• Published 1st Jan 2018
  • 1,938 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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Playing outside the rules...?

30 October, 1983 - H 13:00 - 19:00

The stare the purple mare was giving to Hektor let him understand that she had realized that something was wrong; as a matter of fact, the stamper still hanging on the passport on the desk after all that time was indeed strange.

“Is there a problem, Inspector?” She asked with an eyebrow raised without having any quick answer from the human she was facing, a reaction that left her feeling weird.

The question reached just Hektor’s ears...not his mind which, in those long moments, was working at full potential to find a possible way out from the situation.

<<It is just an idea backed up by nothing.>> He looked back at all the documents in front of him, mostly to get time <<What if Dari Ludum is really letting her come in to Arstotzka to do what he was accused of in the past? He could have accomplices in Arstotzka too...and he will surely have valid documents, as I checked them back in our world.>> His eyes went up and down, monitoring every information, every single number or letter on Cloud Chaser’s passport.

<<It’s flawless. When there have to be mistakes, there aren’t.>> His focus went back to the pegasus, who had in that moment a truly puzzled expression that lead Hektor to another realization: he couldn’t waste any more time; he had to act fast.

The silence that reigned in the booth was finally broken by two loud sounds.

*TUMP*...*TUMP*

When the stamper rose from the passport visa, a vivid and clear red stamp with the Denied writing showed up.

Cloud Chaser’s expression shifted in a fraction of a second from puzzled to astonished.

For some seconds, she wasn’t able to speak; the only thing she did was look at the human behind the desk, whose self confident and neutral expression was like a solid brick behind which it was impossible to see.

“But-but...why?” There was hate, rage and frustration in her voice, a mix that had to be treated carefully. Hektor was able to keep himself calm, despite the fact that inside he wasn’t still sure of what he had just done.

“There are problems with your passport, miss Cloud Chaser.” No more explanations. He closed the document and took the entry ticket to give them back to her.

The trembling of the right front hoof of the poor pegasus didn’t escape Hektor’s sight, who stayed impassive and cold as best as he could.

“My documents are in order. I’m sure of it!” Her tone of voice matched perfectly the expression on her face, on which tears were beginning to flow slowly. “I have to pass. My friend needs me!”

The loud desperate yelling of Cloud Chaser was testing Hektor’s heart; he wanted to tell her the truth regarding what he was thinking, that it was a decision made to supposedly protect her, that maybe Dari Ludum had introduced himself to her as someone that could help her in finding her friend, in reality meant to hurt her.

But there wasn’t proof: no concrete facts, no testimony, nothing; just an old accusation from which that human escaped from lack of evidence, despite the fact that those disappeared in still unexplained circumstances.

“I’m sorry miss Cloud Chaser, but it’s up to me to judge the correctness of the documents.” His voice became cold like it never was; his eyes were severe; his face tough. Everything to hide the tornado of emotions that were overflowing his mind and his soul.

“You...You…” Cloud Chaser bowed her head and closed her eyes, letting the tears come down easily “You’re a monster!” She then ran out from the booth, slamming the exit door without any concern about the risk of breaking it.

When left alone, the Inspector placed both of his elbows on the desk and hid his face behind his hands. He breathed deeply while the silence of the place was broken by a familiar sound of something that was sliding through a tube. He did not have to think too much to realize what was happening.

E.B.O. WARNING

Denied traveller with clear documents.

Please refrain from doing it again, or penalties will be applied

<<This is the least of my problems>> He thought while folding the message to better fit into the pocket of his jacket.

“What happened, Mister Hektor?”

The human rose his sight, looking at a concerned Flash Sentry who, after closing the door behind him, trotted fast toward the desk. “I saw Cloud Chaser crying while galloping away from the booth.” It was rather easy for Hektor to see that there wasn’t just concern in the guard’s question.

“A friend of yours, like Miss Flitter?” The silent nod of the soldier was an exhaustive answer.

The bald head covered by the elegant Equestrian shapka found rest on the hands, but unlike a few moments ago, there was a different expression on the Inspector’s face. He was mumbling something while looking at a confused Flash Sentry who, silently, remained there with his blue eyes fixed on the human in front of him.

“I think I can trust you, Flash Sentry.” The Inspector spoke without even looking at his interlocutor at first “So I want to share with you what’s going on.” Finally his focus passed to the orange stallion, to which he gave an empty smile “We have not much time, so I’ll try to summarize everything.”

The explanation was fast, yet clear. In less than a minute Flash Sentry was told about Dari Ludum’s past, the events in Arstotzka and about the presumed connection between the human and the disappearance of Flitter.

The guard’s expression became grim and serious. He stared at the Inspector in a way he never did before “What you’re telling me is serious, Inspector. I’ll report this to Princess Twilight at onc-”

“Maybe I wasn’t clear.” Hektor interrupted the soldier in a more harsh way than he intended to “These are all suppositions. Without any sort of proof to backup the story, it’s not possible to inform the authorities.” A brief moment of silence took place before the human beat a side of the desk with a fist.

“I’m going to risk my work for this...and for a mere supposition I let a mare suffer for-”

“I trust you, Hektor.” The sentence of the soldier silenced the human who, with both of his eyes widened, stared at the Equestrian.

“You did it to protect her, even if it was against the rules...you would not do that under normal circumstances I think.”

Those words underlined something that he didn’t realize earlier <<He’s right. That’s the first time I acted without following orders.>> A thought that left him astonished. A little smirk made its way onto his face while the head shook a little; it was clear that the work, the experiences made during these days and the new acquaintances, both Arstotzkan and Equestrian, were slowing changing him somehow.

“So...do you have any ideas regarding this problem?” Flash Sentry took a step forward and stared with a serious face towards the human, who finally was able to gain back his self confidence. After a short mumbling, Hektor breathed deeply before opening his mouth to explain the possible course of action to take…

*****

“Cause no trouble.” The hand swiftly reached to hoof of the male earth pony that was waiting for the approval of his passage. Without saying anything, the pony folded back all of his papers in the bag he was carrying on his right side before trotting away from the wooden desk to reach the door for the portal to the human world.

Slowly, the Inspector turned the hourglass with his right hand <<Still two hours before the end of the day.>> With patience, the human ordered all the instrument at his disposal to better fit the space he had, leaving a lot of room for the documents the future travellers would give him.

While mumbling, he counted how many travellers were able to pass the checking; looking back at the previous days he figured that the denials had become fewer, something that indicated that the strict controls he was doing not only led applicants to better check their own documents before coming to the checkpoint, but led the Equestrian Border Office to work better.

Those thoughts with too much pride were overshadowed by the fact that, by his calculation, he had still to let in other travellers to hope to earn enough money to pay all the expenses of the day...and to buy something to prepare a decent dinner for him and Katia as well.

Without losing any more seconds, he spoke loudly at the tube.

“NEXT!”

“Photo is correct; issuing city is in order; expiration date is ok...but you haven’t an entry ticket, so I have to...oh you have it? Please show it to me...Everything is in order. Have a good day in Arstotzka.”

<<Why are there travellers that gives you documents ONLY after you ask them? They know that they have to show them immediately.>> Hektor shook his head for the time lost and for a question that would never find an answer.

“HAVE YOUR DOCUMENTS READY! NEXT!”

“Your plumage doesn’t count as a dress, mister griffon...please refrain from complaining with me; those are the laws, I’m here just to make you respect them. NEXT!”

“All the papers are in order, Mister Filippe Hasse. I want to let you know that I’m a great fan of the Arstotzka Arsekickers. I wish you good luck for the next championship. Glory to Arstotzka! NEXT!”

<<It’s been a long time that I was able to go to the stadium to see them...maybe the last time was when I brought Sara with me.>> Melancholy invaded the mind of the Inspector and memories flowed so intensely that he didn’t notice a pink mare that, with a much too happy expression, was jumping all over the booth to reach the desk.

“Hi there!” A loud and enthusiastic feminine voice aroused Hektor’s attention; after raising his eyes, the human saw a smiling mare with a curly and fluffy pink mane who was wearing an elegant purple dress...a dress that in a strange kind of way didn’t perfectly fit her.

“Papers, plea-”

Without having the time to finish his sentence, Hektor found a passport and an entry ticket coming out of nowhere, on his desk.

“It’s finally a pleasure to meet you, mister Inspector. My name is Pinkie Pie. I already know a loooot of thing about you thanks to my friends. To tell you the truth, you look waaaay more tall than they told me. That’s a nice thing...”

She spoke with so fast a pace that it wasn’t easy to follow her, nor to focus on the documents. “Motive of the tr-”

“...So I said to myself ‘Well I have to know him too...and I should even visit this human world of which everypony is telling me about!’ You should see how much your world is talked about here in Ponyville. Everybody wants to visit it. I want to see if there are new friends to make, what kind of desserts do you make there? I work in a candy store, you know? I could learn nice new recipes in your world and…is there something wrong, mister Inspector?”

Hektor’s puzzled face didn’t escape the eyes of Pinkie Pie, who began to look at him with an interested expression “Maybe you’re ill. You should try one of my chocolate and vanilla cupcakes. They’re fresh...and taste so good they could heal the worst of the illness.”

She put an hoof in her mane, taking from it a little brown cupcake “No need to than me” she added while giggling before closing her eyes, mumbling some kind of melodious song.

Astonished, Hektor decided not to focus on how was it possible to store a cupcake in a mane without creating a mess and began to look at the documents. After the first glance at them, it was clear that there was something wrong.

It was as if the passport was completely handmade; its cover was colored with red and yellow crayons and there was pictured something that reminded him of the shape of a cobra. After opening it, his eyes opened wide in looking at the mess of information written inside; on the place in which there should be the photo of the document’s owner, there was a rough sketch of the face of the mare that was happily standing there.

The Inspector took a very long breath before speaking “I think there is something wrong with your passport, Miss Pinkie Pie.”

Hearing that sentence, the pink mare opened her eyes, looking sincerely shocked “What do you mean? There can’t be any problems with my passport...it’s pre-approved!”

Hektor rose an eyebrow before looking down at the document, realizing that on the visa there was written in a little font the word pre-approved.

A few seconds were needed to let the denial printer pass from the ink sponge to that sort of passport, leaving a bright, crystal clear red stamp on it.

“Cobrastan isn’t even a real country...neither in Arstotzka or here in Equestria.” Hektor said while gently giving her back the documents presented.

“That’s a pity.” Pinkie Pie replied with a bit of sadness in her voice “My new friend Jorji said to me that this kind of trick would work and that I would be able to visit your land...well to tell you the truth he told me that it didn’t work for him either in the past, but I hoped that it would work with me.”

<<So he was able to cross the border, after all>> A smile escaped from the human for that thought...a smile that let the mare gain back the happy smile she had shortly before.

“It’s nice to see you smile, mister. That serious expression you had before is soooo sad to see. You looked like my sister Maud Pie. Come to think of it, you would get along well. I should introduce her to you one day. Maybe the next time I’ll come here to visit your world. I would really like to know your dessert recipes because it...”

A glance at the hourglass let Hektor know that time was passing...and he needed time for what he planned a while ago. He had to find a way to persuade that strange mare to go out.

“If you want, I can send you some Arstotzkan dessert recipes” Hektor interrupted with a bit of uncertainty.

For the first time, Pinkie Pie remained silent, looking with a hopeful expression at the human. “REALLY??” She asked with still both her light blue eyes and mouth wide open.

A nod of the human let her jump in joy for all the booth. Without even having the time to react, Hektor found himself wrapped between the hooves of the mare, whose hold was so tight that he lost his breath for a moment.

“Thank you, mister! I’ll never forget this.” She said with happiness before taking a few steps back from the Inspector, who was finally able to breathe again.

“I’ll find a good way to thank you! Maybe I can organize an huge thanking party! I could invite all of Ponyville. It would be fun.” She was a never ending stream of words and laughs; with her behaviour, she was even able to rip off a smile from the Inspector, despite the annoyance he was feeling in that moment.

“Well. It’s time for me to go home. I’ll wait for those recipes there...just tell the mailmare to send them to me. She will know where to go” She said winking at the human before jumping towards the exit.

“Oh.” She froze herself next to the exit door, turning her attention back to Hektor with an uncommon and puzzling serious expression “I know that you’re facing a risky decision in these moments...and that a mistake could lead to the demise of ponies that are trusting you…” She stopped for a moment, giving time for the Inspector to stare at her in awe and surprise.

“But.” She suddenly smiled, gaining back her normal expression “You have not to worry. Just follow your heart and everything will be fine. And remember...there is someone that is cheering for you. Maybe more than just someone out there” She added, pointing with her right hoof to a specific point of the wall at her right, as if there was someone watching them...someone he couldn’t see “They’ve been following your feats for a long time, I think...and all of them are hoping for the best. Bye.”

Without adding anything more, she crossed the exit door, leaving behind a weirded and clueless human behind.

The time to think about the experience he had with the pink pony wasn’t too much. From the same door she went out, Flash Sentry came silently inside with a seriousness that was worth a million words.

Hektor looked at him, understanding that the time he was waiting for had come. He nodded, regaining his normal composure before clearing his voice while keeping firm in his right the tube in which spelling loud the order he got used to giving.

“NEXT!”

After a brief moment, a white male unicorn with a short curly brown mane and an eccentric pink jacket made his way inside the booth. After closing the door behind him, he looked in front of him, smiling at Hektor in the exact instant he saw him.

“Good evening, my friend. Long time no see.” He looked self confident and cordial while moving in direction of his interlocutor ”I read from the newspaper I would find you here...I didn’t expect to see you in your original form, different from me. To tell you the truth, I’m not still used to this Equestrian shape.”

Dari Ludum’s voice was enough to make the blood inside Hektor pump directly into his brain, feeding his anger and frustration; yet he focused to keep steady, hiding his emotions behind a simple smile.

“Papers please, Mister Ludum.”

“You could show a bit of enthusiasm while working, Inspector.” A smirk grew on his face while taking from his jacket what he was asked for “Besides, you already checked my passport before and here is the entry ticket. Do you really have to check everything again?”

“It’s my job.” He simply answered while bowing the head to allow his eyes to focus on the papers. He had not to spend too much time to realize that, as Dari ludum had said, everything was in order. “Motive of the travel?”

“I just need to go home to attend to important business.” It sounded like a normal statement, nothing out of ordinary.

“By the way...I saw that you denied someone, or somepony as they say here, that I met yesterday. A pegasus named Cloud Chaser. What did she do? She came to me in tears telling me that she was rejected despite she had her documents in order.”

Hektor didn’t raise his look to the unicorn; he just spoke while continuing his checking duty “I already saw too many denied travellers that pretended to be rejected for not incorrect motives.” It was hard for him to keep on his mask, but he couldn’t show any sign of his true feelings; he could ruin everything.

“It was sad to see her in that state...she really wanted to come to Arstotzka. She had her motives.”

<<And I guess you have yours, too.>> The Inspector thought while stamping the approval stamp on Dari Ludum passport.

“You can pass, Mister Ludum. Glory to Arstotzka.”

The unicorn just smiled while taking back his documents, keeping them with both of his forehooves to put them in his jacket “It’s a pity that I couldn’t learn how to use what they call magic, despite the fact that I’m an unicorn here...maybe I have to keep trying, I could do a lot of things with magic.”

There was no answer from the Inspector, who looked as if he was in rush of calling the next applicant in. Looking at that, Dari Ludum simply raised a hoof to salute the human before walking out from the booth, heading to the portal.

After a short time of silence, the access door opened, revealing a determined Flash Sentry. An exchange of looks allowed him to understand that everything went as they thought; at that point, he knew what he had to do.

He walked forward toward the door leading to the portal, without giving another glance to the human who, with a serious expression, was following him with his eyes.

“You know that you could find yourself in trouble for travelling to Arstotzka without proper orders”

The Equestrian guard took a deep breath “If there is a tiny chance of finding Flitter by following that dirty Arstotzkan, so be it.” He was serious, yet calm. A smile broke his expression for a moment “Besides, as I said before I want to trust you, Inspector...and after all you didn’t stop me, so we’re accomplices in this quest, right?”

The last sentence led Hektor to smile back at the soldier, whose courage only raised in him the esteem he was feeling for him. He then regained his serious attitude, clearing his voice“Remember to look for Ian when you reach Arstotzka and to seek his help...I’m sure he’ll be willing to assist you.”

A silent nod came from the soldier before he trotted out from the booth.

<<Good luck, Flash Sentry>> He silently thought while calling in the next traveller.

*****

Time passed faster than Hektor thought; there wasn’t in fact time to call another applicant in. After staring at the last sand grain going down from the top part of the hourglass, he cleared his voice as best as he could:

“THE BORDER FOR ARSTOTZKA IS CLOSED. COME BACK TOMORROW AT 7:00.”

He looked like he was going to add something else, maybe some kind of educated salute to all the citizens that had waited their turn uselessly; after few seconds, he strayed his mouth from the tube <<It wouldn’t change anything, after all.>>

He stood up from his chair more tired than usual and walked towards the entrance of the booth. Slowly, he opened the door, giving a look at the crowd that, without even noticing him, was walking back to their homes.

Earth ponies, griffons, pegasi, unicorns...all of them were walking or flying away, while a beautiful sunset was painting everything in a bright shade of red. At that sight, the human smiled with a deep calm inside and, after closing the door behind him, he leaned on the external wall of the booth with his shoulders while taking from his jacket the almost empty cigarette pack Katia gave him days ago.

<<I used it less than expected.>> A realization that came while taking from it a cigarette that was lit few seconds later with a match struck on the border wall.

Those moments of complete peace and relaxation gave the Inspector the time needed to think about what had happened during the day, especially with Dari Ludum’s issue.

<<While I’m here doing basically nothing to help, Flash Sentry and, I hope, Ian are following him to see if he’s indeed hiding away Miss Flitter.>>

<<Maybe I should just tell my concerns to my superiors, or even better to the Equestrian authorities, to Princess Twilight...but in that case would they be able to link Dari Ludum to the disappearance case? Would they be able to find the missing mare?>>

<<Besides...I could be wrong. Then I’m risking both mine, Flash Sentry’s, and probably Ian’s work just for a mere idea...I’m more stupid than I thought. Katia is right after all.>>

Hektor didn’t realize that, while lost in that stream of thoughts, the sun was slowly setting down, allowing the colors of the evening to prevail on the red that was dominating before.

The human raised his head to look at the clear Equestrian sky...in which, suddenly, a little light blue point with a some kind of rainbow trail made its appearance, becoming bigger and bigger every second. It was easy to see that something was growing near.

After few seconds, a cyan pegasus mare with her wings spread reached his position, stopping her fast race just with some precise and quick wing moves; after she landed, she lost no time and pointed directly toward the Inspector.

A glance to the mane of the mare allowed Hektor to recognize who he was facing.

“You!” Rainbow Dash was clearly angry at him; only a few inches were dividing the human from the hoof that was pointed to him “What did you do to Cloud Chaser? She’s crying from when you rejected her! And her documents were all correct. Everypony checked them twice!”

Her tone of voice was harsh and confident; to worsen everything, he knew that she was right, that he let that poor mare suffer for something that she couldn’t understand...that she couldn’t know either.

It was right for a friend to be so mad at the one responsible for that, too. Hektor knew all of those things.

But in that moment he couldn’t falter; he had to keep calm.

He smoked with his eyes closed, feeling a brief sense of peace, before throwing out from his mouth a dark grey cloud.

“Days ago, somepony told me that sometimes rules have to be disrespected to do the right thing.”

Those words hit Rainbow Dash; those were her own words. She couldn’t just stare at the human that was turning off what remained of that strange, white cylinder under one of his boots.

“I decided to follow this tip...and believe me when I say that I hope to be right.”

He opened the booth door to enter inside, turning his head back to the rainbow mare and looking at her with a serious face.

“Tell to your friend that I’m sorry...and that she has a good friends like you.”

A little smile on his face was the last thing the cyan pegasus saw of the Inspector, before he closed the door behind his shoulder leaving her in a catatonic state.

With slow movements, Hektor took off the magic necklace and placed it on the wooden desk, near the two approval and denying stamper. Then, slowly, he left the booth to reach the portal with a weight on his heart maybe too hard to sustain.

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