The fear of death and chaos and conspiracy and more loom around every corner. Good thing Locke found ice cream.

⚡️THUNDERFANG S3 #13: Dare to Defy
⚡️THUNDERFANG S3 #12: Sharp, Subtle, Mysterious, Clear
Fate will do whatever it takes to get Locke exactly where he needs to be, using all kinds of signs to do so.

The previous chapter

Dare to Defy

Season 3, Chapter 13

// Undertake an Expedition

They need to get to Portent. Let's make this a Troublesome expedition.

I think this is...+3 (shadow+infiltrator). The Salvi Pass is a secure site, right?

9 vs 3, 9. WH


-1 spirit [2]

-1 supply [2]

+1 mom [7]

Endure stress +2

5 vs 4, 6. WH Press on

Space sighting, 97: roll twice.

7, 44:

- stellar object, 49: blazing blue star

- starship:

- type, 14: cruiser (medium attack ship)

- initial contact, 35: wary

- first look, 50, 65: obsolete design, ornate markings

“They don’t look like bounty hunters.” Blackstone checked the radar for the fifth time, then peeked through a viewport at the small dot in the distance. “It’s an old cruiser. Almost obsolete, really. We have them beat in speed.”

The trip to Saffron had our nerves on edge. All of our unanswered questions and fear of something else popping up ate away at our sanity. Would we ever be safe? 

As “luck” would have it, when we stopped to recharge around a blazing blue star, another ship joined us far off into the distance. Was it Jillian? Jack? James? Literally anyone else out to get us?

Two hours passed and they’d made no signs of approaching, but we hadn’t taken our eyes off it once. Perhaps we were being thrown a bone, finally fortunate enough to catch a break. We needed one—badly. The vision leading us to Saffron was no doubt influenced by Malice’s hand, I’m sure. But I couldn’t afford to not check it out, not if Lestrade’s life was truly in danger.

But knowing all this didn’t help ease my nerves. I so desperately wanted another Sojourn with Ira, perhaps on a planet with beaches and cold drinks. And sex. Instead, we were still playing our roles as pawns in some devious chess game, unaware if the one playing our pieces was smart enough to win or if they’d intentionally thrown the match.

What I wouldn’t give to simply be able to grow old with Ira. Settle down somewhere nice, start a family with him. I tried to picture us doing just that, but each time my daydream was overtaken by chaos. Risen or Mimics or malevolent entities. How could we raise children in a universe like this? They’d always be in danger. Were we going to be running and fighting the rest of our lives?

A kiss on the cheek drew me back out of the chaos of my mind. Ira continued moving, talking with his sister, enjoying the moment they had together. As if nothing was wrong. He had his Match back, and to him, everything was right in the Forge.

Was that envy I was feeling? Maybe a dash of jealousy, too. And stupidity for ignoring the small moments. Yes, we were heavily stressed and the threat of death was a real possibility. Much more than the first visions, these recent ones fucked us up. Seeing the free will ripped from us paled in comparison to watching the ones we loved die all around us.

The ship had triggered Blackstone and John’s paranoia to the point where they were watching monitors and radars like hawks. But the ship—at least for now—was not a threat, and seemingly didn’t even know of our existence. Why were we so sure that something bad was going to happen?

It wasn’t always doom and gloom with us. We didn’t have to live miserable lives just because it typically ended up that way. And we were still here, proof that it got better. This wasn’t healthy, for any of us. Jane, normally the loudest among us, was quiet and reserved. She barely left her bed—along with Kaisa and Fletcher, who just seemed to sleep their problems away. Yelena had thrown herself into busy work, never leaving the lab.

I set aside my worries. I had to. We’d handled everything thrown at us before, what made the looming threat of…whatever was coming any different? If anything, this was a good day in comparison. What would happen if I dared to defy the anxiety and fear consuming us? What if I didn’t let that ruin a good day?

Fifteen minutes later, I returned to the common area after ransacking our storage. I didn’t expect it to fix our problems, but even just a small moment of peace would be enough. I hoped.

I’d forgotten we had any of this—I’d never had a chance to enjoy it. Why did I even pack it? But if this small gesture could bolster their spirits like Ira did mine—even unintentionally—then it would be worth it. I took another five minutes to set up a small machine and poured necessary ingredients we just so happened to have on hand. Then with at least one pair of eyes on me, watching suspiciously, I flipped a switch.

Another few minutes filled with a whirring machine later, I smiled and stood proud, and invited the crew over excitedly.

“Who wants ice cream?”

// Bolster the Crew

+1 => 6 vs 9, 10. Miss.

Let's say fuck that

tick fugitive clock [3/4 remaining]

A strong hit!

+4 command [4/4]

The first batch—vanilla—brought smiles back to the Scarlet Adler. I think the last time I had ice cream was before I’d been shipped off to Avam.

The second batch was a mess. We’d added some fruit we found but we must have done something wrong and the machine made a loud noise. It was a complete disaster—one that made laughter erupt from our guts and bounce off the walls. It was such a bad fuck up and we were laughing. For once, a Miss hadn’t spelled our end, and we took the time to enjoy the small mishap.

Belly’s satiated, we continued on the journey to Saffron. The moment didn’t remove the dark cloud hanging over our heads, but at least now we didn’t let it take over completely. There was hope despite our worries. The metaphorical sun was peeking through.

// Undertake an Expedition

+3 (shadow+infiltrator) => 7 vs 2, 5. Sh!

+1 momentum [8]


Space sighting, 52: ...a precursor vault??

Nah, they avoid the fuck outta this. I'm just gonna roll some first looks

28, 52: Electromagnetic field, Levitating or in motion

Though, that sun dimmed a bit at the sight of—

Another precursor vault?” Irēn stared out one of the viewports in disbelief. The lights flickered, as if this vault was trying to drain our reserves.

“Have they always been here? Has there always been at least two precursor vaults in the Salvi Pass?” John turned to Watt who simply displayed a question mark emoji.

“I’d gone my entire life thinking these things were fairy tales,” Blackstone said. “And now I’ve seen two within a month.”

Jane shuddered and the lights flickered again. “Ominous.”

We didn’t stay long. 

// Undertake an Expedition

+3 => 4 vs 5, 8. Miss. 

lets burn this 8 momentum for a wh

8 vs 5, 8. wh

+1 momentum from infiltrator [3]

Progress: 9/10

37: a settlement?

Must be Portent.

But we've encountered a little snafu.

Maybe it's guarded.

Not that arriving at our destination made things better.

“Of course.” I let out an exasperated sigh. John loaded the maps of the area on the screens before us. Saffron was right there, surrounded by its comforting and familiar violent electrical storms.

It was also surrounded by a fleet of Salvi ships.

“Jillian probably told them we were in the area and they increased security,” Fletcher said.

“What the hell are we going to do? I don’t think I can phase the entire fucking ship and all of us through all of them.”

It wasn’t a bad plan, but Jane was right. Trying something like that was too risky and she’d never used her abilities at that scale before.

“Maybe we can go around them, come up from behind?” Ira suggested.

I looked over the maps. It’d take us weeks to get around, and in that time we’d probably end up in the same predicament.

“It’s too late for that,” Blackstone noted. “They probably already spotted us, just can’t identify us. Turning around’ll only make us look suspicious.”

There was no good plan here. Each one of them had more cons than pros, and—


Yelena’s small voice drew our attention—she’d also apparently raised her hand. How long had she been trying to get a word in? “I’ve been working on something for a while now. I figured we’d eventually need a way to cause a distraction.”

“What kind of distraction?” 

// Check Your Gear

+2 => 6 vs 1, 8. WH

No. Let's use some crew.

-1 command [3]

+1 momentum [4]

Yelena described her plan in detail, eyes widening and brows raised as we listened. There was no way something like this would be ready to use right now if it was only a passing thought. Or had she started stress building this once we left Stella? “Should work long enough for us to get past them.” Yelena nodded confidently.

She continued to defy expectations.

Ten minutes later, after she and Watt got everything set up, she hovered her hand over a button on the dashboard of the cockpit. The rest of us crowded in the common area, the air charged with anticipation.

“Are you sure?” she asked looking back at me.

“You deserve the honors. It’s your plan.”

She inhaled and exhaled slowly, nodding once to herself.  “Everyone ready?” I could practically feel everyone hold their breath—though, as I thought about it, it was perhaps John unconsciously shifting the air around us.

I nodded, and she pressed the button.

// Face Danger

+3 (shadow+fugitive). I thiiiink this applies for fugitive #2. we're kinda hiding.

8 vs…


There was no visual response on any of the screens. It didn’t work. In fact, we saw the ships moving toward us. 


Everyone started, shifting into position. John and Blackstone threw themselves into the cockpit, readying themselves for a fight. Fletcher and Kaisa moved out of the way, bracing themselves for—

There was a beep! on the monitor—the one we were expecting a response from. A false sighting of us appeared on the screen with coordinates that were far past us, heading towards New Bohemia. The Salvi ships kept moving, but now it was clear: they had been heading there.

It…it worked!

// Face Danger Result

8 vs 6, 9. WH

-1 spirit [1]

endure stress +1

6 vs 1, 1! SH!

+1 spirit [2]

Niice. What's the nature of this match? I was going to roll to finish the expedition anyway, so it should be something else.

maybe we can hearten now.

Oh, progress with Yelena, too.


Everyone cheered, and each of us in turn thanked and hugged Yelena before extending the cheers to each other. Yelena blushed before she let herself beam with pride. 

“It was simple, really. And I have a few ideas for how to modify Watt should the need ever arise.” Watt floated near her, his eyes replaced with hearts, pumping with excitement. She giggled and drew him in for a hug.

Naturally, I scooped Ira in my arms and kissed him deeply.

// Hearten

+1 (heart, plus reroll because of Ira)

2 vs 8,8.


fugitive -1 [2]

+2 spirit [4]

+1 momentum [5]

This is only MILDLY ominous.

Another match...

Let's say that, when we land, we're good to go for now. No need for a lot of extra hiding.

Not all of the ships departed, but just enough. John and I returned to our seats and took off towards Portent, slipping past the remaining ships on guard. 

// Finish expedition

9 vs...1, 4. SH!

1 tick, which brings me back up to 3 XP.

Advance. Infiltrator #2

Progress on save lestrade vow


It felt like a small betrayal to land in a shipyard that was not Baker’s. But, it was for the best. We needed to be as inconspicuous as possible. Just because we’d gotten through the ships stationed in orbit didn’t mean that we had accomplished our goal. That was only the first step.

Before we departed, I raised my left hand for them all to see, palm towards me. I needed them to know how serious I was about this mission. “Everyone, remember: we need to find—no, save—Lestrade. I can’t imagine she’s everyone’s favorite S.P.D. agent, but maybe she can help us. She’s had direct contact with Jack Moriarty and might be the only connection we have to him. I swear: we will save her.”

// Swear an Iron Vow

+1 heart. I know it says "to a connection," and since Lestrade is not physically here, i'm not adding the bonus.

2 vs 4, 5. Miss.

What kind of obstacle?

DF: 35, 77: Empty Shortcut

Oh, and I think this vow

 is Dangerous.

“He really does like Swearing.” Irēn playfully nudged her brother, who simply shook his head. I couldn’t help but smile. It was entirely his fault I was like this.

No one told him to see the best in me.

We split into two teams, with Yelena staying behind on comms to watch our backs and the Scarlet Adler.

It was nearing dusk. Civilians were moving about to enjoy their night—the electrical storm brewing overhead wouldn’t bother any of their plans. There was at least a twenty minute walk until we made it to downtown, so I used this time to take in my surroundings. I hadn’t frequented this particular area of Portent much, unless I needed something for a case. Light brown brick and stone buildings rose up from the dusty stone paths around us, mostly homes and apartments, with the occasional local store. A few drooping flowers perked up as we passed, though Ira seemed to pay them no mind, engrossed in conversation with his sister.

It felt good to be back, despite what transpired the last time we were here. I felt like I had lost it all. But this city had become my home after leaving Avam, and it would always hold a special place in my heart. Portent was where I had my first case as a private investigator. They’d been relatively normal at first—missing person, murder, take pictures of potentially cheating spouse—and I got to know a lot of the locals. I wondered what they thought of me now, knowing that the one who helped—or stopped—them had secretly been Branded? Would they look down on me, or would they secretly be rooting for me? Had those I put away helped besmirch my name the first chance they got? 

Would the Usagis still welcome me into their home around their children?

I wondered how Jane and the others were feeling being back, knowing all they went through. I made a mental note to check in with them later after we regrouped.

“Oh, and by the way,” Irēn said, turning to face me as we walked, “I finally found a few clips of the trial. You were very convincing.”

I smiled. “I’m just glad they listened to reason…even if I may have unintentionally awakened the Order.”

“Irēn and I think that just seeing me on trial—again—was what spurred them to take action. Though, I guess seeing someone stand up in my defense—in defense of everything they stand for—and defy the Oracles and the customs might have helped a little.”

“I wonder if any of them knew where your parents are.” John walked a few steps behind the three of us, Watt floating near his head. “Maybe we should’ve asked around more before we left.”

“That’s if they would have even talked,” I said as we took a turn through an alley. “I doubt they would have freely given us any information, despite your legacy. That does beg the question: how big is—”

I held up a hand, gesturing for them to stop. I kept my voice low, looking further down the alley to what I thought had been movement. A beat later and my fears were confirmed. “We have company.”

On cue, four figures—two more than I had initially seen—stepped out of the shadows and began walking towards us. One held something long and metallic. The rest didn’t seem to have any weapons, but I had to assume they were armed as well.

“Looks like ah luck ‘as turned ‘round, boys,” the one in front—with the rod—said.

I cracked my neck. We’d been having such a good day, and here came trouble to ruin it.

// Battle

+3, no powers.

8 vs 2, 4. SH!

+2 momentum [7]

Seconds flew by in an instant. I didn’t even have to use my Branding. Neither did Ira or John, and Irēn, who laughed as they ran away, bruised and beaten, hadn’t needed a weapon. I stretched out my slightly bruised fingers. I had been incorrect: the only weapon they had was the metal pipe. The rest had intended to use the darkness and intimidation to make a quick buck. But that hadn’t worked on us. They would need to come a lot stronger than that. We’d faced maniacs and Mimics and were gearing up to face even worse. 

I would have complained about it being too easy again but I pushed the thought aside. I remembered ice cream. We deserved a break. We didn’t have to let this mean something. Some fights were easy.

When we finally exited the alley, stepping out into the outskirts of downtown Portent, Irēn said, “You continue to defy expectations, Locke. Ira says you’re a Bleeding Heart, but after that display I gotta believe your Iron is pretty high, too.”

“Oh, he’s very Iron Headed,” Ira said with a wink and a smile. “Did we ever tell you how we met Jane and the others the last time we were here?”

“VERY Iron Headed,” John added.

Next week on ⚡️THUNDERFANG:

Locke and his crew race to prevent his most recent vision from coming true as Arc 1 of Season 3 comes to close. Will they make it to Lestrade in time? And in the aftermath, what happens next?

⚡️THUNDERFANG S3 #14: The Calm Before the Storm
Locke rushes to save Lestrade before the vision of her death can come to pass.
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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