An Orchestrion Delight

This page has been archived here from official Square Enix sources. It was originally posted on 12/12/2012.

Merry Starlight, everyone!

The wicked witches of the west have been expelled from their Halloween mischief, and now the year's end is close at hand.

Yet there is one last hurrah to close out the winter season. That's right—Starlight Celebration!

In celebration of this yearly reverie, merrymakers throughout Vana'diel have prepared wonderful presents for the adventurers of the land. Of course, all things come with a price…

And as always, the MHMU has given its all to bring the festivities to you.

The puffballs of the MHMU staff have been bouncing to and fro as they scurry about, working to give Vana'diel's adventurers their due. Mog workshops have been popping up left and right, with divisions and branches of the union being formed, consolidated, and eliminated, to help create the latest and greatest of products for this joyous season. Our story takes us behind the scenes at one of the newly-minted workshops.

The stage is set but hours before the sun was to descend and usher in the first night of this year's Starlight Celebration. A particularly harried moogle from the Third Production Department's Quality Control Crew thrust open the doors of his manager's office, his face flush. Well, flush for a moogle, that is.

"Mercy me!" he exclaimed. "Monumental mistakes abound, kupo!"

The manager remained composed in an attempt to calm his subordinate. "Shhh, shhh. Settle down, my worried worker. Rambunctious rambling will rile our strung-out staff." He made a habit of never ending his sentences with the traditional "kupo"—a habit he picked up from years working together alongside humes. For you see, he was originally a nomad moogle, wandering Vana'diel in search of knowledge. Eventually, he found what he was looking for and settled in with the MHMU, where he was appointed as the manager of the Third Production Department after a few scant years.

"What prodigious problem puzzles you so?"
"The o-orchestrion! We brought to bear a bewildering bug that bars the playback of titillating tunes!"
His voice jumped an octave and began to crack. The error was more dire than the manager originally assumed.

The orchestrion was to be the highlight of this year's Starlight celebration, with the MHMU choosing to take on a more restrained role this year. The Third Production Department was tasked with the creation of a prize most wondrous to be given to participating adventurers.

The appeal of this device lay in its ability to automatically play music of the owner's choosing, requiring only a simple sheet of music to operate. A veritable work of art that fused a mechanical apparatus with more traditional manufacturing techniques, the orchestrion was designed to emit the colorful, dulcet tones comparable to those of a live orchestra in one simple, box-shaped fixture. The term "box," however, may be a bit of a misnomer, as an orchestrion stands taller than its moogle designer. The real magic lies in the orchestrion's inner workings—opening the front panel reveals not a plethora of musical instruments, but rather a magical doll that emits soft sounds that reverberate deep within the listener's soul.
Of course, despite his worldliness, not even the manager was sure by what process the doll consumes sheet music to produce its melodious timbre.

At present, only three types of sheet music had been ready to undergo full-scale production. Perhaps the bug had to do with the music itself, rather than any fault with the device proper? No matter, the manager would not tolerate failure; any issue with the Starlight Celebration celebration would cause the MHMU's standing with Vana'diel's population to fall precipitously. It goes without saying that blame would rightfully fall on the Third Production Department, and the manager himself would likely be fired on the spot.

"Bring me the malfunctioning musical mechanism!" He ordered.
"Y-yessir, kupo!"

Orchestrions were not to be presented to Starlight Celebration participants wholesale, but rather divided up into a series of three kits containing eight parts. Simple assembly of these three kits is all that is required to craft one. The QC leader had brought in one of each kit, assembled the device, and fed it a piece of sheet music.

After a brief pause, a bell gave one sharp chime and the music began to play.

If you can call it "music." It was a cacophony, causing the moogles' fur to stand on end.
"B-boss! This jarring jingle, I…I…!"
"Keep composed!"
Yet the manager himself was starting to shake and tremble at the maddening dissonance emanating from the orchestrion. Was this some kind of cruel joke!?

The sound pierced the eardrum like a knife thrusting into the moogles' very brains.
Like fingers scratching a blackboard.
Like dragging metal along stone.
Like rubbing two pieces of lizard skin together.
And so it went on, and on, and on.

"P-please, stop my suffering, kupoooooo!"
The QC leader did a double pirouette and collapsed in a heap on the ground. The manager glanced nervously about him, and saw the extent of the damage. In every direction, moogles were writhing in agony. They clasped their hands over their ears, dropped their heads in pain, and rolled around on the floor like marbles spilling forth from a sack. They flopped on the ground like fish out of water. Oops—there went another one, his eyes rolling back in his head as he lost consciousness. There's a shorter one, curled in the fetal position in one corner of the room. Another covered head to toe in soot, foaming at the mouth.
And things were getting worse.

Even just the slightest sound from the device caused the most monumental pain. It was then that the manager realized—he, too, felt like he had to throw up. He lunged for the switch, smacking it as hard as he could.
Silence filled the room.

"Altana Almighty! This perverted product must not permeate the public!"

He began flinging orders left and right. Further inquiry showed that the music had been improperly transposed during the production process. They workers fixed the errors, performed test after test, and were satisfied that the error had been rectified.
Day and night they spent, toiling hour after hour to catch up to missed deadlines. They made just the right number, and delivered the final products to gift exchange centers throughout the world. Of course, speedy moogle transportation techniques did make things a bit easier.

The QC leader barely had the energy to utter this simple phrase, and unceremoniously passed out on the floor.
"Zzzzz…zzzzz…" his snoring could be heard from malms away.

"Time for a relaxing respite!"
The manager, thankfully, had escaped from the carrion clutches of unemployment.
The orchestrions' sounds were melodious and harmonic once more, with all defects having been ironed out. He sighed heavily, feeling the weight and stress of having worked ceaselessly over the past week. He slumped forward in his chair, sleep's gentle embrace taking hold.

On a divine night filled with gentle snowflakes, the moogles of the Third Product Department remain in the workshop, curled up with blankets as faint snores and drool escape their half-open mouths. The lovely notes of the orchestrions loop endlessly in their dreams—the fruits of labor having finally borne sweet fruit.


Story: Miyabi Hasegawa
Illustration: Mitsuhiro Arita

Category: News

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