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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?
225 posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
No. 1037282 ID: b90535

Tunnel left
No. 1037365 ID: 899c9f
File 165726078646.png - (105.09KB , 1000x400 , side_paths_ooo.png )

>Is the clicker making any noise yet?
The noise of the clicker's button echoes down the hall when I press it. I don't hear anything answer.

“Let’s go towards that noise,” I whisper.
“Let’s go in the exact opposite direction of that noise,” whispers Jaina back. “We haven’t run into any signs of life yet, and I’d like to keep it that way.”
“Relax, we’ll be extra quiet.” I creep stealthily down the tunnel, keeping my flashlight low. It looks like nobody’s been through these tunnels in a long time… at least, until we find a set of hand-dug tunnels running perpendicular to the maintenance shaft. I doubt these were made by the fleeing colonists, as they’re going the wrong direction. Maybe they were trying to dig around one of the collapses.
The rustling noise turns out to be bits of debris falling around the edge of this tunnel from a weak draft. And it’s not the only tunnel, either. Should we take one of them? Or just keep going along the real tunnels?

>A branch doubles back to the middle path from earlier, presumably.
>Follow the first (left) tunnel up or down?
>...Or the second tunnel (right)? They're very dark.
>This corridor hasn’t ended yet…
No. 1037394 ID: bf7d5b

Forge on ahead.
No. 1037399 ID: 58dd24

despite intense curiosity, I can't really justify any way but forward, on the real road. Give those side paths an intense look over though. Something might come up behind you.
No. 1037404 ID: 15c72a

Hand-dug tunnels? Must be a similar size creature to you. Could be something dangerous, let's not follow the hand-dug tunnels and continue forwards.

Can you examine the tunnels to see what made them? Forewarned is forearmed.
No. 1037431 ID: b90535

Better go back and go to the path with no sound, I don't trust this tunnels.
No. 1037527 ID: 899c9f
File 165741792423.png - (84.55KB , 500x500 , baggage_claimed.png )

The tunnels are similar in style to the ones we squeezed through near the fungal wastes - the plating has been pried off the corridor walls and the insulation material behind it has been torn away in chunks to create a narrow but tall tunnel.

Jaina refuses to go further. "I don't trust these tunnels one bit. Let's take the long way around them."
"But the noise was just the wind! Let's at least look where they lead," I plead.
"No, I've got a bad feeling about this. -Wait, where's Anet?"
While we were arguing, Anet must have slipped away! We call out for her but we both hesitate to go looking for her. Eventually, Anet pops her head out of one of the tunnels.
"Oh, hey guys! I got tired of standing around, so I went and checked one of the tunnels Turns out, it just loops back here! Lame."
"You can't just run off on us like that, Anet!" Jaina huffs. "Fine, let's keep moving forward."
We keep following the tunnel until we run into another collapse. From what I can see, it looks like something pushed the tunnel from above and below, sealing off this tunnel except for a narrow gap.
Anet manages to pry out a suitcase wedged between the ceiling and floor. Seems like someone's lost their luggage. Unfortunately, it's locked. "I wonder what you pack to flee utopia... I'll hold onto this for now, in case we find the key nearby."
No. 1037528 ID: 899c9f
File 165741792929.png - (111.79KB , 1000x400 , so_close_yet_so_far.png )

Well, I suppose it couldn’t be smooth sailing all the way to the city. Which detour do we take?

>There’s a new smell coming from the tunnel to our left. Something… bitter…
>Now I’m really curious where those tunnels were supposed to go. Did the builders get lost?
>We could still backtrack like Jaina suggests.
No. 1037530 ID: 15c72a

Bitter is usually bad. Try the tunnel on the right (down).
No. 1037541 ID: bf7d5b

Head down, and just smash the lock off the suitcase immediately. Better to know whether what's inside is worth carrying before dragging it around potentially dangerous areas.
No. 1037543 ID: 899c9f

"Sorry Sam, that tunnel goes to another sector entirely. We don't know how to get to the labs from there."
No. 1037568 ID: 15c72a

Oh dang.

Let's go to the bitter smell then. Maybe it's some kind of spice?
Try the clicker again.
No. 1037585 ID: 36784c

backtrack like Jaina suggests.
No. 1037588 ID: 0f870a

Let’s go to the left tunnel, maybe the key to the suitcase is near.
No. 1037594 ID: 01fe07

>Locked suitcase
I wouldn't be surprised if the key is on the opposite side of the blockage where we found it. Meaning that we'll need to go all the way around to look for it.

I guess we can try going left.
No. 1037775 ID: 899c9f
File 165757814028.png - (95.32KB , 500x500 , this_mud_tastes_like_coffee.png )

"Why don't we try breaking the lock open? The clicker isn't working on it, and the key's probably... in there, somewhere." I gesture back to the crushed corridor.
Jaina tries prying the suitcase open with her spear, snapping off the tip. "Crummy plastic..."
Well, that carry-on did survive a cave-in. They just don't build them like they used to. We might find something harder to break it open with later, though anything strong enough to break the case might not leave its contents intact.

We head left and the smell only gets more intense. It's bitter, sharp, yet intoxicating... The unmistakable smell of coffee. I turn the corner and my shoe sticks to the ground. The hallway beyond this point is covered in massive dark brown stains right out of a horror movie. Looking further down the hall, I see a ladder off to the side leading up to a grille where the discoloration is strongest. This whole passage must have been flooded with espresso. Fortunately, it's mostly dried up at this point.
I figure a sticky floor won't be too much of a problem, but when I look back I notice Jaina and Anet have stopped, clutching at their antennae. "Are you two okay?"
Jaina seems to shake it off and regain her composure, tucking her antennae backwards into her hairband. "Yeah! Just... Ugh, standing this close is giving me a headache."
"Really?" It's definitely strong, but not that bad... "I thought you guys drank coffee too?"
"Yeah, but the stench... that was two beans at a time! This much is overpowering."
No. 1037776 ID: 899c9f
File 165757814502.png - (125.62KB , 1000x400 , a_sticky_situation.png )

If we power through it, we could be at the city in no time. Is this shortcut worth the headache it'll cause? Either way, where to?
No. 1037777 ID: 15c72a

Might become more than a headache, if the Formurians are that sensitive to it.
Let's go, uh, "straight"? The upwards path.
No. 1037803 ID: 58dd24

look for another way around, you can come back this way if it looks like the best option. Up seems the next logical choice.
No. 1037806 ID: f86580

Let’s go up, we don’t know how bad the headache can get, we certainly don’t want to cause discomfort to our guides.
No. 1037847 ID: a9af05

Go a different way. If they get their feet stuck, they won't be able to get away from the smell and it might make them pass out.
No. 1037978 ID: 77d69f

Go up
No. 1038020 ID: 899c9f
File 165775580288.png - (133.40KB , 1000x400 , tunnel_troubles.png )

I am a little worried about how strong their reaction seems to be compared to mine, so… let’s keep looking around. The end of this hallway is in shambles, with removed panels and clumps of insulation scattered around several hand-dug tunnels that seem to have caught up with us again. I decide to see if whatever route they built will get us around all the collapses.
The tunnel widens out eventually, to my relief, but I start noticing these dark round shapes nestled in the walls. By the time I realize what they are, we’ve stumbled into the end of the tunnel, which happens to be a pillbug nest.
No. 1038021 ID: 899c9f
File 165775583322.png - (83.96KB , 500x500 , the_balls_in_their_court.png )

I remember what Jaina told me about the shellbacks - while the Formicans made every effort to keep out insect life that could cause problems for tiny denizens, pillbugs were seen as too tough to weed out and harmless enough to let slip through the cracks. With no natural predators, and nothing keeping them in check once the infrastructure broke down, they began to grow larger and more abundant. This really helped her people out thousands of years later when they began to domesticate them, but it does mean they’ve grown to fill a niche their ancestors tried to keep empty. These ones are far from tame, and seem very irate about the intrusion…

>Jaina thinks she can take a few shellbacks. Let’s stomp these bugs and see what they’ve been sitting on!
>Sam thinks we should turn around right now and ssscram!
>Anet's sure they’re just big softies on the inside! Give them some food and they might leave us alone!
No. 1038023 ID: 15c72a

Wreck em. Grab that pickaxe and wait for an opening to strike.
No. 1038109 ID: 58dd24

Lets try it Anet's way
No. 1038112 ID: f86580

Try giving them a little of food.
No. 1038117 ID: 8299f0

Seems to be a dead end, and they do say that a cornered animal fights the hardest, so...
Probably best to back off.
No. 1038137 ID: cb7ab4

Fight them for easy xp
No. 1038170 ID: 8a4b6e

If we're nice to them, they might ignore us.
No. 1038327 ID: e51896

I'll tiebreak.
Jaina's way
No. 1038365 ID: 899c9f
File 165802356747.png - (113.03KB , 500x500 , a_rolly_for_the_poly.png )

I, I don't know what to do! Self defense wins out, and I grab a mining tool to brandish. It doesn’t feel very substantial even for someone so small, but it’s better than nothing. Before I can convince myself to pick a fight with an irate isopod, however, Anet cuts in front and digs through our supplies.
“Don’t worry, I’ve got something for them!” She unwraps a bit of bread and tosses it towards the mama shellback. The creature’s focus shifts to the food, though her body language remains tense. “There you go… we can be friends, right?”
Anet keeps low and moves forward slowly. The shellback doesn’t budge, and getting too close causes her to bristle again. We decide to back off, and the shellbacks don’t follow. Well, at least we got out of that with no greater loss than some food.
No. 1038366 ID: 899c9f
File 165802357154.png - (135.18KB , 1000x400 , backed_up.png )

We take a little breather after that encounter. Jaina keeps an eye on the tunnel mouth, just in case. I have a moment to inspect the tool I picked up. Seems like it’s made with real metal, a staple to be precise, bent and sharpened before being lashed to a sliver of plastic. The lashings are old and fraying, but the metal is of interest to Jaina. Anet’s taken the time to doodle some of the obstacles we’ve encountered on the map.

We can keep going forward, or look around the tunnels a bit more. It’s getting easier to see how the tunnels connect to each other as we fill in the blanks.
No. 1038370 ID: 15c72a

Well, now that we know what the tunnel is, why not follow it back a bit?
No. 1038424 ID: 58dd24

The presence of the pickaxe suggests that the bugs were not the ones digging, so this is still a mystery tunnel. But why would someone smart enough to use tools be digging randomly through the area. Is there something buried around here they might have been mining for?
No. 1038614 ID: 899c9f
File 165826769003.png - (84.65KB , 500x500 , who_left_this_lying_around.png )

You know what, let’s explore the tunnels. I won’t be coming this way again, after all. The tunnel looks like they were trying to dig in a straight line, but it meanders back and forth because they weren't very skilled in its construction. When we cross back into the maintenance halls, there’s a cave-in to our right. Maybe they were digging around that?

“Oh, look! Some old protective gear!”
No. 1038615 ID: 899c9f
File 165826770853.png - (122.12KB , 500x500 , thats_who.png )

“Oh… Looks like it wasn’t protective enough.”
>Cracked hard hat acquired!
>Rubber glove obtained!
No. 1038616 ID: 899c9f
File 165826777292.png - (112.97KB , 500x500 , orb_of_negligible_psyche.png )

We continue down the tunnel, taking a shortcut when we reach familiar ground to take the tunnel heading northwards. The other side of the collapse we saw flanks us on both sides, and then the tunnel just stops, seemingly for no reason. Looking around, this hallway seems to be a dead end, a hub for a web of pipes and valves. There’s some kind of pillar in the center of it, decorated with primitive markings not familiar to me or the sisters. On top there sits a perfectly smooth, shiny sphere. It’s cool to the touch.
What should we do with this? Do we just… take it?
No. 1038617 ID: 899c9f
File 165826778350.png - (148.83KB , 1000x400 , secret_shrine.png )

After we decide whether to disturb the orb, it’s time to choose another section to explore. We can probably take a shortcut back to our last stop, or cut back to the coffee stained corridor to keep moving forward. Where to?
No. 1038618 ID: 580aa8

touch orb
No. 1038619 ID: 15c72a


Let's head to the passage heading "up" on the map. This looks like where the tunnel started, since the pick is where it ended, so that means... someone came from nearby. Maybe that passage leads to their home?
Or maybe that corpse we found was the only miner, but I don't know how they got stuck in a cave-in *after* leaving their pick behind? Usually cave-ins happen during mining. Really bad luck maybe?
No. 1038620 ID: e5709d

Grab the orby thing! Technology prevails, and so must you!
No. 1038623 ID: 398700

I mean, the other guys clearly set off the booby trap already, so... inspect it first, then maybe?
No. 1038660 ID: 36784c

Inspect the pedestal more closely. If you don’t see anything that’ll trigger from removing the orb, then it might be ok to take it.

You can’t go back the way you came! There are mice and they might eat all of you! Go a different direction!
No. 1038736 ID: fe7de6

Inspect first plz
No. 1038768 ID: f86580

Let’s chale if is not a trap and take a shortcut to the last stop.
No. 1038789 ID: 58dd24

replace the orb with a bag of sand, as you always dreamed of doing. Then go up in the expectation that this meets up with one of the topmost paths, because normal-sized red mice have appeared on the map
No. 1039128 ID: 899c9f
File 165870782366.png - (96.49KB , 500x500 , what_no_welcome_mat.png )

Hmm. Could the orb be booby trapped, like some kind of sacred relic? There’s only one way I can think of to test it.

I touch the orb again. It’s still cool to the touch. A spot check doesn’t reveal any suspicious holes waiting to fill me with poison darts. The pillar doesn’t shift or release a boulder when I move it a little. I think it’s safe to lift this… Wow, it’s really dense. I’ll keep it in my bag for now.

We take the shortcut to fill out the map. There’s a fork in the tunnel up ahead, but a collapsed ceiling makes the choice clearly one sided. From the carved tunnel junction, we go straight ahead this time, all the way up to a heavy set of blast doors. I look around for a control panel or manual release, but come up empty handed.
Anet studies the glyphs on the door warning of danger within. “Did our ancestors seal this door behind them?”
“I don’t think so,” I say as I wipe the layers of caked dust from the walls. “This door doesn’t look like it closes from the outside. it's effectively a dead end.”
No. 1039129 ID: 899c9f
File 165870783334.png - (172.06KB , 1000x400 , we_made_it.png )

Well, there’s only one way to go left on this map. I really hope it’s the right one.
We head south and find another sealed door facing the coffee-stained corridor. This one has a lock, but we don’t have the key. The clicker doesn’t work here, either. What are we even carrying this thing around for? We give up and keep heading south. The corridor curves to the left again, my hopes slowly rising as to what we’ll find around the bend, until…
No. 1039131 ID: 899c9f
File 165870789011.png - (135.57KB , 500x500 , light_at_the_end_of_the_tunnel.png )

Yes, we’ve done it! A ladder leads up to a hatch in the ceiling under where the city is marked on our map. The edges are tinged with some kind of plant growth, hopefully a sign of greener pastures to come. At first, the lever is stuck, but a forceful twist from Jaina gets it to budge. We’re not stuck in a broom closet for the rest of our lives after all!
But what are we going to find in the city? A necropolis for a civilization that forgot everything? Maybe they’re all fine and this breakaway colony was all one big social experiment? Maybe the whole building collapsed on their heads? An uncertain future lies ahead as I climb through the hatch…

>KILLS: 50%
>ITEMS: 80%
>SECRET: 60%
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