Heimerdinger stood in the wreckage of his warehouse in Demacia, rubbing his oversized head in confusion.
“Oh dear,” he chirped in his clipped voice. “What an awful mess. This will take months to clean up.”
“Sir, we would like to direct your attention to the rear office,” Garen said politely. Galio, Poppy and several guards stood nearby.
“Yes, yes, of course,” Heimerdinger said. “This is the least of our concerns. Take me to what is left of this portal you found.”
They escorted Heimerdinger to the back of the warehouse. The corpses of the voidlings had disappeared as if they had never existed in the first place, just as Malzahar’s did on the fields of justice.
“No matter what we find, gentlemen, I insist that Piltover Customs contribute to any fund that assists the families of those killed or hurt in this terrible attack,” the yordle said.
“You are kind, sir,” Garen said. “But our priority right now is to determine what happened, whether Piltover Customs was involved, and to make sure this won’t happen again.”
“Of course, of course,” Heimerdinger said. “Galio, could you show me what is left of the portal you destroyed?”
Galio directed Heimerdinger into the rear room and pointed to the twisted metal frame on the floor.
“Fascinating!” Heimerdinger said as he began looking over the material. He hummed to himself as he looked at the materials closely.
“Might be a bit before he actually says something that makes sense again,” Poppy said. “He gets into that inventor mode of his and it’s all ‘flux quantum’ and ‘theoretical resonance’ and stuff like that.”
“As I look this over,” Heimerdinger said, “I want to make it clear to you all, because I understand of course that this is an extremely serious investigation, that I am not engaged in any research of the Void or attempting to access it whatsoever. Runeterra has enough mysteries to plumb. And as we can see, the only thing the Void has to offer us is more violence.”
“I understand,” Garen said, “But the attack clearly originated from your warehouse.”
“Yes, yes. Am I correct that under Demacian law I will be held to answer for these crimes as the property owner should the real perpetrator not be found?”
Awkward silence fell over the room. Eventually Poppy responded in her more formal “ambassador” voice.
“Both Piltover and Bandle City have agreements with Demacia for its residents to be subject to its laws while within the city,” she said. “But it won’t come to that. We already have a couple of suspects!”
“The two yordles, Galio saw, yes?” Heimerdinger asked.
“Yes.” Galio described them in great detail.
“You have an amazing memory,” Heimerdinger said, looking up at the gargoyle. “I would love to figure out how to get that sort of memory into my turrets. They have trouble sticking to targets.”
“I do my best,” Galio said.
“I don’t recognize those two descriptions, and I don’t have any assistants currently here in Demacia,” he said. “We are all in Piltover working on upgrades to my own tools for the fields of justice.”
“We cannot find any record of them entering the city,” Garen said. “Your assistants are usually careful to register their visits with our records hall.”
Silence descended again as Heimerdinger continued looking at the frame. He adjusted his glasses to get closer looks at the metal and even pulled out a large magnifying glass.
“What I can tell you,” he said after a few minutes of humming, “and it pains me to say this, but this portal does indeed seem to be of yordle construction.”
“Could these pieces be of your manufacture?” Garen asked.
“You don’t have to answer that,” Poppy said quickly.
“I apologize,” Garen said. “I’m not trying to get you to incriminate yourself. I thought perhaps somebody might have broken into your warehouse in your absence and built the portal with your warehouse contents.”
“An intelligent theory,” Heimerdinger said. “But no, this is not my metal. I should be able to prove it from our inventory manifests given time.”
“You will have the time you need,” Garen said. “I’m going to have to ask that you not leave Demacia for the time being.”
“Am I under arrest?”
“No. Not yet,” Garen said. “But if we don’t put together that inventory list the Demacian Council will likely insist that we do. We cannot be seen as treating you differently because you are a yordle or a champion.”
“I understand completely, Garen,” Heimerdinger said. “Nor will I have the good name of Piltover Customs be associated with terrorism and murder! I have no intentions of going anywhere until this is sorted out.”
“The most reasonable explanation at the moment,” Galio said, “is that somebody wanted us to think Heimerdinger or Piltover Customs was responsible for the attack. But why?”
“Maybe to keep our attention so the real bad guys can get away?” Poppy suggested, folding her arms.
“Could the yordles have entered the city through our sewage system?” Galio asked. “They are smaller than humans, and one of them did appear to be quite filthy.”
“That makes perfect sense, Galio,” Garen said. After dealing with any number of infiltration attempts from Noxian agents, Demacia spent untold sums to reconstruct the sewage system so that it was as inhospitable to human travel as possible. But yordles, being much smaller, could probably navigate the tunnels, though it would still be a difficult and unpleasant experience.
“Why would they do this?” Heimerdinger asked in frustration. “What could any yordle possibly gain from doing this?”
“For now, let’s focus on which yordles would actually be capable of designing this device,” Garen said. “Once we’ve figured out who built this we can then attempt to figure out why.”
“Well, there’s Gumpter, he knows plenty about interdimensional theory, but he would have to outsource this sort of metalwork, not part of his expertise inventory … .” Heimerdinger began to drone on about the yordles he knew and their various scientific and inventing capacities. Galio watched as Garen’s eyes began to glaze over.
“Just let him go on,” Poppy said. “Once he works out a couple of likely candidates he’ll stop and work out an answer even our lesser minds can comprehend.” She gestured to Galio with her head to talk out in the hall. He joined her just outside the room while Heimerdinger’s chatter continued on.
“Heimerdinger has a bit of a blind spot,” Poppy said. “There’s somebody we’re going to have to think about. Heimerdinger does have enemies, though he doesn’t want to admit it.”
“Well, certainly his defensive thaumotechnology has been a thorn in the side of Noxus and Zaun,” Galio said.
“No, not them,” Poppy said. “I mean yordles. One in particular.”
“I thought they were friendly rivals,” Galio said. Poppy firmly shook her head no.
“It may seem like that to non-yordles,” she explained. “Rumble doesn’t like Heimerdinger. He’s jealous of his fame, and thinks he’s a race traitor for making yordle things so available to humans. He would love to humiliate Heimerdinger in front of Demacia.”
“But people were killed,” Galio said. “I know his behavior is a bit crude and he lacks manners, but there’s nothing I’ve seen on the fields of justice that would say to me he would kill people so casually.”
“Humans were killed,” Poppy said. “Not yordles.”
“Are you saying Rumble hates humans?”
“No … but they aren’t important to him. Yordles are important. He wouldn’t do anything like this in Bandle City or Piltover because yordles might have been hurt or worse. But Demacia … .”
“This is a difficult prospect,” Galio said. Rumble was another yordle champion, an inventor like Heimerdinger, young and just coming into his own. He was also much more hands-on. “Scrappy” would be the polite way a Demacian would describe him. He fought with the assistance of a large mechanical war machine. Galio would face him periodically in battles, because his defenses were a good match for the magic-powered flamethrower attached to Rumble’s machine. Rumble had a big mouth and taunted Galio throughout the matches, but it never seemed personal like the nasty comments from Noxian champions. Galio typically shrugged it off. He insulted everybody. He never thought of Rumble as potentially being a danger outside the fields.
“He has gotten a following of yordles just like him who are resentful at being treated like children by humans,” Poppy said.
Galio nodded. Some humans found yordle nature hard to grasp, and as a result treated them like children. Certainly they were child-sized and many of them seem to have childlike traits. But their minds were a little more complicated. Humans and yordles were indeed very similar as children. What Galio noticed, though, was while humans lost many childlike traits as they grew older, yordles didn’t. This didn’t mean yordles were still children, though. Instead of trading childish attitudes for mature ones, they added the mature traits and kept the child traits as well. Poppy was the helpful child, the one who sat at her father’s knee and helped him at his smith in Bandle City. As an adult she was still insistent on being constantly helpful, visiting Demacia’s citadel when she came to city, ignoring her role as ambassador and pitching in with the forging of weapons and armor. The men were baffled by her behavior at first, eventually coming to accept it. Her armor was very good, after all. But there was no mistaking that she was an adult, able to grasp the complex political differences between Demacia and Bandle City and navigate such complicated waters.
“Could those yordles have been Rumble’s friends?” Galio asked.
“I don’t know,” Poppy said. “But I know for a fac he keeps secrets about what he’s doing trying to surprise Heimerdinger with some big invention he can’t match. Heimerdinger thinks it’s just ‘youthful exuberance.’ I don’t agree. We don’t really know what Rumble is capable of, either as a yordle or as an inventor.”
“We need to interview Rumble,” Galio said.
“But the evidence right now is still circumstantial, just like with Malzahar,” Poppy said.
“We won’t get assistance from the Institute of War for this. We’re going to have to track him down in Bandle City and see if he’ll submit to questioning. It’s a good thing you guys are friends with the ambassador!”
“Let’s talk to Garen.”
They returned to the room as Heimerdinger continued to list every yordle inventor he knew and why they couldn’t have possibly created the portal. Garen was patiently staring at him, trying not to give any visual cues that he had no idea what Heimerdinger was talking about.
“Heimerdinger, sir,” Galio interrupted. “What about Rumble?”
“Him?” Heimerdinger said, “Oh … this doesn’t seem his style at all. He’s much more forward. A bit brash. I don’t see him sneaking about building a portal.”
“Is he capable of building a portal?” Garen asked.
“Well, I’m afraid to confess that I don’t know,” Heimerdinger. “He insists on being secretive about his research. But we all have our quirks.”
“Poppy has suggested to me we should treat Rumble as a possible suspect,” Galio said to Garen.
“Oh pish-posh,” Heimerdinger said. “I know he’s a bit loud and sometimes can’t control his temper, but I can’t imagine him doing anything this extreme.”
“He is obsessed with you,” Poppy said, folding his arms.
“Oh, that’s an exaggeration.”
“He joined the League to try to outshine you, Heimerdinger!”
“Competition is good! It keeps us both sharp.”
Poppy rubbed her forehead in frustration. She turned to Garen instead.
“We will need to interview Rumble,” she explained. “This presents a bit of an issue. Based on their response regarding Malzahar, we can expect that the Institute of War will not assist us.”
“Agreed,” Garen said.
“And I’m going to guest here that you’re going to insist that a representative from Demacia be present for any interrogation in connection with this attack.”
“Yes, of course,” Garen said.
“Unfortunately it would be seen as a bit of an aggressive act to send somebody with directly military connections like you,” Poppy said. “However, Galio here is not a member of the military, commands the respect of a champion and can represent Demacia without causing concern in Bandle City.”
“Me?” Galio asked. “I’m needed here to guard.”
“I agree, Galio,” Garen said. “You’re our best option right now. The Vanguard and the city are now on security footing. We won’t be surprised again if there’s a follow up attack.”
“I’m more concerned about somebody else being exposed to the Void, sir,” he said.
“We will be careful. You are also in the best position among us to deal with Rumble if he responds with violence.”
“Oh, I don’t think he would ever do that,” Heimerdinger said.
“Let’s hope you’re right,” Poppy said.