Date: 22 April, 21 CLE
Rumble clanks into the Great Hall with the least grace shown by any candidate since Gragas. He battles with the controls of his scraped-together battle-suit, peculiarly named “Tristy”. The suit lumbers forward, a marvel of unrefined construction. Rumble’s movements are jerky, quick; he seems to enjoy the frantic micromanagement.
The great ball of spikes that is Tristy’s left hand rears back in front of the doors. As though self-aware, they fling open abruptly and the Reflecting Chamber’s impenetrable darkness unfurls into the Great Hall. Rumble snorts with derision before urging the machine forward.
Humans did love playing their games. Rumble doubted that important humans like Prince Jarvan were dumped in a dark broom closet while some League goon got all fancied up for a beat down.
Oh well, if the longlegs want to see what kind of champion I’ll be, I’m happy to show ‘em.
He was bubbling with anticipation. “Itchy fist syndrome” someone once called it, except now his “fists” consisted of a pressurized, two-cylinder flame projection system and a pneumatic piston-mace assembly Rumble often referred to as “the short hello”.
He was only worried for the guy they’d sent to test him.
“No need to worry,” growled a gravelly, robotic voice behind him, “I will take it easy on you!”
Rumble hammered the control yoke, spinning Tristy’s cockpit 180 degrees with nauseating speed. He half-pulled the trigger to launch his electro-harpoon before he realized he was staring at a wall.
“Over here now!” The voice was behind him again, amused.
Rumble punched one of the pedals when he spun back, whirling to face the owner of the voice. The instant the cockpit came to a stop, the harpoon misfired, hurtling straight for the poor League crony. Normally Rumble preferred to look someone in the eye before he impaled them on an electrified javelin, but he certainly wasn’t one to stand on ceremony.
As his eyes came to rest on the target, his enthusiasm evaporated.
The harpoon plinked harmlessly off the shiny, finished exterior of a titanic battle-suit. It stood easily four times the height of Rumble’s, supported by three multi-jointed legs thick enough to withstand mortar fire. Above them, the chest – an almond-shaped slab inset with purple gems – was visibly generating some sort of arcano-magnetic deflection field. The glowing plate was flanked by confoundingly intricate arm appendages which both suspended tactical, sixteen-cell missile arrays. Rumble knew by the heads of the missiles that each was outfitted with sorcerous motion tracking and remote guidance systems. The arms terminated in two ten-barrel rotary cannons nestled in exterior composite plating. The leering head of the behemoth was a fat bulb of tinted glass coated in sensory detection equipment, presumably housing the pilot. Where its mouth would have been, a gleaming cylinder protruded, clearly the business end of a focused-energy charging plasma emitter. In other words: a death ray. Worst of all, the armor of the colossus was anodized and decorated in flawless detail with blue flames, the exact pattern Rumble wanted to paint on his suit.
Someone ripped off his dream design.
Rumble’s fury overtook his awe. With a howl, he pulled every trigger, punched every button, and kicked every pedal that would fire something at the hulking monstrosity. In response, his trusty suit Tristy sputtered and fell over.
Rumble tumbled from his seat, cursing. One of these days, he would install seat belts…right after he finished the designs for the Juicer. He rolled to his feet and gave Tristy a firm kick in the mace – the usual fix. Tristy shuddered back to life, but she became suddenly obscured by a looming shadow.
When he opened his eyes, his vision was filled by one of the giant’s tree trunk legs. It twisted slightly, and the wail of grinding alloys confirmed Rumble’s worst fear.
Tristy had been stomped flat.
There have been times in Rumble’s life when he’s had lapses of memory. They usually occurred when he was being bullied or beaten badly enough that he didn’t think he’d pull through. Things just went dark. Usually when he’d come out of it, there would be a bunch of yordles either on the ground bloodied or looking at him like he had a wrench sticking out of his head (which was only actually the case once).
In this instance, he was clawing madly at the foot of the steel mammoth, throat hoarse and fur in disarray. The foot remained in good condition.
With a popping hiss, the head of the beast split open, revealing an unmistakable bushy blonde afro.
“Heimerdinger!” Rumble bellowed, “You’re gonna pay for this! Deserter! Traitor! Get down here!” His voice cracked more times than he’d have liked.
“That would be a poor strategy indeed!” Heimerdinger exclaimed, after brief consideration. “You can return to Bandle City. I’m sorry it didn’t work out!”
“Return?!” Rumble laughed. “You think I’m done with you? This fight just got started! You already-” He was airborne before he could finish his sentence. It looked like something shot out from the death machine and exploded in front of him, but his vision was so blurry he couldn’t confirm it. He soared almost casually through the air until the wall stopped him.
“The probability of your continued existence is rapidly approaching zero.” Heimerdinger remarked absent-mindedly.
Rumble opened his eyes and coaxed his lungs to breathe. He was lying on his side facing Heimerdinger. Neither the wall nor the floor did a good job cushioning his fall. He wasn’t going to be able to take many more shots like these.
“You missed.” He choked, managing a smirk. He wobbled to his feet, bracing himself against the wall.
“Why do you want to join the League, Rumble?” He thought Heimerdinger’s voice sounded strange, but it was difficult to tell through the ringing in his ears.
“Oh now you want to chit-chat.”
“Your machine is destroyed. You will be unable to compete without-“
“Why’s that? I’m too small? Too weak? Tell me a new one. I’m the one they invited here, not my machine, and I’m not leaving that easy. Bandle City needs more loyal champions, and I’m not gonna back down from some big-haired Piltover lapdog.” Broken and battered, Rumble’s voice didn’t lose any attitude. He brought his fists up, the motion was excruciating.
“How does it feel exposing your mind?”
“How does it-? What kind of question is that? Let’s finish this! You’re gonna pay for what you did to Trist-”
Heimerdinger was gone. Rumble was sitting in the cockpit, looking at Tristy’s instrument panel. The pain was gone. He was back in the broom closet, but someone apparently turned the lights on. He couldn’t suppress the smile that crept across his face. He hugged the dashboard.
“I thought I lost you for a second there, girl. But don’t worry, I would’ve fixed you. Now we gotta go pay someone back for this whole mess.”
He took hold of the yokes and kicked the pedals. Tristy sprung to action, leaping forward.
Then she sputtered and fell over.