Between Arstotzka and Equestria: Papers, Please

by A_Storyteller

Rise and Shine

1 November, 1983 - H. 09:00 - 12:00

“Can you please stop moving, Mister Hektor? It’s already hard to check your health condition, considering that it’s the first time I have worked on a human.”

The frustration of the white earth pony that was standing next to the row of small beds on which the Inspector was laying on was evident. The little drops of sweat coming from the bottom of her light pink mane were a sign of her struggling; checking a being two times larger and heavier than her, a being which she didn’t know anything about, clearly wasn’t a sunday morning trip.

“I’m truly sorry for the trouble I’m causing you, Nurse Redheart.” The sentence of the human ended with a brief groan of pain coming from the part of his head hit by the Changeling Queen the day before; both his hands went to his forehead, as they if could magically soothe the ache he was feeling...something that didn’t happen.

“You were hit hard, mister...and the wall behind didn’t help you at all.” The nurse smiled in a comforting way while looking at both of Hektor’s brown eyes, making a positive expression from which he was able to understand that she was satisfied by what she saw “From what the guard told us, you were hit so hard that you flew for a few meters...yet you’re still alive. You sure have a thick head, mister.” She added while taking from a closet with a red cross, similar to the one she had on her flanks, long, white bandages.

“My mother-in-law tells me the same thing everyday.” The human replied with a sincere tone while pressing both of his hands to his head in a futile attempt of controlling the pain he was suffering, without noticing the little laugh that came from the pony nurse after his sentence.

“Dammit!” The imprecation from the human came all of a sudden “Katia! I have to let her know that I’m still here and-”

“You do not have to worry, Mister Hektor. Our authorities have already informed your family about your situation.” Redheart answer allowing the Inspector to gain calm again. After a deep breath, he rested his head again on the white, comfortable pillow on which it was laying on before “I’ll have to thank whoever did that. I was able to survive a Changeling Queen attack...but I assure you that I would not be able to stand the rage of my mother-in-law.”

“I’m sure she is happy to know that you’re alright.” The white pony spoke with a gentle voice while putting a cold, wet towel on the human’s head who, in the same instant it touched his head, smiled in a way that let the nurse know how he was enjoying that sensation.

“Speaking of your health, I can tell you that despite the headache everything is good.” Her explanation came while her light blue eyes were focused on some papers she was holding with her right hoof. “I think you’ll be able to face the visitors that are waiting outside.” She added while smiling warmly at the human, enjoying the surprised expression that came after the news she gave him.

“Visitors?” He raised an eyebrow from under the wet towel, receiving a nod from the nurse in answer “Some are important ponies too...I think their visit is related to your position, Inspector.” She became serious in an unexpected way, showing what could be seen as worry on her muzzle.

“Can I ask you something, Mister Hektor?” The mare walked near the beds on which the man was lying on and spoke with a lower tone of voice. With an interrogative expression, he simply nodded, waiting for the question.

“Are we in danger, Mister?” She looked more unsure...almost scared, despite the serious expression behind which she was trying to cover her true feelings “Yesterday it was hard to cure all the wounded soldiers...and this is not the first time we have had trouble since the opening of the portal to your world.”

The mare bowed her head in silence for a second, giving Hektor some time to think about what he had just heard.

“So I wanted to ask you...can we feel really safe? Was it really good to begin to know your world?”

For few seconds, Hektor’s eyes didn’t leave Redheart’s muzzle; she was uncertain, yet focused on the one that could hopefully give her the answer she was looking for.

“I’m really sorry, Miss Redheart, but you’re asking a really important question to the wrong person.” The sincere tone of the human struck the nurse, who bowed her head again in disappointment.

“I’m just a plain employee that work for two thirds of my day in a small room, with the task of checking passports and to avoid bureaucratic problems, both in your world and mine.” While speaking, he could see the white pony’s ears were raised, a clear sign of attention that gave Hektor the will to continue.

“I can just tell you that there are good and bad people, just as there are good and bad ponies...and I know that because I see them everyday.” He stopped briefly to move his head, moving his eyes to look at the white roof of the room “I don’t know if things will work out fine or not, I do not have this knowledge. I just know that every day brings something new...something that can be positive or negative.” While staring at the roof, the human didn’t notice that Redheart was looking at him, focused on every single word that was leaving his mouth.

“I can just hope that everything will turn alright...and that there will be no more incidents like yesterday...for my sake, too.” He smiled while turning his attention to a more relaxed white pony.

“Listening to you was a sufficient answer, Mister.” She smiled before turning her back to the human to reach the entrance door “I’ll tell everyone outside that you are able to receive visits.” Her right hoof reached the door handle and pushed it to open the door “You should avoid loud sounds, stressful situations, and-”

All of a sudden, the door was opened so strongly that it slammed on the near wall, hitting Nurse Redheart in the process and making her fall to the floor. From the entrance, three little rockets with hooves made their way into the room with worried expressions on their faces.

“MISTER HEKTOR! MISTER HEKTOR! ARE YOU ALRIGHT??” Sweetie Belle rushed to the beds where Hektor was lying, putting her little forehooves on one of them to be able to stand and to see the human’s face. “I was so scared when I heard what happened yesterday!!!” It was possible to see a sincere worry in her eyes and in her expression, something that let the Inspector smile warmly to her.

“It seems I’m still alive...luckily I had a nice hat made by somepony I know that protected my head.” A white lie, considering that it wasn’t made of any sort of tough material...a lie that let the little white unicorn stood there speechless for few seconds. “Especially the front part, from where I was hit, where there is a certain particular mark made by another somepony I know.” The pain he was feeling wasn’t enough to prevent him from smiling at the joyful expression that Sweetie Belle made.

“Were ya scared when ya faced the Changeling Queen?” Applebloom raised on her back hooves to reach the beds height, looking at the hurt human in front of her with the curiosity that, as Hektor could see, was the same children had in his world.

“You were able to uncover the Changeling Queen while transformed? How did you do that?” Scootaloo asked, as the other two fillies, reached the Inspector to question him about whatever they wanted to.

“Hey!” Applebloom gave a push with her left hoof to the orange filly “I asked him a question first.”

“You should not disturb him with stupid questions!”

“I was the first to talk to him.” Sweetie Belle broke into the discussion between the two fillies...a discussion that became a mess of sounds and yelling whose only concrete result was raising the headache Hektor was feeling.

When he looked away from the three little mares, he saw two ponies figures that were covering their laughs between their hooves: one was the same nurse that told him to avoid any chaotic situation...the second was an orange pony with a blue mane that was easy to recognize, despite the lack of armor.

“You promised me that you would not cause any sort of trouble if I would bring you here.” Flash Sentry said with a serious tone of voice to the three friends that were still standing near Hektor while smiling “Maybe you didn’t notice that your yelling is just hurting our friend.”

At those words Applebloom, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle‘s mood changed completely; all of them stared at the human with a sincerely mortified expression “We’re sorry.” They said in unison before leaving the upper side of the bed, standing again on their four hooves.

“You’ve not to be sorry. I’m really happy you came to check my condition.” He smiled at the three fillies, waiting for their attention before continuing “When my condition improves, I promise that I’ll come to visit you, so that you’ll be able to ask me every question you want.”

“REALLY?? YAY!!!” The voices of the little fillies gave so much pain to Hektor’s head that he almost repented for the promise he had made.

“Come on girls.” Nurse Redheart walked towards the three little ponies with a reassuring smile “Mister Hektor here has to rest...and he can’t do that with you three yelling and speaking. He promised you that he will listen to you when he feels the meantime, let him rest.”

All of them nodded to the white mare. With a warm smile, they saluted the human on the bed before rushing out from the room while discussing which one had the right of asking the first question to the Inspector. Before going out, Sweetie Belle turned back to the human with a huge smile “I wish you a fast recover, Hektor.” Then, she ran out to reach her friends.

“I think that facing them will be harder than facing travellers at the border.” Flash Sentry’s comment made Hektor chuckle a little “It’s a good thing to see you alive. When I received the report of what happened, I feared the worst.” His face became grave and serious “And the worst part was that I couldn’t be here to protect fulfill my duty.” He didn’t hide from Redheart and Hektor the disappointment and frustration he was feeling in that moment.

The silence that followed was soon broken by a knocking coming from the still opened door; when the three in the room turned their attention toward the source of that sound, they saw a well known purple Alicorn who, with an uncertain expression, was looking at them.

“Your Highness.” Nurse Redheart bowed her head and saluted the Princess with a respectful bow, before giving her a huge and sincere smile...a completely different reaction from Flash Sentry who, still with the respect a soldier had to demonstrate to a ruler, was launching at the mare a piercing glare to which she bowed her head, something that didn’t escape Hektor’s eyes.

Twilight became sad as soon as her purple eyes stared at the wounded human on the bed “I...I’m here to visit you, Inspector. I’m glad to see you’re recovering.” She wasn’t acting like someone would expect from a ruler, something that Hektor was expecting...what he didn’t expect was to see in front of him someone acting in such an unsure, fragile way.

It was as Hektor was looking at a young girl who, despite her powers, her role, her importance, was still a young girl, with all of her doubts, her feelings, her fears.

To his surprise, Hektor found himself wondering about having administrators in Arstotzka with such a kind of attitude.

<<We should be administrate with more humanity...there is probably more humanity here than in Arstotzka...or ponyanity, maybe?>> A brief smile ran across Hektor’s face before he focused again on what was happening inside the hospital room.

“I could have prevented Queen Chrysalis’ raid and protected the Inspector’s life if I wasn’t torn apart from my duties.” Flash Sentry’s determined voice echoed into the room; the bluntness put into that sentence directed to Twilight left both Redheart and Hektor speechless.

“Mister Flash Sentry.” The white earth pony looked at the soldier without trying to hide her disappointment toward his attitude “You should not speak to our Princess in such a-”

“He’s right.”

The bowed head and the sad expression on the purple Alicorn’s muzzle almost covered the fact that those two words came from her. “I shouldn’t act like I did that day, making a decision like that bec-”

“You had to do it because it was your duty, Princess.”

Twilight and Flash Sentry looked with surprise to Hektor who, out of nowhere, spoke while staring at the Princess and the soldier.

“As someone told me, those who have to manage power and responsibilities have to make hard decisions, even if they don’t like them.” At those last words, Twilight stared at the human with her bright eyes wide opened “We can’t really know the weight of those same decisions...especially when the unpredictable happens and they have negative consequences.”

“We broke the law, Flash...and we knew what the consequences could be of our actions.” The speech to the soldier, who bowed his head in the meantime with a sorry attitude that reflected how he was rethinking his actions, suddenly stopped when Hektor felt a spark of pain flowing in his head, a thing that worried all the ponies in the room.

“We should let him rest. He has to fully recover yet.” Redheart looked at the two other ponies in the room, which answered with a brief nod after looking at each other for a second.

“Wait, Nurse Redheart.” Hektor raised an hand to draw the attention of the others “I have to explain to them what happened at the checkpoint. Maybe-”

“Relax, Hektor.” Twilight looked at the man with a serene smile “Princess Luna already told me and Celestia everything.” Her explanation was enough for the Inspector who, after smiling on his own to the Princess, relaxed his head on the pillow, slowing his breathing and trying to erase his mind from any kind of thought.

“I hope to see you soon outside this place, Inspector...maybe finally I’ll be able to give you a tour of Ponyville.” Flash Sentry looked satisfied at the smile of the human and, after giving another brief look to the Princess, waved his right hoof and saluted before going out. After another few recommendation regarding resting and taking all the medicines, both Redheart and Twilight walked their way out from the room.

“Princess Twilight.” Hektor’s call came shortly before Twilight could close the door “Can I ask you a personal favour?”

“Just if you promise me that from now on you’ll begin to call me Twilight, without that heavy Princess title.” An involuntary smile from him was the answer she was looking for and, after closing again the door behind her back using magic, she walked near the man that was lying in front of her.

“I know that probably I’m asking too much but…” It was the first time Twilight saw so much hesitation in Hektor’s behaviour, something that both intrigued and worried her in an unexpected way.

“Can you please talk with Flash Sentry regarding what happened yesterday?” The reaction from the Alicorn was exactly the one he was expecting: both astonishment and sadness flowed on the muzzle of the mare. “Just the two of you, without anybody else.” He continued, staring at her with the determination of one who wants to receive an answer.

“What can I tell him, Hektor? He’s mad at me, you’ll have surely figured that out.”

It was that moment Hektor figured out that he was speaking to her almost like she was...a good friend of his. A friend that needs a suggestion to think about the next course of action to take in a complicated situation.

“You could just tell him the truth...the truth about your true feelings and motivation regarding your behaviour towards him.”

Twilight bowed her head for a second, taking a long breath before speaking again while looking at her own hooves “I think it deserves a try.” She rose her head, looking at the Inspector with a newfound smile on her muzzle “I hope he’ll understand that I really didn’t mean to act so harshly toward him.” The serenity of the moment lasted short, as a puzzled expression suddenly engulfed Twilight’s face “ did you know that I wasn’t acting like I really wanted with Flash Sentry?”

“Looking at the scene from the outside allowed me to see how unnaturally you were behaving.” The brief answer of the human seemed to being sufficient to the mare, who smiled while her interlocutor realized that he almost let her understand that he already knew everything regarding why she grounded Flash Sentry <<That was close. Princess Celestia would have never forgiven me.>> He thought quickly before feeling the same headache attack that was annoying him since the moment he woke up.

“It’s time for me to go Hektor. Both Princess Celestia and Luna are waiting for me.” She walked again to the exit door and opened it before suddenly turning again toward the human, as if she had forgotten something.

“ friends told me to say hello to you and that everypony is waiting to see you again.” She rose her head a little to pose her with right hoof under her chin, assuming a thinking position “Come to think about it, even Discord asked me to tell you that he’s eager to see you again...he mentioned some unfinished business you have with him.” The facepalm that followed the last part of her sentence left the Princess with more questions than before.

“Well, I hope to see you soon again Hektor. Bye...and thanks for being such a good friend.”

After the door closed Hektor rested his head again, closing his eyes while thinking at what he had just heard <<This is the second time I’ve been addressed here as a friend.>> He smiled a little at that thought <<If only we would be equally open to welcoming the strangers like they do…>> He was lost in his thoughts before finally being able to sleep again, relieving himself from the pain.

Outside the window of the room, a grey earth pony with a green jacket took a few steps back from his position, looking around him to be sure that no one had seen him. Then, he slowly walked away.

It wasn’t impossible to hear anything, but what he saw was enough.

It was clear that the Inspector was respected in Equestria...even by Princess Twilight, who was shown even to trust him.

He knew he had to prepare himself for the next day, as the portal to the human world would be reopened for sure.

He had to communicate as soon as possible what he had found to the ministry of Information...and to Mr. Vonel.


“We think that thou are giving too much credit to these Arstotzkan foreigners, sister.” Luna’s voice was as solemn and serious as her stare to Celestia was. In one of the higher rooms of Canterlot castle, the Princess of the night was looking at Celestia who, with her eyes closed and with her mind focused, was still moving the sun into the proper position to allow every creature of the world to enjoy the warmth of it.

“From the day the portal to the new world was opened, troubles are occurring and requests from the humans are increasing more and more...and we fear what they could ask after what happened yesterday.”

“What happened yesterday was our mistake, too.” Celestia’s horn stopped to glow; a quick look at the sun brought a satisfied smile on the white Alicorn’s muzzle “Now it’s perfect.” she whispered before turning completely toward her sister, whose focus and seriousness were at high levels, a sign that the topic was very important for her.

“The security near the checkpoint wasn’t strong enough...not to mention that we didn’t consider building something inside the booth to protect the Arstotzkan Inspector.” She stopped to take a deep breath, showing her frustration for what happened “Luckily he’s still alive. I would feel sad if something had happened to him...and I think Twilight would feel the weight of that on her shoulders, too.”

“The human thou mentioned looks worthy of trust, that’s what I think after meeting him in his dreams...but what about the others?” Luna walked toward the elegant rounded wooden table placed in the middle of the room on which an elegant white teapot lay, full of a clear yellow liquid from which a delicious smell was coming from “From the previous experiences both thou and Twilight had, it seems that they are not willing to fully cooperate, something confirmed by the opinions of our subjects that have travelled there...and from the ponynapping of of one of our citizens for such disrespectful motives.” The calm of Princess Luna disappeared, leaving a sour and angry expression that was self explanatory of how her blood was boiling inside her.

“They lived all of their life in an unwelcoming cold land, with few resources and hostile neighbours.” The white Alicorn used her magic again to rise the full teapot, moving it to fill two refined and elegant cups , one of which was moved by Princess Luna’s magic to let it reach her vicinity “We’re probably the first friendly nation they’ve dealt with...we have to be patient, to give them the time to have faith in us.”

“Besides...You know that it’s my desire that every decision regarding how to deal with Arstotzkan has to pass between Twilight’s hoof.” While speaking, she focused her attention on a little light pink pot from which she took a spoon of sugar that slowly reached her cup of tea, an action that her sister did just after few moments later, taking two spoons of the white sweet powder.

“Do thou think she’ll be able to deal with this kind of situation, sister? She’s facing something she never experienced before.”

“She has faced foes and overcome obstacles that neither of us were able to overcome.” Celestia said while slowly tasting the tea sip by sip “She has all of her old friends that will stay close to her...she has the respect of all of Ponyville...and what appears to be a trustworthy human friend by her side.” She smiled a little before moving her empty cup back to the table.

“While we’re speaking about the border to the new world.” Luna became serious again while staring at her sister “What do thou think about Chrysalis’ actions? Why risk so much to check the portal to the parallel world?”

“I fear she didn’t came of her own initiative.” Celestia looked straight in Luna’s eyes with a focused expression that stunned the Princess of the night, who remained in silence, waiting for more explanations.

“We’ll never be able to know the truth...but I fear she was invited by Arstotzkan’s in the parallel world.”

“For diplomacy, thou mean?” Luna’s question received a silent nod as an answer by the white answer that she hoped could be different.

“Considering that Griffonian ambassadors crossed the border too and there was no sign of them coming back…”

“It means that they’re probably having contact with both Griffonia and the Changelings...maybe sitting at the same table.”

“And thou still have trust in them, after having this dreadful hypothesis?” Luna eyes wide opened while speaking with a louder tone of voice that underlined her worries.

“I hope that peaceful cooperation will prevail on every sentiment of war and conquest in the humans’ minds and hearts...besides…” She walked toward her sister, looking at her with a serene yet determined face “If someone does try to bring chaos to our lands, then they’ll have to face the elements of harmony...and us as well.”

A satisfied smirk grew on Luna’s muzzle “Thou know that we’ll be ready, if it will be necessary.”

Celestia smiled back to her sister before walking slowly toward the exit door “You should rest now, stayed awake all night to fulfill your duties. I’ll go write a missive to Twilight regarding my thoughts about the Changeling attack and about my opinions regarding the course of action to take.”

A brief nod from the Princess of the night was all Celestia needed. She smiled one last time to her sister before going out from the room, followed briefly by her sister who pointed directly to her room to find calm and peace from all of her concerns in the only place she knew could be safe: in her the world of dreams.