Empress frowned, looking trough the stack of papers on her desk as she waited for Gideon to run some more samples. The first samples had already processed, and the results were- alarming, to say the least. Frown deepening, the black Tsabhua beckoned her co-worker over, pointing at one of the graphs.
 
"Well, we weren't wrong." Gideon said, sounding concerned. "Are we sure it's not just a local problem? If this is happening all over the fungal forest-" Empress nodded solemnly. "We'll need to make sure to check. Get some more soil samples from across the forest and from different depths."
 
Empress frowned- carrying all the soil needed would be heavy, and the two scientists weren't exactly the strongest. They'd definitely need help carrying the soil back, and most of the colony was busy nowadays. Almost as if reading her thoughts, Gideon pipped up with "I don't think Seal has been busy lately." Empress nodded- it'd also be a help to see if they could get some soil samples from the riverbank too, which Seal could easily reach. 
 
"We should ask Preserve to come, too." added Empress, upon the realization that plant samples would probably not be unwelcome either. The two quickly started packing up some equipment, hoping to head out before the end of the day.
 
---
 
It didn't take too long to gather up Preserve and Seal, who hadn't been too thrilled when they had asked for his help. "I always act as everyone's errand boy... I have my own things to do, you know?" The other's opinion had changed quite quickly, though, when Preserve had nudged him to get him to shut up and, looking rather frustrated. had pointed out that the two researchers would likely get hurt trying to move all the samples themselves, not being used to physical labour. Still rolling his eyes, seal sighed but also apologized to the now flustered researchers.
 
Preserve, desperate to fix the group's now spoiled mood, had instantly started excitedly chatting about the local flora, and his theories regarding the toxicity levels. The young Belemoid was quick to gather up his own equipment and follow closely behind Gideon as the four set out.
 
Seal wasn't sure if it was just his superstition, but he could swear that as they walked deeper into the region the air became heavy with an unnatural scent. He could swear the fungal forests were quieter too, adding to his growing unease. He looked at Empress hesitantly, wondering if he should bring it up with her, but deciding against it when he noticed her chatting with Gideon and Preserve excitedly. If the more science-oriented Xunari weren't concerned then there was nothing for him to worry about, right?
 
---
 
Seal mostly sat back and watched as the other three found a sufficiently interesting patch of dirt and plants, whatever that meant. The three researchers happily chatted with each other, occasionally shooting Seal a judgemental glance. Empress and Gideon filling bags smaller bags with dirt samples, and Preserve filling some specially-made containers with samples of the nearby plant life. 
 
Seal wasn't sure what the glances were about. After all, there was nothing he could really do to make himself useful. He wasn't a researcher like Gideon or Empress, or as passionate as Preserve. He huffed, coming to the conclusion that there wasn't really anything for him to do right now, and laid down a bit away in the sunlight. If he couldn't really participate in the gathering he might as well enjoy a little break after all.
 
He watched impatiently as the other three chatted, not seeming to note him pouting in the corner, and was quickly lost in thought. Zoning out entirely, it wasn't until late in the evening where an annoyed voice snapped him back into reality. 
 
"Are you ready to go, Seal?" Gideon asked, standing next to Preserve tying the last bag closed and frowning. "We've already tried calling you twice now... Wouldn't hurt to pay a bit more attention." Preserve hesitantly added. 
 
Seal huffed a little, not really bothering to reply to either Xunari. Guess they caught him "slacking". He wasn't sure what the big deal was, it was not like there was anything else for him to do besides sit and wait. 
 
He scrambled up, and walked over to where the bags of samples were laying quickly throwing some of the bags over his back to carry them. "Careful with those!" Empress snapped "If those vials break we wasted the entire day." the black Tsabhua shook her head "I don't know what's gotten into you today, Seal. Let's just go home before we get into a fight."
 
---
 
The walk back was maybe the most awkward thing anyone in the group had ever experienced. Empress kept lecturing Seal as they walked, talking on and on about the importance of teamwork. This in turn made Seal slow down his pace- which gave Empress another thing to nag about. Both Preserve and Gideon made attempts to get both other Xunari to ease up a little, but both could also see that the mood had been long lost.
 
As soon as they got home, Seal wandered over to the research station's store rooms, shrugging off the bags while glaring at Empress and scrambling away before anyone could get a word in. The older Xunari huffed, mumbling something about respecting others before starting to unwrap the bags. The last two members of the expedition looked at each other, shrugging. 
 
"We should ah- analyse these tomorrow?" suggested Preserve, to a rather annoyed looking Gideon. "Oh, right." Gideon started "you're right, it's probably better to leave that for tomorrow. It's getting late after all." 
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Investigation SCI-L1 I

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Submitted By LostInProgres for Simple ScienceLocation: Fungal Forest (L'Hatzif)
Submitted 3 weeks ago Last Updated 3 weeks ago
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