Jayce is a brilliant inventor who has pledged his life to the defense of Piltover and its unyielding pursuit of progress. With his transforming hextech in hand, Jayce uses his strength, courage, and considerable intelligence to protect his hometown. While revered throughout the city as a hero, he hasn't taken well to the attention it brings. Still, Jayce's heart is in the right place, and even those who envy his natural skills are grateful for his protection in the City of Progress.
A native son of Piltover, Jayce was raised to believe in the principles that made the city great: Invention. Discovery. Not going to Zaun if you could help it. With a knack for understanding machinery, Jayce earned the honor of being the youngest apprenta to ever be offered patronage by Clan Giopara, one of Piltover's most respected ruling clans. Utterly unsurprised, Jayce took the offer, and spent most of his early years constructing potential hextech devices and designing transformable multi-tools for Piltover's working class: a wrench that transformed into a prybar, a pickaxe that could morph into a shovel, a that could turn into a demolition , if only it had a sufficiently powerful . Everything Jayce touched put his contemporaries to shame.
Most things came easy to Jayce, and he could never understand why his peers had so much trouble with what, to him, were simple concepts. As a result, nearly everyone who worked alongside Jayce found him arrogant, dismissive, and unwilling to slow his pace to help his colleagues catch up. As time went on, his patience became shorter, while at the same time, a chasm grew between decorum, charm, and Jayce's natural demeanor.
Only one person ever managed to match Jayce's intelligence while also maintaining a healthy indifference to his superior attitude.
His name was.
The two met at a mandatory Progress Day party, and immediately bonded over how little either of them wanted to be there. They started working together shortly after. Viktor expanded Jayce's intellectual horizons and challenged many of his assumptions. While Jayce sought to improve humanity via versatile technology, Viktor sought to solve problems inherent to humanity itself, such as physical decay or illogical prejudices. They constantly argued with one another, but their conflicts never got personal - though their methods were different, the two colleagues knew their ultimate goals were very much the same. More than that, they both knew what it was like to be ostracized by their colleagues: Viktor because of his unconventional thinking, Jayce because of his rudeness.
Together, Jayce and Viktor invented a mechanized construction suit for Piltover's dockworkers - something hearty enough to enhance the wearer's strength, but light enough that its wearer wouldn't immediately drown upon falling overboard. However, the two reached an impasse when Viktor's design for the next version of the suit included a chemtech implant that would increase the wearer's strength output by tenfold, while also preventing them from getting tired, panicking, or disobeying instructions from their superiors. While Viktor considered this feature a brilliant means of reducing the frequency of construction accidents, Jayce found its indifference toward free will immoral. The two nearly came to blows over the design and ultimately, after Jayce warned the academy of Viktor's invention, Viktor was stripped of his honors and ostracized from Piltover's scientific community.
Viktor was the closest thing Jayce had ever really had to a friend, and distraught over their falling-out, went back to working on his own. He grew more insular. His patience toward others grew even thinner.
As Jayce studied in solitude, Clan Giopara's explorers discovered a raw, blue Shuriman desert. Though Jayce volunteered to experiment on it (specifically by suggesting the clan's other scholars wouldn't be smart enough to get anything out of it) his lack of tact in doing so prompted Clan Giopara to give it to their better-mannered scholars as a form of punishment. Yet, after many months, the scholars reached a unanimous conclusion: the crystal was worthless. A power-drained hunk of rock. The disappointed clan leaders finally handed the crystal over to Jayce, assuming that even he, with his remarkable intelligence, wouldn't be able to learn anything from it.deep within the
Something inside the crystal called to Jayce. No, more than that - itto him. He couldn't explain why, but he knew the Shuriman gem still held mysteries yet to be discovered.
He spent many months running every variety of test on the crystal. He braced it into a cogwheel centrifuge; he superheated it and deep-froze it; he tinkered, and observed, and hypothesized, and beat his head against his copper pantograph. Quite simply, Jayce wasn't used to working hard: this damned crystal was the first thing that had ever resisted his considerable mental aptitude. For the first time, he realized how his peers must have felt, trying so hard to solve a problem, only to bump against your own limitations. It felt frustrating. It felt unfair.
And it probably felt much, much worse if you were working alongside an arrogant inventor who dismissed your every effort.
Jayce realized that despite how dismissive he'd been toward his fellow scholars, none of them ever gave up. None of them ever stopped seeking the very things that defined Piltover: Progress. Discovery. If they wouldn't give up, Jayce decided, he wouldn't either.
And maybe he'd try to be nicer.
Jayce approached the problem from a completely different angle. Rather than trying to experiment on the crystal as a whole, he wondered, why not run more invasive experiments on a smaller shard? Jayce chiseled off a piece of the crystal and suspended it in a liquid alloy. As he sent a voltaic current through the liquid metal, Jayce's eardrums nearly shattered from the booming baritone note that blasted from the shard. Heat radiated from the crystal and, with a flash, it glowed bright enough to nearly blind him. This was unexpected. This was potentially dangerous. But this was progress. Jayce couldn't erase the smile from his face as he worked well through the night, into the dawn.
The next day, Jayce was surprised to find his old friend Viktor on his doorstep. Alerted by the massive power spike from the crystal shard, Viktor had a simple proposition.
Since his expulsion from the Piltovan scientific community, Viktor had commenced work on a secret project in Zaun. He'd finally learned how to achieve his dream - how to eradicate disease, hunger, hatred. If Jayce joined him, the two would accomplish more than anyone from Piltover or Zaun could have dreamed of: they'd save humanity from itself.
Jayce had heard a monologue like this before from Viktor. He never liked where it led.
Viktor told Jayce that he only needed one thing for his- a power source like Jayce's crystal. Jayce disagreed, informing Viktor that what he truly needed was a moral compass. Viktor, who had long grown tired of Jayce's rudeness, leapt upon him, grabbed the crystal and knocked Jayce unconscious with it. When Jayce awoke hours later, he noticed that though the Shuriman crystal was gone, Viktor hadn't seemed to notice or care about the smaller shard.
Jayce knew whatever Viktor was planning, he would only resort to these measures if he were close to completion. Even though he didn't know what Viktor's Glorious Evolution consisted of, it probably didn't have a lot of respect for the free will of others. Without wasting a second, Jayce retrieved the suspended shard and installed it into a massive, transforming- a demolitions invention he'd abandoned years ago for lack of a strong enough battery to power it. Though he had no idea where Viktor might have taken the crystal, he could feel the hextech hammer vibrate, pulling him not north, south, east or west, but down, toward the undercity of Zaun.
The shard, eager to be reunited with the crystal from which it was chiseled, eventually led Jayce to a warehouse in the depths of the sump. Within the cavernous building, Jayce found something horrifying. Dozens of corpses, their skulls sawed open and hollowed out, their brains transplanted into an army of immobile metal soldiers, hooked up to the now-pulsing crystal.
This was the first step in Viktor's Glorious Evolution.
Jayce's stride grew less confident as he approached Viktor. He and Viktor had not always seen eye to eye, but this was something else entirely. For the first time, it occurred to Jayce that he might have to kill his old friend.
He called out to Viktor, flinching as the army of robots stood to attention. Jayce asked him to look around - to see what he was doing. Whatever this was - this Evolution - wasn't the progress they fought for in their youths. He even, to Viktor's surprise, apologized for acting like such a jerk.
Viktor sighed. He had only two words in response: "Kill him."
The automatons sprinted toward Jayce, breaking free of the wires connecting them to the crystal and introducing Jayce to another new emotion: panic. He gripped the hammer tight, realizing he'd never actually used it before. When the first golem was within reach, he swung as hard as he could, feeling the shard's energy surge through his muscles, accelerating the hammer's movement until Jayce was worried it might fly out of his hands.
Itinto the automaton, all but exploding it into a hail of metal. Despite the obliteration of their comrade, the other machines didn't even pause as they rushed at Jayce, trying to pummel him into unconsciousness.
Jayce analyzed the formation of the mechanical wave coming at him and attempted to quickly calculate how to take out the largest number of them with the fewest amount of swings. It was pointless; they were on him before he could swing even once. As he fell to the ground under a storm of their blows, Jayce saw Viktor looking on, not with triumph, but with sadness. He'd outsmarted Jayce and ensured humanity's future, but he knew that future came at a cost: he couldn't let his old friend live. Jayce vanished under a sea of swinging metal limbs.
That's when Jayce, for the first time in his life, decided to stop thinking and just break stuff.
No longer caring for his own safety, Jayce used every last bit of strength he had to break free from Viktor's automatons. He sprinted to the glowing crystal, and struck it with all of the hextech-enhancedhis hammer could muster, crushing the mystical object.
Viktor cried out in horror as the crystal shattered to fragments, the shockwave blasting them all backward as the army of automatons collapsed lifelessly to the floor. The very foundations of the warehouse shook, and Jayce barely managed to escape before the entire building toppled.
Viktor's body was never found.
Upon his return to Piltover, Jayce informed his clan masters of Viktor's nefarious plans. Soon, Jayce found himself a topic of discussion in both Zaun and Piltover alike. Hailed for his quick thinking in a time of crisis, Jayce became a beloved figure (at least, amongst those who hadn't met him) earning himself a nickname: the Defender of Tomorrow.
Jayce cared little for the adoration of his fellow Piltovans, but took the nickname to heart. He knew that Viktor was still out there, plotting his revenge. One day - maybe someday soon - an awful lot of trouble was headed for Piltover.
And Jayce would be waiting.
Any fool could have predicted thatwould strike back at some point. If one weren't a fool, one might predict the exact date and time of an attempted counterattack.
was not a fool.
He stood in his workshop, bathed in sun rays from his skylight, surrounded by dozens of artifacts of his own genius: Gearwork boots that could cling to any surface. A knapsack with articulated limbs that always kept the user's tools within easy reach.
Greater than all these inventions, however, was the weapon that Jayce now held in his hands. Powered by a Shuriman , Jayce's transforming hextech was renowned throughout Piltover, but he tossed it from hand to hand as if was any other tool from his workshop.
Three sharp taps echoed from Jayce's door.
They were here.
Jayce had prepared for this. He'd run experiments on Viktor's discarded automata. He'd intercepted the mechanical communications. Any second, they'd beat down his front door and try to rip away his hextech hammer. After that, they'd try to do the same with his skull. 'Try' being the operative word.
He flicked a switch on the hammer's handle. With an energetic sizzle, the head of Jayce's masterpiece transformed into a hextech.
He took aim.
Stood his ground.
Watched the door open. His finger tightened on the trigger.
And he almost blasted a seven-year-old girl's head off.
She was tiny and blonde and would have seemed adorable to anyone who wasn't Jayce. The girl pushed the door open and walked in with shuffling, tentative steps. Her ponytail swished to and fro as she approached Jayce. She kept her head down, ever avoiding his gaze. He had two hypotheses regarding why she might refuse eye contact: she was hugely impressed to be in the presence of someone so acclaimed, or she was working for Viktor and about to surprise him with a chem-bomb. Her blushing indicated it was likely the former.
"My soldier broke", she said, proffering a limp metal knight, its arm bent backward at a perverse angle.
Jayce didn't move.
"Please leave or you'll probably die."
The child stared at him.
"Also, I don’t fix dolls. Find somebody with more time on their hands."
Tears began to well up in her eyes.
"I don't have any money for an artificer, and my muh–-- ", she said, stifling a sob, "mother made him for me before she passed, and--- "
Jayce furrowed his brow and, for the first time in quite a while, blinked.
"If it's so precious to you, why did you break it?"
"I didn't mean to! I took him to the Progress Day feast and somebody bumped into me and I dropped him, and I know I should have just left him at home--- "
" –--Yes, you should have. That was stupid of you."
The girl opened her mouth to speak, then stopped herself. Jayce had seen this kind of reaction before. Most everyone he met had heard the stories of his legendary hammer and his unyielding heroism. They expected grandeur. They expected humility. They expected him to not be a massive jerk. Jayce inevitably disappointed them.
"What is wrong with you?" she asked.
"Most facets of my personality, so I’ve been told", he replied without hesitation.
The child furrowed her brow. She shoved the broken doll into his face.
"Fix it. Please."
"You'll just break it again."
"Look", he said. "Little girl. I'm very busy, and--- "
Something flitted across the skylight, casting a quick shadow on the two of them. Anyone else would have assumed it was nothing more than a falcon passing overhead. Jayce knew better. He fell silent. A wry smile spread across his face as he yanked the girl toward his workbench.
"The thing is", he said, "machines are very simple."
He lifted a large, thin sheet of bronze and began to hammer its corners with sharp taps. "They're made of discrete parts. They combine and recombine in clear, predictable ways." He beat the sheet over and over until it took the form of a smooth dome.
"People are more complicated. They're emotional, they're unpredictable, and - in nearly every case - they're not as smart as me", he said, drilling a clean hole into the top of the dome. "Now usually, that's a problem. But sometimes, their stupidity works in my favor."
"Is this still about my doll, or--- "
"Sometimes, they're so insecure in their inferiority - so desperate to take their revenge - that they make a foolish mistake." He grabbed a shining copper rod, and screwed it into the center of the dome.
"Sometimes people fail to protect their most precious assets", he said, nodding at her tin soldier before holding aloft the newly formed metal umbrella. "And sometimes, that means instead of assaulting my workshop through the more obvious front door, they try to take... "
He looked upward, " ...the more dramatic approach."
He handed her the umbrella, which took all of her meager strength to keep aloft.
"Hold this. Don't move."
She opened her mouth to respond, only to yelp in surprise as the skylight shattered above her. Glass bounced off the makeshift umbrella like rain as a half-dozen men leapt down to the floor. Tubes of bright green chems protruded from the base of their necks, connecting to their limbs. Their eyes were dead, their faces emotionless. They were definitely Viktor's boys, alright: drugged punks from Zaun's sump level whom Viktor had pumped full of hallucinogens and hypnotics. Chem-stunted thugs who would follow Viktor's every whim whether they wanted to or not. Jayce had been expecting to see automatons, but Viktor likely couldn't have gotten so many through Piltover unnoticed. Still, these chem-slaves were just as much of a danger. They turned toward Jayce and the girl.
Before they reached the pair, however, Jayce's hextech blaster exploded with voltaic energy. Anof hextech-powered lightning shot out of its core and detonated in the middle of the group. The chem-slaves slammed into the workshop's immaculate walls.
"So much for the element of surprise, huh, Vikto--- "
A hulking brute of a machine leapt down amongst the pile of unconscious chem-slaves. It looked, Jayce thought, like a cross between aand a very angry building.
"Watch out", the girl yelped.
Jayce rolled his eyes. "I am watching him. Stop panicking. I have the situation well in--- ow!" he said, interrupted as the metal beast rammed him in the chest.
The beast sent Jayce hurtling backward. He landed on a rolling cart, his back cracking from the impact.
Grunting, he pulled himself to his feet as the beast charged again.
"That's the last time you touch me", he said.
Jayce swung his hextech weapon as hard as he could, transforming it back into a hammer mid-swing. The minotaur lowered its head to ram Jayce again, foolishly ignoring the weapon's arc.
The hammer found its mark with a resounding. The minotaur, its head caved all the way back into its metal neck, collapsed to the floor. A cloud of escaping steam hissed from its carcass.
Jayce pulled back the hammer again, readying for another attack. He watched the skylight. A few minutes passed. Soon enough, he seemed satisfied the assault was over.
He tried to step back toward his workbench, only to double over in pain, grasping at his stomach. The girl rushed to his side.
"Still hurts where he tackled you, huh?"
"Then maybe you shouldn't have let him", she said. "That was stupid of you."
Jayce raised an eyebrow at the kid. Her eyes widened, unsure if she'd crossed a line. A slow smile crept across his face.
"What was your name?"
Jayce sat at his workbench and grabbed a screwdriver.
"Gimme the doll, Amaranthine", he said.
A massive grin broke out on her face. "So you can fix it?"
Jayce smirked at her.
"There's nothing I can't fix."