• Published 15th Feb 2012
  • 9,451 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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The Interview

1 o'clock. Right on time, there was a knock at the door. The EBS crew seemed to have packed lightly, just Velvet Voice, two camera ponies, and one lighting pony. I quickly invited them in, they immediately set to work getting the Library ready. In under 10 minutes they were done, the two armchairs repositioned to be next to the fireplace. Velvet and I were handed mics, sat down in our respective seat, and the countdown began,

"We'll keep quiet for this one, Boss. Good luck."

And with that, Velvet gave his introduction,

"Good evening, Equestria, this is Velvet Voice at EBS with an exclusive interview with a new arrival to our world. He's the first of his kind to ever appear here, so please say hello to Mr. Ryan O'Connor."

I smiled at him pleasantly,

"It's a pleasure to be here, Velvet."

He wasted no time getting to the questions, "I hope it doesn't sound rude, but just so everypony knows, what exactly are you?"

I considered the question for a moment, "Well, that's a somewhat complicated question to answer, as it could be answered two ways."

He raised an eyebrow at that, "How so?"

"Well, I could be considered two entirely different organisms. I could be considered a human, scientific name homo sapiens sapiens, but in my current state I'm also a strain of virus."

He looked at me, intrigued, "Please do explain."

"Well, to explain that, you need to know some of my background. I come from a planet named Earth. Now, I'm not sure if my Earth is just a different planet in this universe, or in another universe entirely, but it's a long way from here. On Earth, humans are the dominant species, being the only sentient living things there. Now humans, we have no access to magic, we don't have wings to fly with, and we compensated for that through the development of technology, the two most rapidly developing fields being medicine and weapons. I have a doctorate in Genetic Virology, and while on Earth, I worked at a company named Medicine Evolved in their research division. After a couple of years there, I was brought onto a secret project which was, as I found out, the development of a biological superweapon, in the form of the virus that is now the makeup of my body, dubbed DX-1118 C. In layman's terms, what DX-1118 C does is repurpose the cells of anyone infected, causing the cells to start replicating using bits of DNA that aren't normally used. Now, in 99.99% of infections, the changes that the replication of these repurposed cells kills whoever's infected."

Velvet, along with every other crew member were staring at me, shocked, "And, is it contagious?"

I shook my head dismissively, "No, the only way that the virus can infect anyone is through direct and intentional infection by myself."

He stopped reaching for his collar nervously, regaining his composure, "Alright, please continue."

"So, anyway, for reasons that I still have not figured out, the virus interacted with my DNA in a way that it didn't kill me, instead giving me certain abilities."

"And what are these abilities?"

"I'm capable of consciously manipulating the viral biomass that makes up my body. In short, I can shape-shift. I was also granted extreme strength, speed, agility, endurance, and senses, as well as a healing factor."

"Would you mind demonstrating some of these abilities for us?"

I paused, considering the thought. Celestia had asked me to not show off my powers too much, but it looked like it was too late then, anyway, "Alright. You might want to censor this, though, the transformation isn't a very pleasant sight."

I held up one of my hands, shifting it to its clawed form. Velvet watched, seemingly both awed and disgusted, "My word..."

I shifted my hand back, altering my voice to match his, "It also makes me great at impressions."

He did a very slight double take, "But, how...?"

I tapped my throat, "Altering the voice box."

He looked at me, still shaking off the awe, "You are truly one fascinating specimen, Mr. O'Connor."

I grinned at him amicably, "Thank you, I take pride in it."

Finally regaining his composure, he sat back up straight, "So, now that we know a bit about the human race and Earth, what's life on it like?"

That was a tough one, "Well, it really depends where on Earth you are. There are places on Earth that are absolute utopias, shining beacons of civilization and prosperity. But, sadly, as you get further and further away from those places, things tend to get much nastier."

He nodded, "Well, how bad it could be?"

I looked at him, deadpan, "The virus I was infected with was created by Medicine Evolved for one of the countries on Earth that were, by and large, considered one of the 'good guys', Velvet."

I let the thought sink in for a moment, watching Velvet's expression change as he processed it, "It's really that bad?"

I shrugged, "No one ever accused humans of being unoriginal in our methods of killing each other."

There was a brief pause before he continued, "So, how exactly did you get here to Equestria?"

I shrugged, "The best I could tell you is that I died."

He blinked at me, "You died?"

I nodded slowly, "I'm now on my third life. My first was spent as my original, human self, that was ended when I tried to destroy DX-1118 C and was summarily gunned down by a private army that worked for Medicine Evolved. My last life was ended by the same group, as my body had then become very valuable to the company for research purposes. They sent artillery, vehicles, ground troops, everything you could think of, they threw at me, and that eventually brought me down. When I woke up after that death, I was lying out in the Everfree Forest."

Velvet looked at me, curious, "You mentioned your first life ended when you were 'gunned down'. What does that mean?"

I leaned back into the chair, remembering the feeling of rifle rounds tearing through my body, "Well, one of humanity's grandest achievements in weapons development is the gun. I'm going to be vague about the details, because that's one technology that should never see the light of day here. Basically it's a bunch of pieces of metal that fit together in a certain way that makes small pieces of metal put inside them go in a straight line really fast. With essentially the press of a button, you become the Grim Reaper."

"And are these guns common on Earth?"

"Well, if I remember correctly, the average of the top 25 countries comes out to 32 guns per 100 people. But my country, the United States of America, is the extreme outlier at 90 guns per 100 people, in a country with a population of 350 million."

He paused for a moment, doing the math, "That's 315 million guns. Do humans just have these instruments of death lying around?"

"Some of the less intelligent ones, yes. Granted, guns aren't inherently evil, they're just tools. Some people target shoot with them at ranges, like archery here. Others use them for hunting to pad their food stores."

"Hunting?"

I nodded, "Yes, hunting. Humans are omnivores, we eat both plants and meat. Though for some reason some people take excessive pride in not eating one or the other. Just one of those weird things people do to make themselves feel special, I suppose."

"Do you have any particular preference?"

I shook my head, "Not really, but I don't really need to eat anymore, anyway. I have enough biomass packed into my body to last me several centuries."

He cocked his head slightly, "How did you manage that?"

I thought back to Earth, how many soldiers and Infected I consumed. I shuddered a bit at the thought, "I'd rather not speak about that subject."

"Alright then. Well, now that you're here, how are you liking Equestria?"

I smile crept across my face and looked at him, "I have no complaints. I can't necessarily speak for the rest of Equestria, but as far as Ponyville goes, the residents are lovely, they came to accept me here within a week. I have a great job and am currently staying with a very kind friend of mine."

He nodded slightly, "And you're staying with Miss Twilight Sparkle, correct?"

I nodded, "That's right. She's sweet as can be, puts the advancement of science and the benefit of others above all else. A girl after my own heart."

He grinned wryly, "You're starting to make it sound like it might be more than a friendship going on between you two."

I snorted and rolled my eyes at him, "Come on, Velvet, I've been here less than 3 weeks, and you think I'm dating the mare that is the Element of Magic and Princess Celestia's student? I appreciate your confidence in my abilities, but let's not get ahead of ourselves."

He kept up that wry grin, "Well, I'm sure you're quite good-looking, by human standards, charming, and you're about as exotic as they come."

I cocked an eyebrow at him, "Are you asking me out, Velvet?"

He let out a brief chuckle, "No, no, I'm happily married."

I pointed to one of his hooves. It had a band of what looked like gold wrapped around it, "Is that why you're wearing that?"

He held up the hoof in question, "Well, yes, it's a wedding band. What do humans do?"

I held out my hand, wiggling my ring finger, "Well, we wear wedding rings, but we just put them on the designated ring finger."

"There's a designated finger for wearing wedding bands?"

"Yeah. Don't ask me why that finger was the chosen one, it just is."

He let out an amused chuckle, "I don't think I've learned this much in a single interview in my entire career."

I grinned at him, "Well, I'm glad I could be the one that could spread this information. And trust me, there are much worse candidates out there."

"Oh?"

I nodded quickly, "There are some dumb humans on Earth."

We went on like that for another half an hour before wrapping. I shook his hoof before he and his crew,

"I have to say, Velvet, I was a bit suspicious of you at first, but it's really been a pleasure meeting you."

He smiled at me, pleased, "And you, Mr. O'Connor."

I walked to the door with him, "Hey, if you're ever in town, let me know, drinks on me."

He chuckled slightly, "I might just take you up on that."

I gave him a quick wave as he went out, "Take it easy, Velvet."

He waved over his shoulder, "And you."

I closed the door and headed back to the fireplace, feeling high in spirits. Twilight came back downstairs a few minutes later and sat across from me, smiling sweetly,

"Enjoy the interview?"

I smiled at her and nodded, "Yeah, Voice was much better than I expected him to be."

She lit a fire, "So, why did you tell him we weren't together?"

I glanced at her, "Well, I mean, I said it right in the interview; likely the most physically powerful being in Equestria being with Celestia's Personal student and the Element of Magic? We just got rid of the paparazzi, that breaking would bring them back tenfold. I mean, you haven't even told the girls yet, Spike's the only other one that knows."

She pursed her lips, "Uhh, yeah, right..."

Oh no, "Twilight, who did you tell?"

She shuffled in her chair for a moment, "Uhh, Shining. He's coming to meet you tomorrow."

I sat there, processing the statement for a moment. Fail and Safe came to the same conclusion as I did,

"Crap."