Nano-machines-Equestria was swarming with nano-machines in one form or another, and acted as the point of interface between magic and ponies. When this was discovered, soon after the Great Shift, there were a lot of questions asked, and very few of them were answered. Eventually, everybody was able to create nano-machines of their own…but was never quite as good as the swarming hordes of invisible nano-machines around them. Only unicorns and alicorns were able to consciously access and control these nano-machines, while the other races used them instinctively. Even this level of control is highly restricted, with very few ponies being able to go beyond a few simple “tricks”. Trying to hack the nano-machines is very difficult to impossible, and Very Bad Things happen to ponies that try.
To this day, the nano-machine technology that makes magic possible seems to follow ponies (and everybody else) everywhere, or is there already. It is definitely a Precursor technology (the very existence of the nano-machines violates several laws of thermodynamics and at least one law of causality), and it is one of the biggest question marks about the existence of the Precursors. Research on them is very tricky-they have very effective self destruct mechanisms and are almost impossible to contain.
(And, this is even cannon!)
Covert Group-While the intelligence agencies of the various powers may count as this, who really remains covert are the organizations that handle magical mistakes, Precursor artifacts that should never see the light of day, and any other mistakes of technology that could eat unfortunate innocent brains. How it’s handled really depends upon the nation involved. The Ministry of Ghosts is the Equestrian answer to this problem, a whole ministry (and the only ministry run by three alicorns) that operates covertly to deal with these problems before they become noticeable.
The Griffin Moot has the Special Working Group, which operates inside of the Imperial Intelligence Service (more Declare than the Equestrian Laundry), agents operating in a manner that short-circuits most conventional operations. And, they have to justify this to the ultimate masters of the Service and the Group when it happens. For the Senate and Minotaur Republic, this is Unit 999 that does some very…uncomfortable things when dealing with such technologies. For a nation that has a vicious paranoia about mental manipulation and mind alteration (even when voluntary), that Unit 999 can do what it does-and has the authority to do so-is an extremely worrying thing. The only justification that they can point to is the scale of the threat they face.
For the Zebras…what little is known in the structure of their nation is the enigmatic group only known as “the Silent Ones”. And, even this is believed to be an operational handle, not what the group is truly called.
Precursors-Whomever created the five races, created Equestria, and then left them at least ten thousand years ago…were complete about cleaning up, to say the very least. What little is known about them is-
- They didn’t think small. The smallest known Precursor artifact is the so-called Silent Cube (a perfectly formed cube exactly 1.1 meters on each side that perfectly absorbs all energy except for visible light, which it perfectly reflects). The largest is the massive Splint, a huge disk surrounding a M-class star, fifteen kilometers thick and 10 AUs wide, spinning in a retrograde orbit around the star itself. The disk has a hole in it barely larger than the safe entry distance for heavy cruiser-weight starships coming out of Tunnel Drive.
- They make the artifacts that the five races can analyze out of computronium, and whatever is being processed inside the computronium is still going on.
- They liked base 10 mathematics.
- They considered Ragnarok Proofing to be the minimum standard. Active nanomachine repair systems have been found on some Precursor artifacts, some just can’t be damaged by any tools ponies have.
- They seemed to think that 10,000 years was a “short period of time”.
- Artifacts seem to come in two categories-working perfectly or gone horribly wrong. It’s the second that keeps the Ministry of Ghosts, the Special Working Group, Unit 999, and the Silent Ones busy. Especially the Ministry of Ghosts and the Special Working Group.
Hunting for working Precursor artifacts and securing them safely is something that all of the major powers do. Some are safe enough for anybody else to look at them-and some have to be stored away because they’re too dangerous.
Big Dumb Object-What everybody found out Equestria was when they dug deep enough to hit the computronium layer five kilometers down in 1018 ANM. When they hit this, Equestria and the Moon briefly became Big Dumb Moving Objects as the entire solar system changed over from an Aristoleian system where the Two Sisters raised and lowered the Sun and Moon, to a Keplerian system where everything orbited the Sun.
Needless to say, this shocked a great number of people, allowed Princess Celestia and Princess Luna to sleep in for the first time in nearly three thousand years, and was one of the greatest inspirations for space exploration. This meant that Equestria itself would be known as the first ever discovered Precursor artifact.
Other Big Dumb Objects have been found, all of them of Precursor manufacture. From the Silent Cube to the Rings, the one thing that seems to be common about Precursor artifacts-they don’t think small.