The Scarlet Adler is now filled to the brim. One passenger's demands lead to an uncomfortable request.

⚡️THUNDERFANG S2 #15: No Turning Back
⚡️THUNDERFANG S2 #14: The Solution to the Trolley Problem
Locke has made peace with what has happened and it will NOT stop him. Why? Because he’s a FUCKING hero.

The previous chapter

No Turning Back

Season 2, Chapter 15

We didn't leave Saffron's orbit, but we were on the edge, ready to go in case the inevitable happened.

Because the inevitable always happened.

I counted six people. Six! The Scarlet Adler had never held so many people before in her entire—

Actually, scratch that. During the escape from Avam.

Fitting that we were once again trying to escape.

It comforted me slightly, despite the circumstances. She was made for rescuing, escaping to freedom. If we went down in flames, I knew we would've given them a good fight. And we would've taken someone out with us, for sure.

I ran a hand across my face and exhaled slowly, trying to make sense of everything that had happened. It had all gone by in a blur; I hadn't had a moment to breathe until now.

Was I really a wanted man?

// Oracle

Okay, does Jane actually know Diogenes? Likely, 75-: 04. Yup!

Revealed character aspect—1, 22: Addicted, corrupted.


Okay, okay, okay. I think it’d be a little too fucked up for the Moriartys to literally have gotten her addicted to a substance, so I’m going to forego that interpretation of this. I think addicted and corrupted means, together, that she is hyper-fixated on doing what the Moriartys feel is the right thing because she’s afraid of the consequences. She’s actively trying to get back to Portent so she can show Jack that she wasn’t trying to escape.

"We have to go back, now!" Jane screamed, breaking my moment of respite.

The inevitable, of course.

John did his best to hold her back, but she kept phasing through him. She was going to be a tricky one to deal with.

And just how did she do that? I had tried not to think too much about it, but seeing it in action again—without bullets whizzing by—made me question her ability's origin.

All the Branded that I knew of had some control over elemental forces. Ira and the Hivebranded were exceptions, but still focused: Ira could only control plants, and the Hivebranded could manipulate certain aspects of time and space around them.

Was it too farfetched that Jane could do something similar to them? Did she have minute control over her body's atoms and particles, and she could slip them right through another solid object's?

"I've noticed something...strange over the last decade or so."

Diogenes's words echoed in my mind. Something strange, indeed.

// Oracle

I need names for the three individuals who also boarded. 

35: Fletcher Arden
96: Yelena Petrov
48: Kaisa Buhari 

I feel like I might regret this, but let’s not mix the names. These three work fine. Which one is on Jane’s side? 30-, Fletcher. 60-yelena. 90-, Kaisa. 91+, roll twice. 41, so yelena.

And because I don't know these three characters yet, doing all of the dialogue, I'll continuously roll to see who speaks with what I have cooked up. I'll leave those notes out of the fiction, but just know that they're there.

I approached the three former kidnappers and properly introduced myself. Again, there was no need to hide who I was. I was Locke Holmes, private investigator and Lightningbranded escapee of Avam.

They introduced themselves as Fletcher Arden, Yelena Petrov, and Kaisa Buhari.

"I agree with the girl," Yelena said. She seemed to be the more timid of the three. "Jack Moriarty is terrifying. We're crooks, but...he's on a whole new level."

"I didn't sign up for this," Kaisa said as she paced back and forth. A physically stronger woman. It looked like she was used to fighting, or at least lifting heavy things.

Fletcher looked around worried but remained silent. Tall and lanky. I couldn't tell what he'd done with his everyday life, but it wasn't too strenuous on the body. Maybe he was a lookout or a getaway driver—something relatively safe.

"Not that this will help how you're feeling, but my original plan was to throw you all back to him. But your fear of him...It's palpable." Could I trust them here on the Scarlet Adler? What would I do if they decided to try and overthrow me?


Shut up. There would be no killing. I'd shock them into a "peaceful" slumber and drop them off on a nearby settlement.

"I would rather you kill me than face whatever Jack Moriarty has planned for us," Fletcher mumbled. My inner voice laughed.

The three of them quieted. I decided it was best to leave them be for now. As long as they weren't planning a mutiny, we'd be fine. I began to make my way over to John and Jane when I felt a tap on my shoulder.

// Make a Connection

+1 (heart) ⇒ 2 vs 2, 4. And nope, we’re gonna burn that 8 momentum.

8 vs 2, 4. Strong hit!

Which one? 1-2, 3-4, 5-6: 3, Yelena. Interesting. Troublesome connection. Engineer.

"Um...your utility bot, the round one. Is it okay?" It was Yelena, and she looked genuinely concerned.

I hadn't forgotten about Watt. I had just assumed now was not the right time. Plus, I still had no idea how I was going to repair him. Landing back in Portent and finding someone to repair him was my idea, and it was no longer a good one. No doubt my name and face were planted everywhere by now. I'd be turned over to the authorities the moment I stepped foot into a shop.

"He...he's in bad shape. I just need to find someone who can repair him. Maybe wherever we stop will—"

"I'm an engineer. Better with a wrench than a gun," she said, forcing a laugh. "Maybe I can help you with him."

// Repair

+2 wits + 1 from Yelena = +3 ⇒ 7 vs 8, 10. FUCK.

PtP, 46: A new enemy is revealed.

Oooh ooh, I have an idea. I'm technically ignoring that result, but also embracing it?

I’m going to mark 2 segments in that 6-segment Faux Fugitive clock—which has been empty since I made it. [2/6]

Yelena was a godsend, truly. While John took care of Jane, Yelena helped me patch up Watt.

Okay. She did all the work. But I pointed out where things were!

She managed to get Watt's AI back online, but the hovering functionality as well as most of his utilities were still in shambles. I wouldn't be able to take him on another mission any time soon. I'd need to acquire a few parts before he could truly rejoin us, but Yelena seemed more than capable. How did I get lucky enough to find an engineer?

"THUNDERFANG." John's voice called out from the cockpit.

Shit. I had thought the L-word: lucky.

That meant it was all about to come crashing down.

"See what we have available on board," I told Yelena before exiting the workroom and heading to John.

Jane was busy looking out of a viewing port. The electrical storms surrounding Saffron looked captivating. I don't know how he managed to calm her down, but I was grateful for it.

When I arrived, John immediately began pointing to various blips on the Scarlet Adler's radar. In a hushed voice, he said, "I think they're SPD. Locke, we need to leave. Those ships...I mean, I love Scarlet but she's no match for them. They have a ton of firepower."

"Where would we go?"

John's expression shifted. Uncertainty. "I'm not sure there's a place in the Salvi Pass we could go that would actually be safe."

The only thing I could do was lead with my Heart. It was what I always did, for better or worse.

"We could try going to New Bohemia. Hide in plain—"

"Are you nuts?!" Kaisa said. John and I looked at her behind us. She'd been eavesdropping. "We leave one S.P.D.-infested planet for another?"

"Just...trust me."

"If we do," John said, pointing back to the radar. He zoomed out, showing our current location and New Bohemia on a bigger screen now that he wasn't trying to be discrete anymore. I was so glad he wasn't fighting me on this. At least not yet. "We can't go the regular route. They'll be watching, for sure. We'd have to go around, maybe double-back once or twice."

I nodded, then turned to face the now-growing crowd. Jane, Kaisa, and Fletcher stood there. Yelena joined moments later, wiping oil and grease off of her hands with a rag.

"Look," I began, "We're in a horrible predicament right now. The entire S.P.D. is after us for one reason or another. I was only supposed to save Jane—who doesn't seem like she wants saving, mind you. I have barely enough supplies for us three, let alone all six of us."

Their faces dropped. I could sense Kaisa tensing.



"I am more than willing to try."

The three former kidnappers—I was going to need a new group name for them, eventually—smiled.

"Are you all in, or out?"

My new crew—holy shit, did I have a crew?—nodded. They looked eager, ready.

// Compel

+1 (heart) ⇒ 6 vs…. 6, 7. FUCK MY LIFE.

“demand that costs [me] greatly”

"I'm OUT." Jane's voice echoed throughout the Scarlet Adler, and quickly put a damper on everyone's spirits.

// Oracle

What was Jack going to do, anyway? ActionTheme→ 46, 86: Finish Supply.

She stepped forward, eyes filled with rage. "He's going to take everything from everyone I love. I can't just leave them behind."

"We can't go back to Portent," I said.

"Yeah, not everyone has the ability to pass through bullets," John added.

"Well, I'm not leaving without making sure my family is safe." She crossed her arms.

I was a little worried about how she would follow through with that threat, so I mulled it over for a moment before responding. "What if I get someone to make sure your family is okay? They'll be protected."

"You can't know for sure that they'll be able to do it."

"The woman I know has already risked her job—and her life—for what is right. I am sure she can do this."

The air in the Scarlet Adler shifted. No one else seemed to notice, but by now I could tell this was John's way of "tapping me on the shoulder."

As the crew conversed with each other, I stepped closer to John.

"Lestrade? You mean Lestrade? She has to know you're Branded by now. Why would she help us?"

"Because she's a good woman—a good person." I was once again trying to convince myself just as much as I was trying to convince him. "Maybe even if she hates me, she'll help Jane's family."

"This is a bad idea."

"I know but...when isn't any idea we have a bad one? Hey, remember that time we went to an abandoned generation ship to save Lestrade and it was filled with plant-infested zombies and a member of the Benevolent? Great idea. Remember that time I didn't take the Scarlet Adler to New Bohemia and I ended up part of a murder mystery, almost getting involved with the murderer, only for the murderer ot be mysteriously killed by some unknown force? Stellar. Oh—and remember that time—"

He held up a hand, telling me to stop. I could only smirk. He lowered the visibility on his visor just enough that I could see he was giving me a death glare. Not the one that said, "Screw you, you're making a terrible mistake. I want off of this ship, and I hope your death isn't too terrible, because I told you so!"

This was the one that said, "How did I get stuck with you, and when do we start this horrible plan?"

⚡️THUNDERFANG S2 #16: Last Resort
A last ditch effort to push things in their favor leads to yet another inevitable circumstance.

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.

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