After a confusing bomb drop from Curtis, the crew aboard the Scarlet Adler play hide and seek...

⚡️THUNDERFANG S3 #3: Hide and Seek
⚡️THUNDERFANG S3 #2: From the Heart
Locke hopes cooking—and speaking—from his heart can get him the answers he seeks.

The previous chapter

Hide and Seek

Season 3, Chapter

“What could he possibly tell us that would make us let him go?” 

Fletcher made a good point.

“And how will we trust anything he says?”

Solid logic from Blackstone.

I sighed and ran my hand through my hair as we stood in the communal area, debating on the best course of action with Curtis. I’d come to realize there wasn’t much we could do. They were right. Whatever he told me would be worthless and there’d be no point in letting him go. Even if he told me the truth, I don’t think I would believe him. I’d end up looking over my shoulder at every turn, expecting the remaining Benevolent to come swooping in at any moment.

“We could just space him.”

“Jane, we’re not going to kill him,” I said.

We spent the next hour confirming that there was no perfect solution to this. Every idea was quickly countered. We didn’t trust Curtis or any member of the Benevolent, and there wasn’t much he could give us outside of his allegiance—and I doubt I could convince him to do that, no matter what everyone said. We’d hit a dead end.

“We could blame him for something, get him on the radar for bounty hunters, and hand him off to them to deal with,” Blackstone said.

“You’d pass him off to another bounty hunter?” Jane asked. “We might as well just kill him ourself!” 

John sat upright. “What if we track him?”

// Check Your Gear

Do we have a tracking device.

+3 => 5 vs 4, 7. Weak hit.

I think...let's use some Command for this. Debated on taking the WH, or burning my 8 momentum, but I want Momentum for the next leg of this expedition. So,

-1 crew [2]

With this new SH, we get +1 momentum [9]

Without waiting for a response, he ran off. I could hear him search through boxes in one of the other rooms. “I thought I had a few somewhere…” His voice trailed before he yelled in excitement and came out holding—

A mangled device. The casing was cracked and its wiring was exposed. There was no way that would work. “Okay, so, it’s a little broken…” He sighed heavily.

Yelena walked over and gently took it from his hands. She nodded confidently after looking it over for a moment. “I can fix this.” Without another word, Yelena headed towards the room she had commandeered as the lab. Watt and John shared a glance and followed her.

// Develop Your Relationship

Progress with Yelena! (3/10, troublesome)

“Not the worst idea,” Blackstone said.

When I checked in on Curtis a few hours later, I saw that the food I’d left him was gone, as well as most of the tea. Lucky for him, I’d brought some of our leftovers. Hopefully food would help loosen his lips.

“We’ve decided to drop you off at the next settlement. You just need to give us something first. Something we can use.” It was still a gamble, but we had come to the conclusion that even if he lied, it might still tell us something useful.

Again, a gamble, but it was our best shot.

I opened the leftovers and sat them in front of him, letting the steam escape and the aroma fill the air. There was a heaping of vegetables we’d gotten from Obon and some meat we’d had in the freezer that Blackstone worked her magic on. I sat a fork on top and gently nudged it in his direction.

No longer keeping up his stoic act, Curtis took a few bites.

And, to my surprise, began talking.

// Oracle

What does Curtis tell him?

Descriptor Focus: 45, 70: Foul Resource.

Sounds like Risen to me.

What was the end goal? Action+Theme: 51, 9: Guard Bond.

What is Curtis's purpose in the Benevolent? Because his introduction wasn't planned, it seems like he's the low-hanging fruit, the useless one.

But there had to be a reason.

Action Theme: 85, 58: Secure Opportunity. 

When we first met Curtis, he was a security guard in the underground facility beneath the Salvi Sigil.

Wait. The "Bond" in "Guard Bond": is that the family? As in, the Moriartys?

"Resource" could also be battery—which I think falls in line with a lot of things we already have.

Omfg... the Salvi Sigil has the shit where Risen just pop up. I forgot all about that.

Gotcha! So, they were going to use the dead bodies kinda like they do on Amonkhet.

Slaves, guard, etc. Protecting all the "high ranking" families and shit.

Curtis was going to replace someone higher up, that's the opportunity he was going to secure. This way, the Benevolent was stationed in pretty effective areas.

Revealed character aspect: 2, Adventurous.

What??? What the hell does that mean in this context?........

Future Tavon here: This is the perfect spot for a detail.

“Whaddya wanna know?” he asked with a mouthful.

“Why was Dr. Hendrix on Shiningstar?”

“Testing,” he said matter of factly. “Some sciencey-shit. Their immortality project was supposed to help her do something with the Risen.”

“Testing for what, though?”

“She was trying to find a way to create and control the Risen.”

What?! My face clearly said the same, and Curtis continued. “Eternal, mindless slaves.” He shoved another forkful in his mouth. “We’re pretty far ahead on that plan, so I’m not too worried about you ruining that,” he said with a smirk.

“What the hell do you plan to do with an army of Risen?” I quelled my anger. Were they planning to take over—

“Guard dogs.”


“Sell them to the rich. They don’t need to be fed or taken care of; they’re already dead.” He looked proud of himself.

I had to admit, it made sense…but not enough. They were going through all of this work to make undead slaves? What was I missing?

I continued to prod, hoping to get more out of him. “You’re a security guard—at least, that’s what you were when I stole your outfit. What are you doing with the likes of Akim Salvi and Ashely Hendrix? Simply furthering some plot to populate the Forge with undead minions?” It still didn’t taste right coming out of my mouth. Maybe Curtis was lying… or he didn’t know what the true purpose was.

Maybe none of them did?

Curtis let loose a clipped laugh. “I knew you underestimated me,” he said. He sat the food down in front of him and leaned back against the wall.  “I’ll have you know, I was promoted shortly after the…untimely demise of my former captain at the hands of a wanted Lightningbranded.”

They framed me? Shit. That’s what they must have done with my old Mimic suit. 

It still didn’t sit right with me. The Benevolent had been working with Akim Salvi and a horrific doctor to wipe out the Branded and create mindless yet controllable Risen slaves, and even killed someone in power so Curtis could take his spot…

…all for profit?

“Clearly you don’t see the bigger picture,” Curtis said, my expression betraying me once more. “I was born in the frigid mountains of an icy world and have been adventuring all through the Forge. You are nothing, a mere obstacle waiting to be knocked down that stands between me and my goals.”

A taunt, great. He was beginning to make me second guess my promise to release him.

“Still gonna let me go?” He smiled.

I turned and left him.

We had places to be.

// Undertake an Expedition

+2 (shadow) => 8 vs 6, 8. WH.

I say let's take a hit to Momentum

-2 momentum [7]

Progress: 4/10

What's this waypoint? 77: Comet with a tail of ionized gas

What has the crew been up to, or doing now? Action+Theme: 42, 34: Evade Fame.

When I saw Evade, I *instantly* thought of hide and seek.

FUN! Love a good light-hearted moment. lmfao

Who is seeking? 3: Fletcher.

We—the crew of the Scarlet Adler, not its prisoner, obviously—needed some fun. Something that didn’t involve prisoners and conspiracies and Risen. So, as we sat parked during one of our first waypoints, a comet with a tail of ionized gas soaring right outside…

…we played hide and seek.

The Scarlet Adler wasn’t that big, but we made it work.

I knew every nook and cranny of her, so I chose to hide in the tail end. There was a small compartment that I had rarely used except for storage, if I didn’t forget about it. It was around twists and turns, practically invisible unless you were looking for it.

I opened that compartment and hid inside. The darkness was oddly comforting. I took a moment to just relax. Put my mind at ease and forget all the troubles of my life…

Risen? Of all things? I remembered the Risen from Shiningstar, with vines and leaves poking out through places they should not have. I remembered their sickening green and black coloration, and the way they seemed to feed on light.

So much for relaxing.

I also remembered seeing my first Risen on New Bohemia. As far as I could remember, the dead always rose there. It’s why the Farewell Mesas were created. But that was long before my time.

I sighed, flipping through a mental catalog of everything I’d learned since running into Akim Salvi. I was missing something. Something important. Something—

Someone was in here. I held my breath, hoping that no one else would discover my spot. Fletcher was currently the seeker. I was lucky Jane had gone first: she ended up sticking her head through the walls and finding everyone rather quickly. At least with Fletcher, we stood a chance.

The latch keeping my hiding spot closed shifted and I exhaled in defeat, knowing that I’d been found. 

To my surprise, it wasn’t Fletcher.

I could recognize his silhouette anywhere.

“Locke?” Ira said quietly. He quickly looked back the way he had come and climbed in the compartment with me, closing it behind him.

The space wasn’t big enough for two people—hell, it was barely big enough for me. But I didn’t mind being this close to him. We shifted. I put my back against the ground and he climbed on top.

A very familiar position.

“This is not a good idea,” I said as quietly as I could, trying to will my body to obey.

“Sssshhhh. They’ll hear us.”

The compartment was not well ventilated, and the temperature rose quickly with the two of us inside.

He kissed me. I kissed him.

I let my body do what it wanted at this point.

// Hearten

+1 (heart): 5 vs 7, 10. Miss.

I can reroll one of the—oh, ANY dice. So, let's reroll both challenge die.

5 vs 4, 7. Weak Hit.

+2 spirit [5]

-1 momentum [6]

Who interrupts them? 6: LMFAO IT'S JOHN I KNEW IT

I was so…preoccupied that I didn’t hear the latch open some time later.


Ira and I burst into laughter as John exited the area, leaving our compartment open and our hiding spot exposed.

“How does he do that?!” Ira said as we fixed our clothing and headed back to the main area.

A new round had begun.

// Undertake an Expedition

+2 (shadow) => 4…

I started awake. Before I could register my surroundings, I knew that Ira was not sleeping next to me. I threw a hand to his side of the bed to double-check. 

My breath caught in my chest. Something was wrong. Something was very, very wrong. It wasn’t that Ira was not in bed with me.

I was not in bed.

I shot to my feet, heart pounding, my black tank top soaked with sweat. I slammed the butt of my palm against my forehead, trying to force myself awake to no avail. This had to be a dream. Before me was a desolate land, devoid of all life. No trees, no birds, cracked earth from lack of rain as far as the eye could see.

And the sky weeped balefires just past the clouds. Just the way I remembered it.

I was on Avam.

Memories came flooding back, ones I wished could have stayed buried. Arriving on this hellhole, doing my best to survive. All the low moments and wishing for it to all end. I clenched my eyes shut and tried to force the memories away. I focused on the happier times here, no matter how few. Luckily, I had Ira, and I let the mere thought of him calm my nerves.

When I opened my eyes again, I resigned to accept what was happening. I knew this for what it was. This hadn’t been the first time and I was, sadly, becoming a pro at these visions. Normally when I was pulled to a different time, however, the Hivebranded doing so was right there, ready to talk to me. This time was different. There wasn’t a soul around. 

I was already suppressing bad memories, it was a simple feat to suppress worry as well.

Before I could stop myself, I realized something was pulling me—urging me—forward.

I continued to suppress my perfectly rational emotions with each step, the ground beneath my bare feet as dry as ever. I focused my efforts on taking in as much of the details around me as possible. Perhaps I was being shown Avam in its infancy and there was an important detail here I needed to see. But, for better or worse, Avam was as I had remembered it: a land of bland, lifeless monotony. There wasn’t a massive change of scenery as I walked, the details of the planet blending together. It always felt like I was traveling in circles, or wandering aimlessly. It all looked the same here. It wasn’t until I met up with Siege, and eventually Ira, that we began to create landmarks we could use to navigate and get our bearings.

None of the those landmarks were near, unfortunately, and I just felt like the new kid on Avam again, walking aimlessly towards uncertainty.

What was the purpose of this vision? Who summoned me? And I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was missing something, something right out of the corner of my eye.

I felt the presence of someone in the distance before I saw them, standing a couple hundred or so feet away. It felt almost familiar so I didn’t shy away from it, though I couldn’t tell whether that was rational thinking or the odd compulsion. I kept telling myself that the Hivebranded had led me through so many visions by now, I had to trust them. Whatever they were trying to show me would be important.

I began to question that feeling as I got closer, however. It still felt familiar but now it was twinged with something I couldn’t quite place. Something that scared me. I kept my eyes trained on the figure as I approached. It appeared to be a man, well dressed, with an alluring smile on his face. And he was bleeding.

I stopped in my tracks suddenly. Something didn’t feel right. I did not recognize him, but I knew in my blood—in my Branding—that I could not trust him.

“Detective,” he said with a sigh. “You are just predictable. To a fault.”

I wanted to leave, now. Every cell in my body was telling me to flee from this miserable place.

“Don’t leave now, Detective. You’re the whole reason I’m here.”

I narrowed my eyes. Was he reading my thoughts, like the Hivebranded from the first batch?

“Who are you?” I finally said. This didn’t feel like the other visions. The Hivebranded I had met were nice. They gave me hope.

This one was just terrified me.

“You know who I am, Locke Holmes. After all, you are the infamous Detective,” he said, a wide smile on his face. “A plague and a savior. A man of many, many names.”

He wasn’t familiar, not in the least, but…that feeling, that urge that drew me here was. Something about it felt ancient and powerful. There was a word I kept tasting on my tongue, but I couldn’t understand why.


“You don’t recognize me?” he said dismissively, seemingly in response to my thought. “Ignore this shell. It is a means to an end. A millennia-long plan finally come to fruition.”

“Who are you!?”

“Why, I am the voice in your head when times get rough. I’m the one guiding your path, pushing you this way and that.” He began walking towards me. I almost stumbled backwards, his movement startling me. I kept my distance, but that same urge that made me journey forth was also keeping me planted. I thought I saw something out of the corner of my eye, something hiding just out of sight. What was it?

My electricity surged within, and it felt cold. It felt like death and despair and endless agony. That was not what my abilities had ever felt like.

My eyes widened.

He smirked, gesturing, urging me. “Go on. Spit it out.”


No. This wasn’t right. This didn’t make sense.

Say it, Detective.”


Next week on ⚡️THUNDERFANG:

Malevolent forces and actual pursuers have joined their game of hide and seek. And, despite escaping to safety, each person aboard the Scarlet Adler is left with an uncomfortable realization.

⚡️THUNDERFANG S3 #4: All According to Plan
The crew shares what each of them saw while they fled the bounty hunters.

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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