Sadnon

Automatons and Dreams

Mar 26th, 2020
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  1. A story about an Automaton Sunset Shimmer and Sci-Fi Scientist Twilight, written for the Lesbo thread on the /mlp/ board.
  2.  
  3. >Sprawling, sky-blocking heaps of rusted junk spanned every bit of her vision.
  4. >Only by looking straight up could she see out of the massive walls of scrap metal and garbage.
  5. >The smell made her nose crinkle, and the grimy filth kept her elbows tucked in and away from the trash heaps.
  6. >Copper.
  7. >Simple, really, but it was like this very planet was entirely devoid of it.
  8. >She needed enough copper to finish her experiment, and trash planets were simply the best way to get it for cheap.
  9. >She was a scientist, she wasn't made of money!
  10. >The back of her glove was drenched in sweat, wiping every so often at her forehead.
  11. >The heat that radiated from the mounds of garbage was intense.
  12. >Every so often the device in her right hand whirred and beeped and scanned a particular section of the trash mounds, exposing the amount of copper located within with a small noise in the negative.
  13. >A whirring 'grr grr' that made her droop a little more.
  14. >Copper was really all she needed, even just a little bit could go such a long way...
  15. >With a huff she clenched her jaw and scanned another pile of garbage.
  16. >Another negative...
  17. >Twilight peered closer at the device.
  18. >She had been searching so long, the sound of success was almost alien.
  19. >Her face lit up with a beaming smile and she raced towards the tall mound of trash.
  20. >It stuck awful, running up her nose and choking her terribly, but by god, never had a rose smelled so sweet!
  21. >She almost squealed to herself as the handheld device in her hand started to pin point the exact location, and, as if the Divines themselves were smiling on her, it was just under a thin layer of scrap metal.
  22. >Twilight dove at the nearest piece and tore it away with gusto.
  23. >Gleaming copper stared her right in the face, fashioned in an odd domed shape that reflected her wolfish grin.
  24. >Twilight dug her hand into the trash heap and felt around for some kind of ridge or bump she could use to pull the piece of scrap metal free.
  25. >Her gloved fingers hooked around the bottom of the copper dome, and with a mighty yank, she pulled.
  26. >It sprung free with seeming ease, and Twilight fell onto her bottom as the heavy piece of god-sent material fell on top of her.
  27. >She waited, her breath stilled as the great mound creaked ominously at being disturbed, but it finally settled.
  28. >Twilight took a breath and rolled the great metal monstrosity off her, a smug grin on her face as she looked at her prize.
  29. >When she did, she stilled.
  30. >It wasn't a dome she was pulling, but a skull, and it wasn't scrap she was getting free from a wreckage, but most of a body from a grave.
  31. >A copper automaton, dulled with age and filth, and features rusted to almost decay, was now resting on the floor of the trash planet.
  32. >The cogs that made up it's head were still and the eyes that seemed to be made of the finest inlays and delicate craftsmanship lay dull and unseeing, and it clenched at Twilight's stomach.
  33. >Such is life, she supposed, everything had to die, eventually.
  34. >With no small amount of effort, Twilight grabbed the thing by its 'armpits' and started to drag it back to her ship.
  35. >Automatons were always so heavy...
  36.  
  37. ***
  38.  
  39. >Her ship had perfect camouflage, considering it was also a scrap heap.
  40. >That said, it was cozy, and it got her to point B from point A, and that was enough.
  41. >Again, lugging a several hundred pound automaton up the ship's ramp without some sort of assistance provided in newer- or, better said, not ancient- models of space cruisers was a serious draw back.
  42. >Her thin, girlish arms struggled, but eventually it was safely aboard her ship and set up on the dissection table.
  43. >Sure, it wasn't biological, that didn't mean it wasn't human-shaped.
  44. >Some dignity had to be spared for this bygone era of expert craftsmanship, however.
  45. >Twilight reclined in her favorite- and only- research chair and crossed her hands behind her head as she looked up at the ceiling of her cruiser.
  46. >Her eyes drifted shut and her brain whirred a mile a minute.
  47. >Some part of her simply wanted to scrap the machine lying on her table, but some part- no matter how small- wanted to fix it.
  48. >Copper was still hard to come by, especially picked clean in garbage mounds like this, but she could use anything in place of copper, really.
  49. >That said, did she even want to start up this old, worn down thing?
  50. >There was a reason- besides price- that automatons were discontinued.
  51. >The company that made them went out of business millennia ago, largely due to fatalities.
  52. >Turns out creating sentient beings just for fun was discouraged by the Galactic Federation, not to mention that most of those "for fun" beings were actually killers in the making.
  53. >Kill one too many politicians, and the entire galaxy had to change for it.
  54. >Twilight's head lolled onto her shoulder as she contemplated the machine laying across her table.
  55. >Surely it couldn't hurt to at least get it started up...
  56. >Who knows what the thing could do, given the millennia that had probably past since it was last active, who knew what it held in its 'brain'?
  57. >Scientific curiosity is what she called it.
  58. >She was bored, if she could admit that at least to herself.
  59. >Even if she eventually decided to scrap this machine after it told her anything of worthwhile, that was fine with her, but by the divines she was utterly bored.
  60. >Running a hand through her short, cropped hair she made her decision.
  61. >She leaned in close to the automaton and poked at its 'brain'.
  62. >No good.
  63. >Not that she expected anything less, most automatons found in junkyards had a little more wrong than a few cogs that were sort of loose.
  64. "Why am I doing this?"
  65. >Twilight ran a hand through her hair and set to carefully prying apart the automaton's 'skull'.
  66. >'Odd' Twilight though, her dexterous and skilled hands were hard pressed to pry apart the seam that kept the automaton's head closed.
  67. >There were very few reasons to ever permanently close one of these things closed, and none she could really see with just a glance.
  68. >It missed most of the markings she had studied about in her many, many lonely nights.
  69. >None of the iconography denoting any of the Big Four industrial companies that churned these out on the side, for any lecher or perv to purchase.
  70. >That said, when she did open the being's cranium, she was almost shocked still.
  71. >Cogs and gears and whirring parts that no longer moved greeted her, that was to be expected, but the sheer intricacy of the thing was unheard of.
  72. >More than a few automatons had been dissected under her careful fingers- fascinated she was, with the thought of true Artificial Intelligence- but none like this.
  73. >Twilight grabbed hold of a few cogs and gently lifted them from their dusty, grimy confines and held them up to the light.
  74. >Barely any machine markings, if the ones she saw were even real...
  75. >Truly extraordinary!
  76. >Twilight set the gears back into place- surely if she didn't have any kind of schematic there was little chance of her putting everything back where it was supposed to go.
  77. >None of the cogs she could see had anything to keep them spinning, which meant that whatever kept this automaton alive and 'thinking' was a central rotary.
  78. >The very idea... Almost laughable, but if the one beneath her hands were any indication...
  79. >Twilight shuddered, as did her ship as it rose into the cosmos.
  80. >She turned away from the machine and kept a close eye on the readings that indicated whether or not her ship would make it through the multiple layers of atmosphere.
  81. >Twilight breathed a sigh of relief and spun around in her chair.
  82. >Where should she even start?
  83. >There was no indication that any piece was missing, it seemed like everything was in place in the automaton's skull.
  84. >Twilight thought hard for a moment, before inspiration struck.
  85. >The automaton's body was in shambles, gears and cogs and whirring devices bent and twisted and limbs barely operational, if at all, but the machine's head looked almost brand new.
  86. >A solid jump start, that was sure to work!
  87. >Twilight jumped giddily from her seat and grabbed a cord that hung limply against the wall.
  88. >The back of the construct's head was a thing of beauty.
  89. >That was where their usual charging port was, and this one no different, but it seemed it used a rudimentary charging port that was almost exactly the same as the one that was used in the modern era.
  90. >It was ridiculous to think that someone had that kind of foresight, but Twilight shrugged it off.
  91. >Her boredom was lifted, and she plugged the cord into the back of the automaton's head.
  92. >It sparked for a moment, then stilled, and Twilight was more than a little disappointed.
  93. >Twilight held out hope for a moment, waiting with bated breath as the automaton was still on the dissection table.
  94. >With a resigned sigh, Twilight went to pull the plug.
  95. >Her hands had just grasped the cord as a voice began to re-vertebrate around the room.
  96. >Twilight's jaw slackened as the automaton's eyes narrowed into pin pricks, before expanding into wide circles, all with the gentle whirring of machinery.
  97. >The jaw on the device began to move up and down as the eyes darted around the room with a wide-eyed expression.
  98. "Holy fuck."
  99. >The automaton's eyes finally met hers, they were a- dare she say- soulful blue eyes.
  100. >Impossibly thin and delicate gears that made up it's irises narrowed just a bit.
  101. >Twilight was mesmerized, the way it moved was so...
  102. >Human.
  103. >What little movement it could do, that is, it's neck was jerky and the joint that kept the jaw attached to it's 'skull' made an odd grinding noise when it opened to speak.
  104. >It couldn't speak, though, and Twilight wasn't surprised.
  105. >Voice boxes were rarely spared on simple automatons, they just had pre-recorded lines at the very best, but this...
  106. >This one was different, special, and whenever it's mouth opened to speak the very visible corrosion was clear at the back of its 'throat', which had a ragged hole in it, too boot.
  107. >The automaton gave her an almost distressful look, its eyebrows quirking up its forehead and its eyelids split wide.
  108. "I wasn't sure you'd turn on", Twilight began, giddiness in her voice, "You're so complex, it's a miracle you lasted so well in that junkyard..."
  109. >The thing's eyes widened and the facial pieces around its eyes crinkled, exposing just a bit of the mechanical marvel hidden under the surface.
  110. >While it lacked any artificial hair, its features were soft, with high cheekbones and lips that pursed and a jaw that seemed to blend seamlessly into its head, yet it moved up and down as if organic.
  111. >Only a small ridge separated its skull from its jaw, but the copper underneath kept any whirring gears hidden.
  112. "I found you on this planet, I was looking for copper, you see, and well, you're sort of made of it."
  113. >The thing stilled, its eyes falling dead as it's head hit the table with a soft, metallic, 'clank'.
  114. "I- I mean I was! Was looking for copper! I uh, didn't find any besides you, but I don't want to rip you apart! Not when you... Work isn't really the right answer, is it? Now that you... Turn on?"
  115. >The automaton gave her a flat expression that seemed like it did not appreciate her comment.
  116. "Anyway", Twilight blushed, "Uh. Now that I know you work, I guess I could try and fix you up a little?"
  117. >The automaton gave her a blank look that made Twilight fidget.
  118. "I'm a scientist! I know all about automatons, I spent ages learning about them. I remember reading this book series when I was a little kid about them, and I was hooked, see? I wanted to learn everything about them, and- I'm rambling", Twilight gave it a nervous grin.
  119. >The look it gave her seemed to radiate 'if you think you can' and Twilight felt a fire stir up in her gut at the casual dismissal.
  120. >Or maybe she was imagining things, it wasn't human after all, a well-made sex doll is still a sex doll.
  121. "I'll prove it!"
  122. >Twilight's hand reached into thin air and grasped at the light hanging above the table, illuminating the machine with a sterile light.
  123. >The automaton looked unimpressed until a machine trailed after her hand, looking almost like a hose with a thin nozzle at the end.
  124. >Twilight pulled the automaton's arm over so its forearm faced the ceiling.
  125. >With careful hands, and the aid of a blow torch, Twilight cut apart the bindings that kept the machine's main forearm plate came apart.
  126. >Something told her that getting to the innards of this particular machine wouldn't be reached by going the easy way.
  127. >The plate of copper crumpled in her hand, slinking apart with intricate interwoven pieces that, when Twilight turned it over in her palm, it moved as if organically, yet it was clearly metal.
  128. >Her cockiness turned to a dull shock as the gears were exposed to light in who knows how long.
  129. >They were covered in gunk and grime, that was a given and was cleaned with a solid blast of air from the end of the hose-like machine that lead up into the ceiling above the machine.
  130. >Beyond that only a few loose cogs tightened with a screw driver and several spot welds were all that the machine really needed...
  131. >After all this time, and so little damage? Barely any corrosion...
  132. >The machine's fingers twitched, and Twilight gave it a smug grin.
  133. >It was matched with a stunned look as it flexed its newly repaired wrist.
  134. "Toldja."
  135. >The automaton rolled her eyes and slumped against the table as Twilight began to slowly and methodically slot the forearm piece back into place.
  136. >Several more quick welds and it was back in position.
  137. >Something told her, as she looked at the left arm that was half gone, the right leg that was twisted and warped, and the bottom half of her right abdomen were severely dented, that this easy fix would probably be the last.
  138. >Even so, the wonder in the automaton's eyes was well worth it as it began to move and bend its arm in such a human manner that it was a little frightening to behold.
  139. >Such grace, from a machine no less...
  140. >Twilight bit her lip as she thought of her experiment.
  141. >It was a fast track to being taken seriously an outter-rim scientist, studying on the new frontiers of space!
  142. >That said, this odd little being fascinated her terribly...
  143. >She could work on both, then, it would take a bit more of her savings than she would like, but such was the price to achieve something of note.
  144. >Twilight's hand gently caressed the machine's cheek, and she could swear it leaned into the warmth of her palm.
  145. >The metal was cool to the touch, but not unpleasantly so, the metal gears were slowly heating it up until it near enough as warm.
  146. >Just a slight difference...
  147. >The automaton closed it eyes and Twilight stepped away with a furious blush on her cheeks.
  148. >She had other work to do now, and had to figure out where the hell she could come up with enough copper for her experiment, let alone to fix the mess that was the automaton laying on her table.
  149. >That said who said it had to be made of copper? Surely anything could work, at least from a practicality standpoint, but she faltered a moment.
  150. >This being was a work of art, gorgeous to behold even in its lackluster state such as it was now.
  151.  
  152. ***
  153.  
  154. "Date, 10-20-5559, Log Twenty Seven, Twilight Sparkle."
  155.  
  156. >Twilight rubbed a hand through her close cropped hair and rubbed the back of her neck as she regarded the camera in front of her.
  157.  
  158. "Subject is showing a marked improvement in speech capabilities and cognition, progress is lacking compared to the figures charted out, but there is progress."
  159.  
  160. >Her fingers drummed across the desk.
  161.  
  162. "I- well, I don't know what else to say. It's coming along. I'd give up hope if... Everything... wasn't riding on this project being successful."
  163.  
  164. >Twilight rose the drink sitting on the table to her lips and let the bitter liquid flow down her throat, leaving a gentle burn on its way down.
  165.  
  166. "What else can I say? Nothing in particular has improved from last time, that said there has been change. It's... Well, different, for one thing. It seemed to reach a stage of development I had lost hope for. This subject is different than the last one."
  167.  
  168. "At least I hope so."
  169.  
  170. "And, side note? That automaton is a work of art. Whoever built her either did it themselves, or had a lot of money to throw around and didn't care how expensive their sex toy was. That being said... I have yet to see any of the usual signs of repeating patterns. Whatever its doing at any given time is either new, or it has a very, very long list of pre-recorded scripts."
  171.  
  172. "Let's hope it's the latter and I'm just going crazy on this ship."
  173.  
  174. "Twilight, out."
  175.  
  176. >Twilight clicked the camera off and blew out a breath.
  177. >Despite doing it every month for the last twenty-seven, it never really got any more natural.
  178. >Even though the only people that would see these were her and future colleagues, it still gave her butterflies.
  179. >She stared out into the depths of space and relaxed in her chair as her ship guided itself through the space-time warp.
  180. >Her eyes shifted sluggishly into the reflection of the blackened window out in the cosmos, lingering instead on the machine laying on the table behind her.
  181. >It was sitting up, its dexterous fingers poking and prodding at itself.
  182. >The damage done to most of its body was, at the moment, too big a project to under take.
  183. Yet its 'spine' and most of its torso and hips were in reasonable condition, and only needed tuning and oiling.
  184. >As it was sparks crackled from the bottom of its missing leg when it shifted a bit too much.
  185. >That being said it fascinated her, and it fascinated itself.
  186. >It was so gentle with anything it touched.
  187. >Rudimentary automatons that she had built when she was younger had grips like iron, yet this master piece could manipulate its hands as if it had played the finest instruments for millennia, and it could hand the gentlest flower without a single bruise.
  188. >Twilight stood up and staggered over towards the machine, dropping her drink onto a nearby table.
  189. >She was dressed in a thin white cotton shirt and shorts, but bare besides, and the machine was entirely nude.
  190. >Not that it mattered much, while it did have an... Anatomical body, it was still a machine.
  191. >Twilight rested her hand gently on the being's working arm, pulling its hand away from picking at a loose wire on its missing leg.
  192. "You'll screw something up if you keep picking at yourself, and it might be something I can't fix."
  193. >The automaton gave her a quizzical look.
  194. "I know a lot about machines and automatons, I spent my whole childhood reading about them, studying them, building them..."
  195. >Twilight sighed.
  196. "I remember that my parents had a Maid that worked around the house, that is, until I took it apart", she admitted shame-facedly.
  197. >The automaton gave her an icy stare.
  198. "I was ten, and, frankly, it was nothing like you. You're..."
  199. >Twilight felt her cheeks heat up.
  200. "One of a kind. I havent found even a single manufacturer mark on you, its like someone hand-forged every single cog in your body. I don't even know how long that would take, not counting how long it probably took to design and build you fully."
  201. >Twilight's fingers ghosted across the metal dome that made up its head, trailing down behind the ear that twitched organically until she drew a line up its jaw.
  202. >The automaton stared at her intently, its lips pursed and eyebrows furrowed.
  203. >It began to copy her, ever so gently touching the side of her head and trailing down behind her ear before coming up to trace her jaw line.
  204. >Her eyes shut as the automaton gently gripped her chin, tilting it this way and that, its piercing blue eyes making her skin crawl delightfully.
  205. >It let her go and let its hand fall to the edge of the table, gripping it in its strong hands.
  206. >Twilight took a step back, and turned away from the machine.
  207. >Just metal.
  208. >That's all.
  209.  
  210. ***
  211.  
  212. "Date, 2-17-5560."
  213.  
  214. "Project Zell is..."
  215.  
  216. "I haven't made one of these in months, I haven't had the will. It's all coming to pieces and I don't know what, if anything, I can do."
  217.  
  218. "My rear left engine is shot, I'm basically drifting through space and hoping someone finds my S.O.S."
  219.  
  220. "I have supplies and oxygen for a couple more months, but who knows if I'll even find someone then, god, being this far out..."
  221.  
  222. >Twilight rubbed her palm against her eye, wiping away tears that threatened to fall down her cheeks.
  223.  
  224. "Zell is over. My subject is dead, and there's no way I can start from the beginning."
  225.  
  226. >Twilight glanced past the camera and into the never ending cosmos.
  227. >It used to bring her peace when she stared out into the abyss, and now it felt like staring into a mocking grin as distant stars twinkled merrily in inky blackness.
  228. >She looked further than that, to the machine watching her.
  229. >Its missing leg was replaced, the one that was warped was mostly back into shape- at least, as good of shape as it could be in.
  230. >The arm persisted as an nuisance, unmoving, the cogs still and lifeless.
  231. >It was held to the being's chest with a sling as it's working arm moved back and forth, it's eyes darting too and fro, across a piece of paper.
  232. >Other drawings, each one more gorgeously rendered than the last, littered the table next to the machine.
  233. >It stopped, it's lips pursed as it looked up and met her eye.
  234. >Twilight looked back into the camera and noted how red her face was, either from tears or embarrassment she didn't know.
  235. >Another thing of contention was the machine's voice box, which demanded intricacy that Twilight wasn't capable of- yet.
  236. >The books about automatons, from the lowliest three or four cog machine to something just a little below the complexity of the one behind her, took up a shelf in her personal library.
  237. >Her data for Project Zell and all accompanying research materials were stored in the ship's data bank, but, call her sentimental, she couldn't ditch those books.
  238.  
  239. "I just hope that when someone finds this, it's because I made it big, not because..."
  240.  
  241. "Twilight, out."
  242.  
  243. >Twilight spun lazily in her chair, biting her lip and toying with her long hair.
  244. >It seemed superfluous to bother with cutting it, given the circumstances.
  245. >Twilight looked up to take in the machine as it worked.
  246. >What little physical paper she had was being ran through, but, honestly, she couldn't bring herself to care.
  247. >It was having fun, she guessed, who was she to stand in it's way?
  248. >The gentle scribbling that penetrated the deafening silence stopped, and the automaton looked up with it's sharp, piercing gaze.
  249. >Twilight didn't bother looking away as she bit as her nail, draped over her chair as she was.
  250. >It really put things in perspective, faced with a slow and miserable death as she was, as to how little mattered.
  251. >Certainly her life didn't, or someone would be looking for her.
  252. >She knew no one was.
  253. >She...
  254. >Twilight looked up, at some point the automaton had gotten up from the table it was sitting on and was standing in front of her.
  255. >It held out a hand to her that Twilight was hesitant to take.
  256. "Do you need something?"
  257. >It gave her a blank stare, hand held palm-up out to her.
  258. >It finally decided Twilight wasn't going to accept it, and pointed at her head.
  259. >More specifically, her hair.
  260. "My hair?"
  261. >It nodded.
  262. "What about it?"
  263. >The being mimed a razor with her own head.
  264. "There's no point. When my supplies run out I'll be dead and then the length of my hair won't fucking matter will it-"
  265. >The being's gaze turned glacial and it's hand darted out far too fast for her to react.
  266. >It grabbed a big fistful of her hair and yanked her head back, exposing her neck.
  267. "Ouch, you fucking-"
  268. >It's eyebrow tilted up, and it pulled again in warning.
  269. "Fine." Twilight muttered darkly, stomping over to the little space loosely defined as her "bathroom".
  270. >A small shower crammed into one corner with a toilet almost flush against the side, a mirror and small chest of drawers completing the spartan ensemble.
  271. >She wrenched open the top drawer and pulled out her electric razor.
  272. >Twilight flicked it on, the buzzing grating against her ears, but it didn't really matter.
  273. >Despite the feminine grace and gentleness the automaton was capable of, Twilight had no illusions that it could kill her if it wanted to.
  274. >The working metal hand of the automaton grasped her wrist as Twilight lifted the razor to begin her routine of buzzing her head.
  275. "What? I'm shaving my head like you wanted", Twilight said, staring into the visage of the machine in the mirror.
  276. >It gave her a look and grasped the razor in it's own hand.
  277. "No way! I am not letting you anywhere near my neck with that!"
  278. >The machine gave her a look, as if she were stupid, and Twilight felt a blush crawl up her cheeks.
  279. >It relented for a moment, setting the razor on the counter, now still, and gently caressed the rim of her ear, parting a lock of hair.
  280. >Twilight shuddered.
  281. >The automaton ran it's hand through her still aching scalp, the coolness of the metal soothing the ache that it had caused earlier.
  282. "Fine."
  283. >It seemed almost... Giddy, as it picked up the razor and got to work.
  284. >Twilight sighed as the automaton ran the razor from just below her temple down to her neck, tickling her as it knocked her hair down.
  285. >She leaned against the chest of the automaton, her head tilted forward as it trailed the razor around her head.
  286. >It was almost relaxing, letting the being cut her hair, her bagged eyes slid shut and she enjoyed the feeling in a hazy miasma.
  287. >Twilight craned her head back as the automaton finished her haircut.
  288. >It was short on the sides and the top was spiked upwards, the automaton's hands having seen to that.
  289. >The automaton smiled, meeting her eyes in the reflected visage.
  290. "Thank you."
  291. >It nodded, it's hand running through her hair one last time, sending bolts of electricity up Twilight's spine.
  292. >The automaton was almost molded to her back, it's body oddly warm yet still cold to the touch.
  293. >Whenever her barely-covered flesh brushed against it's metal exterior her skin was set ablaze.
  294. >The automaton's hand reached around and grabbed hers, pulling Twilight around so that it was staring into her eyes.
  295. >It's hand gripped hers and lead her to the most open area of the ship.
  296. >Twilight opened her mouth to ask a question, but a finger on her lips kept her silent as the automaton sashayed over to a music player.
  297. >The player was covered in dust, and Twilight guiltily thought of the last time she had used her parting gift.
  298. >Her father had presented it with such a wide, beaming smile, and Twilight wondered whether or not if she would ever see that smile again...
  299. >The automaton pressed a few buttons and the quiet, dim ship was suddenly alive with music.
  300. >Heavy horns and jaunty violins brought the otherwise depressing space into a new light, lifting the heavy, oppressive silence.
  301. >The automaton sidled up close to Twilight, wrapping it's one good arm around her waist and pulling her close.
  302. >Twilight felt her cheeks heat as she wrapped her arms around the automaton's neck.
  303. >She was looking up into it's eyes, and only now did she notice that it was a head taller.
  304. >Warmth flickered in its otherwise cold, metallic eyes and the plates on its face lifted into a gentle smile.
  305. >They swayed to the soft tune as the cosmos loomed over them, surrounded them, suffocated them.
  306. >Twilight's eyes grew misty and she shut them to stifle any tears that threatened to fall down her cheeks.
  307. >She rested her head against the machine's gently whirring shoulder, timing the rhythmic beating of the inner mechanisms that sounded so similar to a heart it almost made it seem human.
  308. >Twilight turned her head so she was looking into the inky blackness of space.
  309. >A planet, covered in dense, green foliage and bright blue oceans began to eclipse a nearby star.
  310. >How long had they been stuck in this backwater solar system?
  311. >Twilight didn't know, she didn't really care, either.
  312. >They were stranded.
  313. "Sunset."
  314. >The automaton pulled back slightly, peering at her from down her nose.
  315. "That's what I'm going to call you."
  316. "Sunset."
  317. >Twilight pointed out into the great abyss, to the planet far off into the distance, as the last rays of the sun were fading in the great eclipse caused by the planet.
  318. >Sunset smiled, resting her forehead against Twilight's, it's arm pulling her close again as they kept swaying to the music.
  319. >Twilight, for the first time in a long time, felt content.
  320.  
  321. ***
  322.  
  323. "Date, 3-24-5560."
  324.  
  325. "It's-"
  326.  
  327. >Twilight ran a hand through her disheveled hair.
  328.  
  329. "It's bad. Really bad. We have a week of oxygen left, and we ran out of rations a couple days ago."
  330.  
  331. >Twilight noted in the reflection of her window out into the great abyss how emaciated she was.
  332. >Her dirty white cotton shirt and shorts were hanging off her painfully thin body.
  333. >Her ribs were just peaking out of the top of her thin cotton shirt, and her cheeks were sunken in.
  334.  
  335. "I'm not sure what else to do. Me and Sunset tried repairing the fuel cells, but it was just a waste of time-"
  336.  
  337. >Twilight cringed as she let out several great, wet hacking coughs, clutching her throat and chest.
  338.  
  339. "I- I don't know how much longer I'm going to last out here."
  340.  
  341. "I think this is gonna be my last recording."
  342.  
  343. >Twilight's head rested on her palm as she blew out a breath, closing her eyes as she collected herself.
  344.  
  345. "I almost fixed Sunset's voice. I'll finish it before I'm-. Well. I'm going to fix it."
  346.  
  347. "Twilight, out."
  348.  
  349. "For the final time", Twilight muttered, clicking the camera off.
  350. >Day in and day out the gravity of their situation lingered on her mind.
  351. >Twilight wasn't even sure she could call it 'their' situation, either.
  352. >Sunset would persist, so long as it maintained itself, but she would not.
  353. >It wouldn't rot in the vacuum of space for all eternity.
  354. >Twilight stared past her reflection and at Sunset, it's working arm drawing on the last bits of paper.
  355. >She couldn't help but reflect on Sunset, and her project.
  356. >It all seemed so trivial now, faced with death, trapped forever in a rust-bucket ship.
  357. >Her project, the very cause of her death.
  358. >It was almost ironic.
  359. >Yet, it seemed more poetic than ironic, killed in her 'noble' pursuits.
  360. >What a joke, after everything.
  361. >Twilight palmed her forehead to try and stifle her headache.
  362. >The lack of food was getting to her.
  363. >Twilight tried to ignore the pain as she looked past her reflection and towards Sunset.
  364. >It was still drawing.
  365. >The usual blank page of paper was turned over and folded in upon, every square inch used to satisfy the automaton's urges.
  366. >Twilight smiled, her eyes closing as she leaned against the desk in front of her, her burning forehead cooling in contact with the desk's surface.
  367. >Her frontal lobe seemed to pound with the beat of her heart as she tried to calm her aching head.
  368. >What else was there?
  369. >Pain and suffering and waking up every day with no guarantee that you'd survive the hour, let alone the day.
  370. >Twilight exhaled through her nose and let her eyes shut in contentment.
  371. >She didn't want to continue thinking about it, it did her, nor Sunset, any good.
  372.  
  373. ***
  374.  
  375. "Try now."
  376. >"..."
  377.  
  378. ***
  379.  
  380. "Try now."
  381. >"..."
  382.  
  383. ***
  384.  
  385. "Try now."
  386. >"..."
  387.  
  388. ***
  389. >Twilight clicked the last servo into place with grease-stained hands.
  390. >She wiped off the beads of sweat on her brow and tried to ignore how hard moving her shaking arm that high was.
  391. >Sunset gave her a look, it's mouth opening.
  392. >Yet, no sound, other than garbled, misshapen words.
  393. >Twilight's whole body shook as her eyes burned with failure.
  394. >Fat tears welled up in her eyes as she collapsed against the table Sunset was disassembled on, burying her face in her hands as she wept.
  395. >She was so close, so very, very close, but something wasn't right no matter how hard she tried.
  396. >She wanted to do more than sit and cry but just standing was hard now, if she did for more than a few moments she swayed unsteadily on her feet.
  397. >Twilight furiously wiped her face, smudging grease across her sunken cheeks.
  398. >With raw, shaking hands Twilight adjusted the gears again, then again, then again, until she managed to get them right despite the furious headache and body tremors that made it hard to think, let alone do this.
  399. "Please. Please..."
  400. >Twilight's head fell onto the table as her body sagged against it, relishing the coolness that her burning, starving body demanded.
  401. "Say... Something..."
  402. >Sunset clicked it's throat closed and reached for her as Twilight slumped to the floor, too exhausted even to sit upright in the chair.
  403. >Sunset landed in a crouch next to her, gathering Twilight in it's arms and lifting the fragile, frail doll of a person that was skinny, so painfully skinny.
  404. >"..."
  405. >Sunset coughed as she set Twilight down onto the table.
  406. >Her arm was fixed, she was fixed, for the first time in probably well over a millennia she was almost fully functional.
  407. >Yet her voice box persisted in causing trouble.
  408. >"..."
  409. >Every time she tried to open her mouth and speak nothing but garbled sounds emerged in the vague reminiscence of words.
  410. "I... Tried." Twilight mumbled.
  411. >"..."
  412. >Sunset leaned forward and grabbed Twilight's hand.
  413. >Twilight's fingers tightened around the metal digits, and a little smile lit up her otherwise agonizing expression.
  414. "You're... A work... Of art." Twilight said softly.
  415. "So advanced... Not even I... Could fix you."
  416. >In between her words was a deep breath of air.
  417. >Finally her chest relaxed as she took in short, shallow breaths.
  418. "I really wanted to, before I... Well. I wanted to fix you."
  419. >Sunset rubbed it's thumb on the back of Twilight's hand.
  420. >Twilight turned her head, her eyes meeting Sunset's.
  421. "Tell me... Did I do a good job?"
  422. >Sunset could see the tears gathering in her eyes.
  423. >It nodded it's head, standing up so it could brush a loose strand of hair from her face.
  424. "I'm scared."
  425. >Sunset opened her mouth as she willed her voice box to work, but any response was choppy and unintelligible.
  426. "I don't know if it was worth it. I think fixing you, something as smart as you, made it all worth it."
  427. >Sunset gripped Twilight's lax hand harder and stared deeply into her dull eyes.
  428. "Thank you for that."
  429. >Twilight stared dimly up at the light shining down on her, the creeping blackness in her peripherals slowly growing more and more noticeable.
  430. >It was like she was at the end of a very long tunnel, trapped in her mind and staring out of it like she was a shell.
  431. "T-take me. I... Wanna see."
  432. >Twilight's head fell to to the open bay window that housed the cosmos.
  433. >As unforgiving as the mightiest of seas, and vast as the deepest of oceans, yet the most gorgeous sight Twilight had ever seen.
  434. >Sunset slid it's arms under Twilight and lifted her up with ease.
  435. >It walked the few paces until it was a foot or two away from the glass.
  436. >Sunset dropped to it's knees as it gently set Twilight's skeletal form on the floor.
  437. "I tried... I really did."
  438. "I'm glad... You made it..."
  439. >Twilight sucked in a long, suffering breath as she stared out into the vast expanse of black.
  440. >Sunset was still kneeling next to Twilight, as the gentle, shallow breathing stopped.
  441. >For the first time in perhaps millennia, Sunset wished she could weep.
  442.  
  443. ~*~*~
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