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It was the third week of the excavation. Dr. Everett Williams was looking down on the digging site, his confident facade kept his workers inspired they would find something, or he prayed it would at least. The crew of diggers were hand-picked by Williams, lots of them being friends and long-time work associates. They had a great relationship with Dr. Williams, and he wanted to keep it that way.
Three weeks ago he had somehow convinced them all to leave their families and lives to follow him to Africa. He had heard rumors of ancient ruins being recently discovered at the bottom of South Africa. These were merely rumors of course, but Everett had made his impressive archeological career off of hunches, what was one more?
However, this trip had a lot more riding on it than he had let on. He had recently run into some money troubles, with his last few projects resulting only in old toothbrushes and strings of cloth being found. His once sharp gut instinct had grown dull, but he was determined to turn his luck around, and so here in Africa he was.
He had hoped to find something, anything from an ancient African tribe, or anything remotely interesting to show the world. Vibranium or a secret, technologically-advanced society would be nice. Three weeks in and all he could say was found was a fossil, or maybe it was just a weird rock, he didn't really care enough to inspect it more thoroughly. He needed something bigger, something incredible. He was about to lose hope, he felt like Sigourney Weaver in Holes before Stanley Yelnats showed up, when she had nothing to show for years of digging.
It was on the last day of the third week that a digger claimed to find something. Everett was calm, cool, and collected when the news was relayed to him. He had to show the diggers an "Obviously you found something, I know something great is here" attitude, to keep them productive and motivated.
He arrived at the spot where the digger was, the ground was solid with rock and dust, but there was a sort of energy that felt off. Everett instructed everyone to move back and inspected the surface further. He dusted away rocks and dust for what seemed like hours to Everett, when in reality it was only a few minutes.
What he found was what looked like a metal sheet, only about four square feet. Everett carefully slid the sheet off, and what he saw inside was a hole, leading to total darkness. Unsure of what to do next, he took a tiny rock and dropped it down the hole. After a second or two the rock hit something and a loud, metallic sound reverberated.
'Amazing,' Everett thought to himself. "Quickly, get a rope and some flashlights," he shouted at his workers. They scrambled about and had the materials ready. "Okay, two of you are coming with me, Jackson and Tony, as the most senior members of this crew, you will accompany me to find out what is inside this hole."
"Wicked," replied Jackson.
"You wanna go down there? Without checking first? Are you sure? Anything could be down there, it might not be safe," Tony muttered, he never was an adventurer.
'Perfect,' Everett thought to himself, 'Having someone who is excited and someone who is incredibly nervous and hyper-aware will be the best combination for exploring, and worse comes to worst, I am a faster runner than both of them.' These were the thoughts of a man who had seen his fair share of horror movies; archeological digs were usually long and boring until something was found, he needed some way to pass the time.
"Yes I am sure, now let's go," he replied.
Jackson went down first, Everett second, and finally, Tony third. Yet another horror movie trick he learned, never be first but never be last either. What they landed on was a wide metal floor. Their flashlights showed it to be a hallway, ten feet wide and ten feet high, stretching both ways for what seemed like forever.
"Which way?" Jackson asked.
"I don't know but we are not splitting up," replied Tony.
"Relax Tony, let's head north," instructed Everett.
The three men started walking, their walkie talkies and flashlights in hand. Soon, they reached what looked like a door. It was as wide as the hallway and had scribbles at the top of it.
"What is that?" Jackson asked.
"Don't know, doesn't look like any language I've ever seen," replied Everett.
There was a circular button in the center of the wall, it appeared to be carved into it. Without fear, Everett stepped forward and pressed the button. And then suddenly... nothing happened.
"Well that was anticlimactic," Jackson joked.
"Well I don't know what else to do. Open, let us through, move, open sesame. Well, this sucks," Everett stated after trying to open it verbally. "I don't want to break it down, what if there is something valuable inside?"
"How do you even know we can break it down?" Jackson asked.
"Perhaps I can be of assistance."
That was not Everett, Jackson, or Tony's voice. It was a robotic, synthesized voice that came from behind them.
Everett turned around first, what he saw was a tiny, white, floating robot. It was hovering five feet off the air and was...actually kinda cute, Everett thought. Jackson soon turned around as well and saw the floating machine.
"W-w-w-ho are y-y-y-you?" Everett stuttered.
"I am Kuri 447," the robot replied.
"W-what do you want?" Everett managed, regaining some of his composure.
"To assist you in any way that you need, do you need that door open?" Kuri replied.
Tony had yet to turn around but finally did and asked, "Wait, you mean you're, uh, here to help us?"
"I am programmed to be of assistance to anything you may need," replied Kuri.
"Well, that's... good to hear," Jackson mumbled.
"Yes, we would like the door to open," Everett said.
Kuri then flew past the three men and stopped directly in front of the door. A beam of light appeared from the middle of its chest and flashed into the circle. Suddenly, the door opened.
"Is there anything else I can help you with?" Kuri asked.
"Uh, where did you come from?" Everett asked.
"I was created by my masters many centuries ago for the purpose of maintaining the world's balance," Kuri replied.
"Masters? World's balance? What do you mean?" questioned Everett.
"Allow me to show you," Kuri replied.
It then flew past the opened door and continued down the hallway.
The three men looked at each other, Everett was the first to take a step and follow the strange robot. Jackson quickly followed and Tony shortly after him. After walking for almost an hour, the three men were led to a staircase leading downwards. This staircase seemed to be never-ending but eventually they arrived at a similar looking door.
Kuri opened it once again and after they stepped in, they could not believe their eyes. They were looking at the center of the planet, except not what they had been taught in school. There were hundreds of platforms all throughout the emptied space. There were staircases connecting all of them, with hundreds of Kuri robots flying around. There appeared to be magma floating throughout the air, suspended in place in the center of the room. Metals were flying through holes in and out of the giant metal walls that encased the wide open space. It was unbelievable.
"What............" Everett muttered in disbelief.
"Our creators built us to keep the center of the planet stable, we have been keeping the energy levels in check for thousands of years," said Kuri, sounding almost proud.
"How.......how many," Everett tried to get through his question but couldn't get it out.
"There are 1,000 Kuri robots in service, all have a specific job and all are maximumly efficient," answered Kuri, processing Everett's half question.
"Who did this?" Tony said, in awe of everything in front of him.
"We were created by humans thousands of years ago, the planet's energy levels were spiking internally, so our masters designed us and these structures to effectively control the planet's core," answered Kuri.
"Wait a minute, you were built by humans? Thousands of years ago? That is not possible, where are these masters?" questioned Jackson.
"Since creating the Kuri robots, the masters moved from their original place on the surface. Since all Kuri robots have been stationed underground for all of that time, it is unclear where the masters have relocated to," Kuri responded.
"They haven't come back down in all that time?" Everett asked.
"Correct, since the Kuri robots have successfully kept the planet's energy levels in check, there has been no need for the masters to return," Kuri replied, sounding somewhat proud once again.
The three men couldn't believe what they were being told. An ancient race of humans created these robots to save the world thousands of years ago? How did they do it? Where are they now? What happened to them? Were they even from Earth? Questions flooded Everett's mind, but this discovery was greater than he had ever dreamed.
'This is it,' he thought, 'This is my ticket to fame and fortune!' Then it dawned on him. If he told the world about these machines, what would happen? He may become famous sure, but countries from around the world will come down here and take these robots. The core of the planet, and all life on it, would be in danger. That couldn't happen, they needed to keep protecting the world.
"Damn," Everett said aloud, "The biggest discovery in the history of mankind and I can't do a thing about it." The other two men looked at him in a confused manner, but once Everett explained why no one could find out about these robots, they understood quickly.
"Just your luck boss," Jackson joked.
They bid the Kuri 447 goodbye and ascended back up the staircase and down the hallway they came from. Once they returned to the surface they had realized it was still daytime, even though several hours should've passed.
"Well that was quick," one digger said to the three as they were hoisted back up through the hole.
The three men looked confused. "How long were we down there?" Everett asked.
"About a minute," replied a digger.
"So it was another dead end?" another digger asked.
"......Yeah, another dead end, sorry guys," Jackson replied, after adapting quickly to the situation.
"Yes, unfortunate but necessary in archeology, just a hole with some metal under it," Everett said. "Well this site has yielded all it can yield I think, I say put the dirt back and all of us head home," Everett suggested.
"Sounds good," Jackson replied.
"Yeah, makes sense," Tony affirmed.
With the three most senior members of the job agreeing on wrapping it all up, no one could really oppose them. So filling in what was dug up had begun later that day, and was finished two days later.
Everett, Jackson, and Tony were sitting in in Everett's makeshift office, still trying to process what they had seen two days earlier.
"So they can control the flow of time too? Those robots are incredible," Tony stated.
"Maybe time works differently down there, but yeah, what an amazing feature to install," Everett said, contemplating how the 'masters' could potentially even have control over time.
"So, what do we do now?" Jackson asked.
"Well," Everett said, "I don't know about you guys, but I think I want to find the people who built those robots, and I want to start now."