1636 The Kremlin Games – Snippet 08


          “Very well. So this Bernie will tell us what the words from the future mean. What about the contract?”


          “Bernie insisted on it, Patriarch. I think he was a bit afraid that once we got him here we’d lock him in a dungeon and use whips and tongs to get him to work.”


          “Certainly an option worth considering,” Filaret said, and Boris knew very well that the patriarch wasn’t joking. Not even a little bit.


          Boris nodded. “Hence the contract and a share of the money to be paid into an account in Grantville. The contract helps assuage his fears and the fact that we have to send some of the money to Grantville anyway helps even more. We need him enough to make it worthwhile to pamper him a bit before we attempt harsher methods.


          “It’s hard to explain unless you have seen what they can do and how freely they give out their knowledge. Prince Vladimir is convinced that if we don’t have someone like Bernie, if we don’t gain this knowledge and do it now while the door is opened –” He paused and took a deep breath. “Russia, without the knowledge — the up-time knowledge — facing a Europe with that knowledge, will not survive more than a few decades.”


          “Why is Vladimir paying for this?” The patriarch was nodding. Good, Boris thought. He understood why Bernie was needed.


          “He wants to set up a think tank.” Boris spoke entirely in Russian but the concept didn’t translate well.


          Boris tried again at Filaret’s expression. “A gathering of minds, also a research center. A place where concepts and devices from the books and notes he is sending can be tried. Tests can be done to see what will and will not work. A place where the knowledge from the future can be combined with the talents of Russians to make both the things he sends us designs for and new designs of our own.”


          The patriarch nodded, his mind jumping ahead of Boris’ explanation. “Where?”


          “The Gorchakov family has a large and comfortable dacha and hunting park a day’s ride from Moscow. Close enough to Moscow for convenience, yet far enough away so that it can be kept fairly private. He promises not only its use but money for the materials needed for the experimentation. Some thousands of rubles a year.”


          “That explains what he wants to do, Boris Ivanovich Petrov. It does not explain why the contract with this Bernard Zeppi is with Vladimir Petrovich Gorchakov, not Mikhail Fedorivich Romanov, Czar of all Russia.”


          “Vladimir is willing to commit the Gorchakov family to the primary funding of the project.”


          “And he wants what in exchange?”


          “The exclusive rights to produce and sell the products of the dacha.” This was common. One family might have exclusive rights to mine iron ore in a certain area, rights they had purchased from the government. Another might have exclusive rights to sell the furs of another area. Filaret was hardly a novice when it came to that type of negotiation.


          “No, that won’t work,” Filaret said. “The Gorchakov family is rich but not that rich.”


          “He plans to sell the rights to produce individual products,” Boris explained. “The research center will make a working model of, say, a reaping machine, and designs for the parts to it, then sell the rights to make the reaping machines to another clan or to a set of villages.”


          The patriarch nodded and considered. “Exclusive except for the government. I’ll not have the government giving the Gorchakov family the rights, then paying for the research as well.” That too was standard. The government of Russia maintained first call on everything. If a family gained exclusive control of a mine, what that family got was what came out of the mine beyond the government’s share.


          “Of course, Patriarch.” Boris nodded. As each new device was made both the government and the Gorchakov family would have the right to produce it if they chose. In the case of the reaping machine, the government would be able to either make reaping machines itself or have them made; so would the Gorchakov family. The Gorchakov family might want to sell its rights to make the product but that would not affect the government’s rights. “Of course, the research center will need experts from some of the bureaus.”


          Filaret nodded thoughtfully. “That can be arranged. And the church?”


          “Vladimir would prefer not to make an open grant to the church.” Boris’ answer was delicate. “There have been abuses of such grants in the past. I am very much afraid the bureaus would not like such a blanket grant either.” The Russian Orthodox Church was neither monolithic nor free from corruption. Monasteries vied for power and wealth with the great families and each other.


          The patriarch grinned rather sardonically and nodded. “The patriarch’s office, then.” He laughed at Boris’ expression. “Not even that?”


          Boris steeled himself. “Who will be the next patriarch?”


          Filaret nodded, but lost his smile.


          “Vladimir did wish me to convey his warmest personal regards to you, Patriarch Filaret. His concern, and frankly mine, is that the next patriarch may not share your concern for the czar or for Holy Rus. Do you remember mention of Patriarch Nikon from the histories we sent?” Boris really wished he could avoid this part of the conversation. He was used to bureaucratic infighting but not at this level.


          Filaret grimaced but nodded. “However, I am patriarch now.”


          “As long as that happy situation remains, the patriarch’s office will receive anything the dacha can provide.”


          Filaret’s fingers made a drum roll on the desk as he thought about it. “It is a great risk for young Vladimir. He could ruin his family if it doesn’t work.” Then he stared at Boris. “What about you, Boris? What do you gain in this? What do you risk?”


          “It has been suggested that I would make an excellent candidate for the head of the Grantville section of the embassy bureau.” He shrugged. “That is both the reward and the risk. If it doesn’t work, well, my position in the bureau would become untenable.”


          “Yes, it would.” Another pause while the patriarch’s fingers continued to tap out a strange beat on the desk. “Very well. I will talk to Fedor Ivanovich Sheremetev, then. I’ll even do what I can to get the appropriate people assigned to your section and loaned to the Gorchakov dacha.”


          He gave Boris a hard look, his eyes seeming to glitter for a moment. “You understand what you’re risking?”


          “I think so, Patriarch.”