• Published 2nd Jun 2018
  • 14,436 Views, 728 Comments

A Wolf in Cybernetic Armor - Shadow Quill

A machine built for exploring new worlds and preparing them for possible coloization. A land of magic and friendship that has not seen the blight of war in over a thousand years. This is what happens when the two come crashing together.

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1 - Mission Launch


……Source Code Found……

……Powering Up Main Systems……

……Unit Designation: CW04……Codename: Shadow……

……Subroutines Enabled……Weapons Status: Inactive……

……Power Core: 100%……Motor Functions: Optimal……

……Powering Up Auditory and Optic Sensors……

……Startup Complete……

The world lit up in sharp colors and shapes as Cyber Wolf 04, nicknamed Shadow, powered up from his inactive state. Without being told anything, he automatically knew what was going on. As part of the advance scout team for the Gateway Project, he understood that the only reason he would have been activated was because the humans running the program had found a possibly habitable world. They needed him to do some reconnaissance in order to determine if the planet was suitable for human habitation and to run diagnostics of the local flora and fauna, if any existed.

Following the designated coordinates routed through his transponder, Shadow walked out of the charging station, feeling the numerous cables detaching from ports in his body as he left the mostly bare room, ignoring the eleven other charging stations and his sleeping brothers and sisters. Time was always a priority when it came to these missions, as the portals could only be kept open for a short period of time before the gate had to be closed for recharging. Only by constructing a second gate on the other side could a stable portal be opened, but that was none of his concern. The only thing Shadow had to worry about was determining the habitable or inhospitable nature of his destination, and to run initial scans on any life native to the planet that could prove useful to his human creators.

Shadow walked down the slate-steel halls of the complex, passing a few humans in lab coats as they walked around performing other tasks, although the cybernetic hound paid them no mind as he made his way to the portal room for his immediate departure. He paused at the airlock that lead to the gateway, ignoring the vibrant warning labels printed on its surface as the locks disengaged with an audible thunk. The doorway opened with a hiss and Shadow walked into the small antechamber, registering the ultraviolet decontamination on his sensors before the door in front of him opened, allowing him into the much larger portal lab as the airlock shut firmly behind him.

Built into the center of the room, resting on a raised platform with a set of stairs running up to the main generator ring, was the gateway. The massive construction was wide enough to allow a small truck to pass through its ring without trouble, although the portal itself could be adjusted to any size to save on power consumption needs. Right now, the swirling opening was only about the size of a full-grown man, hovering in the center of the gateway’s field generator ring like a window to another world. Then again, that was exactly what it was, revealing what looked like a grassy field ringed with very earth-like trees and shrubs. Shadow stepped up to the stairs and waited for his signal, the observation platform behind him sealed off from the room with a thick pane of invisicrete. The nearly indestructible yet completely see-through material allowed the human operators to observe the portal while remaining completely isolated from the chamber, rendering almost any threats posed by the gateway null and void.

The intercom buzzed as one of the scientists spoke, “Shadow, we have confirmed that the planet before you, classified as a Terran III biome, is nearly identical to the habitats we can find here on Earth. Native life has been confirmed to at least include plants, so expect some kind of herbivorous animals at the minimum during your journey. Other than that, all mission decisions are yours to make as you see fit, as long as the preservation of your processing cores and memory banks is deemed top priority. I don’t need to tell you how hard it would be to replace you, so do your best to stay alive on the other side. Estimated time until another portal can be opened is nine days, seven hours and thirty-eight minutes. Good luck, and we all hope for promising results upon your return.”

Shadow nodded, knowing full well that responsibility for everything that happened on the other side of the portal would fall squarely on his haunches, regardless of the success or failure of his mission. No cyber wolf had ever been lost while on assignment, and he wasn’t about to be the first.

“Acknowledged.” He stated in a monotone voice, “Beginning mission now.”

As Shadow bound up the steps and leaped through the air towards the portal, he caught a few last words from the scientist manning the comms system, “Good luck, Shadow. We’ll be waiting for you.”

With those final words, Shadow passed through the portal and landed square on his paws, the titanisteel digits sinking into the soil and grass slightly as he looked around his destination. The portal closed with a slight pop behind him, leaving the mechanical hound alone in the grassy clearing he had landed in. All around were large trees, reminisce of the oak and cedar from Earth, interspersed with hundreds of small shrubs and ferns. A quick scan of his surroundings revealed that the life of the planet was carbon-based, and that the air around him was almost alarmingly similar to the atmosphere of Earth, minus almost all traces of industrial pollutants. He could hear small animals moving about in the brush, and even caught the distant sounds of what seemed to be birdsong, adding yet another tally to the list of things that seemed to indicate the portal had looped back somehow and deposited him back on Earth in some random temperate location.

Just to make certain he wasn’t back on Earth by some incalculable mistake in programing, Shadow looked up at the shining star that hung overhead, performing a spectral scan of the light and coming up with a distinctive signature. Satisfied that he truly wasn’t on Earth anymore, the cybernetic wolf turned his attention to the surroundings, following standard protocol as he assigned a waypoint to the location of the portal. While it wasn’t unheard of for a portal to open in a slightly different location each time, the chances of it appearing somewhere more than a hundred yards from the original drop zone were less than one percent. Whatever could be said about the humans running the Gateway Project, they were very good about getting repeat results when it was required.

With a waypoint assigned on his internal mapping software, Shadow set off to the West, taking into account that the poles on this planet should behave similarly to the magnetic field back home. Most life-supporting planets were fairly similar in their basic design and geography, although the vast majority of them sported life unlike anything found in the Sol system. To have such close evolutionary ties to Earth was nearly impossible, yet time and time again Shadow spotted life forms that would have been completely at home sitting outside the labs in the forests of Ohio.

Yet not everything seemed to be going as smoothly as Shadow had first anticipated. From the sudden lack of animal noise to the deep vibrations he could sense in the ground, there was something big, and most likely dangerous, in the area, meaning there could very well be a predator other than himself in these woods, looking for something to eat.

……Possible Threat Detected……Weapons Systems: Active……

Shadow’s shoulder plates shifted out of the way as twin plasma cannons sprouted from within his body, the ends glowing softly in bright blue light as he turned his attention to the rustling bushes on his left. Feeling like an aerial view might help him to navigate and to better determine what he was up against, Shadow opened another panel in the center of his back, allowing a hawk-sized mini-bot to slide into the open before spreading its thruster-dotted wings. The machine resembled a falcon about the same as he resembled a wolf, although the lack of a beak and the four bright red optics took away somewhat from that comparison. The silver, mechanical raptor took to the skies with a high-pitched whine as the thrusters on the trailing edge of its wings powered it into the air. In mere seconds it was circling Shadow overhead, its scanners and other sensory arrays picking up additional data that was then sent directly to Shadow’s processors through a wireless uplink. Good thing too, because it allowed the artificial hound to see exactly what it was that had been trying to sneak up on him, and the result wasn’t looking good.

Crouched in the bushes just beyond his own visual range, was a massive feline, although the tiny bat wings and long scorpion tail quickly derailed any comparison to Earthly big cats. The titanic creature had to be a good eight feet tall at the shoulder, its massive front paws sporting six-inch claws that glinted in the sunlight as its long fangs bared in anticipation of the kill. Shadow knew in an instant what he faced was a predator, although he hoped to avoid killing any native life unless absolutely necessary. After all, he was here to research the native life, not exterminate it, although self-defense overwrote his directive to preserve alien life on all accounts.

Perhaps a show of force would be enough to scare the creature off. After all, predators usually avoided more dangerous creatures unless they were absolutely desperate. Shadow set his legs further apart and raised his head in a challenging pose, opening his muzzle and turning his vocal components up to their highest setting. Ignoring the warning signals flashing over his visual feed, he powered down his audio receptors and then let out the loudest sound he could possibly create. It was something like a cross between a howl and a roar, and the shockwave from the sound erupting from his muzzle was enough to kick up dust and rustle the leaves of the plants in front of him, the deafening thunderclap of his cry scattering birds and other smaller creatures for miles around.

At first the large feline flinched, but then issued a roar of its own that paled in comparison to his own. Before he could do anything else, the creature pounded out of the brush, killing intent glowing in its amber eyes as it barreled down upon Shadow. The wolf charged up his cannons, feeling the electrostatic pulses of the superheated matter as it warped the air around him and created a near blinding lightshow. Too late, the monstrous cat tried to slow its advance, but was unable to move out of the way as twin spheres of energy shot from Shadow’s cannons, impacting the creature in the face and left shoulder as he lithely stepped to the side. The creature’s roar of agony was short lived, the mighty feline falling to the ground as the plasma melted through the animal’s fur and flesh, turning the brain and its other internal organs into a cooked soup of roasted flesh and boiling blood. The body fell to the ground and slid past the impassive Shadow, digging a shallow trench in the grass and dirt before coming to a stop just past the machine’s position.

All of that had happened in a matter of seconds, hours by comparison to the super processors of the mechanical hound’s computer banks. A quick scan revealed that the creature was well and truly dead, although after taking a hit like that Shadow wasn’t surprised. The statistical probability of a creature being able to stand up to tens of thousands of degrees would be nearly impossible on a planet such as this, unless other regions were far less habitable than the one he currently found himself within. Pausing to take a blood sample and a small amount of the creature’s venom for further study, Shadow left the corpse behind and continued on his way, not knowing that his mighty roar had attracted the attention of more than just the local fauna.

Twilight Sparkle was having a very bad day. First Applejack had to cancel their scheduled gettogether because Big Mac had hurt his legs again, leaving the apple farmer with nopony to help her harvest the apples for the day. Then Spike had come down with a cold, meaning she had to fireproof the entire library in case he started sneezing again, and to top it all off, her experiment concerning magical transfiguration was not producing any worthwhile results.

The purple unicorn groaned in frustration as she rubbed her head with a forehoof, “Could today possibly get any worse?”

As if the world had heard her plea and decided to be vindictive about how it answered, there was a sudden explosion of sound that emanated from the Everfree forest, causing Twilight’s ears to fold against her head as the unequine roar scattered birds and seemed to make the very ground shake beneath her hooves. Twilight’s ears were still ringing as she tried to clear her head, although her headache was quickly interrupted as a rainbow contrail appeared above her and announced the arrival of Ponyville’s resident speedster.

“What in Celestia’s name was that?!” Rainbow Dash yelled as she came to a halt in front of the dazed unicorn, her wings keeping her aloft as she glanced over her shoulder at the foreboding forest, “You don’t suppose it was a hydra, do you?”

Shaking her head to clear it completely, Twilight furrowed her brow in concentration, confusion setting in as she realized she had no idea what had caused that terrifying roar. “I honestly don’t know, Rainbow, but we better check it out. Who knows what kind of damage that thing could cause if it comes into town?”

She set off at a firm pace, the cyan pegasus following close behind as she glanced down at the determined mare, “So, we’re going to just head straight into the Everfree to find the creature that created a roar that would put a dragon to shame, all in the hopes we can drive it off before it comes after the rest of the town?”

Twilight glanced up at the other mare without breaking stride, “We’ve faced worse than some Everfree monster. I’m certain we can handle anything we come across, and if not,” her horn glowed for a second to emphasize her point, “I can teleport us out of there before we get hurt so we can contact Princess Celestia and the Royal Guard.” A slight bounce found its way into her step as she beamed in anticipation, “Oh, to think, we might be on the verge of discovering a new species. I could end up in the history books for discovering something nopony has ever seen before.”

Rainbow rolled her eyes as the unicorn lost herself in her own little fantasy world, “Whatever you say, egghead. Just try not to end up in the town obituary along with the history books. I really don’t want to be known as the mare who got eaten by some crazy Everfree thing because I was stupid enough to go along with your idea.”

Twilight either hadn’t heard the pegasus or chose to ignore her in favor of her own thoughts, her mouth running a mile a minute as she listed off equipment that they might need for the trip. Rainbow sighed as Twilight continued on her self-rant as she entered the Golden Oak library, leaving the hovering mare on the front porch as the sounds of frantic packing could be heard from inside. Rainbow rolled her eyes once more before rocketing off into the sky, intent on finding the rest of their friends so that if Twilight got them into trouble, again, they would at least be able to handle the threat as a group. Although, try as she might, she couldn’t get the echoing roar out of her mind, her eyes being drawn to the shadows of the Everfree even as she sped away from the foreboding forest in search of Applejack and the other Elements.

One thing was for sure, she had a feeling this was going to be an adventure nopony was ever going to forget.

Author's Note:

Well, here we go with another story, although it's not my usual fare. Anyways, hope you are all enjoying the book so far, and I look forward to hearing from you in the towel section below. But first, I have a few pictures to share with you, curtesy of the creator of the images that inspired this story, Andrew-Lim.

First up, we have a picture of Shadow, our favorite cybernetic wolf. Sorry about having to use a link, but the images are too high-res for me to post them directly on this site.

CW04, a.k.a. Shadow

Next up we have our little robo-falcon, who has yet to be given a name. Same thing with the link. Again, sorry guys, but if I could show you the pics directly I would, it's just that the resolution is too high for me to post them here.