Previous thread Archive: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=bugworldParty: Littoreus the rock crab, Ealaqa the medical leech, Pardo the wolf spider and Proto the damselfly animal companion.Last time: You defeated one dragonfly, but another is lurking in the towering grasses, likely waiting to strike.You are Ealaqa.At times like this you sometimes wish you were not a leech. Or more specifically, you wish that you had eyes, instead of this patch of photosensitive skin.As you reload your rifle through practiced motions, you turn your head around. It's not like looking at what you're doing would help much either. You can just about make out where Littoreus's legs are around you, each one likely twice as tall as yourself. It is as if Cancer himself has sent this crab to watch over you.Even over the taste of saltwater that follows Littoreus, there are other flavors on the air. Smoke from your shot that went wild just moments before. Black powder from your snailshell flask as you pour it. The hot breath from your party's panic, mostly your own. Dirt kicked up by Proto's wingbeats.That special scent of death that follows a predator, faint, but growing stronger.Before you know it, you've loaded Daddy's Little Girl, braced her against the spot where your right tentacle meets your body, and curled the tip of that tentacle around the trigger guard, just as you practiced time and time again.You don't know how much time you have before that red dragonfly strikes again, who it will attack first, or whether you will be fast enough to do anything about it. But you know you're not alone. Not only because of Cancer's everpresent grace, but also because of the scent of your friends.What will you do with this moment?>Pray for mercy>Pray for steady aim>Taste the wind once more>Speak to someone>Write-in
>>1845516>Pray for steady aimgood to see you bug, thought you died on us
Speak to someone
Sorry for the delay, I got called into work. It's the expectation of stuff like this that's kept me away so long. With any luck, I'll post an update tonight.
>>1845516>Pray for steady aimBy the great lord Winchester, overseen by the saints Smith and Wesson, and the knights Heckler and Koch, may this aim be true!
You say a prayer for a steady aim. You ask Cancer not for a lighter load, but for a more turgid blood sac. You softly recite your prayer aloud."Cancer hear your Vicar's plea,To guide my aim, to sate my need,Humbled is this sacred flea,To be your tool to make foes bleed."You feel reassured if nothing else, prayer always did help you feel more centered. Time passes.The stench of death grows stronger. You wait, saving your shot. You pay careful attention to where your new friends are, and the stench of death grows stronger. You wait, and you save your shot.Then, all at once, you hear the grasses part and you fire! Your mind reels from the noise and the taste of smoke in the air and a large blur comes crashing down in front of you. You taste violence in the air, that sickly aroma of blood mixed with dirt.As you shake the sensory overload from your body, your friends congratulate you on your shot. It was Cancer's will, of course, but you accept the compliments with the grace befitting someone of your rank in the church. Soon the party packs away their weapons and heads onwards once more. But something about the encounter does not sit right with Pardo."I've never seen a dragonfly with those markings before. Something's off about it.""Really?" Littoreus says, hoisting the predator's cadaver up, up to his face to inspect it more closely. "Looks just like all the other dragonflies I've seen to me."One of the party members can investigate the corpse while you travel. Who do you choose?
>>1847073Detective Manny Pardo, of course.
Littoreus carries the corpse on his back as the four of you continue on. Even as you scout ahead of your slower pack-mates, you examine the dragonfly through Proto's eyes. Every sign shows that this animal was in the absolute picture of health. No scars from rough moltings. No rot in the mouthparts from leftover meat caught in the cracks. Vibrant coloration.There's no doubt about it, this is not a wild animal. It was, to the extent that a dragonfly can be, domesticated.As night settles into the sky and your party settles in for dinner, you tell your friends what you have discovered. Ealaqa, with the most restricted diet, drains the blood from the dragonfly's corpse, then passes the meats onto you and Proto. Littoreus gets to work setting up a fire. The brutal efficiency with which he accomplishes work is still impressive to you. But you understand where that power comes from whenever you see him eat, tonight he is roasting two entire stalks of the sky-high grasses over the fire.You set aside some meats for Proto and get to work cocooning the rest of the body so that you can properly dissolve it."I agree Pardo. That blood was cleaner than most animals', and I didn't taste any parasites." "Do you think -nomph- that somebody *crunch* attacked us?" Littoreus asks in between bites.What do you believe, Pardo? And is there anything you would like to say before the party goes to bed?
"I believe it was an attack. I suggest we might want to keep watch for anything suspicious. If that's something we want to do, I volunteer to take the first watch."
"If someone bothered to domesticated these killers, to care for these attack beasts, they were sent to sick us on purpose, and us specifically. Who among us has enemies? Littoreus?"Side-eyes littoreus.
"Yes. It would explain why these dragonflies did not resemble the local ones, as well as why there were tamed predators out here on the trail. I've only now started travelling, so if any of us has enemies, it's probably one of you two. Then again, Littoreus would likely feed a whole tribe of bandits, so it could have been random. With any luck our attackers have realized that we are not below them on the food chain and have moved on. It is also possible that they have secretly observed us, or noticed the failure of their animals to return, and are preparing to devote greater forces to our demise. Proto and I will take turns on watch tonight. I have some time before my dinner digests anyways. Get some rest."Ealaqa gets that look she gets when you talk. It's even harder to read her eyeless expression than most people's. You wonder if it's fear or doubt, but it's probably just reverence for your deductive skills.Littoreus, big as a house, settles down to sleep by the fire. Ealaqa hunches down to pray before curling up as well.The stars are out tonight. Vigilant as you are, you can't help but to spend moments glancing up from your cocoon of dragonfly soup towards your sleeping companions. What do you think about them?>They're slow, unobservant. Weaker than you. In the emerging pack hierarchy, you will surely claim your rightful place at the top.>They proved to be capable in combat today. They've surprised you. You wonder what other surprises they have in store. >You hope you aren't driving them away. Beasts make sense to you. People don't. Dad has always understood you, but others haven't always been so accepting.>Something else (write-in)
>They're slow, unobservant. Weaker than you. In the emerging pack hierarchy, you will surely claim your rightful place at the top.
>>1848215>They proved to be capable in combat today. They've surprised you. You wonder what other surprises they have in store.
Yes, perhaps they will make a fine pack one day. You'll just have to guide them as pack leader. Having done most of the talking on your journey so far, you're basically the leader already, since talking the most seems to be what civilization looks for in a leader.Sadly, you are not attacked by violent marauders in the night, and you do not get a chance to demonstrate your leadership in battle. Oh well, the world is a cutthroat place and you will eventually be able to do some killing.The morning passes quickly in a blur of rehearsed needs. The campfire is smothered, Littoreus refreshes the moisture charm on his gills, Ealaqa gives her morning prayers, muscles are stretched and deep breaths taken through however that individual draws their breath. Soon, the citadel grows up above the horizon. A termite kingdom is not like most other groups of bugs. As a hive, the termite inhabitants share an empathic connection with each other and with their queen, working together almost as if each insect were merely one leg on an enormous millipede. Some insects (perhaps out of envy of the termite's efficiency, perhaps not) would argue that the only truly sentient termites were the queens. While such a suggestion would be horribly offensive to a termite, indeed the name of the queen is almost universally shared by both her country as well as her physical citadel.You are Littoreus.Dampwood grows in the distance before you. Like the kraken, a termite mound is one of the few things that can make you feel small. Now, termites themselves are even smaller than most bugs, about a half an inch tall when walking on two legs. To fit in smaller, more quickly constructed tunnels, many of them walk using their lower arms as well, making them look even smaller than they already are. Having been briefly mistaken for a monster on multiple occasions however, you know the sort of threat a termite can pose though. When you fight a termite, you never fight just one. And often, they have bought the services of mercenaries as well, what with the wealth in their mountains and skilled carpenters. Ealaqa walks in the front to prevent another misunderstanding, her bright white and gold robe clearly distinguishing her as civilized. Other than your belts, all that you carry on you is a small money pouch tied around a leg where it attaches to your body. Pardo is similarly sparsely equipped. You suppose with his silk he doesn't really need to carry any ropes or anything. And you suspect he's never had to pay for much, either.You arrive at Dampwood. How will you pursue the information you seek?>Ask an audience with Queen Dampwood.>Send Ealaqa into Dampwood to find a library. You can trust her.>You need a drink before you can think about this sort of thing. It'll give you a chance to feel out the local culture too.
>You need a drink before you can think about this sort of thing. It'll give you a chance to feel out the local culture too.
>Ask an audience with Queen Dampwood
Ugh. You need a drink. Grass has calories and all, but it tastes so bland. There's less salt in land food than there is in your mouth normally. It's like it's reverse seasoned. It's not like you can afford to get nice and sloshed, but something to clean the taste of grass out of your mouth would be nice. And equipped for travelers as a tavern is, your size ought not to be a problem. Sure enough as you cross out of the farmlands and into Dampwood's middle city around the citadel proper, a termite waitress is already clearing space for the three of you to sit. Rather than construct something guest-sized, the dining area is outdoors.News travels like plague in a hive, and it seems that any farmers who saw your direction of travel have already passed on the feeling of expecting guests, though from the wave of eyes which wash over you, you know that you still impress. There are plenty of termites dining here, but also a few other travelers. Some beetles of different descriptions, an assortment of other hive-forming insects which get along well with the termites. A locust glances your way, before pointedly returning his attention to his lunch. A termite waitress pull up beside you."How can ay help y'all?""I'm new in town, and I was hoping to get something to drink. I'm on a bit of a travel budget, what would you suggest?""We have all sawts av ales faw what ails y'all, but ay would suggest thay honeydew. Y'all can nevuurr gowrawng with ayy darn good honeydew, ayn' honey, our honeydew is darn good. Two drops ayy drop." You unhook the money pouch from the band around your leg and hold it over to the waitress."Three honeydews then please." The waitress takes six amber drops out of the pouch, and heads back into the building. As you wait, you take a look at your friends. Ealaqa flicks her long tongue out into the air, tasting the scents of those present. Pardo, with Proto sat on top of him facing backwards, turns in small circles, keeping as many well-trained eyes on all these strangers as possible. Seeing a bustling business like this reminds you of home. You remember the first time your mother taught you about drops. Beehives used some of the same preservation alchemies that they used for their precious honey on tree sap, and as a result a drop of the stuff kept basically forever. Instead of the value of a drop being backed by the hive, it was backed by the drop's ability to be reconstituted into a ration nutritious for almost any race with the addition of some water and pressure. As a result, drops are accepted just about anywhere you went.
>>1848607And now that you've set out, you finally did get to see bees. That was an exciting day. You'll tell mom all about them when you get back home.The waitress brings back three drops of honeydew ale, with assistance from two other termites. When they've dropped them off, the other termites wordlessly go back to their own lunches. Efficient, you admit, but every now and then a little creepy too. Pardo continues to spin in place, but Proto begins to drink from the large drop of ale on his plate. Huh, Pardo can probably taste through Proto's mouth too, huh? You wonder if he'll get drunk from him their link too. Ealaqa just waves her tongue over her drop. Damn, you keep forgetting that she can only drink blood. What a waste. You unfold your mouthparts and slide your own drop into your waiting mouth. Ealaqa, bless her heart, slides her plate over to you. A single drop of ale on a plate is pretty and all, but what you wouldn't give for an affordable mug of the stuff. Oh well, that's the economy for you.Now that you've washed that grass taste out of your mouth, how will you gather your information?>Chat up the waitress. Waitresses are chatty.>Have Ealaqa ask to see the archives. Healers are universally respected.>Pardo's a scout. Ask him to take the lead.
>>1848609>Chat up the waitress. Waitresses are chatty.Schmooze out your charisma out of that glistening shell of yours!
>Chat up the waitress. Waitresses are chatty.I love the termite southern drawl, but also it's important to get the lay of the land (and possibly directions) before jumping headfirst into finding what they seek.
You decide to turn on the charm. You may not be able to appeal to every species, in fact, you appeal pretty exclusively to other rock crabs. But everyone loves having some attention lavished on them. The waitress comes over again."Ayn' how are y'all a-doin' ovuurr here so far? Need anything mawe?" A question invites an answer, just as a price invites a counteroffer or a calm sea invites a line to be cast."Oh, we're doing just fine, thank you for asking. And I hope it wasn't too much trouble for you to clear the area? I'd hate to have caused too much extra work for you." The bait is cast. Now to see if she takes it."Oh nahwt mighty. There's always plenty av wawk ta be done, a-movin' ayy few tables is hardly nothin'. Y'all should see ayy dinnuurr rush some day." She sets down a tray and leans in on the table at your feet. Ah, a bite.You continue to play this game for a few minutes, deftly maneuvering around the conversation like a newborn sandflea. You don't ask about family, too many unknowns with hive structure. For all you know, all these termites could be, like, siblings or something. Instead you ask about her work life, and she is more than happy to vent all of her frusterations and pent-up stress to you. you learn that while structures like this serve all sorts of travellers, and Dampwood is quite the travel hub, rarely does anyone but a Dampwood Termite enter the grand spire at the center of the city. Instead, any business with organizations inside those tunnels is conducted by proxy of termite errand runners, usually for a drop or two. In fact, many of the patrons here are waiting to hear back from a hired go-between right now. You also figure out that your best bet for finding any information on cryptozoology would be in the royal archives, within the citadel. Sadly, it is not a library, and special permission is needed to use it.>Have Ealaqa use her respected station as Vicar to gain entrance to the archives. She can do the research.>Hire and errand runner to offer your services in exchange for use of the archives. They'll know who to talk to about that sort of thing.>Ask another question before she goes back to her job.>Something else.
>Hire and errand runner to offer your services in exchange for use of the archives. They'll know who to talk to about that sort of thing.
A beetle receives a package from a termite, who he pays. You call the termite over. He is pale. You had noticed pale termites scattered around the crowd, but you had believed them to be another species, perhaps an exotic ant, but on closer inspection you can see the similarities between him and the other, darker termites. What is not similar is his face, for he has no eyes."What is your business in Dampwood?" The blind runner asks to your feet."We hope to use your archives to research cryptozoology. We'll do whatever you need to pay for it." You've learned from your travels that having the strength of a hundred ants means making one hundred times the wages of an ant for labor. It mostly balances out since you eat a hundred fold as much, but in cases like this, you know you don't have to worry too much about your ability to make a quick splash of drops. The runner pulls some forms from his satchel."That will be two drops processing fee, please sign here, long live queen Dampwood!" You squat down, pinch the stone tablet with an outer maxilliped, and take hold of the ink-dipped hair with one of your setae. It's a strange trick, but a useful one. You've gotten very nimble with your mouth-parts living among the small. "Your business is appreciated." The termite takes the tablet, form, and pen back, packs them away, collects two drops, then sprints in the direction of Dampwood's mound, termites clearing a path for their pale brother without even a turn of their heads.You wait. Proto rolls around on the table, the only one of the four of you who was able to get drunk today. Showoff. Pardo has stopped spinning in place and instead presses low to the ground, listening to the thundering traffic of the bustling hive.The runner comes barreling back."Your request has been deemed appropriate for third tier middle management review, and has been found to be economically viable and non-heretical. Cryptozoological information is classified as unverified and of low to moderate value, and may be bartered with outsiders for O-designated services. Please have the following expenditure report form taken to the Dampwood righteous dragoon outpost for auditing, then return it filled in full. All the bracketed zones are mandatory. Long live queen Dampwood!" He hands you a small stack of papers, then careens back towards the mound.A mail run? Well that sounds easy.>Follow the map on the forms to the outpost.>Seek something in the city's business district first.>You know what? These guys are weird. Maybe you should try to understand termites better first before doing their work.>Something else.
>You know what? These guys are weird. Maybe you should try to understand termites better first before doing their work.
>Follow the map on the forms to the outpost.
There's always differences between species, but hives are a whole different experience altogether. The problem won't be getting information, you know that when you live in a hub of intercultural exchange, you get used to sharing details about your society with visitors. The problem will be knowing what to ask. Will learning more about their empathic connections help put you at ease? Will the choppy waters in your belly be calmed if you know their religious beliefs? Not likely. You could try asking another runner, but you dismiss that idea. You need an outsider's perspective."Excuse me, sir?" You call the attention of a chafer beetle, who looks up at you."How, uh, can I help you?" He seems nervous. Must be quite a bit of whiplash switching from talking down at termites to up at a guy like you. Eh, he'll get over it."I was looking for work in the city, and it seems they're having me deliver mail. I'm not above that by any stretch, but I was expecting, well, heavy lifting I guess. And why have a termite deliver something to me to have me deliver it to another termite? Aren't they all psychically connected anyways?""Oh, well, Dampwood is a, um..." He glances around at the surrounding termites, apparently watching his language for the company present. "She cares a lot about her subjects. She wouldn't want them to leave Dampwood's safety. Only highly trained warriors ever leave, and even then, sparingly. But hey, more work for guys like us huh? You have a good day." And he goes back about his business.Well, that makes sense, you guess. You head off towards the outpost.Now. What to do to pass the time?>Ask Ealaqa to tell a story.>Ask Pardo to tell a story.>Sing a sea shanty>Something else (ask a question, etc. Write-in.)
>>1859567>Ask Pardo to tell a storyAnd since I expect Pardo's story to be rather short> Sing a sea shanty afterwards
You ask Pardo to tell you a story to help pass the time."Ah. Alright then. I will regale you with the tale of when I was first found and adopted by my father." Well, this promises to be interesting. "I was but a mite on my mother's back." Awww. "So my father killed and ate her and my brothers and sisters." Oh. "Or at least, that's how dad always told it."You... guess that's the end of the story then. You pass the rest of the time with a sailing song your father taught you, but your heart just isn't in it, so you just hum it mostly. It's a mnemonic for how to know when a storm is coming.The evening passes, and soon you arrive at the outpost, as signified by the symbol on a flag. The outpost is built of wood, and is also completely smashed in half, with the left of the structure standing tall, and the right having fallen to the ground."Psst!" A voice calls in a harsh whisper from the rubble. "Are you crazy?! Get down! The dragon will see you!">Dragon? Pfft, those aren't real.>Dragon? Better get ready for a fight.>Dragon? Oh shit, find cover everyone!>Something else (write-in)
>Dragon? Better get ready for a fight.
Of course.Of course dragons are real. You started out on this journey because you'd seen the kraken, so why not?You recall everything you can about dragons. Horrifying creatures, with far too few limbs. Two scaly, clawed legs and two broad wings, nothing else. Their skeleton is on the wrong side of their body, being held on the inside. Wouldn't that expose them to injury? Or do they just not feel pain? Their organs just slosh around, instead of being sensibly contained within chitinous plates. Even then, the skeleton isn't even made of chitin, is it? It's made of some other material, white as a star. Their simple, sunken eyes dart about as they focus intently on their prey and nothing else. Their blood is hot like fire. Their shrieks and cries fill the sky with their burning hatred and they feel nothing else. Their mandibles open sideways, as though their whole mouth was twisted in place to open up and down instead of left and right, in a crude mockery of an insect mouth.Supposedly some can be as small as three inches long, and fast enough to pluck the arm off an ant before he even notices. Supposedly their gods are meters tall. You're not sure whether to expect something too fast to fight or too big. For the second time today, you find yourself feeling small.Well, if a Dragon-God did pass through here, you doubt there would have been any survivors. So at least there's that.Pardo has tucked away the drunken Proto, and taken up a position in the foliage. Ealaqa has ventured into the rubble to tend to the wounded. You turn your eyes to the sky and steel you will.You hear a shriek from the sky and your blood turns to stone.You see the dragon.(part 1/?)
The dragon, a full eight inches long, swoops down into a standing position, eyeing Littoreus. It reeks of the blood of insects. It gives a few short lunges, hopping on both feet.What are the tactics for Littoreus, Ealaqa, and Pardo?>write-in
>>1863480Guessing Littoreus is 6-8 in wide here just because he's a big crab 4u>Littoreus: Assume defensive crab posture, open clawsI think everybody else is at risk of being carried away because they are small
>Everyone hide and aim projectiles from the too late at the beast, Littoreus takes defensive stance and sidewalks fast to claw at the throat and legs.
You make yourself as big as possible, to try and put the dragon on the defensive. Assuming it can feel fear, that is. You prepare yourself for a fight.Between the two radically different body plans, it's hard to say exactly which of the two of you is bigger. But some things are obvious. This thing is built for speed and flight, it's body reminds you almost of an arrow. You, however, are built for power and defense. Not much in your weight class can crack your shell, even if it isn't hard to land a hit on you. That won't be the problem. The problem will be getting it in range, keeping it from going after the smaller people, keeping it from eating your eyes, and of course keeping it from doing anything to you that you don't even yet know it can do.Sure.You take a step to the side, trying to interpose yourself between the dragon and the rubble where Ealaqa and the survivor is hiding. It hops to the side as well. It gives another hop and shrieks at you. Then it stops. It looks to the side.It beats its massive wings and dives towards the rubble. You try to stop it, but your body is too heavy and slow.The dragon darts its massive, disgusting maw into the window of the collapsed half of the outpost and comes back out holding Ealaqa by the tail. She screams. You scream. The dragon heads up into the air.You are Ealaqa. You made your peace with your god a long time ago, but you never expected you might meet him so soon. The dragon has you in its twisted, mocking jaw. It hurts. It hurts so, so bad.What do you do?>Try to load your gun.>Pray for a miracle.>Bite the bastard back.
Well two can play at that game!You swing around and bite the dragon on the neck. You do not use your natural or magical anesthetic. You do attempt to use your natural anticoagulant, but your mouth is filled with fine hairs or something, and you doubt you got much applied.But you do make that fucker bleed.Its blood tastes like iron, and air, and fire.It fills you and makes you hunger at the same time.The dragon lurches in pain and slams into the large tree that the outpost was situated at the base of. The impact shakes you off of its neck.It drops in the air, but it does not drop you. You are Pardo.Your air power is drunk, your healer is out of position, and your powerhouse is still playing catch-up.But you're clung to the side of this here tree and your prey has slipped up and fallen into range. Now you have a shot. One shot.>Fire a tether, keep it from getting away.>Drop down and get on its back and bite it.>Try to pry Ealaqa from its jaws.
>Fire a tether, keep it from getting away.
>>1864956>Fire a tether, keep it from getting away.
Your trap is sprung.One bolt to the dragon, one to the anchor. The dragon is pierced through the leg, and the large bead of adhesive webbing on the arrow-tip should have applied into the wound smoothly. Your anchor needed to be something large enough to weigh it down and have a good place to wedge an arrow into."Ow, barnacle dicks!"Littoreus will make an excellent anchor.The dragon pulls away, but Littoreus has caught on and begun reeling it in. Ealaqa is tossed to the side screaming, and lands on the ground hard, stunned. The dragon's wings beat hard, but even as Littoreus is pulled forward along the dirt, he continues to reel the line shorter, drawing the dragon in. It is forced to land in front of him. He takes one wing in each massive claw, and begins to pull. The dragon panicks, and screeches. The screeches are quickly silenced, as the dragon opens its maw. What will it do next? Breathe fire? Lightning?The dragon heaves in place as it regurgitates hot stomach acid and half-digested victims into Littoreus's eyes.Littoreus recoils, and lets go with one of his claws to protect his face. The dragon stabs with its brutal, stinking mandibles at the claw that holds on still. Even without finding the weaknesses in his joints, it is a powerful attack, running cracks through Littoreus's claw plates. But as it does so, Littoreus lifts his free arm, and holds it in the air, focusing. You know what this is.The crabhammer.You can feel the dragon's head split open not just through the ground, but through the air as well. It falls limp.You are Littoreus.Your left claw is cracked all the way through. You are half-blind with acid. You are covered in the limbs and viscera of soldiers whose names you never knew. The smell and warmth of dragon's blood seeps into you as it runs quickly along your claws.And for the first time, you are filled with genuine hope that you will be strong enough to save your home from the kraken.
The next hour flies by. Ealaqa recovers and tends to your wounds, as well as her own and the surviving dragoons. You dig out the rubble and recover a few mostly-starved survivors. A termite, recently the recipient of a field-promotion, explains how they had set up this outpost to make use of imported dragonflies as mounts for a new dragoon division, and how two dragoons went missing two days earlier. He also excitedly fills out the paperwork you hand him."Guys, you'll want to have a look at this." Pardo pulls you and Ealaqa aside. "I scouted out the tree." He reveals three blue ovoids. "and I found these. Dragon's eggs."You are Ealaqa.Cancer. Dragon's eggs. What should you do with them?>Destroy them. Things like that can't be allowed to exist.>Leave them. They haven't done you any wrong.>Sell them. Maybe someone else can tame them.>Keep them. Maybe Pardo will be able to tame them?>Something else, or a specific mix of those options (write-in)
Well, I think I'll call this a thread then. See you guys later, for more of the same, or something at least in the same setting, we'll see.