I can wait a while for good content. Besides, you've given us an awesome story. The least we can do is give you a weekend off. But don't take advantage of it, or we'll hack the system and find your IP address and trace it to your house and come with pitchforks. Not that I know how to do this or anything.... *cough* Ow.
Maintaining Appearances: Part Two
Nasus wouldn't allow the pair to make copies of the information because of its highly confidential nature, so they stayed in the room for several hours reading, re-reading, and discussing the most important aspects of her file so they wouldn't forget. By the time they emerged, Octavius informed them that the Curator was gone for the evening.
"I know the archives really well," the summoner quietly assured, "and I'm here a lot, so I can help you find books if you need them."
Garen looked expectantly at Katarina and jerked his head toward the young man; she rolled her eyes.
"We're going to get something to eat," she stated through gritted teeth. "Can you pull us some books about illusory magic while we're gone?"
The summoner perked up significantly, a shy smile on his mousy face. "I can do that!" he exclaimed, and hopped down from his stool to dash into the stacks.
"I'm so proud," Garen claimed, wiping an invisible tear from his eye as they made their way back up the stairwell into the hall.
"Shut up, idiot," Katarina hissed. "I should punch you for making me act all...soft."
Her threat elicited a hearty laugh from the Demacian. "In the words of someone I know, I didn't make you do jack-****!" He poked her side and added, "I didn't say you had to be nice, I just wanted you to talk to him."
The scowl on her face deepened momentarily as she swatted at his offending hand. "I don't see how you're so cheerful considering what we just learned."
"I think," he began slowly after a moment of contemplation, "that when you're down, I want to be there to carry you." A light blush spread across his cheeks when Katarina gave him a look of disbelief, and he realized how overly sentimental that sounded. "I mean, we're like teammates and teammates...um, it'd be pathetic if we were both upset-"
"I get it," the Noxian interrupted, her own face pink with embarrassment "It's not that I... don't agree," she continued, her voice lowering even further as they entered the cafeteria, "but we're in the Institute of War..."
"Right, right," Garen said quickly. He knew what she was saying; they both needed to be careful about how they worded things, or someone might get the wrong idea.
Both Garen and Katarina turned and he was surprised to see his sister bounding toward him from the entrance they'd just come through. The light mage gave him a hard embrace and, when she stepped back, an expression of understanding alighted on her face as she took note of the woman standing beside him. "You must be Katarina DuCouteau," the blonde said with a disarming smile.
"Got a problem with that?" the assassin smirked.
Lux chuckled and Garen quickly interjected, "Katarina, this is my sister Lux. Luxanna, this is Katarina DuCouteau." The red-head visibly relaxed after Garen's introduction and nodded in recognition at the mage. Garen shot his sister a warning glare, which she disregarded completely.
"The Noxian assassin," she stated, giving her brother a devious grin. "I've heard a lot about you. From Garen."
Katarina glanced between the two, caught between looking puzzled and angry. "What kind of things?"
"Nothing," Garen replied forcefully, smile strained.
Before the assassin could say anything else, Luxanna exclaimed, "Let me buy you two lunch! We can sit and talk together!" Garen and Katarina exchanged slightly disturbed glances but complied, following the mage into the food line. With sandwiches in hand, the three sat in a secluded corner of the cafeteria so they could make sure no one got close enough to overhear them.
"So, what are you doing here?" Lux asked through a mouthful of bread and meat, causing Garen to wince; clearly his sister's early entry into the military caused her to neglect such things as table manners.
"We're researching a Champion who is involved in the mess with Relivash," Katarina responded between bites.
"Which Champion," the mage questioned curiously. "Maybe I can help!"
The Noxian looked to Garen, who hesitated, wondering whether or not to bring his sister into their potentially dangerous investigation. "Her name is LeBlanc," he said finally; Lux wasn't a child anymore, and they could use the extra brain power.
"Oh, her," the blonde replied in a timid voice. "I've fought against her in lane during some League matches before. She's..." Lux trailed off, a small tremor passing through her shoulders.
"She's what?" Katarina pressed, leaning forward onto the table in interest.
Lux's blue eyes drifted toward the ceiling as she tried to think of the appropriate words to describe the Champion in question. "Well, as far as her personality, she seems...like a cat."
Lux was met with blank stares. "Could you elaborate?" Garen asked after he realized his sister wasn't going to follow-up that statement with any sort of explanation.
"Oh, cats are really selfish, right?" the mage clarified. "She's like that. Arrogant and detached, like we're all just mice for her to play with, even her teammates. I've heard her giving directions on the Fields and easily sacrificing allies if it gives her something."
"And people think I'm a sociopath," Katarina muttered under her breath as she sat back in her chair.
Lux giggled, "No, you're just fierce." Garen sighed; he honestly wasn't sure if Lux had always had such a...peculiar way of thinking, but it seemed that sort of thing went hand in hand with brilliance. Katarina simply let out a short laugh.
"Well, we should get back to work while we can," the assassin stated as she rose from table, shoving the last bite of food into her mouth. "I'm surprised we haven't been summoned for a match yet since coming here, actually."
"Now that you mentioned it, you're going to get summoned," Lux claimed as the three walked toward the cafeteria's exit. "That's just how it works." Briefly she wrapped her thin arms around her brother and gave the Noxian a small wave, and, almost grinning from ear to ear, whispered, "Don't you two do anything I wouldn't do!" before sprinting away down the hall laughing.
Garen covered his face in one of his massive hands while Katarina hissed, "What have you told her?!"
"Nothing like that!" he cried in defense, taking off down the hall at a brisk pace to avoid the assassin's glare. "She's just being silly!"
He could see her from the corner of his eye, flushed and angry with a touch of worry, as she sighed, "I hope so."
"Besides," he added, his voice back down to a low mumble, "Lux wouldn't say anything if she did know. She's even more disenchanted by the state of affairs in Demacia than I am."
Katarina nodded, but Garen could tell she didn't quite believe him, understandably so, he rationalized; she didn't know Lux like he did. Silently they made their way back to the library desk, where Octavius once again sat, but this time surrounded by a small fortress of books.
"Oh, hi!" he smiled as he peered over the tops of the stacks. "I found some books."
Between being summoned for the occasional match and reading what they hoped was useful information about the type of magic LeBlanc specialized in, the next three days flew by for Garen and Katarina. Only once were they were in the same match on opposing teams, so the commander did his best to avoid her, and judging by how little he saw her in the first twenty minutes of the fight, he felt better to know she'd done the same.
It was into the evening of the third day since their arrival at the Institute when they heard that Relivash and Farnsley had finally been arrested. The former High Councilor seemed to vanish after Jarvan made his speech, but the other two Councilor's authorized a search of his personal quarters, which turned up evidence to confirm his activity. Katarina had been especially delighted when she heard it was Talon who tracked them down outside of Noxus and gave them over to the League. "Good to know he's still working with us!" she laughed.
But now Garen was sitting alone in a secluded part of the archives, his head resting against the open pages of a book about casting and breaking illusions. Katarina was fighting in a match and he was bored. Perhaps if he laid on the book long enough, the information would magically fill his brain.
Approaching footsteps made the commander snap up in hopes of Katarina's return, only to be confused as a bespectacled woman in a tight leather ensemble and carrying a giant crossbow strapped across her back, pulled out a chair and sat down across from him.
"No wonder half of Demacia is flooded with poverty and crime," she sneered in a raspy voice. "Those officially in charge of its protection sleep on the job."
Little red flags erupted in his mind as Garen bristled at the woman's accusations. "Who are you," he growled.
The woman laughed, "If you play your cards right, I can be your ally, Garen Crownguard."
"What do you want?" he asked guardedly. It wasn't the first time he'd been approached by someone who seemed to know him, and he knew he was at a serious disadvantage by not knowing at least the names and faces of the League Champions.
Her answer was blunt. "Why are you looking into the Black Rose?"
It took all his effort to keep a mask of stoicism. Why was she interested in the Black Rose? She said she could be his ally, but what if she was working with LeBlanc and wanted him to join? Gods, it would help if he knew who she was.
"Keep me waiting and I will assume you're a liar and an enemy," she warned.
His eyes narrowed and he replied, "The Black Rose has been overlooked in recent events."
A wicked smile twisted the woman's face. "That it has. Do you plan to bring it to surface or make sure it remains unnoticed?"
Reaching behind his head for the hilt of his sword, Garen swore, "They will be brought to justice."
"Then stand down," she said instantly, waving her hand at him. "I too wish to bring down the Black Rose and its evasive leader." Garen dropped his hand to his side but he was not comfortable with her in the slightest.
"You may call me Vayne," the woman stated, her deep voice full of command. "I make it my business to get rid of those who use black magic."
The Demacian suddenly recalled a note from the file left by Katarina's father, a secret message passed in the Journal of Justice warning LeBlanc about Vayne. Following the newspaper clipping Marcus had included a short description of Vayne, the Night Hunter, and he knew her title from reports by the Demacian Guard.
"I've heard of you," he said warily. "You're the vigilante Night Hunter of Demacia."
"I prefer to think of my work as stepping in where you and your men failed," she smirked. "But I'm not here to discuss the politics of our esteemed city-state with you. What have you learned about LeBlanc?"
He hesitated initially, but quickly realized that the Night Hunter likely knew even more than he. It was part of her claim to fame, that she knew everything about her targets. Starting from the beginning he told her what he had learned, but left out Katarina's extensive involvement in the process; if Vayne hadn't looked into the Noxian, he didn't want to be the one to give her the reason to do so.
"I'm impressed by what you have been able to learn," Vayne commended, to his surprise. "I had no hard evidence that would convince Nasus to let me see her Judgement. An entity passed along in the crystal...very interesting. I might have never guessed that to be the source of her apparent immortality."
Garen wanted to cry in triumph until she asked, "How did you manage to sneak into her personal office without being seen or heard?"
"I'm... very quiet with no armor on outside of the Institute," he lied, pulse quickening. Vayne frowned and was about to respond when rapidly approaching footsteps cut her short.
"Garen, I have bad-" Katarina stopped short as she rounded the corner and saw Vayne sitting across from the Demacian.
Vayne practically purred, "Ah, now that makes sense."
"What are you doing here?" Katarina snarled at the other woman, crossing her arms over her chest.
"Temper," the Night Hunter chided. "I'm just having a friendly chat with Mr. Crownguard. But I wonder why a Noxian would be consorting with a Demacian. Don't you think that's a better question?"
Garen intervened quickly before they were at each other's throats. "Vayne is also looking to bring down LeBlanc and she's been tracking her for a while. We were exchanging information."
"Pft, we don't need help from this sorry excuse for an assassin," Katarina snapped.
"Oh, I'm the bad assassin am I?" Vayne scoffed. "Remind me which one of us has a scar that resulted from a failed assassination?"
Garen jumped from his seat to grab Katarina's arm as she leapt at the sitting woman. "It wasn't failed," she spat. "And real professionals can get close to their targets; I don't have to hide behind a long-ranged weapon!"
The Night Hunter clicked her tongue and rose from her seat. "I don't have time to argue with a child. I'll keep in touch with you Garen," she said, pointedly ignoring the woman in his grasp. "Until then, be on guard. LeBlanc is always watching." With those words, she paced off into the library.
"Egotistical ****," Katarina swore. Garen pulled her against his chest, wrapping his arms all the way around her form, and gradually she slumped against him.
"How are you acquainted?" he questioned.
"I've had to fight with and against her more often than I'd have liked on the Fields of Justice," she mumbled.
"If it makes you feel better," he offered, slowly releasing his hold on her, "we had more information than she did."
Katarina snorted, "It does actually," and offered him a sheepish grin. Tentatively, she reached for his hand and gave it a short squeeze, mumbling, "Thanks."
The commander cleared his throat, ignoring the sudden weakness in his legs at her show of affection; he was certain that she would always have that effect on his poor knees. "What were you going to say before?"
Immediately the assassin's face fell. "Oh, yeah. I had a message from Talon waiting for me when I got back from my match," she started, sitting down on the edge of the chair. "Swain is making his move. In a couple of days he'll challenge Keiran Darkwill for the title of Grand General, and I have no doubts that he'll win." His heart clenched at the sight of defeat in her eyes. "Even though we uncovered this thing with the League I couldn't stop him... that *******..."
"Hey," Garen whispered, kneeling in front of her. "It's not over yet. I swear to you, I will do everything I can to help you get rid of him."
The woman frowned, "It just seems like I've barely done anything. It took me so long to figure out all this stuff and he was able to rise all the way to the top in the same time."
"Swain and LeBlanc have planned this for years, probably since we were just kids," Garen reasoned, gently putting a hand on her knee . "We couldn't have known, so all that matters now is that we are doing what we can to prepare." He admired the fierce face Katarina put on in light of the things she had to contend with, but he liked it more when she was honest because he knew it was only with him.
The assassin nodded slowly, then took a deep breath and squared her shoulders. "I'm going to watch the duel. I have to. And I haven't been home in so long. Depending on what Swain does when he gets control, this might be the last time in a long time I can go home at all."
The Demacian gave her a small smile as he got to his feet and began to stack books. "I hope it goes well then. But you know," he said softly, "you're always welcome to stay with me."
With a grin, Katarina joked weakly, "And your mother? No thanks." They shared a laugh at Lilia's expense as they walked through the winding shelves, each carrying a stack of books. "But...I'll definitely keep it in mind," she whispered.
He couldn't help but smile.
"How long do you think you'll be gone?" Garen questioned. He sat on the edge of his bed, a towel wrapped around his waist his only cover. The woman he addressed stood in front of him, strapping her knives back onto the pants she'd just pulled up her legs.
"Counting the time it takes to get back, and the things I need to take care of around the house," Katarina paused to consider as she shrugged her cropped jacket over her arms, "probably a week to a week and a half."
The commander collapsed back into the bed, letting out a sigh. "Too long."
The assassin picked up a pillow from the floor and lobbed it at his face, laughing, "Don't give me that mushy ****!" He grinned and hurled it back, though she easily side-stepped the projectile.
"Can you blame me?" he teased.
Katarina padded over to the bed and crawled on top of him."No, I'm pretty awesome," she smirked, leaning over to brush a kiss against his lips before she added, "I might be able to get back to the League sooner, but no promises."
Garen nodded and sat up as she slid off his lap to put on her boots. "Just do what you need to do," he affirmed. "No matter how long it takes. I'll leave you a message if I leave."
"Ok, sounds like a plan," she grinned, picking up her pack. "I coerced a summoner into teleporting me to Noxus, so that already saves a couple of days."
"I wish they could do that all the time," he sighed.
"You and me both." The red-head hesitated a moment before reaching out her hand to the commander. "I'll see you later?"
Taking her hand, he rose and embraced her, saying confidently, "Definitely. I'll see you soon." Katarina slowly backed out of his arms and walked to the door, sparing him a wistful look before steeling her face and heading out to Noxus.
"High Councilor Kolminye, what an pleasant surprise."
Vessaria Kolminye inclined her head in greeting. "Thank you for seeing me, Your highness."
Jarvan III motioned the summoner forward. "What brings you here today?"
A frown twisted Vessaria's striking face as she replied, "I'm afraid I have troubling news, so I shall be direct. As you know, when Champions of the League fight on the Fields of Justice, there is a certain degree of mind melding that occurs between the Champion and the summoner."
"Yes," the king conceded, his own brow furrowing. "Such matters remain confidential, correct?"
"Absolutely," she assured. "I have never had reason to consider breaking this confidentiality until now." Jarvan remained silent, but motioned for her to continue.
"With the League in such a state of weakness in light of Relivash's corruption, there is a fine balance that must be kept in order to prevent Valoran from falling into chaos and war once again," she explained. "And due to the mind melding it has come to my attention that one of your Champions is planning on taking advantage of the state of affairs for their personal gain. In the interest of preventing what could become another Rune War, I thought it best to take care of the matter early and discreetly."
Jarvan III's impassive face immediately took on a disturbed expression. "These are serious allegations, Vessaria. Are you certain?"
The summoner hung her head. "Unfortunately, I am."
"Who is the Champion?"
Only a few hours had passed since Katarina's departure when a summoner knocked on Garen's door, waking from his nap. They knocked two more times impatiently before he finally answered.
"Urgent message for you, sir," the summoner, a teenage girl, squeaked as she thrust a folded paper into his hands. "You're to report to the summoning platform right away."
Opening the note, it was simply written: Report to Demacia immediately. "Who's this from," he queried.
"It's from King Jarvan Lightshield III by way of High Councilor Vessaria," she replied. "I'm to wait here until you're ready."
Scratching his head in confusion, he shut the door and got dressed and equipped as quickly as he could. Taking a piece of stationery from the nightstand, Garen quickly wrote:
17 May 22 CLE
I got summoned to Demacia, but I'm not sure why. It seems urgent though. I'm not sure how long I'll be gone now and I know you won't read this for a while, but I'll send a message here when I figure out what's going on.
After folding it and writing her name on the outside, the Demacian gathered his things and joined the the waiting summoner, who jumped up from the floor as he exited.
"Follow me," she said. After taking a brief detour to the mail room so he could leave his message for Katarina, the commander trotted behind the girl down the hall to the other side of the Institute into the area which housed the summoning platforms. From there, Champions deployed into the fields of Justice, but, as with Katarina, he knew they could send a person anywhere in continental Valoran.
He handed off his room key to the girl and went to stand on the glowing blue area, feeling a familiar buzz of energy. Two summoners with hoods drawn positioned themselves on either side of the platform and stretched out their hands, a ball of energy forming between their palms.
The buzz increased and Garen closed his eyes as the light engulfed him. When the feeling subsided, he opened them to see that he was in the King of Demacia's receiving room.
And encircled by his fellow guards.
"Commander Garen Crownguard," Jarvan III's voice rang out.
Garen looked in confusion over his soldiers to the king sitting across the room. "Yes, your majesty?"
"By my command, you are hereby under arrest." The soldiers around him seized his arms, another relieving him of his sword. "You will be detained in Demacia until further investigation can be conducted."
Garen could have easily fought off the few soldiers who had a hold of him, but not his whole contingent. He stayed still, trying to appear calm although his heart was hammering inside his chest. "On what charges?" he asked, unable to keep the slight panic from his voice.
Jarvan III sighed and shook his head, but met Garen's distressed gaze with a hard stare.
LeBlanc sank wearily into the plush chair behind the desk in her new office. Using her distortion ability over such a long distance was exceptionally exhausting, but it had to be done to keep up appearances.
Her gray eyes flicked over the still unfamiliar room and finally settled on the one item she took with her no matter what: her magnificent golden mirror. It was something passed down by each LeBlanc, an item of comfort from the very first, the true, LeBlanc.
She allowed herself a small, triumphant smile as she looked into it, Vessaria's sharp face grinning back at her.
It had been no easy task to put the powerful Councilor out of commission, but that was part of what made her position now so very sweet; she was now the most powerful person in all of Valoran.
With Swain cooperating as the soon-to-be Grand General of Noxus, and Demacia about to rip itself to shreds, it would be simple for them to keep the other city-states under control.
It was her birthright, to have dominion over all, and she was determined to claim it.
Yay! I found it! The thread with simply the BEST Garen/Kat fanfic I've read yet. And just in time for another update (how you do it so fast? normally it takes 2-3 months to update a good fanfic, but for you it takes 2-3 weeks )
Just encouraging you to continue it and wishing you the best.
P.S. Thanks for sharing this fic on ff.net, I've found it through there (forum navigation is a bummer...)
You have no idea how badly I've been wanted to say (in the dramatic announcer voice) "There will be Draven." Lol
So, chapter 9, it's really late and I will format and link later once the FF.net link goes live. Also, sloppy back to back post for length. Sorry I'll fix it later too >.>
My boyfriend recently had to do a polygraph test for a job interview, and he gave me the idea of using it in the story. I hope it turns out well! It's pretty much a completely inaccurate replica of the actual process because the real thing is insanely boring and lengthy, haha. Plus, realistically they're not so reliable but I thought in Valoran they could probably make a good one, lol! And, Garen would suck at lying. Anders is a character we made up and created a backstory for during a traffic jam, so, there's a fun little tidbit for you. Ah what else...Sorry it's kinda short. I wanted to go into Katarina's stuff but I think adding it into this would make it waaaay too long so now there will just be two awkward length chapters. Ok! Here ya go.
The Consequences of Choice
The stone grey walls of his holding cell offered no consolation as he laid on his cot, waiting for when they would come back for him. He wanted to scream and fight when they'd stripped him of his possessions, but the only thing he'd managed to do was keep his hands from shaking as he removed the comforting weight of his armor; all he had left was his undershirt, trousers, socks, and the heavy feelings of vulnerability and shame.
The longer he waited, the angrier he became. Angry at himself, angry at Demacia. He'd been warned, and had no one to blame for his situation but himself. Being around Katarina, Jarvan, and Lux, he became accustomed to tolerance, so much so that he forgot the world at large was not making the same progressive changes. Even as he stared at the ceiling of his cell, he could hardly believe Demacia was so backwards that they were going to punish him to the full extent of the law.
"I have a hard time believing you would commit treason, commander," came the Vanguard's first captain's voice from outside the cell, startling Garen from his black cloud.
Garen propped himself up to consider his first captain, a man named Anders, who was standing as guard outside his cell and looking expectantly at his former leader. Ander's was a good soldier, incredibly loyal to the Vanguard, so the commander was inclined to disbelieve his claim. "Is that so?" he muttered sarcastically, rolling onto his back.
"It is," the captain insisted. "I've known you long enough to know you're not the type to betray people who trust him."
"Well someone obviously thinks I am," he snapped.
Anders turned away without a reply, and Garen thought the captain was going to drop the subject until a few minutes later he asked, "Why would they think that?"
Garen wanted to scream in frustration, and growled, "Leave me alone, Anders. It doesn't matter now."
But the captain was persistent, and pressed, "Was it was because you worked with the assassin? The one I tried to attack during Jarvan's speech."
The commander was silent for several minutes, brooding over his captain's astute observation until the anger drained out of his chest, leaving him with only a feeling of weariness. "Yes," he replied softly, the hard edge gone from his tone.
Seemingly satisfied, Anders finally stayed quiet, and Garen returned to agonizing about what would happen next. How had the King arrived at the conclusion of treason, and why wouldn't he have confronted him privately? He might have gone past the line of propriety, but he would never betray Demacia in a manner befitting that charge. It didn't make sense, and Garen was intensely worried about what would happen if he was somehow convicted; the system seemed broken, and he wasn't sure it would see him through this.
Minutes ticked by, then hours, tortuously slow, until nearly five hours had passed when a unit of the Elite Guard returned to escort him into the interrogation room. Garen contemplated trying to fight his way out and run, but the thought was quickly banished. Running and fighting would only show guilt, and the guards quickly clapped cuffs over his wrists which produced a dampening effect similar to that of the Institute of War, taking the option from him.
"We'll have to cover your face," one of the soldiers timidly informed him. "So no one knows."
Garen stayed mute, shooting a glare to the soldier. Even as they were about to interrogate the commander of the Vanguard, they were concerned about appearances. The last thing he saw before a thick sack was hastily thrown over his head, was Anders' grim face as he said, "Everything is going to get cleared up."
The cloth was coarse on his face and the ground cold underneath his socked feet as he stumbled along between the guards. The commander knew exactly where they were going, a room beneath the castle favored for interrogation and torture situations, and wondered which method he would be lucky enough to experience.
Doors opened and closed, stairs passed under his feet, until finally the sack was taken off his face. There were no restraints or buckets of water waiting, though, simply a round table, four chairs, a stack of papers, and an innocent looking machine he'd never seen before.
"Have a seat, Mr. Crownguard," came a voice from behind him. Two summoners stood against the back wall and in front of them, the man who had spoken, small wiry figure whose outfit was the clean whites and yellows of a Piltover scientist. On one breast pocket was stitched the surname Kirkham.
Warily, Garen sat in the chair the man indicated, placing his cuffed hands in his lap, and looked around as the others sat. In the wall across from the commander was the door to the adjacent room and a large mirror that he knew was two-directional. He narrowed his eyes at whoever was watching.
"So, Garen, you might be wondering what this little machine does!" the Mr. Kirkham started, although he didn't pause to gather the commander's reaction. "It's a new technology we just finished in Piltover for detecting lies!" The man went on to explain that it was developed at the Sheriff's behest, how it worked, and that they'd expedited it to Demacia at Jarvan's request just for him, but Garen had stopped listening right after "detecting lies."
Inwardly he was panicking. All of his fears about having his mind read were resurfacing and it brought him back to wondering what exactly it was they knew, and what they thought he did. He almost preferred waterboarding.
"So, we're going to connect these sensors to different areas of your body. They detect changes in pulse, temperature, perspiration, and respiration and send a signal to the machine which graphs any changes.
"I'll be reading the graph output, and Summoner Alexander here will be asking you the questions. The sensors also allow a Summoner to access your mind like the mind meld in the League of Legends, so that will be Summoner Starke's role if the lie detector shows you're lying. The King respects you as a person and we don't want to have to force the truth from you, so answer truthfully."
Another wave of fear gripped the commander and he tensed in his seat. Apparently this thing made it possible for them to literally read his thoughts? He might as well confess everything now.
"Is there anything you want to tell us now before we start?" Summoner Alexander asked, his voice monotone. "Remember, it is absolutely essential that you tell the truth."
Glancing over to the mirror, Garen didn't hesitate to reply, somewhat shakily, "I'm not a traitor." Inside, he was terrified; this was likely the end of his career and everything he knew. But if they were going to punish him for what he had done, they would at least know they were wrong to accuse him of treason.
Alexander sniffed, "We'll see about that," and motioned for Kirkham to start attaching the sensors. The sensors were small, rubbery discs which the scientist stuck to his skin with an adhesive ribbon: one on each of his temples, one on his neck, four on his chest, and one on his right index finger. Each disc had a wire protruding from it that connected it to the lie detector, a sight that might have made the commander laugh if the situation were not so grave.
"I'm going to start by asking you four control questions," Summoner Alexander stated once Kirkham indicated that everything was ready. "Answer the first two truthfully but lie purposefully on the last two. Understand?" Garen swallowed and nodded.
"Is your name Garen Crownguard?"
"Are you sitting down?"
"Are the lights on in this room?"
"Y-no. No." He cursed inwardly; he couldn't even lie about simple things.
The summoner raised an eyebrow but continued, "Is this table round?"
Kirkham gave a thumbs up to Alexander, saying, "So far so good. It's reading the lies."
Garen couldn't understand how it could possibly be picking up any difference between his answers since he felt the same amount of trepidation with each question.
"We'll move on then with a few more control questions," Alexander said, acknowledging the scientist. "It's important to tell the truth on every single one. The first two will be irrelevant but it is still important to be completely honest. First question: Are you wearing a white shirt?"
"Are there four chairs in this room?"
"Have you ever made a mistake in your life?"
Garen warily regarded the summoner, whose face remained impassive. "Yes."
"Have you ever stolen anything?" Alexander was relentlessly monotone.
"Have you ever lied to a person in a position of authority?"
"...Yes." Even though the questions required a simple yes or no, Garen was growing progressively more anxious, wondering what purpose the questions really served.
On the other hand, the Piltover scientist was all smiles. "Everything's going great! Now let's really test her out!"
The commander shot a glance at the mirror, then to the other summoner, who slouched quietly in the chair, his hood over his face. As he watched Garen squirm, the faintest hint of a smile twitched on Alexander's face. Clearly, he enjoyed his job. Looking down at his papers, he said, "Pressing on, then. Were you part of the investigation of the League headed by Jarvan IV?"
"You willingly co-operated with the known Noxian assassin Katarina DuCouteau?"
His heartbeat quickened though he willed it to stop. "I...yes." It wasn't fair! he wanted to shout. Jarvan worked with her too! Kirkham motioned to Alexander, who nodded.
"We'd like to know more about that. And don't forget, we will know if you lie." Never had a monotone voice sounded so sinister to Garen. "Did Katarina DuCouteau have her own agenda during the investigation?"
Garen frowned and replied, "Yes, she's looking for her father."
Alexander flipped through his papers until he found what he was looking for and asked, "Her father is the former Noxian General Marcus DuCouteau?"
"Did you ever assist her in achieving her personal agenda?"
"...Yes," he ground out slowly. "It coincided with the information Jarvan wanted to find." He could see where they were going and he refused to let his "yes" be misconstrued.
Right as Alexander started to ask the next question, they heard a few shouts preceding the main door being flung open and slammed against the back wall, causing everyone in the room to jump.
"Stop this right now!" Jarvan commanded, shrugging off the grasping hands of the soldiers outside who failed to keep him from entering. "I can personally vouch for Garen!"
Garen leapt up, almost pulling the machine from the table, exclaiming,"Jarvan! Don't-
"It's ok, Garen," the prince interrupted. "Look, my father knows everything that's been going on so I don't know who ordered this stupid investigation but it needs to stop!"
As he spoke, the door to the adjacent room creaked open. "Son, you need to stand down."
Both Jarvan and Garen stared in shock as King Jarvan III entered from the room behind the mirror. Garen hadn't anticipated the King actually taking the time to watch his interrogation.
"I ordered this," Jarvan III explained, "because it seems I wasn't told everything." A chill went through the room as the full weight of his words registered to the prince, who directed a dismayed look to Garen. The commander looked away guiltily.
The king's expression was grim as he watched the wordless exchange between the two men and continued, "But since you seem to know so much, son, why don't you wait around so we can find out what you else you've keeping from your king."
"Sir! Jarvan has nothing to do with this!" Garen cried, appalled that the king would even suspect his own son.
Jarvan III considered Garen's words for a moment and the commander was hopeful that he would reconsider, but his words came as a shock. "What you just said tells me that there is something going on, and I will know the manner of your activity." Turning his gaze to the stunned prince, he finished, "Anyone involved will be questioned, even you, Jarvan. Why don't you follow me?"
Jarvan IV met eyes with Garen long enough to receive his friend's remorseful look, although the commander knew no apology would ever suffice. Garen was not surprised when Jarvan grimaced and looked away, following his father into the neighboring room.
"****," the commander swore under his breath as he collapsed back into his seat.
"Are we quite finished?" Summoner Alexander asked impatiently, only to receive a withering glare from the commander. Summoner Starke was as quiet as ever, and the scientist Kirkham quickly checked the wires and sensors attached to Garen before giving the go ahead to the summoner.
"Where were we?" he murmured, looking over the papers. "Ah, right, Miss DuCouteau. Did the nature of your relationship with the Noxian assassin ever entail more than searching for the information Prince Jarvan IV requested?"
Perhaps a little too quickly, Garen replied, "No."
Kirkham shook his head at the Alexander, who derided the commander. "What did I say about the importance of telling the truth? I'll ask again: Did your dealings with Katarina DuCouteau involve anything outside the realm of Jarvan's investigation?"
"Sorry Mr. Crownguard," Kirkham stated, "but the reading is coming up as a lie. Summoner Starke?"
The summoner in question dragged his chair next to Garen's, and, pressing his cold fingertips over the sensor on Garen's temple, nodded to Alexander.
"Did your dealings with Katarina DuCouteau involve anything outside the realm of Jarvan's investigation?" The commander knew it was futile, but he had to try.
"No." Garen gritted his teeth and squeezed his eyes shut as he felt Starke's violating presence start to peel away at his thoughts. Desperately, he thought of fighting and Lux and his childhood, anything to keep his mind off her. "Get out of my head!"
Abruptly, Starke's hand fell away and for a moment Garen triumphantly thought he'd somehow managed to kick the summoner from his mind. But then he noticed the red flush that was spreading up the summoner's neck and he watched in despair as Starke quietly stated, "It's not the relationship we were thinking it was."
"What do you mean?" Alexander snapped. "Were they conspiring against Demacia or not?"
"I doesn't seem like it, no," the summoner replied, a hint of amusement working its way into his tone.
"I'm not a traitor!" Garen blurted out, earning a glare from Alexander.
"What was the nature of the relationship, Starke?" he asked.
Tongue sticking to the roof of his mouth and lungs suddenly ceasing to produce oxygen, Garen turned in horror to watch the summoner's mouth form the words, "It appears the relationship was...sexual."
Silence filled the room.
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