Zac is the product of a toxic spill that ran through a chemtech seam and pooled in an isolated cavern deep in Zaun's Sump. Despite such humble origins, Zac has grown from primordial ooze into a thinking being who dwells in the city's pipes, occasionally emerging to help those who cannot help themselves or to rebuild the broken infrastructure of Zaun.
A group of Zaunite children first encountered Zac when they were out skimming rocks over a sump pool and some of the stones were thrown back. The 'Returning Pool' became well-known to Zaun's Sump dwellers, and eventually drew the attention of a shadowy cabal of chemtech alchymists. Over the protests of the local residents, the alchymists pumped the contents of the pool into vats and carried the substance back to their laboratories for experimentation.
Via a series of experiments designed to test negative and positive reinforcement techniques, the alchymists discovered the coagulate mass within the pool appeared to have psychotropic tendencies. Simply put, it mirrored whatever stimulus was provided to it. If treated well, it responded with childlike glee and playfulness, but when its response to pain and aggression were tested, the alchymists lost numerous augmented sump-scrappers in the ensuing destruction.
Most of the alchymists attributed this to nothing more than a simple reflex response, but two among their number weren't so sure. They questioned the morality of experiments that seemed entirely driven to produce a creature of unmatched aggression. When the pair dug further, they discovered the project was being funded by Saito Takeda, a Chem-Baron with a notoriously violent temperament and reputation for bloody gang warfare. The implication was clear; Takeda sought to develop a fighter who could shrug off mortal wounds, squeeze into places humans could not and who would obey any command. They also discovered the project's true name; the Zaun Amorphous Combatant.
As they pondered the best course of action, the two dissenting alchymists saw more than just a mirroring of whatever stimulus was applied to the viscous gel. They saw behaviors manifest without any obvious stimulus - behaviors consistent with sentience. They came to know the creature as Zac and concluded that he exhibited the behaviors of a thinking, feeling being. They brought their findings to the spindle-limbed leader of their research team, but their concerns were ignored.
Unwilling to let the matter drop, they began their own covert efforts to counter the violent teachings of the rest of their team. They sought to show Zac right from wrong, exposing him to acts of altruism and generosity. Their efforts bore fruit, with Zac showing sadness when one of the researchers hurt her hand and reacting badly when another killed a rat in the laboratory. Eventually, they could no longer tolerate the cruel experiments being done to Zac by their fellow alchymists.
One night, during Zaun's Progress Day remembrances, when the laboratory was empty, they drained Zac into a wheeled septic tank and dragged him to a far distant part of Zaun. When their act was later discovered, the footsoldiers of Baron Takeda sought them out. But Zaun is a big place, and the researchers were able to hide from their pursuers. They had thought to give Zac his freedom, but Zac did not want to be released, for he now considered the two researchers his family. They alone had shown him kindness, and he wanted to learn more from them. In truth, they were pleased by his reaction, for they had become so fond of Zac that they considered him their adoptive son.
To stay hidden from Takeda's men, they changed their identities and appearance, taking up residence in a remote part of the Sump, far from prying eyes. Zac learned to mimic their voices, and quickly adapted to shift his gelatinous mass into the required shapes to form sound. He lived alongside his adoptive parents for many years, hiding when necessary in sump pools or in the cracks in the cliffside rocks. His 'parents' told Zac of the world in which he lived, how it could be beautiful and full of wonder. They showed him the moon rise over the Sun Gates, the play of rainbow light on the stained glass roofs of Zaun's commercia halls, and the bustling, vibrant beauty of their city's heart. They also explained how the world could be cruel and harsh, and Zac learned that people were sometimes mean and unkind, hateful and prejudiced. Zac rejected such behaviors and helped his parents where he could as they used their skills to aid the people around them without attracting undue attention.
They did what they could to treat the sick, mend broken machinery or otherwise put their chem-knowledge to benign use. These were golden years for Zac, and he roamed Zaun through its almost limitless network of pipes and through the many cracks in its bedrock. As much as Zac was a sentient being, too much stimulus from his environment could sometimes overwhelm his senses and cause him to temporarily absorb the dominant emotions around him, for good or ill. Ofttimes he couldn't help getting involved in aiding the oppressed and downtrodden against thuggish bullies; leading to rumors of his presence spreading through Zaun. Though the majority of tales were of him helping, others attributed destructive events to Zac; a factory destroyed or a crevasse ripping open in a Sump neighborhood.
Eventually, those rumors reached the ears of Saito Takeda, and he sent a band of augmented thugs to retrieve what he saw as his property. His alchymists had been attempting - without success - to replicate the process that had created Zac from droplets left behind in his vat. Takeda wanted the creature returned, and his augmented heavies surrounded Zac's parents' home and attacked. They fought back, for they were chemtech researchers and not without esoteric means of defending themselves, but their defiance could not last forever and eventually they were killed, despite Takeda's order that they be taken alive.
Zac had been exploring subterranean seams far below Zaun, but sensed his parents' distress and raced back through the pipes of the city to the rescue. He arrived too late to save them, and the fury that overwhelmed him upon seeing their bodies was unmatched by anything the baron's men had ever seen. Zac attacked in a ferocious display of stretching, smashing, and crushing. In his grief and anger, he demolished dozens of nearby dwellings, and by the time the battle was over, all the augmented thugs were dead.
When the heightened emotions of battle drained from Zac's consciousness, he was overcome with remorse for the homes he had destroyed, and vowed to continue the good work done by his parents. He helped rebuild what he had destroyed, but as soon as the work was done, he vanished into Zaun's vast network of pipes.
Now Zac lives alone, dwelling in the tunnels and caverns threading Zaun, and bathing in the emotions of the city's inhabitants. Sometimes this enriches him, but other times it saddens him as he takes on both the good and bad of the city. He has become something of an urban legend among the people of Zaun, a mysterious creature that sometimes emerges from cracks in the rock or a section of damaged pipework. Most times this is to help those in need, but in times of trouble, when the city's moods turn grim, his appearance can be cause for trepidation.
The golden hour between fifth and sixth bell. That's my favorite time of day. It's when most people in the Factorywood finish their work shifts. They're bone tired, but they're done for the day. Work is behind them. A hot meal and home are ahead. The people here are nice, and I always feel good squeezing my gelatinous body through the cliff-cracks seaming the rocks around the Factorywood. I feel love emanating from a man going home to his newborn son. I relish the anticipation of a married couple looking forward to a romantic dinner in the Boundary Markets.
Their thoughts soak into me. It's nice, like a warm bath, though I tend to stretch out pretty thin when things get too hot. There's always a few people in the mix who aren't so happy. After all, life in Zaun can be hard. Some people are nursing broken hearts, while others can't stomach the thought of another shift and feel nothing but seething resentment. I absorb the good and the bad, because that's the way I was made. The bad feelings sometimes make me angry, but there's nothing I can do about that. My parents taught me it's okay to feel bad sometimes. Without the bad you can't properly savor the good.
I follow the crowd until people start to go their separate ways. A few lingering bad feelings drift through my thoughts, so I decide to do something good to push them out. I seep down through a network of cracked vents I've been meaning to fix for a while, but just hadn't gotten around to. I collect fragments of metal in my body as I go, extruding them from my amorphous form wherever there's a crack, then heating my outer layers to weld them in place. With the cracks sealed, clean air from the pump station higher up in Piltover flows once again. Which hopefully means fewer cases of lung blight in a good many of the streets below.
The bottom of the pipe brings me out in the upper reaches of the Sump level. Things aren't so nice here. Lots of people don't have much of anything, and there's plenty who want to take even that from them. The sump pools, full of toxins and runoff from the chem-forges, remind me of the time I spent alone as a specimen in a laboratory. I try not to think of that time, because it makes me angry. And when I get angry I sometimes break stuff, even though I don't mean to. I don't like feeling like that, so I ease myself into my favorite cleft in the rock, the one running beneath the twisting rookeries of the Skylight Commercia. It's always nice there. People out together, browsing the galleries, meeting friends, dining or going to see one of the companies of players that tour the undercity with their satirical works. The atmosphere warm and friendly, it's the perfect place to bask in all that Zaun has to offer.
But as I pass beneath the outlying streets, a spike of anguish ripples through me. A tremor of fear and pain disturbs my liquid flesh. I don't like it. It feels out of place, like something I'd expect to find deeper down in the Sump. That's the place where bad things happen more often than good things. It shouldn't be happening here! I get angry as more of the bad feelings soak into me. I follow them down, wanting to stop them from spreading.
I push my body from the corroded pipes running below a metalsmith's shop. My bulk fills the space under the warped floorboards. Light shines in angled beams through the louvers of a grille set in the floor. Angry voices come from above. Shouts and the sound of a weeping man. I press my body against the grille. My gelatinous mass breaks apart, only to reform on the other side. I push hard and quick, re-establishing my form inside the shop.
The owner of the shop is on his knees beside a woman who bleeds from a deep wound in her belly. He kneels at her side, one arm outstretched toward the four men standing in the wreckage of his shop. I know these kinds of men. I see them all the time in the Sump; thugs who force good-hearted people to pay up or face seeing their livelihoods smashed.
The interior of the shop is lit by chem-lanterns, one of which is held by a man wearing a butcher's apron and who has a meat-hook crudely fixed to the stump of his other hand. The other three are mere brutes, slab-muscled simpletons in canvas overalls and thick magnifier goggles. Their eyes grow stupidly wide with shock at the sight of me rising over them. I bloat my body, greenish limbs swelling with power as I form a mouth where I think it ought to be.
I want to really hurt these men. I know it's their emotions I've been feeling, but I don't care. I just want to hurt them as badly as they hurt these people.
"This is gonna get messy", I say.
My rightshoots out, smashing the first thug from his feet. He slams into the metal stanchion by the door and doesn't get back up. A second thug swings a heavy iron club, a sump-scrapper's oversized wrench. It hits me in my middle and is promptly swallowed by my pliant flesh. I reach down and pluck him from the ground, hammering him up to the latticework girders of the ceiling. He drops back down, his limbs bending in ways even I can tell they shouldn't. The third thug turns and runs, but I reach up and stretch my arms toward the girders. I spring forward and hammer my feet into his back. I squash him to the ground as their leader slices the blade of his butcher's hook down the center of my back.
It hurts! Oh, how it hurts. The pain causes my body to lose cohesion. I fall to the floor in a shower of liquid green ooze. For a moment, I lose all sense of spatial awareness, seeing and feeling the world from a thousand different perspectives. The thug stands over me, a gap-toothed smile splitting his stupid face. He's glad he killed me, filled with pride at his destruction of a living thing.
His pleasure at this destruction courses through me like a hateful elixir. I don't want to feel like this, it's not what I was taught, but to help these people I need to use the wrath that fills me. I must turn it against these men. My scatteredreform in the time it takes him to realize he hasn't killed me as thoroughly as he thought. I surge from the floor and crash into him, altering my density to that of a thundering piledriver. We smash into the wall of the establishment, the flesh and bone beneath me disintegrating at the force of impact.
I peel myself from the bloody wall, feeling the anger slowly drain from me. I form my body into something man-shaped as I feel the mixed emotions emanating from the couple behind me. The man looks at me with a mixture of fear and trepidation. His wife smiles at me, though I can feel her tremendous pain. I kneel beside her and she takes my hand. It is soft. I am immediately soothed by her gratitude.
I nod and place my hand on her stomach. Heat spreads from me as I ease a sliver of my form into her wound. I'll be leaving a piece of me behind, a piece I'll never grow back, but I give it willingly, knowing she will live because of me. The portion of my body within her repairs damaged flesh, knits ruptured tissue and stimulates regenerative growth in her stomach lining. Her husband wipes his hand over her wound, and gasps to see her skin is pink and new.
"Thank you", she says.
I do not answer. I cannot. Expending such power drains me, leaves me thin. I allow my cohesion to loosen, flowing back down the grille and into the pipes. It is all I can do to maintain my form as I pour down through the cracks in the rock, heading toward the places I know will be awash with good emotions. I need to renew myself. I need to feel all the good Zaun has to offer.
I need to feel alive.
I need to feel.