• 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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No crossing today...maybe tomorrow...

27 October, 1983 – H 07:00 to 19:00

27 October, 1983

The Truth of Arstotzka

Connection with parallel world shut down

After yesterday’s events, the M.O.A. decided to close the portal for Equestria, suspending the traffic between the two worlds. In their official bulletin, there is no information regarding the duration of the decision; nobody knows if the checkpoint to the parallel world will stay closed permanently or not. The decision was lead by security policies; as written on the M.O.A. bulletin, in fact, ‘The first priority is the safety of our Greatest Country and the Government will do everything in its power to guarantee it’.

A direct consequence of the decision is the rise of a problem for both the two worlds; as a matter of fact, there are Arstotzkans stuck in the parallel worlds and Equestrians in our beautiful Country that can’t go back to their home ‘While we’re focusing on finding a solution to this matter, we order you to not cause problems with the Equestrians, who are willingly cooperating with us’ said the High Officer of the M.O.A. Konstant Varusov.

Everybody is waiting to see which kind of solution our enlightened Government will find; in the meantime, the checkpoint to the parallel world will stay closed and heavily guarded to prevent any border crossing attempts.

Glory to Arstotzka.

Frustration was invading Hektor; what he had read in the daily newspaper was the worst news he could receive: no job for the day, no money to earn <<Their way to warn me about the fact I’m not needed today was sending me a newspaper...at least it was free.>>

His puzzled face was enough to let Katia understand that there was something wrong “No work today?” she asked rhetorically.

“The checkpoint is closed” Hektor replied while folding back the newspaper “I think we’ll have to think about a way of earning money for the expenses of today…” he didn’t complete the sentence, preferring the silence.

“Maybe you should still go to the M.O.A. offices...maybe they’ll give you some sort of compensation for the lack of work. After all it’s not your fault if you can’t work today.” Katia took a seat next to Hektor, looking at him to check his reaction to that idea.

The bald man stared at the newspaper and at the empty white porridge bowl in front of him <<My head is as out of ideas as that bowl...what can we do?>> Worrying thoughts were populating his mind, a thing made clear by the expression his face was assuming.

“Well?” Katia’s question woke him up from the catatonic state he was falling in; he looked at her with an apparent calm face.

“Maybe you’re right. Besides...I don’t have any other program for the day, do I?” His words came out from his mouth with a defeated tone and, while standing up from from the chair, he couldn’t hold in a little sigh before pointing to his room to change himself...to wear the clothes of the not useful ‘Border Inspector’.

Left alone in the room, Katia shook her head while taking the objects left on the table, sensing on her shoulders the weight of the years and a sense of uselessness that made her feel worse than usual.

*****

The lack of all the mumbling and yelling of the waiting crowd in front of the checkpoint booth was strangely odd; after all the days spent there, Hektor couldn’t feel at ease in that strange, out of place silence. He took a second to stop, looking at his own clothing, asking himself why he wore his Inspector uniform if he knew that he did not have to work <<Maybe it’s becoming an habit...or perhaps it is because of the aura of authority it gives me>> he wondered, smiling a little at his own thoughts.

“What the hay does it mean that we can’t go home today, mister?” A familiar voice from behind suddenly came to his ears, attracting his attention. He did not have to look far to see three known faces arguing with another known face <<That can’t be good.>> he thought while moving with a steady pace towards the source of the yelling.

“It means that today the portal for Equestria is closed” With his everyday emotionless voice, Ian was giving his ultimate and unappealable answer to the cute blonde girl he was facing “Orders from above.” he added, staring coldly at the girl while adjusting the grip on his rifle.

“Come on, Ian” Jorji came in the middle of the conversation, spreading his arms in the most friendly way he knew “You know me since I left my...business in Grestin. Could you make an exception for your pal here?”

The soldier was put in a difficult spot; his face was the clear proof of how his patience was running out “Don’t ask me to do what I can’t, Jorji. I’m already not arresting you all for bothering a member of the Arstotzkan army...don’t press your luck further.”

“You’re just wasting your time” Everybody turned their attention to Hektor who, after his statement, was trying to light a match for the cigarette he was keeping between his lips “As you can see, even I am not working today” he added while bringing near the package he was holding to the blonde soldier who took a cigarette from it, showing a smile.

“But we have to go back to the farm, Inspector” Applejack’s secure look was clearly hiding a deep sense of worry “Everybody will be worried sick about us.”

“Eeyup” Big Mac added while putting the hands on his hips, appearing bigger than he already was.

Ian shrugged his shoulders while lighting the cigarette “I do not like that, either...less work and money for us” he gave a quick glance to Hektor, knowing that he could perfectly understand his feelings “You and whoever is stuck in your world will have to wait. Somebody told me that both the Arstotzkan and Equestrian Governments are cooperating to find an agreement regarding the management of the border.”

Jorji, Applejack and Big Mac looked at each other; it was crystal clear that they wouldn’t be able to obtain what they wanted. By their expressions, Hektor realized that they were going to surrender...for the time being, at least.

“So mister soldier, How long do ah and mah brother have to wait here?” Applejack instinctively took the same pose of her brother; <<They look like two out of place western film heroes.>> Hektor thought without even realizing that he wasn’t able to hold back an amused smile.

“The time needed, Equestrian.” The group focused on each other, looking for the one that gave that answer; it took them some seconds to realize that behind the Inspector a slim, black figure was standing. For the first time, Hektor saw Jorji’s face becoming serious, cold...something that could only mean trouble.

“As our border soldier was trying to say, there were already meetings at a high level to discuss the situation.” all the eyes were on M. Vonel who, without worrying about the attention on him, stepped forward “Soon everything will go back to normal.”

Big Mac and Applejack stared at the black agent, focusing their attention on his strange uniform whose dark monocolor theme was broken just by the red stylized eagle painted on his peaked hat “You mean we’ll been able to walk back to Equestria soon?” the blonde girl asked looking at the man in front of him straight in his lenses, without being able to see his eyes through them.

“I think I gave you more information than you need” he replied keeping the eye contact with the girl, taking a moment to check the blonde big guy close to her who, silently, was observing.

“Now about more pressing matters…” Vonel turned his head to focus on Hektor “I was looking for you, Inspector” the last word came out from his thin mouth with a tone that alarmed him “I need you to come with me to the M.O.A. Orvech Vonor headquarters...it’s necessary to have a long talk regarding your work at the checkpoint.”

The face of the Inspector turned pale...paler than he already was. In an instant his mind was overcrowded by hypotheses regarding the trouble he was in “I would appreciate if you could follow me without letting my time go to waste.” In that moment Hektor wasn’t able to think straight <<M-Maybe it’s all about the Equestrian book...maybe if I tell him about it…>>

“I hope you don’t have bad ideas regarding our friend here” The active and determined voice of Applejack waved in his ears, waking him from his worries <<Did she call him...friend?>> Both the Equestrians came near the Inspector, as if they wanted to protect him. He looked at them, finding their faces reassuring. It was unexpected...and nice.

The black agent was intrigued by the show of courage those two young foreigners were giving “It’s a conversation that could lead to the reopening of the border...something that needs to happen without any loss of time.”

Without losing his calm, Vonel give a glance to Ian...a glance with a meaning that could be easily understood by Hektor. He had to act fast, before the worst could happen.

“I’ll follow you, Mr. Vonel.” The Inspector left Applejack and Big mac behind, giving them a sincere smile before reaching the black agent. Looking at the two puzzled Equestrians, his heart felt warm for a second “When I come back, I will let you taste the best Vodka you’ll ever drink.” he said to the two siblings before looking back to the man he had to follow.

“I think we have lost enough time here, mister Popov...please follow my lead” Vonel’s sentence looked like a request, but it was an unappealable order. After a quick nod of his head given to the other bystander, he turned his shoulders to them, walking slowly toward the city. After one last glance to the ones he was leaving, Hektor rose his right hand to salute, then he went behind the black agent, vanishing after a while in the light fog that was slowly rising.

“I think he’ll be fine” Jorji broke the awkward silence that fell on the group “After all, he doesn’t seem to be the type to break a promise...and I really want that shot of Vodka.”

Ian smiled at the sentence “I’ll look forward to that too.”

“Yeah” Applejack added, not so persuaded while looking at the horizon.

*****

“Glory to Arstotzka, agent!” The two soldiers in front of the main access door to the M.O.A. headquarter spoke loudly at the same time that they saw Vonel approaching with another man they didn’t know. His nod was sufficient to let one of them move quickly to open one of the two heavy doors for him and for whoever was following him. In silence, Hektor limited himself to nod in their direction, without having any kind of response from them, as he was nothing compared to the man that was entering the building.

As he remembered from his first day, the main corridor was crowded of busy employees and military men with serious faces and guns ready to shoot; for reasons he wasn’t able to catch, Hektor found all of this disturbing in some way...as if he was looking at the inside of a giant monster he didn’t want to stay in.

Sometimes people stopped to show their respect to the M.O.I. agent <<He is definitely known here...and I fear for the wrong reasons>> the Inspector thought shortly before reaching the door that, as impressed in his mind, lead to their destination: Varusov’s office.

In that moment, the instinct of running away grew stronger and stronger in Hektor’s heart; once he went in there, he would have no chance of escaping...whatever decision they could make for him <<Where could I go anyway?>> he sighed without being able to cover his worries, a thing that made Vonel smirk in a strange, sadistic way.

Before they could reach Varusov’s waiting room entrance, the door opened, showing them the High Officer himself “On time as expected, Mister Vonel” the blonde man said while inviting them to enter in; after a final breath, Hektor walked toward the door like someone who was going to the gallows.

It was strange: there was nobody there, not even his secretary...thinking about it, he wasn’t expecting to find Varusov himself at the entrance; after the door closed, he found himself with just the High Officer and the M.O.I. agent...a situation that worried him more.

The three men made their entrance into the office, a room the bald Inspector wished to see no more. Slowly, Vonel turned his head to Hektor, finally relaxing the hands that till that moment were fixed behind his back “Take a sit, Mister Popov” he said with a flat, calm voice while pointing at one of the two seats in the room.

Trying to show self-confidence, he nodded to what sounded like an order and sat where it was indicated to him; the cold stare of Vonel was making him feel uneasy more and more.

“You’re here for important reasons, Mister Popov.” Varusov looked like he wanted to go straight to business “What you’ll hear here has to remain here, between these walls.” He took his time to open a drawer, taking from it two cigarettes, offering one of them to the clueless border Inspector “It’s no use saying what will happen if we know that some news will slip from here, yes?”

A glance at Vonel was sufficient to understand the answer to that question.

“Well…” another stop was needed to take a zippo lighter to give fire to both the cigarettes “...Lets begin saying that there was an encounter with the Equestrian representatives, in which it was reached an agreement to reopen the border.”

“It was not an easy talk, as it wasn’t easy to get them to accept our conditions...even though we all know that till now every problem happened because of their disrespect of rules and lack of attention.” Despite the harsh words, the High M.O.A. Officer looked calm and cold minded.

“The promise of more cooperation regarding in intel sharing was the base of the negotiation, of course...but it isn’t the most important result obtained for our great Country.” a little smile on his face grew at this point, showing how his pride to the others in the room “As a matter of fact, it was decided that we will control not only the Arstotzkan border...but also theirs.”

Hektor’s face was a picture of confusion “It means that from now Arstotzka will do all the checks at the Equestrian border booth.” Vonel came into the discussion without looking away from the Inspector, who just nodded to the sentence without saying anything.

“I think you’re asking yourself why valuable information like this is being shared with you” Varusov spoke again while giving his back to the clueless Hektor that, in the meantime, was smoking his cigarette trying to keep himself calm.

The blonde man took all the time to puff out of his mouth a little grey cloud, before turning back to Hektor’s direction “I’ll put it simply: you were a part of the agreement.”

“Uh?” his face grew more and more worried; a sentence lika that could mean one of a thousand different things <<Maybe they asked for my head?>> he wondered, feeling shivers going down his spine.

“While discussing this focal point, one of the Equestrian Princesses suggested to the other to make a deal: the control of the Equestrian checkpoint will pass to Arstotzka...if the inspector assigned to the checking will be the one that is actually working at our side of the border...” Vonel stopped a moment to take few steps forward, placing himself close to the Inspector “...you, Mister Popov.”

“And that’s something that could be accepted...even if it concerns us a little.” Hektor hadn’t the time to comment, as Varusov spoke again while putting out the cigarette in a dull,iron ashray on his desk.

“It’s strange that the Equestrian rulers decided to put in, a foreigner’s hands, the safety of their citizens. Let alone in the hands of someone they learned of just few days ago.” Vonel’s looked more serious than usual, a thing that didn’t slip to the two others in the office “A border completely controlled by from one faction means that it can do whatever it wants, something good for Arstotzka, but...why take all these risks trusting you?”

“Maybe...there are relations between you, Inspector, and the Equestrians that we don’t know yet.” The accusation fell on Hektor like a heavy rock, ready to destroy him.

The Inspector knew he couldn’t flinch at those words; with a self control he didn’t believe to have, he smiled, looking deeply at both of the Arstotzkan authorities “It’s true that I helped some Equestrians who weren’t able to cross the border, but I’ve always followed the rules given to me...Arstotzkan rules.” the last words came out more marked, as if he wanted to underline the concept.

“We already know that.” Vonel replied shrugging his shoulders “a deep investigation was made on your acts during these first days...we didn’t find a flaw other than the error you made on the first day.”

“So up to this moment there is no need of questioning your loyalty, Inspector...because you’re loyal to Arstotzka, right?”

Hektor knew that there was only one answer to a question like that: “Right.”

Vonel nodded; his satisfied face was the sign that it was what he wanted to hear “Good.” he said before taking some steps back from his interlocutor. After an exchange of looks, the High Officer pointed his attention on Hektor again.

“Now I’ll fill you with all the information you’ll need to do your job, Inspector. Listen to me carefully” The blonde M.O.A. representative coughed a little to free his throat before starting that sort of special briefing.

“From tomorrow you’ll begin to work in the parallel world, while a lottery will be done to choose who will take your place. As stated in the pact between our worlds, the Equestrians are using this day to move the portal to another place, as the events of yesterday made clear to them that having a portal directly in their capital city could be dangerous, considering that a mistake could bring something threatening directly into their country’s heart...it was guaranteed that by tomorrow everything will be ready to arrange all the preparation to reopen their side of the border in a more peripheral town...Ponyville.”

“To avoid every danger or any sort of blackmail actions, you’ll be provided with some kind of protection from the ‘magic power’ that fills the other world’s air...that means you’ll not be affected by it...probably your actual form will be seen there as even more authoritative, a good aspect indeed, thinking about it.”

<<So I’ll not transform myself into an Equestrian...this is the first real good news of the day>> Hector couldn’t be more happy.

“Obviously, from the precise instant you cross the portal, mister Hektor, you’ll be under Equestrian law...but despite that, you’ll receive daily instructions from both the M.O.A. and M.O.I. regarding how to proceed with the paper checking; it’s necessary to guarantee Arstotzkan security.”

A nod directed to Varusov was sufficient to let him sense that he had understood everything “I’ll fulfill my duty serving Arstotzka as best as I can.” Hektor showed self belief while saying those words, a thing that the other two in the room welcomed in a good way, as shown by their expressions.

“There is no more you have to know for now” the black M.O.I. agent came over in the discussion while bringing a hand in an internal pocket of his dark jacket “Other information will be given to you tomorrow from mister Varusov himself before your travel to the parallel world.” while speaking, he offered to the Inspector what he was looking for some moments ago: an anonymous white folder “In the meantime take this...you can consider this as pay for the day lost.”

Hektor gave a quick glance at what was offered to him, before taking it from the slim, cold hand that was holding it “Thanks you” he simply said, hiding the item in his own brown jacket.

“Loyalty always pays” A smirk grew on Varusov’s pale face while he was lighting another cigarette “You can go Inspector, we have to discuss further about the next days plans...I will wait for you tomorrow at 5:30 AM to fill you with the details for tomorrow.”

Now unburdened from an unbearable weight on his shoulder, Hektor stood up from his chair, bringing his right hand closed in a fist to the height of his heart “Glory to Arstotzka” he said louder than he wanted, waiting for the same salute from both those present before walking steadily towards the door.

When the Inspector left the room, there was a silence broken only by the light sound of the burning tobacco of Varusov’s cigarette.

“What do you think, mister Vonel?” the tone of the blonde M.O.A. Officer made it clear that his curiosity was true. A short silence came before the reply.

“I think that my superiors will be happy to know that today we found our key for conquering Equestria.” A creepy smirk appeared on the black agent face.

*****

“Ya were nice to offer us drinks, mister Hektor. This Iodka ya told us about is nice and strong.” Applejack was smiling nicely while pouring some of the clear liquid of the long bottle she was holding in the little glass in front of his brother.

“It spells Vodka, Miss Applejack.” Ian looked at the blonde girl amused by her act “I have to say that you and mister big guy here have a good resistance...it’s good to share a table with someone that could drink as much as you without going crazy.”

In silence, Hektor was enjoying the scene in front of his eyes: it was nice to see how the two Equestrians were having fun drinking and joking...even Big Mac was talking and laughing more than he would expect. And Ian was a surprise, too; he was completely a different person while not posing as a cold border soldier. It was even funny to see all of his flirting attempts with Applejack failing, as she wasn’t minding them...or understanding them.

“You’re too silent and serious, mister Inspector” Jorji interrupted Hektor’s stream of thoughts while filling the empty glass in front of him “You should be happy, after all you were able to leave the M.O.A. offices alive and without a penalty to force labour...a good thing, considering that you’re able to pay for the drinks.”

“Thanks...I see you really care about me.” he replied, enjoying the burst of laughs that came from all the people seated at the table.

“Do you know how to prepare this?” Big Mac focused all of his attention at his glass filled with the strong liquid tasted before.

“I don’t know the precise recipe, but surely it’s a distillate of water, alcohol and fermented Orvech potatoes.” The Inspector spoke with a certain satisfaction before drinking...he was talking about one of the few products from that zone of Arstotzka that could be presented with proudness “Do you really not have this kind of beverage in your world?”

“Nope” the big man replied while taking down his own drink “We have a different kind of strong stuff...ya could try our Applehoorama one day, something that can burn your throat in an instant.”

“That sounds interesting.” the old bearded man looked intrigued by what he had just heard “An exchange of alcoholic knowledge: that’s a good motive to have a communication with another world, wouldn’t you agree?”

Everybody at the table raised their glass, cheering happily at those words. While drinking, Hektor couldn’t not think about all the meanings of what he had just heard...it was true: there were two worlds that could share culture, ideas, ways of living, allowing themselves to become stronger and wealthier; they could become powerful allies, ensuring peace and safety in a time where violence, hate and war were something too common.

Near that table, both Arstotzkans and Equestrians were living and laughing together...if everybody could do the same, his job and his life would be easier.

“Gloomy and distracted again, mistah Hektor? Are ya feeling good?” Applejack tilted her cute head to one side, looking at him with her big, green eyes.

“It’s nothing miss Applejack, just tired maybe...or the fear of asking the bill, considering how many bottles we’re taking.” A smiled slipped on his face before standing up from his chair.

“Come on Inspector. Are you already leaving?” Ian asked while a groan rose up from the others.

“I have to prepare myself for tomorrow...and I need to sleep more” Hektor cut short while adjusting his shapka to let it better fit his head. While doing that, he looked at the Apples, knowing that the next day he would not be the one to check their papers “Before I go...can I see your documents?”

Applejack and Big Mac looked confused at each other for some seconds “Why ya asking that?” the girl promptly asked.

“I want to assure that you have no trouble at the border tomorrow. Better safe than sorry.”

Both the siblings became more relaxed after hearing his answer and nodded at the Inspector; they swiftly took their passports out as asked.

He opened one at a time, focusing completely of all the information inside: name, surname, expiration date...everything was correct.

“By the way ya are smilin’, everything is good.” Applejack smiled at the man while taking back the documents.

“Ya sure become serious when ya read those papers, mister Inspector.” Big Mac added, causing both Ian and Jorji to laugh in a way that made it clear that probably the alcohol was invading their heads.

“I’m just becoming too addicted to this work maybe.” Hektor could figure out that his answer was directed to himself too “I suggest you be as early as possible so you reach front of the checkpoint tomorrow...the sooner you go, the sooner you’ll return to your world.”

“Why are ya so sure that the border will open tomorrow?” At Applejack’s question, Hektor nodded silently, without adding anything more; the girl smiled at his reaction “Ah forgot...Ya cannot tell us anything more about tomorrow.”

Happy that she understood the situation, he took some steps back from the table “Well I’ll take my leave. I wish you all a good day.”

Jorgi took his glass, raising it up; it was as full as the other ones on the table, even if Hektor didn’t see him filling them back up. How could he do it?

“A cheer to you, Inspector” The old man said too loud in a funny way that made everybody laugh; shortly after, all of them raised their glasses too, joining the cheer.

Hektor saw them drinking together...it was a show that could cancel every negative aspect of the day.

He bowed his head to thank them; then, he slowly reached the bar owner, asking how much he had to pay while taking the white envelope given to him before at the M.O.A.

<<150 credits...they were really generous.>> He thought while paying the bill and asking to bring another Orvech Vodka to the table, knowing that despite the expensive bill he could even afford to save money for the coming days. That sum of money was a miracle coming from the sky, even if it concerned him a little, as he perfectly knew that in Arstotzka nothing came free of charge <<I hope that it doesn’t mean that my work will become harder from now on.>>

He gave a last glance to the happy table before leaving the almost empty bar, feeling the cold wind of the evening on his face. The sun was setting to let the moon become the main feature of the sky, which was losing all the red shades of the sunset as the night was coming in. While walking in the direction of his quarter and preparing to light the last cigarette of the package, Hektor looked briefly to the sky, thinking about the new possible challenges and problems that would come by working in this new unknown world: Equestria.

Author's Note:

With this chapter, the first part of the story comes to an end. As you already find out, next time we’ll find ourselves in Equestria.

First of all, I want to thank whoever has been following the story till now; I really hope you enjoyed it and that you’ll continue to have this nice trip with me.

I want to inform you all that the next chapters will not come out as fast; I don’t want to rush things and I’ll take the time needed to think about how to order and write down the ideas I have in mind.

In the meantime, I’ll take the time to write a one-shot story that came to my mind a few weeks ago...I’ll leave the link here when it is finished.

I hope to see you soon.

Stay tuned, stay happy.

Cheers

A_Storyteller

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