• Published 20th Nov 2013
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FoE: Snippet Story - Windrunner



Set at various points in the Fallout: Equestria universe. Each chapter is intended to be a unique story unto itself. So many references, both ludicrously obscure and blatantly obvious. Even the title. No, not that. You will never figure them all out.

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Auton

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The soldier just did as he was told, like always. As he'd endeared himself to his superiors with this behavior he had become their go-to pony for many unusual assignments, something he was not certain he was proud of. This particular trait was also what lead him to being one of the highest ranked officers they would ever dare actively place in the field. This time he received the strange and dubious orders to live test a mechanical pony in the farthest off region he could be sent. An area of relative safety while still engaging the enemy for testing. He was also to gauge its reaction times and how it interacted with its set of 38 commands. So secretive a project was it that only a small squad of armored guards were sent with him on the assignment.

At first sight it didn't seem anything particularly special; in fact at a distance he nearly mistook it for one of the guards trudging along towards him. Upon closer inspection, however, it looked like a slightly hunched-over grey unicorn. As it approached he could not help but notice the odd movements it took, the almost too careful and heavy steps. It walked in a gait that struck him as very quick but far from graceful. It was also much bulkier looking than normal, he had been told it housed a wide array of weapons within its chassis and given leave to test fire all of them except one. That one worried him since he was not told what it was, only informed it was never to be used except as a last resort and required he say a special pass-code to activate, they'd begrudgingly given him the code at his insistence but it should not be needed.

The soldier had also not been told it could talk or seemingly think of its own accord, after being taken aback at it speaking and introducing itself as Mattias he soon discovered it held a strange penchant for telling the sort of terribly inappropriate jokes only a pony in military service could get away with. Where had it heard these things? The name struck him as odd. To him it almost seemed alive and though he was a hardened veteran of several intense engagements this discovery gave him pause. What were we getting into here, why give it a personality at all? The idea of sending mechanical troops to fight instead of living ponies seemed appealing in the sense that only a machine would be put in harms way but at the same time it also seemed an act of desperation. The war had after-all dragged on for far too long already.

From the start of the auton units field testing things had not gone well at all, partially due to the machines heavy weight. The unit did not look as heavy as it really was. The area where they were sent was a mix of sparse edging forest and mostly sandy desert terrain in which the unit began to sink if it did not keep moving, this alone did not bode well for deploying it on the front lines. Ostensibly this was a four-legged tank that could convey vast amounts of firepower even where the robotic tracked ultra-sentinels or a standard tank simply could not go. This was not proving to be the case at all. During firing tests he noticed a tiny gold plate on one of its rear legs engraved with the letters M.A.T.T.I.A.S.

Poorly as things were progressing there were some positive notes, like that the robo-pony as he took to calling it really did pack an awesome array of bewildering firepower. All of it very cleverly hidden within along cycling tracks which could pop the weapons out of the constructs coverings at various angles and handle a wide variety of situations. Every time it did eject a weapon it sent a chill along the soldiers spine as it then looked much less like the familiar and comfortable sight of a pony and more like some alien concocted from ones worst nightmare. On solid ground it was a fierce and dangerous opponent indeed.

The only other things that bothered him about it were its eyes and voice, it had a harsh mechanical and entirely lifeless hollow sound to it while the eyes vaguely looked reminiscent of some green-eyed insect or half-remembered monster out of a bad dream. He determined the unit could see quite well and far in nearly any light or condition, or whatever passed for it seeing, he could not really tell. Why a robotics expert hadn't been sent along could only be guessed at, perhaps such intelligence was more valuable than the machine itself. Instead all that was sent along with the unit were munitions and a field maintenance manual, for a robot it required surprisingly little. Every day once per day he was to spray an unidentified liquid into its 'mouth' from a canister which bore no markings at all giving no hint to its purpose.

His orders gave them four months to test the unit as thoroughly as possible and leave to engage any targets of opportunity. Twice during the first two the auton actually saved them from walking into enemy scouts which it spotted and picked off with amazing ease, almost too much ease for his comfort. If only it were not so heavy units of this type would be an amazing recon asset, but as it stood he figured it could only ever stand guard and patrol outside in cities, perhaps where roads and completely solid fortifications were more common. The higher-ups were certain not to be impressed with this bit of news. When not actively testing he slowly began to find himself almost thinking of it as a friend thanks to its random banter and crude jokes.

The next two months were composed of a dreary tedium of endless tests and no enemy action whatsoever. This was not surprising considering the area held no real strategic value and had been mostly left alone save for the occasional short probing skirmish, generally resulting in no one being hurt. Any mistake could still prove to be fatal, as spies took advantage of the wide area to slip across undetected to harass from behind on three previous occasions and were known to take any advantage they could. At least the autons joking manner managed to lighten the mood from time to time, something he came to appreciate very much. The guards were taking a liking to its unexpectedly endearing mannerisms as well.

Only a week before he and his group of six were to be retrieved by a rarely deployed pegasus sky-boat, just as he was waking up for the day a scroll suddenly popped into existence in front of him startling him so much he nearly fell over. He only ever received three of them during his entire career and it was always bad. This one had an urgent stamp simply stating an unusually large enemy group had broken through their lines in the area and they would have to hold out until reinforcements arrived, which left them fending for themselves an indeterminate amount of time. He was to find a suitably defensible position and hunker down with his squad. This was not a difficult decision having explored the area so thoroughly.

Grim-faced he looked over the stallions under his command. This was exactly the sort of situation one did not wish to be in. He did not really notice it before but they were all quite young, far younger than him and none of them had much real combat experience outside of their training. He would have to handle this very carefully. First he ordered the auton take up a position at the crest of a forested hill so as it could just see over and constantly scan the area, it did not require rest. The others he ordered to dig in just behind it, staggered outwards not too close together. Having no report on enemy disposition he chose to take high ground, giving the auton and themselves a good field of vision and fire.

Command wanted it tested thoroughly, they were going to get just that. During the day nothing happened, but as night settled he felt that terrible calm before the storm sensation in his gut. Four hours before dawn Mattias quietly informed that a large group he could not see was approaching their position, despite best efforts to lay low they had been found. Not long after, a hail of small arms fire erupted towards their location. The auton proved surprisingly adept at tracing back and firing upon their attackers even in the dark, however this had the unintended effect of leading their opposition to believe they were a much larger force than in reality. The squad had all the angles covered but in truth were hopelessly outnumbered.

The soldier knew close quarters combat with what was arrayed against them would be near suicide and must keep the enemy at bay whatever it cost. This was proving successful only insofar as none of them was yet seriously injured but 3 of them had already been hit, he could tell the only thing truly keeping them from being struck directly was the autons intense streams of fire directed at anything daring enough to attempt a shot, but slowly inexorably the returning fire was intensifying. Chewing through ammunition as they were it was soon to be an utterly impossible defense. After three hours of this endless exchange of rounds he realized just how hopeless this was. Help would not come in time, they were all going to die.

He carefully dared move up to the auton and only then saw in the waning light of the moon just how damaged it was, the beating it was taking for them. All of its weapons were out on their tracks and targeting or firing. It struggled to remain upright as ripped jagged pieces sparked and bullets glanced off its armor plating, its head was cracked in places, was that a brain he saw underneath? Surely just a trick of the dim light. Any semblance to a living thing had long been torn from it. The sight made the soldier catch his breath as only now did he see under its friendly exterior just how alien a thing it was, fear gripped him to see it, this thing made only for death and destruction. He figured this was why it had been given a personality, if it had not been friendly to him in that way he doubted he could ever have approached it now.

The enemy was not yet behind them but was becoming increasingly brazen or perhaps simply annoyed they could not advance past this hill. He must do something now or be overwhelmed. He spoke the command to use its most powerful weapon. Unexpectedly it immediately retracted all of its weaponry and lay flat against the ground, whirring and clicking as its head turned to him and said:

"Warning: Stand well behind and shield eyes, cannon will unleash devastating wide ranging energetics wave forward! Structural damage exceeding 67%, firing may result in unit destruction. Confirm order?" Something in the soldiers mind felt bad about this but did not understand why, this was a machine! There really was no other choice. Confirm.

He backed away as two circular plates in the autons hips popped outwards and two hefty steel supports hissed out of the openings to the ground, two flaps then opened on its back and something not seen before rose up, it was larger than the other weapons it previously displayed. It looked very complex, and was certainly why it was so heavy. The square aperture at the front contained similarly square yellow warning lights swirling about it as a slowly increasing beeping sound was heard. It clacked and stood, lowering its head, the beeping growing faster and faster. The soldier scurried backwards unsure what was about to transpire. A terrible piercingly loud klaxon sound was emitted for a few seconds startling all within earshot.

A soft glow began to form around the weapons muzzle while what looked like white bubbles gathered inwards at the aperture, once again the machine spoke:

"Safety conduit override, proton wave cannon firing in 10 seconds." Proton cannon, what is that? Eight seconds. This does not feel right. Six seconds. Was this a good idea? Four seconds. The glow was almost blinding, it looks kind of pretty. Two seconds. Brighter and brighter. What have I done?

"Proton cannon firing." Was barely audible.

A terrible sizzling noise struck as a terrific thud felt like it sucked the air out of his lungs, a horrible immense blazing white took the night as a tremendous glare fell over the entire area. Suddenly shooting outwards the beam carved a swath of destruction down its path, shattering, incinerating everything along it for untold miles with a sickening crackle. Nothing was spared, smoke flew everywhere. Several minutes later as the horrific din died down he and his squad were dumbstruck by the carnage. It took him finally shaking off the weight of what just happened to get them moving, it was time to retreat. Nothing would follow them after that display of raw power.

He turned to Mattias to tell it to follow and was horrified by what he saw. Even with the supports it was at the last instant hurled backwards several meters slamming through numerous trees, a testament to its durability. It tried to stand and stumbled towards them scorched and blackened by the blast. One of its eyes hung off disturbingly on a cable while strange green sparks shot off its chassis and parts were slowly melting off, an effect that was only accelerating. It warbled out:

"Systems rebooted. Sensory inputs detect no enemy remnants, dangerous residual energetics in vicinity. Suggest immediate withdrawal."

The group limped back for a time with the auton moving slower and slower, it was obvious it could go no further. The soldier came close as he dared, the autons broken and battered form was becoming more unrecognizable by the moment. The most he could do was thank the auton for its service before it was little more than a puddle of scrap, it responded unexpectedly by stating a final quite rude joke involving a corporal and a unicycle. The entire squad laughed in fits, then teared up as the auton gazed at them. He could almost swear it was crying too. Suddenly its head twisted violently on what was left of the frame, gave a final heave and collapsed, what was left of it melting rapidly.

Command would not be happy with this loss, but they needed to know the true dangers posed by such a weapon, and though this was sure to turn some heads his report would request that Mattias be given full military honors.

End: Memory Crystal W001 Time Index Unknown

- - -

Somewhere far away a great dark steely figure raised its head, eyes flickering with malevolence and hatred.

Author's Note:

Opinions and input always welcomed, one cannot improve otherwise. If you like or dislike something do tell, and please don't give a dislike solely for the sake of giving a dislike. I merely ask you have a reason and bear in mind one firstly writes to entertain themself and in putting it out there hopes to amuse, entertain or at the very least pass on ideas to others.

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