Cognitive Dissonance @hexmage
Prologue This story takes place in pre-2015-retcon lore. I highly recommend familiarizing yourself with Viktor and Jayce's lore from that era, as it's significantly different than current canon. I also recommend reading about old Piltover and Zaun as separate city-states, as well as the Institute of War. I may be able to upload a "primer" to help people understand the broad strokes of this lore, but for now I recommend using the wiki. This is crossposted from AO3.

Being the Defender of Piltover - or Piltover’s Pride, the Hero of Piltover, whatever moniker the press has given him this month - was… something Jayce had not signed up for. He’d just wanted to do what was right - take back the crystal Viktor had stolen and stop whatever maniacal plan the so-called Herald had put into motion. He hadn’t expected to be hailed as a hero right out of the weekly comic books.

But here he is, being the hero! He’d grown used to it: fighting on the Fields of Justice for his city-state, and… well, keeping tabs on Viktor in his spare time. The man had kept mostly to himself after Jayce had joined the Institute (Jayce wondered if it was from fear, or simply a calculation to keep out of trouble) and so he’d fallen into an easy routine of just…keeping an eye out for him and anyone else who could be a threat to Piltover.

In this case, he’s seen something.

Heard was more accurate, truthfully. Rumblings from Zaun about Viktor starting a new project, although he wasn’t fortunate enough to learn the specifics. Just that something was happening - and that he should damn well go there to stop it. So he catches a ferry, sits awkwardly between two unimpressed Zaunites returning from a business conference, and finds himself in the city across the bay. The air quality was better than he remembered. It still smells of smoke and chemicals, but it didn’t cause his eyes to water… not like last time. He still knew the way to Viktor’s laboratory - the one he had caused to practically crash down around the man (or at least, what had once passed as a man) and his followers. It was a walk from the docks, but it wasn’t as if he was going to risk his life on Zaun’s rickety transport system. A train car rumbled by overhead as he walks through the city, the metal columns supporting the track shuddering with the speed and weight. Right… he’ll turn here - duck into one of Zaun’s many alleys to remain unseen, and-

…A group of people met his gaze. A gang? Zaun was overrun with those, if Piltover’s newspapers were to be believed. But… the flashes of metal at some of their sides weren’t weapons. They were limbs, crafted with far-too-familiar alloys.

He dodges the first one that lunged at him, her right hook sailing past him. Dodges the second, catches the third with a swing of the Mercury Hammer - he was fine, wasn’t he? He’d thrown Viktor’s acolytes aside before, the last time he was in Zaun. He was fine. He was the-

Something heavy and blunt connects with his head. He stays upright for a long enough time to consider that maybe they weren’t out for blood last time, and then he drops to the grimy cobbles like a robot without a power source.

1. Prologue 511 0 0 2. Chapter One 2197 0 0 3. Chapter Two 3090 0 0 4. Chapter Three 2314 0 0 5. Chapter Four 2635 0 0 6. Chapter Five 2371 0 0 7. Chaper Six 1845 0 0 8. Chapter Seven 1291 0 0 9. Chapter Eight 1188 0 0 10. Chapter Nine 2996 0 0 11. Epilogue 667 0 0