1637 The Volga Rules – Snippet 31

1637 The Volga Rules – Snippet 31

The truth was that Ivan was in here working on the problem of interdicting the river mostly because he didn’t want to be out there being scowled at by Captain Sergei Viktorovich Lagunov, the commander of the garrison. He was a member of the service nobility who was loyal enough, but not happy with Czar Mikhail’s policies in regard to serfs . . . or Ivan himself. Captain Lagunov had objected to Ivan being put in command over him because of birth and experience. He was, or had been, of the same military rank, a captain, and of nobler family, being of the service nobility while Ivan’s father was a baker. And he had been a captain longer. So, by all the rules, he should be in command.

Tim had promoted Ivan to major right in front of Captain Lagunov. In essence, telling Sergei to shut up and soldier. It was pretty threadbare, especially considering the issues of mestnichestvo, but unless Captain Sergei Viktorovich Lagunov wished to complain to Czar Mikhail, he was stuck with Major Ivan Maslov. And Ivan was stuck with a resentful staff.

There was a knock on the door, and after no appreciable delay the door was opened, and Lieutenant Vadim Viktorovich Lagunov came in. Vadim was twenty-three and owed his position to the fact that his brother commanded the garrison. He, even more than his brother, objected to having to deal with the son of a baker on anything like equal terms. Also, he had never been to the Kremlin or seen the war games played there in the last few years. Like his big brother, he didn’t imagine that they could be of any use. He had a thick black beard and beady eyes. “So have you figured out how to interdict the river yet?”

“Not unless you can make venturi.”

“I’m not a smith and they wouldn’t work anyway. What we need is a galley with a strong force so that we can get out and board ships that pass us.”

“Fine,” Ivan said. “Do you know how to build a galley full of soldiers?”

“Well, I know how to make the soldiers. It takes girls and about twenty years. The galley? You put the serfs to work on it.”

“Right. You go out and find a bunch of blind girls. That way they won’t see you and run away. If that works, we’ll be fine in about twenty years. Assuming the Director-General gives us twenty years. Meanwhile, is there any word from Bernie?”

“No,” Lieutenant Lagunov said in a voice that made Ivan realize he should have kept his mouth shut. Then Lagunov continued. “But there is another boat sailing down the Volga. Sergei wants to send out a couple of small boats to ask them for news.”

“That’s fine. I’ll be down directly.”

***

Ivan Maslov thought about standing gallantly in the prow of the little oared boat that was making its way to the riverboat. Then he thought about falling into the river and gave up on the notion. It wasn’t a new thought in any particular. Instead he waited in the center of the boat as they rowed out to meet the riverboat. He looked up and saw Alexander Nikolayevich Volkov on the rail. “Oh, shit.”

Alexander wasn’t one of his favorite people. He had been at the Kremlin back in ’33, and Ivan and Tim had won a fair amount of money off the stuck-up snot. Ivan pulled his fur cap down to cover his face. It wasn’t calculated, more the automatic reaction of a nerd when encountering a jock. Having reacted though, he realized it was useless. He was going to have to climb up onto the boat and face Alexander. Still, having pulled the cap down, he wasn’t willing to push it back up. So he waited. When the rowboat came alongside and a rope ladder was tossed down, Ivan and his men started boarding. There was a girl Ivan had never seen being introduced as Izabella Utkin. Then Alexander was introduced and Ivan’s head came up. Alexander Orlav wasn’t Alex’s name. Then Alex saw Ivan’s face and his went pale.

“Hello, Alexander Nikolayevich,” Ivan said, then started to smile.

The smile died as Ivan noticed all the peasants holding weapons. There was a big man with a chamber-loading carbine that looked like it came out of the factory at Murom. In fact, it looked a lot like the one Tim had sent Ivan.

“Everyone calm down,” Ivan said, looking around. “You can always shoot us in a minute if you decide to. And whatever you do, it’s going to be seen by the people on Kruglaya Mountain. So it probably won’t do you a lot of good if what you’re after is sneaking by.”

“Which side are you on, Ivan?” Alexander asked. “You were always with Boris Timofeyevich, and he’s . . .”

“That’s right. General Tim now, appointed okolnichii by Czar Mikhail.” Ivan said. “Why are you running, Alex?”

“It’s complicated.”

“Tell me about it. Or better yet, let me tell you about complicated. Are you trying to reach Czar Mikhail?”

Alexander looked at the girl. She looked at an older priest. The priest looked at the big peasant and the big peasant shrugged. “Yes.”

Ivan looked around. There had been peasants coming down the river since he and Tim had left Bor, but always in ones or twos. The largest group Ivan had seen till now was ten. But there were at least two hundred, possibly more, people crowding this boat. “How? Never mind. You’re in Czar Mikhail’s territory, at least for now.” He wished he’d left that last part out. It was true but bandying about that you don’t think you’ll be able to hold the ground you’re standing on isn’t a good idea.

Alexander looked at the mountain then back at Ivan. Ivan waited for Alexander to make some comment but, surprisingly, he didn’t. Alexander had done well enough in the war college at the Kremlin and Ivan could see that he was following Ivan’s logic now. Sviyazhsk was a guard post, little more than a trip wire. Kazan was defense in depth, expected to be lost. All to keep Sheremetev and his forces away from Ufa for as long as they could.

“So, you control the Volga below the Kama?”

“Yes,” Ivan said, and could hear the next question before Alexander asked it. For how long? But Alexander didn’t ask.

Instead he just nodded. “Well, you’ve been more successful than I would have expected. We’ll go on to Ufa then. What can you tell me about Czar Mikhail’s position on the granting of new lands?” He waved his hands at the gathered serfs.

“As I understand it, that’s been pretty catch as catch can. Up till now it’s only been small groups and they are mostly just expanding the farmland around Ufa. They are mostly villages owned by the villagers, but there has been someone put in charge. You’ll have to ask when you get there.”

They talked a bit more and then the boat went on. Ivan went back to trying to figure a way of interdicting the river.

 

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5 Responses to 1637 The Volga Rules – Snippet 31

  1. Lyttenburgh says:

    “Tim had promoted Ivan to major right in front of Captain Lagunov”

    A military rank which meant nothing for Russian military in 1630s. And “captain of the garrison” as well. Surely, our thoughtful authors knew that! Then… why this pointless little tidbit? If you are writing about Russia of 1630s why don’t you try to make it all authentic? Why the USE army use such military ranks as, say Hauptman or Feldwebel when other writers write about it – but not out power duo here?

    Plus, consider this:

    “Captain Lagunov had objected to Ivan being put in command over him because of birth and experience. He was, or had been, of the same military rank, a captain, and of nobler family, being of the service nobility while Ivan’s father was a baker. And he had been a captain longer. So, by all the rules, he should be in command.”

    There is a reason for rules and regulations when it comes to command positions, because you – it might come as surprise for someone – expect a competent person with some experience to fill such position. Not a no-name youth with no military background (like all nobles) or experience (like all nobles by even 25 years) or rank (as the recognition of the past deeds). No – the authors pet needs to be… pet.

    “Vadim was twenty-three and owed his position to the fact that his brother commanded the garrison.”

    More imbecilic/anachronistic assumptions from the authors. Russian service nobility began serving since they hit 15. This fact makes him a veteran with 8 years of experience under his belt – more than enough to become a commander of your own force. Mikhail Shein (yes, the one in this book) became the loose equivalent of the lieutenant (rus. rynda) by 19-20, after which he soon was appointed a garrison commander/voivode. He was in his late 20s when assumed the command over Smolensk defenses. Semyon Prozorovsky aged 22-23 already commanded big forces.

    There were, as I said before, no rank of “lieutenant” in Russian army back then. What the authors are talking about here? Nothing makes sense.

    “Also, he had never been to the Kremlin or seen the war games played there in the last few years.”

    That’s it people! You don’t need experience and hands on approach – only some uptime “wargames” played by the downtimers. That’s what makes one an officer and a potential commander! And these (untested, unverified, not adopted in the rest of the post RoF world) program had been running for… uh… 2-3 years? Surely – that’s enough time to make a person with no previous military experience (e.g. son of a baker) into someone fit for the senior commanding position!

    Or the authors are just lazy or don’t care. Or are they ignorant of the basic facts of life?

    “What we need is a galley with a strong force so that we can get out and board ships that pass us”

    >galley
    >Volga

    “It wasn’t calculated, more the automatic reaction of a nerd when encountering a jock”

    And now I think the authors are writing out of the personal experience… And that there are some sad, sad reasons for all of these Mary/Marty Sueish characters, that populate *their* world.

    “That’s right. General Tim now, appointed okolnichii by Czar Mikhail”

    See? The authors knew at least some of the authentic Russian noble/court titles! So they have no excuse when they demonstrate their deliberate ignorance in other instances. Btw – okolnichy was the 2nd highest rank for the noble to attain (just below boyar). I understand that the times are unpredictable and all that… but to rush things so much? Better just appoint him at least stolnik with the promise of okolnichy if he manages to defend Kazan.

    • Johnny says:

      “A military rank which meant nothing for Russian military in 1630s”

      While this would be true in our time line, in this timeline they did create an entire staff college for all of Russia, build factories, build zeppelins, and have a coup.

      It seems like you have a hard time remembering that this isn’t actual history and that given the events of previous books, divergences are to be expected

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        “While this would be true in our time line, in this timeline they did create an entire staff college for all of Russia

        Which was not explained in realistically terms, i.e. how they managed to do that.

        build factories, build zeppelins

        Again – because of the applied “handwavium” by the authors. Not because it would be something realistic.

        “and have a coup.”

        The question here – “why uses anachronistic military ranks, which would nothing for the local downtimers”. Where is the connection between the cause and effect? Just because a number of events did happened differently/earlier (without any feasible explanation) doesn’t mean that other events happened as well.

        “It seems like you have a hard time remembering that this isn’t actual history and that given the events of previous books, divergences are to be expected”

        No, I have hard time accepting this isn’t actual reality, governed by the laws of logic, where there are (always) reasons for things to happen – not the authors’ “say so”. You – and some others – are having different approach. Say, Johnny, does the logic exist for you?

        • Johnny says:

          Uh… This is a novel, not a historical book. It is an accepted – nay, the preferred – literary technique to worldbuild, say, just mentioning a rank of “captain” when no such rank existed OTL – instead of talking about them. Going in to the detail of every single change would be excruciatingly boring.

          Tell me, Lytt, have you ever read a work of fiction?

          • Lyttenburgh says:

            “Uh… This is a novel, not a historical book.”

            Correction – that’s a novel set in a distinct historical period. As such it must portray it correctly. Maybe not to the highest standards of the academic works, but accurately. So, yes, this makes it (in a way) a historical book. Alternative history, but history nonetheless.

            “It is an accepted – nay, the preferred – literary technique to worldbuild, say, just mentioning a rank of “captain” when no such rank existed OTL – instead of talking about them.”

            Accepted by whom? If they want to “worldbuild” – go ahead with the fantasy and build your own world from the scratch. Or try to portray the “regressed colony” society in the vein of the King David’s Spaceship. But you base your novel on reality – no matter how alt-hist- stick to it.

            “Going in to the detail of every single change would be excruciatingly boring.”

            Jumping to conclusions that make no sense whatsoever is excruciatingly stupid – as demonstrated by this book time and again

            “Tell me, Lytt, have you ever read a work of fiction?”

            Yes, I did. If you read my some other comments, you can surmise as much. Now, that I answered your question, how about some quid pro quo? Can you describe to me, Johnny, what you like the most in this particular novel? What elements constitute the “pull factor” for you?

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