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Cognitum (Project Horizons)
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Cognitum is the name taken by a mysterious pre-war entity that dwells in the Hoofington Core, and is one of the primary antagonists of Project Horizons.

History Edit

During the War Edit

The entity that would become Cognitum began as a prototype, low cost Maneframe developed by Robronco; as Stable-Tec would not sell Crusader Maneframes to the government for the war effort, Horse developed a new design that was faster, yet noticeably less stable.

During a secret demonstration of the new Maneframe to members of the O.I.A., guests were invited to test the new mind transfer system (technology that would later be used in the development of the S.P.P.) which also allowed the user to take control of a Sweetie Belle robot linked to the system. As the night went on the system became more unstable as more minds were copied to it. In an apparent attempt to secretly steal a copy of O.I.A. Director Goldenblood's mind, Horse accidentally placed the transfer mesh on one of Goldenblood's assistants, Eclipse. The machine promptly malfunctioned and the demonstration was broken up after Psalm reprimanded Horse.

Unknown to all but Goldenblood and Psalm however, Eclipse was actually a cover persona of Princess Luna, disguised with a Glamor to observe operations in the O.I.A. first-hand. Despite the Maneframe's apparent burnout, it was repairable and the copy of Luna's mind had already been transferred to the Sweetie Belle Robot (Horse's personal "Sex bot"). With access to Luna's memories, Horse had sufficient insight into his ruler to manipulate her into distrusting Goldenblood and eventually transferring control of the O.I.A. to himself. He would continue to exploit the copy of Luna's mind for secrets and to "relieve frustrations" until the end of the war.

After the War Edit

When the bombs fell on the last day, Horse and Cognitum were still in the M.W.T. hub in the Hoofington core; due to the massive number of deaths, the Enervation around the Tokomare quickly grew to fatal levels and Horse was forced to throw himself into a prototype stasis pod as his hide began to rapidly liquidate. To his surprise, Cognitum had no plans to help him and left him in Stasis, along with the body of Echo. Now alone in the Core, Cognitum had physical access to the countless advanced systems lying dormant in Hoofington, however most of the major systems (such as many of the automated production factories in the tunnels) were locked by EC-1101, and many of the systems which could be accessed were receiving counter-requests, denying her access in all but 0.1% of most access attempts. Despite this, Cognitum began making plans for her eventual assent to power as the new Princess of the Night.

Not much is known about Cognitum's actions for the next two-hundred years, however it is apparent that access was established to most of the remaining power sub-stations around the Core, remote control of countless robots and computer systems around the Hoofington area was gained and limited control of the city's devastating defense systems was established.

Years before the opening of Stable 99, Cognitum rescued Dawn from the enervation of the Hoofington tunnels after the suicidal Pegasus fell into despair after a lifetime of trying (and failing) to improve life in the wasteland. Enticed by the prospect of a Wasteland forced free from war and strife, Dawn became a fanatical follower of Cognitum's.

Cognitum would eventually make contact with Sanguine, a Canterlot Ghoul who was once the head of the Secret O.I.A. operation, Project Chimera. The exact nature of their relationship is never stated, however it would appear that Sanguine was ignorant of Cognitum's true identity, and was somehow in debt to the entity. Cognitum made a deal with the Ghoul whereby he would track down the long-lost EC-1101, in exchange for the reactivation of Project Chimera for his own agenda. Sanguine enlisted the help of his fellow ex-project-head Silver Stripe (the head of Project Steelpony) who eventually tracked EC-1101's routing to Stable 99.

It is also notable that Cognitum acted as an information broker to some degree during her time of inactivity, particularly in the fields of data analysis as she was able to setup deals for individuals such as Bottlecap, albeit through proxies.

Present Day Edit

Sanguine failed to acquire EC-1101 for Cognitum after a Security mare from Stable 99 named Blackjack escaped with the program in her pipbuck after eluding his operative, Deus. Blackjack, needing to know the importance of EC-1101 to protect her stable, began collecting funds to have an associate of the Finders analyse and decrypt the massive file. Following Blackjack's use of Trottenheimer's Folly at Miramare however, Cognitum was able to detect the Megaspell level blast and became considerably more active, knowing the Project Starfall weapon could only be fired by pony with Ministry Mare level genetic clearance.

Following the eventual destruction of Deus in Flank, Cognitum finally met Blackjack once she had enough to pay the Finders for their services; meeting her by proxy while controlling an Applebot in a Stable-tec facility at an undisclosed location, Cognitum verified that the file was indeed the EC-1101 megaspell that could grant access to all of the Core's systems at once. Despite this, Cognitum was more curious about the security mare's skills, rapidly growing reputation, and her heritage. Cognitum manipulated Blackjack to stay in the wasteland and follow the EC-1101 routing list to find it's true heir, anticipating that the trials ahead of the security mare would make her more suitable for her future plans than Dawn.

During their journey through the Tunnels underneath Hoofington, the team was attacked by a mechanical abomination constructed from a factory floor that came to life after a terminal request for EC-1101. The construct demanded EC-1101 and was only defeated by Blackjack using Trottenheimer's Folly. It can be inferred that this may have been Cognitum attacking (either to obtain EC-1101 or to test Blackjack's skills) however this cannot be confirmed, especially with rumours of a second entity lurking in the Hoofington Core that makes similar demands for EC-1101. A similar encounter happened in the Flash industries building when a Hologram claiming to be Goldenblood began screaming for EC-1101 after Blackjack saw through the rouse with her knowledge of the O.I.A. gleaned from countless memory orbs.

Following Blackjack's apparent death aboard The Celestia, Cognitum delivered an ultimatum to Sanguine; recover EC-1101 or loose Project Chimera. Sanguine correctly assumed that Blackjack had survived however his efforts to recover her pipbuck - or flush her out of hiding - failed, leading him to defend the Project Chimera labs under Hippocratic Research with the help of his other business associates from Red Eye's army. It is during this time that the Harbingers first being public operations around the Hoofington area. When Blackjack, P-21 and Rampage arrived in the labs, Sanguine's forces were at risk of being overwhelmed by the constant robotic forces advancing from the tunnels. After Red Eye's forces abandoned Sanguine after confirming he was of no further use, Blackjack managed to slow the advance of the robotic forces by having The Dealer take over the facility's security systems using EC-1101. Despite this, the group were eventually overwhelmed and nearly killed by an Ultra-sentinel (which made similar demands for EC-1101), forcing their evacuation. Despite the destruction of the labs, Cognitum was able to recover the now Feral Sanguine to extract his memories, as well as a Blank clone of Blackjack he had created to provide replacement flesh for her Pink Cloud damaged hide.

Following the destruction of Project Chimera, Blackjack began running into the Harbingers and their seekers with alarming frequency, discovering that they had access to factory new weapons and armor that could only have come from the Core. During Blackjack's assault on Hightower prison, her life is saved when Cognitum uses the Core's defense systems to blast through the building, killing the deranged and hyper-mutated warden after he refused to surrender to O.I.A. authority.

Blackjack would eventually be contacted by Dawn after returning to Chapel, under the guise that the pegasus was looking for her estranged daughter Morning Glory. Some time later, after expressing her sincere desire to help the wasteland, Dawn lured Blackjack away to the nearby Blueblood manor where she revealed herself to be the prophet, the leader of the Harbingers. It is at this point that Blackjack finally learns of Cognitum's existence in the Core and much of her motivations; Dawn claims that Cognitum is a Goddess of Technology and requires EC-1101 to finally gain full control of the Core's systems so that it can be opened to all in the wasteland, using it's wealth or resources and automated fabrication systems to rebuild Equestria. Blackjack refuses to hand over EC-1101 however, as she realises that there is no simple solution to the wastelands problems and suspects that Cognitum or Dawn are not telling the whole truth; this is proven correct when it is reveled that the two would require mandatory implantation of "kill-implants" into all the wasteland's inhabitants, insuring peace and loyalty to Cognitum on threat of immediate death. Blackjack is rescued when her friends, the inhabitants of Chapel, the Crusaders and a joint Neighvarro-Thunderhead Enclave Task Group lead by Sky Striker attack the Harbingers, however Dawn reveals that Cognitum has made extensive Cybernetic modification to her (replacing most of her body under her hide) and critically wounds her ex-husband in the ensuing fight.

Following their defeat at Chapel, the Harbingers pulled back to regroup, during which time conflicting orders were given once Blackjack's presence was confirmed at the Society's headquarters at Elysium; Dawn made a further, desperate attack on Blackjack at the Roseluck Agrifarms building, though was defeated and spared.

Cognitum would finally make direct, undisguised contact with Blackjack in the Enclave city of Thunderhead; Dawn ambushed Blackjack at the Sky Striker estate, claiming that Cognitum had plans for the Cyber-unicorn that she was unworthy of, prompting Cognitum to broadcast (in the Royal Canterlot Voice) to both of them. Cognitum had allowed Dawn the opportunity to prove herself by defeating Blackjack and letting her evacuate Thunderhead with her children ahead of the attack by the Neighvarro Fleet. It is revealed that Dawn's continued failure and Blackjack's continued success has earned her the AI's respect, who claims they will "take [her] flesh one way or another".

During the battle between Thunderhead and Neighvarro, Enclave Intelligence lead by Lighthooves activate the Core's defense system and targets the Neighvarro Raptors. The sudden increase in energy output energizes the enervation rings below, causing the enervation scream to rise to levels dangerous enough to threaten Thunderhead, the fleet and Shadowbolt Tower. Blackjack, who is aboard one of the Neighvarro raptors being targeted makes a broadcast to Cognitum advising that both she and EC-1101 will be destroyed in moments if the power to the core cannot be cut. Cognitum replies by sending an authorisation request for EC-1101 to disable the Hoofington power grid and activate the Tokomare; knowing the dangers of the device, Blackjack refuses, reiterating that this is the last chance to save EC-1101. Cognitum responds by sending a second request to manually shutdown numerous substations, purposefully damaging the Core in order to save the Megaspell and Blackjack.

Following the destruction of Shadowbolt Tower, Blackjack disappears and strange things begin happening in the core over the next 3 months; All radio contact in the area becomes disrupted and,despite Littlepip's newly established control over the S.P.P. weather control is blocked in the Hoofington Valley which is experiencing intense electrical activity. The Core's repairs (handled by a vast swarms of Mechsprites) become more active, draping the towers in a web-like mesh of conduits. Despite the fears of many that Blackjack is dead, Cognitum and the Harbingers continue their search for EC-1101.

Blackjack, having survived the plummet into the Core with Boo, begins frequently using the perceptron recovered from Operative Lighthooves to view the actions of others wearing pipbucks while she slowly picks her way through the critically dangerous ruins; in one such session she views a confrontation between Steelrain and Dawn, while the cyberpegasus is undergoing further upgrades. It is discovered that many of the conflicting (and in some cases non-sensical) commands relayed to the Harbingers when hunting Blackjack have been fabrications on Dawn's part. She reveals that Cognitum is obsessed with Blackjack and contemplating granting the Cyberalicorn "a great honor" originally promised to Dawn; she has been attempting to murder Blackjack since Chapel in a desperate attempt to regain Cognitum's favor. As Dawn is preparing to kill Steelrain for prying the secret from her, Cognitum intervenes directly (although her form cannot be fully seen), incapacitating Dawn and saving Steelrain, at which point she discovers Blackjack is viewing events remotely and attempts to trace the signal.

During an attack on her position by Steel Rain and a Seeker squad, Blackjack learns that Rampage is conspiring with her enemy, though Cognitum herself has only limited power to keep the rouge robotic forces of the Core at bay; this, along with a number of visions Blackjack witnesses when using communications equipment, implies that there is another entity besides Cognitum influencing the Core, presumably coming from the Tokomare itself.

Finally meeting face-to-face, Cognitum, still using Horse's SweetieBot, happily welcomes the cyberunicorn, apologising for the failures of her 'servants', while showing delight at how Blackjack had passed all the 'tests' she had put her through. Remaining civil (while showing the captured forms of Sanguine, Horse and a now incapacitated Dawn), the AI invites Blackjack to speak. As Blackjack demands to know the truth about EC-1101 and Project Horizons, Cognitum treats with her by giving a sample of information before stating her price; she reveals her origins as the mind of Princess Luna, her true motivations for configuring the Equestrian government around the ministries and her intentions to take back Equestria by using EC-1101 to reactivate the Tokomare and the facilities around the Core to bring down the rouge and Raider elements of the Wasteland, restoring true civilization. In order to do this however, she require's Blackjack's body.

Cognitum then offered Blackjack a tempting choice; in exchange for her augmented body, she would provide Blackjack (with the help of the captured remains of a project Eternity necromancer) with a new organic body of her own, in the form of the Blank clone recovered from Project Chimera, allowing the Unicorn to join in the peace of the new, restored order.

Joined by Steel Rain and Rampage, Cognitum pleads for Blackjack to accept the deal; although tempted, and conflicted about the level of logic in her argument, Blackjack declines in light of the mental torment Cognitum exposed Princess Charm to, the continued secrecy about the true nature of Project Horizons and her own unwillingness to part with her unborn child. Before the Cyberpony can take further action however, Cognitum declares that she is willing to honor her deal to Echo, at which point the Dealer disables Blackjack's systems. With the mare paralyzed (though keept completely safe per Rampage's request), Cognitum assumes control of Blackjack's body while transferring the Unicorn's consciousness and Soul to the Blank.

Cognitum, now in control of EC-1101 immediately runs into trouble by encountering the Password placed on the file by Duct Tape. Correctly suspecting Blackjack has knowledge of the Password, and not having enough time to decrypt it by brute force due to the imminent deployment of Horizons, the increasingly frustrated AI takes Blackjack to the Tokomare and finally explains the implications of Project Horizons. Envisioned as an emergency clean-slate operation by Goldenblood, the project involves the remote firing of a colossal amount of Moonstone into the Tokomare, potentially causing an extinction level event. Despite the dangers, Cognitum wishes for Project Horizons to fire, though under controlled circumstances, as the Moonstone-Star Metal reaction can be used to create more Star Metal to help rebuild Equestria if done correctly.

Unable to convince the Unicorn in light of her desire to use Project Horizons and ignorance of the true nature of the Tokomare, Cognitum shows her true colors by forcing Blackjack's co-operation; taking control of the Core's defense systems she begins destroying many of the settlements Blackjack had aided in the past, including Floatsam, Riverside and an entire wing of the Collegiate. Finally breaking the Unicorn by threatening to wipe out Chapel, Cognitum takes the time to admire Blackjack's true talent; 'Victory' in the face of any odds. Using her Necromancer she strips Blackjack of her Cutie Mark, prompting the largely disabled Dawn to lash out and attack her Goddess.

Before the situation can escalate, the group is interrupted by Discord, now separated from Boo. Taunting the AI, he unleashes his final prank by pointing out that one of the millions of souls captured by the Tokomare through the Enervation rings is that of the real Princess Luna (as identified by Blackjack during an out of body experience after her time in Hightower prison), which he binds to Cognitum before disappearing one last time. Now seemingly more powerful, Cognitum reveals her true plan for conquest upon the arrival of the Legate; by creating a false-flag war with the Brood of Coyotl and the Zebra Remnants, "Blackjack" will assume command of the Harbingers, securing the Hoof with the help of EC-1101, and use this conquest as the basis for a full takeover of Equestria. Now with EC-1101 unlocked, she attempts to take control of Project Horizons, however Goldenblood had prepared for this eventuality, and a mind mapping of him locks her out of the Project.

Realizing that a launch of Project Horizons at this time would be fatal, she takes the now restored Echo and departs the Tokomare, intending to find Blackjack's friends and enlist them in securing the Luna Space Center (Rocket Town) to reach Nightmare Moon's ancient palace and manually overwrite the lockout.

Traits Edit

Personality Edit

Many of those who have learned of Cognitum's true nature consider her to be insane, being an AI composed of knowledge spanning multiple minds, however, even at her worst her decisions are guided by ration and reason towards a greater good. While she was willing to kill hundreds to break Blackjack's resolved, she did so to save the world from Project Horizons; While she was willing to stage a war between the Harbingers and the remnant to secure her rule, she did so to accelerate her expansion to civilize the Wasteland. While her methods are extreme, her singular focus is rebuilding Equestria free from strife, poverty and starvation, although her cruel streak sometimes interferes with those goals. She is rather Charismatic, easily able to instill doubt in her foes with simple words (although her ability to sway the masses with rhetoric alone has not been as successful, such as when she demanded submission from the various factions of Hoofington whilst posing as Blackjack). She also appears to have a particularly dark sense of humor and appears to enjoy poetic justice, as can be seen with her violation of Horse's body for his treatment of her during the war, and her violation of Princess Charm's mind for demanding Blackjack be raped by the Harbingers.

When dealing with subordinates she shows signs of being cunning, coldly logical and seemingly possessing a (rather justifiable) God Complex. On the other hand, while she has a low tolerance for failure from those she considers below her, she is particularly generous and respectful to those who earn her trust and gratitude, even willing to overlook past slights if the individual can be used at a later time. She is apparently a mare of her word who honors her debts, even those made by Princess Luna after her mind was captured, as is the case with Echo. She initially shows an extreme level of respect for Blackjack, going so far as to provide her a new body, keeping her safe from the Legate and Steel Rain and covertly keeping her friends safe after assuming her identity, despite the Unicorn's numerous attempts to stop her.

She has an obsession with advanced technology, wanting to control her world through robotics and cybernetics, so much so that she still finds Blackjack's heavily augmented body to be 'too organic'. She has also displayed a fondness for children, as Princess Luna was never able to have any; this has lead her to 'adopt' Blackjack's unborn foal(s), after taking over her body, intending to raise them as her own once her work is complete.

Appearance Edit

Cognitum's original form was a prototype Crusader Maneframe knock-off developer by Horse. As such Cogntium was originally housed in a large, if slightly unstably built, Maneframe with an umbilical of cables suspended above it. Part of the mind upload system was to allow users and programs to take control of nearby robotics, and as such Cognitum was uploaded to Horse's Sweetie Belle robot, effectively making her appearance a very close copy of Stable-tec Unicorn.

When Cognitum first took over Blackjack's old body, she appeared identical to the cyberunicorn after her 'Eclipse' upgrades from Shadowbolt Tower. After being bound to the real Princess Luna's soul however, her appearance began to change; she grew slightly taller, the armour plates on her hide becoming more angular, her metal hide lost Blackjack's laser-etched markings and her mane and tail began to billow. After exiting the core she repaired the side-mounted disintegration barrels that Blackjack had initially removed from her body, and her armour was upgraded with spikes. Unlike Blackjack, her spell aura is blood-red instead of white.

After reaching Rocket Town, her appearance was once again upgraded; the metal of her limbs has been smoothed to the point they appear almost natural, the remaining armour plates now ornate and spike tipped with a faint purple tinge. Most distinctly her red and black mane and tail are now ethereal and fire-like. She wears a crown made of silver, studded with rubies.

Abilities Edit

When confined to the Core, despite considerable interference from the wayward systems and Project Redoubt, Cognitum was capable of assuming control of large numbers of feral robots, power substations, and partial control the Core's devastating weapons systems.

Following her hostile takeover of Blackjack's body, she has become incredibly durable (far beyond Blackjack when she possessed the Eclipse armour) and has apparently made alterations to her body to improve upon it's low energy efficiency, allowing her to fly for longer periods of time and use her built-in disintegration weapons without running out of energy. Her magical power is exceptional, able to use powerful necromancy, telekinesis, magic bullet and hardened barrier spells with ease. She also appears to be a capable strategist, able to predict her enemies movements and strike where they are weakest; this is witnessed when she stopped the advance of Big Daddy, beat Rampage into submissions and appeared to be unfazed by the advance of a tank, instead contemplating how best to cripple it in a single strike.

Being mostly a machine in mind and body, she is exceptionally technically gifted and tends to put more trust in machines than organics.

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