Chapters 1-3 are on Page 1.
Chapter 4 is on Page 2.
This is my attempt at creating kind of an "origins" story about how Caitlyn and Vi became the dynamic duo, centering around one of their earliest cases working together as partners. Chronologically, this story is set before they are inducted into the League of Legends and takes place primarily within the city of Piltover. The main focus is on Caitlyn, Vi, and Jayce.
Summary: After a well-known Piltover statesman is found murdered in his own home, Caitlyn and Vi are called in to assist with the investigation. But appearances can be deceiving, and as the duo begin to unravel the murder mystery, they discover that even the City of Progress has its own dark secrets to hide.
Link to my story on fanfiction.net (easier to read because it keeps the original formatting): http://www.fanfiction.net/s/9104837/...Caitlyn-and-Vi
The onyx brooch felt heavy in Evaine Leblanc’s hands, as if the burdens of all its previous owners were somehow manifested in its weight. It was a curious trinket, colored black as night and delicately carved into the shape of a single, beautiful rose. Over the years, knowledge of its existence had slowly faded from the outside world, until only those of her order would recognize what it symbolized. There was no other relic like it in Runeterra; master-crafted and ensorcelled with powerful magic, it was an artifact from ages past, created long before even the city-states of Noxus and Demacia had been founded. It represented both her order and her station, for there was no greater power in the Black Rose than that of its Matron.
Unfortunately, there existed fools who had forgotten that, LeBlanc thought privately, fools who would seek to oppose the very Matron to whom they swore fealty. She closed her fist tightly around the onyx brooch, feeling savage pleasure in the way its tiny thorns bit into the flesh of her palm.
A weak cough interrupted her thoughts; turning, LeBlanc gazed down upon the bound woman that lay limply on the floor. She was elderly, with graying hair and faded eyes, and yet, she was the lynchpin upon which LeBlanc’s plan would succeed.
“Wh… where are we?” the woman asked weakly, struggling half-heartedly against her restraints. “Who are you?”
LeBlanc strode towards the woman, her heels clicking loudly on the hard wooden floor. “Do you not recognize your surroundings? We are in your own residence. The parlor, to be exact.” She paused, stooping down so that she could talk to the other woman at eye level. There was fear in her eyes, something which LeBlanc liked. “As for who I am? You may call me Evaine.”
“Evaine…” the other woman wheezed softly. LeBlanc nodded in satisfaction, standing back up and continuing her leisurely walk around the room.
“What do you want from me? Money? Jewelry? They’re yours. Take them.”
LeBlanc smiled widely, regarding the older woman in an almost pitying manner. “I do not want anything from you, woman. You have nothing to give me that could possibly save you now.”
The other woman’s eyes widened in fear. “You… you’re going to kill me?”
“In a manner of speaking.” LeBlanc picked up the ornate dagger that lay on the dining room table, feeling its weight in her hand, watching the light reflect off of the blade’s polished surface.
The other woman recoiled as LeBlanc approached, scuttling backwards like a crab until she was backed up against the wall. “No,” she kept moaning, tears streaming down her cheeks, “no, no…”
“Hush,” LeBlanc said almost soothingly, cradling the old woman’s face in one hand like a lover. With her other hand, she brought the dagger down. She waited patiently until the woman’s final death throes had ended before removing the blood-soaked dagger from the woman’s corpse.
She had done this a hundred times, and yet, it still felt completely new to her. Each person had their own imprint, their own special mannerisms and personas, which made the process unique to each individual. LeBlanc positioned herself in front of a mirror, gazing at her reflection. Some might describe her as beautiful, with flawless porcelain skin and vivid violet eyes, but they would be describing LeBlanc, not Evaine. She had not seen Evaine in many years, not since she had become the Black Rose’s Matron. She brought the dagger to her mouth, licked off a small portion of the woman’s blood, and uttered the incantation. Then she closed her eyes and waited.
After several minutes had passed in silence, she finally opened her eyes. The face staring back at her in the mirror was no longer that of LeBlanc’s, but of the old woman’s. Her violet eyes and lustrous hair now appeared faded and gray. When she waved her hand in front of her face, she saw the same perfect, porcelain skin; but in the mirror, her hand was wrinkled and gnarled from age.
She smiled, and the old woman in the mirror smiled back.
LoL forums filter some of the profanity in my story, so again I recommend reading it on fanfiction.net
As far as seedy establishments went, The Yodeling Yordle ranked right up there with the worst of them; its customers were criminals, its drinks were bootlegged, and its owner was a one-eyed degenerate with a rap sheet longer than the tavern’s name. The building was situated in one of the shadier parts of Piltover and was a place that most law-abiding citizens, including the police, gave a wide berth. The Yordle was home to all sorts of dirtbags who had little respect for the law or those who carried it out.
Which probably explains all the hostile glares, Caitlyn thought in amusement as she surveyed the tavern’s occupants, all of them scowling at her as if she had just insulted their mothers. It was amusing to see how easily these men, brigands and ne’er-do-wells alike, were cowed by a single young woman, but apparently her reputation as the “Sheriff of Piltover” had preceded her. There were roughly fifteen people aside from her in the bar; all of them thugs, no doubt, but today she was only interested in one of them.
“Oi,” the bartender said, flashing his one good eye angrily at her, “can’t ye read the sign, girlie? No weapons allowed!”
Caitlyn snorted, cradling her Peacemaker rifle comfortably against her shoulder. She counted at least two blades on each man in the tavern, and those were just the ones that were in plain sight. “Come on, Francisco. Can’t you make an exception for your best customer?”
The bartender’s ears reddened. She and he had a history together, in the sense that she had previously arrested him four separate times for four different reasons.
“I don’t know what you’re doing here again, but I ain’t done nothing wrong…” Francisco started angrily.
“Oh, I don’t know about that. Calling this swill ‘beer’ should be a criminal offense,” Caitlyn interrupted, snatching a bottle of Francisco’s illicit alcohol from a nearby table and taking a whiff. She instantly regretted it; the drink smelled like horse piss mixed with cheap beer, which was probably what it was. “And charging two marks a bottle for this stuff? That’s the real crime. Do your customers know you’re ripping them off?”
“Har, har,” Francisco remarked sarcastically, giving her a sour look. “If ye’re gonna charge me with somethin, git it over with, ye nosy little *****. Else, I got customers to look after.”
Caitlyn grinned, a predator’s smile. “Well, fortunately for you Francisco, I didn’t come here today to arrest you for serving cheap beer. I came to arrest one of your clients.”
She pointed a finger towards one of the tavern’s occupants who was sitting at the far end of the room, partially hidden by the shadows. “Finger Flayer,” she called out, “we can do this the easy way or the hard way.”
The man she had pointed to was short and stubby with beady little eyes and greasy black hair. He stared at her blankly before shrugging, draining the last bits of ale in his tankard, and then slamming it down onto the table with a dull thud. Then, slowly, he stood up, a ghoulish smile breaking out onto his ugly and pitted face.
“Well, well,” he drawled, his speech slurred from drink, “if it ain’t the great Sheriff of Piltover herself.” He spat out a red glob of chewing leaf onto the floor. It landed mere inches from Caitlyn’s boots with a disgusting splat. “I see the tales of your beauty aren’t exaggerated.”
“And I see those of your ugliness aren’t either,” Caitlyn retorted, unslinging her rifle and pointing it at him. Triggered by her movement, the mechanized lenses that were fitted to her hat automatically adjusted themselves, bringing the Flayer’s features into sharp focus. The Finger Flayer smiled, showcasing a mouth of yellowed, rotting teeth that had been filed into sharp points.
“Ahh, we’ve got to work on that little attitude of yours, though,” the Flayer said sardonically, touching the necklace of severed fingertips that he wore around his neck. The disembodied digits were shriveled but still well-preserved, and they clacked eerily together as he shook the necklace. “What if I added one of your pretty little fingers to my collection?”
Caitlyn grimaced. The Finger Flayer was notorious for cutting the fingers off of his victims, and not necessarily after they had been killed. On his “necklace,” she counted six different fingers, each representing a different victim; one finger had chipped red paint on its nail, another finger still had a wedding band on it, and the smallest finger on his necklace looked like it could have belonged to a child. His killing spree had been going on for little over a year now, and it had taken her nearly that long to finally track him down.
“Not one step closer,” Caitlyn said firmly, standing her ground and keeping her gun pointed straight at his chest. Her Piltover Peacemaker was her prized possession, a long barreled rifle that had been developed specifically for her needs. It boasted an inner stabilizing mechanism that enhanced her already prodigious accuracy… not that she needed it against a target only ten feet away.
“You’re not gonna bring me in, sheriff,” the Flayer cackled, pulling out a blood-encrusted knife and waving it in her face.
“I’ve brought in worse than you,” Caitlyn replied, her voice steady.
The Flayer’s ugly smile widened even more. “Look around you, sheriff. Do you really think you can win this fight?”
Caitlyn’s eyes darted around the room, quickly taking stock of the situation. Francisco was nowhere in sight, presumably cowering behind the bar’s counter. All of the other men in the tavern had left their seats and were slowly surrounding her, weapons in hand. Obviously, everyone in the tavern was in league with the Flayer… not that she was surprised.
“I’m giving you one last chance for you and your goons to surrender,” Caitlyn warned, her finger gently caressing the trigger. “Throw down your knife or I start shooting.”
“It’s ten of us and one of you,” the Flayer said, his beady little eyes looking her up and down. “My boys will get to have their fun with you, and when they’re done… I think your trigger finger would be the crown jewel of my collection.” He shook his ghastly finger necklace for emphasis.
Caitlyn smirked. So he wanted to do it the hard way? That was fine by her. Willing apprehension was the most boring kind. It was time to unveil her ace in the hole.
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” She let out a shrill whistle.
For a moment, everyone stopped in their tracks. Caitlyn held the note out a second longer before ending the whistle, waiting expectantly. The men seemed to wait nervously as well, but as the seconds passed by without anything further happening, a low rumble began to reverberate throughout the room. Laughter.
Caitlyn whistled again. This time, even more laughter followed.
“Looks like your friends didn’t hear your call,” one of the men jeered.
“No one here to save you now, girlie.”
“Let’s teach this little wench a lesson, aye boys?” came another rough voice. There was a loud chorus of shouts in reply.
A bead of sweat formed on Caitlyn’s brow as the group of men closed in on her. They were so close that she could smell the scent of sweat, alcohol, and tobacco that clung to their bodies like a suffocating mist. Their grins and leers told her that they knew exactly what she did; she might be able to take down one or two of them, but they would overwhelm her through sheer numbers.
“Well, sheriff,” the Flayer said, a dangerous glint in his eye, “I’ll be adding you to my collection now.”
He raised his knife just as Caitlyn prepared to squeeze the trigger, determined to take the bastard down with her. The other men let out a howl and rushed her en masse. And then all hell broke loose.
In a blast that left Caitlyn’s eardrums ringing, the entire front wall of The Yodeling Yordle was blown away in an explosion of bricks, wood, and dust. Several of the men were struck down immediately by the fragments of brick and mortar; those who weren’t quickly dove for cover. Caitlyn huddled to the floor and shielded her face from the debris using her right arm; in the haze of dust, she could make out another person that was silhouetted against the hole in the wall.
The newcomer was slight of figure, a woman not much taller than Caitlyn and only marginally more armored. What set her apart (aside from her bright pink hair) were the two massive hextech gauntlets she wore, each of which crackled with energy and looked absurdly large in comparison to the person who wielded them. As the dust settled, Caitlyn could make out a wicked grin etched on the woman’s face.
Go figure. Vi always did love making an entrance.
“Here comes the cavalry!” Vi shouted, raising her two massive gauntleted fists into the air as she charged into the fray.
Caitlyn winced as she heard Vi’s first punch connect with one of the Flayer’s thugs; it sounded roughly like someone running at full speed into a brick wall. The man collapsed to the floor instantly without another sound. The second punch sent two men flying, their bones crunching in a sickening manner as they collided against the opposite wall and slid limply to the ground.
Even as the other men howled and turned on their new attacker, Caitlyn picked herself up off the ground and lashed out with the stock of her rifle, whacking someone cleanly in the temple. He dropped like a stone. One of the other thugs roared and ran at her with a dagger; ducking beneath his swing, she gave him a swift knee between the legs.
“Sorry,” she said unapologetically, grinning at his pained expression before knocking him out with a punch to the face.
In all the confusion, the Finger Flayer was attempting to escape the tavern, scrambling over piles of debris and the bodies of his fallen allies. He looked rather like a rat trying to escape a maze, doing his best to avoid the flying bodies of his henchmen and errant punches from Vi.
“He’s getting away!” Vi warned, too busy fending off three men at once to stop him.
“I don’t think so,” Caitlyn chided. With reflexes honed from years of experience, she drew her Peacemaker and squeezed the trigger. She felt the familiar recoil, smelt the acrid smoke, and heard the rifle’s loud report as she fired at her target. The Flayer let out a cry of agony as he collapsed to the ground, holding his ruined left knee. Rivulets of blood ran through his fingers and seeped onto the wooden floor as he lay there, whimpering and moaning.
“Nice shot, cupcake!” Vi shouted, delivering a swift uppercut to another man that nearly decapitated him.
“What took you so long?” Caitlyn replied crossly, scanning the ruined tavern for any more combatants. The Flayer was lying in a pool of his own blood and most of his men had been knocked unconscious, or were in the process of becoming so, courtesy of Vi.
“Didn’t hear your whistle,” Vi replied nonchalantly, swinging one of her massive gauntleted fists into someone’s chest. There was an audible crack and her opponent let out a scream of agony.
“I whistled twice!”
“Yeah, well, maybe you should whistle louder next time.”
Caitlyn swore in a most unladylike manner just as Vi finished off the last of the Flayer’s thugs with a punch that sent the unfortunate man flying across the room and into a table full of drinks. Cheekily, Vi turned to Caitlyn and gave her a lopsided grin.
“I count ten bad guys down and a whole lotta spilled beer. Not bad for a day’s work.”
Caitlyn groaned. “Let’s just tie this bloody bastard up and be done with it.”
The Flayer recoiled in fear as Caitlyn and Vi approached. He was huffing and gasping from the pain of his shattered kneecap, and his beady little eyes were shuffling between the two women in anxiety.
“You *****,” he kept whimpering, glaring at Caitlyn with hatred as he held his wounded left leg. “You stupid *****!”
“This is the Finger Flayer?” Vi scoffed in disbelief, looking down at the pudgy little man. “I thought he would be taller.”
“Well, he’s a right little bastard,” Caitlyn replied, tying the man’s hands together with rope and throwing him an evil look for good measure. “And if you’d been a second later, one of my fingers would have been on that abhorrent necklace he wears around his neck.”
“Aww, you’re still mad about that?” Vi said sarcastically, roughly pulling the Flayer up from the ground. He howled in agony, still clutching his wounded leg. “Shut up, you.”
“I bet the Inspector will be delighted to know that we’ve finally got the Flayer,” Caitlyn said, “though I’m not quite sure what to do about the rest of his thugs.”
“Leave ‘em,” Vi replied, surveying the carnage and grinning at her handiwork. Half the tables in The Yodeling Yordle were smashed, along with most of the front wall. All of the Flayer’s henchmen were either knocked out or in no fit state to move. “The Inspector’s boys will be here soon enough. They can clean up our mess; it’s not like these guys are going anywhere.”
“I suppose,” Caitlyn said. She paused, before adding almost grudgingly, “Nice work today, Vi.”
“Same to you, cupcake,” Vi said cheerfully, turning around and marching out of the ruined tavern before she could see Caitlyn’s annoyed expression.
“I hate it when you call me that,” Caitlyn yelled. All she heard in response was Vi’s hearty laughter.
Posted the latest chapter on fanfiction.net. Let me know what you think so far.
"Piltover Police finally nab notorious Finger Flayer," Vi read, smirking as she read the front page news. "Go figure, we're not even mentioned."
"It's better that way," Caitlyn replied, mixing a sugar cube into her cup of freshly brewed tea and delighting in the way its aroma filled her small office. "Even if we are officially sanctioned by the police, they don't want ordinary citizens taking up vigilante duties. Tea?"
Vi crinkled her nose. "You know I hate that stuff." She threw away the newspaper and reclined in her seat, yawning loudly. "I'm about ready to pass out. Hell of a week."
Caitlyn took a dainty sip of her tea, enjoying the taste. It was one of the simpler pleasures in life, a ritual that she looked forward to each morning. "I find that a nice cup of Ionian Green helps keep me alert and ready."
"What for? We already got the Flayer. I'd say we deserve some rest." Vi closed her eyes and propped her feet up on Caitlyn's desk, ready to take a nap.
"Please get your muddy boots off of my desk," Caitlyn said sternly, tugging a file of papers out from beneath Vi's feet. "Go put them over in the corner with your gauntlets. I don't want you getting tracks on my case files."
One of Vi's eyes cracked open in irritation. "You never do shut off, do you?"
"Shut off?" Caitlyn was perplexed. "What do you mean?"
Vi rolled her eyes and grudgingly took her feet off the desk. "We just got done working on our biggest case in months, and you can't even stop to savor the victory. You're already thinking about the next case, aren't you? Do you do anything but work?"
"Of course I do!" Caitlyn said, stung. "I like to read… and drink tea…"
"Exactly. Boring. You have the same dull routine every day. Wake up, drink your cup of Ionian Gray…"
"Ionian Green, actually."
"Whatever. You drink your tea, then you go out and bust some bad guys, and you're back in bed before ten. Rinse and repeat seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. Sorry to burst your bubble, cupcake, but not all of us are monotonous robot drones like you."
Caitlyn's ears had turned red. She and Vi were peculiar partners, to say the least. Their personalities were almost night and day; Caitlyn's being extremely disciplined, by-the-books, and methodical, while Vi's personality could be summed up with her brash attitude of "punch first, ask questions while punching."
Their physical appearances were just as different as their personalities. Caitlyn was slender and willowy in frame, with long brown hair and piercing brown eyes to match. Her standard ensemble prominently featured the color purple on both her famous top hat and her mini dress, and she wore a pair of leather boots that were worn from use but still well polished. Vi, in contrast, dressed for functionality over style: she always wore a steel cuirass for protection, and her giant hextech gauntlets were big enough to act as a weapon or a shield. And her hair was always dyed an abrasive pink that stood out wherever she went, just like her personality.
"I am not a monotonous robot drone," Caitlyn replied heatedly, "I just understand the value of discipline and order, something which you obviously have no regard for!"
"Relax. Take a deep breath. Smell the roses, or your tea, if you prefer. You'll live longer." Vi reclined in her chair and propped her muddy boots once more on Caitlyn's desk. "Piltover isn't going to go to hell in a handbasket if we take a day off."
Despite her irritation, Caitlyn tried not to pursue the subject further and settled for sipping her tea in silence while glaring at her partner. Unfortunately, the smug grin plastered on Vi's face only made her more exasperated. Caitlyn appreciated the talents and skills that Vi brought to the table, but there were some days were she sorely regretted taking the other woman on as a partner.
"You know what I hate about you?" Caitlyn finally asked, after she could no longer contain her annoyance.
"Oh?" Vi perked up. "Do tell."
"I hate how you're always so bloody cocky. I hate how you never listen to my orders. I hate how your muddy boots are currently leaving a pool of filth on my desk. And I especially hate," Caitlyn said with emphasis, "when you call me cupcake."
Vi grinned. "Oh, you hate it when I call you cupcake? I never knew that, cupcake."
"Don't call me that," Caitlyn demanded sourly.
Caitlyn took her cup of tea and hurled it at Vi, who managed to duck just in time. The small porcelain cup shattered against the office wall, spraying hot Ionian Green tea all over the unfortunate police officer who happened to be standing in the doorway.
"Erm… bad time to drop by, ladies?" the man said in bemusement, pulling out a handkerchief from his front pocket and wiping his face with it.
"Arnaud!" Caitlyn gasped in embarrassment, her face instantly reddening. She flashed a dirty look at Vi, who was silently convulsing with laughter in her chair. "I… I'm so sorry! Let me get you a towel…"
"No need," the officer, Arnaud, replied gracefully, waving his handkerchief in the air. "I'm quite alright. Should I… um… come back later?"
"No, no, now is fine!" Caitlyn said hurriedly, face still red. Vi was wordlessly mouthing each of her words with a mocking grin; Caitlyn gave her another glare before turning to Arnaud and smiling. "Shall I make you a cup of tea?"
"That would be lovely, as long as you're not planning to throw that one at me too," Arnaud laughed, causing Caitlyn to blush. Arnaud Armant was the Liaison Officer who coordinated between the Piltover Police and Caitlyn and Vi; technically, since the duo were vigilantes and not actually members of law enforcement, the Piltover Police were not allowed to publically support their activities. Therefore, Arnaud had been discretely assigned to represent the Piltover Police Department and work with the pair on many of their toughest cases. He was a tall, handsome man with sharp features and a very refined disposition; Caitlyn had nursed a small crush on him ever since they had first met.
"Still stuck in this old office, I see?" Arnaud asked, navigating through the maze of stacked papers and filing cabinets that littered the tiny room. "I thought you would have moved to some place larger, now that you're handling more casework."
Caitlyn's office was the same one that she had used ever since she had first started her profession, and it held a bit of nostalgic value for her. It was close to the docks, and every morning and night, she could see the ships coming and going from Piltover's main port. Long ago, when she had been a little girl, she had dreamt of sailing the high seas and visiting far off places like Ionia or even less exotic locales like Bilgewater. She had grown up from that childhood fantasy, but she still loved having the sights and sounds of the open ocean right outside her office window. Even as her body of work had grown larger along with her responsibilities, she had refused to relocate to a more spacious office in a different part of Piltover.
"You know our little cupcake," Vi said to Arnaud, pulling up a chair for the officer, "more stubborn than a mule."
Caitlyn pretended not to hear Vi. "Here's your tea," she said, handing him a steaming hot cup of Ionian Green.
"Thank you," he said gratefully, helping himself to a couple cubes of sugar. For several seconds, the only sound in the office was the gentle clinking of his spoon against the porcelain cup as he stirred his tea.
"Ah. Delicious as usual," Arnaud complimented, taking a sip of his drink and smiling. He pulled out an envelope from his jacket pocket.
"Is that what I think it is?" Vi asked, eyeing the envelope greedily. Caitlyn glared at her.
Arnaud smiled good-naturedly and opened the envelope for Vi to see. "Ten-thousand marks, the bounty for the Finger Flayer. Really top-notch work you two did. I only wish you could have damaged The Yodeling Yordle a bit less. Its proprietor is filing for damages."
"Ahh, that little nut Francisco can shove off," Vi said, snatching the envelope from Arnaud and eagerly counting the stacks of bills inside. "What are you guys gonna do to the Flayer?"
"Lock him up, try him, and hang him," Arnaud said matter-of-factly.
"Better than the bastard deserves, if you ask me," Caitlyn shuddered.
"Yeah, cupcake almost lost one of her fingers to him. She still won't let me live that down."
Caitlyn scowled at Vi, who laughed. Arnaud only smiled, continuing to drink his tea in tiny sips.
"So, what's up, Arny?" Vi asked cheerfully, stuffing half the bills back into the envelope and tossing it over to Caitlyn. "Are the streets so clean that Biggs is paying you to come drink tea with us now?"
"I wish it were so," Arnaud said, who, unlike Caitlyn, was unfazed by Vi's pet nickname for him. "As much as I enjoy chatting with you two lovely ladies, I'm afraid this isn't strictly a social call."
Caitlyn arched an eyebrow. "Another case?"
Vi groaned. "Another case."
"Another case," Arnaud confirmed. "Funny that; it seems after you lock up a criminal, another one steps up immediately to take his place."
"What's the situation?" Caitlyn asked, leaning forward in her seat. She was beginning to feel the familiar tingle of excitement in her veins, the adrenaline of having another case, another puzzle, another injustice to solve. Vi was wrong about her; fighting crime wasn't simply a job for Caitlyn. It was her life.
"Archibald Pending," Arnaud said, leaning forward in his seat. "Heard of him?"
"Nope," Vi said. Caitlyn, however, nodded.
"Yes; Archibald is actually a friend of my father's. They're both statesmen for the Upper Ward." Caitlyn paused, before asking, "What's happened to him?"
"Dead," Arnaud said grimly, "found in his house by one of his bodyguards this morning." He paused. "I'm sorry, Caitlyn."
"I see." Truthfully, Caitlyn did not know Archibald Pending terribly well; he was a close friend of her father's, but she herself had only rarely interacted with him. The last time she had seen him had been many years ago, when she had still been a little girl. It had been at one of her father's political parties; he had been a middle-aged man back then, with graying hair and kind blue eyes. And now he was dead. "How did it happen?"
"Well, that's what we're still trying to figure out," Arnaud said, scratching his head. "By all accounts, he seems to have died of natural causes…"
"But you're still suspicious," Vi said.
"Well, Archibald wasn't exactly a young man, but it's still odd that a healthy person such as himself would just drop dead in his parlor without any prior warning. And several of his close friends and acquaintances have reported that recently, Archibald had become more withdrawn, even secretive, which seems highly out of character."
"Poison," Caitlyn mused out loud, "perhaps even magic."
"We're not ruling out any possibilities at this stage of the investigation," Arnaud conceded.
"Hold on a second," Vi interrupted. "How do you know someone actually killed this guy? Sounds to me like he just had a heart attack and dropped dead."
"Because on his body, we found a single black rose left on his chest," Arnaud said. Both Caitlyn and Vi looked at him in confusion.
"A black rose?" Caitlyn repeated, bewildered. "Some sort of calling card?"
"I've never heard of any gang in Piltover using a black rose as their sign," Vi added, looking skeptical.
"Neither have I, which is why Inspector Biggs sent me to request your help." Arnaud looked imploringly at Caitlyn. "I apologize for giving you more work to do right after the Flayer, but I would appreciate it if you did this. For me."
Caitlyn blushed. "Oh, well it's my pleasure…" Vi groaned loudly in the background.
Arnaud's face brightened up. "Excellent! Shall I lead you two to the crime scene?"
"Lead on, Lieutenant." Caitlyn stood up from her seat, donned her hat, and grabbed her trusty Peacemaker rifle, already feeling the familiar tingle of excitement that only a new case could bring.
"Ugh, you just can't say no to Arny, can you?" Vi muttered, grudgingly equipping her hextech gauntlets. "Oooh, Arny, he's so handsome. Oooh, Arny, he's so suave. If he told you to jump off the Upper Ward, I bet you'd do it."
"Would not," Caitlyn hissed in reply, hoping that Arnaud hadn't heard. He was waiting patiently outside of the office, checking his pocket watch and looking distracted.
"After this case, I'm seriously taking a vacation," Vi said, powering up her gauntlets and testing the responsiveness of each finger. "You're going to need to find someone else to be your partner."
"Fine by me," Caitlyn huffed, marching out of her office with Vi in tow. Arnaud looked at them expectantly.
"Ready to go, ladies? Excellent, excellent… ah, and one more thing. Vi?"
Vi gave him a tired look. "What, Arny?"
"Jayce is also assisting us on this case, and I know how… highly you think of him, so uh… try to play nice today, alright?"
"Great," Vi grumbled, looking sour. "My day just keeps getting better and better."
The city of Piltover was a technological marvel, the result of decades of innovation and research by the brightest minds in Runeterra. Though the city-state lacked the raw numbers or influence possessed by Noxus or Demacia, Piltover’s citizens enjoyed an unprecedented standard of living thanks to the powerful techmaturgical advances incorporated into the city’s infrastructure. While the streets of Noxus and Demacia were still primitively lit by torches and traversed on horseback, Piltover’s cobbled pathways were illuminated through electrical conduits known as “star rods,” and the recent development of the hextech engine had made simple automated vehicles a reality for wealthier Piltovians.
And yet, beneath the glitzy and glamorous image that the City of Progress projected, there also lay a stark reality. Significant social class differences existed, particularly between the wealthier and well-to-do inhabitants of the Upper Ward and the poorer, working-class residents of the Lower Ward. Crime rates, though lower than in Noxus and Demacia, were still inordinately high in the Lower Ward. And rampant smuggling of the latest drug from Zaun, shimmer, had resulted in its large scale abuse by the youth of Piltover.
Still, Piltover was Caitlyn’s home, and she accepted the fact that even if her city-state was imperfect, it was much better than the alternatives. Noxus and Demacia, despite having widely different ideals, were both totalitarian regimes; Bilgewater was an anarchic collection of pirates and brigands; and Zaun... well, shimmer was probably the least harmful substance to have come from Zaun’s labs in recent memory, and that stuff could melt human skin.
Caitlyn had grown up in the Upper Ward of Piltover; born to the wealthy Dodd family, her father was a senior statesman in the city-state’s Electoral Assembly and her mother was an inventor who had collaborated with some of the most famous minds in the city. It was strange, then, that their only daughter had chosen to pursue a life of fighting crime in the slums of Piltover over a comfy existence of hobnobbing with the upper crust of Piltovian society, but Caitlyn would have had it no other way. Ever since she had solved her first crime at the tender age of fourteen, tracking down a mugger who had accosted her father on his way home, she had known that this was her calling. She had never been bested by a criminal yet, and she was not about to allow Archibald Pending’s murderer to tarnish her impeccable record.
Piltover was built into the side of a mountain; the Lower Ward, which housed the city’s docks and areas of commerce, was located at ground level, whereas the Upper Ward, which housed the centers of government, academia, and research, was built into the face of the mountain. Pending’s home was an estate located within the Upper Ward, near the building where the Electoral Assembly met daily to discuss ongoing political issues. Since Caitlyn’s office was down by the docks in the Lower Ward, the trip to the crime scene was long and tedious, punctuated by Vi’s frequent complaints and grumbling.
“Can’t this thing go any faster?” Vi muttered, sitting in Arnaud’s police cruiser. Because of the size of her massive hextech gauntlets, she occupied the entire backseat, looking much like an angry cat that had been stuffed into a cage far too small for it.
“I’m afraid we’re going as fast as we can,” Arnaud replied, tone light and pleasant in spite of Vi’s irritation. Caitlyn had never seen the man in anything less than a cheery mood. “This is one of the first working prototypes developed by Doctor Heimerdinger for the police force. I’m not sure it was meant to support the weight of your gauntlets.”
“Yeah, well, if this is the best that the Mad Doc can come up with, he’s losing his touch,” Vi replied, supremely unimpressed by the police cruiser. Automated vehicles were still a relatively new invention in Piltover, and aside from the fact that they didn’t leave steaming mounds of dung in the streets, they currently held little advantage over traditional horse-drawn carriages. The “police cruiser” itself was little more than a wagon that had been retrofitted with a hextech engine and some extra padding; certainly not the prettiest or most elegant method of transportation available.
“Oh, hush, Vi, like you could do anything better,” Caitlyn chastised, tired of her partner’s bellyaching.
That elicited a response from Vi. “You see these, cupcake?” Vi nodded at her hextech gauntlets, since there wasn’t enough room in the vehicle to actually wave her massive fists around. “I made these. In a collapsed mining tunnel. With a pile of scraps. I can damn sure measure up to anything that anyone makes, and I don’t need a fancy education at the Academy of Science to do it.”
Caitlyn smiled back sweetly. Just like how Vi knew that she hated being called ‘cupcake,’ Caitlyn also knew that the best way to push her partner’s buttons was to question her mechanical abilities, since Vi prided herself greatly on her self-taught techmaturgical knowledge.
“I know you’re enjoying this,” Vi huffed, “and you’d better wipe that smirk off your pretty little face before I punch it off.”
“Well, now you know how I feel about your little pet-names for me.”
“What’s wrong with cupcake? It fits you.”
“How?” Caitlyn demanded.
“Well,” Vi said, rolling her eyes, “you’re soft and dainty and overly sweet, just like a cupcake. Also, you’re a total pushover.”
Caitlyn opened her mouth in outrage, ready to make an angry retort, but Arnaud interrupted. “Ladies, ladies,” he said, like a parent might soothe two angry children, “enough with the insults. Vi, your mechanical skills are without parallel, and Caitlyn, I believe that cupcake is a lovely nickname.”
“Boy, you sure know how to turn on the charm, Arny,” Vi grumbled sarcastically. “I bet Caitlyn would have no problem with you calling her cupcake.”
“Arnaud, you’re going to have to arrest me after we find Pending’s killer,” Caitlyn muttered through gritted teeth, “because at this rate, I think I’m going to kill Vi before the week’s out.”
“Hah! As if you could beat me,” Vi said, sounding utterly confident.
Caitlyn turned in her seat and gave Vi a quick punch to the shoulder. “Ow!”
“Maybe I should call you cupcake. You feel pretty soft and squishy to me,” Caitlyn taunted.
Vi flushed, unable to move her gauntlets in the cramped backseat to retaliate. “Why you little… OW! Stop hitting me! HEY – OW!”
Caitlyn giggled involuntarily, enjoying the way her partner squirmed and yelped. Arnaud only rolled his eyes at their childish antics.
“And they call you two Piltover’s Finest,” he sighed, over Caitlyn’s laughter and Vi’s curses. “I’m not sure what that says about the rest of us.”
Archibald Pending’s estate was a beautiful villa on the western side of the Upper Ward, nestled snugly into the mountainside and giving a picturesque view of the city below. Unfortunately, the formerly quaint and peaceful property was now abuzz with uniformed police officers who were busy cordoning off the area with yellow tape and glowering at curious passerby.
As Arnaud’s rickety little police cruiser finally pulled up to the estate (Caitlyn was relieved that it had survived the trip up the mountain), one of the police officers from the main group broke off to meet them. As he approached, Caitlyn quickly recognized who he was.
“Inspector Biggs!” Caitlyn greeted, stepping out of the vehicle after Arnaud had parked it. Jeroth Elroy Biggs was the Chief Inspector of the Piltover Police force and possibly the only other person in the city who could even begin to rival Caitlyn’s impressive arrest record. He was an older man with graying hair and sharp, steely blue eyes; respected by his colleagues and feared by lawbreakers, he had also been Caitlyn’s mentor once upon a time, and had willingly sanctioned Caitlyn and Vi’s activities rather than persecuting them as vigilantes. During his thirty years of service, he had become highly regarded for his professional competence, although it was clear that his age was beginning to catch up to him.
“Caitlyn,” Biggs replied, sounding like his usual, stoic self. “Excellent work on the Finger Flayer case. You saved my boys a lot of trouble. I owe you a drink.”
“Or three, sir,” Caitlyn replied. Behind her, Vi was forcibly extricating herself from Arnaud’s car with a slew of muffled curses and grunts, her hextech gauntlets nearly too big to fit through the vehicle’s door. Several police officers on duty hovered around her, torn between their desire to help and their desire to avoid being accidentally punched by one of Vi’s fists.
“Not one of Vi’s better days, eh?” Biggs seemed amused.
“Well, she was hoping for a bit of time off after the Flayer case,” Caitlyn admitted, watching as Vi finally wrenched her fist out of the car, nearly tearing off the door in the process. Vi gave the vehicle one last evil look before jogging over to Caitlyn and Biggs.
“Inspector!” Vi said jauntily, wearing her trademark cheeky grin. “Where’s the dead guy?”
Biggs, used to Vi’s abrasive personality, only smiled. “Archibald Pending,” he said, turning around and leading them past the police cordon and into the estate, “fifty-two years old, Upper Ward statesman for ten years, found dead this morning in his parlor at eight o’clock.”
“What does the medical examiner think?” Caitlyn asked, as Biggs opened the estate door for them.
“No visible signs of trauma or assault,” Biggs replied, “and as far as we can tell, the body is in perfect order. Once we wrap it up, the apothecary will test for any toxins that may have been in his blood. Hopefully, we’ll know more from that.”
“And the rest of the house?”
“Completely undisturbed, as far as we can tell, although feel free to do your own investigating. My officers have spent most of the morning questioning Pending’s guards and servants; you’ll have full access to the records, naturally.”
“What about this black rose that Arny mentioned?” Vi interjected. “Anything special about it?”
“Not really; it’s just that, a black rose,” Biggs answered, leading them through the house’s dining room and towards the parlor. “No poison on it, nothing that may have contributed to Pending’s death; it’s probably the killer’s calling card, though I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone using a black rose as his symbol.”
“Possibly monetary or political in nature; Pending was both rich and a senior statesman. He probably made quite a few enemies in his lifetime, although we’re still trying to narrow the field of suspects. Nothing of value was taken from his estate, which seems to rule out a home invasion or simple robbery.”
“Hmm.” Caitlyn was stumped. The fact that the killer had left a black rose as a calling card, as well as the lack of any stolen valuables, seemed to suggest that Pending’s murder had been methodically planned and executed, and was not simply unhappy chance. But who would want this man dead, and for what reasons? And how had Pending’s killer been able to murder the man without leaving a trace?
“Here we are,” Biggs stated, as they reached the parlor. It was more or less in pristine condition; the chairs and tables were all perfectly arranged, and there seemed to be no sign of a struggle at all. Rays of afternoon sunlight were streaming through the windows, and the sound of chirping birds could be heard from outside. If Pending’s cold body hadn’t been sprawled out on the floor, the scene would have been completely idyllic.
“Ah, Inspector, there you are,” came another man’s voice. Caitlyn instantly recognized the speaker’s voice, and judging from the way that Vi immediately stiffened, so did she.
“Oh, I forgot to mention,” Biggs said quickly to Caitlyn and Vi, “I’m not sure if Lieutenant Armant informed you, but we have another external consultant working on this case as well…”
“We know,” Vi interrupted, her previously cheerful demeanor now completely soured as she frowned at the newcomer. The man who she was glaring at only flashed an easy smile, giving no indication that he was offended by her tone or stare. He was tall and broadly built, with chiseled features and brown hair that had been carefully sculpted. Perhaps his most distinctive feature was the giant hammer that he wore strapped to his back; it hummed gently with the unmistakable sound of hextech energy, and every so often the gears inside the hammer would whirr and click as if the weapon had a mind of its own.
“Jayce,” Caitlyn acknowledged, nodding at him. Vi said nothing, merely standing by in annoyed silence as the mechanical fingers on her gauntlets twitched in anticipation.
“Vi, Caitlyn,” the man named Jayce replied, all smiles. “A pleasure to be working with you two.”
yey chapter 3 ! gonna read it right now !
EDIT: So caitlyn sometimes act a little like vi then huh? XD nice chapter a wild jayce appears XD i can't wait to read what will happen when he and Vi start to work and talk between them xD
Waiting for more ^^
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