Two centuries prior to the events of the story, artifacts from a precursor race dubbed "anthroids" were discovered in the caverns and tunnels of the diamond dogs, artifacts that forever altered the course of Equestrian history. Using the secrets held within these artifacts, ponykind and its kindred races experienced a radical technological and societal revolution.
Villages, fiefdoms, and castles gave way to sprawling cityscapes populated by millions of individuals. An era of enlightenment was achieved, and the study of magic and religion was cast aside in favor of scientific method and technological progress, the latter of which accelerated exponentially with each passing year. Once regarded as "the Immortal Solar Monarch," Princess Celestia is regulated to a more grounded position as an executive within the Equestrian government. The establishment of a vast, global, digital network known as "the Expanse" and its social media aspect known as "the Grapevine" have forever revolutionized trade, innovation, communication, andunfortunatelythe potential for abuse and cyber-crime as well; law enforcement, as a result, is less than able to deal with the inevitable fall-out.
However, as the saying goes, "the more things change, the more they stay the same."
Bored from tedium and craving a change of pace, Twilight Sparkle — Celestia's star apprentice — elects to take a break from her studies and inject herself into an ongoing murder investigation in Canterlot led by her brother, Shining Armor. However, the deeper she goes into trying to solve the case, the more it becomes apparent that there is more going on than meets the eye.
The story consists of several "episodes" that focus around one or two members of this world's version of the Mane Six, each detailing their roles in the cyberpunk version of Equestria while revealing more about the world itself. In the end, all six ponies' stories converge in the final arc of the story, "Nox Aeterna."
This Fanfic contains examples of:
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Project Huehuecoyotl has a rather... chaotic personality. It was designed as a weapon, meant to infiltrate hostile systems and permanently disable them. It deletes crucial system files and overloads the machine with junk data and customized malware. It also has the tendency to invade an individual's NOI and fundamentally alter their perceptions of reality, usually for the worst, on top of acting as a lethal neurovirus. Interfacing with it while in safe mode does nothing. And the scary thing is that the version Pinkie and her team encountered was just a prototype. Once it's been perfected, it will be able to evolve to bypass any security system. While Rarity's programmers have told her that they have hard-coded unchangeable parameters into it to ensure it doesn't get out of control, Pinkie remains skeptical.
- And I Must Scream: The true fate of Princess Luna/Nightmare Moon/The Nightmare. While the public believes she was simply killed at the end of the Equestrian Civil War, in reality Celestia exiled her to a controlled military black-site stationed on the moon, where she was bombarded with insane levels of radiation for over two thousand years to keep her powers in check, resulting in her developing excessive radiation poisoning. She's so malnourished that the shuttle crew that finds her can see the curves of her ribcage, and her eyes are sunken into her skull. She gets better, but still.
- Artificial Human: Well, "Artificial Pony" is probably a better term for it, but the idea is still the same. Rainbow Dash (and several of her comrades, it's implied) is one of these, a vat-grown test-tube Super Soldier employed by the Equestrian military. She's impled to be something of a mutant though, her multi-hued hair noted as a genetic defect after a fashion.
- BrainComputer Interface: A cybernetic implant called a "neuro-optical interface" — or "NOI" for short — enables the user to connect wirelessly with "the Expanse," as well as any other wireless or other electronic device, provided said device is outfitted with a compatible cable, interface port, or both.
- Cloning Body Parts: Mentioned several times over the course of the story. Rarity offers to clone Pinkie a new liver as part of her offer to become Carousel Industries new datarat, and it's suggested that this is her excuse for continuing her smoking habits, as she can just clone herself a new set of lungs on the off-chance she develops cancer.
- Cyberpunk with a Chance of Rain: Occurs in Canterlot in part one of "Brain Cancer District,"' presumably due to a glitch in the SkySystems weather net andquote Twilight"fucking unreliable pegasus engineers."
- Cyborg: Broadly speaking, everyone in the story is a cyborg, due to the fact that NOI implants have become commonplace. However, there are many other cyborgs in the traditional sense as well.
- Twilight had her horn augmented with a mithril magic amplifier when she was younger — a prerequisite for her continued tutelage under Celestia — that enhances her mystical abilities.
- Applejack's hind legs and much of her spinal column are completely cybernetic ("labor-class" modifications Flim and Flam insisted she get after they saved the Apple Family Farm from bankruptcy).
- Rainbow Dash received several state-of-the-art, bleeding edge cybernetic augmentations after being wounded in action, including tri-fold chrome wings with anti-grav thrusters, a smart-eye made by Carousel Industries — equipped with multiple vision modes, a zoom function, and the ability to interface with optical-link weapons — bionic legs, an adamantium nanomesh coating over her entire skeleton, and a brand-new enhancement type called "neurachem" to enhance her nervous response and cognition process (i.e. enhanced reaction time).
- However, the most heavily augmented pony mentioned in the story is without a doubt Big McIntosh, who had both of his legs replaced and his entire body modified with a clockwork chassis, making him practically more machine than stallion.
- Electronic Telepathy: Made possible through the use of a NOI implant. In fact, once they were introduced do the general public, physical typing quickly became obsolete. Upgrading to a NOI meant one needn't lug around computers or keyboards, as a user is able to enter words into the Grapevine just by thinking them. This in turn eliminated spelling errors and shortcuts almost completely. However, some fringe groups maintained keyboards were more responsive than the NOI in some contexts, that and they were less expensive than the interface and didn't require a cranial operation to install. Pinkie Pie is in one of those groups, a "keyboard purist" if you will.
- Evil Luddite: Princess Luna/Nightmare Moon. She was opposed to the technological advancement brought about following the discovery of the anthroid artifacts from the get-go, believing it to be unnatural and result in "pride and unjust entitlement". As such, she and her "Children of the Night" wish to return Equestria to it's medieval hey-day, no matter the consequences.
- Fantastic Drug: Nepenthe is this, especially given the steps that the user has to take to ensure a proper high. First snort powdered mandragora, then eat a Stygian sixty-leg caterpillar, and finally inject yourself with constricting nightshade extract. All these combined have a mind-altering effect, warping the user's senses and apparently inducing a killer high.
- Fantastic Racism: Implied to be the case with the Thestrals — the bat-like Equestrians. Because their ancestors followed Luna after she became Nightmare Moon, they've been treated as second-class citizens and looked down on by much of society.
- Functional Addict: Pinkie Pie is one of these, proclaiming to "do [her] best work when [she's] altered." She's not just blowing smoke either, as she was able to completely disable Carousel Industries' power-grid while hopped up on some nepenthe Zecora had brewed her several hours prior. Apparently the drug is strong enough to take down a bull, but:Pinkie (grinning): I'm not a bull.
- Hackette: Pinkie Pie is one, and a damn good one as well.
- Internet Troll: Pinkie — unsurprisingly — is one of these when on Grapevine through her Eu4ia alias, notorious for periodically flooding the message boards with indecipherable posts written in l33tspeak for the sake of "livening things up." There was once even a petition (drafted by Commander_Giblet/Rainbow Dash as a joke) to either get her a NOI or be banned from the forums forever. By the time the thread was deleted by the admins, the petition had around five hundred signatures.
- Online Alias: Everyone has one that's displayed when they're chatting through Grapevine. Twilight goes by "Star_Struck", Pinkie's alias is "Eu4ia", Rainbow Dash is "Commander_Giblet", Rarity goes by "Girls-Best-Friend", Shining Armor is simply "Aegis", and Celestia is known as "TheSunAlsoRises".
- Unusual User Interface: By this world's standards, the fact that Pinkie still uses a keyboard when everypony else has upgraded to NOI is this. However, the fact that she requires special implants with bionic digits called "pianist fingers" simply to operate it also counts.