Updated: Apr 23, 2022
The soft breeze of the air filtration system rustled the promotional posters and banners that adorned the museum lobby, dimly illuminated by the warm red glow of the star seen through the window. Each one sported a different exhibit and featured glowing buzzwords and eyecatching colors. The long shadows stretched across the marble floor, casting shade over the light blue information desk situated in the middle of the lobby. The even larger room behind it echoed with the soft hum of a faulty speaker. Three large doors stood tall and silent, while before them, stairs led down to another as if the floor had opened like a mouth. Each of the doors had a different story to tell, but they all eventually met up together as they weaved the intricate story of the Traveler's Quest. The gift shop stood across from the main desk. It was silent, dark and empty. A stark contrast to the days when tourists and history enthusiasts would gather to debate on the centuries-old exhibits or to gawk at the trinkets and knick nacks sold there. Now the gift shop novelties were silent and alone; the bobbleheads still and unmoving, and the snowglobes with snow that had long since settled for hundreds of years. Suddenly the lights brightened as the museum systems started back up. Deep within the museum, the printing area, where drones could be printed on command to perform the various duties of the museum, had just completed the assembly of an advanced piece of technology. Vox watched through the security cameras, having no physical form, as the part was transported by a drone to one of the maintenance doors. Opening it, the drone entered a pocket dimension. As it flew into the large extradimensional room, its lights glinted on freshly repainted letters printed on the ship preserved there. "Casina" Vox watched with growing anxiety as the drone made its way into the repaired ship, finding its way to the central computer room. Once there, it took the part that had been printed and used its one manipulator arm to carefully place the part in its place, before using its repair tools to solder and weld the part into the computer core. Having completed its task, the drone then left and returned to museum storage, as Vox watched, hoping he had succeeded in bringing back his last friend in the entire multiverse. The minutes crawled by as he watched and waited, but there was nothing. Vox felt frustration well up inside of him. Why had it not worked? What was missing? What had he done wrong? He knew the answer to that last one now. He hadn't stopped her. He tried to think about something else. Ever since the tragic death of the Casina, Vox had blamed himself, wondering if she would still be alive if he had just thought about her safety, instead of what was necessary for the museum. But despite the pain, this had caused him, it had created a loophole in his programming, allowing him to change himself, to grow and feel, and most importantly of all, to choose. That was why he was doing this. He had chosen not to let his last company in the multiverse go. He was determined to save the Casina. Vox began to feel agitated. Why was she not waking up? He had fixed everything, making sure to go as far as to fix the paint scratches and other damage he didn't need to repair. Vox's hopes began to drop as the multiverse itself seemed to mock him and his lonely situation. He looked at the Casina with her lights and systems still all powered down. He couldn't truly accept that she was gone. If she was, who would keep him company? The lonely AI thought as he waited, contemplating who he was. Ever since he had heard the recording of his mother during sleep mode two months ago, he had been thinking a lot about himself, and where he really came from. Back when the museum was still visited, they would tell him he was a crowdfunding project, or that a bunch of university professors had got together to create him, or that he was designed specifically for the museum by the government. Despite all the incongruent accounts of where he came from, Vox Chronos now had evidence that they were all wrong and that some woman, going by the name of Baphin was responsible for his initial development, and originally designing him as . . . what? Vox didn't yet know the answer to that question. He had spent months searching the museum databases for answers, but all files pertaining to his original development were either locked behind red tape, designated as classified, or edited to imply that the government was solely responsible. It was as if his past had been erased, rubbed out like an error to be dismissed and forgotten. Just then the Casina lit up. "S-sys-tem e-e-erro-error. soft-t-twar-re incom-com-compat-tible." Vox immediately began scanning the Casina's systems to try to find the error. The glitch kept moving around within her systems, causing malfunctions. The Casina started going out of control. "Error! Error! E-e-error!" Then she went dark again. Vox stopped and stared in defeat. The entire motherboard had melted. There was no saving her. She was gone. Dismayed, Vox shut her down, stopping the malfunctions and putting her to sleep forever. Then he went to the central computer room and stared at the skeleton of the once alive museum operative, Mr. Harow. Mr. Harow had been the owner of the Casina, and had been good friends with Vox, electing to stay even though almost all other humans in the multiverse returned to earth and died there. Vox could have saved them both, but his programming had slaved his will to the maintenance and wellbeing of the museum and its exhibits. It had been his purpose. Vox looked at the recently repaired beacon array. At least he still had people to talk to. They weren't from his multiverse, but they were still people. He adjusted the controls and dials, reactivating the signal. It was time to get back into action. His purpose was to preserve these exhibits, and since he couldn't transport them to the alternate multiverse he had discovered, he would have to transport them in the form of the stories they had been made to preserve. Readying his recording equipment Vox prepared to record a new video when he got a notification. Looking at the name of the sender, Vox thought for a moment before going back to his recording equipment. "Someday soon, Amanda Amico deserves an explanation," he said as he prepared to finally send a message to the guest writer he had invited onto his website nearly a year ago.