Locke hopes cooking—and speaking—from his heart can get him the answers he seeks.

⚡️THUNDERFANG S3 #2: From the Heart
⚡️THUNDERFANG S3 #1: The Game is Afoot
Locke and his crew chase down Curtis Winter aboard the deep-space settlement Obon.

The previous chapter

From the Heart

Season 3, Chapter 2

// Oracle

Hmm. Now, this could be a number of moves. I'm trying to get the intent right. He's making a dish to sec— well, I probably shouldn't use the word "secure" in this description. 

Okay, Secure an Advantage then. Let's do wits.

+2 (wits) => 7 vs 1, 7. Weak hit.

Let's do +2 momentum [6]

What does she say about the dish? Descriptor Focus: 47, 11. Frozen Blockade. 

I slid the bowl towards Corra and wiped my hands on the apron, leaving behind even more evidence of my attempt. I wasn’t a professional chef—barely a home cook. The presentation wouldn’t win any awards, but maybe—just maybe—the flavors would. 

“Can you describe the dish for me, please?”

I cleared my throat, nerves suddenly taking over. It wasn’t about the discount now. Sure, it’d be great, but I was more concerned with ruining one of the only good memories of my childhood. I took in a deep breath. Watt displayed a scrolling banner saying, “You got this!!!!!”

“On the bottom is a layer of white rice”—which I had to recook because I messed up the first batch—“with a hearty serving of curry mixed with assorted vegetables. Strips of lightly seasoned and grilled steak sits on top.” I was thankful that Corra had some frozen vegetables, and that she had real steak. I regretted not knowing what meat my mother served us—though, in hindsight, I was thankful that my younger self didn’t inquire too much about what she served us. She could afford it, and it was edible and good, which was all that mattered.

On the off chance that what I had prepared was decent, I made another two bowls, one for Ira and one for myself. Ira was no stranger to my curry attempts; he’d been through the worst of them and kept on tasting. He and John had given me countless tips. My only hope was that I remembered all that they’d told me.

Corra stepped away from the wall and, with zero hesitation, took a spoon and dug in. Ira did as well.

The wait was agonizing. I didn’t mind getting critiques from the others. I wasn’t trying to win an award with them or anything. But Corra? Her menu was filled with dishes from all over the Forge, many of which I’d never heard of. And what we had was amazing. I highly doubted this meal would end up amongst the greats, even if I considered it highly. She was some kind of master chef, swearing Vows and taking countless Expeditions to hunt down every ingredient and recipe that ever existed, and Connecting with others to acquire what they knew.

Would my subpar dish cause her to Forsake it all? Would it be that bad?

Corra took multiple bites. Apparently I hadn’t poisoned her—a small relief. She tasted each component individually and then together, then separately again. She looked up to the ceiling more than once, deep in thought, sometimes chewing slowly and at others it was like she was swishing the food around her tongue. 

Did I make it too salty? Too sweet? Oh fuck, had I added sugar instead of salt? Was that actually steak? Fuck, was it something she was going to throw out tonight? Oh no, had I forgotten the spices in the curry?

Ira ate about half the bowl and sat it down and winked at me. Okay, so it wasn’t horrible—

“The vegetables are a little cold, “ she said abruptly, “and the rice is underdone. The meat is also overcooked, which is sad. I prefer medium-rare. Also, the—” She stopped and seemed to realize her surroundings. She held back a guilty smile and her entire demeanor changed, from one of a strict chef with a critical eye, to a light-hearted woman eager to serve. “My apologies. I was getting a bit too technical. Blame my background, not my heart.” Her smile reassured me that she meant what she said. 

“I know what you were aiming for with this, Locke. I’ve tasted something similar a few times while on…” She trailed off as she smacked her lips, searching the ceiling for an answer. “I believe it was New Bohemia? Perhaps somewhere else as well. Yes, you’ve added your own touches and I appreciate them all. I can tell you were cooking from your heart. I think you’ve helped me understand an aspect of the dish I was missing, and for that I am thankful.” In a flurry of motion, she grabbed a sheet of paper and began writing, then handed it to me. I looked it over skeptically before realizing it was tips on making the dish better. Ingredients to add or remove, perfecting medium-rare steak, additional vegetable ideas, and wine pairings. I smiled as she motioned for us to return to the front.

Ira nudged me playfully. It wasn’t a perfect score but I felt good. Hopefully, life would calm down enough for me to make good use of the advice she’d given me.

“Please, if you’re ever in the area, come back! Would love to see some other dishes. You look very well travelled.” 

The discount was very good. I would have expected to pay ten times what I did, but it seemed that, for the price of one subpar curry, I was only paying for maybe two people’s dining experience.

I made it a few steps out of the door of the Cracked Cauldron before I turned and realized Ira was not at my side. He was standing inside, in front of Corra, eyes trained on the floor.

“Ira,” I said. “What’s—”

“Corra,” he said, eyes shifting to look her. “Have you seen a woman here—oh crap, how long ago did she come? She looks like me. My twin sister. Oh, I have a picture.” Before he could grab a device from his pocket, Watt floated next to him and projected a small photo of Iren onto the countertop. “Thanks, Watt.”

// Gather Information

Gather Information

+2 (wits) => 7 vs 1, 3, 7 => 7 vs 1,3. Strong hit!

+2 momentum [8]

What do we learn? Let's say, how to get to her, so Action Theme: 42, 26: Evade Discovery.

Hm. I need more. Descriptor Focus: 23, 98: Contested Weapon.

How to get to her is "evade discovery", and additional context of "contested weapon."

We need to sneak somewhere—probably within the Salvi Pass, as luck would have it.

Corra leaned in and inspected the hologram closely. “So many people come through here, I’m afraid. I might have seen her but I can’t be sure.”

Ira exhaled heavily, defeated. I hated seeing him like this. Watt dismissed the hologram and floated beside Ira as they joined me at my side. I took another few steps to realize that he was, once again, not following me.

Ira spun around, locking eyes with Corra once more. “What about a dish?”

// Oracle

What kind of dish would Ira bring up? Descriptor+Focus: 45, 84: Foul Symbol.

A bad memory? Perhaps for Ira it's bad, but his sister loved it.


Why doesn't he like the dish?

Action+Theme: 3, 95: Advance War.

He rushed back inside and described a dish I’d never heard of. He listed off ingredients like a madman. And it had chicken? The Ironlands were lucky enough to have chicken? How the hell had I missed that?

Her eyes widened. I couldn’t tell whether it was from gaining knowledge of the dish, or if she recognized it. She quickly confirmed it was the latter.

“Yes!” She said loudly, then lowered her tone and did her best to contain what seemed to be a giggle of excitement attempting to burst forth. “Oh, yes! I do remember someone making that dish for me. Very Ironlandic flavors! A woman—oh my, she does look like you!”

She quickly scribbled down things on another sheet of paper, though she kept this one for herself. “I don’t remember the entire conversation, but she did say she was following up on a lead about her parents, in the Salvi Pass.

// Oracle

80: Rocky world

36: none/thin atmosphere

58: orbital settlement

60: misshapen form (low gravity) 

75: perpetual night

80: life-> scarce


Orbital. Population, 96: Tens of thousands

I like "Stella."

"She was going to a settlement called Stella.”

Relief washed over Ira and he grabbed Corra from behind the bar and hugged her tight. She was caught off guard, but quickly returned the gesture. He thanked her profusely and left with a large smile on his face.

// Progress

Mark progress on the Irén vow. (6/10, Dangerous)

I loved seeing him smile.

Outside of the Cracked Cauldron, the din of Obon had settled into a soft hum as we approached ship night. Pockets of activity sprung up around bars and entertainment areas as the night crowd took over. There was was no artificial sun like in the Ironlands, but the lights dimmed slightly, giving the place a rather sleepy feel.

“What dish was that?” I asked Ira as we walked back to the Scarlet Adler. “I never heard you talk about it before.”

His smile began to fade, the first clue that I had asked the wrong question. He was silent for a long moment, only half-present with me. That dish did something to him, something I didn’t like. “I don’t have fond memories of that dish,” he said softly. “Irēn loved it, but I didn’t. Our parents used to make it all the time. I wanted to like it so badly, be just like them. But no matter how many times I tried it, I hated it, and it just made me feel like more of a Miss. I guess she was very fond of it if she showed it to Corra.”

I desperately wanted to make all of his pain go away, make this moment better again. But I knew that no amount of trying was going to change his mood, not right now. I hated that his past had so many bad memories. Even the seemingly harmless ones like a meal with his family carried baggage. He didn’t deserve that kind of life. He deserved to be happy.

I fiddled with my ring as we walked, my thumb brushing up against the smooth black iron. I renewed a personal Vow to myself to protect his happiness at all costs.

Back aboard the Scarlet Adler, Ira went to go change in our sleeping quarters while Kaisa and Blackstone took me to see Curtis, who was being held in the storage area. They were clearly frustrated. Kaisa swung the storage door open to reveal our bound and gagged captive, who didn’t bother to look up at my arrival.

“He won’t say anything,” Kaisa said. “We asked him a million questions, made even more threats. Nothing.”

He seemed to be holding up well, and I didn’t see any signs that my crew had deviated from our morals. Kaisa closed the door on him and sighed heavily.

“Are we just gonna keep him as a pet chained up here?” Blackstone asked as we headed back to the main communal area.

“I can’t risk him getting out and talking to the other Benevolent,” I said. “Until we can think of a way to deal with him, he’s going to have to be a prisoner for now.”

“I could always torture him,” Jane said, eyes playful and sadistic. I shot her a look. “I’m just kidding!… mostly.”

“We need to get going,” I said to everyone as I gestured for John to join me in the cockpit. “We need to head back to the Salvi Pass, to Stella. We’re going to find Ira’s sister and hopefully put a stop to all of this craziness going on. Maybe Curtis will talk if we give him some time.”

There were a few grumbles, but no one put up a fight. Everyone dispersed to begin preparing for the dangerous journey ahead. It wasn’t going to be easy, considering we were wanted all over the Salvi Pass. But I had confidence in my crew’s abilities, so I didn’t dwell on the what ifs. Within the hour, we were off.

// Undertake an Expedition

How difficult is this journey? We need to stay hidden. We are on the run. I'm afraid of making it Formidable. Let's do Dangerous.

+2 (shadow). I think this is the only bonus we have, sooo... => 3 vs 6, 8. Miss. Starting this off wonderfully. Let's do..

Use Fugitive [Clock: 1/4]

Making this a Strong Hit!

Progress: 2/10

Space sighting, 50: derelict. Iiiiinteresting.

What kind of things have been happening on the Scarlet Adler

Action+Theme: 25, 43: Control History. They've been telling stories.

derelict condition: cold and dark.

outer: 3, blocked access.

The Scarlet Adler was silent for a long time, not many words between any of us. It was typically like this until we got to a waypoint where we could recharge—both the ship and ourselves.

As we neared our first waypoint, everyone began gathering in the common area outside the cockpit. John made everyone tea as I settled the Scarlet Adler into a comfortable spot a short flight’s distance away from a derelict.

“The last time we went to a ship like that,” John said, pointing to the derelict, visible from one of the viewports, “it was full of Risen—but they were being controlled by plants!”

There’s an idea: let’s drop Curtis off in a derelict and let him find his own way home.” 

And I thought Jane was aggressive when she hated me.

As John recounted the story about Shiningstar, it made me remember all that we went through. There were too many coincidences there for my liking. Not only had we discovered that the lead doctor in charge of the whole thing was Ashley Hendrix, but we also saved her from being eaten by a plant-infested Risen—formerly known as Juro Mihari of Mihara Industries—giving her ample opportunities to escape. What was her plan with Shiningstar? That question had been burning a whole in my mind for ages now.

He was out of sight on a lower level, but I looked in Curtis’s direction, my curiosity taking over. I excused myself from the group and went to retrieve crackers and another mug of tea, then headed to the storage area to see our prisoner.

I tapped into my inner electricity—I had enough in case things went south. I sat the mug down in front of Curtis as well as the crackers, and proceeded to unlock one of the chains binding his right arm—from our previous encounters, he favored this one, so I assumed this was his dominant hand. A gesture of good faith. I also removed the gag from his mouth. Unless he could spit shards of ice at me as well, I had nothing to worry about. He was already mostly naked.

Curtis remained silent, eyes fixed on me as if unsure of what I might do. I wanted to force him to talk. Jane was a little aggressive but I couldn’t deny that her methods would produce results. I was reminded of my time on Avam, when I used my fists more than my words. I wanted to punch him repeatedly, or deliver carefully charged electric pulses into his body. I didn’t like being toyed with and I hated that the people close to me had been affected. 

But…I wasn’t on Avam, not anymore. I was a hero now. A Bleeding Heart. It wasn’t a title I chose, but I gladly accepted it.

“I have no intention of killing you, or even hurting you. I just want to stop you—and the rest of the Benevolent. Work with me.”

Curtis said nothing. He did, however, take a sip of the tea before resuming his stoic state.

“What was Dr. Hendrix doing on Shiningstar with Mihara?”


“Curtis, please.” I held back any sign of a threat. I wanted—needed to use my Heart, not my Iron. Maybe if I appealed with my Heart, he’d help out, even in a small way. I needed to know what Hendrix was doing on Shiningstar, why she was meeting with Mihara, what purpose Mihara served in all of this, and what the hell Althea Lontoc was up to.

// Compel

Locke is purposefully trying to be nice, and not threatening him. So, we go with Heart.

+1 => 3 vs 2, 10. Weak hit.

My gut tells me to go with "Let me go."

Is that it? Likely, 75-: 26, yes.

But he remained silent. Cold.

I sighed, disappointed. There was always later. I left the tea and crackers and headed out the—

“Let me go.”

I stopped short, turning around slowly to look at him. 

“Let me go, and I’ll talk.”

Next week on ⚡️THUNDERFANG:

What Curtis has to say only confuses Locke more. In an attempt to unwind and just relax, the crew plays a harmless game of hide and seek amongst themselves...

⚡️THUNDERFANG S3 #3: Hide and Seek
After a confusing bomb drop from Curtis, the crew aboard the Scarlet Adler play hide and seek…

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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