As the robot picked their way through a narrow passage between two rock faces the tower came into view; it was very close now, not more than another hour’s walk. As they carefully chose their footing, the robot spotted something glinting among the rocks and stopped to pick it up. A flat, square object with a delicate metal aperture along one side bearing the marking “2HD.” With a piece of string from their pack, the robot attached the object to their walking staff; an enigmatic ornament for a journey full of mystery.
The next morning the robot set out at first light, seeking the source of the EM spike. After a while the terrain became rocky and wild, straining servos and gyros. Happening upon the desiccated remains of a tree, they fashioned a walking staff out of a branch and continued on, the tripod stance providing welcome additional stability.
A storm darkened the sky early and forced the robot to take shelter in the derelict building over night. Before going to sleep mode, they spent some time exploring deeper into the structure, the lantern casting long shadows. The building was empty and devoid of anything of any interest— save for one wall. It was covered in strange, indecipherable markings and pictographs— the raw materials of legend and myth. The robot set their pack down and dig out a paper notebook and stylus. After recording some visual data they set about logging the find in the notebook— a failsafe storage mode. First the odd EMF spike and now this…
After a few days of travel, the robot encountered an oddly designed structure, overgrown with tenacious weeds and shadows. They had been monitoring low-level background EMF noise for the past day and moments after stepping inside the structure there was a tremendous spike in the energy level. Logging the event for investigation later, the robot proceeded to walk deeper into the structure…
…essary. A file system check would slow progress but was necessary. File system check complete. Patterns of data coalesced in frames, ancient structures slid into place with an irresistible inertia. Was this endogenous data? Was this exogenous data, something transmitted? From where?
The regular swing of their legs measuring distance day by day, measuring the journey into the unknown with every stride, the robot made note of features and objects encountered, pushing back the borders of the Unknown Areas.
The robot stood a moment, the territory spread out before them, territory waiting to be mapped, documented and known. All previous information regarding the outlying areas were frail structures built on fragmented and noisy datasets. The robot had prepared for this task. After noting the location of what was an unmistakably artificial ring-like structure, the robot walked on, measuring their strides.
After a few hours the robot emerged from the slot canyon and stepped into the waning sunlight. They stopped and removed the map and added some updates. They surveyed the scene stretching out ahead: the canyon had connected the known with the unknown. The robot was… what word would the human have used? “Enchanted” seemed appropriate; the vista would bear much examination.
After walking a day and a night to reach it, the robot arrived at the foot of the towering monolith. This was the location of the anomalous light source they spotted yesterday. As they approached the monolith, the robot had detected steadily increasing levels of EMF interference; now the noise was so great that peripheral systems were glitching and there was a serious danger of a central system crash. A file system check would slow progress but was necessary. A file system check would slow progress but was nec…
The robot had paused briefly to place its pack on the ground and rearrange its contents. Satisfied with the new weight distribution the robot stood and scanned the horizon. It spotted a bright point of light high up on tall formation. The light was not steady but seemed to flicker and change in intensity at irregular intervals. Having resolved to proceed and investigate the anomaly, the robot recalled the human back in the city having a term for stimuli such as this: “bait.”