It was July 27th 1940, 23 years after the start of the October Revolution. Georgy Zhukov, Marshal of the Soviet Union, had just been called to the presence of General Secretary Iosif Stalin, in the middle of September, as he wished to discuss – and by discuss, he meant order – some matters of great importance for the Rodina and for the good of the proletariat. As he entered Stalin's office, he saw that it was full of documents, most of which had been written on a typewriter, but several had been clearly hand-written by someone he didn't know. “Comrade Secretary General,” Zhukov said, saluting the beloved leader of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. “At ease, comrade Zhukov,” Stalin replied, without looking up. Zhukov relaxed his position, but didn't say anything: he knew that Stalin didn't like to be interrupted as he worked. Then, Stalin looked at one of his best marshals of the army. “Tell me, comrade Zhukov, which is your opinion of the Germans?” Stalin asked. “In the military sense, of course, we already know that the fascists will fall soon.” Zhukov doubted in his response. He knew that his answer may cost him his life if what he said didn't please Stalin, but yet he knew that lying could also be detrimental to his future health. “Our troops in the border with Germany have reported that they have been detecting troop movement, as well as construction of several forts. Comrade Kuznetsov has also shared the information that several German ships have changed their patrol routines and are getting nearer our territorial waters, although they have not entered them.” “And what does this suggest you?” Stalin asked. “That the bourgeois are preparing to attack us, comrade Stalin,” Zhukov replied. “That's what I gathered,” Stalin replied. “If they are going to attack us, it'll be better if we attack first: I want no enemy of the people entering the Rodina!” he suddenly shouted. “Comrade Zhukov, you are to design a plan to attack the Germans and their fascist allies in Europe before the next November 7th . If you don't succeed, then you'll be demoted to a post in Siberia. Is that understood?” “Yes, comrade Stalin,” Zhukov said, already going over what he could do to escape from the promised punishment. Namely, a couple of plans, based on intelligence reports of the German attack on Poland. “Good. You can retire,” Stalin replied, going back to his work. Zhukov saluted again and went out of the room. Although he didn't know it, and Stalin didn't know it, this would turn the conflict between the bourgeois, capitalist nations into the bloodiest war ever known to humanity, as well as the end of the world as they knew it and the disappearance of many current governments. Their own included. _____________________________________________ This is the prologue to a timeline I've been thinking about for some time. The fact that Stalin never seemed to react to Hitler's betrayal after Barbarossa started surprised me a lot when I read about the fact. So, I hope to be able to write a credible TL where the Soviet Union attacks first and that provokes an even worse WWII, but the aftermath will be much better.