While exploring the evil underground facility, Locke and his crew stumble upon a jackpot. Lucky for them, right?

⚡️THUNDERFANG S3 #16: Jackpot
⚡️THUNDERFANG S3 #15: The Promise
Locke, Ira, and Irēn may be the only Ironsworn in the crew, but that doesn’t mean only their promises hold weight.

The previous chapter


Season 3, Chapter 16

Undertake an Expedition

+1, edge. to the next area

6 vs 3, 7. Another WH

Array, 1: Fortified

Feature, 30: enemy forces assembled for an event


What are they meeting about?

DF: 81, 11: Remote Blockade.

Let's just ding momentum

-2 momentum [5]

Progress: 4/10

We bolted through the labyrinth of hallways. Had the bot managed to alert them to our presence? At the first sign of voices in the distance, Jane poked her head through a door and pulled us inside. Moments passed, breaths held as we waited for the inevitable. There had been no one in the area before—and then suddenly, a bot and personnel? I cursed silently under my breath. How had this suddenly shifted so out of our control? Or had this always been the plan for us—an inevitable outcome we couldn’t shake?

When nothing happened, John approached the door and pressed his ear against it. A sudden draft chilled the sweat beading my forehead.

“A group of them.” His Ripley-flavored voice brought some calm to my nerves. “They’re talking about…stopping the rebels on New Bohemia. Must be referring to Legacy. They don’t know for certain if they’re here on Saffron just yet, but…Something about a timetable.”

What could they have planned? Were they sending the Branded we’d seen off to Avam? Was this what happened to us while we waited for our one-way trip to hell?

No, they were planning something else. I could almost taste it. But what?

“They’re saying these new subjects are more resistant to the drugs,” John continued. “They don’t know why. They think they’re…” He took a step back from the door, brow raised. The air shifted, the Ripley in his voice now twinged with Nevermore. “They think they’re evolving, Locke.”

“That’s a good thing, right? That means they won’t be able to subdue them for long, and they can fight back.” Jane’s mood visibly lifted, her face bright and joyous…only for the false hope to die as realization hit her. “Oh, right. Malice. Never mind.”

When John signaled that the coast was clear, Jane phased us through the door again and we pushed on. We needed to find what we came here for and get the hell out before something much worse happened. We didn’t have much to go on in this maze-like facility, but we kept checking rooms, hoping to find something useful.

Undertake an Expedition

+2 shadow: 8 vs 1, 8. WH. Sigh.

Array, 5: Derelict.

Area, 5: Community.

73: restaurant or dining.

60: guard post or surveillance

Progress: 5/10

To our surprise, the evil underground lair had a rather normal cafeteria. It was a large, pristine, well-lit room. I had expected metal, stone, and brick, with grime over the walls and slop on every tray, drone-like workers shambling under the weight of their evil deeds. What I got was pure white walls adorned with lush plant life and artwork. People laughed and chitchatted amongst themselves while grabbing delicious smelling food from a small buffet area. Some wore lab coats, others wore business suits or everyday civilian clothing.

Somehow this was more disturbing.

The only thing reminding me of where we were was a guard post in the center of the room. But even the two stationed within were wearing simple suits, each with a tray of what seemed to be pasta and salad. They were talking and smiling, barely paying attention to what was going on around them.

Across the dining area was another passage. Our only way through.

“Are we’re going to have to pass through here?” John whispered as we regrouped around the corner. There were at least fifty people between us and the way forward.

Jane squinted at him. “Are you seriously worried, Mr. ‘I Can Blend In With A Crowd By Just Changing My Voice’?” John stuck his tongue out at her.

“I think I’m the only one who has anything to worry about,” I said. “Jane, you take Watt and phase through the walls and meet us over there. John, you do you. I will do my best to not get caught, but if I do, find what we need regardless and get out, okay? I’ll…find a way out or something.” John wanted to protest but I cut him off the second he opened his mouth. There was too much at stake here.

Jane took hold of Watt and phased through the floor. John stood up straight, switching his suit to look like a very tightly wrapped lab coat. I followed his lead.

“Remember: walk like you belong. Don’t be afraid to say hi to people you pass.”

I nodded and took a deep breath and watched John walk away. His stride was something between the professionalism of Ripley with the know-it-all movements of Dr. Watson. Just as he suggested, he greeted two people who he passed, who simply responded without question before returning to their conversation. And, as if flaunting his prowess, he walked up and grabbed a piece of fruit from the buffet.

I just wanted to get across without blowing it. John was a natural at this, becoming whoever he wanted.

I tried to get my breathing under control, then walked into the cafeteria.

Face Danger

+2 (shadow): 3 vs 1, 10. lol Wow WH

I'll happily take this weak hit.

Let's ding...Spirit. I think I want the voice to bother him now.

-1 spirit [2]

Not gonna endure.

I didn’t try to mimic his steps; I’d probably end up tripping and bringing even more attention to myself. Instead, I kept my head down and did my best to avoid eye contact with anyone. I couldn’t help but feel incredibly obvious. Were they really going to think my suit was a lab coat? Maybe I should have done a simple all black; the guards had something close to it, perhaps I could have blended in as one of them. 

Another hundred feet.


Shut it, I snapped. Now was not the time for my pessimistic thoughts to make things worse. I steeled my nerves and kept going. Every step felt like pure agonizing eternity. But I pushed through the double doors on the other side without incident.

Undertake an Expedition

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

Array, 4: Derelict.

Area, 15: Engineering

46: Life support

76: unfinished project

Progress: 6/10

I think what I'm going to do is split this cost up.

-1 to momentum [4]

And -1 to Watt [3]

Why Watt? This is simply going to represent the world around them being harder for Watt to help. He'll be taken down easier in a fight, and his hacking will be less useful to them. 

What's the unfinished project about, at a glance?

Action+Theme: 18, 99: Challenge Weapon.

I think, at a glance, this is merely a weapon for war of some kind. That's all Locke can get at a glance.

John stood idly eating the apple he’d picked up. I couldn’t help by roll my eyes at him. Watt floated a bit down the hall, and we moved in sync towards him, rounding a corner where Jane swiftly ushered us into a room and closed the door behind us.

“That was horrifying,” I said. I took a seat on a metal folding chair and tried to gather myself.

“You did fine.” John patted my shoulder encouragingly.

“Oh look, life support systems.” Jane walked along a wall opposite John. Air was being filtered through large tubes and machines, presumably taking the harsh air from the planet’s surface and spitting out breathable air down here. “Who wants to suffocate everyone down here?” She raised her hand with a devious smile.

“Jane, we are not—” I stood up, knocking over a notebook that’d been apparently leaning against the chair I was sitting in. John picked it up and skimmed through the first few pages. “No killing. There’s still another way, I promise.” She rolled her eyes.

“It’s notes on some kind of weapon,” John said. Curiosity took hold. He handed it to me and I laid it down on a nearby desk, flipping from page to page.

Explore a Waypoint

+2 (wits): 3 vs 1, 3. WH. Lots of weak hits.

+1 momentum [5]

Okay, now Descriptor Focus to flesh this out

77, 85: Prominent System.

...I'm sorry, is this a fucking weapon to challenge the other sectors??

That...that is juicy.

And...holy shit. This lines up with the Benevolent, actually.

The water crisis. The army of Risen. It makes sense.

Jack wants to invade the other sectors.

This might also tie back in to the documents Locke found at Mihara.

Mark Progress

Mark progress on stopping Moriartys



I started over, taking the time to read through each page the second time around. John saw my expression and I felt the air still. “Locke, what’s wrong?”

“These are notes on using Risen…Not just as mindless servants, but weapons. And Branded, too. This talks about how best use this army to take over the other sectors.”

“What the hell!?” Jane practically screamed, though her volume became clipped midway through. The air had shifted again and John rushed to lock the door. “Why would they attack the other sectors?”

“Jack can’t be that power hungry…can he?” John asked concerned.

“Maybe. Or maybe it’s the entire family. But, what scares me more is…” I couldn’t bring myself finish the thought. I didn’t want to jinx it and give my fear life. John’s expression mimicked mine, though, as if our thoughts were in sync.

Jane looked at the two of us. “I don’t follow. What scares you more? Why the faces?” 

“Isn’t it odd that we just…found this here?” John swallowed hard. “Notes detailing exactly what they plan to do?”

“Maybe we’re just lu—Wait, no. Right. We can’t use the L-word. We just hit the jackpot. That’s a safe word, right? It happens sometimes. Please don’t make this a big conspiracy, too. We’re already dealing with a lot here and I’m not sure we can handle any more.”

A shiver ran down my spine. She went from using the L-word to jackpot? Why that word, of all words? “Doesn’t matter. This might be enough to expose Jack and everything the Moriartys have planned. Let’s get the hell out of here.”

Finish an expedition

This will represent them leaving, and how well they can do it.

6 vs...1, 10. Weak hit.

Not too bad. 2 ticks.

and a complication...

What's t—



I wanted to do this during the expedition, as hinted by the Array,

So, I'll plug in that "thing" at the end.

I'm buying an asset right now...

The trek back to our starting point was just as agonizing as when we’d came through. The voice in my head was louder than before, laughing and taunting at my current “success,” hinting at my future failures. 




I hated to admit it, but the voice had a point. Something wasn’t right here. I could feel it. Or…was I just imagining it? What if we had simply caught a lucky break?


Never mind, I wasn’t imagining it. This was too easy, just like with Althea. The low-hanging fruit had been dangled directly in front of us and we took it, just like we were supposed to. What did this mean, though? Whose hand guided us, and what exactly were we being guided to?

Rounding the corner after the cells of Branded prisoners, we made our way back to the tunnel in which we’d originally entered. We hadn’t dared try to find another way out, as we wouldn’t know what would be above us when we exited. Coming back here had been the right option.

Or so I thought.

The lights flickered as we slowed down. Jane looked at me suspiciously. “I’m not doing that,” I assured her—but I double checked my internal battery. This didn’t seem like something I was causing, even by accident.

They flickered a few more times, plunging us into total darkness for a few seconds. When the lights returned—

I inhaled sharply, eyes widened. In terror? Disbelief? Maybe a mixture of both.

Standing further down the hallway was a little boy. One who had not been there before the lights went off. Just a little over five-feet tall, wearing a blue collared shirt and beige pants. Unlike last time, however, his face didn’t hold the same snark and sarcasm as when I last saw him in the desert on New Bohemia.

No. This time Michael looked worried.

Not now. I don’t have time for another vision.

My companions were busy working through how they were getting back to the surface. John mentioned something about flying, but I was too distracted. Once again, Michael was standing before me. But why? Why was I seeing Michael right now?

Secure an Advantage

+2 (heart and..... Haunted)

7 vs 2, 10. WH

+2 momentum [7]

(Just realized I never Endured Stress here. Whoops!)

“You can’t go that way!” Michael shouted, pointing up. “They’re waiting for you.”


Jane and John continued to discuss details as if they hadn’t heard my older brother yell just now. 

Was I going insane?

“Locke, sound good?” John asked. I felt the air shift in the tunnel, going from still air to a light breeze and then to something more. 

Michal was just a hallucination…right?

“LOCKE!” The concern in Michael’s eyes…The desperation in his voice. It all seemed so real. It didn’t sound like he was in my mind. It felt like I was hearing him with my ears and seeing him with my own eyes.

“We can’t go that way.” The words stumbled out of me.

“What? Why not? Everyone else is waiting to pick us up,” Jane said.

“Trust me. We have to find another way.”

Secure an Advantage

+2 (wits)

6 vs 8, 9. Miss.

I think this is the perfect time for this.

Let's use Fugitive to bump this up to a Strong hit

+2 momentum [9]

+1 forward...

...and the fugitive clock is now full.

Michael waved me over and, against my better judgement, I ran towards him. The others protested but I couldn’t stop. I rounded a corner, chasing after Michael, and—

The alarms blared.

"So much for this being the right way!" Jane screamed.

Down the hall, an army. At least twenty, maybe more, each soldier clad in some kind of full-body suit. Before them stood a man. A very familiar one, his face showing not an ounce of emotion.

“Well, look who it is. The infamous Detective. Seems as if I hit the jackpot.”

“Yeah, sorry to bother you,” Jane said sarcastically. “But we were just leaving. Love what you’ve done with the place, by the way. It’s…psychotic. Very on-brand for you.” She stepped forward, staring down Jack while flexing the fingers on her right hand. 

“He needs to know that he can never do that to me, or anyone else, ever again…No heart for the heartless.” Jane’s words echoed in my mind.

I stepped in front of her and John, and the air shifted. “We were just leaving,” I said. This had to be a trap. But why would Michael lead me this way if it was a trap?

“I’m afraid that’s not going to happen,” Jack said, his monotonous voice somehow grating. “I went through all this trouble to kill you. I hope it is painful.”

He gestured and the army behind him began to advance.

Enter the Fray


+2 (wits + 1 forward). This seems very trap-like.

8 vs 1, 1! STRONG HIT + MATCH!

This has to be a good sign, right?


+2 momentum [10] and in control

Oh, what's the nature of this match?

I will say, I had a really neat dramatic moment planned for this fight, but for the sake of honoring the match, I may ruin it and give that detail to them.

The air shifted again, this time coming from behind us, towards the oncoming threat. And the three of us launched ourselves into the fray. There was no point in hiding ourself. Jack had outed two of us to the world, brandishing us as fugitives, and had went to great lengths to kidnap Jane. 

Perhaps it was time to remind him of who exactly we were.

John spun out in front of us and sliced the air with a hand, sending a massive gust of wind to knock back their advancement. The first two rows tumbled into one another. Watt floated over head, distracting some momentarily.

“Jane, you get through and subdue—SUBDUE!—Jack. John and I will—”

A loud beep from Watt drew my attention. It was the same kind of beep he’d used to alert me that something was not the way it seemed, like when he tried to inform me that Ira was not a hallucination back on New Bohemia. As the soldiers climbed to their feet and he made his way back to us, Watt flashed a message that caused me to groan loudly.

“Bad news,” I said. “They’ve got Mimic suits.” The army returned to their feet and resumed their approach. I had to assume my Branding would be useless here, or at least evened out. Hopefully that was all they had a chance to Mimic. I didn’t see fuel lines for Infernomimics, and most other Brandings, especially ones like John’s and Jane’s, were difficult to replicate.

Perhaps we still had the upper hand, especially with their advantage known. We could easily counter that. 

Besides, I never needed my abilities to punch.

We charged, Jane slipping past electrified fingers with ease, heading towards her primary target. John became Ripley and pulled out his gun, firing shot after shot into the soldiers before us. I ran alongside his fire and gripped the first soldier and began laying into them.


+3 => 9 vs... 1, 1?! Really?

Progress twice. 2/10

FINE. I'll ruin the OTHER dramatic moment then.

They fell with ease. Bullets and well-placed punches downed more than a few, while Jane took a few moments to kick a few out of her way.

Not that I hoped for it, but some of them had to be dead. One I had just attacked fell at such an odd-angle, and then got ripped through by John. Their fighting styles were also peculiar and I put too much oomph into some of the blows, expecting their suits to withstand a bit more of my Iron. Instead, they fell like we were a hot knife through butter.

Something clicked for me. I don’t know what—perhaps I was getting used to things surprising us. Odd angles, odd fighting styles. None of them screamed or grunted. They just fell and writhed a bit. Almost like—

I rushed back towards John, managing to grab Jane during one of her solid moments.

“What the hell!? I was having fun! Show the fucker what I can do now that HE CAN’T HOLD MY FAMILY HOSTAGE!”

“Jane! They’re already dead!” I pointed just as some of the downed soldiers began standing again. There was no blood, only a dark ichor that oozed from bullet wounds. John stepped forward and placed another few shots into the head of a nearing soldier and it dropped with ease.

And then immediately began shambling back to its feet.

“They’re Risen! Risen in Mimic suits!” John shouted before once again shoving as many as he could back with a gust of wind.

In the back of the army, unfazed, Jack began clapping. Somehow, this action had more emotion in it than him, as it all felt so very sarcastic. “You are good, Detective.”

“Wait, this means I don’t have to hold back, right?” Jane asked, a hint of bloodlust and rage peeking through behind a sudden smile.

I nodded. 

Everyone needed an outlet sometimes, right?

Jane and I rushed into the throng of Risen together.


+3 => 6 vs 1, 4. SH.

I have never seen his luck this good before.

Something's up. lol

Mark progress twice. 4/10

One by one, we took their heads off—literally. I snapped barely held together necks while Jane shoved her hand into them and removed stabilizing bones. Seven fell with ease before more began to rush us. 

“To the sides!” John shouted and I obliged without question. It took Jane a few more seconds—as she was ripping out another Risen’s spine—before she did the same, and John flooded the tunnel with wind.

Gain Ground

I think this might be Wits?

+2 => 4 vs 4, 9. Miss.

Buuuut we have 10 momentum, so let's use it.

10 vs 4, 9. Strong hit!

Let's mark progress (5/10) and

+2 momentum [4]

The undead soldiers were resilient at first, apparently getting used to John’s tricks. But I saw the smirk on John’s face when the wind suddenly stopped. The Risen began to stand upright once more, but before they could get a good footing, he blasted them again, knocking them off balance and sending them hurtling back.

Jack just…stood there, as if unbothered by the wind and the tiny bits of Risen flesh whizzing past him.

Just before John’s wind subsided, I hopped into the center, letting it propel me forward.


+3 => 5 vs 1, 4. SH!

Mark progress twice. 7/10

This might be a good point to just let it be, right?

I knocked a few Risen down as I ran, the wind boosting my Edge like never before. Jane did the same after spotting me, and she phased one Risen into another and left them to deal with their new conjoined fates. One by one, whether by gunshot or wind, stolen body parts, or Iron-backed punches, each Risen was taken care of.

Take Decisive Action

7 vs... 4, 8. Weak hit. I expected this, actually.

And I don't want this to mess things up TOO much, so I know what the cost will be.

Jack stood further down the hall, expression unchanged. Watching.

“Thank you for this insight, Detective,” Jack said. “I knew the girl would be a valuable weapon one day. I cannot wait to reclaim her.”

“I am not a fucking weapon! And you do not get to have me, ever!”

“Are you sure about that?” Jack gestured behind him.

More soldiers. More Mimic suits.

We’d gotten off easy the first time around. Hell, it was almost fun. But I couldn’t expect that to happen again. And he seemed to have expected us to win. Was he gathering data on how we fought so he could—

No. I couldn’t let my mind wander down that path. Not yet.

“John, Jane, let’s go.”

Face Danger

I think...Edge, for speed?

+1 => 7 vs 6, 7. WH.

I thiiiiiiiink I like if Locke takes a point of health, too.

-1 harm [4]

Not enduring.

Also, the cost for the WH on Take Decisive Action was -2 lightning [0]

Before she could run off, John pulled her back. She fought briefly but the sound of stomping boots in the distance seemed to make her reconsider. There was double, maybe even triple, what we’d just faced. So many Risen. Where had they gotten them all from? And why where they here, on Portent? There’d never been a Risen phenomenon here, so—

Something grabbed my leg. I looked down. Still attempting to fulfill its duty, a Risen had slithered its way to us despite not having one of its legs and missing its spine.

Its hand sparked. I screamed.

And the world faded to black.

Also, this week on ⚡️THUNDERFANG:

Inevitable Event #1

Loving Husbands at the End of the World

In an apocalyptic world, two loving husbands struggle to survive each miserable day.

Loving Husbands at the End of the World

Next week on ⚡️THUNDERFANG:

Locke awakens from a long slumber with memories of an apocalyptic nightmare on his mind.

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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