This is a fan fiction about a tunnel dweller's entrance into the Noxus military. At present, no actual champions are currently included. To a degree, it is assumed the reader knows at least the info provided within the Noxus lore section of this website. If this is continued, future portions will probably include events in the JoJ or mention of them, along with actual champions showing up. However, by and large, this story has little to do with champions and more to do with the environmental, social, and political state of Noxus. No idea if this has been done before, probably, dunno. Anyways, here it is. Constructive criticism is welcomed (even the grammar nazi kind.)
Dave grumbled to himself in impatience, casting quick glances about him as he stood in line. He was in the 19th tunnel disctrict of Noxus, at the Recruitment Cavern awaiting his turn to sign up for his compulsory military service at the age of 17, as is required of all Noxians. The light was brighter than what Dave was used to, and it left him with an unsettled feeling of too many eyes glued to the back of his neck.
The 19th District was one of the many poorer tunnel districts of Noxus, with few cavern homes carved into the rock for people to live in. In the tunnels of Noxus, the only source of light were usually magical orbs suspened in the air, set at various intervals. These lights often had a colored core within them, that changed to signal the time of day. Supposedly, the darkest blue shade meant it was the middle of the night, and a the reddest shade meant it was the middle of the day. Dave never really knew for sure, having never left the tunnels in the mountain. Slum districts within Noxus often had dimmer orbs, and in some areas none at all, their magical energy long since fizzled out. Most people lived out in the tunnels here, with only a few belongings to keep with them. Often no more than the clothes on their back. Occasionally a person might try and claim a nook or cranny as their own, and start to build a pile of discarded rubbish into a crudely constructed nest. Collect enough crumpled newspaper and suddenly the cold cavern ground isn't quite so hard and chilling. Find some cardboard and perhaps you could keep yourself warm as you slept. Even that was a risk though, as having possesions made you a target. In the poor labryinths of Noxus it was all for one. If someone wanted your hovel, they may very well kill you for it. For this reason, many residents, like Dave, kept to no particular tunnel or area. You never slept in the same place twice, you never stole from the same person, and above all you trusted no one. A partner in crime is a loose end and a potential knife in the back. Teaming up rarely ended well.
So it was only natural that Dave should feel uneasy in the brightly lit Recruitment Cavern, as many others did around him. He was exposed, out in the open, in the light, a possible target. It put his mind in a state of quasi-paranoia. He could not stop his eyes from darting from person to person, or his hearing from picking up every possible shuffle near him. All around him he was surrounded by people like himself, filthy, pale, hungry, with sunken eyes that spoke of a hope they had long guessed they would never see. Tattered mats and tangles for hair, black, brown or blonde, they were all shaggy or crudely cut. Not one person was well kept. The stench of body odor had assaulted Dave's nostrils when he first arrived but had since died down as he grew accustomed to it. Despite all of this, there was one, single, "positive," feature they all shared. They were strong.
While many residents of the 19th District resorted to stealing in their spare time, most did actually participate in hard labor. The government would allow you to dig tunnels and caverns, and in return you were given some food and drink for a couple meals (often hard, stale bread with a slice of meat and some water) during and after your labor. Even children participated in this, often responsible for running rubble from one place to another or handing out food. The amount of rubble they would have to move at one time would steadily grow as they got older, and eventually they would be given a pick axe and be made to break the rock itself. For this reason, the arms and backs of Dave and all those around him were corded with muscle, honed from a lifetime of labor.
The military was their one shot to get out of it all. The most common way to rise within Noxus was through military service. Prove you are the strongest, or the smartest, or the most clever, whatever it took to win, and you could be promoted. The military gave every strong person a chance to make a place for themselves. Those who could make their way to being a general even stood a chance of becoming a self-made noble. Even if you did not get that far, if you served the military well enough you would be stationed in a District far better than the slums of 19. One with a name. One where you could even start a business, have your own home-cavern or, dareing to dream, a house outside the mountain. This was one of the very few things Noxus prided itself on. The strong are rewarded, even the poorest man could rise to power if he had strength.
The line slowly shuffled along, and after awhile Dave began to hear things coming from the archway in the wall the line was headed for. Shouting, yelling, cheers, people stomping and hooting. It grew louder as Dave drew closer, and when he finally walked through the arch way he was not at all suprised to see what lay within.
The cavern was large and circular, nearly twenty yards accross. The line split at the entrance here, each person choosing to follow the wall to the left or to the right. In the center of the cavern were military instructors dressed in uniform. Each instructor would select a person from either side of the wall, give them each a club, and then make them fight until one was knocked unconcious. There were five instuctors, and thusly five fights going on at any given time. At the opposite end of the cavern where Dave entered, were two exits. When a fight was over, the loser was dragged off to the side where a healer would perform only the most basic of medical magics to bring the person to conciousness and the loser would be told to exit the other end of the cavern via the left exit. The winner was instructed to go through the right.
It was common knowledge that being the winner meant you had been accepted as a fighter, and stood a chance to be accepted into a rookie regiment for proper combat training. The loser would be further healed up in another room and sent to a military labor camp. The work you performed would often times be little to no better than the mining life that the residents of the 19th District led. It was possible if you showed some brains, you could wind up still learning magic, or becoming an engineer, but this was incredibly uncommon from people recruited in the poorer, uneducated districts. Many would merely be put to work in hazardous factories, or be resigned to more mining. In another three months, they would be allowed to try and fight again to gain the honor of joining a regiment.
Dave shivered at the thought of being sent straight back into the life he was hoping to leave. He had to win his fight. Whatever he had to do, he had to win it. While many of those around him cheered on the fights, he resolved himself to remain silent and watch. He paid close attention to what the fighters actually did, making mental notes in his head. It seemed that most people simply liked to swing their clubs at their opponent's head. Some people were skilled enough to block or dodge, and could land counters. Those who won were often those who did this succesfully. Though some fights were nothing but brutal onslaughts. Both opponents forgoing all tactical sense and just driving home blows on one another as hard as they could. Bones broke, faces were shattered, and blood was spilled. While it was rare since healers were on duty, it was not unheard of for some people to die from such matches. Basic healing couldn't save you if your skull was fractured inward, piercing and smashing your brain. Necromancy was not used for bringing back the poor.
With each fight passed, Dave further resolved himself to winning. He could do this, he could outplay his opponent. There was no alternative, there was no losing. He simply had to win, or die trying. He began to wish he had picked more fights in the tunnels, rather than sneaking around from place to place. It would have helped him prepare for this eventuality. He shook his head, clearing the thought from his mind. Now was not the time to think about what could have been, he had to focus on the now. He watched each brutal fight occur before him, drinking in all he could from the movements of the combatants. Finally, he was chosen.
Dave walked forward to his instructor. A tall woman that towered over him by a head, dressed in the faded gold and green colors of a worn-out Noxian uniform. She had shaved her scalp, and had swirls of tatoos starting from her left ear and running down her neck and into the collar of her shirt. At her hip lay her sword, sheathed in dull leather. As Dave approached her he could sense a sort of bored fury behind her rigid face. She looked like she was tired of watching these fights, and would have a much more enjoyable time joining in. To Dave, the most intriguing feature was her skin, which was a light brown. In fact, all of the instructors standing around had darker brown skin. Having never been outside, he had only seen only a few tanned people in his life.
Dave's opponent, approaching from the opposite wall, was not much different in size than Dave himself. Both stood at about five and half feet tall. Dave's opponent looked wild, though he could not have been much older than Dave himself. In contrast to Dave's barren face, the boy's facial hair had already started to grow. The boy was smiling wickedly from underneith curled, greasy black locks of his hair. He had been one of the many people cheering on fights, getting his adrenaline pumping and ready to bash some heads in. As the boy drew close to Dave, he gave a lustful look at the instructor and then glanced at Dave, laughing throatily he jeered, "So you're the poor ******* I get to beat the **** out of today, eh? I'm gonna send your ass straight to the fact-"
"Can it, lech." The instructor interupted, her voice comanding and overpowering. It was low for a woman's, and was laced with a harshness that left no doubt that refusal to listen to her could land her sword in your stomach. "You are to fight until the other is fully unconcious, if your opponent is not knocked out, then you have not won. There are no rules, however, try not to kill each other. Even the weaker one's life still has some value in labor. Refusal to KO your opponent even if you disable them will result in a double loss." The sneer in her voice at the word "some" and the statement after was extremely condemning, with the acidic disapproval of it carrying over into the line afterwards. While not everyone had such a harsh view, such disdain for those lacking combat skills was common to the military's lower ranks.
The instructor handed Dave and his opponent each a club, the same ones used by all the previous competitors. The weight felt good in Dave's hand, he examined the caked blood on the end and the red stains in the wood. Each club had been enchanted so as not to break, so the chances were good this club had seen hundreads of fights. Dave smiled, he would give this weapon another victory.
Dave glanced back to his opponent, the man was bouncing on his feet and laughing under his breath, eager for the fight to begin. Dave took what he hoped was a good fighting stance and gripped his weapon with both hands. His opponent brandished his in one hand, silently mocking Dave. With a loud shout of, "Start!" from the instructor the fight began. Dave's opponent llunged at him, swinging his club towards the left side of Dave's head. Having watched many fighters start the same, Dave was hopeful this would happen, and ducked underneith the blow. During the duck, Dave lowered his club and on the rise swung it upwards straight into the other man's crotch. His opponent gasped in momentary shock. No amount of driving a pick axe into rock strengthens your jewels from such a blow.
Dave immediatly took the momentary hesitation of his opponent to his advantage, and swung his club downward on the boy's club-wielding wrist. His opponent shouted in pain at the impact and dropped his club, his wrist bones most likely fractured. Dave knew without a doubt he would win. He kicked his opponent's weapon away and forgot any sort of strategy at that point. Dave began wailing on his opponent with all his might, raining blows on the man's head and shoulders. When the boy raised his arms to shield his head Dave swung his club from the side into the man's ribs with glee. He was going to win, he was going to finaly get out of this hell! He was the better!
Dave laughed happily as the man grunted from the force of the club slamming into his side, undoubtedly shattering a couple bones. With a nasty thought, Dave swung low at the man's right leg, aiming for the knee. Dave had hoped to down the boy on the floor and beat him senseless, but he missed the knee. Dave still landed a solid hit just above it though, and his opponent had to slump. This worked just as well. Taking a small step back, Dave swung a batter's swing straight into the mans head which was now lowered from his slump. The club landed squarely into the side of the boy's head with a satisfying crack, and he fell to the ground. He did not get up.
The instructor nodded towards a standby medic, who came over to check on the man. The medic reached down to feel for a pulse. Nothing. The medic sighed, peeved that he would have to be bothered to drag an idiot corpse. The man rolled his eyes and shook his head in annoyance as he stood back up over the body, "He's dead," the healer grabbed the corpse's legs and began dragging him off to the loser's exit. Dave himself felt nothing for the fact he had just killed a man. He had actually been responsible for the deaths of a couple people already, and he had long ago come to terms with having to commit such actions. The instructor looked at Dave, a small smirk of approval just slightly raising the left corner of her mouth. Even to Dave, on the high of his victory, that smirk was unsettling. He recognized the sadistic nature in it.
"Congratulations, welcome to the army. Proceed to the exit on the right. Tell the man with the papers you fought under Ivana."
"Yes sir, er, ma'a-"
"Sir." Ivana corrected.
"Yes sir," Dave nodded lightly in fairwell and headed to his exit. Through it lay a short tunnel that led to a smaller cavern with a man at a desk and numerous papers before him. Behind him where five groups of benches from one side of the cavern to the other. The man at the desk was was older, balding, and look bored with his station. As Dave approached him he glanced up briefly and then back down at his papers. He began to question in a flat monotone.
"Your instructor's name?"
"Uh, just Dave."
The man sighed, "That won't do." The man glanced at a stack of papers on the side of his desk. This particular pile of papers held nothing but lists of names. It was common that those actually born in the 19th District didn't have more than a single name. Most barely knew their mother or father well. In fact, almost no one knew their father, as the mother was either a prostitute or a victim of rape, that only took care of their child until they were able to work in the mines for their food. Such was Dave's case. Specifically, a prostitute. The man began to speak again.
"Well, it looks like you are now Dave Copernicus"
"Copernicus, what the hell kind of name is that?" Dave asked, a littled peeved.
"Your name, apparently. Best get used to it, you might not know it yet from the slums but when manners get whipped into you, you'll find your last name is what you get called by in civilized society." The man hummed, mildy amused at Dave's angered reaction, and crossed the name off the list so as not to give it to someone else until all the lists had been gone through. He continued. "Can you read?"
"What is five plus three?"
"Five times three?"
"Five divided by three?"
"Uhhh... one, and, uh, a part of one?" Dave frowned.
"One and two thirds, boy. I'm surprised you know that much coming from 19."
"Someone taught me how to count stones in the mine in return for half my bread as long as he was teaching me."
"You should consider yourself lucky to have met such a person."
Dave grimaced. While the man in question had taught him math, the same man also taught him no one could ever be fully trusted. He did his best not to remember the details. He did not consider it lucky in any way. Dave immediatly lost the majority of the happiness he had gained from winning his match. The clerk kept on talking. "Take a seat on the group of benches third from your left. Ivana will come to collect you and the others in due time." The man pointed behind himself as he said this at the correct set of benches without bothering to look. Obvisouly he had been doing this job for a bit.
Dave nodded, and walked around the desk to the benches. He made a point not to sit near anyone already there, but a person approached him anyways. A boy a bit taller but much broader shouldered than Dave himself, who was still glowing from the satisfaction of winning his match.
"Yo, I know you. I seen you in the mines. Always skulkin' about in your corner, never talking to nobody even if they're right next to yah. Didn't think the quiet type would make it through that fighter pit. Looks like we'll be in the same group, so might as well spit our names out, eh? Name's Clark, yours?"
"Copernicus, apparently," Dave rolled his eyes at this, letting on that he was annoyed, both at this boy's forcefully social attitude and his name. Taking a glance at Clark, Dave realized Clark was right about them working in the same mine tunnel from time to time. Clark laughed off Dave's annoyed attitude.
"Haha! Copernicus? What kind of name is that?"
"That's what I told him."
"What do you mean, told him?"
"The man, with the papers, told me that'd be my name."
"Well fuck, Copernicus, how 'bout we just call you 'Cuss? See what I did there?" Clark laughed again, quite amused at his own joke. Dave thought about it. Cuss. Cuss would work. He could get used to Cuss.
"Yeah, that works actually." 'Cuss smirked, nodded.
"What, really? Haha, well, son of a bitch, 'Cuss, nice to meet you." Clark exclaimed, laughing even harder now at his joke.
"Indeed," 'Cuss actually let out a small snicker at this point. Though it had nothing to do with the name 'Cuss, but the fact that he really was, unknown to Clark, the son of a prostitute.
"So then, 'Cuss, where'd yah think they'll take us from here?"
"Dunno, out of this hellhole, hopefully."
"**** straight! Did you have that chick instructor too? Woman was cold as the cavern floor, man."
"Ivana? Yeah." 'Cuss hadn't really thought about it before, but Clark did fight infront of Ivana, 'Cuss had watched the match afterall. Clark had merely overwhelmed his opponent. At one point dropping his club and locking arms with his opponent, then knocking his head against his enemy's, dazing him. Clark had thrown his opponent to the ground afterward and kicked his head until the boy fell unconcious.
"Yeah, thought so, everyone at these benches fought in front of 'er. You wanna bet she'll be our instructor?"
"If that's so, then no, you'd probably win it."
"Ah, well, ****, and here I was hopin you'd bet your dinner. Shouldn't ah said that first part."
"Ah, well, here comes the next guy. Maybe I can get his then. Talk to yah later."
'Cuss sat and watched Clark move from newcomer to newcomer, talking to them and trying to swindle them into a bet. After there were twenty people filling 'Cuss' group of the benches, Ivana walked in from the fighter pit, and stood infront of all of them. She began to speak in her cut-throat tone.
"Welcome to the regiment boys and girls. You've all had the honor to be welcomed into the army of the Noxian military. You will be given a proper education as can possibly be given to you, including proper ettiquete, how to fight, wield magic, etc. Perhaps one day when this League nonsense is over you can fight for the glory of our state, Noxus. If you're even luckier, you will have the oppurtunity to fight before that day. Now, follow me, straight lines, two by two. Failure to keep in line will be met with physical punishment." Ivana smiled and tapped her fingers on the pommel of her sword as she said the last line.
Ivana left out a tunnel behind her group of benches. Everyone from her group stood up and obediantly followed, walking as instructed. They walked for what felt like an hour. 'Cuss noticed the light orbs above them were steadily getting brighter and brighter. They had to be moving into a more well kept area. Eventually they reached a warehouse cavern where they were given faded and old uniforms to put on, and then directed to a mess hall. 'Cuss spent his time eating in silence. He was thouroughly enjoying the meal he had been given.
It was still a standard, simple sandwhich, but the bread was soft, the meat cut thick, and there was even a slice of cheese on them. Yes, them, two whole sandwhiches in one meal, without having to steal, bet, or give favors for the second one. He slowly savored every bite, not wanting it to ever be finished. Surely there was even more food out there, and in the army, he'd get to try it. He could be stationed at places with whole new avenues of food! Part of him wanted to yell with joy. He felt the surge of happiness come up again, the realization that he had finally escaped the 19th district. The army was going to be fantastic!
After the meal, Ivana led her group for another hour through tunnels, until they arrived at a large rectangular chamber with a very dim orb in the center. It's core was also turning dark blue, signifying it was night outside the mountain. Carved into the wall at regular intervals in two rows, one on top of the other, were rectangular recesses in which lay cots and pillows.
Ivana spoke, "Tomorrow we'll be leaving the mountain, and trekking down to its base. Many of you may have never seen actual daylight, though I'm sure you've seen pictures from many of the posters advertising our great army, or in the newspapers. Tomorrow, you will actually get to see the outside for yourself. You will have to grow accustomed to sunlight, as most battles normally occur during the day. As such, you will be trained outside the mountain. For now, your orders are to sleep. We will spend a great deal of time walking through the tunnels just to reach the exit. Before we leave the mountain you must all be equiped with proper clothes and medical magic enchantments to shield your skin from the sun. Yes, it really will burn you without protection after having lived inside the mountain for so long. Now, your oders are to sleep. We will be leaving at the 4th cycle of the light orb. Now rest."
Everyone chose a bed in the wall, and lay down. 'Cuss could hardly believe what was happening. He was in a bed. He had never been in a bed before. And tomorrow he was going to be outside, possibly permanently. It was hard to believe a single fight changed his life this much. He smiled as he lay his head against a real pillow, and couldn't help but notice the absense of the cold ground. Killing that boy was the best thing he'd ever done.