Cognitive Dissonance @hexmage
Chapter Seven

The journals are crumpled slightly. Jayce isn’t sure why that’s what he focuses on, of all things, as he sits on the ferry back to Piltover - but it’s all that’s in his head. The journals are crumpled. He’ll look careless. What will the University think?

He thinks his neck is going to bruise.

 

 

It’s around one in the afternoon when he finally sits down in his own home, but it feels like it’s late at night. The sunlight and snatches of city-noise from outside feels foreign, almost, as Jayce sits at his kitchen table and tries to put together some logical reason for all of this. He’d been close! He’d felt something that could be perceived as camaraderie if he thought about it hard enough! Then that last journal, with that last article, had ruined it all. What about a Zaun-made technological triumph would make Viktor so enraged? Was it genuinely someone else doing it first, or… no, that didn’t make sense. Viktor had been ranting about a singular he, and that couldn’t have been Blitzcrank. He - a thief - cavorting, who used cavorting as a word - it all meant something, but he wasn’t sure what.

He was pulling at the end of a rope, aware that there was something on the end of it but entirely unsure of what… or if whatever he found would do anything but make the situation worse. There was something about Viktor and Blitzcrank. Jayce re-reads the article, Pididly’s slimy self-accolades (who let that through editing?) sticking in his mind. It’s disgusting, truthfully. Even if the man is a revolutionary, he writes in a style that fits a conman more than a professor. Perhaps that was a bit harsh of criticism, but Jayce’s gut says not to blindly trust this man or anything he writes. His gut isn’t wrong. Except for Viktor, it seems.

He had been very wrong there. Not that he knew what was right, necessarily, but wasn’t that what he was trying to figure out by looking over this? Maybe he could try to talk to Pididly, as much as the thought made his stomach turn. Get some answers out of him through his charisma, even if he’d hate every moment of it.

Jayce discards that line of thought almost as soon as it fully manifests. He’s had enough of the amber-orange smog of Zaun to last him the rest of the year - although he’s not stupid enough to kid himself into thinking he won’t have to go back there at some point - and he really doesn’t trust himself to talk to a man whose writings alone seem so repugnant. (It’s not as if he’d start swinging or anything as rash as that, but it’s better to err on the side of caution. Especially here and now.) That, of course, leaves the question of who else he could talk to… and the answer, in that case, is also one he doesn’t feel great about.


Blitzcrank is a hard… Jayce can’t say man of course, Blitzcrank is a hard being to track down. It’s been a month since his last run-in with Viktor, and in that time he’s had a lot of opportunities to think. He returned the journals, of course, and any scolding a student might have received for bent pages was most certainly not given to him. Caitlyn didn’t send a squadron of officers to kick his door in and arrest him for conspiring to commit some crime or another, although he most certainly had at least one dream in which that was the case. Perhaps that was why he hadn’t asked her for more advice. Or perhaps it was just the knowledge that she was a very busy woman and he’d be doing nothing but taking up her time with yet another moral dilemma. Self-doubt is something he’s not felt quite so keenly in some time.

But now is about Blitzcrank, not his own encroaching worries. The golem’s steadfast service to the Institute - and seeming lack of obligations off the Fields - had helped him accrue quite a bit of… well, the Summoners assuredly called it something else, but Jayce was content to refer to it as just paid time off. Blitzcrank had taken it and decided to go on a months-long uninterrupted tour of Runeterra. The only reason Jayce knew he was back was the match listing - fortunately without Viktor - for a Zaun-Ionia conflict over potential reparations. Zaun’s supplying of chemical weaponry and trained troops to Noxus had been largely ignored by League matches until now, but Jayce had supposed that was due to Noxus being the initiator of the war… he's never had a head for politics, much less the politics of war.

So he was waiting, attempting to look as if he wanted to be leaning against the polished walls of the Institute. The door to the post-match lobby is locked, of course, but a shimmering field of magic stretches over it to show a live broadcast of the match. Ionia is thoroughly in the lead according to every possible metric. He doesn’t normally watch League matches - the commentary over them reminds him far too much of sports, and he would prefer to keep the two separate in his mind.

Varus is on the broadcast, now, blighted arrows chipping away at Zaun’s Nexus turrets. They fall into rubble as they have hundreds of times before, and the Ionian team then makes quick work of the Nexus. The commentating Summoner lets out a whoop of excitement for the overwhelming victory before the communications magic cuts to an inky, swirling black and begins to fade away.

The Zaunites take practically no time to shuffle out of the room, Singed and Warwick in a heated conversation that hardly breaks its flow as they briefly acknowledge the unexpected presence of Jayce. Warwick bares his teeth - utterly clean of the blood they had dripped on the Fields - and they are gone. Jayce catches a glimpse of the Ionian team, calm and yet obviously moved by their victory, before a large brass form attempts to shimmy its way through the very obviously person-sized door. Blitzcrank’s size makes side-stepping through doorways a fact of life (existence?) for him.

Jayce hadn’t figured out what he was going to say. He waves, instead, and immediately feels foolish as the golem doesn’t break stride. He’s a robot, of course the finer details of social situations are lost on him.

“Blitzcrank?”

All the arm-swinging forward momentum stops in a second as metal feet clank against the floor to turn towards Jayce. “GREETINGS.”

“…Hi.”

Blitzcrank clasps his oversized hands together, mismatched “eyes” fixed on Jayce. He doesn’t move, doesn’t speak, doesn’t ask why Jayce is there and… well, of course he wouldn’t. Good going, Jayce. Stop treating the robot like he’s human. The Ionian team makes their way around the two of them, seeming to not mind the inconvenience.

“I wanted to ask you some questions.”

More silence.

“…About Viktor?”

“WHAT DO YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT HIM?”

“Do you know him?”

“YES.”

Jayce is becoming very, very aware about the true depth of the phrase “like pulling teeth”. This conversation already makes him feel like pulling out his own - which isn’t what the phrase means, but it seems apt right now. He pushes on, staring at the golem’s proportionately-small head and flickering eyes. “…How do you know him?”

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