"Reflections on a Reign"
by Jordan S. Bassior
(c) 2009, 2011
Sitting in the place of honor among his court, Tsar Nicholas II, Autocrat of All the Russias, reflected on his long inglorious life. Following giants like his father and grandfather, was it inevitable that he was dwarfed in comparison?
The war with Japan in 1904, had been a disaster. He might have gained glory defending Serbia in 1914, but he decided upon peace instead. After that, the chance for valor had never come.
He’d lost all his old rights, slowly whittled away by the Duma, forced to accept constitutional limitations on the monarchy. Granted, the people were richer than ever before, and he was greatly loved, which served him as some consolation.
He was 74 years old, and knew he had not much time left on Earth. At least young Nicholas, his grandson by poor short-lived Alexis, would succeed him. His daughters had made good matches: they were half the queens of Eastern Europe.
Family had always meant much to him. He might not have been much of a Tsar, but as a father, at least, he had not failed.
The rocket ignited. And the last true autocrat watched, as Russia launched the first man into orbit.
(c) 2009, 2011
Comments: This short-short (current version: 197 words) originally appeared on Ficly and subsequently in a post on Livejournal in a shorter form. The story takes place in 1942 (deducible from the age given), and is obviously alternate history: the point being that this Nicholas II has been far more successful than the last Tsar of OTL, and by implication has saved the lives of something like a hundred million human beings -- and will never know what horrors he avoided.
It came from a speculation on my part that the worst disasters are often those that would have been unimaginable had they been averted, and the subsequent thought that the worst disaster of the last 250 years was the First World War, which led to Communism, Fascism, and both World War II and the Cold War. The events of the last decade have only firmed my conclusion.