• 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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Night of thoughts, meetings and plans

26 October, 1983 - H 22:00 to 24:00

The light of the candle was barely enough to light the pages of the tome open on the table placed in the middle of the main room.

With attention he didn’t believe himself to have, Hektor was slowly reading the first pages of the book gifted from Princess Twilight. It was hard for him to believe that the things described were real.

Earth ponies, unicorns, pegasi, alicorns, griffons...it was like reading a fairy tale book, similar to the ones he read to his beloved daughter Yara long time ago...too much time ago.
The sound made by the rusty hinges of Katia’s room door distracted Hektor from what he was doing; he had to focus on the black figure who was slowly walking toward him to understand who he was facing.

“Still with that strange book?” By the sound of her voice, Hektor could understand that she was sleeping a short time ago “Why do you care so much to understand this new world, stupid man?”

“It’s not easy to explain” with too much calm he rose up from the uncomfortable wooden chair he was sitting on to go close the window, from where Orvech Vonor, enlightened only by the light of the moon, appeared like some kind of old painting “I know I should just do my job, fulfilling my duty for the ‘great Arstotzka’ to earn enough money to survive” the sarcastic tone he used to name his country surprised himself “but after days spent knowing these Equestrians...after talking with them...I think I have to know them better.”

After quickly looking around him, he was able to find a white little package, from where he swiftly took a cigarette “The more time I know them, the more I realize they’re so similar to us...maybe they have better intentions than us, I could add.”

While trying to light up a match from its box, he saw Katia looking at one of the pages of the elegant book left open on the table; it pictured a white unicorn with wings with long colored hair close to something pictured as a stylized sun.

“...Princess Celestia has the power to raise and lower the sun, while Princess Luna, her sister, is the owner of the power to move the moon…” even in the dark Hektor could see a smirk on her face “Yara would’ve really enjoyed reading this book.”

The light of the match showed for a brief moment to Katia the sad smile on Hektor’s face. A heavy silence fell in the room...a silence broken only by sound of the burning tobacco of the cigarette.

“Sarah was right when she said that you care too much for others” The old lady spoke with an uncommon gentle tone...a tone that brought Hektor back to the past for a brief moment...to a time where everything was simpler and easier. The only answer to that statement was a little smile that could have thousands of meanings.
With his almost finished cigarette, Hektor took a few steps to reach his chair “Sarah told me that she loved every time I try to do the thing I think is right, too.” he said to the woman close to him while sitting back near the Equestrian book “I intend to continue to act as Sarah liked...and I think it’s right to equally treat the people of both ours and other universe.”

“Stubborn as an Antegrian donkey” Katia shook her head, staring in silence at Hektor before laying her right hand on one of his shoulders “At least...promise me that you’ll not put your life in danger to help others.” Hektor could sense by her voice the worrying that was invading his mother-in-law...it was uncommon for him to see her like in that moment.

The bald man turned his face to better see her...a little smirk painted on his face “Do not worry Katia, you’ll not lose your source of money...besides, who would mock you with strange guests or strange situations if I’m gone?” He enjoyed how his mother-in-law’s expression changed various times, from anger to amusement.

“You should go to sleep, stupid man” she replied while reaching the door of her room “The more you’re focused, the more you’ll not make mistakes, the more money you’ll bring.” It was difficult to see in the dark, but a satisfied expression was painted on her face, as she was enjoying herself, acting as she was really, as portrayed by Hektor short before.

“If the checkpoint will open” he added with a deep sigh “I fear that tomorrow there will not be any work for me...and no money.” After the reply, he stared at a picture of a white and gold city builded on a mountain, under which there was written in an elegant italic font ‘Canterlot’ <<So this is what their capital looks like...it seems like a nice city>> he thought.

“This could be a problem to solve tomorrow” Katia said disconsolate before turning her back to Hektor, leaving him with his book “Goodnight stupid man” she said before leaving Hektor alone in the room “If you meet again those Equestrians that came here, give them my greetings” suddenly Katia’s voice came out from her room “especially to the little one” she added before closing the door.

<<She has a soft heart too, after all>> Hektor realized without being able to not smile, before focusing back on the tome in front of him. After reading some other lines, he rose his sight to look at the grey roof on his head <<Arstotzka and Equestria...I hope the problem of the hate I saw today will be solved and that we will be able to live peacefully.>>

After stretching his arms, Hektor gave a little glance to the candle, blowing on it to quench the flame before standing up to reach his room and his bed, hoping to fall asleep as soon as possible to not think about the present, the past and the future.

*****

The moon and the stars weren’t sufficient to light the space close to the portal; every guard present there had a torch pointed at the place from where the waited guests were expected to come. With his hands crossed in front of his chest, Konstant Varusov stood still in front of the other members of the welcoming group: four armed soldiers and two members of the M.O.A.

The High Officer looked at the clear sky for a moment, feeling the usual cold wind of the night that, in the meantime, was raising his speed. By the determination pictured on his face, it was clear that he knew how important the meeting he was going to have was...and how valuable the role of representing Arstotzka given to him by the Government was.. He knew he had to do his best and to follow all the guidelines and the instructions given to him: he had to obtain what he was asked to...failure in Arstotzka was an unacceptable thing.

All of his thoughts were interrupted a bright blue light coming from the portal; it was activated by the Equestrian side.

The soldiers pointed their rifles toward it in a moment, lowering them slowly when Varusov, with a silent order given with a movement of his hand covered by a black glove, ordered them to.

Everybody stared at the portal in silence...after a while, eight men with golden armor and long metal spears began to come out from it. With a military order and serious expression, all of them walked forward, standing in front of the portal as if to protect it...or to protect someone that was going to come soon.

None of the Arstotzkan soldiers made a move, even when they saw the spears pointed at them; all of them knew that only the High Officers could give them instructions about how to proceed...and all of them looked at him puzzled, figuring that the spearheads of the Equestrians soldier’s weapons were just few inches from his face...contrariwise, a smirk made its way onto Varusov’s face, as if he was amused by that power demonstration <<These Equestrians know how to impress>> he thought while focusing back on the portal.

Finally, two females figures made their appearance from it, giving an end to everybody wait; only when the light went out was it possible for everybody in front of the portal to see who or what came to Arstotzka.

In front of everybody’s eyes there were two women, both of them wearing impeccable and elegant long dresses; their horns and their wings were different, but were able to attract the stare of those present, especially of the human group members, who looked at them with marvel in their eyes.

Konstant kept silent and, with no emotions painted on his face, focused on the two newcomers who, judging by their regal dresses and behaviour, had to be the two Princesses he was waiting for. While the Equestrian soldiers moved to allow their leaders to come forward, he looked deeply at them...he knew he couldn’t show his emotions, but deep inside he was really impressed by the ones he was facing.

The first woman was almost tall as him..she looked even taller though, thanks to the long, white horn in the middle of her forehead; her long hair was perfectly combed and had different shades of light blue and purple...almost the same purple that colored her eye’s irises. While slowly walking she stretched her long, beautiful wings...for physical need or to impress the bystanders, no one could tell. Her expression, the sureness on her good looking face...everything about her was a sign of royalty, of leadership <<She has to be the Holy Princess Celestia>> Konstant thought quickly, before focusing on the other girl.

He could immediately figure that she was completely different from Celestia: even if she was wearing expensive and regal dresses and the horn and her wings made it clear that she was a princess too, there was something in her attitude that wasn’t clear to him. She was...insecure, something he doesn’t expect from a ruler. Sure he was facing a beautiful young girl and there was something intriguing in her dark purple long straight hair, but her eyes…Konstant couldn’t not focus on them, making some conclusions <<Beautiful indeed, but not as determined as the other one.>>

Despite his considerations, he knew that he was facing the Equestrian representatives; he had to act with deep respect, without forgetting that he was there to guarantee Arstotzkan interests.

“I welcome you to Arstotzka” Konstant bowed his head without looking away from the two princesses “My name is Konstant Varusov, High Officer of the Ministry of Admission...Allow me to express Arstotzkan’s deepest gratitude for coming here to discuss the latest events at our checkpoint.” he stood silent for a moment, giving them the time to reach the head of their delegation, placing them between their soldiers “You are the Holy Princess Celestia, I suppose.”

“Indeed, High Officer Varusov” her voice was calm, relaxing...it was able to capture the attention of those present and make them feel at ease “It was our intention to solve this problem as soon as possible.” She paused a little to look at the other girl next to her; with an elegant movement of her left hand, she attract everybody’s attention to her “I would like to introduce you to my pupil and friend Twilight Sparkle, the Princess in charge of the Arstotzkan border relations office.”

“I’m honored to meet you” Twilight said smiling happily while looking at the human delegation that, after those words, became more serious.

“Then you’ll be able to provide a proper explanation about how that creature was able to come into our Great Country, bringing danger and hurting our citizens” Varusov’s voice sounded hard as a rock and his expression became cold.

The harsh sentence hit Twilight hard...she sadly bowed her cute head without giving an answer; on her face it was easy to see how she felt guilty for what happened.

“We are here to talk about that” Celestia broke the silence, giving a quick glance to Twilight and offering her a smile that reminded her how she had her complete trust “and about the management of the border between our worlds...I think both of us want the safety of our nation’s citizens.”

The M.O.A. High Officer nodded to those words “We agree on this aspect, I see...please allow me to lead you to my office, we’ll be warmer and we’ll have the privacy we need to speak freely.”

Celestia bowed her head, giving the silent assent Varusov needed; while he was ordering the guards to move towards the M.O.A. building, Celestia layed her right gloved hand on Twilight’s shoulder, whispering something in her ear that let her regain the smile and the sense of sureness she had lost before.

With a move of her head, Celestia ordered to the Equestrian soldiers to follow her. In the freezing night, they followed the human delegation, directed to the place where the fate of the relation between Arstotzka and Equestria would be decided.

*****

The dull sound made by the soles of Vonel’s black shoes on the floor made of grey cement was the only thing that could be heard in the long, empty corridor he was walking in. There was no sign of emotion on his face; there was no way of understanding what was he thinking or feeling in that moment. Behind his rounded glasses, his eyes were pointing at his destination: an iron double door guarded by two heavily armored guards.

Step by step, he reached the end of his road, standing perfectly motionless in front of the soldiers with his hands behind his back; there was no need for him to show his identification document; he was already known by everyone in the secret facility...and everyone could feel a sense of discomfort and fear when crossing their road with him.

Even the two strong Arstotzkan men who were standing there looked clearly worried, even if it was clear that they were trying to pretend the opposite. After showing their respect to the Officer, one of them pressed a red button behind him, allowing the mechanisms of the door to work. While a noisy sound of steam and gears filled the corridor, the two doors slowly slid through the walls, allowing Vonel to see the room inside, his destination: the secret laboratory.

After giving one last cold glance to the guards, he walked forward without even focusing on the door closing behind him. In the corridor, the two guards exchanged a quick look, showing each other the feel of discomfort left on them by the black Officer.

Fumes, smells, discussions...the laboratory filled with white coat scientists was an interesting thing to see. All around there were desks filled with tubes, strange gadgets, alembics filled with strange colored liquids and many more unknown objects to Vonel. A smirk made its way on his face, almost amused by the fact that nobody, so focused on their work, had saw him coming in. With calm, he stopped one of the scientists; the focused expression of the white coat changed in fear when he realized who he was talking too “G-Good evening, Officer. G-Glory to Arstotzka” he said with a loud voice that attracted the other’s attention, letting them know that the M.O.I. agent was there.

“I see you’re working hard...that’s good” Vonel’s tone was flat, calm as always “I think one of you could escort me to where the alien creature was brought.” He did not have to wait for long, the same young scientist stopped before offering to lead him through the facility. It was sufficient a quick nod to let him know that he agreed to the offer and, without adding anything more, he began to follow his guide.

Vonel looked all around the various room of the secret facility; it was clear that the Arstotzkan Government had invested a lot of money in it. Everywhere there were men experimenting on weapons, electricity, unknown substances...everything that could help Arstotzka to gain the upper hand on the foreign countries was welcomed by the Government. The main goal was always being the strongest country, an aim to reach in a peaceful way...or by force.

The walk of the two men finished in front of a wooden door with a white sign with red writing ‘Authorised Personnel Only’ “Thank you...I’ll walk alone from now on. Glory to Arstotzka.” After a military like salute, the scientist took his leave from Vonel who, slowly, opened the door and walked inside a poorly lit room.

In there, he saw a few old scientists all around something, mumbling and discussing in a low voice. Neither the sound of the closing door distracted them from what they were doing. Looking around, Vonel saw that the place was almost empty: there were only a few desks, a strange machine, a table with all sort of blades and something else between the crowd of white coats in the middle.

“The Ministry of Information will be pleased to see that all of you are working so well.” Vonel’s words were able to distract those present in the room. When they turned their head and understood that their waited guest had come, all of them brought their right hand to the chest and the words “Glory to Arstotzka” filled the space of the room.

With his authoritative posture he slowly walked toward them “So...were you able to find something interesting from our guest?” he asked focusing his attention on what was lying on the middle desk: the creature that caused all the havoc that same morning.

“It’s a strange animal shaped being, mister Agent” the oldest of the scientist took the lead, moving toward the black Officer to look better at him “By the examination we made, it seems that it has some physical properties that could be interesting to study in deeper.” A significant smile grew on Vonel’s face “Interesting...please fill me in with all the details. The Ministry of Information is waiting for a complete report about the matter.”

The old scientist moved a little to allow the Officer to see the body on the desk “It seems that this creature is called a ‘Changeling’...that’s the name some Equestrians interrogated from our undercover travellers gave.” While talking, he showed with his hand some key points of the creature’s body to the agent “By what we were able to discover during our first examination, its body is able to shapeshift into everything it sees or remembers...and the fact that it was able to use its power in our world means that it is not a magic skill, but a physical one...something that we can understand and reproduce.” The proud and enthusiastic expression of the scientist was meaningful.

“And about the portal and this ‘magic power’? Were you able to understand the mechanisms how this power affects us and the parallel world inhabitants?”

“Despite our efforts, it is complicated to understand things without having the possibility of having...samples to work on.” the last sentence came from the white coat wearing man with a strange tone of voice, as it was a request of some sort “As for the portals...it is not yet clear which source of energy powers it is or how does it decide the shape humans acquire when in Equestria and vice-versa. We have still to understand why we can’t use them for both going in and out, as each one seems to allow only one way of travelling: one is for entering Equestria, the other one for coming back here in Arstotzka.”

The old man paused a moment brought a hand to his short grey beard, massaging his chin “We should study them, but during the night its hard due the freezing weather and during the day it is impossible due the stream of travellers…” he left his sentence suspended in the middle; he knew that it wasn’t necessary to add anything more.

Vonel mumbled something while lost in his deep thoughts “This is all...interesting.” he looked at the number of minds he was facing “I’ll report everything to the Ministry...even your requests.” He took his time to adjust with his right finger the glasses on his nose “Now if you excuse me, I’ll take my leave. Remember to work hard…further support and funds to your research will come only with results.”

“It will be our pleasure to strengthen Arstotzka with our discoveries.” The answer of the head scientist let Vonel smile a little...a smile whose nature was impossible to decipher.

“Glory to Arstotzka” Vonel said calmly before turning his back to the group, who quickly answered before turning back their attention to the changeling, aiming to further understand its characteristics and powers.

After closing the door of the room, Vonel walked past all the mess of instruments and scientists of the laboratory, thinking about the report he was going to write to the Government...and about the next day.

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