• Published 15th Feb 2012
  • 9,450 Views, 235 Comments

A Better Place, A Better Time - Mental_Zero



A young shape-shifter finds himself in a very unfamiliar place, a long way from home.

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Ponies, Because Why Not?

Have you ever been shot in the head? Have to say, it's not a pleasant experience. Why'd I get shot in the head? Well, it started about 3 weeks beforehand. I was three years out of medical school with my doctorate in Genetic Virology. Good prospects, high-paying job, relationship, so on and so forth. Well, I had been working at this company called Medicine Evolved, but most call it MedEvo. Anyway, I had been at MedEvo for a year and a half as a junior lab assistant. I suppose I demonstrated something that the people in upper management liked, and was offered a transfer to a classified project in their labs out in Chicago. Knowing what I knew about MedEvo, a transfer to a classified project must have meant something big and very high-paying, so I accepted immediately. When I was told it was a military contract, I thought it was something to do with helping wounded soldiers in the field get patched up quicker, stronger antibiotics, et cetera. As it turned out, the reality was much more horrid. I was brought into the project because of my doctorate, as MedEvo was contracted to develop a biological super weapon, equivalent to the atomic bomb during the 40's in magnitude. It was an airborne and waterborne virus with 100% infectiousness and 100% lethality, meant to be sprayed in any third-world country that proved to be particularly troublesome to the great US of A. I, as seemingly the only person on the project who had a conscience, decided that the virus could not ever see the light of day. I worked my way into the project as deeply as I could, then destroyed all the research data and equipment and stole vials filled with the only synthesized versions of the virus. As you could guess, I was caught soon after in a bus station in Chicago. The soldiers they sent tried to get me to give back the vials, but I refused, so they shot me dead, and when I did, the vials shattered, unleashing the virus upon the city.

The first thing I remember after that was nearly getting eaten alive by one of the monstrosities I had helped create, a deformed, rabid excuse of what was once a human being. During the confrontation, I discovered that I had developed certain abilities, namely the ability to redistribute the biological matter in my body at will, which basically means I'd become a shape-shifter, along with being able to turn my body into a living weapon. I was soon contacted by the leader of MedEvo's private army, man named Colonel Walker. Seemed fitting, as we were dealing with the nearest real-world equivalent to a zombie apocalypse. We agreed upon a truce while we cleansed the city of the infection. I don't know why I didn't see his betrayal coming, but when it did, I just ran as far and fast as my legs would carry me, ending in New Orleans. There was a confrontation, specifically Walker ordering to unleash artillery upon the city in my general area. Then supersoldiers, then tanks, and regular infantry. I fought off plenty, but plenty more came, and I was eventually brought down. Walker seemed to have deemed this task important enough to finish himself, as he arrived personally to finish me off. As I laid there dying, staring down the barrel of his .44 revolver, I couldn't help but think of a song I used to listen to.

And when you wake up
Everything is gonna be fine
I guarantee that you wake in a better place
In a better time
So you're tired of living
Feel like you might give in
Well don't
It's not your time

There was a flash, a bang, and I was dead with a shit-eating grin on my face, knowing my last action was getting blood and brain matter on the Colonel's nice shoes.

But, as it turned out, death was not in my cards. Not permanent death, anyway.

I woke up in a forest clearing, it seemed to be the only place that let light in for quite a distance. I sat up, rubbing my forehead and looked around. No signs of animal life, just trees, grass and the occasional bush. The silence was unsettling, especially for a guy who had lived his whole life in cities. With a lack of any better ideas, I got up, oriented myself East, and started walking. It was maybe two hours before I broke out of the forest, nearly walking straight into a sign pointing down the road. I glanced at the faded lettering. Ponyville, 5km. Why did that sound familiar? Before I could think about it any further, a scream came from back inside of the forest. I whipped around in the direction of the scream,

"HELP!" It was the high-pitched, piercing wale of a girl in serious trouble. I didn't even hesitate before taking off in the direction of the scream at a dead sprint. It was a relatively short run, my path leading to another clearing, occupied by wolves...made of wood? Wait, what? Before I got a chance to think about the impossibility of wolves made out of freaking wood, they snapped their heads to face me, slowly starting to form a semicircle around me. I peeled back a large portion of the flesh from my hands, elongating the fingers and covering them in a coating of condensed keratin, harder than steel and twice as sharp, forming vicious claws. What appeared to be the alpha of the pack approached through the semicircle and crouched down maybe ten feet away, getting ready to pounce. I heard the slightest ripple in the air behind me and slashed at it, dividing the wolf that tried to jump me. I kept up the momentum, elongating the claws to hit two other wolves. The alpha dived at my back, only to come to the very shocking realization that the 6'1" homosapien that, for all intents and purposes, should have weighed maybe 180 pounds, but turned out to weigh more along the lines of 200 tons. In short, he bounced right off of me. I returned the favor he tried to do for me in short order, shredding him with my claws. With three of their members and their alpha dead, the remainder of the pack decided to retreat back into the forest.

I looked around the clearing, not finding the source of the scream. Had I been too late?

"Hello? The wolves are gone now, miss, it's safe to come out now. I heard muffled whispering off to my right, it seemed to be coming up from the trees, "Miss?" I heard a timid voice behind me,

"T-t-thank y-you, mister."

I turned around and saw...a pony. A four-foot-nothing, butter yellow pony with a pink mane and tail, with wings. I suddenly realized why the sign seemed familiar,"My Little Pony. I'm in the world of My Little Pony."

A show that I watched a few times when I was a teenager, that's where I ended up after I died? What the hell? I looked around the clearing quickly to make sure I wasn't under the influence of any hallucinogens, only to find five other ponies behind me. Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Rarity. I could feel my sanity start to groan under the strain of what was happening, and I looked at Applejack, "Could you please do me a quick favor and punch me in the face as hard as you can?"

She looked at me like I had just grown a second head, "Pardon?"

Groan, creak, snap, snap, snap, "Please just do it."

It didn't help her confused expression, but she obliged, putting me flat on my back. When I sat back up they were still there. I nodded contemplatively, "I've gone insane. I'm seeing pastel-colored, talking ponies, so I've gone insane."

Applejack looked at me a moment, "Y'all don't look too crazy to me, all things considered."

That sounded reassuring. Twilight spoke up, "Uhm, e-excuse me, but, who and what are you?"

I decided to go along with my insanity, "Human, scientific name Homo sapiens sapiens. My name is Ryan O'Connor."

She jumped slightly at the hardness in my voice, mostly just to choke down those high, silvery laughs that are the express route to rubber rooms and coats with really long sleeves. Twilight looked at my hands, now shifted back to normal, "What was that ability that you just demonstrated?"

I reverted to the claws again, "These? This is due to a virus that I came in contact to about a month ago. Normally it would've killed me, but instead it decided to give me a whole bag of tricks that most humans don't have."

Was I saying too much? Possibly. Did I really care? I've already gone off the deep end, hell no, I didn't care. Twilight turned to the others, "Girls, stay here with..."

She looked at me, "Him?"

I nodded, she turned back to them, "Stay with him, I'm going to contact Princess Celestia."

They nodded, some more uneasily than others, and she disappeared in a flash of light, presumably to...Canterlot, I think was the name of the place. I went and sat cross-legged at one corner of the clearing, fighting down those little silvery laughs. I got maybe a minute of peace before a certain brightly-colored pegasus flashed over, "Hey."

Rainbow Dash said. I opened my eyes slowly, finding her to be maybe a foot away from me. For some reason she smelled just like Big Red gum, "Hello."

She looked at me intently, "So, how'd you do that?"

I cocked an eyebrow at her, "Do what?"

She pointed at the shredded alpha, "Make a Timberwolf bigger than Big Mac just bounce off of you."

I shrugged, "I weigh more than I look."

A little spark of cockiness lit in her eyes, "I bet I could lift ya."

I shrugged and got up, holding my arms out, "Go ahead and try."

After a solid minute and a half of straining from her, Rainbow gave up. She landed on wobbly legs, looking at me, "How much do you weigh?"

She asked between gasps, "200 tons, more or less."

She steadied herself a bit, "I believe it." I sat back down and she returned to the group.

By time Twilight had returned with Princess Celestia, the remainder of the ponies with me had all asked me a different series of questions. Rarity asked about fashion, Applejack about farming, Pinkie about parties, yada yada yada. I got to my feet and looked at the elder half of Equestria's diarchy. I won't deny that it sounds odd, but she looked absolutely stunning, even by human standards. Long, lean, she looked strong yet graceful, wizened but still young. She looked like what Athena aspired to be. I guess that's one of the perks of being an ancient sun goddess. I bowed respectfully,

"Your highness." She was giving me a look that reminded me a pre-vet roommate I used to have whenever he saw a particularly mean-looking wolf,

"I understand you protected my student and her friends from a pack of Timberwolves." That was a voice that you do not forget, ever. She did not speak loudly or harshly, but I could still sense the enormity of her power in her voice. I nodded, "That is correct, your Highness."

She inclined her head to me, "Then I am in your debt, Mister O'Connor. I thank you."

The goddess of the sun is indebted to me. Uh, wow. The other five ponies came over to join Twilight and Celestia, Applejack noticed the look in Celestia's eyes, "If I might, Princess, he looks a might strange, but he doesn't seem like a bad feller. Not the friendliest of sorts, but not bad."

The look Celestia was giving me evaporated immediately, replaced by something a bit more apologetic, "Thank you for your input, Applejack. Forgive me, Mr. O'Connor, I am not used to my student being saved by a new species of sentient life form, let alone one that looks so different from most other species in Equestria."

I waved my hand dismissively, "Think nothing of it, your Highness, I've received much worse looks than that."

She gave me a kind smile, almost grandmotherly, "If you need anything while you are staying here, feel free to ask."

I considered the offer for a moment, "Well, you see, your Highness, I'm currently without housing, or money, or anything apart what I have on me."

She nodded slightly, "I see. I will see to it that you are provided with appropriate housing."

Twilight piped up, "He can stay with me and Spike in the Library. I'd like to study him more. If I may, Princess."

Celestia considered it a moment, "Very well, my student, he may stay with you until appropriate housing is provided."

She let out an excited little squeal, which I couldn't help but reply to with an amused snort. The term "adorkable" still very much applies, even after a decade of having not even thought about her or any other of the denizens of Equestria. Rarity decided to take the moment to speak up, "While we may welcome Mr. O'Connor with open hooves from his actions, I am not so sure if the residents of Ponyville will show the same hospitality to him."

I looked at Twilight, "Public meet and greet?"

She tapped her hoof on her chin a moment, "It might work, it might also cause a panic."

I shrugged, "So long as I don't immediately show off my powers, I don't think it will be too bad."

She nodded, "I'll talk to Mayor Mare about it. Do you think you can get into the library without being seen?"

I held up a finger, "One second." I backed up from the group and started shifting, feeling my spine shorten, my neck bending upwards, fur growing out of my body at a hugely increased rate. Overall not a very pleasant experience, but not too bad, and I ended up not looking too out of the ordinary. When I straightened back up, my equestrian companions were all looking at me with expressions falling between fascination and disgust,

"Like I said, a whole bag of tricks." Once their stomachs had all settled, we began the trip back to Ponyville.

Author's Note:

Yes, I know, I know, exposition for days. But I'd say it's a whole lot better than it used to be. Please leave any thoughts on the new style in the comments.