• Published 7th Nov 2013
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Ten Years Gone - Some Other Guy



A human-turned-dragon finds herself in Ponyville... After spending a decade as a globetrotting adventurer. The only problem is that Ponyville is the very last place she wants to be, for a fact as plain as her appearance.

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1. Inevitability

Ten Years Gone

Chapter 1: Inevitability

---

If I was to recount my life up to this point, where would I begin?

I could start with my life before everything changed, except that there's nothing worth mentioning about my old life. I was a middle-class kid growing up in New Jersey who had all the book smarts but none of the common sense. The most interesting thing about me was probably the number of bizarre accidents I would get myself into—and that might just be the very thing that brought me here.

I had just turned twenty when it happened; when I went to bed in my room and woke up not only in a place I had never seen before, but as a bipedal dragon of the opposite sex. It's easy to imagine the crisis of identity that would certainly follow this revelation, and to be honest, I hadn't handled it too well. It was only when the moon rose that night that I figured out where I was—the Mare In the Moon is unmistakable to anyone who knew the show well enough.

Except that this was a very general approximation, as I soon discovered that Equestria was halfway around the world from where I stood. I had to weigh my options, to question if it was really worth it to make that kind of journey in such a state as I was in; confused, penniless, with nothing but the clothes on my back. It took me a few months to scrounge together enough resources to make ends meet, but even then, what would I do if I chose to make the move? For one, I had shown up seven years before that fateful thousandth year where Luna would make her dramatic return, and even then, what was there for me to do?

Of the scant few fanfiction stories I'd read that typically involved a more favorable variation of my current situation at the time, most of those human characters ended their tales as residents of Ponyville, seemingly having no greater ambition than to sit there for the rest of their lives. I figured out that this wasn't what I wanted for myself. There was a whole new world beyond that small, not-so-peaceful town, and I just so happened to be standing in the thick of it.

My luck doubled when I met a small group at the local bar who were just starting out their career as globetrotters of sorts—travelers who explored both the civilized world and the untamed wild beyond. Their leader, a griffin who went by the name of Grizelda, offered me a chance to come along so long as I could pull my weight, and I couldn't help but jump at the call. The next few weeks were some of the roughest that I had ever gone through, but I never regretted having made my choice. It was then that I truly made the transition from a beleaguered college student into what I've now become.

Equestria itself may have had a quantity of strange and wonderful things, as far as whatever the show itself had covered, but the rest of this new world took the lion's share and ran with it. I traveled through nations comprising of species and cultures I never thought I'd see with my own eyes, explored lands far more alien and breathtaking than anything I had ever seen on Earth, and learned things that even the pioneers of my time still could only ever dream of. I took to the arts of swordplay and magic, listened to and read of countless tales chronicling the lives of gods and mortals alike, and made discoveries with my newfound friends that gave us a reputation in several nations that according to Grizelda—Grizzly, as I'd nicknamed her—was on par with that of Daring Do in her own homeland.

I had experienced more in ten years in this world than I would have in an entire century of my previous life, and I had to ask myself: Would things be the same had I moved to Equestria and stayed there? Fittingly enough, in the decade I had spent with Grizzly and the others, Equestria was never on our list of places to go. I was told that they had already been there shortly before I tagged along, and I never felt compelled to go there myself. I already knew what to expect, after all, and where was the fun in that? Of course, most fans of the show would have pointed to the novelty of meeting individuals such as the Mane 6, Celestia, and so on...

But the world beyond those borders proved to be far more compelling, with its allure of vast flying cities, colossal beasts reminiscent of the Ursa Major, landscapes that were said to have been carved into shape by gods...

In truth, once I grew used to living as an explorer, I was now afraid to go to that very place I had spent several sleepless nights wishing to wake up to a new life in. In a sense, what had once been my greatest symbol of escapism had now turned into a representation of the mundane that defined my old life, but not in the sense of settling down in one place. Rather, that of being forced to follow the same old routines that had left me feeling isolated from everything going on around me.

What summed it all up the best was the one nightmare I had where Twilight Sparkle figured out what I was and immediately teleported me back to Earth. That scenario in itself was both unlikely and stupid, however, and under any other circumstances, the worry I had would have been purely irrational. But for one very simple reason, I had good cause to want to steer clear; it only took one look in the mirror for me to see just how much I resembled the only civilized dragon in Equestria. I looked enough like Spike—sounded enough like him, for that matter—that it was guaranteed both he and the Mane 6 would assume I was some long-lost older sister of his, and all it took for Princess Celestia herself to get involved was for Twilight to tell him to take a letter, if he hadn't yet contrived to sending one on his own. The results would be instantaneous.

Long story short, I had no clue of knowing where things would end up at that point, and I had no intention of finding out.

For the first seven years, all of my worries were relegated to the back of my mind, as something to sometimes ponder when a quiet moment came rolling by. But for the last three, things began to happen which renewed our group's interest in the goings on of Equestria proper. It all started when the Mare In the Moon vanished, and news of Princess Luna's return spread like wildfire. More recent tales of Discord's short coup, the Changeling invasion during the royal wedding of Shining Armor and Cadance, and the return of the Crystal Empire only made things worse. Especially news of the Crystal Empire; when the others heard of how a young dragon had played a pivotal role in saving the city from King Sombra, I had to make a conscious effort to make my arguments look like a valid expression of disinterest. I couldn't afford to be questioned about it if I started acting passionate about not wanting to go.

But alas, the deal was sealed when word reached us of Twilight Sparkle's transformation into an alicorn and subsequent coronation. There was no talking them out of it this time.

---

"Why the long face, Kaz? Isn't today your birthday?"

The sound of Grizelda's scratchy voice pulled me out of my reverie, and I had to force myself to pull my gaze away from the landscape rolling by through the train's window. I let out a sigh, watching a few small tendrils of smoke floating upwards from my mouth. The reason for my bad mood was obvious; the train was taking us straight to the heart of the one place I wanted to stay away from. Before I could craft together some vague answer, another spoke up.

"You just said it yourself, Grizzly. The poor girl's just turned thirty, and you know as well as I do that we all wind up having those moments." The old minotaur's voice rumbled, deep enough to give the locomotive a run for its money. I chuckled to myself; of course Alcaeus would know the ins and outs of a midlife crisis, given he was twice my age when we first met. At the sound of my own laughter, he too grinned. "See? Nothing a little humor can't fix."

"I wouldn't say all of us..." muttered the only unicorn in our gathering, and the rest of us snorted at him. It was left unsaid how the albino-tailed colt had five years to go before he was in my position, and probably for the better, with all the challenging glares he started shooting our way. "Why are you all acting like thirty's an old age, anyway?" Whitetail demanded, turning to Alcaeus. "What about you, Mister Fifty-Two? Have fun tossing a dozen patrons across the room during that bar brawl last week?"

"Yeah, and enjoyed being sore all over when I woke up the next day," came the gravelly retort. The conversation between the three of them wore on, and I crossed my legs at the ankles and folded my gloved hands into my lap. Out of boredom, I studied my current attire, smirking to myself at the sight of the bizarre mix between mage's robes, the jeans that were all that I had left over from my old life, and the ornate sword that was buckled to my belt. Odd? Definitely, but it was a perfect representation of how I came to see myself these days.

"...And hey, you'll cheer up once we take the next train to Canterlot. The view from that city is one-of-a-kind!" Grizzly reassured me, or tried to, anyway. I just gave a nod and a smile in return, even as a small part of me was crying out in frustration. "It's a shame we wound up missing the coronation, though. That would've been a sight to see." The griffin tittered in her disappointment, and the others chimed in with their own agreements.

"Probably for the best, though. Did you guys hear about that recent incident involving the Everfree Forest?" Whitetail asked. I couldn't help but to raise my eyebrows, and as we all shared disconcerted frowns between us, I was back to pondering a part of my old life once again. That incident had been the two-parter that opened the show's fourth season, and the last two episodes I ever saw before I was snatched away to become a part of the world that it depicted.

Hear about it? More like saw it playing out as if I was right there when it had happened.

It was at this moment that we felt the train begin to jolt as it slowed down, and realized that our first pit stop was mere moments away. I could already make out some of the buildings as we came around another hill, and wasted no time in standing up and stretching my limbs.

"I don't know about the rest of you, but I'll let my stomach speak for me on this one," I announced. Right on cue, I felt—as well as heard—a loud rumble coming from my gut, eliciting bemused stares from my friends and a few nearby passengers. "On the off chance that you didn't understand that message—"

"Yes, I get it, Kaz. We're all hungry." Grizzly deadpanned, her mood turning sour. "Thanks for reminding me that Equestrian ponies never have any of my favorite kinds of food in stock."

"Well, hey. Coming here was your idea, and since you always warn us before every trip to pack our own food... Guess you should start following your own advice, am I right?" I gave my best insufferable grin as she bristled at my tease, huffing as she tried and failed to come up with a proper comeback. It all became moot anyway when we felt the train come to a complete halt—by then, as we all filed through the exit with the other passengers, the only thing on our minds was making up for the breakfast that got skipped this morning.

The first thing to greet me as I stepped outside was a warm summer breeze, accompanied by the sight of a town that hearkened back to my early childhood daydreams of the colonial era. The next was the sheer amount of brightly-colored ponies going about their day; either my memory of the show had faded, or it was easier to ignore the fact that their coat colors alone gave the place a bit of a festival atmosphere when it was all coming from a computer screen. For a moment, my anxiety was alleviated as I became swamped with nostalgia. Perhaps I'd forgotten that coming back to something familiar wasn't entirely a bad thing. All of which got shattered when Alcaeus snorted at some thought of his own.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I give you... a town with a name I can't even remember," he deadpanned, clearly unimpressed with his surroundings. "We're leaving first thing tomorrow, right?"

"We can discuss that when I stop mistaking Kaz's stomach for an Ursa Major." And there was the comeback, late as it was. "Let's just split up and find a place that cooks decent meals. It shouldn't be too hard to find each other afterwards," Grizzly added, and we stepped off the platform and went in separate directions. Such was our first order of business every time we came to a city we hadn't been to before; scout out restaurants, food courts and the like, and then figure out between ourselves whichever struck our fancy at the moment.

I didn't have much of a hard time finding anything, as I soon found myself walking down a street packed with all sorts of stalls. It was just like any other open air market, but once again, all the ponies going about made me feel like I was walking through some sort of festival. And for whatever strange reason, as I watched them passing by, I felt as though I should've recognized some of them. I knew for sure that I was getting a lot more staring from the passerby here than anywhere else I've been. No hostility, just curiosity, and sometimes mild surprise.

"Hey, are you—?"

"Sorry buddy, but spinach makes me gag," I cut in, interrupting the stall owner who spoke up. It became a bit of a trend as I went from stall to stall, where some of them would open their mouth to speak and I would tell most of them I'd probably be back soon with my friends. I didn't stick around long, and I felt a little relieved when I finally stepped out another street and away from the crowd. I was starting to get uncomfortable with all of the looks they were giving me.

I had to wonder, what was the name of the town I was in? As if in answer, the street opened up to a space that was occupied by a large, hollowed-out tree, with a sign at its door marking it as a library. I felt like I should've recognized that as well, but with everything that had gone down in the past decade of my life, I'd forgotten a lot of the smaller details from the first twenty years. So it was against my better judgment that I stepped up to the door and opened it.

I felt my gut bottom out when I saw what was inside.

"Welcome to the library! I'll be right with... you..." Standing by the shelves and staring at me like deer in the headlights were the last two individuals I had ever hoped to meet. Who else but Twilight Sparkle in all of her alicorn glory, and her number one assistant, Spike? The book she had been holding with her magic fell to the floor, and a quill slipped out of the little dragon's claws. For a long and painfully quiet moment, the three of us continued to stare at each other like we were ticking time bombs, when Spike opened his mouth and stumbled over his words. I squeaked, cleared my throat, and nodded as I regained control of my own voice.

"Sorry, got the wrong day. Lemon gave me houses. Have a nice life," I babbled, and as calmly as I could, I eased the door shut... After which I took off sprinting like the one time I had blundered into a nest of hydras. I was halfway down the road when I heard the door fly open and the two of them calling out to me, at which I decided to pull a Ferris Bueller and take a shortcut through other ponies' back yards. I could hear a few of them yelling at me through their windows as I jumped multiple picket fences and ran through a few twisting alleyways. By the time I got back to the street, I had no idea where I was, and that was good enough for me.

"Hey, Kaz!" I jumped in shock, until I realized that it was only Whitetail that had called for me. "I just found us this amazing little bakery not too far from here. You've seriously got to check this place out!" He motioned for me to follow him, and by instinct I complied, scanning my surroundings as we went.

"Indoors, right?" I asked, and the unicorn looked at me like I'd lost my marbles.

"It'd be odd if it wasn't..." I nodded and inwardly gave a sigh of relief. They wouldn't find me so easily if I was indoors, or so I reasoned. As we moved back onto the busier streets, I grew more wary, and couldn't help but to look at the surrounding building with new eyes. Whitetail shook his head at my displays of anxiety, muttering something about giving me a sugar crash.

Of all the towns we had to stop in, it just had to be bloody Ponyville. Well, it was nothing that couldn't be solved, if it was done fast enough. The sooner we left of the country, the better.

"Alright, here's the place. So what do you think?" All I could think in my current state was that I'd lost my appetite, and the fact I was being led to a giant gingerbread house lookalike wasn't helping. If I wasn't being nudged forward, I'd have stopped in my tracks, because I was getting yet another sense of familiarity. But once again, I was too shaken up to come to a decision, and it was together that we walked into that dubious sanctuary. "See, Pinkie? I told you I was just leaving to bring in a friend of mine!"

Pinkie... Pinkie... Oh dear God, PINKIE.

Sure enough, the mare running the cash register let out a massive gasp, and I resigned myself to the fact that I was now face-to-face with the only thing worse than who I had just fled from: the Blue-Eyes Pink Menace herself.

Author's Note:

I got Writers Block with my other work, so I got mad and decided to slap this thing together in the span of 24 hours. Enjoy this product of sheer frustration from yours truly. And remember: Only YOU can prevent nuclear waffles.