A brief respite from all the chaos and conspiracies gives Locke a moment to talk with John, his crew, and his love.

⚡️THUNDERFANG S2 #17: A Profound Moment
⚡️THUNDERFANG S2 #16: Last Resort
A last ditch effort to push things in their favor leads to yet another inevitable circumstance.

The previous chapter

A Profound Moment

Season 2, Chapter 17

Somewhere within the Salvi Pass, we stopped running. I had to assume to the coast was clear by now. There were no traces of that madwoman for at least the last thirty minutes—or had it been an hour?

I stood in front of a nearly catatonic John. He sat on the ground right outside the cockpit, eyes wide yet lifeless, legs pulled tightly to his chest.

"John...what was that back there? There's...no air in space..." The realization of what actually happened finally hit. "Did you remove the air from her ship?"

"I..." It came out in a croak, his voice barely audible. "I couldn't breath. You know how much Ripley means to me. I...I couldn't breathe and—Locke, I can't be Ripley again. I can't hide anymore. Locke, what do I do?!"

I had inadvertently released the flood gates within him. The air on the Scarlet Adler became thick and heavy as he jumped to his feet, eyes tearing yet unblinking. I could hear one of the crew coughing. John had no idea what he was doing right now. He grabbed my arms, his nails digging into my suit.


"Snap out of it!" I gripped his shoulders and stared him directly in the eyes. "Everything is going to be okay, I promise you."

"Everyone knows! EVERYONE!" His voice echoed and spittle flew.

"I swear, John! I swear! I need you to pull yourself together before you kill us. I need you right now."

I had a flash of deja vu: John and Ira trying to calm me down. Their words had sunk in, but I couldn't receive them fully at the time.

Naturally, they'd been right. I had been right, too, though. I couldn't abandon Jane—no matter the cost—but if I had that wouldn't have made me a bad person.

What did John need to hear right now? What wouldn't negate his truth?

"You never needed Ripley. That's always been you. No, you can't hide behind him anymore but you never needed to. Your ability to switch personas is a power all its own. If Ripley had been a chef, you would have learned to cook gourmet meals. If Ripley had been a race car driver, you would have won a thousand races already. If Ripley had been a doctor, you'd be able to pull out someones guts and put them back without them ever feeling a thing. I'm sorry that you lost this Ripley. I have no doubt in my mind that you will find another—if you need it."

John released his grip on my arm and blinked for what seemed to be the first time. The air within the Scarlet Adler thinned, returning to normal. He gave me one last look before he fell back into a heap on the floor and cried. I started to reach a hand out to comfort him further but stopped myself.

There wasn't much else I could do for him.

He'd be fine, for now.

He had to be.

// Oracle

Question. Does anyone recognize the feminine voice? Let’s go with… 50/50. 96… one helluva no. It wouldn’t have mattered what chance I gave it.

Once again rolling to see who speaks with what dialog I come up with. Jane 25-, Yelena 50-, Fletcher 75-, Kaisa 100-.

"So," Yelena said nervously as she leaned against a wall. "You seem to be popular."

I smirked. It was still a little too soon for that kind of joke, but what was I going to do about it? The deed had been done. My life—John's life, Lestrade's life—had been upended in a flash.

I had enlisted the help of my new crew to go through the supplies I had on board. There wasn't much. We would need to stop by somewhere and get supplies soon.

"Least I don't have to worry about you all any more...Right?" I asked.

Yelena smiled back and nodded. The other two, however, just shrugged. It didn't seem like they'd be putting up a fight anytime soon, so I took the win.

Jane was still furious. But maybe now she understood exactly who we were up against.

"Who was that?" Kaisa asked. "It's clear that Jack has it out for you, but there's a psychotic chick, too?"

"No idea. She thinks I did something to her family."

"Well, did you?" Kaisa raised a brow. This seemed to catch Fletcher's attention as well as he put down a box he was holding and crossed his arms.

"I don't think I did. I'm just a detective. I solve crimes. Maybe I put someone she loved behind bars? If I did, they had to have deserved it." I thought through her words again, remembering how none of it made sense. "But I think she's mistaking me for someone else. She said I had ruined her family's life for generations. Long before I was even born."

I was hoping one of them had some insight. Any nugget of information I could use to figure out what the hell was going on in this sector. When it was clear they didn't, we finished looking through our supplies in silence and I made my way back to the cockpit. John had moved himself out of the way and fallen asleep in a corner of the cockpit. I was glad he was getting some rest, even if he didn't look like he was in the most comfortable position.

I punched a few buttons and moments later, I smiled.

"Please tell me you're okay," Ira said. He rubbed some of the sleep from his eyes—shit, what time was it on New Bohemia? "I've been worried sick. I...I saw the bulletins. How did he find out about John, too?"

I filled him in on what happened with Lestrade. One of the vines in the bedroom curled up tight as I spoke before it smashed through a window.

"And—sorry to make it worse—but the crazy woman came back, too. She chased us a bit and then...I think John manipulated the air supply in her ship."

"From inside the Scarlet Adler?"

"Yeah. We need somewhere to hide out, bae. I can't protect anyone—not me, John, Jane...you—if I'm wanted. We need to regroup, come up with a plan. Right now, it feels like we're floating aimlessly in the Salvi Pass, and I just know they're looking for us, waiting for us to slow down or make a mistake, and then we're all done for."

Ira's face told me something that his words didn't: he had an idea. But he seemed hesitant to say it. "Don't you dare think about coming back here," he said abruptly. He must have seen me analyzing him.

"But I promised. I'm coming directly back to you. And—oh fuck, did I forget to tell you about Blackstone?" There had been so much chaos around then. I filled him in and he shook his head.

"She'll have to wait," he said, moving around our bedroom in a hurry. He was looking through drawers and punching buttons to his side. What the hell was he up to? "And please don't be Iron Headed. If anything where to happen to you, I—"

"I know." It was hard enough to think about how he had felt when we did not leave Avam together. It would crush me to think about what he would be like if I got captured or died.

"No," he said sharply. His eyes reminded me of Lestrade's. "You don't. I will rip this sector apart if anything were to happen to you."

I wasn't sure whether to believe him or not, but I knew better than to have him prove it. Regardless, it all made me smile. His passion was something I loved about him, something I missed. I never wanted to be without him ever again. This distance killed me. How had I gone so long without him before?

I fished out the black iron coin from my pocket. I imagined it smelled like him: aromatic, like lavender or sunflowers or any one of the plants we had in our home. Like petrichor and—

I was getting myself worked up. I smiled to myself and put the coin back. My feelings for him could no longer fit in my mental box. There was no way I could ever suppress them again.

Now, I used them. He fueled me.

"I'll work some things out with Legacy and have them drop me off somewhere. You can meet me there." He hesitated. "Do you trust me?'

I was only half paying attention. I simply nodded. "I'll go anywhere you send me, my love. As long as I'm with you."

He calmed my spirits. Seeing him, hearing him, made that inner voice quiet. And at a time like this, that was all I could ask for.

In that moment, I realized something.

// Develop a Relationship

I'm realizing I could probably do this a bit more. And—ya know what?—sue me: I'm marking progress twice on this. Once for now, another for any other conversation they've had (act like I was marking ticks). [6/10]

⚡️THUNDERFANG S2 #18: Into the Unknown
Locke prepares himself for the unknown with John. Speaking of the unknown, they’ve just landed in it.

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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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