Chapter 1: Specs
The Institute of War
Rumble’s eyes snapped open at the same institute the hallway lights at the Institute of War flicked on. Although there was an enforced lights on/lights out time, champions could sleep in or retire whenever they wished. Rumble just prefered to use every moment he could working on something, whether he was upgrading Tristy, engineering side projects, getting drunk, or hitting on female yordles. It was a holdover from his days in the Meglings-if you weren’t doing something every moment you were awake, you were probably going to spend the rest of the day doing some task the commanding officer contrived for you.
Rumble hopped out of bed and padded across his quarters to the closet. He threw on the same outfit that he wore every day-mechanic's jacket, cargo pants, utility belt. And goggles. Don't forget the goggles.
Rumble threw open his door and walked out into the Bandle City quarters. The quarters were a circular room centered about a fireplace that was surrounded by specially shortened armchairs. It almost felt like home for the yordle champions when they stayed at the Institute.
The mess hall was another hallway away, and it was nothing short of amazing. Every champion had a breakfast specially made for them, so long as they slept at the Institute the previous night. In Rumble's case, it was as spartan as the rest of his belongings-two slices of toast with fresh yordleberry jam, a perfectly poached egg, and a mug of coffee.
"Anything else you'd like today, Rumble? I've heard this year's crop of Ionian black cherries is amazing."
Rumble glanced across the dining hall and spotted Tristana.
"Rumble, are you alright? RUMBLE?"
"I'm fine, thanks."
"You just started staring off into space for a second. I was worried."
"Just...thinking about something."
"A new design? Well, I hope it comes out right." The woman placed a flask of red liquid on Rumble's tray. His pain medication-twice a day relief to the pain he still felt every day in his knee, ribcage, and left hand from a fight years ago.
Rumble took his tray and sat down across from Tristana. For a minute, neither of them spoke.
"Rumble, are you alright? Don't tell me you're still taking that dreadful medication!"
Rumble took a swig of the liquid, and washed away the bitter taste with coffee. "Given that I have four screws holding my right knee together and my ribs never healed, I think I'm entitled to a little relief."
"When are you going to move on? You can't keep living from flask to flask of that stuff, adding new tools of destruction to your robot all the while. That's no way to live."
"What is, then? My body's a mess, the Meglings kicked me out-the robot is all I have left." Rumble was careful not to use Tristy's name in front of Tristana.
"Fall in love. Learn to paint. I don't know-there's a lot out there, Rumble, you just need to go looking for it."
"You know that for all the girls I chase, there's only one for me."
"Rumble, you're a good friend. But the Meglings are my life-I don't know what else I'd do with my life if I got kicked out because of you."
"They were my life too, Tristy! You didn't even defend me, didn't even try to persuade that ***** commander not to discharge me. Those humans took everything from me, and 'this life' is the only way I can take some of it back." In the background, a public address system turned on.
“Good morning, champions! Today, there are no official matches, but there are two training matches. Freiljord and Piltover scrimmage at 10:30, and Ionia and Demacia at 3:30. Affiliated champions...”
“Looks like I’m not fighting today.” said Rumble. “I’m gonna go upgrade Tristy.” He grabbed his plate and took it with him towards the stairs, leaving Tristana alone at the table.
“Rumble! WAIT!” The mechanic ignored her. Tristana put her head in her hands.
Rumble ascended the stairs to the third floor, where all of the workshops were located. The fourth floor was reserved for the summoners, the second floor to the champions, and everything else was shared. Except the basement. Nobody went in the basement.
His workshop was in the southeast corner of the third floor. Rumble stood in front of a door, pressed his hand to a seemingly random spot on the wall, then looked into a scanner on the wall. Satisfied, the door unlocked itself. Rumble strode over to his tool cabinet to see his assistant, Flora, already hard at work.
“What brings you here this early, Flora?”
“‘bout to ask you the same thing, Rumble.” Flora lifted her welding mask, revealing her pristine green skin. “I was just working on a new hextech mana capacitor. The old one doesn’t work half the time and it drives me nuts when I have to replace Tristy’s battery on a split-second notice because the capacitor didn’t charge her up overnight.”
“You don’t have to worry about it today, I’m not fighting today. But thanks for working on it!”
“Also, we got a message last night after you left from Poppy, the Demacian ambassador. She wants to talk to you in 10 minutes, do you have time?”
“Of course, I’ll talk with her. Make sure to let her in so my countermeasures don’t blow her sky high.”
Rumble crossed the room and plopped onto a stool at his drawing table. He normally didn't like to draw out his components, but sometimes he needed more precision then "weld a bunch of stuff together and hope it works". This time, he was working on Tristy’s legs.
In his last League match against Demacia, the weakness of Tristy’s legs had almost cost Bandle City the match. Vayne had tumbled out of the path of one of Tristy’s harpoons and fired a massive bolt into the ball bearing joint on Tristy’s thin, spindly leg, causing it to fly out from under the robot and sending Rumble crashing to the ground. In the midst of the teamfight, he had to fight on foot against Garen, who was using a sword roughly twice Rumble’s weight and height. It didn’t end well.
Never mind that the legs were perfectly functional under most combat circumstances and much more energy efficient then the new legs would be. If they were a liability, they had to go. In this case, Rumble’s new design called for much heavier armored legs that would be difficult to knock out from under the torso, and would also do a better job of shielding the delicate ball bearing joints in the robot’s knees and hips. The heavy steel plate armor would require more power to operate, which would force him to install a longer lasting mana battery, which would be bigger and heavier and-
“Good morning, Rumble.” Rumble spun on the stool to see Poppy waiting for him in a sparkling dark-blue dress, which contrasted nicely with her white hair and turquoise skin.
“Oh, hello! Flora told me you were coming. So, how’s that ‘sucking up to humans’ thing going?”
Poppy grinned. “I prefer to call it ‘diplomacy’. And it’s going fine.”
“Really?” Rumble popped off the stool. “I wouldn’t say so. Can’t be going well if you’re putting on dresses to try and look better.”
“We’re a different, more intelligent, more practical species. I only wear this ridiculous human stuff to make them feel better about compromising with me.” The yordle woman patted Rumble on the back as they set out for a more comfortable area of the workshop. “So, what were you working on?”
“New legs for Tristy. Don’t want those Demacians knocking her over again.”
“Oh yeah...I remember that. That was pretty ugly.”
“Yeah, don’t remind me.” Too late for that. Rumble had already recalled Garen’s massive sword slicing straight through his wrench, and then through his neck. “Once I get the measurements and specs tested, I can build a new leg in a day-in fact, I can get both legs done in one day if Flora does the other one.”
“Do you think you have time for another project?” The two reached a corner of the workshop that had a set of three matching couches and a hextech screen wired up to BlitzNet.
“Depends. What kind of project?”
“The Meglings are launching a competition. They feel their equipment is becoming outdated, and given the small size of us yordles they want to make sure they remain the most technologically advanced force on Runeterra.”
“Blah blah blah, spare me the speech, what are the specs?”
“They want small arms, specifically. I gave the spec scroll to your assistant.”
Rumble pressed the button on the BlitzCom unit on his utility belt. “Flora, come to the lounge. Bring the scroll Poppy just gave you.”
“So, why is the yordle military interested now?” Rumble asked. “Far as I know, their equipment is doing just fine. Take a look at Tristana’s cannon-it’s holding up just fine on the Fields.”
“The Meglings can’t afford to manufacture nor train all their members with the cannons. You of all people should know that. Officially, this contract is just a standard force-wide upgrade. Unofficially, the higher ups in Bandle City are scared, and rightfully so. Just in the past few months we’ve seen another Voidling and another two monsters from the Shadow Isles surface, go on a rampage, and then be subdued and locked up by the league.”
“So? What’s the problem? We actually DID manage to subdue them, or just convince them not to try to recruit people in Elise’s case.”
“The Meglings don’t trust the League anymore. They think that the League is no longer impartial-that the League is being manipulated by the Demacians and Noxians and that it won’t intervene if, say, Noxus invaded us. The civilian leaders think that the League can’t contain all these monsters from the Void and the Shadow Isles forever and eventually they’ll have a breakout. Either way, they came to the same conclusion-”
“Better weapons.” said Rumble as Flora joined them, sitting down next to Rumble. “So, Flora, let’s see the specs.”
Flora unfurled the scroll and pulled a pair of glasses from her vest pocket. “Let’s see...they want an effective range of five hundred League units, semiautomatic or automatic fire, five LU spread at effective range, and reload free hextech ammunition. The weapon must be able to lethally penetrate standard chain mail at the effective range. Additionally, the weapon must be able to withstand normal firing temperatures and shocks, as well as require less then fifty stoppages per one thousand rounds fired. Reward is five thousand yordle ingots for presenting a prototype that meets or exceeds specs, fifty thousand ingots for the best weapon presented, and another fifty thousand ingots plus production costs upon the full order of five hundred weapons being delivered.”
Rumble’s eyes narrowed as Flora read the specs. “Are you guys playing a trick on me?”
“No.” Poppy said. “This is real.”
“You can’t make a weapon with those specs. It’s not possible.”
“Obviously they think someone can do it, or they wouldn’t have issued the request.”
“You’re asking for something that can’t be done. You simply can’t make a semiautomatic weapon with that kind of reliability.”
“Actually, Rumble...” Flora scratched her chin, “...I think we could do this. It’s just within the realm of possibility. If we use hextech laser capacitors-”
“Now, now, don’t tell me your idea.” Poppy said. “Us diplomats...we’re not exactly great at keeping our mouths shut. Are you two in?”
“We’re in.” Flora said. “How long do we have?”
“They want a prototype in one month.”
“Well, we better get to work, then.”
Author's note: Scratched the whole flashback segment because Dregen helped me realise how unnecessary it was. Something of the sort will show up later, but right now I need to go off and actually draw up a design for Rumble's robot so I can try to explain how it works.
Please comment and criticize so I can make future chapters better!