• Published 1st Jan 2018
  • 1,891 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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Border troubles

26 October, 1983 – H 6:30 to 15:00

“By the look on your face, I presume you spent an awful night.”

At those words, Hektor rose his head, focusing on the blonde soldier in front of him that, with the cold expression he learned to know in the previous days, was offering him a cigarette.

“Is it so evident?” He replied while stretching his right hand to take the gift from Ian “I was able to sleep just for two damn hours...and by the line I’m seeing outside the booth, I think that we have a long day in front of us.”

Without saying any other words, Hektor took a packet of matches from one of his jacket pockets; with smooth moves, he struck one of the matches and, carefully covering the blue fire from the cold wind, he lit both his and Ian’s cigarette.

“I’m pleased to see that you‘re wearing all your equipment again” the cunning soldier said with a smirk on his face “I have to tell you that you seemed rather unprofessional yesterday”

“Please do not pour salt on a still open wound.” Hektor stopped for a moment to inhale some smoke and to better taste the aroma of the thing that he knew was just another poisonous trap “I spent all night arguing with my mother-in-law about the money deducted from my paycheck to repay the equipment I lost yesterday.”

“Given away, not lost.” The soldier shook his head and gave a glance to the rifle next to him “I’m not able to understand why you did that...they’re people you’ll never see again.” He took his time to smoke and to raise a big, gray cloud in the air before continuing “They’re not your friends; they don’t belong to your family...so why bother?”

Hektor focused his attention on the huge line of people in front of him; there were humans and Equestrians busy “Look at them” Hektor said suddenly breaking the silence “Everybody there is looking for something...adventure, safety, a way of making money maybe...in a place like this, everybody is equal, everybody is fighting the coldness to have the possibility to travel...or to go back home, if we consider the Equestrians.”

Ian looked bored at the river of people close in line near the entrance of the booth, without focusing on Hektor that, in the meantime, was speaking again “In a situation like this, all we can do is be gentle with them, human or Equestrian...sometimes a good action can change someone’s day.”

The soldier threw away his cigarette and stood up from the part of the wall where he was resting his back “If you love to continue to lose money and time like that, be my guest.” He commented while taking his rifle from the ground “Speaking of the Equestrians, look how many of them are in the line...some of them are here because they travelled to help friends or family members stuck here for their incorrect documents.”

While looking at a clueless Hektor, Ian took from a rear pocket of his gray jacket a rolled newspaper “While reaching your working station, read the main article of todays newspaper...I think you’ll find it interesting.” The Inspector nodded while taking the newspaper from the soldier’s hand and, slowly, he walked with him toward the booth.

On the way, Hektor opened the newspaper and gave a quick glance to the article Ian was talking about:

26 October, 1983

The Truth of Arstotzka

Arstotzka presents formal protest against Equestria

By an official bulletin from the Ministry of Admission, it was made public that an official letter of protest was sent to the Holy Princess Celestia, ruler of Equestria, to formally express negative opinions about the way their managing their side of the border. “As a matter of fact” Varusov Konstant, one of the highest representatives of the M.O.A. section operating in Orvech Vonor “After only two days of opening we found our city full of Equestrians, stopped at our checkpoint due incorrect or expired documents.”

Opinions from Arstotzkans that walked between the two worlds reported how slow and unprofessional the work of the Equestrian Inspectors was “It was as if they’re taking their role lightly, as if it was all some kind of game” an Orvech Vonor lady told us “are we supposed to see criminals and dangerous strangers pass the border without a serious control?” A worry that a good number of Arstotzkans are sharing.

Important representatives of the Great Arstotzkan Government declared that by all means the problem will be solved soon; it was added that cooperation from the parallel world is expected.

Good news came from Ministry of Commerce, as a pact regarding the right to use both Arstotzkan credits and Equestrian bits in both the worlds was signed yesterday; according to the experts, this will lead to commercial benefit for our Great Nation.

Glory to Arstotzka

“Maybe that’s just propaganda” Hektor said loudly while rolling the newspaper to give it back to the soldier, who took it without even looking at it “regardless, we just have to do our job, checking that everything here goes smoothly. That’s our task.” he added looking at the river of people, now nearer.

“That doesn’t mean that sloppy work made by others has to let our work become harder” the reply came while the soldier stayed still, gazing at that mix of humans and Equestrians.

Now that they were close, Hektor was able to listen all the incomprehensible sounds coming from the crowd; he could just imagine that what he was hearing was just the mix of dialogues, opinions, loud thoughts shared between all the humans and Equestrians there. He was relieved when he saw that there was no tension <<Maybe this day will pass without problems>> he thought while looking away from the crowded line to focus on a strange couple that he saw walking on the road for Orvech Vonor: a blonde man surely taller than average with huge shoulders, covered by what it looked like a very heavy jacket, who was silently focusing on a girl next to him, a shorter good looking girl with long, straight hairs who shared with him the hair color, those green eyes full of life...and the hats they were wearing, fitted more for western movies than to the cold Arstotzkan weather <<Equestrians I think...siblings maybe?>> he absently thought while walking to the booth entrance to begin his day work <<Did they open the checkpoint earlier than us?>> he wondered.

“As usual…” Ian suddenly said toward Hektor’s direction while unlocking the door of the booth “you’ll find some letters on the desk...and something else, too.” The Inspector raised an eyebrow at that sentence; then he nodded silently before going inside the small building.

After closing the door behind him, he gave a quick look at the room; it seemed that there were no changes compared to the previous day, news that relaxed the Inspector as he did not have to focus on how to use unknown instruments; his internal calm lasted until he saw the two different envelopes on the desk...and a book.

<<Please do not tell me that it’s a new rule book>> Hektor thought while walking to his workplace. His concerns disappeared to leave space for questions when he realized that the book didn’t came from the Ministry of Admission...nor from Arstotzka.

He focused on what looked like an expensive tome; on the elegant light brown folder there was fine gold writing: Races and contemporary history of Equestria.

With doubt he opened the book and quickly looked at the pages inside; there were images of Unicorns, Pegasi, Horses, Griffons and a lot of creatures he wasn’t able to recognize. To his surprise, he was able to read every word written on it, something peculiar considering that it was written in another world that, in theory, should have different grammar rules.

In that moment he realized that he didn’t question himself about how he was able to read the letters that came from Equestria...maybe they had the same way of writing or perhaps portals between Arstotzka and Equestria had some effect on the items that passed from one world to another.

He shrugged his shoulder, thinking at the end that it was not his job to understand these mechanisms...Arstotzka had scientists, he just had to focus on checking passports and documents.

He closed the book and focused his attention on the letters. It was surprising to see that the mark on one of them was different: the quality of the paper was the same, but now there was some kind of purple star surrounded by little yellow stars; it looked elegant, well coloured; Hektor scratched the side of his new shapka while looking at it <<Maybe this comes from the new referent mentioned in the last letter.>>

As habit, he opened the Arstotzkan message first; there was something in the letters sent from Equestria that was able to make him feel better after the plain, crude M.O.A. communications <<I hope today will be the same>> he thought while opening the envelope to take off the letter.

He seated while unfolding the paper in front of him, feeling all the discomfort offered from his chair; the idea of asking for a new chair passed through his mind before the focus passed on to what was written on the letter he was holding between his hands.

Inspector,

Today a pact between Arstotzka and Equestria regarding information sharing becomes effective: our two nations will share their citizens identity archive; it will be possible for you to check information regarding Equestrians that will come to the checkpoint.

Check every Equestrian identity and, by looking at the archive, be sure that the Equestrian form matches the photos they have on their passport.

We also inform you that from now on there will be no guards near the portal; everybody will stand outside the border wall to better protect the checkpoint.

It is necessary to increase your level of speed and focus, as the bad work of Equestrians is bringing into our glorious territory too many citizens without proper papers.

Ministry of Admissions is working on the problem; a message will be sent to you if there are communications regarding the matter that will imply a modification of your working instructions.

Glory to Arstotzka.

Ministry of Admissions

The sound of his sigh resonated all through the silent booth; it was clear that the more days that pass, the more his workload would increase. The worst aspect was that his paycheck wasn’t increasing as his responsibilities were <<Another thing to add to the ‘request list’ to the M.O.A....if I ever present one>> he thought while closing back the letter with caution.

After putting the message in a drawer under his desk, he looked at the clock close to him; there was enough time to open the second letter and to read it with all the calm needed.

With curiosity in his eyes, he gently opened the folder and took out the pure white paper inside. While unfolding it, he saw a thin golden line all around the border of the written style and tidy, wonderful, calligraphy. All the message was written in an elegant italic and it was clear that it was handwritten with a quill and inkwell. Almost astonished by what he was seeing, Hektor opened the letter on the desk and began to read its contents:

Dear Inspector,

My name is Twilight Sparkle and, by Princess Celestia’s will, I’m the new princess in charge for the management of the relations with the human world.

It was my desire to write to you as soon as I could; Princess Celestia told me that she was already sending you letters, so I thought it would be right to follow her method of work.

I want to let you know that I’m excited for this new experience and I look forward to working with you. I think that it will be interesting to better know the history, ideas and habits of humans; I already had the chance to confront myself with some ‘Arstotzkans’ and with Equestrians that came to your world and I have to admit that I had different opinions about your way of living. It was nice and fascinating.

I asked for permission to send you a book regarding Equestria; considering that you’ll have to face more and more Equestrians, I think you’ll find it useful to know our history and our way of thinking, too.

I wish to let you know that we’re working about tightening the controls at our side of the checkpoint: Arstotzkan reports informed me about the copious number of Equestrians with incorrect documents and about the number of ponies that, like Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy, had to come to your world to bring proper documents. I’m sure that the new rules introduced will solve the problem.

About this important matter, I wish to deeply thank you for the efforts you made for Discord and Sweetie Belle. It was nice to see both of them safe and it was really touching to see her and Rarity reunited, both of them expressing their sisterly love for each other. It would not have been possible without your help and even if somebody here thinks that you’re still not worthy of our trust, I want to believe in you.

If you have the possibility, please write me back about how life at the checkpoint is going and about anything you want; I’ll be happy to reply. Just send your letter to our world specifying that you wrote it for me; guards will have orders to bring it to me as soon as they can.

I wish you a good day.

Yours truly,
Twilight Sparkle

By the look on his face, it was clear that he could never imagine to read a message written from a ruler of the parallel word in that way; it looked more like a letter written from a friend than a message written for somebody unknown.

<<She invited me to reply as well...could I even bother a ruler with a letter? Probably here they would arrest me in a snap of fingers.>>

He focused straight on the white of the wall in front of him for no reason; while carefully closing the letter to let it fit in his right jacket pocket, he realized how straight and precise those lines were; it was something he didn’t notice before. Those lines followed exactly every Arstotzkan rule regarding color, length, distance.

<<They want me to behave as those lines: precise, respectful of laws and orders...they wants me as those damned white lines.>>

The only thing that let him smile in that moment was the image he was picturing in his mind: those two Equestrian sisters hugging. It was enough for him to remove from his mind all the bad thoughts he was having before.

With a quick glance at the clock, he figured that it was time to open the checkpoint.

As he was used to, he turned on the microphone to say the sentence everybody outside was waiting for.

"THE CHECKPOINT TO EQUESTRIA IS OPEN. HAVE YOUR DOCUMENTS READY BEFORE COMING IN!"

The first two ones were easy to check: two persons from Kolechia, papers were good...everything was in order.

*KACHUNK*

Green stamp, good to go. “Cause no trouble”.

The Inspector fixed the shapka on his head while two tall men came in from the open door; two big, brown wings came from behind their black wool jackets and both of them had a fierce faces and burning eyes. Their expressions and behaviour reminded him of Arstotzkan soldiers <<Maybe they’re soldiers, too>> he thought while coughing a little to clear his voice.

“Papers, please”

Without saying a word, the two put their passport on the desk at the same time; Hektor couldn’t not see that their eyes were fixed on him, as they were studying every movement he was doing.

As ordered in the Arstotzkan bulletin, Hektor activated the computer under the desk to confirm the information on the documents with the new updated archive; the amount of information in the database was astonishing.

Arkanius and Leinborg...both came from a State named ‘Griffonia’. As expected, both were soldiers...royal soldiers to be precise. What were they doing in Arstotzka? It probably wasn’t his business.

“We have a lot in common with you, human.” Suddenly, a rough voice attracted the Inspector’s attention; one of the huge figures in front of him was speaking toward him, requesting attention “We want to let you know that we’ll report to our superiors what our impressions about your way of living are; I think they’ll find what we’ll say...interesting.”

There was no irony in his tone of voice; it was clear that he was telling the truth.

While stamping the green stamp on the first visa, Hektor rose his head, looking at the two guests in front of him “What do you mean?”.

The other Griffonian, who stayed in deep silence till that moment, shrugged his huge shoulders before sharing his opinion “you have discipline, you have tight laws and the instruments to make your citizens respect them...and by what we saw yesterday, you focus on military and you have skilled soldiers...” He smirked, briefly looking at his friend “...all things that we appreciate in a State.”

The other huge man nodded while following Hektor’s movements that, in the meantime, were printing the approving stamp on the second visa.

They both took back the documents from the Inspector’s hand before bowing their head a little, as a sign of respect “I think that our Nation will get along well...Farewell for now, human.”

“Glory to Arstotzka” Hektor replied without thinking too much about it, as it was just an automatic answer to give.

<<Great...there is an Arstotzka like country in Equestria, too...and I was hoping that the life there was better...monsters aside.>>

He stretched his arm before inviting inside with his microphone the next one in the line.

An Antegrian girl...two brothers from the United Federation...a young man with a horn…an Arstotzkan man that, by the kind of clothes he was wearing, gave to him the idea of being quite rich.

“Glory to Arstotzka” Hektor said loudly to him while giving back the passport with the approval stamp on it.

Four out of four with proper documents; <<Almost a record.>> a thought that came along with a little smirk.

“NEXT!”

The booth door opened slowly while a short man made his way into the room “See you later Ian, you old winter fox” he shouted facing the entrance before walking towards Hektor’s desk.

The Inspector raised an eyebrow as he heard the name mentioned by the newcomer <<A friend of Ian, maybe?>> he thought while keeping his eyes on the newcomer, whose beard was thicker than the hairs on his large forehead; by his face, Hektor could figure that he wasn’t young and, by his almost closed eyes, he could see that he was somebody that had a hard life for sure.

“Papers, Please.” finally Hektor broke the silence, opening his hand to invite the man to give him his documents.

The newcomer whispered something like “Ok...here we go…” before looking directly in Hektor’s eyes.

“Glory to Arstotzka! The Greatest Country!!!” Suddenly the man shouted, spreading his arms in the air.

Without moving a muscle and with no apparent reaction on his face, Hektor silently focused on the bizarre pose the old man assumed; after a while, he shrugged his shoulder a little and, with calm, he put his hands on the desk.

“Can I see your documents?” His tone of voice was polite, yet firm.

“Papers?” The old man asked with a huge smile on his face “Are papers really needed to cross this border? Arstotzka is so great that it doesn’t need to control people that want to visit a friendly territory.”

There was something in that behaviour that was puzzling Hektor <<Is he just acting...or do I need to call in the soldiers to escort him to the closest mental facility?>> he thought while bowing his head a little to the left, as if he had the intention of finding something he wasn’t able to see.

“No document, no allowance to the portal...that’s the law.”

At those words, the old man laughed a little, closing his eyes for a moment while stretching his arms “You’re funny, Inspector...you remind me of an old friend of mine.” He stopped a little to look at Hektor; a little smile grew on his face “Nevermind...I’ll come back. Jorji Costava always comes back.” he added while stepping back toward the exit.

Despite all the intentions, Hektor had to remain indifferent; he followed with his eyes the man that went out from the booth without saying anything more with an expression on his face that betrayed his confusion? Was he joking or was he serious?

Hektor found himself something incomprehensible about the matter, before shouting at the microphone another “NEXT!”

Two travellers came in front of him, showing their documents without giving him the time to ask for them...everything was in order and, when he asked to the two young men to open their luggage to check them, they showed no worries and, with the caution of one who cares for his belongings, both opened them on the desk.

No smuggling, no violations of laws...Hektor smiled satisfied and, after asking the courtesy of freeing his desk, he put the green stamp on both the passports.

The two youngsters smiled while preparing to leave the booth “Thanks sir.” one of them said before focusing on his friend “A new world to discover...it will be a great adventure.”

Looking at all that enthusiasm, the Inspector felt a bit of joy...a feeling that was almost instantly covered by a line of melancholy, as memories of all the explorations made with his friends in the deep woods near Nirsk came to his mind.

<<It was all easier back then>> a thought that came with a sad smile.

Checking the documents helped Hektor in that moment: time slipped fast as people continued to come in front of him: a girl and a man with horns on their heads, a dad and his child, a young winged man with a strange blue haircut who was wearing a brown jacket with a blue shield with lightning painted on its left arm.

After he saw the last one going through the door for the portal, Hektor waited a moment before calling in the next in the line. His eyes fell on the book he received from that Princess Twilight Sparkle. In a glimpse, his mind went far away into the past, in a desperate bid to remember when the last time he read something was...maybe it was a tale story for Yara, or a romance with Sarah during a boring afternoon...that sense of boring that, he thought, he would love to live again.

<<Maybe I should give it a shot>> he thoughts while bringing his right gloved hand to his chin before grabbing the microphone again.

“HAVE YOUR DOCUMENTS READY! THE NEXT IN THE LINE CAN…”



*BOOOOOOOOOOOOM*



A loud and sudden sound came from outside the booth! Everything inside began to shake and Hektor had to hold tight to not fall down from his chair.

“WHAT THE…” The Inspector wasn’t able to find the strength to complete his sentence...he realized that it had to be an explosion...an explosion that came in such an unexpected way that left him speechless...and with a vivid sense of fear never felt before.

In a few seconds, other sounds came from outside: screams of panic, firearms shot, the sound of a mob of people running...

“Quick, Inspector!” Ian’s voice coming from the entrance of the checkpoint booth woke the Inspector from the catatonic status he felt, take the keys and shut the door!” He said with a loud voice being heard over all the outside chaos while throwing a bunch of metal keys that lznded near his feet.

There was no time to ask anything of him; he rushed out closing the door behind. Hektor stood still in silence…only other gunfire sounds persuaded him to move. He recovered the keys from the ground and, with steady moves, he reached the door. With unexpected luck, he found the correct key on the first try and made the lock turn at least four times before stepping back from it. He quickly focused on the other door, the one that lead to the portal...he reached it and, to his surprise, he saw that there wasn’t a lock, something that he hadn’t realized yet.

He wasn’t able to make consideration about the matter, as gunfire and screams continued to fill the air, forcing one not to think of something else other than staying alive.

Hektor reached in a few steps his desk, covering under it as he could find no better protection; he waited there for a minute...a minute that felt like a whole year in his mind.

Slowly, the atmosphere became more quiet...there weren’t any other gunshots, and screams ceased. Hektor rose up from his position and, with great joy, he heard what he wanted to hear: silence.

<<Is it over?>> he thought while polishing off the dust from his uniform and from his shapka.

Closing his eyes, he could sense his heartbeat slowing down at the same rate of his breathing...then, a violent banging on the entrance door brought him back from that state of peace.

Looking at the door, Hektor realized that despite his role he had nothing to protect himself.

<<That’s a problem!>> he quickly thought looking worried at the only defense he had from whatever wanted to come in.

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