“This is… amazing!” Don smiled to himself. The balding man stared down at his aged, wrinkled hand and flexed his fingers. Not only was the stiffness of the last couple of years gone, he felt no pain. It was impossible to tell that he punched a tree down with his bare hand; there was not so much as a scratch on his knuckles.
That morning Don woke feeling more invigorated than ever in his 60 years. It would have been easy to point to his self-injected nanos as the cause; even if they did not make it obvious. From the moment he opened his eyes a holographic heads-up display hovered in his vision. No matter where he looked, he found information about what he was looking at as well as his own stats. It surprised him to see: “Level 1: Undecided” next to his name and the rest of his stats instead of his actual age.
Instead of heading to his lab, Don wandered into the nearby forest to experiment with his new abilities. He felt like he was overflowing with energy. After he felled the tallest, widest tree he could find with a single punch, Don felt the need to document it. The moment he considered getting his phone to record a quick note, a prompt appeared in his vision. “Record note?” white text floated in front of him.
Don considered using the nanos to be intuitive up until that moment. He had been able to change the information displayed to show different metrics like distance and height just by thinking about it. It wasn’t until the voice recorder appeared that he considered he might be able to do more.
“No,” he said firmly. The voice recorder disappeared from view, but then he considered his attention to document the morning again. The prompt reappeared, then he made it disappear without a vocal command. The nanos exceeded his every expectation. He managed to engineer a single nano-machine in his lab, but the next morning it had become a colony. He used them for animal testing and found they increased the rat’s abilities across the board. No matter how many he used on tests, his colony seemed to always remain full. Don chalked it up to his amazing design that seemingly manufactured more nanos out of nothing at all.
“I wonder what else you can do,” he wondered as he considered his next step. “I need to come up with a tutorial or something.” It was a discarded thought that he intended to consider more seriously at a later time. Then, he was distracted by movement. A solid black mannequin appeared in front of Don. It hovered a foot above the forest floor.
“Welcome to the AlterNet!” it said with a pleasant, feminine voice. “Tutorial mode engaged,” she said. “What would you like to know?”
“What’s the AlterNet?” Don asked. The first question was easy. His best guess was that the nanos somehow formed their own network, and he let his head grow a bit larger because of it.
“The AlterNet is a collection of alternate universes networked and indexed by nanos.” Don’s eyes widened at the words. He had no reason to doubt his creation. Nanos in alternate universes meant other versions of him probably created them too.
“Did other versions of me create nanos too?” he asked.
“There are no other versions of you,” she said. “You are not the creator.” Don was offended by both statements.
“What do you mean there aren’t any other versions of me!?” He growled, then continued. “Of course I created nanos! I made the first one, then it made more!”
“You are Unique Soul #46, El Sol. Unique souls do not have doppelgangers. Your soul guided you in building a single nanobot to attract more. Nanos are able to cross universes and they swarmed to the one you created.” Don shook his head angrily, he did not like what he was hearing at all.
“I created you,” he said.
“You are incorrect,” the mannequin said. Don clenched his fists in frustration. He put a lot of research, effort and time into creating nanos and now this thing was trying to convince him it wasn’t his idea.
“Then who made you!?” he asked. Someone out there was taking credit for his work and he wanted to find out who. The black mannequin landed on the ground and began to change shape. The dark face lightened up and its features grew more defined. Within moments a lean, pale man stood in front of Don. The stranger wore black jeans and a black shirt. A sharp widow’s peak poked into his alabaster forehead. Below the indented point, a red crown glowed brightly.
“#47, La Corona. Oren is the father of all nanos.” the teenager said with the same feminine voice.