The sultry vapor whisped from the cup of chamomile tea on the desk. Underneath it was a folded piece of paper being used as a coaster. Amanda Amico picked up the cup and took a sip before putting it back down on the folded blueprints now stained with a ring from several months worth of hot tea and coffee cups.
She gave a contented sigh as she sat back to read through what she had written when she was interrupted by an email notification on her phone. Not wanting to get distracted she glanced at her phone to see who it was from before doing a double take. Could it be?
She stopped writing and went to her email on the computer to see a new email titled "Explanation" from Vox Chronos. She clicked on it.
Meanwhile an unimaginable distance away, Vox tended to the damage caused when the corpse of Mr. Harow had been reanimated by an unknown virus program that had wormed its way through the signal when he got a notification. He stopped what he was doing and turned his attention to the control room. On the screen were paragraphs of alien code scrolling by as Vox used the signal to maintain a connection.
Amanda's voice came through the desk speakers. "You kept me waiting this long for an explanation?"
"Please forgive me for taking so long. There were . . . complications."
"Oh I'm sure there were considering you can't ever seem to get a decent signal. Where were you anyway?"
Vox looked at the still untouched ashes of Mr. Harow. ". . . Mourning a friend."
Amanda's tone changed. She wasn't expecting that. ". . . I'm sorry."
"It's ok. I've had to make peace with a lot of things lately. I'm all alone, I'm not who I thought I was, and I am nobody."
"That's not true."
"You don't know me."
"You're right, but I know you're not nobody."
"Who am I then?"
Amanda thought for a moment. Whoever Vox Chronos was, he was a person, and it was obvious by his voice that he was hurting. If helping him get past this question helped him get on with his life and leave her alone, then she would try to answer it as best she could. "You're a somebody."
Vox was confused by this answer. He had always been seen as a machine, a program. Nobody ever really thought of him as a person,because he wasn't one. "I don't understand."
"Well it sounds like you're questioning your identity. If I were you I would focus less on who you believe or once believed you are, and ask yourself who or what you choose to become."
"There's some things you need to know." Vox explained to Amanda how he was an advanced AI from a dimension over 1000 years ahead of hers. As he explained she sat quietly, as the mystery surrounding her thoughts of who he might be melted away like the sugar in her tea.
"You see? That is why I'm a nobody. I'm not even a real person."
Amanda shook her head. "You are alive. You have free will. You are able to learn and improvise. You are as much of a real person as you can get."
"You really think so."
"That's not my job. That's yours. The only way to stop questioning who you are is to choose who you want to be. Right now, you're a somebody, and you have the rare opportunity to be whoever you want to be."
Vox thought about that. “Thank you. This really helped.”
“You’re welcome I guess.” Suddenly the lights flickered in the museum as the power fluctuated, before returning to normal. “I have to go.” “Yeah. . . me too.” “Perhaps we’ll talk again some time.” “Perhaps.” Just then the lights flickered again as a red light started flashing in the control room. Above it in bold flashing letters on a black background were the words “!!!MELTDOWN!!!” Below it a countdown clock began ticking down starting at thirty minutes. Vox disconnected from the beacon array he had been using to connect to Earth and piloted a clean up drone to gather Harow’s ashes from the floor, containing them in a silver cylindrical container. He piloted the drone to the airlock and placed the canister in a small tube before pulling a lever causing the canister to shoot out into space. It sailed off into the vast expanse as the red star’s light glinted off of it before it exploded in a beautiful green and yellow firework. Harow’s favorite colors. Vox remembered back when Harow was still alive, how he had been joking at first, but then serious. This was his dream send off, and it was Vox’s honor. As the timer in the control room counted down the last minute, Vox began bracing the museum for impact before putting himself in sleep mode. As he closed his virtual eyes the countdown clicked away the seconds. 3. . . 2. . . 1. . .