“Well, crap,” Rority said. “I guess we're Morlocks.”
Noob was puzzled. “We're what?”
“Morlocks,” Rority replied. “It's from an ancient book by a protohuman named H. G. Wells. This fellow's story has a man travel through time to the future, and finds a peaceful society named the Eloi. But of course, like most of the protohuman fiction, it turns ugly and the reader is introduced to another society, the Morlocks, who live underground and eat Eloi. It's no wonder these people are afraid of us!
“But at any rate, what have you found out about the nobots?” he asked.
“The data were hard to find,” Noob said, “since they were so old. I can't pin a date on it, but a few million years ago after we'd started making everything out of nobots, we collectively decided to build the matrix of nobotic cubes that gave us our present paradise. I fear it may now end, but maybe it's for the best. We've made little scientific progress in a long time. We just had no need.
“But you're the anthropologists,” the programmer said. “What should we do about the species living on the surface?”
“Gumal's the anthropologist, I'm just a prehistorian archaeologist. What do you think, Gumal?”
“I think I need a hell of a lot more data,” Gumal said. “We know little about them.”
“Odd that I should be teaching history to a historian,” Noob said, “but we're both descended from a common ancestor. The people on the surface were originally known as ‘Controls’ because they didn't want to live in a fantasy world made out of nobotic cubes. They considered themselves in control of the situation.
“We, of course, were called ‘Experimentals’ because we were performing experiments. I still have quite a bit more research to do and data to uncover and collect, but there were groups of protohumans called ‘Amish’ who were against all technology. As I said, I haven't yet found very much of the data, but I suspect that the Controls; or Eloi, as your protobook calls them, are these Amish people.”
“Do they have beer?” Rority asked, smirking.
“I haven't found any references to beer, but it's quite possible since they were originally Germanic people. I'm surprised you don't know, since you're the archaeologist,” said Noob.
”I was joking,” said Rority. “Some of them did, but most of them abstained from any alcohol except wine, and then only during communion.”
“During what?” asked Gumal.
“One of their primitive rituals, it isn't important. I'm excited at the prospect of studying these people, to see how different they are from us and from protohumans. They seem more like protohumans than humans, with not much evolution at all except how goofy they look. Or would to a protohuman. It isn't all that surprising, since they would never accept genetic modifications, and the environment was tamed long before we entered our cubes.
“But Noob, what about the Martians and Venusians? Are they a fiction, like most of our lives have been up until now?”
“Oh, they're real, all right. We'd terraformed both planets before we buried ourselves and those data were all confirmed. There were certainly people living on those planets once, and there are probably still people there unless the supernova or something else killed them.
“Venus had a problem with carbon dioxide before it was terraformed, it's possible the greenhouse effect could have run wild again. We're just going to have to have someone visit them to see, unless somebody can think of a way of long distance communication. Most likely, sending nobots would be faster than trying out various radio frequencies until we found one they were listening to.”
“So much to catch up on,” Rority said. “I'll send some nobotic sentinels to gather data on the Eloi; artificial birds, rabbits, squirrels, insects, and so on.”
Gumal took a toke of his stratodoober and wondered about the Eloi he'd referred to. “I hope they don't try to eat... oh, hell, what am I thinking? They can't hurt a nobotic robot!”
Two weeks later they assembled again, this time a larger group with Rula and a few other disciplines. “Well,” said Rority, “no beer, damn it!”
Gumal said “what about strato DOH! Of course no stratodoobers, what am I thinking? They're against technology.”
“Well, boys,” said Rula, “what are your plans?”
“We're sending radio messages to Mars and should get a signal from the Venusian probe tomorrow, but Venus is behind the sun right now so it will be a few more days to see what's up with it,” replied Akwort, the planetologist. “From our telescope signals it looks like the terraforming on Mars has held, but we don't yet know if people still survive. If we don't hear from Mars we'll send a probe there, too.”
Turning to Gumal, Rula asked “What about these so-called ‘Eloi’ or ‘Amish’ or whatever they're called? Can we and should we reintegrate?”
“Impossible,” he answered. “They think we're devils from hell. If we want to go up to the top it will have to be in the southern hemisphere. It's easy enough being invisible, but impossible to be one of them.
“I doubt it would still be possible to procreate with them, considering how long we've been separate from their species. We don't have any DNA samples from them yet, so we can't be sure, but I'm pretty certain it's unlikely. I mean would you want to have sex with one of them? Uhg!”
“Well, hell,” she said. “And I wanted them to teach me some of their dances! Yes, Rority, I read your report. Did anybody bring their stratodoober?”
“I did,” said Rority. “Anybody got any beer?”