Chapter 206: The Tale of Bonaparte
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Columbia, Federal District, the United States of America
May 15th, 1836

Nathaniel Bonapart was a man of many accomplishments. He was one of the highest-ranking American generals during the Anglo-American War, personally leading tens of thousands of American soldiers in combatting the invasion of North America. He was a former House Representative for his home district in New York, proposing various laws to improve the nation's infrastructure and economy during the height of the inter-war era. And he was a graduate of West Point, where he was lauded as a military genius and wrote several theories and doctrines that were applied during the Anglo-American War. Now, he was the frontrunner for the upcoming presidential elections and was seen as the nation's best hope to recover and rebuild. Despite his party's rather small voting base, his popularity and promise of a better, stronger America had appealed to millions nationwide. He wasn't certain that he would win, but he was confident in his chance of becoming the next president of the United States.

However, no matter what he had achieved or seen in his lifetime, nothing quite prepared him for.... this meeting.

The presidential candidate was in the famed Kim House, which sat in the middle of the Manhattan business district. It was a common meeting place for influential figures, and many visitors to the city passed by the house at least once to see the former home of the first president. In the sitting room, Nathaniel was seated uncomfortably in a leather chair with a book in his hand. There was a cup of coffee that sat on a saucer in front of him, but it was untouched despite it being served an hour ago. A heavy silence engulfed the room, and while the city outside was alive with the sounds of people going about their daily lives, all Nathaniel could hear was the soft ticking of the table clock behind him.

He carefully looked at Justin Kim, the eldest son of the man he greatly respected throughout his life. The Korean-American's face was unsolvable, his hands clasped firmly together and his eyes trained intently towards the book that Nathaniel was holding. He waited silently like a statute, his complicated thoughts carefully hidden from the only other occupant of the room.

Nathaniel looked down to see the cover of the book. The dark blue cover was blank, but he knew that it had information that he would've never imagined seeing. Information of a very different world and a very different life. His aged fingers hesitantly opened the tome and skimmed through the table of content. The book wasn't just about him, but of France during the 19th century... in the 'Mississippi,' as Justin mentioned earlier. His eyes bore in on a chapter labeled 'Napoleon' and flipped through the pages to read the entry's first page.

"Napoleon Bonaparte, born on August 15th of 1769, was a French military and political leader. He rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the Revolutionary Wars. As Napoleon the First, he was the Emperor of France from 1804 until 1814, and again in 1815. Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars. He won most of these wars and the vast majority of his battles, building a large empire that ruled over continental Europe before its final collapse in 1815. One of the greatest commanders in history, his wars and campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide. He remains one of the most celebrated and controversial political figures in human history."*

He read through the chapter carefully, starting from the point his life had changed in this world. In the Mississippi, his father was never invited to move to the United States with his family. He never solved his debt, leaving his family in financial ruins after dying when his 'other' self was 16 years old. He attended a French military academy, supported the French Revolution, and then overthrew the government after it was clear that the Republic had failed despite its promising beginnings. He won scores of military victories against France's enemies, established an empire, and was defeated by his own ego after his failed attempt to invade Russia. The invasion of the Iberian Peninsula and the never-ending war in Haiti also contributed to his eventual downfall.

Technically, he was supposed to have died fifteen years ago, in 1821. But after noting that there was a real chance that he was poisoned or assassinated during his final years in exile, Nathaniel wasn't too surprised that he had managed to live to his current age.

It took nearly two hours to read his 'life' in detail, and by the time he closed the book, his thoughts were in chaos.

"So," Justin stated, his hands still clamped tightly together.

"It was quite a read."

"I think you can see the reason why some people were hesitant to inform you of the Mississippi."

Nathaniel nodded curtly and placed the book on the table in front of him, "Quite."

There were many differences between himself and the person he read in the book, but he could clearly see the reasons why the Society feared him for the past several decades. Despite all the changes, he was still Napoleon. Much like his Mississippi counterpart, he was still a tactical genius and a general that struck terror in his enemies. He was still ambitious and popular, as he was elected into Congress and was now aiming for the presidency. He could imagine the numerous reasons why the Society had put off his membership for his entire life.

They were afraid he would overthrow the Republic, something that the Society had painstakingly built for the past several decades. Yes, it was a Republic that was nothing like the powerless French Directory of the Mississippi. Even still, with his popular support and the nation's current situation, he could begin numerous changes that would doom the young nation and potentially set it down an authoritarian route. No matter how 'perfect' a republic was, it was not immune to collapse or corruption. As Jefferson once stated, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."

Despite the slight that the Society had inflicted on him, Nathaniel wasn't angry or frustrated. He understood why he had been left in the dark; he had to prove that he was different from his counterpart. And even then, there were far too many similarities between the two that the Watchers could not ignore. The fact that they were willing to give him a chance before the elections meant that they trusted him... somewhat.

"On behalf of my father and everyone in the Society, I apologize for leaving you clueless about the Mississippi," Justin declared as he stood up and formally bowed.

Nathaniel motioned for the man to sit down, "There is no need for apologies, I understand. My other self might have been offended, but I am a bit wiser than him." Or at least, I sincerely hope so.

"But we robbed you of your place in history, a history in which you changed the course of Europe forever and ruled an empire."

The Corsican smiled at the remark and straightened his back, "There, I conquered but a small portion of Europe, and challenged Russia only to lose, then lose again to the British. Here? I am about to be elected to command over an entire continent. We have shattered Britain, Spain, and the French 'Empire.' Our nation's military, industry, and government are second to none in this world. As for Russia, perhaps I will one day purchase Alaska to fulfill my 'Russian ambitions.'"

"My country has grown faster than Alexander's, will soon be wealthy enough to make the Pharaohs weep in shame, and encompasses far greater than Genghis Khan's at its height. Also, which is better? Eight years as President, God willing, in peace & stability, then to step down while holding the lasting respect of our country for doing so, compared to fifteen in turmoil as Emperor and finally, abdication and exile in disgrace?"

"A man's reach should exceed his grasp, it is said. We have grasped enough to span between two oceans and know it is unquestioned. Hopefully, I will soon preside over a country where its people are happy, free, wealthy, and content. That is enough for me."**

Justin blinked and rubbed his eyes. For a moment, he almost saw his father sitting next to Nathaniel's side with a smile on his face. He shook his head to focus and looked back at the man who was Nathaniel, not Napoleon. "Then America is in good hands."



*This is a direct entry from Wikipedia.

**This is a quote written by Barricade from SpaceBattles. I edited it slightly to fit the scene, but all credits go to him for this wonderful piece.