• Published 1st Jan 2018
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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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Old acquaintances, issues and decisions

30 October, 1983 - H 6:00 - 13:00

“You do not have the grim face you had two days ago when you were going to work in Equestria for the first time.” Ian stood near the booth door with his eyes fixed on Hektor. With a still not lighted cigarette in his hand, the soldier stretched his arms “So working there is not as bad as you thought?”

The Inspector limited to shrug his shoulders “At least the weather is slightly warmer...and I have not to use all of my matches to light cigarettes for others.” A smirk grew on his face while he brought near the blue fame he had freshly made to the little white cylinder filled with tobacco that the blonde man next to him was keeping tight.

“Strange that our blue haired friend didn’t show up yet. Usually he’s on time.”

“You can at least give me the time to cross the portal and to reach you.” A loud voice from behind brought the attention of both the Arstotzkans to Flash Sentry who was slowly reaching them. Hektor was immediately puzzled by the face of the Equestrian. There wasn’t that light he was getting used to seeing on his face.

“Is there something wrong, Flash Sentry?” The Inspector asked the question while bowing his head to allow the end of his cigarette to meet what remained of the fire on the tip of his match.

“Maybe it regards the disappearance of an Equestrian in our lands.” Ian’s words surprised the Inspector that, as a reaction, turned his attention to the parallel world guard, only to see a sad nod from him.

“You should always read the newspaper, Inspector.” Looking almost annoyed, Ian gave a rolled journal to Hektor that, with a mix of curiosity and worry, opened it in front of his eyes.

30 October, 1983

The Truth of Arstotzka

Disappearance of an Equestrian Citizen: Investigations Carry On

After a whole day of searching all over the Arstotzkan territory, there are still no traces of the Equestrian girl that went missing yesterday. As stated by the family and the friends, it appears that she crossed the border for a specific yet unknown matter, as she didn’t state them before leaving for Arstotzka; the only known thing was that it had to be a one day travel, something that didn’t happen and that let everybody inform the police.

The M.O.I. issued a press release in which they declared that both Arstotzkan and Equestrian investigation forces are cooperating to find the girl as soon as possible. “We’ll do everything in our power to allow miss Flitter to return home.” A high representative of the Ministry of Information stated in an interview “I know that ‘The Arstotzkan’ will help us in our mission, too.”

As one of the main newspapers of the nation, we feel obliged to help; we’ll share again the description of the girl, asking for everybody to inform the authorities if there could be useful information regarding her situation.

Miss Flitters is a pegasus, meaning that in our world she has wings. By the description given by her family, she has long, straight, cyan hair, and light purple eyes, a slim body constitution and always wears a big pink bow on her head.

Glory to Arstotzka.

Hektor’s grip on the newspaper became stronger and stronger at every line he read. Despite his calm face, he felt like a volcano that was about to explode.

“I remember her” he said while moving the focus from the paper we was holding to the two young soldiers in front of him “She was pretty cordial. All the documents were in order...and she had a nice smile as if she was happy to come here.”

“She’s a friend of mine.” Flash Sentry made that statement with his head bowed and his look fixed on the ground under his feet “When she saw me from the line, she smiled brightly and spoke with me until it was her turn to enter. We spoke about a lot of things, but she didn’t tell me why she was going to come to Arstotzka...if I had insisted on this aspect, maybe now we would be able to find her.” A grim expression darkened his face; his eyes, even if they were dried, were the perfect way to see the guilt and the sadness he was feeling.

Ian looked at the two men with his normal neutral attitude, without showing any emotions to them “Both of you couldn’t do anything. What we can do is find her...and whoever tried to harm the girl.” The grip on his rifle became so tight that only the fact that it was made of metal saved it from destruction.

“If there will be news about it, I’ll let you know. But now you must get going or you’ll be late to open the checkpoint.”

Flash Sentry and Hektor nodded simultaneously to the soldier; after putting out his cigarette on the huge border wall, The Inspector went into the booth, immediately followed by the Equestrian that, when he was inside it, closed the door behind him, leaving a musing Ian alone, with his almost finished cigarette and his thoughts.

*****

Day after day the passage between the two worlds gave to Hektor less and less problems. His stomach didn’t hurt as much as the first day and his head didn’t feel as dizzy as before. Hektor looked at the sky, relieved by his good physical condition after the trip.

While walking to his work station, he couldn’t not focus on Flash Sentry. The almost annoying joy of the soldier that introduced the day of work that day wasn’t there; in its place, there was silence mixed with sorrow, a sad display to see.

“Two forces are cooperating to find her wherever she is...we just have to let them do their work...while we do ours.” his attempt at cheering up the soldier revealed itself as a complete failure, as the morale of the stallion that was walking near him didn’t change at all.

Both of them entered the booth in silence. After a long stare, Flash Sentry sighed before moving his focus to the exit door “I think I’ll wait outside for the beginning of the day...maybe working will distract my mind.”

A nod was the only answer Hektor felt able to give him. After the door closed behind the orange soldier, he shook his head disappointed at not being able to do something for that pony.

When he reached his working station, he immediately saw an envelope on the rule book that, strangely, looked a bit fatter than the previous days. After sitting on his chair, he turned the hourglass to let the sand flow and took the tidy white envelope with the known Princess Twilight mark. With care, he opened it and unfolded the letter, focusing deeply on its content.

Dear Inspector,

I’m truly happy to see that the checkpoint is working much better than before with you; after three days you made just one mistake, an impressive achievement indeed. The comments of Equestrians regarding your work were positive too, even if somepony lamented a certain coldness in your behaviour.

I know that someone in your position has to keep a certain attitude, but I hope you will be able to be a little more gentle with travellers; this could make them feel more at ease and, of course, could allow you to better pass your work time.

But everything above is covered by a halo of sadness; the news of the disappeared Equestrian upset everypony, me in particular. It’s tragic when you’re not able to protect the ponies that count on you and I feel like I made some sort of mistake; maybe I could think of something to avoid this or at least to track her position.

I just hope that she’s safe and that with cooperation we’ll be able to find her soon.

I don’t want to distract you from your work, so I’ll cut my letter short. I hope one day there will be the possibility of talking about our world and their differences; it would be wonderful for me to have a conversation about this topic.

I wish you a good day of work.

Yours truly,

Princess Twilight

P.S. Please read the rule book, as it was adjusted after the last events.

<<Why does that last sentence worry me so much?>> Hektor couldn’t not think at that question while opening the volume as requested in the letter. The first lines of the initial page were enough to give a face to his fear.

From this day, it will be mandatory to ask for the motive of travel to everybody. The Inspector will be able to further interrogate travellers to confirm the truth of their statements. Any discrepancy will lead to the denial of access to the portal.

<<I’m sure one day they’ll ask me to read the mind of the travellers that will come in front of my desk>> Hektor groaned in frustration before adjusting his clothes, especially thehat Rarity made for him, for which he grew a particular fondness.

After realizing that there were no differences in the equipment in his possession and in the booth in general, the Inspector saw that the sand in the hourglass was almost over, meaning that the last hour before the checkpoint opening was going to end. A deep breath preceded his loud statement at the tube connecting to the external megaphone.

“BORDER FOR ARSTOTZKA OPENED. PLEASE HAVE ALL OF YOUR DOCUMENTS READY!”

<<Maybe the ‘please’ I added will give the effect Princess Twilight wrote about.>> The Inspector smiled a little while following with his eyes the first unicorn that came in.

“Papers, please.”

The mare in front of him closed her eyes for a moment, focusing on something Hektor couldn’t understand immediately; after she opened them again with a puzzled expression, the Inspector smiled, realizing what was happening.

“You can’t lift your documents from your pocket with your magic, miss. The booth is protected by it as a security measure.”

“Oh.” The unicorn’s surprise was overwhelming “I could stay here for an hour without thinking about that.” a nice expression replaced the worried one as she calmly took her documents from the elegant pink dress she was wearing.

“Motive for your travel?” Hektor’s question came as soon as he saw the entry permit’s correct date and opened the passport to begin the routine checking.

“I’m going to bring correct documents to a friend of mine that remained stuck in your world due to an expired passport.” She groaned shortly before deeply looking at how the Inspector was working hard on her passport “It looks like you’re trying to find any kind of error to deny my passage.”

The Inspector stopped his actions, slowly looking at the mare he was facing; did he really give this kind of impression to the ones that were in front of him?

“I’ve no interest in rejecting travellers...to tell you the truth, I’m paid for the people I allow in, so it’s completely the opposite.” His focus then went back to the passport; his eyes were travelling up and down, left and right and vice-versa to examine every piece of information.

After a brief mumble, Hektor took one of the stampers from his desk, printing on the visa a bright, green approval mark.

“Here you go, miss. Cause no trouble.”

“Thanks. Have a nice day” She answered with a relieved smile on her cute face, before putting back all the documents in her pockets and trotting happily to the door for the portal.

The merry attitude of the mare somehow had positive effects on the spirit of the human, as shown by the expression that was painted on his face. A silent giggle and a shake of the head preceded his routine loud call at the megaphone: “NEXT!”

Earth Ponies...Pegasi...Griffons...Unicorns...it was intriguing and useful for Hektor to confront what he was seeing during his work hours with all the information contained in the book given to him directly from one of the Equestrian rulers. The more he studied during the night before going to bed, the more he was able to understand the feeling of who he was facing; it was as everyday he felt less and less like a foreigner.

After stamping the umpteenth denial stamp, the last printed upon the visa of a light yellow coloured mare with three leaf sprigs on her flank that tried to persuade the Inspector in letting her pass without the entry ticket by offering him a lovely multi coloured bouquet of wildflowers, he stretched his arms and legs, enjoying for a few seconds the nice feeling that ran through all of his body.

“NEXT!” The word came out with a joyful tone of voice that surprised Hektor himself, who smiled while focusing on the hourglass on his side that had to be turned.

“Hi Mister Hektor.” An happy familiar voice made the Inspector turn his attention toward the booth entrance only to see...nothing.

“We’re down here, mister.” The sentence appeared to came from down below his desk, something that puzzled Hektor a lot; he had to stick out his head from his place to look at three little fillies that, with big bright eyes, looked at him with an expression of awe. One of them, with a maybe too enthusiastic face, turned her head towards another member of that strange group who, somehow, reminded the Inspector of someone.

“Wow Sweetie Belle you were right! He’s huuuge.” She said while flapping fast her little orange wings “And he’s a friend of yours?”

“Yep.” A white coated filly replied with a proud expression on her muzzle almost covered from a too familiar brown shapka.

“Sweetie Belle?” It was impossible to clearly understand if Hektor was surprised, amused or puzzled; yet a sincere smile on his face made it clear that he was happy to see her.

The little filly nodded “It’s nice to see you again, Mister. I was hoping to see you during these days, but then I thought that you were too busy to come to visit me and my sister, so I decided to come here to say hi...and to introduce you to my friends.”

Her positive and happy behaviour was a panacea for the mind. He couldn’t stop smiling while looking how that tiny pony was pointing with her hoof at the two foals at her sides “Apple Bloom and Scootaloo.” The names were gently remarked while the focus passed first on a yellow foal with a red mane and a nice big pink bow on top of her head and on to the orange little pegasus with a cerise tail and a ruffled short mane.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you.” The Inspector let a little giggle escape before becoming serious; time was passing, something that could not escape his attention.

“Applejack and Big mac told me that you were super kind to them” Apple Bloom took a little step forward while speaking with an accent that allowed the human to figure out that there had to be some kind of relation between her and the two Equestrians he met in Arstotzka “By tha way, they told me to thank you for what you sent them. I don’t know what it was, but they really appreciated it.” A long happy smile closed that sentence that indirectly confirmed that both of them were able to come back from Arstotzka, a news that clearly made Hektor happier.

“You’re wearing the fur hat my sister made for you.” Suddenly Sweetie Belle spoke loudly with her eyes sparkling from the joy. Hektor smiled in turn, looking up as he was checking how the shapka was fitting his bald head “Yes...and please tell to your sister that I sincerely love it and that I thank her for all the commitment she put on it.” He took a moment of pause to better adjust the object of the conversation on his head for a moment “Besides I know that she had a quite good helper on her side. She wrote to me that the symbol in the middle was made by you...and it looks really well made. So I have to thank you as well.”

“Yay!” Sweetie Belle jumped a little with incredible enthusiasm “You heard it? I’m good.” She addressed to both of her friends that in return groaned a little, probably a bit annoyed from the too exaggerated show of pride.

“I have to beg your pardon.” Hektor stood back high behind her desk, hiding behind a very serious face the amusement he was feeling inside “But there are people outside waiting for their turn, so I have to ask you to leave or else I could have problems.”

“We don’t want ya to have problems, sir.” Apple bloom looked very puzzled after the request.

“We know what it mean to be grounded. It’s such a pain.” Scootaloo added while giving quick glances to the other foals before taking some steps back, in the direction of the exit.

“I really thank you for your understanding.” Hektor said relieved that it went smoother than expected “Please bring my salutes to Big Mac and Applejack.” he added looking at the yellow foal who was almost at the booth door.

“I will, mistah Inspector. Have a nice day.”

Both Scootaloo and Apple Bloom waved their little hooves before opening the door to go out. When the door shut, calm came back in the booth and a deep silence fell...a silence that was broken by the sound of Sweetie Belle’s front hooves that lightly slammed on the desk.

The surprised look of the Inspector pierced through the little mare, who looked down with a little embarrassment before pointing her bright purple eyes on the human “Mister Hektor...I’m here not only here to say hi to you, but to tell you something important, too.” Her voice was low and hard to hear. The sudden change in behaviour of the white little pony, added to the worried expression on her muzzle, was implying that there could be some serious business to hear. Without saying anything, he approached his head to the foal’s one, looking at her with a focused yet calm face.

“I saw him in Ponyville, Mister Hektor.” Her voice became a bit uncertain, stopping for a moment to look behind her before continuing “He walked around for some days, speaking with everypony...he stopped me and my friends too, asking us questions regarding our town, our habits and speaking of how life is good in your world.”

Hektor’s face became deadly serious; it was clear who was the one she was talking about.

“He asked even of my sister...and when he realized that Apple Bloom is Applejack’s sister and that Rainbow Dash is close to Scootaloo, he asked about them, too. We didn’t tell him anything because I told them to be careful of him.”

She bowed her cute head in silence for a moment, as memories of that day overwhelmed her mind. Hektor smiled at he, trying to comfort her “You were smart Sweetie Belle. He-”

“He’s in line today.” The white foal rose back her head and interrupted him “I was scared to meet him that day...and I was scared to meet him today.” Her eyes became lucid and the smile that just a few minutes ago was reigning over her face faded away, two things that brought a silent hate in Hektor’s head.

“You do not have to worry anymore, Sweetie Belle.” The answer came with a calm voice that covered the uproar the Inspector was feeling inside. “Maybe he’ll go back to Arstotzka and will never come back here anymore.”

“I hope so.” That’s what she was able to answer.

Only the sand falling in the hourglass was making sound in the room in that moment; Hektor looked at the foal and gently caressed her curled light purple mane, as he did days ago in Arstotzka, something that let the little one smile for a brief moment.

“Your friends are waiting you outside.” With a gesture of the head Hektor pointed at the door that lead outside.

“Oh...right.” Sweetie Belle, without any self confidence, left the desk to go back to walk on her four hooves. The Inspector smiled at her warmly “That hat fits way better on your head than on mine.” The sentence was able to let that sad expression fade away, replaced by a nice and cute giggle.

“Excuse me, but there are travellers waiting outside.” The voice of an amused Flash Sentry came out of nowhere “I don’t want to disturb you or anything, but the ponies here could begin to protest.”

“I’m sorry for the trouble.” Sweetie Belle said too apologetically before walking toward the exit “It was nice to see you again, Mister Hektor. I hope to see you again.” She said brightly before going out from the place.

“Seems that you already have good friends here.” Flash Sentry said with a smirk on his face before trying to go out, only to find himself stopped by a quick call from the Hektor. With a surprised look, he turned around puzzled by the too serious face of the human.

“Please Flash...when you see some kind of pony with a pink and too tawdry jacket, come here to inform me.”

“I’ll tell you more later.” The sentence to answer to the interrogative look of the guard came out with a tone that made him understand that there had to be something important. The stallion simply nodded to the human before walking outside, closing the door behind.

A moment of silence...a deep breath...and enough time to regain focus; that’s what he needed to go back to his work.

“NEXT!” A Sentence that day by day gave him more and more confidence in dealing with whoever would come in front of him.

“You come from Antegria...you’re lucky miss, as today is the last day of the validity of your passport. You should renew it when you go back to your homeland. Cause no trouble!”

“Motive of the travel?” The photo on the passport showed the smiling muzzle of a light lamberish gray mare with a short two tone light blue mane.

“I wish to visit your land to deeply study the fashion and the dresses in your world Mister.” The soft and kind way of speaking was pretty relaxing, something that make Hektor’s work more easier.

“I hope to have good ideas for the next winter period...your officers clothes are already inspiring.” She added with a light blush that colored her cute muzzled with too much red.

“I wish you good luck, Miss Coco Pommel.” The Inspector said with a smile while stamping the green approval print on her visa. While giving her back the passport and the entry ticket, he focused on the elegant white suit she was wearing; elegant yet not too snobbish.

“Thanks you, Mister Inspector. My friend Rarity told me that I would meet a gentleman here” She said short before smiling brightly before leaving to reach the portal.

<<Everybody here is so much kinder.>> A thought that was confirmed even when he had to reject Equestrians for several reasons: entry ticket expired, different name on the passport, error regarding the issuing city...there were just rare times in which the border guards had to intervene to solve a problem of some sort.

A thought that, as with his other considerations, went away as the next in the line came inside the booth.

The mare that was walking towards the desk literally left him in surprise: she fit almost perfectly the description on the news paper regarding the missing pony in Arstotzka. She couldn’t be her, as the newspaper came out just in the morning, but there were too many similarities.

“Papers, please.” Keeping a neutral expression, he spoke calmly to the light purple mare who, with an unhappy expression, took from a pocket of her gray jacket what she was asked for.

“Motive of the travel?” Hektor focused his eyes on the documents he was handling with care.

“I’m going to look for my friend.” The determined answer from the traveller blocked the human, who rose back his head to look at the pegasus; from her dark purple eyes it was evident she was self confident about what she had just said.

“Are you a friend of Miss Flitter, miss...Cloud Chaser?” Her nod was a good enough answer for him that, in a brief moment, went back to his duties.

It appeared that there weren’t any issues in her documents; as it was an automatic move, he took the approval printer in his hand “Equestrians and Arstotzkan forces are doing the best. I’m sure they’ll find her.” His words, meant to cheer her up, had no sort of effect; probably the only thing that could really bring back the smile on her muzzle was finding her friend.

“I have to do something too. I can’t stay here doing nothing.” She had to stop for a moment to held back a tear that was doing to come down “And I think I can do something. Luck is by my side.” The determination showed earlier came back, giving to her face the light she lost just few moments ago.

Hektor stared at Cloud Chaser intrigued but what she said “What do you mean, if I can ask?” While speaking he soaked the stamp in the ink without even focusing on what he was doing.

The mare smiled for once “A human in Ponyville told me that he met Flitter shortly before she came to the checkpoint...and it seems that he knows where she was directed. Actually, he’s in line too and he told me that together we will go to the Arstotzkan authorities to inform them about that.”

The stamper stopped his movement just few centimeters from the mare’s passport. Suddenly Hektor froze; a sense of discomfort captured him, letting him lose his usual calm.

A grave doubt came in his mind...a doubt that he had to solve immediately.

“Is the human you’re talking about named Dari Ludum?”

The silent and astonished expression of the pegasus was all he needed.

A disturbing yet plausible hypothesis came to his mind, even if there weren’t concrete proofs to backup it:

Dari Ludum could be involved in Flitter disappearance.

<<Maybe I’m wrong...hopefully I’m wrong.>> Hektor wasn’t able to think straight, especially because there was an important implication in that line of reasoning.

If he was right, Dari Ludum was trying to lure Cloud Chaser into his world.

And to worsen the situation...her documents were all in order; he had no way to stop her to prevent any risk.

His heartbeat rose; his grip on the printer became more tight.

<<Damn!>> That’s what he was just able to think.

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