Season 2, Chapter 10
Impossible... right? I had always thought Ira was just rare—to me, he was always one of a kind. The love of my life who had literally fallen from the sky.
"In over 1200 years, there hasn't been a single other Thornbranded?"
She scrunched her face, eyeing me with confusion. "How do you know it's been 1200 years?"
Shit. I had forgotten I had kept some details from her. But Diogenes deserved to know. I had held that secret close to my chest for long enough.
I told her about all of my visions: the ones on the way to Ira in the desert and the ones in the underground facility. I was still skeptical about some of them, but what Michael had said to me left me wondering. Was I being watched or guided along a particular path?
"'They changed the name.' Are you sure that's what they said?"
I nodded. "They mentioned Reichenbach, which is the same place Akim said. They told me that—" My breath caught in my chest and my eyes widened. "My assailant—the one who attacked me on the way here. They said that I knew that names had power. The Branded back then—in my vision—said the same thing."
"You truly are at the center of it all, Mr. Holmes." Diogenes sighed and placed the tablet down. "It seems as if your visions are more than just that. You are potentially traveling through time—or, at least, your mind is."
"What?" Deep down, I had understood what was happening, but having it said out loud sounded so strange. I was speaking to my Branded ancestors. They were communicating with me—for what reason, I couldn't tell.
"I need you to do your best to get more information from them the next time this happens. Perhaps you can discover just why we are growing at such a rate, with new abilities popping up. Is it random, or is it by chance? And, rest assured, it will happen again, so please be prepared. I will provide whatever assistance I can when it is feasible."
She tapped a few buttons on the tablet and approached me once more. "Meanwhile, I need you to do something for me. There's a missing girl that I need you to find and keep safe for me until I can make accommodations."
Small Chance that it’s the woman I think it is. 10-: 36, nope. That’s actually a relief.
Only cause I keep thinking it. Is this girl Diogenes's daughter? Small chance, 10-: 87, nope.
And what can she do... I’m out of ideas, to be honest. I mean, not really, but the one I have is a bit extreme. So, Descriptor+Focus: 43 64: Forsaken Portal.
Okay, wait. First thought is teleporter. But maybe she “goes where she’s not supposed to.” Could be that she can talk to the dead?
Nah, I think she can phase.
"What's her name?"
"Jane Sheppard. She's Branded, and has luckily never been to Avam. She keeps doing things to end up there, though. She needs a chaperone."
"You want me to locate and babysit while I'm dealing with being hunted and trying to save the Branded?"
"That was my original reason for calling you here. You just had me bury the lede. Maybe she can help you out, though."
"How exactly can she do that?"
"Well," she said with a smile. "She's another anomaly, like Ira. Don't have a name for her type of Branding yet but...Well, she can walk through walls."
// Swear an Iron Vow
+1 (heart): 7 vs 3, 8. WH
+1 momentum 
Progress on background vow, too. This counts. lol This will probably be how he pays back his debt to Diogenes instead of through payments.
+1 (heart): 2 vs 8, 10. Miss.
Well, ain't that fun? A Weak Hit would have actually been worse for me, so I'm glad for this opportunity.
We’ll Resupply for +1 and clear Unprepared. 
Also fix the Scarlet Adler, so heal that to full. 
And Diogenes, or someone else, needs something.
Does Diogenes need something else? Unlikely, 25-: 39, no.
So it’s someone else. In this establishment, no one overheard them, so why do they come to Locke for help? Presumably, it’s someone who either helped him resupply or fix his ship.
Let’s roll up this individual. 12: Astrid Ripley. Bluewing. And another, 77: Ragnar Blackstone.
Hmm, that’s interesting. In my notes, I did the "roll once" thing for Blackstone’s name; it’s written as Ragnar Blackstone there.
Does Blackstone need our help? 50/50: …
...that’s an 11 my friends. A match on the oracle for a Yes.
Okay, I have an idea. Ooooh shit, I have an idea.
75-, woman: 17, woman.
I thought about what Diogenes had said all night.
Ira was the only Thornbranded in existence? If everything else she said was true, perhaps there were more now as well.
And Jane. Diogenes wouldn't say too much else about her. I couldn't help but question it all. I had just learned that we Brandeds occasionally "evolved" new abilities. To hear about another new Branding so soon? Impossible...right? Besides, Jane didn't have an elemental Branding, like the rest of us typically did. Well, Ira's technically isn't an element, either, I thought. Maybe Jane possessed a new Hivebranded ability?
Maybe she can control her molecules? I went over every detail I had as I waited for repairs on the Scarlet Adler to finish the next day. My focus drifted back and forth from Ira to Jane, unsure of what it all meant.
The repairwoman working on the Scarlet Adler wiped sweat from her brow, and I happened to catch a glimpse of her nametag.
It was a rather unique family name.
I moved closer to her and pulled out a sheet of paper and scribbled, "Any relation to Blackstone the bounty hunter?" I had originally presumed the Blackstone I knew to have simply given herself a moniker.
Her eyes widened—whether in shock or fear, I couldn't tell. She looked around frantically and grabbed my arm. In my confusion, I didn't put up a fight and was easily dragged onto my ship. The door shut behind us.
"My sister! Do you know her?!"
Watt was already on the ship tending to interior repairs. I quickly flagged him over hearing the distress in her voice and had him pull up a photo of Blackstone from our time on the Bohemian Express to confirm. "Her, correct? Kind of. We were passengers together—"
How long has she been missing? 3d4 months = 2+2+4 = 8 months.
This will more or less be how long the gap between Season 1 and 2 is then.
"She's missing. I haven't heard from her in about eight months. The last time we spoke, she was heading to New Bohemia on a passenger ship to catch some fucking serial killer! Please tell me he didn't get to her."
"Missing?" I carefully summarized my experience on the Bohemian Express. "I saw her safely arrive on New Bohemia, though I don't know where she went afterward."
"Then why hasn't she called? Or answered any of my messages! I've been worried sick, Detective."
I did my best to comfort her, but I could not stop her tears. Astrid Blackstone told me that, no matter their situation, they always communicated with each other. They had been the only family each other had left, so even if they were fighting or on bad terms, they always checked in with one another.
Missing siblings struck a chord. I would give anything to find Michael.
"Leave me your contact info. I have to head to New Bohemia eventually after I stop by Saffron. If you can hold out a bit longer, I'm sure I can find her."
Before I could finish speaking, she had her arms around me, thanking me as tears streamed down her face. I gripped my black iron coin as I embraced her in return.
// Swear an Iron Vow
+1 => 5 vs...8, 9. Miss.
Gonna be honest: the biggest obstacle is probably just getting back to New Bohemia. There's already so much on Locke's plate. If he can make it to New Bohemia—in the words of Eliza Hamilton—"that would be enough."
Setting this vow as Troublesome because 1) I don't need it to be too complicated, and 2) this will be a Mystery, so it could totally get more complicated.
Astrid eventually went back to finish working on the Scarlet Adler, and in no time, she was patched up and ready to go. Watt and I performed our pre-flight checks. We were still low on supplies, but I figured we had enough to get us back to Portent in one piece.
// Set a Course
+1 (supply) => 5 vs 6, 8. Miss.
NOPE! We have 9 momentum, so we're going to burn that. 9 vs 6, 8, Strong hit!
+1 momentum 
My nerves were a wreck the entire trip. I could barely concentrate as I told Ira everything that had happened.
"I'm the only one?" He was stunned, to say the least.
"Yeah. And our numbers are growing really fast."
"That sounds like it could be a good thing," he said. "More of us means we can tip the scales in our favor."
"I hope that's it, and not something else."
I was too focused on checking my surroundings every five minutes to have much else of a conversation with him, so we ended the call and I rode the rest of the way back to Saffron in near silence. My nerves were on edge the entire time.
Who was after me? And why?
Had that been Althea Lontoc?
Or worse: someone else?
When I finally made it back to Portent, I had only three people on my mind: John, Lestrade, and this new Jane Shepphard woman. I messaged John privately to fill him in as much as possible on what had happened, then messaged him and Lestrade together to let them know I was back. Neither responded.
I did my best to subdue the feeling of dread that was beginning to take over. Had the maniacal woman done something to them?
No. I shook my head as my feet planted on the ground in Baker's Shipyard. Those two were more than capable. If I didn't hear back from them in another few days, then I'd worry. But I knew they could handle themselves.
Back on my turf, I set out to find out anything I could on Jane.
// Gather Information via Sleuth
+2 (wits) => 5 vs 1, 4, 5. Dropping the 5 gives me 5 vs 1, 4, a Strong hit!
+2 momentum 
Where is Jane? Descriptor+Focus, 52 10: Hidden Being.
Well, that doesn't exactly tell me much—I think. I already know she's missing or hiding.
Okay, rolling for two more. 86 97: Sealed Void.
Okay, this tells me something. Now, all four words are pointing in the same direction, with "Sealed" being the most helpful.
She's been CAPTURED.
Well, at least, that's what the public sees. We know she can walk through walls, so perhaps, she's instead being blackmailed or something. Same vibes are captured, but we need a way for her to be captured without physical constraints.
Alright, now, where is she? Going to roll on the name table for a location.
...Yup. I'm going to have to stop doing this—using the name table, I mean. I rolled 47, which is Juro Mihara. I only needed a last name or something, but because of this particular name, I feel like there's something more at play here. Remember? He's the guy who was with Dr. Hendrix on Shiningstar.
I wonder...Is this place in connection to the Juro Mihara we know? Small chance, 10-:...
-sigh- 02. Yes.
Abandoned building? 50/50... 01. What is up with my dice??? What story are you trying to tell!?
What did the company used to work on? 18: Energy.
Iiiinteresting. This could by why Juro was even on Shiningstar to begin with.
I reached out to everyone I could think of that wouldn't tip off Jack Moriarty that I was back in town. Most of them had never heard of Jane. I did, however, manage to get a lead on someone who fit her description.
Only problem was, she'd been captured.
They hadn't known about her Branding, so that was all they saw. I, however, knew it couldn't have been a typical kidnapping. She had to go by means of non-physical force. Maybe she was being blackmailed.
My gut told me to slip on my Mimic uniform, so I did that before heading out. I had seen a configuration for "comfy" and decided now was the time to try it. Upon closer inspection in the mirror, I realized then why the suit just sagged in various areas: it looked like a sweatsuit. I smiled, admiring the potential.
I pondered over the situation as I followed my tips to the last location she was seen at. Dread bubbled up, escaping the locks I had placed on the mental chest buried deep within the corners of my mind.
"Mihara Energy Corp?"
Before me, an abandoned warehouse, one of many littering Saffron's surface. In front of this warehouse was a decrepit statue of the Mihara founder, Juro Mihara.
The man I'd seen on Shiningstar.
"This cannot be a coincidence. Meaning—"
The sound of a single gunshot pierced through my thoughts and the silence.
From inside the building.
Marking progress on the Jane vow [1/10]
Ticking John and Lestrade clock. 3/4
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