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#1 Offline spyder ryder

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Posted Oct 22 2011 - 01:21 PM

As Macku entered the Museum, she smelled the faint odor of oil. This was to be expected, seeing as oil was required to keep the exhibits up and running. The lighting was dark, and the lights were mainly focused on the exhibits. Everyone was crowded around the new exhibit. It had been extensively covered by the media for days, but Macku could see that they hardly did it justice. There, standing upon a large and elaborately painted box, was a beautiful Vortixx. She was surrounded by mirrors on one side, and they reflected her splendid image several times. She stood frozen in a dancing pose, with her arms held a circle above her head, and one foot balanced on its heel. Her body was beautifully proportioned; she had the graceful slenderness of a dancer. The Vortixx wore a great deal of shining jewelry. Sapphires and diamonds glittered in the low lighting of the museum. As Macku gazed upon the Vortixx’s glittering black armor, she had to give Cognatus credit. One could hardly tell that she had been dead for nearly two hundred years. Even the face, which would have surely been ruined over such time, was perfect. Though emotionless, it still retained its beauty. As she looked over the rest of the body, Macku was even more amazed to see how little it had to be altered to accommodate the clockwork that had been implanted inside. Cognatus, the owner and curator of the Museum, had long ago discovered that dead inhabitants of the Matoran universe could be ‘reanimated’ with the addition of a few extra gears and springs. Many considered it to be grisly and macabre, but the sheer novelty of the idea called upon the curiosity of all who heard about it. The museum was attended everyday by dozens of visitors. Macku had attended it when it opened, although she had not thought much of it at first. But upon first viewing the miracle of the museum, she was moved. It was simply amazing to see the reconstructed bodies move once again, as though they had truly been restored to life. Cognatus claimed that his latest creation was his best yet. He had studied it for months, and reconstructed the Vortixx’s vocal chords with a fine wire that perfectly replicated her voice. Or at least that’s what Cognatus claimed. Everyone had yet to hear it. But in just a few minutes, Cognatus would personally open his new exhibit. Macku waited among the crowd. They whispered with ecstatic excitement. Macku watched as Cognatus stepped in front of his latest creation. He was a small, gunmetal Fe-Matoran. He had large eyes that looked about the place with nervous excitement. “Ladies and Gentleman,” he said, “Today marks the first time I have ever created an automation that has vocal functions. I won’t lie and say it was easy. It took many months of hard work to even refine the wire to make it usable.” He paused as he looked out over the crowd. “I will now show you the full extent of her ability.” He shuffled over to the box, and began to wind a large key that protruded from the side. After a few moments, he stood back as a little melody began to play. The Vortixx began to slowly turn around on the platform as it played. Various little gears and cogs could be heard turning inside of the box as well as the Vortixx. She began to do a an elegant dance, though it seemed slightly jerky. Macku supposed it was meant to look that way. The Vortixx moved her upper body in time with the music, slowly moving her arms and turning her head from side to side. She then began to sing. What do you see? You people gazing at me? You see a doll on a music box that’s wound by a key. Macku stood in awe. It sounded as though a living person was singing. It did, however, have a slight metallic ring to it, but it was so faint that it did not deter the beauty of the voice. How can you tell I’m under a spell? I’m waiting for love’s first kiss. You cannot see How much I long to be free Turning around on this music box that’s wound by a key. Yearning…Yearning… While… I’m… turning around and around… With that, the music died down. The Vortixx came to a halt facing the audience. The room was alive with thunderous applause. Never before had they seen such a spectacle. It was a revolutionary way of art, as well as a miracle of science. Cognatus gave a small bow and began to speak again. “And now, Ladies and Gentleman, I present to you a little project I’ve been working on alongside this marvelous creation.” As he spoke, another Matoran wheeled a box out into the spotlight. It was colorful like the box that the Vortixx resided on. Macku waited anxiously as Cognatus began to turn a key on the side. As he stepped back the key began to turn. Then, the top of the box popped open, and there stood a Skakdi. His armor had been painted in various patterns of black and white reminiscent of a motley or harlequin pattern. His checkered cape and hat were lined with bells that jingled as he jumped out of the box. Macku immediately noticed that the creature had no headspine. This would make sense. Skakdi were rare exhibits in the museum, because the organic headspine was hard to preserve and often smelled bad after a few weeks in the open. But this automation’s head was free of such tissue and its face was painted clownishly. His bright smile seemed to light up the room as he began to dance across it. Music accompanied his antics. Macku recognized it as being the same melody that the Vortixx had sung, but was faster and more lively. Unlike the Vortixx, his movements were fluid and exaggerated for a comical effect. The audience laughed with delight as the Skakdi began to wildly thrash about his body, waving his arms and kicking his legs. He leapt up in the air and landed unsteadily on one foot several times, and everyone was sure he was going to fall over. But he never did. His next act was strutting birdlike across the room, weaving in-between the members of the audience. He even rushed past Macku, and she felt the soft velvet of his cape as it brushed against her foot. He eventually came back to the middle of the room and began to jump un and down, each time going higher and higher until he almost touched the high-domed ceiling. Macku could hardly believe the sight. The sheer mechanics involved would have been immensely complicated. Finally, the Skakdi touched down again and began to spin about. After a dozen rotations, he began to spin the other way. He became a blur of colors, looking like a child’s top. As he came to his last cycle he jumped again, and landed down on one foot. He gave a courteous bow to the audience, which applauded just as wildly as they had for the Vortixx. Macku expected the Skakdi to hunch over and power down. But to her surprise, as well as everyone else’s, he did not. Instead he clumsily clomped over to the Vortixx. He seemed to be captivated by her beauty. His bright eyes glanced down to the key on the box. He bent over and began to turn it. Once he was done he stood back and waited. The music began to play and the Vortixx began to turn, but it suddenly stopped. The Skakdi stood looking for a moment, seemingly perplexed. He then looked down at the box, and gave it a soft kick. The audience laughed as the music box began to play. The Vortixx began to turn and sing again. To Macku’s surprise, the Skakdi joined in. He had a reedy, lyrical voice that had a similar mechanical sound to it. What do you see?(Truly Scrumptious)You people gazing at me?(You’re truly, truly scrumptious)You see a doll on a music box that’s wound by a key.(Scrumptious as the breeze across the bay)How can you tell(When you’re near me,)I’m under a spell(It’s so delicious.)I’m waiting for love’s first kiss.(Honest, truly, you’re the answer to my wishes.)You cannot see(Truly Scrumptious)How much I long to be free(Though I may seem presumptuous)Turning around on this music box that’s wound by a key(Never, ever, ever go away)Yearning…Yearning…(My heart beat so unruly, because I love you truly,)While… I’m… Turning around and around…(Honest, truly, I do.) As the song ended, both automations stopped. The Skakdi slumped over, and the Vortixx froze. For a brief moment, everyone stood in stunned silence. They were all utterly amazed. Not one, but two automations had been given the ability of song. And they were timed so perfectly that it almost seemed as though real people had been singing a duet. The crowd began to cheer again, this time more thunderously than ever. Macku clapped wildly. This was without a doubt the best work Cognatus had ever done. She turned to see the creator standing off to the side. Rather than a proud look upon his face, Macku saw absolute terror. The poor Matoran was sweating bullets, and he looked upon the two automation with a look of shock. Fearing something was wrong, Macku rushed to his side. He didn’t respond as she grabbed his forearm. His eyes were still locked on the two machines. “Cognatus,” she shouted above the crowd, “What’s the matter?” It took a moment for the Matoran to respond. He never looked at Macku, and his answer was a mere whisper. “I never gave the Skakdi vocal wire…”
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#2 Offline Steelsheen

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Posted Oct 22 2011 - 06:11 PM

Wow, an unusually creepy twist to one of my favorite duets! Well done, over all, except that I think perhaps a less vile-looking stand-in for Dick Van Dyke could have been chosen. ;) Your dark humor gets 7 of 10 points.
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#3 Offline Nuile the Paracosmic Tulpa

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Posted May 22 2012 - 08:54 PM

I'm at a loss for words. This was . . . magnificent. I found it surprising, unusual, and brilliant that this was based upon a scene from the spectacular Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang--probably the best scene in the film. For that alone you won me over, but all the more magnificent for the clever way you executed it and the intriguing ending. Though Cognatus was terrified, I found the implication of his words to be warm, sweet, and touching. I'm not sure what's so beautiful about a dead Skakdi being brought to life by his love for an artificially reanimated Vortixx, but there was a beautiful quality to it I fail to comprehend. And when a writer can evoke an emotion in readers that they cannot even describe or understand, but that they find pleasant and wonderful . . . then the writer has done something truly magical.Your prose, like your plot, rang with that same magical quality that compels me to regard it with wonder. You have amazed me--me, a writer myself, with every appreciation for the magic and finer aspects of wordsmithery. You have amazed me in a way I cannot explain. And for that, for this fine work here, I commend you.The grammar hammer is ever by my side, and I'm happy when all I have to smash are minor mistakes and errors:

She stood frozen in a dancing pose, with her arms held in a circle above her head, and one foot balanced on its heel.

In was missing.

"Ladies and Gentleman," he said, "Today marks the first time I have ever created an automation that has vocal functions.

That, being part of the same sentence, should not have been capitalized. The mistake recurred in Macku's final words.

His next act was strutting birdlike across the room, weaving in-between the members of the audience.

I don't think that needed to be hyphenated, but moreover, in was unnecessary anyway. Between would suffice. However, in this case, among is preferable to between, the latter traditionally used for only two entities, the former for more than two.

He eventually came back to the middle of the room and began to jump un and down, each time going higher and higher until he almost touched the high-domed ceiling.

Un is a prefix and cannot be used alone . . . though of course you knew that, and this is only a typo. :P

The poor Matoran was sweating bullets, and he looked upon the two automation with a look of shock.

I can't tell if this was a mistake or cleverness. Did you mean buckets, or was this a clever way to depict a robot sweating? If the latter, your cleverness was a little lost, there, because this caught my eye as a mistake. Alas, the reader is always right; sometimes, if you're too clever, they'll think you're mistaken, and you'll lose credit and respect that way. I have only one thing left to say. This short story was . . . truly scrumptious.

From the desk of Nuile: Lunatic Wordsmith :smilemirunu:

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#4 Offline Makuta Matata

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Posted May 25 2012 - 09:19 AM

That was great. I loved that twist at the end. It leaves you thinking. Bravo. I'd say 8.5/10
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#5 Offline Athmos

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Posted May 25 2012 - 09:20 PM

That was absolutely fantastic! I love that song and this story works perfectly with it. The ending was top-notch! Makes you shiver!
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