Locke and his crew chase down Curtis Winter aboard the deep-space settlement Obon.

⚡️THUNDERFANG S3 #1: The Game is Afoot

The Game is Afoot

Season 3, Chapter 1

// Mechanics

We're going to take Crew Commander, leaving our total XP left at 1.

I think this will be the last asset purchased in Thunderfang. Remaining XP will probably be used simply for upgrading existing assets.

Let's set up this scene challenge.

Dangerous. 2 boxes per progress. 0/10, 0/4 clock

If we Miss when Finishing this, then we'll have Combat.

He fell from above in a blur, landing not ten feet away. 

And then he was off. 

All of Obon watched as he passed, stunned. How often did people here jump from floor to floor? The walkways had been busy with foot traffic all day, but they weren’t packed enough to impede his movements, giving the fleeing man plenty of room to get past without hinderance.

“He’s heading for the entrance!” John’s voice come through over the comms, cutting through the murmurs of the onlookers. He leaned over the railing of the floor above me and met my gaze, arm outstretched, finger pointing back towards the direction we had just come from.

In the direction Curtis Winter was now running.

All of our clues had led us here, where we hoped to find Ira’s twin sister, Irēn. Naturally, as conspiracies were want to do, my crew had heard that the elusive Curtis Winter, Cryomimic of the Benevolent, was also here on Obon, the massive deep-space trading settlement within a clunky decades-old ship that drifted throughout the Forge.

It had taken us weeks, but we’d finally arrived and found him—only he had decided to not go peacefully. 

We expected as much. 

// Oracle

Can Locke spot him? 50/50.

68, no.

With my target in my sights, I dashed after him. I was ready for him this time. Our initial meeting was under less-than-ideal circumstances. After all, I was preoccupied with saving a new batch of captured Branded, ready to be shipped off to Avam. They were being held under the surface of the Salvi Sigil on New Bohemia—the planet that I was born on, the planet Ira and I decided to make our new home together. I had also been dealing with disorienting visions thrust upon me by the Hivebranded. I still had no idea why they were showing me all those things—why they were rooting for me.

Also, why was there a submarine?

I pushed past civilians, thankful that this place wasn’t crawling with vine-infested Risen like on Shiningstar. I’d come across the lovely Dr. Ashley Hendrix there, another member of the Benevolent. Her presence on Shiningstar, what had once been a beacon of hope and light within the Forge, had been an oddity. I could have never been prepared for seeing how she was involved there. Perhaps that was how she managed to evade capture, slipping through my fingers as John and I dealt with finding Lestrade and rescuing survivors after the ship had become infested with sickly green Risen with deadly vines.

I still hadn’t met Althea Lontoc, the last remaining Benevolent. Something told me that I would be dealing with all of them very soon.

But, right now, Curtis was in my sights, and I was gaining on him.

He knocked civilians to the ground as he ran, forcing me to avoid them. I was already a wanted man and didn’t need to give these people any excuse to turn me in. I lost him as he ran into a teeming mass of people. He didn’t stand out like Akim Salvi—the Infernomimic that kicked off this entire chain of conspiracies—with his brother’s old and outdated Mimic gear. No. Curtis had the newest tech, seemingly top of the line, hidden underneath his clothing.

For a brief moment, I wondered how a security guard came to own that kind of gear. It couldn’t have been cheap. Perhaps funded by Akim before his untimely death? But then why was Akim using old gear?

I ran into the crowd after him. Hopefully he wouldn’t hurt anyone. There were so many people on Obon, from all over the Salvi Pass—and even from the other sectors—coming to trade and purchase. I knew that word of this incident would spread like wildfire all throughout the Forge soon, if it hadn’t already.

“Guys, I can’t find him!” I yelled into the comms, pushing past and breaking out of the crowd. I scanned the settlement. 

Secure an Advantage

+2 (wits) => 4 vs 8, 10. Hmmmm... Oh, +1 forward, so 5 vs 8, 10. But still a Miss.

Let's use up some Command and get this to a Weak Hit.

-1 command [1] 

+1 forward

Who gets hurt? I rolled a 9, which is Locke. But ehhh, 7: Ira.

There was no sign—

A large branch emerged in an instant, its leaves all focused in one direction, followed by gasps and screams. A scrap of cloth clung to one of the offshoot branches; it looked like it may have come from Curtis’s clothing.

“IRA!” That display of Branding could have only come from my fiancé. I ran, fear and adrenaline boosting me, pushing me to speeds that I couldn’t normally obtain. I saw him on the ground surrounded by a handful of onlookers. A shard of ice lay embedded in the wall behind him, slowly melting. He’d been injured, though not severely.

I reached out to help, but he slapped my hand and pointed behind me towards a stairwell. “GO!”

Slaps were reserved for the bed—

Nope. Focus.

I crackled with electricity and dashed towards the stairwell. The one silver lining to being outed: I was a known Lightningbranded. 

I was free to be me.

I narrowly dodged an ice shard as I snapped back into the moment. Curtis stood at the bottom of the stairwell, a smirk on his face. A challenge. 

// Face Danger

+4 (iron+1 forward) -> 7 vs 2, 7. Damnit. Weak hit. 

Progress: 2/10, Clock 1/4

Curtis turned around to run, but I leaped onto him, tackling us to the ground. He landed a few good punches, but I’d been through worse. I ignored it and punched him back.

People ran as fog bloomed from his Mimic gear. It wasn’t particularly thick, but it was freezing cold. It startled me and Curtis used that moment to kick me off of him, dashing back into Obon proper on the third floor.

I cursed loudly and resumed the chase. 

// Face Danger

+1 (edge) -> 2 vs 3, 5. Miss. But we're gonna burn Momentum for this.

9 vs 3, 5. SH

Mark progress. 4/10, Clock 1/4

When I emerged from the fog cloud, no longer surrounded by biting cold, I caught sight of Curtis running on my right and I pursued, yelling into the comms our location. Moments later, Curtis stopped in his tracks. Civilians screamed as the muscular woman Blackstone held a gun, pointed directly at him. He was sandwiched in place.


“Curtis, give it up—”

He didn’t wait for me to finish. Asshole.

He jumped over the railing again, using his Cryomimic abilities in a way I didn’t think Mimics could. As he fell, he somehow froze the air beneath him, creating a slide that quickly evaporated after passing. He slid across the chasm in the center of Obon and tumbled onto the second floor.

Blackstone and I cursed loudly. 

“John, I need you!” I yelled into the comms, looking over the railing, heart thumping loudly against my chest.

“Already here!”

I could feel the air whip up around me. The only other time we had done something like this was when we were rescuing Jane.

If I thought about it too much, I would hesitate and Curtis would get away.

It worked once before, right?

So, I jumped.

// Face Danger

This seems more risky than advantageous, so FD. Aaand... I think edge again. It fits th emost.

+1 (edge) -> 4 vs 1, 9. WH. Not the best, but not the worst.

Progress: 6/10, Clock 2/4

Author’s Note: I forgot to do the cost for the weak hit. It would have been a -1 to momentum, which would not affect anything going forward it seems.

People had gasped when Curtis jumped, but it was very quickly apparent that he would not plummet to the center of Obon. I, on the other hand, looked as if I was just going to free fall. But then the wind picked up. Papers and other loose objects on each floor of Obon blew around and were tossed about, some joining me in the center. Then it shifted, harshly, throwing me across the center chasm. I landed on the second floor in a tumble, near where Curtis had landed just as the wind died down.

Curtis had a lead, but not a good enough one. I could see where he was heading now. I dashed after him, and yelled on the comms, “He’s heading towards Dent and Blemish! Everyone, go!”

// Secure An Advantage

I'm unsure. Jane's purpose is to distract, but will apprehend him if possible. This is giving aggression (Iron) but also... deception? Typing this out, I said "distract" which falls in line with deception. So +shadow. 

+2 (shadow) => 6 vs 5, 8. WH.

+2 momentum [4]

The crowds had mostly dispersed by now, civilians hoping to avoid being a casualty of this war between two powered individuals. I could see him across the railing, about 90 degrees. He was faster than I had expected. He was heading toward another stairwell, making his way back—

Across the chasm, I saw her fall. Fourth floor, third floor, second floor..

Jane fell through the floor, landing on her feet behind Curtis Winter. I could barely make out what she said, but, knowing Jane, it was probably, “Boo!”

Or “Fuck off.”

Curtis spun around, sending an ice shard through her into a wall. He screamed now, stumbling back onto the ground, pressing himself against the railing. He’d never seen a ghost like her before.

I used this moment of distraction to close the gap.

// Face Danger

Let's see if this works.

+3 (iron) => 9 vs 1, 2. Holy shit, niice! Strong hit!

Progress 8/10. Clock 2/4

My fist met his face and he collapsed.

The rest of the crew appeared moments later. Blackstone came from behind, gun pointed at Curtis. John floated down from above, landing near Jane. Kaisa and Fletcher, each holding weapons, came from opposite sides, ensuring that if he ran again there would be no safe option.

// Finish the Scene

8 vs... 3, 6. Strong hit!

Progress on the Train Jane vow. (15%)

“Curtis Winter.” I grabbed him by the collar and hoisted him up to his feet. “Let’s chat.”

We shoved Curtis in storage and stripped him of most of his things, leaving him with just his underclothes. I didn’t want him to somehow detonate something and have us stranded on Obon. Kaisa and Fletcher, eager for some time alone, stayed behind to watch over him. The rest of us celebrated at the Cracked Cauldron. 

// Bolster the Crew

+1 (heart) => 5 vs 3, 8.

+2 command [3]

Like most establishments within Obon, the Cracked Cauldron was built into the ship itself. Directly above it, accessible only from within, was the owner’s living space. Very few people actually lived within Obon; it was mostly a trading hub, visited by people from all over the Forge. Corra Jefferies, the owner, had settled down here some time ago and made a life for herself, providing a great atmosphere and great food for all who passed by.

I raised a glass filled with something strong and I smiled. Jane, John, Blackstone, Ira, and Yelena each raised a glass of whatever they were drinking.

We did that, I hope you all know. We are an actual crew. And I couldn’t have picked a better set of people.”

We cheered, we drank, we ate, and we socialized. Perhaps not a true Sojourn, but it was needed and necessary. Knowing us, there was no telling when we would be able to socialize like this again.

// Oracle

Revealed character aspect for Jane, cause I really don't know her yet, honestly. 4, Aggressive.

“And he got what he fucking deserved!” Jane screamed out while talking to Blackstone, who was slightly taken aback by the outburst of the Ghostbranded—Jane had finally settled on a term, with help from Ira. She chugged her drinks and slammed it down onto the bar, then—suddenly polite—motioned for the owner to bring her another.

“Two down, two to go,” John said. I had been worried about him, but he seemed happy now. Having a crew was doing wonders for him, too.

“What’s the plan with him, anyway?” Ira took a swig and looked to me for a response.

“Not sure, honestly. Depends on what information we get out of him.”

I hadn’t put much thought into what we’d do once we caught him. I was hoping whoever was pulling my strings wasn’t going to silently off him like they did Akim Salvi and Amari Wade. It creeped me out, remembering what happened to the both of them—and the horrific visions in the desert that came after.

We were going to stop Curtis Winter and the other Benevolent. We would not kill them.

We lingered within the Cracked Cauldron for another two hours before we began to slowly depart. Jane and Yelena finished exploring Obon, Blackstone wandered around and made a call to her sister, and John headed back to the Scarlet Adler to check on Curtis. I approached Corra to settle my crew’s tab—holy shit, my crew—while Ira finished his last drink. “How much do we owe you?” 

She smiled. “Well, if you show me a dish from your home world, I’ll give you a discount. Deal?”

Was she serious? Even Ira couldn’t believe her. “Wait, really?” he said.

“Really. We get so many people from all over. The more dishes I know how to make, the better off I am. So, you got a dish for me, or do you want to know what the price for drinks and food for you and your—”, she said, pausing to do math in the air with a single finger. “Your five other guests.” She smirked.

I shared a glance with Ira and shrugged. Corra lead me into the back kitchen. “Pots and pans are here, seasonings are all there. I try to get stocked up on everything from each sector as much as possible, but I do apologize in advance if something you’re looking for is missing.”

After the tour, Corra handed me an apron. She leaned against a wall within viewing range of the stovetop along with Ira. I was thankful that I’d been practicing my mother’s curry dish. I took a moment to fully take in the memory—my mother, Michael, and myself, all sitting at a table, smiling, laughing. Happiness.

I pushed away Michael’s disappearance and what happened after.

I focused on the positive, I focused on the now, and I turned on the burner.

Next week on ⚡️THUNDERFANG:

Corra Jefferies has a few things to say after Locke's curry attempt. Meanwhile, Curtis is as cold as ever and Locke needs to find a way to get him talking.

⚡️THUNDERFANG S3 #2: From the Heart
Locke hopes cooking—and speaking—from his heart can get him the answers he seeks.

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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