Blitzcrank is an enormous, near-indestructible steam golem originally built to dispose of hazardous waste in Zaun. Evolved beyond his primary purpose, Blitzcrank selflessly uses his strength and durability to protect others. Able to see past false veneers and artifice to the truth of an intention, Blitzcrank moves to help those in need.
Shortly after the development of hextech, inventors and scientists flocked to Zaun, a place where they could experiment with volatile materials undeterred by the stringent regulations and rules of Piltover. Their experiments often ended in disaster, with entire buildings destroyed and toxic chemicals spilled into nearby streets. A team at the College of Techmaturgy developed steam-powered golems who would remove the hazardous debris, a task deemed too dangerous for even the most desperate of Zaunites.
The golems labored tirelessly through the streets, carrying waste to the growing number of disposal sites around the city. Even among such hardy machines, accidents were common, and the automatons were frequently sent back to the college in pieces. Dredging up slime at the bottom of Zaun was no easy task, and acidic, noxious chemicals gradually wore down their metal shells.
An ambitious young inventor known aslonged to create a durable machine that could clean more effectively and eliminate the need for costly repairs. He gathered broken parts from the retired golems, avoiding the flashier components popular among his peers. Even employing an assemblage of unwanted materials, Viktor designed a more resilient machine.
He named his creation Blitzcrank, hoping the golem would quickly eradicate all waste and become far greater than the sum of his discarded parts. After instilling in Blitzcrank a relentless desire to serve the people of Zaun by removing the toxins in their path, Viktor sent him into the Sump to help.
The golem took Viktor's ideology to heart, believing self-sacrifice and altruism could lead to true greatness for the entire city. Blitzcrank joined the other machines in their cleanup program, leading scouting efforts far past the usual areas of pollution. He fearlessly cleansed toxic neighborhoods of the most noxious chemical spills without any need to return to the college for repairs.
As Blitzcrank encountered other civic dangers, he developed increasingly ambitious plans for his crew of golems, but found his own design was limited such that he could not extend his work beyond cleaning chemical spills. One night, he borrowed Viktor's prized toolbox, and wrenched open his own steam-engine. He reconfigured his mechanics and removed all limits to his function so that he could make an even greater difference in the city.
In the following weeks, Blitzcrank orchestrated neighborhood-wide evacuations to help people avoid toxic fumes, redirected a food distribution system to increase its efficiency, and repaired an elaborate filtering system to dispense clean water into a community well. With every good deed, Blitzcrank's sense of his own purpose solidified, and he gained a consciousness that no other golem had yet achieved.
Viktor noticed the unusual changes in his creation, and sought to replicate Blitzcrank's profound sentience and self-sufficiency in other machines. But Blitzcrank never revealed what had caused his awakening, and without that knowledge, Viktor could not replicate his success.
Blitzcrank roamed the streets of Zaun at all hours, refusing to pause or rest when there might be people in need. His assistance extended beyond just humans to street animals and even broken-down automatons. When a gas fire devastated the Davoran Clocktower, he rescued a family of mechanics and their soot-black cat with his enormous crank-like- even stopping to recover a miniature mechanical dancer from a child's bedroom.
No task was too small for the steam golem - in a single day he stopped a chem-punk robbery, caught a child's icefruit before it fell to the pavement, and rounded up a lost Poro from a traveling circus before it collided with a malfunctioning velocipede.
As time passed, Blitzcrank learned that several of the people he had previously saved succumbed to illnesses after their exposure to noxious chemicals. Anxious at his inability to help, he turned to his creator. Viktor, who had an interest in evolving humanity beyond its frail mortality, was eager to assist. He promised Blitzcrank that, with his developments in techmaturgy, they could defeat death.
Blitzcrank convinced a family of sump dwellers to try Viktor's approach, and worked with the inventor to install machinery that seamlessly integrated with their bodies to eliminate the disease.
At first, the transition was a success, and the family regained the mobility they had lost since falling ill. But after a few months of good health, their bodies began to fail. Viktor and Blitzcrank worked tirelessly to try to find a cure, but their efforts only delayed the inevitable. Before long, the entire family was dead.
Saddened by their failure, Blitzcrank knew this way of helping people was not his. He parted ways with his creator as a friend and peer, hoping to make the greatest difference he could for the people of Zaun.
While some view Zaun as a chaotic place where reckless experimentation and lawlessness run rampant, Blitzcrank sees only its infinite possibilities. He searches Zaun for ways he can create change for good, paying extra attention to those forgotten or discarded by society. With a bit of axle grease, Blitzcrank believes Zaun will grow into the greatest city Valoran has ever seen.
The plump belly of the Rising Howl looms before me, churning with its endless gears and elaborate ironwork. Some say the Howl is named for the wrought iron wolf that cries atop the apex of the hexdraulic descender; others swear the ghost of a black-veiled gentle-servant haunts the cabin, and when the Howl lifts him away from his lost love in Zaun, the sounds of his moans reverberate and shake its metal core. Many Piltovans, convinced as they are in their own sound judgment, are sure the name refers to nothing more than the cold wind whistling between the crevasses below their city.
But to me the Howl is not a single lone cry. It is an orchestra of noise, a melodic blend of a thousand unique sounds. It is why I am drawn to the machine.
The multi-tiered elevator, supported by three vertical structural beams which span the height of the city, descends to the Promenade level and slows to a lurching halt.
"Disembark for the Promenade!" the conductor announces, her voice magnified by a bell-shaped sonophone. She adjusts her thick goggles as she speaks. "Boundary Markets, College of Techmaturgy, Horticultural Center."
Passengers pour from the descender. Dozens of others board and spread throughout its floors: merchants traveling to Zaun to trade in the night bazaars, workers returning home to sleep, wealthy Zaunites visiting night blooms in glass-domed cultivairs. Then there are the unseen riders who have made the Howl their home. I spy them scurrying in the shadows: plague rats, shadowhares, and viridian beetles.
Sometimes I climb down the crevasses to descend to the Sump, but tonight I long for the harmony of noise I know the descender will create.
Instead of entering through the doorway, I swing around the outside and lock my grip on the bottommost bar where ridged steel brackets frame the glass windows. My metal plates clank as I clamber onto the Howl, drawing stares from the passengers and what looks like a grimace from the conductor. My knowledge of facial expressions grows each day.
Most passengers ride within the compartment, away from the cold and soot, but outside, in the open air, I can hear the satisfying click-clack of mechanical parts snapping into place and the soft hiss of steam releasing as we sink into Zaun. And besides, I don't easily fit through most doors.
A small boy clings to his sump-scrapper father's hand and gapes at me through the window. I wink at him and his mouth opens in what I estimate is surprise. He ducks behind his father.
"Going down!" says the conductor. She rings a large bell and adjusts the dials on a bright red box. I can almost feel the commands buzz as they surge through wires into the descender's engine.
Below us, the iron pinnacles of Zaun's towers and green glass cultivairs glitter like candles in the dimming light. The Howl whirs and creaks as its cranks spiral down against the three towering beams, weighted down with iron, steel, and glass. A blast of steam whistles from the topmost pipe.
Inside the cabin, the sump-scrapper and his child look on as a musician tunes his four-stringed chittarone and begins a sonorous melody. His tune synchronizes with the clacking gears and whirring machinery of the Howl. The father taps his foot to the rhythm. A beetle snaps her pincers as she scrambles away from the man's heavy boot. A gang of chem-punks lean against the wall in soft repose, a pause so unlike their usual frenzied jaunts through the city.
The Howl whirs in its perfect fusion of sounds during our descent. I marvel at the symphony around me and find myself humming along to the deep buzzing tones. The rhythm thrums through me and I wonder if those around me feel it.
"Entresol!" the conductor calls out as the descender slows. A pair of couriers carrying parcels wrapped in twine disembark, along with a crew of chemtech researchers and a crowd of chem-merchants. A merry crowd of Zaunites from the theater district steps aboard.
"Down we go!" she says, ringing her bell, and the Howl responds with a whir. The descender sinks and the windows mist as vapor pours from pipes above. Beads of water spread across my metallic chest as the harmony of clanking machinery and whooshing steam begins anew.
A discordant murmur interrupts the pattern of sounds. The vibration is subtle, but I can tell something is off. The descender continues as if all was normal, until a jarring clunk breaks its perfect rhythm.
Though I have never dreamed, I know a break in the pattern this abrupt is a machine's most frightening nightmare.
The spiraling gearway is jammed, and the cabin's iron brackets grate against it with a horrible screech. Many lives are at stake and I feel the machine's pain as it braces desperately against the support beams. The entire weight of the Howl heaves against its bending columns and the cabin tilts at a lurching angle. Rivets burst from their seams as metal is pulled away from itself.
We wobble for a moment, then drop.
Inside the cabin, passengers scream and grasp at the nearest railing as they plunge. This is a different kind of howl.
I tighten my hold on the cabin's bottommost platform. I extend my other, launching it toward one of the three vertical structural beams. The iron column is slippery in the mist and my grip misses it by inches. I retract my arm and steam blasts from my back as I try again, whizzing it toward a second beam. Another miss.
Time slows. Inside the cabin, the chem-punks cling to a ledge while the viridian beetle flies out an open window. The sump-scrapper and his child brace themselves against the glass, which fractures under their weight. The boy tumbles out, scrabbling at the frame with his fingers before he slips and falls.
I reach up and catch the boy in mid-flight, then retract my arm.
"Hold on", I say.
The child clings to the plates on my back.
I fire my arm up toward the support beam once more, and this time my hand meets solid metal with a resounding clang as I secure my hold. My other arm is forced to extend as it's wrenched down by the plunging cabin, so much that I feel my joints might fracture. Suspended in midair, I try to steady my grip.
With a great jolt, my arm jerks as the descender halts its freefall. It shakes from the sudden stop, now supported only by my arm. The boy shudders as he tightens his grip on my back.
The Howl is still fifty feet above the ground, hovering over the Sump-level buildings. My overlapping metal plates groan as they strain against the weight and I concentrate all my efforts on holding myself together. If I fall, the Howl falls with me, along with all its passengers.
While locking my arm onto the support beam, I slide my arm down the pillar. We drop ten feet and the cabin sways precariously before stabilizing again.
"Sorry about that!" I shout. Statements of empathy can be reassuring to humans in moments of crisis.
I must try again. I must be strong.
I release my grip on the support column ever so slightly, and with a piercing screech we gently slide down the remaining forty feet to the ground. My valves sigh as they contract.
Passengers echo my sighs as they stumble through the doors and broken windows into the Sump level, leaning on each other for support.
The boy on my back breathes rapidly as he holds my neck. My arms whir as I retract them and lower myself to the floor, crouching down so the child can touch the ground. He scrambles back to his father, who embraces him.
The conductor emerges from the descender and looks at me.
"You saved us. All of us", she says, her voice shaking from what I think is shock. "Thank you."
"I am simply fulfilling my purpose", I say. "I am glad you are not hurt. Have a good day."
She smiles, then turns to direct the crowd of Zaunites who have gathered to offer their assistance to the passengers and begin repairs. One of the chem-punk girls carries the musician's chittarone for him as he crawls from the descender. Several of the theater-folk comfort an elderly man.
Two Hex-mechanics stumble toward me and I direct them to a medical officer who is setting up a tented repair station. The murmurs of the passengers and the hissing groans of the wounded descender blend with the whirs and churning of the Sump. The steam-engine within my chest murmurs along, and I am moved to whistle a tune.
The boy turns and waves shyly at me.
I wave back.
He runs to catch up with his father, his heavy boots tapping a rhythm on the cobblestones. Shifting wheels sing and gears click-clack within the belly of the Rising Howl. The viridian beetle snaps her pincers in time with the beat as she zooms away into the Sump.