"Holy crap," said Gumal. "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?"
"The data were hard to find, 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. It gave us our present paradise. I fear it may now end, and maybe for the best. We've made little scientific progress in a long time. We just had no need.
"But you're the anthropologist," 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. 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. They were originally known as 'Controls' although they didn't want to live in fantasy cubes. They considered themselves in control of the situation. We, of course, were called "Experimentals' because we were experimenting. 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 technology. As I said, I haven't yet found 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.
"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 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, not much evolution at all. Which isn't 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 until now?"
"It's uncertain, but we'd terraformed both planets before we buried ourselves. There are probably still people there, unless the supernova or something else killed them. Venus had a problem with CO2, 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; artificial birds, rabbits, squirrels, insects, etc."
Gumal wondered about the Amish. "I hope they don't try to eat... what am I saying? They can't hurt a nobot!"
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?"
"Well, boys," said Rula, "what are your plans?"
"We should get a signal from the Martian 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 there has held, but we don't yet know if people still survive."
Turning to Rority, 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 top it will have to be the southern hemisphere. It's easy enough being invisible, but impossible to be one of them. I doubt we could still procreate with them, considering how long we've been separate. We don't have any DNA samples from them yet, so we can't be sure, but I'm pretty certain it's unlikely."
"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?"