The Russian Restoration (Comments Welcome, TG for participation)
Note: I know all about Earth I-VI, or whatever it is. Just enjoy it (or hate it) as a story. If you have a desire to participate in any way, TG me for an arrangement.
Early Spring, 2024.
John Windsor whistled a tune as he began to back everything worthwhile into a briefcase. He would be leaving England for what may have been the last time in his life. Windsor was tired of the boredom of being a mere curiosity in a country that had lost all sense of purpose. Then again, the entire European Union was in the grip of a strange malaise that lingered over it, regardless of what the unemployment rate was.
He had decided that he would go to Russia, with fake ID, claiming to be a blood relative of the Romanov line. As a Windsor, the scion of the former English royalty, he had about as close a blood relationship with the royal family as anyone left on Earth after the murderous legacy of the Russian Revolution. There was a lot of money to be made there for anyone audacious enough to go out and take it.
As well, he knew that the people were desperate and crying out for something, anything to make their lives worthwhile. The problems of Russia were totally unlike those of Europe. Instead of a comfortable sort of illness, the problems of Russia were acute. Successive leaders had done very little to solve the pressing problems which confronted it. The Russian Mafia had become omnipresent, the army was often unpaid ... the whole society was on the verge of falling apart.
Windsor could not help but feel a slight pang when he thought of Russians. It was awful that a people of such great internal nobility should be afflicted with so much misery over the centuries. Then again, perhaps it was that misery which made them noble. A nation of ascetics, or alcoholics. Russia was a strange and foreign place. But John Windsor badly needed adventure of some sort, any sort.
He took a quick glance around at his manor, which he would sell in order to raise money for his Russian adventure. There was little like the buying power of euros to buy influence in Russia. Once the Windsors had been fabulously wealthy, but the state had seized most of their assets. John Windsor had enough to be comfortable, but he wanted to possess more than a five million euro mansion and fifteen million euros in other property and cash. He wanted to be somebody important.
He had never had the chance to feel that, unlike his hapless father, William. After the disastrous reign of Charles, the Republicans had gained great power and eventually terminated the role of the monarchy. His father had been Crown Prince at one time ... but never King. Prince William had died a broken man at an early age. Although he doubted that he would ever be a King, maybe he could be a virtual Tsar.
England had become damned boring anyway. He would have vastly preferred to have been alive in the much more fascinating 19th century than the mixture of boredom and abject terror of the 21st century. But he had to live in the times in which he was born. He closed his briefcase and prepared to take the 7 pm flight to Moscow.
tag for interst/ possible participation
Moscow, Russian Federation, the same time:
Leonid Milutin walked the streets smoking a cigarette. Everything seemed to come from the mafias. Ever since the Soviet Union fell, the Mafia had gained effective control over the government, the economy ... everything.
He was a general out of work, for the sole reason that as a conscientious Christian and a Russian patriot, he refused to take dirty money. His state pension was barely enough to keep him in a dingy apartment eating cheap pasta and smoking bad cigarettes. Everywhere he went, Milutin saw only disappointment, disillusionment and despair in exactly that order.
As he walked down the lonely, slushy streets of a decaying city in a seemingly dying country, he gazed around him. He saw the gaunt, sorrowful faces of those who survived but had never lived. Milutin saw the swastikas emblazoned on young fascists who felt that beating up the weak gave them real power. But they were all puppets. He might pass by one or two of the new Russians, were vampires, draining the wealth of the nation, feeding themselves and their evil master, the Mafias.
Milutin knew that Russia had surely offended God greatly, but surely this generation born in the era after communism should not have to suffer so? Had the Lord forgotten Russia? He was beginning to find it harder and harder to pray, to find the inner strength that God had always given him. Once he lost his faith he would become like all the other pale, thin faces without life in their eyes. An organism and not a man.
For all of its sins, even Soviet Russia had not felt this dehumanized. It was terrible, but not soul-crushing like the mix of government autocracy and utterly anarchy he saw in modern Russia. Milutin kept holding out for hope that things would get better, but they did not. They simply continued to get worse and worse.
God, can't you hear us? Have you forgotten Russia forever?
Father Grigori Bakunin tipped a can of water over a flower garden near the entrance of the cemetary which he had looked after for years. The flowers had managed to grow unimpeded for years, despite the lingering pollution from various Soviet-era projects that were not fixed in the post-communist era. It seemed the plants had more life in them than most Russians. Then again, Russia had gone far from its roots.
As a flower cannot survive with its roots, Father Bakunin thought, neither can we Russians survive without ours.
After watering the plants, he set down the can and wandered over to look over the graves in the modest cemetary, to make sure that the skinheads hadn't vandalized any of the Jewish ones. It seemed that tonight was a good night, no vandalism of any kind could be seen. He had to clean spraypaint off of tombstones or right ones that were kicked over at least a couple of times a week.
The lack of respect for the dead seemed to him to be more a symptom of a deeper disease than anything. As he approached one of the better known of those gravestones, those thoughts became deeper and deeper in his mind.
Ah, Alexander, I know you'd agree with me. Old friend, I am sorry you were never able to see the restoration., Bakunin said to the granite tombstone, a little nicer than most in the graveyard but hardly ostentatious.
The dead man resting in the tomb was best known in the West as a writer, winning a Nobel Prize in 1970 for such works as One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich and The Gulag Archipelago, but had become known in Russia in his last years for being a sort of social philosopher.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn had become convinced that both Communism and the strange mix of autocracy and anarchy that had exemplified modern Russia was the result of disease of Western society. Bakunin knew that he had perhaps been a little extreme in this denunciations, but the core of his ideas were dead right in his view.
Russia was not a Western country, nor was it exactly European. To pretend that it was just like Germany or England was foolish and dangerous. Furthermore, Western civilization was not inherently better than traditional Russian civilization. Solzhenitsyn would likely have said it was inherently worse, but Bakunin would amend that somewhat.
Cultures had to evolve in their proper contexts. Adopting Anglo-American moral sensibilities was clearly improper to Russia. For Russia to start anew, the Russian Revolution would have to go full circle. But in order for that to happen, there would be need to be a Tsar? But who could claim that? Had not the Bolsheviks killed everyone with a relationship to the Russian monarchy?
OOC> If anyone wants to send suggestions, they can use a telegraph to my nation or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm hoping to one day make this into a story, or even a novel.
In the air, near Moscow:
John Windsor looked down at the changing scenery as he approached Moscow. Of course, he would no longer be John Windsor as soon as he touched down. All of his papers bore the name of Alexander Romanov, a citizen of the Russian Federation in good standing. He wondered if he would be successful ... he knew this was a dangerous adventure he was undertaking.
But he felt something that he hadn't felt in years in prosperous, boring, European Unionized England. Real excitement. The overwhelming sensation of adrenaline screaming into his body at a million miles an hour. Russia was a much more exciting place than Europe, with its autocratic yet strangely weak government, powerful Mafias and people trapped in an eternal cultural struggle between East and West.
He couldn't wait to make his mark, any way he could.
Sochi, on the Russian Caucasian coast:
Vladimir Borodino sipped a crystal flute of Dom Perignon as he watched the sunset over Russia's most pleasant Black Sea resort area. His cigar came from Havana, his suit from Milan and his currency of choice was the American dollar (the Euro was also good). He was a man of internationalist tastes and ambitions and the most powerful man in the Russian Mafia and thus the most powerful man in Russia.
As a legitimate businessman who controlled one of Russia's largest banks and major interests in oil, gas and mining industries, he had a declared fortune of $9 billion US dollars. His real value was much, much more than that, drawn from a massive web of crime, the largest shadow empire in the world. What amused him was that the tactics used were hardly different.
What commodities did he deal in? He dealt in influence, protection, gambling, prostitution, pornography, illicit drugs, weapons both conventional and NBC and power. Available in two forms- cold, hard tangible cash (preferably in US dollars or Euros) or power, which was not as tangible but just as useful. Borodino had an incredible amount of both of these and was thus able to ingratiate himself with the Russian government.
Those who refused to go along with him were either shut out of any hope for advancement or punished in some way or another. He had planned at least a dozen assassinations of government officials and hundreds of regular Russians. Borodino's wealth and notoriety had attracted to him a private army of professional killers. They were nearly as well armed and perhaps more motivated than the Russian army. At least Borodino's men recieved regular pay, enough to live comfortably but not enough for them to lose their dependence on him.
Many said that Russia was a dying society. Borodino didn't care about society, he cared about his bottom line. If Russia went under, he could always sell the remains to other countries. Actually, he had been doing that for years. Tens of thousands of poor women sold to be hookers in the European Union or elsewhere. Illegal immigrants wanting a chance at living in a new society ... and willing to pay any price.
Life was good when you weren't.
-tag-. Nice post.
Alexander Romanov stepped off of the jet plane at the Vladimir Putin International Airport in Moscow, named after one or another of the mediocre men who had dragged Russia to its present state. Romanov, who was once a Windsor entered Russia with his head held high and his blue-grey eyes taking in the sights around him. However, he knew perfectly well that an airport was hardly the ideal place to witness the real conditions of Russia.
It was a sanitized Russia, with pretty young women offering perfect white smiles to slightly overweight businessmen in Italian suits. It had the same stifling artificiality as Disneyland had always held for him mentally, a disturbing sacchrineness which hid a seedier reality. Romanov offered his papers for inspection and had his bags looked at, making sure to discreetly hand the guard in charge of baggage inspection twenty euros, worth nearly a day's labour in the anemic Russian economy.
Romanov tipped his hat to a particularly comely young lady as passed her by in the airport. Their eyes met for a moment before he walked past, wanting to get out of the airport and into the reality of Russia. He knew it would be dingy and cold, but it would be home for a long time, possibly even the rest of his life. At least it had some character ... all too many of the cities of the European Union took the sanitized vision of the Moscow airport and made it a part of their entire metropolis.
London, Frankfurt and Brussels were all smashingly boring for a man with real ambition and character. It was time for him to move on to an area of the world which was not unlike that of the Wild West before it became just another part of America. He went to a phone booth and booked a limosine, but not just any limosine, but a reinforced one with two armed bodyguards supplied. Romanov wanted to make a splash.
They arrived in about twenty minutes, the two soldiers being ex-Spetsnaz soldiers who had been laid off in budget cuts as the gap between tax rates and actual payment increased. Romanov offered them immediate tips and prepared to proceed to the hotel suite he had acquired in the centre of Moscow. That would be the base of his operations until he successfully managed to purchase a dacha in the outer areas of Moscow to continue his plans.
What plans? The reality was that John Windsor, or Alexander Romanov, whoever he was, did not have a long-range plan. He was playing the dangerous game of Russian business and politics on instinct. Romanov knew that he would have to be careful, because there were many players much more powerful than he was.
He would have to make sure he retained a low profile or a friendly neutrality with the major Mafia gangs of Moscow, and that meant bribes. Fortunately, the euro was worth many times the ruble both on paper and in real purchasing value. However, he would have to begin making money soon as his supplies were not unlimited.
Alexander Romanov did not have a particular sense of destiny. Why would he? He was just a businessman, a ne'er-do-well of a former royal house of England. Hardly a Russian saviour, he was not even Russian by birth, he spoke the language with native fluency but he grew up speaking English.
As he left to a luxury hotel in downtown Moscow, 23-year old Svetlana Mikoyan found herself unable to get the memory of his proud aristocratic features and powerful blue-grey eyes out of her mind. She had only seen him for a minute, maybe less, but he seemed so different from everyone else there. But who was he? And why did a momentary gaze have such an effect on her?