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Music / The Mechanisms

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We were all once, every one of us — well, with the exception of the Toy Soldier, we were all once mortal and boring like your good selves. Until something within each of us broke. Shattered, beyond repair. And it was replaced by a fascinating individual by the name of Dr. Carmilla who, unfortunately, has since fallen out an airlock.

The Mechanisms are a band operating largely out of Oxford and London, UK. Offering retrospective futurist storytelling in the form of musical cabaret, they are a concept band consisting of immortal space pirates originally created by Dr. Carmilla as her backup band/companions. In between roaming the galaxy having fun, violence, adventure, violence and violence, they tell the tales of the things they've seen over the course of their long, long lives.

The band is no longer active, having given their farewell performances in London on 18 and 19 January 2020, but their albums remain available.

The crew:note 

  • Jonny d'Ville: Carmilla's first Mechanism (that he knows of) and also the crew's first mate. He and his mechanical heart don't offer much in the way of say, friendliness or leadership skills, but he is the chief storyteller.
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  • Ashes O'Reilly: Former mobster, enthusiastic arsonist and the crew's Quartermaster. Ashes and their mechanical lungs provide the band with bass guitar and occasional vocals.
  • Drumbot Brian: Despite his designation as Drumbot, Brian is more frequently seen playing the banjo and the accordion. A scientist who was launched into space and left to die, his entire body save his heart was replaced by Carmilla. One could describe him as the moral centre of the crew, but that would be foolish.
  • The Toy Soldier: The Toy Soldier was never really mortal like the others, instead being a collectors item from a set of Toy Xs, but that didn't stop the Doc from fixing it up and installing it in the crew. Nobody really understands it or what it does, but it still happily provides mandolin, glockenspiel and vocals where required.
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  • Gunpowder Tim : The first Mechanism created by the crew in the absence of their Captain. He is a veteran of the war against the Moon Kaiser and is largely responsible for the destruction of the moon 3,000 years in the future ago. Assuming the role of gunner after the crew kindly replaced his eyes, he is well known for playing the guitar and singing some things. Though he is rumoured to be handy with a violin too.
  • Marius von Raum: Ship's medic (not that they need one) and psychiatrist (not that they want one). He was found by the crew having already been mechanised by a mysterious stranger...
  • Raphaella la Cognizi: Science officer who may or may not have cheated her way onto the ship after becoming a little too interested. Also she has wings. Brings gorgeous piano and vocals to the table.
  • Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova: better known as Nastya Rasputina; princess from the Empire of Cyberia. Ship's engenieer who largely favours machines over people, Nastya is most often seen playing the viola and violin.
  • Ivy Alexandria: Ship's Archivist and Navigator whose positronic brain provides her with an impressive memory of facts and statistics at the expense of most of her memory of her life before joining the Aurora. She could be described as a one person woodwind section, having been spotted playing the recorder, oboe, flute, euphonium and the penny whistle at various shows.

Tropes featured by The Mechanisms as a whole:

Tropes featured in their story sets:

    Once Upon a Time (In Space) 
(See Even Evil Has Standards, above.)
  • Frontline General: Snow White leads the attack on Zantine herself.
  • Hollywood Hacking: The Red Hood appears to use this.
  • Hope Spot: After Rose is freed and kills the Three Little Pigs, she and Cinders get one perfect moment before King Cole shoots Rose in the back.
  • I Can Still Fight!: Colonel Tuco insists on helping to pump the air during the flight from Zantine.
  • Paper Tiger: Jack the Giant Killer, hero of the resistance, isn't actually nearly as badass as the resistance thinks he is.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The defense grid of Zantine is controlled by Briar Rose, which causes problems when the Aurora gets an attack of conscience.
    • Gepetto used actual children to create the Three Little Pigs.
  • Praetorian Guard: The Three Little Pigs guard King Cole.
  • Propaganda Machine: King Cole has one, run by Scheherazade.
  • Sole Survivor: The only survivor of the final battle at Zantine is Cinders.
  • Space Opera
  • Wedding Smashers: The wedding between Rose Red and Cinders is interrupted by Cole's soldiers.

    Ulysses Dies at Dawn 

    High Noon Over Camelot 
  • All-Loving Hero: Mordred. That is, until he hits the Despair Event Horizon.
  • Blood Knight: Gawain, and how.
    Gawain: Oh, at last, free of fear / My vision blurs with crimson, and I finally see / Hold brutality near / And release the coiled violence that's inside of me.
  • Cannibal Clan / Cannibal Tribe: The Saxon ghouls of Annwn.
  • Creepy Good: All of Galahad's songs are in a minor key and, although he has Camelot's best interests at heart, his fanaticism can be downright unnerving.
  • Flashback / Whole Episode Flashback: The entirety of the song "Holder of the GRAIL" is this.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: What happened to Galahad after sitting in the Siege Perilous. Didn't stop him from making his fire-and-brimstone sermon, though - nor from telling Arthur and Co. about the GRAILnote  and its location.
  • Hope Spot: When Arthur prepares to activate the GRAIL, Jonny, narrating, says, "Just this once there could be a happy ending!" Cue cynical laughter from anyone in the audience who's heard the Mechanisms before.
  • Sociopathic Hero: True of pretty much all the knights, with the exception of Mordred.
  • Space Western: The action takes place on a failing space colony known as Fort Galfridian, whose culture bears all the hallmarks of the Old American West.
  • Polyamory: Arthur, Lancelot, and Guinevere are a polyfaithful triad, rather than a love triangle.
  • The Power of Love: Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere's love for each other prevents bloodshed when they discover only one of them can wield the GRAIL.
  • Raised by Orcs: Mordred was taken in by the Saxons as a child, and consequently is the only member of the main cast who views them as anything more than mindless, inhuman killers.
  • Transgender: Arthur's daughter, Morgause, grows up into a young man who takes the name Mordred.

     The Bifrost Incident 
  • Ascended Extra: Sigyn doesn't get to do much in the original myths (she holds up a bowl to catch Jormungandr's venom so it won't drip on Loki, and that's it, basically). Here, she's a major character.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Loki and the rest of what is adapted as the Midgardian Resistance, in the original myths they're villains, with the best of them being cruel tricksters (with the exception of Sigyn). Here, they're La Résistance and Sigyn and Loki perform a Heroic Sacrifice to buy time for the Yggdrasil system, subjecting themselves to extreme agony for nearly a century.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Odin's desire for conquest and greatness made her susceptible to Yog-Sothoth's corruption, meaning that although she's clearly halfway to snapping and not fully in control of herself, that wouldn't have happened to her had she not been this trope.
  • And I Must Scream: Freya's fate: she is fused into the walls of the train, forced to watch the carnage but unable to make a sound.
  • Beneath Notice: Not a single Asgardian notices that the entire service staff is made up of the Midgardian resistance—most egregiously, they don't notice Sigyn, who is the leader, and, with Fenrir and Loki locked up, the most wanted person in Asgardian territory, all because she's wearing a uniform and serving drinks.
  • Black-and-White Morality: Unusually for the Mechanisms, the Midgardian Resistance seem to genuinely be good people, fighting against an actual oppressor and the worst crime any of them are mentioned committing, Loki's murder of Baldur, was arguably an accident, the intent was to destroy the Bifrost and avoid the annihilation of the Yggdrasil system.
  • Blood Magic: How the engine is powered, so long as blood is in the mechanisms, the train will stay on the tracks, and not crash into the real world, dragging Yog-Sothoth with it.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: The story ends with Inspector Lifrasir Edda fleeing to Hoddmimis, which, given the roles of their mythical counterparts, might suggest that he survives.
  • Cool Train: The Ratatosk Express is a train designed to take the elite of Asgardian society in the heights of luxury through an artificial wormhole.
  • Cosmic Horror Reveal: The story initially appears to be a mystery, trying to identify the saboteur (accidental or otherwise) who destroyed the Ratatosk Express. Turns out the Bifrost is actually part of Yog-Sothoth, and that if the train ever arrives then the entire Yggdrasil system will be consumed. The story begins with the train's arrival.
  • Enemy Mine: Sigyn's a hardcore revolutionary, while Thor's main objection to the Asgardian regime is that he's not in charge of it, but when it comes to getting rid of Odin, they put their differences aside.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Is Thor a good person? Nope, but he's incensed why Odin's done to Loki and Kvasir.
  • Fate Worse than Death: As said in Ragnarok II: The Calling, the lucky ones are those who are merely killed by the derailing.
    Envy your dead.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • A passing mention is made during Black Box that the remains of the Ratatosk Express consisted of nothing but "the engine room and a couple of warped skeletons". This seems like Narrative Filigree at first, until you realize that the skeletons are Loki and Sigyn.
    • Odin's song might as well have "I am possessed and this will end badly" as the lyrics. In particular, the parts about answering the song of the void are important.
  • Gender Flip: Odin and Loki.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Odin, long before the events of the Bifrost Incident, setting it all in motion. Garm, who is driven into a murderous rage. Inverted with Loki, who is driven sane by the revelation.
  • Great Escape: The Midgardian Resistance plans to break Fenrir out of Hel.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Sigyn plugs Loki into the Ratatosk Express, and carefully controls the line feeding her blood into the engine, to keep it on the rails as long as possible, buying time for the Yggdrasil system.
  • Identity Amnesia: Loki was sentenced to be executed for her crimes, except Odin needed her expertise to complete the Bifrost, and so just wiped her mind and kept her around.
  • La Résistance: The Midgardian Resistance, made up of Fenrir, Sigyn, Garm, Hati, and Sköll.
  • Leitmotif: Whenever a particular set of chords on an electric guitar starts to play, you can count on something exceedingly nasty happening.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": Played seriously, as the response of everyone after the Express derails, with the exception of Odin, who planned it all.
  • Mood Whiplash: The Self-Deprecation comedy of "Expert Testimony" comes right before "Red Signal", in which the eldritch shit properly hits the fan.
  • Mutual Kill: As in the source material, Jormungandr and Thor, and Garm and Tyr.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Thor and Sigyn free Kvasir from the engine of the Ratatosk Express, allowing Yog-Sothoth to break into the train and setting in motion the destruction of the Yggdrasil system.
  • Play-Along Prisoner: The Mechanisms are theoretically in prison, but from the way they act when the Inspector comes to ask for their help with the black box and the fact they simply vanish afterwards, it's pretty clear they were only hanging around because they felt like it.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The train is powered by plugging someone into the engine core. Initially it's Kvasir, but later on, Loki is plugged in to buy time for Yggdrasil.
  • Scaled Up: After being warped by the Bifrost, Odin becomes Jormungandr.
  • Self-Deprecation: The entirety of Inspector Edda's interaction with the Mechanisms in Expert Testimony is this.
    [The band launches into the beginning of a musical explanation.]
    The Inspector: Shut up! No singing, I am sick of your singing. Where did you get that violin?
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: The Mechanisms depart shortly after learning the train has arrived.
  • Space Whale Aesop: Imperialism and totalitarianism inevitably lead to destruction via being corrupted and mind-controlled into summoning an Eldritch Abomination.
  • Stealth Pun: Years earlier, during the construction of the Express, Loki launched two missiles at it. Missile one destroyed the track, and Baldur was killed by "missile two". In the Norse myths, Baldur was killed by mistletoe.
  • The Stinger: The final few seconds of the album function as this. After the narrator "signs off" and wishes the listener luck, there's a space of silence followed by various radio broadcasts and distress signals as Yog-Sothoth finally arrives.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: How Thor achieves the Mutual Kill on Jormungandr, shattering the cabin window with his hammer.
  • Together in Death: Sigyn and Loki collaborate on a Heroic Sacrifice to buy time for Yggdrasil.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Thor and Loki, before the incident with Missile Two. Before going to their ends, they meet one last time and mend their friendship.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Frankenstein eventually came to this conclusion. Granted, the AI did destroy an entire planet in rage when Frankenstein decided to shut it down.
  • Bookends: The narration begins and ends with the same exact lines, though by the end they mean something entirely different, making it almost feel like an Ironic Echo.
    Narrator: Victoria Frankenstein opens her eyes to find herself facing a wide clear window. Through it she sees a lush forest far below stretching off into the horizon, where twin suns are rising over distant mountains. And Frankenstein smiles, only briefly.
  • Do Androids Dream?: The AI is shown to feel emotions. Frankenstein doesn't seem to believe it, however.
  • Gender Flip: Instead of Victor, we have Victoria Frankenstein.
  • Voice of the Legion: At the beginning, the AI's voice is made up of several of the Mechanisms speaking or singing together in a Machine Monotone, though later it tapers off to Ashes' voice alone.
  • Wham Line: "Frankenstein’s AI allows itself a brief moment of regret as it records iteration 3872 as a failure."

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