Locke's taunting inner voice returns as everything crumbles around him. And suddenly, all eyes are on him.

⚡️THUNDERFANG S2 #11: Riddle
Why is Jane being held at Mihara Energy Corp? What connects the late Mihara with Dr. Hendrix and Shiningstar?

The previous chapter


Season 2, Chapter 12

I rushed to his side. How had I not seen this happen? Had I been that oblivious?

Two bullets had pierced his exterior. He still seemed to be functioning—a small blessing—but there was no telling the extent of the interior damage. Once again I regretted not taking the time to fully learn how to repair my mechanical comrades—first the Scarlet Adler, now Watt.

"We will see to it that all you hold dear pays the price for your intrusions."

The voice of that madwoman echoed in my mind. I know she hadn't caused what had happened to Watt. Regardless, I couldn't help but feel like she was responsible somehow.

What about Blackstone's disappearance? Had she manipulated that? Was all of this an elaborate plot to destroy me?

I pushed down my fears and picked up Watt. I was no good to anyone if I crumbled into a heap here. Watt was still with me. I clung to that fact. I could get him fixed and all would be well.

Whatever remained in the room was of no concern to me now. I just wanted to save Jane and get the hell out.

// Undertake an Expedition

+2 (wits) => 4 vs...




8, 8.

This game truly hates me.

What's this waypoint? 2: engineering

60, 61 (almost another match): vehicle bay/garage, pipes or valves.

I need one more twist.

Screw it, Story Complication, why not? 67: True agenda of a connection or a patron is revealed.

I don't want to piggyback on the previous match—it's already going to be big, you'll see.

So, how can I make this worse?

Well, this will only somewhat piggyback, then.

Let's meet someone face to face...

I didn't need to tread carefully anymore—they already knew I was here.

So it was of no surprise when I was greeted by two figures in the vehicle bay of the warehouse. I had followed the sounds of their voices as they spoke.

I was drawn to the more feminine one.

It sounded...familiar.

Standing in the center of the room stood Ashley Hendrix. The sight of her made my blood boil, but I needed to keep my composure. I was masquerading as a random Lightningmimic, completely unrelated to the detective who had met her on Shiningstar.

Beside her, a man, though my first thought was "boy." He looked no older than John. Maybe 22? Dark skin, cold eyes.

"Hendrix," he said, his voice a smooth, stoic tenor. "Our guest has arrived."

She must not have noticed me until then, as her expression quickly shifted to shock. "W-what should we do?" She looked around the room. It had a methodical feel to it, like she was looking for or at something. That's when I realized the goons posted throughout.

One of them was with a young woman.

// Oracle

Oh. Right. What does she look like?

23, 2: Attractive, accented.


The hair color reassured me. There was no doubt who the woman was.

Her facial expression assured me that this would not be an easy recovery.

I sat Watt down right outside the entrance and stepped visibly into the vehicle bay, staff extended in one hand. Guns were quickly drawn and aimed in my direction. I counted five men, not including the stoic man in the middle with Dr. Hendrix.

I had to try, despite the odds not being in my favor. But then again, when were they? I cleared my throat, and let the bass in my voice travel throughout the room.

"I'm here for Jane."

The man in the middle stared at me. He was unsettling, more than I cared to admit. There was no emotion in him at all. Was he scared? Was he prideful? I couldn't get a read on him.

"We're not done with her yet, so I'm afraid that's not an option," he said. Each word followed the other in a monotonous tone. It was cold and robotic.

Dr. Hendrix's emotions were much more visible. She was visibly affected by my presence.

"I'm leaving here with her, whether you like it or not."

The man shifted his gaze to Dr. Hendrix and gestured nonchalantly towards an exit in the back. She nodded and dashed away quickly. Then, he looked at Jane. "Do you want to leave with him?"

Jane was visibly confused, but she nodded anyway.

"Then, by all means. Do so."

I focused my gaze on him as he spoke. Still, not an ounce of emotion. There was no hint of sarcasm or genuine feelings.

Jane took two steps forward cautiously, then began a mad dash towards me.

"Just know they will all die if you leave here."

Just out of arms reach from me, she froze. There was nothing but fear and pain behind her eyes.

And crushed hope.

"This girl is the property of the S.P.D. until further notice. Tell whoever sent you that you failed."

The S.P.D.? "Aren't you supposed to be the good guys?" I had my doubts, sure. The only one I truly trusted was Lestrade. But blatantly being the villains just seemed a bit much for them.

“We are. These filthy Branded are tools, nothing more. That is their only purpose. She should count herself lucky that she was useful.”

That word again: lucky.

“Who are you?” I demanded.

He sighed. Not one of disgust or boredom, though those were the only emotions I could affix to that action. He just sighed. There was no way this man was human. “Someone who’s bored of this. Now," he said, the only infliction I had heard him utter, "you can kill him.”

Guns cocked.

// Enter the Fray

I think we’re facing off vs our foe, so heart. 

+1 ⇒ 3 vs 1, 7. Weak hit. I can take that!

+2 momentum [4]

Guns fired.

Jane ducked low and shielded her head. I rushed forth to protect her—and myself—using my staff.

Diogenes had been right about her Branding: I saw bullets pass through her as if she weren't there. They struck the surrounding walls. I didn't know the limits of her abilities, so I urged her to run regardless and stood between her and them defensively.

What the hell was my plan here? I was easily outgunned, outmanned, and out of my league.

// React Under Fire

+2 (wits, we need a plan) ⇒ 4 vs 1, 8. Weak hit.

Let’s do -1 Spirit. [3]

Endure Stress +3 ⇒ 4 vs 1,5. Weak hit. Damnit.

I did nothing more than stress myself out as I dodged and swiped away bullets in the meantime.

Outnumbered and out planned. I gotta make an all-out stand...But how?


Damnit. I'd gone so long without having that inner voice torment me. It was only a whisper for now, but I knew the circumstances were perfect for its growth. If I wasn't careful, it would consume me.

// Oracle

Can he get close enough to use Iron? Unlikely, 25-: 76. 

Okay, so we need to try to sneak away.

Seconds felt like minutes as I thought over what to do. I was running out of options and still had an entire human to save.

I ducked behind a large vehicle, hoping to buy myself more time and also find a way out.

// React Under Fire

+2 (shadow) ⇒ 5 vs 2, 3. Strong hit!

+1 momentum [5]

As they approached, I rolled under the vehicle and popped out on the other side behind them. And in one fluid motion, I brought the staff down on one of their heads.

// Strike

+3 ⇒ 6 vs 9, 9. WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY




I froze in place, the gunshot behind me catching me completely off guard. The goons before me swiveled, eyes widened at my sudden reappearance behind them.

I waited a few seconds, anxiously anticipating a blossom of pain to burst forth from my back—or my head, if this happened to be my final moments.

When nothing came from it, I turned around as well to see the stoic man still pointing his gun in my direction. He'd missed me, somehow. A warning shot?


Something clattered onto the ground before me.


// Companion Takes a Hit

-2 [0]

+0 ⇒ 2 vs ……….. 1, 10. A Weak hit. whew.

My eyes widened behind my helmet, a sickening sense of deja vu overtaking me. I rushed to him, his body in more scraps now than it had been before. When did he get there? Why would he take the bullet for me?!

"You got lucky," the man said. "Your little tool saved you."

His monotonous tone pissed me off. Cold, lifeless eyes with no remorse. Hell, I'd probably be less pissed off if he at least found joy in my pain. No, he was stoic. He didn't care. It was almost as if he was lifeless A.I., programmed to do one thing and one thing only.



For once, the voice in my head was right.

There was no winning this fight for me. Not like this. I couldn't even protect Watt—how was I supposed to save Jane?

I scooped Watt up from the floor in a mad dash as they began opening fire.

// Face Defeat

PtP, 13: You face a tough choice.

Fitting, because I think this was going to happen anyway.

Jane was hiding near the exit, hands still shielding her head despite her abilities. She was terrified. The man who was sent there to save her was getting his ass handed to him.

Then...I made it worse for her.

I locked eyes with her behind my helmet. I know she knew I saw her, tears running down her face.


I kept running.

Past her. Without her.

// Face Danger

+1 (edge): 4 vs 1, 4. Weak hit.

-1 Spirit [2]

Endure Stress +2 ⇒ 3 vs 7, 10. Miss.

I think it’s fitting to lose another stress, so -1 [1]


It hurt more than I could ever have believed possible. I was running away from helping someone.

// Finish an Expedition

6 vs 4, 6. Weak hit.

A single tick.

Can we say the internal crisis is enough of an unforeseen complication?

He’s about to go through so much more.

I ran, and ran, and ran and ran and ran and ran and ran. Nonstop. Watt attempted to beep, his lights sparking on and off. I could feel the slight hum from within him—I knew he wasn't gone, not yet.

My wrist vibrated again but I ignored it. I couldn't. I was in no capacity to talk to anyone.

I hid out amongst another nearby abandoned building for some time, crying into Watt's broken body. I did my best to pulse him with low shocks, hoping to keep him alive. He wasn't "just" a utility bot. He was my friend, my companion. We'd been through so much together...I would never forgive myself—or that man—if this was the end.

I gave my wrist a well-placed shock to shut off the incessant vibrating. An excessive action, sure, but I couldn't be bothered to do it the right way. Whoever was trying to contact me could not take the hint. Now was not the time.

"I got you, buddy," I said to Watt. I cradled him some hours later under the cover of nightfall when the Scarlet Adler suddenly came into view. I hadn't even realized I had begun walking.

So much so that I didn't see the figure running towards me until it was too late to flee. In my anger and distress, I charged my body, letting the lightning crackle. Whoever was on the opposite end of this attack was not going to survive, innocent bystander or—



My lightning calmed down, and the floodwalls opened up. "Watt...he...was...I was helping a woman, Jane Sheppard...Diogenes told me to...And...Watt..."

John rushed over in his own Mimic suit. I saw him tear up, I'm positive. But then...John wasn't John anymore. He was someone different.

"GET ON THE SHIP, NOW!" Without warning, a large gust of wind pushed me towards the Scarlet Adler as he began to drag me. There was no fighting this—not that I could in my state, anyway.

Once inside, John locked up and rushed to the controls and began what looked to be the procedure to take off. I sat Watt down in a bin so his parts wouldn't get tossed around. I wanted all of him in one spot.

Why...are we...leaving? I could barely think straight.

"What's wrong?" I stumbled to the cockpit just as we entered orbit.

"What's wrong!?" The difference was subtle, but I could tell by the changes in his voice. This wasn't John, in the same way that Ripley was a different person. Perhaps another mask he wore, another name—maybe NEVERMORE? "What's wrong!? What's?! Wrong!? THIS is what's wrong!"

He slammed a fist down on the control panel. On a nearby screen, a feed sprang to life. My brain must have been turned off from the shock, as all it did was confuse me more.

I saw my picture and my name.

Why was he showing me me?

My brain finished processing what I was seeing, and my throat seized. My heart raced. My blood ran cold and lightning crackled up my arms.


"THEY KNOW! They know about you, Locke! That's why I've been calling you!"


// Mark Progress

Progress on Saffron vow, and Jack Moriarty vow

⚡️THUNDERFANG S2 #13: This
Locke—the Bleeding Heart, the Hero, the Ironsworn—finally admits to himself why he’s doing all of this.

The next chapter

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.

Want to own Starforged for yourself? Grab it on DriveThruRPG!
(Affilate link)