• Published 1st Jan 2018
  • 1,895 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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Cold winds, tension and apples

26 October, 1983 – H 15:00 to 19:00

*BANG* *BANG* *BANG*

Whatever was hitting the door, it didn’t want to stop.

Hektor looked around for the hundredth time in a last attempt of finding something to protect himself <<Damn! I’m the one responsible of the checkpoint booth and they don’t give me any sort of weapon in case of emergency.>>

When he was beginning to abandon all of his hopes, all the sounds coming from outside ended suddenly and that sort of attack at the booth’s door stopped...after few seconds, a familiar voice came from the other side:

“Open up Inspector! I’m tired of knocking at the door!”

Hektor’s eyes grew wide as he heard Ian’s voice. He stood in silence for half a minute, before he walked towards the booth entrance, looking straight to the door. Slowly, he took the keys from one of his jacket pockets and, after few tries, he was able to find the correct one, opening the door in front of him.

He looked at the person he was facing: Ian was covered by a mix of snow, dirt and dust and, judging by the frequency of his breaths, it was clear that he dealt with something that put his body in very stressful situation.

“You could have told me from the beginning that it was you banging at the door. I thought someone was trying to enter the booth.” Hektor’s nervousness could be perceived by his tone of voice.

As an answer, the soldier simply looked at the weapon in his hands, still heated from use, and shrugged his shoulders before focusing on the Inspector “So you thought that someone could pass the line of guards that are protecting the border, especially, me? I should take it as a personal offense…”

The anger in Hektor’s mind slowly faded away and after a long, deep breath, he was able to become calm again. He covered both of his hands in the jacket pockets, as the wind coming from the opened door brought a chill inside the already cold booth “You seem exhausted” he said to Ian, realizing in that moment that on his uniform there were bruises and tears “But what happened? I was just able to hear an huge explosion and gunfire...were we attacked?”

“Things are...complicated” Ian answered while inviting Hektor with his right hand to give him back the checkpoint booth keys “And I think there will be problems with Equestria after what happened.”

“What do you mean?” Hektor looked puzzled as he gave Ian what he was asking for “Someone in the line for the checkpoint gave problems?”

“Not exactly” Ian stopped for a second to put the keys into an internal pocket of his heavy jacket “Lets say that this time, the Arstotzkan government will have to face the problem of the Equestrians’ sloppy work once and for all.”

It was uncommon to read sentiment of any sort on Ian’s face, but that time Hektor could read badly covered anger on his face; his expression troubled Hektor a lot, since it could mean that the situation was worse than expected.

The soldier gave his back to Hektor to look at the completely empty landscape in front of him, something that was uncommon at that hour “Take your things and leave the booth...I’ll fill you in with the details while we’re heading to the M.O.A. offices...I think they’ll want a complete report about what happened.”

Hektor nodded quickly before going back in the booth to get his things before leaving, eager to hear Ian’s story.

*****

“Are you serious? Something unknown that came from Equestria was the cause of all this mess?” Hektor’s expression couldn’t be more worried while, walking next to the entrance to Arstotzka side of the border, he was looking at the consequences of the disaster.

There were officers that were investigating the place and medics in white heavy cloths that were giving first aid to some people on the ground. As that wasn’t still enough, the landscape kinda reminded him of a warzone, like the one where Kolechians and Arstotzkans fought years ago: all around the building from where Equestrians came there were bullets holes and some of the iron barriers put there for protecting the border were damaged; above all, there was a big, dark hole in the ground filled with some kind of debris from which a strange smell was coming.

“A propane gas tank was hit during the fight” Ian focused on the inspector as if he was able to read his mind “That was the explosion you heard...it wounded some of our soldiers” those last words came with an angrier expression, something that could be seen even by the way he was grasping his rifle.

Trying to appear as calm as possible, Hektor took from his jacket a packet of cigarettes, taking one for him before offering one to the soldier “Looks like you had to confront a whole army.”

Silently Ian took one of them with a quick move and patiently waited for Hektor who, with a single match, lit both of the cigarettes. He deeply breathed before expelling a grey cloud from his mouth “We fought against a lone creature…” his tone of voice became the same cold one that Hektor knew...but in that moment he could read a line of disappointment in his voice, as someone that wasn’t satisfied of himself.

“A...single creature?” the Inspector answered with his eyes open widely.

“We were caught off guard…” Ian took his time to adjust the weapon on his shoulder before continuing “I was guarding your booth when the explosion came...after I gave you the booth keys, I ran to the point where the explosion came from. It was a surprise for me to see that the guards were fighting...an Arstotzkan guard.”

Hektor looked at the soldier puzzled, keeping the silence and continuing to smoke while focusing on the story.

“It was as he became mad all of a sudden; he was just shooting everywhere with his rifle, harming all the soldiers and the civilians near...it was almost as if he had never used a weapon before...and by peeking from the wall I was using to cover myself, I could see that his eyes were cold, focused...there was no worry or guilty on his face”

<<If Ian says someone is cold...that’s saying something>> Hektor couldn’t not think about that in a worrying way.

“Fortunately the gun that the guy was using ran out of bullets and we had the opportunity to reply…” Ian became silent for a moment, pausing to take a last breath from the cigarette before throwing it on the ground “there was no intention to take a prisoner...and I don’t need to add anything, I think…”

Hektor nodded in a serious way, silently looking at the road they were walking, realizing that they had already left behind the checkpoint “You told me that it was the Equestrians fault…”

“Let me finish the story.” the blonde man interrupted the Inspector, inviting with a movement of his hand to keep silent “When we hit that crazy man and he fell on the ground, something strange happened: all of us saw his body...change.”

Hektor wasn’t able to ask anything that Ian continued in his speech “After a short while, the man transformed himself in a strange, black creature with a body filled with strange holes…” Ian’s eyes were looking up, as if he was trying to dig from his memory every detail he could “It’s difficult to describe...it reminded me of a weird bug, it had bug wings, too...but he had the overall body of a horse...a small horse.”

“So you told me that this...thing was able to transform himself in an Arstotzkan guard??” Hektor couldn’t believe at what he was asking.

“Yeah...and someone was stupid enough to give him a weapon.” The soldier’s voice made it clear again his anger for all the situation “I think an internal investigation is in order, too...even if the main point is to solve once and for all the problem of the awful work they’re doing in this damned Equestria nation...it’s especially their fault if a disaster like this happened!”

“And the creature?” Hektor suddenly asked with a bit of curiosity.

The answer came with a shrug of shoulders “I don’t know. While the officers were questioning me, I saw some white coated men covering it with a blanket before putting it on a stretcher to carry it away.”

Hektor curiosity was overwhelming and it was clear that he was going to ask something else, but a quick look at the place where he was standing let him realize that they were close to the M.O.A. building “Here we are.” he just said, underlining the obvious.

When close to the entrance, both of their eyes focused on a little group of men that were discussing something; with a quick glance, Hektor could recognize among them a familiar figure: Konstant Varusov. Close to him there were two armed guards and a slim, tall man who was wearing a complete black uniform and an officer’s hat of the same color.

“That means trouble, Inspector” Ian voice came out from nowhere “I saw that kind of uniform once” he added gesturing with a move of his head to the black officer “he’s a member of the Special Investigation Division of the Ministry of Information.”

“Well...thinking about the events, it’s normal to have an investigation, right?” the Inspector looked at the soldier that, strangely, had a puzzled expression on his face.

“It’s normal indeed...but they have their own way to lead it...and usually it means that people disappear and strange things happens.”

Before getting close to the group of men near the M.O.A. that, in the meantime, had already seen them, Ian poised his free hand on Hektor’s shoulder, stopping him for a moment “Be careful at every word you’ll say to them.” Ian’s serious face caught Hektor’s attention that, before moving, nodded to assure he understood the warning.

Focusing their attention on the group, Ian and Hektor reached, step by step, the group of men that, in the meantime, were looking at them intensely.

“Mr. Popov...it’s good to see you unharmed” Varusov broke the awkward silence that fell in that moment “Another sign of the great work our soldiers made at the checkpoint...Glory to Arstotzka.” he added while bringing his right fist to the chest, a movement repeated by all those presents...except for the black clothed man.

“It is my job to assure that everything went good or not” the Officer said while looking from behind his round shaped glasses, the people he was facing; Hektor realized that it wasn’t possible to see his eyes from those glasses and, despite his self control, he felt shivers through his body when he realized that the Officer was looking at him...it was as though he could see through his body, his mind, his soul...as he could see or uncover everything...it wasn’t a good sensation.

With a quick glance, Hektor realized that even Ian, whose cold blood was a known thing to him, was feeling uncomfortable in that situation.

“You must be Mr. Hektor Popov, the checkpoint Inspector...and Mr. Ian Kolim, member of the I° border regiment” with slow steps, the Officer went near the blonde guard, looking straight in his eyes “I saw good reports regarding your duty in Kolechia during the war.”

“I did what I had to do.” replied Ian who had a quick nod as answer.

“And you, Inspector...you’re working hard, yes? According to Mr. Varusov’s reporting, you’re doing a decent job...even if you made a terrible mistake in your first day” his tone of voice was flat...and threatening.

“Mr. Popov is doing a good job” Varusov interrupted with a sentence that caught Hektor by surprise ”...the total opposite of the Equestrians, who let that...thing…come into our country with an expired passport, with a different name from the I.D. card we found on him.”

<<He’s defending me? Really>> Hektor couldn’t believe at what he was seeing.

“I see” the officer brought an hand on one of his slim shaped mustache to caress it, looking deeply at the Inspector “a good try to legitimate your work, Mr. Varusov.” There were no signs of emotion on his face; one could question if there was even a soul in that man.

The High Officer, showing no reaction to the sentence of the agent, focused back on Ian “Let’s not waste time. Time is precious in these cases, especially the time of Mr. Vonel here.”

“Indeed” the black agent added “We have to talk a lot about the matter, Mr. Ian...while you, Mr. Popov...” he turned his head to focus on Hektor who was taken by surprise by the attention on him “...you can go. I already know that you remained in the checkpoint booth to protect it. It’s good to see you respected your duties as Inspector.”

<<I stayed locked in the booth to protect myself, not the checkpoint...but whatever>> Hektor had to focus to not let a smirk appear on his face.

Suddenly Konstant took few steps forward to get close to Hektor “The checkpoint to Equestria will stay closed today to allow further investigation and to secure the area...maybe even tomorrow. You’ll be notified in the evening” He put away his gloved hand to take out a white envelope with the Arstotzkan symbol on it “here's your daily pay. There are no extra charges today.” he smirked in a strange way, as if he was teasing him.

Hektor took the envelope, quickly putting it in one of the internal folds of his jacket. After a quick look to Ian, he took a few steps back from the group “I’ll wait at home for my orders then...”

“It’s a pleasure to see that you like to read, mister Inspector” Vonel suddenly spoke at Hektor, pointing at the elegant tome he was keeping under his right arm “I think it cost a lot, judging from its cover...more than a checkpoint Inspector could afford.”

“Well…” Hektor immediately stopped his tongue; saying that it came from Equestria could be a problem...and he realized that maybe Konstant didn’t know anything about the book, as he didn’t say anything about the matter.

“He wanted to show me his family photo album” Ian’s words broke the silence “he said it is his most precious treasure” he added, giving Hektor a significant stare.

“I see...I think family is important, too.” Vonel said nodding his head before looking at Konstant “Please High Officer, lead the way.”

Keeping his self control, Hektor brought his hand to the chest “I will go then...Glory to Arstotzka.”

“Glory to Arstotzka.” all the members of that strange group replied before moving toward the M.O.A. entrance to gain the access to the building. Hektor was able to exchange a last look with Ian, who understood how Hektor was deeply thankful for what he had done.

With no other thought than going back home to explain everything to Katia and to drink something warm, Hektor walked forward faster than usual, looking at the ground as to isolate himself from everybody.

*****

The sound of chit chat and talking all around was something that couldn’t be overlooked...it was clear that the events at the checkpoint became a matter that shook Orvech Vonor; neither the opening of the portal to the parallel world and the presence of Equestrians in town had the same effects as the disaster that happened that day: the main square was so crowded it was impossible to find a place to stay alone...every bench was taken, bars were full of people, peddlers’ carts were surrounded by potential buyers. <<Never seen so much life here...gossip and disasters have so much power on people.>> a realization that came with a little smile while, with both of his hands behind his back, he was walking past the crowd, trying to not bump into anyone.

“YOU EQUESTRIANS ARE PUTTING EVERYBODY IN DANGER, DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT??”

Attracted by the sudden loud yelling, Hektor turned his head toward the point from where he thought the sentence came from.

“YOU’RE RUINING ARSTOTZKA! OPENING THE BORDER WAS AN ERROR!”

Again...focusing better, the Inspector was able to see a large group of people near one of the side streets that came in the square; it was as if they were surrounding something or someone.

“Ya think that it was Equestrians who caused trouble?” A calmer but determined female voice came from within the group. Hektor mumbled while, pushed by his curiosity, he walked faster to reach the crowd.

While getting near, the tension grew at a worrying rate; the yelling became louder and people were pushing each other, as they were trying to reach the middle of the group.

“Our soldiers were wounded because of you!” Someone said pointing the finger at somebody Hektor couldn’t see in that moment “And the more days pass, the more crowded our town is becoming!”

“Police should arrest you for what you did, you evil liars!” Someone else added, making the mob yell more.

“Don’t dare to call me an evil liar” a female angry voice came from the middle of the crowd “I should put some sense in your dang head.” The last sentence had the only result of making the situation more tense; protest and loud incomprehensible comments were filling the air.

“Come on!” Someone raised an hand, inviting people to join his/her plan “Let’s show them what it means to mess with Arstotz-”

“ENOUGH” Suddenly, a loud order came out from nowhere; silence fell on the crowd that, taken by surprise, turned all of their focus at the direction of the one who spoke. They were surprised to see a man wearing the Arstotzkan checkpoint Inspector uniform in front of them.

By the look the people were giving to him, Hektor realized that they were almost frightened by him <<Maybe I underestimate the power this suit gives me in front of people>> Hektor thought, hiding a smirk of satisfaction.

“Inspector!” A tough bearded man spoke, with a tone of respect Hektor wasn’t expecting “Those two Equestrians are questioning our hospitality and our respect. After what happened at the frontier, they deserve a lesson.”

Without even asking, people moved from their position, allowing Hektor to see who they were talking about: a man and a girl that were familiar to him; he needed just few seconds to recognize the same two western hat wearers he saw at the beginning of the day.

“That’s not true, mister.” The blonde girl said while walking toward the Inspector, showing no fear or insecurity “These people came to me and mah brother when they realized we’re Equestrians only to point at us with nonsense accusations.”

“Eeyup” was the reply from the big, blonde young man close to her. Hektor took a moment to look at him, figuring how his focused attention on the people all around him and the way he was standing, especially the way he was tightening all of his muscles, were all signs that he was preparing himself for an eventual fight; it was interesting to see how he placed himself close to the other girl, as to protect her. In the meantime, the Equestrian took his time to adjust a huge brown linen bag he was carrying on his right shoulder, emphasizing her statement.

“It’s their fault if we were attacked by some kind of monster.” Someone in the crowd yelled again, triggering again the loud voices of everybody, a thing that was making Hektor more and more nervous. After a deep breath, realizing the situation, Hektor rose his head, looking at the mob in a cold way he didn’t expect.

“SILENCE! DO NOT MAKE ME CALL THE GUARDS TO ARREST YOU ALL!”

Hektor could sense the adrenaline rushing in his vein, it was clear that he was tired of seeing all that confusion.

The intimidation worked, as he was able to gain the silence he needed to go ahead “The Special Investigation agents of the Ministry of Information are here to investigate about the events...and they’re the only ones that can decide who’s guilty or not.”

Like the black agent he saw before, he put his hands behind his back, assuming an authoritative pose, to which everybody showed respect...expect for the Equestrian girl that, who in that moment, was looking at him with a serious look without showing any sign of fear, and for the other foreign young man, who was looking at him with an expression which didn’t allow him to understand what he was feeling in that moment.

“I invite you all to go back to your business, without trying to disturb the public peace. If I see more troubles...you all know what’s going to happen.”

A noisy mumbling received the order concealed as an invitation and, without adding anything, people spread from the place, going back to mind their own business...not before giving a challenging glance to the two Equestrians.

Finally Hektor was able to have the moment of peace he was seeking after the events at the checkpoint; he stared a moment at his own uniform before looking at the two foreigners.

“If I were you, I would find a place to spend the rest of the day...as you’ll have figured, tension is in the air and people could act without thinking twice.” Without realizing, he smiled a little before adding something else “and I would find a better hat to wear...Arstotzkan weather becomes colder during the night.”

He raised his hand slowly to salute the strange couple before taking the street to reach his quarters.

“Hey there” the same girl voice spoke from his behind “Arent’ ya mr. Hektor?”

With a breath that meant only resignation, he turned his attention back to the two Equestrians, who were calmly getting close to him.

“I hope that the one who described me to you was not too harsh.” He was serious.

The girl smiled sincerely while moving her right hand toward him “I’m Applejack and he’s my Big Mac, mah big brother” His eyes fell on the tall young man in front of him, who nodded with the same neutral expression he was keeping before before shaking the hand she was tending to him; he was taken by surprise by the strength she put in that hand shaking...it almost hurted him.

“You already made a name in Equestria, ya know?” The girl adjusted the hat she was wearing to let it better fit her head “Especially my friends told me things about ya...some good, some bad...not to mention the mint coat weirdo that walks through all Ponyville with a glove attached to her neck speaking highly of you...aaand the whole Sweetie Belle and Discord mess” she paused a little, looking at him straight in the eyes “some of us wanted to kick your behind for good...and i’ll be honest: I was one of them.”

Without changing his expression, he endured Applejack’s look, thinking about the direct and honest behaviour of the one he was facing; there was no disrespect in her voice, nor in her acting. She was just sharing her true thoughts.

“It is not my intention to hurt anybody, nor to put people in trouble” Hektor breathed deeply, closing his eyes for a moment to better focus on the words to say “My task is just to apply laws.”

“Laws are good when they protect from harm, not when they become a source of problems” All of a sudden, Big Mac spoke with a deep, calm voice, surprising both Hektor and Applejack “Yeah” she added, continuing in developing the argument “I mean...blocking a child in a foreign land ‘cause the document was out of date? What kind of harm could good little Rarity’s sister do?”

“Do you know that the creature that assaulted soldiers and bystanders at the checkpoint came here from your lands with invalid documents?” Despite all of his efforts, the Inspector wasn’t able to completely hide the resentment he was feeling...he was even slowly waving his arms all around, moved by his feelings as he was not able to control his own body “If laws were applied as they should, I could work to earn enough money to eat this evening and you would not be stuck here and there wouldn’t be wounded people...”

When his speech was finished, Hektor found himself surprised of how his tone of voice passed so quickly from calm to angry. It wasn’t just a matter of what happened and of its consequences; there were too many things that worried him personally, too: he risked his life, he knew that the money earned that day would be surely not enough to pay all the expenses of the day keeping a share of money to save for the next days...and now there was another Equestrian that was questioning his way of working...his way of living.

While all those things were crowding his mind, he realized that the girl in front of him fell in a silence he wasn’t expecting, bowing her head in the meantime, a thing that didn’t allow Hektor to look at her face, covered by the folds of her large, brown hat.

Big Mac slowly reached Applejack’s side, putting an hand on her left shoulder while giving a glance of hostility to the Arstotzkan Inspector; it was clear that he didn’t approve how he treated his beloved sister.

At that scene, Hektor brought his hand to his forehead, massaging his temples and covering his sight for a moment; he needed to calm down...he had to. He breathed deeply before looking back at the two siblings; he could sense the pity the girl was feeling.

“I’m sorry” Hektor’s tone of voice was a clear sign of the honesty of his words “I made the same mistake as the crowd that was bothering you: I was judging a whole country starting just from the bad things, from the errors” Hektor shook his head while a bitter smile grew on his face “but I already know enough Equestrians to know that you mean no harm to us...that you really want to have good relations with us.”

“And to be honest...I realize that sometimes applying the law doesn’t really mean to do the right thing” it was strange how Hektor was opening himself to two strangers he had just met; words were just flowing out of his mouth...or better out of his mind “but that’s the only way I know to do my job...the only way I know to protect those I love...the only way of living here in Arstotzka.”

“One day ya’ll find yourself to choose between following the rules or following your heart do doing what ya you think is the right thing, mister” Big Mac broke his silence again, looking in that moment at Hektor with a more friendly attitude.

“Maybe you’re right, mister Big Mac.” Hektor smiled back at him, shrugging his shoulders “Maybe one day I’ll find myself in that situation...and I’ll have to think about how to act; until then...” he left his sentence in the air without finishing it.

“I’m sorry for criticizing your work, mister.” Applejack voice could be hear from the bottom of her hat; she rose her head, showing a sincere smile to both the presents “Ah think you aimed to do the best thing in your way” she adjusted her hat while giving a glance to her brother, who smiled in relief at seeing his sister’s expression “besides...Sweetie Belle is always wearing the hat ya gave her, even if the weather is not so cold in Equestria...not to mention Rarity fashion interests for it.” Hektor smiled amused to them “I’m happy they appreciate it...I hope it repaid a little all the troubles they had here.”

With a quick look around, all of them realized that it was getting late; slowly the square was becoming less and less crowded and everything was becoming darker. “Now you really have to find a place to spend the night...Orvech Vonor is not the safest place during the night.”

The two siblings looked at each other for a moment “Can ya suggest us a safe place, mister?” Applejack quickly asked, looking around her.

Hektor mumbled something while bringing an hand to his chin...finding a place for them could be a problem, considering how Orvech Vonor people hostility towards Equestrians <<I can’t host them as I did with the other Equestrians...this time Katia could really kill me for good.>>

“I can offer a good solution to this problem, if you need.”

That affirmation took everybody by surprise; when they focused their attention on the point from where that sentence came, they found a short, bearded old man looking at them...a man Hektor recognized quickly.

“You’re the man who tried to pass the border without any documents, if I remember correctly” he said with a puzzled expression at the strange man.

“It was worth a shot, Inspector” he replied with a sincere smile, before focusing on the two Equestrians “As I was saying...I can help you in finding a good place to spend the night, in fact I have a friend, who has a friend, who has another friend, who is the brother of a…”

“Yes, Yes we get it” Hektor cut short Jorji’s speech “Do you know a hostel where they will not cause trouble?”

The reply came quickly “The important thing for him is the money; he will not ask questions or cause problems, especially if I’m with them...he has to payback some favors to me”

“Thanks for the help, old man” Applejack happily said “We really appreciate it.” Big mac nodded to those words, saying a quick “Eeyup” to underline how he agreed with his sister.

<<He’s really trustworthy?>> Hektor thought looking at the apparently harmless old man he was facing.

“Everybody knows that I, Jorji Costava, am always willing to help others...besides…” he turned his head to smile at the Inspector “...I think he’ll find a good way to repay the help.”

Hektor gave him a glance, hiding the frustration he was feeling behind a serious face <<Why do I always have to find myself in problems?>>

“Anyway we have to move as soon as possible...as mister Inspector was saying before, walking during the night is not a good thing here” Jorji walked close to Applejack and Big Mac showing a positive attitude “It’s not distant from here, so we’ll not take long...don’t expect a five star hotel though, there are not places like this in Orvech Vonor.”

“Do not worry, mister. We’ll have no problems with that” Applejack said with an expression on her face that let her appear cuter in front of Hektor’s eyes.

“It seems that I’m no longer needed here. I think I’ll go home...I need some good rest.” Hektor stretched his arms, relaxing himself “I don’t know if the border will open tomorrow...I hope you will be able to go back to your world soon.”

“Me too” Applejack replied with a bit of sadness “The more we stay here, the more work we’ll have to do at the farm. Our apple trees have to be cared for everyday and we can’t leave that duty to mah sister and to granny.”

“Do you have an apple farm?” Jorji asked interested to the Equestrians

“Yup...we grow the best apples in Equestria” she exclaimed with a proud face “we came in your world to see if we could sell them here, but we had no luck...and the incident made things worse…”

She stayed in silence for few seconds, giving a glance to her brother; he instantly nodded and, as he understood her sister’s intentions, he put on the ground the bag he kept on his shoulder the whole time long and, with slow moves, he loosened the knot that was closing it. When it was wide opened, he put his arm in it, taking from it two shiny red apples that, judging from their aspect, seemed really tasty.

“Take it, mister Hektor...it’s the least we can do to thank ya...there is one for you too, mister George”

“It’s Jorji, miss” the old man said without showing any sign of bother for the mistake while taking the fruit from Big Mac’s hand; Hektor smiled amused by the scene and, with few steps, he reached the Equestrian to take his apple; he changed the arm he was keeping the book with to take the gift with his right hand, realizing in that moment how big the body difference between them was, both in height and muscles <<He could lift me with one hand>> he thought.

“Its taste will conquer ya, I could bet mah whole cider escort on it” the blonde girl said to the two humans with a sure look on her face.

“Thank you, really...I’ll enjoy it on the way home.” Hektor smiled, bowing his head a little before focusing on the bright color of the fruit he was keeping in his hand.

“Ya know...I’m sure Ah already saw the book you’re keeping” Applejack bowed her head a little to the left, as she wanted to look better at the tome.

“This?” Hektor gave a look at it, staying in silence for a moment to think if he could really trust them or not. “I’ll tell you the truth: I received it from your land...it was a gift from the almighty princess Twilight Sparkle...she wrote to me that-”

“The...almighty?” Applejack repeated those words, unable to hide her amusement...without even giving Hektor the time to ask about her reaction, she broke into a genuine laugh “Aaaah good ol’ Twi...always willing to share one of her books with everybody.”

Hektor’s face couldn’t be more puzzled “You mean...you know her?”

“Of course” Applejack was smiling in such a genuine way nobody around couldn’t smile back “I’m a close friend with her...and you already know some of her other friends, too: Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy...we’re all Twi’s friends.”

“Oh...I see…” that was the only thing he was able to say while in his mind there was a tempest of thoughts <<I met so many important Equestrians and I didn’t know it...I hope to not have complicated relations between our two worlds with my acting…>>

“Well, time to go” Jorji spoke bringing Hektor back to reality, inviting Applejack and Big Mac, who had already closed his bag, to follow him “I wish a good day to you Inspector...I think we’ll meet again at the checkpoint” he bowed his head respectfully without even bothering to show a little smirk on his face.

“I’m sure about it.” the Inspector replied with a tone of voice that made it clear how he surrendered at that idea “I wish a good day to you...I hope to see you tomorrow.” he turned toward the two Equestrian siblings, raising his free hand to salute them.

“Have a nice day, mister Hektor...and thank ya for everything.” Applejack replied with a happy expression on her face while Big Mac nodded respectfully.

Hektor could hear Jorji asking for another apple before taking the road that would lead him, finally, to home. While trying to resist the cold evening breeze that was blowing, he gave a bite of the red fruit he was keeping...its sweetness and taste were able to let him forget for a moment all the troubles he had during the day <<That’s proof of the fact that opening the border with Equestria was worthy>> Hektor smiled at his own thoughts while giving another bite to the apple, walking silently in the dark Orvech Vonor evening.

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