As the gang escapes Shiningstar, Lestrade reveals to Locke and John just what Jack Moriarty is doing in Portent.

⚡️THUNDERFANG S2 #7: Every Conspiracy All At Once
⚡️THUNDERFANG S2 #6: Internal Struggle
Locke struggles with how easy it would be to let the monstrosities of Shiningstar consume the good doctor.

The previous chapter

Every Conspiracy All At Once

Season 2, Chapter 7

My fist pounded on the door and I loudly cursed my luck.

There was that word again.


So fickle. One moment it was on my side, the next it was raising my blood pressure.

"Watt, see if you can get this door open through the panel." Watt beeped and whirred in response and floated to the panel. The others moved out of his way as cables extended from him and inserted themselves into the panel controlling the door. A small progress bar appeared on his screen.

Secure an Advantage

+4 (Watt): 7 vs 1,10. Weak Hit.

+1 momentum from Watt [6], and
+2 momentum from Secure an Advantage [8]

When the progress bar reached 100%, Watt's simulated robotic eyes reappeared as the blast doors opened before us.

"Good job!" John—briefly breaking character—hugged Watt. Small floating hearts filled his screen appreciation.

Blade rushed through and looked around. "That bitch is gone!" she exclaimed.

Please tell me she's being eaten alive. "No time to moan about it. We need to get out of here!"

// Undertake an Expedition

+2 (wits) => 6 vs 3, 4. Strong hit!

+1 progress [9/10]

Gonna take Waypoint #4: A control room, but it looks barely operational. There are a few random personal objects from those who worked in the room. Poking around with the controls, you are able to see the initial Risen attack on Shiningstar.

When we passed by the control room, I signaled for them to stop for a moment and I ducked inside with Watt. Something here could be useful later, I just knew it. "Watt, download everything you can from Shiningstar. We'll look it over later." While Watt did that, I looked at anything I could get my hands on. The cameras showed a clear path to the exit. No sign of the "good Doctor." With a press of a few buttons, I was looking at one of the initial Risen attacks on the screens.

It wasn't pretty.

Once Watt finished, we dashed back to the others.

// Finish an Expedition

9 progress vs.......

... 4, 10. FUCK. It's a weak hit... and I get no experience for ALLLLL of this.


When we arrived in the docking bay, my heart sank. It'd been trashed.

And there was one less ship.

"Did...did she steal my ship!?" Blade exclaimed.

"And mine doesn't look like it'll fly," Lestrade pointed out. Whatever Dr. Hendrix did, it was sufficient to make the Scarlet Adler the only vessel out of Shiningstar. My ship had seen some external damage, but she could get us out of there. I would have to fix her up later, for sure.

I gestured and yelled out, "Everyone, in!"

// Set a Course

+3 => 5 vs 4, 8. Weak hit.

Ugh. Let's regret this later and do -2 Supply [1]

John and I tended to Lestrade's wounds while Watt kept an eye on Blade and Quinn. I hadn't anticipated additional passengers, but my secrets were well hidden.

We learned from Quinn and Blade that there was a monstrosity on board Shiningstar, something of a chimera. It had been created when a flood of civilians tried to escape a horde of Risen all at once. In the chaos and bloodshed, a teeming mass of mangled bodies and broken bones formed, wrapped in vines and blood-sucking flowers.

I was glad I did not have to face it.

"All of this, for immortality," John said when it was just Lestrade and I around. "We will be keeping an eye out for her and any of her partners once we arrive back in Portent, ma'am."

"You don't have to call me ma'am. I'm not your superior anymore. Just Lestrade will do."

"Oh, so not Special Agent Lestrade?" I smirked, recalling the incident right before I headed to the derelict to find Akim, when she made sure I knew her full title. She didn't particularly find this funny, but at least she didn't try to kill me with her eyes this time.

"Ma'am—I mean, Lestrade, what exactly does Jack Moriarty want with the S.P.D. in Portent?"

"I don't know, Slater," she said, hand clenching into a fist. She was laying down on my medbed. I was glad I had a few painkillers on board to help her with her injuries. "I don't like it, though. I know the S.P.D. isn't exactly popular among the locals anywhere. A bunch of Peacekeepers with more privileges and more guns. I love my job, though, and I love protecting my communities. It didn't seem like he cared about anything other than finding..."

She looked at John, but I could tell something was wrong.

She was avoiding my gaze.

"Finding what?" John said.

She turned to me. I had never seen that facial expression on Lestrade before. A mixture of fear and suspicion and concern, wrapped up in a bow of duty.

"Finding you, Holmes."

John and I shared a look. "What do you mean? He was looking...for me?"

"That's all I know, Holmes. I shouldn't have, but I kept trying to push them in another direction. That's when I got distracted by the S.O.S. from Shiningstar."

// Marking Progress

Four things.

One: We saved Lestrade. And she apparently tried to help Locke out. She's a good one, I promise, everyone. Developing our Relationship with Lestrade. [4/10]

Two: The mystery of what's happening in Portent is pretty much spelled out for us now. [4/10]

Three: Our vow to Ira—about figuring out what's going on on Saffron and returning to him—has technically advanced as well. [3/10]

Four: And because I know who hired Amari Wade, I can see how this is progressing along that, so marking progress there as well. [1.5/10]

And let's just go ahead and roll to complete the mystery (the second one above). I'm not actually sure what else there is to learn because that's the whole thing.

4 progress vs... 1, 9. A weak hit. I can TOTALLY accept this. Because, I mean, all we're gonna do is swear a new vow. Meaning we can accept the full reward of 2 ticks.

I insisted that Lestrade get some rest, and practically dragged John to a secure area. I called Ira immediately.

"I'm sorry, you said... Shiningstar is overrun by Risen infested with plants?"

John and I nodded.

"And Ashley Hendrix—one of the Benevolent that you saw in your vision—was the head doctor there, running all the experiments?"

John and I nodded.

"And you actually ran into her and technically saved her life?"

John and I nodded.

"And Diogenes—the woman who pretty much every Branded owes money to—contacted you personally via Watt and told you to go see her, immediately?"

John and I nodded.

// Oracle

Does Ira know about Jack Moriarty? Exceptional Yes will be about all the Moriartys. Unlikely, 25-: 28. No. 

So close.

"And some dude named Jack Moriarty—who apparently has a family rich enough to fund the Salvi's S.P.D.—fired Lestrade and is looking for you in Portent?"

John and I nodded.

"Baby...how do you manage to stumble into every conspiracy all at once?"

"I WISH I KNEW! I would stop, immediately." I shook my head, annoyed at everything falling into my lap—but grateful that I could hear Ira's voice again.

A week ago, I had the love of my life in my arms, saving Branded from being shipped off to hell. And this week, I was fighting for my life with something new happening around every corner. I couldn't catch a break.

"I cannot stress this enough: be careful," Ira said. "John, it's your responsibility to make sure he comes back to me alive. If either of you die, I'll turn you into a Shiningstar Risen myself. Don't rush to come back. I think something's happening here on New Bohemia, too. I'll keep you updated."

Of course, something would be happening in the Salvi Sigil. I knew Legacy was more than capable, though. It gave me some semblance of relief knowing that Ira was not only well-supported but more than capable of defending himself.

"I love you," I said, kissing two fingers and bringing them to the screen.

"I love you, too." Ira repeated the gesture and the call ended.

// Swear an Iron Vow

This vow will happen off-screen, but Locke needs to discover why Jack Moriarty is after him. 

+1 (heart) => .... 3 vs 1, 2! HAH! Strong hit!

+1 momentum [4]

I will also create a 4-segment campaign clock to represent the work John and Lestrade are doing. When it's full, they'll call with an update. I'll tick it forward near the end of a chapter, starting with the next one.

We bid Quinn and Blade goodbye once we landed in Portent. I did not have the capacity to drop them off elsewhere within the Salvi Pass. For now, they would have to manage themselves from here.

I had too much on my mind.

"Lestrade, we need your help."

She sighed, a hand pressed to her forehead. "There's not much I can do, Locke. I'm fired. I don't have any power anymore. I'm a civilian."

"You still have connections. You have to figure out what Jack Moriarty wants with me."

"Please," John added.

She looked between the two of us again, and I could see the suspicion rise within her once more. "You two still haven't explained how you know each other. Why is my former S.P.D. officer hanging out with a private investigator?"

I looked at John.

I needed Lestrade's help. Badly. The more boots on the ground we could get here, the better. I also trusted her. She could handle my secret—our secrets.


I thought it over quickly. She was devoted to her job, and damn good at it. She was the definition of Lawful, sometimes to a fault. If I hadn't had the experience on Shiningstar with her, I wouldn't have given the idea a second thought. But she had been willing to divert attention away from me without ever knowing why I was being looked for. There had to be some part of her that would understand...


// Oracle

Let’s let the oracle decide this...

Does John interrupt Locke before he can tell the truth? Likely, 75-: 59, yes.

I opened my mouth to speak, ready to spill it all.

"Ma'am—I mean, Lestrade. My apologies. Lestrade, remember? He's the one who saved me after the derelict exploded. He found my escape pod and took care of me. I'd be dead without him. It's why I put in every paperwork, passed out so many I.O.U.s, and called in every favor to make sure I could tow the Scarlet Adler to New Bohemia. I'd heard he had arrived, ran into some trouble, and might need his ship. Or, at least feel more comfortable with her there. I... He's a good man."

// Face Danger

John isn't exactly lying but he is trying to divert away from a different truth. And, since this move is technically being done by John, I will allow his reroll ability granted by Sidekick #1.

+2 (shadow) => 6 vs 2, 7. Weak hit.

I can deal with that. We'll Endure Stress -1 [3]

+3 => 8 vs 2, 6. Gonna take the +1 Spirit [4], so there's no change in Spirit now.

"Fine," she said with a heavy sigh. "I still don't know how I can help, though."

"Could you try to get your job back? Talk about what happened on Shiningstar. And"—I avoided John's eye contact—"take Ripley with you. You two can be my eyes and ears on the inside while I deal with...something else."

John opened his mouth to complain, but I followed myself up quickly with, "I could really, really use the help. Outside of Ira, I don't think I trust anyone as much as you two."

// Compel

+1 (heart) => 3 vs 3, 7. A miss.

Nah. We're gonna burn momentum!

8 vs 3, 7. A strong hit!

+1 momentum [3]

"I know you're not telling me the whole truth, Holmes." There it was: that soul-piercing gaze.


"No need to explain it now. But yeah, sure. I'll help."

John approached me and I could feel the breeze pick up ever so slightly. I knew what this was. Just like I could mask my voice using my Branding to communicate with Watt, John could whip up a current of air around himself and others, essentially dampening the sound.

"Don't you dare leave me here. I... Don't make me regret—"

"I won't. I promise."

He was doing a good job of holding back his tears. I could hear them in his voice. The fear of me abandoning him, casting him aside, just like those before him. I remembered our talk back when I learned the history of his name—NEVERMORE. I knew that he had taken a risk trusting me, against every voice in his head telling him otherwise.

I pulled out my black iron coin. His eyes widened, ever so slightly. "I swear it."

It wasn't a real vow—not what the Ironsworn would consider real, anyway. But it was real enough for us. A promise that I intended to keep with all of my heart.

John hugged me tightly. I couldn't help but return the gesture. He was like a brother to me—sometimes like a son. He was going to be in good hands with Lestrade while I was gone.

"Let's go, Slater."

"Coming!" John nodded goodbye to me and ran off with Lestrade.

Where I was going, he wouldn't have wanted to come anyway.

I sat myself down in my pilot seat. Watt positioned himself in his usual spot, ready to go.

"It's time to pay an old friend a visit..."

// Set a Course

I realize I should have stocked up before heading out but, oh well.

+1 => ...

"Do you think she can help with whatever's going on?"

As I waited for the Scarlet Adler to cool off enough for the next jump, I spent my time talking to my lovely Roseboy. I typically hated this portion of traveling—the aimless drifting, the heat, the nothingness on all sides. But Ira proved to be the best distraction.

"I always thought she was the richest person in the Salvi Pass. She has access to wealth and resources that I could only dream of. If these Moriartys are just as powerful, then I'll definitely need her help."

He nodded in agreement. "Makes sense. She has enough money to lend out to every Branded that asks for it. I'm surprised I haven't heard of the Moriartys before. I wonder—"

The screen went blank.

"Ira?" I pressed a few buttons, trying to initiate the call once more. I looked to Watt, who simply flashed "?" on his screen.

"Well, well, well. It seems I have found my little Detective."

The feminine voice laughed. It was maniacal, with a hint of playfulness. It echoed throughout the interior of the Scarlet Adler, sending chills down my spine. Had I been hacked? I looked at my sensors to get a read on the temperature. Still not cool enough to jump, but—


// Set a Course Result

3 vs 6, 10.


⚡️THUNDERFANG S2 #8: Flight
Locke’s latest conspirator knows too much about him, unleashing new fears—and threats— as he tries to escape.

The next chapter

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Editor’s Note: Ironsworn: Starforged was created by Shawn Tomkin. It can be found on DTRPG. Rise & Shiningstar was written by Tavon Gatling for Starforged and can be found on his Ko-fi. The void of space stretched out in front of me. The view from Deception Station’s main viewing deck was comfortin…

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