The Conversion Bureau - Bureaucracy

by Dropbear

Chapter 1: I Am From Space and I Have Come to Issue You a Fine

It was quiet in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, only the crash of waves audible in the isolated area far from human habitation. A small speck of light appeared just above the surface of the water, a rainbow prism glowing as it expanded to massive proportions. Water was replaced with land as the country of Equestria appeared on Earth, with a large barrier surrounding it. This magical shield kept the massive waves caused by the arrival out of the country itself, the seismic stress on the surrounding area causing alarms to sound in
military seismic monitoring stations around the globe.

The humans of Earth weren’t the only ones to notice the transportation of Equestria however, with alarms sounding in a far more alien place.

People in black suits ran about in a panic, coffee spilling and papers flying through the air. The large office was in uproar, alarms and klaxons ringing as chaos and pandemonium reigned supreme. To an outside observer it would appear as if the very world was ending, however to someone in the know it was far worse than that.

It was Monday morning and the workday was just beginning for the thousands of employees of the United Imperium of Planets Infrastructure and Transport Authority in the Pavlonus II office.

ITA Infringement Inspector Herbert Wilkinson sipped his cheap coffee as he moved through the crowd of co-workers. His destination was his office in the very back corner, a small cubical nestled amongst the rows of identical work spaces. He longed for his chair, as uncomfortable as it may be. The lift ride up forty stories to Enforcement Department had left his legs aching, his sizable girth and short stature not made for prolonged periods of standing.

Most of his friends still didn’t believe that he had indeed served the required four years in the armed forces. He had served; the problem was that once you get out of the army you never want to go back to military food again. Having a desk job didn’t exactly help his weight problems either.

His black leather chair creaked as his fat behind settled into it, Herbert logging into his personal computer with a swipe of his ID card. The holographic screen lit up and displayed his jobs for the day: absolutely nothing, just like usual. Running his hand through his greying hair the forty-two year old straightened his blue tie with the other, the colour a nice change from the onyx-black of his suit.

Tapping a few floating icons with his white fingers Herbert opened his personal calendar and checked his appointments. Apart from an operational health and safety meeting at two in the afternoon he had a quiet day. Opening up an old-fashioned game of solitaire he resumed his game from the previous Friday, surely he would beat the computer this time.

Just as he was about to win a loud klaxon over his desk broke his concentration, Herbert nearly falling out of his chair as the alarm blared in his ear. Scrambling around Herbert grabbed his jacket and holo-clipboard before rushing to the manager’s office with a grin on his face. Other employees watched him dash by with jealous looks on their faces, disappointed that it had not been them picked to go out into the field today.

Herbert payed them no mind as he entered the manager’s office only to stop dead in his tracks.

Thirty ITA Enforcement Officers, the strong arm of the ITA, were arrayed around the room dressed in full police gear. Wearing deep-blue enclosed armour and fully visored helmets they wouldn’t look out of place in a military unit. Large ITA symbols were painted onto the right breasts and each enforcer had numerous magnetic hand-cuffs, stun-batons, non-lethal grenades and other tools attached to their armoured waists.

Most concerning for Herbert were the large gauss pistols also holstered, it seemed like the ITA thought that the chance of violence at this enforcement action was likely.

“Ah, Inspector Wilkins,” a tall balding man in a grey suit addressed with a smile. He watched Herbert from a desk up the front of the room as Enforcers turned to face the nervous office-worker.

“It’s Wilkinson, sir,” Herbert replied to his boss, James Smyth. He wiped some sweat from his forehead as the manager glared at him. Herbert was just about to break down under the gaze before Mr Smyth grinned.

“Quite right, I do love knowing the names of all my office drones,” the sarcasm was thick in the older man’s reply. “Moving on, Wilkins, do you know why I’ve called you here?” Herbert wisely ignored the manager’s deliberate misuse of his name and shook his head.
“No sir, Mr Smyth sir,” Herbert answered as he gripped his electronic clipboard tighter.

“Well Inspector,” Smyth continued as he stood up and walked over. “It seems with have an inter-universal breach in our assigned sector. The Department heads have ordered that an inspector be sent out to issue the correct infringement notices. You were picked as to be honest you need to get out of the office more.” Herbert and Smyth both glanced down at the Inspector’s bulging stomach, the flab threatening the integrity of his white undershirt.

“I guess so sir,” Herbert muttered, Smyth’s glare re-appearing.

“I’ll have no indecisiveness in my department! Do you think you work for the Department for Parks and Wildlife, Mr Wilkins!?” Herbert straightened at the shout, the manager still taller than he was due to Herbert’s five-foot height.

“No sir! I would be happy to travel and preform my duties sir!” Herbert quickly replied, Smyth’s frown turning back into that serpentine smile.

“That’s what I want to hear. I suggest you put on an armoured vest, according to the intelligence departments the targets are a little on the crazy side.” Herbert gulped at the possibility of being stuck in a fire-fight. He may have served his compulsory term but he was happy to go through life without having to be shot at again.

“A-a vest?” Herbert stammered as he looked around to the armed enforcers waiting for him. “As well as the Enforcers, is this place going to be that dangerous?” Smyth waved a hand casually as he returned to his desk.

“Don’t worry, it’s purely a precaution Inspector.” Smyth sat down in his large red chair and sipped coffee from a cup. “The offenders are unicorn-pegasus things anyway, the most they’ll probably be able to do is fire rainbows at you or gore you with their horns.” Herbert paled at the explanation as he was roughly pulled along by one of the Enforcers.

“That doesn’t help sir!” he cried as he was dragged through the door and off to the teleportation chambers. Smyth went back to his coffee as the door shut closed, already the manager drafting the letter of condolences to the Inspector’s mother.

“…so to all of humanity I gladly announce Equestria’s willingness to provide the services of the conversion bureaus to all! Agreements with your governments are being drafted right now and I hope that every human choses a happier life in Equestria free from crime and war. I am Princess Celestia of Equestria, and my ponies are ready to welcome you all as friends!”

A cheer rose up from the Equestrian nobility and the guards around Celestia and Luna as they finished their address to humanity. The two Alicorns’ horns powered down and the spell which projected their faces and words around Earth cut out. Twilight Sparkle and Shining Armour shared a hug at the announcement, Shining’s purple armour clinking as he embraced his sister. The Throne room of Canterlot castle buzzed with excitement as Celestia indicated that she was going to speak again.

“All is ready to go my ponies,” Celestia announced happily as nobles and guards applauded by tapping their hooves on the ground. “The potion is complete and soon we will be able to save the humans from their plight!” Twilight wiped a tear from her eye as she beamed with pride at her work with the potion. Celestia and Luna started to trot around the room to receive congratulations from the nobles as scientists who had worked on the potion with Twilight chatted excitedly.

All celebrations were cut short however, as a large black portal swirled into life to block the main doors.

All of the ponies stopped talking and stared at the growing portal, even Celestia and Luna wearing shocked expressions. Boots thumped down onto white stone as humans armoured in Dark-blue armour marched out of the blackness. Thirty of the creatures exited and stood to the sides as another figure exited from the portal, Celestia flaring out her wings protectively to shield her subjects from whatever the menacing being planned.

Celestia’s wings folded up and her eyes widened in surprise as instead of a human military leader or a fierce warrior, a short and flabby white man in a crumpled business suit waddled out. The human waved his metal clipboard as a fan, the man huffing and puffing as he wheezed.

“Why is inter-universal transportation so tiring? We didn’t even move while it happened!” One of the armoured humans took a step forward and snapped off a salute.

“You are possibly tired due to your bulk and the fact that on the way to the teleportation chambers you kicked and screamed like a bitch, sir.” The ponies watched on gobsmacked as the enforcer insulted his superior. Herbert’s face reddened and he was just about to give the officer a piece of his mind when he remembered that all of the thirty enforcers were carrying lethal firearms. The reminder snuffed out any chance of a retort so Herbert focused on doing what he did best.

This meant issuing infringements to offenders, even if they were colourful unicorn-pegasus thingies.

“Okay then,” Herbert replied, the officer who had spoken returning to the ordered line. The inspector turned to face Celestia and Luna to see that they were indeed unicorn-pegasi. “Greetings universal inhabitants, I am Inspector Wilkinson from the United Imperium of Planets Infrastructure and Transportation Authority Pavlonus II branch office and I have been sent to find a ‘Princess Celestia’.” Herbert’s brown eyes left his clipboard’s holo-display and focused on the equines in front of him.

“I am Princess Celestia human,” Celestia answered as she stepped forward. “May I ask why you have been sent to find me?” Herbert glanced over the white princess and his eyes lingered on her sharp looking horn. The armoured vest crammed down his shirt by the Enforcers not much comfort when he imagined what a horn like that could do to an eye.

“I’ve come to issue an infringement notice,” he stated hesitantly as the small printer embedded in his clipboard produced a small letter. Being in his natural environment of issuing infringements gave him courage to speak to the ruler. “You’ve failed to fill out form three-five-seven- B to apply for an inter-universal travel permit and thusly have been issued a fine of eighty-million UIP credits or equivalent. Luckily for you it was a first time offence so as long as the fine is payed you won’t even have to go to court.”

Celestia smiled a little as her ponies gasped at the demands. She found this ‘UIP’ trying to order her around incredibly amusing.

“Well Inspector Wilkinson,” Celestia started to reply. “Just why does your ‘United Imperium of Planets’ expect me to know or even follow your rules?” There was only genuine curiosity in her warm voice but still Herbert winced inside. This one was going to be difficult so he resorted to a tactic handed down from ancient times.

“Well, you’ve entered the sector of space managed by my office but I’m just an Inspector. Over-arching policy is not my area,” Herbert informed. “If you have a complaint I am able to furnish you with the appropriate form-“

“That will not be needed,” Celestia interrupted. She was a veteran when it came to dealing with bureaucrats and she knew just how to rattle the little man. “I am a ruler of my own nation and since I owe no fealty to your ‘UIP’ I will not pay your fine.” Celestia’s smile widened as the Inspector started t to sweat again. “Do you have a form for that, Inspector Wilkinson of the Universal Imperium of Planets Infrastructure and Transport Authority?”

“No I don’t,” Herbert responded as he tapped notes into his clipboard while glancing at the Princess’s guards. “However your refusal to pay will be met with arrest and trial for one count of fine evasion.” Celestia stepped forward another step as ten Royal Guards stood beside her with sneers on their faces. The ITA Enforcers all pulled stun-batons from their waists, the shock weapons arcing with electricity as Herbert retreated back towards the still-open portal.

“As I have already stated human,” Celestia re-iterated with no trace of malice as she eyed the Enforcers. “I will not pay anything to an Empire that is not mine. Your bullying will not work on me.” Herbert gulped and hid himself behind a particularly large enforcer.

“I’m just an Inspector,” he muttered out as Celestia stared at him. Sighing he entered in a message to his clipboard recording Celestia as ‘uncooperative’ before glancing towards the Enforcer leader, who was the man who had insulted him earlier. “Enforcers, please arrest the offender.”

As one, the officers charged forward with batons swinging with the Equestrian guards surging to meet them. Twilight, Shining, the nobles and Herbert watched on with varying amounts of worry as enforcers went flying into walls and royal guards let out yells as they were shocked into unconsciousness. Celestia and Luna were pulled into the brawl, yellow and blue magic waves sending armoured humans flailing all around the room.

The Enforcers’ armour was made for this kind of work however, everyone that had been sent into walls or sprawled on the floor getting up to re-join the fray.

Nobles screamed in fright and Herbert huddled near the portal as stun grenades were used to pacify the Princesses and guards, the electric shocks arcing off the Enforcers’ armour leaving them un-affected.

Celestia and Luna were the last to fall out of the ponies, having been wary of firing any lethal spells off when surrounded by their own subjects. Both were now out cold alongside their guards, their limbs still twitching as electric shocks still ran through them. Shining Armour was still sitting next to Twilight gobsmacked while Twilight herself was beginning to panic. The situation was so confusing that it completely frazzled her.

Herbert on the other hand saw that all the hostile equines were subdued, the Inspector standing up and puffing his chest out as Enforcers cuffed guards and the Princesses with mag-cuffs and military zip-ties. The magic-producing horns were an issue unforseen, the Enforcers deciding to wrap them in a roll of electrical tape for the time being and relying on continued applications of the shock batons to keep the equines under control.

“Good work enforcers!” Herbert applauded as he waltzed over to retrieve his clipboard from where he had dropped it during the brawl. He raised his head up high as he prepared to do something that he had dreamed of since joining the ITA.

“Take the criminal scum to jail, as once again the system has prevailed!”

Enforcers shook their heads at the lame line as they picked up sleeping ponies and hauled them into the portal, Twilight and Shining rushing up to the armoured humans as they both came to their senses.

“Wait!” Shining yelled right before the last of the Enforcers were about to carry Luna and Celestia away. “You can’t take them! They’re the Princesses!”

An enforcer hefting Luna up by the back legs in a very undignified manner turned his yellow tinted visor to look towards the brother and sister.

“Look ‘ere Governor,” the officer replied with a heavy accent. “I’m just followin’ orders. If yew wan’ ter complain, talk ter Inspector Pansy over there ok?” Before Shining or Twilight could stop them the armoured humans disappeared into the portal with the princesses. Herbert went to follow them but was stopped when Twilight galloped ahead of him and blocked his path.

“Just stop!” she pleaded as Herbert froze, the purple unicorn’s horn holding his attention. “You have to give the Princesses back!” The pony grabbed his free hand with her hooves and begged, Shining moving besides Twilight to support her as they tried to reason with Herbert. They had forgotten one critical thing however.

Herbert was a government worker, which meant that if it wasn’t his job it wouldn’t happen.

“I’m sorry,” he answered nervously, Twilight’s head dropping. “I’d love to help you but that’s not my department.” Shining Armour however growled and narrowed his eyes. Herbert eeped and pulled his hand from Twilight’s grasp to quickly type on his electronic clipboard. “I can however give you form twenty-seven- C, a request to bring in a legal team to plead for the offender’s case.” The small printer on the bottom of the clipboard whirred as it spat out page after page of paper, more than thirty forms printing out.

Herbert took great care to keep them in order and handed them over to Twilight, the Inspector flinching as the pony used a purple magic field to grab them from him. Twilight scanned over the documents and nodded her head franticly.

“Okay, okay this can work! I can do this! I’ll finish it quickly and send it through Princess Celestia!” Herbert forced a smile to match the crazed one on Twilight as he edged around the ponies to the portal.

“That will be fine, I’ve got to go but I’m sure this whole mess will be sorted out quickly!” With that last, nervous farewell Herbert entered the portal and it closed a few seconds later. Shining had glared at the Inspector the entire time but was broken out of his angry thoughts as Twilight squeezed his head between her forehooves.

“Shining,” Twilight franticly stated. “I need quills and ink, lots of quills and ink! We have to hurry; this is our last chance to save the Princesses!” Shining saw the frenzied look in his sister’s eyes and immediately galloped off past the shell-shocked nobles to fetch the items. He knew that when Twilight was in one of these moods to comply immediately was the safest option for all.

As Shining ran off to fetch her supplies, Twilight placed the mass of papers down on the ground and gave them a death glare that would send a dragon fleeing in terror.

“I will beat you,” she muttered as she maintained her glare. Nobles and servants decided that this was the best time to leave, the ponies scrambling for the doors as Twilight leaned down towards the forms.

“No paperwork gets the better of Twilight Sparkle, especially when the Princesses are in danger.”


Twilight dropped her quill into the pile of broken ones as she cradled the complete mass of forms in her hooves lovingly.
It had taken four hours, three ink-pots and the sacrifice of fifteen quills but everything was all filled out.

Names, family members, occupations, race, ages, medical history and criminal records amongst other things were all written down. A crack team of ten of Canterlot’s most skilled lawyers were ready to go as soon as they were able, briefcases and money-tins secured for transport. Shining was woken from his spot snoozing next to Twilight, his armour jingling as he bolted upright.

“What, are you done?” he questioned causing Twilight to nod happily at him.

“Yes! Now all we need to do is send off the forms and then we can save the princesses and guards! I’ve already sent for the girls to come to Canterlot in case we need to use the elements but I’m sure our lawyers will be able to win the case anyway!” Shining nodded and peaked at the topmost form, his brows furrowing as he spied a discrepancy.

“Uhh, Twilight?” he asked while fearing that she would explode if he pointed it out. “Didn’t that human Inspector say ‘Form Twenty-Seven-C’?” Twilight slowly nodded as she wondered what Shining was getting at. Shining pointed a hoof at the line at the very top stating ‘Form Twenty-Seven-D’. Twilight let out a nervous giggle as she quickly re-read the fine print at the top of the form.

“He he, it’s probably just a typo!” she explained as her eyes found the full name of the form. “See, it says here that this is ‘Form Twenty-Seven-D, Request for a permit authorising the construction of an indoor pool for commercial reasons…”

Twilight trailed off as she realised that in his haste the Inspector had given her the wrong form. Shining got up and slowly started to back away from his sister as the pile of papers fell to the ground.

Outside the entire city of Canterlot looked to the castle with fear as an rage-filled yell pierced the heavens, shaking the castle and putting birds to flight with its sheer hateful tone.

Once again the system had triumphed.

The Bureaucracy always does.

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