Locke, Ira, and Irēn may be the only Ironsworn in the crew, but that doesn't mean only their promises hold weight.

⚡️THUNDERFANG S3 #15: The Promise
⚡️THUNDERFANG S3 #14: The Calm Before the Storm
Locke rushes to save Lestrade before the vision of her death can come to pass.

The previous chapter

The Promise

Season 3, Chapter 15

Lestrade eagerly began preparing us to take down Jack. We were up before the sun the next morning. I kept my complaints to a minimum despite the ungodly hour. We wanted her help and we had it—something I was truly thankful for. By the time I made it to the common area, Lestrade had seats in neat columns and rows with the crime board perfectly centered in front and various maps of Saffron projected on the walls.

Through sleepy eyes I found myself counting the seats. Ten of us—eleven if you counted Watt, and twelve with the Scarlet Adler herself. We were a force to be reckoned with, a far cry from my solo adventures—from myself, John, and Ira. And we kept growing. An army, even.

“Good morning,” Lestrade said to Fletcher, the last to join us. He took a seat in the back next to Kaisa, who handed him a cup of coffee. “Now that we’re all here, let’s get to work. All of this data has been uploaded to the ship’s network. Please, follow along.”

// Secure an Advantage

+2 (wits) => 4 vs 2, 8. WH

Let's do the +2 momentum [9]

Jack periodically disappeared, much to the annoyance of his staff. The running theory was that he was having secret meetings, ones that even those with high clearance levels weren’t privy to. But people talked, and Lestrade had found multiple sources claiming that he was actually leaving Portent—but not heading to Sirius, the only other settlement on this inhospitable desert planet.

“Is there a secret settlement out there somewhere?” Blackstone asked. “Though, wouldn’t somebody have seen that?”

“There’s a few restricted areas in both settlements,” John said, pointing them out on one of the maps, a hint of Ripley in his voice to match Lestrade’s methodicalness. He stood straight, his other hand behind his back. “They are heavily monitored. No overhead flight or vehicles of any kind. But, yes, we should still be able to see if there was a secret settlement or building.”

“Maybe it’s underground.” Another one of Jane’s jokes.


No, I thought. That made too much sense—I mean, there was an entire underground facility beneath the Salvi Sigil. Why wouldn’t there be one here, too?

// Face Danger

So, let's sneak up on them.

+3 (shadow+infiltrator #1) => 9 vs 1, 8. SH!

+1 momentum [10]

+1 momentum from infiltrator [10]

We had enough to go on, and the day had barely begun, so we set out immediately. Blackstone and Lestrade began the preflight preparations, and everyone else scattered to do their version of the same while John, Jane, and I went to get suited up. Ira and Irēn both had suits capable of withstanding Saffron’s corrosive atmosphere, but they both agreed to stay behind. For a moment I thought Ira was hiding something—he was never that Sly—but it seemed he simply wanted to leave the mission to—

“The experts? Really?” I tried to stifle a laugh but failed, laughing so hard I had to stop putting on my suit. The arms and upper portion of it dangled at my sides as I hunched over, my bare chest heaving as I tried to catch my breath. 

“You three are always doing the missions. Besides, there’s no guarantee there will be plants in the evil underground lair and I might run out of seeds. Just promise me you’ll be careful.”

I opened my mouth for a split second before Ira stared daggers at me. “A promise. A normal promise. Don’t you dare Swear.”

“Fine, fine,” I said with mock defeat, pulling him in. I knew that was what he’d meant. I just wanted to see his face. He placed a warm hand on my chest and I could not contain my excitement. “I promise.” I smiled and pulled him in close for a deep kiss. “Is that good enough?” 

// Hearten

+1 => 7 vs 2, 4. SH!

We'd get momentum from Bonded but we're already at max.

+2 spirit [5]

He rolled his eyes—with that smile that kept me hooked—and playfully pushed me away before heading back to rejoin the others and finish preparations. I finished suiting up, leaving the helmet retracted, and headed back out to the common area. 

“That man is unpredictable, Holmes,” Lestrade shouted back from the cockpit. “Are you sure we shouldn’t just hold out until more of us can come with?”

“I don’t think waiting will make a difference. The sooner we find something to expose him with, the better. It’s our only chance at stopping him. Right now, all we have is our experiences, which, sadly, isn’t enough to get the public on our side.”

“Sounds like a suicide mission, if you ask me,” Blackstone said.

“They’ve been through worse,” Ira said, John and Jane in tow behind him, the pair also suited up. “Besides, we’ll all be on standby, ready to do whatever it takes if something goes wrong.”

“We’re approaching the drop-off point,” Lestrade said. Yelena and Ira relayed that over the comms to John, Jane, and I; we confirmed that everything was working correctly.

Once the Scarlet Adler touched down, we all reconvened back in the common area where Irēn stood before us with a tablet, Kaisa and Fletcher behind her standing by various sources of reference. “Jack has touched down not too far away, from what we’ve seen,” she began, Fletcher pointing out an area on one of his maps. “Should be simple enough for you three to sneak up on them since we shouldn’t have triggered any of their radars at this distance. There’s no visible structure, so we have to assume we were correct.”

“How do you plan on finding the entrance?” Lestrade asked. “There’s too much ground to cover. There’s no telling where Jack and his team entered.”

Jane nodded confidently. “When we were in the precursor vault a while back, Locke and John lowered me into the floor to check out the lower level. We’re going to try to do that—lower me into the ground—and scope out a way in without needing to find an actual entrance.”

Lestrade raised a brow. “You can share your power?”

“When the automaton was going crazy back in the vault, I just…reacted and tackled Locke to the ground, phasing, hoping that it would go through both of us and not just me. It worked, so I’m assuming I can bring more with me if I focus.”

As if questioning herself, Jane grabbed John and pulled him and herself through the wall separating the common area and Yelena’s lab. John yelped and she stuck her head back through the wall. “He’s fine. We’re fine. Everything’s fine. I promise!” She shoved his head through the wall next as proof, and everyone erupted into laughter.

// Face Danger

I think this is a simple Face Danger to get there. So, let's roll FD+...wits?

+2 => 5 vs 1, 8. WH.

What happens on their way to this entrance?

Action+Theme => 93, 74: Surrender Revenge.

The Scarlet Adler disappeared behind the horizon as we made our way forward. John led, Watt floating closely by his side. Jane and I followed in the actual expert’s footsteps, hoping to not alert Jack or anyone else to our presence.

Our suits were working overtime to keep us cool beneath Saffron’s blazing sun. Our feet crunched on dry and cracked chunks of ground, shaped like puzzle pieces that didn’t quite belong together but, for some reason, were forced to be. I don’t know what my fixation was with desert planets, but that was all I ever seemed to go to. Saffron’s desert wasn't that much different from New Bohemia’s—except the latter had breathable air. And life. Both stretched endlessly in all directions, decorated with large boulders and rock formations. 

“I can’t wait to get my hands on that asshole,” Jane said suddenly, drawing my attention to her. To illustrate her true intentions, she phased her hand through a large boulder and pulled out a chunk of the rock itself. 

Since when had she had that fine of control over her abilities? She’d been so inexperienced before.

“Jane,” I said with a smirk. “Insides stay inside—”

“Nope.” She stopped and looked me dead in the eyes, her voice sharp and direct. I dropped my smirk. “Not this time. I refuse to let Jack think I’m still that timid little girl who refused to just walk away, despite having the power to fucking walk through walls! I was so scared back then, Locke. But now? Now, I know my family is safe. I am never giving him power over me again. He doesn’t get to control my life and—sorry, Locke—neither do you. He needs to know that he can never do that to me, or anyone else, ever again…No heart for the heartless.” She dropped the chunk of stone. It shattered to dust and tiny pieces.

I stopped, unsure just who I was looking at before me. 

She was serious, wasn’t she? 

John stopped too, pain showing clearly through his visor. “We can’t kill him, Jane. We’re not murderers.”

“See, that’s where you’re wrong. You”—she pointed to John and I—“aren’t murderers. I have no problems getting my hands dirty. One of us has to. What good is having this power if I can’t use it to make the world a better place—you know, before Malice or some other fucker tries to destroy it.”

“Revenge doesn’t solve anything.” I let my Shadow take the lead, hoping to hide my true thoughts. But she was right, on so many levels. I just couldn’t let her know that, not when she was already at this point. Memories of past betrayals flooded my mind. I’d sought revenge before. Luckily, I had someone to stop me. It wouldn’t have solved anything anyway.

But…if I was being completely honest with myself…it would solve so many problems right now. With Jack eliminated, we’d have much less to worry about. Him and his twisted family were the cause of so much strife—and I was only thinking of the things they’d done to us. We were probably the lucky victims, with enough support and power to keep surviving. 

I couldn’t tell her that, though. We were good. Heroes.

“You don’t seriously believe that, do you?” Jane asked, exasperated. “Jack being dead improves at least a thousand people’s lives, including our own. What happens if this plan doesn’t work, huh? He’s not Curtis or Althea. His public opinion seems to be the least of his worries. Fletcher, Kaisa, and Yelena can vouch for that.”

I could hear Yelena almost say something over the comms, but he stopped.

How was I supposed to get her to surrender these dreams of revenge?

Heart always worked before, right?

“I’m serious, Jane. You can’t—”

“I’m serious, too!” Her voice echoed and her gaze pierced my soul through our visors. There was an ounce of regret in her face suddenly as she shifted to look at our surroundings. She continued, softer yet somehow more intense. “I’m very serious, Locke. That man kidnapped me and threatened my entire family. And he did it without any emotion. What would you do if he threatened John? Or—forgive me—what if he did something to Ira?

“I know you mean well. You’re the Hero. Good guys can’t kill. Well, I’m not you, Locke. If another way to stop him comes along, I’ll happily oblige. I’ll let you do the hero thing. But, just know, if it comes down to it—if it’s us or him—I promise you, I will end him.”

Jane turned around without another word and continued forward. John and I exchanged worried looks.

// Face Danger Consequence

Let's ding the Crew.

-1 command [2]

// Oracle

Let's get a Starship First Look.

42: low-profile or disguised

54: obsolete design

Jack’s ship was an old but small and sleek out-dated model. Something from three or four generations ago, perhaps. It didn't look like the type of ship his family would be caught dead in, but maybe that was the point.

“Maybe the structure is beneath this,” I said. 

“On it.” Those were the first words out of Jane’s mouth since our disagreement. The comms had gone completely silent, everyone afraid to say something. Before I could get in another word, she’d phased into the ground below us.

// Face Danger

+2 (shadow) => 8 vs 1,9. WH

All things considered, that's a good roll.

Let's ding Momentum, since we have so much of it.

-1 momentum [9]

John signaled to cut the comms and I nodded. “Do you think she’s serious?”

“I hope not but…I think so.” We already had so many external threats, I didn’t want to have to watch Jane again. But what bothered me the most was that I couldn’t help but agree with the way she felt. I thought back to when we held Curtis Winter on board, and I had Slyly wished that my “luck” would take care of him the same way Akim had been dealt with.

But that wasn’t me, not really. I was a Bleeding Heart, all the good and bad parts of it. Even if I wanted to punch Jack Moriarty’s face until it caved in, I knew I never would. For now, I resigned to trusting her. Even when she was fighting her way off of the Scarlet Adler what felt like ages ago, she’d never done anything that warranted such suspicion.

She was still part of my crew. My family.

Jane climbed back to the surface near us before John could continue. “There’s like a tunnel beneath here.”

I Slyly turned my comms back on and sent the crew the coordinates, just in case we needed a quick evacuation. Then, doing my best to hide my hesitation, John and I stepped to either side of Jane and grabbed an arm. She looped hers around ours, holding us tight. “Hold you breath,” she said.

We slid much slower into the ground than I thought we would have. After ten seconds of squeezing my eyes shut, our heads went completely underground. A few more seconds later, we emerged through the ceiling of the tunnel she’d found. We began to plummet, but John was quick to provide us an updraft to slow our decent. We landed on our feet, and John and I released our grip on Jane before retracting our helmets.

// Oracle

I was going to roll on a derelict table, but I think they're going to land in a hallway.

Was the hallway lit? Likely, 75-: 23, yes.

Mark progress on how do I stop the moriartys.


The tunnel seemed to stretch on endlessly in both directions. Lucky for us, it was otherwise empty of life. I picked a direction and we began moving, John in front, Watt trailing behind us for added coverage. Seeing John in full SPD mode helped calm my nerves.

// Undertake an Expedition

I think this array will be as follows:

1-3: Fortified.

4-5: Derelict (roll for that)

6: Haunted

Let's set this expedition as ... Formidable. Why not.

Uuuh... just shadow, that's it. No bonuses.

+2: 5 vs 3,10. WH

Where are we? Array: 4, Derelict.

58: Medical. 

Area, 61: pharmacy or drug locker.

Feature, 84: stacks of body bags. Yikes.

Progress: 1/10

The tunnel emptied us out into what seemed to be a network of smaller hallways surrounding various rooms. We ducked into the first room that wasn’t some kind of boiler room or janitorial closet. Any clue would be helpful—

Body bags.

There were rows and rows of rolling metal tables, all with a body bag on top. None of them were empty.

“What the fuck?” Jane’s eyes grew wide.

John poked one of the bags with his gun, then carefully opened it to look inside. The Ripley in him faded a bit, replaced by the fearful persona of NEVERMORE. “This one…has a brand.”

There were at least a dozen of them. And if the one John looked through was any indication as to what the others contained, then…So many dead Branded.

But why?

// Oracle

I wonder…Does he find the medicine he saw being injected into that one Hivebranded, way back in Season 1? 

Likely, 75-: 64, yes.

Watt went from bag to bag, taking photos of the deceased within. Perhaps one day we could give their loved ones some closure. While he did that, I looked to see if there was anything else that could prove useful. The room was lined with cabinets and countertops that functioned as work stations. Neatly arranged vials instantly caught my attention. I moved closer, taking one into my hand and examining the liquid within.

// Endure Stress

-2 spirit [3]

(this is the Consequence for the Undertake Weak Hit)

+3: 5 vs 7, 8. Miss. I'm gonna burn my momentum.

so, 9 vs 7, 8. SH

+1 momentum [3]

It reminded me of what I saw being injected into the Hivebranded in my vision back on New Bohemia. I glanced back at the body bags, picturing the Hivebranded I saw in one of them. I still never knew what they were doing with them there, other than cruel experimentations. Why here, too? Rage and fear and despair began to bubble up. How could they do this? What gave them the right? If only I could—

Jane backed away from the body bags, her expression shifting from disgust to horror to…determination. 

I had to keep my cool. Or there’d be a lot of dead people after we were through here.

// Undertake an Expedition

+2 shadow => 5 vs 4, 9. WH

Array, 4: Derelict. 

79: Operations.

Area, 87: new zone via access

Access area: 67: lift or elevator.

feature, 85: wandering bot.

Sounds like a good enough complication to me.

Progress: 2/10

I pocketed a vial and gestured for the others to follow. Leaning into our Shadow, we made our way down an elevator and exited out in a similar looking area. Here, we were more selective about which rooms we entered, through John gave cursory checks to make sure we weren’t going to be discovered anytime soon. 

A thought nagged at me, forcing me to suppress feeling of doubt and worry. Why was there no personnel in this particular section? Was it an off day?

As we approached a four-way intersection, John held up a fist, signaling us to stop. A squeaking noise, like something rolling, echoed softly from afar. John silently motioned to the right hallway and we made a run for it, pressing up against the wall there.

// Oracle

Hmm. What does it look like it's purpose is?

Action+Theme: 47, 13: Focus Corruption.

Focus on corruption. So, spotting Branded?

No, because human tech shouldn't be able to do that. The bot in the precursor vault was different. 

Focus corruption could be helping them focus, but perhaps in a negative way.

What if it's their pill/medicine bot?

“It’s...some kind of bot…,” John said, gun held up at the ready. Jane grabbed his hand and my arm and phased us back into the wall a bit, leaving just our noses and eyes exposed. 

// Face Danger

+2 (shadow): 6 vs 1, 3. SH

+1 momentum [4]

It was not a pleasant feeling. 

But the bot passed without incident, turning away from us down another long hallway. Jane removed us from the wall and I let out a sigh of relief. From our vantage, I watched it go from room to room, slipping a robotic appendage through a small slot. It moved with speed and efficiency, going farther down the hallway and making another turn out of sight.

We were originally going to pass that hallway by, but now…

// Secure an advantage

+2 (shadow): 5 vs 1, 8. WH

+2 momentum [6]

Curiosity got the better of me. Before they could stop me, I ran across the intersection. There weren’t any windows to see through, but the slits were big enough that I could sneak a peek inside.

I swallowed hard. I turned to rejoin the others, only to find that they’d made their way over to me instead. “Prisoners,” I said.

“Probably Branded, too,” John added.

“We have to free them!”

I put a hand on Jane’s shoulder and shook my head. “I want to—trust me, I do—but there’s too many of them.” I gestured down the hall at the sheer number of rooms. “We can’t right now. We’ll be caught before we can make it back to the surface, and we might end up getting some of them killed.”

“They’re going to die if they stay in here!” She had that look again. This time, though, it was mixed with something much, much worse for me. Beneath all that anger was Jane as I’d first met her, watching me run away.

It pained me to know that I was going to have to do it again.

“I promise,” I said, grabbing her hands. She started to pull away but I squeezed them tight. She didn’t phase away, which gave me hope that she’d listen. “We are going to save them. I don’t want them trapped in here any longer than you do. But if we try to save them now, we’re just giving them false hope. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but I need you to trust me on this…please.”

Her eyes reminded me of Lestrade. The look she gave was meant to kill, or at least draw blood—and with Jane, it was a real possibility. But, she resigned, holding back her feelings for the moment.

I felt like complete shit.

// Undertake an Expedition

+2 (shadow): 8 vs 7, 8. Yet another WH

another Derelict. Area, 82: Operations. Okay, so we're doubling back it seems.

30: brig or cells

63: map of the site.

Okay, so not doubling back, but pressing forward.

Hmm. What's the peril?

61: hostile AI.

Ah, I think the bot we saw decides to rat us out.

Progress: 3/10

I nodded down the hall, where the bot had gone, and we began heading in that direction. We froze in place mere steps later, the bot rolling into view.


Before it could repeat its phrase, like lightning striking, I was in front of it. Appropriately, I placed a hand on the bot and sent a surge of electricity through it.

// Face Danger

+5 iron + lightning: 8 vs 3, 4. SH

-1 lightning [2]

+1 momentum [7]

It slumped to the ground in a heap.

“Well, they probably know we’re here now,” John said, looking behind him. 

“Let’s go. Quickly.”

Next week on ⚡️THUNDERFANG:

Jackpot! Locke and his crew have come across just the information they need.

But at what cost?

⚡️THUNDERFANG S3 #16: Jackpot
While exploring the evil underground facility, Locke and his crew stumble upon a jackpot. Lucky for them, right?

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!
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