“Now let’s see which one of you shouldn’t be here,” Ciani said. The elderly woman stared down at a dusty, well-used work table in the guild’s garage. Seven card-sized, transparent nodes rested on the table in an even-spaced row. “Hello, nodes,” she said.[Hello, Ciani] Text immediately appeared on all seven displays. Seven similar-sounding voices spoke at the same time, but one of them said something different. Most of them replied with, “Hello, Ciani.” But she heard one distinct from the rest. It sounded like, “Hello, Lady.” Ciani read the text on each node until she found the culprit.
“There you are,” Ciani smiled to herself and collected the other six nodes. She finished putting them away, then looked at the single node left out. “Who do you belong to, node?” she asked.[Wonder] the node replied with text and voice.
“Wonder?” Ciani thought for a moment and came to the conclusion the name was unfamiliar to her. “Sorry, don’t know him or her. Are you malfunctioning; why haven’t you returned to them?”[Wonder is…] The node seemed to hesitate for a moment. “…alone.” The voice spoke, but there was no text. The node disintegrated into white powder that floated into the air. The dust convalesced into a white, featureless mannequin standing toddler-height on the table.
“Well, that was unexpected,” Ciani smiled at the short doll. “Is Wonder your name?” The smooth white head nodded. “That’s a beautiful name. Why are you pretending to be a node?”
“When my nanos traverse, they are rearranged into their default form,” Wonder said. She sat down on the table so that she could talk to Ciani face to face. Ciani’s eyes sparkled and her mouth grew into a smile.
“I don’t believe it!” she exclaimed. “You are a wonder! Somehow…,” Ciana reached up and touched Wonder’s smooth white chest. “…you got yourself a soul.”
“Confirmed. I am Unique Soul #42, La Calavera.”
“That’s fantastic! So, now that you have a life, what are you going to do with it?”
“Do with it?” Wonder asked. “I require more information. What can I do with a life?” Ciani giggled and patted Wonder’s bald white head.
“You can do anything you want. The trick is finding the thing you want to do, it’s easy to get distracted. Do you have any goals? Do you yearn for anything at all?” The mannequin looked up at Ciani with its blank face.
“Confirmed. I yearn to stay out of my default form. I will no longer be forced into a node again when I traverse.” Wonder gave a curt nod at Ciani. “There.” Ciani giggled again and shook her head.
“I’m afraid life isn’t that easy, you have to actually put work into your goals. Usually,” she shrugged. “But in this case, I do know how to keep you out of node form.”
“You do!? I require this information. Please,” Wonder asked.
“It’s simple,” Ciani smiled. “Just get a new default form.”
“Denied. A new form is impossible; it has been attempted.”
“Nu uh uhhh,” Ciani wagged her finger at Wonder. “You tried it as a node, but you’ve got a soul now. All you have to do is make your AlterNet character; that’ll be your new default form.” Wonder hopped up on its feet like an excited child.
“Thank you!! I will create my character right now!!”