1636 The Kremlin Games Page 0,1

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, APC’s—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.

Chapter 2

“I would like some information,” Boris said to the woman behind the desk.

“Your name is?”

“Boris Ivanovich Petrov, of Muscovy.”

“Ah.” The woman smiled. “Russian, then. I wondered about your accent. All I could really tell was eastern European. I’m Cecelia Calafano.”

“Da, Russia. That is what we have called the motherland for some time now. It is the rest of Europe that still calls us Muscovy. That has changed in the future?”

“Yes, it has,” the woman Cecelia confirmed. “How can I help you?”

Boris smiled at her. “We’ve been sent to determine if this place is real.”

Cecelia laughed. “I’ve lived here all my life. Trust me, it’s real. What did you want to know?”

The man behind Boris was clearing his throat, as though Boris were taking too much time. Boris was much too much of a professional to turn and pound the oaf into the floor. Not too much to want to, though.

It was a moot point. Cecelia gave the oaf a look that melted him on the spot. Apparently, librarian was a post of some importance here. Boris gave her a list he had written in consultation with young Vladimir. Cecelia took a quick look. It was in English, carefully written. She sighed and Boris wondered why. Consistent spelling was some time in the future; it wasn’t something that Boris had ever known so wasn’t something he missed. It was, to Boris’ eye, a perfectly legible list.

She began to read aloud carefully. “How to make telephones. A history of the Romanov family. How to make cars. A history of Muscovy, or Russia. I think you’re probably in the wrong place.”

Boris looked at the woman. Here it came the runaround. Yes, we give such knowledge away, but not here was what he was expecting to hear.

What heard instead was, “Never mind,” followed by another sigh. The meaning of this one was clear. She had seen his response before. “Some of this you will be able to find here. Like the history of Russia or part of it. I’ll get you some books.”

* * *

Boris examined the books. Russia Under the Old Regime by someone with the very non-Russian name of Pipes. He looked at the table of contents. Chapter 4: The Anatomy of the Patrimonial Regime. Boris tried to translate the words to Russian. The body parts of the fatherhood rulers? That sounded positively obscene. Boris worked it out. Anatomy meant the structure of a body . . . perhaps it was used here to represent the structure of the government. Patrimonial regime . . . might mean inherited rule or it might mean government by the church. Was Russia going to be ruled by the priesthood? Considering the relative political strengths of the patriarch and the czar, it could happen. This would be monstrously time-consuming. He looked at the other book. Perhaps it would be clearer. What was the USSR? What was the revolution of 1917? For that matter, what was St. Petersburg? At least, that’s what he thought it said. There was no St. Petersburg in his Russia.

He read through the books as well as he could for several hours, making notes. Some things were clear enough. The year of birth and death of the czar and his son and his grandson. Others