⚡️THUNDERFANG S3 #14

Locke rushes to save Lestrade before the vision of her death can come to pass.

⚡️THUNDERFANG S3 #14
⚡️THUNDERFANG S3 #14: The Calm Before the Storm
⚡️THUNDERFANG S3 #13: Dare to Defy
The fear of death and chaos and conspiracy and more loom around every corner. Good thing Locke found ice cream.

The previous chapter

The Calm Before the Storm

Season 3, Chapter 14

Ira and Irēn split off from us, leaving John, Watt, and myself. Yelena helped direct us all over comms after we arrived in downtown Portent, our now four groups trying to cover as much ground as we could to find Lestrade. 

I needed a disguise. While the citizens of Portent might not be able to recognize me—despite having lived here for years—the law enforcement would surely know my face.

“The guy we faced in the alley,” I asked John as we looked around, “did you catch his accent?”

“A li’l,” he replied, using the same accent. 

“Can you talk me through how to imitate it?”

As we poked around, John tried to walk me through the intricacies of mimicking the accent. It wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t completely stand out now. In true John fashion, he changed his entire persona, becoming one of the locals in a matter of minutes. A slight posture change, a bit of dirt on his hands, and a cheap hat was all it took.

// Gather Information

Lets see where Lestrade is now.

+2 (wits). It's not a mystery, so...

3 vs 7, 10. Miss.

Hmm...

Okay, what is this dire threat or unwelcome truth?

DF: 46, 23: Fragile Debris.

Hmm. Is she at the Mihara building? 50/50: 56, no.

So potentially some other building within Portent that is at risk of crumbling?

I think...this might mean something different.

Debris means "the remains of anything broken down or destroyed".

What if it's a group of people?

A fragile group of people who have been broken down and destroyed.

This fleshes out why someone would want to kill her: she's the SPD scapegoat.

I think this deserves to hit Spirit.

-1 spirit [3]

I'm not going to endure stress, either.

I need a name for this bar.

Let's try Descriptor + Sector Suffix

30, 53: Defended Margin...

lmfao Horrible! One more.

39, 29: Exposed Drift.

I like this one.

Progress on Save Lestrade vow.

4/10

“Found her,” Kaisa whispered over the comms. “At a bar called…the Exposed Drift.”

“What kind of a name is the Exposed Drift? What fucking sense—”

“And just got word from some contacts” Blackstone’s voice drowned out Jane’s groaning. “She’s got a Civilian’s Bounty on her head.”

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“Nothing official, but she’s wanted too—by the people. Everyone hates her.”

“I mean, she’s S.P.D. but…She was a friendly face. Out of them all, she was the best of them,” I said.

John cleared his throat loudly. “One of the best.”

“Some people blame her for Akim Salvi’s death,” Blackstone continued, “saying that she knew you were Branded the whole time. They mentioned a few other questionable S.P.D. choices, and they’re happy she got fired.”

“Jack probably framed her,” I said as John and I turned a corner onto a busy street. I spotted Kaisa and Fletcher in the distance and merely offered them a nod. The two returned it and moved to a different location on the same street. “She had no hand in any of that stuff, I bet. Hell, I still have nightmares because I feel responsible for Akim’s death. She told me no. I bet you Jack found a way to pin the kidnapping he orchestrated on her, too.”

“One of them mentioned that.”

“Of course we know she didn’t do it,” Jane said matter-of-factly. “But we need to convince the masses of it. Court of public opinion is hard to sway once it makes up its mind.”

I shook my head at the irony. We were planning on doing the same to the Benevolent and the Moriartys—get the public to condemn them. It was almost funny that Jack had done the same to us.

Almost funny.

// Secure an Advantage

+3 (shadow+infiltrator 2) => 8 vs 1, 6. SH!

+2 momentum [9]

+1 forward

+1 when using this to deceive/influence others

As we approached the Exposed Drift, I practiced the accent. John corrected it more than a few times, and told me to stop using certain words. I didn’t question his advice.

“He’ll still be spotted,” Fletcher said. “You still look like you.”

I remembered when John was trying on his Dr. Watson persona, and how—even when looking exactly the same—he was a completely different person, unrecognizable even to those who knew him well. I wasn’t going to be able to emulate that, but I tried. I shifted my posture, dropping an inch or two in height. I breathed differently, trying to take on the qualities of those who worked hard and didn’t have the luxury of recovering from a common cold at home.

In the end, I couldn’t practice any more. Time was slipping away. The storm above raged on, just as it was doing in my vision.

I needed to act, now.


The pungent odor of cheap cigars assaulted my senses. John lent me the hat he’d acquired, helping to mask my face in the dim lighting of the Exposed Drift. It was packed, which both worried and settled my nerves simultaneously. No one was going to be paying attention to me, but was I even going to be able to find her in this haystack? 

I told the others to hang back and keep a close eye on the door. John, however, slipped into a new persona, one he hadn’t quite put a name to just yet. This persona had a similar accent to the one he had been teaching me, and he used it to blend in quite easily with the blue collar workers. Despite the bar having a screen dedicated to wanted ads—ours displayed mere moments after entering—he instantly chatted up a few people as if he was a regular.

I envied that ability of his. Perhaps in another life, I could do what he did.

For now, I did my best to remember to elongate my E’s and shorten by A’s. I needed to remember to talk like a had a piece of hard candy on the left side of my mouth. I needed to keep my breath short, because most of the workers here had some sort of ailment from working with spaceships. I needed to be—

My eyes widened. Lestrade was sitting at the bar, nursing a drink. I steadied my nerves and hoped that my Shadow was decently high enough to help me accomplish my mission tonight. I approached, attempting to mimic John’s gait, and sat at the bar a few seats to her right. I tilted the hat down lower and flagged the bartender down for a drink, getting in a few practice sentences with my accent. It wasn’t perfect, but it would do.

I stole a peek at Lestrade. She was haggard and ragged, bags under her eyes. I’d never seen her look like this before. She was normally pristine and formal, reminding anyone and everyone who could see her that she was in charge, yet safe and inviting somehow. 

This woman was the opposite. She was blending in more than I was.

What was I supposed to say to her? She didn’t look like she wanted to be talked to, by friends or strangers. Lestrade was a hard ass, but she was just and fair. How had she been used as the scapegoat for all of the Moriarty’s and Salvi’s deeds? I couldn’t fathom it. And now all of Portent was directing their anger on the wrong person. She didn’t deserve this.

She shifted in her seat. The bartender slid her something and she pocketed it, and stood. Fuck. In a panic, I said the first words that came to mind.

“Leavin’ so soon, pretty lady?”

// Face Danger

He's reacting...Hmmmm..Sounds like heart

+2 (heart+disguise) => 4 vs 7, 10. Offf course.

Against my better judgement...let's roll on the PtP table.

89: you are delayed or put at a disadvantage.

In my defense, I’d never hit on a woman in my life. 

Understandably, she rolled her eyes and moved towards the exit. I stood up to follow her, but a large hand gripped my shoulder and pushed me back into my seat. On any other occasion, I would have put up a fight, but I was so caught off guard. The bartender stared daggers at me. “Pay yer tab.” He didn’t move his hand from my shoulder. He was either incredibly serious about his profit, or he was trying to protect Lestrade from a potential scumbag. My Heart was hoping for the later, though I couldn’t quite tell in the moment.

Movement to my left made my heart race. As Lestrade reached the front, two people—their eyes following her—stood from their seats and exited shortly after her.

Fuck! Causing a scene with the bartender would have been bad, and possibly slowed me down more, so I threw the man some coin and quickly got up from my seat, using my normal gait and motion. I didn’t have time to keep up the charade. They were going after her and I needed to prevent it.

Outside, I caught sight of the two people, Lestrade a decent distance ahead of them. I followed them as best I could, sticking to the shadows. “Lestrade’s on the move. Two perps following her.”

Watt appeared on my right, John chasing after him, before hovering higher and higher. “I’ve got eyes on her,” Yelena said from the Scarlet Adler. “Make this right and cut through the alley.”

We did as instructed. On the other side, I saw Lestrade as she turned another corner. The two men were closer to her now. I kept a safe distance of about thirty feet, stalking them as they stalked her. A dreadful sense of deja vu made me shiver.

“Stop right there!”

I pressed myself flat against the corner of the alley that the three had entered. “She’s pointing a gun at them, Locke,” Yelena said.

“Oh, poor, poor Lestrade,” one man said. His accent was similar to the one I had been practicing, though it was mixed with something else. He said her name strangely. “Yo’ the reason shits gone to hell around here, they say. That true?”

“That’s what they say, yes,” she said, her voice sarcastic and shaky. I didn’t want to round the corner just yet. “But they’re all lies.”

“On the off chance it’s all true…,” the same man began, though he didn’t finish his sentence. I could only assume one thing: he was walking towards her menacingly. Would she shoot them? That would only make her position worse.

“And she don’t have her badge to protect her no more, too? Easy.” This voice was the other man. His voice was slightly more neutral, with just a hint of the blue collar accent.

I sighed and stepped into the alley dramatically.

// Enter the Fray

Let's do a fight scene, why not?

These two idiots are probably nothing, so let's set them at Troublesome. 3 boxes/progress.

Objective is to ultimately make sure Lestrade is alive, but also take down these two.

+3. INTO THE THICK OF IT.

7 vs 3, 6. SH!

+2 momentum [10]

in control

“I’m pretty sure I’m the one responsible for, like, half of what she’s being blamed for.” I didn’t wait for a response from them. I merely needed them caught off guard. I rushed forward, hoping that Lestrade didn’t shoot me. Instead—just as I had seen—one of them shot at her.

// Strike

+3: 4 vs 1, 7. WH

progress twice, 6/10

bad spot

I sent a fist directly into one man’s gut. I couldn’t tell them apart unless they spoke, but that didn’t matter. Both needed to be dealt with. He keeled over, gripping his stomach as his knees hit the ground. The other man used the close proximity to jump on my back. I mean, it worked, I guess, as I was suddenly off balance with an unfamiliar two-hundred pound angry man punching me from behind.

The wind picked up.

// React Under Fire

+3 (john) => 8 vs 6, 9. wh

nah, burn momentum

10 vs 6, 9. sh

+1 react momentum [3]

+1 john momentum [4]

in control

The man on my back flew fifteen feet in the air at an angle and crashed into a puddle on the ground right in front of Lestrade, all the while screaming. I looked to the mouth of the alley, seeing John and Jane in fighting positions.

Man, I loved having a crew.

// Strike

+3 => 9 vs 5, 8. SH!

progress twice

10/10

I stood up fully and dusted myself off, staring at the man I had gut punched previously. He was wobbling, moving to stand as well. I picked him up and slammed him to the ground.

“Get,” I snarled.

// Take Decisive Action

10 vs... 2, 10. WH. Awwww!

Aaah. I like the "other's wont forget."

Natural consequence, honestly. Fits the flavor of using Fugitive so much before.

He scrambled to his feet and scurried away, leaving his friend behind, who eventually got up and ran past Lestrade. She scrambled back on her hands and feet, eyes trained to me as I approached and knelt down in front of her.

// Oracle

Let's see what revealed character aspect we get for Lestrade.

16: charismatic.

She glared, a mixture of anger and frustration, with a dash of elation. “Of course. Locke Holmes and Ripley Slater—oh, my apologies. John Morston. The two people who have been lying to me since the moment I met them, and are partly responsible for the mess I’m in right now.”

John rushed to Lestrade’s side and inspected her injuries, slipping into his Ripley persona. “The two people who, once again,” he said, ripping a part of his shirt off and wrapping it around her waist, “have saved you from death…ma’am.”

// Face Danger

I wanna do heal, but since Lestrade is a Connection, it's more FD.

FD wits...buuuut... we can use John for this

+3 (john) => 5 vs 6, 10. Miss.

Yeaaaah, nope. 

I think this works best—narratively—if I use Fugitive for this.

fugitive is 3/4—1/4 remaining

+1 momentum [5]

She didn’t argue, and she didn’t stop him from helping her. 

// Test Your Relationship

+1 (heart) => 5 vs 2, 10. WH

So, develop with Lestrade (6/10)

Progress on lestrade vow: 6/10

Demand or complication as a fallout of this test..hmm.

AT: 97, 100: Uncover World.

Unlikely if this is the planet mentioned in Shiningstar, 25-: 57, no.

Okay….

OH. I have an idea, one that isn't as tedious as going to a whole new planet.

So... Save Lestrade is kinda... done, at 6/10?

Gonna roll it anyway and hope for the best.

6 vs... 4, 5. SH

We're once again back up to 3XP.


“Packed in here,” Lestrade said, a hand pressed against her bandaged wound. She scanned everyone present onboard the Scarlet Adler. Blackstone stood, arms crossed, between her and Yelena, Kaisa, and Fletcher. Ira and Irēn stood side by side near me, while John and Jane leaned against an interior wall sharing looks.

“Yeah.” I didn’t know what else to say really. I loved Lestrade but last we’d spoken she’d been with Jack, used as bait to get me to lower my guard so Jillian could attack. John had been a casualty, exposing himself in the process to try and win her over.

“So, tell me, Mr. Lightningbranded, what the hell are you doing back in Portent—hell, within the Salvi Pass? Why didn’t you just flee?”

Everyone exchanged knowing looks, filled with the weight of secrets and history together. And then they looked to me. I nodded.

And we told her everything.

Everything.

By the end, Lestrade had finished most of Blackstone’s flask. “That’s…a lot.”

“What we all saw was pretty vivid. We don’t know when everyone else’s visions would come true but I knew we had to come save you, immediately,” I said.

We’d made the common area outside of the cockpit more comfortable with chairs and pillows during the long debrief. Ira sat in a chair and I sat between his legs on the floor, my head in his hands. 

Lestrade sat hunched over, sighing heavily. “I wish you’d just come forth about all of this sooner, Holmes. Like, the Salvi stuff? That’s…” She sighed again. “Never mind, I don’t know what I’m saying. Of course you couldn’t just tell me any of this. I’m just glad you’re innocent. This is a whole new world for me, though. Branded and conspiracies and Risen and nefarious plots and…” She took another swig of Blackstone’s flask. “I wish I could help.”

“You can, I’m sure of it,” John said, standing with a bit too much excitement. I could tell he was relieved. Having Lestrade back on our side probably meant the world to him. His mother figure—one who wouldn’t betray him—was back. “Locke saw you for a reason, I’m sure of it. And we can use all the help we can get. We have no idea how to stop any of the Moriartys.”

// Gather Information

Oh, now is a good time to Gather some Info on how to stop them.

+2 (wits): 7 vs 3, 4, 4! => 7 vs 4,4! SH + match!

+2 momentum [7]

What's the nature of what we discover? 

Descriptor+Focus: 20, 93: Confined Treasure.

Lestrade looked him over and nodded in agreement. “Perhaps there is a reason you needed to save me.” She drained the flask and stood, then tapped a few buttons on a wristband and projected a map of Saffron. Its two settlements—Portent and Sirius—were outlined in blue lines. It rotated slowly until she pointed to a blank spot on the map, many miles away from Portent. “Don’t know why, but Moriarty has been leaving Portent frequently. Not the entire planet, just the city. And he hasn’t been going to Sirius, so he must be traveling somewhere else on the planet. I haven’t been able to pinpoint exactly where he’s going though, just in this general area.”

I stared in disbelief.

Did we really have a solid lead? 

// Progress

Mark progress on how to stop the Moriartys.

20%


The crew rearranged their sleeping quarters just for Lestrade. If she was going to be traveling with us, part of this irregular crew, she would need a place to sleep. After a bit of shuffling, it was decided that she would sleep with Kaisa, Irēn, and Blackstone, while John, Fletcher, Jane, and Yelena shared another sleeping quarters.

“You need to expand, Holmes,” Lestrade said as she laid a few of her belongings down.

That night, we gathered in the common area once more and relaxed. We had a good, solid lead. I allowed myself to believe things would get better from here. One of the people I trusted most in the Forge was onboard with me, and we’d have all of her expertise at our disposal. She believed and trusted in me.

// Develop Your Relationship

Now, for this match. I think we have a nice moment between Lestrade, Locke, and the crew. Locke doesn't Swear, but they share a moment.

So, let's bump up the Connection with Lestrade. (8/10)

“I just want to say,” Lestrade said, raising a cup filled with whiskey high, “that I thank you all for coming to save me, and for including me in your fight. I won’t pretend to understand everything that’s happened so far, but I know that I will do whatever it takes to help us win. Thank you for the hospitality, and the purpose. Taking down Jack Moriarty is high on my to do list.”

We toasted and enjoyed the night for what it was.

The calm before the storm.


Next week on ⚡️THUNDERFANG:

With their first solid lead on the Moriartys, Locke, John, and Jane traverse Saffron in search of where he's hiding. Along the way, a promise is made.

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)