The Last Faberge’s: Midnight In Moscow

The turbulence during the first World War coinciding with the rise of the Bolsheviks led to the intrigue surrounding the Last Tsar of Russia. The last Tsar who had amassed a treasure beyond imagination was still waiting to be found. A treasure that vanished just as the storming Bolsheviks seized power and brought down the House of Romanoff. It was 1917 a period of discontent in Moscow. The cries of the populace spurring open revolt in violent overthrow of the ruling class. It was during this time that Nicholas hid his vast fortune hoping to retrieve it and restore his rightful place as ruler of all of Russia. A treasure so vast was lost to history.

The events that led to the downfall of the House of Romanoff are traced back to when World War I broke out. Russia entered the war with universal popular enthusiasm among all classes of the populace. By 1914 support for the Tsarist regime was still very strong. However the time of Imperial rule of the Russian people was fast approaching a swift and decisive end. Several events all contributed to the eventual downfall of Nicholas II, the last Tsar of all of Russia. When Nicholas took the personal role of command of the Russian army in the Summer of 1915 did so leaving his wife back in Moscow to run the government. At the time so many Russians openly disliked her just because she was German. This distrust turned into the spark that lit the flames of revolution.

The Tsarina was not only very unpopular but was under the influence of the “Mad Monk” Rasputin, who many have said had hypnotic powers. This svengali effect that Rasputin had over the Emperores began when he used his hypnotic powers to cure Tsarevich, Alexei of hemophilia. Ever since then the Emperores was always under his spell. Rasputin did nothing put infuriate the rest of the nobility and it was Rasputin’s influence that greatly led to the complete discredit of the whole Tsarist system of government. When Rasputin was murdered in December of 1916 the damage was done. Compounding to the lack of confidence in the Tsar was the fact that millions of Russian casualties as a result of the offensive and complete lack of competence in military strategy by the Tsar led to the Armies discontent. Poor training, lack of supplies, and necessary armaments were all too frequent during the years leading to the Bolsheviks overtaking the Russian throne.

The whole war effort had been organized in a most haphazard way. The Tsar was not a very good administrator in war preparations. Manpower was conscripted indiscriminately without any regard for the needs of industry, agriculture or communications. The countryside was dispossessed of horses to serve the army’s needs, leaving the peasants with no means of tilling the land. Distribution problems had led to a breakdown in food supplies to the cities. By 1916 Petrograd and Moscow were receiving only a third of their fuel and food requirements. This was made worse by hyper inflation that saw prices increase fourfold during the war. These factors created serious discontent among the working classes in the cities. This discontent turned into numerous strikes all of which had to be put down by the Tsar.

By the start of 1917, political parties were totally dissatisfied with the Tsar and his government. In January some 300,000 workers staged a demonstration on the anniversary of the 1905 “Bloody Sunday” massacre. Conditions in the winter of 1917 were so severe the working classes were facing acute food shortages. During the following month another strike for higher wages was staged at the Putilov engineering works. Meanwhile the Tsar was again absent and seemed oblivious to the real plight of the majority of the Russian populace. By this time St. Petersburg became paralyzed when over 250,000 workers went on strike. At the same time the military was beginning to take sides with the strikers when the Tsar ordered them to squash any and all striking workers. When over forty people were killed in St. Petersburg that month most of the military joined the mass opposition to the Tsarist rule.

At the same time the Petrograd soviet (council) was revived and quickly established itself as the real power in the city. It had full control over the railways and had the loyalty of the troops. The Tsar, against advice, sent General Ivanov to the city to restore order. However his troops deserted to the revolutionaries. At the beginning of March, the Tsar left Mogilev to personally deal with the crisis but after taking advice from his leading generals, he decided to abdicate at Pskov. A Provisional government was set up under the leadership of Prince Lvov. This government was to rule until a constituent assembly was elected to draw up a new constitution. Nicholas and his family were placed under house arrest.

This was the last of the Romanoff dynasty and the beginning of the quest to find the last remaining 9 Faberge` Eggs that hold the key to one of histories most elusive treasures and stop a ruthless Cardinal from destroying the hopes and dreams of mankind.

The Kremlin: December 1916

It was just after midnight when Nicholas II arrived at the Kremlin from the Eastern Front where heavy casualties made the whole Russian Army feel that they were betrayed by the Tsar. The whole war effort was now the beginning of the end for the ruling class and especially for Nicholas. Under the cover of darkness at the stroke of midnight outside the Kremlin were two horse drawn wagons waiting to be loaded. The Bolsheviks meanwhile were posed to make their move and capture the last Tsar of Russia and confiscate the Tsar’s vast treasure. Unbeknownst to them the Tsar was already one step ahead. Knowing he could very well be captured in the next day or two had planned even before he got back from the Eastern Front to secure his treasure would be safely hidden away and out of Moscow. Now, inside the Kremlin were the only three remaining immediate family members of the Tsar. Nicholas II, his beloved wife, and Anastasia were all that were left as the rest of his family had already made safe passage outside of Moscow.

Waiting beside two horse drawn wagons at the south side entrance of the Kremlin Lieutenant Bechniski ordered his men to quickly load the wagons. As the snow was falling this would only make the trek out of Moscow that much more cumbersome and undoubtedly leave a trail the Lieutenant ordered the wagons be repositioned as sleighs to aid in the swift departure. When the Tsar finally appeared “Lieutenant here are your orders. Don’t stop for anything until you reach the destination,” as the Tsar handed Lieutenant Bechniski a rolled up paper with the royal seal sealing it’s contents. With documents in hand the Lieutenant hoped on his horse and ordered his men onward. As the wagons slid down away from the Kremlin the Tsar sighed a sigh of relief now knowing that his treasures would never fall into the hands of the Bolsheviks.

Present Day: South Bend, Notre Dame University

As Tom Swartz stood at the entrance of his brothers office Dean Stockwell gently walked up and but his arm around Tom’s shoulder. “Your brother the Professor meant you to have this.” Turning around to face the Dean only to hear “Tom we here at Notre Dame are very saddened about the tragedy in Afghanistan I don’t know what’s inside this letter but I was instructed to hand it over in case he didn’t or couldn’t return. He knew what he was going to find and realized the dangers upon finding it.” Upon hearing this Tom reached to accept the envelope the Dean was handing him. “Dean what do you mean he knew?” “The Professor confided in me the day before he left. In his research he stumbled upon a map long considered non existent to the whereabouts’ of Nicholas II vast remaining treasure. Everybody thought the Bolsheviks grabbed it at the same time they captured the Tsar’s family. Only lieutenant Bechniski of the Royal Guard knew. For it was he that took most of the treasure out of the Kremlin the night before the Bolsheviks closed in. The Professor also found out that the Lieutenant was Anastasia’s lover. One thing that troubled you brother was that he could never find out anything more of what happened to the Lieutenant after Nicholas was captured.”

Trying to grasp the significance of what the Dean just said Tom asked? ” Did my brother show you the map?” “No, he didn’t. I guess he wanted to spare the University any trouble if in fact he was on a wild goose chase. You see the map that the Professor found according to him was a general location somewhere in the foothills in Northern Afghanistan. After all what a great find if your brother had lived and Notre Dame University was credited with the finding of one of histories most elusive treasures. It was the treasure and the hope of finding the last nine missing Faberge` Eggs that we here at Notre Dame agreed to finance the expedition.” Turning to walk away the Dean added “Tom let me know if I or the University can help you in anyway.” ” I will” Now Tom was left alone with the envelope in his right hand.

When Tom returned home he noticed his front door had been jimmied. Always carrying a concealed hand gun since his brothers death Tom carefully pointed it as he quickly opened the door. Inside, the living room was a complete mess. His bookshelf was knocked over books and papers strewn all over the place. Quickly going from room to room only finding each room was just as trashed. Things were starting to come together. Making sure no one was in the house Tom locked both doors. Scratching his head Tom went to tear open the letter the Dean handed him. Reading “Brother, you are reading this because I can’t tell you in person. You need to contact Jim Baxter. He is the only one I trust. See you on the other side” signed Your Brother. “That’s it” Tom spoke to himself. Remembering seeing Jim Baxter’s name on the University’s guest lecturer on Middle Eastern Affairs just one day from now Tom knew he had little time left before Jim was flying back to Jerusalem.

Present day: January 25th: Zurich Switzerland

Inside the Dolder Grand Hotel President Smith had just greeted Russian President Boris Sadinski when all of a sudden an explosion shattered both front windows. Quickly Secret Service agents Lenny Wilson and John Ross grabbed both Presidents and together dove under the heavy conference table. Moments later Lenny Wilson got up only to find Tom Swartz crawling through the shattered door. “Tom Swartz what the hell are you doing here?” yelled Lenny. Moments later as the secret service agents rushed in President Smith stood up signaling he and President Sadinski were unharmed. “Tom how did you find us nobody was to know about this meeting.” Len asked. Facing both Presidents I have urgent news that concerns all” replied Tom. Just then Tom reached in his pocket and handed over the map to President Smith. “Mr. President this is what my brother was after and died for.” As the President took a close glimpse handed it over the President Sadinski “Tom there is more to this than we know, right?” “Yes there is. You see my brother in his search to find the missing Faberge` Eggs didn’t know that one of his guides was a member of al-Qaeda.

As Tom told the story about the find of the Lost Faberge` Eggs both Presidents half listening started to make arrangements for meeting with the NSA, Interpol, the KGB, and the CIA. Intelligence gathering of the utmost urgency.

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