Science Fiction nanotechnology The October Revolution revolution

Lenin Versus the Nants

By Al Onia
Jul 8, 2021 · 5,383 words · 20 minutes


From the author: Raising the dear departed can raise epic issues. It could even change the world.


 

January 2, 2024. To celebrate St. Petersburg's fifth anniversary as capital city of the Reformed Russian Republic, Lenin's Tomb will move to the Kunstkamera Museum – RRR official news release.

 

January 20, 2024. Nanoteknika Soviet LLP listed today on the New York Stock Exchange. CEO Vladmir Potemkin rang the opening bell. Trading was brisk on the rumoured breakthroughs in human tissue research ongoing at NanoSov – Business News Network.

 

A MAN AWAKENS…

     Yuri and Oleg hid in the shadows of the grey stone blocks while the guard passed. Yuri clutched the bag containing the metal cylinders, urging the contents to be patient and conscious of the thin separation between he and the unlicensed cargo.

     The guard's footsteps faded, as indistinct as the grey shades of their surroundings. Yuri hissed, "Any more?"

     The shorter, slight man shook his pockmarked face. "These kid soldiers aren't worth a bribe. Cheaper to kill them if they cause trouble."

     Yuri shuddered. "I want no killing. This is about life, not death." Trying to be true to one's country, not extinguish more. "The way is clear, cousin?"

     "You know I've talked to the right bad people, Yuri. Go."

     Yuri stood, clutching the Prometheus bag with both hands. He trotted after Oleg, unconcerned with discovery in the unlit alley. The mausoleum walls were half finished; reconstruction having begun a mere two months before.

     The pair came to a set of double doors. Oleg opened one and allowed Yuri through. "The next are unlocked as well."

     They stood at one end of a long hallway, lit by a single bulb. Yuri looked behind as the doors clicked shut. A red LED shone to life above the handle. No backing out now.

     "He's at the end," said Oleg. "Turn right, the lone door. I'll stay here, on guard." He patted his coat where Yuri suspected he carried a pistol.

     Yuri hefted his bag. "You're a good fixer, Oleg. Wish me luck."

     "You don't need luck. You're a brilliant man. The dog's still alive after how many months? Five?"

     "Nine," said Yuri. "But I have no doubts it will be five times nine, at least." He walked quickly down the dim hall, heart pounding harder with each step. Don't second guess, you've made your decision. Act on it.

     He passed through the final door. Inside this room, the lights burned continuously, respecting the occupant. The subject was there, as Oleg had promised. Under glass, the man lay supine, hands clasped across the chest, head raised. The grey beard and red cheeks reminded Yuri of a child's painting, the colours exaggerated, hues artificial.

     He set his bag on the floor and opened the coffin's clear lid. He unzipped the bag and removed the first canister. He donned gloves and a quarantine hood before unscrewing the lid.

     "First, the cleansers," he muttered, and sprinkled the grey dust over the corpse. The ash-like layer remained visible less than a minute before absorbing itself into the body.

     Yuri wasted no time. Timing the rejuvenator nanobots had been arduous trial and error. This was the ultimate test of his successes and failures. He readied the second jar while keeping eyes fixed on his watch. A noise outside startled him. Then silence. "Oleg checking the doors," he concluded.

     Yuri concentrated on the watch's second hand. Now. "Sir, I put us in your hands. Liberate us once again." He sprinkled the second layer of dust, this time pale green.

     The doors banged open. Yuri focused, applying the nanos with scientific precision until they too melted into the quiescent flesh. He suspected nothing amiss until a gloved hand wrenched the empty container away. Another tore the hood from Yuri's head.

     Yuri was surrounded by half a dozen figures covered head to toe in black. The leader was the only one without a rifle. Yuri guessed who it was. The unarmed one nodded and two of the men forced Yuri to his knees. Oleg was behind them, his hand over his mouth.

     Yuri looked up at his cousin. "Why? I gave you money to take care of Samsanov and his mafia."

     Oleg shrugged. "He gave me more."

     The leader wagged a finger. "I don't like this word: Mafia. We were your competition, Doctor. I think you work for us now."

     Another jerk of Samsanov's head and two more masked men disengaged from the circle. They pinioned Oleg's arms and dragged him out.

     "Yuri," he yelled. "Save me." The closing doors silenced further entreaties.

     "Don't worry," said Samsanov. "He's taking a vacation away from the city. Worry more about your fate."

     Yuri was bewildered. "What do you want?"

     Samsanov removed his hood and leaned down, face to face. He reeked of alcohol. "When the market learns of your pending change in corporate loyalty, a jump in the stock price will benefit associates of mine."

     A raspy cough startled all of them. Guns cocked. Heads turned.

     The tomb's inhabitant lifted his head and examined his hands. "I…I can speak. I remember not being able to. Where am I? Who are you soldiers? This isn't my suit."

     Yuri stood and pushed past the men to stand beside the glass tomb. "You've been away for some time, sir."

     Samsanov came up beside Yuri and spoke to the recumbent man, "Do you remember who you are?"

     The man's sharp eyes focused on the second speaker. "You have the look of a criminal. Am I in prison?"

     "No, sir," said Yuri. "A protected place."

     Samsanov spoke again. "I asked if you knew who you are?"

     The man closed his eyes. "Most certainly. I am Chairman Vladmir Ilyich Lenin."

     "Your nanotech works," whispered Samsanov. "I'd have thought it some trick had I not witnessed the rejuvenation."

     Yuri stared at Lenin. The legend sat erect, clenching his fists. "As God is my witness, I am shocked it worked so well," said Yuri.

     Lenin spoke, "There is no God in my country. Religion is the opiate of the masses. I remember this." He tilted his head a fraction. "Where am I and who are you?"

     "Forgive me, it's an expression," said Yuri. "I am a scientist. A century has passed since you, uh, passed. I have revived you. You will remember more as time passes and the original brain paths connect with the new ones being built by my invention."

     Lenin waved a hand. "If you speak in clichés and jargon, you will think in them. Science is the religion of the bourgeoisie. See how easy it is?" He pushed himself more upright. "You two, help me."

     Two of Samsanov's men jumped to his side and assisted Lenin to his feet.

     Samsanov exploded. "You work for him now?"

     Lenin clutched the two. "They serve the state. At this point, the state is me." He nodded toward Yuri. "He would not have performed his science if the state did not need help."

     Samsanov closed on the much slighter figure. "At this point, you are nothing until I say you are. Despite what gratitude you may feel toward this scientist, I determine status in St. Petersburg. And I have decided you work for me, not the other way around."

     Yuri feared for his hero's welfare but was afraid to intervene.

     Lenin returned Samsanov's glare. To Yuri, he seemed to grow in stature. "You puzzle how you will exploit me. This weakens you. If you and these thugs are symptomatic of the Russian of this time, then I have more important tasks than prostituting for a criminal. You will allow me and this scientist to leave while you contemplate your conundrum. Consider it a test. When you realize how I can help you, I will receive you." He pointed to Yuri and the two thugs, "You. Come with me."

     Samsanov stepped in front of the door. "How will I find you?"

     "You'll have no trouble. I'll be with this scientist. I'll be everywhere."

     Yuri walked out on the most powerful criminal in St. Petersburg.

     At the threshold, Yuri felt a strong hand bite into his shoulder. Samsanov whispered, "Keep me informed. I know how to find you."

     Yuri's apartment block was vintage 1950's Russian. Grey, outside and in. Drab beyond belief. Crumbling like the infrastructure of the entire nation.

     His guest kept Yuri busy fetching newspapers and magazines. Lenin slept little, watching television most nights when Yuri fell exhausted into bed.

     "You live in a primitive society, scientist. You have water right in your home which isn't fit to wash livestock, let alone drink. Look at this wall." Lenin pushed his fingers into the plaster and shook the dust onto the floor.

     "The legacy of communism," said Yuri. "We bankrupt ourselves in the arms race against the West. Pride deceived us. We lost the war without firing a shot."

     Lenin waved his soiled hand dismissively. "A battle. An economic skirmish." He picked up a magazine with a photo cover of another Middle Eastern war scene. "The West continues to repeat our errors because Russia is not united enough to exploit their decay." He stood at the window. "We can win the ideological war by ending isolationism."

     He turned away from the view of endless blocks of colourless state buildings. Lenin put his hands on Yuri's shoulders. Yuri felt the determination behind the steel grip.

     "I have learned enough to begin, Yuri. You will announce your experiment and I will make my public debut."

     Yuri nodded. "What about Samsanov?"

     "He is a problem. His kind is a problem. Mere physical threats won't stop me." He gave Yuri a list. "Here are the broadcasters and news agencies you will contact."

     Yuri glanced over the names. "British and American as well?"

     "Instantaneous global communication is our ally. You will announce my appearance in Victory Park at noon the day after tomorrow."

     Lenin strode to the door. "In the meantime, I must speak with more of your neighbours."

     "You go out while I sleep?" Yuri stammered.

     "Of course." He pointed at the television. "Media distorts and misrepresents. I admire their techniques but we must guard against their lack of whole truths."

     "I will have to tell Samsanov."

     Lenin grinned as he donned one of Yuri's coats. There was wolfish look in the eyes. "He already knows. His watchdogs are outside."

     Yuri sat down to compose the news release, knowing it would be the end of his career. Would Nanoteknika put him in prison, or merely fire him?

…AND RECREATES HIMSELF…

     Victory Park was full, not just of citizens but television crews from Moscow, London, Beijing, New York and others.

     Yuri stood beside Samsanov, his hands sweating despite the chill. Would Samsanov protect him if Nanoteknika enacted some primitive response?

     The gangster growled, "Where is he?"

     Yuri shook his head. "I don't know, he hasn't been in the apartment since yesterday."

     "My partners are anxious. I tell them you are going to advise how we can exploit your creation. Don't prove me wrong." He clapped his gloves together. "You should have revived Catherine the Great; I could sell her by the hour. Drugged but conscious. Be with a legend, eh?"

     Yuri was disgusted. "I don't think there's enough left of her."

     "A year in my gulag with your cousin would help you refine your craft," Samsanov hissed.

     The crowd noise escalated. Cameras flashed and lights brightened the overcast day. Then Yuri saw them: a brightly-attired group of men, women and children.

     Samsanov said, "Must be more than one hundred. I don't understand the clothes."

     The phalanx wore every colour tops, pants and skirts in the rainbow and then some. At the group's head strode Lenin, garbed in a sun yellow jacket. They came from the rear of the assembly and Yuri marveled as people parted to let them pass.

     Lenin stepped onto the speaker's platform and dispersed his followers among the larger crowd. He began. "For those who do not know or doubt who I am, those men will tell you." He pointed at Yuri and Samsanov. "They are important men. One, many know, a hoodlum. Yet so powerful, many of you fear him."

     Yuri watched Samsanov stare into the crowd. Was he memorizing sympathetic faces for retribution or could he not face the legend eye to eye?

     "But would he lead you?" Lenin continued. "You allow him to push you. Your politicians are no braver. The other man is more like you but with science he has the power of life under his control. He created me. He is one of you. An invisible inhabitant in a lifeless, isolated society. One who sees beyond, one who desires renewal."

     Yuri felt awkward in the sudden spotlight.

     Lenin pointed to the grey buildings behind the throng. "You isolate yourselves from your country. Your shelters fail you. No heat. Poor plumbing. Your government fails you because you allow it. You remain hidden, afraid to integrate into the fabric of this nation." The reanimated legend paused, waiting for the reality to sink in, Yuri assumed.

     "Who am I? The scientist will tell you I am Vladmir Lenin. Recreated by tiny machines, surging through my body. A shell which once indeed was Lenin." He stopped and closed his eyes, dimming their fire for a moment.

     Yuri saw Lenin's knees tremble, then steady. The nanos continued their battle against decay.

     Lenin opened his eyes and they sparkled. His voice was strong. "You know who I am. I will tell you what I am. I am your conscience. I am the guardian of Russia. One Russia. Not a fragmented cluster of ethno-centric tribes, but an empire. An empire which will rise again with the power of a united, integrated ideology which embraces all. Led by you."

     Yuri felt his mouth move with the others, chanting Lenin's name. He was proud and embarrassed at the same time. How could he have shirked his duty as a Russian so? He would do anything for this man.

     The speaker had removed his jacket and held it over his head. "Reject your uniforms of segregation." He tossed the coat into the crowd.

     Yuri saw a red jacket fly from one of Lenin's supporters. They were everywhere, passing out even more garish clothing.

     Lenin spoke again. "The future won't change through mere hope. Take action now. If an apartment block fails, tear it down and build anew. If a social construct fails, do the same."

     Samsanov moved forward, dragging Yuri alongside. He said, "My turn." But even with his thugs, he could not reach the stage.

     People had found bright scarves to tie around their heads.

     Lenin made eye contact with Samsanov. "Yuri's apartment. Tonight."

     "Did his eyes just twinkle?" Yuri asked.

     Yuri's lodgings were crowded with Samsanov and two of his men. The gangster checked his watch. "Six o'clock. Evening." He glared at Yuri.

     Yuri huddled in his chair. He was cold and tired. He recalled the words of a Canadian nanotech researcher he'd met two years before at an Ethics In Science conference in Montreal. After many glasses of wine, the man had joked, The most dangerous words in experimental science are: "Hold my coffee, I'm going to try something".

     "How long do you expect him to live?" asked Samsanov.

     Yuri looked up from the floor and shrugged. "I don't know. A year? Forever?"

     "Forever? Don't you scientists have failsafes?"

     "No time. Had to push ahead. If I could return to the lab, I could check the test animals."

     Samsanov nodded. "Sergei will accompany you. Tonight. After he comes."

     The lights dimmed to half illumination.

     "Bloody hydro," Sergei muttered.

     Yuri was so used to it he didn't know how to respond. What had he loosed? More than disruption? They lived with disruption every day. Chaos? Could one man revive his country's glory? Or destroy it? The chaos would come regardless, he felt. It was a matter of the nants surviving long enough for Lenin to guide them from chaos to a new order. Others helped create the nants, but Yuri had released the djinn from the bottle. What had he released from within himself? A greater demon? It wasn't Lenin, it was Yuri who had precipitated the events to come.

     Yuri's door opened and the experiment stepped in.

     Lenin said, "Yuri, you look depressed. Do not fear your legacy. I am just a man." He knelt and took Yuri's hands in his own. "See, I am warm-blooded like you. I wish I understood more about the machines you have put inside me but much of the literature was beyond my meager scientific knowledge. I rely on what my body tells me."

     "And what does it tell you?" asked Samsanov.

     Lenin stood and paced the room energetically. "It tells me I am strong enough for another fight. This time to the finale. You will help me."

     "I thought you were going to help me," said the gangster.

     "I will. You are a successful man, by your standards, yes?"

     Samsanov nodded.

     "Did you listen to what I said today?"

     "Yes."

     Lenin kept his eyes on him.

     Samsanov glanced at Yuri and shifted in his chair. Finally he spoke. "Don't isolate ourselves. Be part of the whole."

     "Good. I offer you a larger whole. You and your competitors are different than the peasants around you. You are always seek to expand. But you can only grow until you reach the limits of the adjacent gangs. Help me and I will get you the world."

     "Big talk. It seemed you did well enough on your own today. What help can I give?"

     "We must fly to Beloje More. Time is not to be wasted."

     "Beloje More? Why bother with those peasants?"

     Yuri agreed with Samsanov. Peasant flattered the aboriginals living a meager existence on the shores of the White Sea.

     Lenin said, "They must be part of this. If we can't include all Russians, then we fail. These aboriginals kill themselves. They are a microcosm of the greater failure. I must see for myself."

     Yuri heard the passion in the plea.

     Samsanov must have felt it too. It took him a moment to answer. "All right. When?"

     "As soon as possible." He clenched his fists twice, then stared at the backs of his hands. "Yuri, you will come."

                Yuri could smell Samsanov's cologne in his apartment when he and Sergei returned from the Nanoteknica lab. It filled the tiny suite, stamping its presence over Yuri's. Lenin had apparently gone out.

     "Well?" demanded Samsanov.

     Yuri swallowed. His throat was dry. He filled a grimy glass with vodka and took a long drink. "I'm not sure if the news is good or bad."

     Samsanov stood. "I just spent a small fortune finding a plane and a pilot I trust for your friend, and you're unsure? Sergei, you go with him. Armed."

     Sergei nodded and said, "The hardware may not be necessary."

     Samsanov looked again to Yuri. "Explain."

     Yuri took another drink and stammered, "I tested the nants on insects, then mice, to start. Nine and a half months ago, I performed the rejuvenation on a dog."

     "Oleg mentioned this. Still alive?"

     Yuri hesitated. "Alive? Yes."

     "But?"

     "The dog's eating its own shit," said Sergei.

     "Dogs do this."

     "It didn't stop there. It tried to eat everything in its pen. Wood, carpet, metal, plastic. Everything. It was chewing its tail when we left."

     "And you thought this might be good news, Yuri?" screamed Samsanov.

     "I don't know it's the nants. The dog was over ten years old when it died. Maybe this is how it would have behaved regardless. It's a dog, not a human."

     Samsanov squeezed the chair back. "There's more, isn't there?"

     Yuri nodded. "I revived another animal. I never told Oleg. And I kept a private log. No one knew its special history, another subject for the future, as far as the lab was concerned."

     "Another dog?"

     "No. A pig. Closer to human physiology."

     "How long ago?" Samsanov asked. His hands continued their violent massage of the chair.

     "Six weeks." Yuri refilled his glass. "The dog remained normal after eight months. I checked the pig thoroughly the day before Oleg and I went to the tomb. It was healthy."

     Yuri drained the glass.

     Samsanov sighed, "So the dog is now insane and the pig's in the Bolshoi?"

     No one laughed.

     Finally, Yuri spoke. "No. Dead. The nants devoured it from the inside out."

     "Bloody mess," added Sergei.

…THEN REBUILDS HIS WORLD.

     Yuri sat with his mitts over his mouth, trying to warm the freezing air before it choked his lungs. The villagers beside him seemed impervious to the wind and cold. Were they as immune to Lenin's words?

     The orator's cheeks glowed crimson, though with passion, not cold or embalmer's makeup.

     "You don't preserve your culture, you destroy it. Your clansmen kill themselves with drink, your children are ignorant because you don't send them to school. You rely on others for support because there is no work. There is always work. Every one of you needs to work. I offer you your heritage as part of a new society."

     He looked at the elders. "Pride. Tell a child he or she will die from ignorance and alcoholism. Then provide continuous examples. Tell them they have no choice because each one of you decided they should remain apart, safe from the disapproval of their countrymen."

     "The government doesn't help us, why will you?" muttered a voice behind Yuri.

     "The government owes nothing to the lazy and stupid," snapped Lenin. "If you stay hidden, your children's fate will not change. Did your ancestors tame this land by sitting?"

     The week-old whiskers on Lenin's chin waggled with each word he spoke. "No, they celebrated their victories over the environment. Celebrate your victory over futile lives. A new Russia looms. You must be part of it."

     Lenin then took each man's hand in turn. "Trust in me. Trust in yourselves. Each day perform a new task which brings you back to self-respect."

     The chief elder stood to face Lenin. "You speak of pride to us? Your pride forced our ancestors from our traditional lands to this harsh wilderness. We survive when other you displaced withered. You don't walk with us." He pointed at Yuri. "He has more in common with us than you. Leave us." He peered into Lenin's eyes. "I see a spirit, not a man."

     Lenin stepped back, then dropped to his knees. He tugged his mitts off and threw them aside. He held his hands inches above the frozen ground. "I will show you the man."

     His body stiffened, the arms pointed down. After a minute, Yuri saw a small green mound appear under each palm. The mounds grew as Lenin strained. With a final spasm, he collapsed on his side.

     "Don't touch," warned Yuri. He kicked a fire log into the piles.

     The chief knelt beside the prone figure.

     "What do you see now?" asked Lenin.

     "A man."

     Lenin watched Yuri eradicate the nanobots.

     Yuri pulled off his mitts and studied his hands. "Two men," he corrected.

     The plane banked over the white wasteland. Yuri stared from his window, listening to the rattle of Lenin's breathing above the groan of the engines. His companion stirred.

     "Yuri, what is it you look for?"

     "I don't know."

     "Did you ever know?"

     "What do you mean, sir?"

     "You went to a great deal of effort and personal danger to restore me. Why? What do you desire from me?"

     Yuri worked a finger into a hole in the seatback. "To stop the decay." To prove my science. How many more lies would he tell Lenin and himself?

     Lenin nodded. "I understand. It's everywhere. The buildings, the infrastructure. Ha, there's a term I'd never heard. We did what was necessary to provide. Now it's infrastructure. Those tribespeople, stuck in misery, decaying like the buildings in your city because they cling to past wrongs. History is written by the victors. Clichéd but true. The defeated adapt or extinguish themselves."

     "My apartment comrades are no different," said Yuri. "We cling to the decay and ignore it."

     "Denounce it. We didn't solve the issues of the Czars. We traded the inequities for new ones, but it was an improvement. Leaders must be made, not born. Sacrifices were huge, people died."

     "Huge numbers were already dying. You stopped much of the inhumanity."

     A spasmodic cough shook the seats. Lenin cleared his throat. "Not all of our successors embraced a philosophy of honouring life. Czars returned in the guise of political leaders. Tyrants all the same."

     "Can you stop the rot?"

     "Not I, Yuri. You. And those who share your vision."

     "You show the passion I feel sometimes. You must continue to spread the message."

     Lenin shook his head and coughed again. "I'm old, comrade. I fell the missing years. This artificial life struggles to endure."

     "We need to check your vital signs. I know a doctor who will examine you when we get back to St. Petersburg."

     The plane banked and the sun streamed into Yuri's eyes.

     "We are not returning to St. Petersburg," said Lenin. "My mission there is done."

     "Then where?"

     "You will see. If the criminal fulfills his promise."

     Hours later, Samsanov's plane landed at an unlit airfield.

     A truck waited for them, manned by two large men, copies of Samsanov's bodyguards in St. Petersburg. A newspaper lay on the back seat and Yuri scanned the headlines. "Look at this." He folded the paper to highlight a story from St. Petersburg. He read aloud, "Nanoteknika Research Lab destroyed in explosion and fire. Arson is suspected as a cover-up for a break-in and robbery of the facility."

     Yuri's chest tightened. "My work, gone."

     Lenin studied the article. "Someone is jealous of your achievement. Who knew of your work in detail, outside Nanoteknika itself?"

     Yuri remembered well. "Six months ago, a Chinese delegation. They wanted to invest. Management went to Western equity markets instead. The Chinese wouldn't pursue sabotage for revenge?"

     Lenin put the paper down. "No. If they wanted, they would simply take your technology."

     "Their emperors are long vanished into unmarked graves. Why would they want the technology?"

     "You forget Chairman Mao, preserved in his Tiananmen Square crypt."

     "He died insane," said Yuri. "The nants can't reverse dementia. The brain damage from your stroke was reversible."

     "Mao's little threat outside China. Their authorities are too efficient. Did anyone else tour your facility?"

     The truck stopped before Yuri could answer and they were ushered to a back door of a nondescript building.

     "In here," one of the men indicated.

     Yuri and Lenin found themselves in an apartment, much like Yuri's home. The deterioration was similar, in any case.

     "Welcome." The voice from the shadows was familiar.

     Yuri went to the window and opened a curtain. Boards blocked any view of the outside. "Where are we?"

     Samsanov and Lenin stared at each other. "Volgograd," said Samsanov.

     Lenin explained further. "The key southern city in my revolution. The final stop for the Germans in the Second World War. I will undo the damage my comrade Stalin inflicted in his later life. Come Yuri, there is no time to waste."

     Yuri hesitated, fearing to turn his back to Samsanov.

     "My reputation is a convenience I cultivate," said Samsanov. "An aid for problematic negotiations with my competitors." He stood. "I believe in your preachings, comrade Lenin. There is corruption and decay everywhere. People like me take advantage but it will be short-lived. The end result will be social and economic entropy. However, our paths are doomed to part."

     "At last you see the advantage I can give you," said Lenin.

     Yuri couldn't hold back his shock. "What? He's abandoning us."

     "Our business relationship is finished," said Lenin. "Comrade Samsanov will use his influence to supply goods and services in the coming wave of change. A profiteer with a social conscience."

     Yuri's devotion to his science fell into perspective. It had been eroding since the night in Belaje More when Lenin had shown him the nants could be eliminated.

     Lenin and Yuri stood at the head of the impromptu gathering. "A good start to our campaign in the south, eh Yuri?"

     "Sir, do you recall our discussion last month when we flew from Beloje More to Volgograd? I mentioned the possible resurrection of Mao Ze Dung?"

     "Yes. Despite my estimation of his limited threat, I am glad they were not the ones who burned you laboratory."

     Yuri squinted into the lights above the crowd. "There was a second group. From the European Union. We had discussions with them but they never saw inside my facility."

     Lenin stopped waving. "EU? A specific country?"

     Yuri nodded. "They claimed to represent the EU, but all the correspondence was in French."

     "Those bastards never give up, do they? No matter how many times they are beaten, they return for more." He paced, swearing under his breath. "I dread this news, Yuri."

     Yuri was stunned by the sudden darkening in Lenin's mood. "Why? What could be worse than the Chinese?"

     "The Corsican, my comrade. Napoleon. A dangerous man in any age. Interred with all his mental acuity intact. I must abandon my mission for the Russias and rise to meet this enemy to end all enemies. You did well to bring me back first. I have the advantage of understanding the capacity and the limitations of the nants. My final thrust. A worthy match. You shall go to Kiev in my place."

     "Me? Kiev?" This wasn't his vision. He was the light to the flame, not the fire itself.

     "You. Have you not listened/ The shackles binding you are in your head. You're a learned man, Yuri. Now learn to lead. Change our nation. One day, one person at a time."

     "I wanted to rouse a nation. You were the one to carry it out, not me." He took a deep breath. Time to say it aloud. "Most of all, I wanted to prove myself as a scientist."

     "You did more, Yuri. You woke yourself. You woke passion. Leadership is passion and vision. Now you possess both. The leader within us overcomes the demon inside."

     "I realize my demon left in Beloje More when you expelled the nants by the fire. I no longer feared you." They would rebuild. Yuri made ready, imagining a greater essence invading his body as the nants had done to Lenin. The Chairman had absorbed them, used them and discarded them. Yuri would absorb, exploit and retain this new spirit. He looked to the gloomy western sky. "Grey clouds, sir. Snow is on the way." Grey like the nant dust. What changes would this grey bring? The unexpected. There was no going back, the future had been loosed. Yuri's science supplied the technology, men like Yuri would attempt the solution.

     Lenin carried his own grim stare. "There is a larger storm coming, my comrade. We have dark days ahead before the light is restored."

The end

 

    

    

This story originally appeared in Enigma Front - The Monster Within.


Al Onia

Al Onia concentrates on Science Fiction, mostly from the hard to the hard-boiled.