⚡️ THUNDERFANG #4

Denied an audience with Akim Salvi, Locke decides to get his hands dirty once more.

⚡️ THUNDERFANG #4
Chapter 4: The Two Birds Scenario
⚡️ THUNDERFANG #3: Backups
Locke is forced to think about his past as he comes to terms with who the Infernomimic might be.
The previous chapter

The Two Birds Scenario

Chapter 4

"Lestrade–"

"Special Agent Lestrade," she said as she continued to move. I knew from the tone in her voice this was not going to go the way I wanted it to.

That didn't stop me from trying.

"Special Agent Lestrade... Do you think you could grant me access to the derelict?"

// Compel, +2

+1 (Heart) + 1 (Connection) = +2 = 8 vs 8, 10. Miss.

Well, fuck me. Now we have extra hoops to jump through. That's my PtP: A trusted individual or community acts against you.

She stopped. "Absolutely not!" Lestrade shook her head in what I could only describe as disgust. "I will not have you screwing up this mission, Holmes. Everyone knows we haven't found any black iron in years. Salvi and his team need to focus."

"Detective Holmes." That was a dumb retort on my part. For a moment, I was glad being Branded was rare and practically outlawed; the look she gave was meant to kill, or at least draw blood. "Maybe I could help look? I've been known to—"

"No." She raised a hand to stop me, then continued moving to her destination. "Give it a rest."

I watched her walk into an unlabeled room with a handful of other people. She slammed the door shut behind her.

The gears in my mind began to turn.

Worst case scenario: Akim Salvi would come back to Portent with a haul of black iron. My only lead on the Roger Usagi case would be swarmed with reporters, researchers, and officials for weeks. I would have zero opportunity to talk to him before Roger's case pushed forward.

On the other hand, if he came back with nothing – if he came back at all – he'd still be unavailable, wrapped up in Salvi matters from all over the sector. Trainings, debriefings, endless searching for another derelict, or maybe a precursor vault. Akim Salvi had been in Portent for months and this was the first time I had known. I didn't expect him to suddenly have some free time to waste on questioning when this was over, even if I did suspect he had enough free time to push a man out a window.

Neither scenario elicited hope.

I glanced to the sky. The derelict wasn't visible from the ground, but I knew it was up there, somewhere.

A thought crossed my mind. "Two birds."

I lingered around the government sector a bit longer, keeping my wits about me. I needed to know just how stupid I was about to be.

// Gather Information via Sleuth, +2

+2 = 7 vs 4, 8, 10 => 7 vs 4,8. Weak hit.

Not too bad.

+1 momentum [3]

From what I could gather, there were two ships deployed to the derelict: one for Akim Salvi and a few personnel, as well as an SPD ship with backup. From experience, there'd be about five – maybe six – people to account for. I'd be outnumbered, for sure.

A smile crossed my lips as I remembered someone who was frequently outnumbered. Someone who had been given a nickname to reflect that. "If you think you've beaten me, you've already lost," they had said.

I suppressed the emotions, not ready to deal with them. It'd been five years. Still too soon.

Refocused, I made my way back to the Scarlet Adler.

I'd been known to hold my own when outnumbered, just like them. It wasn't something I was looking forward to, though. If Akim Salvi had nothing to do with the Roger Usagi case, then I would be making a huge commotion for absolutely nothing. Lestrade would never trust me with a sliver of information again, and I'd probably have to leave Portent – hell, the Salvi Pass entirely.

"Then I guess won't cause a scene."


I tried to rest. I would need all of my energy if I wanted this plan to go well. It was stupid – that seemed to be a reoccurring theme.

But they had always worked out. Can't argue with results.

I began making the necessary preparations. I hadn't been off of Saffron in years, Karim's funeral aside. But I quickly fell into old habits and the Scarlet Adler was ready to make a brief departure from the surface.

Baker's Shipyard was situated nicely within Portent, no doubt adding to the place's popularity and value. Directly above it was one of the planet's designated eyes. It wasn't always safe, but more often than not, one could fly directly through charted air, avoid all or most of the storms, and enter or exit Saffron without issue. A few pockets of designated eyes were scattered around Saffron. As part of our daily weather forecast, we'd learn of one or two nearby eyes that would be available for civilians to utilize, but not many people in Portent had a ship capable of coming and going as they pleased. Very few eyes remained stationary – our designated eyes. Baker's Shipyard had one of the rare few. The rest typically had a government building of some kind or a shipyard built beneath it.

As the Scarlet Adler slowly flew through the designated eye, I suited up. It'd been a moment since I needed the suit so it was more than a little uncomfortable. I was happy to find that it still fit.

As Watt did a scan to make sure the suit was fully functioning, I attached my bo staff and my pistol to either side of my waist. I flexed the fingers on each hand, feeling the modifications that would allow me to use my lightning should a situation call for it. That had not been a cheap upgrade, but it had proved useful on more than one occasion.

Prep and scans complete, I tapped a capacitive button on the side of the helmet and the visor retracted.

Saffron was as beautiful as the first time I laid eyes on it. Storms were flickering all over the planet, and all I could do was sit in awe as we made the short trip to the derelict.


The derelict was massive. It probably held two or three settlements worth of people at one point. The large chunk of ancient metal was slowly moving toward Saffron, and at the rate it was going, it was going to be another week or two before it fully passed.

I switched my attention to the details of the derelict. I needed to find a way to land on or close enough and not attract attention. From there, I could sneak around until we found Akim.

Piece of cake.

// Secure an Advantage, +2 (wits)

+2 = 5 vs 2,6. Weak hit.

+2 momentum [5]

Mostly.

The derelict was large enough that I could approach and not be seen if I went the right way. But, judging from the locations of the Salvi and SPD ships, there weren't many useable entrances. They had landed in a particularly visible spot that didn't seem to be the best choice. I could only assume they'd entered from the only easily accessible entrance. Further scans proved that assumption to be fact.

While not ideal, if I played this right, they'd never see my approach.

// Secure an Advantage, +2 (shadow)

+2 = 4 vs 3,7. Weak hit.

+2 momentum [7]

I stuck to the charted course, aiming for staying out of sight as much as possible and not triggering any alarms. The derelict probably wouldn't have any defenses of its own, so my focus was on making sure SPD didn't set up some sort of perimeter. I wasn't too worried about that, though. While Saffron had neighbors, it was highly unlikely that someone else would come to loot the derelict, especially if the Salvis were already doing so.

Not unless they were drift pirates with a death wish.

Watt and I exited the Scarlet Adler. It felt awkward to wear the suit again. I'd gone so long without the need for it. I was used to my "comfy clothes." I secretly hoped the derelict had a few spare pieces of black iron so I could pay off some debt and get a few upgrades. If I continued to take these kinds of cases, I would need better toys.

We approached where SPD and Akim entered: a hatch leading into the derelict's depths. I pulled it open, gave a quick scan, and we jumped inside.

// Undertake an Expedition, +2 (wits)

Before I explain the roll, going to set the details for the expedition.

It'll be a Troublesome one. I also asked the oracle, "Is the derelict well lit?" 50/50: 25, yes.

That's not actually the result I wanted, but we have ways to take care of that.

Now, rolling Wits for Undertake an Expedition (too hard to be sneaky with the lights on), I get...

+2 = 3 vs 3,10. Miss.

I could burn my momentum here, but we JUST STARTED. I typically have bad luck with Expeditions, so I'll save it for a more disastrous failure.

For now, let's have fun...

I landed upright a few feet below the hatch opening.

And was met face to face with a lone SPD officer.

Watt began flashing "❗" accompanied by an alarm sound.

I inhaled sharply, letting my instincts guide me.

// Enter the Fray, +3 (iron)

The Lone SPD Agent is Dangerous.

+3 = 8 vs 1,8. Weak hit.

UGH. I already have a good amount of momentum (and I'm treating it like Pheonix Downs apparently), so I'm going to be in control.

I needed to make this quick.

Watt floated out of the way to safety. I rushed the agent, extending a single hand. It crackled with enough electricity to stun and I let loose a right hook.

// Gain Ground, +5

+3 (Iron) + 2 (Lightning) = +5 = 11(10) vs 1,9. Strong hit!

Progress +2 [2/10], and +1 forward. Also, -1 lightning [3].

The agent screamed and stumbled back. I glanced down the hall where they'd come from, hoping to any deity who'd listen that they hadn't alerted the rest of them. My goal was to not kill or critically injure anyone. If Akim was guilty, then a casualty could have been worth it, perhaps. But I was still going off of an assumption. Rarely was I wrong to that magnitude, but I needed to be sure.

That meant non-lethal force.

I closed the distance between us, braced myself, and elbowed the agent in the gut.

// Strike, +4

+3 (Iron) + 1 forward from Gain Ground = +4 = 6 vs 1,10. Weak hit.

Progress twice, +4 [6/10]. And now we're in a bad spot.

I quickly became aware that I was not used to fighting in the suit. My elbow didn't quite strike the way that I had intended. Instead of knocking the agent on their ass, they just wobbled in place a bit. They shook their head and grabbed the rifle from their belt.

Oh, fuck.

I could hear Watt making a sound of worry and alarm as the agent began firing. I ducked for cover behind the first thing I could find.

// React Under Fire, +1

+1 (edge) = 5 vs 7,10. Miss.

WELP. This is not ideal at all. Going to roll to see what happens for Pay the Price. 80: You are harmed. Makes sense.

-1 Harm [4]

Endure Harm, +4

+4 = 7 vs 5,10. Weak hit.

Just gonna press on.

Whatever I grabbed exploded in my hands before I could recognize what it was, a shot from the agent reducing it to space debris that slammed into me. My suit alerted me to the stress my body was going through. I forgot it could do that. My adrenaline kept me up, however.

I reached for my bo staff and extended it between shots. I needed to close the gap.

I swatted away a few blasts, then let loose another shock. The staves crackled with electricity and I swung them onto the agent.

// Clash, +5

+3 (iron) + 2 (Lightning) = +5 = 6 vs 3,8. Weak hit.

Progress, +2 [8/10]

And Pay the Price, 12: You face a tough choice.

The agent stumbled back once more and dropped their weapon. Good.

I began to make my approach, ready to knock them out once and for all, when I saw them reaching for something on their suit.

I ran the scenario.

I knew a thing or two about SPD. That location on their suit would trigger a call for backup, something I desperately did not want to happen.

If I wanted to stop him, I was going to probably have to kill him.

I could disable his suit and float him. It'd be less work on my part and there'd be no one around to identify the floating utility bot that was beeping constantly. I could also break his neck and probably a million other things. They'd be down one agent and his body would be lost to the void of space.

But... that was not me. This agent was simply doing their job. I held no ill-will towards them. And, once again, I needed to remember that I had no proof that Akim was my Infernomimic.

What was I to do? Kill them, or let them call for backup?

. . .

I lunged forward again. I dropped the staves – they didn't fall far, instead floating more or less where I had released them – and extended both hands. The electricity from within me surged forth and I grabbed the agent by the helmet.

// React Under Fire, +4

+2 (Wits) + 2 (Lightning) = +4 = 9 vs 3,5. Strong hit!

+1 momentum [8].

-1 Lightning [2]. (Ooh. I'm running low here.)

Also, I chose this move because I'm "overcoming an obstacle" and I'm trying to "cleverly bypass an obstacle." If this was Gain Ground, it'd be with Iron, but the description for Iron for React Under Fire doesn't seem like the route taken here. Locke has a specific goal in mind.

I could see the electricity travel through the suit. The agent struggled and squirmed but dared not grab my hands. Smart.

Then they struggled harder. It looked like they were gasping for breath.

I had disabled the suit, as planned.

I shot a look to Watt, and yelled, "Save him!"

// Take Decisive Action, 8

8 progress vs 4,10. Weak hit.

I actually figured this would happen. I'm going with the "Something is lost" cost.

Watt beeped and floated to the agent, its wires extending and attaching to the suit in about four places. Watt's display changed, showing "78%💨" as well as a few vital signs that it was getting from the suit's system. The agent began breathing normally, and the knot in my chest began to dissipate. I had zero desire to kill anyone.

They didn't need to know that, though.

"If you call for backup, I will have it disconnect from your suit. You do anything stupid, you'll float. Got it?"

The agent looked back and forth from Watt to me. "What's a Mimic doing here? I-I cannot let you in there."

"I'm not going to hurt Akim Salvi... unless he's a murderer, then I suppose we'll be attacking each other?" I hadn't thought too much about that scenario.

Was I prepared to fight him?

I walked down the entryway path, contemplating the possibility.

// Progress on Roger Usagi vow [6/10]

Seems like we overcame a critical obstacle!


⚡️ THUNDERFANG #5: Not Quiet Enough
As Locke struggles with keeping his delve into the derelict quiet, he also battles with suppressing the noises within.
The next chapter

⚡️ THUNDERFANG Dossier
Want to figure out what assets Locke has, the progress he’s made on his vows, and more game-/lore-related knowledge THUNDERFANG has? Check out this page!
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