[SS] A Sheriff's Dilemma
She awoke to bright lights and a cold touch. Again.
“Wakey, wakey,” the voice said, “are we ready to have a discussion today?”
What time was it? What day? The dark, windowless cell gave her no bearing on the outside world. Water dripped from multiple ceiling cracks, a wet ticking of a clock that didn’t exist. Her corner had the misfortune of having a small opening where the putrid scent of sewage leaked into the room. She remembered screaming in pain, hoping her cries would reach someone, anyone. Clearly, that was wishful thinking. The odor, which invaded her senses the first time she awoke, had been reduced to white smell. The only thing keeping her lucid was the discordance of the dripping water and the arrhythmic mechanical clangs outside.
She struggled in her seat against the restraints, weakly, and to no avail. Her wrists and ankles were tightly cuffed to the wooden chair that was bolted to the ground, while a hextech collar looped around her neck.
“Sorry, cupcake, I keep the fuzzy cuffs at home, too.”
Caitlyn craned her neck, her eyes looking up at her captor through bloody disheveled hair. As before, the blinding lights behind him left his face in shadow—she couldn’t identify him, and his voice remained foreign to her. All she could reliably discern were his height and strength, neither of which he seemed to lack.
She spat at his boots, where faint traces of dried blood were still visible. “When are you going to learn that torture doesn’t work on Piltover’s sher—,”
A hard slap cut her off mid-sentence, whipping her head to the other side. She could feel the liquid bubbling in her mouth, so she spat again, her saliva replaced by blood.
“Darling,” the man began, “you know I love our little back-and-forths, but I simply haven’t the patience today.” He knelt in front of her, grabbed a fistful of her hair, and pulled back. Caitlyn struggled to stifle a yelp. “You need to tell me where my compatriots are being held and where I might find the hextech keys I need to extract them. Now.”
Caitlyn gritted her teeth. “I don’t need to tell you shi—,”
Another hard slap.
“You need to tell me, Sheriff. Otherwise, I’ll just have my men start killing members of your police force until you do. Please don’t test me.”
She bit her lip. It was an easy decision. How could she live with herself if she allowed officers to be killed while she withheld information? She could try to trust that her officers wouldn’t get caught, but if she could be taken, anyone could. Bad guys can be recaptured; no one can be resurrected.
She took a deep breath, considered cursing him out, and let it out slowly.
“Prisoners are only ever held in two places, the Piltovan Police Station and the Royal Bastille. The former is smaller, for the day-to-day holdings, with a few exceptions. The Bastille is our max-sec, with hextech ID tagging, constant surveillance, and security golems.”
He relaxed his hold on her hair. “I like what I’m hearing, Sheriff, please continue.”
“There are multiple guardhouses for each section of each prison, each with its own set of keys for the inmates. You need a key for someone, you go there.” She decided she’d keep the master hexkey in her office a secret.
The man sucked in a quick breath. “Oh dear, that’s just not going to work for me. See, I was rather hoping you’d tell me about your personal key yourself, but since you’re holding out on me, I’ll have to balance the scales.” He stood and pulled out a walkie from his pocket, feigning disappointment, “And we were doing so well for a minute there—tsk, shame.”
He looked back towards the lights, the entrance of the cell, and spoke into the walkie. “Bron, could you bring in Officer Kozari, please?”
Caitlyn’s heart tightened. Not only had they already captured officers, but they’d singled out members of the mercantile clans? It had to be the work of one of the Zaun chem-barons. Names of inmates at the Bastille flashed through her head, but nothing stood out, nothing to help her identify her imprisoner. She panicked. Kozari was going to die, and it was going to be her fault.
She looked at her captor. She’d never seen a smile that large on anyone before. He spoke into the walkie again.
“Bron, bring in Officer Kozari, please,” he repeated. “Today would be excellent.”
Again, there was no confirmation from the other end. His impatience betrayed him, and his mouth twitched—a chink in the smile. “For Zaun’s sake,” he muttered under his breath as he walked to the cell’s exit.
As soon as he placed his hand on the door handle, an explosive force burst through the wall, ripping the door out of the frame entirely and launching the man through the air. He blasted through the lights and slammed into the wall next to Caitlyn, the metal door quickly following suit. The man didn’t even have time to scream before he was flattened with a satisfying squelch.
Caitlyn relaxed and breathed a sigh of relief; only one person in Runeterra could do that. She peered through what used to be the wall of the cell and saw the source of the arrhythmic mechanical gears: Old Hungry, the mechanized clock tower in Old Zaun that hadn’t been properly maintained in years. As her savior stepped through the wall, hextech gauntlets still steaming, Caitlyn smiled for the first time in a long time.