The voices in Locke's head return. And with them, answers to questions he's been seeking.

⚡️THUNDERFANG S2 #21: The Exposition Scenario
⚡️THUNDERFANG S2 #20: Perfect
The plan is simple. Jump to the trap while tethered to the Scarlet Adler, and shock it until it turns off. Easy peasy.

The previous chapter

The Exposition Scenario

Season 2, Chapter 21

// Oracle

We've already suffered two consequences for that failure, so we're just going to try to outrun them again. 

Sound like a good plan?

I rushed back to the Scarlet Adler as fast as floating in space would allow me. I yanked on the tether to speed myself up, hoping and praying I could get back inside my ship before it was too late.

Where had they come from? How did they continuously find us?

I scrambled through the airlock and let it decompress, then rushed towards the cockpit the second the doors slid open. Before I could get a word out, John was already telling me what I already knew. I didn't have to explain anything further. Good.

We picked up speed and jumped.

// Undertake an Expedition

+1 (edge) => 3 vs 6, 10.

Yeaaaaah, no. Gonna burn my 9 momentum to make this 9 vs 6, 10, a Weak Hit.

Progress [4/10]

And because all of my other tracks are laughably low, I'm going to reduce that momentum even further for the complication.

-2 momentum [0]

Space sighting, 14: Stellar object, 01: Smoldering Red Star.

I wasn't doing good.

Mentally, physically.



Shut it.

I was bruised and sore, but I didn't trust myself to patch things up and not break anything new in the process. I tried calling Ira again, hoping that seeing his face would brighten my spirits. Another futile attempt. We were running low on food, water, and general amenities.

And to make matters worse, the Scarlet Adler was making a rattling noise. Something was wrong. If we didn't starve, we'd probably lose power and suffocate to death.


"Shut up," I said sternly.

"You okay, Locke?"

I forgot I wasn't alone in the cockpit. I looked at John. "Uh...yeah. Just having some intrusive thoughts."

"You should lie down. I can handle things here."

I nodded. He was right. I wouldn't be good to anyone if I ran myself even more ragged than external circumstances had.

I did a quick scan of the surroundings first, just to calm the anxious side of me down a tad. I wanted as few surprises as possible.

// Secure an Advantage

+2 (wits) => 5 vs 2, 6. Weak Hit.

+2 momentum [2]

Somewhat confident that the coast was clear, I gave John the okay to go on ahead and make the jump whenever he was ready.

I took this time to take a good, long nap.

Knowing my luck, I'd have nightmares.

// Undertake an Expedition

+2 (shadow) => 7 vs...

I heard crying.

I sat up in bed and—

My heart stopped.

"Sweetie, Mommy needs to rest. Go play with your siblings."

I found myself in an unfamiliar bed. Next to me, a woman I'd never seen before. For a moment, I thought she could have been my mother. Her skin, her eyes—it all felt so similar. But it wasn't here, I was sure of it. She smiled weakly and sat a small child down then slowly placed her feet on the ground. He looked upset but his mother insisted—gently. The child exited the room and the mother slowly moved to shut the door. With a heavy sigh, she turned around.

To face me.

"Detective, how I have waited for this day."

Not again.

// Oracle

What does he discover here?

Action+Theme: 54, 84: Hunt Strength.

Descriptor+Focus: 51, 73: Haunted Salvage.

What's the mom's name? 92: Venri Stark/Vanguard. Let's take this as inspiration to form Vanessa.

I looked around the room, trying to get my bearings. It was richly decorated, with velvet drapes on one wall, a small desk and chair on the wall adjacent to the window. The bed itself was massive, and—holy stars, I could feel the fabric of the deep blue bedsheets. This family had money. What the hell triggered a vision? I did my best to calm my racing heart and focused my gaze on the woman before me. "Who are you?"

"My name is Vanessa Moriarty."

"Mor—Moriarty?" I stumbled out of the bed, eyes widened.

She raised a hand gently. "I hope my family hasn't caused you too much trouble, Detective. You seem as if you know something of the future. I do not need to know what fate awaits us."

The mother of Jack Moriarty...was Branded? Hivebranded, specifically, if she was speaking to me in a vision.

No. I'm just stressed. This has to be a bad dream.

She smiled. "This is no dream, Detective."

"Why am I here?"

"You are the hero. And we are here to guide you to the correct path."

"Why do you all think I'm destined for...something? I really just want to get back to something of a normal life."

"Detective," she said as she moved slowly back to the bed and took her place. Her voice was low, and her breathing made me think she was out of breath. Was she sick? "For ages, we have known of you, long before The First passed down his name because of you."

"The First?" Another connection. The madwoman had screamed it at me during our first encounter. How was she connected to the Moriartys? "Who is that?"

"That child I just sent away is the forty-fourth James Moriarty. His father is The Forty-Third. They have passed down that name—a cursed piece of salvage, truly—all with their sights on you, Detective."

"Why? Why me?" None of it made sense.

"The First heard one of these"—she gestured between herself and I—"conversations, and vowed to ensure they won. But we have a prophecy of our own. Our prophecy states that you, Detective, are the key to ending this war. These visions help ensure that we will win."

I was going to comment that I wasn't the hero they were expecting, but then I remembered my breakdown. Ira had called me his hero, though I never thought that the stars would take it literally. "I'm just a detective who happens to be able to shoot lightning. I don't know what you think I'd be able to do."

"That's where you're wrong, Detective. I'm surprised you haven't seen it—experienced it—yet. Your words, they mean something. They move people, push them to do and be better—stronger. Your thunderous words shake all who can hear them to their core.

"Long ago, before humans existed in the Forge—back when Malice was creating misery on Old Earth—there was a man. He was what we now know today as a Hivebranded, however in its purest form. He foresaw that one day, one of his descendants—a man with lightning in his veins and a voice of thunder—would bring an end to the chaos. Because of this, Detective, you were chosen. You will lead us to victory."

I sat there, mouth agape. That was, arguably, the biggest moment of exposition of my life. I had wanted to know why I was being shown these things, why all of these "coincidences" were happening to me. I thought I wanted to know why I kept having these visions, and why all of these people seemed to be entwined with and/or after me. Now that I got the question answered, however, I was left with more questions. I wasn't expecting what I got, nor did I know how to take it.

I regretted it asking. I just wanted to return to a normal life.

She smiled and placed her hand on mine. She was so gentle, it seemed to pour from her into me. While I was too far gone to be calmed down completely, her touch did help.

"I understand that may be a lot to take in, Detective. But—"

The door slammed open, and the angriest man I'd ever seen stormed in. Behind him, small children with wide eyes. Some of fear, another oddly filled with curiosity. He slammed the door shut, practically foaming at the mouth.

Vanessa looked at me, her eyes sad. It looked like she knew her fate.

Was...was he about to kill her for speaking with me?

"Detective, we are rooting for you!"

The room went dark just as he gripped her neck.


I shot up in bed—my bed, on the Scarlet Adler.

I was safe, back in my own time—and space. The sheets around me were soaked with sweat.

John stood nearby. He was in his mimic suit, hands held up as if he was—

I blinked, confused. Was he about to use his Branding on me?

The lights flickered.

That's when I realized I was crackling with electricity, the sparks dancing off my skin in time with the flickering of the lights.

"What the HELL were you dreaming about?"

// Undertake an Expedition Result

+2 (shadow) ⇒ 7 vs 10, 10.

Why is this so hard????????

// Mechanics

So, going to mark progress on the Jack vow. 4/10 

We know exactly why Locke was targeted now.

So, let's... um... do this.

4 vs... 7, 7.

Of course.

Let's recommit first: "How can I stop the Moriartys?" Also going to be a mystery.

Rolled 9 twice—another bunch of matches, huh?—meaning I remove all of the boxes of progress that I had.

Also, for the match, let's make it suck but not too much.

-1 Withstand Damage [1]

+1 => 3 vs... 7, 9. 


Sure, why not.

Let's mark Battered.

⚡️THUNDERFANG S2 #22: Distress
Who knew traveling to the Ironlands would bring such distress? What more could possibly happen?

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)