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  1. [[!meta title="Paul"]]
  2. The day was pretty long, but eventually we got onto the ship. The anti-gravity
  3. chambers were always a bit odd to get used to, but it certainly wasn't the
  4. worst part of my day. As we finally lifted off the ground sitting in the lunch
  5. room, our instructor briefed us on the situation.
  6. "Cadets. This discovery is perhaps mankind's strangest. We'll be touching down
  7. in about 15 minutes, so eat quickly. It's a system not far from our own which
  8. for decades we have somehow overlooked. In essence, it is a direct copy of our
  9. planetary system. It appears that some few centuries ago, a giant part of the
  10. population of the planet was replaced. Only approximately one tenth of the
  11. planet is even inhabited by life. Much of that is not carbon based lifeforms,
  12. but silicon based ones. It seems that artificial life forms have somehow
  13. replaced most of the natural inhabitants of the planet, and buried them under
  14. ground. They do not take well to us, either."
  15. The instructor's words were bewildering, to say the least. Without any time to
  16. dwell on the matter, the automated announcement system beeped and said, "Please
  17. brace for impact. This ship is landing at CX-43-01-06."
  18. After the turbulence stopped and we deshipped, we were met with the strangest
  19. sight we'd ever seen. Earth, as we knew it centuries ago in the early 2000s,
  20. but with no sign of life anywhere. Giant buildings still stood decrepit and
  21. filled with green, fields for miles where perhaps there were roads and
  22. highways. And to complete the sight, there were robotic life forms of dozens of
  23. kinds, roaming the wild, flying high above, crawling the ground. One which
  24. stood out to me was a towering black robot with two legs and no arms. Its body
  25. was sort of cylindrical, horizontally. It reminded me of an ape, although
  26. veritably huge and with no arms. Actually, I guess the analogy falls apart the
  27. more you think about it.
  28. Among the fields were various researchers who had set up camps, monitoring
  29. these life forms and surveying the landscape. We were directed to one
  30. particular research team, named "Paul."
  31. We were designated to search a particular building, the teams all were
  32. organized to search in a pattern across the landing city. Ours was a
  33. restaraunt. The moment I walked in with the others I could tell it was going to
  34. be a problem; the geometry of the room was particular and clearly altered to
  35. suit some inhabitant which had been living in it for a while. I stopped the
  36. team as we entered, pointing to the various traps laid about. Some of them
  37. didn't believe me, but with enough coaxing I was permitted to search alone.
  38. One of – no, perhaps the sole inhabitant – was running wildly about. It was an
  39. oddly shaped, sort-of flat being. Grey, sort of beige likely due to dirt. It
  40. flung itself through the room, avoiding every trap it had laid, almost mocking
  41. me. I was myself a thin and acrobatic person, so I chased it, like a game we
  42. were both having fun playing. Despite the clearly deadly traps, I had a lot of
  43. fun running after this thing, and eventually I caught it. The robotic being was
  44. not hostile by nature, and from that I had guessed that perhaps none of them
  45. were.