A Shift in Priorities - Sequel

We often get in quicker by the back door than by the front.
(Napoleon Bonaparte)

Sneaking through the barren scrubland wouldn’t add any new information to what he already knew, Anton Mbwesi had decided. The Kakwa were ready to let him and Masrul go. They trusted that Anton would write favourably about them and their cause. From the photographs Anton had taken of them, they had already obtained copies. Somehow, in the middle of nowhere, they had conjured up a darkroom and all chemicals required to develop the pictures.

Idi Amin, their chief, had left three days ago for an undisclosed location and a secret purpose. His lieutenant, Kizza Odoki, was in charge. Kizza was an amenable guy. He had agreed to detail a guide, who was to lead them to the border. Masrul felt certain to find the way home, once one had crossed over into Sudan. One would, however, march by night while still in Uganda. Field Marshal Okello’s men had been fielding an airplane lately, a lame civilian model, but nevertheless capable of detecting a travelling party.

Thank goodness, one wasn’t forced to cross the White Nile. In fact, the Okello people were said to be controlling the river line – and restricting the rebels to rove the left bank. Well, Anton had deliberated to cross into Middle Africa directly, but had decided against it. His hosts in the Nuba village were waiting for him to return. Just sending Masrul home would be bad style. The gentle village folks deserved his full attention.

But once the villagers’ curiosity had been satisfied, he would cross over to Middle Africa. Aba in Zentralkongo would be his destination. The town didn’t have a rail link, unfortunately, but at least telephone. – Now, he had learnt a lot. The Emirate of Egypt was not supporting any rebels in Uganda; they were cooperating with Field Marshal Okello, who was the chancellor of the kingdom – and a war lord at the same time. Would the leading men in Daressalam be irritated when this – clandestine – alliance was revealed?

Uganda drifting into the camp of the Emirate should not please them. One was on friendly terms with the Egyptians, true, but Africa south of the Sahara was considered a Middle African affair. Even when one had no cute idea what to do with Uganda and Kenya, that didn’t mean the door was open for other people – aliens! – to meddle in Daressalam’s back yard. Anton was keen to come to know how the Muramba government was going to react.
 
Whenever the cause of the people is entrusted to professors, it is lost.
(Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov)

There was another outbreak of the Lobai Fever; this time fairly close to Bangi. Professor von Misuku’s team had immediately redeployed. One could leave the village of the first outbreak to the local staff; the situation was reasonably stable. – The boss had already advised the local and national authorities: Bangi had to be sealed off. The virus must not be allowed to spread to this important city.

Bangi was not only located on the Transafrican, it was also the starting point of the Intercontinental Railway. This pivotal rail node had to be protected at any price. Even an interruption of national and international rail traffic had to be considered. – Two persons, a man and a woman, had fallen ill. Both were running high fever – and were unresponsive. One had quickly identified twelve folks who had been in contact with them – and put them in quarantine. But might there be more?

The boss was really worried. This had the makings of a major disaster, if one didn’t apply the greatest care. Konrad Schabunde, once again, had been sent out to look for vectors. The two sick persons were farmers. Well, cassava could be excluded from the list of suspects. What beasts had they eaten? – In the first village, one had been unable to identify the vector, although Konrad suspected monkey. Here, at least, one had a lot of witnesses who hadn’t fallen ill yet.

Yeah, they had killed some monkeys, which had looted their garden. But what had they done with the carcasses? – Searching the hut and the garden didn’t reveal any monkey remains… Where, dash it all, were the dead beasts? Thrown into the river? – Would touching the animals suffice? The boss thought it might do. Getting into contact with body fluids was all that was required. There was no need to butcher the monkeys.

Bad business… Konrad didn’t like it. One had unkenneled the virus – but yet not found a way to fight it. The bodies of those in the first village, who had survived the disease, ought to have developed antibodies. But the tests had hitherto not produced any tangible results. It was enough to drive you mad…
 
Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.
(Leonardo da Vinci)

Having just returned from Curaçao, Max Sikuku had found the rail line to Daressalam blocked. Outbreak near Bangi, good grief, what was that? Haemorrhagic fever… Egad! Another pest… Horrible… Could one go round the barrage? Yeah, it was possible, but these weren’t express trains. It would take him almost four days and four nights to travel to the capital. Fudge!

Was it possible to hire an airplane? Yes, of course. He could have a licence built Junkers for 10.500 marks – or an original LVG for 11.300. Damn! As a member of parliament, he was entitled to travel on the MARB for free, first class mind you! This was blunt mugging. But okay, he would grasp the nettle. Perhaps he could sue MARB – or the national department of health – for the extra expense…

While the plane was made ready, Max was doing some long distance phone calls. Otti wasn’t present at Edea. Her secretary said she was visiting the company installations in Groß Togoland. Adele in Daressalam said the outbreak was worrying everybody and his dog. He should hurry to come home. Herbert K’nilowe at Tanga said everything was all right, production had been restarted.

Thirteen hours to Daressalam, that was the good news. Two pilots were going to take turns. And there was a steward to serve him and Albert, the Ukongo Kurier scribbler, who had accompanied him to the Caribbean. Well, he could use the time to catch some sleep. If Adele had been reading the situation in the capital correctly, a national emergency might be declared soon…
 
Thirteen hours to cross Africa ? Were the airplanes in OTL 1960 faster ? If this plague doesn’t kill off half of Mittelafrika, as things tend to go wrong in this TL, a simnering epidemic in the interior which is difficult to get a grasp on is just what is needed to replace the long-diatance trains by airlines.
 
Thirteen hours to cross Africa ? Were the airplanes in OTL 1960 faster ? If this plague doesn’t kill off half of Mittelafrika, as things tend to go wrong in this TL, a simnering epidemic in the interior which is difficult to get a grasp on is just what is needed to replace the long-diatance trains by airlines.
These are probably more Cessna sized planes serving as air taxis - such services exist nowadays as well, even in the developed world, with planes not much faster.
 
Rast, where do you get these quotes. Absolutely love this one. I love most of them but refrain from acknowledging it until now.
I mainly use "Goodreads" and "AZ Quotes". "Goodreads" is perhaps the best for my purposes, but "AZ Quotes" has the advantageof proposing several related quote resources. And that's often helpful, because finding a fitting quote may take time.
 
It is not the germs we need worry about. It is our inner terrain.
(Louis Pasteur)

Yeah, the woman had died yesterday; the man was still alive, but only because of the life-sustaining equipment he was connected to. And as of this morning, from the twelve, who had been in contact with the original two diseased, seven were ill. The Lobaivirus was still en route unchecked. – At least one knew now that it resided in monkeys. Konrad Schabunde had found it in two Wolf’s mona monkeys and one Dent’s mona monkey, which his group of vector hunters had recently managed to shoot from the trees.

Well, three of twenty-eight animals killed and examined had carried the virus. Not all monkeys were contagious – as was to be expected. The hunters estimated they had actually culled one tenth – approximately – of the monkeys present in the village perimeter. All the same, a nationwide ban to touch monkeys had been enacted. It might help to keep Lobaivirus at bay – for the moment. – What was really needed, though, was a vaccine. The boss was working hard to find it, but to no avail yet.

Curfew had been declared for parts of Ubangi-Schari, Nordwestkongo and Oberkamerun – the vicinity of Bangi in a radius of 300 kilometres. All markets had been closed in this area. The boss had counselled to stop national and international rail traffic, but the government wouldn’t do that. Passengers had to be listed, that was all – up to now. Konrad thought the boss was right – in principle… With an incubation time of six to ten days, one could be fairly sure that the first outbreak had been sealed off successfully. But for the second outbreak, one didn’t know this yet.

In three or four days, if no new infected persons should be found, one would be all-clear. Until then, it was holding the horses – and praying silently.
 
He has not learnt the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear.
(Gaius Julius Caesar)

Impressive… Yeah… One wanted to impress – and at the same time had to pay attention not to be impressed. It was a psychological game. The Askaris were elusively perky. The UnSA had fielded a Xhosa unit. These guys were truly maddening in their arrogancy – obviously having to compensate the fact of not being Zulus. All the while, the WAU squad was still recovering from the journey. It was unfair.

The flight had been – an experience… One indestructible Rumpler had hardly made it to Misahöhe in Groß Togoland. The other widget had started burning between Duala and Boma – or rather the inner starboard engine had. Unloading the beasts – and stuffing the clobber into the reserve planes, when these finally had arrived – had been a major workout. One had had to arrive at Naladi on the dot!

Okay, one had made it – just in time. Hey, one could be proud! This was an accomplishment of sorts. But all and sundry were so tired. Leutnant Wilhelm G’Norebbe was sore all over. – And the frigging contest was just about to begin. There would be a mustering – and then the first tournament: obstacle course. One had practised on a copy of this thing at home.

Bleeding hell! The Askaris and the Impis were well rested. This was going to be a disaster. – Whatever! One had to get ready. The men were wheeling up into line. It would have been a magnificent picture, if not for the constant yawning…
 
Prevention is the daughter of intelligence.
(Walter Raleigh)

Tanaka Kakuei, the Japanese minister of the interior – and intrinsic strong man of the Mizuta government, didn’t believe a word of what his hosts were telling him. These Chōsenjin were a bunch of liars and crooks. Their leader – or spokesman, a certain Yi Pyŏngch’ŏl, seemed to be about the local equivalent to Tanaka, hence an unscrupulous mover and shaker. Their figures were looking impressive indeed, but Tanaka had been a businessman, a builder, himself; he knew how to tamper statistics – and how to cuckold investors.

After the Great Honshū Earthquake, the old colonial ministry had been absorbed by the Naimu-shō, the powerful home ministry, Tanaka’s realm. He was now in charge of Chōsen – or rather his ministry was, as a Japanese minister couldn’t anticipate to command the bureaucrats of his house. He might be able to urge them into a certain direction – if he was powerful enough, but it was an arduous affair. Well, these Chōsenjin were in fact offering more power to Tanaka.

The chaebŏl were ready to support his gundan, Tanaka’s political aggregation, – for more autonomy at home. It was an enticing proposal. Money was always welcome; it helped to buy men and votes. But it wasn’t everything… The army, once a powerful player in Chōsen, was no longer authoritative. They were pegged into the defensive alliance with Chūgoku. Tanaka’s kidotai, the special police, was in a better position to intervene in Korean affairs than the army was – or the armed forces as a whole were.

What about Chūgoku? Would the Chinese barge in? Rather not, they were happy to leave Korea to the Japanese, as long as Nippon honoured the alliance with the Middle Kingdom – and hence Chūgokujin supremacy. – In point of fact, there was no reason to spurn the Korean offer. The underlings were not striving for political independence; the chaebŏl were not interested in such horseplay. They wanted to do business - unmolested. This was something Tanaka could appreciate very well. – “All right.” he addressed Yi “Let’s talk about subsidies…”
 
In one and the same fire, clay grows hard and wax melts.
(Francis Bacon)

Anxious faces all over the place, people were worried. Was a new pest going to hit Middle Africa? The Muramba government had even asked Berlin to despatch Professor Ramsauer. The chap was actually on the track to Am Dafok, where his train was due to arrive tomorrow morning. A special train would pick him and his staff up and shuttle them to Bangi. – Max Sikuku thought it was taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut. One had Professor von Misuku, who doubtlessly was the best in this professional discipline. Ramsauer was a bioweapons guy, not a faith healer. He certainly would be pleased to obtain samples of Lobaivirus. But could he really help to battle the bug?

Adele deemed it didn’t hurt to give it a try. Misuku was good on antidotes. But Lobaivirus couldn’t be fought with an antidote. Ramsauer might know more about antibodies than Misuku and his students. – Well, perhaps she was right. And most probably, the outbreak had been sealed off successfully. In two days, one would be on the safe side anyway – with or without Ramsauer. – Nevertheless, the chancellor had put the armed forces on alert and had mobilised the Middle African Red Cross. Did Muramba know something that hadn’t been communicated to the public? He should take a stab at it. As former minister, he still possessed hidden connections…

Yes indeed… There had been an incident at Usumbura. The local hospital had been cordoned off by the police – and army units were reported to be arriving. Bleeding hell, Usumbura was a major train station on the Transafrican Railway… What was going on there?
 
Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so.
(Bertrand Russell)

It seemed Hanne Zülch was ready to join the DVP. That was excellent news – and it said a lot about the ongoing decline of the AFV. Franz Josef Strauß had had a dossier made on Hanne. She had quite a radical and violent past, this competent lady. She should fit perfectly into his personal staff. – His courtship hadn’t been easy. The lass was obviously still in love with Herbert Weller – who presumably had sired her child, little Oskar.

Yeah, the obligation to care for Oskar was perhaps the reason for Hanne’s change of mind. The AFV was indubitably going to pot, and Strauß was offering a nice new job – with attractive salary. Well, her organisational talent was worth a mint. Even better: her departure was going to accelerate the deterioration of the AFV; the rest of the gang were plainly inept.

Strauß was still furtively humping Evelyn, Albert Leise’s wealthy wife. Her money helped greasing the cogs of the party – and buying people. But it was only a drop in the bucket. Blessedly, donations were flowing abundantly. The economy – or rather the industrialists and bankers – had discovered that the DVP was the coming political power. The party’s modern image Strauß had created was showing effect.

Forsooth, progress and racial purity were not mutually exclusive. Germany had grown fat and inert. It was about time for a breath of fresh air…
 
Idiot, n. A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling.
(Ambrose Bierce)

Dealing with those in power in Austin and Houston hadn’t been easy. These gents, all of them white, immensely wealthy and pretty almighty, at least in their self-image, were not a bit used to treating Negroes as their equals. But you couldn’t deal with Jimbo Owens as if he was an errand boy. – Well, his Cascadian accomplishments hadn’t gone unnoticed even down here in Texas. That had, at least, provided a starting point for serious discussion.

Resettling Cuba was not going to be a walk in the park. Organising the logistics would be tedious, yet no rocket science. No, the real challenge lay in leading the colonists. You wouldn’t get decent citizens. Human dross tended to break ranks and run riot. Jimbo knew what to expect. He needed a reliable body of men – former mobsters, preferably, black of course…

Fortunately, money wasn’t a real problem, even though rich folks were prone to a certain absurd parsimony. And once the bigwigs had finally accepted Jimbo’s competence, they had agreed to give him free rein. – It would be a major effort, 10,000 people to colonise the plains south of La Habana. The former capital was considered uninhabitable, as the utilities were all irretrievably gone.

Recruiting was due to begin next month. Jimbo wanted farmers, if possible from the South, folks accustomed to working hard in hot climate. Most probably, he would get urban rabble and other failures. Hiring the guardians – and the suppliers – would be straightforward, in comparison. They were not supposed to live on Cuba in perpetuity. All the same, he would make sure that this time nobody could bolt.
 
An important art of politicians is to find new names for institutions which under old names have become odious to the public.
(Charles Maurice de Talleyrand)

You weren’t getting just workers; you were also getting crime, quite a lot of it. There was, of course, a multitude of petty offenses, like faked or stolen documents or illegal immigration, but there also was drug peddling, human trafficking and outright murder. Was crime organised? Siegfried, at first, had thought it wasn’t – because he couldn’t figure how that should work. Yet, experience told otherwise. Despite the fact that workers were coming from many different countries, overarching criminal structures had formed in almost no time.

Was he dealing with the gangs? Yes, he knew now that this was the case. In fact, you couldn’t hire workers from Albania or Bulgaria anymore without treating with them. Even Romanians and Greeks were often procured by OC. ZAZ, Siegfried’s company, was earning well with placing temporary workers. Hence it was hardly surprising that the gangs should try to lay their hands upon it. But that wouldn’t fly with Siegfried. He had turned to the police and had asked for support.

ZAZ was an important player for supplying workers to vital companies like Krupp, Mannesmann, Hoesch, Rheinmetall or Bayer. Hence, the Prussian police had taken his request seriously ab initio. However, the man they had sent – had been a disappointment for Siegfried… Old, almost seventy, and handicapped, his artificial leg was quite conspicuous, Theodor Eicke hadn’t seemed efficacious.

Well, that had been a false impression altogether. The man was a steam hammer, figuratively speaking. His outfit were going at it that the fur flew – or rather blood splatters… Theo Eicke was not of the opinion he should put gangsters before court, as long as his men could hunt them down – and deal them the coup de grâce. He knew this ragtag off pat: no quarter. – For ZAZ it meant, by all means, that the encroachments had stopped good and proper. But Siegfried was now experiencing difficulties in contacting folks in the Balkans at all…
 
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A man’s bewilderment is the measure of his wisdom.
(Nathaniel Hawthorne)

Professor Ramsauer had arrived yesterday, together with a staff of twenty-three – and four truckloads of equipment. Well, the acute danger was over; incubation time had passed without that any new cases had surfaced. – There had been a frenzy about a bloke at Usumbura who had been running fatal fever. The man had actually died, but not of Lobaivirus. It seemed to have been a rare kind of spotted fever caused by rickettsia.

So, one could relax now – at least a little bit. One still had ten sick people to care for. And antibodies waiting to be discovered. Therefore, Ramsauer and his team were quite welcome; even the boss seemed to be satisfied to shake hands with the fellow. And Konrad Schabunde was pleased to greet two cute – female – lab aides he knew from the Isle of Sheppey.

A bunch of snowpushers in the jungle… Quite a scene, like in the movies… Yet, they were quite effective. Their lab was already working; Ramsauer being in his habitual slave driver mode. They were examining the three individuals who had been in contact with the original two diseased – and hadn’t fallen ill.

All things considered, the emergency precautions had worked well. Even local authorities had committed no blatant blunders. One had learnt the lessons taught by GCG well, it seemed. – Lobaivirus was still around; it might strike again, once the ban on monkeys had been forgotten. Or any other zoonotic disease might break out any time…

Now, the diseases were one thing, but it was human mobility that made them truly dangerous. In the olden days, any such illness would just tail off and stop – because infected folks would die in walking distance from the spot where they had caught the bugs. Nowadays, with railways – and even airplanes – the pathogens could travel faster than they killed their victims.

Anyway, Middle Africa had mastered the emergency – for the moment. Konrad was looking forward to return to his student digs in Duala.
 
The secret to success is to offend the greatest number of people.
(George Bernard Shaw)

Sergei Nikiforovich Kruglov, the Russian foreign minister, was speaking – no, droning – since thirty minutes now. Josef Dembitzer trusted that his people were recording the whole bafflegab – and let his thoughts go wandering. The Ivans were setting their sights low recently. As tensions in Far East were mounting, even the fiercest Great Russians were seeing these days how wise Kántsler Shepilov had been to avoid conflict with Germany over the Ukraine. Yes indeed, one could pat oneself on the back for entertaining such cordial relations with the Nyemtsi.

Would this harmonical relationship last – when the xenophobes seized power in Berlin? Well, why not? The DVP had never targeted Russia. They considered the Russian Empire a far-away entity that had no relevance for what they planned to accomplish in Germany. – Could propinquity to Russia protect the Heymshtot? Against the impertinences Strauß certainly was going to unclasp? – He once had been deeply humiliated in Bialystok – and the Heymshtot was, in the eyes of his followers, a disgusting nest of Jewish rats that ought to be razed.

Created jointly by Russia and Germany, the Heymshtot had always manoeuvred carefully between both big neighbours. One felt intellectually closer to Germany and its science, but had taken great care throughout not to alienate the Russians. Being a reliable buffer state had been the leitmotif for the Heymshtot’s leaders all along; even the religious morons had observed this imperative. – Would a future Strauß government risk deteriorating relations to Russia for belabouring the Heymshtot?

Dembitzer did not doubt that Strauß was going to become the next imperial chancellor in Berlin. The Germans had been rioting since many years – against the depressing rule of the ancient parties. They were loath of those out-dated remnants of the Great War era. They had voted for the new – for DFU or AFV, which both had flopped – and they were now going to vote for Strauß’ newly coated DVP. The decisive question was ultimately: would the man be able to rule alone – or would he need a coalition partner?
 
The tyrant is nothing but a slave turned inside out.
(Herbert Spencer)

The railway had been recommissioned and his troops were now pouring into Qinghai, Gansu, Alashan and Ejin. Field Marshal Dang Gangjun had moved his headquarters to Xining – or what was left of the town. This here was Fēilóng country indeed, not barren anymore, but thoroughly turned upside down. These mobile HQ units made in USA were truly splendid. The Yáng jī were pansies and toe dippers for sure, but their equipment was first class. Even the blasted Russians ought to be envious of the fine stuff at his disposal.

What should one do opposite Xinjiang? Honour the disreputable Treaty of Colombo? His great hero, Chiang Zhongzheng, never had approved of it – right up to his violent death. – But the Little Man from Sichuan didn’t want him to stir trouble in that direction, a pity… Well, a couple of border corrections ought to be all right. It was shoddy a clime anyway. And Fēilóng had shaken up all landmarks. How should one identify the old frontier line? It was sheer impossible…

So, okay, he would focus on securing the Qing borders – and scaring the Russians. Outer Mongolia, where they were entrenched, was as lousy as the vicinity hereabouts. It had been a Qing protectorate in the past, but the Russian presence over there was as real as their foothold in Heilongjiang and Jilin. But they knew, of course, that the lands had been Chinese – and that only by brute force they had wrested it from the Middle Kingdom. Hence, they ought to be amenable to a show of force.

In fact, they were. His intelligence services were reading their newspapers and listening to their broadcasts. The buggers were fearing the Great Qing Empire – and they were fearing him in particular. He was portrayed as a revanchist died in the wool, as a crazed war lord – and as a maniac. That was bullshit, evidently, except for the revanchist part; yet, it illustrated their fright. Now, let them quiver…
 
Origin of man now proved. – Metaphysics must flourish. – He who understands baboon would do more towards metaphysics than Locke.
(Charles Darwin)

Beaten… but not last… Bollocks nevertheless, because winning had been the watchword. The frigging Xhosa had copped the cup. And the Jumping Askaris had touched down on the third place. Well, the Middle Africans had – at least – taken it easy; such was life – you can’t always win. It had been a cute rally; thank you all and bye-bye. – Hauptmann Senanga, however, wasn’t taking easy anything… The man was utterly frustrated.

Okay, his mission had been to win the PATE and capture the trophy, this ugly smallish cup. That hadn’t worked, because those Xhosa maniacs had carried off every single contest. The men of the 2nd Para Regiment hadn’t failed; it had just been impossible to beat the feral South Africans. The Jumping Askaris had realised this early on – and had smoothly switched to having fun in the sun.

Senanga hadn’t seen it – until the Xhosa had won the sixth out of ten contests. Then, his world had suddenly obfuscated. That hadn’t bothered the bloody Ukubhabha Impi; they had garnered the other four contests as well. – One had to pack up now – and return home; with Hauptmann Senanga railing against fate – and ranting and raving against his own outfit. It was nasty.

Leutnant Wilhelm G’Norebbe thought it was foolish. Senanga obviously had been promised promotion to Major – in case his team won the cup. That was moot now. But it was no reason to freak. The men had all given their all; there was no reason to give them a permanent dressing-down. He had already undertaken to approach the captain, but Senanga wouldn’t soften his tone.

Would the dratted Rumplers carry them home – leastways? The flyboys were confident. The two birds were fighting fit. Yeah, this was the story they had already told back in the WAU, before one had embarked on the epic journey… A freaking superior – and scruffy planes… What else could go wrong? Wasn’t it a marvellous adventure?
 
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