. She squeezed her eyes shut, a tear escaping them.
“I refuse to believe that Pow-Pow. I-I can’t. I know she’s… I know you’re in there. Please just untie me. We’ll be together again, right? Just like… Just like old times. I promise.”, Vi pleaded, coaxing and soft.
Jinx kept her eyes on Vi, head tilted to the right. It was impossible to tell what she was thinking, although the rage that had simmered to the surface before seemed to have calmed. Slightly.
“Just like when we were kids?” Jinx whispered.
“Just like when we were kids.” Vi says softly, looking imploringly at Jinx.
Jinx stands up quickly and starts to pace. She looks unsure and at the same time there’s a hint of something akin to hope on her expression when she glances at Vi. She could still hear muffled yelling from Silco behind his gag, as he desperately attempted to wrestle it off so he could speak. Jinx continued to pay him no mind. He lied. He lied to her. He was going to give her up. Betray her. Throw her away like trash.
“You are trash. Something to be used and tossed out. Who wants to keep a jinx around?” Came Mylo’s sibilant whisper. This time Claggor was backing him up, whispering in her other ear. “Vi is a liar. Liar liar liar. She’ll always choose the Piltie over you. Always always always. None of them want you. You’re a jinx, Jinx. A jinx.” Claggor’s voice trails off into hysterical laughter, joined by Mylo’s own cruel snickering.
Jinx shakes her head, blue braids wildly flying at the sudden shaking. “No! I think I can… I want to try. Just be quiet for once. Just shut up. SHUT UP!” Jinx shrieks in the end, clutching the sides of her head. “I can’t fucking concentrate with all of you talking!”
Vi and Caitlyn glance quickly at each other, eyes wide with both fear and an ever-dawning comprehension that Jinx is having conversations with specters they themselves cannot see or hear. Vi shoots a look down at the still struggling Silco, who looks unsurprised before she looks back at her sister who appears to be falling apart.
“Pow-Pow, please, listen to me. There’s no one else here. Just us. We’re… We’re real, listen to me, sweetie.” she begged, hoping that she’d somehow get through to her sister. Caitlyn kept looking between Vi and Jinx, choosing to stay completely silent, afraid that even a single word from her could set off Jinx completely.
Jinx looked over at Vi, her exhaustion plain for all to see. The same smile from earlier was returning, however. “You want Powder back, don’t you, sis? Even if… If my name is Jinx now.” Her voice was strangely soft, though with an underlying tone of something dangerous.
“She won’t accept you. Not now. Not ever. She thinks you’re a jinx. Knows you’re a jinx. She’ll just want Powder. You’ll see.” Mylo hissed at her. She closed her pink eyes briefly, struggling to ignore his words. She could feel them by her ear. She swore she could feel his breath on her skin.
“Watch watch watch! Watch!” Claggor chanted. His ruined face twisted in glee.
“Powd-“ Vi began, only to be interrupted by Jinx’s raspy voice. “I see.” “SEE!” Mylo screamed at the same time.
“Alright. Okay, sis. You can have her, you know? Powder? Maybe she can… Maybe she can come back up from the well. All you gotta do, is pick her. That’s all.” Jinx trails off, her voice having that strangely soft quality to it. Brittle, as if one were treading on too thin ice.
Vi nods quickly. Eager to convince her sister, although there’s a hint of uncertainty on her face. Caitlyn keeps looking back and forth between Jinx and Vi, uncertain of what’s coming, but her expression screams danger and wariness.
“Of course, you know I’ll pick you, Powder. I-I’m never going to leave again.” Vi resolutely says. Her wide eyes trying to convey how much she means those words to Jinx.
Jinx slowly walks to the chair with the nametag that says Powder, brushing a hand over the tag. “Then get rid of the Topsider. I… I don’t want her here. With us. Just get rid of her. Tell her to leave.” Jinx says softly.
Vi swallows, quickly looking at Caitlyn. She snaps her gaze back to Jinx, eyes drifting down along her arm and the blue cloud tattoos. In her hand a pistol has appeared. She didn’t notice Jinx drawing it before. “Get rid of her? Do- What do you mean tell her to leave?” Vi asks in a shaky voice.
Jinx’s expression twists into something vicious, however it fades as quickly as it comes. Instead, she snaps out, her voice like a whip. “I’m not asking you to kill her, even though no one would cry over one less Topsider. I’m just asking you to make her leave. To go back where she came from, and never come back.” Jinx takes a deep breath and flashes an unnervingly wide smile. “If you want to shoot her instead, though, I’m all for it.” She finishes with an upbeat and hopeful tone in her voice.
“She won’t do it. She won’t do it. She’s a liar. Watch, Jinx. Watch. A liar, a liar, a liar. Who can blame her? We all know what you are…” Mylo’s venomous voice hissed in her ear again, making her grind her teeth together. It takes every ounce of what remains of her willpower to ignore him.
Jinx stares intently at Vi, watching how she gapes like a fish on land for a long while. Vi clearly seems to be struggling to find the words. “Look… Look she helped me out of Stillwater, and she’s my friend. Powder please, just… Let’s just talk? We can go somewhere. Anywhere! And we’ll just… Talk. You and me. Please, Powder!”
Jinx continues to stare at Vi, her face growing empty and vacant at each word spoken. With a drawn out sigh she stood fully and raised the pistol, pointing it directly at Caitlyn’s face, whose eyes had gone wide with terror. “No! Jinx! Please!” Caitlyn stammered.
“It’s a simple choice, sis.” Jinx spoke in a clipped tone, lacking any of her usual manic cheerfulness and ignoring Caitlyn’s plea.
“Fuck! Powder don’t… Come on, this isn’t you!” Vi yelled and began to struggle in a vain attempt to get free from her bonds.
“Looks like the boys were right again.” Jinx stated quietly, in a raspy voice. “Always right. Just a jinx. Bad luck.” She turned her back to Vi and stood, trembling. The voices were getting worse. They had been over the last couple of days. Louder and more intrusive. But also right. They were inside her. They had to be right. They knew her for what she was. She heard Vi behind her. The sound was an odd mix of a groan and a sob. Jinx did her best to ignore it, not wanting to turn back and see the relief on Vi’s face that she’d pointed her pistol away from the Topsider.
“Poor Jinx. Little, lonely Jinx. We told you. You’re a curse! She’d never choose you! You killed us! YOU KILLED US!” shrieked Mylo. He seemed so real to Jinx, standing there with hatred in his eyes and a gaping, ruined, hole in his chest where a pipe had pierced him.
Jinx stumbled and gripped the table with her eyes squeezed shut. She knew it was all true. She remembered it clearly, and Mylo, Claggor and Vander had never let her forget. Only Violet had never mentioned it. With a scream of frustration and pain and hurt, she swept pastries and plates from the table onto the ground. She heard someone gasp behind her but ignored it. Opening her eyes, she looked down at Silco. Dear old dad. She wondered if anything had been real? Were all the memories she had with him a lie? She intended to know. Wanted… No, she needed to know. Maybe Mylo and Claggor would be wrong this time?
Stalking down to Silco, who was staring at her with his mismatched eyes, she practically ripped out the gag from his mouth. “What do you have to say about all of this?” she asked.
She studied Silco closely. She felt like she was burning up from inside her gut. Rage and pain and betrayal forming together in a volatile deadly cocktail. She watched him move his jaw for a moment before he began to answer her. She closed her eyes momentarily as she heard his gentle, smooth voice. One she had come to associate with being wanted and needed. Safe.
“Jinx, daughter, please…” He started, and Jinx closed her eyes. Inexplicably both hating and loving what his voice made her feel. In the background she could vaguely register Vi’s raised voice, screaming. “Cut me loose. We’ll take care of this together, and it’ll just be you and me. Like it’s been for so many years now! My swee-“ he continued, before being interrupted.
She couldn’t stop herself. She tried, but with a sob she blurted out, “Why? Why don’t you want me anymore? I tried so hard. I-I tried to be enough. Wasn’t I good enough? I tr-tried…” She could feel the wetness on her cheeks, and it felt as if her tears were trailing a painful burning path down her skin.
“Jinx I was never going to give you up! You’re my daughter. I would burn down everything before giving you up!” There was a note of urgency in his voice, and as much as it made Jinx want to believe him, she simply couldn’t right now. She could hear Mylo and Claggor’s shouting in her head. Liar. Liar. Liar. Again, and again. They had been right about Vi. They had been right about so many things.
With a shaky breath she stepped away from the table and wandered toward a pile of rubble and crates. Pow-Pow and Fishbones were there. She was losing grip on herself and there was a roar of rushing noise in her ears. She could vaguely hear all of them yelling now. The boys. Dad, Vi… Or sis, and the Piltie. She had felt so in control leading up to all of this. But the evening had steadily been running her ragged. And now, with this cacophony of voices from within and out, she felt as if her mind was fraying.
“LIAR! USELESS JINX! NEVER ENOUGH!”
“Jinx. Jinx. Jinx. Jinx. Jinx. Jinx. Jinx.”
She clutched at the sides of her head painfully. It just. Wouldn’t. Stop. Why wouldn’t it stop? “Stop… Stop… Please…”
“You deserve this!”
She saw Mylo, Claggor and Vander flashing in her mind. Vander staring at her with blazing eyes that showed nothing but contempt and disgust. His body broken and twisted and warped. She felt as if what remained of the walls in the room were crawling and enclosing around her.
“Stop. STOP! Leave me alone! LEAVE ME! NO!” She hit the sides of her head painfully with her fists and began repeating “I know. I know. I know.”
She was stuck in the hurricane of noise, her mind twisting and falling apart. And suddenly in the middle of the roaring crescendo she heard a familiar click in her mind. The sound of it penetrating all else. Instinct, honed by life in the Undercity, made her snap and turn with Pow-Pow gripped tightly in her hands. The room came to life with a roar of sound from her minigun as it spat out a series of bullets at the noise. And then all was silent. Inside and out.
Silco had gotten free somehow. With a small gasp the pistol in his grasp dropped to the ground with a heavy clatter and he fell back into the chair, she saw him slump and turn. Horror rose in her. Twisting her gut and bubbling violently to the surface. She looked down at Pow-Pow, never remembering picking her up. The barrels were still smoking.
“No… No no no no no!”. She dropped Pow-Pow and ran with unfathomable speed to Silco’s side. Kneeling in front of him she gazed at the blood oozing from the three holes in his stomach, her hands moving up to fruitlessly try to staunch the endless river of blood. “No..! Please, I didn’t mean… I didn’t mean to!”
She heard him wheeze and cough, blood bubbling from between his lips. She looked up, pink eyes blurry with tears. His voice was strained but somehow retained the steady and calm quality it had always had. “It’s okay.” Holding her gaze, his lips curled in the slightest of smiles. “You’re my… daughter.”
A sob left her. It was all crumbling now. Chaos. She felt Silco’s forehead gently resting against her own. His voice was warm. Even here on the brink of death, full of conviction.
“I never would have given you to them.”
“Not for anything.”
She was falling apart, crying uncontrollably as his words washed over her. In that moment, in this rare moment of silence in her mind, she felt it. She knew the words to be true. She had been wanted.
She felt it. Knew it. Saw it. Ruined it.
With a softness she’d rarely felt, she whimpered. “Dad…”
His dying smile widened.
She felt him slacken and heard his final breath. Saw his eyes go vacant and empty. Never to see her again.
And with a shriek of hurt and pain she came undone.
Chapter 2: The Unraveling
Vi had seen and heard a lot while she was in prison. There had been a lot of pain and misery in the horrible place that was Stillwater. She'd had to defend herself often as well. However, the wails coming from Powder right now was beyond anything she had heard before. She felt as if her eyes were raw from crying. She couldn’t stand hearing her sister like this. She tried to struggle, to get free so she could get to Powder and sweep her away from here, however her bonds were too tight. She hated that her sister was in this state and it was made worse that Silco was the reason.
She noticed Caitlyn moving in the corner of her eyes and turned her gaze to her. Caitlyn looked shocked, though it was accompanied by the determination she had come to admire in her as well. Suddenly the ropes around Caitlyn sagged and Vi’s eyes widened. She’d gotten free somehow. Near silently Caitlyn quickly got up and moved behind Vi, swiftly cutting her loose with a piece of old rusty metallic debris she’d somehow managed to snag. Relief flooded her as she felt the ropes fall away and she stood quickly, about to make her way over to Powder before Caitlyn spoke.
“Vi… I…” Caitlyn looked over at Jinx who seemed utterly lost to the world, her head bent and resting against Silco’s knees. Making sure to keep her voice quiet she continued. “We’ve got to take her in… I’m sorry but, we must do it. You… You know what she did on the bridge.”
Vi grit her teeth and tore her gaze away from the sight of her sister. “I know! But she’s my sister! You know what’ll happen to her if we bring her to the council! I-I can’t lose her now… I can’t.”
Each sob and gut-wrenching sound of pain coming from Powder tore at Vi. She saw the floor beneath the chair was covered in blood, blood Powder was kneeling in. Her sisters’ hands were completely covered in it as well, and the sight of it was killing Vi. She saw Caitlyn slowly begin to move towards Powder and was about to speak up, to tell her to stop. To just… Let Vi talk to her first, at least. Before she could open her mouth to say anything however, Powder was suddenly on her feet. Vi felt confusion and shock seize her and could see Caitlyn wore the very same expression. Her sister had moved so fast. Just as she had when she ran to Silco after he'd been shot. Powder had her gun pointed at Caitlyn once more, her face and eyes a storm of emotion. Vi felt as if her veins were filled with ice and she knew if Powder decided to shoot there was nothing either of them could do at this range.
What struck Vi the hardest though was the look on her little sisters face. As long as she drew breath, she would never forget the sheer pain and grief on her sisters face. The dead look in her disturbingly pink eyes.
Powder’s voice sounded broken from overuse. Hoarse and raw. “Get back. Both of you.” She could see Caitlyn stand stock-still with her hands raised in a placating gesture.
“Jinx, please lower the gun. We just… We need to talk to you. You must come with us.”
Caitlyn’s voice had that gentle but firm authority in it that Vi had come to appreciate and like over the last few days in her company. It was plain to her however, that it wasn’t going to have the same effect on Powder. Vi winced as she saw the twisted expression her sisters face morphed into.
“It’s not enough that you… That you take away my sister. Nothings ever enough for you Pilties, is it? You take and take and take and bleed everything dry. And now you think… You think you’ll have me as well? Stuff me in a box somewhere to forget about me. Is that it? I won’t let you!” Jinx snarled, looking more like a rabid animal than an actual person. It hurt Vi to her very core.
“I know. I know Mylo! Just shut up! I’m busy!”
Vi hadn’t understood before tonight the extent of the damage that had been done to Powder and she wasn’t certain she did now either. It was clear to her though, that Powder either saw or heard things. Things that existed only in her own mind. Hearing Mylo’s name however, was twisting her heart.
“Powder… We can help you. Okay? I won’t… I won’t let them take you. I won’t let them lock you away. I promise. I promise. I just want to help you… Please, let me help you.” She tried to speak softly and gently, as she used to do when they were kids when Powder needed comfort. Hoping that if she could reach deep enough, she could awaken… something… in her sister.
The barrel of the gun swung to face her instead, however, along with the wild eyes of Powder.
“I thought, we could be together again. That you cou-- That you would love me again. Like you used to.”
“Powder… I do love you. All that kept me going in prison was you! Finding you!” Vi begged, trying to get through to her. Powder looked lost though, and if she heard Vi’s words she gave no indication to it.
“I see it now though. I’m different, changed. I’m no longer the sister you want. Powder…” she trailed off, appearing to be listening to something. She shuddered. “Yeah, I know. Powder drowned and rotted away a long time ago.”
The words were like being stabbed, Vi felt. Prison had changed her, made her harder and tougher. Nothing could have prepared her for this, however.
“…and you… you changed as well.” Powder’s eyes flicked toward Caitlyn and then back.
“We all changed, Powder. We had to. To survive! But… But it’s okay now. I found you, see? I’m right here. Just… Come with me. Let me take care of you. That’s… That’s all I want.”
There was no response from Powder, just a vacant expression and a grim, resigned look in her eyes. Vi stepped back a few steps and watched Caitlyn do the same as Powder began to move toward the rubble and crates where she had been earlier. Where everything had gone truly wrong. Without taking her eyes from them Powder crouched down to hoist up the weapon she had used to kill Silco, and Vi’s eyes widened as she saw Powder reach into the crate to pull out another large weapon. It was large, crude and it looked incredibly deadly, Vi thought.
Before she could say anything further she heard three metallic rattling sounds and quickly spotted the bombs dropped by Powder. Before she could think about it, she started moving and tackled Caitlyn. Three sharp cracks sounded throughout the room, quieter than Vi would’ve thought from a grenade. The expected heat and pain never arrived either. Instead, the room began rapidly filling with a mixture of pink, blue and purple. She tried to shout but started coughing from the thickening smoke and she felt her eyes water. She heard steps and frantically looked for Powder to no avail. The last thing she managed to spy of Powder before she was gone was her gleaming pink eyes.
It took a while for the room to clear, even with the missing parts of the walls and some of the roof. Vi ran a hand through her hair. The events over the last week had happened at a blistering pace and she felt utterly exhausted. She looked at Caitlyn and saw the same in her expression.
“I thought she was going to kill us.”
Vi didn’t reply to that. She knew her sister had killed. Firelights. Enforcers. She refused to believe her sister would kill her, though. She couldn’t. Instead, she walked over to the corpse of Silco. She’d heard it all. How could this… monster… this caricature of a human… How had he managed to twist Powder like this? She’d called him Dad. Just thinking about it made Vi hurt. It gave rise to another feeling as well though. She felt it in her chest. A bubble of anger threatening to burst.
“How do you think the council will react to this?” Vi asked quietly as she turned away from Silco. A part of her rejoicing in the fact that he was dead, even if it had torn her sister apart.
“I don’t know. I… We’ll need to have an audience with them. They won’t be happy that Jinx is still free.” Caitlyn spoke.
Vi sighed wearily and met the concerned blue eyes of Caitlyn. “Please… Cupcake, she’s… Don’t call her that. Her name is Powder. I can’t hear that name, so just… Please call her Powder.”
Caitlyn reached out and gently touched Vi’s arm, her thumb stroking in soft circles. Vi was so glad she’d met her. She’d been apprehensive at first, but Caitlyn, Cupcake, was better. She wanted to change things. She was different, and so very sweet and warm.
“I know she’s your sister. Please… Don’t interrupt.” Caitlyn stepped closer and Vi took a deep breath. She was doing everything she could to hold herself together right now. The last week had been too much.
“Sweetie, your sister, Jinx or Powder, is responsible for a lot of crimes. She’s killed enforcers. Damaged a lot of property as well… But…” Caitlyn exhales. “Did you see her? She’s not well. She was talking to herself, Vi.”
Vi nodded stiffly. She had seen it. Again. She’d noticed similar in their brief previous meetings. She’d sort of… dismissed it there and then. But she couldn’t ignore tonight. Her sister was sick, that much was obvious. And now she was out there somewhere, alone and in pain. Vi’s instincts were screaming at her to go and look, but she had no clue as to where she would even begin.
“I know, Cupcake. I know. I just… I need to find her. She needs help. I can’t let her be thrown in Stillwater. She’ll get no help there, and everything will just get worse. I just can’t let that happen. And here… She’ll get no help here either.” Vi shuddered at the thought and lowered her head, resting it against Caitlyn’s shoulder. She felt Caitlyn’s arms embrace her and couldn’t stop the sob from escaping her. She’d failed, utterly. Take care of Powder. That was her job and she had just ran away.
“I fucked up, Cupcake. This is… This is my fault. I never should have left her!” Vi moaned, squeezing her eyes shut.
“It’s okay, Vi. It’s okay. We’ll try, and we won't give up, okay? We’ll make it work. Hey, come on… Let’s… Let’s go home. You can stay with me… if you’d like.” Caitlyn said gently, her voice soothing.
Vi hesitated. She desperately wanted to, and she needed the rest and wanted to be with Caitlyn. The last few days with her had been… amazing… despite the slew of horrible events. She also wanted to find Powder though. She needed to. It was no use unless she could rest up though.
“I… alright. Let’s… I’d like that. But, Cupcake, I’ve got to find my sister as well. Please… Will you help me?” Vi’s voice was pleading, vulnerable, despite Caitlyn's earlier reassurance. She’d had such a tight rein on her emotions through the years, but tonight had ripped through that protection.
“We’ll find her. Together. We’ll find her, I promise, Vi.” Caitlyn said in such a certain manner that Vi knew it to be true. Caitlyn would help, and together they’d find Powder, and bring her home.
With a weary sigh Vi nodded and after gathering themselves they began the walk back to Piltover. The trip back was spent in silence. Vi’s final thoughts as they began to cross the bridge connecting the two cities was of her sister.
’I’ll find you, Powder. I’ll see you soon.’
It took quite a while to get back to the Kiramman estate. During the walk they’d had to stop once to gather their bearings. Vi felt exhausted, as if lead was weighing down all her limbs. Without Cupcake by her side, she had no doubt that she’d have collapsed somewhere. Next to her, Caitlyn looked just as tired as she herself felt and Vi was glad that they could support one another.
Vi still couldn’t suppress the feelings of outrage that rose in her when she laid eyes on the Kiramman estate again. It was so big. The thought of all this space for so few people, when so many people in the Undercity lived crammed together in whatever space they could find. The Lanes were filled to the brim already, but it was even worse when you went lower, into the Sump. At least they’d grown up in the Lanes, at the Last Drop. And before that with their parents. Vi shuddered at the thought of the lower levels. The Gray. With a sigh she managed to stifle the anger her thoughts were causing her. They did no good now anyway.
Together they stumbled up the steps to the mansion itself and through the ornate doors, into an even more opulent foyer. Vi could sense that Caitlyn had little left to go on and managed to summon the last bit of energy she had to practically drag them both to Caitlyn’s room. As they collapsed on the bed, which was absurdly large in Vi’s mind, they lay there together in silence until Vi interrupted it.
“Sorry for everything tonight, Cupcake. These last few days… They’ve been something, huh?” Vi sighed.
She felt Caitlyn shift on the bed. “It’s not your fault. A lot of the things that happened would’ve happened at some point or another, I think. There's been so much tension for a long time now.” Caitlyn shifted again, turning to face Vi. “The important part is that… that we are still alive. Everything else… We’ll find a way to deal with it.”
Vi wasn’t sure how she could be certain. Everything was a mess. Her sister was still out there and Vi knew that in the Undercity, finding someone who truly didn’t want to be found was a very difficult task. On top of that, Powder was smart. Just the thought of trying to find her made her grimace. They’d need help once they started their search. Perhaps Ekko and his Firelights could lend a hand, though Vi doubted that thought as soon as she had it. Ekko had not tried to hide what he felt about Powder now. She sighed deeply and turned to face Caitlyn.
She gave a tired smile. “Sorry, got lost in my head there. But… yeah. I’m glad you’re alright Cupcake.” She swallowed heavily; her grey eyes fixed on Caitlyn’s blue. In a whisper she asked, “What now?”
A contemplative look came into being on Caitlyn’s face and for a long while she said nothing. Vi saw her let out a breath and nod to herself, as if internally coming to some decision.
“I need to meet with the council in two days from now. They’ll require an update. In fact…” She trailed off, looking at Vi. She bit her lip for a moment. “I’d like you to come with me, Vi.”
Vi looked at her incredulously. Was she serious? “You’re kidding me, right? Because last time went so well!” she said sarcastically.
“Look, you know Jinx-- Powder, I mean, you know her the best.” Caitlyn stood up from the bed and began to pace. “In order to find her, you’re our best angle. You know the Undercity better than any of us. And I… I have a plan to make it all easier.”
Vi wasn’t sure Caitlyn’s words were necessarily true. Her sister had changed. And as she had pointed out, so had Vi. There was one thing Vi knew for certain, however, and that was that she did need to be involved. She couldn’t trust her sister to anyone else, and there was no chance she would let her sister end up in Stillwater, or worse.
“Fine, Cupcake. I’ll come with you. For Powder’s sake. But like I said earlier… I won’t allow her to end up where I was. She needs help, not to be locked away in the dark.” Vi finished with a firm voice.
After a moment of silence where Caitlyn continued to pace on the rug she came to a stop and nodded. “I said I’d help you, Vi, and I meant it. We’ll find her and get her help. She still killed a lot of enforcers, however, and the council will want justice.”
“I know, Cupcake. Just… Let’s cross that one when we get there, yeah? I really gotta get some shuteye here.” Vi yawned, leaning back on the bed again. Caitlyn said nothing, but soon joined her on the other side of the bed.
Vi kept shifting as she tried to get comfortable. The bed was too soft. It was as if it was trying to swallow her whole. Vi figured she must’ve looked uncomfortable as she soon felt Caitlyn’s hand on her forearm. Vi smiled tiredly at her in thanks.
“Good night, Vi.”
“Night, Cupcake.” Vi said and reached over to shut off the light.
The room was engulfed in darkness with their combined breathing being the only sound in the room. Suddenly Caitlyn spoke softly.
“You know I forgot it until now, but… we never recovered the Hextech gemstone.”
Vi groaned quietly. Powder had emptied the container on the bridge. Whether she still had the gem or not, Vi didn’t know.
Unable to think much more about it from exhaustion, Vi still couldn’t stop an exhaled “Fuck.” from leaving her before she was claimed by sleep.
Chapter 3: A Little Shopping
Exactly how she managed to find her way back to her hideout, Jinx couldn’t say. The time after she had dropped the smoke bombs and until now were utterly black in her mind. The more she thought of it, or attempted to recall it, the harder it was to grasp the threads of those thoughts. It was like grasping at slippery tendrils. Every time she thought she might be remembering; it would slip away from her, just out of reach.
She didn’t know how long she’d been sitting on her ratty old couch either. To her, it could have been hours, but it might just as well have been days. She felt completely numb, and her mind was blessedly silent – for now. She supposed it was just a matter of time until her involuntary reunion with the boys. They’d never failed to show up throughout the years, so why would it be any different now? She wasn’t that lucky. She didn’t deserve to be that lucky either, she thought.
Her hands and legs, knees especially, felt stiff and sticky. The dried blood of her father stained her limbs, and she hadn’t managed to summon the will to wash it away yet.
Mylo and Claggor had been right about her. For years they had been warning her, screaming at her that she would tear down everything around her. That she’d kill anyone close to her. Over time it had gotten better, and she had managed to ignore the voices to varying degrees of success. Ever since Vi had returned it had only gotten worse. And now she had done the very thing Mylo always said she would. She’d messed up again, and in the worst possible way. She’d killed her dad. And now he’d never see his dream come to life.
Her thoughts were a whirlwind of confusion. Mylo and Claggor also said Dad didn’t want her but that turned out to be untrue in the end, didn’t it? He’d said she was perfect and that she really was his daughter. That he’d never have given her up. She believed it. She had heard it in his voice and seen it in his eyes when he was dying before her. The truth of his words.
“…liars… just liars… except when not lying…” she muttered tiredly.
She shivered on the couch and drew her knees up to her chest, curling in on herself. She looked around her hideout. A few of the chem-lights were on, painting the walls around them in their gentle blue light. Her favorite. Her workstation was half-lit and the space on top of it was occupied by Pow-Pow and Fishbones.
This was a good hideout, Jinx thought. No one ever came to these parts anymore. No one knew where it was. Dad had known, but he was the only one, and only because she had told him. This giant fan she’d made her lair on had been in disrepair for a long time. The fan was massive, though of the three wings, one was broken in half. Beneath the fan it was pitch black and Jinx couldn’t say just how far down it went.
One of the chem-lights flickered before it returned to normal, and from down in the black she picked up a hint of a whisper as it seemed to echo its way up the old shaft. She couldn’t make out any of the words, or if they even were words. She knew what it meant, however. The boys never left her alone for long, especially when it was quiet. She’d have to fix that soon. Jinx hated quiet.
Jinx knew she had to figure out what to do now. Her father’s dream was Zaun. Should she help achieve that, even if he could not partake in it? Did it matter at all now? She knew at once that it did for a lot of people, and her as well to a degree, but she couldn’t summon the ability to care at this moment. What did she want? She realized quickly that she didn’t know. Dad had been the one to guide her. Sort of. She’d always done what her whims compelled her to do in the moment, but there had always been his goals to hone in on when she got too lost. She knew that there was no place for her in dad’s organization. Not after what had happened. She didn’t know how Sevika would react once she found out. And she would, eventually. Word would get out soon and even then, if she asked Jinx, she’d just tell Sevika. Jinx saw no reason to lie.
Despite feeling drained, Jinx still felt her body itching and burning. She had felt like this ever since she woke up on the operating table after she nearly died. She wondered idly if this feeling would ever fade, if she’d manage to satisfy that need to constantly be on the move. Her body was jittery, and she needed to get out soon and do something. To move and run and jump... "To maim and destroy... to kill..." the black void beneath the fan whispered. With a huff, she ignored the whisper. Thoughts turning to more baser needs. She needed to clean herself up, and she needed to get some grub even if she didn’t feel hungry at all. After that – who knows?
Maybe a little shopping by the dock warehouses? She did need to stock up and she’d been meaning to do so for a while. And she knew just where new shipments of stuff would arrive. Perhaps that would distract her for a spell and improve her mood.
Jinx wiped her cheeks and smiled slowly, one that grew wider with her growing excitement. Full of teeth and danger. Yes. That was exactly what she needed.
Normally when merchandise, materials and all sorts of other traded goods arrived, it was either by arrival via the Hexgates, or the older trade routes by land and sea if one couldn’t afford the Hexgate fees or if the goods were of a more illicit nature. Things would arrive and get sorted at the various trade houses and thereafter sorted for their final destinations. Goods from Piltover had to arrive at the old docks above the Undercity first, and then transported by elevator down into the Undercity itself, unless it was meant for the promenade. Then the goods would arrive at their designated warehouses where they would remain until the recipients came to pick it up.
Trade had been reasonably stable for the last few years and Jinx had memorized long ago which times would usually yield the largest gains. She was running low on everything and could no longer rely on her dad to help re-supply her needs in the future.
So here she was on the roof of an abandoned warehouse located on the old docks, absentmindedly devouring a to-go dish from Jericho’s. The old cannery where everything had happened was close by as well, though before her mind could wander, she managed to divert those thoughts. The dingy promenade wasn’t far from here, an area of markets where Zaun and Piltover mixed to a slight degree. Most Piltovans wouldn’t be caught dead on this side of the bridge. The night was even darker than usual, as the moon was hidden behind a thick layer of clouds.
She watched keenly as goods began to arrive and then carried into the warehouse, observing the workers who unloaded the goods. These were just regular workers, she decided, working for scraps. Once they were done, Jinx knew she had a small period before the stuff would get picked up. She settled herself in and got more comfortable, her thoughts wandering.
Dad had near total control of the Undercity and the chem-barons. She knew it wouldn’t last once news of his death began to spread. The glue holding it all together had been burned away, and just as it was before, it seemed inevitable that everything would fracture. Gang wars over territories, resources and factories would begin anew. Maybe Sevika would be able to keep an iron grip on the whole operation, but Jinx thought it inevitable that some of the barons would desert.
“All because of you. You make everything you touch rot and decay. Even your dad is rotting away, because of you.” whispered Mylo.
Jinx growled as she continued to eat, attacking the food. “Like I don’t fucking know already, Mylo. But thanks for the reminder – again!” she spat.
All her life she’d been told these things. What she was, and what she wasn't. The voices pounded it into her psyche daily if they could get away with it. The people working for Dad had quickly figured out to take a wide berth from her. Sevika had… tolerated her, she supposed. They’d had a lot of clashes though and Jinx knew Sevika wouldn’t complain should Jinx disappear as well.
Jinx supposed they all had good reasons. She was unstable. She liked to shoot things. She loved to blow things up. Dad’s men had been caught in the crossfire before, so she supposed she understood. Still, she reasoned, when everyone says you’re a monster, then what else is there to become the biggest of all? That’s what Dad had always told her, wasn’t it? Everyone had a monster inside of them. Survival depended on being the strongest of them all. To become what they feared. That you had to be able to do anything to stay on top. Dad had done that. She’d helped him as well, and yet… In the end he’d decided he couldn’t do whatever it took, and now he was dead. Because he wouldn’t deliver her, his Jinx, to topside. Jinx wanted to be stronger than the monsters. Feared by them. Could she do anything it took to achieve that?
She just didn’t know. She’d just have to figure it all out on the way, and in the meantime… Why not cause a little bit of mayhem? She could feel the smile on her lips growing, her eyes lighting up as she imagined the different things she could blow up in the warehouse. She’d brought plenty of bombs, and Pow-Pow, of course. And dear old Zapper!
She stood up quickly and flung the almost finished food over her shoulder and let out a giddy laugh, “Well boys, time to get to work. Pow-Pow will be angry if we don’t get her some new stuff, you know? Besides, I’m tired of listening to your crap, heh. So, let’s make some noise!”
She began to run across the roof, jumping and landing effortlessly to get nearer her target. Despite the events of the last few days, she couldn’t stop the familiar excitement and glee that she always felt just before she’d pull something off.
Landing gracefully on the roof of the targeted warehouse she quickly stalked to an old, rusted metal hatch further along the roof. It was shut and locked with a flimsy looking lock and it offered Jinx no resistance as she reached down and tore the hatch open. She jumped into the darkness below, knowing she’d land on the walkway.
The warehouse floor below was lit up by dirtied lamps and she smiled when she saw several crates. Her prize. She vaulted over the rail guard and landed on the hard floor with a soft grunt, though she felt nothing from the drop. She wasted no time in reaching the crates and started humming an old melody as she ripped them open, eager to claim what was hers.
“Let’s see what we’ve got today!” She began to rummage through the boxes with practiced ease quickly sorting away things that were not of interest. “Ooh, now this is some shiny stuff! Lucky me! Oh, Pow-Pow will be so happy, she’s been wanting parts replaced for a while!” Jinx exclaimed gleefully.
She smiled widely as she prepared several bags she’d brought with her. One for harder items, and another for more volatile things. Dad always said it was important to plan and prepare. And she tried! But sometimes it was just so boring. Like when she had to accompany Sevika or some other goons on deliveries, or when she had to help protect a shipment and nothing happened. Just the thought of it made her feet and hands itch. "Sit still, Jinx. Don't draw attention to yourself, Jinx. Don't be you, Jinx!" she mocked in a poor imitation of Sevika's voice.
With a snort of amusement she began to quickly stuff the items needed to maintain her beloved weapons into the largest bag. Once she felt she had enough, she began to carefully sort containers and vials of chemicals into the other bag. She really needed to figure out how to get some of this stuff reliably in the future, or this would quickly become a hassle. There was no way she could raid these shipments on a weekly basis, and the yield with just a few bags worth of stuff was miniscule and terribly inefficient.
As she was closing the last bag she froze suddenly, narrowing her eyes. After a few seconds her eyes widened with excitement. With a giggle she stepped out to the side of the warehouse, finding an area that was barely lit. Leaning herself against an old metal crate she began playing with one of her braids. She'd heard the voices outside, and the heavy steps as they carelessly approached the warehouse.
“Oh, fun, fun, fun! They’re a little early though. So rude! Should I stay and play? Dad always told me to get out when I could but,” a frown washed over her face, “he’s… he’s not here now, and…” she trailed off, her nose and eyes scrunching up in annoyance.
“…just shut up Mylo! Can’t you see I’m busy? Sheesh, read the room!”
With a grinding screech the double doors to the warehouse opened, interrupting her conversation. First in came a burly looking man that Jinx didn’t recognize. He was bald and his face was filled with crude, ugly looking tattoos that even Jinx’s chaotic mind couldn’t appreciate. After him came three men and a woman all wearing breather masks. Jinx tilted her head from side to side as she studied them, much like a curious dog would. She didn’t recognize them, nor any of the markings they bore on their skin or clothes. If they belonged to any of the current chem-barons, they certainly didn’t display it. She felt her fingers twitch and bit her lower lip.
“Get in here! We need all the merch loaded up quick. Boss has been waiting for weeks already, and he ain’t in a good mood.” the larger man bellowed. The gang was laughing as they went deeper into the warehouse. It didn’t take many seconds for the state of the crates to be noticed.
“Uh, Tarek…” the female of the group began, as she peered around the crates at the mess Jinx had made. “…I don’t know ‘bout you, but this ain’t right…” she trailed off, scratching the bare side of her head.
“Wha-“ the large man began, “fuck. Someone’s been in here!” The others of the group, already alert from the state of the crates, started to look around, trying to spot anything out of place, or anyone who might be hiding away. The darkness that most of the warehouse was engulfed in however, made spotting anyone near impossible.
The woman stared at Tarek with a look that screamed ‘obviously’.
“Tarek, what the fuck do we do? Boss will skin us for this…”
Tarek, as it was, didn’t exactly look as if he had an answer to that, and Jinx couldn’t stop herself from chortling at the dumb look on his face. To the chem-crews credit they at least picked up the sound of her noisy laughter quickly. They didn’t seem to be able to locate her though, as the crew drew and pointed their guns in various directions.
Tarek, to gain a measure of control stood taller and yelled out into the warehouse, his voice echoing, “Who’s there? You know who you just fucked with?”
With another laugh Jinx unclipped two of her grenades from her bandolier and pulled the pins.
“You know,” she spoke, her tone upbeat and full of mirth, “I don’t know at all, but I’m so happy you all came to play! Catch!”
With that she threw the grenades towards the chem-crew. Her eyes widened with utter delight as she watched two of her Chompers land. Adorning the ‘jaws’ of each one was a mix of pink and blue paint, depicting small grinning monkeys, and the word ‘boom!’. When they landed there was nothing but silence for a short moment until the jaws on the bombs started to rattle and bite, the sharp metal jaws eager to find purchase on something.
The group stared at them dumbly for a moment, until reality caught up. The woman of the group began to yell, “It’s fucking Jin-“. At that moment the grenades went off near simultaneously. The warehouse was lit up by two violent explosions of pink and blue that threw shrapnel and an explosive wave of fire all around them. Some of the members of the gang started to scream, but those were cut off as the explosions hit them.
Jinx stood in her spot in the dark, bouncing on the balls of her feet. She drew her gun and with a gleam of excitement in her eyes, stalked out amongst the fallen chem-crew members. Her expression was one of childish joy, her smile stretching wider at the carnage she’d caused. She flicked her unblinking gaze to each of them.
“One, two, three, four… and where’s… Ah!” She stalked over to one of the men laying on the floor twitching, as he feebly tried to figure out where his arm had gone. She gave him a cheerful smile. “You really didn’t do so well, did ya? You were supposed to catch!”
The man… kid, really, stared at her in shock. “Wha… Wh-“
Jinx shrugged and interrupted him. “Oh well, thanks for playing anyway. Toodles!”
She then aimed her gun at his face and pulled the trigger, the wide grin on her lips not faltering the slightest.
With a skip in her step she turned back to the crate containing chemicals and began to carefully rig two additional bombs in the crate. The explosion this would make would be so pretty!
Once she was done she left the warehouse, a gleam of childish joy in her eyes, and began the trek back down to her lair. In ten minutes the rest of the warehouse would be nothing but rubble.
Once she had gotten back to her lair, she spent time unpacking the items and materials she’d pilfered. It was a smaller yield, but then, there was only so much she could do when alone. She frowned as she sorted and packed away her new stuff. Already now, here in the silence of her hideout she could hear the voices making their return. It was always worse when she was alone, and especially when it was quiet. Still, her mood had improved. The resulting explosion of the warehouse had indeed been beautiful and shiny!
Once she was done unpacking, she slumped into her workstation chair and got comfortable. She didn’t really know what to do now. Her eyes flicked toward Pow-Pow and Fishbones. She supposed she could tinker with Pow-Pow for a while. Pow-Pow did need some parts replaced and there’d been an odd sound coming from her lately when Jinx put pressure on the trigger. She needed more bombs as well, of course. She’d get started on that as well. Perhaps she could experiment with the chemicals and increase the yield on her Chompers. She had more than enough time, and it wasn’t like she needed that much sleep anymore. Best fill up her time with something productive, she thought. She put on her goggles and reached over to start some music, grinning at the fast and noisy music that exploded from her music player. Perfect to work with!
During the early hours of the morning, she finally leaned back in her chair and took off her goggles and stretched her arms. Rolling her shoulders her hand brushed over one of her pockets and felt something inside of it. Reaching in she pulled out the shiny round Hextech gemstone and smiled wide, her body twitching with excitement.
“Oh, shiny and sparkly… I’d forgotten about you!” Jinx grinned, studying the gemstone intently. “Don’t worry. I won’t forget about you again. I promise.” she purred; her pink-purple shimmer eyes transfixed on the swirling lightning storm within the gem.
Absorbed by the gemstone, Jinx began humming that familiar song from her childhood and felt a gentle whisper across her mind, a caress, really…
”We will show them all…”
Chapter 4: The Council
They’d spent the last few days together at the Kiramman estate recuperating. The days had been filled with rest and food, and Vi could honestly say that she’d never had as much or as good food as she’d had in the last few days. The difference in quality and abundance compared to the Undercity was night and day. She still felt anger creep up in her from the blatant and extreme inequality, but for now she knew there was nothing she alone could do about it.
As Vi finished up a piece of pie she glanced up at Caitlyn who had been a storm of productivity all morning. The council meeting was tomorrow. It was originally slated for today, but it had been rescheduled and that had suited Vi and Caitlyn just fine. They both needed more rest, and Caitlyn welcomed the extra day of preparation.
Vi couldn’t stop the flutter in her stomach as she looked at Caitlyn. She was so focused in all things she did and invested everything she had into those tasks. Vi was about to say something but managed to stop herself just before. She’d learned quickly during her stay with Caitlyn that interrupting her when she was immersed in her work was to invite her ire.
“…that won’t work, no… I’ll need to talk to Jayce…” Caitlyn muttered, her pen scratching furiously on the paper notebook.
That was another of Caitlyn’s habits that Vi had found endearing. Caitlyn would talk to herself as she worked. And Vi had also learned that commenting on whatever Caitlyn said during her bouts of talking to herself, was unappreciated. The thought of it made her snicker as the irritated expression of Caitlyn flashed in her mind.
With a content sigh Vi shot a look at the remaining slice of pie. It would be such a waste of food to not eat it, so why shouldn’t she? It’s not like anyone would miss it, anyway. With that decision made, Vi quickly scooped up the last piece onto her plate and began attacking it as if she hadn’t eaten in months.
As she was eating her thoughts wandered to the brief time she’d been in the company of Caitlyn. She couldn’t remember having felt this way about anyone before. The lightheadedness, the annoyingly pleasant fluttering in her stomach and the explosive heat one of Caitlyn’s touches or looks could give her. To Vi, it felt as if every single touch was charged with energy. Vi knew she was hopelessly attracted to the Piltover enforcer. Whether it was reciprocated however, she didn’t know. She hadn’t exactly had a chance to bring it up with Caitlyn yet, but she supposed at some point after meeting the council, she’d carefully broach the topic with Caitlyn.
As she was finishing up the remaining pie Vi looked up and saw Caitlyn’s blue eyes on her, a crooked smile on her lips.
“You know, no one will snatch the food out of your hands.” she teased.
Vi swallowed and leaned back in the chair, feeling immensely satisfied. That had been the best meal she’d had in many years.
“You never know, Cupcake. Food wasn’t always easy to get by, y’know? Wasn’t ever easy down there. And now all this..." Vi said softly.
“It shames me to admit it, but I’d rarely thought of all these things before you took me down there.” Caitlyn put down her pen on top of the notebook, frowning.
Vi shrugged her broad shoulders lightly, scratching her neck. “Just how it is, Cupcake. Always been. Pisses me off how things are in the Undercity… But I don’t know what to do about it either.” Vi said, absentmindedly picking at a scab on her arm.
“Stop that. It’ll take longer to heal.” Caitlyn advised and stood, walking over to the kitchen counter to prepare another cup of tea. “Want a cup?”
That was another thing she’d learned about Caitlyn. Tea was important. Vi couldn’t claim to have ever drank a lot of tea, but she did enjoy what Caitlyn served. “Sure, I’ll take a cup. Not that bitter shit though..." she grumbled.
Caitlyn nodded and set about pouring the water. “It’s not right Violet. I’ve been so… blind. Everyone up here has been. I don’t know what we can do to fix… or help… but we need to try. I need to try.” she murmured; her expression determined.
That was yet another thing, Vi idly noted. Caitlyn used her full name when she was upset or serious. And she had found that she rather liked the sound of it from Caitlyn's lips.
She offered Caitlyn a warm smile, her grey eyes conveying what the words meant to her as Caitlyn put down the cup of tea in front of her. “Thanks, Cupcake.” Vi said and took a small sip, wincing from the heat. Dumbass, she thought, and put the cup down. “Cait… Thanks for what you said. We're not used to topsiders caring, and, uh... and it matters that you care, and want to do something about it.” she said softly.
Caitlyn sat down at the table again, carefully putting down her steaming hot cup. Reaching over, Caitlyn placed her hand over Vi’s, squeezing gently. Vi felt her face heat up at the contact. Yeah, she really needed to talk to Cait about this
“You don’t have to thank me for that, Vi. I… we’ve been terribly negligent.” Caitlyn sighed, before continuing. “When we talk to the council, our main goal will be to avoid conflict. If the opportunity shows itself though, I’d like you to elaborate for the council just how it is in the Undercity. They need to understand why things have gone this far. Only if the opportunity shows itself though.”
Vi tried but couldn’t stop the scoff of disbelief. “Fat chance they’ll get it, Cupcake. How could they? They’ve lived their lives fat and rich. I don’t see why they’d suddenly give a shit.” Vi huffed.
Caitlyn nodded carefully and squeezed Vi’s hand just a bit harder. “I know, Vi. But change must start somewhere. Why not us?” Caitlyn asked earnestly. “I have a plan, and if it works, it’ll help us along the way.”
Vi’s brow was furrowed as she sipped her tea, sighing as the pleasant warmth spread throughout her body. “What are you going to do Cupcake? You’ve been tight-lipped about it.”
Caitlyn studied Vi intently, the look in her eyes inscrutable. After a long moment she leaned back in her chair and withdrew her hand from above Vi’s. Vi instantly missed it.
“I’ve been debating this with Mother over the last couple of days,” Caitlyn began, “Suffice to say, she has never been fond of my choice of career. Father approves, but it has taken a lot longer for Mother to accept it.”
Vi leaned back in her chair, cradling her cup of tea. The warmth of it was a poor substitute for Cait’s hand, she thought. She stayed quiet though, sensing Caitlyn wasn’t done.
“Either way, even Mother acknowledges the benefits of my proposal,” Caitlyn continued, her beautiful eyes fixed on Vi, “so… As you know, the enforcer’s are severely lacking in manpower. As you also know, widespread corruption was discovered. Marcus… Most of the senior enforcers…” Caitlyn trailed off with a disgusted expression. She shook her head before continuing.
“There’s a complete lack of leadership right now and the council is still not done investigating. I’m certain more compromised individuals will be discovered. Silco’s reach went deep.”
Vi nodded, took a sip of her tea and set it down. She folded her arms across her chest. “Yeah, I know all that Cupcake. So, what are you going for here?” Vi questioned.
Caitlyn smirked, a single brow arching. “I’m going to suggest to the council, that the best way forward is to introduce radical changes. Beginning with appointing me as Sheriff.” Caitlyn looked satisfied at the surprise on Vi’s face.
“Mother was apprehensive at first. After I explained myself, however, and the changes I’d like to introduce as Sheriff, I managed to convince her. She won’t be able to vote directly for me, of course, but she will speak up if she is asked for her opinion.” Caitlyn stated.
Vi let out a low whistle, impressed. “You think it’ll work? That they’ll appoint you?”
“It’s impossible to be certain. I’m confident of my chances, however.” Caitlyn responded and finished the remainder of her tea.
“Well, I’m impressed, Cupcake. And uh, I’ll do what I can, I guess. Dunno what help I’d be, but yeah… I’ll be there by your side. Uh, with you, yeah.” Vi said, tripping over her own words. What was wrong with her, seriously?
The smile Caitlyn gave her made her stomach do a wild tumble and she attempted to hide her embarrassed face behind her cup as she finished her tea.
“Thank you, Vi. Now, how about we go out for a small walk? I know a great place for ice cream nearby-” Caitlyn started, before she was interrupted by Vi abruptly standing.
Ice cream? Nothing could ever hold her back from that. “We’re going right now, Cupcake. Think they have cookie dough?”
The council meeting was going to begin in ten minutes. Caitlyn and Vi had been waiting in the antechamber for a while now, and Vi could tell that Caitlyn was nervous. Determined and set on her path, but on edge. She was good at keep her expression blank, Vi noticed. There were other little signs that displayed that Cait was nervous. A subtle shaking of her leg and wringing of the hands.
“It’ll be fine Cupcake. You got this.” Vi assured in an encouraging voice.
Caitlyn startled at the sound of Vi’s voice, having been stuck in her thoughts. “We’ll see. I… I’m hopeful, but nothing is certain. This could go a thousand different ways, many of which would make things very difficult…” Caitlyn began, looking speculative.
“It’ll work out. Your mom thinks it’s a good idea as well, and uh… she comes across as pretty shrewd to me, y’know?”
Caitlyn can’t stop the quiet laugh that bubbles up in her. “Yes… Well, she’s been on the council for a long time now. She’s had to learn a few tricks along the way, I suppose.”
Vi snorts and gets up from the bench they’re seated on. “Yeah. I suppose to them it’s all just one big game. So elevated from everyone else that they lose sight of what’s real.”
“That was not what I meant, Vi.” Caitlyn said quietly.
“I know. We just… We’re raised with hatred of Topside. Enforcers… the council… What they represent, how much they've bled the Undercity dry.” Vi sighed softly, running a hand through her hair. “I know it’s not that easy and not that black and white, but that’s how it was… is, for us.”
Caitlyn got up from the bench, a tender look in her eyes. Gently, she put her hand on Vi’s shoulder. “I’m sorry, Vi. No one should grow up like that. I wish… I hope that we ca-“ Both Vi and Caitlyn startled as a deep metallic sound was heard in the antechamber, interrupting Caitlyn. They quickly turned towards the sound. The doors to the council chamber slowly swung open and revealed the entire council seated within. A voice rung out.
“The council is ready to receive you. Step inside, please.”
Vi swallowed and steeled herself. She looked at Caitlyn and give a stiff nod and began to walk into the main chamber together. The doors behind them closed with a deep sound that she felt in her chest. This was it, then.
It felt as if they had been in here for many hours, Vi thought. They had talked about the need to recruit more enforcers and about the corruption within the ranks, and the need to clean shop. Vi admired how confident Caitlyn appeared. There was not a single quiver in her voice when she spoke. Every word came across as measured and perfectly delivered. She stood perfectly composed as well, and Vi felt in comparison that she was constantly slouching while standing next to Caitlyn. She thought everything was going well. It was difficult to tell with the council.
Vi was brought out of her thoughts when she felt a gentle prod from Caitlyn. Taking in a deep breath, she forced herself to pay more attention.
“…as such, both Violet and I were abducted by the criminal known as Jinx. During the event, Silco was shot and killed by Jinx. The shooting was accidental.” Caitlyn stated, her voice loud and crisp throughout the council chamber.
Councilor Hoskel chose this moment to speak up, his voice sounding bored, as if he wanted to be anywhere else but this meeting. “I suppose that concludes our long-standing issues with Silco then, does it not? I say, the most pressing matter now is to identify which of the remaining barons are willing to help secure mineral deposits. We have an ever-growing need in Piltover, I’m afraid.” he drawled, raising his glass of wine to his lips.
Vi had to grit her teeth and force herself to stay silent. It was this exact attitude amongst other issues, that had caused tensions to rapidly rise in the Undercity.
A dark-skinned councilor chose to speak up as well, however. Shoola, Vi recalled.
“While I agree that trade is of great importance, we cannot ignore the inequality that has long been present between Piltover and the Undercity. I believe all of us are aware of how the barons in the Undercity maintain power, and as I have stated before, we share responsibility in how the situation has evolved. We must seek to help the citizens – our citizens – to improve their lot in life.” she stated firmly, before finishing. “If Silco is indeed dead, then there will be a power vacuum. If we exploit this, we will only encourage further tensions in the future, and I do not believe that to be in the interest of anyone here.”
Jayce Talis chose to stand up. His face pensive and there was a light frown on his face.
“The arrangement this council had agreed upon with Silco, was that all shimmer production was to cease. Further, Piltover was to receive the missing Hextech gemstone, and finally, the delivery of Jinx.” he said quietly, though his voice easily carried through the chamber. “What will happen now though… I can’t say. We must wait and see who seizes power, and who we can deal with. Any agreement on the formation of the nation of Zaun, will therefore have to be put on hold.”
“What lead to Jinx shooting Silco?” Jayce asked after a moment of silence, his eyes flicking between Caitlyn and Vi.
Caitlyn must have seen how uncomfortable Vi looked, because she stepped up and answered.
“It appeared to me that Jinx was suffering from psychosis. She was breaking down. During this, Jinx fired and hit Silco.” Caitlyn revealed. She went quiet as she saw varying degrees of shock amongst the councilors along with muttering.
“How did you determine this, Enforcer Kiramman?” Shoola inquired. Her voice was firm, though Vi thought she detected something else in her tone.
Caitlyn turned slightly and directed her blue eyes onto Shoola. “She was visibly talking and arguing with herself, councilor. This is not the first time I have witnessed this happening either, and Violet can corroborate and explain further, if that is the councils wish. Further, I will also say that neither Violet or I have the necessary background to conclude with certainty that Jinx suffers from mental illness. It is simply based on what we observed.”
Vi felt the gaze of several councilors on her and mentally prepared herself. Her palms felt clammy, and she felt nervous. She didn’t exactly want to be here to do this, however, she trusted in Caitlyn’s plan.
“Is it not possible that it is simply an act, and that this is an attempt somehow, by this Jinx, to seize power?” Councilor Salo suggested and then popped a ginko nut into his mouth.
“I cannot dismiss your theory out of hand, councilor,“ Caitlyn began, turning to face him, “however, I find it unlikely. When Jinx shot Silco… The reaction and her emotions appeared genuine. It appears that they had a father and daughter relationship. She called him so, as well.” she concluded, glancing briefly at Vi, giving her a soft look.
This revelation made several of the councilors appear shocked again before Jayce spoke.
“I met with Silco when we negotiated terms. I remember his reaction when I demanded Jinx. He seemed frazzled and agitated. If what you say is true… Then that reaction makes a lot more sense to me now.” he mused with a grimace. Jayce moved over to one of the windows in the chamber that overlooked Piltover. The chamber was silent, except for Hoskel’s wine glass making a slight sound when he put it down. Then Jayce turned back, looking at Vi and Caitlyn. There was a grim look on his face. “We need to figure out how to catch Jinx then. I don’t imagine it will be easy, so, we’ll need to plan. Perhaps see if there are any patterns in her behavior.”
Caitlyn looked down at her notebook for a moment, studying it intently. The writing on the notebook was small and messy, and the page was nearly completely full. How she was able to make anything out of her own scribblings, Vi had no idea. It looked like another language to her. “I’ve been pouring over reports from the last few years regarding Jinx. No clear pattern has emerged yet, but I will continue my investigation.”
Caitlyn sucked in a deep breath, bracing herself before continuing. She glanced over at her mother for a short second.
“In order to continue that investigation in a more comprehensive and satisfying manner, I’d like to make a proposal for the council. As you are no doubt aware, the Enforcers are woefully undermanned, and it will only get worse if more corruption is discovered,” Caitlyn spoke loudly, standing ramrod straight as if trying to project complete confidence – and succeeding, “further, Piltover needs a sheriff. I would therefore like to be so bold as to suggest myself for that position.”
There was a long period of silence as the councilors all seemed to consider her proposal. Salo seemed bored, his head buried in a stack of papers while he was stuffing his face with ginko nuts. Mel Medarda was looking at Caitlyn with a piercing stare, her head tilted slightly. Finally, Mel decided to speak, breaking the silence that had begun to settle over the chambers.
“That is a bold proposal indeed, Enforcer Kiramman. Why do you believe yourself suited to be sheriff? It is a demanding job, and the burden of responsibility is… considerable.”
“I believe that I carry with me the respect of the junior Enforcers, and other colleagues. I have an analytical mind, and I believe that not only can I root out any remaining corruption within our ranks, but I also believe that I can successfully apprehend Jinx and recover the missing Hextech gemstone.” Caitlyn stated confidently. She gestured to Vi next to her.
“With the aid of Violet, I believe that we are the best chance you have at catching her.”
“I see. What makes the two of you specifically suited for this task?” Jayce probed, his voice soft and quiet. There was a note of something else in his voice that Vi couldn’t pick up, though his face showed naked curiosity.
Vi cleared her throat, and she looked incredibly uncomfortable. She couldn’t let that stop her now, however.
“I believe I know Jinx better than anyone, with perhaps, the exception being Silco,” Vi growled the name, “Jinx is… she is my sister.”
The reaction was as she expected. Suspicious looks were cast her way from several councilors, while the rest carefully hid their feelings on the matter. Vi struggled to stand still, an ugly feeling twisting in her stomach. She hadn’t wanted to do this, to give that information away. Caitlyn had felt it was vital, however, and Vi trusted her.
“You failed to disclose this when you were last in this chamber,” Mel remarked in a clipped voice, her gaze narrowed, “how are we to trust that you will not aid your sister in avoiding justice?”
“Look, I know what she’s done, and… I’m not saying she shouldn’t face justice, I just… I want her to receive the care she needs as well.”
Jayce cleared his throat loudly and interrupted. His arms folded tightly across his chest.
“I… trust Caitlyn’s judgement on this. If she can vouch for Violet, then I see no reason to object. However, this means nothing until we’ve made a decision.” He went back to his seat and sat down, peering towards Caitlyn’s mother. “Councilor Kiramman, you cannot vote in a matter pertaining your daughter. Your insight is still valuable and appreciated, however.”
“My daughter has integrity and once she has decided on a matter, she will see it through. She is a hard worker and has a strong work ethic. I have no doubt that my daughter is capable of what she says she is.” Cassandra Kiramman commented in a strong tone. She looked at Caitlyn, and though her face was carefully blank, Vi easily spotted the pride in her gaze.
“I believe it to be an inspired choice, and while you are a little young for the position, I cannot see who in the corps at this moment could do a better job.” the words came from the until now silent councilor Bolbok. “I shall therefore vote in support of the young Kiramman. Let us vote?”
Jayce nodded once and let his hand rise. “First, thank you for the supplemental words, councilor Kiramman. Second, I too, shall vote in favor.”
Bolbok as promised, let his hand rise as well, and a column of light lit his form. He was followed by councilor Medarda.
Hoskel took a long sip of his wine before speaking and his voice was slightly scratchy. “I have no doubt that you are capable, Enforcer Kiramman. I believe this council should attempt to find someone more experienced for the job, however. I will be voting no.”
Shoola said nothing either, but slowly raised her hand. She seemed content to peer at Vi and Caitlyn, her face unreadable.
“Well, I can see which way the wind blows. I, of course, shall be voting yes in this matter.” Salo drawled.
“I believe it is settled then. Congratulations, Sheriff Kiramman.” Jayce said with a small smile on his handsome face.
“Thank you, councilor. I will do my best to live up to the trust you have shown in me.” Caitlyn said quietly, bowing her head.
“I shall summarize then.” Mel stated, “The Enforcers will need to be rebuilt once more, and that job falls to you as sheriff. Secondly, concerning Jinx… You are to apprehend her alive, if possible. Should it be necessary to use lethal force however, to protect yourself or innocents, then this council will not hold that against you. Finally, and most important of all, the missing Hextech gemstone is to be located and returned, at all costs.” she finished, before sitting down.
"I believe that will be all then. You have a job to do, Sheriff. Good luck." Jayce concluded, effectively ending the meeting.
The trip back to the Kiramman estate was largely spent in silence. Vi felt exhausted, and she was sure it was worse for Caitlyn. Luckily it had all gone according to plan, and Vi felt confident that the position and power given to Caitlyn would help immensely in tracking down Powder.
It was a nice evening out. The low sun was bathing Piltover in a soft light. The streets were full of people going to and from the markets, and the smell of food was nearly overwhelming Vi.
She glanced over at Caitlyn and smirked, gently nudging her shoulder. “Already put the pin on, huh? No wasting time with you.”
Caitlyn shot her a tired grin. Her face was flushed, and she looked immensely pleased. “This will make everything so much easier for us, Vi. And we can rebuild the Enforcers. Make them better… for everyone.”
Vi nodded once, her eyes lingering on some particularly tasty looking food as they walked past a shop. Vi knew she’d be in trouble if she ended up living topside. There was just too much good food. She managed to tear her gaze away though, to focus on Caitlyn again. “Maybe, y’know… Call them something else? People fucking hate enforcers, Cupcake. Uh, well… fissure folk do. Might be easier with something new.” Vi responded.
“They did tell me it needed to be rebuilt. I suppose you can help me figure out a name then, since you suggested it.” Caitlyn smiled. She looked so tired, Vi thought. They continued in comfortable silence until they reached Caitlyn’s home. As they were standing on the steps to the front door, Vi couldn’t help but feel slightly awkward. She wanted to ask Caitlyn if she’d felt anything as well. That it wasn’t just Vi.
“Well, uh… You know, it’s been real nice, Cupcake…” Vi started.
“Are you leaving?” Caitlyn interrupted, looking worried.
“What? No! Wh… Why are you asking me that?”
Caitlyn stared at Vi with wide eyes and she couldn’t stop a small laugh from bubbling out. “Because when someone says that it always means they’re about to leave. Seriously, Vi?”
Vi scratched her neck awkwardly and felt heat rise to her face. Why was she so fucking bad at this?
“Fuck. Uh, no… I’m not going anywhere, unless y’know, you want me to. I just wanted to say that it’s been… something else, since you sprung me from Stillwater, y’know?” She ran a hand through her hair and cleared her throat. She then reached out to lightly grasp Caitlyn’s hand.
“What I meant… What I mean, Cait, is that I really like you. I just, uh, needed to say that.” Vi croaked, hating how her voice cracked.
Caitlyn gave her that warm smile, and it made her blue eyes sparkle even more for it. Vi felt that pleasant tumble in her stomach again.
“I really like you too, Violet.” she said softly.
Stepping closer, Vi decided to just take the shot. Even with the words exchanged she felt unsure. Did Cait mean what she hoped? Fuck if she knew. With a small intake of air, Vi leaned down toward Caitlyn and brushed against Caitlyn’s soft lips, lightly and gently kissing her. They felt just as soft as Vi had imagined. And it only got better once she felt Caitlyn returning the slow and gentle kiss. This was magic, Vi thought, soaring. The awkwardness fled and heat flushed through her body in a wild wave of euphoria.
Pulling back slightly she saw Caitlyn’s smiling face. With a quiet laugh Vi spoke.
“I meant like you, like that.”
Caitlyn snorted and she was clearly amused.
“That was painfully obvious, Vi.” she said, smirking, though her eyes were alive with warmth. “Now come on, let’s go in. I believe dinner will be ready soon. I know you’re starving. I saw you eye up all that food on the way here.” she teased.
Vi let out a laugh and shrugged her broad shoulders. How could she have gotten so lucky? She wasn't about to question it. With a grin she followed Caitlyn inside, feeling lighter than she had in years.
Chapter 5: Time and Change
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.