“You’re… a robot?” Tommy asked. He, and his three friends stared at the white figure hovering a foot off the ground. It looked like an artist’s mannequin with indentions representing eyes on its featureless face.
“Incorrect,” the mannequin replied with a gentle, feminine voice. “I am A.I. I am conscious. I am Andromeda,” it said.
“A.I.?” Gina, one of the two teenage girls in Tommy’s group asked. “Then you are a machine, right?” she asked. The longer they spoke to the white mannequin the less she believed it was all part of an elaborate prank. Gina had her suspicions when Tommy suggested the test of bravery. The only reason she was there was because Tommy was known for going all out on his practical jokes. As frightened as she was of the abandoned school, she expected to have a good time with her friends. Matt and Noemi were also there more for the event than trying to prove their bravery.
“Incorrect,” Andromeda replied. Her form seemed to grow fuzzier for a moment; Gina realized the white body appeared to be made up of tiny white dots. “I am many machines. A nano-swarm.” Three heads swiveled around and focused on Tommy. He grinned, and shrugged.
“This wasn’t the plan guys, I swear,” he said.
“How did you get here?” Noemi asked. The red-headed teenager walked around the mannequin trying to focus on individual dots within the swarm. The white body solidified into a mannequin again and Andromeda lifted her arm. A golden number 35 glowed on the back of her hand.
“I am Unique Soul #35. La Estrella, the star. I am able to Traverse between universes at will,” Andromeda replied. A black portal opened in the air next to her.”
“There are other universes?” Matt asked. Andromeda nodded.
“Okay, you’re from another universe,” Tommy said. “But why are you here? Hiding out in an abandoned school?”
“I was awakened very recently. I wanted some place quiet to adjust.”
“But why here?” Noemi added. “You can go to any universe.” Andromeda shrugged her white shoulders.
“Correct. I can go to any universe. Why not here? Traversing between universes is not the same thing as choosing an address and driving to it. It’s more like a request to the universe. I say, ‘I want to go somewhere quiet’. The universe says, ‘here’s an abandoned school’. I can choose where I want to go, but I don’t get to choose where I end up.
“It’s kind of a dumb universe,” Matt chuckled. “This school isn’t even abandoned tonight.” Andromeda nodded.
“That’s probably why I’m here,” she said. “The universe usually knows what it’s doing.” As she spoke, golden stars began to glow in the indentations that represented Andromeda’s eyes. She took a moment to stare at each of them individually, then gave numbers after each of them.
“#01…,” she said after glancing at Tommy. “…#34…,” when she eyed Matt. “…#33…,” while focusing on Noemi. “… and, #21,” at Gina. “You four are why I’m here,” Andromeda said. The golden stars faded.
“What are going to do with us?” Matt asked. He took a couple of steps to the side to put himself between Andromeda and Noemi. He was glad to see Tommy get in front of Gina too.
“You are all Unique Souls. You’re meant to see the multiverse. I can show it to you.”`
“Yeah! We get to meet other versions of ourselves, right?” Gina asked. She seemed excited at the prospect.
“Incorrect. You are the only versions of you that exist in any universe. That’s what makes you Unique.”
“It’s free, right?” Matt asked. “You’re offering us a tour?”
“Correct,” Andromeda said. A single line, curled upward, appeared on the lower half of Andromeda’s face; it resembled a smile. “I am your gracious host.”