The Stars Are Right: The Iriah Rose: Behind The Imperial Mask

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Behind the Imperial Mask[edit]

First Western Visit to Court of Tsar Alexis Romanoff

A Detroit Evening Times Exclusive!

Massive Purges Swept Russia

Millions Dead Following the Fall of the Soviet Union

New Tsar Struggles to Rebuild A Shattered Empire

Moscow has become a ghost town, brooded over by the blandly affable specter of the tsar. Its streets are empty, emptier far than Detroit or Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor or Lansing. While it's hard to get a proper accounting from the Muscovites, anywhere from 60 to 80 percent of the city's population appears to have been killed when the tsar reassumed power. "They were all communists," his surviving subjects claim, if pushed and guaranteed anonymity. "No true Russian was killed. The Rodina [land] knows its own."

They speak of the Rodina as a living god, the jealous and powerful embodiment of Russia itself, and claim it was this spirit that purged the country of its revolutionaries. According to some sources, Stalinists throughout Russia dropped dead without a mark on them the night the Tsar returned. Others claim Russia's cities ran waist deep with blood for a day and a night as each party member and sympathizer bled out spontaneously and simultaneously. Russians whisper of the dark rituals that restored the tsar to power and tied his will to the Rodina. "To oppose the Tsar," one anonymous source reported, "is to oppose Russia itself. For a Russian to oppose Russia is to die, silently and immediately." Russian citizens live entirely at Tsar Alexi's sufferance, in a way starkly unimaginable to Americans or Europeans. Life is a gift from his hand, and may be revoked on a whim without even the appearance of a trial.

In person, the Tsar is unprepossessing, with sad mild eyes and a gentle, clean-shaven chin. He has adopted the military fashion of his father, but like the late tsar nicholas he lacks both martial training or ambition. He is much-loved; his people do not blame him, apparently, for the purges that continue to sweep the country. "It is the Rodina," they say, "protecting the Tsar." In most cases, his enemies die without even the shadow of suspicion falling upon them; death alone the sole witness to their guilt.

The Times was brought to Moscow at the invitation of Boyar Pietr Rulianoff. Rulianoff, as our readers will know, came to Detroit following the brutal murder of Daniel Macklin, seeking a collection of medical notes written by Dr. Gregory Parkhurst that Macklin or his girlfriend Heather Flynn were supposed to have owned. After securing the notes from the Detroit underworld, Rulianoff returned to Russia shortly before the Times' daring raid on the Macomb farmhouse and the discovery of the abattoir beneath Kansas City.

The Boyar is a figure of some mystery, even within Russia. The adoptive father of Tsarina Ineska, Rulianoff is a powerful figure within the court, but little is known of his history. He was almost certainly an officer in the Russian Army at some point, but whether that was during the Great War or at some other point is unclear. How he came to adopt the girl Ineska, how he weathered the Soviet storm, or what role he played in returning the Romanoff family to power, all remain unknown. He is respected, possibly feared, by his chosen family, but not strongly loved, either by the Tsar, the court, or the Russian people as a whole. He has a reputation as a schemer, and a pragmatist -- traits little cherished in post-Soviet Moscow. He is often at odds with his daughter's closest advisor, the enigmatic Madeline Usher. Of Rulianoff Muscovites speak little, and quietly, but of Madam Usher they speak not at all. Who she is, where she came from, how she drew so close to the Tsarina -- all is cloaked in an absolute and fearful silence.

Attentive readers will recall that it was Russian scientists (or "alchemists," as the Tsarists prefer) who were overseeing the vicious experiments in Kansas City, and Russian scientists who contracted with Abe Axel and Eddie Fletcher to smuggle Jason and Olivia into the country. These scientists were operating under Madeline Usher's orders, according to Times sources, though it is not clear whether the Tsar or Tsarina were involved or aware of their guest's machinations. There is a conspiracy of silence surrounding the Imperial Court; what the Tsar does not know he cannot be blamed for.

What the Times has learned is little more than hearsay, or speculation, but little else can be found in Moscow. Usher and Rulianoff share an uneasy truce, quelled by mutual distrust and fear of the Rodina. Rumor has it that both sought Dr. Parkhurst's notes, but where the Boyar employed money, guile, and conversation, Usher used murder, theft, and vivisection. It was allegedly her agent, one Vladimir Zavanov, who killed both Thomas Bitterman and Daniel Macklin, although again our sources shy away from any bolder claims. It is possible Madeline Usher was unaware of Zavanov's activities in Kansas City and Detroit -- no one doubts, though, that she would have forgiven any excess had he returned with the notebook. But Rulianoff returned instead, and no one has heard of Usher's agent since. Was he killed by the Boyar's men? Slain by the enraged spirit of Russia? Still at large within the United States? No one knows for sure.

This, then, is Moscow today: a city of many rumors, but few facts, many sources, but few witnesses. The ghosts of the uneasy dead crowd the streets, but the resurgent Empire turns its eyes away, too focused on an uncertain future to spare a thought for the bloody past.

Russian Scientists Dabble In Alchemy

There has been a resurgence of interest in the ancient art of alchemy under Tsar Alexis. Imperial scientists have devoted countless hours to the transformation of elements and the harnessing of otherworldly powers. Russian alchemists claim to have captured an "Outsider," which they describe as an amorphous tentacular mass native to galaxies not our own. They have little respect for American science, and are incredulous that we do not share their interest in the use of magical energy. The Times was granted a tour of their chief research laboratory, where we were shown a jungle of flasks, beakers and test tubes ringed about with occult symbols. We were also granted an interview with their pet alien, but the result of that conversation was too inconclusive to offer here.

Published October 9, 1932