[Burichan] [Futaba] [Nice] [Pony]  -  [WT]  [Home] [Manage]

Report completed threads!

[Catalog View] :: [Archive] :: [Graveyard] :: [Rules] :: [Discussions] :: [Wiki] :: [Discord]

[Return] [Entire Thread] [Last 50 posts] [Last 100 posts]
Posting mode: Reply
Name (optional)
Email (optional, will be displayed)
Subject    (optional, usually best left blank)
File []
Embed (advanced)   Help
Password  (for deleting posts, automatically generated)
  • How to format text
  • Supported file types are: GIF, JPG, MP3, MP4, PNG, SWF, WEBM
  • Maximum file size allowed is 25600 KB.
  • Images greater than 250x250 pixels will be thumbnailed.

File 166016789938.png - (87.00KB , 500x500 , a_smaller_quest.png )
1040516 No. 1040516 ID: 899c9f


One small step for Sam, one giant leap for Formican-kind.
151 posts omitted. Last 100 shown. Expand all images
No. 1052493 ID: a7a180
File 167185184412.png - (147.61KB , 500x500 , paging_doctor_love.png )

>follow the arrows!
>It's what you're on this planet for, after all
Some people might set aside their insatiable curiosity when trespassing in a tribe of killer ants’ territory. I am not some people.
We continue down the corridor, checking for room numbers and sentries every couple of feet. Or is it inches? I’ll stick with feet for my own sanity. 2212 is another laboratory, messy but free of broken shards. We know roughly where to look now and spot a familiar arrow straightaway. The message here says:
go to 2125
So close…

That room number must be pretty far down the hall. I’m starting to wonder if we’ve run the clock out on our element of surprise.
Since we’re already here, we might as well check out this lab too. The look on Jaina’s face is hard to read as I motion to her to watch the door. Our search turns up nothing until we reach the back. There are two doors here, each leading to a room with a one-way mirror wall allowing a clear view inside, once we wipe some dust off. One of the rooms has been claimed by someone as a personal stash. Two beds are pushed together and piled high with pillows next to a makeshift vanity with handmade combs and curlers. There’s even a dataslate hung on the wall to use its polished backside as a mirror. Somewhere around here, there must be a Beformican whose hairdo is fabulous. Out of curiosity, I take the slate down while Anet searches the stash to see if it still works. Ah, yep!

–MSC Biology Division– Electronic Messenger Sent Messages: 3 *** To: intern2@teamspice.mscb4f Subject: RE: Project Spice press release preview This makes me want to die. Of embarrassment. Why don’t you read that again and then take a good, long look in the mirror. -Dr. Hearth – Original message below: To: Dr. Hearth Subject: Project Spice press release preview Here’s the latest copy for the information campaign! What do you think so far? Is having fun getting BORING? Don’t you wish that fooling around was more productive? Why not be REproductive? Try Dr. Hearth’s Love Juice! This cutting edge mood enhancer is guaranteed* to lift your spirits and get you feeling excited to hatch some eggs, eggs that will lay faster and smoother than ever! Experience the joys of motherhood like never before through the power of science! Available for free(!) at your local creche. “A little chemistry has greatly increased my chemistry with my partner...” -Mica Menthis “Dr. Hearth’s Love Juice has got antennae turning my way everywhere I go.” -Samantha Chiron “I want to have babies! So many babies!” -INSERT NAME HERE Coming soon, you’ll be able to find Dr. Hearth’s Love Juices in several new products, such as bubble baths and perfume for men! *=Projected results not guaranteed. Offer valid while supplies last. Ask your doctor before taking Dr. Hearth’s Love Juice if you are pregnant or nursing, as it is probably redundant. This message was paid for by the Overseer’s Office of Natal Technology Solutions. *** To: Dr. Hearth@teamspice.mscb4f Subject: Note to self Ugh. Ugggggh. I am trying my best to run this project efficiently, but nobody else is taking this job seriously. Just because our testing process is about getting the subjects in the mood, my science team is treating this job as an easy way to get laid! Getting people laid isn’t the problem, it’s making them want kids as part of the deal. Fewer Formicans are undergoing the transition to queen, preferring their consequence-free lifestyle as a swinger worker. It seems even the once indomitable colony spirit of the Formican worker has eroded over the years we’ve spent underground. Worse yet, research on the second stage is failing to make any progress. The drug’s effects so far are barely distinguishable from the placebo. All of the overseer’s hopes are riding on this project, but I fear she’ll be disappointed no matter what. You can’t concoct a magic potion to fix a society-wide issue. How are we going to feed these children? Who’s going to teach them the technical skills we so desperately need? We don’t know who the teams working on those issues are, but I sure hope they exist. *** To: everyone@teamspice.mscb4f Subject: Memo Good morning, Team Spice. We’ve had a lot of fresh faces join recently, so it’s time to give this talk again. I get this question every so often from new team members: We already know what chemicals induce the physiological transition to queenhood. Why don’t we just add them to the serum, spike the water supply and call it a day? The answer is quite simple: because forcing this change on everyone is not the answer. People would be surprised, upset, and might even abstain from copulating rather than deal with unwanted children. This runs counter to our project’s core aim to encourage population numbers, and would be a huge breach of public trust. Frankly, I’m ashamed I have to answer this question, repeatedly. Even our “esteemed colleagues” at the gene therapy lab aren’t planning to surprise the populace with a one-way transformation. They’re quite up front about it. My lab won’t be the one to stoop to such underhanded tactics. Try your best to think of solutions, people, the fate of Formicankind is depending on us.

“Hey, score!”
“Hm, what’d you find Anet?”
“A vial of pink stuff, and it smells really good!”
I take a whiff myself, but I don’t smell what the fuss is about. “...Is this the stuff they were working on in this lab?”
<And just what are you planning to do with a thousand year old love potion?> Pent asks.
“Hey, you never know.”
>Obtained: Serum Experiment X-0.X

We’ve done nearly a full circuit of this floor’s main hall. We just passed by the stairway, so we know where it is now.
>Use the stairs
>Follow the arrow, we have to know!
>Other: >_
No. 1052544 ID: 96a9a8

Exit. The arrows are someone playing a game. Id it's an old game then it's over and nothing's at the end. If it's a recent game then it's probably a trap.
No. 1052547 ID: 8483cf

No. 1052549 ID: 1ecc81

Make sure you warn all the ladies to not drink that or else they'll become a queen that'll be desperate to have children in order to repopulate! ...unless they want that. Then tell them to at least wait until this adventure is over before they drink it!

>now what?
Might as well follow the arrow and see where it leads.
No. 1052686 ID: a7a180
File 167218503115.png - (112.88KB , 500x500 , rather_an_anticlimax.png )

>Arrow x3
Okay! We’ll solve this mystery, no matter how old it is!
We find this sign out in the hall:

I. M.
Go to room 215

Huh? But that’s the first room we checked. …Wait a minute. OWA… TAFL… IM…
Argh, we’ve been bamboozled by the oldest trick in the school textbook, a looping trail!
With terrible timing, we hear a door slide open and someone with heavy footsteps enters the building. They have our scent now… We’d best get moving.

>Loop around
>Double back
>Duck in here
>(Clicker) Light things up
No. 1052687 ID: 74528c

The clicker is a terrible idea here, save it for if things go really sideways.
Duck in there, if it is a loop you won't know which way they're coming until you see them.
No. 1052992 ID: a7a180
File 167252123688.png - (140.45KB , 500x500 , osha_violation_detected.png )

>Duck inside
Better to wait until they pass to try and slip past them. Right?
We run inside the room and hunker down behind the furniture. The floor tiles creak distressingly loudly beneath our feet. The floor didn’t sound like this in the other labs, what’s different in here? Unfortunately, I get my answer when we hear a sharp crack. The ground beneath our feet suddenly gives way and we tumble into the room below, coughing up a storm! It’s hard to see where we landed through the dust and the darkness.
Oh, my back… I landed on top of something hard before it gave way. I think a table broke my fall, and I broke the table in turn. Something in the pile of debris feels solid, not crumbly. It seems there was a dataslate tucked into a drawer. I pick it up in case it still works, but now’s not a good time to read it.
>Obtained: Scratched Dataslate
No. 1052993 ID: a7a180
File 167252124058.png - (138.75KB , 500x500 , the_express_elevator_down.png )

Well, the good news is we’ve gotten past the sentries. The bad news is they definitely heard that.
Jaina makes sure everyone sticks together and pushes us to get out of here, fast. Looking outside, I can guess the damage to the ceiling must have been caused a fire that broke out on this floor, and that's not all that happened. The hallway is blackened and littered with discarded weapons and padded armor, partially melted and fused to the floor. I spot clubs, plastic shields, remains of improvised firebombs, and even giant nuts and screws. Sometimes, bits of their wielders are still holding on to them. I feel ill… though maybe it’s just the dust I breathed in. Wait, what was that made up of? ...I don’t want to think about that right now. Right now I have to focus on getting to the stairs.
However, another opportunity presents itself - a room with a collapsed floor like the one we fell through could provide a shortcut down. It seems like the damage stretches downward for several floors, so it would be risky, but we could go down several floors very quickly via this hole. But what if someone slips? …What if the Beformicans are already looking in the stairwell?

>Get to the stairs
>Jump down the hole in the floor
>Look for useful gear:
No. 1052996 ID: 11c0d1

The others have no problem with fall damage. You are the only one that needs to be careful descending, so go down that way.
Look for gear quickly.
No. 1053072 ID: 8483cf

No. 1053114 ID: a9af05

>But what if someone slips?
Who said you had to climb down the hole by hand? Jaina has that rope, so you can all climb down safely by using that.
No. 1053374 ID: a7a180
File 167305491655.png - (182.59KB , 500x500 , a_light_shrining_in_darkness.png )

>Scavenge quickly
Looking around didn’t turn up much of value. I tried to pick up an armored vest but ended up tearing away the piece in my grip. It’s firm and compresses well, just don’t pull it apart and it’s still good. I think.
>Obtained: Scrap of armor

>Into the hole
Our climbing gear helps us drop down safely, but the hole is jagged and lots of exposed support beams and metal edges threaten to tear a gouge or worse out of the unaware urban explorer. Pent’s the first to go down the hole, antennae on a swivel for any downstairs denizens. A slow minute goes by before she reaches the bottom, giving us the all clear.
“I’m lowering you down next,” Jaina tells me. “Remember, tug twice when you’re ready to send it back up, three times if you need to be pulled back up fast. Push the rope away from anything sharp and keep a close antenna out yourself.”
“Don’t worry, it’s not my first time rappelling. I know the basics of it.”
“Good, then don’t forget them.” Hah, no pressure!
A minute seems to pass even slower when I’m the one on the rope. The descent is slow and jerky, getting eased down an arm’s length at a time. I try to avoid deep breaths in the meantime, the hole smells sharply of burnt plastic. Floor after floor of dormitories go by. I can barely see anything around me, but I don’t care to turn on my flashlight and look.

The hole continues all the way to the ground floor lobby. Pent watches me descend and motions to stay quiet. The Beformicans have laid out an indoor tent city here for their sleeping quarters, with individual nests partitioned by hanging leaves. Flickering shadows indicate there’s at least a couple people still moving around there The escalators block me from sight of the main floor, but I can see more bad news below: the back doors have been blocked off by some kind of makeshift shrine.
The shrine consists of a scrap metal statue of a Beformican with the distinctive collar of a scientist, presumably the same one in the graffiti upstairs. He’s flanked by a pair of large candles lighting up a mural of yellowed paper. It’s impressive, actually, this is much more artistic than I’d come to expect from these guys. The candlelight casts his shadow over scenes of Formicans etched into the wall. The top left scene shows a crowd of bone-thin, sad Formicans, and the scientist holding a strand of DNA, I think. Below that, a group of half-normal, half-altered Formicans are undergoing the transformation alongside him, kneeling before him in what is clearly worship. The other side shows a group of Beformicans fighting a group of Formicans with helmets. The true believers are fighting and winning. The helmeted soldiers are fleeing before them. The last scene is the Beformicans standing in a ring around the scientist, holding hands.
No. 1053375 ID: a7a180
File 167305492074.png - (158.06KB , 500x500 , the_jaws_of_defeat.png )

Well, there’s still time to think of a solution. The paper looks ancient, we could cut a hole through the middle. Formicans are pretty strong too, maybe the three of them could just push the statue out of the way and we could slip behind the setup.
As I drop down toward the statue, the rope’s swaying is getting stronger. Then all of a sudden, the statue lurches towards me! Aah! Help, it’s got me in its jaws!

No. 1053379 ID: 15c72a

What the heck!? Is it on wheels or something? Try to stay quiet but get your head out of the jaws and slide down the last of the rope.
No. 1053402 ID: 8483cf

Are you sure it didn't just... fsll over?
Don't panic.
No. 1053403 ID: 681cb5

Magnets, how do they work?
No. 1053406 ID: 9db65f

Don't let it fall down, or the noise will alert all hostiles in the area!
No. 1053561 ID: a7a180
File 167330146108.png - (161.04KB , 500x500 , somethings_gotta_give.png )

I’m trying! How did this thing grab me? Oh, wait, it didn’t. I must have swung into it by accident. I wasn’t swinging the rope though, so what was?
>Magnets, how do they work?
My bag is stuck on the statue, but if I pull on the strap I can slide it up. What’s doing that? …I think I found the culprit. That mysterious orb I picked up must be magnetic. Well, that explains how it popped open the lock on that luggage.
>Don’t let it fall down
I manage to extricate myself from the jaws of the scientist and climb on top of his head, using the rope to try and pull myself and the statue upright. Pent looks up at me, clearly concerned. She points between the hole, me, the statue and the escalators and throws up her hands, seeming unsure of what to do. I shrug back with my free hand, not quite sure myself.
This leaves me in a precarious position. I still need to get down from this statue, but I don’t want to alert the Beformicans by knocking it over. And my bag’s still stuck to it because of the magnet. I can probably manage two of these things no problem, but something’s going to cause issues.

>Pick two:
>Keep the statue upright
>Get down safely
>Keep everything in my bag
No. 1053562 ID: 147284

You can't alert the beformicans, the others still need to get down. Dropping the bag is liable to break stuff or alert the beformicans too. So regretably you're going to have to hope you're lucky and you make it down safely. Maybe Pent will be able to catch you as you get down if you slip and fall?

Don't spill your bag and don't let the statue fall over. You have to risk your safety here to keep the group safe this time.
No. 1053566 ID: a2d88b

Stay where you are. Try to get the bag down safely (you have a rope, after all), then you can worry about relocating yourself.
No. 1053677 ID: 9a2966

Man, screw statues.
No. 1053824 ID: befea9
File 167380483021.png - (140.50KB , 500x500 , catch_of_the_day.png )

>Priorities: Statue, bag
I have to keep quiet until Anet and Jaina get down here, and that means I can’t let the statue fall over! I wave Pent over to push the statue upright, eventually getting the message across. As she pushes, I tug on the rope twice and grip the statue with my knees, relying on Jaina hauling me up to lift the statue. I hold onto the rope until it’s no longer pulling me up but forwards and hope Pent can push it the rest of the way. Once it’s back from the tipping point, the statue wobbles on its base surprisingly quietly before settling. I really hope no one heard that.
While waiting for the sisters to climb down, I manage to roll the orb free of my bag and pluck it from the statue. Anet is the next one down and looks confused as she sees me sitting on the statue.
...Are you okay,” she whispers.
<Shh! He landed on the statue somehow. Nearly knocked it over,> Pent explains briefly.
Finally, Jaina jumps down, and she has the same question. “Why are you up there?
Magnets,” I explain briefly.
...Whatever. Just jump down and I’ll catch you.
No problem. Just have to keep telling myself I’m only four inches off the ground. I hop off, and..
>Risky jump: Success
I land snugly in her arms. The landing knocks the breath out of both of us.
Wow, another good catch…” I wheeze.
You’re heavier than you look… Now, where’s the exit?
It should be behind this wall of paper.
Paper’s not going to stop us.” She puts me down and swiftly cuts a hole for our exit.
No. 1053825 ID: befea9
File 167380484536.png - (112.69KB , 500x500 , smooth_criminals.png )

We spread out to search the back quickly for a hatch, and upon finding it pile in posthaste. One of the Beformicans almost spots us, but we slam the hatch shut before they can give chase. We run down the maintenance shaft until there’s some distance behind us and we can finally stop and catch our breath.
Anet is smiling. “We made it!” She gives Jaina two thumbs up.
Jaina wearily returns the gesture, once. “Hopefully there aren’t more of them lurking down here.”
<Dad was right, those things are scary in a group,> says Pent.
<There was so much stuff in there I want to ask you about!> Anet says to her. “I always wanted to see the city. I thought it’d be nicer, though... instead it makes me really appreciate village life.”
“Sam… are cities always this bad?” Jaina asks.
“Well, they aren’t full of roving mutant cannibals, but they are densely packed. Formican cities especially so,” I say.
“Hey, we didn’t see any cannibalism!” Anet says.
<No, he’s right,> adds Pent. <They will eat anything.>
“Well, what did you think of this one?” Anet asks me.
“Me? Well… It was a cool place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.”
What else do I say? (Pick one:)

>I think we found more artifacts today than the dig has in a century.
>You pulled my tail out of the fire a lot, Jaina. The next time a bug tries to take a bite out of me, I’m biting back.
>I haven’t said a word directly to Pent yet. I should try saying thank you in Formican.
>What happened to the Formicans was a tragedy. I wish more of their records had survived.
No. 1053830 ID: cb7695

The second one.
No. 1053842 ID: 9a2966

Thank your local guide for her rather timely and helpful assistance. You wouldn't have gotten so far without her.
No. 1054003 ID: 8483cf

Say thanks, and try it in the local tongue!
No. 1054009 ID: e5e15e

Try saying thank you in Formican.
No. 1054164 ID: a7a180
File 167418866985.png - (92.65KB , 500x500 , smooth_talker.png )

I haven’t said a word directly to Pent yet. She’s gone out of her way to get us this far, it’s time I thanked her for it. My practical Formican experience is really on an uptick, you know!
“Hey, Pent.”
<Yeah? What does he want?> She looks to Anet expecting a translation. Not this time.
I fumble over my tongue at first, the clicks and chitters are hard to get right, but finally I stutter out, <Thank you>.
<Oh? …Not bad for a first try. Yeah, you’re welcome. For saving your butt so many times.>
That felt pretty good! I feel like I can communicate basic concepts in Formican now.
Anet remarks, “Hey, you’re really learning the language! I told Jaina you could do it!”
“Yeah, reading your book really helped.” I reply.
“Want to do it some more?”
“Hm, or what about that data slate I snagged?”
“Oh, really? Let me see!”
No. 1054165 ID: a7a180
File 167418867317.png - (119.02KB , 500x500 , some_light_reading.png )

We really dig into the log once we set up camp deep in the maze of tunnels. It seems to be the record of someone that survived the fighting. The fire must have come later, as the slate is slightly heat-warped.

Madness. I’m writing this for people to know what happened here. This was an unthinkable tragedy just a few generations ago, but now look what’s become of us. It’s difficult just to type this. A few months ago , the genome research team announced a breakthrough and put out a call for volunteers, which our totalitarian queen-overseer tried to suppress. Despite overwhelming pushback, they came closer to a solution every day. She spoke out personally against the project, and her supporters would hold protests around the block. Eventually those protests turned to riots, and today they forced their way inside. The protesters and the science team's supporters were separated by a thin line of security trying to beat us back. The crowd was pressed up against them from both sides. The scientists came out of the lab to try and de-escalate. Something came sailing over our heads and cracked one of the scientists square in the face. From there it became an all-out brawl. And we tore them to bits. The science team is safe for now, we have test subjects guarding all the entry points to the building. If they want a fight, we’ll give them one. Our numbers are too great and powerful to suppress. They were fools to fear the future. Now, they’ll have a reason to.

Anet is quiet for a long time after reading. Finally, she clicks her tongue and says, “Well, I need the joke book after that.”
After some more lighthearted reading, the others go to bed. I stay awake, thinking about the bio labs. We remembered to shut that hatch tightly, right? I think so… oh, we should have arranged a watch or something before falling asleep. Oh well. The others will be up again soon, I’m sure. I had better get some in while I still can.
No. 1054166 ID: a7a180
File 167418867716.png - (22.43KB , 500x500 , alien_ambassadors.png )

Today’s the culture fair at the university. Species from all over the galaxy are coming to our planet to acquaint us with their customs. There’s so many aliens to see! Like right now, there goes one of those quadrupedal aliens whose name is really hard to pronounce in our language. Tall aliens, small aliens, aliens in protective suits, even some hive minds are rumored to be in attendance. The offworlders are coordinated mostly by a staff of duduks, who are also running the amtsvane booth. They said something about how we’re not ready to meet those aliens yet, but they’re very good friends with them and that we kind of remind them of them, but shorter. There’s a member of another recently uplifted species here too, the tobak! Their diplomat is being escorted by some first contact officers. I can't decide who to approach first.
I wonder if the Formicans have a booth too…

No. 1054185 ID: 8483cf


Hug the tobak
No. 1054209 ID: ef4dda

I wanna hear some Arkot jingoism.

We can also talk to the Montys, they know a lot about accounting.
No. 1054405 ID: a7a180
File 167442667274.png - (12.18KB , 500x500 , a_jarring_transition.png )

>Hug tobak
I head toward the aliens, but I don’t get far before I nearly step right off a ledge! I look around and notice I’m on a giant table. “Hey, what gives!?”
Careful, Sam! You almost fell off the edge there. Can’t have our sole Formican expert taking a tumble, can we?” Gail walks over, as huge as the last time I saw her. It suddenly occurs to me I’m supposed to be running the Formican booth today... Before I can protest, Gail picks me up and drops me into a jar! “There, for your safety. Okay, see you for lunch!
No. 1054406 ID: a7a180
File 167442667531.png - (16.26KB , 500x500 , in_my_restless_dreams_i_see_her.png )

“Hey, don’t leave me here! Take me with you…”
Nobody seems to acknowledge me, except for a Formican that stops at my booth. She’s even bigger than Gail, and the look she’s giving me is scary. I have a very bad feeling about this… I try to get away from her by tipping the jar over but it’s no use, the jar won’t budge. I turn, and the Beformican’s face is inches away from the glass, judging me. What does she want? Is she going to eat me?! I want to wake up!
No. 1054407 ID: a7a180
File 167442667959.png - (68.38KB , 500x500 , not_a_dream.png )

I wake up and I realize the Beformican is still staring at me.
No. 1054443 ID: e51896

Take some deep breaths. It's not the Beformican, it's only Anet... but why is she standing over you? Ask what's wrong.
No. 1054451 ID: 49e2b5

Scream, "I don't want to be small for the rest of my life!"
No. 1054452 ID: 36784c

Calm down, that’s Anet!
No. 1054454 ID: dee951


Dammit, Anet! Don't DO that! You'll give me a heart attack! Sit next to me and gently shake me awake rather than creepily looming over me with hands ready as if to strike!!
No. 1054477 ID: 49e2b5

Wait a minute. Is it just me or is the clothing Sam is wearing looking bigger than it should? Don't tell me he got smaller! I really hope that's a sleeping bag he's in (or it's a weird perspective thing due to the art), otherwise we've got a time limit to get Sam bigger before he gets too small!
No. 1054546 ID: a7a180
File 167452459978.png - (148.36KB , 500x500 , thats_not_anet.png )

>Stay calm
I suppress the initial urge to shout and take deep breaths. “Oh, it’s just you Anet,” I speak softly. “Don’t scare me like that, okay? Sit down and just shake me by the shoulder next time.” She doesn’t move. “...What’s wrong?” I briefly wonder if I’ve started to shrink more, because my clothes feel fine, but Anet seems a lot bigger…
The real Anet groggily sits up and faces me. “Yes, Sam? What’s wrong?”

<What’z wrooong…>
No. 1054561 ID: a9af05

…ok, before you panic, remember that the friendly Beformicans will approach you, so this one is probably friendly.
No. 1054574 ID: 15c72a

It's (she's?) mimicking your language. That's a good sign.
Tell Anet not to panic. You have a visitor.
No. 1054578 ID: 281b3c

Let's not raise our voices or make any sudden moves, and do everything we can to make sure our visitor doesn't get agitated. Soothing, relaxed tones of voice are important here.

Hey there fella. You are very impressive. You've come to pay us a friendly visit, haven't you.
No. 1054586 ID: 613ef9

“Oh, uhhh… hello there, can I help you?”
No. 1054589 ID: e51896

well, if they were planning to attack, they would have done so while you were asleep.

I wonder if its hungry. We have food we can give it to show we mean no harm?
No. 1054810 ID: a7a180
File 167486107134.png - (130.38KB , 500x500 , dinner_and_a_show.png )

Oh, hey Anet. Don’t be alarmed, but we have company.
She rubs the sleep out of her eyes before looking my way. “Oh? -Ohhhh.
She must be friendly… I think.
Then keep talking to her.
Right. Uh… my, what big claws you have.” -Agh, why did I focus on that? Wait, I should try using a language she (probably) understands! I clear my throat and try again in Formican. <Greetings,> “uh,” <big ant, friend?>
<Big ant… me. Friend.> Her accent is thick, her voice low and buzzy.
<Yes, m- you. Me, Sam. Uh… food?> I offer her a mushroom cap from my bag.
<Hmm?> She takes it and sniffs it with her antennae before biting it. It’s fascinating and a little intimidating to see her outer mandibles clacking in sync with the inner mandibles chewing up close. She must like it a lot, because it starts disappearing quickly. Or maybe she hasn’t eaten in days.
Meanwhile, Anet rolls over and moves Jaina’s spear out of reach before prodding her and Pent awake. “Psst. No sudden moves. There’s a Beformican staring at Sam.
Wha- Where? Who touched my spear?
<Don’t attack. If it wanted us dead, we would be... Wait, I recognize her. One of the friendly ones, all right. Comes around sometimes to trade junk with us for food. Doesn’t seem to have a name, so we call her Bright Eyes.>
“Wait, so Beformicans don’t have names?” Anet asks.
<Not this one, at least. She’s a creature of few words.>
Jaina sizes up the visitor armed only with her glare. “I recognize her, too. She chased us out of a hab block right before we met you.”
<She chased you? Well I don’t blame you for running. You don’t stop and ask Them if they’re friendly.>
<Am patient hunter.> Bright Eyes was listening while she munched shroom.
<Why did you follow us here?> Pent asks her.
<Him.> She turns to face me. <What... are... you?>
No. 1054814 ID: 52800c

I mean you might as well try to explain. Not sure how bad the language barrier is in the other direction.
No. 1054815 ID: 9a2966

Alright, let's bring out the big guns and the small words. She knows the area, she's friendly, she's big and tough... so maybe she can be of assistance in your quest as well!

>what are you
Am Talzoran - tallman. Was bigger. Came from far to find past of formicans - you, and smaller ones. Why vanish in past.

Became small, by machine, mistake. Found formicans, understand why vanish - why small and secret. Found danger... but also friends. Many discoveries, amazing, scary, funny, sad - have adventure. But want get big again. Want go home.

Somewhere here: make-big machine. Find, fix, use. Then, can go home.

Hm. Wonder if Bright Eyes is smarter than she appears - she's certainly curious enough. Maybe show her some of your stuff? If she's a scavenger, she might have input on some of it. Or give it to her in exchange for help... though she most seems interested in you.

Does she enjoy stories? Maybe you could tell her some basic ones of your people.
No. 1055168 ID: a7a180
File 167546225008.png - (121.20KB , 500x500 , big_lady.png )

>bring out the big guns and small words
I explain that I am a Talzoran, not of this land. Bright Eyes nods. <Traveler… Why?>
<Came from far away to learn past. …How, um,> I look at Anet. “How do I ask if she understands what I’m saying well enough?” Anet repeats the question to Bright Eyes.
She nods back. <Juzt… speak zlow.>
“Okay, then… <Wanted to find Formicans, why gone. Became small, learned sad history.>”
Bright Eyes shrugs. <Hiztory not important. Live long, zee many things. Remember important things now, forget otherz. When no one alive who zee thing, who remember?>
<…That why we learn history, so we remember.>
Something clicks in her mind. <Ah…>
<How long do Beformicans live, anyway?> Anet asks. <Would she even have a way of tracking time?>
<...Sky voice count dayz.>
<Of course, the daily announcements,> says Pent. <The ‘sky voice’ says the date every day. Everyone would hear that.>
<Alwayz wanted to meet sky voice…>
The earliest date she can recall would put her at about 80 years old! I would have guessed her age around Anet’s, not past Elder Stone’s.

<Zzo… Where going?> She asks me.
<Going to place to get big again. Becoming small was accident.>
<Get big?> She raises one eyebrow.
<Yes. Way, way bigger.> I stand and wave up towards the ceiling, trying to get across the sheer scale I’m referring to.
She shakes her head. <Me biggezt.>
<Heh, not quite.> I chuckle at the misunderstanding, but she stands up to compare our sizes and I go quiet real fast. <Anyway… got to get big, to go home.>
<When big, not need home. Can go anywhere.>
>Tell stories
She has professed an ignorance of storytelling up until now, but if I take my time patiently communicating the details and think carefully on how to present it, I could tell her some folklore or modern tales.
(Suggest titles and Sam will share the closest analogues. He can tell one now, or wait until they rest again.)
>Show her your stuff
I rummage through my bag, looking for something interesting to pull out. She leans in, already curious. What do I show her? Maybe offer some trade?
>Suggest item(s): https://tgchan.org/wiki/A_Small_Quest/Inventory
No. 1055171 ID: 9a2966

>80 years
Fascinating. They must've been gene therapied for longevity as well. She's that old, but clearly still spry and strong.

>can go anywhere
Ah, but a home is somewhere you'd want to return to. A place where you can be with the people you like and who like you in turn. Somewhere you could have a family. Ideally, at least.

A simplified and modernized version of Gulliver's Travels might be a good fit. Or something else with a exploration theme or size shenanigans, just to make her understand what's going on with you.

>show item
The fire extinguisher maybe? Given its incredible recoil, she might be the only one here properly able to handle it and it's the sort of tool that can be used to ward off larger predators or even other big Beforemicans. Or actualy fires, you guess.

What else... uh, maybe not give her the serum accidentally! Who knows what an ancient experiment like that would do to, er, another experiment, essentially.

Wait. Where's it gooooohnoooodon'tdrinkthaaaat
No. 1055190 ID: 52800c

I'm not sure she's really conceptualizing how big the world you're from is, but it might be hard to get that concept across.

As far as showing or trading her anything goes, we don't know very much about her just yet, so it might be more fruitful to just see what catches her eye and go from there.

Something akin to the first parts of Gulliver's Travels seems like a good idea if you know something like that, yeah.
No. 1055206 ID: 3b5fba

I don't think she'll understand if you try to explain you used to be way bigger than her. It might be best best that you don't try to explain, since she might get frustrated and slap you from being unable to understand.

>show items
Don't let her or any of the other ladies drink the Serum Experiment X-0.X! It may be a failed prototype to kickstart fertility, but odds are that it'll still have some kind of effect on them and I'm pretty sure none of them would appreciate being forced into becoming fertile!
No. 1055874 ID: a7a180
File 167625383287.png - (110.29KB , 500x500 , can_we_keep_her.png )

>Show extinguisher
While I look through my bag for something of interest to the curious cavewoman, I ask Pent, “So how did that junk for food trade work between you and Bright Eyes?”
<She would usually find something shiny and ask us what it was. If we knew, we’d tell her. Most of it was good for at least spare parts. She really has an eye for the vintage stuff.>
“Maybe she’d like to see a working piece, then?” I pull out the extinguisher. “This is a cool piece of technology. A neverending fire extinguisher, very powerful - hey!” Bright Eyes grabs it out of my hands and starts turning it over.
<Neverending fire?>
“No wait, don’t- !” yells Anet.
She quickly figures out which end is the trigger and points it down the hall. PFFWOOSH! A large cloud of foam engulfs the hallway, and the recoil knocks her on her abdomen nearly a foot down the corridor! Good thing she wasn’t pointing it at herself, or the ground. A sudden chill blows down the hall as the foam evaporates, leaving behind a shimmering coat of frost. Anet tests it and finds the ground is slippery enough to form an impromptu ice rink. Bright Eyes comes back to see Anet sliding around and is confused until she’s pulled onto the ice and her feet lose their purchase. Anet invites the rest of us to join them, but given Bright Eyes’ tangle of limbs flying everywhere trying to keep her balance, it seems the rink is at capacity. The ice lasts for about a minute or so until it warms up again.

>Serum X-0.X
<Wazz fun. What elze?> She digs through my pack and finds the love potion phial.
“Hold on there, stop!” This time, she heeds the warning. “That’s a very powerful drink. It, um - it gets Formicans in the mood to lay eggs. It’s supposed to make them lay even more eggs too, but I don’t quite think they had that part figured out yet.” I turn to the others. “Nobody should accidentally drink this. The fact it’s bright pink should give that away, but I just want to be clear about the effects.”
“Yeah, this should be saved for special occasions. It’ll queen your biological clock!” says Anet.
“That was terrible,” says Jaina. “Anyway, I’m not too worried about it. Don’t see many drones out here, right? Sam not included. Even if we drank it, there’s no risk of eggnancy.”
<Ick, I don’t want to go all lovey dovey. Don’t need to tell me twice,> says Pent.
Bright Eyes scoffs. <Have no queens. Drink not affect me!> Still, she hands it back along with my bag.

>Story time
I decide to recount The Starry-Eyed Sojourn of Silas Boothby, or Boothby’s Bogus Journey as it’s sometimes shortened to. An ordinary sea snake by trade, Silas washes up after a shipwreck on strange shores inhabited by people much smaller than him. Later on, he has more adventures with people much bigger, people much smarter, scientifically at least, and talking red quadrupeds for some reason. Some believe this story tells the tale of the author’s abduction by aliens, and the biting political satire was just a coincidence. Until now, the presence of the tiny race, assumed to be Formicans, made that theory very chronologically unlikely. But now that I know there are living Formicans, could they have abducted him? And who then were the other aliens?
“...So, tiny ones try to catch him, and when they learn he friendly, decide he can stay. But, unsure how to feed him.”
<Why Boothby, the biggezt one, not juzzt eat them?>
“Because, that’s not nice! What if they think that when he meet ones much bigger than him?”
<Maybe he become zmall.>
“No, that not what- Well, maybe? How would he tell the difference… huh. I have to think on that. I’ll tell you the rest some other time.”
<Okay.> I don’t think she’s ready for the sharp commentary of the Noxious and Scythians.
Bright Eyes lingers while we pack up and redress. Her silent staring is starting to get awkward, so I deliver a formal goodbye.
“Well, it was nice talking with you, but we do have a lot of walking to do today. I hope I’ll see you around again, so I can finish that story?” The four of us start walking down the corridor. After a delay, Bright Eyes gets up and follows behind at a distance.
“So, you’re coming along too then?” Jaina asks. Bright Eyes nods.

>Bright Eyes has joined the party!
No. 1055875 ID: a7a180
File 167625384113.png - (227.52KB , 600x500 , area_discovered_abandoned_classroom.png )

The tunnel ends in a T-junction following the direction of a hallway above, according to Anet’s map. Our intended route lies on the other side of the hall, so we locate a hatch and climb back up into the normal-sized section of the Great Temple. It lives up to its name at times like this. At this scale, it feels like an endless cathedral without benches or any windows. The only light in the hallway leaks out from the door up ahead. We cross the vast, empty corridor in unnerving silence.
Inside is a familiar sight to me. An abandoned classroom is arranged like an amphitheater around a teacher’s desk. Ancient towers of textbooks dot the classroom, and a makeshift series of ramps and walkways made from rulers and strips of wood pried off the walls dot the desks that form a wide canopy high overhead. The door next to the chalkboard should lead into the laboratory wing.
“Looks like someone small has come here before,” I say.
<Xanthi…> Bright Eyes mutters.
“Who?” asks Anet.
<Thoze outzide city. Want more zpace, have lezz food.>
<Oh, so even more territorial and less friendly,> Pent remarks.
There are two paths forward: Take the walkways and stay high, or stay low to the ground and less visible. There could be trouble with the Xanthi if we stay low, but those walkways don’t look all that safe either. Perhaps we can think of another way to travel?
It’s a dumb idea, but… I’m seeing a lot of paper around. What if we use the classroom’s natural elevation to glide down there on a paper plane?
No. 1055878 ID: 8483cf

Ask Bright Eyes how we can use the Rope Dispenser to expedite travel. She's probably got ideas.
No. 1055881 ID: 15c72a

Let me guess, that "skeleton" is fake too.
Bring up your idea! It could work! Just gotta get the balance right.
No. 1056010 ID: 1d5bb3

Are you sure you can even fold the giant paper in order to make the giant paper airplane?

And wouldn't Bright Eyes' size severely throw off the balance of the paper airplane?
No. 1056111 ID: f8083d

The walkways seem more exposed, less room to hide.
But it also means less potential ambush spots.
No. 1056279 ID: a7a180
File 167653729998.png - (125.41KB , 500x500 , small_talk_the_sequel.png )

>another skeleton
Two of them? What are the odds? I should study this one too and compare my findings. And if we’re going up to see the skeleton, I figure why not tell the others about my idea? It costs nothing to ask.
“Guys? I want to check out that skeleton. I know it’s a detour, but I also have an idea that could get us across the room faster: What if we made a paper plane?”
<A what?> asks Pent.
“A… flying machine. If we take some paper from one of these old textbooks, we could fold it into a shape that will glide through the air, and we can ride it to the other side of the room. We’re small and light enough that it just might work!” I tear off a corner of a nearby page to make a demonstration.
Jaina: “Flying through the air with nowhere to hold onto and no control over the plane? Sounds incredibly unsafe.”
“We can add some safety features without making it too heavy, I hope,” I add.
Pent is intrigued. <I want to fly.>
Anet says, “I love this plan! I bet Bright Eyes can give us a big push!”
<Not zzure what puzhing, but am big.>
“So, I’m getting outvoted again. I just hope this doesn’t hurt too badly…”
We need to find some good quality paper, figure out a launch system and find a good place to launch from. We probably need some way to cushion the landing, too.
The skeleton is one of the tallest things in the room. Perhaps its skull would be wide enough to launch the plane from, or at least we could scout out the room and identify a path that avoids crashing into book towers and other desks. I should test its stability first though, I’m not sure what’s holding it together.

>Ask Bright Eyes how we can use the rope dispenser to expedite travel
“Hey Bright Eyes, you’ve used ropes before, right? Have you ever swung around from building to building?”
<Yezz. Zwing from building to building on vine. Izz fun!>
“Jaina has a vine she keeps on her hip. Do you have any tips for how we could use it to get from desk to desk quickly? Oh, ah, could you show her the ropes, Jaina?” I ask.
“Fine… I have plenty of experience with this thing myself, you know.”
“Maybe she could show you a new trick or two!”
She unclips the rope dispenser from her hip and pulls out a lead to show Bright Eyes. Bright Eyes is confused and keeps pulling the rope out into a big pile. <Long vine… Where doezz it go?> She pulls and pulls until it stops coming out.
“Well? That’s all the rope we have, now are you going to show us what to do with it?” Jaina asks, annoyed. Bright Eyes shrugs. “Well, that’s great. You’re helping me feed this back in, Sam.”
We didn’t learn any rope tricks, but Jaina does explain the dispenser to me a little. If we use too much rope without returning it after, it takes a while before it can produce more. Reeling the rope back in refills it faster, but we’ve pulled out so much that we’ll have to pace it to avoid rope burns.
The climb up to the skeleton and the fixed rate at which the rope can be retracted leaves plenty of time to make conversation. We should get to know our two new party members better - their life experiences have been very different from Anet and Jaina’s, and each other.
>Conversation topics: pick 3

>Check on Jaina’s injury
>Xanthi: what else does Bright Eyes know about them?
>Scavengers and the trading economy
>Schooling in the village: how’s that handled?
>What exactly makes Beformicans so special?
>Tell us more about your family, Pent!
>write-in: >_
No. 1056292 ID: 9681ef

I am definitely curious about what a Beformican thinks is special about Beformicans.

Asking about the economy seems like it could have some interesting answers as well, and ... sure, let's check on Jaina.
No. 1056328 ID: be210c

>pick 3 topics
Check on Jaina’s injury

Schooling in the village: how’s that handled?

What exactly makes Beformicans so special?
No. 1056738 ID: a7a180
File 167703173771.png - (164.56KB , 500x500 , the_return_of_small_talk.png )

>Check on Jaina’s injury
As I help Jaina thread the rope back into its holster, I look over at Jaina and notice that she’s leaving her upper right arm out of the proceedings. Her passive frown seems a little more forced than usual. “Um, Jaina… How’s your back feeling after that fight on the trolley?”
“It’s fine. Nothing to worry about, it’s already healing over.”
“Really? Maybe I should check that for you…”
“There’s no need. It’s just a bit itchy now.” She’s surprisingly quick to brush off the suggestion this time.
Anet chastises her. “Itching could mean it’s getting infected. Let me look.”
Jaina relents, shrugging her armor off the shoulder gingerly, and it's immediately evident ‘healing over’ is too optimistic. The gash oozes a greenish fluid. It looks like she was hit hard enough to crack her exoskeleton. Her armor absorbed part of the blow when it broke, so it could have been worse. Apparently the paper they used in the village to make her vest is of thicker stock than we’d find around here.
“See, this is why we should worry about you,” says Anet. “I appreciate you not wanting us to stress over how bad it is, but don’t neglect yourself.”
“Point taken… ”
The next chance we get, she’ll patch her armor with the material we found in the labs.

>Pent and the trading economy
“You’ve mentioned trading with other families a few times, Pent. How do you all know when and where to get together and exchange goods?”
<It’s all word of mouth. The gatherings are always held on neutral ground unclaimed by anyone. The location and time is tightly guarded information, given only to trusted parties. If that info changes for any reason, a warning is left at the old place and everyone has to hash out a new agreement. Gatherings happen fairly often because we can’t carry much at once without becoming easy targets. Sometimes other scavs try and steal from these trade goods - if you’re caught doing that, you’ll be forbidden from trading forever by gatherings that know what you did. Things that usually get traded are food, raw materials, crafted stuff, sometimes rumors or even territory. People who live alone usually depend on gatherings to find a group to attach themselves to for protection, or trade salvage for food. Like Bright Eyes, sometimes this includes Them. They are harder to keep in contact with, so usually They arrive by stumbling onto the meeting place and not attacking anyone. Gatherings tend to move a few cycles afterward, just in case They get any ideas. While They’re around, however, They usually accept food in exchange for scavenging in more dangerous areas or for giving your family some extra muscle.>
“What’s the most valuable item at these gatherings?”
<Some people tend very well hidden farms that grow stuff other than the vines you see everywhere, which have a lot of useful properties but taste isn’t one. You’ll never see the seeds for sale.>

As we take the first gangway up to the seat level, the ruler flexes under my feet as I walk, which is mildly worrying. Talking helps me worry less about what’s to either side of me and focus on the path ahead.

>What exactly makes Beformicans so special?
“Bright Eyes, do you know what makes you different from someone like Pent or Jaina? Besides height?”
<Am stronger. Tougher, Live longer. Eat lezz. When hungry, eat whatever. Leaf tazte fine, Pent juzt picky eater. …Oh! Big jawz.> Bright Eyes points between her fearsome mandibles and Pent’s, lack thereof. Everyone else’s mandibles form a lower jaw that rarely opens wider than a pair of lips, unless they’re very frightened. I think my own mouth might even open wider. We can’t dislocate our jaw like some aliens assume, but galactically speaking it is very broad.
<There’s more to Them than meets the eye,> Pent observes. <They can shrug off a whole lot of pain, which is how They win in a straight fight. They also have keen senses, which makes it difficult to sneak up on one. And as a whole, you might have noticed, They are generally less friendly.>
Bright Eyes nods. <When old enough to climb, mom told me buzz off, find own leaf.>
Anet asks, “How old were you? No wonder Beformicans are so prickly, they’ve lost all sense of colony…”
<That… word you keep using, why do you keep calling them…>
<Yes, that. What does it mean?>
“I just thought it sounded cool. Besides, you didn’t have a name for them. You just keep saying Them!”
<Yes we do! Everyone knows what you mean when you say Them! They aren’t organized enough to give Themselves a name.>
“That stops making sense the second you need that word to refer to literally anything else! And Bright Eyes just said They call themselves Xanthi.”
<Not Xanthi,> Bright Eyes clarifies, pointing to herself and then the room at large. <They Xanthi.>
I cut in again. “So, are there any real downsides to all these changes done to Beformicans besides behavior? Was their… intelligence affected too? No offense, Bright Eyes.”
Pent smirks. <Underestimating Their smarts is the last mistake most scavs make.>
“They don’t get to go to school and learn from books like us,“ says Anet.
“Kind of ironic, since these guys are living in a classroom.”

>Schooling in the village
“Speaking of, what was school like in the village?”
“We have classes and teachers, just like you. Most people get eleven years of classes, then become apprentices in a trade. Scribes get five more because they have to know a lot of math, plus it’s their job to teach all the other subjects. Of course, it’s everyone’s duty to preserve knowledge, not just theirs. Our class was pretty big. We start taking classes at four and finish by fifteen. After breakfast it was lessons for the first half of the shift and chores in the second half.”
“What was your favorite class?”
“Not math,” says Jaina.
Anet exclaims, “History! It jumps around a bit, you know on account of all the missing records, but Elder Styx is the best teacher! For culture studies once, he let us watch Formican Force Five.”
“He sounds like a fun guy.”
Huh? What does Formican Force Five have to do with mushrooms?”
“Nevermind... What did you two apprentice as?”
“I apprenticed with the watchers. They’re the ones that navigate the tunnels to check on the tallmen, like what we were doing when we met you. It was kinda boring, so I started watching stuff other than tallmen. I started taking Jaina along as a partner, for safety.”
“I was training to be a smith before we started doing this. It wasn’t quite as fun,” Jaina adds.
“Elder Stone eventually approved new job titles, just for us! Jaina got to be a guard and I’m officially an explorer.”
“So, did you learn our language from the watchers?”
“A little, but most of it we learned at home from our dad. He teaches it to the watcher’s teachers.”
No. 1056739 ID: a7a180
File 167703174509.png - (133.96KB , 500x500 , just_plane_simple.png )

We’re here on the skeleton’s desk now. I use the refilled rope to swing down a level to the seat and take another sample. When I compare it to the last shard, it’s the same flaky plaster. Again, I wonder why someone would plant a fake skeleton, and more than one?
I look over the side and spot a small note that’s fallen to the floor from the skeleton’s hand on a neighboring desk. We take a quick trip down to read it:

do you like me?
[ ] no bones about it
[ ] You’re getting the cold shoulder

Looks like he’ll have to keep waiting for an answer.
Meanwhile, it’s time to get to work on folding a paper airplane. I consider everything we’ll need to do: We’ll need a big enough sheet to fold, of course. If we can get one of these books open we should be able to cut one out. We’ll need to figure out where and how to launch it, whether Bright Eyes’ push is enough or if we need more of a head start. We also have to figure out how to strap ourselves down to the airplane safely. We should be able to jury rig something for either by repurposing the junk around here. Lastly, but optionally, there’s climbing the skeleton for a higher vantage point to scout or even launch from if it’s sturdy enough.

>Which task do I tackle first?
No. 1056757 ID: 15c72a

...what if there's something inside the skeleton? Maybe they're meant to be camouflage. Try looking for an opening to crawl in.
No. 1056758 ID: e5784e

Safe bondage is very important, do that first.
No. 1056997 ID: a7a180
File 167743157461.png - (136.93KB , 500x500 , the _dustbin_of_history_textbooks.png )

>Dice roll: safe bondage
H-hey, phrasing! Now’s not the time to think about getting lost in Gail’s coils and - Let’s go look for some safety equipment.
A bit of junk has accumulated between the steps in the floor and the back of the desks, so we climb back to ground level to sweep this area for useful material. It’s cool, dark and dusty down here. As we wander, I find myself wondering: Where do you find water in a classroom? What do you eat? Maybe they travel to other rooms to collect that stuff, but I have a feeling we’ll be dependent on what we packed. Luckily we have enough to last a few days, and Bright Eyes, well, she said she can go a long time without eating and she isn’t picky.
>something inside the skeleton
I still can’t puzzle out these anatomically impossible artifacts. Maybe they’re meant to draw attention to that fact? Could a closer examination reveal a hidden message, maybe a maker’s mark? The thought of a skeleton you’re supposed to smash open makes my inner archaeologist recoil. At this scale, the Formicans could hide just about anything anywhere in these bones if they’re hollow. I suppose the skull would have the most room to hide something. If I decide to climb the skeleton, I’ll take a look around in its eye sockets and see if I can’t get inside its head.
Our search leads us to a spot where someone’s been piling up lots of trash, mostly pieces of cardboard. Torn fragments of textbook covers tell us where they came from, but not why someone would destroy knowledge like this, and in such quantity. All of the pages inbetween are just gone. Other bits and pieces plucked from desk drawers or who knows where form a junkyard ripe for the picking. At the back of the pile, I spy a zipper from a pencil case protruding from under the covers. Its contents are a mystery, but if we could get at it the contents might be in prime condition still.
We haven’t seen or heard any locals yet, but rummaging through their junk is sure to make some noise. Plus, it doesn’t look too stable, especially if we start digging deeper. We have to balance our safety when flying against our safety in the immediate future. How hard should we dig for materials, and are there any specific types of items we should look for? Across time and space, the tools of the educational system don’t seem to change much.

>Get the good salvage: Going this deep has a high risk of dislodging debris.
>Settle for shallow salvage: Safe to swipe and high in quantity, but low in quality.
>Middling salvage: Lower chance of injury, but damaged goods might come with caveats.
No. 1057074 ID: 52800c

Gail's coils, huh?

Anyway, let's go for the medium option. Even with our party having expanded it's probably better to avoid anyone getting hurt. (Though if Bright-Eyes wants to go a little above and beyond to show off, well, you can't exactly stop her.)

As for specifics... any paper clips? Those seem like they could be used for any number of things, assuming at least one person in your group is strong enough to bend them.
No. 1057103 ID: 15c72a

Look for thin tape.
No. 1057121 ID: a9af05

I agree with this.
No. 1057281 ID: a7a180
File 167782861166.png - (165.01KB , 500x500 , one_ants_trash.png )

>Gail, huh?
I admit, I’ve had a crush on her for a while. She’s got a nice tail, long enough to wrap all the way around your waist normally, or coil around a limb… Maybe climbing it was a little forward of me, but it seemed safer than staying on the floor. I’ve probably blown my chances with her by disappearing so suddenly. It’s still more compelling to imagine how one-sided our tailholding would be than to contemplate how crossing this classroom would take me an entire school day.

>Middling salvage check: Success
Adhesive would be useful to keep our plane in shape, and paperclips would make a sturdy framework for building. We find a lot of them littering the pile, but the ones on the surface are already bent out of shape which would compromise their strength if reshaped. It seems that despite an abundance of metal, the Xanthi don’t use it very efficiently. We dig a little deeper down looking for unbent clips, wading through the cardboard at knee height. Bright Eyes dives in enthusiastically and finds the bulk of them. Showing off further she wades over to the pencil case to partially unzip it - and what luck, right inside was a roll of clear tape! We decide not to disturb the pile to look deeper in the case and wade out with as much supplies as we can carry.
This is a good start! The tape’s a little tricky to work with but there’s a lot to work with. My idea for the paperclips is to form some kind of roll cage we can plant on top of the plane and sit in, but the more metal we use the heavier the plane will get, and it might not glide as far. Maybe I can think of something else to do with them?

A few more tasks remain before we get building. We might want to post someone at our supply pile to watch over it while the rest of us gather more materials. Who do we leave behind and what do we take care of next?

>Assemble launcher (Get additional supplies y/n?)
No. 1057287 ID: 15c72a

Hmm... you could bend the paperclips into long arms in order to reach the wings while sitting on the plane, to steer it?
Could also attach one to rope to use it as a grapple.
No. 1057643 ID: c27a02

I'm thinking it would be best to leave behind either Pent or Bright Eyes, as they'd be the best at handling themselves alone in this environment. I'm not sure if either of them has an opinion on it, though.

Paper seems important to building a paper airplane.
No. 1057651 ID: 7550f8

>metal will make the plane heavier and it won’t glide as far
You'll also need to compensate for how heavy all of the passengers are. Which is a problem because they're all women and everyone knows that you're not supposed to ask a woman how heavy she is!

And you better not think about leaving anyone behind to try and lighten the load on the plane!
No. 1057934 ID: a7a180
File 167832124737.png - (156.99KB , 500x500 , ill_go_high_you_go_low.png )

>Bend the paperclips into arms for steering
Perhaps, but we don’t need the whole length of the steering arms to be made from heavy materials. We could use the paperclips as anchors to attach Jaina’s rope for steering.
>you need to compensate for the passengers’ weight, and you can’t ask a lady their weight!
Can’t I, though? Now I wonder if their matriarchal society possesses the same taboos with regards to women and their privacy, or even the inverted case with males… I really can’t, because I have no idea how much that would convert to anyway, especially given the fractions of mass we’re dealing with. That leads to another thought, maybe we should do some more testing of this concept before we launch ourselves into the air? Perhaps a test run is in order with a second paper plane carrying our equivalent weight in paperclips or something. We could rig up a balance scale easily from a ruler.
>paper seems important to building a paper airplane. Leave either Pent or Bright Eyes
I ask them after we finish lifting our haul up to the desktop. “Hey, do either of you mind staying here and watching the while Anet, Jaina and I go get the paper?”
<Hm? Just the two of us, by ourselves? Sure, I guess.>
Ah, Pent took it to mean both of them. I’m sure it'll be fine. Safety in numbers, right? Paper’s pretty light, so the three of us shouldn’t have any trouble carrying it back. Pent grabs a bite to eat while Bright Eyes watches us leave.
We go looking for a good source of paper where our search left off at the garbage heap. There’s a couple of loose leafs lying around, but the exposure to air has left them brittle and suspect as building material. Hopefully the pages still bound in books are doing better, but lifting the covers is not so easy, and most stacks are perilously high up.
No. 1057935 ID: a7a180
File 167832125394.png - (151.81KB , 500x500 , paper_tiger.png )

After some searching from desk to desk, we do spot an ideal book lying on the ground with its cover open. However, we’re not the first to find it. There’s a low fence around it made of jagged writing utensils, and a chapter or two has already been torn from the spine. The likely reason for both is standing in the middle of the page. It’s the first Xanthi we’ve encountered, and he looks scary. He’s carrying a pen nib on his shoulder like a giant sword and his body has the scars to show he’s no stranger to scraps. He walks in circles muttering to himself before stopping to bend and tear off a chunk of the page, which he crumples up and pops in his mouth. That explains what they eat…
“If this is his version of a mushroom field, are we basically stealing his food?” Anet wonders.
“He’s got plenty more,” says Jaina. “…I hope those are just ink stains on his sword.”

Direct confrontation seems unwise. How are just the three of us supposed to draw him away from the paper long enough to tear out a sheet and leave?
No. 1057943 ID: c27a02

Okay, this guy seems both hostile and possibly, like, crazy or something. Protecting a food source is one thing, but why is he pacing in circles?

With a party of you, Anet, and Jaina, it's probably better to be more cautious -- I don't like any of your odds if this guy decides to do more than just try to scare you off, individually or in a group. If he were just acting cautious himself, I might suggest trying to approach him slowly and carefully and see if he'd maybe be amenable to some kind of negotiation... but that seems too risky.

Are any of you faster than a Xanthi? I feel like the answer is no... my first thought would otherwise be to try and have one of you distract him, but, uh, that seems even riskier than a cautious approach...
No. 1058286 ID: a7a180
File 167859166469.png - (97.98KB , 500x500 , are_you_the_cheese_or_the_trap.png )

>Try and have one of you distract him
“What if one of us distracts him so the others can sneak up on the book?”
“Sounds like a great plan. Since this is for your idea, you do it,” says Jaina.
“What, me?!”
“Yeah, Anet and I have to do the heavy lifting.”
I did not think this through. “But - how do I get away if needed? I can’t jump super far either!”
Anet gives me a thumbs up. ”You can do it! Your sheer… greenness ought to fascinate him long enough to get away.” The Xanthi stops his pacing and turns towards our hiding spot. “Oops, I think he noticed our whispering. Better hop to it!” I get shoved into the open as the sisters duck out the other side.
“Wha - How do I -” My eyes dart around as I check my surroundings for escape routes.
Behind him there’s a shanty under the desk, where he probably lives. There’s a textbook that landed on its open side - maybe I could dart in between the pages and hide. I could try to make a break for it back to the junk pile - he seems far away, but I know they can jump this far in the blink of an eye-
It’s too late. He’s yelling something that sounds a lot like <Thief!>
What’s my distraction?!
No. 1058287 ID: 273c18

Go into the textbook, then close it on him when he chases you there.
No. 1058288 ID: 6ad04b

Telling your life's story very loudly.
No. 1058297 ID: 0e8597

Leave behind something conspicuous but ultimately of little value.

Your shirt could do, if nothing else comes to mind.
No. 1058755 ID: a7a180
File 167902375474.png - (114.27KB , 500x500 , a_real_page_turner.png )

>Tell life story
<H-hey! It’s me! Sso, um, maybe you’re wondering how I got here->
I don’t get too far into my life story before he tries to cut it short. With an angry hermit bearing down on me, I run down a side chapter of the overturned book to try and get behind at least a paper-thin barrier to his line of sight. I try and fail to remain very still. I can’t remain hidden here for very long. -Ah! I can see his sword stabbing through the page!
No. 1058756 ID: a7a180
File 167902376656.png - (163.14KB , 500x500 , sneaky_snake.png )

I get out of there as fast as I can, running away from the fenced off book, I think. I didn’t exactly have time to get my bearings. Using the few seconds’ head start the book has bought me, I shed my hoodie and hang it on some nearby junk. I really hope he takes the bait and doesn’t spot me as I duck behind a desk leg, because there aren’t many other places left I can run to…
I listen to his yell of surprise, followed by one of confusion as he discovers my deception. Realizing he’s lost the trail, he gives up and walks back to his hovel, angrily grumbling. I hope that bought them enough time to grab what we need.
I catch up with the sisters on the other side of the junkyard, with their paper prize in tow. Anet spots me catching my breath and comes over to congratulate me.
“Nice work, Sam! You had him running in circles, but somewhere more convenient for us. As a bonus, we ended up getting two sheets stuck together! We can build that test plane you wanted after all!”
I just wheeze, my heart still pounding in my chest.
“I knew you could do it!” she adds, after a moment.
“Thhhanks.” I really hope this flying plan avoids any more encounters with those guys.
>Lost: camo cloak
No. 1058757 ID: a7a180
File 167902377042.png - (162.19KB , 500x500 , ir-ration-al_behavior.png )

When we return to our desktop with the last of our supplies in tow, we walk into an awkward situation. Pent is brandishing her spear at Bright Eyes, while Bright Eyes shoots her a glare back. In her hands is a bundle wrapped in leaves.
<Give it back, now,> Pent growls.
“What’s going on here?” says Jaina.
<She went into my bags and stole my food!>
<Zzo? Am hungry.>
<So? That's stealing! How can we trust you to guard anything if you’re a thief yourself?>
<Waz told to guard paperclipz, not bagz.>
<I thought you didn’t have to eat as much!>
<That not mean never eat.>
<Well, get your own food then!>
<Pent not even like thiz ztuff...>
They’re up in arms, over food? This could be bad. I don’t know if we’ve packed enough for us and a peckish Beformican…
No. 1058758 ID: 273c18

Hey, there's food here. Grab a bit of extra paper for her to chew on.
No. 1058964 ID: aa23a8

It seems like Bright Eyes and Pent have slightly different understandings of ownership. I feel like your understanding is more likely to be in line with Pent's, which could potentially cause a problem if you try to mediate.

That said, if Beformicans can eat paper, it does seem like there's a fair amount of it which is too small to be useful for our plane plan around here.

How much food do we have at this point, anyway?
No. 1059025 ID: 368825

This is our fault, we set up expectations by giving her food from our pack. It's only fair to give Pent one too now.
No. 1059083 ID: 26f1ab

Try and calm the two down. Tell Brought Eyes she needs to ask before taking other stuff. Assure Pent you'll do your best to find her more food as you travel. It is unfortunate this misunderstanding happened, but we're all gonna work to make sure no one goes hungry this trip, okay?
No. 1059167 ID: a7a180
File 167935884375.png - (102.44KB , 500x500 , tastes_like_diet_cardboard.png )

>It seems you have slightly different understandings of ownership, which could potentially cause a problem if you try to mediate
If I don’t try and calm them both down, this problem isn’t going to go away.
“Hey! Next time, ask before taking stuff, okay?”
<Fine.> She’s still not returning the sandwich she bit.
“Pent, I’ll make it up to you this time. Here.” I give her a fried mushroom from my bag.
<You sure? We all need the supplies we brought. Especially when we don’t know when we’ll find more.>
“We're all gonna work to make sure no one goes hungry this trip, okay? Right now, there’s paper all around us.” I turn to Bright Eyes again. “We saw the Xanthi eating some, could you try that instead?”
Bright Eyes shrugs, then tucks her snack away and tries crumpling up some paper from the floor. She immediately spits it back out. <Bleck! Maybe YOU eat paper if it zzuch good idea.>
"Okay, not a food of first resort, I get it."
>How much food do we have at this point, anyway?
After stocking up at Pent’s we had enough for six, now five days of trail food, minus one leafroot sandwich. Two of those days are left over from our initial supplies. If Bright Eyes dips into that, our reserves get shorter but it’ll keep the big bug happy and more amenable to other requests. Ready access to food is a luxury she’s not used to, I suppose.
I think it would be best for everyone’s mood if we focused on our next task for now. We’re almost ready for a test flight.

>Start building the plane now: We have the parts for the plane itself, what more do you really need?
>Work on a launcher: Something more than elevation and a push to get us going. (Specify who to leave behind this time as more supplies are gathered.)
>Scout the skeleton: What’s better than elevation? A lot of elevation.
No. 1059174 ID: 26f1ab

All of those choices are tempting. If we were being hunted or on the run I'd say start the plane ASAP. But this room seems to be relatively peaceful, when you're not poaching paper.
Building the launcher is good too, especially since you actively have the time.
But curiosity is burning, i think we need to check it that giant skeleton. Why is it there? What purpose does it serve? Just a decoy incase outsiders get into this region? Is there secrets stowed within for later generations to find? Some kind of warning of an unseen danger? What do they mean? We won't know what until you investigate those fake bones, so hop to it.
No. 1059175 ID: 23ba19

I want to investigate Mr. Bones' wild ride
No. 1059379 ID: a7a180
File 167961781865.png - (90.54KB , 500x500 , them_dry_bones.png )

>skeleton time
I’d just like to get away from the tension really, and my curiosity about the skeleton has come crawling back. Jaina goes along as my climbing partner, leaving Anet and the others watching us from below.
It’s a pretty easy climb with the right tools. The torso is made of solid plates so we can basically walk right up the front. Gaps between the upper and lower torso let me shine a flashlight on the insides. The only thing I spot is the glint of a steel backbone supporting the outer shell, which confirms my artificial skeleton theory. But still, why leave fake bones around? As decoys they wouldn’t stand up to inspection for long. What kind of warning do you get across by arranging them in everyday poses, just sitting in chairs? Maybe the secret is hidden further up.
“Did you ever look around inside the skeleton near the village?” I ask Jaina.
“Once or twice, to satisfy Anet’s curiosity. There was nothing but dry bones, though.”
“Did you notice if it had a metal backbone too?”
“Never brought a light in with me, so no.”
"Darn. Do you have any theories why the ancients put these here?"
"I'm as stumped as you. Elder Styx told us as kids that ours was an alien that was trapped by the quarantine and was stuck here eating old lunches til she died, but I don't think he really believed that."
We take a short rest on the shoulder before tossing our rope up onto the skull. Getting up here was tiring enough that hauling the launch up here seems like too much trouble. There just isn’t enough space to balance the plane on and still have room to stand. At least it’s given me a clearer view of the room, one I normally would have just from walking in. I have a clear view of the chalkboard, the teacher’s desk, and the left side of the classroom. I note a hidden stack of books that we might have crashed into if we turned a corner blindly at the end of the aisle. Bulbous structures like wasp nests are visible between the gaps in desktops - the Xanthi seem to prefer the shade under these desks for living in. The most impressive of these structures is a section of the front row converted into a book fort - two books laid facedown between the desks form an arch, and some standing book covers form a solid wall.
The only openings in the skull are the usual ones, the eye sockets. As I step into the eyehole, the skull tilts, and it keeps tilting…
No. 1059396 ID: 6e7268

You should probably know that typically eye sockets in skulls do not exit directly into the brain cavity, you'd have to break past the orbit bones where the nerve and muscle fissures are.

Also you may wanna brace on something. You're going for a ride.
No. 1059421 ID: 273c18

Hmm, what if these are pilotable? Mechs that shrunken Formicians can use to interact with the normal size world?

Stay in the skull. It shouldn't detach.
No. 1059739 ID: a7a180
File 168005690681.png - (99.05KB , 500x500 , heading_down.png )

The teetering of the skull worsens. Jaina is already in the socket, crouching low with her antennae on a swivel.
”Hold. Still.”
I freeze up immediately. “I think the two of us in one eye unbalanced it, should I climb back down?”
She looks outward at the quickly sloping false horizon on the wall. “-No, it’s too late. Hold on to something, quick!”
>What if these are pilotable mechs
That would be helpful! Maybe it looks weird because its synthetic skin rotted away? I can’t see any control surfaces or runes…
>It shouldn’t detach.
It detaches.
We’re thrown up into the ceiling and back down again, bouncing off the walls even after the skull comes to rest on the floor.
No. 1059740 ID: a7a180
File 168005691828.png - (160.63KB , 500x500 , a_splitting_headache.png )

“Jaina! Sam! Are you okay?” Anet jumps down from the desk to the seat to the ground level, Pent and Bright Eyes looking on from above. I’m… dizzy, but nothing feels broken. My head is pounding, though. Jaina and I bounced off each other in the tight confines of the eye sockets, limiting our injuries.
>you'd have to break past the orbit bones
I know, and we brought the pickaxe to do just that. Luckily we don’t have to, the skull cracked open on impact. It’s completely empty inside, just a hollow plaster shell. It was only a model skeleton, after all. It probably used to hang near the front of the classroom for science lessons or the like, though the educational value is questionable.
The rest of the skeleton slumps over, like a great weight’s been lifted off its shoulders. Ah, I hope they weren’t fond of this thing… If they haven’t noticed the head is missing yet, they will soon.

>Continue with plane building
>Get some distance from the skeleton
>Other: >_
No. 1059741 ID: 273c18

Get some distance first. You just made a huge ruckus, someone will come looking regardless of their opinion on the skeleton.
No. 1059813 ID: f30c55

Better hurry up with that plane so you can get far away from here!
No. 1059972 ID: 26f1ab

Well, a learning aid is interesting, if not as interesting as a giant mech. But you did just make a heck of a racket, so as soon as you're sure you don't have a concussion you might want to start working on that paper airplane and launch device. Just in case the locals are angry you ruined their macabre landscape and stole their food to make a vehicle.
No. 1059974 ID: 273c18

I think I figured out what the big fake skeletons are. They're ART. It's the only thing that makes sense. They don't work to scare people because they'd be easily exposed as fake, and they aren't functional in any way.

Well, I guess we haven't completely investigated one. Maybe there's something hidden deeper inside it, but I doubt it.
151 posts omitted. Last 100 shown. [Return] [Entire Thread] [Last 50 posts] [Last 100 posts]

Delete post []
Report post