• Member Since 22nd Dec, 2013
  • offline last seen Oct 2nd, 2018


Amateur, hobby writer. Typically don't publish, with a few exceptions.



What separates us is much more than just simple cultural differences and clothes ...”

A modern human soldier falls into Equestria. After some consideration, Princess Celestia determines that Twilight Sparkle is ready to serve as his guide into their world. And as for her insights into his world? Is he a lens, or a mirror?

A story of trust and differences.

Rather than being a story of good and evil, or dramatic conflicts, the tale revolves largely around the dialogue of the human character with the many ponies; an initial cultural exchange between two parties who have not prepared for it. The intention and exploration in it is earnest: what separates them? Or what doesn't?

What Separates was originally written over the course of a few months in 2012. It was published on another fan fiction website at the time. After FimFiction grew prominent, it has been moved here.

Chapters (17)
Comments ( 88 )

So far this story was amazing. I thank you for writing this and cannot wait for the next part.

Originally read this story from a link from a TV Tropes page quite a while ago. Thank you for posting it here. Great story.


I remember reading this story previously. Fanfiction?

Yes, originally posted there at the time it was written. Since I'm working on the sequel story, I followed (several people's) recommendations to upload this story here, since this is a more dedicated site for this kind of thing.

I remember reading this on FF. I loved it then, love it now. Can't wait to see what you have next, Zurock.

Just found this randomly. Seems interesting but, umm, has Celestia even gotten within 20 feet of the Everfree Forest? I think armor IS necessary in Equestria, especially if she plans on sending him anywhere nearby like Ponyville. Timberwolf problem? Armor helps. That's just me undermining her point and being annoying. Time to actually pay attention to the meat of the fic.

The philosopher in me wonders how Twilight would handle the trolley problem which is used to demonstrate the lesser of evils ideology and the problem of trying to use an act and omission as a differentiation of guilt.

I'm enthralled by your story telling and hope to be able to read the second part soon:pinkiehappy:

Awk, this is brilliant. Finding a work around to his diet, then explaining about the differences and such. It's definitely something most people seem to skim over, actually going through it is something I've not seen that much of. Good job with this by the way.

Hmm, it seems like everything is about the differences between are world and theirs. This is a sought of realistic take on how one would go about living in their world, especially after being in a War. Anyway, Rarity's reaction was hilarious. Rainbow Dash's was sought of expected, so were the people of PonyVille's. All in all, very good. The whole trust conversation, was one of those wee lessons of the differences between our world and theirs.

Bah ha ha ha, that was a brilliant introduction to Pinkie Pie and Mr. and Mrs. Cake. AppleJack's introduction went well also, but not as fun as Pinkie Pie's. Bah, it was something. She's quite braggy about her Apples, but if she's honest that must mean it's true.

Another introduction, not the way I would have thought it would have gone down. I thought Fluttershy would have been more scared... Oh well. So more we see that he wants to help look after the Animals he seems set on helping, because he seems to think it's his fault or at least he should take the blame. Interesting. Another argument on the differences of our worlds, brilliant stuff. Not the argument itself, but the fact that that's just another difference that everyone seems to forget about in these situations.

Awk, the big man gets some new clothes. N-Not saying t-that Celestia's table cloth wasn't good or anything... I-I mean it was absolutely marvellous... Bah ha ha ha, just kidding. Anyway, brilliant chapter, besides getting new clothes he gets to help Fluttershy on her wee save the Wildlife adventure. Exciting stuff.

Bah ha ha ha, being bossed about by Ponies. Rainbow Dash is very suspicious of him though, but that's to be expected from her. Sought of. The interactions between Rarity and Pinkie Pie are quite funny, then them being paired up, that was even funnier. James definitely got a stern talking to from Twilight, at least she cares.

Bah ha ha ha, so much for that, Twilight. Poor Spike and James... That's not going to be a fun round up for them.

Poor AppleJack... Bah ha ha ha, what a bad job she's got. It's good to see James acting as a lovely father figure to wee Rocky. I wonder if he'll adopt him, it's good to see that at least Spike seems to like him. Some familiarity is what he definitely needs in a strange new world and Rainbow Dash has unintentionally helped. Brilliant chapter.

Hm, here I thought that Rainbow Dash was the Element of Loyalty. Well, she's just going the wrong way about that Loyalty. AppleJack has a point though, there was really no need for the ditching. Ah well, at least Rocky is reunited with his family. If only James were so lucky...

Hmm, James learned quite a lot about the Ponies in this chapter. He also looked a couple of lessons from Fluttershy about optimism. Brilliant stuff, let's hope they start to trust him more soon.

Aye, he's definitely learning new life lessons in his situation. He's also teaching them a thing or two, even if he's not trying to. It's brilliant, an amazing and realistic take on the whole changing worlds thing.

It's amazing what kind of conversations you can have with someone from another universe, the different ideologies and such. Brilliant chapter, I'm surprised Twilight is so accepting to his ways of thinking.

Holy crap I remember reading this story on fanfiction.net I was hoping it would be posted here!!!!


Not bad so far, but I'm getting a real "humans are bastards" kind of vibe here. I don't think there was any real reason for Celestia to take James's armor away from him. Any weapons he had, I could see, but I don't see how a layer of protective clothing would pose a threat to anyone. This kind of makes me afraid that this is one of those HiE fics where the human is completely stripped of their personality and almost made to regret not being born a pony.

Also, I know that Twilight and James don't know much about each other's worlds yet, but there is a lot more to the topic of war/violence than "humans r violint lol", and I hope they realize this in the future. Twilight was on to something with the her theory that their lack of magic was related, but she seemed to almost dismiss the thought as soon as it came.

When you think about it, ponies have everything they want, really. They have magic and alchemy to almost completely replace medicine. They don't seem to have much trouble obtaining whatever resources they need, and seem to have almost no use for fossil fuels. Meat isn't a major part of their diet (yes, I know there are ways around this one, but meat is, has been, and probably always will be the preferred route), and none of their sustenance comes from harming other sentient beings (which would obviously create a mindset of disapproval of anything that does). To top it off, they can control the weather to prevent unfavorable climates, not to mention the very sun and moon are pony-controlled.

Now in the show, ponies will always oppose anything that goes against any of these factors. (Changelings and the Everfree forest, for example)

We as a species are forced to live in a world that we have virtually no control over. Millions die of diseases and starvation and bad weather conditions every day, and resources that we need (such as money, oil, and energy) are often scarce. Couple that with our instincts to obtain what we need/want through varying forms of aggression, and how is violence and even war not inevitable at some point?

I am not saying that all violence is unavoidable. A lot of it can be blamed on misguidance, or maybe mental illness or trauma.

Sorry to rant, and the story isn't bad, but I'm always quick to jump to the defense of humans, even if we are all incredibly stupid.

4080302 "Sorry to rant"

No need to apologize! This are the kinds of comments I love. Just people putting out their personal feelings and what they think about things in a way that isn't pointless flaming. The "I agree; I disagree; I think this because; I think that because." It's all great.

Understand that I write solely for myself. So, putting it online and comments and all that... that's all bonus. I've been doing some blog posts talking about my attitude towards writing using What Separates particularly as an example (if you haven't finished the story, don't read the blog posts) and I talk about some of this very idea. This story isn't much more than me having a dialogue with myself about some social topics but disguising it up as a MLP: FiM story. I love the kinds of comments like you've written because I understand I'm one person of many. Somebody else can look at this, can look at my self-dialogue, and all these things that are a part of them can react in ways I'll never be able to truly know or predict because I am not them. Another great example is your mention of how you feel with regards to Princess Celestia taking his armor. The point in my mind is that she's just helping him separate the past from what's he's going to face in the future. That if he's going to be a part of this new world, he has to accept that some things will be left behind, and she's giving him a concrete example of that. To see someone else take it differently is just utterly interesting. It's just fascinating.

I will say that in writing the story I had no intent or desire to go for a "humans are butt" approach. No, no, I'd say James' opinion on a lot of the stuff in the story more closely mirrors my own and I had to step out of myself more in coming up with the things the others had to say and feel. Later on, after the story was finished and seeing comments from several different people, I got the impression that maybe a lot of people were getting the "ponies rule, humans drool" vibe from just what wound up being the presentation of the "sides". As you've basically noted in your comment, the ponies tend to hold the idealistic ground, composed of grand best case scenarios, while James tends to hold the very pragmatic ground, composed of the comprises and sacrifices you have to make to live life. And since a lot of people like to believe in ideals, you can get some more sympathy for the pony side. That's what I think is happening anyway. I have, less frequently, heard from some very pragmatic-minded people who were way on James' side.

Anyway, thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts!

Ponies... nonviolent? What about the warring tribes period?

Twilight goes on about trust, but she hasn't gotten her friends together to tell them what's actually going on. Real classy.

His mother sounds like a real bitch.

I liked it. While it may have not been "THE BEST THING EVER!!!", it was very good.

Well written and thought out, and short enough to end without dragging due to lack of a proper antagonistic force.

7 of 10 (Needs a Gore Tag! All stories need them!) - "Yet You've not had enough. You've come to drink the last bitter drops." - Medea

Off the Notepad of Kenny's Post-Read Thoughts

Comment posted by ShadowMere25 deleted Jun 7th, 2014

4080302 Bloody good point there mate

I can totally agree with you here. The whole "HUMAN R BAD!" Thing pops up way too often in HiE stories. But this guy is at least being reasonable with some of the things he wrote.

True, Humans are violent, it's a fact...but I believe a lot of our violent ways came more from desperation rather than decision, like you said. Being a family oriented cartoon show, they made Equestria to be almost everything that our world is not. "Perfect"

However honestly, ponies have no right to pass judgment on humanity. We live in a world that is constantly trying to kill us, be it by weather, disease, famine, predators. Our resilience, dexterity and intelligence has allowed us to become the dominant race on our ever so cruel and harsh but at the same time beautiful world.

Humanity has its flaws but so does everything else.

Oh and one more thing author...YOU DO REALIZE THAT HUMANS EAT FISH TOO AND THAT THEY EXIST IN EQUESTRIA? Oh! sorry for yelling :twilightblush:

Found this by random chance.
Celestia is truly anoying...
War..she must be ignorance to the fact of life if she react like that and that doesn't fit with her age old wisdom....if she indeed have been living for over thousands of years.
The armor....Equestria isn't exactly sunshine and rainbow....he will need his armor to survive at certain region and why doesn't she want to enhance the survivability of her guards or soldiers if she even has soldiers. I guess we all have seen what happend with the changeling invasion...utterly humiliated....we don't even see guards running around fighting a last stand or trying to protect civillians or tactical retreat or anything like that. even 6 civies are better at fighting....
So yeah, Celestia doesn't look like someone who know about life, who is wise, wiser than the ponies of the age.


Why didn't Celestia let him keep his BDUs and boots? The only reason I can think of is that it would be bloodstained from the fighting. I'm liking this story so far.

4620610 I think its best to think of this Celestia as the overprotective mommy. she don't really care about the others all that matters is her "kid". for now at lest

James has a pretty stupid and macho concept of justice and I'm not sure I'm terribly happy about the implication that it's representative of humanity in general.

Good start but let's hear more, if you please! What aspects of his perspective speak to you as so ill-conceived and macho? The thoughts are great, but the thoughts behind the thoughts can be even more interesting!

James definitely approaches the concept of justice in a very high-minded sort of way. His take tends to stay more focused on a 'bigger picture / cosmic justice.' A sort of "when a wrong is done, a right must be applied to make it better." That is part of his character conflict arc with Fluttershy: that he sees her suffering 'unjustly' and feels she is owed things for that wrong, but Fluttershy would never care about his take on the 'justice' of the situation altogether and she is only concerned with the welfare of others through the crisis. In other words, he has to look at if his 'justice' is more about making the world right or making himself feel right.

It's not really the intention of the story to have James be the representative of all humanity. But, retrospectively after What Separates, what the story goes for and how it's pulled together really does kind of lend it to that take, unfortunately. With one of the key focuses of the tale being about confronting the differences between people, and with James being the only one of his kind there, it puts a bit of a de facto spin on his level of representation. And it's only made more confusing because of how he as a character responds to such a situation; he very naturally goes for such a role, fit or unfit. I'm serious that it was never the intention though.

The justice exploration also might reflect that whole area the worst. Specifically, I wanted James' approach to the topic to be something a little more unusual. I understood that I was doing a story about different people confronting each other so I wanted to avoid a cliché situation that became completely "Huh, welp, ponies sure are weird and different! Time for the regular ol' human type to explain what's 'normal'." To dodge that I wanted James' take on this issue to be stiff while still being almost be too removed from practical reality; idealistic in a twisted sort of way. Or, to perceive it from the opposite side, I wanted to give the ponies the more sensible and 'normal' take. I suppose that approach doesn't play so great with some of the other setup of the story.

The good thing is that after What Separates, when the issue of confronting differences fades as a story focus because the sequels look at other things, everything really does become more like a collection of equal characters interacting than "this is the human and this is the ponies."

You've already kinda gotten into that yourself. His whole idea that it is his job to make sure justice is served by him taking responsibility even though he's not to blame. From previous chapters, it is apparent that James doesn't quite think of ponies as capable of taking care of themselves - he thinks he knows better than them what's good for them. He doesn't take them altogether seriously. He takes it upon himself to provide for their emotional wellbeing, by nobly taking the blame for something he didn't do on his shoulders, as if they were his dependents, even after being told that it's obvious to anyone that he isn't at fault for what happened by a child. He thinks of himself as being the only one capable of doing it, so he does. That's a pretty self-aggrandizing and chauvinist attitude, all in all.

His whole idea that justice can even be applied to sheer random happenstance is really immature altogether, really. The idea that there's a natural balance of justice that is affected by someone suffering random bad luck is just childish and, well, stupid. The adult understanding is that some things are beyond anyone's control and that you should just move past it, because life isn't fair, you're entitled to nothing and sometimes shit simply happens. He reacts like a child screaming "but it's not fair!" when told his dog died of cancer, basically. It doesn't reflect well on a grown man to hold that kind of attitude.

Honestly, the way he reacts to Rainbow's hostility makes me think he's just into being disliked in some fashion. He's not even right about her reacting in a human way - being suspicious that some random person ringing at your door might be a robber is sensible, but literally expecting that the person that your friends declared harmless, your government declared harmless and who had much better opportunities would murder your friend's adoptive brother in the time it took you to leave and get back home? As in, honest surprise over not seeing a corpse? That's paranoid even here. Makes me think he just has self-esteem issues.

The way he waffles on about how "the majority" or "society" determine the value of life in this chapter makes him having strong convictions about justice rather ironic.

Great thoughts! Thank you so much for sharing!

I definitely agree that there is a sort of immaturity to it when viewed from that angle. It's a kind of battleground for pragmatism versus idealism, where pragmatism may help you deal with reality but idealism strives to improve it. What makes it interesting, and probably is part of why James' standing here feels hypocritical and diminished, is how that is the reverse to the usual setup: more often on many of the topics in the stories the ponies hold the idealistic ground and it is James who tries to promote something more pragmatic.

And you're dead on with his seeing the ponies as beneath him; seeing them as more simplistic, childlike, or underdeveloped. That part is at least intentional, since coming to accept ponies as just other people is part of his character arc. It stretches into the later stories also, though it's less significant after What Separates since he improves as he goes along.

The other part comes from him clearly not being all that deep a moral thinker. I live in Germany, they have bad experiences with letting the majority decide that someone deserves to die there. "Justice" is a pretty meaningless word from someone who also just admitted that the whole childhood friend thing would become perfectly just if enough people agreed he had it coming. But still, my pleasure. Exploring the human condition is the whole point of speculative fiction, so seeing someone make a point of doing it seriously and consciously is very nice, even if some other commenters thought it's pointless.

Pinkie Pie was the one real exception, actually.

pinkie pie being a Mongolian confirmed.

onto the second one!

I was reading fanfiction to get my mind AWAY from my philosophy class......why me?

I would love to see her reaction to the fact that we fight for sport and entertainment

Then she effervescently dove across the room, landing at the snack table, and plunged her head into the base of the cake with a splat.

Goddammit Pinkie, now there's hair in the fuckin cake.

This story deserves way more views, likes, and favorites. It was just overall a really good read.

Good grammar, good story structure, wonderful philosophical conversations, the characters were perfect, It was a wonderful look into the differences and similarities of two massively different cultures.

I give it 10/10, I look forward to reading the next part of this story:pinkiehappy:

Thank you very much for reading, and for the warm comments! I hope you enjoy the sequels!

Looks like you get to be the green friend we thought was missing. Said Spike.
Oh you. :trollestia:

The color scheme selection for James is one of those 'Let's do this and see if we can make any use of it later' kind of things. Aside from providing that little cutesy moment it never really wound up bearing fruit though.

In the show each of the characters has their own color scheme; no surprise for a visual medium like a cartoon where colors to match characters or themes is just a downright sensible thing to do. So, as long as our man was living in this cartoon world I felt a little obligated to provide him with a color scheme 'just in case.' Never really made use of it though. Writing isn't the same kind of medium as something so visual.

James' colors are green and blue (or more specifically green and sapphire.)

Green because, as pointed out in the story, it's not the primary color of any of the existent characters. Though green is a major color in Spike's palette, and the match with James here is intentional to bind the two together; Spike is only one of the characters to always have an unstrained, uncomplicated friendship with James.

Sapphire was more of an arbitrary choice; I thought it went nice with the green.

Anyway, that's how that all came about. It's also why whenever James gets clothes in later stories they are always green with sapphires.

Another thing...What's with the size of the the ponies...Based on the episode about hearthwarming...They are about 3-4 ft...on average...not giant Earthian pony size

I want to see her reaction and though on "Nothing is true, everything is permitted."
Those sort of seemingly contradiction and stuff..."We work in the dark to serve the light."
And no, Assassin's Creed is not the origin of the quotes but it is the most well known subject that use them.
"Only the dead can see the end of war."
"War, war never change."
"You can only delay war, not avoid them."

saying don't embarrassing me constantly...forcing him to behave in that strange and somewhat doormat way is like dressing up and a texudo holding a cup of tea and offering it to a soldier who is pointing a gun at you...

Login or register to comment