This IS TF2-related. Give it a chance.
Cho’Gath stretched his arms and yawned. That had been a very pleasant sleep. Normally when Cho’Gath slept, the walls would bend and buckle with his snores and he’d dream of still being trapped in that bloody room. He’d been there for what, seven years now? Eight? He wasn’t sure, but he was still trapped in that bloody room. As Cho’Gath stretched for a second time, he wondered why his arms felt shorter than usual. Sitting up in his ‘bed’ (by which he meant a pile of straw, since Cho’Gath wasn’t allowed to have a bed), the Voidborn inspected his body. It wasn’t just his arms that were smaller, his entire body was smaller.
Before the Terror of the Void could investigate further, he was interrupted by a whimpering sound. It was coming from the entrance to his prison. Cho’Gath stomped over to see what this peculiar noise was. Sitting on the opposite side of his prison door was a baby human, wrapped in mystical purple and blue fabric. Cho’Gath growled with disgust. What sort of sick human being would leave an undeveloped baby lying in front of a cage which imprisons one of the most powerful and monstrous beings on the planet? Cho’Gath was going to have to have a word with Malz-
“Wait a second!” the Voidborn exclaimed. He took another look at the baby. The baby WAS Malzahar. That was probably why it wasn’t crying and running away in fear. Cho’Gath was at a loss now. Malzahar was going to get ill if he stayed on the cold stone floor like that, but Cho’Gath couldn’t reach through the bars of the door to pick him up. Thankfully, his worries were relieved by the appearance of a purple flash. Although Vel’Koz was half his normal size and had less armour around his gigantic eyeball, he seemed otherwise okay.
“Cho’Gath! Something has happened!” Vel’Koz paused, spotting the baby on the ground. “Who leaves an underdeveloped Homo Sapien here of all places?”
“That’s Malzahar,” Cho’Gath grunted. “You mind picking him up off the floor and letting me out of this cage?”
Vel’Koz flicked one of his tentacles. “You know full well that I am not supposed to do that unless in extreme circumstances.”
“Oh, so everyone becoming younger is not an extreme circumstance?”
“True…” Vel’Koz slipped the key off of Malzahar’s neck and opened up the door. Cho’Gath stepped out and picked up Malzahar, wrapping him up nice and snug in his now oversized clothes, before stomping off to the upper levels of the Institute of War.
“Where are Kha’Zix and Kog’Maw?”
At the mention of the other Voidborns’ names, Vel’Koz appeared to wrench. “You do not wish to know. Everyone has become underdeveloped. Including our fellow Voidborns. Their quarters are not a pleasant place to be right now.”
Cho’Gath ignored Vel’Koz’s warning and charged off in the direction of Kha’Zix’s living space. It wasn’t far. Malzahar gurgled happily in his arms, while Vel’Koz floated behind them, spouting all sorts of weird things like how he nearly forgot how to fly and how he woke up and couldn’t move for ten minutes. They finally made it to Kha’Zix’s room, only to find he wasn’t there. Both the entrances to his room and Rengar’s room were wide open.
“Where do you think he is?” Cho’Gath asked. Vel’Koz peered into Rengar’s room and found the answer there. In the middle of the room, a small kitten and a kitten-sized mantis were happily playing with a ball of string.
“Here they are…” Vel’Koz wanted to smile but couldn’t. And even if he had a mouth with which to smile, he didn’t want to anger Cho’Gath. Instead, he picked up Kha’Zix and turned to leave. But as he did so, Kha’Zix started crying.
“What’s wrong with him?” Cho’Gath tutted.
“He wants Rengar to come too, I guess.”
“Fine. But if he gets in the way, I’m eating him.”
Vel’Koz turned back and picked up Rengar too. He placed both of them on Cho’Gath’s back, where they held on tight. Cho’Gath then stomped onwards, towards Malzahar’s place, where Kog’Maw normally slept, because the damn thing was already a giant baby who needed constant looking after. On the way though, there was a distinct lack of other beings. No champions, no summoners. No nothing. It was quite early in the morning, so perhaps everyone was asleep. Or perhaps everyone had been turned into babies. Neither of them were sure, but considering what had happened to everyone they’d seen so far…
“Wait!” Cho’Gath skidded to a halt. “Is this the right way?”
The amount of nasty green bodily fluid on the stairs ahead of them answered his question. They continued forward with caution, avoiding the acid, vomit and snot dripping off the walls. Malzahar’s quarters had been utterly destroyed. In the middle of the room was a translucent, sickly green cocoon that quietly pulsated. Occasionally, it would swell and flood the room with some sort of hideous ooze, before reabsorbing it all. As soon as Malzahar saw it, he burst into tears.
“Stop crying…” Cho’Gath murmured. But Malzahar was having none of it. They headed back down stairs, not wanting Kog’Maw’s weird cocoon thing to explode all over them. But even as they reached relative safety, Malzahar would not stop crying. Vel’Koz took Malzahar from Cho’Gath’s arms and rocked him gently to sleep in his tentacles.
“How in the name of the Void did you do that?”
“You just need to be gentle. A female human touch, as one would say…” Vel’Koz beamed.
“Not the touch of a female Voidborn though…” Cho’Gath shuddered. “Let’s look for someone who won’t be affected, like we ar-AAAAAGH!”
Kha’Zix took a bite out of Cho’Gath’s carapace. Cho’Gath was about to pick him up and throw him against a wall, but instead just scolded him, threatening to kill him if he did it again. Vel’Koz giggled but tried to hide it, worried that Cho’Gath might eat him. It had never stopped him on the Rift. Instead, Vel’Koz tried to offer something useful to Cho’Gath’s suggestion.
“How about we look for those Shurima beings or something? Surely Nasus and Renekton, being ancient beings, won’t be affected by all this nonsense? Or how about the Yordles?”
“We are not going to those stupid meals on legs. But Azir and the Shurima beings are a good suggestion. Where do they reside?”
Vel’Koz snapped a tentacle, creating a map of purple energy. Map making was a secret pastime for the floating eyeball. Not that he told anyone, for fear of being called a large variety of mean names. Humans could be very colourful with their language. “Hmmm. Hmmm. Hmmmmm. Hmmm.”
The Terror of the Void growled. “Alright. I give you one hmm for being a fellow Voidborn. I give you a second because we’re supposed to be friends. But three hmmms is pushing it.”
“That was four…” Vel’Koz replied.
“Great. We’re doomed.”
“Calm down!” Vel’Koz snapped his tentacle again and the map disappeared. “They’re not far from here, a couple of floors below us. Just past the second grand hall where the people of Demacia and Noxus are discussing a treaty today.”
Cho’Gath grabbed Vel’Koz by a tentacle and stormed off towards the nearest staircase that headed down. He hated the grand halls, mostly because he was never allowed inside them. Now he could finally see a grand hall, and possibly tear it apart or something in anger.
Since it was quite early, everyone was in bed anyway, so there was little going on apart from the occasional sound of crying. In fact, the only thing on the schedule this morning was the Demacia – Noxus meeting. As they passed the second grand hall, Cho’Gath paused and peered inside, out of curiosity. Only one of the chairs at the needlessly long table was occupied, and the occupant was quite strange. Just an empty suit of Demacian armour.
“Hang on, Vel…” Cho’Gath entered the room slowly. There was a quiet whimper coming from the chair. Cho’Gath moved the armour to reveal a baby Garen. He’d literally shrunk out of his armour. On closer inspection, the other chairs all had various armour and clothing on them too. Jarvan IV, Lux and Xin Zhao were all gurgling under the table, possibly laughing at the previously trapped Garen. There was also a small puddle of yellow liquid underneath Jarvan IV’s chair.
“Shall we bring them with us?” Vel’Koz asked, interrupting his inspection of the room.
“What? No! I’m not some sort of organic buggy or pushchair or baby carrier from the Void!” Cho’Gath snapped.
“Then why are you looking around?”
“I was just… Um…”
“You care for them, don’t you?” Vel’Koz teased. Cho’Gath decided to just ignore Vel’Koz. It was that or punch the damn thing in the eye. “You’re concerned about their well-being. You’ve gone soft in your time spent imprisoned he-oooooph…”
Cho’Gath grabbed Vel’Koz’s back tentacle and slammed him against the wall before throwing him out of the grand hall and back into the grand hallway. Rengar and Kha’Zix both cheered. Malzahar whimpered.
“You should show concern for our future subjects, Vel’Koz. It makes devouring this world so much simpler. Either way, it is none of your business whether I care for our fellow champions or not. Now get up and move.”
Cho’Gath lifted Garen out of his armour and placed him on the floor with the other baby Demacian humans, before leaving the hall and continuing onwards. There seemed to be some commotion up ahead. Arguments of some sort.
“Renekton put Azir down now! Put him down! No, don’t throw him! Nasus, stop throwing bricks at Renekton! Azir, I told you earlier, don’t try to peck at the table!”
This room, a grand hall that was nowhere near as grand as the previous one, was supposed to be hosting a Shurima reunion party, but it wasn’t going well. Half the Shurima beings hadn’t turned up, in protest of their retconned pasts. The half who did basically had a giant brawl before half of them left and the rest finished off the alcoholic beverages. Standing in the middle of the tattered room was Xerath, trying desperately to control three rather young and rowdy animal-based humanoids.
“Nasus stop eating those crayons! Oh. Um. Hello, Voidborns…” Xerath seemed exhausted. He may have been pure magic locked up in a sarcophagus, but deep down he was still capable of being tired. “Can you please give me a hand? This lot are too young to be scared of my magic.”
Cho’Gath grinned, before unleashing a gigantic roar. It was scary enough to make Rengar fall off Cho’Gath’s back and hide behind Vel’Koz. Nasus, Renekton and Azir instantly fell into line and into silence. Amazingly, Malzahar and Kha’Zix, who were now clinging on to Cho’s back, hardly moved.
“Thank you…” Xerath shook Cho’Gath’s hand. “It is good to know that I am not the only being not affected by this strange, youth-inducing curse. Although all you Voidborns seem smaller. Especially little Kha’Zix.”
“Kha’Zix is a baby just like everyone else. Vel’Koz and I have only been affected physically. Age plays little part in the life of us more gentlemanly Voidborns,” Cho’Gath sighed. “But do you have any idea what has caused all this?”
“Funnily enough, I do!” If Xerath still had a face, he would have smiled. Vel’Koz felt the mage’s pain. “This current incidence was mentioned among one of the many issues that could occur should we have performed any Ascension spell wrong. A portal has opened up and allowed other beings to enter. The scripts all say that the first words such a new being utter would affect all those unknowingly nearby, unless they too were from another world or were touched by the power of Ascension.”
Vel’Koz tapped his ‘chin’. “But us Voidborns HAVE been affected. Only partially in our case, but affected nonetheless. Perhaps your texts were wrong?”
Nasus giggled. “He said nonetheless. That’s funny!” A quick glare from Cho’Gath silenced him though. Xerath nodded and tried to explain further. “Well, the texts were always incomplete. Perhaps the beings that have passed through are beings from another universe rather than another world, thus partially affecting you too. The only people not affected at all would be whoever greets these otherworldly beings… Hmm…”
“Again with the hmmms!” Cho’Gath growled. “So what we need to do is find these otherworldly beings and kill them or send them back home and this curse will be reversed? How would we do that?”
“I could begin a series of incantations which would scan the area for any foreign beings but…”
Kha’Zix chirped and jumped up and down on Cho’s head. “We find who not baby!”
“Or we could do that…” Xerath sniffed, rather upset that he’d just been out-idea’d by a baby voidling. “May I accompany you?”
Cho’Gath nodded but Vel’Koz shook his head. “What about Nasus, Renekton and Azir?” Vel’Koz exclaimed.
“Easy!” Cho’Gath sneered. He dropped Rengar and Kha’Zix on the table and addressed the five children. “If you all behave, when I get back, I’ll take you out for ice cream. Alright?”
“Ice cream?” Azir tweeted.
“Cold sweet thing!” Kha’Zix chirruped.
“What about Malzahar?” Vel’Koz asked.
“He’ll have to come with us. I don’t trust these kids looking after him.”
“Oh okay. Yes sir, uncle Cho!” Azir waved. Cho’Gath smiled slightly and backed out of the room, handing Malzahar back to Vel’Koz then pushing him and Xerath out and closing the door behind them. Xerath took a few deep breaths as he slid down the wall, breathing a huge sigh of relief.
“Uncle Cho?” Vel’Koz taunted.
“Shut up, Vel’Koz!” Cho’Gath waved a claw at him. “Shall we split up or go together?”
“Statistically, although splitting up is faster, bad things have a higher chance of occurring should we do so…” Vel’Koz counted on his tentacles.
“Where did you get that information?”
“Human horror movies.”
Vel’Koz waved his tentacle, re-creating his map of the Institute. Xerath was nodding in agreement. “It’s true.”
Cho’Gath sneered and glanced around. The Institute was a very large place, these beings could have been anywhere. They could have left and wandered off even! As much as he disliked the idea of splitting up, if they were to solve this before tea time, they needed to cover as much ground as quickly as possible.
“We’ll go in pairs…” Cho’Gath finally sighed. “I’ll go with Xerath and inspect the halls, you’ll take Malzahar and check the gardens.”
“Sounds like a plan to me!” Vel’Koz cradled Malzahar in his tentacles and set off. Xerath gave Cho’Gath an awkward look, but because he’s a being of pure magic who lacks proper facial expressions, Cho’Gath didn’t notice and instead stomped off towards the canteen.
Being early morning, the gardens of the Institute were empty. Mostly. Occasionally you’d see a Summoner wandering around watering the plants. Vel’Koz rarely ventured into the gardens, because of his nasty habit of disintegrating things he didn’t understand. It was incredibly tempting for him to disintegrate every plant and flower around him, but the Eye of the Void held back. He had a job to do. And he didn’t want to make Malzahar cry.
There was movement up ahead. Not much, but just a bit. Vel’Koz held Malzahar tightly and floated in for a closer look. Ah, it was just Caitlyn, sitting at a bench chatting to som-
“Wait a second!” Vel’Koz said that rather loudly. Luckily neither of the people at the bench noticed. Malzahar giggled and gurgled, as if mocking him. Unlike every other being they’d come across, both Caitlyn and the other humanoid were adult-sized. Vel’Koz decided now was the time for sneaking and secrecy. He lowered himself, so he was practically hiding in the grass, like he’d seen Kha’Zix do. He slowly sneaked over. He was sneaking so well that he’d forgotten he had Malzahar with him, who proceeded to burp loudly. Both humanoids jumped up and spun around.
“VEL’KOZ!” Caitlyn bellowed, removing the rifle from her back. “I KNEW I’d one day find you looking up women’s skirts!”
“No no no no!” Vel’Koz stammered, trying to think up something to say. He wasn’t very good at human relational communication. “I have no interest in the contents of your rather small skirt and underwear!”
“So you’re gay?” Caitlyn sneered. “Looking up this poor man’s lab coat?”
“NO! I am not interested in anything like that!”
“What about that message that the League broadcasted?”
“That was an unfortunate piece of truncated text! I swear, I was engrossed in analysing Poros!” There was no way Vel’Koz was going to win this argument, so he tried to change the subject. “What about you, out here on your own, chatting with strangers?”
Caitlyn put her gun down and placed one hand on her hips. “You’re still gay.”
“Now now…” The other human was talking. It was clearly male, tall, older than normal. Black hair. Small round external lenses. It carried with it a large, hose-like device connected to a backpack. “Zhis interesting thing here might not be homosexual. I doubt it vould be interested in us.”
“Yeah!” Vel’Koz agreed. “Although to be fair I am only here for the vast amounts of knowledge that this world has to offer… But you, human, you’re not from here either, are you?”
The human adjusted his glasses. “Oh, nein, not at all.”
“That’s a pity. I’m going to have to kill you.”
“Pardon?” Caitlyn raised an eyebrow. “What are you on about?”
“Here, hold this…” Vel’Koz handed baby Malzahar to Caitlyn. The other human quickly darted off. “Drat.”
Vel’Koz gave chase. The human was unnaturally fast and wasn’t tripping over its lab coat at all. After a few seconds, Vel’Koz attempted to speed up, only to be struck by small, sharp objects. He paused to pull one of them out. It was a syringe. Angered by the human’s choice of weapon ammunition, he flicked his tentacles and continued onwards, spraying purple Void magic everywhere. Finally, he managed to corner the human.
“Gah, vhat vas I thinking?”
“My apologies human, but I’d like everyone else to not be children. I have a thing about experimenting children. Produces inaccurate results. Plus, it makes me look bad. I have an awful reputation around here.”
“Oh, tell me about it. Back home, all I get is nonsense about me being crazy… I’m just curious…” The human didn’t seem too scared right now. It felt like Vel’Koz could relate to him.
Vel’Koz sighed. “I just want to learn about everything, but all everyone sees is this hideous, perverted eyeball monster. Everyone assumes I’m here to sexually abuse females…”
The human edged forward, closer and closer, before putting an arm around Vel’Koz’s body. “Zhere zhere, I understand. Mein komrades, zhey always think I am experimenting on zhem. Zhey think I have more than just a professional relationship with Heavy. It’s not true. I like to learn things too.”
Wiping a tear from his gargantuan eye, Vel’Koz looked up at the human. “H-how do you learn things?”
“I stick needles into zhem.”
“Heh. I learn things by disintegrating them… I like you…”
“You aren’t too bad yourself! Your name is Vel’Koz, ja? You can call me Medic.”
Cho’Gath was this close to devouring Xerath. They’d been wandering around the southern part of the Institute of War for bloody ages and they STILL hadn’t found the canteen. The stupid lump of glowing energy couldn’t get it right. He had a map as well, freshly copied from information he’d stolen from Vel’Koz. But still Xerath had managed to get them lost. Furious, Cho’Gath snatched the map and turned it ninety degrees clockwise.
“Why did you not say anything?” Xerath sneered.
“Because you were too stupid to work it out… Ah, here w-”
Cho’Gath dropped the map, which hit the floor at the same time his jaw did. Gravity worked differently in this place. It was like an explosion had gone off in the canteen. Bread, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and an unidentified form of meat coated every single non-floor surface.
“What in the name of the Void…”
Xerath prodded Cho’Gath in the shoulder. “What’s more shocking, the fact that there are sandwiches everywhere or the fact that there are two of Braum?”
“Huh? Oh, I didn’t notice that…” Cho’Gath’s mind had been snatched away by the scent of food. He had never admitted it to anyone, but meat and cheese between two slices of bread were heavily addictive to Voidborn beings. There was a reason why Kog’Maw was never allowed in the canteen unattended. It took a lot of effort to drag himself back to the task at hand. “Oh yes, that does look like a second Braum…”
“I’m going to go and speak to them!”
“No, wait!” Cho’Gath leaned forward to stop Xerath, but a second wave of sandwiches hit him right in the nostrils. Overloaded by his senses and his stomach, Cho’Gath reached for the nearest table coated in breaded goodness and swallowed the lot whole. Including the table. Satisfied, the Terror of the Void collapsed, leaving Xerath to deal with the issue at hand.
“Is he well?” Braum asked as Xerath approached.
“I am not sure. Braum, who is this?” He pointed at the similarly sized man sitting next to the topless, moustachioed warrior. Braum smiled and allowed the other person to introduce himself.
“I am Heavy Weapons Guy.”
Xerath, unsure what to say, decided to let Braum try and explain everything.
“Came through device in tower. Heavy Weapons Guy and I both have very similar tastes. Other man, Medic, went to gardens with Caitlyn. Is good luck before today’s match that we make new friends!”
“Yes, about that…” Xerath hissed at Braum, wanting to talk to him privately. He dragged Braum to one side, so they were out of Heavy’s earshot. “There’s a small problem. You see, your new friend here, he’s from a different dimension. That’s caused almost everyone nearby to be turned into babies…”
“Indeed. So we need to send Heavy Weapons Guy and his friend back home, so everyone can turn back to normal. Understand?”
“Yes. But Heavy Weapons Guy is not cause of entire League being babies.”
“You don- Wait, what?”
Braum pointed outside, towards one of the outermost towers of the Institute. It was glowing in an unhealthy green hue. “That is cause of entire League being babies.”
Cho’Gath struggled to his feet, having gotten over his sudden bread desire. “How did we miss THAT?”
Xerath shrugged. “So, uh, Heavy Weapons Guy here is completely unrelated to all this baby stuff?”
“Is just funny coincidence!” Heavy bellowed. “Entire enemy team is always babies. Here everyone is baby. Is funny to me.”
“We should, uh, probably go to that tower and see what’s going on…” Cho’Gath suggested, just as the green hue on the tower started to die down.
The summoners, the five that were left, wearily thanked Vel’Koz and Medic for their assistance. It turned out that summoning was far more dangerous than most thought, and the backlash had sent ripples through the time stream. Or at least that’s what the head summoner said.
“You know vhat, we are both highly intelligent beings, but I didn’t understand any of zhat!” Medic was incredibly confused with the summoner’s explanation. Vel’Koz simply shook his head and shrugged.
“You get used to it. Summoner, what will happen to everyone who was turned into a juvenile?”
The summoner scratched his chin. “Hm. It will probably take some time to reverse these changes. Some will change back faster than others. Do you have a match today? There was a team waiting on the Rift all morning, training before the fight.”
Vel’Koz’s shakes turned into a nod. “Yes, I offered to play on the Rift for today’s friendly strategy battle. But we may be short on champions…”
Xerath floated back towards the second grand hall. He was annoyed, having wasted most of his day on nothing when he was supposed to have been practicing some new spells for a large battle he following week. But what bothered him more was that there were a bunch of fellow Shurimans waiting for him in this grand hall. They were all certainly going to be unnecessarily angry at him for having been locked up in there.
As he approached the hall, he could hear screaming. It was Azir.
“SOMEONE PLEASE HELP! EVERYONE IS TRYING TO KILL EVERYONE IN HERE! KHA’ZIX AND RENGAR ARE TRYING TO EAT EACH OTHER AND RENEKTON IS TRYING TO TEAR OUT NASUS’S SPINE! HELP!”
Xerath decided it was best to leave them be for now.
“I can’t believe we lost!” Lucian growled as he stormed off the Fields of Justice, closely followed by a jeering Janna. “Eight seconds of invulnerability. EIGHT! Never again!”
The other team watched as the Purple Team walked away, then headed back to the Institute themselves. Braum and Heavy high-fived, while Vel’Koz, Caitlyn and Medic all laughed heartily, going over the best parts of the match. While Vel’Koz took the middle lane and Braum and Caitlyn had taken the bottom lane as always, they took advantage of their new allies. A perfectly timed Ubercharge, courtesy of Medic, allowed Vel’Koz to disintegrate the entire enemy team without so much as a scratch.
“We must do this again some time!” Caitlyn chuckled. “I’ve never had so much fun! It’s a shame you two have to go…”
“Oh don’t vorry, ve’ll be back one day!” Medic reassured the sniper. He and Heavy thanked them, then headed off to the teleporter device that had previously brought them there. Vel’Koz wiped a tear from his eye as they waved goodbye.
Cho’Gath licked his lips, clapping his hands together with glee. He’d managed to persuade the cleaning staff to let him deal with the mess left in the canteen.
“Four hundred and fifty seven sandwiches down, three hundred and sixty eight to go…”