1636 The Kremlin Games – Snippet 01

 

1636: The Kremlin Games

by

Eric Flint, Gorg Huff and Paula Goodlett

 

 

Cast of Characters

 

 

Anya                                                  Runaway slave

 

Bates, Brandy                                   Researcher at the National Library

 

Bates, Donna                                    Brandy’s mother

 

Cherkasski, Ivan Borisovich              Prince; chief of Musketeer Bureau

 

Fedorov, Anatoly                               Apothecary

 

Gorchakov, Natalia (“Natasha”)

Petrovna               A princess of Russia; Vladimir’s sister

 

Gorchakov, Sofia Petrovna                 Natalia’s aunt and chaperone

 

Gorchakov, Vladimir Petrovich          A prince of Russia; Natasha’s brother

 

Hampstead, John Charles                English mercenary in Russian army

 

Izmailov, Artemi Vasilievich               General in the Russian army

 

Khilkov, Ivan                                     Russian cavalry colonel

 

Korisov, Andrei                                  Gunsmith

 

Kotov, Gavril                                      Orthodox priest

 

Kotov, Kseniya,                                 Father Gavril’s wife

 

Lebedev, Boris Timofeyevich

                             “Tim,”                    Russian junior officer

 

Lebedev, Ivan Borisovich                   Commander at Murom; Tim’s cousin

 

Lowry, Cass                                       American hired by Russians

 

Maslov, Ivan                                       Russian junior officer

 

Mikhailovich, Ivan (“Shorty”)             Steamboat operator

 

Mikhailovich, Pavel (“Stinky”)            Steamboat operator

 

Millerov, Mikhail                               Commander of Cossacks

 

Nickovich, Petr (“Pete”)                      Artisan and natural philosopher

 

Odoevskii, Ivan Nikitich                     Bureau of the Exchequer

 

Petrov, Boris Ivanovich                      A bureaucrat of Moscow

 

Petrov, Ivan Borisovich                      Boris’ son

 

Petrov, Maryia                                   Boris’ wife

 

Petrov, Pavel Borisovich                     Boris’ son

 

Radziwill, Janusz                                        Commander of Polish incursion;

 

Repinov, Ivan                                     Russian spy for Polish forces

 

Romanov, Alexsey                             Son of Czar Mikhail

 

Romanov, Evdokia, “Doshinka,”        Czarina of Russia

 

Romanov, Feodor Nikitich

          “Filaret”                                   Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox

                                                          Church; father of Czar Mikhail

 

Romanov, Irinia                                 Daughter of Czar Mikhail

 

Romanov, Mikhail Fedorivich            Czar of Russia, son of Filaret

 

Sheremetev, Fedor Ivanovich             Russian boyar; cousin to Czar Mikhail;

                                                          chief of the bureau of records

 

Shein, Mikhail Borisovich                 General in the Russian army

 

Shuvalov, Leontii                               Colonel in the Russian army

 

Shuvalov, Ruslan Andreyivich           Commander of dirigible unit at Bor

 

Sikorski, David                                  Political officer at Bor

 

Simmons, Tami                                 Up-time nurse hired by the czar

 

Slavenitsky, Nikita Ivanovich             Pilot

 

Smirnov, Lazar                                  Electronics and radio technician;

                                                          fifth cousin to the czar

 

Stefanovich, Petr                               Mechanic

 

Trotsky, Fedor Ivanovich                    A Russian spy

 

Tupikov, Filip Pavlovich                     Artisan and natural philosopher

 

Vasa, Wladyslaw IV                            King of Poland

 

Vinnikov, Vladislav Vasl’yevich                   Princess Natasha’s captain of guards

 

Zeppi, Bernard (“Bernie”)                  Up-timer hired by Vladimir

 

 

PART I

 

The year 1631

 

Chapter 1

 

 

Grantville

October, 1631

 

          Vladimir Gorchakov pulled his horse up as he saw Boris Ivanovich Petrov stopping to look around. “Apparently Tilly’s tercio commander wasn’t the liar we thought he was.”

 

          “This place is worth the trip,” Boris said. “See the cuts in the earth where the land was changed? Look at these hills. The structure is different from those outside the ring. Everything inside this Ring of Fire is different.”

 

          Most of their entourage was still on its way from Jena, but neither he nor Boris had wanted to delay long enough to sell all their trade goods or drag what was left along with them. They had left the matter in the hands of Fedor Ivanovich and ridden on ahead, with just two attendants.

 

          “I was convinced it was a fraud of some sort.” Boris was shaking his head in wonder. “But anyone who could fake this kind of thing would have too much power to need to fake anything.”

 

          Vladimir nodded to the bureau man and patted his horse. “I believed it was a preposterous lie right up until we got to Jena. It was the up-timer and that APC that made me start to suspect it might not be. Once you’ve seen one of those ‘cars,’ well, you must believe that something has happened.”

 

          “For me it was the view from Rudolstadt.” Boris grinned. “But I am a cynic. Cars can be made by men. Not this!” He waved at the circle of inward-and outward-facing cliffs.

 

          Vladimir remembered his first sight of over a mile of mirror smooth cliffs. It had been beyond impressive. It was as though God had taken a scoop out of the earth and replaced it with a scoop of something else. He could see Boris’ point.

 

          Vladimir looked over at Boris. Boris Ivanovich was an unassuming little man, the sort of man who could blend in anywhere and not be noticed. He didn’t look at all impressive. Appearances lied. Boris was a bureaucrat of Russia, specifically of the Posol’sky Prikaz, the Embassy Bureau or State Department. He was an experienced spy and a well-traveled agent. He spoke, read, and wrote Russian, Polish, Danish, German, English, and, of course, Latin and Greek. He had been assigned to accompany Vladimir Petrovich on this “fool’s errand” by the czar’s father in an attempt to keep the czar from looking any more foolish than could be avoided. And probably, Vladimir acknowledged, to keep me out of trouble.

 

          Vladimir was sure Boris had his own thoughts about the situation. He could even make a good guess about what Boris was thinking. Not that any of it showed on Boris’ face. Boris, at the moment, was wearing his I’m-too-dumb-to-pound-sand look. No, it was the situation; any Bureau man would be thinking the same thing. Boris’ rank in the bureaucracy that ran Russia was higher than Vladimir’s, or had been. He had been demoted without prejudice for this mission since Vladimir was a knaiz, a prince. Vladimir, as a prince with almost independent lands — combined with his friendship with the czar — was almost certain to end up as a boyar of the cabinet. It would be totally inappropriate to have him under the orders of someone with Boris’ lack of pedigree. But without prejudice or not, it was still a demotion. And if things went wrong it would be really easy to leave Boris demoted. That had been a major concern on their way here, Vladimir knew.

 

          The fact that Grantville wasn’t a hoax presented Boris with both problems and opportunities. Powerful people didn’t like to be proven wrong, and there was more than a little bit of a tendency to kill the messenger in the Russian government. On the other hand, the fact that Grantville was not a hoax meant that keeping the czar from looking foolish in sending the mission became much easier. Certain people at court were not going to like that, either.

 

          Moreover, since Grantville did exist, a network of spies would have to be put in place to watch it. Boris was in an excellent position to end up an important figure in that network. And the politics of the situation meant the Grantville Office in Moscow would be an important one. Poland was Russia’s great enemy at the moment and Germany was just the other side of it. Now a section of Germany was peaceful and relatively prosperous instead of being torn up by war. The up-timers, as the locals called them, had to be encouraged to take Sweden’s side. So far they had friendly relations with the Swedish king but nothing more than that.

 

          “It is not such a large place,” Vladimir said, looking around as they rode, and patting the horse’s neck now and then. “And there are not so many up-timers as I had thought.”

 

          “A small place, yes, but it will play a large role,” Boris said. “The cars, APCs — or whatever their proper name — the improved roads, that device we saw in the fields outside Rudolstadt.” Vladimir knew what Boris was talking about though he didn’t know the name either. Whatever they called it, it did the work of a village of serfs faster and possibly cheaper. 

 

          “In a way, more important is that scraping bucket that was pulled by a team of horse,” Boris continued. “I would imagine that the cars and that thing in the field are hard to make but the scraping bucket . . . that any Russian smith could build given the idea and a bit of time. This place will change the world. We will need to find any centers of learning they have. Gather quickly the information they give freely. If they really do give it freely.”

 

          “Yes, Boris. Look into that as soon as we find a place to stay,” Vladimir said.