• Published 15th Feb 2012
  • 9,449 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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An Invitation and Hot Coffee

I quickly made my way to the nearest cafe, trendy little place called Marebucks. I ordered my coffee and sat in silence outside, looking around at all the ponies in the cafe and all that were passing by it. I let my mind drift, just enjoying the warmth of the sun on my face and the taste of the coffee. This was interrupted by the arrival of a certain purple mare that I had been staying with, who was positively beaming at that moment. I flashed her a pleasant smile as she came over to my table,

"Morning, Twilight." There seemed to be a slight air of hesitation about her as she came over and sat across from me,

"Good morning, Ryan."

It was kind of strange, seeing her out of the Library, walking around town. I guess I hadn't really seen her outside of the Library up until that point, wasn't used to seeing her in any other setting yet. Despite her apparent hesitation, she still seemed very excited about something, "So, what's got you so chipper this morning?"

She reached into her saddlebag and pulled out two golden tickets, barely containing her excitement, "Princess Celestia invited the girls and I to the Grand Galloping Gala!"

I raised an eyebrow, impressed at the thought, "If I remember correctly, the Grand Galloping Gala is a very prestigious event, only those considered the most elite ever attend. Princess Celestia is even supposed to personally greet each guest at the door."

I nodded, thinking about it. Admittedly, it was probably just some overblown get-together for all the obnoxious upper-upper-class members of society where they all discuss the usual pointless gossip and brag about how much money they had, "Cool. Are you taking Spike with you or something?"

The brightness faded from her face, entirely overtaken by nervousness, "Well, actually, that's why I came to find you..." She cleared her throat and looked at me, "Do you think you would go with me to the Gala? Everypony gets a plus-one, and Spike didn't want to go."

I paused, considering the thought. I supposed I'd have to interact with the upper-class at one point or another, might as well get used to them while I'm here. I smiled slightly and nodded to her, "Sure, I'll go with you. When is it?"

She blushed slightly, and I heard a slight groan from Fail and Safe, "I-it's in 2 days, at Canterlot Castle. We would have to leave around 6 to get there in time."

A thought suddenly popped into my head, remembering a pair of trees on a hilltop I passed when I was racing with Luna, "Say, Twilight, about how far is Canterlot from here?"

She thought about it for a moment as the mischievous little gears started turning in my head, "About 30 kilometers, why?"

I cracked a slight grin, "And when does the Gala actually begin?"

"At 8 o'clock sharp. Why do you ask?"

The grin widened, "I might know a way that can get us there much quicker, and without having to deal with getting on or off at any train stations."

She looked at me, curious, "And what would that be?"

I shook my head, "Just meet me by the hill near the edge of town, the one with the two trees on it."

She gave me an odd look, but nodded slowly, "Okay..."

I gave her a bright smile, "Great. Listen, I've got a few things I need to take care of now. I'll see you later, alright?"

She nodded slightly, "Alright, see you soon, Ryan."

I got up, quickly paid for my coffee, and headed off in the direction of the hill in question.

That night, my final copy returned from his destination,

"The trajectory is clear and the velocity is good, sir."

I grinned, pleased with my little experiment. If Twilight and I were going to spend the night with a bunch of boring aristocrats and politicians, the trip may as well be fun. The copy reintegrated itself without a word, I absorbed all the constructs I had been working on, and started on my way home. On the trip back, I heard the sounds of a scuffle in a nearby alley. I peeked in and saw Ice Dancer, slightly crouched and looking defiant, in front of two bigger stallions looking at her in a less-than-friendly manner,

"Come on, Icee, we promise it won't hurt that bad. It'll only take 5 minutes."

I could practically feel her anger flare from where I was,

"Buck you!"

The stallion that spoke first grinned cruelly, "That's the idea."

"Are they fucking being for real?"

"It would appear so. We must intervene."

This girl barely looked like she was even of age, and these two pricks are going to do t͓̣͔̪͉̳̞͡h̝̗̭i̟͈̯͎̮̝̜͜s to her in a b̲͕̐͆̚ȁ̗̤̹̜́ͭ̒̀̇̎ċ̟̝̣̭̖̘k̲̻͚ͩͥ̐̐̄̉̇ ̮̼̣̳̜͂̔a̫̘͚̞͓͎̍l̫̻̜̗̘l͕͉̜̫͎̑ë̝̻͉ͪͭ͗́y̗̞̘̲̓͗͂̆̍?̰͎̱̼ͪ̈́ͩ͗ͦ͐ͅ And people call M̴̰͙̘̝͕̽̉̿͐́̕͘E̹͓͔̝͓̱͍ͧͥ̐ͧ̉͑͑ͨ͡ a f̹̠̟r̬͈̝͈ea̵̜̫̝̳̬k̶̹?̠̣͜ Damn them, these b͉̯̰͚͞a͎̣̗͍̞̮͍͠s͕͉͕̗̀t̜a̳̺r̭̙̖̹̦ͅd͏͓̯͖̪s̜̼̕ ̩̗͚̘͚ͅd̵̤̱ǫn̞̙̠͕͞'̵͇̝͖̯ͅt̪̼̺͜ ͞e҉̰͉͔̗̼v̷̱e҉̲̖̬͖̝n͖̤ ̫̮̙̖͘ͅd͈͇̝̻͎͠͡e̶̪͉̞̥̙̞̹̝s̙̕e̶̵̮̪͓̦̭̻̖ͅr͝͏͙̻͔v̧̧̬̳͕͔̼̘̙̪͍̀e̢̢҉͓͈͔̠̙ ̬̥̠̳̭̫̼̠͡t̥̼̙̫̠̲͇̲͟͟h̷̹̹̤͔̺̮͖̼e̬̦̦͇̬̕ ̴͙̮̕͟ͅa̶̞͎͙͢͝i̡̤͍͓̩̝ŕ̲͎̝̲̝̹̹͕ ̧̙̜t̳̱̮͓̺h̤̬̳̰̥̣͚̱e͈̟̥̬̭͎͇̟y̴̤̟̼͜ ̶̢̝̫͔͢b̰̹̙̟͚̕͜͟r̘̻͜e̜̞a̰̯̘̮̥t̫̺̳̥͝h̭̰͔͓͓e̶͚͍̲͉͓̼.̴̧̤͎̞̲̗̜ͅ.̨̪̲̗͕͕̦̮̪̭͝.͙

I was standing over them, each gasping for breath, it looked like they had minor sulfur burns on their faces. They were looking at me with a monstrous fear in their eyes, something I hadn't even seen back on Earth. I stepped away slowly, glancing over at Ice Dancer, who had the same fear in her eyes,

"Are you okay?"

I nearly jumped at the sound of my own voice, it sounded twisted and distorted, not even close to my own. That's when I saw myself, in the reflection of her eyes. It wasn't pretty.

I forced myself to calm down, slowly returning to normal. I knelt by the two stallions, grabbing each by the ear, "Boys, I want you to listen very carefully." I waited until they were both looking at me and listening before I continued, "This behavior will not continue. If I ever find out that either you two pulled anything like this again, I will personally ensure that you are transported to the very lowest levels of Tartarus. Understood?" They both nodded quickly, hyperventilating, "And you won't tell anyone about this, either. Got it?" They nodded again. I let go of them and stood back up, "Good. Now go home, treat those burns."

They ran off like the devil himself was at their heels. I turned to Ice Dancer, "Are you alright?"

She just stood there, staring at me, shaking like a leaf. I walked over to her, she shrunk away from me, her back already against a wall. She tried to make a cry for help, but only managed a terrified squeak. I put up a hand to stop her, "Be still, they won't hurt you."

She was hyperventilating, looking on the verge of going into shock. I simply knelt there, locking eyes with her, not blinking, maintaining a perfectly calm expression. After several minutes of this, she started to calm down again. Well, not so much calm as not going into cardiac arrest from fear. I moved back half a step, "Now, are you alright?"

She nodded shakily, "Y-yes. W-w-what w-was that?"

I pursed my lips, silently kicking myself for scaring her like this, "That was what happens when I lose my temper."

She slowly got back up, "W-why did you get so angry?"

My thoughts drifted back to home, thinking about some of the things I saw in life, all the rapes and murders and genocides reported on on Earth, grinding my teeth slightly at the thoughts, "Because behavior like that is absolutely unacceptable. Even if they didn't plan on actually do anything, acting like that is an embarrassment to common decency."

She stayed still for a moment, then suddenly threw her arms around me, hugging me tightly, "Thank you."

I put an arm around her, patting her back gently, "Think nothing of it."

She let go of me after a minute, her eyes looking a bit red, "Um, sir, would you mind walking home with me?"

I nodded slightly, and we began making our way back to her home without a word.

She stayed close to my side, she smelled faintly like those black ice air fresheners. Neither one of us uttered a word until we arrived at her home, a somewhat shabby-looking place. I looked at her when we got to her,

"Ice Dancer, let's just keep this between the two of us, okay?"

She nodded,

"Sure. I don't have any bruises, and I usually stay out late, so my parents shouldn't ask any questions."

A small smile appeared on her face. She got up on her hind legs and gave me a kiss on the cheek, "Thank you, Mr. O'Connor."

I nodded to her, returning the smile, "No problem. I'll see you around, Ice Dancer."

She nodded and headed inside. I started making my way home, a cock-eyed grin stuck to my face,

"Hmm, what do you think, Safe? I'm having a bit of trouble telling."

"I would say that odds are fair, but nothing definite. We'll have to wait and see."

I wasn't paying attention to what they were saying. I glanced at the clock when I got home, 11:41, a bit early to get to sleep, but I had a long day, so I immediately went to bed. I laid looking up at the ceiling for a while, wondering about my outburst earlier. Could I have just lost my temper? It couldn't have been Him, could it? No, He's more mindless than that. I shook off the thought and glanced up at Luna's moon. It'll be nice to see her again, assuming she's at the Gala.