Peter the Great--The new Praetorian Guard
by Jack Corbett

Reincarnated in the 20th century, Peter the Great, 17th
century tsar of Russia creates his personal guard army

Peter's estate in the Sierra Nevada mountains was so vast, one could easily get lost on it. He received his visitors at his house, which he affectionately called his castle. The place encompassed only five bedrooms and three bathrooms which hardly qualified it as a castle or mansion befitting a man of his wealth and status. He preferred living in and sleeping in modest surroundings and would not allow himself to invite overnight guests he didn't respect and trust absolutely. His house, a two story with an ample loft, nestled out of view in the midst of a pine forest. A visitor could not see the house until he was within fifty yards of it. Peter had built a number of outbuildings among the trees where he put up his visitors.

High up in the trees were a number of guards stations artfully camouflaged from prying eyes. Two utterly unforgettable looking blondes lived with him. Heather and Loki traveled with him while functioning as his private secretaries whether on the road or at home. To the casual observer they could have been twins. The two women were over five eight and long legged with tight shapely asses. They could have easily passed for strippers. In fact, the rumor had long been out that they had both been on the feature entertainer circuit and that Peter had met them in a strip club. Peter had deliberately planted such disinformation to help conceal their true identities as former agents for Israel's Mossad. Both were highly skilled in the martial arts and very proficient in small arms. And both had killed on assignment from their former employer.

Although his house was unpretentious he called it his castle and often referred to it as "The Pine Forest". And it was the Pine Forest that was his castle since it provided a cover for the network of buildings and the labyrinth of tunnels connecting the outbuildings throughout his estate. Several miles from this home base was the firing range. It was just far enough away that those staying at the Pine Forest couldn't hear the sounds of gun shots.

It was here that Sergei Soronovich found Peter the Great supervising his newest crop of students. Peter had spent several million dollars building the range. What distinguished it from most run ranges whether run by civilians or the military was the sophistication of its targets. An elaborate system of cables and tracks covered ten acres that varied in their topography from forest, grasslands, marshes, and open areas. Men and women going through the course would be constantly confronted with an ever changing array of targets popping up from the ground, moving swiftly on small tracks, and even seeming to appear out of the mid air.

The purpose of the firing range was to provide the greatest degree of realism possible while developing an unconscious readiness to fire in Peter the Great's students

that is sometimes referred to as instinctive shooting. Peter watched several young men hunkering down in a foxhole with their M-16's. Suddenly the noise of firing was heard fifty yards from them out in the trees. Simultaneously several figures popped up from the ground wearing helmets. Each man raised his M-16 and fired a three second burst at each figure. Two of the figures immediately collapsed onto the ground. The third one continued to stand for a second as its head was blown clean off while a red liquid exploded into the air and splattered onto the limbs and pine needles of a pine tree.

"That's as close to the real thing as it gets," Peter said to Sergei Soronovich. "How did things go with the Supreme Court justices?"

"We got to them too late," said Sergei. "They died in their sleep before we got the chance to poison them."

"They what?" asked Peter incredulously.

"I am serious. Both of them died at the same time I had---we had, nothing to do with it."

Peter knew what had happened but didn't say anything to Sergei. After all, it was none of the man's business. "I'm going to have to talk to God about this," Peter promised himself. "We need to get a few things straight. Starting with, if I decide to have someone killed, then by God, I'm going to do it. I have the means. I have developed a small cadre of highly skilled operatives. Take Sergei here for instance.

Sergei had been living in the United States for eight years, taking jobs as a cab driver, a bartender, and a construction worker. Prior to emigrating to the United States he had been a Russian citizen and had served in the Soviet Army before the Soviet bloc had collapsed. He had done several tours of duty in Afghanistan as a soldier in the elite Soviet Special forces. While in Afghanistan he had served as a sniper, as a member of counterintelligence, and had supervised a number of commando raids resulting in the executions of several hundred Afghani leaders. Heather had uncovered Sergei's true identity through her Mossad connections. Sergei's exploits had immediately intrigued Peter who promptly sent Heather and Loki on a road trip to make contact with him.

The two women picked Sergei up in a night club and took him out to an early morning dinner afterwards. At the restaurant they invited him to Peter's estate where he wound up spending two months as one of the very few to enjoy a prolonged stay at Peter's private residence. There the two men found that they had much in common, starting with a true Machiavellian's profound belief that the end always justified the means. Sergei also shared Peter's commitment to the concept of Benevolent Despotism and that a Democracy could not succeed in the kind of violent world promised by the 21st century, which most men of common sense prophesied would be far more tumultuous than the twentieth century had ever been.

Above all, Sergei was Russian. As a well-educated Russian Sergei was well-acquainted with the legendary exploits and successes of Russia's greatest leader of all time, Peter the Great. And well before his two month stay at the Pine Forest was over, Sergei was firmly convinced that Peter was Peter the Great.

As a good judge of human character, Peter saw the killer lurking inside Sergei Soronovich. To prove that his instincts were correct, Peter pitted him against some of the best fighters at his disposal, who composed the core of Peter's private guard. These were men highly trained in the martial arts with the exception of one man who had been a professional boxer and had once been ranked in the top ten in the light heavyweight division. In the ring, Sergei didn't waste time with the skills learned in training for either the martial arts or the art of boxing. His quickness and strength were phenomenal. He'd simply wade into his opponent without fear and overpower him with his superior speed and power, pummeling him into the ground with non-stop ferocity. Sergei later confessed to Peter that after the first blow, whether he or his opponent had delivered it, he simply lost it and did not remember throwing a single punch. He beat every single man pitted against him except for the boxer who just happened to be even a little quicker than he was.

"It doesn't really matter," Peter said to Sergei Soronovich as Sergei's cell phone started to ring. "They are both dead and that is what counts. I can now appoint their replacements and after I have done that, we will control the Supreme Court."

"It's Heather," Sergei replied. "General Ligori has arrived. Do you want me to collect him and bring him here or do you want me to drive you to the castle to meet with him?"

"Bring him here," said Peter. "I need him here to make the right impression."

Peter had a varied group of vehicles to transport people back and forth throughout his estate from dirt bikes and four wheelers to jeeps and hummers, four wheel drive pickup trucks, and horses. Sergei drove off in a bright green jeep.

Suddenly a bearded gruff looking man with a large pot belly appeared from nowhere.

"How'd you get in here and slip by my guard?" Peter asked the man incredulously.

"That was easy. I'm God," said the man. "Remember me? I'm your Attorney General."

"Well I'm damned glad you showed up," said Peter. "I've got a bone to pick with you. Why did you kill those two Supreme Court Justices? I wanted Sergei to do it. He needs more experience."

"I put them to sleep just to prove to you that I am behind you 100 percent," said God.

"Well, can't you prove you are behind me in some other way? Look God, if you feel like you have to kill someone, can't you ask me first?"

"I wanted all suspicion dropped from Sergei," God replied. Right now the FBI seems very interested in him. They know he's Russian and they know he's done some top level stuff for the Soviets in Afghanistan. Because of that they are investigating his possible ties to terrorism."

"Well, we are going to just have to have the FBI become uninterested in him. But that's going to take a little time," said Peter. So does Sergei have a good alibi?"

"I arranged a good one for him. During those hours the judges died in their sleep Sergei was out visiting a whorehouse."

"I didn't know that Sergei visited whores."

"He didn't-or at least not until I guided that silky haired long legged beauty right into him. She had a cab waiting and it didn't take much for her to convince him to visit her and her friends."

"Jesus, God. Why'd you have to do that? And I'll be the FBI was watching him all the time."

"They sure were which is the whole idea. He's covered. What better alibi than for a man to be in a whorehouse getting his rocks off."

"So why are you here, God? And why are you posing as a fat guy?"

"I want the job as your Secretary of War."

"But you already are Attorney General."

"That's why I've got another identity as a fat man. I can't be both Attorney General and your Secretary of War and look like the same guy."

"Why do you want both jobs?"

"Look, you need me. And you need me right now. In just a few minutes General Ligori's going to be here and you are going to need all the friends you can get to drive men like him into line. As Secretary of War, I will be his new boss."

"Just remember then, that as President of the United States, I am Commander in Chief of the entire United States Armed forces, which means I am even over you, God, who will merely be my Secretary of War. I can make you or break you."

"Let's not get into all that, right now," said God. Just remember, that with God at your side, how can you lose?"

General Ligori arrived in the jeep with Sergei at the wheel. Seeing his commander in chief, President Peter talking with a long haired man with a pot belly he had never seen before, General Ligori jumped out of the jeep and saluted Peter.

"General Ligori, I want you to meet our new Secretary of War, Mr. err," Peter searched for a name before remembering that God had never told him his latest identity.

"Dr. Harry Armstrong, God replied, introducing himself. But you may call me Army." said God as he extended his hand.

"We don't have much time," said Peter. "All of us have a lot to do. But you are familiar with the Pavlonian Response theories as it applies to modern day infantry combat, General Ligori, but here we are taking it a step or two further."

"I am very familiar with it," General Ligori replied. Back during World War II and in all previous wars men in combat had only a 15 % firing rate when facing the enemy. This is because in all men regardless of nationality there is a natural human adversion to taking another man's life. Experience has shown that soldiers will often not fire to kill the enemy even if their own lives are in danger. It's the other 15 % that do most of the killing along with long range machine gun fire, bombs, and artillery when combatants don't have to face each other at close to medium range. The 15 % who are not adverse to firing on the enemy are not exactly normal, but thank God we've got them because if we didn't we'd lose practically every battle we ever fought. But with newer combat training methods this firing rate jumped up to over 50 % during the 1950's during the Korean War and over 90 % in Vietnam."

"Exactly," said Peter. Soldiers used to have to fire at paper targets that bore little resemblance to the human beings they would be expected to fire upon in combat. But by the time of the Vietnam War the military had them firing at much more realistic targets. Silhouettes resembling real men. And pop up targets. They'd have the men sitting in fox holes and whenever a pop up came into view they were expected to shoot at it. The pop up when hit would fall down thus stimulating an enemy soldier who had been just been shot. It would become a stimulus response kind of thing like Pavlov's dogs which would be fed everytime a bell was rung. After a time the dogs would salivate knowing they would be fed whenever the bell was rung so they would associate the bell with food and their salivary glands would open up each time the bell stimulated them. It operates in the same manner. The soldier sees a silhouette target or a popup and he fires and after awhile he gets so used to it that he operates on automatic. So when he finally sees enemy soldiers during war, he kills without a thought. Stimulus...response. He thinks of the enemy as the pop ups he was trained on. At the same time the military keeps brainwashing him that the enemy is less than human. He's a gook or a Chink, or a Kraut or a Jap. He is of a different culture that doesn't think at all like Americans. The culture is barbaric. The enemy soldiers kill and torture prisoners. He does not respect human life, least of all his own. It has all gotten to be very sophisticated and today's American soldier has become the most prone of all to fire on the enemy upon instinct."

"But here, we have taken things one step further," Dr. Armstrong added. Here with our even more modern training methods we are experiencing firing rates that exceed 95 %. And of even greater importance, our trainees are getting much more speed and accuracy out of their weapons than any other branch of the service."

"Nonsense," said General Ligori. "I am a Marine and I doubt very much that you have achieved any significantly greater scores than the Marine Corps."

"Wanta bet?" Peter challenged. "You are observing our trainees shooting melons and how they explode thus even more closely stimulating a man's head blowing up. Now we are going to give you a little demonstration."

"I really don't think you can prove anything to me," said General Ligori. "Everyone knows the Marines are the first to hit the beaches and are the assault troops the military relies on to get in close when the going gets tough."

"Let's back off a few hundred yards," said Peter. "Everyone in the jeep."

Now five hundred yards from the pop up targets, Peter handed Dr Armstrong an M-16 as he turned to General Ligori.

"Dr Armstrong is now going to give you a demonstration on how effective our new training methods are. He's our Secretary of War and he's not exactly a spring chicken anymore. He's out of shape and yet he's going to shoot from five hundred yards instead of fifty."

"Yeah, and fuck you too, Mr. President, Dr. Armstrong growled.

Amazingly Dr Armstong started to pick off each pop up target from five hundred yards away and was able to do it within one second of the target's appearance. Each target dropped after having its head shot into watermelon puree. General Ligori watched, fascinated, with his mouth hanging open in disbelief.

"Don't ever ask our new Secretary of War about his credentials. You've just seen them in action," Peter said pompously.

"I want one thousand of your most promising Marines," said Dr. Armstrong. They will be your best men when we get done with them here at the Pine Forest."

"Well, I'll have to say that I'm impressed. No, I'm overwhelmed," General Ligori replied.

"One more thing," said Peter. "I will consider you our staunchest ally. I expect some of the other generals from the other branches of the service to criticize our new methods. I will depend upon you. And to further insure your loyalty we have put ten million on deposit for you in a Central American Bank account. It should augment your pension most handsomely."

General Ligori was a busy man. After he had left, Peter said to God: "Dr. Armstrong. We have appointments with five more generals from other branches of the service. We will wind up with their total loyalty to our cause and modern training methods. We will get 1,000 more trainees from the Navy Seals, 1,000 from the Army Special Forces, 1,000 from the U. S. Army Rangers and another 2,000 direct from elite formations of the Air Force and the Navy. This gives me 6,000 men who are directly loyal to me and me only in addition to those I already have and our bribe money will help insure the support of key commanders throughout our Armed forces. Like the Roman emperor 2,000 years ago with his own personal bodyguard we have our new Praetorian Guard which will do whatever I ask with unquestioning obedience.

"Well don't gloat too much," said God. "You have been making the right moves and are smelling like a rose, but only because it is I who have given you free will."

The Peter the Great Episodes

The Peter the Great Reincarnation Pages  introduction 

Episode !--Mission from God--July 2002

Episode 2--Peter the Great becomes President--August 2002

Peter the Great, The Birth of the new Praetorian Guard--August 2002

Peter the Great--The Golden Odyssey--October 2002

Peter the Great and the Coliseum--November 2002

Peter the Great finds out about Father Joseph--January 2003

God and the Lawyers--March 2003

Peter the Great takes Revenge on the Spammers--April 2003

Shootout at Peter's Corral--May 2003

Peter takes on organized Crime on the Internet--May 2003

Peter the Great, Introducing Lotharina the Vamp--June 2003

Peter the Great--The Vampire Side of Lotharina--July 2003

Peter the Great--The Seduction of Sergei--August 2003

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