by Ras Doomreaver
“Why are you leaving?”
The Yordle midway through packing his things looks up at his roommate. “Do you really have to ask? The void is invading! I’m going to the front lines.”
Said roommate looks down at his friend frowning. “Ras, you just finished placement for ranked matches. We need you to help beat Discord on the Rift!”
Ras goes back to his packing, turning his back to the man. “Oh yeah, one more Summoner is really going to make a huge difference. I’m barely above average and there are dozens or hundreds like me, I’m more use out there.”
“By that logic, there are hundreds of thousands of soldiers out there, what makes you think you’ll make any difference?”
“This.” Ras pulls a badge out of his robe and tosses it over his shoulder. Catching it, the taller man frowns at it. ‘Bandle City’ was inscribed at the top, followed a picture of a plane, guns blazing, finally at the bottom the words ‘Expeditionary Force’.
“You’re a pilot?” Ras’ friend was quite surprised at this revelation.
“Top of my class, my Father’s a Screaming Yipsnake. After the League was set up it felt pointless, so I came here to learn Summoning magic. Over ten years of reinventing myself and now I’m going back to where I started.”
Ras gives a wry grin as he zips up his pack. With a wave of his hand it vanishes. “That’s everything. I’m heading out tomorrow.”
“Not going to happen. You have to at least give us time to throw a good bye party. There’s a good chance you won’t come back. Leave the day after, it’s not like 24 hours will make a difference, and the League can drop you off in Noxus almost instantly.”
“I don’t know…”
“Oh come on. I’ll even get some of those cupcakes you love, from that shop in Bandle City. What is it called… right, the Happy Friends Bakery.”
Ras’ eyes go wide at the prospect of getting his hands on the famed cupcakes. “Fine. But this better be the best party I’ve ever been to!”
As Ras stepped out of the portal and the light faded he blinked at the dark stone room he found himself in, trying to adjust his eyesight. After several moments he managed to make out a desk with a bored looking man sitting at it, a giant axe across his lap. “Ras Marchen, BCEF?” At Ras’ nod, he handed over a map and a stone. “Here’s a map of the citadel, you’ll want to go to the Hanger on the 5th floor, and the stone will let you into area’s you’re authorized for.”
The trip was fairly long, giving Ras plenty of time to admire the Noxian architecture. Most people outside the city consider it a dark and gloomy place, but Ras thought it showed a lot of fine craftsmanship from people who were proud of their country and it’s strength. Intricate patterns adorned the stone, enhancing it’s both the appearance and the strength of the masonry, and tall statues of great warriors stood tall and proud in the great halls and courtyards. Nothing compared to gleaming technological wonders of Bandle City or Piltover, but it held an austere, if dark, beauty.
Climbing up one last flight of stairs he finally reached the hanger. It was a massive room, designed to handle the Zaunite zeppelins, several of which sat scattered about in various states from new to badly in need of repair, not the comparatively tiny planes of Bandle City. Most of the ships swarmed with personnel repairing them or ensuring they were prepared for battle, and Ras stopped one of the workers to ask were in all the bustle the Yordle contingent was at. Waving off with a vague “That way” the man returned to work.
As he walked around one of the zeppelins in the indicated direction he saw the planes lined up in V formations. Needing far less maintenance they were abandoned, except for one. A small figure was under this plane, at the forefront of the combat group, working vigorously. Grinning Ras walks up.
“Uncle Corki, are you ever going to stop fiddling with your machine? I’ve been gone 10 years and you’re still trying to get everything ‘Just right.’”
Rolling out from under his plane, Corki grins up at the younger Yordle and they embrace. “Ras! Finally got tired of being a Blackshoe?”
“Ha, like I wasn’t stuck being one anyway with the League! Figured with a war on though Dad could use a good wingman.”
Corki’s grin fades at that and he looks at Ras. “You mean he didn’t tell you? That Delta Seirra, I told him he should write. He retired two years ago; felt he was losing his touch with all the ground time.”
Ras gapes. “Dad hanging up his wings? Even with the Void invasion?”
Corki shakes his head sadly. “Said that if he went airborne now he’d just cause a Charlie Foxtrot. Shame, never had a better wingman.”
They both fall quite for a few moments, thinking back to flights long past. Finally Corki shakes off the memories. “So you want to rejoin as a Nugget. Think you remember enough to fly some sorties?”
“I’m sure willing to find out. I may be a Summoner now, but I lived planes for 20 years, and some things you don’t forget.”
“Good! Your Dad’s retired but I still keep his ole’ bird all fixed up. She’s yours if you want her.”
Ras beams in delight. “Does it still have all his mods? He tinkered with her almost as much as you do with yours!”
“Course sonny, and a few more toys you won’t remember. Cmon I’ll show em to you.”
Ras did in fact retain his old skills. He flew three missions, each successful, and proved himself a skilled pilot. The tide of the Void was barely dented though, flooding over Noxus until it reached the capital. Thus he was assigned to Heimerdinger’s Hellions, guarding the Daring Bombardier’s flank on a crucial flight that would end the war once and for all.
Days like that, when armies clashed and the fate of a country was at stake, felt like they should be gloomy, filled with smoke from fires on the battlefield or rain from laden clouds spilling over the combatants. It was clear as day though, despite many small towns being destroyed on the outskirts of Noxus. The Void didn’t use flames, instead tearing things apart by claw or foul magics. Fortunately it gave the Hellions clear view to take out anything that tried for the Yipsnakes. Unfortunately that also meant that the Void monsters had an equally clear view of the flights of planes flying in formation over their teeming masses.
“Incoming Bandits, 3 O’clock.” Crena Teckton calmly informed his squadron. Ras checked his instruments and watched as the creatures flew up towards them. There weren’t many of them, maybe a dozen, all smaller creatures. More would start to take notice soon.
“Steady, draw them in.” Ras found himself holding his breath unconsciously in anticipation. He forced himself to breathe deeply a few times.
“Now!” The formation scattered, zooming towards the Void monsters. A rattling of chain-guns filled the air and all of the monsters fell screaming towards the ground. As they landed, many other monstrosities stopped to munch on the corpses of their fellows. Many others looked up and saw more morsels floating enticingly overhead.
“That got their attention. Let’s fry some bugs.”
Soon the radio was filled with barking comments as the dogfights quickly increased in ferocity. “Bogey on my tail!” “I got em!” “Incoming 10 O’clock!” and the like came out of the radio in a confused jumble as the pilots whirled, ducked, and spun through the air, shredding any targets trying to approach the flank of Corki’s Squadron. Through it all Teckton’s calm voice cut through the chatter to keep everyone focused on moving with the rest of the combat group and not bogged down with targets until they fell behind and became useless.
There was calm suddenly as they approached the objective. All of the Void creatures close enough to be valid targets where down, or had slipped past and been eliminated by a different Squadron. Amazingly, all of the Hellions were still in the air. Each of them took the moment to look around and take note of the situation. Suddenly out of thin air appeared a Void creature, massive, insectoid, giant claws growing with purple energy as it sliced a plane clean in two. It leaped off the now falling wreckage towards the next plane, firing spines even as it landed which crashed into a third, sending a great explosion that left nothing but pieces of the unfortunate target.
“That’s Kha’zix!” Ras yelled into his communication stone.
Teckton watched as a fourth plane went down as quickly as the others had. “Mayday, Mayday! We have contact. My squadron is nearly all down. Again, we have con”
Kha’zix had vanished again, reappearing on top of Teckton’s plane. It’s claws ripped open the cockpit with a single swipe, then it stuck his face inside, grabbing Teckton with it’s jaws and tearing the Yordle in two, blood flying into the open air and spattering the plane.
If he keeps going like this he’ll take down the entire combat group! Ras thought. He had summoned Kha’zix on the battlefield before, and knew how it thought. It was perfectly willing to retreat after a kill, especially in dangerous circumstances, but once it set it’s sights on a target it was loath to give up the chase until the target was dead. He had to draw it off or convince it further pursuit was too dangerous.
Flying at the monster as it savored it’s meal, Ras opened fire, machine gun rattling, a rocket obliterating the plane Kha was standing on. Opening it’s wings, it gazed at Ras in annoyance, it’s tough shell barely singed by the explosion, bullets ricocheting off of it. As it flew strait at Ras, he dove, shooting towards the ground at incredible speed, activating a booster his Dad had installed long ago. Howling it’s frustration, Kha spun around in the air and gave chase. Firing off flares to possibly distract or blind it, anything to slow it down, Ras leveled off flying directly away from the rest of the flight group.
His booster’s fuel was quickly running dry, and he knew he had no chance of killing the Void champion. Setting the auto pilot to fly straight ahead, he turned to watch Kha, hand on the switch that armed his detonation charge. Once activated, any serious jolt would set it off, such as the plane crash landing. By his calculations he should hit it just about…
Kha’zix vanished again. Cursing, Ras slammed his hand on the arming button, then pulled his eject. The cockpit flew open and Ras flew strait up into the air. Then Kha reappeared and slammed into the plane with enough force to tear the engine off. The detonation charge activated, exploding in a great fireball, sending Kha’zix spinning through the air smoking. Righting itself, the great monster looked about for the plane then roared it’s triumph at the remnants now falling to the ground before zooming off towards the ground to lick it’s wounds.
Hearing the cry, Ras twisted about worriedly, trying to figure out where Kha’zix was, but couldn’t turn around far enough while suspended from his parachute to see it fly off. He gave up and just hoped the monster had flown off and focused on finding a relatively clear place to land. Spotting an area that had been cleared by a fellow pilot’s detonation charge, he skillfully guided the parachute in that direction, hoping none of the void spawn noticed him. Fortunately his parachute was a dark purple, mirroring the void corruption and crawling monstrosities below, and he was far lower than the aerial battle had been, so none of the flying ones noticed him and attacked while he was helpless in the air.
His feet touched the ground softened by void ichor, sinking into it slightly. Instantly he pulled a cord that released the parachute and hustled off, trying to find cover. A tree had been knocked down and shattered by the blast, and he hurried over, thanking his small size as it let him easily stand in the shredded earth and be hidden by the twisted stump. Raising his pistol, he leaned against the tree to wait, taking a moment to admire the weapon. Void spawn where tough and most conventional small arms fire would slow them but not kill them, as they ignored most injury that was non-fatal. Large melee weapons were thus favored, allowing you to cleave off limbs and throw back the spawn until it was dead, though large rifles or powerful machineguns also worked. Thus he had been issued an electric pistol from Piltover, powerful enough to obliterate it’s target, even a void spawn. Too bad it overheated every shot and had to spend several seconds cooling off.
The slightest click of claws on wood was all the warning he had. Spinning about, he saw a void monster leering down at him from on top of the stump. It leapt down on him as he raised his pistol and fired, the electricity arcing through the creature, causing it to explode as it’s insides heated and expanded. Ras fell to the ground and didn’t even have time to breathe a sigh of relief before a second leaped at him. Landing right in front of him it leaned down to bite at him, getting an arm that Ras raised desperately to protect his face. Chewing down viciously, it raised clawed hands and struck out at Ras as he screamed in agony. Raising his other hand, he cast a quick spell that threw back the creature. It landed on it’s back, then quickly got up again, glaring.
Ras was certain he was dead, his pistol was useless for another four seconds and he was too injured to do anything else. Suddenly the spawns back arched, as if something was pulling on it, arms spread as it tried to force itself forward and back onto it’s prey. Ras struggled to keep from passing out, noticing for the first time the thread of purple energy connecting to the spawn. A great light of magical energy flashed through the air, and the spawn cried out as the thread surged and yanked it flying away, along with it’s fellows that flew through the air overhead, pulled by a great magical force. With his last gasp of strength, he managed to weave some of the ambient magical energy from that great spell into a spell of stasis, freezing himself in time until something either finished him or rescued him.