• Published 1st Jan 2018
  • 1,897 Views, 140 Comments

Between Arstotzka and Equestria: Papers, Please - A_Storyteller



The border between Arstotzka and Equestria opens. Will these two words be able to coexist? And...How much can the events be influenced by the decisions of a simple checkpoint's Inspector? - A crossover between "Papers, Please" and MLP

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The world beyond the portal

28 October, 1983 - H 5:00 to 6:30

The Truth of Arstotzka

The Border Between Arstotzka and Equestria Reopens

After a long negotiation, both the representatives of Arstotzka and Equestria reached a peaceful agreement regarding the control of the border.

As stated in the M.O.A. official bulletin, the parallel world’s government recognized the better organization of our Glorious Nation and agreed to give the total command of passage between the worlds to Arstotzka.

The decision will surely bring welcome effects, such as a raise in the trust of the Equestrian citizens, something that will allow us to avoid public trouble and turmoil between the people of both worlds.

The bond between Arstotzka and Equestria will tighten for sure, allowing both worlds to grow both in power, and wealth.

Glory to Arstotzka

<<And just yesterday Equestrians were seen as a danger to our nation.>> Hektor rose an eyebrow while folding back the newspaper he found in the waiting room of Varusov’s office. <<It’s so easy to control popular opinion...at least, it seems that this will be enough to reach the goal>> he continued to think while looking at the dark ruined white papers he just placed on the empty chair next to him.

“Mister Popov, you can come in.” The loud voice of the secretary reached his ears, attracting his attention “Mister Varusov is waiting for you inside.”

After a deep breath, the Inspector stood up, giving a quick glance down at the clothes he was wearing before stepping inside the office.

The shapka was in place...the jacket was clean...the black gloves were perfectly fitting his hands...everything was in order.

With a serious expression painted on his face, he knocked on the door three times, receiving an immediate self explanatory answer from the inside “Come in.”

Mister Varusov was so focused on the documents in front of him that he didn’t look at the man that entered his office; nor did the sound of the closing door distract him from what he was doing. Hektor stayed still near the entrance, waiting for any sort of sign from the Officer seated behind the desk.

“Have a seat...we have lot to discuss and little time to do so.” The blonde M.O.A. High Officer gave his guest just a quick glance, pointing at the chair in front of him with a movement of his hand before signing some kind of paper with the known red eagle print on it.

“Today is an important day: it’s necessary to demonstrate to the parallel world that Arstotzka can manage the border checkpoints better than they’ll ever able to.” The words came out with the same solemnity of a Minister giving a public speech regarding the honor of being Arstotzkan “In this context, your role will be fundamental...and I know you’ll not disappoint me.”

The last sentence contained many references regarding the consequences of disrespecting the orders he’ll have...and Hektor knew that.

“By today, you’ll control the access into our territory. Any mistake will lead to potential threats to our nation, not to mention the resulting drop of credibility in front of Equestrian eyes, something that mustn’t happen.”

<<A good way to put me at ease.>> The Inspector thought while trying to not faint under all the pressure the officer was putting on him.

“Now here’s what you need to know...listen carefully, because I’ll not repeat myself.” Varusov looked away from the Inspector to look at the elegant golden fountain pen close to him, an item that he quickly took with his right hand “An Equestrian soldier will wait for you in front of the checkpoint to give you the equipment needed to be protected from the parallel world’s magic...he has the order to speak only with you, so you’ll have to identify yourself.”

“When you’re ready, both of you will reach the checkpoint to cross the border. You’ll have to submit yourself to the checking procedures: the checkpoint Inspector will come later and the guards have proper instructions to follow.”

Hektor noticed that, while speaking, Varusov was writing something on a sheet of paper with elegant writing he didn’t expect “Now the last thing...remember this name.” With quick movements, the Arstotzkan officer turned the card he was using to write on in Hektor’s direction: there was something written on it:

Yashin Romanov

After a few seconds, the Inspector nodded, letting the man at the opposite side of the desk know that the name was imprinted in his mind; while remaining silent, Varusov took back the sheet of paper while lighting a match “Remember this name while working today at the Equestrian checkpoint.” he said while setting fire to the card, something that puzzled Hektor in a sinister way “This isn’t needed anymore.” the High Officer added while looking at the flames that were slowly devouring the paper he was holding in his hand.

“You can go now, mister Popov...make Arstotzka proud.” His eyes moved to the man in front of him while the paper was left in the ashtray near him.

While standing up, Hektor answered in the only way he could think of in that moment:

“Glory to Arstotzka.”

*****

The walk of the Inspector was slower than usual; it was as if, that day, he was trying to reach his destination as late as possible.

In his heart, serving the nation in an unknown world was something he would not do with pleasure; there were too many negative things he could expect, not to mention the responsibility hanging on his neck.

With one hand, he took out a piece of yellow paper from one of his jacket pockets; after unfolding it, he read for the tenth time the line written at the top with rushed calligraphy: Orvech Vonor Vodka recipe.

<<A promise is a promise, after all...I hope they’ll be able to read it>> he chuckled in silence while his mind drove away from the road we was walking to go back to what his mother-in-law told him just an hour ago.

“The more time passes, the more they’re putting you in trouble.” Katia’s disappointed voice was resonating in his head in all of its hoarseness “And they’re not even giving you more money for it.”

Hektor’s gloved hand went to the full cigarette package and at the match-box she gave him before going out from the room “Take them” she said him with a serious look on her old tired face “I don’t think they have them in their world.”

A grin made its way onto the Inspector’s face: he had further proof that besides her harsh behaviour the old lady was fond of him...at least a little.

After a silent walk under a still too dark sky, Hektor reached the checkpoint, without even giving a look at the sun that was rising between the two far hills; his look was focused on something else.

At a short distance, a known blonde guard was speaking with a strange blue, short, spiky haired guy; by the fact that he was wearing some kind of gold like armor while holding a spear with his right hand, he could imagine that he was a guard too...but there was something odd. Despite the fact that he looked like a medieval soldier, there was something in his expression that seemed out of place; there wasn’t the fierce look that Hektor was used to seeing in Arstotzkan guards...it was as if he was happy with what he was doing.

After clearing his mind from all of those thoughts, Hektor put both of his hands in his jacket pockets and, with no hesitation, he walked towards the two guards.

“So you’ve never seen one of this before” Hektor could hear Ian speaking with his normal flat voice while holding his rifle with both of his hands in a proper way to show it better to the unknown man “And you defend yourself with a close fighting weapon and...magic...beams?” The last two words came out from the soldier with an uncertain tone of voice; his disbelief was made crystal clear by his doubtful face.

“Correct” the newcomer answered with a gentle voice “For long range combat we have unicorns that can use their magic to shoot a long range ray at the enemy, while we are trained to battle in close range with various kinds of weapon such as.” his speech was interrupted by the sight of a man that was slowly cutting down the distance from them.

Hektor could see the expression of the blue haired man changing, as his focusing made him become more serious. “Glory to Arstotzka” Ian yelled in a more official tone that Hektor didn’t remember he ever used.

“Glory to Arstotzka, soldier.” He stand in that sort of pantomime, wondering if the soldier had specific orders to act in that way.

“Good day. Are you the Arstotzkan border Inspector, mister?” The young man near Ian asked to Hektor while focusing his eyes on the red eagle sewed on the shapka of the man he was talking too.

“Yes I am.” he simply replied while making his way into one of the internal pockets of the heavy jacket to find his documents “My name is Hektor Popov...here are my documents.” he quickly took out his passport, giving it to whom he was clearly looking for.

The soldier took with the free hand the passport and, with an uncertain move, as if he wasn’t used to using hands, he opened the document, alternating his focus between both the photo on it and on the man he was facing.

“You told me the truth...and the description given to me coincides.” the young man affirmed while giving back the passport to the owner, regaining the smile he had before the encounter “My name is Flash Sentry, mister Inspector. I was sent here to guide you to the Equestrian border checkpoint...and to personally give you this.”

Through an internal section of the golden armor, the Equestrian soldier took what seemed to be an elegant silver pendant with some kind of purple rune in the middle. Silently, Hektor approached the item that Flash Sentry was handing him, staring at it for a few seconds.

“I have orders to tell you that this is what will allow you to avoid being influenced by Equestrian magic...even if I don’t understand why you would desire something like that.” the young soldier smiled sincerely while looking at the man in front of him that, after a bit of hesitation, wore the pendant, covering it under all of his clothes.

“It seems that Equestrians could use magic to cause harm if I do not allow the passage to the portal.” Hektor calmly replied, without mentioning his reluctance in transforming into an Equestrian being “So it was decided that I have to be immune from magic.” <<To my luck.>> he added in his mind.

“I understand.” the soldier nodded with a smile, leaving the argument to focus on the important matter “If you’re ready, we can go to Ponyville. There is a lot to do before opening the checkpoint to the public.”

Hektor gave a glance to the blonde Arstotzkan soldier before answering to the question with a quick nod “I’ll open the booth for you.” Ian quickly said, preceding the other two men to the checkpoint entrance.

Hektor stood behind the two soldiers, focusing on trying to contain the tension he was feeling; there he was, ready to face the new challenges an unknown world would offer. Maybe he was feeling the same emotions of the ones that wanted to cross the border looking for a new life, for a new opportunity...except the fact that he had orders to follow and responsibility hanging on him.

“What are you looking for, mister Inspector?” The voice of Flash Sentry brought him back to reality. He rose his head to look at the enthusiastic soldier who gained his access shortly after the door was opened. Hektor walked past the door, not before exchanging a look with Ian.

“Do not worry...I’ll make sure that our Equestrian friends will have no problem in reaching the head of the line.”

Hektor smiled, silently thanking him with a nod “Be careful there.” those were the last words he heard before going into the booth, hearing the door closing and the sound of the key turning into the lock.

“This was your workstation?” Flash Sentry asked puzzled while slowly walking toward the door in front of him “You Arstotzkans don’t like much colors and stuff. You should find a solution to all of this white and gray. It saddens the place a lot.”

Hektor shrugged his shoulders, not paying too much attention to the soldier, to focus himself on the checking desk <<I wonder who will take my place.>> The Inspector found himself thinking while looking at the approval and denial stamper <<I hope he’ll not find himself facing the same problems I’m having.>> he thoughts while shaking his head a little.

“Is this the door to the portal?” the blue haired soldier asked, pointing his hand at the door he was close to.

“Yes. It should be open.” Hektor walked near the Equestrian, finding himself thinking about something he didn’t realize before that moment.

<<Come to think of it, I never saw the portal myself>> Hektor brought a hand to his chin while following the moves of the Equestrian <<I wonder what it looks like.>>

He followed the soldier outside the booth, gazing finally at what he defended in the previous days from both humans and Equestrians without documents; the portal that lead to the parallel world; the door to the unknown…

...a mirror with a purple frame and rubies all around.

<<Really?>> The Inspector rose an eyebrow, looking at the door to Equestria in disbelief...a feeling that disappeared when Flash Sentry walked near it, triggering some kind of reaction that made the glass of the mirror light up, something that came so suddenly that took Hektor by surprise.

To his astonishment, the Equestrian looked at that phenomenon with the same enthusiasm he was able to keep for all that time “Come on, they’re waiting for us at the checkpoint” he said out loud before walking toward the portal as if it was something common for him, disappearing in it as the mirror absorbed him.

Without speaking, Hektor stood there, stuck in silence; he needed a few seconds to regain his proper composure <<Well...There is no other choice I guess>> He thought while cleaning up his jacket from some dust before slowly reaching the portal. With uncertainty, he placed a hand on the glass, only to see it going through it, feeling a strange sensation of coldness, the same sensation of soaking his hand into water. He looked at the bright light coming from it and at his arm half swallowed from the portal. after taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes and walked into it, trying to not think about what he was feeling all around his body.

*****

“Welcome to Equestria, Inspector.”

The voice of the Equestrian soldier let Hektor know that he was still alive, something that he didn’t expect for sure before crossing the portal.

Slowly he opened his eyes, struggling to adjust to the sudden bright light. It took awhile for him to get used to it, as it wasn’t so bright due the fact that it was dawn in Equestria as well.

“What’s wrong? Is everything all right?” The question of the Equestrian soldier was followed by a little giggle “The first passage through the mirror is always hard to digest” he added while looking at the man that, in the meantime, was trying to recover his sense of the sight.

After shaking his head a little and completely recovering from the travel, Hektor finally opened his eyes wide, for the first time able to see the world all around him. His attention fell on the green and the trees all around the area, on the white walls that surrounded the place...and on a orange stallion with wings and a too familiar blue mane, and golden armor that was holding, somehow, a spear.

“Finally, I was worrying myself, mister.” The casual voice of that sort of animal soldier literally stunned the Inspector, whose mind was filled with thoughts and questions.

“It’s all right.” Finally he said, descending with caution some steps and reaching the ground level and looking down to the smiling pony he was facing “I just feel a bit dizzy.” he added while passing his hands over his body and looking at himself, realizing that he really kept his human aspect.

“It will pass soon” Flash Sentry seemed sure about his statement “You’re not the first to have this sensation...I had to help many humans in these past days that felt more ill than you now” he added while turning his back to the Inspector, taking a few steps forward before giving a glance to the human “Please follow me, mister. I’ll take you to your new work station.”

After a quick look around at the nice garden he was standing in, he walked behind the guard. In silence, he focused on the chirping of the birds and on all the smells coming from the nature all around, perceiving a sensation that he not had since when he was a boy.

After going out from that place by passing under an archway controlled by two white stallions armored with the same golden armor Flash Sentry was wearing, they walked near the wall for almost five minutes. During that time, Hektor remained silent, giving a look all around the place: in the far distance he could see what looked like a hospitable town made of nice and not too big houses, despite some high buildings that stood out from the rest. There was even a farm and a forest in his range of sight, an overall nice landscape made more nice by the calm that the early morning was able to bring.

“Ponyville is a nice place.” The voice of Flash Sentry came to his hears, distracting him from his thoughts “I’m happy to give my services here.”

“So you’ll be one of the border guards?” Hektor looked at the stallion without showing any sign of emotion, wondering how the one he was walking with could even fight, even if the armor and the spear could do something different about it.

“Yes...and I hope that my services will be useful.” a secure smile painted on his muzzle “That’s the work of a royal guard.” Pride was clear in his expression, something that made Hektor smile <<So much enthusiasm is rare to see in a guard...I wonder if every soldier shares his same sentiments.>>

Neither of them realized that they had reached their destination, the entrance to the checkpoint control booth to the portal leading to Arstotzka “Here we are.” the orange stallion said firmly while reaching the entrance.

Flash Sentry raised a hoof and, with composure, pushed the elegant wooden door; Hektor found himself puzzled when he saw the stallion freezing on the spot, as he saw something unexpected.

Suddenly, he saw the guard making something that could be seen as bowing; the words coming from him answered all the questions in his mind.

“P-Princess Twilight. I-I didn’t expect you to be here.”

<<The Princess is here?>> Hektor tried to appear as calm as possible, but his face betrayed the tension that was taking him; in his life, he had never met such an important member of society...he didn’t know how to behave, especially thinking about the dire consequences his actions could have in the relations between Arstotzka and Equestria.

“Please come in. I was waiting for you” A gentle and reassuring feminine voice came from within the booth. Hektor could see that the smile on Flash Sentry’s muzzle disappeared, leaving in its place a more serious expression that fit better the role of a guard. After a short nod, the Equestrian gained access to the white structure, an action that persuaded the Arstotzkan man in doing the same, struggling to keep the proper self control.

He stopped himself near the booth entrance, gazing with a sense of amazement painted in his eyes at the purple winged unicorn that was standing in the middle of the room <<T-That has to be the Alicorn kind I read of in the book about Equestria.>> he thought while looking at the dark purple mane and tail and realizing that, despite everything, both her and the guard were just tall enough to reach his belt.

He had to clear his mind when he saw the Alicorn staring at him with an intrigued yet cordial expression “You must be Mister Hektor, the Arstotzkan Inspector.” she smiled in a genuine way that surprised the human guest “It’s an honor to finally meet you.”

“T-The honor is mine, your Highness” It was clear that there wasn’t any sign of sureness in his behaviour, something underlined by the way he walked inside the booth.

A giggle came from the Princess “Please put yourself at ease, Mister Hektor. You do not need to be so formal.” There was something in her voice and in her attitude that could calm down even the worst rebellious mob around, a peculiarity that particularly hit the human.

“It was my deep desire to see you personally.” The Princess took some steps forward, halving the distance between her and the Inspector “After the letters I wrote to you and all the opinions and descriptions regarding your persona, I felt the need to directly talk with you.”

Stunned by the lack of formality he would expect in a conversation with a leader of a country, Hektor was just able to nod at her words, without being able to think of some kind of answer to give. Fortunately for him, the occasion was given directly by Twilight.

“By the way, I hope that you liked the book I sent you.” Her eyes widened at her own question, showing the huge amount of curiosity that was moving her in that moment.

“Eeer...actually I liked it a lot.” The human replied with a sense of comfort that was slowly making its way in his mind “And considering how the event turned out, the information I learnt about your world will be useful to better fulfill my duties as a border Inspector.”

A sincere smile grew on Twilight’s muzzle “I’m really happy you appreciated it. I think that it’s important to know the history of a world to better understand it, because without-”

Random coughing stopped that sort of monologue, attracting the attention of the two to the orange winged stallion close to them that, during all this time, had remained silent. His spear was pointing at an hourglass surrounded by an elegant wooden structure.

“Oh.” The Princess blushed a little, figuring out that her own enthusiasm had let her lose the sense of passing time “Maybe we’ll be able to talk about that next time. Now it’s better to show you how everything works here.”

Hektor smiled and nodded, giving a quick glance to the soldier whose action, in front of his eyes, probably wasn’t asso casual as it seemed. A smirk coming from him was the answer to his own question.

In the next several minutes, Twilight showed to the human Inspector all the equipment in the booth; to his joy, the Arstotzkan figured that the majority of the items at his disposal worked almost the same way as the ones he had in his booth in the human world. Except the fact that there wasn’t so much technology to help, such as the prints that weren’t automatic.

Lines painted on the wall in front of the desk to measure the height of travellers; a chair that looked more comfortable than his previous one, an aspect that couldn’t make the human more happy; a thin pink book with the writing' ‘Rules’ on it, definitely different from its Arstotzkan counterpart.

“I think it’s all clear to me, Princess Twilight.” Hektor said looking at the Alicorn in a more relaxed way “The hourglass lasts for an hour, the ink sponge for the stamps are there, on the rule book I’ll find all the information needed for the day.”

“You catch on quickly.” She said while smiling at the human “I’m sure you’ll do good work...better than us, considering what happened.” Suddenly the light disappeared from the Alicorn’s muzzle, leaving in its place a grim and sad look “We had to control our own citizens, as stated in the first agreement...but we weren’t able to do that.”

An uncomfortable silence dropped in the booth; both Flash Sentry and the human didn’t know what to say. The dark expression on the Princess’s muzzle wasn’t a nice view to stand; it was necessary to do something.

“Mistakes can be made, even if we put all of our focus on what we do...the most important thing is to learn from them.” The serious tone with which the words came out from his mouth surprised Hektor himself. After a quick silence, he smiled, willing to add something else “Besides, I’ll do anything to not let any mistake happen again.”

“And I and the rest of the royal guards will help, too.” Flash Sentry said with strong self confidence that led Hektor to give him an agreeing nod.

After a brief silence, Twilight rose her head again, smiling a little. It was strange for the Inspector to see a ruler that cared so much for others, as she really felt bad for the mistake that led to such a problem in Arstotzka <<She has to be a good leader.>> He thought while comparing her to Arstotzkan leaders, people that would probably just pass the weight of responsibility to others to avoid problems.

“Well mister Hektor, I think we’ll take our leave. You need time to get used to the place before the time of opening” The purple mare said while taking a few steps toward the exit “Lastly two things...for your own safety, the entire booth has been made magic proof, so that nobody can cast any sort of spell here.”

<<I couldn't be more happy>> Hektor tried to avoid his joy in a neutral face.

“And...before beginning the day, give a look at the package under the desk.” She added smiling at the puzzled expression of the human before looking at Flash Sentry “Let’s leave the Inspector alone.”

“Yes Princess.” the soldier answered to the order instantly, walking to the exit with fast paced moves “I wish you good luck, Inspector...and remember that for any problem I’ll be outside.”

“Hektor placed himself behind the desk, giving a glance to the white box closed by a purple band bound with an elegant knot before looking at the two Equestrians “I wish you a good day...I promise that I’ll do my best for the sake of both Arstotzka and Equestria.”

Both the Alicorn and the stallion nodded before leaving the booth, closing the door behind them and leaving the Inspector alone.

<<I’ll give a look at the rule book first...I have plenty of time>> he thought while sitting on the chair, giving a glance to that mysterious box before starting to read the little manual <<Considering the number of pages, it will not be difficult...I hope.>>

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