Henry v. Keiper

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USbpcA3.png


The wind of victory with a scarlet dawn,
Glorified by the will, is on our side again!
We used to fight, struggle, fraternize with our pain,
But we rose thousands of times.

I don’t believe, no, I don’t believe,
That my Empire has fallen.
That the flame of the struggle has been trampled by enemies,
And strangers are sitting on the throne.

- From the song “My Empire”, by ArktidA

This AAR uses the mod Dreams of a White Russian Victory, available on Steam. The mod presents an alternative history where the Communists lost the Russian Civil War, and Russia is, at the moment, in a state of transition. The player can choose various routes to go, including a return of the Bolsheviks. One of the paths the player can take is the discovery of Anastasia, the famous youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, and her institution of power. It’s a well done mod, and is a breath of fresh air for those players who may be disappointed that, while they can bring back the Kaiser in Hitler’s Germany, they can’t do much with Stalin’s Russia. In addition to this, it also presents some alternative history for Finland, with plans to expand into Ukraine, Belarus, Mongolia, and Poland. Like I said, it’s an excellent mod, and is still being updated at the time of this writing.

The name “Rise of Eagles” is based on the 1974 BBC series “Fall of Eagles”, which details the decline of the royal families of Prussia, Austria, and Russia from the middle of the nineteenth century into World War I. It’s a short but fun series, largely thanks to Barry Foster’s portrayal of Kaiser Wilhelm II. The only downside might be that one could argue it seems to glorify the return of Lenin to Russia (which in turn led to the rise of Communism and the deaths that resulted therein) and seems to, by contrast, practically gloss over the murder of the Tsar and his family. (Both of these complaints I hope to somewhat rectify here.) Point being, the name draws from that, since the opposite will be somewhat happening here.

Those who are familiar with my AARs for CK2 (especially for the Game of Thrones mod) will probably be happy to know I’ll be writing in the same narrative style I did there. A mixture of historical and fictional characters will be employed. I’ve done some research for this AAR, to try to be as realistic as possible with the historical characters, but, well, I of course ask the reader for grace where I mess up, and remember that one of the rules for AARland has always been that players don’t have to be 100% historically accurate! All the same, I hope nothing will be too crazy for people.

One small note: I’ve played through this mod for quite a bit, so the vast majority of the gameplay at the time of this writing is done. I will say that, on a few occasions, I used console commands, but only for a few reasons: peeking in on what was happening with other wars, mostly for informational purposes (eg., if any well known generals were taking part), and to minimize strange in-game things from happening (like, say, Japan annexing a random South American country they hadn't even invaded). I’ll make notes throughout the AAR if at any point I did any serious changes – but I promise my readers I never used it for meta-gaming or anything that would have given me an unfair advantage in gameplay.

Another small note: usually with my AARs I tend to get into the action, in terms of reporting gameplay. Here, I intend to first do a three-part prologue that will set the scene for the story. If you’re like me and you want to get to the actual gameplay part of an AAR and see how a writer is handling it, I ask for some grace there too – but I promise we will get to the gameplay at some point!

In the meantime, I hope everyone enjoys this.

AWARDS / RECOGNITIONS

Best Character Writer of the Week Award for 2/14/2021!

Approved by the mod's Lead Developer and Flag Designer!


 
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stnylan

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This sounds excellent.
 

Bullfilter

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Good luck with this one! I'll give it a look. :)
 

Henry v. Keiper

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Sounds really interesting :)

Glad to have you aboard!

This sounds excellent.

Hopefully it reads excellent. Or something.

I Recently the watch a YouTuber play the mod as Anistasia’s Russia it was fun to Watch so I can’t wait to see what you’ve done with it

Ah yes, I'd forgotten that a few YouTubers had tried out the mod. Hopefully I don't do exactly what they did. Or at the very least, it doesn't ruin any surprises which may come from in-game events here. Otherwise, some people might get bored.

Good luck with this one! I'll give it a look. :)

Thank you! Hope to keep you interested.
 
PROLOGUE

Henry v. Keiper

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rBKVCB2.png

Prologue – Part 1

16 July, 1918

“Wake up, Nastenka. Wake up.”

Anastasia opened her eyes. Maria was there, standing over her. “What is it, Masha?”

“We’re being gathered together.”

“Gathered together?”

“Dr. Botkin says we’re to get dressed and be downstairs at once.”

Anastasia lifted up her head, watching her sister as she made her way towards her wardrobe. The former grand duchess mused for a moment how her and her older sister, though paired together, seemed so different. Anastasia, the smaller one people used to compare to a squirrel, and Marie, the older, brawnier one whom people compared to their grandfather. Outside, a weird whirring sound could be heard, and Anastasia pondered for a moment what it was. So much had been happening in Yekaterinburg ever since they arrived that her wonder meant much more than a young woman’s confusion. There had been a riot not too recently, and Marie had overheard from the ever increasingly nervous guards that their fellow Bolsheviks were in retreat, with the enemy advancing on the city. Just earlier that day, one guard had said something about a “Czech Legion” being within eight days’ journey.

“What’s that noise?” Anastasia asked.

For a moment, Maria looked annoyed, but her face soon softened. Without a protest, and still in her nightgown, she stepped over to the window and peeked out. “There’s a truck running outside the house. I don’t know why.”

“Doesn’t that seem peculiar?”

“I don’t know, maybe it’s what will be taking us. Get dressed, Nastenka.”

Anastasia got out of bed, but paused when a thought came to her. “Are you hiding your…?”

“Of course I am!”

“Are you certain you don’t want to give any to your future husbands as they escort us?”

Maria’s usually pale cheeks turned visibly flushed. “Hush! You’re so mean.”

Anastasia giggled, then went to get dressed. Like Maria, she took the jewels they had smuggled from their homes, shortly after their arrest, and fastened them onto her corset. The large jewels and metallic pieces felt heavy, and in her mind Anastasia compared it with armor. She thought of those paintings of brave Russian knights from the days of old, or those medieval characters shown on the war posters. It was a silly notion, of course. Putting her imagination aside, her dress was slipped over her body, and the two sisters helped one another complete the finishing touches.

They stepped outside, and some of the guards who had been positioned at the house were there. Anastasia had grown to greatly dislike them, even if Maria had managed to win some of them over. Whether or not any of them were kind, they were still Bolsheviks, and haters of her family – that was all she had to know. They were even worse than the guards that had formerly cared for them, back when the Russian government had been content enough with her father abdicating the throne. These Bolsheviks, however? They seemed to have an underlying hatred of them. They would even draw crude things on the fence outside, just to make them blush. They would laugh loudly in the evening and talk coarsely to anyone, even mother.

Even now, they motioned down the hall, without a word or even a glance to make eye contact, forgoing the respect the girls deserved not only as former royals, but as women. Anastasia and Maria continued towards the stairway, finding their mother and father already moving down the steps. Nicholas stood dressed, and Alexandria held the arms of their younger brother, Prince Alexei, to help him stand. The young, former heir to the throne was yawning terribly as he walked, and he looked like he needed more strength to lift his eyelids than his feet. The older sisters, Tatiana and Olga, were not too far behind mother and father. All the daughters, Anastasia noted, had chosen to wear white blouses and dark skirts. A strange, providential coincidence. Her old friend, Rasputin, would have mused that it was probably the working of the Holy Spirit’s energies upon the whole family. How she missed him at times like this…

“What’s happening, father?” Olga was asking. Her brows were furrowed in worry. “Where are they taking us?”

Tatiana ran a hand down her sister’s arm. “Olga, be at peace.”

Nikolai, however, did respond. “I suspect we shall be moved soon.”

“Speak only in Russian!” blurted a Bolshevik behind them.

Anastasia turned and glared at the guard. “Papa was speaking in Russian!”

“Anastasia!” hissed Tatiana sharply.

“Well, he was!”

“Shut up!” said the guard. “Get downstairs.”

To Anastasia’s surprise, they were not taken into any of the rooms on the first floor, but a room down in the basement. Ivan Kharitonov, their head cook, Alexei Trupp, their chief footman, Anna Demidova, their maid, and Dr. Eugene Botkin, their family physician, were already there. Anastasia pondered for a moment why these four would be whisked away with them in the dead of night, but figured as they had all refused to leave the family’s side, it was only natural that they would come. They probably would have refused to be separated. Dr. Botkin would certainly be necessary for Alexei’s sake. Poor, poor little brother.

As the group milled together in the medium-sized room, the sound of footsteps drew silence, and all faces turned. Yakov Yurovsky, the chief of the Bolshevik guard at the house, had come down the steps. His men, who seemed either too tired – or too drunk – to salute him, didn’t even lift their gaze as he walked in. Anastasia immediately felt her blood boil. Everyone in the family, she knew, hated the man. He was responsible for many of the tightening restrictions they had to endure, and he rarely told them anything of the outside world – they had to find out from word of mouth or from whatever guard Maria had fallen in love with at the time. Either way, his sudden appearance hadn’t made the night any better.

Yakov paused to study the family, then began to point and give orders. “Nikolai, there. Alexandra, there… Maria there, Tatiana there… no, there…” And so on it went, with the family ordered about about towards different spots in the room. All of it was against the wall.

Maria and Anastasia took spots near the door. Maria whispered to Anastasia, “One of the men told me he used to be a photographer before the war, can you believe it?”

“Is he going to take our photograph?” Anastasia asked.

“Girls, be quite, please,” came Alexandra’s whispered orders. They were in English, tinged with her native German, and yet, unlike in the stairway, no one barked at her.

Once everyone had been placed somewhere, Yakov nodded, then left up the stairway. Anastasia saw his boots disappear past the top of the doorway.

“Could we have a chair for my wife and my son?” Nikolai asked. “He hasn’t been feeling well.”

One of the Bolsheviks lifted up his gaze, then adjusted his hat. It had gone off kilter. “What?”

“Could we please have some chairs for my wife and son?”

The Bolshevik blinked one eye, then the other, like an infant waking up, then said, “Alright, yer majesty...” He left out the door, while the other guard snickered.

“He is still your majesty, to you!” Anastasia barked.

Tatiana shot her sister a sharp, motherly look. “Anastasia, will you guard your tongue?”

Maria broad hands patted Anastasia on the shoulder. With her strength, it almost like a boy doing so. “I know you’re upset, Nastenka, but please… this will be over soon. We just have to endure it for now.”

“Why, are the Whites coming? Are they coming to rescue father?”

“I don’t know...”

The guard returned, carrying two chairs awkwardly under each arm. Their legs bonked on either side of the doorway as he came in. They were placed down by Alexandra and Alexei without further adjustment. Nikolai helped his wife and son to sit down. Anastasia noticed the strangely shaped bulges in Alexei’s tunic, and realized that he must be wearing jewelry underneath his clothing, like all of them were. She felt pity for him, as it couldn’t have helped his already worsening condition. It must have been unbearable for him to walk – it was no wonder he had to sit down. She wished she could have gone over and hugged him, and told him it would be okay, but they were told to wait where they were.

There were footsteps, and then Yakov reappeared. He was flanked by several men, who all spread out in a line about him as they entered the room. There was a pause among the group. Yakov stepped forward, then surveyed the room. He seemed to consider where he had placed everyone again, with that photographer’s eye that Maria had mentioned. At last, his eyes stopped on Nikolai, the former tsar. There were no words said. Yakov merely stared at him, and seemed to… hesitate. Anastasia felt like, behind those glassy, cold eyes, something was stirring. Like there was a fight going on. Two thoughts in conflict with each other. There was an argument in his head, loud as a shout and yet no one but Yakov could hear it. His boots creaked in the silent room as he leaned forward, then rocked back to come on his heels again. Once again, those glassy eyes scanned the room, from one end to the other. He came upon Anastasia, and seemed to linger on her. Then, with a snap of his head, he turned back to Nikolai.

Yakov took a deep breath, then said:

“Nikolai Alexandrovich. In view of the fact that your relatives are continuing their attack on Soviet Russia, the Ural Executive Committee has decided to execute you.”

Nikolai blinked and turned to his family. “What?”

“Nikolai Alexandrovich,” repeated Yakov, “in view of the fact that your relatives are continuing their attack on Soviet Russia, the Ural Executive Committee has decided to execute you.”

“But-”

Yakov lifted his pistol. A flash of light burst forth. Two more followed. Nikolai tumbled back, gripping his chest.

Immediately the other men lifted their pistols. Maria and Anastasia both screamed and fell on their knees. Flashes of light flashed about like fireworks. Anastasia heard her servants cry out, and saw their bodies tumbling down. Her mother jerked form the chair and tumbled down, her face a bloodied mess. Tatiana and Olga covered their heads and bowed down. “Mama! Mama!!” they cried. Blood burst through their white blouses, and they jerked to the ground. Maria stood and ran to the doors, only to be jerked forward and slam headfirst into it. Suddenly, Anastasia felt a hard thud against her torso. Sharp pain filled her body, followed by more hard thuds. There was what felt like a punch to her thigh, and pain surged through her leg. Warm fluid drenched her skirt. She gripped her leg and fell, feeling more blows to her chest. Her mind was swirling. It smelled like burning metal, copper, and fire. The loud clanging of the guns from only several feet away rang through her ears. Smoke filled her nostrils, causing her to inhale deep and forget momentarily how to breathe.

“Stop shooting, you fools!” came a cry.

The gunfire stopped. Some of the men coughed, waving their hands. The smoke refused to dissipate.

The voice continued. “I could hear you outside, loud as dogs!”

“Even with the engine running?”

“Yes!”

Yakov cursed. “Get everything together. Gather the bodies.”

It was then that Anastasia realized she wasn’t dead. Her body hurt too much to move. The smoke she had inhaled still burned her nostrils, making her fearful to breathe. Her brain gave her little energy to do much else except turn her eyes gently around, observing all the details in the room as if she were in slumber. Near her, she could hear a soft, whimpering cry. She realized then that it was her little brother. The young boy was leaning back on the chair, clutching his torso. He was crying, sniffling even. He began to mutter for his mother. Muttering for their mother, whom Anastasia saw lying on the floor not too far from her. Motionless. A pool of blood forming under her head.

“This one isn’t dead yet,” a man said.

“What? Finish him off!”

The man took out a knife. Anastasia’s still eyes watched as he plunged it several times into the small boy. He grunted with frustration, unsure why his knife seemed unable to penetrate properly. Yakov cursed the man, then pulled out his own pistol and fired a shot right into her little brother’s head. The prince, the heir to Russia, the next tsar, that little boy that Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia had doted on and cared for… that little boy fell to the ground, his body still. He had fallen many times in his life, to everyone’s worry. No one would ever worry again – because now, he would never rise up again.

The men came to the daughters next. Anastasia could hear some of the men snickering as they began to investigate them. She heard her sister Maria suddenly groan, and one of the men said, “She’s still alive too.” He took out a sharp knife, and grunted as he tore at her dress. “They have jewels here!”

“Really? Do the others have jewels?” Another man went to Anastasia. She felt the front of her blouse torn with the knife, and her corset revealed underneath. The man grinned wide. “They sure do. No wonder our bullets did nothing.”

“So do these!” said a Bolshevik over by Tatiana and Olga. “Look at this. You could get a lot in Moscow for this.”

“The boy has some too.”

Men began to yank jewels off of the bodies. Some showed them off to others, smiling with crooked, rotten teeth. Others were starting to shove them into their pockets. Yakov intervened, his voice rising in anger. “Stop it! Stop it! All of you! You, put that back. You too.” He growled and took out his pistol, waving it about the air. “I said put it back! You, finish that girl off. Then I want every single last one of you in my office. Nobody is taking anything from the bodies!”

The man in front of Maria growled under his breadth, but offered no other protest. He took Maria by the neck, then lifted his pistol. Anastasia watched as Maria held up a weak, feeble arm. Her lips mouthed a weak, “Nyet...” It was all she could do before the pistol went off with a loud bang. The back of her head exploded in blood. Anastasia saw that arm drop. The man let go of her body then, letting it slump onto the ground. Without another consideration for his murder of the grand duchess, the guard turned and followed the other men out of the room.

What was she to feel at that moment? To lie there, surrounded by her family, brutally murdered? In truth, Anastasia was uncertain how to respond. Her body was still in immense pain, from head to foot, with the agony growing by the second. Her head swirled as her mind tried to take in everything that had happened. It was like she was in a dream, and yet her consciousness knew it was no dream. It refused to accept what had happened, and yet it knew, deep within, what had happened. What’s more, part of her desired to escape. Her body knew it had to escape, to survive, to live again. Her heart was being mocked by her mind. Her mind told her of reality, her heart of will. And reality seemed opposed to her will.

With what little strength she had, she rolled onto her front. One arm was moist with a copper-scented liquid, and moved very little. The other had what little strength she could muster, and with feeble, soft pushes of her legs, she made her way towards the double doors near her. In several seconds, she was there, and lifting up.

“Please, Mother of God,” she muttered, “please… let me…”

Her hand, which she now saw was covered in red, lifted up before her face. Her shaking, unstable fingers curled and uncurled as she ran it up towards the door knob. A door knob which… she could not reach. She groaned, finding it just outside of her grip. It was like she was a little girl again. That helpless little girl in the palace who couldn’t reach the doorknob. Could her servants help her? No, they were all dead. Could her sisters help her? No, they were all dead, too. Even Maria, her accomplice, her partner-in-crime… she too was dead. Her mother and father? No… it couldn’t be. The mighty Tsar of Russia? The descendant of Ivan the Great, Alexander I, and Alexander III? Dead? That couldn’t be. And her mother, who had kept the all together and sane for so long? No, that was a lie. Her mind swirled, unable to come to grips with what was going on. Her sanity refused to relent to the truth. No… someone had to be alive to help her… to help this poor little girl who couldn’t reach the door… someone had to be out there… mother… father… help…

“Mama… mama...” came a weak voice.

No response. The room was quiet.

“Mama… papa…”

Tears filled her eyes. Her hand began to slide down the doorway, her strength at last leaving her. Her mind was turning black as the pain became unbearable. There was no one. Nobody. This was it. She was going to be in Paradise, with Christ and her old friend. The chill of the door touched her cheek as her arm finally lost all strength, and her head leaned against the wood.

“Papa… papa… pa…”

A hand snatched her shoulder.
 
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This should be a good AAR to see. I'll note, however, that Anastasia's path in this mod is ridiculously broken (you can stack bonuses for her leader traits to a ridiculous degree) so be warned if you want the Nazis to present much of a threat.
 
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stnylan

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And what form will her rescuer take, I wonder.
 

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I'm following this with great enthusiasm. From what I've seen from the mod, this is an absolutely fascinating path to be following, so I will be following this with a keen interest :)
 

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mike the knight

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Henry v. Keiper

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This should be a good AAR to see. I'll note, however, that Anastasia's path in this mod is ridiculously broken (you can stack bonuses for her leader traits to a ridiculous degree) so be warned if you want the Nazis to present much of a threat.

I've already played through quite a bit into the game. (Probably longer than many of my HoI4 games, if I'm honest.) I will say I tried my best not to min-max with the system, though obviously I used it. I dunno if it's broken so much as exploitable - it might be better if it was tempered by only permitting bonuses with, say, 2 experience points instead of 1.

Either way, I intend to have the bonuses make sense in the context of the story. That's part of the fun of writing an AAR is coming up with excuses for... less than realistic happenings.

And what form will her rescuer take, I wonder.

You'll find out in later updates.

Or not.

Maybe I'll die before then. Or the series will get canceled before the big reveal, like all great series.

What were we talking about again?

I'm following this with great enthusiasm. From what I've seen from the mod, this is an absolutely fascinating path to be following, so I will be following this with a keen interest :)

I was almost tempted to go down one of the other paths. You can bring Kolchak back, have one of the other family members of the Tsar take over, let Kerensky rule supreme... there are LOTS of paths to take. I really wish Paradox would put something like this into the actual Soviet Union path. (Although I suppose one might argue by 1936 it would have been rather hard to have a Tsarist resurgence.)

What made me choose Anastasia was I had recently taught my oldest daughter about the Tsar's family, how they were murdered by the Communists, how they were believers in Christ, etc. She's into princesses and all that, so of course she took an interest in the story of Anastasia. Basically, the same reason I chose a unicorn for House Valzyren in my GoT AAR - because of the influence of fatherhood.

You made me imagine very clearly these scenes , this history gets better and better

Many thanks for your comment! Much of this post was inspired by the account Yakov himself gave of the killings (I personally have a hard time calling it an "execution"), right down to him posing the family like he were taking a photograph. I tried to do research for this story, to keep things semi-realistic, even as we begin to enter the realm of alternative history.
 
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Henry v. Keiper

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rBKVCB2.png

Prologue – Part 2

16 July, 1918

He paused a moment in the hallway to take view of himself in a mirror. With both hands, he adjusted the thickening mustache on his face, then adjusted his bottle-cap eyeglasses. The dim light of the lone bulb in the hallway gave him enough vision in the oasis of brightness surrounded by the darkness of night. Finally satisfied with himself, the man turned and continued down the hall. Movement only added to the overall feeling of isolation within this building, for his footsteps echoed off the hard floors and nearby walls. When he stopped at the door at the end, he gave it a few good taps with his knuckles.

“Come in.”

The man opened the door and looked inside. The walls were a dark brown, with soft light emanating from two lamps with green tinted covers, each on its own end table. There was a faint scent of pipe smoke that rushed out the door into the man’s nostrils. There, sitting across the room, was Vladimir Lenin. He wasn’t smoking anything, nor was there a tray beside him with ash. His hands were folded on his lap, a sharp suit over his body, with his shoes polished. The bald scalp on his head shined from the nearby lamp. As he sat there, Lenin’s stern expression stared back at the man, but upon seeing who it was, the visage softened. “Ah, Trotsky. Come in.”

Trotsky did so, shutting the door beside him. “You’re doing well?”

“As well as can be. I’m awaiting some news, but first tell me what is going on with the army.”

Trotsky cleared his throat. “If you want my opinion, I would suggest executions for disobedience, and the setting up of officers to make certain that all orders comply with the revolution. Every order would have to be reviewed and approved by said officers.”

Lenin nodded, then crossed his legs. “The state is bad, then?”

Trotsky frowned. Bad was an understatement. He had seen the state of the Bolshevik military – it was hardly a professional force. It was no wonder they had been forced to sign that blasted, unfair treaty with the Germans. Yet what could they do? Germany would have eaten up the rest of Russia if they hadn’t. Now the Tsar’s men threatened to eat up what little the Germans hadn’t taken. “I am not certain entirely how we will be able to defeat the Whites in this state. There is as much bickering in the ranks as there is within our own party.”

Lenin opened his mouth to speak, but was interrupted when the door near him opened up. Nikolai Gorbunov, Lenin’s aide, stepped in from another room, a small slip of paper in his hand. Trotsky had always been quietly amused by the gentleman, as he always looked like someone who should be much more nervous and unsure than he actually was. Lenin stood at once, and held out his hand without a word. Gorbunov walked over and handed Lenin a note, then turned and left without a word of his own – an adjustment of his glasses was the only communication offered to anyone. Lenin took unfolded the note and began to glance over it. After his first reading, Lenin began to slowly rise out of his chair.

Trotsky raised an eyebrow. “What is it?”

“A copy of a telegram meant for our dear friend Yakov Sverdlov. Of course, I’m privy to such things.” Lenin read over the note carefully again, then a third time. At last, his lips curled into a grin. “The monarchist filth are all dead.” He crumbled up the paper and tossed it into the fire. “The three hundred year nightmare is at last over, and the Uriel Soviets have taken care of it for us.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean the Tsar.”

“What of the Tsar?”

“Finished. He’s been shot.”

Trotsky blinked. Shot? Executed? The Tsar himself? “I thought he was to be put on trial? I heard you give that order. You told Beloborodov to put him on trial. Trial, not execution.”

Lenin smirked. “My dear Trotsky, you should know by now what ‘trial’ means.”

He should have. Still, Trotsky had borne dreams in his mind of the future trial of Tsar Nicholas II. He had dreamed of Nicholas II standing trial before the party, hearing his crimes against the people recounted, and then receiving his sentence. Trotsky dreamed of the being the chief prosecutor, and making certain all this was carried out. He had hoped to be the one to have a chance at reading the Tsar’s verdict of guilty, and sending him to the waste bin of history. Now? Now the chance was gone. Gone in the smoke of gunshot. Which made him wonder… and Trotsky felt a strange feeling in his stomach as he prepared himself mentally to ask the next question. Part of him did not want to ask it, but he knew he had to. And, as he caught sight of Lenin staring at him, he got the feeling that he was expected to ask. “What of his family?”

At this, Lenin grinned. “His family alongside him.” Lenin took notice of how incredibly pale Trotsky had become. “What of it?”

Trotsky hesitated a moment. Truth be told, he did not really know what to say. Did he have a special love for the Tsar? Not at all. But… even his family? His daughters, his son, his wife… all of them were executed? Just like that? “Who made the decision? The Uriels? Sverdlov?”

“We did,” came Lenin’s curt reply. He motioned with his arm. “Myself. Sverdlov. All of us here in Moscow. We decided it wasn’t wise to leave the Whites a live banner to rally around, especially under the present difficult circumstances.” Lenin studied Trotsky a moment, then asked, “Do not tell me the fiery Trotsky pities them.”

Trotsky gazed back at Lenin, then gave a curt, “No.” There was, in fact, much complication behind that one-worded response. For Trotsky was well aware of what must have gone on behind Lenin’s thinking. Executing the family would deprive the Whites of hope and confidence, but would send a message to their own failing ranks: defeat was not an option. Perhaps many across the world would be shocked by this, but the masses of the people would not permit any other decision. In the end… this was inevitable.

“Good,” Lenin said. “You know as well as I do we are at a strenuous time in our history. I care little if five children are murdered or fifty. We have only one concern at this time: has what we’ve done advanced or hindered the cause of the Revolution? Our people have become a benighted, medieval and shamefully backward people, and it was because of the tsars and their ilk that it was so. Their removal brings us forward in history.” Lenin’s eyes shifted to the side. “Don’t you agree, Josef?”

Trotsky glanced over to the corner of the room. He was amazed that he hadn’t seen the man before. Stalin sat there, a pipe hanging on his mouth. Smoke was rising up, clouding before his face. “The Russian people are by nature Tsarist,” Stalin replied. “They need someone they can worship and look up to. They need someone to work for, and also to die for.” He lowered his pipe now. “If not the Romanovs, then someone else.”

“Precisely,” said Lenin.

Stalin seemed to think a moment. Trotsky could see the glimmer in his eyes – a glimmer he had come to distrust. “It will hurt the Russian people deeply. It is painful to lose a father. As I have known.” Those words caused even more unrest in Trotsky. He seemed to recall that Stalin’s own father had been killed. The way Stalin had uttered those words, it was almost as if every emotion from that incident in his life was coming back – what’s more, it almost seemed as if his eyes were locked on Lenin, like the guilt of all of it fell on him and him alone. Truly, this man scared Trotsky. Already some were worried that his ambition was aiming for the top leadership in the Party. What would it be like to have this man in charge? The very thought sent shivers down Trotsky’s spine. For Stalin to have supreme power…

“The Russians will weep, but they will recover,” Lenin said. “In any case, we have greater concerns-”

Lenin’s words came to an abrupt end as a strange thundering sound came from the distance. It was too sudden, and the pattern too rhythmic, to be thunder. Trotsky knew what it must have been, and by the surprised look in the eyes of Lenin and Stalin, he had to imagine that they knew it as well. Lenin rushed over to the windows, pulling back the curtains. His eyes peered out into the night sky, and by the way they narrowed and his jaw dropped, Trotsky knew what he had seen before he said it.

“The Whites!”

Explosions sounded outside. Fireballs shot up as the artillery landed about the city, hitting street corners and buildings alike. Light filled the room, destroying shadows created by the interior lighting.

“What? How could it be?” Stalin asked.

“They got here quicker than we imagined!”

It did seem impossible. They had heard that Pyotr Wrangel, perhaps one of the most capable commanders among the Whites, had been put in power. They heard that he had planned an offensive north to link up with Kolchak. They had heard there was fighting south of the city. Yet, for him to be here? With his artillery within range? It was too much.

The phone suddenly rang. Lenin rushed over and snatched it up. “Hello? This is Lenin, you fool. Yes, I know we’re under attack, you blasted idiot! Do you think I can’t look out my own window?”

More explosions sounded outside. The building shook. Stalin dumped his pipe tobacco into a nearby tray, the slipped the pipe into his coat pocket.

“What do you expect me to do?” Lenin shouted. His face was turning so red that even the bare parts of his scalp colored. “Order them to launch a counterattack? Am I to do everything myself!” He slammed the phone down with a loud clang. It was such a forceful blow that the phone toppled off the table.

At that moment, Gorbunov came in through one of the doors. “Lenin! They’re readying a ca-”

Fire consumed the room behind him. Trotsky covered his face as debris and dust flew at him. He heard the sound of cracking and crashing wood, followed by Gorbunov’s scream. When he lowered his hand, he saw fire up ahead, consuming the nearby room and now the walls. Gorbunov’s bloodied arm stuck out from under a large plank of wood.

“We must leave!” Trotsky cried out. “Leave now!”

The sound of more explosions outside. Trotsky saw Stalin reach into his pocket again. Lenin burst forward, passing Stalin and towards Trotsky. Trotsky turned to head towards the closest door, which he knew would lead them towards a side passage. He paused at the door to turn and make sure the men were following.

And saw the pistol in Stalin’s hand. Before Trotsky could say a word, the fire flew from the barrel. Lenin jerked back and tumbled forward.

Trotsky stared in disbelief. His mind swirled as the entire scene grew quiet. Suddenly, there were no artillery shells landing. There were no explosions. There was no ringing in his ears. The man could not even hear his own heart beat as he stared forward. The dust on his eyeglasses near clouded out the view, but still he could see Vladimir Lenin, the self-appointed leader of the Russian Revolution, laying on the ground, dead. Blood burbled up from the wound in his back, a thin trail of smoke rising. Stalin stood there, gun still out, and still aimed where it had been.

For a moment, the two men looked and made eye contact.

Stalin smiled.

Then he turned and ran towards the window. Trotsky could hear the shatter of glass, and that was it. He didn’t dare look down at Lenin’s corpse again. He knew what lay there dead.

It was the revolution itself.
 
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Well that is going to be things a little interesting.
 

Nikolai

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Hah, I guess Stalin is vying for power, but it almost sounds like he's a traitor, working for the Whites. :p
 

Henry v. Keiper

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That's the Stalin i expecte :p, the depiction of his characters is nicely done :)

Obviously I'm not aware of Stalin ever actually planning to kill Lenin (I could be wrong), but Stalin's moral ambivalence towards Lenin, in terms of how well he respected the man, and how eager he was for power, is known by most. In either case, Lenin openly said Stalin wasn't suited to lead and it was dangerous to give him too much power.

And thank you!

Very well written! I got Downfall vibes for a short while when Lelin picked up the phone.

Thank you. I may or may not have been inspired by the phone call scene in The Downfall. I think it was a combination of that and reading in my research that Lenin had a notorious short temper that led to that scene.

Well that is going to be things a little interesting.

Hopefully so. I have to explain how things got the point they do in the mod's opening year 1936. Trotsky and Stalin are still part of the mod, but Lenin is out of the picture for the most part, so I had to come up with a way to remove Lenin while keeping the Whites victorious.

I suppose Trotsky's reservations are setting up Anastasia being merciful here?

Funnily enough, I didn't invent Trotsky's reservations. The brief bit of dialogue between him and Lenin (the "I mean the Tsar" sequence) is based off a real dialogue that happened, only it was between Trotsky and Sverdlov. Trotsky had no love for the Tsar, obviously, and he really did hope to put him on trial and be the lead prosecutor (that was the original plan, in fact), but I get the feeling, from what I've read, that Trotsky wasn't particularly fond of the decision to assassinate the whole family. He accepted it in the sense that it had to happen, and the decision to do so was made outside his control, but he wasn't as excited about it as, say, Sverdlov and Lenin.

As for Anastasia being merciful, readers shall have to find out...

Hah, I guess Stalin is vying for power, but it almost sounds like he's a traitor, working for the Whites. :p

Nah, just using things to his advantage, as the house of cards comes crumbling down.
 
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