A Small Quest

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A Small Quest by Hatticus Finch and Tippler

A snake is shrunk and must explore the ruins of an ancient ant world with two gal pals. Art generously drawn by Tippler.

Spoiler.gif This article contains spoilers! You were warned.

Stats.png Sam's inventory is tracked on the wiki.

Major Characters


Samson D. Smith

Our protagonist, Sam to his friends. A Talzoran student of archaeology and budding adventurer. He can be a little unperceptive at times.



Formican and self-appointed defender of her village. More cautious and reserved than her older sister Anet.



Formican and self-described purveyor of shiny objects. Likes to go exploring with her younger sister Jaina.



A scrappy young scavenger from the little big city. She’s had a hard life and knows what it’s like to be both hunter and hunted.


Bright Eyes

A genetically modified Formican with an inquisitive mind. Like other Beformicans, she is incredibly gifted physically, but has reverted to a semi-feral lifestyle.



A clever knowbot left to gather dust. Her joints are feeling a little stiff.

Minor Characters



A Talzoran classmate of Sam's.


Elder Stone

The leader of the Formican village. She does her best to maintain the status quo, like her predecessors before her.

Elder Styx

An elder of the Formican village and keeper of the lore. He remembers many things the Formicans have forgotten, such as anime.


Mira Pluton

Anet and Jaina's mom. She has a big family to watch over, but she loves her nine daughters (and three sons) very much. Her husband Pyke is a scribe for the colony.



Pent’s father, elder of their small family. Prefers a nice quiet, dark corner to get away from the headaches of daily survival.



Leader of a xanthi village in the old lab. Her tribe is named the Weed Eaters, after the hallucinogenic moss they grow as food.


The Marked Ones

A gang of xanthi inhabiting JNET's insides. They get their name from the markers they hoard to sniff recreationally.


The Bean Counters

A gang of jittery xanthi haunting the cubicle maze. Their only food source is a large stash of coffee beans.


The Great Temple

A megacomplex on the Formican homeworld believed to hold a massive necropolis. The interior of the structure is shielded against all known forms of observation.

The Fungal Wastes
A room inside the Great Temple overgrown with fungus. Someone must have left the refrigerator door open.
The Formican Village
A small colony of Formicans has made this broom closet into a multi-level sanctuary for their agrarian civilization.
The Overgrown City
A hidden tunnel network connects the Formicans' now quiet megacities to the outside world.
The Abandoned Classroom
A dusty vestige of the Great Temple's original purpose. Somewhere lurking among the detritus, survivors are recolonizing the old world.
The Old Lab
A dusty titan towers over the cold, sterile surfaces of this science classroom. Warring tribes hold a longstanding feud over access to warmth and food.
The Cubicle Maze
A forgotten maze of endlessly repeating office space. Few Formicans have ventured this far from the cities into the world they left behind.
The New Lab
The high water mark of Formican technology, perfectly preserved even after millennia. May contain one of the last functioning reducers in the entire galaxy.


Thread 1

Our story begins as Sam disobeys safety protocols on the Great Temple digsite, triggering a hidden machine that shrinks him to an inch tall. Before he can catch the attention of Gail, he is caught by a Formican watching them from the shadows. Jaina introduces him to her sister Anet, and forces him to return with them to their village to await judgment. After crossing the vast open spaces of an ancient break room, Sam discovers the last home of a civilization the galaxy thought lost to time. Knowing that his disappearance will lead to suspicion on the outside either way, the leader of the village tells him how he can return to normal size, asking him to keep the secret of their village to himself. The process is not an easy one, however, as the machine he needs to reach lies deep in territory the Formicans themselves have not been to in many generations. Granted some ancient maps and the two sisters to guide him, Sam sets forth on a quest to restore his normal size. The first leg of the journey takes him through a tunnel network sealed since the Formicans' exodus from their underground city. After navigating many twists and turns, he finds a backdoor leading up into artificial sunlight.

Thread 2

Sam and his companions enter a city that seems long abandoned to the crawling vines choking it. They enter the buildings to find ancient evidence of survivors of the great collapse, and mementos documenting how it came to pass. Their scavenging is interrupted when they are chased by a monstrous looking Formican. After pausing to collect themselves, Anet accidentally triggers some kind of lockdown in the building they fled to using her universal remote. They are confronted by another Formican scavenger demanding to know where they came from. After introducing themselves to Pent the city dweller, she takes them to meet her family who subsist in the ruins of the city by scavenging the junk and vines, as does most of what's left of Formican society. Sam and the sisters use their literacy skills to help Pent lift the lockdown, after which she agrees to help guide them through the city on their journey. In exchange, Pent makes a deal that her family will get to move to the village upon her return. Pent's father explains that their route will take them through an area of the city dominated by a group of mutant Formicans who adapted their bodies to thrive under the current circumstances, but whose behavior regressed to a more aggressive state. Anet deems this subset of the species Beformicans. The group proceeds through the city, avoiding an ambush and boarding a gardening cart hijacked by Beformicans to run wild around the city. They jump off the cart and proceed through the Beformican-held building from the top down, making their way through a laboratory where a rogue scientist apparently developed the mutation. They successfully sneak out of the city, and Sam has a dream about home before he is woken up by a Beformican looming over him. It is the same one that chased them originally, but she turns out to be not hostile, just curious. She responds to the name Bright Eyes, and after Sam regales her with some stories she decides to follow along. The expanded group makes their way into a classroom inhabited by a caste of outcast Beformicans called the xanthi. To avoid direct confrontation with them, Sam decides to build a paper airplane to simply fly over their territory. The group gathers the materials to build one out of common school supplies while dealing with incidents like a collapsing giant skeleton and tensions between Pent and Bright Eyes. The group completes the airplane just in time to avoid a xanthi hunting party and survives the frantic flight by the skin of their mandibles. They land in an adjacent science lab, but the strain of the adventure is taking a toll on Jaina, and she falls ill. As the group prepares to camp, the plastic model Formican standing idle in the room lights up, revealing themselves to be an ancient artificial intelligence.

Other Appearances

Inside the Quest answers: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

Anet and Jaina were also guest duelists in a multiversal card tournament.

Jaina was an unhappy camper in Tippler's visual novel Detox.


Spoilerth tiny.png This quest has (fan) artwork that is not safe for work. See the NSFW gallery.


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