Locke checks out a lead regarding the strange affliction that killed Amari Wade. Invigorated by what he finds, he decides to do something extremely stupid.

Chapter 15: A Very Stupid Idea
⚡️ THUNDERFANG #14: Farewell
Locke says farewell to the passengers and crew of the Bohemian Express right before he stumbles upon his first clue that could lead him to answers surrounding Amari Wade’s death.
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A Very Stupid Idea

Chapter 15

Content Warning: thoughts of an addict.

// Oracle

How does Locke view Port Wreck? Descriptor + Focus: 56, 91: Inaccessible Transport.

To get my favorite view of Port Wreck, you had to walk.

I took the public transit as far as it would take me. From the nameless plateau directly between the two areas, the entirety of the disorderly settlement known only as Port Wreck could be seen in all its glory. Grayish brown buildings carved and crafted from metal and stone filled every nook and cranny, not an ounce of space available within its jam-packed alleys and streets.

With the sun setting on the horizon, my mind instantly flooded with memories of my childhood, my teens, my early twenties. Every place I looked resurfaced some emotion that I'd partially forgotten. Some made me smile, others did not. I let myself take it all in, though. It'd been so long since I'd been back.

"Watt, I lived all the way over there." I pointed to a three-story building some blocks down, a large shipyard surrounding it. Some things were better left forgotten, however, and I quickly diverted my gaze.

I had maybe an hour or two of daylight left. I needed to begin looking for my witness, the sole survivor of the strange affliction that befell Amari Wade.

They had to have answers.

// Gather Info via Sleuth

Well, I'm just glad that this EPIC-LEVEL MYSTERY(!!!) can't get any higher, so we can always roll three challenge dice when it pertains to this.

+2 (wits) => 3 vs 5, 6, 7. Well, that's just crappy all around. We're going to burn momentum, so => 9 vs 5, 6. Strong hit!

+2 momentum [4]

This location we're heading to – an abandoned building, I've decided – did Locke know this building as something else? 50/50: 47, yes. 

What was the building’s purpose? Action+Theme: 52 10: Hide Burden. 

I'm thinking like a rec center or something.

92: Venri Stark. ⇒ Stark Recreational Center

I still knew this settlement – my home. I knew where all the best gossip was traded. I knew all the shady spots. I knew what to say to get people talking about things that they probably shouldn't have.

Eventually, I stood before what remained of the Stark Recreational Center. It was barely a shell of its former self. Per the gossip, they'd lost their funding some years back and it fell into disrepair. The windows were shattered and boarded up, the door was off its hinges, and graffiti marked its exterior.

It didn't take me long to find my witness, Isaac Venri, within Stark's walls. Isaac sat huddled in the corner at the bottom of what used to be an indoor pool, scraps of food scattered on the floor around him. I gestured for Watt to patrol the interior and keep an eye out.

"Isaac, right?"

I jumped down the three or so feet, walking to meet him at the deep end. The sounds of the city filtered in through the cracks in the walls and mingled with the crunch of discarded foil wrappers beneath my boot-covered feet.

Isaac caught my eye and made feeble attempts to climb up the wall.

"I'm not here to hurt you, Isaac." The fact that he was still alive after that affliction boggled me. I remembered the endless amounts of blood Amari had lost, the spasms, the wrong angles his hands and body made. If this person had gone through the same event, they were lucky to be alive. "I heard you experienced something weird..."

// Oracle

Does Isaac say anything related to the Benevolent? Unlikely, because I like to torture myself, 25-: 23. YES~~~~!!!

Isaac looked at me, expression blank.

"Do you know what a 'miss and a match' means?" He simply stared. "777? Benevolent?"

Isaac's entire face lit up at the mention of the Benevolent. "SIZZLE DRIP BRRRRR ZZZAP!"

I cocked my head to the side. He repeated the sequence over and over, clapping – offbeat – as he did so. It didn't take long to deduce what he was saying. "Fire, water, ice, and..."

Electricity. Well, that was going to suck. "ZZZAAAAAAPPPPPP!" He applauded and sat back down in his corner.

I needed to be sure. I had settled on the fact that Amari Wade's gibberish was him recounting my last few weeks second- or third-hand – I wasn't going to think about where he got the information from to begin with. One mystery at a time. Was this the same scenario? Outside of the "sizzle" of Akim, I hadn't encountered anything water- or cold-related, and the reference to electricity could have just been referring to me. How could I be sure that Isaac–

"REICHENBACH!" Isaac smiled harder.

// Progress on the Benevolent vow

We now know the other three Mimic elements: water, ice, and electricity! That should be quite an interesting predicament. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

// Oracle

Does Isaac know at least one name? Unlikely, 25-: 60. Nope. Worth a shot.

I guess that's my sign.

"Happen to know any names?" I asked, forcing a laugh. Isaac simply smiled at me and began to fish through his pockets. "It was worth a shot. Do you know anything about what did this to you?"

Isaac ignored my question and stood, rushing over to me. He grabbed my hand and forced a handful of small seeds into them. In return, I gave him a few of the snacks I had in my pockets, hoping it would get him through the night at least. Though, from the look of all the trash on the pool floor, he'd been eating pretty well. Various seeds and wrappings, cores of apples and pits of peaches, a half-eaten sandwich.

"I'll do my best to check in on you again later, Isaac. You've been a great help."

I left Isaac behind in Stark's and began walking with Watt towards the public transit. I looked over the seeds Isaac handed me.

They triggered two distinct memories.

The first, of my childhood. Port Wreck was close to the Salvi Sigil but we did not experience all the "blessings" the capital received. I remembered the scarcity of foods – healthy ones in particular – and how rare it was to have a good meal. Isaac had so many fruits and vegetables. He could grow his own garden with the number of seeds he had piled up. I passed by a market as well – "Oh, that's new." – and considered stopping by. I was happy to see that Port Wreck was becoming less and less of a food desert.

The second, of Avam, the grave planet and its scarcity of life. I thought about how seeds just like this – in the most unexpected of places – had helped us all survive. How seeds helped me grow closer to someone.

I pondered over a word, letting it roll around on my tongue as I tried to remember what it was. "Strit? That sounds right." I looked at the seeds once more and gripped them tightly.

"Strit. This is a good sign."

I decided to capitalize on my good luck.

I had a stupid idea.

// Oracle

Has the "mourning period" for Akim passed already? 50/50: 88. Oh, definitely yes.

I think this means that the settlement has moved on in every single way, and everyone who took time off for it are back and everything.

I sat pressed into the shadows, the deepness of my Mimic gear obscuring me from sight. I did my best to calm my racing heart.

I was actually going through with this.

Isaac had been a great help – I now knew what elements to expect from the other three Mimics of the Benevolent. I could formulate a plan on how other Mimics of their types worked and figure out how to stop them all before I had to fight them.

There was only so much I could do with this knowledge, though.

I needed names. I needed to know exactly who I was on the lookout for.

I also needed any information I could get on what killed Amari and afflicted Isaac and those who did not survive it. The Salvis seemed to be linked to it all. I needed to find out what information they had.

So, I decided to break into another building: Akim's old office.

See? A very stupid idea.

I watched Akim's office from afar. Guards lined the perimeter. Getting in and finding what I was looking for what not going to be an easy task. I was eventually going to need another blackout, but the grid within the Salvi Sigil wouldn't be as easy to manipulate as the one in Portent.

The settlements on New Bohemia turned the sun into power, much like Portent turned Saffron's storms into power. Each important building in the Salvi Sigil handled its own power consumption, while the rest were in small clusters. There was almost never a city-wide blackout within the Salvi Sigil.

I needed to get close to the office. I kept to the shadows and made my approach. Watt kept watch some distance away but well within earshot.

// Secure an Advantage

+2 (shadow; sneaking in the shadows) => 6 vs 6,8. Miss.

.. Oh, well that sucks.

-1 momentum [3]

I approached a nearby building, hoping that this one had some connection to the office.

Watt screeched. Lucky for me, it was masked by our familiar hum. I turned to look in its direction and spotted what the alert was for: guards. They'd seen me, they must have.

I immediately began looking for the best escape route.

// Scene Challenge

A 6-segment Formidable Scene Challenge. The two sides are on pretty even footing since Locke knows this city just as well as they do.

// Scene Challenge: Secure an Advantage

+2 (wits; looking for an escape route) => 6 vs 1,6. Weak Hit.

+2 momentum [5]

I wasn't new to these streets. Instinctively, I ran. Watt floated further away to safety, leaving me to face this challenge alone. That was the way I preferred it. If I didn't have to involve Watt, the better.

I'm not sure what I would do if Watt got injured.

I let my muscle memory and body lead the way.

// Scene Challenge: Face Danger

+1 (edge; getting the F outta here) => 3 vs 5, 9. Miss.

Clock, +1 [1/6].

Price is... they're right up on him.

I dashed from alley to alley, jumping over trash cans and shoving people out of the way. This was already going poorly, I wasn't sure what could possibly make it worse.

I skidded to a halt, movement ahead of me forcing me to rethink my actions. I stole a glance behind me; they were right there. Fuck.

"In the name of the Salvi Clan, we demand that you halt!"

I turned to face them, knowing that I wouldn't have much time to deal with them. The plan of breaking in was no longer an option. I needed to do whatever it took to escape now.

Without warning, I lunged at them, fist colliding with face.

// Scene Challenge: Face Danger

+3 (iron; PUNCH!) => 5 vs 8, 8. Miss and a match!


We're going to tick this clock up two segments. +2 [3/6]

And the most obvious outcome is pain.

Endure Harm -2 [3]

+3 => 5 vs 3,5. Weak hit. Press on.

Their fist collided with my face. I stumbled, taken aback by the blow. They were definitely not Peacekeepers.

Or a scared boy pretending to be SPD.

I weighed my options. I could stay here and fight and waste valuable time, or I could run and hopefully make it through the maze-like streets and alleys of the Salvi Sigil, some of which had changed since I last ran through them. I should have been away by now, but it was just my luck–

I wasn't going to think about luck.

I balled my fist. Lightning crackled, coursing from myself to the suit. The Mimic suit was truly a starsend. I lashed out at them, striking with a thunderous blow against the one who connected with me moments ago.

// Scene Challenge: Face Danger

+3 (iron; ANOTHER PAAAANCH) + 2 (bzzzt) = +5 => 8 vs 7, 10. Weak Hit.

Grr. Fine. Tick the clock up one. +1 [4/6]

And we used some lightning, -1 [2]

And make some progress on this scene challenge! [1/10]

The SPD officer flew back, landing into their partner. Great, now they're on the lookout for a Mimic.

And if they have footage of the derelict, the same Mimic who killed Akim.

I couldn't think about that right now. I quelled the lightning and made a break down another alley, sticking as closely as possible to the shadows.

// Scene Challenge: Secure an Advantage

+2 (shadow; sneaky sneaky) => 8 vs 9, 10. Miss.

Clock, +1 [5/6]

Aaaaand this is pretty damn stressful if I do say so myself.

Endure Stress -1 [2]

+2 => 6 vs... 6, 8. Miss. An ADDITIONAL Spirit is lost. -1 [1]

The city seemed to light up as patrol ships whizzed by, their spotlights looking for me. It sounded like every guard was on alert now.

"There's a Mimic trying to break into one of the Salvi offices!" Voices echoed from all around.

I pressed myself deep into the muck of an alley, hoping to any deity listening that they would find me a way out. Did I really think I was just going to break into a highly secured government – and founding clan-related – building just because I wanted to?

I had been driven to accomplish the goal – or as some would say, my vow. I gripped my shoulder. The black iron coin hidden in a compartment there pressed against my skin.

"People think we're crazy. We do anything to keep a promise."

I could hear his words as if he was standing right beside me. I was definitely in deep shit right now, but I had to focus. If I panicked here, I was done for. And I'd have to give up on my promises. There had to be a way out of this.

// Scene Challenge: Secure an Advantage

+2 (wits; think up a REALLY GOOD PLAN) => 8 vs 2,3. STRONG HIT!

+2 momentum [7]

+1 Forward

They had a million people in the sky and on the ground looking for me. I could hear their boots stomp against the ground a street over as I did my best to keep my breathing calm and short. I needed a way to get their attention off of me–

My suit.

I dug the coin out of the compartment and practically ripped the suit off. There, amongst the garbage and the discarded, I stood with just a pair of boxer briefs.

If they were looking for the Mimic, then I wouldn't be the Mimic anymore.

// Scene Challenge: Secure an Advantage

+2 (shadow, or wits really; technically a disguise, I guess?) + 1 Forward = +3 => 7 vs 5,10. Weak Hit.

+2 momentum [9]

I thrust myself back into the shadows, hoping that maybe they wouldn't see the half-naked Black man running through the city.

Because that wasn't at all just as suspicious.

I pressed against the darker side of a building and listened to the chatter. Civilians were aware now as well. I had truly fucked this up. And I needed to be as far away from the Salvi Sigil as possible. Screw the hotel room. I'd find a place to sleep in Port Wreck for the night.

I took a few deep breaths, calming myself. If I stayed here, there would be no way of accomplishing all I had set out to do. I let my electricity run through my veins and used it to jumpstart my movement, letting it trigger my body before my brain could stop me. The more I let myself think, the longer I was going to stay there.

I just needed to move.

// Scene Challenge: Face Danger

+1 (edge; run run RUN!) => 5 vs 2,6. Weak hit! NOO... Soo, we're going to burn momentum. 9 vs 2,6. Strong Hit!


I ran into so many things, but I didn't stop. I had to move. I slipped down one alley and then back down another, climbing over a wall and returning the way I had already come. I wanted to confuse them, if possible.

I fell, slipping on a patch of greasy muck. Instead of letting it stop me, I rolled into it, pressing myself up against the wall. I held my breath as guards approached.

// Scene Challenge: Secure an Advantage

+2 (shadow) => 3 vs 2, 10. Weak Hit.

+2 momentum [4]

They passed by without acknowledging me. For once, I was happy they didn't consider those beneath them worthy of pity. I climbed to my feet. I didn't bother dealing with the dirt and grime on me. It helped sell that I was no one important.

With a moment to breathe, I processed where I was and tried to formulate a plan. If I kept down the alley, I would emerge onto the street and could make a dash for Port Wreck. It was risky, but I was slowly running out of options.

// Scene Challenge: Secure an Advantage

+2 (wits; is this escape route a good idea?) => 4 vs 1,7 Weak Hit.

+2 momentum [6]

A patrol ship flew overhead. Its light shone into the alley. I pressed against the wall once more.

I had to move.

Running – but not trying to not look obvious about it – I made my way down the alley.

// Scene Challenge: Face Danger

+1 (edge; running but like... casual) => 5 vs... 1, 9. Weak Hit.

Progress, +1 [3/10]

And... Clock, +1 [6/6]

Once I emerged into the street, I stopped trying to blend in and just ran. I narrowly avoided a vehicle and pushed yet another person out of the way. I headed towards the road I knew would lead me to Port Wreck, covered in grime and dirt and stars knows what else. I had mixed feelings about passing another person, slightly older than myself, that looked the same as me, covered in grunge.

I tried to tell myself that they were just in hiding, too.

// Finish the Scene Challenge

I have THREE [3] progress.

3 vs... 2, 8! WEAK HIT!

Cost is "Something of value is lost or destroyed."

An alarm blared across the city. Everyone, including myself, stopped. On an electronic board nearby, a wanted ad displayed.

"WANTED: LIGHTNINGMIMIC SEEN OUTSIDE OF THE SALVI OFFICE ON REISS STREET." Below it, a photo of me in my suit, in all of its glory, mid-electrical punch.

The suit was a lost cause. I couldn't go back for it, not now.

I headed towards Port Wreck. I'd find something to wear eventually.

Isaac was kind enough to let me crash with him at Stark's, and I showered and bathed myself as best I could then got dressed in whatever discarded clothing I could find. Watt – the smartest companion a Branded could ask for – had been looking out over Port Wreck from the plateau I'd shown it earlier and met up with me.

The next morning, I made my way back to the Salvi Sigil.

I shouldn't have.


I could hear the city call out to me.


If I wasn't so mentally exhausted, I could have pushed away some of the voices. Or, if the storm within me needed satiation, I could deal if I had my wits about me.

But right now? I was a wreck and my internal charge was dangerously low. I eyed every electronic as if I hadn't eaten in weeks. They each called out to me.





I forced myself to ignore that Watt even existed.

But I needed to feed– recharge. I needed to recharge.

I couldn't do it within the Salvi Sigil, though. I'd MADE A MESS OF THINGS, and couldn't risk any further exposure. Port Wreck was going to be on a similar high alert; the SPD had to have known that their suspect fled to Port Wreck or somewhere else nearby.

When I was a child, brand new to my Branding, I always needed a place to recharge. While the Salvi Sigil was almost completely efficiently solar-powered, Port Wreck had to make do with scrapped together tech discarded by the Salvi Sigil. Wreck Solar Farm was responsible for most, if not all, of Port Wreck's power. It was there where I used to recharge, or just get away when life was stressful. It was less than a day's travel, provided the landscape hadn't changed much.

I gathered what I needed from the hotel room, as well as changed into spare clothing. I checked out of the hotel and made my way back to Port Wreck. I dropped a few extra things off in a hiding place in Stark's, and then prepared myself for my trek across the desert.

Value At End of Chapter Last Updated
Health 3/5 Chapter 15
Spirit 1/5 Chapter 15
Momentum 6/10 Chapter 15
Watt 4/4
Supply 5/5 Chapter 9
Lightning 2/5 Chapter 15
Integrity 5/5 Chapter 7
⚡️ THUNDERFANG #16: Taunting, Sobbing, Laughing
Locke begins his journey to the Wreck Solar Farm, but the simple trip turns into a fight for his life and his sanity.
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This work is based on Ironsworn: Starforged (found at www.ironswornrpg.com), created by Shawn Tomkin,
and licensed for our use under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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