Part 1 ->

     There was a click, and Coal Algebraic came into existence.

     He didn't know why or how he knew that, but that was his name. Coal Algebraic.

     "Hello," he said, mechanically.

     "Hello," echoed a female voice. "I see that you're working. And capable of speech, too. Good. We'll need to make sure that your movement is functional too. Walk over to that computer - to your right. Turn it on."

     Coal did as he was asked. Upon turning on the screen, a simplistic user interface appeared, asking for a password. He didn't know what the password was, but the computer accepted what he typed in. Strange, he thought, but inconsequential. After a moment, a block of text showed up. Coal didn't know what it meant, but looking at it made something click in his mind.

     "Okay, that should do it. Congrats. You've just loaded a block of code. It will allow you to shoot a concentrated laser at will. For ease of use, a holographic gun of your choosing will be generated at runtime. Note that, like you, this gun has no internal structure and thus is unaffected by the environment."

     Coal thought on this for a moment, and quickly realized that indeed, he had no internal structure. He seemed, in fact, to be composed entirely of light. He didn't stop to consider why and how he could feel the ground beneath his feet.

     "Now step outside. It will be cold, but you won't mind," said the voice.

     Once again, Coal obeyed. It was indeed cold - a new sensation to him.

     "Good, good. My name is Rain, by the way."

     It hadn't occurred to Coal that the voice might have a name, but he supposed it was logical that she would. "What now?" he inquired.

     "I suppose you'll want to get your bearing. Explore a little."

     Coal really had little desire to do much of anything, but he automatically said yes.

     "Good. Then you should start by heading east. There's a cave there that has more of my code on it. You'll need that if you want to survive out here," said Rain.

     With that, Coal set off to the east. He had no compass, but he knew he was headed east - instinct perhaps. As he walked, Coal looked around him for the first time. He was completely alone, as far as he could tell. The ground beneath him was hard and icy, and the sky was almost as white as the snow. Here and there, he saw coniferous trees - he knew they served some purpose, but what it was he couldn't quite remember. The word "Antarctica" came to his mind. That must be the name of this place, he decided.

     After a few hours of travel, Coal saw something move just outside his field of vision. He turned quickly. It was a large muscular creature; it had a pudgy face, with something that resembled a snout. A bear? He began to approach the creature - it didn't seem particularly aggressive. As he came closer, he saw its legs - all eight of them. Panic flashed through his mind. Irrational, he thought. There was no reason to assume such a creature would be hostile towards him. He knew he couldn't be eaten, and if he approached carefully it surely wouldn't see him as a threat.

     Run. The word came to his mind. He ignored it. Irrational. Run, run, run. The word kept coming back. After a moment, he realized Rain was shouting at him - "RUN!"

     As soon as Rain's words registered in his mind, he obeyed. Bad idea. The monster lunged at Coal, and he felt claws collide with his back. The monster was knocked back. Pain? No. Numbness. As he hit the ground, he sensed light, energy, his blood, whatever it was - seeping out of his back where he had been hit. Strange, he thought. It's escaping much slower than light would. Perhaps it's some sort of - Coal was interrupted; the monster had recovered from the shock and was charging at him. I need a weapon. Instantly, a pistol appeared in his hands. Coal's fingers moved. Without realizing it, he pulled the trigger and the creature collapsed.

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