Good work. It reminded me of something Spencer Tracy's character says toward the end of Judgment at Nuremberg: Sometimes, mere survival is not sufficient. Is life worth living without freedom, without dignity? From my admittedly non-spiritual perspective, this is the story of a man who decides that it's better to die on his feet than to live on his knees. The alternate universe you describe is fascinating, and I was both surprised and pleased to discover the main character's identity toward the end. The only criticism I have to offer is that the story consists almost entirely of backfill: instead of showing us what happened to bring the main characters to this pass, you tell us. I think your story would have been even more effective if you had found some way to show instead of tell.