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Fake Empire: The Christmas Revolution

 Title: Fake Empire Side Story:  Emily's Notebooks pt 1: The Christmas Revolution
Author: Alsike
Rating: PG-15
Fandom: X-Men/Criminal Minds
Pairing: Other Emma Frost/Other Emily Prentiss
Disclaimer: I do not own X-Men or Criminal Minds. I owe [info]wizened_cynic for the concept of quantum babies.  She does it much better than me.  Title stolen from the song by The National.
Apologies:  And now for something a little bit different.

Summary: In a different world, Erik Magnus overthrew the US government when Emily Prentiss was only twelve years old.  On that day the course of her life changed irrevocably.  This is her story.

Fake Empire 1 (Queen Emma)
Fake Empire 2 (JJ's Part)
Fake Empire 3 (Emily's Part)
Fake Empire 4 (The Mansion)
Fake Empire 5 (Kyougen) 

They called it the Christmas Revolution, eventually, after the dead had been buried and the grass had grown back over the blasted earth, the day the Rasputins came to power.  They brought true unity to the Soviet States, and true revolution.

My mother and I were in the Ukraine at the time.  She had come as an Ambassador from the United States, and when the United States fell to Erik Magnus, we stayed as refugees.  The USSR was one of the few places where the Empire of Mutants had not yet taken hold.  Although only as guests in a harsh land with few comforts, we lived free of the purges and the slavers for longer than most.

That Christmas we had been given a pound of lentils by kind neighbors, and my mother had managed some semblance of the traditional Ukrainian soup.  It was better food than we had had for a few months.  My mother had always complained about the poor supplies available in the Soviet States, with its disinterest in trade with more developed countries, but it had only gotten worse as the Soviet Union became the last bastion of human rule.  Other countries, weaker and less stubborn, had fallen under the demands of the Empire, attacked on two fronts, by foreign forces and internal terrorists with unimagined powers.  Winters in the Ukraine were always hard, but without any international trade and terrorists disrupting food transport and grain stores, we had gone without more nights than we had eaten.

In some ways it was a relief when the raiders came.  There was no more waiting.  The black hole we had dreaded for so long was finally swallowing us up.

We heard the screams from the village long before they reached our house.  My mother had time to load the shotgun she had kept and religiously cleaned for just such an eventuality.  I didn’t know why.  I stilled her hand from its furious polishing and asked her what hope she had in fighting.  She had told me I would never understand.  I had spent too much of my life in the USSR, and could whistle the Internationale more readily than the Star Spangled Banner.  There was nothing worth more to her than freedom.

I didn’t understand.  I was only fifteen then, but even now her reasoning seems flawed.  What is freedom but the chance to begin anew?  And what beginnings are there in death?

When the door burst open she let off a shot, again and again, into the leading man’s chest.  A torch of flame shot out from the man behind him and enveloped her.  I saw her body aflame, blackened and scorched as she still moved and thrashed, trying to fire the twisted hunk of metal one more time.

“Come out with your hands bare if you want to live,” they shouted, first in Russian and then in Ukrainian.  I obeyed, scarcely able to do otherwise as my mother’s body still twitched and glowed with heat.  They stripped me, checking for explosives, then bound me and threw me into the caravan with the other humans who had been too afraid or too weak to die.

We spent weeks in that caravan, living like dogs, and then were shipped on trains to the old Gulags, now cleared of prisoners, the humans thrown in with the rest of us, and the mutants set free.

We mixed with humans from other areas, and that was where I heard of the rise of the Rasputins: Mikhail, Piotr, and Illyana, and their domination of Leningrad and finally Moscow.  The Kremlin had fallen to the Mutant Empire, and now there was no land on earth where humans were anything but slaves.

At the Gulag they sorted us into classes.  Those of us with skills or other desirable qualities would be sent back to the cities for distribution among the mutant populace, and those without would labor in the camps for the good of the Empire.

I could speak English and some Arabic, which gave me some rank, but my Ukrainian was better than my Russian, which marked me out as provincial.  I was also young, female, and had survived the trip a virgin, which few managed, so eventually they decided that I would be sent to the Kremlin for personal service to the Rasputins.

I was not as much of a virgin as reputed.  I had had a girlfriend in the small town we had moved to when we left Kiev, although we had barely done more than kiss.  And in the Gulag I had shared a few rough blankets with a woman from Moscow who said her name was Irina and little else.  She had picked me out of the crowd of rural Ukrainian peasants, thrown me her bedroll and told me to follow her.  She touched me at night, but never looked at me while doing it, and never went too far.  She gave me advice that my mother would have considered treasonous, and taught me to move silently so as not to get noticed by the more brutal guards.  But she would never tell me what she had done before the revolution.

Quite quickly she became invaluable to the guards as a spy amongst the humans, keeping an eye out for plots.  I asked her why she would betray us like that.  She laughed at me and told me that letting them shoot the ringleaders would save us all from being shot like eels in a tank, ready to be eaten.

I didn’t want to be like her, naming the names that sent others to their deaths.  I wonder if that was the potential she saw in me however, that caused her to pick me out of the groups to warm her bed.  I was grateful to her though, she made sure I had enough to eat, and we both kept each other from freezing those first months of the cold new year.

Some weren’t so lucky.  Diseases ran rampant in those close quarters, and it was far too cold in the poorly insulated buildings.  It was the children who were dying, in shivering emaciated bundles, their parents sometimes lost or sometimes just incapable of providing aid.  It was so hard to watch, but there was nothing I could do, and nothing Irina would do.

She had a little girl once, she told me.  But she didn’t say what had happened to her, and I could not bring myself to ask.

When I arrived in Moscow it turned out that eager officials had sent far too many slaves to the Kremlin and we were all kept in the old stables until something could be done with us.  The ones with practical skills were put to work, but the rest waited.  I waited.

It was Illyana who saw us all, stuck with the boring clerical labor while her brothers got to enjoy themselves with politics and military actions.  I was the only one who saw the irritation and exhaustion on her face though.  Everyone else just burned with anger.  Their words about raping and murdering her if they got the chance were far uglier than her dry questions about our abilities and our futures.

All she did was look at me, gave one spare glance to my credentials (noting I hadn’t even finished high-school and had no practical skills at all) and marked me down as a breeder/concubine.  It was the best thing she could have done.  Piotr was more interested in the strapping young men from the farms, and Mikhail sought out slender, full-breasted blonde women who looked unnervingly like his sister.  I was left alone and worked cleaning the stables for the next two years, as other, more attractive women, were sold out from alongside me, to wealthy Russian mutants or foreign slave traders.  No one was interested in a skinny young breeder with a strange unpretty face.  And Irina’s lessons about fading into the background, going unnoticed, and staying out of trouble had served me well.

Then the man came.  He wasn’t looking for a breeder.  He was looking for me in particular, a Prentiss, he said.  He had known my mother before the revolution.  But he was a mutant, rather well situated in the regime that ran what was formerly known as the United States.

His daughter was moving to Genosha, and he bought me as a present for her.  He explained to me that my purpose was to please her, and to keep my ears open, inform him of anything I may have learned about her business when he made contact with me.  He repulsed me, and I wondered what sort of loyalty he expected of a slave he had just bought to give away.

Winston Frost was a handsome man, but there was an ugly brutality in his eyes, and for a long time I wondered whether he would try me out himself before passing me on to his daughter.  But he wore an odd expression when he looked at me, and I wondered if he were seeing me at all.  It was not a comfortable thought to wonder whether he had been with my mother before the Revolution.  In the end he only felt my breasts as if testing for ripeness, and had me branded.

The Americans liked to tattoo their slaves, a small symbol on the right shoulder blade, but in Russia we were more old-fashioned.  I already had a short K indicating that I was a Kremlin slave.  The hot metal pressing into my flesh and leaving a raised shiny pink burn was not something I ever wanted to experience again, but Baron Frost had no time to take me back to the Americas with him, so he had the blacksmith prepare an odd, stylized F.

It was worse the second time, because I knew what to expect.  The mark hurt for days afterward.  I could not sleep on my back, and when we left for Africa it was no longer easy to pack the wound with snow until the pain numbed itself.

Genosha, an island off the east coast of Africa, barely a quarter of the size of Madagascar, was the home of the main court of the Mutant Empire.  Erik Magnus lived there, in a palace in the lush mountains.  So did all who desperately wanted to be important.  Those who were important in their homelands all had houses in Hammer Bay where they would come when decisions were to be made or special appointments handed out.

Baron Frost brought me from the hotel to a tall glistening white building on the outskirts of the city.  He had told me to bathe and dress in the clean clothes he had brought.  They were scarcely anything, just a black strapless dress that covered me from breast to hip and sandals.  For the first time I truly felt aware of my status as a concubine.  I had always been vulnerable and aware of that, but I had never really understood that it was my purpose to be used.  There was always a faint suggestion that I needed to save myself and my reputation for someone, for my final owner.  But now I would have an owner, and there was no reason I could muster to deny her.  I was a body, a possession.  I stood in front of the mirror in the hotel until the Baron yelled at me looking at myself.  I wondered if she would want me.  I was skinny and ugly, burned and scarred.  I had forgotten so much of my English that I sounded like an imbecile when I spoke.  I seemed to be an absurdly worthless gift.

It only made sense when I discovered I had been bought as an insult.

“Emma, darling,” the Baron said, entering the room, and gesturing for me to kneel by the wall.  He gave the girl a kiss that was received stiffly and then moved away, and I was given my first sight of my new mistress.

She was young, it was clear, and bony, with skinny arms like mine.  Her hair was short and blonde, browner at the roots, and chopped off bluntly at her chin.  There was a knot and twist in her nose as if it had been broken and not healed properly, and the way she moved to keep a distance between herself and her father made me wonder if he was the one who had done it. 

I was brought to her, eyes down, pushed to my knees, and I barely got a glimpse of her reaction to me, but there was a clear flash of discomfort, a vulnerability in her eyes.  It hardened quickly and she looked to her father with disdain.  “Why would I want this?” she asked, and I thought I might be more than a spy.  I was meant to be a sign of her father’s power over her, the knowledge he held that she did not wish anyone else to know.  But I wondered if he had miscalculated, because save for the first glance, she didn’t even look at me.

I was wrong.  A few minutes later, when her father was expounding on an uninteresting proposal that was doing the rounds at court, she looked back.  I met her glance, accidentally, and she flinched away.

She may have been a mutant, I thought, but she was just a girl, hardly more than a child, and younger than me.  I couldn’t be afraid of her.  Even when I felt the first brush against my mind, feather light, I still had no reason to fear her or hate her.

I was given quarters downstairs with the other house slaves.  Although our mistress lived alone, she was well positioned enough to often be entertaining other members of the court, and the amount of servants she kept was in proportion to that.  Her body of servants was not only made up of human slaves.  She also employed lower status mutants for more public or sensitive duties.

From the moment I stepped into the slave quarters it was clear that the rumor mill there ran incredibly quickly.  They greeted me as ‘new girl’ but behind my back called me the Commie Whore.  They didn’t even ask my name, but they knew that I was classed as a concubine and treated me as if it were an integral part of my character.

I hadn’t spoken English for two years, not since my mother died, and only with her for many years before that. They laughed at me for my difficulty with it.  Only Jennifer, a twelve-year-old bath attendant, spoke to me as if I could understand her.  She was also the only one who asked me if I was actually Russian.  There was a little thrill of terror in her tone of voice as she asked, and she was utterly shocked when I said that I was American, but had lived in the Soviet Union for eight years.  Then she asked if I were a communist traitor, and I wondered if this really was the attitude American children were raised with, even after the revolution.  JJ must have been only eight when the United States fell to Erik Magnus, and yet she had been carefully indoctrinated in Cold War ideology.  I impulsively asked where her parents were, wondering what they were like, before considering how awful the answer could be.

She said her father was fighting in the war.  I couldn’t find a way to tell her that the war was over, and we had lost.  But her opinions were more understandable knowing she had come from a military family.  She said her mother, her brother and two sisters were still in America, but she hadn’t seen them since she was eight and they disappeared out of her house one night.  She had been having nightmares about her father in the war and had gone to sleep with the family dog.  When she awoke, the house was empty.

A lot of her neighbors had disappeared too, but she had found a soldier who had brought her to a group house in New England with lots of other kids.  She explained it as if it had been a lot of fun, but it was clear it had been some sort of brothel.

She was afraid of our mistress because she had come into the brothel and the guards had all slumped over at once.  They had looked dead.  Then the children were all split up and sent new places.  She was one of three who had been kept by the Frosts, and the only one brought to Africa.

Once I had explained that my mother was an Ambassador and I was not a communist traitor (keeping my mother’s own doubts on this topic to myself), JJ took to me as if I were her lost (perhaps dead) elder sister.

Even when my English improved and the other slaves stopped treating me like an idiot clown, JJ was the only one I trusted.  She was clearly going to be an incredibly pretty teenager, and I took it upon myself to protect her from those who looked like they might be interested in taking some of that for themselves.  Somehow, being the mistress’ concubine, no matter how unused, meant that I was off limits.  Emma being a telepath enforced certain rules to a degree that I doubted was matched in other households.

But although everyone was aware our Mistress could know what we were thinking if she bothered to check, there was still a lot of negative sentiment surrounding her.  Even the mutant servants thought that she was too young, too arrogant, and too powerful.  The humans were obviously afraid of her and her powers, but they also saw her youth, and that seemed to give them leave to hate her.

          The talk reminded me of Irina’s warnings, and I wondered, for the first time, if my fellows moved towards violence, would I betray them to save our lives, or would they kill me for being a traitor.

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Tags: au, criminal minds, emma/emily, fake empire, x-men
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