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File 164971448322.png - (75.91KB , 500x500 , a_small_quest.png )
1028906 No. 1028906 ID: c92a02

Oh boy, it’s my first day on a real digsite! I wonder what kind of exciting adventures I’ll have in artifact cataloging?
81 posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
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No. 1030318 ID: c92a02
File 165092483567.png - (163.55KB , 500x500 , no_step_on_snek.png )
1030318

"Are you crazy? You were this close to getting caught by the tallmen! Who are you, and why do you look like one of them? Talk!"
My captor appears to be a four-armed alien with a brownish exoskeleton and reddish hair. Could it be? A real live Formican! How did she get here? Why show herself now? How is she speaking my language? I'm unable to form a reply from the combination of excitement and the shock of falling. The circumstances could be better for first contact, but I'd better not waste my first impression!
>>
No. 1030326 ID: ce39da

"Until less than a minute ago, I was tall as well! I think touching that mural made me small."
>>
No. 1030328 ID: 629f2e

Respond to all of their questions in order:

-No, I'm not crazy
-I was going out of my way to try and get noticed by her before you interrupted me
-I'm Samson D. Smith, nice to meet you
-I am one of them, or at least I was, and would like to get back to being one

Also, it could be worth mentioning that while they consider you tall, from your perspective their species appears to be small.
>>
No. 1030336 ID: 2aa5f0

Wait, you're a Formican aren't you?! We thought you're people went extinct since we can only find ruins of your people, how did you... wait wait, those questions can come later focus on the now.

Uh, hi. I'm an archeologist who came her with my friend (gesture towards your friend) to explore this place and learn it's history. However I leaned against a wall and now I'm small. I was trying to get my friends attention in hopes she could help. Speaking of which do you know how I can get big again? While being this small is very fascinating I kinda don't want to be this small forever... all my stuff is big and I'm rather fond of it.
>>
No. 1030339 ID: f683de

oh shit we can speak the same language that's rad
>>
No. 1030342 ID: abaa91

Just want to bring up- perhaps we shouldn't state we were a tall one. She seems particularly adverse or hostile to them, and having one in her hands like this probably would just make her an enemy of ours. I don't know what I'd do otherwise, mind, just wanted to mention it.
>>
No. 1030364 ID: 90c451

Start rambling about archeology and about how rich their culture is and how you came here to learn about them and learn from them.

>>1030342
Yeah, maybe stay quiet about that until we learn their disposition, saying we're one of the tallmen could either paint us as enemy or insane, either thing we wouldn't want to be labeled as.
>>
No. 1030392 ID: e51896

Ask a whole bunch of questions
>>
No. 1030491 ID: 36784c

>>1030342
>>1030364
>don’t mention we were a tall one.
It’s kinda pointless to try and hide something like that, since we obviously don’t even look like a bug person. It’ll be really easy for her to figure it out what we are, so we might as well tell her now.
>>
No. 1030495 ID: 798908

>>1030318
"I AM a tallman, I hit one of your weird runes and now I'm all teeny-tiny."
>>
No. 1031146 ID: c92a02
File 165162080753.png - (123.15KB , 500x500 , snake_snaaake.png )
1031146

"S-Sam! That's because I am a tallman! Or was... I touched something on the wall and got real small!"
"Huh. I thought the reducers were all broken."
"Well, that one isn't! I'd like to go back to being big now, please. How do I- "
"Don't know. Don't care. Can't let you go back yet."
"What?! Why not?"
"Because you're not supposed to find out about us."
"Hey, you're the one that grabbed me!"
"I'm not arguing this here. We're going back inside." She tosses me over her shoulder and starts walking off. She's strong! That or I'm practically weightless. Maybe both.
>>
No. 1031147 ID: c92a02
File 165162081496.png - (121.69KB , 500x500 , whatcha_got_there.png )
1031147

She carries me through a hole in the wall and pauses to haul a thick looking hatch back into place. It seals back into to the wall with an airtight hiss. I look around and see we’re in some kind of tunnel system. I still have so many questions about what's happening!
"How do you speak our language, anyway?"
"From listening. We've been watching you for years, making sure nobody found a way in. So far none of you seemed to have a clue. Thanks for breaking that streak," she huffs.
"You're welcome? But why don't you want to be found?"
"Do we need a reason? We just want to be left alone."
"But why?"
"...I think I'll leave it to the elders to tell you."
"Who're the elders?"
"The people who'll decide your fate! You're coming with us back to the village to see them."
Visiting a whole village of Formicans... That doesn't sound so bad, besides the whole deciding my fate thing. "...Okay. Whatever you say, miss Formican."
"...Call me Jaina."

From around the corner, I hear a new voice.
"Hey sis, you're back! Bring anything cool with you?"
>>
No. 1031148 ID: c67566

>>1031147
"Me!"
>>
No. 1031150 ID: 2aa5f0

"am I going to die?"
>>
No. 1031152 ID: 96c896

Hey, if they want to be left alone, then we can do that. We can do that much better if they tell people, even.
>>
No. 1031166 ID: 13c74d

>>1031147
From your studies on the Formican, do you think they are violent?
>>
No. 1031168 ID: e5709d

"I am not lunch! My semen is toxic to all mammalian and some insectoid species!"
*beat*
"A-also I can do THIS!"
Bite Jaina.
>>
No. 1031206 ID: a9af05

>>1031147
"Help! I've been kidnapped against my will! I just want to go home!"
>>
No. 1031474 ID: c92a02
File 165189668715.png - (134.12KB , 500x500 , thought_youd_be_taller.png )
1031474

This new Formican is shorter and friendlier than her sister, and carries a hefty backpack balanced on an equally hefty abdomen. Her blond hair strikes me as unusual for Formicans. If I had to guess, she’s a worker caste, and her sister’s a soldier caste.
“An outsider,” says Jaina.
“Me!”
“An outsider! He’s so tall! Hi, I’m Anet! Welcome to Dirt!”
“Dirt?“
“That’s what we call our planet! In your language, anyway.” Huh. What a weird name for your homeworld… No, I have to stay focused, maybe she’ll be the more reasonable sibling!
“Look, I touched that shrinker-”
Reducer,” Jaina interrupts.
“-reducer, totally by accident, I didn’t mean anything by it! I'd just like to go home now.”
“Hey, that’s where we’re going! Wanna come with?”
“He doesn’t have a choice in the matter,” Jaina replies.
“Okay, just hold on! If you want to be left alone, we can leave you alone! Why don’t you just tell people that?”
Jaina scoffs. “Yeah, sure. All of you poking around up there for bits of scrap seem like you’d love to just pack up and leave. No, there’s a lot of very good reasons we stay hidden.”
“But I don’t get it! You guys were super advanced! You could make people go away if you wanted to. Right..?” I look at Jaina’s crude, plastic spear and their simple clothing. She just glares back at me.
>>
No. 1031475 ID: c92a02
File 165189669148.png - (129.98KB , 500x500 , down_the_rabbit_hole.png )
1031475

“Come on you two, let’s walk and talk.”
The Formicans start walking, and since I am distinctly lacking in the pointy stick department, I feel compelled to follow. Our path goes parallel to the wall for a few minutes before turning right. The tunnel feels… cold, clinical even. The walls are made of the same stone as the temple, but smooth and unweathered. Thin strips on the ceiling keep it dimly lit, seeming to be tiny light emitting diodes as opposed to the natural lighting in the big chambers. This place looks completely untouched by time, until Jaina directs us through a crack in the wall into a dark, narrow tunnel that looks hand carved through a rough, spongy material. Seems like… insulation?
“Why is this here?” I ask.
Jaina gives me an incredulous look. “Because this old tunnel wouldn’t get us to where we’re going. The tunnel system’s been expanded over time, to reach new areas and bypass collapsed shafts.”
“Oh… of course. What are you doing out here anyway, if you don’t want to be found?”
“Keeping an eye on you tallmen and making sure it stays that way. Oh, and Anet likes to tag along to collect her own random junk.”
Anet nods. “Uh huh! I had a good haul today, so it’s a good time to head back!”
Anet keeps peppering me with questions about the outside the whole time. Any questions of my own have to be woven around the answers to hers.
>Pick up to four topics:
>Sisters
>Elders
>Village
>Isolation
>Reducer
>Outside
>Inside
>Other
>>
No. 1031477 ID: 13c74d

>>1031475
Sisters, elders, indication and reducers.
>>
No. 1031478 ID: 629f2e

Isolation, Reducer, and Outside
>>
No. 1031481 ID: 2aa5f0

>Sisters
>Isolation
>Reducer
>Inside

>Yeah, sure. All of you poking around up there for bits of scrap seem like you’d love to just pack up and leave
We're archeologist, it's our job to pick through ancient ruins to learn about the past to help educate the present. And when you have an entire race and civilization that had the ability to travel to different planets and seem even more advance then my own race that seemingly just disappeared without a trace leaving only their cities and temples behind, that generally does a great job at bring people together to try and figure out what happened.

I mean it's the biggest question in known space right now, what happened to the Formicans? The idea that an entire race could just disappear, especially one as advance as them is a question people would really liked answered, you know in case it was something bad and if it could happen to our own people as well. And if it was something good it might be a sneak peek into what awaits us when we advance a bit more ourselves.
>>
No. 1031486 ID: e5709d

Ask how any of this is possible. You learned in school that 'miniaturizing' a person without removing their brain functions or speeding their metabolism would take more money than moving a sun.
How many ages were they pushed back? And why haven't they made efforts to re-learn?
>>
No. 1031488 ID: 96c896

Isolation, Outside, Village, Elders.
>>
No. 1031855 ID: c92a02
File 165223620792.png - (216.06KB , 700x500 , area_dicovered_fungal_wastes.png )
1031855

The next tunnel gets uncomfortably dark, but there’s only one way to go and it is thankfully short. I end up squeezed between the sisters as Anet and her pack go last.
“Tell me what it’s like outside, Sam!” Anet speaks up from behind me.
“Outside? Like… where to begin? Outside the walls? Everywhere else? My home?”
“Well, everything not inside the walls is outside them, right? Yeah, start with your home!”
“Uh. Well, I grew up in a city, not as big as the one out there, but pretty big! We lived above a bookstore run by my parents.”
“What did they sell?”
“Uhh... books?”
She takes a moment to process this. “Oh, I thought - okay! Wow.”
“Anyway... some of those books were about my ancestor, and that inspired me to go hiking through forests, mountains, hills, anywhere I could visit. Even the jungle! And that’s just my home planet… This one’s kinda one huge desert, I’m afraid.”
“Ooh, huge!”
I try steering the conversation back towards her. “So um, why don’t you guys like visitors?”
“Oh, well, long ago we got all kinds of visitors! But they were always fighting each other, and everybody wanted us to pick a side and was really pushy. So our ancestors decided to get really small and hide in a really cool city until they went away! But we spent so long hiding, that we forgot how to run all the really cool stuff, so we kinda moved away from the city.”
“...Just how far have you regressed, and why haven’t you tried to reclaim that old tech?”
“I dunno, and I dunno! I’ve been trying to learn it, but I don’t find much working stuff either. Just like you guys!”
“Oh. So, what do you know about these reducers?”
“They built a whole bunch of them to shrink everybody down, then turned them off so they couldn’t be followed. My ancestors tried turning that one on when they moved out of the city, but they thought it was broken ‘cause it wouldn’t make us big again! Looks like they were half right.”
“Well, it’s a good thing it didn’t reduce them twice! Now uh, what are the current elders like? They’re not too keen on outsiders, I take it?”
“There’s two of them! Elder Stone is the head queen, and she’s kinda stern! But fair. Elder Styx is almost as old as she is, and he knows all kinds of stuff about the old days! I like him the best, he’s really entertaining. Um, Stone always tells us to be vigilant around strangers, but Styx probably wouldn’t mind meeting one. He knows a bunch of stories about the wars they had in the old days, but he seems almost wistful about them.”
“Sounds like I wouldn’t mind meeting him either.”
Jaina’s pace slows, and Anet presses against my back before realizing the holdup. I try to start a new line of questioning before the awkwardness sets in.
“W-what’s the deal with you two? Sisters, right?”
“Yeah! I’m the older one, actually. I love exploring and collecting stuff. Jaina likes being a guard, but there isn’t much here to guard against. That’s why she tags along with me on my scavenging expeditions.”
Jaina cuts in. “Hey, watching the walls is an important duty.”
“Of course, of course! And it’s fun too.”

In the middle of trying to explain the concept of a bookstore to Anet, I see a light at the end of the tunnel.
“We’re here,” says Jaina.
“The village?”
“No, the fungal wastes.”
I step out of the tunnel into artificial daylight. The ground beneath my feet is strangely soft and spongy, some kind of purple fuzz. I look up and see we’ve come out in another large room, one with strangely familiar furnishings rising as high as mountains off in the distance. Between here and there, strange trees rise from the ground forming a dense canopy of what I’m just now realizing are mushroom caps. It’s like stepping into a completely alien world… which is saying something since I was already on one.
Jaina starts walking towards the mushroom forest. “We’ve got a long way to go to get upriver.”
“There’s a river?”
“Yes, right down the middle of the room. We cross upstream so anything that falls in the river doesn’t go down the drain.”
“The drain… and where does that lead to?”
“Trust me, you don’t want to find out.”

>Prolong the journey by taking the scenic route - for science
>Hurry to the village before… does night even fall here?
>>
No. 1031857 ID: 96c896

Scenic route is fine. Explain the sights-- these people don't know what caused this landscape, and you do.
>>
No. 1031868 ID: e5709d

>>1031857
They aren't that regressed! They've had ample time to steal books, toys, and the occasional phone.

Ask about the dead guy. Get to the elders sooner rather than later.
>>
No. 1031872 ID: 296678

>Prolong the journey by taking the scenic route - for science
>>
No. 1031878 ID: f3c9f0

>>1031855
Prolong the journey.
>>
No. 1031912 ID: a9af05

>>1031855
>war
>didn't want to pick a side
>made ourselves tiny to avoid conflict
Let them know that there hasn't been a war for a very long time. They don't need to hide anymore.

>The ground beneath my feet is strangely soft and spongy, some kind of purple fuzz.
It's called a carpet.

>what do?
Prolong the journey. Try not to think about how cute Anet is.
>>
No. 1031919 ID: 96c896

>>1031912
>carpet
Yes. A carpet of mold.
>>
No. 1031940 ID: c1d4af

CommanderBoreale.jpeg

Ask why all the Formicans in the paintings and reliefs are so BALD and so FEWLISH!
>>
No. 1032153 ID: c92a02
File 165248854853.png - (140.45KB , 500x500 , you_better_watch_out.png )
1032153

>a carpet of mold
And boy, does it smell musty! Whatever it is, it's covered the floor as far as the eye can see. It must have spilled out of the fridge a long time ago, judging by the buildup there.
>why are all the ants bald
Part of their tradition, perhaps? Drawing a bunch of Formicans with different hairstyles would have taken forever. They had a lot of ants to draw.

After taking in the roomscape for a bit, I turn and notice... “Jeezhiss! Is that a skeleton?!”
“No. I mean, kinda? It doesn't make sense though. We don't have bones. Formicans are hollow inside. What’d you call them… exoskeletons?” Jaina points out.
Oh. Well, I feel silly now. Come to think of it, the abdomen having a ribcage should have given it away. Maybe it was a different species?
“...would you mind if we walked past that on the way to the village? This is a once in a lifetime experience. I promise not to run off!”
She shrugs. “Eh, fair enough. Everyone wants to poke the skeleton once. Careful though, this place isn’t safe to go wandering around.”
“O-oh?”
“One wrong step and you might sink into mushy quickspores, or encounter a wild fungiform. Why, breathe in the wrong puff and it might take root in your brain, turning you into a mindless zombie!”
“Th-that can happen?” Anet stammers.
Jaina's stonefaced expression lasts for all of five seconds before she cracks a smile. “Pf! Of course not. They eliminated the cordyceps plague on Dirt thousands of years ago. Probably. Better stick close to me, just in case.”
>>
No. 1032154 ID: c92a02
File 165248855140.png - (94.53KB , 500x500 , a_bone_to_pick.png )
1032154

We walk over to the table. it's curious, it doesn't feel like we're getting any closer until we're suddenly at its feet. The skeleton's legs and abdomen are all that's visible this close. I start to feel nervous, but remind myself this skeleton's even less likely to move than Gail. I decide to try and get a sample for later study - I've still got my tools, and nobody will notice a tiny sliver gone, right? I get out my chisel and chip away a piece when I notice something's off. I've handled real bones at school, and these don't feel right at all...
"This skeleton's made of plaster!"
Jaina is perplexed. "What? You mean... it's not real?"
"I don't get it! Who would put a fake skeleton here? And how?"
While I ponder this latest mystery, I should also ponder where to go next: the fridge, or the forest.
>>
No. 1032155 ID: e07ed2

Fridge, let's find out how fast heat transfer kills you with a smaller surface area:volume ratio
>>
No. 1032157 ID: 13c74d

>>1032154
Fridge, be careful.
>>
No. 1032160 ID: 629f2e

Fridge! Nothing like gross ancient food.
>>
No. 1032161 ID: 2aa5f0

so someone left a prop behind before they shrunk themselves to fuck with whoever came into this room looking for formicans. Not sure if I should be impressed by his dedication to fuck with people or just think he was an asshole.

Anyways hit the fridge next. Let's see if we can figure out how the mold spreed so bad... and maybe even get an idea what Formicans use to eat back in the day. assuming there is anything even still recognizable as food.
>>
No. 1032163 ID: e5709d

... What is this, a sadistic Ant Farm?
>>
No. 1032166 ID: 96c896

>>1032154
I think I know why. The Formicans went tiny to hide from people who wanted them to join a war, right? The fake skeleton must have been someone's idea of a second layer of deception-- an indication that they all died somehow, maybe even to give intruders the impression that the place is cursed with some kind of deadly disease. But that's just a hypothesis for now.
...it's also possible that this is a social experiment and there are other Formicans elsewhere in the ruins who retained their technology and are observing these regressed ones. After all, that would mean leaving the fridge open and the sink running was part of the deception... like setting up an ecosystem to support the isolated Formicans.

Investigate the Fridge, see if you can identify what's rotting in there.
>>
No. 1032170 ID: 798908

>>1032166
Careful, these kinds of wild theories need to be tested before they're aired. WAY too many racist perceptions of foreign cultures get started because some over-eager archeologist mistook pornographic artwork for part of a fertility ritual.
>>
No. 1032643 ID: 899c9f
File 165283964564.png - (103.72KB , 500x500 , candy_mountain.png )
1032643

>it's possible that this is a social experiment and there are other Formicans elsewhere in the ruins who retained their technology
It's a worrying thought. Could I be an unwanted variable in these mysterious, unseen plans? And why would those Formicans still be hiding from the outside, too? Maybe they don’t want to get caught doing this…

From the foot of the skeleton, it’s a short hike to the fridge to see the source of the fungi. It’s a challenging uphill trail, and I have to be careful not to slide down the mushy mountainside. We start to shiver even before reaching the open door. Brr… I notice a light frost forming on the ground here, too thin to cover the purple mountain’s majesty. I’ve just got to get close enough to peek inside...
Finally, we pass the lip of the refrigerator door. I look in and spot a pair of brightly colored structures rising past the mountain peak. No, not structures, I’ve got to keep the scale in mind. ...Oh! Formicans used metal lunch boxes too? I guess some things never go out of style. Anet wanders a ways off digging through the mold in search of treasures. Eventually, she finds something and runs back to tell us about it.
“I don't usually poke around up here because it's so cold, but look! I was digging out a foam cup when I found something covered by an invisible sheet!” She shows us her prize, a massive puck wrapped in plastic. It is, unmistakably, some kind of hard candy.
“That looks like… candy of some kind,” I remark.
“Candy?!” She looks at the giant slab of sugar with a newfound sense of respect.
Jaina is more practical minded about it. “Well we can’t open it here. We'll wash it off in the river. Dragging this back to the village may attract more attention from the wildlife.”

>Obtained: Hard candy
>>
No. 1032647 ID: 899c9f
File 165283978253.png - (140.75KB , 500x500 , fungus_among_us.png )
1032647

Lacking the fortitude to stay on the frosty peaks any longer, we hike down to the forest. I get a good view of the room on the way down, seeing how far we have to go to the door that marks the village. Past the river, the plains look like they’ll be an uneventful stroll. Jaina explains the mushroom forest is actually pretty inert when it’s not spore season. The real issue, she tells me, is the wildlife. I spot some small pillbugs scuttling about, but tales of something she calls fungiforms fascinates me. They seem to be mold cultures that developed the ability to move around to seek sustenance. Naturally, they blend into the environment well when they’re standing still. Suddenly, Jaina grabs me by the tail. “Stop right where you are.” I comply immediately and notice the ground where I was about to tread changes in texture quite suddenly. She ushers the three of us back behind a bush-like fungus. From there, she points out the outline of a creature sleeping in the clearing. It’s very thin, but its body spreads out to cover nearly the whole area.
“So this is one of those fungiforms you were telling me about?”
“We should try riding it! It’ll be fun!”
“Heck no. We have no clue how it’ll react when it wakes up. Let’s give this thing a wide berth.”

>Anet suggests we ride it
>Sam wants to study it closer
>Jaina wants to leave it the hell alone
>>
No. 1032654 ID: 13c74d

>>1032647
We should leave it alone, maybe when we grow again we could study it.
>>
No. 1032656 ID: 344f1d

Find something stick-like and give it a poke
>>
No. 1032659 ID: 1a20cb

Ask what they know about these creatures. Are they dangerous or decile, are they smart or dumb, what do they do that makes people wary of them?
>>
No. 1032672 ID: f2320a

>>1032647
Looks like a seaslug?
>>
No. 1032679 ID: 65d922

Ride ‘em, cowboy!
>>
No. 1032704 ID: 96c896

Study.
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