Cognitive Dissonance @hexmage
Chapter Eight Jayce finally gets some answers - although it's not as if they leave him with anything but more questions.

Jayce doesn’t know what he’d been expecting. Blitzcrank to hesitate before dropping such a bombshell? His voice to lower from its steady volume? Something, anything, that made this revelation seem right? It’s too big and too small all at once, and truthfully he should have guessed the answer long before now.

“…Then why did Stanwick Pididly publish papers on your construction?” another question he knows the answer to.

“PIDIDLY WAS THE ADVISOR FOR THE DOCTORAL PROJECT THAT CONSTRUCTED ME,” a pause, and it’s the most human thing Jayce has seen the golem do, “BUT ONCE I DISPLAYED SENTIENCE, HE CLAIMED CREDIT.”

“PIDIDLY WAS THE ADVISOR FOR THE DOCTORAL PROJECT THAT CONSTRUCTED ME,” a pause, and it’s the most human thing Jayce has seen the golem do, “BUT ONCE I DISPLAYED SENTIENCE, HE CLAIMED CREDIT.”

“He stole credit. Then what?”

“VIKTOR BEGAN A LEGAL CASE. HE DID NOT WIN IT.”

“But- Pididly stole you!”

“PIDIDLY CLAIMED THAT HE WAS THE MAIN CREATOR OF MY INTELLIGENCE AND CHASSIS,” Blitzcrank clasps his hands together with a clang. Jayce winces.

“You knew that he was lying! I mean, you… You’re legally a person in Zaun, right, so couldn’t they call you to testify? Couldn’t you have asked?”

“THERE WAS NO REASON TO.”

“No reason? Here’s a reason: Pididly committed a crime!” his voice bounces and echoes through the hallway - the area is thankfully empty, now. Talking about this in the open feels wrong even if it is just the two of them, but he doubts that he’d be able to convince Blitzcrank to move elsewhere or be quieter. It’s not like he’s being quiet, now. “You could have stopped it! Made him face justice! You had a whole team of people being wronged!”

“THERE WAS NO LEGAL PRECEDENT FOR A GOLEM TESTIFYING. VIKTOR WAS THE ONLY ONE ON THE TEAM WHO SOUGHT LEGAL COUNSEL.”

“Because he was the leader! Everyone else followed his lead!”

“NO. THE TEAM WAS NOT LISTED AS PLAINTIFFS. THEY TESTIFIED AGAINST HIM,” the golem shakes his head in sharp, sudden jerks - it’s as if he is trying to express pity, and yet…

His voice is the same flat, loud drone regardless of the words he says. Jayce really shouldn’t be surprised at that, but it still feels like a punch to the gut. If he were a human, Jayce would accuse Blitzcrank of lying for some reason or another. But robots… well, it’s not like there are any other sentient robots on Valoran (unless he counts Orianna, and Jayce isn’t sure if she is anything more than an automaton playing at being a dead woman) to contrast Blitzcrank with, but he’s pretty sure robots don’t lie. Robots don’t lie, Viktor’s team betrayed him.

“…Why? Why would they…?”

“ELABORATE,” another pause, another cock of the head, “PLEASE.”

Why would they side with Pididly when they were stolen from!” he feels small, standing next to Blitzcrank, and smaller still at the dawning understanding that he knows so little. That he believed a thief’s writing. That he was taken in, again, by his ignorance.

“ALL OF THE TEAM, EXCEPT VIKTOR, WAS COMPENSATED FOR THEIR TIME IN BUILDING ME.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“THEY RECEIVED THEIR DOCTORAL DEGREES. ALL OF THEM CURRENTLY WORK IN THE ROBOTICS SECTOR OR RELATED FIELDS: I HAVE REACHED OUT,” an unsettling, mechanical laugh that is obviously for a pun that only Blitzcrank finds funny, “TO THEM BUT NONE ARE INTERESTED IN TALKING TO ME.”

“…The College didn’t let him graduate? Because he dared to try to get credit?”

It somehow doesn’t feel odd, going to bat for Viktor. If Jayce stepped back long enough to put this man, Viktor the Doctoral Student, in line behind Viktor the Machine Herald - maybe it would. But this is a tale more sordid than any of the rumors and Piltovian-press-backed stories that come out of Zaun, more stomach-twisting than tales of Shimmer addicts rotting in the streets with terror playing out on their opalescent skin, than human test subjects procured willingly with only a wave of a stuffed billfold. Those, at least, he could rationalize as having done so of their own volition. But a man isn’t stolen from because he requests it. A future career isn’t destroyed due to consent. Viktor had tried to play a fair game in a crooked city.

Blitzcrank’s voice is louder than the rush of blood in Jayce’s ears. “VIKTOR WITHDREW FROM THE DOCTORAL PROGRAM.”

“And you expect me to believe that he wouldn’t have been kicked out if he hadn’t?!”

“I EXPECT NOTHING OF YOU.”

Isn’t that the truth. He’s a hero to Piltover and a non-factor to Zaun. Because of course Viktor is different than Singed and Warwick and Dr. Mundo, all men who had chosen their paths in gas and blood and body parts willingly, all men who were paraded about by Zaun as scientific giants. Viktor’s work - his surgeries (which, with dawning horror, Jayce has realized are performed by a robotics scientist and not a surgeon) and prostheses, even his goal of becoming a machine… it’s all seen as inconsequential in Zaun, isn’t it? His work isn’t for war or spectacle, he isn’t beloved for his nature like Jinx or Twitch or even Blitzcrank and that’s why Viktor is rarely called to the Fields. That’s why Jayce got away with what he did, attacking a soon-to-be-Champion at his place of work. Zaun couldn’t care less about Viktor, and wasn’t that more damning than if it hated him.

He’s not entertaining to that city-state. Maybe they’d already had their fun with him, during the trial. Point-and-laugh at a man who went against everything Zaun stood for and burned for it.

“…Yeah,” Jayce says finally, rubbing at an eye as he looks up at Blitzcrank. “I guess I don’t expect you to. I… thanks. For telling me this.”

Blitzcrank isn’t human, for all his body language apes humanity’s. He’s a heavy being of iron and steel with a supposed heart of gold, powered by steam rather than food and drink. He isn’t human, and he doesn’t try to be… and yet, Jayce felt inclined to thank him. Can Blitzcrank even feel gratitude? Can he feel anything at all? Or is it all empty motions and actions, a show put on for the supposed comfort of others - grease and oil for the gears of social interaction?

“YOU ARE WELCOME,” the golem turns away with a whistle of steam, legs beginning to carry him down the hallway.

“Wait-“ the word is plaintive. “What was he like? Viktor - when he… before the court case.”

Blitzcrank doesn’t bother to turn around for his response. Perhaps, if he were human, he would have turned his neck and spoke over his shoulder. Perhaps, if he were human, his answer would be different.

A scrapped idea that wasn't able to make it into the final draft due to pacing concerns: Blitzcrank spent much of his vacation in the Freljord! He met many poros, and also learned how to get poro tongues off of cold metal. (The answer is warm goat's milk.) He sadly did not bring a camera to record his adventures, but the memories are safely stored in his head - and that's what counts. Blitzcrank is certain that the experience has made him understand living things a bit more: they tend to do things that are not in their own self-interest.
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