~In His Own Words~
Nigel and Frederick removed the back plate from Maximilian, exposing the metal organs contained within his torso. The old program scroll was removed and the new one was carefully installed. The back was replaced. The two men stepped back. For a moment, Maximilian stood perfectly still.
Then its arms twitched. The head tilted forward, like a polite bow.
“My friends, my family,” said Maximilian.
Michael gasped. “Father!”
The voice was the voice of his father, the same voice that Maximilian had spoken with earlier. A murmur rippled through the gathered host.
“I welcome you to my manor on this sad day. If you are bearing witness to this message, then I am dead. Would that we could all gather under different circumstances, but it was not to be. The void has taken me, and no powers of this world can bring me back to you.”
The automaton paused and its voice was stilled, only the rattling of its gears remained. For that brief moment of silence, everyone held their breath.
“Michael, I know that you wish my fortune for yourself, but I cannot give it you. Lucille, you were my joy, but the fortune is not for you. Evie, I had high hopes for you, but you have not earned what was mine. Roland, your years of faithful service are not forgotten, but I cannot entrust my legacy to one without an eye for science. Silas, you, above anyone else, have earned my respect, but you lack the drive to make anything more than children’s toys.”
Maximilian turned to Xavier Vanderbilt. Its shimmering eyes were piercing and knowing, seeming to bore a hole straight through him.
“Xavier, you covet what I built above anyone else, you want what I have so badly that you can scarcely breath, but you would squander it all on vain pursuits. Even so, I will give you the same opportunity to take what was mine.”
“Bluster and theatrics,” Xavier mumbled.
But Maximilian continued unabated. “The manner of my death was murder, and the one who orchestrated my death is among you. But he shall receive the same opportunity as the rest. I harbor no thoughts of revenge or retribution, only that a suitable successor shall be found. This has been my one goal for more than a decade and this one goal is all that matters. All that is flesh and blood must decay, but an idea is eternal.”